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3 February 2020

Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for February

Meetings to consider children in armed conflict, as well as transitional justice will be among the significant Security Council events to be held in February, Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Belgium), its President for the month, said at a Headquarters press conference today.

Outlining the Council’s work programme for the month, he announced that Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, is expected to address the 15-member organ on the Middle East peace process.

On 12 February, the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, Philippe Goffin, Belgium’s Foreign Minister, will chair the briefing on ways to integrate child protection into peace processes.  King Philippe and Queen Mathilde will be in attendance, with the former expected to deliver a statement on behalf the Belgian delegation, he added.

The President explained that the meeting is intended to give visibility to a guidance document published recently by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, adding that the Council is expected to adopt a presidential statement on the matter.  Briefers will include António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General; Smaïl Chergui, African Union Peace and Security Commissioner, and civil society representative Jo Becker, Chair of the Advisory Board of Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict.

On 13 February, the President continued, the Council will convene an open debate on how transitional justice contributes to peacebuilding and to the avoidance of relapse into conflict.  It will hear briefings delivered by Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Francisco de Roux, President of Colombia’s Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition; and Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director of South Africa’s Foundation for Human Rights and Trustee of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre and Chair of the Commission of Human Rights in South Sudan.

Another signature event will be a briefing on 25 February to address cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union, he said, adding that Josep Borrell, the regional bloc’s new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will address Council members.

Turning to the Middle East peace process, he said President Abbas is expected to brief the Council on 11 February, days after closed-door consultations on 6 February, during which Jared Kushner, Adviser to the President of the United States, will explain his country’s Middle East peace plan.

The President said that, on 5 February, the Council will hear briefings on small arms by Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and a thinktank expert.  On 6 February, members will hear a briefing by the Prime Minister of Albania, Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

He said the Council will hold its monthly meetings on Syria, focusing separately on chemical weapons and political and humanitarian issues.  The meeting on the humanitarian track, to be held on 27 February, will take up a report of the Secretary-General on the feasibility of using alternatives to the Al Ya’rubiyah crossing for the delivery of aid.

Asked about news reports that President Abbas will present an alternative to the plan announced by the United States, the Council President said he does not have that information.  Questioned as to what he would ask Mr. Kushner, he said that would be up to Council members.  The Council will recall various resolutions adopted on the issue, he added, emphasizing that a solution must be reached through negotiations and on the basis of internationally agreed parameters.  On the possibility of a resolution, he said he has not yet seen a text but confirmed that efforts are ongoing.

Concerning possible Council plans to take up the coronavirus issue, he said there is no such request at the moment, adding that he does not see it being discussed in the Council unless it poses a threat to international peace and security.

Asked whether the Council will meet earlier to consider the dire humanitarian situation in Syria’s Idlib Governorate, he said members addressed that issue last month and will closely watch development until the next meeting, towards the end of February.  As for chemical weapons, he said there has been no change in divergent positions.

Regarding the possibility of a resolution on Libya, he said differences over content and timing remain, noting that, initially, the idea was to adopt a resolution immediately after the Berlin Conference.

As for the Iran nuclear deal, he said the Council has no meetings planned because an ongoing process is addressing that issue in Vienna.

Questioned about the proposal by China and the Russian Federation to ease sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said differences and tensions among Council members persist.

For the full programme of work, please see: www.un.org/securitycouncil/events/calendar.

For information media. Not an official record.