Sanctions Critical Tool if Coupled with Stakeholder Dialogues, Updated Weapons Lists, Monitoring of Evasions, Subsidiary Bodies Tell Security Council
Outgoing Chairs of Security Council subsidiary bodies emphasized to the 15-member organ today the importance of listening to varied perspectives, conducting field visits and remaining free of political considerations, as speakers alternately highlighted the importance of sanctions regimes and suggested ways to ensure they are developed and used effectively.
Over the course of the meeting, the Chairs of nine subsidiary bodies briefed the Council on the work of Committees and Working Groups concerning, inter alia, certain terrorist groups and the situations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Libya, Afghanistan and Mali.
Fergal Mythen (Ireland), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning al-Shabaab, detailed his delegation’s innovations during its time as Chair. Ireland was the first to invite Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and for Children in Armed Conflict to brief the Committee, he said, emphasizing that such briefings should occur regularly going forward. “Sanctions must be a dynamic tool,” he stressed, stating that dialogue with stakeholders is critical for sanctions regimes to remain effective and evolve in line with changes on the ground. Noting that four senior members of al-Shabaab were listed under targeted sanctions during Ireland’s time as Chair, he said this demonstrates the regime’s utility as an accountability tool in Somalia. While he was not able to visit Somalia as the Committee’s Chair, he recommended that such a visit take place as a matter of priority in 2023.
Mona Juul (Norway), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) relating to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, stressed that the sanctions regime remains an important instrument to curb Pyongyang’s ability to fund its weapons-of-mass-destruction programme. Noting that the Committee was able to reach consensus on a conversion rate for restrictions on delivery of refined petroleum products — a so-called “oil cap” — she suggested that the Committee also update weapons control lists and seek further designations of vessels and individuals who contribute to sanctions evasion. On developments in the Working Group, she spotlighted the unanimous adoption of a resolution concerning the protection of education and armed conflict, proposed by her country and Niger.
Ruchira Kamboj (India), Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Committees established pursuant to resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1988 (2011) concerning Libya and Afghanistan, respectively, detailed the work of those subsidiary bodies. Emphasizing that the 5 permanent members of the Council should respect the positions of the 10 elected ones, she expressed concern that the functioning of Committees is still not transparent. Subsidiary bodies are still shrouded in mystery — especially to non-Council members — and the credibility of any Committee depends on how objective and fair its decisions are perceived to be. Any impression that decisions are made based on political preferences rather than objective, evidence-based reasoning, she stressed, will continue to damage the Committees’ credibility.
Michael Kapkiai Kiboino (Kenya), Chair of the ad hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, stated that its guiding principle was “Listening Better to African Country Perspectives, and Learning Lessons from Successes in Conflict Prevention, Resolution and Transition”. In this vein, the Group organized bilateral consultations with African countries, inviting them to share their experiences and perspectives. Urging the Council to remain seized of topics discussed in the Group, he also suggested that the subsidiary body consider utilizing field visits to enrich its deliberations. On that point, he urged future Chairs to consider making an annual trip to Addis Ababa to gain an enhanced understanding of the African Union’s work on conflict prevention, management and resolution.
Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez (Mexico), Chair of the Committees established pursuant to resolutions 1540 (2004) and 2374 (2017) concerning non-proliferation and Mali, respectively, reported on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the work of both subsidiary bodies. On the latter Committee’s work, he noted that it worked to promote greater coordination of the sanctions regime by holding meetings with representatives of Mali and other regional stakeholders. This facilitated the identification of opportunities to enforce international travel bans on eight listed individuals. Underscoring the importance of country visits, he urged the authorities of Mali and nations in the region to facilitate the same.
Trine Skarboevik Heimerback, Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida, spotlighted the need to maintain Council unity through continuous efforts by all members, both permanent and elected. Stressing that the Committee must remain focused on its core tasks, she said the sanctions regime would have benefited if the Committee was able to agree on more proposed designations before it. Using the sanctions regime as a tool to promote other agendas will only harm its efficacy and legitimacy, she said, adding that the Committee would also have benefited from discussing sexual and gender-based violence committed by ISIL/Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates.
The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 3:58 p.m.
