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

Open debates on “water, peace and security” and asymmetrical threats to peacekeeping would be highlighted by the Security Council this month, along with a range of items of ongoing concern, Fodé Seck (Senegal), Council President for November, told correspondents at Headquarters this afternoon.

Wider cooperation with regional organizations would also be a prominent theme, Mr. Seck said at the monthly press conference on the Council’s programme of work.  A more structured partnership with the African Union, including better ways to finance its peacekeeping operations, would be under consideration at an 18 November debate.  Enhancing cooperation with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation would be discussed at a 17 November briefing, particularly in the area of fighting extremism and terrorism, along with ensuring that such ills were not associated with one religion. 

The 22 November open debate on water and its security implications would address the fact that water scarcity was generating conflicts around the world and States as well as non-State actors were using water as a weapon of war, he said.  In its relations, Senegal was developing what he called hydro-diplomacy, which aimed for cooperation rather than confrontation.

Senegal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs was slated to preside over the ministerial-level debate on asymmetrical threats to peacekeeping planned for 7 November, Mr. Seck said.  It would address the threats posed by terrorists and other armed groups to peacekeeping in settings such as Mali, Somalia and Afghanistan.  Mandates were not always flexible enough to meet those challenges, he said.

An additional meeting focused on peacekeeping would hear briefings on 10 November from four United Nations police commissioners — those of Darfur, South Sudan, Haiti and Mali — he said, with all such commissioners invited to attend.

Council members would conduct a visiting mission to the Great Lakes region of Africa from 11 to 14 November, he went on, preceded by a briefing on the region on 2 November.

Mr. Seck also highlighted an Arria Formula meeting on Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) on 18 November, as well as a briefing on cybersecurity being planned together with Spain for 28 November.  The Council was also seized with numerous ongoing situations and regular business, he added, referring correspondents to the online programme of work.

Answering correspondents’ questions about the open debate on water, peace and security, Mr. Seck said it had been difficult to get Council members to accept the item, among other things, through an Arria Formula meeting on the subject in April, and there was no consensus on an outcome.  The Council would be briefed by a non-governmental organization that specialized in the issue.  The debate would be different from the open debate on maritime security, he said, stressing that the international community should pay more attention to the issue of water, peace and security through preventive diplomacy, as there was a lot potential for conflict.

Regarding membership of African Union countries in the International Criminal Court, he said it was up to individual States to decide whether to remain with the Court or not.  He reminded correspondents that Senegal had been the first State party to ratify the Rome Statute and would not abandon it.

Concerning the Council’s visit to the Great Lakes region, he said the visit was primarily meant for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which experienced a very tense pre-election period, in order to send a message of support.  The Council would also hear a briefing on Burundi.

In answer to another question, he said Secretary-General-designate António Guterres had held an informal dialogue with the General Assembly.  Such an exchange with the Security Council before Mr. Guterres would assume office might be possible and the Council would extend all possible help to him.

Asked about Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, he said the Senegalese mission had tried to move things forward, but had not been successful.  An Arria Formula meeting had been organized to raise more awareness, but a resolution would be difficult, although that was not due to a lack of will on the part of several Council members.  There were several initiatives — from France, Egypt and the Russian Federation — to re-launch the peace process.  Senegal had raised the matter of Gaza at the level of the non-permanent members of the Council.

Answering a question about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said the penholder of that file was tabling a draft resolution on what further measures to take in reaction to the country’s latest nuclear test.  He said he would look into the matter of a letter sent by a group of women to the Council regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and also into why that country was not invited to the Council to give its perspective on the conflict between it and the United States.

Asked how the Council would react to an investigation announced by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on whether the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was responsible for violence in Juba, he said the Council had asked for that report, would discuss it and shoulder its responsibility in that regard.

Answering another query, he said everyone was horrified by what was happening in Yemen, but the question was how to stop the violence.  There would never be a military solution.  One had to go back to the political process while tackling the humanitarian issue.  Some consensus might be built around the United Kingdom’s draft resolution on the matter.

He also informed correspondents that there would be a briefing on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) on 3 November.

For information media. Not an official record.