Peace and security in Africa, as well as ongoing situations of concern elsewhere, will top the agenda of the Security Council in October, Jerry Matthews Matjila (South Africa), Council President for the month, told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference today.
“Africa is the core of the Council’s work every week this month,” he noted. Highlighting the 2 October debate that will focus on mobilizing youth for the African Union initiative, “Silencing the Guns by 2020”, he voiced hope that a presidential statement on the matter would be adopted in the course of the month. On 3 October, there will be a briefing on Sudan sanctions as well as action on renewing authorization for the interception of crafts suspected of people smuggling off the coast of Libya.
The second thematic debate on peace and security in Africa is scheduled for 7 October, on preventative diplomacy, conflict prevention and resolution, he continued. The meeting will be an opportunity to share experiences in diffusing tensions peacefully across the continent. “Before an implosion, differences should be subject to national dialogue,” he explained in response to a correspondent’s question on protests in Egypt, adding: “I hope the theme will encourage people to sit and talk.” That week will also include a briefing on United Nations missions in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A briefing and adoption on the joint border mechanism between Sudan and South Sudan supported by the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) is scheduled the week of 14 October, as well as a briefing on the African Union‑United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Also planned is a debate on the transition of support for justice and security institutions in Haiti. In addition, there will be consultations on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force [Golan] (UNDOF).
Between 22 and 25 October, a Council visiting mission is planned for the annual consultative meeting with the African Union Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The visit will include a one‑day trip to South Sudan and will be the subject of a briefing in the Council Chamber scheduled for 30 October. Priorities in talks with the African Union include the situations in the Central African Republic and the Sahel. He also anticipated an intense discussion on Libya towards a coordinated policy, he said in response to a question, because the African Union feels sidelined on the issue.
Briefings on the situation in Mali and the humanitarian situation in Syria are set for 21 October, he continued. The periodic open debates on the Middle East and women, peace and security are scheduled on 28 and 29 October, respectively, with women Foreign Ministers from all over the world planning to attend the latter event. That last week will also include a briefing on Burundi, requested by that country and consultations on the International Court of Justice, along with expected mandate renewals of MINURSO and UNAMID and the final briefing for the year on Kosovo. “There are 40 meetings already planned before we start the month,” he noted, adding, “It’s going to be a very packed programme.”
In response to further questions from correspondents, Mr. Matjila said that there were ongoing discussions on pushing forward a resolution to boost cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, with 14 Council members supporting existing proposals and the United States willing to talk about it. There are also ongoing discussions about support to build capacity for forces in West Africa. Those forces are fighting a terrorist threat that has become mobile, hi‑tech and tied to criminal enterprises, he pointed out, adding that coordination with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was an important part of that matter.
Responding to questions regarding the separatist conflict in Cameroon, he noted that it is not on the Council’s agenda, but that national dialogue has been welcomed by the African Union, which urged that the process be as inclusive as possible. Asked about xenophobic attacks against Zimbabweans in South Africa, he replied that the Council has determined that internal affairs in his country are not a threat to international peace and security.
On Syria, he explained that a political meeting on the conflict had not been scheduled because the last one had occurred late in September. However, developments might push forward the meeting as well as discussions on a new resolution. On Kashmir, he commented that the Council is unfortunately so divided that last month it could not even issue a paragraph‑long statement on it, adding: “I don’t see a consensus statement in the near future.” On a question about the re‑endorsement of the Iran nuclear deal, he stressed that wide support for it continued in the Council as did appeals to Iran to keep its part of the bargain despite the United States withdrawal. “At some stage, however, there has to be a discussion of what we should do,” he said.
Commenting on rising tensions on trade and other issues between China and the United States, he said that the Council does not normally discuss bilateral trade issues, but in general urged all countries to talk to resolve differences. In addition, there were no plans to meet on extrajudicial killings in Venezuela, he said, noting that the Human Rights Council is seized with the issue.
For the full programme of work, please see: https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/events/calendar.