Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for October
The Security Council’s programme for October features four major debates, three of which will focus squarely on Africa, including one during the first week, on fighting the financing of armed groups and terrorists engaged in the illicit trafficking of natural resources, its President for the month told a Headquarters press conference today.
Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon) said that, despite the 15-member organ’s fragmentation preventing it from “full, concerted, sustainable action”, his country’s presidency would “strive to make efficiency, transparency and consensus key words in tackling substantive issues, as well as in its methods and means of working”. In opening his address, he observed that, although he would ordinarily suffer from stage fright before addressing a crowd, the breadth of responsibility entrusted to him, set against an international context when the very foundations of order were being shaken, left him no time for jitters.
On 11 October, he continued, a debate on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, focusing on the African Union, would be held, the expected outcome of which would be a presidential statement. The following day, another open debate would be held on “Threats to international peace and security: Climate and security in Africa”.
Later, on 20 October, an annual open debate would be held on the theme of women, peace and security, which would focus on strengthening women’s resilience in regions plagued by armed groups.
Turning to other scheduled activities during what would be a “very heavy month”, he said meetings will be held on Iraq, Mali, Haiti, Yemen, Sudan and South Sudan, among others. The month would provide an opportunity to focus on the African continent, given that 7 out of the United Nations 13 peacekeeping operations are located there, he added.
The Council will take up the renewal of several mandates, he went on, including those of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
Responding to a question on the recent coup d’etat in Burkina Faso — its second in eight months — he said it represented a “deplorable trend in the region”, on the heels of four other coups, including one in Mali and another in Guinea, as well as an attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau. “It is extremely concerning, and we wish to draw attention to the root causes of such instability, including through our debate on climate and security,” he said.
In response to a question about whether discussions would tackle the issue of poor governance in the continent, he replied that such analyses were “simplistic”, as they foregrounded some aspects and left out other background factors, such as the destabilizing effect of the illicit exploitation of resources. “Africa is experiencing the pillaging of its resources, which whets a lot of appetites, and make it a target of a larger geostrategic game,” he said, adding that the debate on 6 October on illicit financing of armed groups would try to shed light on such issues.
Turning to a smattering of questions about Gabon’s recent abstention on a resolution related to the annexation of four territories in Ukraine, he said that his country’s actions reflect their “constant position”, which adheres to the principles of the United Nations Charter and respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each State. When questioned further on this position, he emphasized: “The Council must be oriented towards seeking sustainable solutions, and we trying to do that now; we are trying to achieve a ceasefire there. Every time the principles of the Charter are endangered, our coexistence is threatened.” When pressed even further, he said: “What is of vital importance on the ground is for war to end; for humanitarian distress, devastation, and bombardment to end. War doesn’t end with positions of antagonism, but through negotiations and dialogue; through the signing of a treaty.” He added: “We wish to respect the position of each member [of the Council], and to also see our position respected.”
Asked about his views on the reform of the Council, he said it is evident that the world has changed since its formation in 1945, when most African States were not independent. The Council therefore needs to reflect present-day reality, in line with the Ezulwini Consensus, which hopes to see at least two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats allocated to African States, he said, adding: “African issues form the crux — 70 per cent — of the Council’s agenda. We’d like to not only be on the menu, but around the table.”
For the full programme of work, please see: www.un.org/securitycouncil/events/calendar.