Wars in Gaza, Ukraine Dominate Security Council’s 2023 Agenda, as Use of Veto Proliferates, Organ’s Ability to Act Hampered

Syria, Sudan, Haiti, Korean Peninsula among Other Hotspots at Centre Stage

The year 2023 witnessed a three-decade high in the number of conflicts worldwide, even before simmering situations such as those in Sudan and the Occupied Palestinian Territory boiled over.  In the face of escalating violence, however, consensus proved elusive in the Security Council, with its veto-casting permanent members — primarily the United States and the Russian Federation — impeding swift, effective action to address deteriorating situations around the world.

The Council convened a total of 271 public meetings in 2023 — marginally less than in 2022, when it met 276 times — with the highest number of those devoted once again to the war in Ukraine, which continued into its second year.  Council members adopted 50 resolutions, compared to 54 in 2022, representing a 10-year-low.  In another mark of the widening dissension between the organ’s permanent members, a total of 10 drafts were rejected — 5 following the use of 6 vetoes, outstripping the 4 vetoes cast in 2022.  Meanwhile, persistent lack of unanimity among members led to the Council adopting fewer presidential statements in 2023, as well — just six, compared to last year’s seven.

The use of the veto proliferated in 2023, wielded twice by the United States on attempted action to address Israel’s war in Gaza, and once each by China and the Russian Federation in that same context.  However, the Russian Federation was — for the second year in a row — the most prolific user of the measure, casting a veto three times in total.  The Council therefore faced a paradox:  it met with ever-amplifying frequency, but with ever-dwindling results.  Such inefficiency at times necessitated off-stage diplomatic engagements: following blocked Council action to re-authorize use of the Bab al-Hawa crossing in north-west Syria in July, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, interceded, negotiating directly with the Syrian Government to ensure its reopening for six months.

Council members were nonetheless able to find common ground and forge progress on several long-standing issues on the 15-member organ’s agenda.  Coinciding with the expiring tenures of Ghana and Gabon at end of 2023, the Council met late in December to unanimously adopt a resolution put forth by those States, alongside Mozambique, that contemplated authorizing United Nations-assessed contributions for African-led peace support operations when requested by the African Union Peace and Security Council.  Members also came together in October to address the deteriorating security, economic and humanitarian crises facing Haiti.  Responding to repeated appeals by that State and senior UN officials, the Council unanimously authorized the deployment of a Kenya-led Multinational Security Support Mission to support the overwhelmed Haitian National Police against the depredations of armed criminal gangs.

The authorization of a regional armed international intervention outside the aegis of the United Nations coincided with demands to shutter peace support operations — primarily in Africa, where roughly half of the Organization’s blue helmets are presently deployed.  The organ heard — and acquiesced to — several requests for the precipitous withdrawal of UN troops, with States professing dissatisfaction with their perceived inefficiency in tackling security threats and asserting their sovereign right to choose their security partners.  In June, the Council terminated the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), deciding to withdraw its personnel by the end of 2023 and complete the Mission’s drawdown by the end of January 2024.  The decision was taken at the behest of transitional authorities, despite continued violence perpetrated by extremist groups and spillover concerns expressed by regional blocs and neighbouring States.  Similarly, in December, in response to Kinshasa’s repeated assertions that the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) was not able to carry out its mandate, the Council set out a comprehensive plan for its disengagement, slated to begin before the end of 2023.

States’ assertion of sovereignty continued in Sudan, with the Council adopting a resolution in December terminating the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) over an abbreviated span of three months, from February 2024, following the country’s averment that the Mission’s performance had not been commensurate with expectations.  The move came at the end of a year during which the country was gripped by a severe humanitarian and human rights crisis in the wake of an upsurge in fighting on 15 April between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group.  Ten days into the fighting, as armed forces clashed around the country, Secretary-General António Guterres told the Council that people in Khartoum were trapped indoors with dwindling essential supplies and health services near collapse.

On 13 September, Volker Perthes, Special Representative and Head of UNITAMS, describing indiscriminate aerial bombing by the Sudanese Armed Forces and sexual violence, looting and killing in areas controlled by the Rapid Support Forces, cautioned the Council that: “What started as a conflict between two military formations could be morphing into a full-scale civil war.”  On 16 November, the Council heard from Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, that the fighting had led to 6,000 deaths and forced 7.1 million people from their homes, sparking “the world’s worst displacement crisis”.

Meanwhile, 2023 saw Syria take decisive steps towards normalizing regional relations through its readmittance into the Arab League in May following its expulsion 12 years ago, at the start of the Syrian civil war.  While it was a good year for the Syrian State, which was also able to consolidate its hold over greater swathes of territory, the Syrian people remained “trapped in a humanitarian, political, military, security, economic and human rights crisis of great complexity and unimaginable scale”, the Council heard in January from the country’s Special Envoy, Geir O. Pedersen.  Humanitarian needs, already acute, soared in the aftermath of earthquakes that struck the north-west in early February, killing 6,000 people in Syria, leading to calls from senior UN officials for aid to be depoliticized.

Nonetheless, the Syrian file continued to be among the most divisive issues on the Council’s agenda, with differences between permanent members coming to the fore on 11 July as a veto by the Russian Federation prevented the continuation of cross-border humanitarian aid through Bab al-Hawa.  Differences persisted along the same lines, with the Russian Federation and China, alongside Syria, set against the United Kingdom, France and the United States during Council meetings on both the chemical weapons file and the political track — leading some members to voice frustration on the lack of progress on both fronts.  In November, amid an upsurge of violence across the country, Najat Rochdi, Deputy Special Envoy for the country, called for sustained de-escalation and warned that “to continue such violence is to play with fire”.

However, no conflagration brought the Council’s discord to the fore as much as that in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, following the 7 October massacre of 1,200 people and seizure of 240 hostages by Palestinian militant group Hamas in Israel, and that country’s subsequent retaliatory military operations.  Yet, 2023 began with the Council’s adoption, in February, of its first presidential statement on the Palestinian Question in eight years, through which members united to express concern over the announcement of expanded settlement activities by Israel’s new far-right coalition Government.  In August, Tor Wennesland, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Council that 2023 was already the deadliest on record in the West Bank and Israel, with fatalities outstripping 2022’s annual figures.  The lack of a political horizon left a dangerous vacuum filled by extremists on both sides, he warned.

Those words proved true throughout the last months of 2023, following Hamas’ attack and Israel’s subsequent bombardment of Gaza.  The Council met eight days into Israel’s military campaign, holding what would be the first of many emergency meetings that did not call for a ceasefire due to a veto cast by the United States.  Two days later, following a deadly attack on Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, the Council again failed to adopt a resolution calling for humanitarian pauses. On 25 October, the Council, yet again, was unable to adopt two texts addressing the war and consequent humanitarian crisis.  On 30 October, Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), warned the Council that “an entire population is being dehumanized” in Gaza, while Israel’s delegate, who sported a gold star on his chest, asserted that he would do so until the Council condemned the atrocities of Hamas — the “modern-day Nazis”.

In the following days, as Israel’s military offensive ground on, the death toll of civilians — including journalists, doctors, UN workers, women and children — soared, and those trapped in Gaza remained deprived of basic services.  Meanwhile, the Council Chamber resounded with numerous calls for a ceasefire — from UN officials, Member States and international civil society groups — who warned of dangerous regional escalation.  On 15 November, the Council finally adopted a resolution calling for a truce — which lasted a week — to allow for the safe release of hostages by Hamas and detainees by Israel.  On the heels of Secretary-General Guterres’s very first engagement of Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council met on 8 December, again failing to adopt a resolution for an immediate ceasefire due to the United States’ veto.  Acting a final time in 2023, members adopted a resolution on 22 December to appoint a humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for the Gaza Strip.

By this point, 20,000 Palestinians — almost half of them children — had been killed, while 85 per cent of the population — 2.3 million — had been forced from their homes into ever-smaller areas in the southern border as Egypt raised fears of mass expulsion.  Meeting a final time on 29 December, as settler violence soared in the occupied West Bank, Khaled Khiari, Assistant-Secretary-General for the Middle East and Asia and the Pacific, emphasized that hostilities throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory should end with a plan to advance a two-State solution, with Gaza as an integral part of an independent Palestinian State living side by side with Israel.

The Council’s divisions again came into focus during its 40 meetings to address the war in Ukraine — now in its second year — with members discussing the conflict’s many fallouts, including on global food insecurity, the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea and the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure.  Meeting on 6 February, a month before the expiry of the Black Sea Initiative, speakers told the Council that it was “a beacon of hope against a bleak backdrop”.  On 24 February, the one-year anniversary of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, Secretary-General Guterres informed the Council that 40 per cent of the country’s population required humanitarian assistance.

As the months wore on, the United States and Albania convened meetings discussing the impact of Moscow’s military operations on civilian populations and infrastructure, while the Russian Federation held retaliatory debates on the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines and the risk of arms transfers to Kyiv from the West.  In one such meeting, on 27 March, the Council failed to adopt a resolution that would have launched an independent investigation into the Nord Stream pipeline attacks.  On 6 June, Under-Secretary-General Griffiths warned that the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant in Kherson could impact electricity generation. Following the Russian Federation’s suspension of the grain deal in July, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, condemned Moscow’s attacks on Ukrainian ports and pointed to their far-reaching impacts on global food insecurity. In September, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, told the Council that his peace formula restored the power of the Charter of the United Nations.  As the Russian Federation stepped up attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, including energy facilities, for the second winter in a row, speakers called for accountability for Moscow’s many crimes committed during the war.

The situation in the Korean Peninsula also courted tension in the Council throughout 2023, with the organ unable to prevent Pyongyang’s steady launches — in contravention of Council resolutions — of intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as its first military reconnaissance satellite.  In the first of eight emergency meetings on the topic, following Pyongyang’s launch of a ballistic missile in February, Mr. Khiari called for Council unity to ensure the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The representative of Japan, in whose waters the missile impacted, called the sight of the falling projectile “terrifying” and urged the Council to fulfil its obligations.  Convening again in July, on the heels of the launch of a more sophisticated type of long-range ballistic missile, Mr. Khiari warned that the missiles launched during the year could “reach most points on Earth”.  Pyongyang’s delegate — making an appearance for the first time in the Chamber since 2017 — asserted that his country had a right to conduct launches in self-defence against the United States’ “anti-peace behaviour” in the region.

Elsewhere, Colombia pressed on with the implementation of its historic 2016 Peace Agreement, which ended more than five decades of fighting between the Government and former guerrilla group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP).  The accord’s implementation received a boost in 2023 through the election of President Gustavo Petro and his “total peace” policy, which aimed to promote dialogue with non-signatory armed groups.  This objective was solidified with the Council’s August adoption of a resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia to monitor the implementation of a bilateral ceasefire between Bogotá and the guerrilla group Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN). Nonetheless, challenges remained in ensuring the security of former combatants, more than 400 of whom had been killed since the signing of the accord.  As Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, reported this to the Council in October, he urged the Government to implement urgent measures to protect former FARC-EP combatants, as well as social leaders and human rights defenders.

Among other situations on its agenda, the Council continued to monitor developments in Libya, which grappled with a range of old and new challenges, from a political impasse — with elections originally scheduled for 2021 still in abeyance — to sporadic violence, a deadly cyclone and human trafficking.  In March, members adopted a presidential statement welcoming progress on a constitutional framework for holding elections, also reaffirming their commitment to a Libyan-led and -owned political process.  The issue of migrants and human trafficking off the Libyan coast took centre stage in September, with the Council adopting a resolution to renew its authorization to allow Member States to inspect vessels on the high seas off Libya’s coast when there were reasonable grounds to believe they were participating in human trafficking.

Throughout 2023, the organ heard from a range of briefers, including UN officials, who warned that women’s rights remained under threat, two years shy of the twenty-fifth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000), the landmark resolution on women, peace and security.  During a ministerial debate on the theme in March, Sima Sami Bahous, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), declared:  “We neither significantly changed the composition of peace tables, nor the impunity enjoyed by those who commit atrocities against women and girls,” as speakers called for funding and political will to improve women’s participation in peace and security.

In addition, the Council met in September to discuss the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the South Caucasus on the heels of Azerbaijan’s launch of what it termed “local counter-terrorism activities” in response to deaths caused by landmines allegedly placed by Armenian armed forces.  A senior UN official pointed out that such developments should be viewed in the context of a “broader pattern of regular ceasefire violations”, and emphasized the need for genuine dialogue as the only sustainable way forward.

Following are summaries of public meetings held in 2023:

Middle East

Question of Palestine

Meetings: 5 January, 18 January, 20 February, 22 March, 25 April, 24 May, 27 June, 27 July, 21 August, 27 September, 16 October, 18 October, 18 October, 24 October, 25 October, 30 October, 31 October, 10 November, 15 November, 22 November, 29 November, 8 December, 8 December, 19 December21 December29 December.

Resolutions: 2712, 2720.  Not adopted: 772, 795. Vetoed: 773, 792, 970

Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2023/1.

The year 2023 proved to be the deadliest for Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since the UN began recording fatalities in 2005.  With a new coalition Government in Israel accelerating settlement activity, the Council proceeded with monthly meetings on the Palestinian Question that managed rather than solve the intractable conflict.  However, the events of 7 October, when Hamas fighters invaded Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages, disrupted that paradigm.  As Israel commenced retaliatory military operations, with catastrophic results to civilians and civilian infrastructure, the 15-nation organ proved slow to react publicly and when it met to act, its efforts were stymied by a lack of consensus, as borne out by multiple vetoes and non-adoptions.

Following Israel’s new Minister for National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit on 3 January to holy sites in Jerusalem within days of his appointment, on 5 January, the Council was briefed by Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, who said the visit was particularly inflammatory, given the Minister’s past advocacy for changes to the status quo.  The Palestinian Authority had condemned the visit, while Israel’s Prime Minister, as well as senior Government officials, emphasized commitment to upholding the status quo, he noted.  Still, he warned that any incident or tension at the holy sites could spill over and cause violence throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in Israel and elsewhere in the region.

Briefing the Council at a quarterly open debate on the Palestinian Question on 18 January, Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that the dangerous cycle of violence that continued to persist amid increased political tensions and a long-stalled peace process, was extracting a “devastating toll”.  The global community must not lose sight of the ultimate goal: to end the occupation, resolve the conflict and realize a two-State solution, he said, emphasizing: “Preventing more loss of life and reversing negative trends on the ground must be our collective priority.”

