With Invasion of Ukraine, Security Council’s 2022 Efforts to Maintain International Peace, Stability Mired by Widening Rifts between Veto-Wielding Members
Despite Organ’s Stalled Action on Non-Proliferation Threats, Protracted Conflicts, Progress in Colombia Shows Peace, Reconciliation Possible
As the Security Council fully resumed in-person meetings, the invasion of Ukraine at the start of the year by the Russian Federation — a permanent, veto-wielding member of the Council — plunged the 15-nation organ into a fractious new normal, widening pre-existing rifts, making consensus more laborious than ever to achieve and impeding efforts to fulfil their responsibility in maintaining international peace and security.
The Council convened a total of 276 public meetings — up from 246 in 2021 — 46 of which were devoted to the situation in Ukraine. The proliferation of meetings was accompanied by fewer adopted resolutions: 54 in 2022, down from 57 in 2021 and 2020. As many as 18 of these adoptions — a third — were non-unanimous, compared to less than a sixth in 2021, a reflection of the Council’s internal dissension. Similarly, the elusiveness of unanimity led to its adopting considerably fewer presidential declarations, only 7, compared to 24 in 2021. However, the number of press statements issued rose to 67, from 60 in 2021.
The use of the veto also rose from once in 2021 to four times in 2022, wielded each time by the Russian Federation, twice on matters relating to Ukraine. That country’s veto on 25 February, in response to a resolution intended to bring its offensive against its neighbour to a halt, prompted the Council to refer that situation to the General Assembly, the first time it was doing so in 40 years. The constraints placed on the Council’s capacity to act prompted ever more vociferous calls for its reform. Newfound urgency around the use of the veto also prompted a brand-new precedent: In April, the General Assembly decided that it would meet automatically within 10 days of the use of the veto at the Council by one of that organ’s five permanent members.
Early in the year, Secretary-General António Guterres appeared before the Council to sound the alarm about urban warfare, which impacted 50 million people around the world, warning that civilians accounted for 90 per cent of those affected by the use of explosive weapons in urban spaces. That concern foreshadowed the fallout of the Ukraine war and the devastating human cost it would extract, a cost highlighted by many briefers in the course of the year, including the Director at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Ramesh Rajasingham, who warned in May that as many as 100 million civilians were fleeing such conflicts for the first time on record.
Throughout the year, the Council addressed issues related to women, peace and security, hearing from a range of briefers who underlined the need to increase women’s representation in peace processes, redress setbacks to gender equality resulting from the pandemic and address conflict-related sexual violence. That particular issue was the focus of an open debate in April, with Pramila Patten, Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, questioning what the Council’s resolutions on women, peace and security meant for women in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Ethiopia, as verified cases of sexual violence increased across the globe. The Council also heard from Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Goodwill Ambassador, who called for action and accountability, rather than moral outrage, and for Governments to support victims, who were too often left to pick up the pieces of their lives alone.
Despite the prevailing atmosphere of dissension, there were a number of issues upon which Council members agreed, including the need to improve the safety, security and well-being of its more than 80,000 peacekeepers, the majority of whom are deployed to the world’s most complex conflict environments. In July, during a ministerial-level open debate, Secretary-General Guterres warned of the potential deadliness of disinformation, and its ability to change “our blue flag from a symbol of security into a target for attack”. The Council then adopted a presidential statement emphasizing the need to improve strategic communications across peacekeeping operations’ civilian, military and police components. In December, the Council also unanimously adopted resolution 2668 (2022), recognizing the need to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and psychosocial support to United Nations peace operations personnel.
The Council also took up the topic of sanctions and their unintended consequences after a five-year spell. In February, Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, spotlighted the humanitarian carve-out in Afghanistan — first put in place in December 2021 — as a way to permit humanitarian aid to reach those at greatest risk. In December, consensus on that usually divisive issue was found in the adoption of resolution 2664 (2022) provided a standing humanitarian exemption to asset freeze measures imposed by United Nations sanctions regimes, which Council members also decided would apply for a two-year period to the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida sanctions regime.
Progress was also made in redressing the widespread socioeconomic and vaccine inequity that followed the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years. In April, the Council heard from Ted Chaiban, Global Lead Coordinator for COVID-19 Vaccine Country Readiness and Delivery, part of the COVAX Facility, an initiative aimed at effectuating equitable worldwide access to COVID-19 vaccines. He pointed out that, as a result of the partnership’s focus on 34 countries where coverage dwindled below 10 per cent, the first four months of the year saw the number of countries with coverage at or below that rate drop to 18 countries.
In a year when most conflict situations under the Council’s purview deteriorated or stayed in a frozen state, the situation in Colombia proved that peace and reconciliation was possible. Six years after the historic peace accord between the Government and the rebel group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), efforts to implement the agreement received a boost in June through the elections of Gustavo Petro as President, and Francia Márquez, the first Afro-Colombian Vice-President in the country’s history. Meeting in July, just ahead of President-elect Petro assuming office, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, told the Council of the new Government’s commitment to make peace and the implementation of the agreement a cornerstone of their policy. “There are good reasons for optimism for peace,” he reported.
However, Council divisions came to the fore during emergency meetings addressing the unprecedented flurry of intercontinental-ballistic-missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The first of these meetings in March convened following a dozen missile launches by Pyongyang in contravention of several Council resolutions, with one missile landing within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, called for the Council’s unity, as Japan’s representative decried that organ’s “long-regrettable silence”. In May, the Council attempted to adopt a resolution that would have strengthened sanctions on Pyongyang for its illegal launches. However, that text was thwarted by the Russian Federation and China’s use of the veto, who denounced the measures as counterproductive and inhumane. Several delegates voiced regret over the vote’s outcome, with Japan’s representative, once again, questioning what the Security Council was for if not to act in such cases and calling the reasons of those who voted against the draft “unconvincing”.
The Council’s divisions came into even sharper focus with the war in Ukraine as it addressed that conflict’s fallouts, including, among others, global food supplies and world-wide food shortages, fleeing of millions of refugees to neighbouring countries and the threat posed by the shelling of Zaporizhzhia Power Plant. In February, shortly after the Council met and Secretary-General Guterres urged the Russian Federation not to attack Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin announced the start of a “special military operation”. In the months that followed, the Council was briefed extensively on the war’s impact on civilian, as infrastructure was destroyed and casualties mounted. However, amid escalating concerns over the conflict’s consequences on global food security, the Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed in Istanbul in July. Designed to facilitate the safe transport of grain and foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports to developing countries at risk of food insecurity, Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo told the Council that this “beacon of hope” demonstrated dialogue between the parties was possible.
Nonetheless, United Nations officials returned to the Council time and again to urge an end to the war amidst continuing attacks on hospitals, schools and public services, as well as reports of civilians being arbitrarily detained, tortured and disappeared. Adding to tensions, the Russian Federation, in September, proclaimed annexation of certain Ukrainian regions, and as colder months approached, launched missile and drone strikes against critical energy infrastructure. While many Council members accused Moscow of weaponizing winter, the Russian Federation’s delegate said his country would use all available logistical and military means to protect its interests — one example of the diverging stances that defined the Council’s debates on this issue.
Similar divisions also played out during the Council’s 27 meetings addressing the situation in Syria, with differences cropping up regarding sanctions, the renewal of cross-border authorization for humanitarian aid in the country’s opposition-controlled north-west, the use of chemical weapons and even on the appropriate number of monthly meetings to be held on the country’s humanitarian and political situations. With the conflict entering its twelfth year in March, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen cautioned that little progress had been made in reconvening negotiations of the Syrian Constitutional Committee tasked in 2019 to draft a new Constitution. In August, he informed the Council that, although relative calm over the past two years had provided a “window to build a credible political process”, the opportunity had not yet been seized. That calm was shattered in subsequent months, following attacks by fighters from the Council-listed terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Afrin and pro-Government air strikes in the north-west as well as, in November, an upsurge of fighting across northern Syria between the Syrian Democratic Forces and Türkiye and armed opposition groups. Special Envoy Pedersen, noting that the Constitutional Committee had not met in six months, stressed that the absence of a credible political process only promoted further conflict and instability.
Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths, also briefing the Council on the dire humanitarian situation — compounded by fuel and water shortages and a spreading cholera outbreak — said that the number of Syrians requiring life-sustaining aid was expected to surpass 15 million in 2023. With the urgent need to renew the authorization keeping the Bab al-Hawa crossing between Syria and Türkiye open for humanitarian aid delivery to 4 million people in the north-west, negotiations were contentious, with the Council rejecting two competing resolutions. The first text, vetoed by the Russian Federation, would have left the border crossing open for 12 months, leading the delegate of the United States to deplore “one member taking the entire Council hostage with lives hanging in the balance”. Following protracted negotiations, the Council adopted resolution 2642 (2022) in July, a compromise text extending the use of the border-crossing for six months, until January 2023.
Although the ceasefire agreement reached in May 2021 between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas largely held, Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Council that escalating tensions, daily clashes and unchecked settlement activity were dimming hopes for a two-State solution. In August, the killing of a Palestinian teenager during an operation by the Israeli Defense Forces in Jenin refugee camp led to three days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants, leaving 46 Palestinians dead, including 4 children. Briefing the Council, Special Coordinator Wennesland welcomed efforts by Egypt and others in brokering a truce, pointing out that it helped prevent the outbreak of a full-scale war. In November, regarding attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in Hebron, Mr. Wennesland stressed: “Political leadership is required to reset a trajectory towards a two-State solution.” Nonetheless, the year also witnessed the signing on 13 October of the Algiers Declaration, in which 14 Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, agreed to recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
Libya entered 2022 mired in turbulence and political uncertainty, due to the postponement of national elections slated for December 2021. Briefing the Council, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo detailed steps taken to advance the electoral process, including establishing a road map committee to define a timetable and process for elections, which was then actualized in June in a high-level meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva. Still, consensus was not reached on the eligibility requirements for presidential candidates. In October, the newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Abdoulaye Bathily, told the Council that the solution must be based on the will of the Libyan people. The Libyan delegate, welcoming “a glimmer of hope” emerging from the Council, urged support for the electoral process. However, in December, Mr. Bathily reported that the situation had deteriorated on all fronts, with leaders failing to finalize a constitutional basis for elections. Nonetheless, progress on accountability for crimes committed in Libya in 2011 was made, with newly appointed International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan visiting the country in November, marking the first visit of his office since the Council referred the situation to the Court more than a decade ago.
The conflict in Yemen entered its eighth year, with a surge in attacks beyond Yemen’s borders and into the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia by Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis. By March, Under-Secretary-General Griffiths informed the Council that as many as 23.4 million Yemenis needed assistance, warning that the country was becoming a chronic emergency, marked by hunger, disease and other miseries that were rising faster than aid agencies could reverse. In April, a United Nations-brokered truce between the Government of Yemen and Houthi rebels brought some respite from hostilities, which Hans Grundberg, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, stressed represented the best opportunity for peace in Yemen in years. However, the agreement was not renewed once it expired in October.
The situation in West Africa and the Sahel also remained complex and volatile, with Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), informing the Council that transnational organized crime — facilitated by corruption — was perpetuating instability, violence and poverty. Council members also expressed concern about the withdrawal of Mali from all Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) bodies, including the joint force, forcing the subregional organization to shift its headquarters from Bamako, the capital of Mali, to N’Djaména in Chad. However, the region also experienced positive developments, in the form of regional diplomatic efforts towards achieving lasting peace, through the regional Heads of State Conclave held in April in Nairobi, which the Council welcomed through a presidential statement in June.
In March, Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) outlined to the Council measures taken to assist operations of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces to curb the activities of armed groups, including the 23 March Movement (M23). The Council issued a great many press statements condemning attacks by armed groups against both civilians and peacekeepers in the region, including one in February that killed 58 civilians in a camp for internally displaced persons in Ituri Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Among other developments, the Council devoted several meetings in 2022 to Haiti, which has been gripped by overlapping security, economic and humanitarian crises, as well as a rapidly spreading cholera outbreak, since the assassination in 2021 of President Jovenel Moïse. In October, following the blockade by criminal gangs of the country’s primary fuel source, Prime Minister Ariel Henry appealed to the international community for help. The Council responded soon after by establishing a sanctions regime on Haiti — its first new sanctions regime since 2017 — unanimously adopting resolution 2653 (2022).
In addition, the Council met in December to adopt its first-ever resolution on Myanmar, resolution 2669 (2022), by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (China, India, Russian Federation). By the text, it demanded an immediate end to violence throughout the country and urged restraint and the de‑escalation of tensions. It also urged the Myanmar military to release arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. It also devoted two meetings to the situation in Azerbaijan, following clashes breaking out on the border with Armenia in September.
Following are summaries of public meetings held in 2022:
Meetings: 31 January, 17 February, 21 February, 23 February. 25 February, 27 February, 28 February, 4 March, 7 March, 11 March, 14 March, 17 March, 18 March, 23 March, 29 March, 5 April, 11 April, 19 April, 5 May, 6 May, 12 May, 13 May, 19 May, 6 June, 21 June, 28 June, 29 July, 11 August, 23 August, 24 August, 6 September, 7 September, 8 September, 22 September, 27 September, 30 September (vote), 30 September (briefing), 21 October, 26 October, 27 October, 31 October, 2 November, 16 November, 23 November, 6 December, 9 December.
Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2022/3.
With the conflict in Ukraine entering its eighth year, 2022 began with uncertainty in the Council as the decision to hold the year’s first meeting on Ukraine under the agenda item “Threats to international peace and security” was put to a procedural vote. Of the 46 meetings held on Ukraine, 15 were held under this agenda item, 18 were held under “Maintenance of Peace and Security in Ukraine”, 2 were held under “Maintenance of International Peace and Security” and 11 were held upon request by letters by the Permanent Representatives of either the Russian Federation or Ukraine to the President of the Security Council.
Following several months of heightened tensions, the United States requested a meeting on 31 January, under the agenda item “Threats to international peace and security” to discuss the Russian Federation’s military build-up along Ukraine’s borders. While the Russian Federation opposed the meeting — stating that positioning troops within its territory was a domestic matter — 10 Council members supported holding it. The Russian Federation and China cast votes against holding the meeting and Gabon, India and Kenya abstained. Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs then briefed the Council, citing the Russian Federation’s reported deployment of over 100,000 troops and heavy weaponry along border areas, along with the unspecified numbers of Russian troops and weaponry sent to Belarus for joint military drills. She also noted that members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were reportedly planning additional deployments in the alliance’s Eastern European States, with 8,500 troops on high alert. While the United States’ representative stressed that the Council must not only address conflicts after they occur — but prevent them from happening in the first place — the Russian Federation’s delegate rejected accusations that Moscow intended to attack Ukraine.
On 17 February, following the Russian Federation’s assumption of Council presidency, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo briefed the 15-nation organ again, underscoring the danger of the current situation and stressing that the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the 2015 Minsk Agreements was the only Council-endorsed framework for a negotiated, peaceful settlement. Mikko Kinnunen, Special Representative for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine, cautioned that, while it had become popular to accuse participants of violating those accords, none have fully implemented the agreements’ provisions. Sergey Vershinin, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, spotlighting the meeting’s goal of reaffirming support for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, urged the Council to avoid speculation about plans for a Russian Federation invasion. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s representative expressed concern about a recent appeal by one of the chambers of the Russian Federation’s Parliament to recognize the occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine as so-called “peoples’ republics”.
Four days later, on the night of 21 February, the Council held an emergency meeting at Ukraine’s request, which followed the Russian Federation’s decree to recognize the independence of certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, sounding alarm over Moscow’s decision to deploy its troops into eastern Ukraine reportedly on a peacekeeping mission, urged that negotiation was the only way to address differences over regional security and the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Delegates met again, at Ukraine’s request, in another late-night emergency meeting on 23 February, as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres cited rumours of an imminent offensive and urged Russian President Vladimir V. Putin to stop Russian Federation troops from attacking Ukraine. Nearly an hour into the meeting, President Putin announced the start of a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine in a televised speech. The representative of Ukraine, who had called for the emergency meeting, asked the representative of the Russian Federation if he would state on record that Russian troops were not shelling Ukrainian cities. In turn, the Russian Federation’s representative said that the root of the crisis lay in Kyiv’s provocations against Donbas — the region encompassing Donetsk and Luhansk — which prompted the leaders of the two republics to turn to Moscow for military support.
Amid the unfolding crisis, the Security Council met again on 25 February at the request of Ukraine to consider a draft resolution intended to end the Russian Federation’s military offensive against its neighbour. Submitted by Albania and the United States, the draft was supported by 11 members, but vetoed by the Russian Federation, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining. The draft would also have had the Council decide that Moscow must immediately and unconditionally reverse its 21 February decision regarding the status of certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Following the vote, the Russian Federation’s representative said his delegation voted against the draft because of what was left out of the text — that those who seized power in 2014 shelled the people of Donetsk and Luhansk; that Ukraine did not implement the Minsk agreements; and that neo-Nazis and militias were continuing to kill civilians. The representative of Ukraine, meanwhile, recalled multiple instances where his Russian counterpart denied intent to invade, adding: “Your words have less value than a hole in a New York pretzel.”
On 27 February, the Council, at the request of Ukraine, called an emergency special session of the General Assembly with support from 11 Council members. While the Russian Federation opposed the measure and China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained, the procedural resolution 2623 (2022) precluded the use of a veto by the permanent members of the Council. Through the text, the Council called the emergency special session — the first since 1982 — taking into account the lack of unanimity among permanent members on 25 February that prevented the organ from exercising its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The next day, 28 February, Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, described damage to civilian infrastructure caused by fighting in cities and towns, underscoring that the longer the offensive continued, the greater the cost — especially for civilians, who were bearing the brunt of aggression. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also said that, unless the conflict was halted immediately, the global community should expect to see up to 4 million refugees in the coming weeks. While Ukraine’s delegate said that the Russian Federation was attacking kindergartens, hospitals, orphanages and mobile aid brigades in his country, the latter State’s delegate said that his country’s special military operation was not impacting civilian infrastructure.
Under the agenda item “Threats to international peace and security”, on 4 March Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo briefed the Council again, following fierce overnight fighting at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power facility. She stressed that developments at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant were both unacceptable and highly irresponsible. Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), then told the Council that the Agency was prepared to travel to Ukraine as soon as possible to ensure that the safety and integrity of all nuclear facilities could be observed. Under-Secretary-General Griffiths returned on 7 March to spotlight the shattering of millions of lives, stressing that the reach of humanitarian efforts can only go so far without the committed cooperation of Ukraine and the Russian Federation to ensure civilians are protected and those wishing to escape the violence or deliver critical aid have safe corridors with which to do so. He also voiced a sense of dread over the impact the conflict will have on the wider world, with food prices spiking and supplies uncertain.
At an emergency meeting called by the Russian Federation on 11 March, that country’s delegate said that Moscow discovered during its special military operation that Kyiv undertook an emergency clean-up of the traces of a military biological programme funded by the United States. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu told the Council that the United Nations was not aware of any biological weapons programmes, while Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo observed that, as the war grinded on, civilians were bearing the brunt of the fighting.
On 14 March, in its annual meeting on the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation across Europe, Zbigniew Rau, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, speaking in his capacity as Chairman-in-Office of OSCE, echoed that point, recalling that invading forces attacked civilian targets in an effort to break the will of the Ukrainian population. Responding to comments by some Russian Federation officials regarding his lack of impartiality in the days and weeks since the invasion began, he stressed: “Impartiality ends where blatant violation of international humanitarian law starts.” Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s delegate expressed regret that United Nations officials have veered away from impartiality on the situation in Ukraine, also stressing that OSCE has a responsibility to embrace the role of an honest broker in its attempts to facilitate dialogue. [This meeting is also summarized under “Cooperation with Regional Organizations”.]
On 17 March, under the agenda item “Threats to international peace and security”, the plight of civilians again took centre stage, as Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo spotlighted the protection to which civilians are entitled under international humanitarian law. She told the Council that, between 24 February and 15 March, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 1,900 civilian casualties, most of which caused by the use of wide-impact explosive weapons in populated areas. She also reported on the dire situation faced by those in Mariupol, who were unable to safely evacuate amidst a lack of food, water, electricity and medical care. Raouf Mazou, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), then noted that, in less than three weeks, the number of people fleeing Ukraine into neighbouring countries had risen from 520,000 to over 3.1 million — the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. The next day, 18 March, High Representative Nakamitsu briefed the Council following the Russian Federation’s circulation of new documents alleging the existence of biological-weapons programmes in Ukraine. Reiterating her statement from the previous week, she stressed that the United Nations was not aware of any such programmes.
The Council, at the request of the Russian Federation, met again on 23 March to hold its third vote in a month, failing to adopt a draft resolution demanding civilian protection in Ukraine and calling for unhindered access for humanitarian assistance. Tabled by the Russian Federation, and supported by that country and China, it was defeated as the other 13 members abstained. After the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said the vote exposed all those for whom politicization of the humanitarian dossier was more important than delivering aid to vulnerable people. Several other delegates, however, denounced the draft as an attempt to hide a brutal campaign of aggression.
At the request of Ukraine, on 29 March, against the backdrop of Russian Federation and Ukrainian delegations meeting for negotiations in Istanbul, Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed the Council. She observed that the conflict in Ukraine threatened to exacerbate other crises — such as those in Afghanistan, Yemen and the Horn of Africa — as those countries and regions were already grappling with food insecurity and economic fragility. She added that rising prices for food, fuel and fertilizer were going to hit hard now and in coming seasons. David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), warning that Ukraine had turned from a breadbasket to a breadline, underscored that the global food-chain system must be stabilized. Secretary-General Guterres echoed that point on 5 April, urging the guns be silenced as the Russian Federation offensive resulted in massive displacement; increases in the price of food, energy and fertilizer; disrupted supply chains; and added pressure for many developing countries already on the verge of debt collapse. While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking via videoconference, challenged Council members to uphold international law, the Russian Federation’s delegate implored him to recognize that Ukraine is only a pawn in the geopolitical game against the Russian Federation.
Under agenda item “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine”, on 11 April, Sima Bahous, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), briefed the Council, highlighting increasing reports of sexual violence and human trafficking in Ukraine. While stressing that conflict-related trauma threatened to destroy a generation, she pointed out that women were continuing to lead and serve their communities through these horrors. Saluting the courage of women in Ukraine —including the women who made up 80 per cent of health- and social-care workers, and the women parliamentarians and Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister who continued their work as bombs fell all around them — she emphasized that women must be involved in all efforts to negotiate a peaceful solution to the crisis. Manuel Fontaine, Director of Emergencies at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), then detailed the dire situation faced by Ukrainian children, nearly two thirds of whom had been displaced since the conflict began. On 19 April, Kelly T. Clements, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, juxtaposed the immense scale and speed of displacement in Ukraine with the remarkable acts of humanity shown by many neighbouring States. While humanitarian actors were continuing to deliver aid, she underscored that the Council must do its job, too, and find a way to end the war. [On 26 April, the General Assembly adopted by consensus resolution A/RES/76/262, which calls for the Assembly to meet whenever a veto is cast in the Security Council.]
The Council, continuing under agenda item “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine”, met on 5 May. After two convoys saved nearly 500 people in and around the besieged city of Mariupol — with a third under way — Secretary-General Guterres, in his briefing, stressed the need to enable humanitarian access and evacuations from besieged areas. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s representative said that the Council’s inaction continued to create an atmosphere of impunity as Moscow practised missile terrorism, stole grain supplies and attacked farming infrastructure. The Russian Federation’s representative, however, said that Western countries dismissed Moscow’s security concerns, that “Russophobia” prevails in Ukraine and that his country opened corridors for evacuation regularly. On 6 May, in its first united action since the invasion of Ukraine in late February, the Council expressed strong support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to search for a peaceful solution to the war as it adopted a presidential statement to that effect presented by the United States, Council President for May (document S/PRST/2022/3). United Nations officials highlighted the need for such a solution on 12 May, as Omar Abdi, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, detailed the impact of the conflict on schools and education — a lifeline for children in conflict — and Assistant Secretary-General Msuya outlined the devastating effects of the use of landmines and wide-area explosive weapons in populated areas.
The next day, 13 May, the Council met under agenda item “Threats to international peace and security” to consider new information submitted by the Russian Federation alleging the existence of biological-weapons programmes in Ukraine. Thomas Markram, Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, recalled High Representative Nakamitsu’s March briefings on this issue and affirmed that the United Nations continues to be unaware of any such programmes. The Russian Federation’s representative reported that his delegation had accumulated material directly indicating that the United States and Ukraine were carrying out dangerous biological projects in the centre of Eastern Europe and on his country’s western border. Countering, the representative of the United States said that Moscow repeatedly debased the Council through absurd meetings and ludicrous claims.
Under agenda item “Maintenance of international peace and security”, the Council held an open debate on 19 May addressing conflict and food security, as Secretary-General Guterres noted that the Russian Federation’s invasion of its neighbour effectively ended Ukraine’s food exports, with price increases of up to 30 per cent for staple foods threatening people in countries across Africa and the Middle East. WFP Executive Director Beasley returned to the Council, underscoring the need to open Ukraine’s ports for the 36 countries importing more than 50 per cent of their grain from the Odesa region. Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), pointing out that Ukraine and the Russian Federation together export 30 per cent of cereals and 67 per cent of the sunflower oil in the world, observed that what happened to one of those countries affected all Member States. [This meeting is also summarized under “Maintenance of international peace and security”.]
As the conflict passed its 100-day mark, the Council met on 6 June under the agenda item, “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine”. Pramila Patten, Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, noted the yawning chasm between the Council’s many resolutions prohibiting the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war and the situation faced by many women around the world. Welcoming a newly signed framework seeking to strengthen cooperation between those working to combat and deter sexual violence in Ukraine and reduce the risk posed by human traffickers, she called for the international community’s steadfast support in this regard.
In an open debate on “Incitement to violence leading to atrocity crimes” held on 21 June, the Council heard from Alice Nderitu, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, who called for an end to the war, protection for civilians and accelerated diplomatic efforts to make both possible. Further, she stressed that the Council must do its part by proposing a road map that considered both peace and justice. Liubov Tsybulska of the Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security, meanwhile, underscored that the Russian Federation wanted to destroy both Ukraine’s people, and in a broader sense, its identity, while Jared Andrew Cohen, CEO of Jigsaw and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that Russian Federation propaganda likely dehumanized Ukrainians in the eyes of Russian soldiers — leading to the many war crimes now alleged. Later, the Russian Federation’s representative blamed Ukraine’s propaganda for pushing that country into Nazism, while Ukraine’s delegate warned those present not to be deceived by Moscow’s anti-fascist rhetoric.
Again, meeting under the agenda item “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine” on 28 June, the Council heard from Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo who stated that the depravity of the situation in Ukraine had only increased in the 10 weeks since she last briefed the Council. Spotlighting the high price continuing to be paid by civilians in this war, she reported that OHCHR recorded more than 10,000 civilian casualties as of 26 June. President Zelenskyy also addressed the 15-nation organ via videoconference, urging the adoption of a legal definition of “State terrorism” in the wake of the Russian Federation’s attacks on a residential building, kindergarten and shopping mall over the three days preceding the meeting. The Russian Federation’s delegate, however, stressed that his country never carried out any strikes against peaceful civilian targets, whereas Kyiv was deliberately storing weapons next to residential areas.
