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2 August 2021

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

The Security Council will focus on three major areas — maritime security, peacekeeping and terrorism — in August, alongside briefings on developing situations in the Middle East and other regions, its President for the month told a Headquarters press conference today.

T.S. Tirumurti (India) said an open debate on maritime security will be held via videoconference on 9 August.  Chaired by the Prime Minister of India, the debate will encompass such pressing issues as piracy and illicit trafficking in drugs, weapons and humans.

Technology and peacekeeping will be the theme of an in-person open debate on 18 August, he continued.  Citing recent achievements involving peacekeeping operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he said hospitals in Juba, South Sudan, have been improved and vaccines have been distributed to peacekeepers.  The debate will spotlight several issues, he said, including ensuring the safety of peacekeepers through technology and examining how to bring perpetrators of crimes against them to justice.

The Council will hear a briefing on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts on 19 August, he said.  Chaired by the Foreign Affairs Minister of India, he said members will discuss the Secretary-General’s latest report on the matter.

Earlier today the Council adopted a presidential statement on the drawdown of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), he said, adding that it will consider other peacekeeping operations and related concerns, including a briefing on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on 25 August.  On 30 August, the Council will take action on draft resolutions related to Mali sanctions, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).  It will also consider a draft resolution on the theme of protecting the protectors on 18 August.

In addition, August will feature briefings on countries and regions on the Council’s agenda, including one on 12 August on the situation in Somalia.  Briefings on the Middle East will focus on the situations in Yemen on 23 August and in Syria on 4 and 24 August, respectively.  The Council will also hear a briefing on the Israeli-Palestinian situation on 30 August.

Responding to wide-ranging questions from reporters, Mr. Tirumurti said discussions are ongoing about the possibility of producing outcome documents following the scheduled open debates.  Noting that counter-terrorism discussions reflect the Council’s desire to keep the spotlight on the issue, he said the Secretary-General’s related report focuses on the issue of financing and other concerns.  Emphasizing that the Council is discussing the concept of maritime security for the first time, he anticipated robust participation in the open debate on the issue.  Expressing hope that the engagement will be constructive, he said the meeting is not at all meant to take aim at specific Council members.

Elaborating on details about the open debate on technology, he said it will, among other things, examine a framework to address impunity for perpetrators of attacks against peacekeepers, adding that the related conviction rate is alarmingly low.  It is a matter of irony that peacekeepers operate in fragile States or in conflict situations, he said, underlining the importance of providing a related framework and assistance to countries to address attacks against them.  At the same time, technological developments are extremely important, he said, especially considering that those parties attacking peacekeepers are using superior technology.

Responding to a question about a current belief that United Nations peacekeepers are not impartial, he said national security forces should take the lead in fighting terrorism.  Mission mandates clearly outline tasks, which can include helping civilians after a natural disaster occurs, he said, adding that a professional peacekeeping force does not take sides.

Regarding the recent increase in the number of targeted killings, including an attack on the UNAMI compound, he said the Council will focus on this critical issue in its related discussions.  Responding to a question about a call on the Secretary-General to appoint an envoy for the protection of journalists, he said discussions have not yet been held with the Secretariat on the matter.  The Council has always stood by reporters and civilians, he added, expressing a deep concern about reports of targeted attacks.

Answering questions about recent developments in several countries, he said the issue of a possible peacekeeping mission in Haiti has formally been raised and discussions are ongoing.  The main concern right now is the safety and security of the United Nations mission currently operating in Haiti.  Regarding whether the Council will comment on a recent attack in Afghanistan, he expressed hoped that members can discuss the matter and issue a statement.

In terms of a possible new United Nations mission in Afghanistan, he said the Council is closely following peace talks, which will hopefully yield results.  The Council has also followed the situation in Myanmar very closely, he said, highlighting a forthcoming meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on its related initiative.  Meanwhile, the Council has not scheduled a meeting on Myanmar, but will consider the developing situation as it unfolds, he said.

Responding to questions about the appearance of the Delta variant amid the ongoing pandemic and its impact on the Council’s work, he said many country representatives remain unable to travel at this point.  As such, the Council will consider the situation as it develops in terms of the format of its meetings.  Every country must decide whether to attend in-person meetings, he said, adding that the Council is considering hybrid models, as needed.

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

For information media. Not an official record.