On 20 February the Council adopted a presidential statement — its first on the issue in more than eight years — expressing its deep concern and dismay with Israel’s 12 February announcement of further expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It also reiterated that continuing Israeli settlement activities were dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines.  Mr. Wennesland told the Council that the recent surge in violence included some of the deadliest incidents in nearly 20 years and called for responsible leadership to match security efforts with political steps that could halt the negative slide.  Leni Stenseth, Deputy Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), observed that competing global priorities and shifting regional dynamics had “almost annihilated” any remaining attention to the plight of Palestine refugees as the political, socioeconomic and security conditions surrounding them continued to deteriorate and violence in the West Bank hampered UNRWA operations.  Moreso, although UNRWA remained one of the few standing pillars of stability in the Middle East, the lack of funding put it in an impossible situation.

Mr. Wennesland, returning to the Council on 22 March during the converging Ramadan, Easter and Passover holidays, called for the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem to be respected at a “holy and sensitive time” for the region’s three major religions.  He spotlighted two diplomatic meetings, including the first in Aqaba, Jordan, where senior officials from Jordan, Egypt, Israel, State of Palestine and the United States committed to de-escalating the situation on the ground and preventing further violence, including by upholding the status quo at the holy sites.  “If implemented, the steps outlined in Aqaba would be an important start to reversing negative trends on the ground,” he said.

On 25 April, during a quarterly open debate, Mr. Wennesland reported on events that began on 4 and 5 April, when Israeli security forces entered the al-Qibli prayer hall of the Aqsa Mosque compound and forcibly removed Palestinians who were barricaded inside. Describing the incidents of violence that followed in the occupied West Bank, including the killing by Israeli security forces of 17 Palestinians, including 2 children, and the injuring of 4 women and 38 children, he expressed concern about the uptick in violence and inflammatory actions.  He called for the status quo of holy sites to be respected and for security forces to exercise maximum restraint, adding:  “I am appalled that children continue to be the victims of violence.”

Mr. Wennesland briefed the 15-nation organ on 24 May, after another deadly surge in violence on 9 May following the death of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader from an 86-day hunger strike in an Israeli jail.  In an exchange of air strikes and rocket launches, 10 Palestinian civilians were killed and more than 1,100 others were displaced.  While a ceasefire — reached on 13 May — was holding, he said that both sides must engage to reset a trajectory out of the cycle of violence, adding:  “This escalation compounded the already dire humanitarian situation in the Strip.”

On 27 June, Mr. Wennesland warned the Council that deepening occupation, settlement-expansion, high levels of violence against civilians and the absence of a political horizon were rapidly eroding hope among Palestinians and Israelis.  Citing the recent approval of amendments by the Israeli Government to its settlement-planning procedures that could expedite advancement of settlement plans, he expressed alarm over the “extreme levels of settler violence”, recalling that, as the occupying Power, Israel has an obligation to protect Palestinians and their property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  “The choice is clear:  either continue along the downward spiral of violence and provocations leading to a political vacuum; or turn towards constructive dialogue linked to concrete actions that can create hope,” he stressed.

Mr. Khiari returned to the Council on 27 July, amid a deterioration in the situation in the occupied West Bank, following military operations by Israeli security forces in Jenin refugee camp on 3 and 4 July, in which 12 Palestinians, including 4 children, were killed and more than 140 injured — the most in a single operation in the West Bank since the United Nations began tracking casualties in 2005.  Reporting that, from 27 June through 24 July, 25 Palestinians were killed, while, according to Israel, two Israeli security forces personnel were killed, he stressed:  “This deterioration is taking place alongside ongoing unilateral steps that undermine a two-State solution, the absence of a peace process and the continuing economic challenges facing Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority.”

On 21 August, Mr. Wennesland reported that Palestinians and Israelis were being killed and injured in incidents of near-daily violence, with the year’s fatalities already surpassing 2022’s annual figures. The lack of progress towards a political horizon had left a dangerous, volatile vacuum filled with extremists on both sides, he warned.  As well, he expressed concern over the Palestinian Authority’s dire fiscal situation and the funding shortages faced by UN agencies, which threatened to worsen the plight of the most vulnerable Palestinians.  Providing an update on settlement-expansion, which continued unabated, he called on Israeli authorities to end demolitions of Palestinian-owned property and the displacement and eviction of Palestinians, and to approve plans that would enable them to build legally and address their development needs.

Settlement-expansion took centre stage again on 27 September, with Mr. Wennesland reporting that such activities had been expedited, following plans advanced by Israeli authorities for 6,300 housing units in West Bank’s Area C — administered by Israel — and 3,580 housing units in East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1980.  As a result, many Palestinians, including children, were leaving their communities, citing violence by settlers and shrinking grazing land.  Stating that 68 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces and 10 Israelis by Palestinians over the previous weeks, he echoed United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ call on the Government of Israel to cease settlement activity and the demolition and seizure of Palestinian structures.

On 7 October, fighters from Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups crossed over into southern Israel, launching “Operation al-Aqsa Deluge”, killing 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals and returning to Gaza, taking 240 civilians and soldiers hostage. On the same day, Israel’s Security Cabinet declared a state of war, launching “Operation Swords of Iron”, targeting 5,000 locations across Gaza, which they said were Hamas sites.  The Council met on 8 October in consultations, but it would take another eight days for them to hold the first public meeting.  At that point, Israel had announced a complete siege of Gaza, blocking all entry of goods, including electricity, water, food and fuel.  On 13 October, more than a million Gazans in the north of the Strip were told to leave their homes within 24 hours through paper notices that dropped from the sky.

Nine days into Israel’s retaliatory bombardment of Gaza, the Council convened several times in a single week, to discuss the issue and attempt — unsuccessfully — to take action, including on 16 October, when it failed to adopt a draft resolution put forth by the Russian Federation, which would have called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. Receiving five votes in favour (China, Gabon, Mozambique, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates), four delegations — including those of two permanent members — voted against it (France, Japan, United Kingdom, United States), while the six remaining members (Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, Malta, Switzerland) abstained.  Following the vote, the United States’ delegate stressed that it was the Council’s responsibility to address the crisis, unequivocally condemn Hamas and support Israel’s right to self-defence under the Charter of the United Nations.  The United Kingdom’s delegate added she could not support a document that failed to condemn Hamas’ attacks.  Israel’s delegate urged the Council to support his country’s right to defend itself for its self-preservation.  Meanwhile, the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, pointing to Gaza’s collapsed humanitarian and health system, as well as the displacement of 1 million people, called on the Council to be guided by international law, with no exception or exceptionalism.

On 18 October, in the aftermath of an attack on Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip that killed hundreds of people, including civilians and health-care workers, the Council, due to a veto cast by the United States, failed to adopt a resolution put forth by Brazil’s delegation that would have called for humanitarian pauses to allow full, safe and unhindered access for United Nations agencies.  However, the text garnered the support of 12 Council members, including two permanent members (China, France), with two other permanent members (United Kingdom, Russian Federation) abstaining.  Brazil’s representative, voicing regret that the Council was yet again unable to adopt a resolution on the conflict, stressed that hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza, having waited for far too long to no avail, could not wait any longer.  Meanwhile, the United States’ delegate, pointing to President Joseph R. Biden’s trip to the region, said that the Council needed to let her country’s diplomacy “play out”.

Meeting a second time on 18 October, the Council heard from Mr. Wennesland, who expressed fear that the world was at the brink of a dangerous abyss that could change the trajectory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if not the entire Middle East.  Condemning the massacre by Hamas on 7 October and calling for efforts to end the ongoing hostilities, he warned that the risk of the conflict’s expansion was very real and extremely dangerous.  Highlighting his diplomatic engagements with leaders in Egypt to facilitate humanitarian assistance through Rafah crossing, he stressed the need for a long-term political solution as the only way to end the violence and reiterated that “perpetual management of conflict without addressing underlying issues” was not sustainable.  The Council also heard from Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who voiced horror at the attack on Al Ahli Arab Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip and echoed calls for a fact-based inquiry on the incident.  In the 11 days since 7 October, more than 3,000 people in Gaza had been killed, including 15 UNRWA staff and Red Cross and Red Crescent personnel, while 1 million people had fled their homes. Essential supplies, including fuel, food, water and medical items were running low, he said, calling for safe humanitarian access and a ceasefire to ease “epic human suffering”.

During a day-long ministerial debate on 24 October, Secretary-General Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire, for humanitarian aid without restrictions, for civilians and hospitals to be protected, and for the inviolability of UN facilities sheltering more than 600,000 Palestinians to be respected.  “Even war has rules,” he declared, adding that no party to an armed conflict was above international humanitarian law.  Mr. Wennesland reported that the Israeli’s ensuing air assault in the Strip had killed 5,000 Palestinians, including over 1,100 women, 2,000 children as well as journalists, medical workers and first responders; over 1 million Palestinians had been displaced.  Lynn Hastings, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, cited figures that at least 42 per cent of all housing units in the Strip had been destroyed or damaged.  As well, hospitals were on the brink of collapse, with doctors operating without anaesthesia, while 16 health workers had been killed on duty.  She called on Israel to bring back water and electricity supplies, to work with her team to bring fuel into Gaza and for the opening of crossings for the movement of goods and people.

The following day, on 25 October, the Council met again to address the war and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, failing to adopt two competing draft resolutions.  The first, from the United States, which would have condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas on 7 October, called for the release of hostages, reaffirmed the rights of States to self-defence and called for humanitarian pauses, was defeated by a vote of 10 in favour to 3 against (China, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates), with 2 abstentions (Brazil, Mozambique).  The second, by the Russian Federation, which would have called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, condemned all violence and hostilities against civilians, condemned Hamas’ 7 October attacks and the taking of civilian hostages, and urged the rescission of the order for civilians and UN staff to evacuate all northern Gaza and relocate to the south, was also defeated by a vote of 4 in favour (China, Gabon, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates) and 2 against (United Kingdom, United States), with 9 abstentions (Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland).

On 30 October, the Council was briefed by Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, who described the Israel Defense Forces’ bombardment of the Strip “shocking” and the unfolding human tragedy “unbearable”. Pointing out that nearly 3,200 children had been killed in Gaza in just three weeks, he warned:  “An entire population is being dehumanized.” Catherine Russell, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), reported that more than 420 children were being killed or injured in Gaza each day — “a number which should shake each of us to our core”.  Lisa Doughten, Director of the Humanitarian Financing and Resource Mobilization Division, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, speaking on behalf of Mr. Griffiths, voiced concern about allegations of military installations close to hospitals and Israel’s request that hospitals be evacuated.  However, she pointed out:  “There is nowhere safe for patients to go, and for those on life support and babies in incubators, moving would almost certainly be a death sentence.”

As bombardments intensified in northern Gaza and Israeli ground forces reportedly encircled four hospitals, including Al-Shifa hospital, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) on 10 November told the Council that the situation in hospitals in Gaza was “impossible to describe”, with corridors crammed with the injured, the sick and the dying, morgues overflowing and surgical procedures conducted without anaesthesia.  Since 7 October, WHO verified more than 250 attacks on health-care facilities in Gaza and the West Bank, in addition to 25 attacks on similar sites in Israel.  The Council also heard from Marwan Jilani, Director General of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, who, citing attacks on four hospitals in Gaza over the previous 24 hours, said they were being deliberately targeted in a desperate attempt to force the civilian population out.  “Displaced people at the hospital are getting shot at, as we speak,” he stressed.

On 15 November, the Council adopted resolution 2712 (2023) by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), by which it called for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors through the Gaza Strip to facilitate the provision of essential goods and services. On the same day, the Israel Defense Forces stormed Al-Shifa hospital, in search of what it said were tunnels used by Hamas beneath the complex.  It withdrew nine days later, stating that it had destroyed them.

Less than a week later, on 22 November, the Council heard from several senior UN officials who described the disastrous impact of the ongoing war in Gaza on women and children.  Sima Sami Bahous, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) pointed out that 67 per cent of the more than 14,000 people killed in Gaza since 7 October were women and children.  Describing the plight of pregnant women and mothers, she said: “Women in Gaza have told us that they pray for peace, but that if peace does not come, they pray for a quick death, in their sleep, with their children in their arms.”  Meanwhile, Ms. Russell called for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, stating that pauses were not enough for children to survive.  The Council also heard from Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), who reported that 5,500 pregnant women were expected to give birth in December in Gaza amidst destruction and fear, as well as multiple health risks, due to overcrowded conditions and insufficient clean water and sanitation.

The Council held a ministerial-level meeting on 29 November that coincided with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.  Briefing the 15-nation organ, Secretary-General Guterres stated:  “In a matter of weeks, a far greater number of children have been killed by Israeli military operations in Gaza than the total number of children killed during any year, by any party to a conflict, since I have been Secretary-General.”  Recalling resolution 2712 (2023), and its demand about international law obligations regarding the protection of civilians, especially children, he underscored the importance of a true humanitarian ceasefire, as well as the two-State solution.  Mr. Wennesland welcomed the agreement to pause the fighting and secure the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, while emphasizing the need for a political and security framework to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas. He also emphasized the need to stabilize the situation in occupied West Bank, where intensified settler violence was inflaming tensions displacing more Palestinians, warning:  “The situation is boiling and getting worse rapidly.”

The Council met again on 8 December, following Secretary-General Guterres’ engagement of Article 99 in Chapter XV of the Charter — the first time he used this measure since taking office in 2017 — to “bring to attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion, may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.  He informed the Council that the humanitarian support system in Gaza was at a high risk of total collapse.  “We are at a breaking point [and] the situation is simply becoming untenable,” he stressed.  Citing information from the World Food Programme (WFP) that Gazans were at serious risk of starvation, he underscored that the international community must do everything it could to end their ordeal.  He urged members of the Security Council to exert pressure to avert a humanitarian catastrophe" and reiterated his call for "an urgent humanitarian ceasefire".

Meeting again on 8 December, the Council — due to a veto cast by the United States, a permanent member — failed to adopt a text put forth by the United Arab Emirates, which would have demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access.  The text received the support of 13 Council members, including 3 permanent members — China, France and the Russian Federation — with another permanent member, the United Kingdom, abstaining.