On 29 July, the Council met following the signing of an agreement in Istanbul on 22 July — also called the Black Sea Grain Initiative — designed to facilitate the safe transport of grain and foodstuffs from the Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhne. Noting that such agreement offers a “beacon of hope”, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo said that it also demonstrated that dialogue between the parties was possible. Along with the understanding between the Russian Federation and the United Nations regarding global market access for Russian Federation food products and fertilizers, the accord would bridge the global food supply gap and reduce high prices. However, speakers also addressed the missile strike that was carried out on the port of Odesa less than 24 hours after the deal was signed. On that point, the Russian Federation’s representative said his country acted on 23 July to destroy materiel placed in that port, while Ukraine’s delegate — thanking the Secretary-General for his unequivocal condemnation of the attack — said Moscow’s assertion was refuted by extensive footage from the site showing no sign of secondary detonation of missiles allegedly present in Odesa.
Meeting under the agenda item “Threats to international peace and security”, on 11 August the Council addressed concerns over the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in a meeting requested by the Russian Federation. IAEA Director-General Grossi, providing an overview of the plant’s shelling on 5 August, underscored that military actions near a large nuclear facility could lead to very serious consequences. He reported that, while the Agency’s preliminary assessment did not indicate an immediate threat to nuclear safety, “this could change at any moment”. The representatives of the Russian Federation and Ukraine then traded accusations regarding responsibility for strikes around the plant amidst resounding calls for IAEA to be allowed to conduct a mission to the plant to address mounting safety concerns. Similar calls were heard at another meeting requested by the Russian Federation on 23 August, as Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo voiced regret over near-daily reports of alarming incidents involving Europe’s largest nuclear plant and recalled the Secretary-General’s appeal for common sense in this regard. Noting that the United Nations had the capacity to support any IAEA mission to the plant from Kyiv — provided that Ukraine and the Russian Federation agreed — she called for the mission’s immediate, secure and unfettered access to the site. In the ensuing debate, the Russian Federation’s delegate said that Ukrainian armed forces were continuing to shell Zaporizhzhia almost daily, while Ukraine’s representative underscored that his country would not risk a nuclear catastrophe on its own territory.
As the conflict entered its sixth month, the Council, under the agenda item “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine”, met on 24 August — the thirty-first anniversary of Ukraine’s independence — hearing again from Secretary-General Guterres, who detailed his recent visit to Ukraine. He reported that, due to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, dozens of ships loaded with over 720,000 metric tons of grain and other food products were able to sail in and out of Ukrainian ports. Recalling the powerful images of wheat pouring into the holds of cargo ships and the United Nations flag flying over vessels bound for the Horn of Africa, he also called on all Governments and the private sector to cooperate to bring Russian Federation food and fertilizer to global markets. Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, in turn, highlighted that 17.7 million people — 40 per cent of Ukraine’s population – required humanitarian assistance and protection, also citing a July estimate by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that up to 71 million people might have already been pushed into poverty in the three months following the start of the invasion. Stressing how the human and material toll of the war was tragic, colossal and evident — first and foremost for Ukraine and its people – she underscored: “It must end”.
The Council met under the agenda item “Threats to international peace and security” on 6 September, shortly after an IAEA mission assessed conditions at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. IAEA Director-General Grossi told the Council that the physical attacks sustained by the facility were simply unacceptable. He called for the removal of military vehicles and equipment from nuclear facilities, for the Plant’s operating staff to be allowed to return to the routine line of authority and for off-site power redundancy to be established. Otherwise, he stressed, a very serious nuclear accident could occur. Similarly, Secretary-General Guterres, in his briefing, underscored that any damage — intentional or not — to the Plant could spell catastrophe, urging that the Plant be neither a target nor platform for military operations and that a demilitarized perimeter be secured around the facility.
The next day, 7 September, the Council shifted its focus to reports of Ukrainian civilians subjected to forced displacement, deportation and “filtration camps”. Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, emphasizing the disturbing nature of such allegations, called for their investigation with the cooperation of competent authorities. She also stressed that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine must have unimpeded access to all individuals detained in relation to the ongoing war. Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of OHCHR’s New York Office, reported that OHCHR verified that Russian Federation armed forces and affiliated armed groups were subjecting civilians to so-called “filtration” — a system of security checks and personal-data-collection that sometimes involved forced nudity and puts women and girls at risk of sexual abuse. She also noted that OHCHR documented that men and women perceived as having ties to Ukrainian armed forces or State institutions — or as having pro-Ukrainian or anti-Russian Federation views — were being subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment and forced disappearance.
On 8 September, the Council convened for the third time in as many days to discuss the situation in Ukraine, at the request of the Russian Federation. Under agenda item “Threats to international peace and security”, High Representative Nakamitsu, noting that a large-scale influx of weapons to conflict-affected zones was raising many concerns, said information about the transfers of materiel to Ukraine’s defence forces had been widely publicized by the Governments involved. Adding that international law prohibited direct attacks against civilians or civilian infrastructure, she said: “The time to end this suffering is now.” In the ensuing dialogue, Council members offered differing views on the merits of convening the meeting.
Under agenda item “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine” on 22 September, the Council heard from Secretary-General Guterres, who said that the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine showed no signs of abating and expressed concern over nuclear rhetoric. Noting that OHCHR reports on the subject constituted “a catalogue of cruelty”, he stressed that ending impunity for international crimes was fundamental, and in this, that the International Criminal Court played a fundamental role. Karim Khan, the Court’s Prosecutor, then told the Council that the rule of law can serve as an anchor for peace and security in Ukraine and elsewhere. Noting that 43 States parties referred the situation in that country to the Court between 25 February and 2 March, he said that — based on his Office’s work to date — there were reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction had been committed in Ukraine. Adding that “justice is not political”, he pledged to work with all States and the United Nations to deliver the same in Ukraine. Subsequently, Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, noted that the Court had not reacted to Kyiv’s crimes, and therefore, that his country had no confidence in that body’s work. Dmytro Kuleba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, then warned that, if the international community did not hold leaders accountable for their actions, every evil force in the world was going to follow their lead.
Meeting again under agenda item “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine”, on 27 September, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo briefed the Council that recent, so-called “referenda” conducted by de facto authorities in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine were held during active armed conflict, and therefore, could not be called a genuine expression of popular will. “Unilateral actions aimed to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the attempted acquisition by force by one State of another State’s territory, while claiming to represent the will of the people, cannot be regarded as legal under international law,” she stressed. Warning that recent developments point to more death and destruction, she urged Member States to do all they can to end the war and ensure lasting peace.
Following President Putin’s proclamation of Moscow’s annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, the Council met on 30 September to vote on a resolution that would have condemned the referenda that preceded it. The draft, submitted by Albania and the United States, was supported by 10 members, but vetoed by the Russian Federation, with Brazil, China, Gabon and India abstaining. Emphasizing that the referenda were carried out in full conformity with international law, the Russian Federation’s delegate said that the regions’ residents did not want to return to Ukraine. Ukraine’s representative then described the Council as a broken pillar of the United Nations, stressing: “If the Council cannot act with Russia, it is its duty to act without it”.
On 30 September, in a meeting convened by the Russian Federation under the agenda item “Threats to international peace and security”, to discuss the four leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines between 26 to 29 September, Navid Hanif, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the United Nations was not able to verify or confirm any reported details relating to these incidents as site inspections had yet to be done. Nevertheless, damage to the pipelines raised concerns regarding uncertainty in global energy markets and the exacerbation of high price volatility in European markets and around the world, along with the leaks’ potential environmental impact. Attacks on critical civilian infrastructure were unacceptable, he stressed, urging that these incidents not further increase tensions or deepen divisions in an already-tense regional context. Sergey Kupriyanov, Spokesperson for Gazprom, in his account of events surrounding the “absolutely unprecedented” leaks, reported that existing data pointed to physical damage as the cause. Concurring with that assessment, Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, Director of the Center for Energy and Climate of the French Institute on Foreign Relations, noted that the Nord Stream 1 and 2 corridors were designed with state-of-the-art technology to reduce the risk of any damage from, among others, storms, Second World War non-exploded bombs or sinking ships. The explosions, which did not proceed from an accident, represented yet another episode in the long-lasting geopolitical confrontation between the United States and the Russian Federation on one hand, and between the latter and Europe on the other hand, where energy and pipeline infrastructure had been weaponized, he said. The representatives of the Russian Federation and the United States exchanged barbs in the ensuing discussion, with the former implying the involvement of the United States and NATO, while the latter denied his country’s involvement in the incidents. [This meeting is also summarized under “Threats to International Peace and Security”.]
The Council again heard about the importance of accountability on 21 October, meeting under agenda item “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine”, as Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo reported on new allegations of atrocities emerging in areas recently returned to Ukrainian Government control. Also expressing concern over the destruction of critical energy infrastructure, she recalled that international humanitarian law prohibits attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure. Meanwhile, Denise Brown, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, noted that the onset of winter portended even more deaths in the coming months because civilians lacked access to essential services — particularly those who could not be reached in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia. In the ensuing debate, many speakers spotlighted another issue, condemning the alleged transfer of unmanned aerial vehicles from Iran to the Russian Federation in violation of resolution 2231 (2015).
That issue took centre stage on 26 October at a meeting called by the Russian Federation — under agenda item “Maintenance of international peace and security” — following several delegations’ request for an investigation into whether Moscow violated that resolution. Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, explained Member States’ obligation to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the Organization’s staff. On resolution 2231 (2015), he said that the Secretariat takes note of all information brought to its attention by Member States to ascertain and assess its relevance to the discharge of its mandates. He added that the Secretary-General had not received any request that supplements or modifies the nature and scope of the Security Council Affairs Division’s work in preparing the Secretary-General’s six-monthly reports to the Council. Meanwhile, Iran’s representative said that his country has maintained a position of active neutrality since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. [This meeting is also summarized under “Maintenance of international peace and security”.]
The next day, on 27 October, under agenda item “Threats to international peace and security”, Adedeji Ebo, Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noted that the Russian Federation filed an official complaint under the Biological Weapons Convention regarding allegations of biological-weapons programmes in Ukraine. Reiterating that the United Nations was unaware of any such programmes, he also pointed out that the Organization currently had neither the mandate nor the technical or operational capacity to investigate. Following the Russian Federation’s 29 October decision to temporarily suspend its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative due to alleged attacks against its ships, the Council heard from Under-Secretary-General Griffiths on 31 October that the Initiative “is too important to fail”. He emphasized that, while not all of the grain purchased from Ukraine through the Initiative had gone to the world’s neediest countries, all of it had a humanitarian impact by reducing prices and calming market volatility. Regarding the Initiative’s alleged connection to damage to Russian military vessels and infrastructure, he underscored that no military vessels, aircraft or assets were — or had been — involved in support of the Initiative by any party and urged that the supply line be kept open. Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), then told the Council that, with grain exports from Ukraine and the Russian Federation rising, the subsequent decline in food prices may have prevented over 100 million people from falling into poverty. Also noting that UNCTAD was focusing on facilitating market access to Russian fertilizer, she urged all parties to resume and extend the Initiative. [The Russian Federation resumed its participation in the Initiative on 2 November.]
Meeting again under agenda item “Threats to international peace and security”, on 2 November the Council failed to adopt a resolution put forward by the Russian Federation that would have established a commission to investigate Moscow’s complaint regarding the activities of biological laboratories in Ukraine. The draft resolution only received support from one other Council member — China — with France, the United States and the United Kingdom voting against it and the 10 remaining members abstaining.
On 16 November — a day after an explosion killed two people in Poland near the Ukrainian border — Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo briefed the Council under the agenda item “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine”, stressing that, in the preceding several days, Ukrainians were subjected to some of the most-intense bombardments of the war, now nine months old. She voiced concern about the loss of electricity, hampered humanitarian efforts, allegations of atrocities and a looming food crisis, stressing that the only way to stop the death, destruction and division was to end the war. She further warned that, as long as it continued, “the risks of potentially catastrophic spill-over remain all too real”. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s representative said that, if the West had encouraged Ukraine to make peace on realistic terms rather than supplying it with weapons, Moscow would not have had to carry out precision strikes on infrastructure to weaken Kyiv’s military potential. Poland’s representative reported that initial findings suggested that the 15 November event was not a deliberate attack. Nonetheless, he stressed that the Russian Federation was responsible for menacing the world with its war of aggression and spill-over effects.
Hours after the Russian Federation launched a barrage of missile and drone strikes against civilians and critical infrastructure across Ukraine, on 23 November, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo returned to the Council during an emergency meeting under agenda item “Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine” to reiterate that such attacks were prohibited under international humanitarian law. Noting that Ukrainian officials stated that there were practically no large thermal or hydroelectric power plants left intact in Ukraine, she expressed concern that the coming winter was going to be catastrophic for millions of Ukrainians who could be without heating, electricity or water amid freezing temperatures. Against that backdrop, she called on the international community to ensure that the most vulnerable people in that country were adequately protected and able to cope with the months ahead. Concerns about winter’s imminent impact on civilians gripped the Council in a meeting on 6 December under the same agenda item. “In Ukraine today, the ability of civilians to survive is under attack,” stressed Under-Secretary-General Griffiths. He noted that, since October, sustained attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have left millions without heat, electricity and water, adding that Kyiv needs enhanced international support beyond what humanitarians can provide. France’s delegate, like many others, said that Moscow was using winter as a weapon of war. The representative of the Russian Federation said that, if his country’s aims could not be achieved peacefully, it was going to use all available logistical and military means to protect its interests.
Three days later, on 9 December, the Council met under agenda item “Threats to international peace and security” at the Russian Federation’s request to assess the impact of the ongoing influx of weapons into Ukraine on prospects for ending the conflict. That country’s representative said that, without Western assistance, military activities in Ukraine would have ended a long time ago. Ukraine’s delegate, thanking those who have supported his country, said that the liberation of the Kharkiv, Kherson and Luhansk regions demonstrated that all weapons in Ukraine’s possession were serving their intended purpose. High Representative Nakamitsu, also briefing the Council, encouraged all Member States to apply effective arms-control measures. She underscored, however, that the only way to end the suffering and devastation in Ukraine was to end the war.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Meeting twice over the course of 2022 on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Council heard on 11 May from High Representative Christian Schmidt that the country remains “traumatized by war”, with re-emerging threats to its constitutional order 26 years after the signing of the General Framework Agreement for Peace — known as the Dayton Accords. Describing the conflict in Ukraine as “a sobering reminder that […] another war on European soil is not an impossibility”, he cautioned that the immediate risk of inflammatory incidents is real. Raising concern over actions embraced by authorities in Republika Srpska that could undermine the constitutional framework, he called on Governments to support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unity, including through targeted sanctions. The Council met again on 2 November to extend the mandate of the European-led stabilization force — known as EUFOR-Althea — for another year, unanimously adopting resolution 2658 (2022). While many Council members and representatives of concerned States welcomed the extension of EUFOR-Althea’s mandate, speakers raised alarm over the increased use of inflammatory rhetoric aimed at dividing the country, especially before or during the general elections held on 2 October, which were mostly peaceful. Calls were also made for a newly formed Government to put a quick end to the political deadlock and the paralysis of State institutions.
Although the final results of elections held on 3 April were still pending, the current majority party in Serbia retained a secure public mandate, Caroline Ziadeh, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), told the Council on 20 April. While eligible Kosovar voters’ participation was not secured, more than 19,000 voters from Kosovo cast their votes at special polling stations established in Serbia. Special Representative Ziadeh again briefed the Council again on 18 October amid several escalations in rhetoric between Pristina and Belgrade that had led to tensions on the ground, threatening to impede many of the gains previously achieved through the European Union-facilitated dialogue. Despite temporary relief in the form of diplomatic interventions, she warned against the parties’ willingness to risk dangerous confrontations on the ground.
The Council met on 27 January to extend the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 31 July, unanimously adopting resolution 2618 (2022). By the text, members expressed concern over tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and called on the leaders of the two Cypriot communities and all involved parties to refrain from any actions that might damage the settlement process. They urged engagement by the sides and the relevant involved parties, facilitated by UNFICYP, to develop a proposal for an effective military contact mechanism. Further, members reiterated that no unilateral actions should be taken in Varosha — an abandoned quarter of the seaside town of Famagusta — that are not in line with relevant Security Council resolutions. The Council urged the leaders of both communities to make progress towards achieving a mine-free Cyprus, clearing the 29 remaining suspected hazardous areas on the island.
Meeting again on 28 July, the Council extended the mandate of UNFICYP until 31 January 2023, unanimously adopting resolution 2646 (2022), which expressed deep regret over unilateral actions that run contrary to its previous resolutions and statements on Varosha. Through the text, members called on both sides to respect the integrity of the buffer zone and remove all unauthorized constructions and prevent unauthorized activities along the ceasefire lines.
The Council met twice to discuss the situation in the south Caucasus. On 15 September, members met following the outbreak of clashes along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border on the night of 12 September, which left 105 Armenian servicemen and 71 Azerbaijani soldiers dead. The violence marked the worst outbreak of hostilities between the two ex-Soviet States since 2020, when a dispute over the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh sparked a six-week war. Miroslav Jenča, Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas for the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, warned that the escalation served as a stark reminder that tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have the potential to destabilize the region. While welcoming the ceasefire agreement reached on 14 September and citing the importance of mediation efforts by the Russian Federation and the European Union, he underscored the urgent need for process of delimitation and demarcation to be advanced. Both countries must abide by their obligation to fully implement the trilateral statement on the 9 November 2020 ceasefire, to enable progress towards a lasting peace treaty, he said.
On 20 December, the Council was again briefed by Assistant Secretary-General Jenča, who noted that, since mid-September, both parties have regularly traded accusations of ceasefire violations. Despite a slew of diplomatic initiatives, including a meeting in Prague in October between Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, and Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, which resulted in an agreement to deploy the European Union monitoring capacity in Armenia, and an agreement between the leaders on refraining from use or threat of force later that month in Sochi, hosted by Vladimir V. Putin, President of the Russian Federation, tensions had not abated on the border and around areas under the control of Russian Federation peacekeeping forces. Assistant Secretary-General Jenča urged both parties to redouble efforts for a negotiated peaceful settlement before it is too late. In the course of the meeting, representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan traded charges that the other side had violated the 9 November 2020 trilateral statement and was responsible for military and political provocations, while Council members called on all parties to exercise restraint and abide by agreements reached in four trilateral statements on Nagorno-Karabakh.
Meetings: 5 January, 26 January, 27 January, 27 January, 25 February, 28 February, 10 March, 24 March, 26 April, 29 April, 20 May, 20 June, 27 June, 29 June, 8 July, 12 July, 20 July, 29 August, 14 September, 29 September, 25 October, 25 October, 7 November, 29 November, 5 December, 21 December, 22 December.
The year began with the Syrian civil war, now in its eleventh year, locking the county into a brutal status quo of violent instability and immiseration. The Council’s capacity to respond and take action was constrained by divergent views on a number of issues, including the delivery of humanitarian aid to the north-west, sanctions and the frequency of meetings held every month on the three tracks, including the political and humanitarian situation in Syria, as well as the use of chemical weapons.
On 5 January, Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, briefed the Council on efforts to implement resolution 2118 (2013), through which the Council first mandated the destruction Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and production capabilities. As in previous meetings, she reported that Syria’s declaration of its chemical weapons programme still could not be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Convention on Chemical Weapons, due to persisting gaps, inconsistencies and unresolved discrepancies. The Syrian Government’s cooperation with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Technical Secretariat was essential to close issues that were outstanding since 2014. The Syrian Government needed to allow unfettered access to OPCW personnel, which had been unable, since April 2021, to schedule a twenty-fifth round of consultations with Damascus due to the refusal of an entry visa of one member its Declaration Assessment Team. During the discussion, many Council members deplored Syria’s “obstructive” actions, while the representative of the Russian Federation said the Syrian chemical weapons dossier was politicized and “a pain in everyone’s neck”, adding that he challenged the credibility of information collected by the fact-finding mission in November 2021, pertaining to the use of chemical weapons in 2017.
Geir O. Pedersen, Special Envoy for Syria, briefed the Council on 26 January, following an attempted prison break on 20 January in the north-east town of Al-Hasakah by thousands of detainees with suspected ties to the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh. He noted that, although the uprising had been quelled, it sent a clear message on the need to combat the threat of terrorism and to resolve the conflict. Updating the Council on his plan to reconvene the Syrian-led, Syrian-owned, United Nations-facilitated Constitutional Committee, formed in 2019 to spur the peace process, he urged the parties to find some common ground “or at least narrow differences”. Also briefing the Council was Thuraya Hijazi of the organization Release Me in northern Syria, who pointed out that the provision of humanitarian aid, which 5.6 million Syrians required, was frequently politicized. Further, she said the Council had so far failed at finding a political solution to the crisis, leading the Syrian people to lose hope.
The plight of Syrian civilians was the focus on 27 January, during which Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told the Council that available funding could only help cover the basic survival needs of half of more than 4 million Syrians in need. “Failure each year cannot be our strategy,” he stressed, voicing concern about the increasing unaffordability of food and the insufficiency of food aid. Further, the six-month plan being devised to reach Syrians in need in the north-west of the country through crossline deliveries could not replace the size or scope of the cross-border operation, which enabled the United Nations, along with its humanitarian partners, to deliver food, vaccines and essential aid to those in need, many of whom live in camps for the internally displaced. Briefing alongside him, Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, also called for the continuation of the United Nations-led cross-border operation to the north-west beyond midsummer when the resolution authorizing it was set to expire. Pointing out that as many as 3 million extremely vulnerable civilians lived in opposition-controlled areas, he called for more effective humanitarian diplomacy, including help from the Russian Federation on the Syrian Government side. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s representative said that problems remained to be tackled with the cross-border mechanism and took issue with the impact of sanctions imposed on Syria, stressing: “No amount of humanitarian aid can effectively replace hospitals, power plants, factories and schools that are running smoothly.”
In a second meeting on 27 January, called by the Russian Federation, to discuss the prison break in Al-Hasakah, the Council was updated on the incident by Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, who said it was preventable, as Da’esh had been calling for jail breaks. Emphasizing that military responses were necessary but insufficient to address terrorism, he urged the Council to address dire conditions in detention centres and underlined the need to address the lengthy detention of individuals including children, without charges, including through repatriation to their countries of origin. In the course of the discussion, the Russian Federation’s delegate pressed the United Nations to demand the United States to share a report on the civilian casualties that resulted out of its participation, along with local armed groups, in air strikes carried out in the events that followed the attempted prison raid. The representative of the United States countered such claims, averring that his country was committed to the protection of civilians.
On 25 February, a day after the military invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, Special Envoy Pedersen cautioned the Council that that event would make the international diplomacy needed to spur humanitarian and early recovery efforts more precarious. Nonetheless, he emphasized that, amid the acute suffering and the prevalent political stalemate in Syria, “a political solution is the only way out”. This called for a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process, supported by constructive diplomatic efforts, “however hard that is, and especially right now”, he said, outlining arenas for discussion, including a session of the Small Body of the United Nations-facilitated Constitutional Committee slated for March. Briefing alongside him was Assistant Secretary-General Msuya, who pointed out that 12 million Syrians were food insecure, with the rising food prices and flailing economy forcing them to make “unbearable choices”, as borne out by the uptick in child marriages and children being pulled out from school.
High Representative Nakamitsu provided her monthly briefing again on 28 February, reiterating that Syria’s declaration of its chemical weapons programme still could not be considered accurate and complete due to unresolved gaps and inconsistencies. She also updated the Council on planned activities by OPCW, including an in-person meeting between its Director-General, Fernando Arias, and Syria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Faisal Mekdad, as well as the next scheduled round of inspections of the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre in 2022. However, the Russian Federation’s representative called into question the conclusions of the fact-finding mission’s report on alleged use of chemical weapons during the incidents that took place in Douma in 2018. They were “politically motivated” and “technically illiterate”, he said, stressing: “Put simply, it was a sham.” The United States’ delegate countered that assertion, condemning “the disinformation narratives” of his Russian counterpart and asserting that the Assad regime and its allies were trying to impugn OPCW’s integrity as part of a desperate campaign to distract from the human tragedy captured by that body’s reports.
In her monthly briefing on 10 March, High Representative Nakamitsu told the Council: “As has been stressed repeatedly, due to the identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies that remain unresolved at this stage, Syria’s declaration cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.” In the ensuing discussion, the Russian Federation’s representative pointed out that the Council was briefed on the issue a mere 10 days prior, adding that Western colleagues had not listened to the proposal made by China and his country to adjust the timetable to avoid “meeting for the sake of meeting”. The United States’ delegate countered that the Council must continue to receive regular updates on Syria’s chemical weapons file, pointing out that every 1 of the 17 amendments that Syria made to its initial declaration resulted from OPCW expert investigations. Meanwhile, the representative of Syria warned that no progress was going to be made through pressure or ultimatums. Taking issue with the evidence-gathering methods of the fact-finding mission, including its acceptance of samples from “anonymous third parties”, he called for a review of that body’s working methods.
On 24 March, Special Envoy Pedersen updated the Council on the resumption of difficult deliberations by the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, tasked with drafting a new Syrian Constitution. Pointing out that the week marked the Syrian conflict’s “grim milestone” of completing 11 years, he appealed to the members of the Committee to “work this week with the sense of seriousness and spirit of compromise that the situation demands”. Briefing alongside him was Hossam Zaki, Assistant Secretary General of the League of Arab States, who highlighted the impact of the conflict on the broader region, particularly refugee-hosting countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, and stressed that support for internally displaced persons and refugees was a shared responsibility.
During another meeting on political developments on 26 April, amid intensifying air strikes and clashes in Syria, Special Envoy Pedersen pointed out that five foreign armies were operating within Syrian territory. In light of the grave humanitarian crisis prevailing in the country, with millions of civilians suffering and being displaced inside and outside its borders, he called for attention and resources to be paid to the country, including through an expansion of cross-line and cross-border assistance. Updating the Council on the limited progress made in narrowing differences during the seventh session of the Constitutional Committee, which concluded on 25 March, he appealed to delegations to prepare for discussions at the Committee’s eighth session, slated for 28 May. Also briefing the Council were Nirvana Shawky, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa of CARE International, and Assistant Secretary-General Msuya, who pointed out that, despite the grim humanitarian situation in the country, other conflicts in the world, including the one unfolding in Ukraine, threatened to eclipse the Syrian crisis. “For Syrians living through the twelfth year of this crisis, the future looks bleak,” she said, urging the Council to reauthorize the cross-border operation for at least a year in July, to enable the uninterrupted delivery of life-saving aid to those in need.
