Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for February
In February, the Security Council will hold a signature event on the international security implications of sea-level rise, as well as a meeting on the first anniversary of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, its President for the month told a Headquarters press conference today.
Vanessa Frazier (Malta) — whose country currently holds the 15-nation Council’s rotating presidency — said members and non-member States will participate in a high-level open debate on sea-level rise on 14 February, to be chaired by Malta’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ian Borg. The meeting will explore ways in which sea-level-rise-related security risks are already a daily reality for many people around the world, with the heaviest burden falling on women, girls and people in small island developing States.
Mr. Borg will also chair two additional meetings on 23 and 24 February, she added. The former will focus on cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union, and will feature a briefing by Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The second meeting, on 24 February, will mark the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, and will be held under the agenda item “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine”.
Underlining Malta’s intention to conduct the Council’s business in an open, transparent manner and to engage safely with civil society — including women representatives — she said briefings by civil society members are expected at many of the Council’s February meetings. For example, a civil society speaker will join the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and other senior officials at a briefing on 13 February. That session will focus on prevention, she said, and will take place on the heels of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers — also known as “Red Hand Day”.
Other meetings throughout the month will focus on the situations in Libya, the Middle East (including the Palestinian Question), Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), as well as threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.
Ms. Frazier also responded to questions posed by members of several media outlets.
Responding to a request for more details about the meeting to be held on the anniversary of the conflict in Ukraine, she described the event as a high-level ministerial debate. Ukraine will participate under Rule 37 of the Council’s rules of procedure, but it remains unclear at what level. She also commented that there has been significant misinformation circulating about that event and noted that no resolution or other outcome is expected.
In response to a question about other planned meetings on the situation in Ukraine, she said briefings are currently scheduled for 6 and 8 February.
Asked whether any outcome is expected from the signature event on sea-level rise, she responded that the debate — which is particularly important to Malta as an island State — only seeks to provide an “elevated platform” to discuss that important phenomenon. Indeed, security and climate change need to be discussed more, as many countries have already cited sea-level rise as an existential crisis and a matter of peace and security.
Another correspondent, recalling that Ireland had tabled a resolution on climate change and international peace and security during its tenure on the Council — which was ultimately vetoed — asked whether Malta has any intention to put forward a similar resolution as part of its focus on sea-level rise. Ms. Frazier responded that there is currently no intention to bring up such a text.
The Ambassador was also asked to provide more details on the 9 February meeting to discuss threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. She responded that the session is a mandated regular meeting at which Under-Secretary-General for Counter Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov and the Acting Executive Head of Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, as well as a civil society representative, are expected to brief.
Asked about any possible meetings on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea sanctions regime, Ms. Frazier responded that a meeting on any agenda item will be placed on the Council’s programme of work if and when such a request is received. “We do expect that there will be a discussion on [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea],” she said in that regard.
Another correspondent pointed out that, after years of meetings on Syria’s chemical weapons file and very little progress, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has finally issued a report with findings about the parties responsible for a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, in 2018. Asked whether the Council will approach its regular meeting on that topic in a different way in light of that new information, Ms. Frazier described the submission of the OPCW report as a “very important development” that makes the Council’s work all the more vital. Fernando Arias, the OPCW Director-General, will be invited to brief the Council, and he expected to accept that invitation.
Among other questions, another correspondent pointed to rising tensions between Iran and Israel and asked whether the Council has received any requests to discuss the situation in February. Ms. Frazier responded that no such request has been received to date, but she would not be surprised if one was made in the coming days or weeks.
For the full programme of work, please see: www.un.org/securitycouncil/events/calendar.