Meeting on 22 December, following several days’ deliberations, deferrals and diplomatic engagements, the Council adopted resolution 2720 (2023) by a recorded vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (United States, Russian Federation), by which it requested the Secretary-General to appoint a Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for the Gaza Strip as it demanded the parties to the conflict to allow, facilitate and enable the immediate, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale to Palestinian civilians throughout that territory.  By other terms, it determined that the Coordinator would be responsible for facilitating, coordinating, monitoring and verifying, in Gaza, the humanitarian nature of all humanitarian relief consignments provided through States which are not parties to the conflict.  Ahead of the vote, members failed to adopt an amendment put forth by the Russian Federation, owing to a veto cast by the United States.  The vote was 10 in favour (Brazil, China, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Malta, Mozambique, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates) to 1 against (United States), with 4 abstentions (Albania, Japan, Switzerland, United Kingdom).  Had it been adopted, the text would have had the Council call for an urgent suspension of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and for urgent steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities.

The Council reconvened on 29 December, with Mr. Khiari reporting that, since 7 October, tensions in the West Bank between Israeli security forces and Palestinians were escalating, resulting in 304 Palestinians fatalities, including 79 children, and 4 Israeli fatalities.  Israel was continuing its intense ground operations in Gaza, while Hamas was continuing to fire rockets from Gaza into Israel.  Settler violence remained a grave concern as well.  “Civilians from both sides — particularly the Gaza Strip — continue to bear the brunt of this conflict,” he said.  Describing a slew of threats to regional stability, including strikes in Lebanon and Israel, he warned of a “high risk of regional spillover of the conflict”, given the myriad actors involved.  The Council also heard from Marwan Muasher, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan, who outlined an eight-point political plan to end the occupation; and from Itay Epshtain, Special Advisor and Senior Humanitarian Law and Policy Consultant at the Norwegian Refugee Council, who, noting that all parties showed a reckless disregard for the peremptory norms of international law, stressed:  “Peace is the only viable solution for civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.” 


Meetings: 5 January, 9 January, 25 January, 7 February, 28 February, 6 March, 23 March, 27 April, 8 May, 30 May, 29 June, 29 June, 11 July, 11 July, 24 July, 8 August, 23 August, 7 September, 27 September, 30 October, 28 November, 21 December, 21 December, 22 December.

Resolutions: 2672, 2689, 2718.  Not adopted: 507.  Vetoed: 506.

The Syrian civil war entered its twelfth year in 2023, with more than half the population displaced and a grim humanitarian, political and economic crisis continuing.  The topic of the country remained a point of contention for Council members, with consensus elusive, particularly on the issue of access of humanitarian aid to the north-west bordering Türkiye, despite soaring needs following a series of earthquakes that laid waste to the region in early February. Nonetheless, monthly meetings continued to be held, addressing the political and humanitarian situation in Syria, as well as the use of chemical weapons.

On 5 January, Adedeji Ebo, Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, briefed the Council on the implementation of resolution 2118 (2013), through which the 15-nation organ first mandated the destruction Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and production capabilities.  As in past briefings, he restated that long-standing gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies remained unresolved, due to which Syria’s declaration could not be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Meeting on 9 January, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2672 (2023), extending authorization of the Bab al-Hawa crossing point on Syria’s border with Türkiye to enable the uninterrupted delivery of aid into north-west Syria for six months, until 10 July.  Council members voiced varying views on the extension’s duration, with the representatives of the United Kingdom, United States and Japan urging the Council to extend the cross-border mechanism in 12-month increments, while China and the Russian Federation’s representatives pointed to the impact of unilateral coercive measures on humanitarian assistance in Syria, a view echoed by Syria’s representative.

During the year’s first monthly briefing on the political and humanitarian situations, on 25 January, Geir O. Pedersen, Special Envoy for Syria, told the Council that more than a decade of destruction, war and conflict, corruption and mismanagement had resulted in “a twin humanitarian and economic crisis of epic proportions”, with half the pre-war population displaced — the largest displacement crisis in the world.  Ghada Eltahir Mudawi, Deputy Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, urged more donor support for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan for the country, which was underfunded at 47.2 per cent, given that 15.3 million people — nearly 70 per cent of the population — needed humanitarian assistance.

Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Council on 7 February:  “There is an urgent need to not only identify, but to hold accountable, all those who would dare to use chemical weapons in violation of international law.” Supporting that stance, Fernando Arias, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) — the global body tasked with overseeing the elimination of chemical — reported that there were reasonable grounds to believe that, on 7 April 2018, a Syrian air force helicopter dropped two cylinders in Douma, a civilian-populated area outside Damascus, releasing highly concentrated chlorine gas that killed 43 individuals.  “The report is now in your hands,” he said.  Santiago Oñate-Laborde, Coordinator of the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team, added that, based on chemical and analytical data, it was possible to rule out the hypothesis that the incident in Douma was staged, as proposed by Syria and the Russian Federation.

Mr. Pedersen gave his monthly briefing to the Council on 28 February, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake doublet that struck the Türkiye-Syria border earlier in the month, killing 50,000 people, including 6,000 people in Syria, mostly in the north-west.  Underscoring the need to depoliticize the emergency humanitarian response, he stressed: “This means access.  This is not the time to play politics with crossings across borders or front lines.”  Mr. Griffiths of the Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, echoed the call for unimpeded humanitarian aid access, stressing that the United Nations Syria Flash Appeal needed $397.6 million to meet critical needs over the following three months.

Ms. Nakamitsu briefed members again on 6 March, noting that efforts by the OPCW Declaration Assessment Team to clarify outstanding issues regarding Syria’s initial and subsequent declarations had failed to progress.  Due to the resultant unresolved gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, the OPCW Technical Secretariat assessed that the declaration submitted by Syria still could not be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

On 23 March, Mr. Pedersen informed the Council that rising hostilities were marking the end of the moment where, following the February earthquakes, “the unimaginable became real” and parties on either side of the front lines refrained from hostilities.  Avoiding a broader escalation was crucial in order to bolster donors’ confidence considering supporting rehabilitation and recovery efforts. Tareq Talahma, Acting Director of the Operations and Advocacy Division of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, outlined the United Nations’ post-earthquake response, including the provision of food and cash transfers to 2.2 million people, as well as water and sanitation services to 380,000 people. However, the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria was only 6 per cent funded, although it was the largest in the world.

Returning on 27 April, Mr. Pedersen described a “potentially important juncture” in efforts to move forward a political process, involving engagements with the Astana players — Iran, Russian Federation and Türkiye ‏— and the Syrian Government.  Also noting new engagements between Arab countries and the Syrian Government, he cautioned that excluding stakeholders could block the process.  Ms. Doughten of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stated that over 3 million people in Syria have received hot meals and ready-to-eat rations from the United Nations and its humanitarian partners, following the earthquakes.  Yet, even before the earthquake, 15.3 million people — more than half the population — required humanitarian assistance and protection support, she said, warning:  “This number, I fear, only stands to grow.”

Ms. Nakamitsu, in her monthly briefing on 8 May, stressed the need for full cooperation by Damascus, as efforts of the OPCW Technical Secretariat to organize the next round of consultations with the Syrian Government continued to be unsuccessful. Nonetheless, the Technical Secretariat proposed to deploy a few members of its Declaration Assessment Team to conduct limited in-country activities in January and April.  On 30 May, Mr. Pedersen outlined his expansion of diplomatic efforts with the Syrian Government to bring about a political solution and reconvene the Constitutional Committee.  “It is vital that the recent diplomatic moves are matched with real action,” he stressed.  On the humanitarian front, Ms. Mudawi echoed the Secretary-General’s recent call for a 12-month extension of the Council’s authorization of the cross-border mechanism, observing that most Syrians continued to face challenges in meeting basic food, health, water and shelter needs.

On 29 June, briefing the Council ahead of the expiry of resolution 2672 (2023), which extended the cross-border authorization for cross-border aid delivery into Syria for six months, Najat Rochdi, Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, urged that humanitarian action be depoliticized and called for access via all modalities, including cross-line and cross-border, into the country.  Mr. Griffiths, addressing the 15-nation organ following a trip to Damascus, also stressed the need to extend the cross-border authorization by 12 months to meet desperate needs that cross-line deliveries could not match. Almost 90 per cent of the Syrian population lived below the poverty line, while this year’s Humanitarian Response Plan for the country, the largest in the world at $5.4 billion, was less than 12 per cent funded, he added.

On 11 July, the Council failed to reach consensus on two draft resolutions that would have reauthorized the cross-border mechanism for the delivery of humanitarian aid into Syria. The first, put forth by Brazil and Switzerland, which would have extended the use of the Bab al-Hawa crossing for another nine months, was defeated by a veto cast by the Russian Federation.  The Russian Federation’s competing text, which would have enabled a six-month extension of the authorization, was defeated by a vote of 3 against (France, United Kingdom, United States) to 2 in favour (China, Russian Federation), with 10 abstentions (Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates).

In their second meeting on 11 July, the Council heard from Mr. Ebo, who once again reported that all efforts by OPCW to organize the next round of consultations with Syria continued to be unsuccessful.  Underscoring the urgent need for full cooperation by Damascus, he reiterated that, due to identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies that remained unresolved, the declaration submitted by Syria still could not be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

On 24 July, Mr. Pedersen, citing the Secretary-General’s disappointment over the Council’s lack of agreement over its authorization of cross-border relief operations, added:  “How are [the Syrians] meant to be encouraged to overcome their own deep differences, if consensus on humanitarian basics among international parties is elusive?”  Further, months of diplomacy had not created real advances in the political process, including disputes over the venue of the reconvening of the Constitutional Committee which prevented the meeting.  Ramesh Rajasingham, Director of Coordination of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, expressing hope that the use of Bab al-Salam and Al-Ra’ee crossings will be extended beyond their expiration on 13 August, stressed that the future of cross-border assistance should not be a political decision, but a humanitarian one.

Mr. Ebo returned to the Council on 8 August, noting that OPCW efforts continued to be unsuccessful and that the declaration submitted by that country still could not be considered accurate and complete, pending information related to outstanding issues, including those pertaining to the unauthorized movement of two cylinders related to the chemical weapon incident in Douma on 7 April 2018. Mr. Pedersen warned the Council on 23 August that a bad economic situation in Syria has gotten even worse, with the Syrian pound losing over 80 per cent of its value in three months and prices for essential goods and commodities spiralling out of control.  “Syria cannot fix its economy while it is in a state of conflict,” he said, underscoring the need for progress on a political process in line with resolution 2254 (2015), which has been “in a deep freeze” for over a year.

Ms. Nakamitsu briefed Council members again on 7 September, stating that, despite Syria’s agreement to address declaration-related issues, the OPCW Technical Secretariat had yet to receive any declarations or other documents requested.  The Technical Secretariat assessed that Syria’s declaration still could not be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, she repeated, urging Council members to unite on the issue and to demonstrate that impunity in the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.

On 27 September, Mr. Pedersen briefed the Council on the heels of an agreement reached with the Syrian Government, which enabled the resumption of humanitarian operations through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing in north-west Syria for six months.  He called for concrete measures to relaunch a Syrian-led and -owned political process in line with resolution 2254 (2015). Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations and Advocacy, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reported that humanitarian shipments into north-west Syria through the Bab al-Hawa border were the first such deliveries since 10 July, when Security Council resolution 2672 (2023) lapsed.  That crossing remained key, as it contributed to better functioning schools, health facilities and drinking-water access.  However, the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria was less than 30 per cent funded, she noted.

The Council heard from Mr. Pedersen again on 30 October, who warned of spill-over from the violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  “Today, I am sounding an alarm that the situation is now at its most dangerous for a long time,” he stated.  Even before these regional developments, Syria was already seen the worst surge in violence in more than three years, leaving civilians killed, maimed and displaced in higher numbers than at any point since 2020, he said, urging immediate de-escalation and a focus on a credible political process. Ms. Wosornu also addressed Council members, underscoring that 15 million Syrians needed critical humanitarian and protection support, amid a deepening humanitarian emergency and a serious escalation in hostilities in northern Syria.

Ms. Rochdi briefed the Council on 28 November amid a continuing escalation of violence, including Israeli air strikes in Syria, rocket fire over the Syrian Golan towards Israel, attacks on United States forces, and retaliation and ongoing clashes between pro-Government and opposition entities, among others.  “We need more than just good intentions — we need sustained de-escalation, operationalized through robust channels between all stakeholders,” she stressed, warning that “to continue such violence is to play with fire”.  On the humanitarian front, Ms. Wosornu emphasized the urgent need for more funding, reporting that although an estimated 5.7 million people across Syria needed critical assistance to get through winter, the Humanitarian Response Plan for the country was only 33 per cent funded.

On 21 December, Mr. Pedersen told the Council that 2023 had been another tragic year for Syrian civilians, who were being killed, injured, displaced, detained and abducted in alarming numbers, as well as facing the danger of regional spill-over, due to developments in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Urging “sustained de-escalation in and on Syria towards a nationwide ceasefire”, he underscored the need in 2024 to refocus on the political process called eight years ago in resolution 2254 (2015). The Council also heard from Ms. Doughten, who pointed out that the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria was only 33 per cent funded, added:  “This lack of resources is severely constraining our ability to provide critical life-saving assistance to millions of people.”  Recalling that the Government’s agreement for the UN to use the Bab al-Hawa crossing for humanitarian aid delivery runs until 13 January 2024, she urged the scaling up of aid deliveries through all modalities.

At 2023’s final monthly briefing addressing the Syrian chemical weapons file on 22 December, Mr. Ebo told the Council that, after a gap of more than two and a half years, the twenty-fifth round of consultations between the Declaration Assessment Team of OPCW and the Syrian National Authority took place from 30 October to 5 November, adding that he hoped this “renewed spirit of cooperation” could help resolve all outstanding issues regarding the initial and subsequent declarations submitted by Syria.  Considering those unresolved identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, however, the Technical Secretariat assessed that the declaration submitted by Syria still could not be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said.

Addressing the specific matter of the Golan, the Council adopted resolution 2689 (2023) on 29 June, extending the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan for six months, until 31 December, while requesting the Secretary-General to ensure that it has the required capacity and resources to fulfil its mandate in a safe manner.  On 21 December, members unanimously adopted resolution 2718 (2023), extending the mandate of the Force for another six months until 30 June 2024.  By the text, it also stressed that Israel and Syria are obliged to “scrupulously and fully respect” the terms of the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement.