High Representative Nakamitsu addressed the Council again on 29 April, voicing regret that there has been little to no change since the previous briefing on issues related to the Syrian chemical-weapons file. She reiterated that the international community cannot have full confidence that Syria’s chemical-weapons programme has been eliminated until outstanding issues are resolved, including pending requested information from Syria and the delayed deployment of the OPCW Declaration Assessment Team due to that country’s continued refusal to issue an entry visa for one of the Team’s experts. In the ensuing debate, several delegates again expressed concern about efforts by Syria — in concert with the Russian Federation — to undermine the work of OPCW, with Ireland’s delegate calling on Damascus to cease its equivocation and cooperate meaningfully with OPCW. Meanwhile, the delegate of the Russian Federation responded that OPCW reports have long been built on a presumption of Syria’s guilt. Adding to that, Syria’s representative emphasized that Syria had fully cooperated with OPCW and fulfilled its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention; it only denied a visa to one member of the Declaration Assessment Team due to his lack of objectivity and professionalism.
The paucity of funding for humanitarian needs was the focus again on 20 June, with Under-Secretary-General Griffiths informing Council members that the pledges raised to support Syria during the previous week’s Brussels Conference — nearly $6.7 billion — only represented half the total funding required for 2022. Against this backdrop, he warned that the Council’s failure to renew the authorization for cross-border assistance, set to expire in six weeks, would “disrupt life-saving aid for the people living in north-west Syria, including more than a million children”. Also briefing the Council was Farida Almouslem of the Syrian American Medical Society, who echoed his call on the Council to renew the cross-border resolution, so that doctors and humanitarian workers had the medicine and tools they needed to help patients.
On 29 June, Special Envoy Pedersen returned to brief the Council, underscoring the need for that body to renew the resolution authorizing the delivery of life-sustaining cross-border humanitarian aid into Syria for an additional 12 months, calling it “a kernel of the constructive diplomacy on Syria”, which would support the implementation of his mandate, in building a political settlement. Outlining his engagements with the Syrian-led Syrian-owned Constitutional Committee to implement a political solution, including during that body’s eighth meeting the previous month, despite persisting challenges, he underscored the need for urgent action to support the process. Briefing alongside him was Omar Alshogre, Director for Detainee Affairs at the Syrian Emergency Task Force, who relayed 14 messages from people representing his country’s 14 governorates and who were pleading for help, while noting how powerlessly the Council acted in the face of their enemy. He called on the 15-nation organ to pressure Moscow to open cross-border points that they were holding hostage, including Bab al-Hawa.
Taking up the matter of that border crossing once again on 8 July, the Council rejected two competing resolutions that would have kept it open. The first draft resolution, put forth by Norway and Ireland, which would have effectuated a “6+6-month extension” of the cross-border humanitarian assistance mechanism, was defeated due to the veto cast by the Russian Federation, despite 13 members voting in favour, and one member abstaining (China). The second draft resolution, submitted by the Russian Federation, which would have provided a six‑month extension, was rejected by a vote of 3 against (France, United Kingdom, United States) to 2 in favour (China, Russian Federation), with 10 abstentions. The issue was taken up again on 12 July, with the Council adopting — after protracted negotiations — a compromise text extending the use of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing for six months. Resolution 2642 (2022) was adopted by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (France, United Kingdom, United States), necessitating a separate resolution for a further six-month extension in another six months. A number of delegates voiced concern about the exceptionally contentious negotiation process, with the representative of the United States asserting that the vote was the result of “one member taking the entire Council hostage with lives hanging in the balance”. France’s delegate, noting that the repeated calls by United Nations agencies and its humanitarian partners for a 12-month renewal to ensure uninterrupted aid operations had been ignored, stressed that the Council had failed to live up to its responsibility. For his part, the Russian Federation’s delegate called for an increase in cross-line deliveries, emphasizing that it was time for the United States, United Kingdom and France “to get used to respecting the interests of other States”, notably those impacted by the Council’s decisions.
In her monthly briefing to the Council, on 20 July, High Representative Nakamitsu reported that there had been no progress in clarifying Syria’s declarations pertaining to its chemical weapons programme, with the OPCW Technical Secretariat yet to receive requested declarations from Syria on all undeclared types and quantities of nerve agent produced and/or weaponized, at a former chemical weapons production facility that was declared by Damascus as never having been used to produce and/or weaponize chemical warfare agents. Voicing regret that the twenty-fifth round of consultations in Damascus between the Syrian authorities and the Declaration Assessment Team was still in abeyance, due to Syria’s repeated refusal to issue an entry visa for the Team’s lead technical expert, she urged that country’s Government to cooperate with the Technical Secretariat, adding: “We need to remain vigilant to ensure that these awful weapons are never used again, and are eliminated, not only in Syria, but everywhere.”
On 29 August, Special Envoy Pedersen returned to the Council, reporting that, although relative calm had prevailed for the previous two years and had provided “a window to build a credible political process”, this opportunity had not been seized thus far. “We need to be honest about the mismatch between the scale of our collective political efforts and the scale of the challenge at hand,” he stressed. He also expressed concern about troubling signs of military escalation, pointing out that the international community was prevented from addressing the conflict in a comprehensive manner due to the degree of fragmentation in Syria and the region, even though that was the only way to stave off another dangerous collapse. Noting that plans were on hold for the ninth Syrian Constitutional Committee meeting in Geneva, he called for increased support to enable that body to become credible. Assistant Secretary-General Msuya also briefed the Council, updating members on the violence unfolding in northern Syria, leading to civilian death and displacement, and hampering the United Nations’ ability to operate.
In a meeting held on 14 September, Najat Rochdi, Deputy Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, briefed the Council. Amid a volatile security situation, punctuated by exchanges of rocket and artillery fire, as well as terrorist attacks, she underscored that a nationwide ceasefire remained a fundamental goal of the political process. Under-Secretary-General Griffiths, also briefing the Council, spotlighted the cholera outbreak, amid severe water shortages, as “a stark reminder” of the support Syrians need. He called for pledges for Syria’s humanitarian plan to be fulfilled and for additional ones to be made and quickly disbursed. The Council also heard from Mazen Darwish, General Director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, who pointed out that, while he wanted to return to his country, without legal guarantees and application of international law, that would only give his executioners a second chance to kill him. An international mechanism addressing the plight of refugees and the arbitrarily disappeared would be the first time the Council had a real road map to address one of most urgent situations affecting Syrians, he added.
High Representative Nakamitsu briefed Council members again on 29 September, reporting that, in light of conditions placed by Syria on the deployment of the OPCW Declaration Assessment Team, the Technical Secretariat proposed addressing the shortcomings in Syria’s initial declaration via an exchange of correspondence, although such a method yields fewer results. In the discussion, several members called on Syria to cease its obstruction of OPCW’s work, to which the representative of the Russian Federation countered that it was not Syria, but the leaders of OPCW, who must change their attitude, pointing out that its Director-General Fernando Arias had yet to brief the Council and was, instead, running away from it “like a kindergartner runs away from the principal of a school”.
Special Envoy Pedersen returned to brief the Council on 25 October, amid a volatile security situation due to the deployment of fighters from the Council-listed terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Afrin, pro-Government air strikes in the north-west and violence in the north-east. Calling on all parties to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, as well as counter the terrorist group while respecting international law and Syria’s sovereignty, he added: “It is unacceptable that hostilities continue to result in civilian casualties, including many children.” On the political front, he noted that he was working to ensure that there was political will to engage in a spirit of compromise when meetings of the Constitutional Committee reconvened in Geneva. Reena Ghelani, Director of the Operations and Advocacy Division, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, also updated the Council on the rapidly spreading cholera outbreak, amid a devastated health system and a lack of reliable and safe access to water, with 20,000 suspected cases reported in all 14 governorates and 80 people dead. A three-month cholera response plan, coordinated by the United Nations, was put in place to tackle the situation, requesting $34.4 million to assist 162,000 people, she said, urging donors to convert pledges into early disbursals of funding.
In a second meeting held on 25 October to address the chemical weapons file, High Representative Nakamitsu told the Council: “As has been stressed on a monthly basis for many years now, due to the identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies that remain unresolved, the Technical Secretariat continues to assess that, at this stage, the declaration submitted by the Syrian Arab Republic cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.” Providing an update on ongoing work by the OPCW fact-finding mission and the Investigation and Identification Team, as well as by the Technical Secretariat, which was still trying to organize a twenty-fifth round of consultations between the Declaration Assessment Team and the Syrian National Authority, she expressed hope that Council members would unite on the issue, so that those who used chemical weapons could be identified and held to account. During the discussion, speakers deplored the lack of progress on the issue, including the United States’ delegate, who called on those with influence over the Assad regime to encourage Damascus to permit the Team to return to Syria, pointing out that that country was obfuscating and delaying, with the backing of the Russian Federation. Meanwhile, the delegate of the Russian Federation called for a streamlining of the schedule for discussing the Syrian chemical dossier, emphasizing that meeting every month is “pointless” if OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias did not deign to speak before the Council.
Returning to the Council again on 7 November, High Representative Nakamitsu informed members that Syria’s declaration cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, noting that “efforts by the OPCW Declaration Assessment Team to clarify all the outstanding issues regarding the initial declaration and subsequent declarations of Syria remain as previously outlined”. She called for Damascus’ full cooperation with the OPCW Technical Secretariat to close all outstanding issues. During the discussion, several members questioned the need for monthly meetings on the issue, given the stalled progress, with the delegate of the Russian Federation calling the frequency of meetings “absurd” and stating that the report of the fact-finding mission to Douma in 2018 verged on “falsification”. Others, including the United Kingdom, defended the frequency of meetings, pointing out that the lack of progress was due to Syria’s lack of cooperation with OPCW, as well as systematic disinformation from that country and Moscow. Meanwhile, the representative of Syria deplored the “pervasive politicization” of OPCW and said the Council’s present approach to the dossier was “a waste of the time and resources”.
Special Envoy Pedersen returned to brief the Council on 29 November, warning that dangerous developments in Syria, in particular an uptick in fighting across northern Syria between the Syrian Democratic Forces on the one side, and Türkiye and armed opposition groups on the other, risked triggering a military escalation that threatened three years of relative calm. He called on all parties to de-escalate immediately and focus on the stalled political process instead. On that front, he pointed out that the Constitutional Committee had not met for six months, cautioning that the absence of a credible political process only promoted further conflict and instability. Also briefing the Council was Under-Secretary-General Griffiths, who reported that the number of Syrians requiring aid was expected to surpass 15 million in 2023, up from 14.6 million in 2022. “The trend is clear: more people need our support each year to survive,” he pointed out. Against this backdrop, he recalled that the Council’s authorization of cross-border assistance was set to expire in six weeks, underscoring the vital need for such operations for 4 million people in the north-west, in addition to cross-line deliveries within the country.
High Representative Nakamitsu addressed the Council again on 5 December, repeating that the Declaration Assessment Team’ efforts to clarify all outstanding issues on initial and subsequent declarations by Syria have made no progress since the Council last met on the issue. She again reported that, due to the identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, Syria’s submitted declaration cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. She renewed her call for that country’s full cooperation. She also noted that OPCW, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the Government of Syria had agreed to a six-month extension of their Tripartite Agreement. Updating the Council on OPCW’s activities, including those of its fact-finding mission, she said that it had been deployed inside Syria from 6 to 12 November to interview witnesses pertaining to allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and was studying all available information. Further, inspections of the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre, slated for December, were postponed due to operational reasons. Several Council members deplored the lack of progress on the file, with some, including France’s delegate, attributing it to Syria’s “stubborn” refusal to cooperate. The representative of the Russian Federation said the High Representative’s report reflected “a stubborn unwillingness of the OPCW Technical Secretariat to rectify its partisan anti-Syrian line”, adding that monthly meetings on the chemical weapons file were arguably the least productive meetings of the Council. Meanwhile, Syria’s delegate called on OPCW to stop politicizing its technical role. Further, the Investigation and Identification Team was “illegitimate”, he said, adding that its mandate resulted out of certain States’ attempt to pursue ulterior motives in Syria.
The humanitarian situation came to the forefront again on 21 December, with Under-Secretary-General Griffiths pointing out that against the escalating needs of millions of Syrians, for food and winterization needs, including the 2 million people living in tents, camps and makeshift shelters, the winterization response was only 21 per cent funded and the country’s 2022 Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan was only 43 per cent funded. He called on the Council to ensure the delivery of assistance to all those who need it, no matter where they were, adding that not renewing the authorization for humanitarian assistance delivery to north-west Syria would jeopardize operations at a time when people were most in need — during a cholera outbreak in the middle of winter. Special Envoy Pedersen pointed out that, amid a maelstrom of conflict dynamics in Syria, the patchwork of bilateral agreements was fragile and did not amount to a comprehensive nationwide ceasefire. On the political process, he underlined the need to resume and make more substantive the Constitutional Committee meetings in Geneva, adding that there was a growing realization in all quarters that allowing the status quo to continue is simply not an option.
Finally, on the subject of the Golan in south-west Syria, on 27 June, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2639 (2022), extending the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). This reauthorized for a period of six months the mandate of the Force, tasked with maintaining the ceasefire between Israeli and Syrian troops and supervising the “areas of separation of limitation” in the Golan.
Meeting again on the subject of the Golan in south-west Syria, on 22 December, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2671 (2022), extending the extending the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). The Council, among other things, called on the parties to provide all necessary support to allow for the full utilization of the Quneitra Crossing by UNDOF, in line with established procedures, and to lift COVID-19-related restrictions as soon as sanitary conditions permit.
Question of Palestine
Press Statements: SC/14891 (13 May).
Even as the ceasefire agreement reached in May 2021 between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas largely held, 2022 began with a steady increase in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of settlement activities, demolitions and violent incidents – particularly against Palestinians — dimming hopes for progress towards achieving a two-State solution to the conflict.
Briefing the Council on 19 January, Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, described a situation deteriorating on the security, economic and political fronts, with the region marked by daily clashes and rising tensions, as well as continued Israeli settlement-expansion. He warned delegates: “Without a realistic prospect of an end to the occupation and the realization of a two-State solution, it is only a matter of time before we face an irreversible, dangerous collapse and widespread instability.” Briefing alongside him were the co-directors of EcoPeace Middle East, a regional peacebuilding organization working on environmental cooperation, Nada Majdalani from Palestine and Gidon Bromberg from Israel, who underscored the need to address the chronic water insecurity experienced by Palestinians, exacerbated by climate change. Their organization advocates for a “Green Blue Deal” in the Middle East, fostering cooperation in one of the world’s most water-scarce regions, they said.
The Council convened on 23 February, at the heels of escalating tensions around the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem, from which several Palestinian families were evicted or threatened with evictions, garnering international attention. Briefing the 15-nation organ, Special Coordinator Wennesland called for a package of incremental, significant and durable steps to chart the way towards a two-State reality. “Getting there requires political leadership,” he stressed, underscoring the need for Israelis, Palestinians, regional States and the international community to press forward towards more meaningful negotiations. Several Council members urged Israel to put an end to evictions in East Jerusalem, while speakers from Israel and the State of Palestine traded barbs, with the latter sporting a black mask printed with the phrase “End Apartheid”, as a comment on Israeli policy. He also pointed out that Israel was the ally of South Africa’s apartheid regime, which everyone was against upon its defeat. Meanwhile, the representative of Israel upbraided the Council for failing to recognize Hamas as a terror organization and stressed that his country would not cooperate with the “distorted investigations” of the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Human Rights Council to investigate the May 2021 conflict in Gaza.
On 22 March, Special Coordinator Wennesland returned to the Council, expressing regret over Israel’s continuing settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which fuelled violence, further entrenched the occupation and undermined the right of Palestinians to self-determination and independent statehood. As well as outlining developments on the settlement expansion front, he enumerated incidents of daily violence, including those leading to the killing of Palestinians by Israeli security forces, attacks against Palestinians by Israeli settlers and attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians. He also noted the taking of positive steps, including an agreement reached in December 2021 between Qatar and the Palestinian Authority towards the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Gaza. On 25 April, during an open debate held soon after clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in the holy site of the Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem, Special Coordinator Wennesland called on all sides to do their part to reduce tensions and uphold the status quo at the holy sites. Welcoming statements by senior Israeli officials that reiterated their commitment to upholding the status quo and ensuring that only Muslims would be allowed to pray on the Holy Esplanade, he urged the parties to maintain calm so celebrations during the final week of Ramadan not be interrupted. He also underlined the need to “not lose sight of the imperative to end the occupation and advance towards a two-State reality”.
Briefing the Council again on 26 May, shortly after the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Special Coordinator Wennesland said the tragedy united Palestinians and countless others around the world in grief and anger. He echoed the Secretary-General’s condemnation of all attacks against journalists, as well as the call for an independent and transparent investigation into the incident. Council members also heard hopeful stories of reconciliation from civil society members, including Robi Damelin, Spokesperson for Parents Circle, whose son was killed by a Palestinian sniper. She recalled telling the army, when they informed her of the tragedy, that they “may not kill anybody” in the name of her child. Meanwhile, Daniel Munayer, Executive Director of Musalaha, an organization which conducts five-day reconciliation workshops in the desert between Israelis and Palestinians, pointed out that participants returned to starkly divergent realities, with Israelis returning to places like Tel Aviv, where the conflict was “almost not felt”, while Palestinians returned to a life under military occupation or refugee camps. Stressing that reconciliation meant upholding human rights and ending the occupation, he urged the Council to play its role and apply pressure from the top to the bottom.
The unchecked settlement-expansion by Israel in the occupied West Bank took centre stage again on 27 June, against the backdrop of the looming threat of forced eviction of about 1,200 Palestinians — including more than 500 children — from a cluster of Palestinian villages known as Masafer Yatta. Special Coordinator Wennesland called on Israel to end the demolition and seizure of Palestinian-owned property and prevent the possible displacement and eviction of Palestinians, in line with its obligations. He also expressed concern over the implications of the Israeli High Court’s ruling on the matter, which rejected the appeals by the residents of the area, and the resultant humanitarian toll if the eviction orders were enforced. Several Council members echoed his alarm at the continuing Israeli settlement-expansion in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in flagrant violation of international law and United Nations resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016). In that regard, China’s delegate stressed that such settlements violated the right to self-determination and precluded a geographically contiguous independent Palestinian State, making it even harder to achieve a two‑State solution.
Special Coordinator Wennesland then updated the Council on 8 August, on the events sparked by the killing on 1 August of a Palestinian teenager during an operation by the Israeli Defense Forces in Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, which flared into a lethal exchange of violence between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants on 5 August and claiming the lives of 46 Palestinians, including 4 children. The fighting lasted three days, coming to an end with a ceasefire, which was reached on 7 August. Special Coordinator Wennesland welcomed Egypt’s efforts, alongside those of others, including Qatar, United Nations and the United States, in brokering the truce, adding that they helped prevent the outbreak of a full-scale war and enabled the delivery of humanitarian relief into Gaza. During the discussion, the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine pressed the Council “to drag the two parties to the process of peace”, rather than wait for one side to be ready. Questioning how many Palestinian children would be killed until someone said, “enough is enough”, he stressed that “Israel kills our people because it can”. The delegate of Israel countered that there was evidence that the deaths of children in Jabalia were the result of Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets, asserting that the debate ought to focus on the fact that a terrorist organization, which was attempting to murder Israeli civilians, also killed innocent Palestinian civilians along the way. Updating Council members on 25 August, Special Coordinator Wennesland said that, while the ceasefire had held and “a fragile calm” had been restored in Gaza, the underlying drivers of conflict remained unresolved. Underscoring that “the status quo is not a strategy nor a strategic option”, he called for the fundamental issues to be addressed, and for expanded space to be made for Palestinian economic activity and for a strengthened Palestinian Authority.
On 28 September, Special Coordinator Wennesland, briefing the Council, once again voiced concern about continuing Israeli settlement activities and violence against civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, pointing to the scant progress in implementing resolution 2334 (2016), despite its provisions stating that such settlement activities must cease. Calling on the international community to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) to protect the delivery of services to millions of Palestinian refugees, he emphasized the need for steps to be taken to achieve more durable progress. “There must be a bridge between these immediate challenges and the longer-term objective of achieving the vision of two States,” he emphasized.
Addressing the Council on 28 October, Special Coordinator Wennesland declared: “2022 is on course to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs began systematically tracking Palestinian fatalities in 2005.” He also expressed alarm at the intensity of violence in the occupied West Bank, much of which had taken place in the context of military operations to arrest what Israeli authorities said were Palestinians suspected of involvement in attacks or planned attacks on Israelis. He called for accountability for acts of violence and for security forces to exercise maximum restraint. Despite such negative trends, he also took note of positive developments, including the signing on 13 October of the Algiers Declaration, in which 14 Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, agreed to recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and to hold elections for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority, Palestine Legislative Council and the Palestinian National Council.
The situation remained volatile, with Special Coordinator Wennesland warning the Council on 28 November that the conflict was “once again reaching a boiling point”, due to violent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in Hebron; bomb attacks that killed two Israelis in Jerusalem; and the launching of four rockets towards Israel by Palestinian militants in Gaza, followed by Israeli air strikes. “Political leadership is required to reset a trajectory towards a two-State solution,” he said, cautioning that a failure to address both current trends and the underlying causes of the conflict would worsen the situation and destabilize the region. In a final meeting of the year, on 19 December, he called for concrete steps on the ground to arrest negative trends which had empowered extremists and eroded hope, emphasizing that “there is no substitute for a legitimate political process that will resolve the core issues driving the conflict”. He expressed alarm that children continued to be victims of violence, with 2022 tragically witnessing the killing of 44 Palestinian children and 1 Israeli child. While there were no advancements of housing units in the occupied West Bank, the number of housing units remained high, he noted, voicing concern over the continued demolitions of Palestinian structures, including a donor-funded school in Masafer Yatta. He called on the Israeli Government to put an end to all settlement activity, end the demolition of Palestinian-owned property and approve plans that would enable them to address their development needs.
The Council issued one press statement on the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2022, on 13 May, strongly condemning the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the injury of another journalist in the Palestinian city of Jenin two days earlier. Members called for a transparent and impartial investigation into her killing, stressing the need for accountability.
Press Statements: SC/14765 (14 January), SC/14771 (21 January), SC/14852 (4 April) SC/14853 (4 April), SC/14861 (13 April), SC/14923 (3 June), SC/14992 (4 August), SC/15025 (12 September), SC/15054 (5 October), SC/15080 (26 October).
In an echo of years past, efforts to resolve the conflict in Yemen — now in its eighth year — were thwarted by a Houthi offensive in Marib Governorate and parties doubling down on military options.
On 12 January, Hans Grundberg, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, described the country as increasingly fractured — politically, economically and militarily — and urged the sides to talk, even if they were not ready to lay down their arms. Giving an overview of the conflict, including the seizing of an Emirati-flagged ship by Ansar Allah — also known as the Houthis — and the detention of United Nations staff members in Sana’a and Marib, he stressed: “Yemenis must be supported in reversing this trajectory through a serious, sustained and structured process backed by the international community.” He informed the Council that he was developing a comprehensive, inclusive multitrack approach that aimed to facilitate incremental progress towards a durable political settlement. Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, also briefed the Council, noting that fighting was continuing along dozens of front lines, with 358 civilians reportedly killed or injured as a direct result of the hostilities in December alone. Reporting that women and girls were bearing the brunt of the crisis, he underscored the need to create a more enabling environment for women aid workers and support more investments in gender-sensitive programming. In addition, the 2022 aid operation was expected to need $3.9 billion to help 16 million people, he said, urging all donors to sustain or increase their support.
Special Envoy Grundberg returned on 15 February to brief the Council on military escalations and increased attacks by Ansar Allah beyond Yemen’s borders and into the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Warning that the conflict risked spiralling out of control, he cited an alarming increase in air strikes on residential areas and civilian infrastructure in the cities of Sana’a and Hudaydah. However, a “way out of this war” still existed, he said, outlining a framework plan towards an inclusive political settlement while exploring options to fast-track de-escalation. To that end, he would begin a series of structured bilateral consultations aimed at informing and refining the framework, engaging with the warring parties, political parties, representatives of civil society and Yemeni experts, among others. Echoing his concerns over the intensification of cross-border attacks, Under-Secretary-General Griffiths said 650 civilian casualties were reported in January. More so, dwindling funding remained the humanitarian community’s largest obstacle in Yemen. By the end of January, nearly two thirds of major United Nations aid programmes in the country had been scaled back or closed, and some 8 million people who began receiving limited food rations from WFP in December 2021 were likely to stop getting food all together by March. “We cannot let the aid operation in Yemen fall apart,” he stressed.
On 28 February, the Council decided by a vote of 11 votes in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Norway) to renew for 12 months the arms embargo on Yemen, as well as the travel ban and asset freeze against individuals threatening peace in that country, adopting resolution 2624 (2022).
Briefing the Council again on 15 March, Under-Secretary-General Griffiths voiced frustration that Yemen was becoming a chronic emergency, marked by hunger, disease and other miseries that were rising faster than aid agencies could reverse. Against the backdrop of 23.4 million people in need of assistance, aid agencies were seeking $4.3 billion to help 17 million in 2022 alone. He called on Member States to demonstrate that “out of the headlines does not mean left behind”. He was joined by Special Envoy Grundberg who sounded the alarm over continuing air strikes on front lines in Marib and Hajjah, hostilities reported in Sa’adah and Al Dali’ Governorates and artillery shelling in Taïz that again inflicted civilian casualties. However, he also spotlighted the series of structured consultations launched in February. “I hope these consultations mark the beginning of a serious and structured conversation between Yemenis about finding an end to the war,” he said.
On 14 June, Special Envoy Grundberg again briefed the Council on the two-month extension of the truce, describing it as unprecedented and unimaginable at the beginning of 2022. “The truce offers a rare opportunity to pivot towards peace that should not be lost,” he emphasized; it strikingly improved the humanitarian situation and significantly reduced civilian casualties. To prevent a new cycle of violence, his office convened new meetings of the military coordination committee, which agreed to meet monthly. However, Ghada Mudawi, Acting Director of the Operations Division, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, added that despite the truce, the humanitarian crisis remained severe, as Yemen was particularly vulnerable to the supply chain shocks emanating from the war in Ukraine. Despite these challenges, she pointed out that agencies were reaching 11 million people every month. Still, the United Nations response plan was currently just 26 per cent funded. Moreover, the project to prevent a catastrophic spill from the Safer oil tanker was being stalled due to lack of funds.
Special Envoy Grundberg returned to the Council on 11 July, underscoring that the truce represented the best opportunity for peace in Yemen in years. Expanding the United Nations-brokered truce agreement between the Government of Yemen and Houthi rebels, which began on 2 April, would provide time and opportunity for serious talks on the economy and security tracks; address priority issues, such as revenues and the payment of salaries; and begin the process towards a ceasefire. While affirming the truce as a landmark step forward, Assistant Secretary-General Msuya said humanitarian needs across the country — including risk of famine in some areas — could rise sharply in the coming weeks and months. “The international community must act quickly and decisively to stop this,” she urged, adding that the Yemen response plan had received only 27 per cent of what it needed.
