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

The Security Council would focus on Africa, the Middle East and a number of thematic issues, said Ramlan Bin Ibrahim (Malaysia), its President for the month of August, at a Headquarters press conference today.

On Africa, the 15-member body would address the situations in Sudan, South Sudan, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau, he said, and it had placed footnotes on its August agenda concerning possible meetings on Libya and Burundi.  Noting that the Council had blocked off the week of 15-19 August for a possible visit to Sudan and South Sudan if the security situation allowed, he added that, on 11 August, it would receive a briefing by Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Nicholas Haysom.

Regarding the Middle East, he said the Council would turn its attention to the three tracks of the Syrian crises, namely on humanitarian issues, political issues and chemical weapons.  It expected an update from Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura on 9 August and would discuss the grave humanitarian situation on 22 August.  In addition, the final report of the Syria Joint Inspection Mechanism aimed at determining the use of chemical weapons in the conflict would be released.

Noting that recent developments in Yemen — namely, the formation of a new political council by the Houthi faction — were of concern to the Council, he said the body was slated to take up the matter on 24 August but that such a meeting might be pushed up.

The Council would also hold two thematic debates over the course of the month.  The first, to be held on 2 August, would focus on children in armed conflict, providing a platform for Member States to discuss a new report of the Secretary-General, as well as to highlight national initiatives and best practices and make concrete proposals for measures to improve the implementation and effectiveness of the agenda.  Speakers would include Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui and Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Anthony Lake.

The second thematic debate, on weapons of mass destruction, would be held on 23 August.  It was aimed at raising awareness of trends and technologies facing the non-proliferation agenda, as well as technologies being used by non-State actors.

Responding to a number of questions about the ongoing selection process of the new Secretary-General, in particular about the reportedly leaked results of the last “straw poll”, which some said had jeopardized the credibility and transparency of the process, Mr. Ibrahim said the Council remained wedded to the idea of ensuring the confidentiality of the polls’ results.  “Of course, we are not deaf to the whispers,” he said, but there was a sense that the rules should be maintained because the information in the polls could be sensitive for some candidates.  He expressed his hope that there would be no leak the next time around.

Asked about the Council’s progress towards drafting a South Sudan resolution, and whether such a text might include arms embargos or an intervention brigade, he responded that there had been many proposals put forward and that he would provide more information on the matter when it became available.

To a question about the purpose of the Council’s proposed visit to Sudan and South Sudan, he said such a mission would be helpful in terms of implementing the peace agreement and finding ways to persuade parties to abide by what had been agreed, as well as scaling down the violence.

Asked about last week’s resolution on Burundi, which had asked the Secretary-General to establish a police component in the country, he said there had been intense discussion on the issue of the Burundian Government’s consent, and that the Council had been able to bridge its differences on the matter.  It was now up to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to look at the next stage of the component’s deployment.

Concerning the Council’s position on the long-standing conflict in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and about its view on the effectiveness of the Middle East Quartet, he responded that the body supported the Quartet and had been urging it and other major actors to make progress.  For its part, Malaysia hoped to hold an Arria Formula meeting on the specific issue of Israeli settlement activities, but the timing had not been right to hold such a discussion in August.

To a question about how the Council would respond to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent ballistic missile launch, he said he could not preclude the holding of discussions on that issue, which would take place if requested by Council members.

The issue of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 would not be addressed in August, he said, responding to a question about the Council’s reaction to the ongoing criminal investigation of that tragedy.  Once the investigation was concluded later this year, next steps would be considered through the avenues of international law.

For information media. Not an official record.