Yemen (10) 

Meetings: 16 January, 15 February, 15 March, 17 April, 17 May, 10 July, 10 July, 16 August, 8 November, 14 November.

Resolutions: 2675, 2691, 2707.

Press Statements: SC/15251 (4 April), SC/15430 (29 September), SC/15513 (4 December).

Continued outbreaks of violence highlighted the need for a formal ceasefire in a country where millions needed humanitarian assistance, the Council heard on numerous occasions.  While humanitarian agencies too often lacked the resources needed to deliver help, 2023 also saw moments of hope, with a 2 million drop in the number of people going hungry, the release of almost 900 conflict-related detainees and the removal of oil from the FSO Safer tanker, averting an ecological catastrophe.

The Council heard from Hans Grundberg, Special Envoy for Yemen, on 16 January that, despite the stable situation, military activity around front lines — including along the Saudi-Yemeni border — was recorded. He reported on continued contact with the parties and regional stakeholders, focusing on military de-escalation, measures to prevent economic deterioration and mitigation of the impact of the conflict on civilians.  Mr. Griffiths of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs sounded the alarm that 2023 will be another extremely difficult year for Yemenis, estimating that 21.6 million people across the country will need humanitarian assistance in an increasingly challenging operating environment for aid agencies.  “With every day that passes without a solution, this issue is becoming more acute and more urgent,” he said.

On 15 February, the 15-nation organ renewed for nine months a travel ban and asset freeze imposed on specific individuals and entities in Yemen, unanimously adopting resolution 2675 (2023).  By further terms, it extended until 15 December the mandate of the Panel of Experts, which assists the Yemen Sanctions Committee. The Council also requested the Secretary-General to take steps to expeditiously re-establish the Panel, in consultation with the Sanctions Committee.

Mr. Grundberg, on 15 March, informed the Council that elements of the April 2022 truce were being carried out as intense diplomatic efforts to end the conflict continued at various levels, including the recent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic ties.  Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reported on another improvement — a 2 million drop in the number of people going hungry in Yemen.  Yet, humanitarian agencies too often lack the resources needed to deliver help and economic problems were pushing more people into destitution.  Albana Dautllari (Albania), speaking in her country’s capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to its resolution 2140 (2014), also informed the Council on the Committee’s activities during the reporting period.

Briefing the Council again on 17 April, Mr. Grundberg said that the country was experiencing the longest period of relative calm yet, with food, fuel and other commercial ships flowing into Hudaydah. Noting the recent agreement under the auspices of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to release almost 900 conflict-related detainees from all sides, he warned that “escalation can quickly reverse hard-won gains” and voiced concern over recent military activity in Marib, Shabwa and Taïz.  Ms. Mudawi of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs commended the continued easing of import restrictions in recent weeks as well as a major milestone regarding the FSO Safer oil tanker, with a replacement vessel set sail for Yemen on 6 April.

On 17 May, Mr. Grundberg told the Council that all sides were demonstrating efforts towards a deal on humanitarian and economic measures, a permanent ceasefire and the resumption of a Yemeni-led political process.  While the truce continued, continuing reports of violence across the front lines highlighted the need for a formal ceasefire.  Ms. Wosornu of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that while aid agencies have been providing humanitarian assistance to more than 11 million people each month, efforts have been limited by chronic access impediments and the ongoing Mahram restrictions on Yemeni female aid workers.

On 10 July, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 2691 (2023), decided to extend for one year the mandate of the United Nations Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA). Mr. Grundberg welcomed the first commercial flights in seven years between Sana’a and Saudi Arabia. Ms. Msuya, detailing work on the ground, said some activities were forced to scale back due to funding of the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan at just 29 per cent.  David Gressly, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Yemen, commended Yemeni authorities and a broad coalition to the Organization’s operation preventing oil spill from the decaying SFO Safer tanker, noting, however, that $25 million is still needed to repay the money borrowed from the Central Emergency Relief Fund.

On 16 August, Mr. Grundberg, while expressing relief at the release of five kidnapped UN colleagues, condemned the murder of World Food Programme (WFP) staff member Moayad Hameidi in Taïz Governorate. He also noted that the oil from the FSO Safer tanker was removed to a new vessel.  Welcoming Saudi Arabia’s pledge of $1.2 billion, he nevertheless underscored that there would be no lasting improvement until the parties agree on sustainable solutions.  Ms. Wosornu, noting that WFP announced the suspension of its malnutrition prevention activities across Yemen, warned there would be much less humanitarian funding available in 2024.

On 8 November, Ferit Hoxha (Albania), speaking in his country’s capacity as Chair of the 2140 Committee, briefed the Council on the Committee’s informal consultations, adding that, during the reporting period, it did not receive any listing or delisting requests, nor any exemption requests.  On 14 November, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 2707 (2023), again renewed the travel ban and assets freeze imposed on specific individuals and entities in Yemen, as well as the mandate of the Panel of Experts, both for 12 months.

The Council issued three press statements on the situation in Yemen in 2023.  On 4 April, expressing strong support for efforts to secure a comprehensive ceasefire and inclusive Yemeni-Yemeni political talks under the auspices of the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, welcoming the recent agreement between the Government of Yemen and the Houthis in Geneva.

On 29 September, the Council strongly condemned the drone attack, attributed to the Houthis, on members of the armed forces of Bahrain serving as part of the Arab Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen.  On 4 December, it condemned recent Houthi attacks against a commercial vessel in the Red Sea and called for the immediate release of the vessel MV Galaxy Leader and its crew.


Meetings: 2 February, 18 May, 30 May, 7 June, 15 September, 10 October, 4 December.

Resolutions: 2682, 2697.

Gains in political stability in 2022, including the establishment of Iraq’s new Government, and a recently adopted federal budget, signalled the promise of tangible improvements in Iraqis’ daily lives.  In efforts to hold Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh, accountable for their crimes in the country, the Council decided to renew until 17 September 2024 only the mandate of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD).

On 2 February, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), told the Council that Iraq’s new Government is tackling the myriad challenges, including high unemployment and the investigation of corruption allegations.  Regarding missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, she welcomed the Government’s steps to encourage more witnesses to come forward.

Briefing the Council on 18 May, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert reported that all coalition parties have signed off on the Government programme, but compromise was needed to balance differing interests. Detailing events regarding the Kurdistan region, she called for progress implementing the Sinjar Agreement. Further, bold domestic actions and close regional cooperation were crucial regarding the climate emergency and water scarcity, considering that 90 per cent of the country’s rivers were polluted and 7 million Iraqis had reduced access to water.

On 30 May, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 2682 (2023), extended the mandate of UNAMI until 31 May 2024.  The Council requested that UNAMI prioritize support and assistance to the Government advancing inclusive, political dialogue and national and community-level reconciliation, with women’s full, equal and meaningful participation.  The Mission was also requested to assist the Government in strengthening electoral preparation for free and fair elections and in developing processes to resolve disputed internal boundaries, among others.

Briefing the Council on 7 June, Christian Ritscher, Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD, reported that, through digitizing physical evidence, investigative progress had been made into crimes committed by Da’esh.  “There is no shortage of evidence on [Da’esh]’s crimes in Iraq”, as that group was a large-scale bureaucracy that maintained a State-like administrative system, he added.  The Investigative Team was working to ensure this evidence was admissible before any competent court in Iraq or in other States where prosecutions of Da’esh members for international crimes were taking place.

The Security Council, unanimously adopting resolution 2697 (2023) on 15 September, took note of Iraq's request for a non-extendable one-year extension of the mandate of UNITAD and decided to extend their mandate until 17 September 2024 only.  It also took note of the Government’s request for the Investigative Team to provide evidence it has to Baghdad within the next year.  The Council requested the Special Adviser to continue to submit and present reports on the Investigative Team’s activities every 180 days and to develop, by 15 March 2024, in consultation with the Government, a road map for the completion of the Team’s mandate.

On 10 October, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert told the Council:  “To cut a long story short, with last year’s gains in political stability and an ambitious federal budget in hand, Iraq is well-positioned to seize the many opportunities in front of it.”  She called for progress on enabling people to return to their areas of origin, including Jurf al-Sakhr and Sinjar.  On the Kurdistan parliamentary elections, most recently postponed to February 2024, she said:  “With the current administration in a caretaker capacity, the region’s democratic process must prevail.  There is so much at stake.”

On 4 December, Mr. Ritscher, reporting on adjusted priorities of concluding the Team’s mandate, said that a case assessment report on Da’esh’s development and use of chemical weapons was completed and an assessment detailing its crimes of sexual violence during its reign was published. The Team worked with the Iraqi judiciary on the management of evidence collected over the last five years and on joint case files of alleged Da’esh perpetrators in third States, establishing a legal basis domestically to investigate and prosecute international crimes. However, by September 2024, the Team would not be able to deliver final outputs on all inquiry lines it has initiated.  A premature and abrupt ending of UNITAD would mean a loss for all those concerned, he warned, urging the Government and the Council to consider the end state of the Team’s mandate more than the end date.


Meetings: 31 August.

Resolutions: 2695.

The Council convened one meeting on the situation in Lebanon, on 31 August, during which it adopted resolution 2695 (2023) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation), to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for a period 12 months, until 31 August 2024.  By the text, the Council reiterated its call on the Lebanese Government to present a plan to increase its naval capabilities, with the goal of decreasing UNIFIL’s Maritime Taskforce and transitioning its responsibilities to the Lebanese Armed Forces.  The Council also urged all parties to make tangible progress towards a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution and for Israel to expedite the withdrawal of its army from northern Ghajar and the adjacent area north of the Blue Line without further delay in coordination with UNIFIL.


Press Statements: SC/15386 (16 August).

The Council issued one press statement on Iran, on 16 August, condemning in the strongest terms a terrorist attack at Shah-e-Cheragh shrine in Shiraz, Iran, on 13 August by Da’esh, which left two Iranians dead.



Meetings: 13 January, 17 January, 6 February, 8 February, 17 February, 21 February, 24 February, 14 March, 17 March, 27 March, 31 March, 10 April, 15 May, 18 May, 30 May, 6 June, 23 June, 29 June, 11 July, 17 July, 21 July, 26 July, 26 July, 31 July, 17 August, 24 August, 8 September, 12 September, 20 September, 21 September, 26 September, 9 October, 13 October, 27 October, 31 October, 8 November, 17 November, 21 November, 6 December, 11 December, 29 December, 30 December.

Resolutions: Not adopted: 212.

As the war entered its second year in Ukraine and ongoing hostilities continued to impact both civilians and infrastructure, the Security Council held 40 meetings, addressing, among other things, the Russian Federation’s decision to terminate its participation the Black Sea Initiative, the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant and the sabotage of the two Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, as well as tensions around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

The Council heard from Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, on 13 January, who reported that the Russian Federation’s invasion traumatized a generation of children, left countless civilians without homes or food and destroyed the country’s infrastructure and supply chains.  Also briefing the Council, Emine Dzhaparova, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, declaring that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace formula aimed to ensure all dimensions of security, including food security and nuclear safety, urged that Moscow be pressured to destroy its war machine.  Refuting that stance, the Russian Federation’s representative insisted Kyiv had forgotten the meaning of the word “peace” and that the European Union was financing arms delivery to Ukraine.

On 17 January, the Council addressed freedom of religion in Ukraine, with Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), who described religious restrictions both in Government-controlled territory, as well as Moscow-occupied areas.  Those included searches conducted in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church premises by Ukraine’s security service and criminal charges brought against at least three clergy.

The Council met on 6 February, a few weeks before the Black Sea Initiative was slated for renewal, with speakers calling the Initiative a “beacon of hope against a bleak backdrop”.  Mr. Griffiths of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, noting that the Initiative is allowing food exports to reach global supply chains, said that its extension beyond March is critical.  On 8 February, the Council heard from Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, who reported that many Governments had announced military assistance to Ukraine, while other States were transferring weapons to the Russian armed forces.

On 17 February, the Security Council, addressing the collapse of the Minsk agreements, heard from Martin Sajdik, former Special Representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for the Minsk agreements who cited a lack of political will to implement the accords.  Miroslav Jenča, Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and Americas in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, observed that, despite not having any formal role in the Minsk framework, the United Nations provided expert support to OSCE.  The Security Council then met on 21 February to discuss the alleged acts of sabotage against the two Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea in September 2022, with Ms. DiCarlo urging the Council to avoid any unfounded accusations that could further escalate tensions.

The Council convened a ministerial-level briefing on 24 February — the anniversary of the Russian Federation’s invasion on Ukraine.  Stressing that “the guns are talking now”, Secretary-General Guterres painted a bleak portrait of the situation, where 17.6 million people — 40 per cent of the population — required humanitarian assistance.  Addressing Russophobia in Ukraine, on 14 March the Council was briefed by Kirill Vyshinsky, Executive Director of Rossiya Segodnya, who said that, despite nearly one third of Ukraine’s population referring to Russian as their native language, over the last 20 years there was a deliberate shrinking of space in that regard.

Meeting on 17 March — the eve of the Black Sea Initiative’s expiry — Mr. Griffiths described the global reverberations of the war in Ukraine, noting that both parties to the conflict were leading suppliers of key food commodities.  Underscoring that the world relied on these supplies, as well as on the World Food Programme (WFP), he praised the signing of the Initiative in June 2022 and the parallel Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate Russian Federation food and fertilizer exports.

On 27 March, the Security Council failed to adopt a resolution by a vote of 3 in favour (Brazil, China, Russian Federation) to none against, with 12 abstentions, which would have established an international independent investigative commission into the September 2022 events concerning the Nord Stream gas pipeline.  While Moscow’s representative expressed doubts about the transparency of investigations conducted by Denmark, Germany and Sweden, China’s delegate noted that a United Nations-led investigation could make the findings of other studies more authoritative.