On 13 July, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2643 (2022), extending — until 14 July 2023 — the mandate of the United Nations Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA). The Council further decided that the Mission will oversee the governate-wide ceasefire, redeployment of forces and mine action operations, and monitor ceasefire compliance in the Red Sea ports of Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Issa.
Encouraged by the extension of the truce until 2 October, Special Envoy Grundberg returned on 15 August, informing the Council that the truce was holding broadly in military terms, fuel products were flowing through the port of Hudaydah, and passenger and commercial flights were being transported through Sana’a international airport. Nonetheless, despite a significant decline in civilian casualties, he pointed to the worrisome increase in children killed, noting “we need to end the conflict, not merely manage it.” Acting Director Mudawi also briefed the Council again, stressing that the truce alone could not be expected to resolve the humanitarian crisis. Pointing to major economic challenges, including an exchange rate worse than before the truce and a precarious food supply chain, she said that, in July, commercial food imports — a lifeline for feeding the population — fell for the fourth month in a row. Having received an additional $431 million from the United States, the United Nations response plan in Yemen was now 41 per cent funded, leading to increased food provisions. Yet, funding gaps in water, sanitation and shelter remained a challenge.
On 13 October, in his briefing to the Council, Special Envoy Grundberg voiced deep regret that no agreement had been reached to extend the truce, resulting in heightened risk for more violence. Council members urged all parties to the conflict — particularly the Houthi militia — to return to the negotiating table. Assistant Secretary-General Msuya also sounded the alarm over dangers faced by civilians in Yemen, including from landmines and other explosive hazards, which had killed or injured 70 civilians in September alone.
Special Envoy Grundberg, on 22 November, again briefed the Council, pointing out that, even though the nationwide truce expired on 2 October, there had not been a return to full-fledged war. Highlighting efforts to engage the parties towards renewing the truce, he called for a political process under United Nations auspices. Reena Ghelani, Director of Operations and Advocacy, voicing concern over localized clashes, unexploded ordnance and acute food insecurity, warned that any escalation of fighting would send humanitarian efforts back to square one.
The Council issued 10 press statements on the situation in Yemen in 2022. On 14 January, it condemned the Houthi seizure and detention of the United Arab Emirite-flagged vessel RWABEE off the coast of Yemen on 2 January, while demanding the immediate release of the vessel and its crew. In a statement on 21 January, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks — claimed by the Houthis — in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on 17 January, as well as in other sites in Saudi Arabia. On 4 April, the Council strongly condemned the cross-border terrorist attacks by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia on 20 March and 25 March, which struck critical civilian infrastructure, demanding that the Houthis abide by the truce and cease all cross-border attacks. Also on 4 April, the Council welcomed the 1 April call by Special Envoy Grundberg for a two-month truce announcement on Yemen and the positive response from the parties. On 13 April, the Council highlighted the 7 April announcement of the peaceful transfer of powers of the legitimate Government of Yemen by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
On 3 June, the Council welcomed the 2 June extension of the truce which led to tangible benefits for the Yemeni people, including a significant reduction in civilian casualties. On 4 August, the Council welcomed the 2 August renewal of the truce in Yemen, which remained the most significant opportunity for peace and the protection of civilians that Yemen has witnessed in years. On 12 September, the Council highlighted the tangible benefits of the truce to the Yemeni people, including a 60 per cent reduction in casualties, the quadrupling of fuel through Hudaydah port and commercial flights from Sana'a allowing 21,000 passengers to receive medical treatment and unite with families. It also condemned all attacks that threatened to derail the truce, including the recent Houthi attacks on Taïz and voiced deep concern over the risk of famine, as well as the catastrophic ecological risk posed by the Safer tanker.
On 5 October, the Council expressed deep disappointment at the passing of the 2 October deadline to extend the Yemen truce by six months, stressing the major costs of an end to the truce for the Yemeni people. Finally, on 26 October, the Council strongly condemned the Houthi terrorist drone attacks on 21 October that struck the Al-Dubba oil terminal, where an oil tanker was docked, as a serious threat to the peace process of Yemen and maritime security.
Following Iraq’s largely peaceful elections last October, a stagnant governmental formation process stalled needed reforms and created a dangerous political and security vacuum that could be exploited by ISIL/Da’esh, while on the economic front, the situation improved due to a reduced deficit and an increase in foreign currency reserves.
Acting unanimously on 22 February, the Council adopted resolution 2621 (2022), which confirmed that the United Nations Compensation Commission fulfilled its mandate in processing claims and paying compensation for losses and damage suffered by Kuwait as a direct result of Iraq’s unlawful invasion and occupation of its territory in 1990. Also, by the text, the Council decided to terminate the mandate of the Commission and directed the Commission to return to the Government of Iraq any amounts remaining in the Fund at the point of dissolution. On 24 February, reporting on recent developments concerning political appointments and Government formation, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), said that, despite the election of the Parliamentary Speaker and his two Deputy Speakers, the necessary parliamentary quorum for the election of a President had not been met. Sounding alarm over the dire conditions in camps and prisons in north-eastern Syria, she described them as “ticking time bombs” with the potential to affect the region and beyond. Keeping people indefinitely in such restricted and poor conditions created greater security risks than taking them back in a controlled manner, she added.
Returning on 17 May to brief the Council on key political developments, Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert emphasized that “the neglect of the population’s most basic needs has gone on for far too long”. Stressing the need for predictable governance rather than constant crisis management, she outlined reforms needed to provide adequate delivery of services to all citizens and help end pervasive corruption, factionalism and pillaging of State institutions. Turning to Iraq’s armed actors operating outside State control, she cautioned that the reckless firing of rockets — including at an oil refinery in Erbil two weeks ago — undermined Iraq’s security within an already extremely volatile, politically charged post-electoral environment. In a meeting on 26 May, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2631 (2022), extending for 12 months the mandate of UNAMI, tasked with prioritizing the provision of assistance to the Government and people of Iraq on advancing political dialogue and national reconciliation.
Christian Ritscher, Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD), briefed the Council on 8 June, reporting on significant investigative progress in the collection of evidence regarding ISIL/Da’esh activities. By converting 4.5 million hard-copy pages of documentary evidence from courts across Iraq into digital format, UNITAD was enabling efficient legal proceedings and preserving the historical record of the crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh. The Team’s investigations also helped identify the perpetrators, including those targeting the Yazidi community and the personnel of Tikrit Air Academy. Further, he reported on significant progress in the investigation into Bayt al Mal — ISIL/Da’esh’s so-called “House of Money” — as well as the group’s development and use of chemical and biological weapons. He noted that the Team was also ensuring that sexual and gender-based crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh form part of each investigation, and that UNITAD’s victim- and survivor-centric approach meant that each and every affected person mattered.
Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert returned on 26 July to brief the Council on the 20 July attack in Dohuk Governorate in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq, during which five rounds of artillery struck Parkha resort — a well-known tourist destination — and killed 9 civilians, including 3 children, and injured 33 others. After investigating evidence, Iraqi officials attributed the attack to Turkish armed forces, she observed. Fouad Hussein, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, recounted that Türkiye has ignored his country’s repeated calls to put an end to its military aggression, calling on the country to withdraw its forces from Iraq. The representative of Türkiye responded that Iraq was being breached by terrorist organizations — not his country, citing inability or unwillingness of the Iraqi Government to fight the PKK [Kurdish Workers’ Party] terrorist organization. Iraq cannot castigate its neighbour for using its right to self-defence, he added. On 15 September, members unanimously adopted resolution 2651 (2022), extending for 12 months the mandate of UNITAD, as well as the Special Adviser leading it.
Against the backdrop of protests and counter-protests over the past months, with tensions rising, on 4 October, Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert returned to brief the Council on the dire situation that culminated on 29 August, when the country stood on the brink of total chaos. Expressing alarm over armed clashes in the heart of the capital and elsewhere, which resulted in dozens of people killed and hundreds wounded, she said Parliament, resuming its sessions after two months of paralysis, did not prevent further incidents, including clashes between protesters and security forces. Calling for transformational change, she said “it is high time for Iraq’s leaders — all of them — to engage in dialogue, collectively define core Iraqi needs and pull the country back from the ledge”.
Notable investigative progress into international crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh took centre stage on 5 December, with Special Adviser Ritscher detailing UNITAD’s continued work in capacity-enhancement; excavation of ISIL/Da’esh-related mass graves in Iraq; preservation of evidence; and repatriation of Iraqi nationals from camps in neighbouring countries. “One of our key goals is to support Iraq in playing a leading role in holding ISIL/Da’esh members accountable for international crimes,” he said, highlighting progress made on investigation of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against the Christian community in that country. The Team’s investigations into the development and use of chemical and biological weapons by ISIL/Da’esh also significantly progressed. “UNITAD will not stop to ensure that justice is delivered for the thousands of victims and survivors who have been impatiently waiting to see their day in court,” he asserted.
The Council adopted five press statements on the situation in Iraq in 2022. On 24 January, it condemned in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attack in Diyala Province on 21 January, which resulted in 11 deaths. On 28 February, it welcomed the cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait in the search for missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, as well as Kuwait’s conclusion of the identification process of human remains recovered from Samawah in Iraq and transferred to Kuwait in 2019 and 2020. It further noted that 59 sets of remains were identified as Kuwaiti and third-country nationals. On 25 July, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack in Dohuk Province of Iraq on 20 July, which resulted in nine civilian deaths, including children.
On 1 September, the Council condemned the violence throughout Iraq on 29 and 30 August and expressed deep concern over reported deaths and injuries, strongly urging all parties to engage in a constructive dialogue to advance reforms. Finally, on 20 December, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks near Kirkuk and Albu Bali on 18 December, which were claimed by ISIL/Da’esh and resulted in nine deaths of Iraqi policemen and eight civilians.
Meetings: 31 August.
The Council held one meeting on the situation in Lebanon, on 31 August, adopting resolution 2650 (2022). By its terms, members decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until 31 August 2023, while reiterating their call for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on resolution 1701 (2006) and for Israel to expedite the withdrawal of its army from northern Ghajar without further delay in coordination with UNIFIL.
The Council issued five press statements on Lebanon in 2022. The first, issued on 4 February, took positive note of the meeting of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon on 24 January and urged, in response to the dire needs faced by the Lebanese population, measures to be initiated by the Government, including the swift adoption of an appropriate budget for 2022 that would enable the quick conclusion of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). On 25 May, it welcomed the holding of legislative elections in Lebanon, as scheduled on 15 May, and called for the swift formation of a new inclusive Government and the urgent implementation of reforms, including the adoption of an appropriate budget for 2022. On 7 July, the Council took note of the appointment on 23 June of Najib Mikati as the new designated Prime Minister, while also calling for the expedited formation of a Government to implement necessary reforms. In the statement issued on 19 October, the Council commended the announcements that Lebanon and Israel have agreed to end their dispute over their maritime boundary and delineate it permanently. On 15 December, the Council condemned in the strongest terms an attack against UNIFIL a day earlier in Al-Aqbieh in south Lebanon, which killed one peacekeeper from Ireland and wounded three others.
Peace and Security in Africa
Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2022/6.
On 8 August, the Council conducted a two-day open debate on stopping violence and building the capacity for peace and growth on the continent, during which the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, highlighted the “symbiotic relationship between effective governance, peace, security and development”. In addition, he underscored the need to tackle the adverse effects of climate change and stanch illicit financial flows draining resources from the continent. Members also heard from Cristina Duarte, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, who outlined factors — such as the COVID-19 pandemic, corruption and non-inclusive planning and budgeting — that hinder African countries’ ability to provide effective, efficient public services. She stressed that investing in institutional and security infrastructure and closer cooperation with national and local authorities could prevent gaps exploited by terrorist groups and non-State actors. On that point, she noted the Organization’s “A pen for a gun” education initiative, which promotes social cohesion and peace on the continent.
On 31 August, the Council adopted a presidential statement, (document S/PRST/2022/6), in which it welcomed progress made in Africa to prevent conflict, to maintain peace and foster development, and called for intensified support and a coordinated approach among relevant partners, including the African Union and subregional organizations, to tackle challenges, particularly through improved capacity-building.
On 6 October, the Council turned its attention to the illicit trafficking of natural resources by armed groups and terrorists, through a high-level debate on strengthening the fight against their financing through such plunder. The Council was briefed by Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), who spotlighted the role of her organization in safeguarding the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the main international instrument in the fight against such crimes. That treaty assists member countries in devising policies and operational responses to address terrorist threats, as well as strengthening countries’ capacity to investigate and prosecute environmental crimes. Members also heard from Paul-Simon Handy, Regional Director for East Africa and Representative to the African Union of the Institute for Security Studies, who called for bolstered State apparatus and greater international cooperation to curb such cross-border crimes.
On 8 December, the Council focused on challenges faced by Central Africa in the realm of democracy and the rule of law, hearing from briefers including Abdou Abarry, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), who called for the Council’s increased political support to ensure peaceful electoral processes take place in Central African countries in 2023, some of whose elections were previously marred by violence. Gilberto da Piedade Verissimo, President of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) also briefed the Council, reporting that the ECCAS Commission had deployed international electoral observation missions to Congo, Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe and Equatorial Guinea to monitor the electoral processes. He also informed the Council that an international fact-finding mission was also being implemented in Chad and one was being operationalized in São Tomé and Príncipe to address the political and security crisis triggered by the recent presidential and legislative elections in 2021 and 2022.
Meetings: 24 January, 31 January, 16 March, 28 April, 29 April, 26 May, 3 June, 27 June, 13 July, 25 July, 28 July, 30 August, 29 September, 24 October, 28 October, 9 November, 15 November, 1 December, 16 December.
The year 2022 began with Libya roiled by turbulence and political uncertainty, following the postponement to an indeterminate date of national elections slated to be held on 24 December 2021 because of myriad issues, including contradictory court rulings on candidates’ eligibility to stand office. The human rights situation in the country continued to be troubling, due to violence based on political rhetoric, reported attacks against journalists and detainees — including undocumented children and women — as well as migrants and refugees, being held in inhumane and degrading conditions.
On 24 January, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo briefed the Council on steps taken to advance the electoral process, including the establishment of a road map committee to define a timetable and process for elections. She also reported on the holding of talks to address the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission in Ankara and Moscow, and on the dispatch of the second group of ceasefire monitors from the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Elham Saudi, Director of Lawyers for Justice Libya, underlined the Libyan people’s urgent need for justice and accountability for war crimes and human rights violations, emphasizing that such accountability was a prerequisite to political progress. She also stressed the need for elections to be unpoliticized and uncontestably legitimate, recalling that weak vetting criteria for candidates in the deferred 2021 elections had led to the acceptance as candidates of individuals implicated in corruption, war crimes, and human rights violations, including several indicted by the International Criminal Court. On 31 January, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2619 (2022), extending for three months — until 30 April — the mandate of UNSMIL. In light of former Special Envoy Ján Kubiš resigning from the post in November 2021 — less than a year after his appointment — the Council recalled that the Mission should be led by a Special Envoy and recognized the Secretary-General’s responsibility to appoint an individual to that position.
As an agreement on a constitutional basis for holding elections continued to be in abeyance, the Council met again on 16 March, with Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo warning that “as long as the standoff over executive legitimacy continues, Libya could again see two parallel administrations”. She outlined stymied efforts towards fostering executive legitimacy, including steps to appoint a Constitutional Review Committee by 24 February that never materialized, and a move on 10 February by the House to form a new Government headed by Fathi Bashagha, a former Minister of Interior, which was subsequently rejected on 24 February by the High State Council. Nonetheless, she emphasized that the United Nations was continuing to focus on fulfilling the aspirations of the 2.8 million Libyans who registered to vote. Consultations to this end were being held by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Stephanie Williams, while the Organization planned to convene a joint committee of members from the House of Representatives and the High State Council to reach agreement on a constitutional basis for the holding of elections in 2022. Members also heard from Jazia Jibril Mohammed Shuaiter, a candidate in Libya’s parliamentary elections, who urged the Council to deploy election monitors so that the Libyan people did not continue to be “deprived of their inherent right to hold a referendum […] due to the intransigence of political parties”.
In a briefing to the Council on 28 April, Karim Khan, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who assumed the post late last year, pledged he would deliver justice for crimes committed in Libya in 2011, stressing: “Justice delayed may not always be justice denied, but justice that can still be arrived at.” He presented a report containing benchmarks to advance progress on cases, which received most members’ resounding support, with some exceptions, including the representative of the Russian Federation, who questioned the Court’s decision not to investigate crimes committed in 2011 amidst the “unprovoked military aggression” by NATO against Libya. The Council convened on 29 April to extend for three months — until 31 July — the mandate of UNSMIL as an integrated special political mission, unanimously adopting resolution 2629 (2022). By the text, the Council decided that the Mission would be led by a Tripoli-based Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
On 26 May, in a meeting overshadowed by turbulent events in Libya, following clashes between armed groups, deadlocked negotiations and human rights defenders under attack, the Council heard from Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo again. She expressed concern over the negative impact of the political impasse on the security and humanitarian fronts, as well as taking note of troubling signs on the human rights front, as emblematized by restrictions on the work of civil society organizations and a wave of arrests of young people for alleged crimes against “Libyan culture and values”. She also apprised members of consultations of the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives and High State Council in Cairo held in May, noting that they agreed to meet in June to finalize the arrangements for holding national elections as soon as possible. The Council then convened on 3 June to renew for 12 months its authorization for Member States — acting nationally or through regional organizations — to inspect vessels on the high seas off Libya’s coast suspected of violating the arms embargo, adopting resolution 2635 (2022), by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with one abstention (Russian Federation).
The persisting political impasse in Libya swung into focus again, with Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, in her briefing on 27 June, calling on the Council to urge leadership of the House of Representatives and the High State Council to agree on outstanding issues and facilitate elections. Amid the alarming human rights situation, with UNSMIL hearing additional reports of serious allegations of torture against Libyans, migrants and asylum-seekers in detention facilities and prisons, she underscored the critical need to extend the mandate of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya. The Council also heard, via teleconference, from Bushra Alhodiri, a representative of the non-Governmental organization Fezzan Libya Organization, who outlined the thoroughgoing discrimination and exclusion of women from public life in Libya in the spheres of employment, peace negotiation, and politics, and pressed the Council to endorse recommendations addressing such concerns. On 13 July, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2644 (2022), renewing until 30 October 2023 previous restrictions on the illicit export of Libyan crude oil and other petroleum products, while expressing concern over continuing violations of the arms embargo and demanding compliance with that prohibition.
On 25 July, the Council was briefed by Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, who reported that a high-level meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva in June yielded a detailed road map geared towards enabling national elections in Libya. Despite such progress, consensus was still not reached on the eligibility requirements for presidential candidates. The human rights and economic situations remained dire, with the latter sparking widespread demonstrations across the country earlier in the month. On 28 July, the Council extended UNSMIL’s mandate until 31 October, adopting resolution 2674 (2022) by a vote of 12 in favour to none against with 3 abstentions (Gabon, Ghana, Kenya). Several Council members expressed frustration with the short mandate renewal, which did not respond to the aspirations of the Libyan people and undermined the Council’s credibility, including the representative of Gabon, who stressed: “While all red lights are on, the Council remains deaf.”
Returning to the issue of elections, on 30 August the Council heard from Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo in the aftermath of an upsurge in violence in Tripoli between armed groups, in which 42 Libyans were killed. Pointing out that the ongoing political impasse increasingly posed a threat to security in the capital and elsewhere, she urged the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, and the President of the High State Council, Khaled Mishri, to complete the work done by the Joint Constitutional Committee, underscoring the need to reach an agreement on a constitutional framework and timeline for elections. On 29 September, the Council renewed for another year its authorization for Member States to inspect vessels outside of Libya’s territorial waters when reasonable grounds existed to believe they were participating in migrant smuggling or human trafficking, unanimously adopting resolution 2652 (2022).
The new Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of UNSMIL, Abdoulaye Bathily, briefed the Council for the first time on 24 October since assuming his position a month earlier, stressing that the crisis’ solution must be based on the will of the Libyan people and underscoring that Libyans, despite varying political stances, were near-unanimous in condemning the presence of mercenaries and foreign forces in the country. Meanwhile, the representative of Libya, welcoming the “glimmer of hope” that was beginning to emerge in the Council, said that UNSMIL’s mandate should be extended by consensus to buttress the political process in his country. He also urged support for the electoral process, as well as national efforts to overcome conflict and division, emphasizing that the Libyan people “cannot be left alone to face their fate”. Days later, on 28 October, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2656 (2022), extending UNSMIL’s mandate until 31 October 2023.
Prosecutor Khan returned to brief the Council on 9 November, following the first visit of his office to Libya in a decade. Describing harrowing visits to sites of torture and execution, locations from which Libyan forensic experts unearthed hundreds of bodies of victims, and the accounts of survivors of violence, he underscored the need for more to be done “to ensure justice does not solely remain a value or idea, but something felt by the people of Libya”. He also outlined progress made in September on a human trafficking case, which resulted in the transfer of individuals alleged to have been implicated in acts of torture and slavery from Ethiopia to Italy and the Netherlands. Libya’s delegate countered the perception that his country was associated with human trafficking, asserting that the phenomenon is transnational and must be tackled by eliminating its international networks and leaders, whether in the origin and transit countries in Africa or in destination countries in Europe.
On 15 November, the Council heard again from Special Representative Bathily, who outlined UNSMIL’s efforts to support the restoration of peace and stability in the country, including through the provision of technical assistance to the High National Elections Commission. Ahead of the first anniversary of the postponement of elections — 24 December — he said: “There appears to be broad agreement that Libya’s institutions are facing a serious legitimacy crisis, and that restoring that legitimacy across the board is of paramount importance.” He also called for renewed efforts to implement the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission’s action plan for the withdrawal of mercenaries, foreign fighters and foreign forces, while taking note of progress made by the Commission and on the holding of the ceasefire, despite the use of escalatory rhetoric. On 1 December, the Council’s Sanctions Committee concerning Libya granted a humanitarian travel exemption from 1 December 2022 through 31 May 2023 to three individuals: Mohammed Muammar Qadhafi, Aisha Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Qadhafi and Safia Farkash al-Barassi.
Finally, Special Representative Bathily returned to brief the Council on 16 December, warning members that the situation in the country had deteriorated on all fronts, a year after the failure to hold elections. Outlining diplomatic efforts to revive the electoral track with Libyan stakeholders and international partners, he underscored the importance of fulfilling the aspirations of 2.8 million Libyans who had registered to vote. To that end, he said he had urged the leaders of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State to rise above personal and group interests and work towards finalizing the constitutional basis for elections. The representative of Libya noted that almost 3 million voters had been looking forward to a democratic celebration of a way out of the bottleneck of conflicts. Unfortunately, they were deprived of their historic duty and the Council was unable to condemn those who thwarted those elections. The country was entering a tunnel of despair, he said, questioning if the Council was serious about getting out of that vicious circle. The international community must support national efforts towards a constitutional basis for conducting parliamentary and presidential elections as soon as possible, he emphasized.
The Council issued two press statements on the situation in Libya in 2022. On 1 September, it condemned the violent clashes perpetrated by armed groups in Tripoli on 27 August, which resulted in civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, and called on all parties to preserve calm on the ground. It also issued a statement on 20 December, expressing deep concern at the persistent political deadlock in Libya and disappointment at the lack of progress, which continues to risk the country’s stability and unity, almost a year after elections were scheduled to take place on 24 December 2021, and more than two years after the agreement of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum Roadmap.
Meetings: 27 October.
The Council convened one meeting on Western Sahara in 2022, on 27 October, during which it voted 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Russian Federation, Kenya) to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2023, calling on the parties to resume negotiations in good faith towards a mutually acceptable political solution for the region. The adopted resolution 2654 (2022) expressed full support for the Secretary-General and Staffan de Mistura, Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, to facilitate negotiations to achieve a solution to the Western Sahara question, and strongly encouraged Morocco, Frente POLISARIO, Algeria and Mauritania to engage with him throughout the duration of the process. The text also called on the parties to comply fully with the military agreements reached with MINURSO and refrain from any actions that could further destabilize the situation in the Western Sahara.
West Africa and the Sahel Region
The security and humanitarian situations in West Africa and the Sahel region remained highly complex in 2022 especially in light of the challenges from transnational organized crime, piracy and armed robbery at sea and the growing threat of terrorism as such groups continued their onslaught of attacks.
On 11 January, UNODC Executive Director Waly, briefing via videoconference, pointed out that transnational organized crime — facilitated by corruption — was perpetuating instability, violence and poverty, with the attendant lack of opportunities and frustration driving more young people to piracy and crime and making them more receptive to radicalization narratives. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), presented an overview of the Secretary-General’s related report (document S/2021/1091) for the period between 18 June and 21 December 2021 which cited positive developments such as the holding of elections in Cabo Verde and the Gambia. However, the overall condition has become more concerning, he noted as he spotlighted large-scale attacks against civilian and military targets in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger; the resurgence of conflicts in Nigeria; expanding threat of terrorism in Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Togo; and the overall humanitarian situation. Speaking out against the military approach by the national authorities and the presence of foreign military forces, Cécile Thiombiano Yougbare, who spoke on behalf of the People’s Coalition for the Sahel, an alliance of civil society organizations, proposed a new citizen-centred approach based on the protection of civilians, measures to address the root causes of insecurity, increased humanitarian assistance and ending impunity.
Assistant Secretary-General Pobee told the Council on 18 May that it was time to rethink current approaches as the international community, donors and partners were struggling to reach consensus on the most effective support mechanism for a collective security response in the region. Expressing regret about the Malian transition authorities’ decision on 15 May to withdraw from the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) and its joint force, she stressed the need for countries of the region to come together, bridge their differences, and maintain dialogue to pursue their common security objectives. Eric Tiaré, Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel, cautioned that this current unprecedented situation was posing a challenge to the remaining G5 Sahel members, and urged the United Nations to continue supporting G5 Sahel in its counter-terrorism and development efforts.
On 31 May, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2634 (2022) calling on Member States in the Gulf of Guinea to criminalize piracy and armed robbery at sea under their domestic laws and to investigate, prosecute or extradite, in accordance with applicable international law, perpetrators of such crimes, as well as those who incite, finance or intentionally facilitate them. It also encouraged bilateral and multilateral partners to provide adequate legal and operational support, as well as regional organizations to enhance subregional, regional and international cooperation on maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
In his 7 July briefing on UNOWAS’ activities, Special Representative Annadif highlighted the juxtaposition in the Sahel region between citizens freely exercising their right to vote and military stakeholders trying to dominate the political space. Other challenges threatening the region included increasingly irregular rainfall, which was negatively impacting agriculture and generating conflict around increasingly rare resources, and the southward spread of extremist violence which posed a real threat in coastal countries. “There is no magic potion to provide an effective rebuttal to this problem of insecurity,” he said, underlining the need to establish democratic, responsible governance. Rabab Fatima (Bangladesh), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, expressed concern over the recent military takeovers in the region; persistence in violent incidents perpetrated by non-State armed groups, as well as ISIL/Da’esh- and Al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist groups; precarious security situation in the Gulf of Guinea; and maritime insecurity in the Sahel. She also underscored the importance to address root causes which aggravate conflicts and called for increased support for the G5 Sahel Priority Investment Programme and the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram-affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin Region. Rabia Djibo Magagi, Coordinator of the Alliance for Peace and Security stressed, that people in the Sahel “feel left to our fate” and called on the Council to convince Governments to stop talking about the need to eradicate terrorism, and rather, talk about “eradicating the reasons that lead young people to pick up weapons and kill others”.
