I congratulate the Australian Mission on having steered the Council through a busy, but productive month. Although one month remains of your term on the Council, that won’t prevent me from describing your Presidency as a fitting culmination to the energy, creativity and commitment that Australia has brought to Council proceedings over the last two years.
I have often expressed frustration that the Security Council has become too much the captive of its agenda and procedures. Too many meetings happen simply because of the cyclical reporting cycle rather than with a clear purpose in mind, or as a response to developments on the ground.
This is not a criticism that can be levelled at the November Programme. We have, it is true, worked our way productively through important regular items of Council business – the ICJ elections, mandate renewals for EUFOR in Bosnia, UNMISS in South Sudan, UNIOGBIS in Guinea-Bissau and for the international effort to combat piracy off Somalia.
But the Council has also responded in an agile and speedy way to unforeseen developments.
On Darfur, following the very disturbing reports of mass rape in Tabit, we were briefed at short notice by DPKO and Special Representative Bangura. In the light of the obstacles placed by the Sudanese authorities to follow-up by UNAMID, the Council issued a statement calling for the Sudanese Government to allow full and unrestricted freedom of movement to UNAMID to enable it to conduct a full and transparent investigation, without interference, into these reports.
That statement sent a strong message of the Council’s determination to uphold its commitments to tackle sexual violence. It is deplorable that the Sudanese Government is still denying access to UNAMID. Once again, we urge the Sudanese Government to respond to this clear and united message from the Security Council.
On Ukraine, the Council met on 12 November, in response to continued breaches of the Minsk Agreements by Russian-backed armed separatists. This also allowed us to reiterate concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in areas under separatist control in eastern Ukraine and in the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula. The Council must be ready to continue to monitor and apply scrutiny to the ongoing threat to international peace and security posed by efforts to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Council also met on 21 November to consider developments on the Ebola crisis. This crisis reminds us of the varied nature of threats to international peace and security. The PRST we adopted usefully underlined our strong support for UNMEER, as well as the need for continued strengthening of UNMEER’s coordination role and for accelerated efforts to scale-up its presence at district-level in affected countries.
I also welcome the first listings under the sanctions regime for Yemen established by resolution 2140, an important signal of our readiness to respond firmly to those who are seeking to obstruct or undermine the country’s peaceful political transition.
These are all examples of an agile Council, responding quickly and flexibly to fast-moving developments.
But I also welcome the way in which your Presidency has allowed us to step back and take a strategic look at some important thematic and cross-cutting issues.
The Council’s meeting with Heads of Police Components was an important innovation, as was the accompanying adoption of resolution 2185, the first ever resolution on UN policing. As peacekeeping becomes ever more complex and challenging, there will be an increasing role for UN police, alongside military components. We need to think carefully about the role and methods of UN policing, including as a bridging capability during periods of mission drawdown. The Secretary-General’s report, commissioned by resolution 2185, will be an important stimulus to this work.
The continuing atrocities committed by ISIL, including this month the brutal murder of a US humanitarian aid worker and Syrian captives, underline the importance of sustained Council focus on the threat posed by ISIL and on Counter-Terrorism more generally. The Debate on 19 November, and the adoption of a PRST, built on the series of steps taken in recent months by the Council (including the adoption of resolutions 2170 and 2178) and emphasised the importance of all UN members complying with and implementing their obligations under these resolutions. During the Council’s meeting on UNAMI on 18 November, we also heard a powerful briefing from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, making the case for a new and sustained effort to tackle extremism and the extremist narrative. This is something we should follow up.
Finally, in yesterday’s meeting on cross-cutting issues relating to UN sanctions, Council members were able to reflect on how to make the best use of this important tool for contributing to international peace and security. I hope that we shall be able to adopt the draft resolution on this issue very shortly.
The theme underlying my statement is the value of the council using its Programme of Work flexibly and imaginatively so that we can respond quickly to external developments and so that we can step back from cyclical business to consider important strategic issues and draw conclusions about how to integrate these into our regular work. Your Presidency has allowed us to do this in a productive way. I hope future Presidencies will follow the model you have set this month for judiciously blending regular Council business with reactive Council sessions and discretionary meetings focused on important thematic issues.
Looking ahead, I wish the Mission of Chad the very best for the month of December and look forward to the planned Debate on terrorism and cross-border crime, which will add another important dimension to our consideration of the Counter-Terrorism challenge.
Finally, I note that next month will be the first anniversary of the start of the internal conflict in South Sudan. It is depressing that all our efforts over the last year, including our visit to South Sudan in August, have not yet had the desired impact. Fighting continues. Efforts to secure a political agreement have yet to bear fruit. Huge numbers of people are displaced, many of them still forced to seek protection in UN bases. We must use the upcoming anniversary to reflect on what more we can do to sharpen international pressure on South Sudan’s political and military leaders and to address the important accountability issues arising from the conflict.