The Council met again on 31 March, with Ms. Nakamitsu addressing the Russian Federation’s announcement of plans to station non-strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus — the first “nuclear-sharing” agreement made since the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. With the risk of a nuclear weapon being used now higher than at any time since the cold war, she said the absence of dialogue and the erosion of the disarmament and arms control architecture, combined with dangerous rhetoric and veiled threats, were key drivers of this potentially existential risk.  On 10 April, the Council held an open debate on the illicit and unregulated export of weapons and military equipment in the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.  Ms. Nakamitsu said that, in line with international norms, any transfers of arms and ammunition should include pre-transfer risk assessments and post-shipment controls.  She called on States that had not yet done so to join the Arms Trade Treaty.

Amidst escalating hostilities on both sides of the front line, with civilian casualties the highest in months, Mr. Griffiths briefed the Council on 15 May.  Reporting that 30 million metric tons of cargo had been exported from Ukrainian ports through the Black Sea Initiative, with over half to developing and least developed countries, he also noted that exports had been reduced from Black Sea ports due to the shutdown of operations. The Council discussed arms transfers to Ukraine on 18 May, with Mr. Ebo of the Office for Disarmament Affairs, reporting that transfers of weapon systems and ammunition — information about which was available in open sources — included battle tanks, combat helicopters, missile systems, remotely operated munitions, and small arms and light weapons, to name a few.

On 30 May, the Council addressed the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant — the largest nuclear power station in Europe. Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that the nuclear safety and security of the Zaporizhzhia plant was fragile, asking both parties to the conflict to abide by the Agency’s five principles and not to attack from or against the plant.

The Council met next on 6 June, following the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant dam in the city of Kherson — the most significant incident of civilian infrastructure damage since the start of the invasion.  Mr. Griffiths warned that this incident may negatively affect electricity generation and in turn the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant downstream.  Following further escalations of hostilities, Ms. DiCarlo told the Council on 23 June that prospects for peace remained “desperately dim”. Further, due to the slowing pace of the Black Sea Initiative’s implementation, food exports dropped from a peak of 4.2 million metric tons in October 2022 to 1.3 million metric tons in May 2023.

On 29 June, the Council met again to address the issue of supplying weapons to Ukraine, hearing from briefers, including civil society and Ms. Nakamitsu, who reported on the increase of arms and ammunition supplies ahead of the reported Ukraine’s counteroffensive.  She also noted that some States were transferring or planning to transfer weapons to the Russian Federation’s armed forces for use in Ukraine. On 11 July, the Council took up the matter of the 2022 Nord Stream gas pipeline incident, hearing from two civil society briefers, including Bryce Greene, an independent journalist, who said that the United States was almost completely being ignored as a potential suspect.  Meanwhile, Jeffrey A. Brodsky, also an independent journalist, called on the Council organ to conduct an impartial investigation.

Following the Russian Federation’s decision to terminate the Black Sea Initiative, the Council met again on 17 July. Ms. DiCarlo said that the Initiative had exported some 33 million metric tons of foodstuffs from three Ukrainian ports, helping to relieve hunger in Afghanistan, Horn of Africa and Yemen.  Moscow’s decision was going to strike a blow to people in need everywhere.  The Council then convened on 21 July to address the Russian Federation’s attacks on Ukrainian port facilities, with Ms. DiCarlo strongly condemning the attacks and their far-reaching impacts on global food security.  Mr. Griffiths reported that grain prices, which had spiked, threatened to undo the hard-won progress achieved over the past year, pushing millions of people into hunger.

On 26 July, the Council met regarding Kyiv’s policies towards the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, with Nihal Saad, Director of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, reporting a surge of violence against members and supporters of that church in 2023, both in the Government-controlled territory and in the Russian Federation-occupied parts.  Meeting for a second time on 26 July, the Council addressed the Russian Federation’s attacks on Ukraine’s ports and grain-storage facilities in Odesa.  Mr. Khiari of the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, said that the 23 July Russian Federation missile attack, which damaged the Transfiguration Cathedral and other historical buildings in Odesa, followed several successive nights of deadly missile and drone strikes in southern Ukraine.

Raffi Gregorian, Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General and Officer-in-Charge at the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, briefing the Council on 31 July, said that his office did not have a mandate to investigate or ascertain the conduct of States and other actors, nor to determine what constitutes an act of terrorism by a State, group or an individual. “For these reasons, I regret that I have nothing else to contribute to the substance of today’s session,” he said. However, he stressed that when Member States speak in one voice, they can make meaningful progress in the fight against terrorism.

In August, the Council met twice to address the situation in Ukraine, with Ms. Nakamitsu, on 17 August, noting that the provision of military assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine was continuing. Calling for States to join the Arms Trade Treaty and the Firearms Protocol, she stressed that transparency in arms transfers is a confidence-building measure.  On 24 August, the Council met to address the war’s impact on that country’s children.  Ms. DiCarlo, noting that the day marked 18 months since the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, said the UN still does not have access to verify allegations of violations against children in Ukraine’s territory under Moscow’s control or in the Russian Federation itself.

Briefing the Council on 8 September, Mr. Jenča highlighted the one-year anniversary of the Russian Federation’s illegal attempt to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine through so-called referenda.  He stressed that Moscow’s latest illegal attempts to organize new electoral processes in the occupied areas of Ukraine jeopardize the prospects for peace.  On 12 September, Ms. Nakamitsu warned against risks of weaponry falling into the wrong hands and urged Member States to participate in the UN Register of Conventional Arms, which captured around 90 per cent of global arms flows and helped in tracking the influx of weapons in conflict zones.

On 20 and 21 September, the Security Council convened a ministerial-level open debate with participation of over 55 Heads of State and Government, ministers and other senior Government officials.  Secretary-General Guterres, in his briefing, stressed that the UN Charter was “our road map to a more peaceful world”, while noting that the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine was a clear violation of that document. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, said its peace formula was a basis for updating the existing world security architecture and restoring the real power of the Charter.  However, Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that, following the Second World War, the West, led by the United States, decided that it was going to determine humankind’s fate, turning selectively to the principles and norms of the Charter.

In a Security Council meeting on 26 September — the first anniversary of the attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines — two civil society members briefed the 15-nation organ, including journalist Dirk Pohlmann, who rejected the “Western-sponsored conspiracy theory” that identified the Russian Federation as the culprit.  Jimmy Dore, a political commentator, recalled that President Joseph R. Biden of the United States had said in February 2022 that, if the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”

Briefing the Council on 9 October, Ms. DiCarlo reported that, on 5 October, the small village of Hroza in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region suffered one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since the beginning of the invasion, when when a missile hit a shop and cafe, killing a sixth of Hroza’s population.  Reporting on the visit to that community by Denise Brown, Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Ms. Msuya of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, noted there were, to date, 27,768 civilian casualties across Ukraine, including the deaths of 560 children.

The issue of arms supplies to Ukraine was taken up again at the Security Council on 13 October with Mr. Ebo detailing the expansion of transfers of weapons systems and ammunition to the Ukrainian armed forces. There was also widespread contamination from landmines and explosive weapons in the country, resulting in a threat to civilian lives and rendering land unsafe for agricultural use. Briefing the Council again on 27 October, Mr. Ebo stressed that transparency in armaments was a crucial confidence-building measure that reduced tensions and ambiguities between Member States.

On 31 October, Mr. Rajasingham of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, describing damage and destruction of critical infrastructure, reported that the World Health Organization verified more than 1,300 attacks on health care.  The operating environment of humanitarian organizations was also becoming more dangerous, with the deaths of humanitarian aid workers more than tripling, from 4 in 2022 to 14 so far in 2023.  More than 40 per cent of Ukraine’s population — 18 million people — needed some form of humanitarian assistance.

The Security Council met on 7 November, following the shelling by Ukrainian forces in the Russian Federation-controlled city of Donetsk, which reportedly killed 6 people and wounded another 11.  Mr. Jenča, noting the thousands of civilians killed or wounded since the invasion 20 months ago, condemned all attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, “no matter where they take place or who is responsible”.  According to OHCHR, 9,933 civilians had been killed and 18,302 injured since February 2022.  However, actual figures were likely considerably higher.

A Council meeting on the freedom of religion in Ukraine took place on 17 November, with Ms. Kehris reporting that, since February 2022, OHCHR documented 10 cases of physical violence and 6 cases of threatened violence resulting from disputes between parishioners of different Orthodox communities.  She drew attention to the Ukraine Parliament’s first-reading approval of draft amendments to the law on religious organizations, which, if adopted, would establish a procedure to dissolve “religious organizations affiliated with influence centres, the management of which is located in a country, which carries out armed aggression against Ukraine”.

The Council met again to address the humanitarian situation in Ukraine on 21 November.  Mr. Jenča stated that the city of Kherson, recaptured by Ukraine over a year ago, continued to suffer regular intense bombardments, resulting in civilian deaths.  Also calling attention to the missile attack on a cargo vessel in the Black Sea on 9 November, he emphasized that global food security depended on safe and predictable food exports through international waters.  Matthew Hollingworth, WFP Ukraine Country Director, noting that one in five Ukrainian families faced some level of severe food insecurity, said that WFP was feeding some 750,000 people with food baskets through the winter.

With the onset of winter and ongoing attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, the Council held a briefing on 6 December to address the humanitarian situation with Mr. Jenča stressing that the lasting impact of the war on Ukrainian’s mental health was going to be felt “for decades”.  Mr. Rajasingham reported that the Ukraine Humanitarian Response Plan still had a substantial shortfall of $1.6 billion. Continued financial support to sustain humanitarian operations into 2024 was crucial in aiding civilians.

On 11 December, the Council again addressed the matter of arms supply to Ukraine.  Reporting that military assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine was continuing since the Council’s last briefing on 27 October, Mr. Ebo said that certain States were transferring, or planning to transfer, uncrewed aerial vehicles and ammunition to the Russian Federation armed forces for possible use in Ukraine.  Voicing concern over reports of anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions in Ukraine, he called for an “immediate end to the use of these horrendous weapons”.

Convening an emergency meeting on 29 December, the Council heard from Mr. Khiari who reported on the Russian Federation’s massive attack on Ukraine — one of the largest aerial assaults since the 2022 invasion — where 158 missiles and drones targeted locations across the country, killing at least 30 civilians, injuring over 160 and damaging civilian infrastructure.  Underscoring that such attacks against civilians and infrastructure violated international humanitarian law, he cited OHCHR statistics in which 1,888 civilians were killed in 2023 and 6,334 were injured.  Pointing out that 2023 was ending as it began — with devastating violence against the people of Ukraine — he urged that the new year see an avoidance of further escalation and recalled the Secretary-General’s appeal for all concerned to work towards a sustainable peace in accordance with the UN Charter, international law and resolutions of the General Assembly.

However, in less than 24 hours, the Council held its second emergency meeting on 30 December, as aerial bombardments between Ukraine and the Russian Federation escalated.  According to Russian Federation authorities, cross-border missile and drone attacks on Belgorod, 30 kilometres from the Ukrainian border, resulted in at least 18 civilians killed, including 2 children, and at least 100 injured, along with damage to civilian infrastructure.  Ukrainian authorities reported new overnight Russian Federation drone attacks targeting the Kherson region.  Briefing the 15-nation organ again, Mr. Khiari said that the United Nations was “not in a position” to independently verify the various reported attacks or casualty figures.  However, he said that, as feared, the two-year cycle of death had escalated overnight and were a stark reminder of the very real dangers of further spillover of the war.  “As the war continues, we will see more Ukrainian and Russian civilians killed and injured,” he warned, reiterating the Secretary-General’s urgent appeal to stop attacks on civilian centres, residential areas and energy infrastructure. “The war must come to an end,” he stressed, a stance echoed by Council members who called for the parties to return to diplomatic efforts towards ending the hostilities.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Meetings: 10 May, 2 November.

Resolutions: 2706.

As Bosnia and Herzegovina made progress towards incorporation into the European Union, the Council heard briefings detailing ongoing tensions resulting from divisive political tactics, which continued to plague the country.

Amid a positive momentum towards European integration of Bosnia and High Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, High Representative for that country, told the Council on 10 May that the country was granted European Union candidacy status on 15 December 2022.  Highlighting the formation of the executive and legislative authorities following the general elections of 2 October 2022, he nevertheless alerted the Council about the increased secessionist positioning and rhetoric in Republika Srpska.  Such actions question the fundamentals of the Dayton Agreement, he pointed out, adding that the denial of the Srebrenica genocide and glorification of war criminals also continue to be a problem.

On 2 November, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 2706 (2023), extended for another year the authorization of the mandate of the European Union multinational stabilization force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as EUFOR-Althea.  Željko Komšić, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that, while Mr. Schmidt’s actions towards Bosnia and Herzegovina were proactive, the steps towards the Republika Srpska were reactive, creating a “possible sense of his political insecurity and bias”.


Meetings: 27 April, 23 October.

In two Council meetings, the Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) reported that, while an agreement normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo marked an historic milestone, tensions and provocations remained in Kosovo, resulting in a political impasse and rising tensions between Pristina and Belgrade.

Regional insecurity and heightened tensions remained in Kosovo, the Council heard on 27 April, despite the historic “Agreement on the path to normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia”, reached in March.  Caroline Ziadeh, Special Representative and Head of UNMIK, voiced concern over the cycles of tension and provocations in 2023, noting that actions and reactions brought Pristina and Belgrade further away from the course previously agreed to in the European Union-facilitated dialogue framework.

On 23 October, Ms. Ziadeh told the Council reported on a security incident on 24 September in the north of Kosovo resulted in four deaths and several arrests, exacerbating an already deteriorating security environment.  Other setbacks, including the 29 May violence that led to serious injuries of 93 Kosovo Force personnel, as well as civilians, present grave dangers to achieving long-term peace and stability, she added.

Azerbaijan (2) 

Meetings: 16 August, 21 September.

The Council met twice to discuss the situation around the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the south Caucasus, where a blockade imposed early in the year obstructed the Lachin Corridor, the sole road connecting the ethnic Armenian-majority enclave in Azerbaijan to Armenia.

Ms. Wosornu of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told the Council on 16 August that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had been unable to transport humanitarian assistance through the Lachin Corridor to the civilian population in the area where Russian peacekeepers had been deployed for several weeks.

On 21 September, Mr. Jenča of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations briefed the Council on the events of 19 September when Azerbaijan announced that it had launched what it called “local counter-terrorism activities” in the Karabakh economic region in response to the deaths of two civilians and four police officers in incidents involving landmines, allegedly placed by Armenian armed forces.  “The developments of the past few days should be seen in the context of the broader pattern of regular ceasefire violations,” he said.