Growing terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel called for a comprehensive response that integrated human rights and international humanitarian law, Assistant Secretary-General Pobee told the Council on 16 November as she reported on the continued deterioration of the region’s situation. The insecurity was exacerbating an already disastrous humanitarian situation, in which women and children were the primary victims of violence and growing inequality. The G5 Sahel joint force remained an important regionally led component of the response to insecurity in the Sahel, complementing the multifaceted engagement by the United Nations and other regional and international partners, she added. G5 Sahel Executive Secretary Tiaré told the Council that Mali’s withdrawal in May from all G5 Sahel bodies, including its joint force, plunged the subregional organization into an institutional crisis, and led to the relocation of the headquarters from Bamako to N’Djaména, the suspension of MINUSMA’s support to the joint force operations, and the impossibility of carrying out joint operations in the three zones. The resilience and hope of the Sahel people were gradually giving way to anger and frustration against the public authorities and some international partners, enabling the military to justify anti-constitutional regime changes, he warned.
In a subsequent briefing on 22 November, Assistant Secretary-General Pobee noted that incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea declined steadily since April 2021 due to the concerted efforts of national authorities, with the support of regional and international partners; regular deployment of naval assets by international partners; and piracy convictions in Nigeria and Togo, among others. While this decline may be attributable to a shift by criminal networks to other crimes, such as oil bunkering and theft, States in the Gulf of Guinea region still must step up their efforts to establish a stable maritime environment, including through the full operationalization of the maritime security architecture as laid out in the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, she said. “It is yet too soon to declare victory. We need to instead capitalize on the momentum and create a sustainable framework to protect the Gulf of Guinea from pirate groups and any criminal activity they may engage in,” the UNODC Executive Director stressed before highlighting key areas for action.
Sudan and South Sudan
Sudan Meetings: 17 January, 15 February, 28 March (sanctions), 28 March (briefing), 24 May, 3 June, 20 June, 21 June, 23 August, 13 September, 13 September, 16 September, 27 October, 14 November, 7 December, 7 December, 13 December.
Sudan Meetings: 17 January, 15 February, 28 March (sanctions), 28 March (briefing), 24 May, 3 June, 21 June (sanctions), 23 August, 13 September (sanctions), 13 September (briefing), 7 December (sanctions), 7 December (briefing).
On 17 January, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Khan, briefed the Council on the situation in Darfur and resolution 1593 (2005). The Court was able to visit the country for the first time following the 2018 uprising that overthrew long-time President Omer Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir and put Sudan on a path of political transition. His office successfully secured confirmation of all 31 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman, a senior leader of the Janjaweed militia in Darfur, in July 2021 and scheduled the trial — the first-ever stemming from a Council referral — to commence in April 2022. However, since the military takeover in Sudan on 25 October 2021, his team was forced to pause its investigation and had to obtain fresh assurances from Government officials that their work could continue, he reported, voicing hope he would be able to return there soon. Four other individuals related to the Darfur situation were subjected to Court arrest warrants, one of whom remained at large, he noted. Accelerated cooperation with the International Criminal Court was the only viable path to closure, to ensure long-delayed justice for the survivors of crimes against humanity, he stressed.
On 15 February, Council members unanimously adopted resolution 2620 (2022), extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts tasked with assisting the committee that oversees sanctions against Sudan — originally appointed pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) — until 12 March 2023. By the terms of the text, they requested the Panel to provide regular updates and requested the Government of Sudan to submit requests for the Committee’s consideration and prior approval of the movement of military equipment and supplies into the Darfur region. The Council also expressed its intention to consider establishing clear, well-identified and realistic key benchmarks by 31 August and adjusting measures, given the evolving situation on the ground.
Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana), in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan, presented his quarterly update to the Council on 28 March detailing the Committee’s work since 11 December 2021 which included the issuance of its annual report for 2021. In addition, he discussed the final report of the Panel of Experts on the Sudan, submitted in December 2021, which indicated that the national context remained largely unfavourable to the peace process, despite the implementation of several political initiatives to ease tensions. In addition, the Peace Agreement was being implemented slowly except for power-sharing provisions at the national level in Darfur and that intercommunal tensions continued to trigger clashes. Following that briefing, Sudan’s representative stressed that the sanctions imposed by resolution 1591 (2005) and subsequent resolutions did not match the current facts on the ground, namely that: communal confrontations did not negate the fact that Darfur enjoyed security and stability; the Government was determined to address remaining social and security challenges; and it was working to implement all security arrangements. He called on the international community to live up to its financial pledges and commitments as these were the most important challenges to the Peace Agreement’s implementation.
Also, on 28 March, Volker Perthes, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), presented the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on the Mission. He reported that that the economic, humanitarian and security situations were deteriorating — and protests against military rule continuing — in the absence of a political agreement on a return to an accepted transitional path. While “time is not on Sudan’s side”, he noted that the United Nations-led broad consultations on a political process following Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s resignation on 2 January found consensus on many issues. That included the establishment of a functional transitional Government and an oversight body; adoption of critical legislation; a minimum of 40 per cent representation of women in transitional institutions; and the reconsideration of the composition of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, among others. Urging all stakeholders to make compromises in the interests of stability and prosperity, he said that the Organization, African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) would jointly lead efforts to facilitate an inclusive, Sudan-owned and Sudan-led political process. However, unless the current trajectory was corrected, he warned, Sudan would head towards economic and security collapse, as well as significant humanitarian suffering.
“Time is short for the Sudanese to reach a political solution to forge a way out of this crisis,” Special Representative Perthes reiterated in his 24 May briefing. Noting that the situation remained precarious, he outlined several developments since March which included the release of detainees across the country, an overall decrease in violence by security forces against protestors and indirect talks — facilitated by his Office — with parties on the core issues of constitutional organs, the relationship between military and civilian components and the selection of a Prime Minister. On the security front, he spotlighted the events in West Darfur to underline the deficits in the State’s ability to provide security and protection for civilians. He also noted the significant progress in standing up the Joint Security Keeping Force in Darfur as the first batch of 2,000 signatory armed movements would complete their training and deploy to north, west and south Darfur that month. Turning to the humanitarian situation, he highlighted the disastrous impact political instability, economic crisis, poor harvests and global supply shocks were having and warned that the consequences would be felt beyond Sudan’s borders and for a generation.
On 3 June, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2636 (2022), extending the mandate of UNITAMS by a year while also requesting the Secretary-General to continue to report on the implementation of this mandate every 90 days. Following the renewal of UNITAMS’ mandate, several Council members expressed their regret that the Council was unable to agree on a substantive resolution to reflect the reality in Sudan.
In his second quarterly update of the year on 21 June, 1591 Committee Chair Mr. Agyeman (Ghana) said that the training of 2,000 members of signatory armed movements in El Fasher was a significant development in the implementation of the Juba Agreement for Peace. He noted that the Panel of Experts also reported on the security situation in Darfur which remained largely favourable to the peace process. He then reiterated that the sanctions regime was established for the sole purpose of helping to bring peace to Darfur and not to punish Sudan.
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Khan, briefing the Council via videoconference from Khartoum on 23 August, described his recent visits to three refugee camps in Darfur. He stressed that the nightmare for thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons had not ended and he encouraged the Council to consider holding a session in Sudan to hear from those in camps who held that organ in such high regard. Turning to the April case against Mr. Abd-al-Rahman, he described the glimmer of hope and great impact it had on the people of Darfur. However, despite the multiple entry visas granted for his small delegation in connection with the other cases for which the Court issued warrants, recent months marked a backwards step on cooperation which prejudiced the Council’s demand for a proper investigation and Sudan’s responsibility to cooperate, he said.
In his third quarterly update to the Council on 13 September, 1591 Committee Chair Mr. Agyeman (Ghana) provided an overview of that Committee’s activities which included receiving the Panel’s interim report, considering their recommendations and hearing about the situation in Darfur, as well as the gradual implementation of the Juba Agreement for Peace. The representative of Sudan voiced his disappointment that negotiations among Council members on setting benchmarks and targets had stalled for a second time, adding that “these sanctions cannot go on for 17 years without an objective assessment, or a comprehensive review of the benchmarks”.
At a subsequent meeting on 13 September, Special Representative Perthes told the Council that new political dynamics — the military’s decision to withdraw from politics alongside recent initiatives by civilian forces — offered a window of opportunity to reach an agreement. Almost all umbrella initiatives proposed by political and civil society actors on bridging gaps or uniting political parties and movements wanted the trilateral mechanism to play a role, he emphasized, before listing the few key issues which remained in dispute. He urged all to seize the moment, warning that the longer political paralysis lasted, the more difficult it would be to return to the transition with which UNITAMS was mandated to assist. Ibrahim Mudawi, President of the Sudan Social Development Organization, via videoconference, underscored that this transitional process must focus on stabilizing the economy, facilitating a constitutional process for elections and establishing a transitional justice model to address the atrocities committed during the Islamic regime’s 30-year rule. Without a unified army, there would always be a risk of inter-factional fighting that might lead to a civil war, he added, calling for the creation of an alternative mechanism to protect civilians.
In the final update of the year, Carolyn Abena Anima Oppong-Ntiri (Ghana), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan, informed the Council on 7 December of its activities which included receiving the Panel’s second quarterly report and hearing about the Juba Agreement for Peace, regional situation, status of armed groups and protection of civilians. The Panel was also conducting its investigations in Sudan, she reported. The representative of Sudan, spotlighting the progress in his country, requested the Council to terminate the mandate of the independent experts panel and end sanctions by March 2023.
Also on 7 December, Special Representative Perthes shared with the Council that military leadership and political actors signed a political framework on 5 December which might lead to the formation of a new civilian Government and democratize elections over a two-year transition phase. While this was a significant breakthrough, he reminded Council members that there were still critical issues to address, including security sector reform and merging of forces, transitional justice, implementation of the Juba Agreement for Peace and the status of the Dismantling Committee. He then noted that a state of emergency had been imposed on the Blue Nile region since his last briefing and called on all sides to at least commit to the principle of non-escalation. The representative of Sudan, urging the United Nations and the Secretary-General to intensify support, said: “Help Sudan so that we can lift the UN sanctions.” He also called on the international community to honour its commitments to the Juba Peace Agreement and convince other armed groups that have not joined the peace process to do so.
During his 7 March briefing, Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) provided an overview of the two years since the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity. With only 12 months until the end of the transitional period, there was still an accumulation of unfulfilled commitments, including on an agreed timetable for a free and fair electoral process, the drafting of a new constitution and the graduation of unified forces with an agreed-upon command structure. This sluggish pace of implementation caused disillusionment amongst the people of South Sudan, he said, noting a surge in criminality and xenophobic hostility towards humanitarians and peacekeepers, as well as the continued spread of subnational violence. Charles Tai Gituai, Interim Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission of IGAD, updated the Council on the implementation of the 2018 Peace Agreement, saying that the Commission had tasked the Unity Government to develop a clear consensus-based road map and strategy on how to complete the outstanding critical tasks. He recommended the Council to actively engage the Unity Government, especially on the unification of forces and the permanent Constitution-making process. However, Riya William Yuyada of Crown the Woman explained that “the ground is not ripe” for free, fair and peaceful elections, pointing out that the necessary legal and institutional framework was not in place with less than a year before the planned elections. The insecurity and lack of confidence South Sudanese had due to the failure to implement the peace agreement could only result in a detrimental impact on the legitimacy of an outcome. That, in turn, risked further violence, she said, calling on UNMISS to ensure the process was safe, inclusive and aligned with international standards.
On 15 March, the Council extended the mandate of UNMISS for another year, adopting resolution 2625 (2022) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation). By that text, the Council mandated UNMISS to carry out tasks in four key areas: protection of civilians; creation of conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance; support for implementation of the Revitalized Agreement and the peace process; and monitoring, investigating and reporting on violations of international humanitarian law, as well as abuses of human rights. It also called for strengthening the Mission’s sexual and gender-based-violence-prevention and -response activities; demanded that all parties immediately cease all forms of violence, human rights violations and abuses; and urged the Government to hold those responsible to account, among other things.
The Council, on 26 May, also extended the sanctions regime imposed on South Sudan — which included the arms embargo, travel ban and financial measures — for a year by a vote of 10 in favour (Albania, Brazil, France, Ghana, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States) to none against, with 5 abstentions (China, Gabon, India, Kenya, Russian Federation). Further, by its terms, the 15-nation organ also decided to extend until 1 July 2023 the mandate of the Panel of Experts and reiterated its readiness to review arms embargo measures in light of progress on key benchmarks. Speaking after the adoption, South Sudan’s representative denounced the sanctions as counter-productive and ill-intended from the beginning, cautioning that they might compound the economic misery that his country’s people were enduring.
With only eight months remaining until the end of the Transitional Government, Special Representative Haysom stressed, during his briefing on 20 June, that national leadership was needed along with resources and a visible commitment by South Sudan to fulfil its responsibility under the Peace Agreement. A reconstituted transitional legislature had been formulated at the national and state levels with all speakers sworn in, heads of specialized committees appointed and legislative activity and debate renewed, he noted. Going forward, all parties must agree on a road map which recommitted them to the Revitalized Peace Agreement and on the appropriate arrangements for elections. Acting Director Mudawi spotlighted the dire humanitarian situation which resulted from severe economic challenges, conflict and climate shocks. For the 2 million internally displaced people and the 2.3 million refugees, South Sudan must address the issues keeping them in a holding pattern of displacement which included insecurity; the presence of explosive hazards; lack of basic services; and unresolved housing, land and property issues, she emphasized. Lorna Merekaje, a South Sudanese human rights defender also stated: “The country is deeply fragmented and bleeding.” She also pointed out that — following the signing of the Revitalized Agreement — the hope for peace and stability had paradoxically been accompanied by intense intercommunal conflict. She urged the Council to consider involving the United Nations in organizing national elections and recommended the establishment of a periodic forum for civil society to engage with UNMISS leadership to facilitate better in-country interaction and analysis.
On 16 September, Special Representative Haysom told the Council that it had become clear that the parties would not be able to conclude implementing key provisions of the Revitalized Agreement by February 2023. Although the signatory parties had agreed on a road map which envisaged elections in December 2024, the extension of the transitional period was met with mixed emotions from many South Sudanese. In addition, delays led to the withdrawal of major donor funding to the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism and the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission. Cycles of cattle raiding, abductions and revenge-killing continued to devastate communities, he further reported, underscoring that the increasing incidents of conflict-related could be effectively addressed if all concerned parties stopped the use of sexual violence as a weapon of choice. Lilian Riziq, President of the South Sudan Women Empowerment Network, pointing out the Government’s failure to carry out its mandate, said that extending the current term of that Government — without the inclusive participation of civil society and other social and political groups — would prolong the suffering of ordinary citizens, entrench parties, encourage fraudulent elections and result in a post-elections period of violence and a full-fledged war. The international community and stakeholders in the region must support a broad-based progress to ensure inclusivity in the transition to peace, democracy and development, she urged.
Special Representative Haysom, in his 13 December briefing, spotlighted the noticeable progress in implementing the Revitalized Peace Agreement and stressed that phase two must receive financial, logistical and political support, especially for graduated forces to serve as a national army. Credible elections could not take place especially in light of the intercommunal violence in Upper Nile states which had taken on an ethnic dimension, he said, urging the Government to intervene. A fully implemented road map was necessary to ensure the conduct of democratic elections in 2024, Interim Chairperson Gituai, emphasized. He then outlined several outstanding governance tasks and urged Member States to provide political, technical and logistical support to the Transitional Government. Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) concerning South Sudan, informed members of the Committee’s activities in 2022 which included six informal consultations and several briefings with relevant stakeholders and experts. It also received two exemption requests related to the arms embargo and three requests concerning the travel-ban and asset-freeze measures, all of which were granted. During the ensuing debate, the representative of South Sudan highlighted the compromised ability of his Government to effectively provide security and stressed that it needed better armed forces to respond to any external aggression.
On 21 April, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, voiced concern, in his video-teleconference briefing, over the deficit of trust between the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities which led to intercommunal violence, the deaths of 29 people since October 2021 and the injury of 30 in just the previous week. Despite the significant progress in developing the Abyei Joint Programme, there was no progress on deploying the three formed police units mandated by the Council and on re-operationalizing some Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanisms team sites after the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) was forced to relocate in 2021, he reported, stressing that South Sudan must enable the Mechanism’s return as soon as possible. He also demanded an immediate end to the direct attacks against UNISFA patrols and called upon the relevant authorities to investigate them. Briefing on the implementation of resolution 2046 (2012), Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, spotlighted the exchanges of high-level visits between Khartoum and Juba and expressed her hope that the proposed approach to peace through the development of “unitized” oil fields would serve as a starting point for addressing recurrent violence and settling the area’s final status.
The Council, on 12 May, extended the UNISFA’s mandate by six months until 15 November through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2630 (2022). By its terms, it urged the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to provide their full support for UNISFA in the implementation of its mandate and deployment of its personnel and to facilitate the smooth functioning of all UNISFA bases and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism team sites.
On 27 October, Assistant Secretary-General Pobee drew the Council’s attention to the renewed engagement in the political process to enhance cooperation on addressing Abyei’s final status and border-related issues. Sudan and South Sudan also exhibited the willingness to resume the meeting of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee, which had not met since 2017. Despite intercommunal violence between the Messiria and Dinka Ngok communities declining somewhat in 2022, that same year saw the emergence of a new conflict between the latter and Twic communities in southern Abyei which resulted in lives lost, thousands of displaced civilians and threats and attacks against UNISFA peacekeepers, staff and contractors. UNISFA’s reconfiguration into a multinational peacekeeping force was nearly complete, she reported, adding that it would be finalized with the arrival of remaining troops and equipment during the dry season. She pledged that the mission would continue to work with country teams in both countries on the Abyei Joint Programme to create an enabling environment for peace by focusing on water management, conflict-resolution skills and the creation of opportunities for youth and women as central actors in peacebuilding, to name a few. Also briefing the Council, Special Envoy Tetteh pointed out that, although bilateral relations had improved through regular meetings, each country’s priority was on domestic issues. The renewed commitment regarding the implementation of transitional arrangements and the dispute resolution over Abyei’s final status must be set apart from the fragile internal situations in both countries.
The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2660 (2022) on 14 November, renewing UNISFA’s mandate modification set forth in resolution 2024 (2011) — which provided for the Mission’s support to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism — for 12 months. Among other things, the Council reiterated that the Abyei Area shall be demilitarized from any forces — including the armed elements of local communities — other than UNISFA and the Abyei Police Service when gradually established.
The Council also issued two press statements on Sudan. The first, on 29 April, condemned the violence in West Darfur, Sudan, which has resulted in the killing and injury of civilians, mass displacement and attacks on health-care facilities. Council members called for the immediate cessation of violence, including intercommunal violence and attacks on health-care facilities so that humanitarian assistance could resume; a transparent investigation of violence in Darfur to ensure those responsible for the violence are held accountable; and the accelerated implementation of the Juba Agreement for Peace.
The second press statement, on 8 December, welcomed the 5 December signing of the Sudan Political Framework Agreement as an essential step towards forming a civilian-led Government and defining constitutional arrangements to guide Sudan through a transitional period culminating in elections. In stressing the importance of establishing a conducive environment for resolving outstanding issues and the need for continued confidence-building measures, Council members encouraged the parties to start work without delay on the second phase of the process. A concerted effort to finalize negotiations and reach agreement on the formation of a civilian-led transitional Government was essential to address Sudan’s urgent humanitarian and economic challenges, they underscored.
Central African Republic
Briefing the Council on 22 February, Mankeur Ndiaye, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), pointed out that the military’s successful restoration of State authority in some parts of the country had resulted in human rights violations by all parties, including through the excessive use of force, gender‑based violence, and the recruitment, use and abuse of children by armed groups such as the Coalition of Patriots for Change. Also briefing the Council was João Samuel Caholo, Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, who pointed out that financial constraints were impeding the Government’s efforts to implement the road map. Delayed salaries discourage civil servants, including military personnel, and slowed implementation of the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation processes. As well, resource constraints stood in the way of holding inclusive and credible municipal, regional and senatorial elections for the first time in three decades. “This is a recipe for political and electoral violence arising from disputed results,” he stressed.
On 22 June, Valentine Rugwabiza, the country’s new Special Representative and Head of MINUSCA, briefed the Council for the first time since assuming her position in February, informing members that a strategic review meeting held on 4 June marked a critical juncture in the country’s direction, and urging them to lend unanimous support the follow-up to a landmark summit in Bangui. The Council also heard from the representative of the Central African Republic, who repeated his previous question to the Council of whether the arms embargo in place — which he described as counter-productive — could enable his country from achieving its primary objective: achieving stability by neutralizing armed groups attacking civilians.
The arms embargo took centre stage once again on 29 July, when Council members adopted resolution 2648 (2022) by a vote of 10 in favour to none against with 5 abstentions (China, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Russian Federation), extending for one year its arms embargo against the Central African Republic — as well as a travel ban and assets freeze imposed on certain individuals and entities, as designated by its sanctions committee. It also eased some of the embargo’s restrictions and renewed for 13 months the mandate of the Panel of Experts tasked with assisting that body.
Amid a precarious security situation, punctuated by violent attacks from resurgent armed groups, the Council met again on 19 October, shortly after three Bangladeshi blue helmets were struck and killed by explosive devices. Their deaths prompted Special Representative Rugwabiza to call on the Central African Republic Government to lift their ban on night flights, which she stressed are necessary for the safety and security of blue helmets, humanitarian actors and civilians. Delegates welcomed progress towards holding local elections in January 2023 and crossed swords on issues ranging from the need for sanctions to reports of human rights abuses committed by the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, often in the presence of Central African Republic armed forces. The Council decided on 14 November to extend the mandate of MINUSCA for another year, until 15 November 2023, adopting resolution 2659 (2022) by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (China, Gabon, Russian Federation).
The Council issued two press statements following violent attacks in the country that claimed peacekeepers’ lives. The first, on 5 October, condemned in the strongest terms the attack through an explosive device near Koui, which left three peacekeepers from Bangladesh dead and one wounded, while the second, on 25 November, condemned an attack near Obo the previous day, which killed a peacekeeper from Morocco.
Great Lakes Region
The Great Lakes region, composed of Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda, witnessed several positive developments in 2022, including ameliorated bilateral relations between several States, including Rwanda and Uganda, which made progress in normalizing relations and led to the reopening of their common border. However, the humanitarian and security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo continued to be fraught, due to the depredations of illicit armed groups plundering its natural resources.
On 27 April, Huang Xia, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, briefed members on the implementation of the peace, security and cooperation framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the wider region. He noted that positive trends in dialogue, cooperation and integration have been undermined by security and humanitarian crises in the eastern part of the country and the resumption of military activities by the 23 March Movement (M23) in the first quarter of the year. Also expressing regret that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and other local armed groups continue to commit atrocities against civilians, he stressed: “All of this tells us that peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo remains fragile.” João Samuel Caholo, Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, then briefed the Council via videolink, but connection issues frustrated delivery of his statement, resulting in his written statement circulated to Council members at a later point.
On 26 October, Special Envoy Xia once again cautioned the Council that the activities of rebel military groups, such as the M23, ADF and Résistance pour un État de droit au Burundi, have amplified insecurities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and sparked tensions between States, including with Rwanda, undermining cooperation in recent years. He added that such instability, in conjunction with climate-related events, exacerbated the humanitarian situation, with 4.9 million refugees and asylum-seekers in the region, according to UNHCR.
The Council issued two press statements on the region in 2022. On 28 April, they noted that they had been briefed the previous day by Special Envoy Xia and Executive Secretary Caholo and commended their efforts in supporting the peace process in the region. On 28 October, they noted that they had been briefed once again in recent days by Special Envoy Xia and commended his efforts in supporting the peace process in the region. They also expressed concern over the security and humanitarian situation in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, following the resurgent activities of armed groups, reiterating their strong condemnation of all domestic and foreign armed groups operating in the country.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2022/4.
On 29 March, Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), informed the Council that an exhaustive political strategy was the only way forward, as there were inherent limits to security operations being the sole response to the conflict. She outlined measures taken by the Mission to assist operations of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces to curb the activities of armed groups, including ADF and M23, and their “bloody reprisals” against civilians in the east. The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that joint operations by FARDC/Uganda People’s Defence Forces have led to the destruction of some terrorist strongholds, which is why armed groups were operating in smaller groups and resorting to such methods as kamikazes and parcel bombs to attack civilians. He also outlined steps taken by the country’s President, Felix Tshisekedi, to strengthen democracy, including the creation of the Electoral Commission and the adoption of a road map for the ongoing electoral process.
As the security and humanitarian situation deteriorated even further, with intensified attacks by armed groups and counter-responses by the FARDC/Uganda People’s Defence Forces leading to more than 75,000 people being internally displaced, the Council met again on 31 May, with Assistant Secretary-General Pobee urging members to lend their “full weight to ongoing regional efforts to defuse the situation and bring an end to the M23 insurgency, once and for all”. She spotlighted the two-track process launched in April at the Heads of State Conclave in Nairobi, which extended a hand to armed groups, while demanding that they lay down their arms. Special Envoy Xia also urged armed groups to engage in the regional dialogue, and for regional and bilateral mechanisms to be mobilized to stave off a crisis in which the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours traded accusations.
On 3 June, the Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2022/4), welcoming positive developments that had taken place in the country and region, including the commitment of regional Heads of State to implement a two-track approach aimed at finding lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, following the second Regional Heads of State Conclave on the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Nairobi, Kenya, on 21 April. Meeting on 29 June following an alarming escalation of violent activities by armed groups, including M23, which necessitated the movement of MONUSCO troops and the Congolese army, Special Representative Keita reported that armed groups had taken advantage of the resultant security vacuum, with more than 150 civilians killed between 28 May and 17 June, and 700,000 people displaced. With its sophisticated firepower and equipment, the M23 was behaving like a conventional army, posing an obvious threat to civilians and peacekeepers, nine of whom had been killed in recent days, she said, urging Kinshasa and Kigali to conduct talks during an upcoming summit in Luanda, Angola.
Council members met on 30 June to renew the sanctions regime imposed on the Democratic Republic of the Congo — including an arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze — for another 12 months, while also extending until 1 August 2023 the mandate of the Group of Experts overseeing its implication. Resolution 2641 (2022) was adopted by a vote of 10 in favour to none against with 5 abstentions (China, Russian Federation, Ghana, Gabon and Kenya).
