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Press Conference by Security Council Presidents on Programmes of Work for March, April

The Security Council Presidents for March and April presented the programmes of work for those months during a Headquarters press conference today, focus on four priority areas:  disarmament; women in conflict situations; international humanitarian law; and combating the financing of terrorism.

As such, the Council will hold open debates on women in peacekeeping and sexual violence in conflict, among other issues, they said.  François Delattre (France), President in March, said the Council will also convene an open debate on fighting the financing of terrorism on 28 March.

Also on the agenda, they said, is a visit to Mali from 21 to 25 March.  Council members will subsequently brief on their activities in Mali on 29 March, before hearing a briefing on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Briefings on other peace operations will cover the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on 8 March, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on 11 March and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) on 13 March.  The Council will also hold meetings on troop-contributing countries involved in UNMISS and MONUSCO, on 5 and 12 March, respectively.  Members are expected to vote on draft resolutions relating to UNMISS and UNAMA on 14 March, and on MONUSCO and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on 27 March.

The Council will hear briefings by the Chair of its Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) concerning the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, will brief on 19 March.  On the same day, it will consider a related draft resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) on Sudan will brief on 26 March.

Members will also hear briefings by the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office in the context of cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations.

Covering developments around the world, the Council will hold meetings on the situation in the Middle East as it hears briefings on Syria and Yemen on 18 and 19 March, respectively.  Another meeting on the Middle East is scheduled for 26 March, after which the Council will hear a briefing on the situation in Africa’s Great Lakes region.

Turning to April’s agenda, Christoph Heusgen (Germany), holder of the April presidency, said it will hold three open debates, the first on women in peacekeeping (11 April), sexual violence in conflict (23 April) and the Middle East (29 April).

He said the April agenda will begin with a 1 April briefing on international humanitarian law, chaired by the Foreign Ministers of France and Germany.  It will be followed by a briefing on 2 April, on supporting the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons ahead of that instrument’s 2020 Review Conference.  On 9 April, the Council will hear a briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) on 3 April, he said, adding that it will also hear briefings on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) on 17 April and on the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) on 30 April.  On 12 April, it is expected to take up draft resolutions on UNISFA and MINUJUSTH, and on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) on 29 April.  The Council will hold a meeting on troop‑contributing countries involved in MINURSO on 9 April.  In addition, the agenda includes briefings on the situations in Syria (4 and 18 April), Yemen (25 April) and Colombia (12 April), as well as Sudan and South Sudan (30 April).

At the outset of the press conference, Mr. Delattre explained the unprecedented Franco-German approach by saying the “innovative and pragmatic” approach is not a merging of the presidency, but an expression of close cooperation.  It rests on “regalvanizing” the Franco-German partnership at the United Nations in order to defend and uphold European values and a strong European perspective while defending and upholding multilateralism.  The approach reflects France’s partnership with others at a time when multilateralism is needed more than ever before, he emphasized.

The French-German initiative aims to encourage members to step back from “auto-pilot” and move away from posturing to get to the heart of the Council’s work — to achieve decisions to ensure peace and security.  Noting that servicemen say “fire and forget” when a missile is launched, he said that, in a similar vein, the Council seems to “vote and forget”, with other pressing matters taking over its focus.  New ways of working can have an impact, he added.

Mr. Heusgen echoed that sentiment, saying that many may see France and Germany historically as two countries that have fought many wars.  Now, however, archenemies have become the closest of friends, which can be a good example for others, he added.

Asked about possible meetings on the situations in Venezuela and Cameroon, Mr. Delattre recalled that a meeting on 28 February resulted in an impasse over a draft resolution that could not be reconciled.  Meanwhile, the Council will use other tools to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Venezuela.  On Cameroon, he stressed that the difficult situation is not being ignored, and that bilateral contacts are ongoing.

Concerning sanctions and the lack of results on the recent summit between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mr. Heusgen said the basic line of the sanctions committee is to assess threats from the latter country’s nuclear programme and come to a verifiable and permanent resolution.  Mr. Delattre added that the three rounds of sanctions imposed on Pyongyang have brought pressure to bear with a view to prying open a political process, adding that the lifting or easing of sanctions should not be on the Council’s agenda.

Asked about the lack of action on the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar and the possibility of imposing sanctions on that country, Mr. Heusgen said the Council must do everything possible to ensure safe, voluntary returns and to consider measures to ensure accountability for perpetrators of serious crimes.  The Government of Myanmar must set preconditions for safe returns, he added, stressing that the question of sanctions is not on the Council’s agenda.  Mr. Delattre added that pressure must be exerted to ensure commitments are implemented in accordance with the adopted road map, with the imposition of sanctions a last option to be used as a lever.

Responding to a question on plans for reform, Mr. Heusgen said efforts are needed to make the Council better reflect the real world.  Without reform, the Council will lose legitimacy, he warned, underlining the need to continue making progress in that regard.  Mr. Delattre said that, more broadly, the United Nations must step up partnerships, including with the African Union, World Bank and civil society, describing the Council as a key element in the reform initiative.

Asked about the technical difficulty of “twin presidencies”, Mr. Heusgen said the exercise of assembling the programme was a pleasure, with the common goal of strengthening multilateralism.  Mr. Delattre said the reaction from other Council members was positive.

When asked whether the Council will take action on the situation of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), including crimes committed by the terrorist group and the refusal by several European countries to accept foreign ISIL fighters, Mr. Delattre cited the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where perpetrators of war crimes were arrested and prosecuted.  Mr. Heusgen emphasized that the situation of returning foreign terrorist fighters must be examined more closely.

Full programme of work:

For information media. Not an official record.