Meetings: 30 January.

Resolutions: 2674.

Press Statements: SC/15352 (12 July), SC/15391 (21 August).

Meeting once and issuing two press statements on the matter of Cyprus, the Council continued to express concern regarding continued violations along the ceasefire lines and unilateral actions in contrary to previous Council resolutions and statements.

On 30 January, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2674 (2023), extending the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 31 January 2024.  By the text, the Council underlined its concern at the continued violations of the military status quo along the island’s ceasefire lines and recalled the importance of achieving a comprehensive and just settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality. Members also expressed regret over the continuing unilateral actions that ran contrary to previous Council resolutions and statements on the Varosha area of Cyprus.

The Council issued two press statements on Cyprus in 2023.  On 12 July, it expressed its full support for UNFICYP, reiterating support for the Secretary-General’s proposal for a United Nations envoy to lead further engagement as soon as possible.  On 21 August, members expressed serious concern at the launch of unauthorized construction work by the Turkish Cypriot side inside the United Nations buffer zone near Pyla/Pile, stressing that this action ran contrary to resolutions and constituted a violation of the status quo in the United Nations buffer zone.


Peace and Security in Africa

Meetings: 30 March, 25 May.

With two meetings held on peace and security in Africa, one of which was an open debate, the Council heard from briefers of the importance of addressing root causes of challenges, supporting sustainable development and restoring constitutional order.

On 30 March, the Council held an open debate on the impact of development policies in implementing the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns” initiative.  Cristina Duarte, Special Adviser on Africa, said that the African perspective had been insufficiently incorporated in global discussions on peace and security on the continent.  The root causes of conflicts in Africa needed to be addressed beyond the traditional response, which tackled symptoms.  Mohamed ibn Chambas, the African Union High Representative for Silencing the Guns, outlined solutions to address the reversal of more than two decades of progress in poverty reduction during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the mobilization of domestic resources by fighting illicit financial flows, which deprive Africa of approximately $90 billion annually.

On 25 May, the Council considered African Union-led peace support operations, with Ms. DiCarlo of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs highlighting efforts by the African Union and the United Nations to support the restoration of constitutional order in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, among other countries. However, she also observed that such operations faced funding shortfalls, the absence of requisite operational and logistical capabilities.  Noting efforts under way to bring peace and civilian-led order to Sudan, she said:  “The case for adequately funding AU-led peace support operations is beyond solid.”


Meetings: 27 February, 16 March, 18 April, 11 May, 2 June, 19 June, 22 August, 28 September, 29 September, 16 October, 19 October, 30 October, 8 November, 18 December.

Resolutions: 2684, 2698, 2701, 2702

Press Statements: SC/15394 (23 August).

Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2023/2.

Much of 2023 was characterized by the political impasse in Libya, as national elections originally planned for 24 December 2021 continued to languish due to a lack of constitutional and legal basis on which to hold them.  While that particular obstacle was overcome near the end of the year, concerns persisted over sporadic violence, restrictions on civic engagement, the conditions faced by migrants and refugees and the fallout of the deadliest Mediterranean cyclone in recorded history.

Briefing the Council on 27 February, Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Representative for Libya and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), noted that the protracted political process was falling “short of the aspirations of Libyans” and that much of the population was questioning political actors’ desire to hold inclusive, transparent presidential elections in 2023. Outlining his discussions with numerous stakeholders, he reported that — despite general agreement on the need to hold such elections in that time frame — agreement on a constitutional basis and specific arrangements for holding elections remained elusive.

On 16 March, the Council adopted a presidential statement that welcomed gradual progress on a constitutional framework for elections in Libya and reaffirmed the 15-nation organ’s commitment to an inclusive, Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process.  Members, among other things, reiterated their strong support for Mr. Bathily, in particular, for his mediation and good-offices roles, and commended his extensive consultations with Libyan and regional stakeholders, as well as with the international community, to identify a consensus-based pathway towards national presidential and parliamentary elections in 2023.

Mr. Bathily again briefed the Council on 18 April, reporting that, in Tunis, Tripoli, Benghazi and Sebha, leaders and representatives of military units and security formations operating in Libya committed to support the elections, reject violence, ensure the safe return of internally displaced persons and release detainees.  However, for elections to occur in 2023, electoral laws needed to be completed in time for the High National Elections Commission to begin implementing the electoral process by early July.  The Council also heard from Ishikane Kimihiro (Japan), in his country’s capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, who noted the Committee’s receipt of reports relating to the seizure and inspection of cargo by the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean Operation IRINI.

On 11 May, Karim Khan, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court told the Council that dynamic, targeted investigations over the preceding six months allowed the Court to make significant progress in prosecuting alleged crimes against humanity committed in Libya.  Outlining milestones towards ensuring accountability for the most serious crimes committed over the past 12 years, he noted that his office would conduct a further mission to Libya to engage with national authorities, including to discuss the potential establishment of a country office in Tripoli. “When we are working with the people affected and with the national authorities, justice becomes something more tangible — it becomes less distant and less theoretical, and that is what is needed at the moment,” he said.

The Council adopted resolution 2684 (2023) on 2 June by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Russian Federation).  Through that text, the Council renewed measures designed to implement the arms embargo against Libya for another year, in particular those authorizing Member States — acting nationally or through regional organizations — to inspect vessels on the high seas off Libya’s coast believed to be in violation of the arms embargo imposed on that country.

Returning to the Council on 19 June, Mr. Bathily reported that the electoral law needed more work and that agreement on the eligibility criteria for presidential candidates and the formation of a new Government was crucial.  Without compromise, polarization and destabilization would expand, he warned, also observing an excessive increase in restrictions on fundamental rights.  Echoing concerns about the human rights situation, Abeir Imneina, Head of Washm Centre for Women’s Studies, painted a grim picture of the reality for civil society organizations, and among other solutions offered, called for a law regulating the establishment and work of such organizations.  Also briefing the Council was Mr. Ishikane (Japan), as Chair of the 1970 Committee, who detailed the subsidiary body’s work concerning the arms embargo, measures to prevent illicit petroleum exports, the travel ban and requests to delist certain individuals from the sanctions.

On 22 August, Mr. Bathily told the Council that all Libyan leaders had agreed to amend the draft electoral laws.  In the wake of fierce armed clashes in Tripoli on 14 and 15 August, he stressed the need for all parties to preserve security gains achieved in recent years.  UNSMIL would also continue to engage with relevant actors to advance the reunification of military and security institutions.  Noura al Jerbi, women’s rights activist, described ongoing severe restrictions on civil society and the restrictions on women’s travel in Libya. Mr. Ishikane (Japan), as Chair of the 1970 Committee, also updated the Council on the Committee’s activities over the past two months, which included addressing violations of human rights, including human trafficking and migrant-smuggling.

The Council took up the issue of migrants in the Mediterranean on 28 September, ahead of a decision to renew resolution 2240 (2015), which authorizes the inspection and seizure of vessels in that area suspected of being used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking. Ruven Menikdiwela, Director of the New York Office of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that, while nearly 50,000 refugees and asylum seekers were registered with the refugee agency in Libya, it was not authorized to access points of disembarkation.  Many detained refugees were escorted to border areas and expelled to neighbouring countries without procedural safeguards.  “Libya is not a place of safety for the purposes of disembarkation, following rescue at sea,” she stressed.  Pär Liljert, Director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Office to the United Nations, expressed similar concern over the rise of discrimination and xenophobia directed at migrants and refugees.

The next day, 29 September, the Council adopted resolution 2698 (2023) by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Russian Federation), renewing for 12 months its authorization to allow Member States to inspect vessels on the high seas off Libya’s coast when there were reasonable grounds to believe that they were participating in acts of migrant-smuggling and human trafficking.  The 15-nation organ also called on Member States to place the human rights and immediate needs of migrants and refugees at the core of their efforts to prevent and counter smuggling and trafficking.

Mr. Bathily briefed the Council on 16 October, following devastating floods in north-east Libya caused by Storm Daniel on 10 September.  Noting that the disaster revealed severe governance deficits, he pointed out that had these governance issues been resolved at the national level, “they would have mitigated the impact of the tragedy”.  Nevertheless, progress on the electoral front culminated in the issuance of revised electoral laws on 5 October.  Still, the most politically contentious issues remained unresolved, he observed, calling for dialogue to prevent the unilateral appointment of a Government by one of the rival parties.  Mr. Ishikane (Japan), as Chair of the 1970 Committee, also briefed the Council on the Committee’s work relating to vessel-inspection reports, the asset freeze, the travel ban and delisting requests.

Three days later, on 19 October, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2701 (2023), extending the authorization of previously imposed measures against the illicit export of petroleum products from Libya until 1 February 2024.  It also demanded Member States’ full compliance with the arms embargo imposed on Libya in February 2011 and urged them to support the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Libya without delay.  The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2702 (2023) on 30 October, deciding to extend UNSMIL’s mandate until 31 October 2024.  Through the resolution, the organ also urged Libyan political institutions and key stakeholders to resolve outstanding politically contentious issues pertaining to elections as soon as possible and — recalling the violent clashes in Tripoli in August and in Benghazi earlier in October — called on all parties to refrain from actions that could undermine the political process.

Mr. Khan returned to the Council on 8 November, highlighting progress in the Court’s activities in Libya facilitated by accelerated investigations, the use of advanced technology and deepened collaboration with national authorities.  Further progress included the successful conclusion of lines of investigation against key suspects, as well as headway on inquiries regarding crimes in detention facilities and those against migrants.  He cautioned, however, that such progress could not be taken for granted amidst profound resource restrictions, noting his Office’s request for an increased 2024 budget — particularly to investigate financial flows and criminal proceeds.

At its final meeting on 18 December, the Council heard from Yamanaka Osamu (Japan), speaking in her country’s capacity as Chair of the 1970 Committee, who reported that the Committee had implemented time-bound measures to prevent illicit petroleum exports from Libya until 1 February 2025.  Also briefing the Council, Mr. Bathily said that, on 1 November, the national legislature published laws regarding parliamentary and presidential elections.  “For the first time since the elections failed in December 2021, Libya has now a constitutional and legal framework for elections in place,” he reported.  While expressing concern over continuing security incidents, ongoing restrictions of civic space, the situation faced by migrants and refugees and the absence of unified, legitimate State institutions, he nevertheless concluded: “The national mood is ripe for a new political deal in Libya, a new dispensation for a brighter future.”

The Council issued one press statement on the situation in Libya in 2023.  On 23 August, it issued a press statement urging Libyan political institutions and key stakeholders to redouble their efforts to finalize a pathway to deliver free, fair, transparent and inclusive national presidential and parliamentary elections across Libya as soon as possible.  The Council also recalled that individuals or entities who threaten the peace, stability or security of Libya — or obstruct or undermine the successful completion of its political transition — may be designated under Security Council sanctions.

Western Sahara

Meetings: 30 October.

Resolutions: 2703.

The Council convened one meeting on Western Sahara, on 30 October, adopting resolution 2703 (2023) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against with 2 abstentions (Mozambique, Russian Federation), and extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for another year. The Council called on parties to resume negotiations to achieve a lasting and mutually acceptable solution for the region and expressed its full support for Staffan de Mistura, Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, to facilitate negotiations, encouraging Morocco, the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y de Río de Oro [Western Sahara] (Frente POLISARIO), Algeria and Mauritania to engage with him towards a successful outcome.  The Council also called for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO regarding the ceasefire and for parties to refrain from any actions that could undermine UN-facilitated negotiations or further destabilize the situation.

West Africa, Central Africa and the Sahel Region

Meetings: 10 January, 16 May, 5 June, 21 June, 25 July, 13 December.

Press Statements: SC/15372 (28 July).

In 2023, countries in West Africa and the Sahel region continued to grapple with challenges, including the consolidation of democracies — following a flurry of unconstitutional changes of government over the previous two years — while also contending with the spread of insecurity, terrorism and the attendant worsening of humanitarian crises.

On 20 January, Giovanie Biha, Deputy Special Representative and Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), told the Council that 10,000 schools in the region had closed due to widespread instability, preventing millions of children from accessing education.  Omar Alieu Touray, President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, stressed the regional group’s commitment to ensuring that constitutional order be restored to Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso in 2024. However, he warned that the Lake Chad Basin and Central Sahel had become the epicentres and incubators of terrorism and violent extremism.

On 16 May, Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, reported that non-State armed groups were continuing to carry out large-scale attacks against civilian and military targets. While the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force had made progress in coordinating operations, following Mali’s withdrawal from the Group, there was deteriorating insecurity in the tri-border area of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.  Eric Tiaré, Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel, called for sustainable funding, mobilization of all forces to uproot terrorist groups.  He also stressed the need to explore non‑military solutions, including through addressing climate change in the region.

Turning to the situation in Central Africa, on 5 June, Abdou Abarry, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), reported on floods that took place earlier in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Underscoring the need for political and socioeconomic measures, he cautioned that purely military responses would be insufficient to address the root causes of insecurity.

On 21 June, Ms. Pobee briefed the Council on the decline in piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, due to the concerted efforts of national authorities and bolstered by regional and international support.  However, obstacles hindering the implementation of the interregional maritime security mechanism — the Yaoundé Architecture — needed to be overcome, including inadequate staffing, insufficient equipment and unpredictable financing.  Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, President of the Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), echoed the call for strengthened maritime security in the region and pointed to other challenges, including illegal and unregulated fishing.

Addressing the Council on 25 July, Leonardo Santos Simaõ, the newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOWAS, welcomed elections in Benin, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.  However, he warned of roadblocks in some countries, such as a lack of transparency in vote tabulation.  Mr. Touray, encapsulating the region’s difficulties, reported that, in the first six months of 2023, the region recorded 1,814 terrorist attacks, resulting in 4,593 fatalities.  In the first four months, half a million refugees were recorded in the region. Almost 30 million people required food assistance, he said, adding:  “This is just a snippet of the horrendous impact of insecurity in West Africa.”

Mr. Abarry returned to the Council on 13 December, following his travels in the Central African subregion. Detailing the situations in several countries, he reported that his Office was supporting authorities in Sao Tome and Principe in reforming its justice and security sectors.  In Sudan, he observed that an influx of more refugees into Chad and the Central African Republic, due to the continuing crisis, could create the risk of intercommunal conflicts.  Nonetheless, he highlighted that demobilization, resulting from United Nations initiatives in the subregion, could significantly reduce armed violence in certain regions of the Central African Republic.