Amid a political landscape dominated by preparations for the 2023 elections, Special Representative Keita briefed the Council again on 30 September, outlining preparatory steps for the electoral process, such as the promulgation of a revised electoral law and the adoption of the 2023 budget. She called for the strengthening of FARDC to tackle the persistent insecurity due to armed groups in the east of the country, that has led to a humanitarian crisis in which an estimated 27 million people require assistance. Further, a surge in internal displacement since the start of the year has brought the number of displaced persons to 5.5 million: the largest caseload in Africa. Nonetheless, she affirmed that the Mission is continuing to gear towards its withdrawal from the three last provinces where it remains in “a calm, responsible and sustainable manner”. The Council also heard from Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the Committee’s work since 5 October 2021 and of his planned visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda in November to obtain first-hand accounts concerning the implementation of the sanctions measures imposed by resolution 2360 (2017).
Against the backdrop of alarming advances made by M23, with fighting inching its way towards the regional capital, Goma, the Council met on 9 December, with Special Representative Keita reporting that M23 had extended its control over Rutshuru Territory in North Kivu. She outlined work done by the Mission, including lending operational and tactical support to FARDC and the Congolese National Police, setting up community alert networks in vulnerable areas in Rutshuru and Masisi Territories, and facilitating the joint Democratic Republic of the Congo-Kenya Secretariat for the holding of consultations between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Congolese armed groups. Nonetheless, she stressed that the Mission operates in a hostile environment in the east. Lilly Stella Ngyema Ndong (Gabon), speaking on behalf of Mr. Biang, reported on Mr. Biang’s visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda between 7 and 18 November. During his trip, the Congolese Government repeated its call for the complete lifting of the notification requirement for the transfer of military equipment and the provision of military training to its Armed Forces. Mr. Biang clarified that the arms embargo only applied to armed groups, not the Government, she noted. Peter Mutuku Mathuki, Secretary-General of the East African Community (EAC), also briefed the Council on the three consultative meetings resulting in a decision to have two simultaneous processes, with Kinshasa’s full ownership: the political track, and the military track. Urging the Council to take note of EAC’s request to the United Nations Secretary-General for financial support in this regard, he said that the process’ two tracks will require $358 million over the next 24 months. In addition, he called on the Council to review MONUSCO’s mandate to create synergy between the Mission and the EAC regional force.
Finally, on 20 December, against the backdrop of a deteriorating security situation in the country, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2666 (2022), extending MONUSCO’s mandate — alongside its Intervention Brigade — for one year, and unanimously adopted resolution 2667 (2022), through which it decided to lift the advance notification requirement under the 1533 Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions regime. The Council also decided that MONUSCO’s authorized troop ceiling would stay the same, comprising 13,500 military personnel, 660 military observers and staff officers, 591 police and 1,410 of formed police units, and invited the Secretariat to consider further reducing the Mission’s level of military deployment in line with the joint strategy on its progressive and phased drawdown.
The Council issued eight press statements on events unfolding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the course of 2022, many of which condemned in the strongest terms attacks on peacekeepers and civilians. On 4 February, the Council condemned attacks a few days previously by Coopérative pour le développement du Congo militias on the Savo camp for internally displaced persons in Ituri Province, which killed 58 civilians and injured another 40. On 1 April, the Council expressed deep concern over the crash of a MONUSCO helicopter on 29 March in North Kivu, resulting in the deaths of eight peacekeepers from Pakistan, the Russian Federation and Serbia. On 5 April, members strongly condemned the attack on MONUSCO in Ituri that day, which resulted in the death of one peacekeeper from Nepal. In a statement on 24 May, they strongly condemned the attack on MONUSCO and FARDC by M23 in Shangi, North Kivu.
On 12 July, members welcomed the summit hosted by President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço of Angola between President Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and reaffirmed their support to national and regional efforts to promote peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region, building on the peace, security and cooperation framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region. On 27 July, they once again strongly condemned yet another spate of attacks on MONUSCO in North Kivu, in which three peacekeepers from India and Morocco were killed and several other peacekeepers injured. On 3 October, they strongly condemned another attack on MONUSCO occurring a few days previously in South Kivu, resulting in the death of one peacekeeper from Pakistan. Finally, on 22 November, the Council stated that they met the previous day to discuss the situation in the country, and strongly condemned the resumption of attacks by M23 in North Kivu, and that group’s advances towards the city of Goma and other areas, worsening regional security and exacerbating the humanitarian situation.
Somalia, Ethiopia, Horn of Africa
On 15 February, James Swan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), told the Council that, despite some progress, including the holding elections for the Upper House, national elections were more than a year behind schedule and the Al-Shabaab group continued to pose a major security threat. Outlining support provided by UNSOM for the electoral process and in containing tensions between Somali leaders, he underscored the need to prioritize the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan, crucial to the reconfiguration of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and to coordinate the transfer of responsibilities from that Mission to the Somali security forces. Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, speaking via video-teleconference, said that Al‑Shabaab was working to disrupt the ongoing electoral process, as demonstrated by the 10 February attack on election personnel. AMISOM was continuing to provide support to address these and other challenges, he said, highlighting recent efforts to draft a strategy forward based on the goal of the Government taking control of security and other sectors and allowing for the departure of African Union forces and other Mission components.
On 24 February, Jim Kelly (Ireland) briefed the Council in his capacity as Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia, outlining that body’s activities. Noting that the meeting was the first since its mandate was renewed on 15 November 2021, he reported that the Committee had listed Ali Mohamed Rage — spokesperson of Al-Shabaab — on 18 February. He also outlined the Committee’s areas of focus following the renewal of its mandate, including Al-Shabaab’s structure; investigations into its finances; child recruitment and gender-based violence by the group; the smuggling and trafficking of weapons and military equipment into Somalia; and the implementation of the charcoal trade ban. On 31 March, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2628 (2022), endorsing a previous decision it made with AMISOM into the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). Through the resolution, it authorized African Union member States to deploy up to 19,626 uniformed personnel — including a minimum of 1,040 police personnel — until 31 December, to reduce the threat posed by Al-Shabaab, lend capacity-building support to the integrated Somali security and police forces, and conduct a phased handover of security responsibilities to Somalia.
Special Representative Swan updated the Council on 23 May, two weeks after Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected Somalia’s new President by a decisive margin, noting that the conclusion of elections and the peaceful transfer of power gave Somali leaders an opportunity “to move beyond the prolonged political contest to focus on urgent national priorities”. Delegates broadly welcomed the completion of the electoral process, while expressing regret that the 30 per cent quota for women in Parliament had not been met. On 26 May, the Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of UNSOM until 31 October, adopting resolution 2632 (2022). On 21 June, the Council was again briefed by Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland), 751 Committee Chair, who informed the Council that the Committee was considering recommendations presented during its midterm update from the Panel of Experts on Somalia on 3 June, which covered issues relating to the arms embargo, Al-Shabaab finances, humanitarian issues and a case of charcoal export involving the vessel MV Fox.
The humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia was thrown into stark relief on 7 September, with Special Representative Swan reporting that more 7.8 million Somalis — nearly half the country’s estimated population — were suffering the effects of the worst drought the country had experienced in four decades. He urged federal and state officials in Somalia to use the stable political climate to address key national priorities, including humanitarian issues, as well as those pertaining to security and governance. Briefing alongside him, Fiona Lortan, Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Acting Head of ATMIS, described a fraught security environment due to an uptick in attacks by Al-Shabaab, and appealed to the Council to ensure the Mission — which faced a financing shortfall of $40-50 million — was adequately funded for the remainder of its mandate. She also underscored the need for the Somali Government to fill gaps left by the withdrawal of ATMIS forces, to avoid a security vacuum. On 19 October, Fergal Tomas Mythen (Ireland), 751 Committee Chair, informed the Council that the Committee had received a final report, as well as two thematic reports from its Panel of Experts, one covering the violation of the charcoal ban by the vessel MV Fox, and the second on humanitarian assistance in Al-Shabaab-controlled areas.
Members met again on 31 October to extend UNSOM’s mandate and tasks until 31 October 2023, adopting resolution 2657 (2022) by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (China). Members met soon afterwards on 15 November to adopt resolution 2661 (2022), extending resolution 2607 (2021) by two days, until 17 November 2022. On 17 November, they met again to enforce the arms embargo on Somalia, adopting resolution 2662 (2022) by a vote of 11 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (China, Gabon, Ghana, Russian Federation), by which they reauthorized maritime interdiction of illicit weapons imports, charcoal exports and improvised explosive device components, while also renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Somalia. Finally, on 21 December, the Council met to unanimously adopt resolution 2670 (2022) which reconfirmed the commitment by the African Union and Somalia to adopt a strategic, gradual, sector-by-sector approach to the drawdown over the six-month period, as well as their commitment to maintaining the exit date of 31 December 2024 by ATMIS, while taking note of the African Union’s request to extend the drawdown of 2,000 ATMIS personnel until 30 June 2023.
The Council issued three statements following terrorist attacks across Somalia in 2022. On 24 March, members condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks claimed by Al-Shabaab in the Aden Adde International Airport area in Mogadishu and Beledweyne, Hirshabelle the previous day, which resulted in the death of dozens of people and injured many more. On 6 May, the Council condemned in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack by Al-Shabaab against the ATMIS Forward Operating Base in Elbaraf, Middle Shabelle region, a few days previously, and paid tribute to the members of the Burundi National Defence Force who were killed. On 1 November, they condemned in the strongest possible terms the heinous terrorist attack by Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu on 29 October, which killed at least 100 people and injured more than 300.
As 2022 commenced, the situation in Mali, roiled by terrorist groups and intercommunal violence, was compounded by uncertainty around the holding of legislative and presidential elections that had been scheduled for 27 February. Efforts by the Council, which visited the country in October, as well as by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), did not result in agreement with transitional authorities on a timeline to restore constitutional order.
El-Ghassim Wane, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), briefed the Council on 11 January, following a meeting by ECOWAS, during which the proposed timeline was judged unacceptable, resulting in the upholding of previously imposed sanctions as well as new restrictions. In response, he noted that Mali announced the recall of its ambassadors and closure of borders with ECOWAS member States, adding that reforms recommended by the Assises nationales de la refondation, if enacted, would help stabilize the country and provide a window of opportunity to move forward on implementing the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. The Council met again on 7 April, on the heels of Mali’s withdrawal from the G5 Sahel, with Special Representative Wane informing the Council that no notable progress had been made on implementing the 2015 Agreement. He described a tense security situation, due to a spate of attacks by Islamic State in the Greater Sahara in March in Menaka and Gao, which killed 40 civilians and displaced 3,640 households, following which Malian armed forces stepped up counter-terrorism efforts.
On 13 June, Special Representative Wane stressed the importance of free movement for the Mission to fulfil its mandate and emphasized that for Malian-led military operations to be successful, they must be anchored in a comprehensive approach that addresses the challenges providing fertile ground for the spread of violent extremism, as well as respect human rights and international humanitarian law. Members expressed support for the extension of MINUSMA’s mandate, and for counter-terrorism operations to be bolstered, while also expressing concern over the increasing human rights violations by the Malian Defence and Security Forces, with the involvement of foreign military elements.
The Council met on 29 June to adopt resolution 2640 (2022) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation), renewing MINUSMA’s mandate for another year, while calling for an assessment of its cooperation with the host country’s authorities, the challenges it faces and options for its reconfiguration. On 30 August, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2649 (2022), renewing for a year the travel ban and asset freeze against individuals and entities obstructing implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.
Special Representative Wane updated the Council on 18 October, describing a volatile security situation in the centre and border areas due to an uptick in extremist activities, which contributed to a worsening humanitarian situation, in which more than 422,000 people were internally displaced and more than 1.8 million people faced severe food insecurity. Nonetheless, he outlined signs of progress in the country’s political transition, including a draft constitution and preparations for a constitutional referendum in March 2023, among others, adding that such efforts were supported by MINUSMA and the United Nations country team. Finally, on 23 November, the Council heard from Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez (Mexico), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) concerning Mali on its activities in 2022.
The Council issued six press statements on Mali in 2022, most of them following incidents of violence that killed or harmed peacekeepers. On 1 June, members condemned in the strongest terms the attack against MINUSMA in Kidal on that day, which killed one peacekeeper from Jordan and wounded three others. On 3 June, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack against MINUSMA that day, which left two peacekeepers from Egypt dead and one wounded. On 20 June, they once again condemned another attack perpetrated against MINUSMA in Kidal the previous day, which killed one peacekeeper from Guinea. On 5 July, members condemned in the strongest terms the attack perpetrated against MINUSMA between Tessalit and Gao that day, following which two peacekeepers from Egypt were killed and five wounded. On 17 October, the Council condemned in the strongest terms an attack against MINUSMA near Tessalit through an explosive device that day, following which three peacekeepers from Chad were killed and three wounded. On 16 December, members again condemned the attack perpetrated against MINUSMA that day, following which two peacekeepers from Nigeria and one member of the Malian defence and security forces were killed, and several others wounded.
The Council issued two statements on Burkina Faso, both following unconstitutional changes of Government. The first, on 9 February, expressed serious concern about the unconstitutional change of Government in the country on 24 January, and called for the release and protection of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and other Government officials. The second, on 7 October, expressed serious concern about the unconstitutional change of Government in Burkina Faso on 30 September, underlining that the second military takeover in Burkina Faso in eight months is regrettable and undermines stability, given the progress made in agreeing to an orderly return to constitutional order by 1 July 2024.
As Colombia entered the sixth year of the historic peace accord between the Government and the rebel group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), which ended six decades of armed conflict, the Council took stock of progress made in implementing the Final Peace Agreement, notably through transitional justice processes. It also noted the challenges that remained to be addressed.
Briefing members on 12 April, just after the conclusion of congressional elections on 12 March, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, said that, not only was the cycle largely peaceful, due to the disbanding of FARC‑EP, but women were voted into office at a rate not seen before. In addition, 16 special transitional electoral districts were established, in line with the accord, he said. However, violence persisted, with a disproportionate impact on indigenous and Afro-Colombian community members, he said, pointing out that, in 2022 alone, in a single department in the north-east of the country, Arauca, more than 100 people had been killed and thousands displaced. Iván Duque Márquez, President of Colombia, also briefed the Council, stressing his Government was continuing to implement the Final Peace Agreement, even as it faced the challenges posed by armed groups, including those linked to drug trafficking. Highlighting the extension of a law on reparations for victims, he also reported that over 12,800 former combatants were part of a social reintegration process which promoted progressive land tenure and housing and property rights.
Special Representative Ruiz Massieu returned to the Council on 14 July, after the release on 28 June of the final report of the Truth Commission, whose 895 pages detail the suffering wrought by the conflict between 1958 and 2016 and apportions blame for human rights violations perpetrated by both parties. “There are good reasons for optimism for peace, and I believe the United Nations and the international community should do all they can to lend support,” he told the Council, adding that, in recent meetings, President-elect Gustavo Petro had reaffirmed that peace would be a cornerstone of the Government; a message underscored by Vice-President-elect Francia Marques — the first Afro-Colombian woman to hold the position — who said that the Government will prioritize peace, through a territorial and ethnic approach. Francisco José De Roux Rengifo, President of the Truth Commission said that Colombia has demonstrated that those wounded by war can come together to build peace, happiness and “produce a tomorrow where there is hope”. Over the last four years, the Commission has heard from more than 30,000 individuals and bodies and reviewed over 1,000 reports from victimized communities. Colombia’s security apparatus for decades functioned on the premise that security could be “guaranteed by weapons”, resulting in a system set up to protect structures and armed bureaucracy, not human beings. Urging the international community to give Colombia “nothing for war”, he said that the country wishes to be a “global paradigm of reconciliation” after so much pain and suffering.
Special Representative Ruiz Massieu addressed the Council again on 12 October, expressing hope that renewed progress on the Government’s peacebuilding commitments, as well as its willingness to resume talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), would enable the end of the decades-long conflict. Also lauding the Government’s efforts to foster women’s participation, he said: “From Chocó to Catatumbo, from Putumayo to southern Bolivar, it is these women and their communities who confront and resist violence by armed actors fighting for territorial control.” However, the lingering threat of violence was brought to life by Elizabeth Moreno, Legal Representative of the General Community Council of San Juan, who pointed out that the 4,500 families she represents face ethnocide, through the systematic violation of their rights and have been dispossessed of more than 30,000 hectares through extraction activities and foreign megaprojects. Also briefing the Council, Álvaro Leyva Durán, Foreign Minister of Colombia, emphasized the need to establish a new approach towards illicit drugs, adding that, although Colombians were sick and tired of the violence caused by the drug business, uncontrolled international demand was not allowing for peace. Muhammad Abdul Muhith, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, commending the Government’s efforts towards gender parity, rural reform, the stemming of illicit drug trafficking and the inclusion of youth, stressed the need for complementarity of different strands of technical assistance and funding. On 27 October, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission for one year, unanimously adopting resolution 2655 (2022).
The Council issued three press statements on the situation in Colombia in 2022. On 27 January, members reiterated their full and unanimous support for the peace process, echoing the Secretary-General’s observation that the commemorations of the fifth anniversary of the Final Peace Agreement, in which he participated during his visit, celebrated the historic progress taking root while recognizing that formidable challenges remained. They welcomed the way in which the fifth anniversary commemorations led to renewed focus by all parties on the need to consolidate this progress and address these challenges. On 22 July, the Council welcomed the largely peaceful conduct of the elections as a symbol of the strengthening of Colombian democracy due to the Final Peace Agreement and welcomed the increase in elected women representatives in Congress. In a third statement on 14 October, they welcomed President Gustavo Petro’s commitment to peace and to comprehensive implementation of the Final Peace Agreement as expressed in his inaugural speech on 7 August.
On 18 February, Helen La Lime, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), told the Council, via videoconference, that there had been no progress in establishing accountability for the 2020 assassination of Monferrier Dorval or the 2018 massacre in La Saine, adding that the national investigation into the assassination of President Jovenal Moïse was stalled. At the same time, gang violence continued to terrorize communities across Haiti and 4.9 million people — 43 per cent of the population — needed assistance due to the effects of the August 2021 earthquake. For Haiti to emerge from its multiple crises, all Haitian leaders must work constructively towards holding elections and ensure urgent structural reforms are implemented to combat gang violence, build institutions and to transform the economy, she stressed.
Amid the tightening control of gangs over swaths of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, Special Representative La Lime told the Council on 16 June that the pervasive, deepening sense of insecurity — exacerbated by the seeming inability of the Haitian National Police to address the situation — was dangerously fraying the rule of law in the country. Haitian national authorities required urgent international support to address a rapidly deteriorating security situation and deadlocked talks about future governance. Echoing the Special Representative’s assessment, Arnoux Descardes, Executive Director of Volontariat pour le Développement d’Haïti, stressed the urgency of taking action against those involved in smuggling, the illegal arms trade and financial crimes, as well as the need to revise Haiti’s Constitution, including its provisions governing terms of office, balance of power and the participation of Haitians living abroad in the country’s political, economic and social spheres.
The Council extended BINUH’s mandate until 15 July 2023 by unanimously adopting resolution 2645 (2022) on 15 July, through which it also called on Member States to prohibit the transfer of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to non-State actors engaged in or supporting gang violence, criminal activities or human rights abuses in Haiti and demanded an immediate cessation of gang violence. In reiterating the need for Haiti stakeholders to reach an urgent agreement on a sustainable, time-bound and commonly accepted framework for a Haiti-led political process, Council members also expressed their readiness to take measures as appropriate within 90 days of the resolution’s adoption.
Briefing the Council on 26 September of recent developments, Special Representative La Lime said that the Varreux fuel terminal has been blocked by one of the largest alliances of criminal gangs in Port-au-Prince since 18 September, cutting the capital off from its primary fuel source, creating shortages across the country and closing down hospitals. The three crises — gangs, which have driven more than 20,000 people from their homes and severely curtailed humanitarian access; the economy, which has led to soaring food prices and fuel often only available on the black market; and political stagnation, which has resulted in stakeholders struggling to define a path to elections — have intersected “in altogether new and frightening ways” in Haiti, she emphasized. Valerie Guarnieri, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme reported that the situation in Haiti was reaching new levels of desperation, with the price of the basic food basket increasing by 52 per cent, cost of petrol doubling and inflation at 31 per cent. Gangs were blocking fuel supplies, ports, airports and road access, while protesters looted humanitarian warehouses, she said, also describing the targeting of non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies, including WFP, which lost one third of its food stocks in a week. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Waly, also briefing the Council, said that investments in the security sector must be complemented with similar efforts throughout the entire national criminal justice system along with a better understanding of trafficking flows.
During her 17 October briefing on the Secretary-General’s latest report on BINUH, Special Representative La Lime described a grim situation unfolding in the country, with the rapid spread of cholera claiming many lives and gang members continuing to block the Varreux terminal, disrupting access to hospitals and water suppliers and further impacting the medical and humanitarian response to the outbreak. Jean Victor Geneus, Haiti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship, told the Council that the Haitian people were not living but rather surviving, adding that 4 million children were unable to go to school due to widespread gang violence, murder and rape. Haiti must have robust support for its Haitian National Police to address the humanitarian crisis, neutralize armed gangs, guarantee the free distribution of fuel and facilitate the resumption of activities, he stressed.
The Council responded on 21 October by unanimously adopting resolution 2653 (2022), through which it established a sanctions regime on Haiti, imposing a targeted arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze upon individuals and entities designated for such measures who are responsible for or complicit in actions that threaten the peace, security or stability of the country. The Council affirmed it would keep the situation under continuous review; demanded an immediate cessation of violence, criminal activities and human rights abuses which undermine the peace, stability and security of Haiti and the region; and urged all political actors to engage in meaningful negotiations to overcome the political stalemate and allow the holding of inclusive, free and fair legislative and presidential elections as soon as the local security situation permits.
In emphasizing that Haiti was facing the worst human rights and humanitarian emergency in decades, Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, told the Council on 21 December that efforts to engage in dialogue failed to create consensus on a way forward. Gang violence was paralysing the country, obstructing the freedom of movement of people, goods and humanitarian aid, fuelling the resurgence of cholera and displacing 155,000 people among other things. Special Representative La Lime noted that bilateral sanctions pursuant to Council resolution 2653 (2022) appeared to generate a renewed sense of urgency to restore democratically elected institutions. As a critical tool in combating corruption and impunity, sanctions were the most effective as part of a comprehensive approach, which included ongoing political dialogue and enhanced operational security support to the Haitian National Police, she underscored, emphasizing that “Haitians deserve no less”. Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2653 (2022) concerning Haiti, delivered an overview of the Committee’s activities, including the nomination of four candidates for the Panel of Experts established by that resolution. Nominations by the Secretary-General were expected at the end of the month, after which the Panel will conduct consultations with relevant stakeholders and submit a report by 15 March 2023.
Press Statements: SC/14842 (27 March), SC/14866 (20 April), SC/14879 (29 April), SC/14880 (30 April), SC/14902 (24 May), SC/15018 (3 September), SC/15021 (6 September), SC/15048 (30 September), SC/15125 (1 December), SC/15126 (2 December).
Briefing the Council on 26 January, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that “Afghanistan is hanging by a thread”. Facing a brutal winter, skyrocketing fuel prices, and the presence of COVID-19, measles and polio, among other challenges, he urged the international community — and the Council — to provide resources to prevent the country from spiralling further. Highlighting his recently launched $4.4 billion humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan — the largest in the United Nations history for a single country — he also called for a suspension of the rules and conditions that constrain not only Afghanistan’s economy, but the United Nations life-saving operations. Deborah Lyons, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said the inability of banks to operate resulted in people not able to access their money to feed their families. Her office launched its “One UN” Transitional Engagement Framework for Afghanistan, for which an additional $3.6 billion was being sought, bringing the total funding request to $8 billion for 2022 for such areas as health, education and infrastructure, with a special focus on women and girls. Mahbouba Seraj, Executive Director of Afghan Women Skills Development Center, described how the Taliban — in fewer than six months — undermined two decades of hard-won rights for women and girls. Women were literally being erased from public life, including the blacking-out of women’s faces on advertisements and the beheading of female mannequins in shop windows. The Council must stand by women, she said, stressing that: “You cannot be silent about them if you claim to support us in this Council.”
Special Representative Lyons returned on 2 March to brief the Council, reiterating that it was going to be impossible to truly assist Afghanistan’s people without working with the de facto authorities. Describing current economic challenges, she warned of a tipping point that would see more businesses close and more people falling into poverty. “Six months of indecision, marked by continued sanctions — albeit with some relief — and unstructured political engagement, are eroding vital social and economic coping systems and pushing the population into greater uncertainty,” she said. Thanks to robust donor support, humanitarian partners were able to help Afghanistan avert famine and widespread starvation over the recent winter months. However, providing short-term relief was not the same as giving hope to the Afghan people of building a strong foundation for self-reliance. On 17 March, the Council extended UNAMA’s mandate for 12 months through resolution 2626 (2022) — adopted by a vote of 14 in favour to none against with 1 abstention (Russian Federation) — that shifted its priority tasks to better align with the evolving reality on the ground.
Ramiz Alakbarov, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and officer-in-charge for UNAMA, briefed the Council from Kabul on 23 June, reporting that the Taliban was increasingly restricting basic human rights and limiting the involvement of Afghan women in social, political and economic life, including through the ban on secondary schooling for girls and the imposition of face coverings on women. Further, the Afghan economy contracted an estimated 30 to 40 per cent since August 2021. Output and incomes were reduced by 20 to 30 per cent and there was a 50 per cent decline in the number of households receiving remittances. Some projections indicated that poverty rates could climb as high as 97 per cent by the end of 2022. Even more alarming, 82 per cent of households were now in debt. Coping resources that helped many families get through last winter’s humanitarian emergency were now being depleted. Under-Secretary-General Griffiths also briefed the Council. Recalling his visits to engage with the de facto authorities, said he saw malnourished babies in downtown Kabul “on a scale never seen there before”. With 25 million people now living in poverty, 19 million people — nearly half the population — were food insecure, including 6.6 million at emergency levels, the highest number of any country in the world. Describing impediments to the humanitarian response, he said the formal banking system was blocking transfers, due to excessive de-risking, thus, impacting payment channels and causing breakdowns in supply chains.
Under-Secretary-General Griffiths, on 29 August, again reported that over half of the Afghani population — 24 million people — were in need of humanitarian assistance. Unemployment was at 40 per cent and inflation was rising. Pointing to a recent earthquake, massive flash floods and oncoming cold weather, he said the humanitarian response plan faced a financing gap of $3.14 billion while $614 million was urgently required to support winter preparedness. Markus Potzel, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, also informed the Council that Taliban’s practices — declared to be in adherence with “Islam and Afghan traditions” — was curtailing fundamental human rights and freedoms. Attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and media workers — combined with the impact of broader policy measures taken by the de facto authorities — were having a chilling effect on media freedom and civic activism. It was vital to move towards a sustained dialogue between the Taliban, other Afghan stakeholders, the wider region and the international community, as the country’s future rested on meeting the Afghan people’s needs, preserving their rights and reflecting the country’s diversity in all governance structures.
