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

Despite ongoing discussions about items on the Security Council’s draft programme of work for February — which have delayed its formal adoption — the 15‑member organ will proceed to convene several high-level debates in the first days of the month, Anatolio Ndong Mba (Equatorial Guinea), its President for February said at a Headquarters press conference today.

Citing concerns over tentative plans to hold the Council’s quarterly meeting on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on 7 February, he said that some members believe that convening every three months is too frequent for an open meeting on that subject.  Recalling a similar disagreement over an agenda item in September 2018 — when the Council declined to formally adopt any programme of work — he expressed hope that members will soon reach agreement on the outstanding issue and avoid a “regrettable” procedural vote.

Nevertheless, he said, plans are under way to hold two ministerial‑level debates next week.  On 4 February, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea will chair an open debate on mercenary activities, with a focus on Central Africa.  On 5 February, another open debate will tackle transnational crime at sea, building on the momentum generated by a recent Arria Formula meeting on that subject.

In addition, the Council plans to hold an open debate on 27 February to discuss the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns by 2020” initiative, he continued, emphasizing:  “This is a priority for Africa.”  The session is intended to raise the programme’s profile on the world stage and an outcome document is expected, he added.

He went on to say that Council members will undertake a field mission to Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau from 15 to 17 February.  On the former, he stressed that the Council “should visit success stories where crises have been overcome”, not just conflict zones.  As for Guinea-Bissau — which remains under Council sanctions — he noted that the country plans to hold two critical elections in 2019 and expressed hope that it will follow the same path out of conflict as Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.  He also voiced hope that the Council’s presence will send a strong message to national leaders that they must ensure peaceful, transparent and inclusive elections and help Guinea-Bissau “turn the page”.

Mr. Ndong responded to several questions as to whether the Council will hold meetings on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Occupied Palestinian Territory city of Hebron, Boko Haram’s activities or the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, among other agenda items.  He said discussions on the Hebron issue are under way following a specific request by one Council member, but there are currently no plans to hold open meetings on the other items.  However, “fresh things can always arise” on the Council’s agenda, he stressed.

Asked whether the Council plans to meet on a report released today by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) — overseeing sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — he said consultations on that topic are planned for 25 February, but no open meeting is currently scheduled.

Regarding the Council’s “mood on Yemen” following the Stockholm ceasefire agreement successfully negotiated in December 2018 — and several shaky subsequent weeks when its implementation seemed to be in question — he said the situation remains of serious concern.  However, members stand united around the Stockholm agreement and are worried about its implementation, he said, adding that they remain united in demanding that the parties respect the ceasefire terms.  Describing Yemen’s humanitarian situation as “on the brink”, he voiced his intention to convene a meeting to discuss it in February.

Asked about other specific issues, he said the Council is tentatively scheduled to convene a meeting on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on 13 February, and two others on Syria, including at least one briefing by Geir O. Pedersen, the Secretary-General’s newly appointed Special Envoy for Syria.  Meanwhile, the situation in Cameroon “falls outside the remit of my presidency”, he said.

When asked about the fate of a draft resolution — circulated in late 2018 — proposing the expenditure of United Nations assessed contributions to finance peacekeeping missions led by the African Union, he said the organization’s member States are reviewing the draft’s most recent version, and will then submit it to the Security Council.

Full programme of work:

For information media. Not an official record.