The Council issued one press statement on the situation in West Africa and the Sahel region, on 28 July, condemning the efforts to unconstitutionally change the legitimate Government of Niger on 26 July, and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the democratically elected President, Mohammed Bazoum.

Sudan and South Sudan, Abyei

Sudan Meetings: 25 January, 8 March, 20 March, 20 March, 25 April, 22 May, 2 June, 15 June, 13 July, 9 August, 13 September, 13 September, 16 November, 1 December, 12 December.

Resolutions: 2676, 2685.

Press Statements: SC/15257 (15 April), SC/15305 (2 June).

South Sudan Meetings: 6 March, 15 March, 30 May, 20 June, 15 September, 14 December.

Resolutions: 2677, 2683.

Press Statement: SC/15523 (11 December).

Abyei Meetings: 9 May, 6 November, 14 November.

Resolution: 2708.

Press Statement: SC/15523 (11 December).

Fighting erupted in April between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, dashing hopes for the formation of a new civilian Government in Sudan.  Despite this, the Council decided, at the request of the Sudanese Government, to terminate the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS).  As warring sides intensified fighting in the country, Council members and regional stakeholders continued their calls to silence the guns, as well as for a sustained international commitment to resolving the crisis that was threatening to engulf the region.

Across the border in South Sudan, ongoing intercommunal violence and a huge influx of returnees escaping the violence in Sudan continued to worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in the country and jeopardize the young nation’s Revitalized Peace Agreement. Several hurdles needed to be overcome to implement the accord’s final phase included the drafting of a new Constitution and accelerating preparations for the nation’s first-ever elections scheduled for December 2024.

The outbreak of armed conflict in Sudan also put on hold the political process regarding the final status of Abyei — an area claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan.  Both countries were urged to withdraw their defence and security forces in southern Abyei, whose presence contradicts the area’s demilitarized and weapons-free status.


Mr. Khan of the International Criminal Court briefed the Council on 25 January on the trial of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman, a senior leader of the Janjaweed militia in Darfur charged with 31 war crimes and crimes against humanity.  With the trial making swift progress, the prosecution intended to close its case by the end of February.  However, the Government of Sudan was not meeting its cooperation requirements under resolution 1593 (2005), with Sudanese authorities restricting key access to documents and witnesses while ignoring requests for assistance and approval.  “Something must be done so that Sudan can seize this moment for its reputation, people and future,” he said. 

On 8 March, the Council voted to extend until 12 March 2024 the mandate of the Panel of Experts charged with assisting its Sudan Sanctions Committee.  In adopting resolution 2676 (2023) with 13 votes in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation), the 15-nation organ decided to review the sanctions in place against Sudan through, inter alia, their modification, suspension or progressive lifting, by 12 February 2024.

Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana), speaking in his country’s 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 20 March, detailing the Committee’s work since 7 December 2022, including the issuance of the Committee's annual report for 2022.  He also noted that all reports of the Panel of Experts on the Sudan provided substantial information on the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement, the situation in the region, the status of armed groups and the protection of civilians.

At a subsequent meeting on 20 March, Volker Perthes, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan, said that, notwithstanding several contentious issues among the signatories of the political framework agreement, a committee was established to reach out to non-signatory parties and movements.  The formation of a civilian Government might begin before mid-April, he added, spotlighting the increased participation by women and other stakeholders in the political process, as well as emerging areas of consensus.  While voicing concern about rising tensions between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces in recent weeks, he also said civilian parties needed to finalize discussions on mechanisms to select a Prime Minister and form a Government.

Ten days after violence and chaos erupted in Sudan, Secretary-General Guterres on 25 April briefed the Council on reports from Khartoum of people trapped indoors with dwindling supplies of food, water medicines and fuel, and health services near collapse, while armed forces clashed across the country.  Mr. Perthes reported that the 72‑hour ceasefire brokered by the United States on 24 April was still holding in some parts.  However, the situation in Darfur remains volatile.  Ms. Msuya of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stressing that the humanitarian crisis is quickly turning into a catastrophe, said the UN will continue its efforts to deliver aid whenever and wherever possible.  Fatima Kyari Mohammed, Permanent Observer for the African Union, urged Sudanese parties to not lose sight of the central objective — the formation of a broad-based civilian-led Government to steer the transition to a new democratic dispensation.

Briefing the Council again on 22 May, Mr. Perthes painted a bleak picture of thousands who made gruelling journeys in search of safety and the suffering of those who stayed in their homes with no access to humanitarian assistance.  He was continuing to engage with leadership of both the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.  Bankole Adeoye, the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, detailing a comprehensive de-escalation plan, stressed the urgency to stop Sudan from collapse, “which would have unbearable consequences for the region, the African continent and, in fact, the world”.  On a positive note, Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), cited the signing of the 20 May ceasefire and humanitarian agreement between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, which would remain in effect for seven days — subject to extension if the parties agree.

On 2 June, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2685 (2023), extending the mandate of UNITAMS until 3 December 2023.  By the terms of the text, it also requested the Secretary-General to continue reporting on the implementation of the Mission’s mandate every 90 days and decided to remain actively seized of the matter.  In a second quarterly update of the year on 15 June, Carolyn Abena Anima Oppong-Ntiri (Ghana), speaking in her country’s capacity as Chair of the 1591 Committee, said that, on 12 May, the Panel of Experts on the Sudan briefed the Committee on its work programme for 2023-2024 and the current situation in Darfur.  Further on 6 June, it updated the Committee on regional and conflict dynamics in Darfur, including the escalating violence.

Mr. Khan again briefed the Council on 13 July, noting that the disregard of promises made to the Sudanese people — along with the absence of any meaningful justice in Sudan for the serious crimes committed in Darfur 20 years ago — helped create this latest cycle of violence. The Court was closely tracking reports of extrajudicial killings, the burning of homes and markets, and looting in West Darfur, as well as the killing and displacement of civilians in North Darfur.  Further, an investigative team was being deployed to neighbouring countries of Sudan to collect evidence from those who have fled the violence and a public campaign was being launched to solicit information about crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.

On 9 August, Ms. Pobee of the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations reported that fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces continued, particularly in Khartoum, Bahri, Omdurman and Darfur. “The humanitarian and protection needs are rising by the day with no signs of a reprieve,” she stressed, adding that UNITAMS continued to denounce the rising sexual violence and recruitment of children into armed groups.  Ms. Wosornu of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that, nearly four months into the conflict, more than 4 million people had fled, 3.2 million displaced internally and close to 900,000 crossed the border into Chad, Egypt, South Sudan and other countries.  The ability to scale up assistance was being constrained by delays in the issuance of visas and the granting of travel permits.

In a third quarterly update to the Council on 13 September, Mr. Agyeman (Ghana), as Chair of the 1591 Committee, said that the Panel of Experts was continuing its investigations and would present the final report in January 2024.  The representative of Sudan stressed that the Government’s position was supported by the Sudanese people, who rejected the Rapid Support Forces’ presence, adding that the UN must change its narrative and coverage of the conflict.

Meeting again on 13 September, Mr. Perthes warned:  “What started as a conflict between two military formations could be morphing into a full-scale civil war.”  Indiscriminate aerial bombing was being conducted by the Sudanese Armed Forces, and most of the sexual violence, looting and killing was happening in areas controlled by the Rapid Support Forces.  Ms. Wosornu said the conflict in Sudan led to about 1 million newly displaced people every month, distressing levels of sexual violence, a complete breakdown of the health system and more than 6 million people one step away from famine.

Ms. Pobee, in her 16 November briefing to the Council declared:  “Sudan is facing a convergence of a worsening humanitarian calamity and a catastrophic human rights crisis,” with more than 6,000 civilians killed since fighting erupted in April between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.  Sudan was now the world’s largest displacement crisis, with 7.1 million people forced from their homes.  She welcomed the resumption of talks between the warring parties in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in October, noting, however, that, despite their declared readiness to negotiate a ceasefire, actions on the ground suggested otherwise.

On 1 December, the Council decided to terminate the mandate of UNITAMS as of 3 December, and requested UNITAMS to immediately start on 4 December the cessation of its operations and the transfer of its tasks to UN agencies, funds and programmes, over a three-month period slated to end on 29 February 2024. Adopting resolution 2715 (2023) in a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Russian Federation), the Council, among other things, also decided that the liquidation of UNITAMS shall commence 1 March 2024 and called on UNITAMS to establish appropriate financial arrangements with the UN country team, enabling the UN to oversee residual activities of programmatic cooperation previously initiated by UNITAMS.

In the final update of the year, on 12 December, Ms. Oppong-Ntiri (Ghana), speaking in her country’s capacity as Chair of the 1591 Committee, noted that sexual violence was widespread and ongoing with the Rapid Support Forces and allied militia reported to be the alleged perpetrators.  On 6 November, the Committee had received a briefing from a representative of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the delivery of life-saving assistance and other activities in Sudan, which has been hampered by limited access to Darfur.  Sudan’s representative, spotlighting a wide array of aggression, violence, murders and destruction of civilian infrastructure by militias, called on the Council to impose an arms and material transport embargo against rebel forces, invaders and mercenaries, and to lift sanctions on the Government forces.

The Council issued two press statement on Sudan in 2023. On 15 April, the Council expressed deep concern over the continued military clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces and urged all parties to immediately cease hostilities and return to dialogue.  On 2 June Council members strongly condemned all attacks on the civilian population, United Nations and associated personnel and humanitarian actors, as well as civilian objects, medical personnel and facilities, and the looting of humanitarian supplies.  Among other things, they also welcomed the 11 May signature in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia by the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces of the Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan, known as the Jeddah Declaration.

South Sudan 

Briefing the Council on 6 March, Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative for South Sudan and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said the Transitional Government recently recommitted to implementing the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.  Several hurdles must be cleared to complete the final phase of implementation in 2024, including the need to draft a new Constitution and fast-track preparations for the nation’s first-ever elections. Mr. Talahma of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, noting that the situation in South Sudan had worsened since he last briefed the Council in June 2022, reported that a record 9.4 million people — 76 per cent of the country’s population — would require aid in 2023.  The United Nations and its humanitarian partners reached 5 million people in 2022, but more needed to be done in 2023, notwithstanding that the $1.7 billion Humanitarian Response Plan was only 3.5 per cent funded.

On 15 March, the Council decided to extend the mandate of UNMISS until 15 March 2024, adopting resolution 2677 (2023) 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 the implementation of the Revised Agreement and the Peace Process; and the monitoring, investigating and reporting on violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights.

The Council, on 30 May, also extended for one year the sanctions regime imposed on South Sudan, including assets freezes, travel bans and an arms embargo, adopting resolution 2683 (2023) by a vote of 10 in favour (Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States) to none against, with 5 abstentions (China, Gabon, Ghana, Mozambique, Russian Federation).  By other terms, the 15-nation organ decided to renew until 31 May 2024 the measures on arms imposed by paragraph 4 of resolution 2428 (2018), which directed all Member States to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms to the territory of South Sudan.

Briefing the Council on 20 June, Mr. Haysom said an influx of returnees from Sudan, escalating violence in Malakal and the need to establish civic and political space before conducting credible elections was impeding progress of the country’s Revitalized Peace Agreement. Since mid-April, more than 117,000 individuals migrated from Sudan to South Sudan.  Major General Charles Tai Gituai, Interim Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, said a trust deficit among the parties, lack of adequate resources, persistent levels of intercommunal violence and natural calamities were the main challenges slowing progress of the Revitalized Peace Agreement.  Several benchmarks were needed so that elections scheduled for December 2024 were free and credible, including completion of the unification and redeployment of forces, to provide election-related security.

On 15 September, Mr. Haysom stressed the need to determine the type of elections to be held, voter registration requirements and the nature of participation by refugees and internally displaced persons. Ms. Wosornu reported that more than 260,000 people had arrived in South Sudan, most of them South Sudanese nationals fleeing violence in neighbouring Sudan.  South Sudan’s trade and economy was negatively affected, with food prices increasing between 20 and 75 per cent, and worsening food insecurity increased gender-based violence.  The 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for South Sudan — which required $1.7 billion to support 6.8 million people — was only 46 per cent funded.

In his 14 December briefing, Mr. Haysom emphasized that, if credible and peaceful elections were to be conducted by December 2024, a critical mass of prerequisites needed to be in place by April 2024, including a new permanent constitutional framework; properly trained and equipped unified forces; an operational election security plan; and voter registration modalities and electoral dispute resolution mechanisms agreed through consensus. Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), speaking in his country’s capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) concerning South Sudan, reported that discussions during the Committee’s visit in October with the Government, UNMISS leadership, the UN country team and civil society representatives focused on the arms embargo and the implementation of the key benchmarks established by resolution 2577 (2021), as well as progress in the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement.

The Council issued one press statement on South Sudan and Abyei in 2023.  In a press statement issued on 11 December, Council members strongly condemned the violence in Warrap State, South Sudan, and southern Abyei Administrative Area that had claimed approximately 75 lives in November and 10 lives in Abyei in early December.  They also reiterated that the Abyei Area be fully demilitarized without delay and stressed that the Transitional Government of South Sudan must investigate the killings and attacks on civilians in Warrap and the Abyei Area and contain the violence and defuse tension between the affected communities.


On 9 May, Ms. Pobee said the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) was monitoring the potential impact of the outbreak of violence in Sudan on the chance for political progress on Abyei and border issues, as well as on the already challenging humanitarian situation.  The mission was also continuing efforts to reduce tensions between the Ngok Dinka and Twic Dinka communities, as well as between the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities.  Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, said the priority now was to stop the fighting that erupted in Sudan on 15 April between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces and to start constructive negotiations. Recent high-level engagements resulted in agreements to establish a security force along the borders of both Sudan and South Sudan, joint patrols to stem the flow of arms and munitions, and economic and technical agreements concerning oil transportation and export.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on 6 November, reporting that the outbreak of armed conflict in Sudan in April put on hold the political process regarding the final status of Abyei and border issues. He called on relevant authorities for the withdrawal of approximately 200 South Sudan People’s Defence Forces and South Sudan National Police Service personnel in southern Abyei and an estimated 60 Sudanese oil police in northern Abyei, whose presence contradicted UNISFA’s mandate and Abyei’s demilitarized and weapons-free status. The mission facilitated humanitarian assistance in the central and southern parts of Abyei, including to those displaced in intercommunal clashes and others fleeing the fighting in Sudan. Ms. Tetteh noted that, despite the conflict in Sudan, representatives of Abyei communities expressed the need to maintain the Abyei issue on the agenda of the UN and African Union.