Briefings from Subsidiary Bodies
FERGAL MYTHEN (Ireland), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning al-Shabaab, said his delegation has tried to be as innovative as possible in its role as Chair, including by widening the scope of the Committee’s discussions. Ireland looked for new voices to brief the Committee, inviting Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, for example, to provide her perspective. This was the first time the Special Representative on this topic briefed the Committee. Noting the dramatic increase in such violence in Somalia, he said the Special Representative called on the Committee to use the tools at its disposal to deliver justice and accountability. He went on to report that Ireland was also the first to invite the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, to brief the Committee. Grave violations against children have been consistently highlighted in Somalia, and there is a clear link to the Committee’s work. Noting that the Special Representative also called on the Committee to use tools at its disposal to provide accountability, he emphasized that this briefing should occur more regularly. Turning to another innovation during Ireland’s tenure as Chair, he said the Committee held a joint meeting with the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014) concerning Yemen. This was a successful example of coordination between different, but linked, regimes, he said, highlighting the clear links in terms of illicit smuggling routes. “Sanctions must be a dynamic tool,” he stressed, stating that dialogue and engagement with key stakeholders are critical if regimes are to remain effective and evolve in line with changes on the ground. In this regard, he welcomed the United Kingdom’s work during the most-recent mandate renewal to reinforce the Committee’s focus on engaging with Somalia in supporting its capacity to tackle key challenges. He went on to note that, during Ireland’s time as Chair, four senior al-Shabaab members were listed under targeted sanctions, which shows the regime’s utility as an accountability tool in Somalia. While he was not able to visit Somalia during Ireland’s time as Chair — due in part to restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — he recommended that such a visit take place as a matter of priority in 2023. On preserving humanitarian space, he underscored the “immense value” of the humanitarian carve-out for Somalia, also spotlighting the resolution Ireland introduced — along with the United States — providing for such a carve-out across all United Nations sanctions regimes.
MONA JUUL (Norway), Chair of the Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) relating to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, recalled a troubling increase in ballistic missile tests, unprecedented in frequency, diversity and scale. She stressed that the sanctions regime remains an important instrument to curb the ability of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fund its weapons of mass destruction programme. She reported that the Committee found consensus on a conversion rate for restrictions on delivery of refined petroleum product, the so-called oil cap. She suggested that the Committee update weapons control lists, including weapons of mass destruction ballistic missile dual use lists, and seek further designations of vessels and individuals who contribute to sanctions evasion.
Turning to the humanitarian situation, she reported expedient processing of humanitarian exemptions aimed at facilitating humanitarian assistance, commending Member States’ expedient granting of such exemptions. She expressed regret that only a small amount of humanitarian assistance reached the country due to border closures imposed by the Government. Highlighting the work of the panel of experts, she outlined information on sanctions evasions and weapons programmes and underscored the importance of closer cooperation of the panel with Member States and the Committee.
Regarding developments of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, she reported that conclusions on several country situations were adopted. The Committee also received and reviewed the Global Horizontal Notes and conducted briefings on situations of concern. Together with Niger, Norway proposed the first ever standalone resolution on the protection of education in armed conflict, which was unanimously adopted. Noting that political instability and regime changes in several countries affected the dynamics of the Working Group, she said that, through its Embassies and Groups of Friends, Norway sought to promote implementation of the respective conclusions and strengthen protection of children.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), President of the Security Council, spoke as Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the Security Council Committee concerning Libya and the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011). The Counter-Terrorism Committee aims at ensuring implementation of Council resolutions related to counterterrorism, which he assessed through 28 meetings and 10 assessment visits in the field. Coherence between different agencies through a one-United Nations approach was promoted and the participation of civil society organizations, women, youth, and other private stakeholders encouraged.
Further, the Committee on Libya transacted in seven meetings, 575 written notes, 26 exemption requests, considered 70 mandated reports and participated in seven briefings of the Security Council. The Committee supported the overall political objective of securing peace and stability in Libya as well as Libyan wealth remaining in Libyan hands. Turning to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011), she explained that its main task is to administer assets freeze, travel bans and arms embargo measures against entities associated with the Taliban. After the Taliban took power in August 2021, the Committee met three times to discuss the evolving situation, resulting in four outcome documents. On 30 August 2021, the Council adopted Resolution 2593 (2021).
In conclusion, she said it is important for the five permanent members of the Council to respect the consensus of the elected 10 and take their preferences seriously. She lamented that the functioning of the Committees is still not transparent, and that they are shrouded in mystery, especially to non-Council members. The credibility of a Committee depends on how objective and fair its decisions are perceived to be, as any impression that decisions are being taken based on political preferences rather than objective, evidence-based reasoning, will continue to damage the credibility of the Committees, she added.
MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya), Chair of the ad hoc working group on conflict prevention and resolution in Africa, stated that the guiding principle of the Working Group was “Listening Better to African Country Perspectives, and Learning Lessons from Successes in Conflict Prevention, Resolution and Transition”. The Group organized bilateral consultations with African countries and invited countries concerned to share their experiences and perspectives. In total, the Committee convened nine meetings. Two were on the annual programme of work and three on preparations for two meetings between the Security Council and African Union Peace and Security Council. The remaining four were held on thematic issues: doing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration better; implementation of the Secretary-General’s reports on causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa; addressing national conflict situations featuring terrorist groups and illegal armed groups with a transnational character; and peace processes and peace agreements.
He said the two Councils were able to discuss and agree on the way forward on the promotion of peacebuilding for sustaining peace in Africa; strengthening peace operations in Africa, situation in Somalia; combating terrorism and violent extremism; support to the Southern Africa Development Community Mission in Mozambique; situation in West Africa and the Sahel and in the Great Lakes region; and application of sanctions in conflict situations. He urged the Security Council to remain seized of these topics, hoping that discussions and recommendations from the Working Group can be followed-up. To enrich its deliberations, the Working Group should consider utilizing field visits, he said, adding that the Chair of the Working Group should consider making an annual trip to Addis Ababa to gain an enhanced understanding of the African Union’s work on conflict prevention, management and resolution.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) and the Committee concerning Mali established pursuant the resolution 2374 (2017), recalling the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on the initial stretch of the Chairpersonship, reported that the Council approved two technical extensions of the Committee’s mandate so that it could complete the comprehensive review. In parallel with the review, the Committee coordinated efforts of assistance, currently accounting for 20 requests from 18 Member States and participated in assistance workshops. The Group of Experts participated in various outreach events globally and conducted open consultations with all Member States, regional and international organizations, academic institutions and industry fora.
Noting that the Council extended the mandate of the Committee and Group of Experts for 10 years, he noted that, for the first time, the Council encouraged the Committee to pay attention to full, equal and meaningful participation of women. He also underscored the importance of the Committee in following developments in science and technology.
Turning to the Committee concerning Mali, he reported that the situation in the country was affected by a coup d’état in 2020 and 2021. However, despite difficulties caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic, the Sanctions Committee continued to monitor implementation of sanctions. He spotlighted that the final report of the Group of Experts enabled the Committee to ensure implementation monitoring of the Peace Agreements and promote greater coordination of the sanctions regime by holding meetings with representatives of Mali and other countries and organizations in the region. This contributed to the identification of opportunity areas to enforce international travel bans on eight individuals on the sanctions list. Underscoring the importance of country visits by experts, he urged the authorities of Mali and countries in the region to facilitate these visits.
TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway), noting that the 1267 Committee on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh and Al-Qaida meets roughly once per month, said that, as with other sanctions committees, its decisions are made by a written procedure, and consensus. It is by far the largest sanctions regime in terms of designations, with about 255 individuals and 88 entities worldwide on the list, she pointed out. During her time on the Committee, it added four individuals, and two entities to the sanctions list, she said, noting that it also delisted three entities and 14 individuals as part of the annual review or after recommendations from the Ombudsperson.
Offering some personal reflections, she said maintaining the unity of the Council requires continuous efforts by all members, both permanent and elected. Stressing that the work of the Committee must remain focused on its core tasks, she said the sanctions regime would have benefitted further if the Committee agreed on more of the designation proposals it had under consideration. Using the sanctions regime as a tool to promote other agendas will only harm its effectiveness and legitimacy, she said, adding that the Committee would also have benefitted from expanding its view to assess and discuss sexual and gender-based violence committed by ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida and its affiliates.
Noting that the Committee was able to agree on the proposed appointment of the current Ombudsperson without undue delay, as was experienced in the past, she highlighted the Ombudsperson’s instrumental role in safeguarding due process and ensuring the legitimacy of the sanctions regime. Expanding that mandate or introducing similar procedural guarantees in the context of all United Nations sanctions regimes would benefit their overall effectiveness, she said, welcoming adoption of Council resolution 2653 (2022) concerning the situation in Haiti, as well as last week’s resolution on humanitarian carveouts.