Acting Special Representative Potzel returned on 27 September, describing the growing restrictions on women’s rights that signalled the Taliban’s willingness to risk international isolation. The international community was adopting a pragmatic approach towards the Taliban, seeking to deepen trade ties and build stability to avoid the collapse of the country. If the Taliban did not urgently engage with the international community, there could be fragmentation, isolation, poverty and internal conflict — leading to mass migration, a domestic environment conducive to terrorism and greater misery for Afghans. “That’s why we have to engage,” he stressed. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Waly, recalling that the Taliban banned the cultivation and production of all narcotics in April, said that, although illicit cultivation may seem the only alternative to starvation for many, terrorist and organized criminal groups profited from illicit drugs. The international community, therefore, must respond to these trafficking challenges while extending as much help as possible to those affected by them. Also briefing the Council was Fawzia Koofi, former Deputy Speaker of the Afghan Parliament, who cautioned that the world was still not vocal about the current gender apartheid in Afghanistan under the Taliban, with generations of Afghan women becoming prisoners within their own homes. On 16 December, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2665 (2022), thereby extending for 12 months the mandate of the team monitoring sanctions against individuals and entities associated with the Taliban who constituted a threat to the country’s peace, stability, and security.
On 20 December, Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, described the prevention of secondary education for girls — criticized by the entire Islamic world — as extremely unpopular among Afghans and even within the Taliban leadership. Ongoing dialogue with the de facto authorities was needed to secure a better future for Afghans. She also warned that any positive economic developments might not be sustainable if the real concerns of Afghans, including the ban on girls’ education, lack of health facilities, mental health problems, poverty and economic insecurity and discrimination against ethnic minorities, were not addressed. Under-Secretary-General Griffiths, in his briefing, reiterated that 97 per cent of Afghans lived in poverty, 20 million people faced acute hunger, 1.1 million teenage girls were still banned from school and nearly 7 million Afghan nationals remained in neighbouring countries. Nonetheless, the humanitarian community was fully mobilized, with a massive scale-up, aided by quick and generous donor response, reaching around 25 million people in all 34 governorates with at least some form of assistance. The United Nations cash facility brought in at least $1.8 billion in 2022, enabling the injection of over $55 million into the economy each month, and the humanitarian exception adopted by resolution 2615 (2021) played a critical facilitating role.
The Council issued a total of 10 press statements on the situation in Afghanistan in 2022, mostly on the surge of attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure across the country. On 27 March, it expressed deep concern over the Taliban’s decision to deny girls above the sixth-grade access to education. On 20 April, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the 19 April terrorist attack against the Abdul Rahim-e Shahid High School and Mumtaz Education Centre in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of Kabul which resulted in several people killed and dozens injured. On 29 April, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the string of terrorist attacks on 21 April, including the attack against the Seh Dokan Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif and a separate attack in Kunduz, both claimed by Islamic State in Khorasan Province — an entity affiliated with ISIL/Da’esh — which killed dozens and wounded many more. On 30 April, the Council condemned in the strongest term the continued terrorist attacks targeting civilians, including the attack against the Mawlawi Sekander mosque in Kunduz on 22 April which killed more than 25 people and injured dozens and the attack against two minibuses in Mazar-e-Sharif on 28 April which was claimed by Islamic State in Khorasan Province and killed 9 people and wounded several, as well as the attack against the Khalifa Sahib mosque in Kabul on 29 April, where 30 people were killed and many more injured.
On 24 May, the Council expressed deep concern over the increasing erosion of respect for the human rights of women and girls in Afghanistan by the Taliban, including through restrictions to education, employment and freedom of movement. On 3 September, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack against the Guzargah mosque in Herat on 2 September which killed 18 people and injured several more. On 6 September, it condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack outside the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Kabul on 5 September, which was claimed by Islamic State in Khorasan Province, killing six people, including two Russian Embassy employees, and injuring several more. On 30 September, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against the Kaaj Educational Centre in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of Kabul, on 30 September, which killed 19 and injured dozens — many of them students. On 1 December, it condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack at the religious school in Aybak, in the Samangan Province, on 30 November, which killed 20 students and children and wounded a dozen more. On 2 December, Council members condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack on the Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul, on 2 December, where the Pakistani Ambassador and Head of Mission came under attack and his security guard was critically injured.
Meetings: 21 December.
Press Statements: SC/14986 (27 July).
On 21 December, the Council met to adopt its first-ever resolution on Myanmar, resolution 2669 (2022), by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (China, India, Russian Federation), through which they demanded an immediate end to violence throughout the country and urged restraint and the de‑escalation of tensions. The Council also urged the Myanmar military to immediately release all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. In the discussion, many members expressed support for the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. However, some delegates, including China, voiced concern about the imbalanced nature of the text, pointing out that adopting a presidential statement would have been more appropriate as a course of action.
The Council issued one statement on Myanmar, on 27 July, condemning the Myanmar military’s execution of opposition activists on 25 July, while echoing the Secretary-General’s statement on the same day, which called for the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Council issued two press statements on terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2022. On 6 March, it condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack at the Koocha Risaldar mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, two days earlier, which was claimed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan and resulted in the death of at least 62 people and dozens injured. On 28 April, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in the Karachi University, Pakistan, two days earlier, which was claimed by the Majeed Brigade of the Baloch Liberation Army, and resulted in the deaths of three Chinese nationals and one Pakistani and several injured.
Cooperation with Regional Organizations
Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2022/1.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the Council on 16 February, emphasizing the need for stronger and deeper cooperation with regional partners, including the Collective Security Treaty Organization, to take effective action on priority areas such as conflict prevention, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping and addressing the worsening situation in Afghanistan, adding: “We are determined to bolster this work together; we are accountable together on what we do and how we work.” Stanislav Zas, Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, also briefed the Council, reporting on, among other things, the bloc’s first-ever peacekeeping deployment to Kazakhstan in January, who pointed to the persistent challenge of regional conflicts, and spotlighted Afghanistan and Eastern Europe — notably eastern Ukraine — as areas where cooperation might be strengthened.
On 14 March, in its annual meeting on the work of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Zbigniew Rau, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland and speaking in his capacity as Chairman-in-Office of OSCE, recalled that invading forces attacked civilian targets in an effort to break the will of the Ukrainian population. Responding to comments by some Russian Federation officials regarding his lack of impartiality in the days and weeks since the invasion began, he stressed: “Impartiality ends where blatant violation of international humanitarian law starts.” Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s delegate expressed regret that United Nations officials have veered away from impartiality on the situation in Ukraine, also stressing that OSCE has a responsibility to embrace the role of an honest broker in its attempts to facilitate dialogue. [This meeting is also summarized under “Europe-Ukraine”.]
The Council adopted a presidential statement on 23 March (document S/PRST/2022/1), welcoming strong cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States and reiterating its intention to consider further steps to collaborate in the fields of conflict, including early warning, sustaining peace and addressing root causes of conflicts. Members were again briefed by Secretary‑General Guterres, who pointed out that the then two-month war in Ukraine had “profound ramifications” across the Middle East and North Africa, ranging from their dependence on grain from Ukraine or the Russian Federation, to leading to a draining of resources and attention from other spots in desperate need, as evinced by a disappointing pledging conference for Yemen in which the United Nations’ appeal received less than a third of the funds urgently needed.
The Council again met on 16 June to consider the situation in Europe, hearing a briefing by Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union. He emphasized that “the multilateral system is under pressure like never before”, due to a deepened “deficit in multilateralism” that was accompanied a rise in power politics. He also pointed out that the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, which has left tens of thousands dead and generated the fastest growing refugee crisis since the Second World War, was not a European war, but “an attack on the foundations of the UN and this Security Council, by a permanent member of the Council”. He also stressed that sanctions imposed by the bloc were not the cause of food shortages, but only targeted the Kremlin’s ability to finance its military aggression. However, in the ensuing debate, the delegate of the Russian Federation assailed the bloc for pursuing a policy of strategically pressing his country out of Europe, undertaking, through NATO, the geopolitical absorption of space around it. Faced with such overt hostility, the Kremlin had no choice but to reconsider basic approaches to the development of relations with the bloc, he stressed.
The African continent took centre stage on 11 October, during a high-level meeting on the United Nations cooperation with the African Union, with the Council hearing briefings from Secretary-General Guterres, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, and Gabon’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Michael Moussa Adamo, among others. Secretary-General Guterres, while highlighting joint endeavours with regional partners on the continent, stressed that major challenges remained which could only be met through approaches adapted to local contexts and with the full commitment of the international community, including the Council. Chairperson Mahamat emphasized that the continent needs “other things beyond declarations” to bolster its own efforts to bring about peace and security and face up to formidable challenges. He also spotlighted that 70 per cent of peacekeeping missions are in Africa. Against this backdrop, other speakers emphasized the need for greater funding for African Union-led peacekeeping operations authorized by the Council, as well as renewed efforts to ensure African representation at the Council, with Foreign Minister Adamo calling for more balanced permanent African membership at the Council, and for its working methods to be more inclusive and responsive.
Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2022/2.
On 31 March, the Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2022/2) requesting the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals — established to succeed the now-closed International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda — to submit a progress report on its work since 20 June 2020 by 14 April 2022. It also requested the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals to thoroughly examine the Mechanism’s report – as well as the Office of Internal Oversight Services’ (OIOS) evaluation report on the court’s methods and work — and present its views, findings and recommendations to the 15-member organ. Despite an earlier agreement, the Mechanism continued to face problems in relocating acquitted persons and convicted individuals who had completed their sentences, the Council noted with concern.
During an all-day open debate on 2 June, more than 65 Heads of State, ministers and representatives from around the world stressed the special responsibility of the Council to ensure that decisions, resolutions and Court orders were abided. Accountability for serious violations of international law was crucial to the effective function of the United Nations justice system, many speakers stressed. Adding to that, Joan E. Donoghue, President of the International Court of Justice, speaking via videoconference from The Hague, pointed out that applicants frequently invoke a desire for accountability as one of their key motivations for bringing a case before the Court. However, the Court could only promote accountability to the extent that Member States accorded it the jurisdiction to do so. Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, spotlighted the work of OHCHR in strengthening accountability and called attention to several examples where the Organization’s intergovernmental organs took significant steps to advance accountability. However, Dapo Akande, Professor of Public International Law of the University of Oxford, said that, despite important strides in addressing serious violations of international law. The International Law Commission’s draft articles on strengthening accountability norms created a framework in which States could punish and repress crimes against humanity, he said before detailing several suggestions for the Council to ensure cooperation with the International Criminal Court.
In his last briefing to the Council on 14 June, Carmel Agius, President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, provided an overview of the Mechanism’s accomplishments and progress during the reporting period and noted that there were only three main cases left. Since taking office, he issued 72 decisions and orders, leaving only 2 recently filed matters to be dealt with by his successor. There were also some setbacks, he continued, noting that the binding agreement between the Organization and Niger to relocate acquitted and release persons onto Niger’s territory had not been honoured and that Serbia had failed to fulfil its international obligations pursuant to Council resolution 1966 (2010). Serge Brammertz, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Prosecutor, said that, in the last two years, his office was able to account for half of the fugitives who remained at large following the closure of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. His office aimed to account for all four outstanding fugitives by the time the Council next reviewed the Mechanism’s work. He then provided an overview of the procedural history of several cases to date and noted that national prosecutors still faced challenges, such as regional judicial cooperation in the former Yugoslavia and Croatia’s political blocking of the justice process.
On 22 June, the Council, by a vote of 14 in favour and none against, with 1 abstention (Russian Federation), adopted resolution 2637 (2022) which reappointed Serge Brammertz as the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Prosecutor for a term beginning on 1 July 2022 and ending on 30 June 2024. The Council also urged all States — especially those in which fugitives are suspected to be at large — to intensify their cooperation with, and render all necessary assistance to, the Mechanism. In particular, it urged States to achieve the arrest and surrender of all remaining fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as soon as possible.
Also on 22 June, the Council adopted resolution 2638 (2022) without a vote, setting the date for an election to fill the vacant seat caused by the death of Judge Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil) on 29 May. It decided, in accordance with article 14 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, that the election to fill the vacancy would occur on 4 November at a meeting of the Council and at a meeting of the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session. The Council then met on 4 November, independently from but concurrently with the General Assembly, to elect Leonardo Nemer Caldeira Brant (Brazil) to the International Court of Justice until 5 February 2027. He filled the vacant seat left by the death of Judge Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil) on 29 May.
Graciela Gatti Santana, the new President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, in her first briefing to the Council on 12 December, reported on the significant progress and tangible results in the Mechanism’s core judicial cases. She called for the international community’s continued support of its functions as it shifted from an operational to a residual court. “The term ‘residual’ should not give impression that we no longer matter,” she stressed, pledging that the Mechanism would continue its work on the enforcement of sentences, preservation of archives, protection of witnesses, assistance to national jurisdictions and other judicial activities, even after the completion of its pending caseload. Underlining the need for redoubled efforts to counter genocide denial, revisionism and the glorification of war criminals, she said: “By defending and disseminating the truth, we can help prevent genocide and other heinous crimes from occurring again.” The Mechanism should be considered as one of the Organization’ best investments, she added. Also briefing the Council again, Prosecutor Brammertz said that Fulgence Kayishema — who was indicted for the 1994 murders of more than 2,000 refugees — was the top priority in the search for the remaining four fugitives. Noting that cooperation with South Africa was moving in a positive direction, he warned States that génocidaires may be living in their territory.
The Council took up an assortment of issues related to the non-proliferation of weapons in 2022, ranging from efforts to restrain States from developing their nuclear weapons capabilities to the implementation of measures to curb the access of terrorist groups to weapons of mass destruction.
Acting unanimously on 25 February, the Council adopted resolution 2622 (2022), extending until 30 November 2022, the mandate of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) — its committee monitoring implementation of a resolution that aims to prevent non-State actors from acquiring nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and their means of delivery — with the continued assistance of its group of experts. On 14 March, the Council returned to the work of that Committee, with its Chair, Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez (Mexico), stressing that the resolution’s full and effective implementation is “a long-term task”. The comprehensive review launched in 2021 was one of two called for by resolution 1977 (2011), which extended the Committee’s mandate for 10 years, he said, adding that it prioritized the Member States’ statuses on the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).
The Council met on 25 March to unanimously adopt resolution 2627 (2022), extending until 30 April 2023 the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the Committee overseeing sanctions imposed against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2006. Members then held an emergency debate on that country’s launch of intercontinental ballistic missile on 24 March, following missile launches on 27 February and 5 March. Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, in her briefing, said that since the start of the year, Pyongyang had already conducted 12 launches using ballistic missile technology, culminating in its 24 March launch of a missile which landed within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. In the face of such actions, “the unity of the Security Council in this matter is essential to ease tensions”, she stressed. Council members condemned the clear escalation represented by Pyongyang’s most recent missile launch, with Japan’s delegate emphasizing: “These wilful and repeated violations of Council resolutions are partly a result of the long regrettable silence of the Council. This should end now.”
On 11 May, following another bout of ballistic missiles launches on 4 and 7 May, Mohamed Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, underscored that such actions were clear violations of relevant Council resolutions. Further, statements made on 25 April and 30 April by the leader of that country — which declared that Pyongyang could pre-emptively use its nuclear weapons — were deeply concerning. On 26 May, Council members returned to the issue once again, failing to adopt a draft resolution tabled by the United States, which would have strengthened sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea over its unchecked ballistic missile launches. While the draft garnered 13 votes in favour, it was vetoed by the representatives of China and the Russian Federation, who denounced the proposed measure as counterproductive and inhumane. However, several delegates voiced regret over the vote’s outcome, with Japan’s representative calling the reasons of those who voted against the draft “unconvincing” and questioning what the Security Council was for if not to act in such cases.
On 30 June, the Council turned to the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme, as members discussed ways towards reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, sometimes known as the “Iran nuclear deal”, from which the United States withdrew in 2018. Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo briefed the Council on negotiations to revive the deal, which resumed in November 2021, noting that the Plan was at “a critical juncture” after many years of uncertainty. She appealed to the United States to lift or waive its sanctions as outlined in the Plan and called on Iran to reverse the steps it had taken that were not consistent with its nuclear‑related commitments. The Council also heard from Olof Skoog, Head of Delegation of the European Union, who spoke on behalf of Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Coordinator of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to update the Council on progress on diplomatic efforts to restore the Plan. Calling those negotiations in Vienna “challenging”, due to a trust deficit following actions by both parties, he said that, nonetheless, a promising and detailed text was produced by March. Members then voiced concern over Iran’s enrichment of uranium and the continued imposition of sanctions by the United States, to which that country’s delegate asserted that, while the United States was prepared to implement a deal if Iran dropped demands outside the scope of the Plan, “Iran has yet to demonstrate any real urgency to conclude a deal in the current nuclear crisis and achieve important sanctions lifting”.
On 5 October, following yet another ballistic-missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea the previous day, the Council was again briefed by Assistant Secretary-General Khiari, who noted that the launch marked the first time that country had launched a ballistic missile over Japanese territory since 15 September 2017. Reiterating the Secretary-General’s call on Pyongyang to immediately cease further destabilizing acts, comply fully with its international obligations and take steps to resume dialogue to achieve the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, he again underscored the need for the Council’s unity “ease tensions, overcome the diplomatic impasse and avoid a negative action-reaction cycle. Several Council members expressed alarm about the unchecked escalation of Pyongyang’s missile-launch activities, which the United States’ representative characterized as “appalling”. Recalling that 13 Council members had previously voted to impose costs on Pyongyang for its illegal activities, she pointed out that two of them nonetheless “bent backwards” to justify that country’s repeated violations. However, representatives of the Russian Federation and China — the countries in question — defended their stance, attributing Pyongyang’s actions as a response to joint military exercises undertaken by the United States and other countries in the Korean Peninsula after a five-year hiatus.
Following the launch of an unprecedented number of missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile, on 2 and 3 November by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, on 4 November the Council again returned to the issue for the ninth time in 2022. Assistant Secretary-General Khiari, calling Pyongyang’s actions “reckless” and a clear violation of Security Council resolutions, repeated previously evoked statements by the Secretary-General, including his condemnation of such actions and his call on Pyongyang to comply fully with its international obligations.
On 21 November, following another launch by Pyongyang of an intercontinental missile a few days earlier, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo stressed to the Council the need to de-escalate tensions. “This is the tenth time the Council has met to discuss the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2022, yet the situation on the Korean Peninsula continues to head in the wrong direction,” she pointed out. Emphasizing the critical need for unity in the Council, she called on its members to join together, as a united organ as well as individually, to urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to refrain from carrying out further launches using ballistic‑missile technology or a seventh nuclear test. Several members expressed frustration over the lack of Council unity, observing that such inaction only emboldened Pyongyang to forge ahead with its patently illegal activities. The United States’ delegate once again upbraided veto-wielding members of putting the region and the world at risk with their “blatant obstructionism”. Those referenced members, however, called for the creation of an atmosphere conducive to dialogue, and pointing to their jointly sponsored draft resolution as a means to mitigate the humanitarian situation in the country. On 30 November, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2663 (2022), extending the mandate of its subsidiary 1540 Committee, which seeks to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors, for a period of 10 years until 30 November 2032.
Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo updated the Council on progress or the lack thereof on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on 14 December, cautioning members that “the space for diplomacy appears to be rapidly shrinking”, even as Iran appears to forge ahead in its intention to produce more enriched uranium, which the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimated to be more than 18 times the allowable amount under the Plan. She called on Iran to reverse steps it has taken since July 2019 that are inconsistent with its nuclear-related commitments under the Plan, and on the United States to lift its sanctions pursuant to that agreement. Several members expressed concern over advances in Iran’s nuclear programme and its alleged transfers of unmanned aerial vehicles to the Russian Federation and materiel to the Houthis in violation of resolution 2231 (2015). Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, spoke on behalf of Coordinator Borrell, noting that Iran’s unilateral June decision that all IAEA Plan-related surveillance and monitoring equipment be removed from operation further aggravated existing concerns. Expressing regret that Iran continues to face economic consequences following the United States’ withdrawal from the Plan and its reimposition of unilateral sanctions, he reported that the European Union’s nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions remain lifted. Iran’s representative stressed that Tehran’s full compliance with its nuclear-related commitments under the Plan have been verified by IAEA. Its steps in reaction to the United States’ withdrawal were remedial measures based on its rights under the agreement. “The United States now has the ball in its court,” he said.
Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2022/5.
During the Council’s open debate on 12 July on “United Nations peacekeeping operations: The key role of strategic communications for efficient peacekeeping”, speakers said that the United Nations must adapt to new realities and engage — not just inform — audiences in support of its vital mission. Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that disinformation was dangerous and potentially deadly, transforming “our blue flag from a symbol of security into a target for attack”. Strategic communications were a top priority within the Action for Peacekeeping+ initiative. The Organization would adopt a whole-of-mission approach holding mission leaders accountable to lead strategic communications in planning and decision-making, and work with partners to better detect and counter mis- and disinformation and hate speech. Marcos de Sá Affonso da Costa, Force Commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, noting an anti-Mission sentiment in some parts of the country, warned that fake news diffused by militias through social media was difficult to distinguish from reality and would soon be virtually undetectable. The Organization must communicate with local stakeholders in person as these voices play a crucial role in countering the criticism. Also briefing the Council, Jenna Russo, Director of Research of the International Peace Institute, added: “Communication is not only about informing; it is also about being informed.”
On 12 July, the Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2022/5) emphasizing the need to improve the culture of strategic communications across peacekeeping operations’ civilian, military and police components and highlighted the critical role played by mission leadership in that regard. It also underscored the importance of strategic communications as an important tool to prevent conflict-related sexual violence and encouraged peacekeeping operations to invest from the outset in dialogue and engagement with local actors, particularly women and youth, in order to build from the bottom up a protective environment for civilians. Missions, as well as troop- and police-contributing countries were encouraged to support and make full use of available field-focused, reliable and cost-effective communication technologies to support mandate delivery.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, briefing the Council on 6 September on progress and challenges in the implementation of the Action for Peacekeeping and the Action for Peacekeeping+ initiatives, called on the international community to preserve the space for peacekeeping operations as a visible, on-the-ground expression of an operating multilateral system. Since the ministerial meeting on peacekeeping operations in Seoul in 2021, the Organization made significant progress to be more proactive, agile and flexible as 11 of the 12 missions had integrated plans or result-frameworks for the comprehensive performance assessment systems, most of which account for gender considerations and the women, peace and security agenda. Despite numerous efforts, the annual decrease in the number of losses of peacekeepers had been reversed with 21 deaths due to malicious acts by the end of August. Accountability of peacekeepers remained a critical priority as was the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peacekeeping, he reported.
Under-Secretary-General Lacroix, briefing the Council again on 14 November, said that unique and specific responses were needed to address ongoing challenges, including the growing incidence of conflict in dense settings; continued expansion of transnational organized crime and violent extremism; increased risks from climate and cyberinsecurity; and greater demand for comprehensive national institutional capacity-building and police reform. United Nations police needed to be properly prepared, equipped and resourced to address such conditions. Key priorities included: ensuring coherence behind political strategies to support a country’s political trajectory; enhanced redeployment and in-mission training; and zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, among others. Mody Berethe, MONUSCO’s Police Commissioner, detailing the Mission’s activities, said that MONUSCO benefited from cooperation between 31 police-contributing countries, leading to the setting up of specialized police teams to combat sexual and gender-based violence. Christine Fossen, Police Commissioner for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, described, among other things, the Mission’s ongoing transition, as it went from being anchored in static protection into political engagement supporting the full implementation of the transitional road map which envisaged the holding of elections in South Sudan in December 2024. Emma Birikorang of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre highlighted how United Nations police in the peacekeeping theatre returned to their home country with practical learning experience. An example of this could be found in Ghana’s formed police unit, originally established to deploy to international peacekeeping missions, and now increasingly used for internal operations.
On 21 December, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2668 (2022) which recognized the need to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and psychosocial support to United Nations peace operations personnel. It encouraged troop- and police-contributing countries, including Member States and the Secretariat, to provide mental health services to support personnel during predeployment training and continue fostering a culture of well-being and care, during deployment. The Council also encouraged troop- and police-contributing countries to continue providing peace operations personnel at the post-deployment stage with adequate mental health and psychosocial support services, while applying a gender-responsive approach.
Maintenance of International Peace and Security
Ted Chaiban, Global Lead Coordinator for COVID‑19 Vaccine Country Readiness and Delivery — part of the COVAX Facility — told the Council on 11 April that there must be rapid action in the next six months. The COVID-19 vaccine delivery partnership had largely focused on 34 countries which were at 10 per cent or less vaccine coverage, he noted, adding that between January and April, the number of countries with coverage at or below that rate dropped to 18. As there were many competing health, humanitarian and economic priorities in 19 of the 34 countries, it was necessary to bundle COVID-19 vaccination with other health and humanitarian interventions. Also briefing the Council, Esperanza Martinez, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), stressed that the pandemic was an opportune moment to strengthen health systems in conflict-affected countries, she said, adding that that collective recovery was crucial, because the longer COVID-19 circulated anywhere, the longer it remained a threat everywhere. Emmanuel Ojwang of CARE International, which provided humanitarian assistance in South Sudan, spotlighted his organization’s work in rolling out COVID-19 vaccines in conflict-affected areas through strategic investments in community education and mobilization. He urged the Council and the global donor community to safeguard safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need, identify and address gender-related inequities, invest in non-governmental health organizations and ensure that COVID-19 vaccine costing models and budgets covered all aspects of delivery.
On 19 May, the Council held an open debate addressing conflict and food security. Secretary-General Guterres stressed that, “when this Council debates conflict, you debate hunger”, adding that, when consensus is not reached, hungry people pay a high price, war is waged and people go hungry. He also said that the Russian Federation’s invasion of its neighbour effectively ended Ukraine’s food exports, with price increases of up to 30 per cent for staple foods threatening people in countries across Africa and the Middle East. World Food Programme Executive Director Beasley underscored the need to open Ukraine’s ports for the 36 countries importing more than 50 per cent of their grain from the Odesa region. Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, pointing out that Ukraine and the Russian Federation together export 30 per cent of the cereals and 67 per cent of the sunflower oil in the world, observed that what happened to one of those countries affected all Member States. Sara Menker, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gro Intelligence observed that the Russian Federation-Ukraine conflict did not start a food security crisis; it simply added fuel to a fire that was long in the works. The lack of fertilizer and record-low inventories in cooking oils and grains have already started to unravel decades of global economic progress. The international community must coordinate a global response and eschew a “to each their own” mentality, she emphasized. [This meeting is also summarized under “Europe-Ukraine”.]
