Chairs of Subsidiary Bodies Brief Security Council on Issues, including Da’esh/Al-Qaida, Sanctions, Committee Reform
Members of the Security Council were briefed this afternoon by Chairs of its subsidiary bodies, reporting on the Committee’s activities concerning, among other topics, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida, the use of sanctions and the need for Committee reform.
Expressing concern about the sanctions regime, Rafael Darío Ramirez Carreño (Venezuela), Chair of the Committee concerning Somalia and Eritrea and the Committee concerning the Sudan, said the Security Council should have learned its lessons from the devastating consequences of the sanctions against Iraq. Despite repeated appeals, sanctions regimes continued to be perceived as ends in themselves. Moreover, he said, it was meaningless for the Committee to hold deliberations all year if the decision depended on one or two permanent members.
Gerard van Bohemen (New Zealand), Chair of the Security Council Committee concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, said he was struck by how little consideration the 15-member body gave to ensuring the Sanctions Committees were effective. Sanctions were one of the few tools the Council had to respond to situations that threatened international peace and security, he said. Yet, the way those Committees were established and the procedures under which they operated meant that they struggled to discharge their mandates. At the same time, serious conversation was needed about the consensus decision-making of the Council’s Committees, with a view to reform.
Echoing that sentiment, Román Oyarzun Marchesi (Spain), Chair of the Council Committee concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, reiterated the difficulty of decision‑making in the Committees and highlighted ways in which it could enhance its efficiency. They should avoid formalities in their meetings, he suggested, adding that circulated text should be simple and allow for substantive debate.
Turning to matters of peace and security, Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins (Angola), Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, said he regretted that, at the May joint session of the Working Group and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, there had been no agreement on the inclusion of specific points, in particular, the question of Western Sahara. That had affected the good work of the joint session, especially since conflicts in Africa were on the Security Council’s agenda.
As Chair of the Committee concerning Libya and the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, Ramlan Bin Ibrahim (Malaysia) said the establishment of a child protection capacity in the United Nations missions through the appointment of advisers had been a critical development. It was imperative that advisers continued to be given an effective mandate and sufficient resources to carry out their work.
The meeting began at 3:10 p.m and ended at 4:05 p.m.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMIREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea and the Committee established pursuant resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan, said that the events of the day showed how dangerous it was to instigate a campaign of hatred, such as the one against the Russian Federation. Turning to the sanctions regime, he said that the Security Council should have learned its lessons from the devastating consequences of the sanctions regime against Iraq. But, despite repeated appeals about that instrument, sanctions regimes continued to be perceived as ends in themselves, and for some permanent members of the Council, they were extensions of their foreign policy.
Turning to Somalia and Eritrea, he said that the monitoring group for the Committee established pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) had concluded that there were no signs that the latter State was cooperating with Al-Shabaab. Also noting the cooperation of Qatar in mediating between Eritrea and Djibouti, he added that the former would continue to mediate until the matter was resolved.
While those elements should have been enough to lift the sanctions, or at least establish the road map to lifting them in the future, even that was unsuitable to the national interests of some permanent members of the Council, he continued. It was meaningless for the Committee to hold deliberations all year if the decision depended on one or two permanent members.
Turning to the 1591 Committee, he said that Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, the Joint Special Representative for Darfur and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), had kept the Committee abreast with regard to the evolution of the political process in Sudan’s western region, where, despite progress, much remained to be done. Due to the abuse of the consensus rule in the Committee, in the last two months, it had not been able to present its quarterly report and it had been relatively inactive in the last six months. Also stressing that the Panel of Experts on Sudan must operate on the principles of impartiality and neutrality, he expressed solidarity with “our African brothers” who experienced more than 70 per cent of the Council’s sanctions regimes. That was troublesome especially since those who drafted the resolutions were frequently former colonial Powers. Calling for improvements in the working methods of the Council, he also added that it must speak out on the Palestine issue and the colonial situation of the Western Sahara.
GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011), 2253 (2015) and 1988 (2011), said he was struck by how little consideration the 15-member body gave to ensuring the Sanctions Committees were effective. Sanctions were one of the few tools the Council had to respond to situations that threatened international peace and security. Yet, the way those Committees were established and the procedures under which they operated meant that they struggled to discharge their mandates. For instance, those bodies had been siloed away from the Council’s work and there had been active resistance from permanent members to any suggestions to improve those aspects. Meanwhile, the process of those Committees had gotten in the way of their outcomes, he said, adding that, while process was important, it should not obstruct the primary goal of the Council, nor should it hinder the discharge of the obligations in its Chapter VII resolutions. That was clearly illustrated by the requirement that any Committee decision, no matter how minor, must be taken by consensus. In his opinion, that was the single biggest inhibitor to Committee effectiveness.
