Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for January

The Security Council in January will focus on Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan and other hotspots, its President for the month said at a Headquarters press conference today.

Nicolas de Rivière (France) — whose country currently holds the 15-nation organ’s rotating presidency for January — said the work programme will also include meetings on Syria, Yemen, West Africa, Colombia and Haiti.

Stressing the need for the Council to ensure its effectiveness and transparency, he highlighted his intention to involve all relevant United Nations bodies, civil society and women.

Asked about France’s position on a ceasefire in Gaza, he underscored the need to keep in mind “the monstrous attack by Hamas”.  Hamas’ agenda to eradicate Israel is “unacceptable”, but “disproportionate response is not allowed” under international law, he emphasized.  According to the Geneva Conventions, civilians should not be targeted.  While recognizing Israel’s right to self-defence, he called for a sustainable cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians and the provision of humanitarian relief to the people in Gaza.

He went on to stress that, while “attacking terrorists is ok, bombing civilians is not”, recalling that France has taken action against terrorists in Iraq and Syria.  However, the protection of civilians should be a priority, he said, noting that United States President Joseph R. Biden said that indiscriminate bombing should stop.

The key rationale behind the bombing of civilians in Gaza is that Hamas is using civilians as human shields.  However, whenever in doubt, “you should not bomb a school”, he asserted.  Further, he strongly opposed forced displacement of Palestinians and recolonization of Gaza.

Asked if the situation in Gaza qualifies to be examined by the International Court of Justice, he detailed violations of international humanitarian law from both parties, noting that France is a strong supporter of international justice.

On a question about Israel’s targeting of the Hamas office in Beirut, he recognized Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as “vital” and underlined the need to restore calm.  To that end, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will continue to play a key role.  In his national capacity, he stressed the need to respect UNIFIL’s mandate, enhance the role of the Lebanese Armed Forces and avoid regional escalation.

On the situation in the Red Sea, where the navies of the United States, United Kingdom and France have each shot down Houthi-launched drones and missiles, he said that the Council will meet on the issue as soon as 3 January, adding that “the situation is bad” and action is needed. In his national capacity, he condemned attacks committed by the Houthis and underlined the need to secure shipping in the Red Sea.  “It is a very important route” and must be protected by all means, he said.

Responding to questions about Ukraine in his national capacity, he described the situation on the ground as “extremely dire” and “deteriorating”, with the Russian Federation targeting civilian infrastructure, power plants, schools and hospitals.  Moscow has a clear agenda designed to scare the civilian population, contrary to international law, he observed.  Although peace negotiations are unlikely to start in the short term, the international community should do whatever it takes to bring peace to the region.  Given the situation, it is “pretty likely” that meetings will be held on Ukraine in January, he said, adding that it remains to be confirmed and approved by Council members.

Responding to questions about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s goal to launch three spy military satellites in violation of Security Council resolutions, he said that the country continues to proliferate both ballistically and in nuclear weapons.  Pyongyang threatens regional and global security by violating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  The Council will discuss it in January even though it has not been officially decided, he said.

For the full programme of work, please see:

For information media. Not an official record.