6 December 2019

Press Conference by Security Council President on December Programme of Work

Upholding the credibility of the Security Council will be the focus of that organ’s United States presidency in December, the country’s Permanent Representative said at a Headquarters press conference today.

“We do face a credibility problem when we’re seen talking and not acting,” Kelly Craft noted during the monthly briefing on the 15‑member Council’s programme of work.  She added that, with the year ending, she looks for a realistic assessment of action over the past 11 months on all the agenda items to be discussed, including how to do better in moving forward on certain subjects while considering what can be eliminated from others.

She went on to note the importance of discussing what peacekeeping mandates should realistically accomplish by the end of 2020, emphasizing the need for a “morally grounded vision for our work”, and the importance of “reaffirming a vision placing human dignity at its centre, realizing we have the power to effect positive change”.  The Council is at a crossroads, she said, adding:  “The eyes of the world will be on the Council as we go into our seventy‑fifth year.”

In that regard, she highlighted the 3 December meeting on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), during which members underlined the Mission’s role in promoting human rights and constructive dialogue, as well as the need to hold Iraqi leaders accountable for the situation in their country.

Turning to Syria, she said “no issue has proved more damaging to the Council”, adding that much can be gained from reflecting back on the past 11 months.  Concerning the upcoming 19 December meeting on the political situation in that country, she said progress in convening the Constitutional Committee is a concrete reminder that the Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy requires strong support.  As for the meeting on humanitarian assistance held on the same day, she highlighted the importance of maintaining the cross‑border entry points into Syria in order to relieve suffering as the search for a political solution continues.

Similarly, she emphasized that the meeting on Yemen scheduled for 12 December must address the urgent need for the Houthis to lift restrictions on humanitarian access, noting Iraq’s support for them as well as the Gulf coalition’s opposition.  She added that the Riyadh Agreement represents hope for political progress and should be supported.  On Afghanistan, to be discussed on 16 December, she said one great concern is that the country not regress on women’s rights, underlining the importance of the opportunity for women to be educated for participation in the economy, to which they have much to contribute.

Turning to Africa, she recalled the Council’s recent visiting mission there, during which members saw at first hand the “political mess” and humanitarian crisis.  “I couldn’t believe what I saw,” she stressed.  “It is inexcusable.”  The Council agreed that the continent’s leaders must be held to account, she said, recalling further that women in dire situations repeatedly told the mission that they place all their hope in the Council’s visit.  Pointing out that 76 days have passed since the leaders promised to facilitate agreements within 100 days, she pledged:  “We are going to hold them accountable.”

The focus of today’s meeting on the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), she said, will be on implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic.  A briefing on peace and security in Africa, on 16 December, will focus on lessons learned in Côte d’Ivoire’s peace process, she added.

She went on to highlight the monthly briefing on the Israeli‑Palestinian situation — underlining the need for a mutually agreeable solution — as well as a meeting on non‑proliferation concerning Iran.

A correspondent cited a belligerent message from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to Council members threatening a “Christmas gift”, interpreted as a threat to launch a ballistic missile, asking whether the Council will meet to discuss the human rights in that country.  She said the issue has been discussed in closed consultations, but what is important is that the Council as a whole highlight its concern over any future ballistic missile launches.  “It doesn’t matter whether it’s Christmas or any day, we’re all very concerned.”  She noted, however, that no decision has yet been taken on holding a meeting proposed for 10 December.

In response to questions about the protests in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East, she said there is deep concern over the violence, as well as agreement that young people should be allowed to speak out and insistence on the need for peaceful solutions.

Asked about differences over Syria within the Council, she stressed that members are united on the need to help the Syrian people and on the need for accountability concerning the use of chemical weapons.  The renewal of authorization for cross‑border delivery of aid is now a topic of focus, but the text has not yet been negotiated, she said.  “Not everybody agrees, but we have a common theme — making sure the Syrian people are taken care of.”

For the full programme of work, please see:

For information media. Not an official record.