Turning to how the Council appointed its Chairs, he was pleased that elected members had worked together to secure improvements to the process. The process was no longer a decision made by the permanent five members and was now facilitated by two Council members, including on elected members. Nevertheless, there was still room for further improvement. He concluded by urging Council members to think about how it conducted business, and the practical steps it could take to be more efficient, avoid duplication and maximize the tools at its disposal. That included more coherent scheduling of Council programmes of work and requesting that the Secretary-General report on sanctions in his reports where applicable. He also urged the Council to reconsider the use of “formulaic” statements approved by the Committee. In that regard, the substance and utility of its conversations would vastly improve if Chairs were able to come with a couple of points for discussion. At the same time, serious conversation was needed about the consensus decision-making of the Council’s Committees, with a view to reform. In addition, the burden of chairing subsidiary bodies should be spread to all Council members. Lastly, elected members must continue to support each other as Chairs, as New Zealand had done by establishing an informal group of chairing experts. While none of those recommendations required a new resolution or presidential statement, they depended upon courage and behavioural change, he concluded.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola), Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, expressing condolences on the death of the Russian Ambassador, regretted that, at the May joint session of the Working Group and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, there was no agreement on the inclusion of specific points, in particular, the question of Western Sahara. That had affected the good work of the joint session, especially since conflicts in Africa were on the Security Council’s agenda. Further, the Peace and Security Council had not responded to reiterated communications on the latest version of the draft joint communiqué, which contained some outstanding issues. Those were worrying signs for the engagement of the Security Council with the Peace and Security Council, and the matter should be carefully addressed.
Turning to cooperation between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Security Council, he added that the latter had expressed its intent to request and draw upon the strategic advice of the Commission. That was a remarkable development, given that lack of synchronization and working in silos had been identified as one of the problems affecting the work of the United Nations. Recommending that the annual programme of the Ad Hoc Working Group must include peacebuilding themes, he added that the choice of the themes should be proposed by the Chair following consultations with the Secretariat. He thanked members of the Ad Hoc Working Group and the Secretariat for their invaluable contributions.
ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1540 (2004) and 1718 (2006), said his delegation aimed to achieve consensus in the implementation of the 15-member body’s decisions in a responsible and transparent manner. He thanked members of the Council for their cooperation and support and highlighted three areas which could improve the efficiency of the Committees: relevance, transparency and unity. To maintain their relevance, the Committees should avoid formalities in their meetings and focus on analysis of the relevant issues. In terms of transparency, briefings by Presidents of the Security Council should avoid the mechanical reading of previously circulated text. Instead, they should be simple and allow for substantive debate, he said, emphasizing that States must understand their obligations. With respect to unity, the Committees must be unanimous in implementing resolutions and avoid ambiguous clauses. In that vein, he expressed support for the proposals set forth by the New Zealand Chair and reiterated the difficulty of decision-making in the Committees as 15 positive votes were needed.
Concerning the 1737 Committee, he lauded the signing of the 2015 nuclear agreement and expressed thanks for the efforts of many to ensure that diplomacy prevailed. On the 1718 Committee, he said it was up to Pyongyang to put an end to sanctions. He also recommended an open briefing be held on resolution 2321 (2016). Regarding the 1540 Committee, activities had been intense and resolution 2325 (2016) had been recently adopted. In conclusion, he thanked everyone involved in managing the Committees in helping them carry out their work. In the future, his delegation would support all of them from the other side of the table.
RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) and the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, said that over the past two years, the Working Group had adopted conclusions on the situation of children and armed conflict in South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Central African Republic. In providing recommendations to parties to conflict and child protection actors, he acknowledged the lack of a regular follow‑up mechanism on implementation. However, the establishment of a child protection capacity in the United Nations missions through the appointment of advisers had been a critical development. It was imperative that advisers continued to be given an effective mandate and sufficient resources to carry out their crucial work.
On Libya, he said that over the past two years the country had undergone challenging times. After adoption of the Libyan Political Agreement a year ago, and since the arrival of the Presidency Council in Tripoli, the process of establishing the Government of National Accord was still not complete. Hence, the Committee’s work had to be balanced to ensure that the sanctions regime had not interfered with the political process. Given the increase in the number of subjects before the Committee, it had issued one additional implementation assistance notice to provide clarity on sanction measures. Furthermore, it had kept a close eye on the arms embargo, particularly the movements of arms and military material into Libya. Despite the Committee’s efforts, violations had taken place, with increasing reports of arm flows and the presence of mercenaries and foreign military forces in Libya.
Another key aspect of the Committee’s work had been the asset freeze measures that aimed at protecting Libya’s public assets, he said. Similarly, it had remained committed to the protection of that country’s natural resources. Describing the listing and subsequent delisting of the Distya Ameya vessel as a success story, he noted that it had demonstrated the Committee’s resolve in supporting the Government of National Accord. Regarding the Panel of Experts, it had been vital in monitoring and enhancing the implementation of relevant sanction measures. Moving forward, he encouraged the new Chair to conduct a visit to Libya, expressing regret that he had not been able to do so since the Committee’s foundation. At the same time, engagement with regional partners and the international community must be strengthened, he said, stressing that in supporting Libyan‑led transition, such partnership was critical.