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Press Conference by Security Council President on Work Programme for January

The protection of civilians and current tensions stemming from the situation in Syria would be among the priorities of the Security Council in January, the Permanent Representative of Uruguay, President of the 15-member body for the month, said today at a Headquarters press conference.

Providing an overview of the body’s forthcoming work, Elbio Rosselli of Uruguay said the Council would on 19 January hold an open debate on the protection of civilians, and that his country’s Deputy Foreign Minister, José Luis Cancela, would preside over the meeting.

The Council would also dedicate a number of meetings on the Middle Eastern region, he said.  Discussions on Syria would focus on, among other things, the question of chemical weapons.  The organ would also hear a briefing on 27 January that would touch upon the related resolution 2254 (2015).  An open debate on the Middle East would be held on 26 January and would be chaired by Uruguay’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Rodolfo Nin Novoa.

Referring to the Council’s calendar of meetings, he said they included updates by top officials on operations in Africa.  The Council was expected, on 27 January, to vote on a resolution on sanctions against the Central African Republic.  Briefings would also be made on 11 January on developments regarding the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and, on 13 January, on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).

On 14 January, the 15-member body would hear updates on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and on 20 January would be briefed on the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), he said.  There would be briefings on 21 January on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on 28 January.

The Council was also expected to hold a meeting on troop-contributing countries on 13 January regarding the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and, on 28 January, would vote on the extension of that mission’s mandate, which would end 31 January.

On 29 January, the Council would hear a briefing on the implementation of Note S/2010/507 on the body’s working methods.

Opening the floor to questions, he fielded queries on a range of issues, including the Middle East and recent events in the region.

Asked about the current situation involving Iran and Saudi Arabia and whether it would trigger a collapse of discussions on a ceasefire in Syria, he said that members of the Security Council were working on the issue and had not yet come to a conclusion.  The organ had received communications from Saudi Arabia, but not from Iran, he went on to say.  Asked if a special meeting would be held on the issue, he said the Council was prepared to take necessary initiatives and consultations would be held.  Action would be taken contingent on those discussions, he said.

Responding to another question on Syria, he said the situation regarding the ceasefire process was in flux and he hoped current tensions could be calmed.  The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was expected to brief the Council on 21 January, he said, expressing a willingness to hear from him before that date.  To a related question, he said that Council consultations on chemical weapons and weapons smuggling in Syria would be carried out at the request of the Russian Federation.  Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman would be briefing the Council on Yemen and the border issue, he said.

Turning to several questions about the open debate on the Middle East, he said the region required specific attention and noted that it was appropriate that Uruguay’s Foreign Minister would lead the meeting and invite other ministers to participate.

Asked if a presidential statement was expected at either open debate, he said the Council intended to reach an agreement on a summary on the protection of civilians.  Responding to related questions, he said that an open debate would address all aspects on civilian protection.

Asked about a possible January trip to Burundi, he said there was an interest and details on dates and a briefing on the situation there were pending.

Turning to questions on the Central African Republic, he said a briefing would be given by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous.  The Secretary-General was expecting an increase of 68 posts in Bangui.

To a question on a ceasefire in Colombia, he said Council members were always available to receive requests.

Addressing a query about his comments on the selection of the next United Nations Secretary-General, he said, in his national capacity, that he welcomed the transparency of the process and preferred a female candidate.  To a question about geographical balance, he said his delegation welcomed the emergence of a good candidate and that he or she would be taken into account based on the individual’s qualifications.  Answering in his capacity as Council president, he said the body had received a letter from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia mentioning candidates.

Asked if the Council would take action on the recent incidents of breaches of foreign embassies abroad, he said the body’s members would discuss the issue as it concerned security.

With regard to Uruguay’s legalization of marijuana, he said, in his national capacity, that his country was committed to try a new approach to tackle the drug issue.

For information media. Not an official record.