During her 23 May briefing, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, underlined the double-edged nature of digital technology by spotlighting their use in the United Nations’ work on conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding in Yemen and Libya. She also highlighted areas of several areas of concern which included the targeting of vital infrastructure, misuse of social media and discriminatory artificial intelligence surveillance systems. Nanjala Nyabola, Director of Advox — the digital rights project of Global Voices — pressed the Council to take a multilateral, transnational and generational approach to upholding human rights in the digital age. After years of unchecked tech optimism, the world was in a moment of cynicism, as many previously discussed risks were materializing, she said, pointing out that “our appetite for digitalization is outpacing our awareness of its implications, and with the mounting evidence of the harms this disordered approach makes possible”. The Council should commit to preserving the Internet as a global public good. Dirk Druet, Adjunct Professor at McGill University Center for International Peace and Security Studies and Non-resident Fellow at the International Peace Institute, added that, as access to accurate information could increasingly be considered as a human right in situations of information warfare, the Organization had a role in truth-telling, and as a conduit for reliable information.
On 22 August, Secretary-General António Guterres, in his briefing, urged the Council to update the diplomatic toolkit — used for decades to prevent catastrophic war — in order to meet the deteriorating global peace and security environment. The collective security system was being tested with a world riven by geopolitical divides, conflicts and instability, with nuclear risk climbing to its highest point in decades. Nuclear sabre-rattling must stop, he stressed, adding: “We need all States to recommit to a world free of nuclear weapons and spare no effort to come to the negotiating table to ease tensions and end the nuclear arms race, once and for all.” Gustavo Zlauvinen, President of the tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, warned that the norm against the use of such arms, one of the most important achievements of the post-Second World War era, was increasingly threatened. There must be urgent action under the disarmament pillar to reverse dangerous trends, increase confidence and ensure that mistakes of miscalculations do not lead to escalation and catastrophe. He noted that the nexus between development and security added a new dimension to the Treaty and stressed that recent events forced the world to confront — for the first time — the challenges posed by nuclear safety and security in a zone of armed conflict. Several Council members pointed out that the deteriorating global peace and security environment amplified the need for reform; otherwise, the Council and the Organization risked irrelevance.
Turning to climate change, on 12 October Council members expressed diverging views on whether climate change merited a higher profile on the 15-nation organ’s agenda. Assistant Secretary-General Pobee said that, while there was no direct link between climate change and conflict, the former exacerbated existing risks and created new ones. Further, Africa — the continent with the lowest total greenhouse-gas emissions — was at the front lines of an unfolding crisis, she said, calling for ambitious climate action, accelerated implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the integration of a climate lens into conflict prevention peacemaking and peacebuilding, among others. Tanguy Gahouma, former Chair of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change, emphasized that there must be a strengthened partnership between the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council to tackle the climate, peace and security nexus through a focus on early warning, peacekeeping, good governance and the protection of human rights. Patrick Youssef, Regional Director for Africa for the International Committee of the Red Cross, emphasized that the convergence of climate risk, environmental degradation and armed conflict was not an abstraction, but a reality on the continent. Without decisive support from the international community, what was happening in many places in Africa would only worsen and multiply existing vulnerabilities, he added.
On 26 October, Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, briefed the Council on Article 100 of the Charter of the United Nations, explaining Member States’ obligation to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the Organization’s staff. He highlighted a relevant note (document S/2016/44), which had anticipated that a forthcoming report would produce findings and recommendations and that the Council would meet informally prior to the public release of the report to review them. He added that the Secretary-General had not received any request that supplements or modifies the nature and scope of the Security Council Affairs Division’s work in preparing the Secretary-General’s six-monthly reports to the Council. Iran’s delegate said that any misuse of the function described in note S/2016/44 to conduct a so-called investigation would be illegal and in clear violation of the Secretariat's mandate. Further, in regards to the conflict in Ukraine, Iran had never provided the parties with weapons for use in the Ukraine conflict. However, Ukraine’s delegate said that the deliberate misuse of the Charter and its provisions to impede an investigation on the implementation of Council resolutions is a clear attempt to pressure the Secretariat. The use of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles in attacks against civilians was a blatant violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Charter and international humanitarian law. She reiterated her call for an immediate investigation and requested the United Nations experts to inspect the recovered unmanned aerial vehicles of Iranian origin. [This meeting is also summarized under “Europe-Ukraine”.]
Regarding the Government of Belarus’ deliberate diversion of Ryanair Flight 4978 on 23 May 2021 under the false pretext of a bomb threat, Salvatore Sciacchitano, President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), told the Council on 31 October that this was an act of unlawful interference that deliberately endangered the safety and security of the flight and the lives of those on board. He provided an overview of ICAO’s fact-finding investigation under the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) and said the ICAO Assembly adopted resolution A411 during its forty-first session — held from 27 September to 7 October — which condemned the actions of that Government.
On 2 November, Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees asked Council members to look at the multiplicity of global challenges — growing conflicts, climate emergency, pandemics, energy and food crises — through the eyes of the more than 103 million refugees and displaced people, who were among the most impacted by all of them. He noted that, in so doing, they would feel with desperate urgency the need for the international community to cooperate to reverse the current trajectory and find solutions. At the same time, he also observed the 15-nation organ’s failure to do so. The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine drove the fastest, largest displacement witnessed in decades, he underscored, noting that some 14 million people had been forced from their homes since 24 February. Although humanitarian organizations had dramatically scaled up their response, much more must be done, starting with an end to the senseless war, he said before spotlighting the work of his Office around the world wherever there was forced displacement.
In the Council’s open debate on 14 December, Secretary-General Guterres stressed: “We have the opportunity and the obligation to remember the promise of the United Nations Charter: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” As part of his Our Common Agenda report, he proposed a New Agenda for Peace — to be submitted to Member States in 2023 — which would examine ways to update existing tools for mediation, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and counter‑terrorism; consider how the Organization could adapt its efforts vis-à-vis cyberthreats, information warfare and other forms of conflict; and look to Member States for new frameworks to reinforce multilateral solutions and manage intense geopolitical competition. Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, pointed out that 10 months into the war in Ukraine, not a single Council resolution had been adopted to mitigate the exact type of crisis the Organization was created to prevent. While the “veto initiative” — General Assembly resolution 76/262 which stipulates that the Assembly will convene for a formal meeting within 10 working days of a veto being cast by a permanent member of the Council — opened an important door for a new form of collaboration and accountability, he emphasized that the Organization must deliver solutions for its 8 billion end-users to survive and prove its relevance. Over 60 ministers, senior officials and representatives also voiced broad support for Council reform, with many calling for limited use of veto power and greater representation for underrepresented regions, as others articulated differing perspectives on the way forward for membership expansion and intergovernmental negotiations.
Threats to International Peace and Security
Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2022/7.
In his briefing on 9 February, Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, stressed that the global fight against the ever-shifting threat remained a “long-term game” for which there were no quick fixes. The death of Da’esh leader, Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Salbi, marked a significant blow to that group’s leadership, he noted, but warned that Da’esh was known for its ability to re-group and intensify its activities. Addressing the desperate situation in displacement camps and detention facilities across Syria and Iraq, he said that there needed to be comprehensive responses in countries of nationality which included protection, prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration. Further, expanding regional affiliates of Da’esh beyond Syria and Iraq threatened to spill over into Central, East and West Africa. While Da’esh affiliates’ activities declined in North Africa, there was concern that Da’esh and other terrorist groups were enjoying greater freedom in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover in August 2021. Weixiong Chen, Acting Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, added that, since 2020 and the ensuing pandemic-related challenges, Da’esh and other terrorist groups were exploiting online platforms and the fault lines arising from social restrictions, political tension and economic downturns. As well, a number of nations had to divert counter-terrorism resources to pandemic-related efforts. Against this backdrop, the Counter-Terrorism Committee continued to coordinate closely with key partners and recently updated its global survey of Member States’ implementation of resolution 1373 (2001), he said.
Briefing the Council again on 9 August, Under-Secretary-General Voronkov, said that ISIL/Da’esh and its affiliates continued to exploit not just conflict dynamics, governance fragilities and inequality to organize attacks, but pandemic-related restrictions and digital spaces, as well to recruit sympathizers and attract resources. Despite this, joint efforts by Member States continued to yield positive results, including recent repatriations by Iraq, Tajikistan and France and sustained efforts to counter terrorism financing. However, the international community must also address the societal grievances which these armed groups exploited in the first place, he emphasized. Acting Executive Director Chen highlighted how the exploitation of conflict-related fragility remained at the heart of ISIL/Da’esh’s strategy. Enhanced multilateralism, international cooperation and global solidarity were the only ways to counter a global terrorist threat like them, he stressed, adding that a comprehensive, coordinated “All-of-UN” approach remained crucial to developing and implementing effective counter-terrorism measures. Martin Ewi, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, pointing out that the solution lies at the community level, encouraged the Council to work more closely with the African Union, regional economic communities and civil society.
On 30 September, in a meeting convened by the Russian Federation to discuss the four leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines between 26 and 29 September, Navid Hanif, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the United Nations was not able to verify or confirm any reported details relating to these incidents as site inspections had yet to be done. Nevertheless, damage to the pipelines raised concerns regarding uncertainty in global energy markets and the exacerbation of high price volatility in European markets and around the world, along with the leaks’ potential environmental impact. He urged that these incidents not be used to further increase tensions or deepen divisions in an already-tense regional context. Sergey Kupriyanov, Spokesperson for Gazprom, in his account of events surrounding the “absolutely unprecedented” leaks, reported that existing data pointed to physical damage as the cause. Concurring with that assessment, Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, Director of the Center for Energy and Climate of the French Institute on Foreign Relations, noted that the Nord Stream 1 and 2 corridors were designed with state-of-the-art technology to reduce the risk of any damage from, among others, storms, Second World War non-exploded bombs or sinking ships. The explosions, which were not from an accident, represented yet another episode in the long-lasting geopolitical confrontation between the United States and the Russian Federation on one hand, and between the latter and Europe on the other hand, where energy and pipeline infrastructure had been weaponized, he said. The representatives of the Russian Federation and the United States exchanged barbs in the ensuing discussion, with the former implying the involvement of the United States and NATO, while the latter denied his country’s involvement in the incidents. [This meeting is also summarized under “Europe-Ukraine”.]
Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed briefed the Council on 10 November, underscoring that nowhere was terrorism felt more keenly than in Africa, called for an innovative architecture that supported African peace operations. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission noted that Africa was tired of hearing promises and deserved to benefit from the prompt concern shown by its partners in other circumstances. Needed was sustainable financial resources, technical and logistical support and a new model which was more dynamic and less bureaucratized, among other things. Comfort Ero, President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Crisis Group, said that a political strategy for counter-terrorism missions must encompass projects to provide basic services and better governance in areas where non-State armed groups have gained influence. Moreover, stakeholders must contemplate engaging in dialogue with non-State armed groups — often seen as taboo — to resolve both humanitarian and political issues. Benedikta Von Seherr-Thoss, Managing Director for Common Security and Defence Policy and Crisis Response at the European External Action Service, highlighted the European Union’s engagement through its military and civilian support to African countries. However, there was still a need for greater and better cooperation. Strengthening local authorities, communities and civil society actors; ensuring good governance; and empowering women and girls were crucial to address the ideologies and driving forces behind emergent violent extremism, she said.
On 23 November, the Chairs of the Council’s counter-terrorism Committees briefed the Council, as members underlined the need for greater cooperation among the three bodies to better address evolving global threats. Trine Skarboevik Heimerback (Norway), Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning ISIL/Da’esh, Al‑Qaida and those associated with them, said that the United Nations, Member States and international and regional organizations continued to implement sanctions measures. Speaking also on behalf of the Chairs of the Committees, she outlined their activities during the reporting period. Adding to that, Ruchira Kamboj (India), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism, said that the Committee, among other things, held several open and closed briefings which addressed the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and several parts of Africa. Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez (Mexico), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), reported that the Committee continued with its comprehensive review process through open-ended consultations; promoted the full and effective implementation of resolution 2622 (2022); assisted States, upon request, on strengthening national capacities; and participated in 19 outreach activities.
Under-Secretary-General Voronkov expressed concern, in his briefing on 15 December, over the failure of Afghanistan’s de facto authorities to, among other things, sever long-standing ties with terrorist groups sheltering in that country. Terrorist groups often adapted opportunistically, partly by restoring illicit financing methods and other criminal activity. Prevention was core to addressing this, he stressed, urging counter-terrorism measures to be employed in tandem with initiatives that address the drivers of marginalization, exclusion, inequality, injustice and the lack of opportunity. Acting Executive Director Chen told the Council that ISIL/Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates had become more transnational in nature with battlefields emerging in the Sahel; West, East, Southern and Central Africa; and Asia. They also formed strong links across borders, built robust networks and exploited virtual platforms to exchange views, radicalize, recruit and support one another financially and operationally. Criminal justice actors had a critical role in addressing these threats, he said, detailing the Committee’s efforts and the adoption of the Delhi Declaration. The Council also heard a briefing from Anjali Vijay Kulthe, Nursing Officer at the Cama and Albless Hospital in Mumbai and a survivor of the 26 November Mumbai terror attack, who recounted her experience on that day and called on the 15‑nation organ to provide closure to the victims’ families by bringing the attack’s sponsors to justice.
During that same meeting, the Council also issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2022/7), emphasizing that the threat of terrorism — which was affecting an increasing number of Member States across most regions — could exacerbate conflicts and undermine affected States’ security, stability, governance and socioeconomic development. States must ensure that any measures taken to counter terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, it reaffirmed, underscoring the importance of whole-of-Government and whole-of-society approaches and the need to promote tolerance and coexistence. The Council also expressed concern over the threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters, terrorist financing, the movement of terrorist groups, organized crime and the increased use of information and communications technology for terrorist purposes. In addition, it recognized that a comprehensive approach required national, regional, subregional and multilateral action and it urged Member States to account for the effects that measures countering terrorist financing might have on humanitarian activities.
Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2022/6.
On 27 July, the Commission’s former Chair, Osama Abdelkhalek of Egypt, said that considerable progress was made in 2021 in expanding its geographic and substantive scope. He noted that, in that year, it held meetings for the first time on the Gulf of Guinea and the transition in Chad, bringing its total engagements to 23 countries and regions — the highest since its inception. The body’s current Chair, Md Monwar Hossain of Bangladesh, then shared highlights from 2022, noting that the Commission has engaged with a wide array of national and regional stakeholders to ensure it responds to needs on the ground while prioritizing national ownership and inclusivity.
On 8 and 9 August, the Council held a two-day open debate on stopping violence and building the capacity for peace and growth on the African continent, as speakers emphasized that Africa knows best how to solve its own problems. Muhammad Abdul Muhith of Bangladesh, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, stressed the need to support nationally owned and led efforts to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. Bankole Adeoye, African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, stressed that the adverse effects of climate change threaten the livelihoods of millions in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, adding that “our continent bleeds from illicit financial flows”. The African Union and the United Nations needed to increase collaboration, he said, calling for the international community to support the development of peace-enforcement capacities. Meanwhile, Cristina Duarte, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, said that curbing illicit financial flows would generate the same amount of revenue as official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) combined.
Relatedly, on 31 August, Zhang Jun of China, Council President for August, presented a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2022/6) in which the Council recognized the need to step up capacity-building support to African countries in a comprehensive, inclusive, adapted and targeted manner. The text also emphasized the importance of respecting the ownership and leadership of African countries in this regard, as well as supporting their capacity to improve the rule of law, strengthen national institutions and protect human rights.
Commissioner Adeoye again addressed the Council on 6 October, emphasizing the need for a multifaceted approach to eliminate terrorism on the continent and highlighting African Union initiatives, including the establishment of national counter-terrorism centres and financial intelligence units. Contextualizing the importance of such measures, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Waly said that criminal exploitation strips the people of Africa of an important source of revenue, while also jeopardizing development and undermining the African Union’s Agenda 2063. Detailing UNODC’s response, she said that the Office supports countries’ establishment of policies and legislation to address terrorist threats. Paul-Simon Handy, Regional Director for East Africa and Representative to the African Union of the Institute for Security Studies, closed the briefings by pointing out that the failure to crack down on the illicit activities of armed groups and terrorists is a crisis of inaction, not a lack of tools. In that vein, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on the international community to “keep pace to keep peace” as he addressed the Council on 3 November. Assistant Secretary-General Pobee stressed that peace operations need clear, realistic and up-to-date mandates, with well-identified priorities, adequate sequencing and the flexibility to evolve over time.
Civilians in Armed Conflict
As urban warfare continues to devastate, kill and maim civilians around the world, in disregard of international humanitarian law, the Council met on 25 January to highlight effective tools to reverse the current trend of impunity. Secretary-General António Guterres told the Council that 50 million people in cities were being affected by conflict in urban areas, from targeted attacks on schools in Gaza and Afghanistan to widespread infrastructure damage in Yemen. Those conflicts were setting back progress for decades, he said, pointing out that, when explosive weapons are used in cities, 90 per cent of those affected are civilians. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, highlighting mounting evidence of rising tolls of death and destruction among city dwellers in conflict situations, urged States to restrict exports of explosive weapons with conditions to prohibit their use in populated areas. Briefing the Council on the situation in Yemen, Radhya al-Mutawakel, Chairperson and co-founder of the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, said that, since 2014, 800 air strikes, 700 ground assaults, 300 mine explosions, detonations caused by explosive objects and the use of drones and ballistic missiles have killed 3,000 civilians and wounded 4,000 others, with many attacks having no military target. The Council should refer Yemen's situation to the International Criminal Court, she asserted, adding that had there been real accountability from the start of the war, Yemen would not have become the worst humanitarian crisis of today.
Ramesh Rajasingham, Director at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, briefed the Council on 25 May, reporting that the Ukraine war and other conflicts have pushed the number of people fleeing conflicts to more than 100 million for the first time on record. By the end of 2021, conflict drove acute food insecurity for 140 million people in 24 countries. Echoing his concerns, Robert Mardini, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross, described the appalling human cost of war in cities, especially when explosive weapons with wide area effects are used: countless people killed, homes destroyed, overwhelmed emergency rooms and survivors left with life-long disabilities. Warning that the principle of military necessity is often abused, he pressed the Council to ensure that protection of civilians is a strategic priority in the planning and conduct of all military operations in populated areas.
Briefing the Council on 19 July, Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, reported that, in 2021, in the 21 country situations and 1 regional monitoring arrangement covered by her mandate, the United Nations verified 23,982 grave violations, with more than 19,165 child victims. Moreover, 8,000 children were either killed or maimed, making this the most prevalent of all grave violations, she continued, noting that the use of explosive remnants of war, improvised explosive devices and landmines caused a quarter of these casualties. Reflecting on the horrendous nature of the information presented in the Secretary-General’s report, Catherine Russell, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund, cautioned that, with the proliferation of conflicts around the world, “children — and childhood — are under attack”. She called on Member States to insist on compliance with international humanitarian law, declaring: “You have the power to issue military orders with zero-tolerance policies on grave violations against children.”
On 15 September, Under-Secretary-General Griffiths briefed the Council that Ethiopia, north-east Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen were at risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity. He also pointed to alarming levels of food insecurity in Afghanistan and Somalia, which resulted from the direct and indirect impacts of conflict and violence. In the most extreme cases, fighting parties deliberately cut off access to the commercial supplies and essential services on which civilians rely to survive. “Hunger is used as a tactic of war,” he asserted. Picking up that thread, Máximo Torero, Chief Economist of the Food and Agriculture Organization, said conflicts impact every dimension of agrifood systems, from reducing food production, destroying crops and disrupting markets to complete loss of livelihoods and mass displacements. Through the end of 2022, 205 million people were going to be facing acute food insecurity and need urgent humanitarian assistance, he warned, citing conflict prevention as the most effective means of preventing famine. World Food Programme Executive Director Beasley said that up to 345 million people were headed towards starvation in the 82 countries where WFP currently operates, and of those, 50 million people living in 45 countries were “knocking on famine’s door”. The perfect storm of rising conflict, the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change triggered “a tsunami of hunger”, he added.
Women, Peace and Security
On 18 January, the Council held an open debate to address violence targeting women in peace and security processes. Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that OHCHR verified 35 killings of women human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists in seven conflict-affected countries where data could be retrieved. Between 1992 and 2019, only 13 per cent of negotiators, 6 per cent of mediators and 6 per cent of signatories in major peace processes were women. “Decisions on peace that do not reflect women’s voices, realities and rights are not sustainable,” she emphasized. pressing the international community to push back against the silencing of women’s right to participate in decisions and express dissenting opinions. Zarqa Yaftali, Executive Director of the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation, said that the rhetoric of the women, peace and security agenda collapsed on the day Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. Addressing the Council as a refugee, she warned that the situation now faced by women in Afghanistan serves as an example of what happened when the international community failed to live up to its promises.
On 8 March, UN-Women Executive Director Bahous briefed the Council, said that, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was hope that, in the face of a common enemy, a renewed international cooperation would divert money spent on weapons to investments in science, health and social protection. Instead, more military spending, coups and the seizure of power by force put the multilateral system “against the ropes”, she said. Gains — especially on gender equality — that took decades to achieve were lost. With less than nine years away from 2030, the world was not on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund reported that, during the pandemic, twice as many women as men lost their jobs, often due to the burden of childcare or care for family members and 20 million girls in developing countries were at risk of being excluded from opportunities for the duration of their lifetimes. Analysis showed that improving gender equality raised economic growth, enhanced financial stability and reduced income inequality. Societies with more gender equality were more resistant to violence and conflict and when women participated in peace negotiations and State-building processes, the chance for building enduring peace was significantly improved.
Also crucial was the need to address conflict-related sexual violence, the Council heard during an open debate on the subject on 13 April. Pramila Patten, Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, questioned what the Council’s resolutions on women, peace and security meant for women in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar or Ethiopia. The number of verified cases of gang rapes in Ethiopia, rapes and killings in the Central African Republic, sexual violence among Myanmar refugees and instances of forced marriage, targeted political attacks and torture from Colombia and Somalia to Yemen and Afghanistan, increased significantly from 2020 to 2021. Silenced by trauma and the paucity of available services, she added: “Survivors cannot be expected to denounce what the State itself denies.” Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize winner and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Goodwill Ambassador, said that sexual violence, as a tactic of war, was often pushed aside because they were viewed as secondary to the “real” issues. Underlining the need for accountability, she called for action rather than moral outrage. Warning against further delayed justice, she demanded that Governments support victims, who were too often left to pick up the pieces of their lives alone.
The Council also heard that regional organizations play an important role in promoting women’s participation in peace and other decision-making processes on 15 June. United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres stressed that misogyny and authoritarianism are mutually reinforcing and pointed out that, though the Council meets several times a year on this topic, the situation for women on the ground was going backwards. Citing Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s Government of men has resulted in nearly 20 million women and girls being erased from sight, he contrasted this reality with the situation in Sudan. There, the United Nations — working with the African Union and IGAD — requested every delegation to ensure that at least 40 per cent of participants are women. Helga Maria Schmid, Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, reported that, in 2021, OSCE launched a networking platform for women leaders, mediators and peacebuilders that included women from Ukraine and Afghanistan, allowing the sharing of experience and practices in a safe space. Emphasizing that OSCE “leads by example”, she noted that over 40 per cent of leadership positions within the organization are held by women. Bineta Diop, African Union Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security, said the resurgence of military coups d’état in Africa was having dire consequences for women and girls, adding that gender equality is the number-one predictor of peace. Citing the African Union’s efforts on the issue, including a solidarity mission with the African Women Leaders Network that went underground and talked to affected women, she urged the Council to deliver what women are asking for: action and impacts.
On 20 October, Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed pointed to the well‑documented benefits of strengthening women’s resilience and leadership. She called for more women mediators and negotiators, for greater support for the underfunded front-line work of women peacebuilders and for the Organization to recommit to putting women’s participation at the centre of everything it does, everywhere. UN-Women Executive Director Bahous, briefing the Council, cited a number of setbacks, including a decrease in women’s representation in United Nations-led peace processes in 2021 from the previous year, and a 72 per cent shortfall in funding aimed at preventing and responding to gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies. “Denying women space, access or funding because of safety concerns emboldens perpetrators, and in their eyes, validates their tactics,” she said. Also briefing the Council again, Special Envoy Diop described the struggles faced by women across the continent, including threatened livelihoods, sexual violence and kidnapping, from the Lake Chad Basin to the Sahel. She urged Member States to create a safe space for women and girls in conflict situations and called on the Council and the United Nations to better support their leadership by implementing deliberate measures to increase their meaningful participation and inclusion in peace negotiations, among other measures.
General Issues Relating to Sanctions
The increasingly divisive question of sanctions was taken up twice in 2022, after not being evoked for the past five years, with Council members discussing — and endeavouring to mitigate — their unintended consequences.
On 7 February, the Council was briefed by Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, who said that, although sanctions were “no longer the blunt instrument they once were”, concerns remained, citing persisting issues with reviving the banking channel for humanitarian transfers to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Under-Secretary-General Griffiths called the humanitarian carve-out in place on Afghanistan a way to permit humanitarian aid to reach those at greatest risk. Council members and delegates offered experiential perspectives on sanctions, including the representative of Gabon, who pointed out that more than half of the Council’s 14 sanctions regimes are imposed on African States, while the delegate of the Russian Federation — under whose Presidency the meeting was convened — underlined the need to refine current measures, citing persisting issues with sanctions on the Central African Republic, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau.
On 9 December, the Council returned to the issue, to provide a standing humanitarian exemption to asset freeze measures imposed by United Nations sanctions regimes, adopting resolution 2664 (2022) by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (India). Members also decided that the carve-out would apply to the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida sanctions regime for two years.
Working Methods and Organizational Matters
The Council considered its own working methods on several occasions in 2022. On 20 May, it adopted its annual report to the General Assembly, covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2021, which detailed the work of the organ and its subsidiary bodies, including counter-terrorism committees, sanctions committees, working groups and international tribunals it has established, as well as changes to their respective working methods due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 28 June, during an open debate, speakers, including Council members, took aim at “outdated” aspects of the 15-member organ’s working methods in need of improvement, including restraining the use of the veto; reviewing the sanctions regime; the “hegemonic” position of “pen-holder”; and the system of drafting resolutions. Loraine Sievers, Director, Security Council Procedure and co-author of the Procedure of the United Nations Security Council, pointed out that ongoing geopolitical challenges — in particular, the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine earlier in the year — had led to heightened levels of fragmentation within the Council, and had placed that organ’s work, methodologies and tools under greater scrutiny. Karin Landgren, Executive Director of the not-for-profit organization Security Council Report, highlighted the virtues of “pen-sharing” among permanent and elected members, particularly when the “co-pen” brought regional expertise or was the chair of a relevant subsidiary body. Some of the 40 speakers focused on the need to make the body more representative. Others underscored the importance of suspending the use of the veto in cases involving mass atrocities.
On 12 December, the outgoing Chairs of the Council’s various subsidiary bodies briefed the Council about their working methods, concluding that sanctions should be dynamic tools, evolving in line with conditions on the ground and in concert with stakeholders; that subsidiary bodies should be more transparent and impartial, rather than operating out of political preferences; and underscoring the importance of field visits to enhance the Council’s deliberations.