The Council, on 14 November, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2708 (2023), decided to extend UNISFA’s mandate for one year until 15 November 2024 and maintain the Force’s current authorized troop and police ceilings.  By its terms, the 15-nation organ also decided to extend, for 12 months, UNISFA’s mandate modification, which provides for the Force’s support to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism.  Further, the Council reiterated that the Abyei Area should be demilitarized from any forces, including armed elements of the local communities, other than UNISFA and the Abyei Police Service, when it is gradually established.

The Council issued one press statement on South Sudan and Abyei in 2023.  In a press statement issued on 11 December, Council members strongly condemned the violence in Warrap State, South Sudan, and southern Abyei Administrative Area that had claimed approximately 75 lives in November and 10 lives in Abyei in early December.  They also reiterated that the Abyei Area be fully demilitarized without delay and stressed that the Transitional Government of South Sudan must investigate the killings and attacks on civilians in Warrap and the Abyei Area and contain the violence and defuse tension between the affected communities.

Central African Republic

Meetings: 21 February, 20 June, 27 July, 26 October, 15 November.

Resolutions: 2693, 2709.

Press Statements: SC/15349 (11 July).

The security situation remained volatile in the Central African Republic in 2023, despite robust efforts by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), working with national defence forces, to re-establish State control over hotspots at the country’s borders.  Incremental progress was made in the peace process, in line the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation and the Luanda Joint Road Map for Peace.  Elections were also organized — the first in the country since 1988 — in accordance with the new electoral calendar.  However, progress was marred by lingering tensions around constitutional changes made in 2022, regarding eligibility requirements for contesting elections, which were hotly disputed by opposition groups, civil society organizations, as well as armed groups.

On 21 February, Valentine Rugwabiza, Special Representative for the Central African Republic and Head of MINUSCA reported that, after a period of relative calm during the rainy season, armed groups had increased their activities and attacks.  She also voiced concern over an uptick in tensions in resource-rich hotspots in the north-west, north-east and centre-south of the country.  While welcoming the Government’s lifting of its ban on MINUSCA’s night flights, she noted the newly imposed ban on unmanned flights, as well as a humanitarian situation marked by mounting food insecurity.

On 20 June, Ms. Rugwabiza encouraged the Government to provide clarification on its new calendar for local elections.  This had followed President Faustin-Archange Touadéra’s 30 May announcement of a referendum on a new Constitution scheduled for 30 July.  She also noted that “it is possible to break decade-long cycles of violence”, pointing to stabilization in some regions which demonstrated the possibility of bringing “peace dividends to the local population”.  Nonetheless, the deteriorating security situation and unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country, particularly on the border with Chad, Sudan and South Sudan, was concerning, as well as the influx of refugees into the country after the outbreak in May of a conflict in Sudan.

On 27 July, the Council adopted resolution 2693 (2023) — by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation) — extending its arms embargo against the Central African Republic for one year until 31 July 2024, while lifting certain notification requirements that applied to the transfer and sales of arms to the country’s security forces, including State civilian law enforcement institutions.  It also renewed for 13 months — until 31 August 2024 — the mandate of the Panel of Experts tasked with assisting its Sanction Committee.

Ms. Rugwabiza addressed the Council on 26 October following the adoption of the new Constitution on 30 August that extended the term of the President and removed term limits.  An inclusive dialogue with the political opposition and armed groups would promote credible local elections, scheduled for October 2024, she said, also pointing to progress made in security sector reform, and the disbandment of nine armed groups that signed the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic.  The Council decided on 15 November to extend MINUSCA’s mandate for another year, until 15 November 2024, adopting resolution 2709 (2023) by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Russian Federation).

The Council issued one press statement on the Central African Republic in 2023.  On 11 July, it condemned in the strongest terms the attack perpetrated on 10 July against MINUSCA near Sam-Ouandja, Haute Kotto Prefecture, following which one peacekeeper from Rwanda was killed.  The Council further called on the Government of the Central African Republic to investigate the attack with MINUSCA’s support.

Great Lakes Region

Meetings: 19 April, 17 October.

The Great Lakes region, composed of Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda, experienced a year of turbulence and instability, due to the continuing activities of armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as tensions between that country and Rwanda.  From April to October, there was a fragile cessation of hostilities between the 23 March Movement (M23) and the Congolese Armed Forces.  However, that armed group continued to mount attacks against civilians, as well as engage in clashes with other armed groups, sparking large-scale forced displacements in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that resulted in millions of refugees fleeing for Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, among other countries.

On 19 April, Huang Xia, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, briefed the Council on the implementation of the peace, security and cooperation framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the wider region.  Although the ceasefire seemed to hold, a negotiated political solution was slow to arrive and the risk of fighting resuming between that country and the M23 remained.  However, the Addis Ababa framework agreement was relevant for stabilizing the region, he said, voicing hope that the 6 May meeting of signatory countries in Burundi would help strengthen coordination and end the current crisis. The Council also heard from Ivan Šimonović (Croatia), speaking in his country’s capacity as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, who also highlighted ongoing regional peace efforts such as the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region-led Luanda process.

On 17 October, Mr. Xia warned the Council about the risk of confrontation between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, stressing:  “The military strengthening in both countries, the absence of direct high-level dialogue and the persistence of hate speech are all worrying signs that we cannot ignore.”  He called for increased assistance from the international community, as well as its facilitation of the return of refugees.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Meetings: 29 March, 29 March, 26 June, 27 June, 28 September, 16 October, 11 December, 19 December.

Resolutions: 2688, 2717.

Press Statements: SC/15191 (3 February), SC/15193 (6 February), SC/15319 (13 June).

Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2023/3, S/PRST/2023/5.

Continuing attacks in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the 23 March Movement (M23), and other armed groups worsened the security and humanitarian situations in that country in 2023, also increasing tensions between countries in the region.  Over the course of the year, the Council urged relevant actors to participate in regionally led processes for peace both within and without of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as it considered the future of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).  Ultimately, the organ would decide to extend the Mission’s mandate for another year.

Briefing the Council on 29 March about its delegation’s recent mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nicolas de Rivière (France), detailed the 15-nation organ’s demands in response to the worsening security and humanitarian situation, including the halt of M23’s advances and its withdrawal from all occupied areas in line with the Luanda process.  Further, Congolese armed groups must participate in the Nairobi process towards demobilization and foreign armed groups must return to their countries of origin.  Financial support for MONUSCO must be enhanced, he added, and dialogue must continue with Congolese authorities to advance the transition.

Also adopting a presidential statement on 29 March, the Council strongly condemned M23’s increasing attacks in North Kivu and urged all Congolese armed groups to participate unconditionally in the Eastern African Community-led Nairobi process.  Bintou Keita, Special Representative and Head of MONUSCO, reporting on the worsening security situation in the country’s east, called for the mobilization of $2.5 billion to implement the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for the humanitarian situation — one of the most neglected in the world — and stressed that military operations alone will not stabilize the east.

On 26 June, Ms. Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, briefed the Council on the deteriorating security situation in Ituri and North Kivu, despite a lull in clashes.  MONUSCO’s withdrawal must not create security vacuums and jeopardize civilian protection, she stressed.  On 27 June, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2688 (2023), renewing the country’s sanctions regime related to arms, transport, finance and travel.  It also extended until 1 August 2024 the mandate for the Group of Experts overseeing implementation.

Calling for more support to protect civilians, on 28 September, Ms. Keita told the Council armed groups in the east continued to exacerbate the humanitarian situation, with 6 million people displaced.  She also called on regional stakeholders to support the Nairobi and Luanda processes, as the M23 crisis continued to stoke anger among the population and increase tensions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.  Anny Tenga Modi, Executive Director of AFIA MAMA, a youth-led non-profit on women’s health, reported that there were 35,000 reported cases of sexual violence in the first six months of 2023. Urging the Government to support the national reparations fund for victims and for donors to finance prevention programmes, she called for more women’s participation in the Nairobi and Luanda processes.

The Council adopted a presidential statement on 16 October, expressing readiness to decide by the end of 2023 MONUSCO’s future and realistic steps for its gradual, responsible withdrawal. Commending the Mission’s stabilization actions and reiterating its call on all parties to fully cooperate, the Council encouraged the Government and UN to develop by November a comprehensive disengagement plan.

With the 20 December elections approaching, Ms. Keita briefed the Council on 11 December regarding the continuing insecurity and violence between supporters of rival political parties and the resumption of hostilities between the armed forces and M23, as well as the escalation of regional tensions that heighten the risk of direct military confrontation that could draw in Burundi.  Also briefing the Council was Sandrine Lusamba of Solidarité Féminine pour la Paix, who suggested that certain MONUSCO functions on child protection and gender could be transitioned to local organizations.  However, she noted that the UN country team’s mapping of protection activities lacked a comprehensive needs analysis and excluded civil society’s contributions.

On 19 December, the day before elections, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2717 (2023), extending MONUSCO’s mandate for one year and setting out a disengagement plan that provided for three successive drawdown phases before gradual handover of responsibility to the Government.  The text established strategic priorities for MONUSCO, including contributing to the protection of civilians and supporting the stabilization and strengthening of State institutions, as well as key governance and security reforms.  After the vote, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo thanked the Council for responding to the Government’s request to expand logistical support for MONUSCO to provinces not under the current mandate.  This would make the electoral process more effective as more people would be able to vote on the following day.

The Council issued three press statements on the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2023.  On 3 February, the Council, strongly condemning M23’s recent attacks in North Kivu, urged all actors to abide by decisions at the 23 November 2022 Luanda Mini Summit of Heads of State.  On 6 February, the Council strongly condemned an attack against a MONUSCO helicopter in North Kivu, which killed a peacekeeper from South Africa and called on Congolese authorities to swiftly investigate the attack and bring its perpetrators to justice.

On 13 June, the Council strongly condemned an attack killing at least 45 people in the internally displaced persons camp of Lala in Ituri Province, attributed to the Coopérative pour le Développement du Congo (CODECO).  Council members reiterated their demand for all armed groups to immediately and permanently disband and release all children from their ranks.

Somalia, Ethiopia, Horn of Africa

Meetings: 22 February, 27 February, 15 June, 22 June, 27 June, 7 September, 17 October, 19 October, 31 October, 15 November, 1 December, 1 December.

Resolutions: 2687, 2696, 2705, 2710, 2711, 2713, 2714.

Press Statements: SC/15313 (7 June), SC/15314(7 June).

In light of continuing threats from Al-Shabaab and Somalia’s worst drought in decades, the Council took stock of the Government’s progress across security sector reform, political federalism and debt relief, as well as the arms embargo.  Also addressed was the drawn down of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), with international partners increasingly transitioning security responsibilities to the Government.  However, while Somalia was able to walk back from the brink of famine in early 2023, severe humanitarian needs and food insecurity remained.

On 22 February, Anita Kiki Gbeho, Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), reported on the Government’s progress combating Al-Shabaab and tackling debt relief, and detailed the ongoing drought that was expected to render half the population food insecure.  Famine remained a threat if humanitarian assistance was not sustained and seasonal rains underperformed as forecasted. Mohammed el-Amine Souef, Head of ATMIS, added that Al-Shabaab was under immense operational pressure but still retained the capability to carry out decisive operations.  He also expressed concern about the shortfall in funding for the Mission and Somali Security Forces.  Ms. Bahous of UN-Women cited an alarming increase in sexual violence and the drought’s devastating impact on women and girls.  Further, Al-Shabaab continued to abduct women and girls, but Somalia’s Parliament still had not passed a sexual offences bill.

Ishikane Kimihiro (Japan), speaking in his country’s capacity as Chair of the Sanctions Committee on Al-Shabaab established by resolution 751 (1992), briefed the Council on 27 February, reporting on recent meetings on weapons-smuggling between Somalia and Yemen, as well as investigations into Al-Shabaab’s finances.  Somalia’s representative, warning against the growing disconnect between the sanctions regime and evolving fight against Al-Shabaab, again requested a full lift of the arms embargo.  Briefing again on 15 June, Mr. Ishikane (Japan) underlined the need to maintain the Committee’s confidentiality, as media coverage of a Committee report on conflict in Las Anod and the release of information could impact the safety of the Panel of Experts.  The Committee also agreed to the Panel’s recommendations on humanitarian matters, including a mandate to monitor and report on the sanctions regime’s unintended consequences.

On 22 June, Catriona Laing, Special Representative for Somalia and Head of UNSOM, highlighted the country’s “tremendous progress” in State- and peacebuilding.  Still, while recent operations have degraded Al-Shabaab, the group remains a significant threat.  UNSOM must plan for a triple transition, including a possible drawdown of the UN Support Office in Somalia and eventual handover of the Mission to the UN country team.  Mr. Souef urged the Council to collectively agree on the role ATMIS should continue playing over the next 18 months as it draws down and exits Somalia.  He called for the arms embargo to be lifted, noting that resources are required to fight Al-Shabaab and stabilize newly liberated areas.  Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, urged Member States to immediately contribute to Somalia’s humanitarian response plan.  Without a rapid cash injection, almost 3 million people were going to be denied desperately needed assistance.  Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia, implored the Council to completely lift the arms embargo.  “Somalia of 2023 is not Somalia of 1992,” he emphasized.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2687 (2023) on 27 June, the Council renewed authorization of ATMIS by six months, until December, to support the Government’s preparation for phase two of the Mission’s troop drawdown.  The Council also called on the Government to continue working with international partners to expedite the development of capabilities to take over security responsibilities from ATMIS.  On 7 September, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2696 (2023), authorizing Somalia’s Government to implement the complete disposal of a charcoal stockpile as a one-off exemption to previous resolutions banning the country’s import and export of charcoal.

In a briefing on 17 October, Mr. Ishikane (Japan), as the Chair of the 1970 Committee, reported on recent meetings addressing humanitarian assistance, maritime security, countering terrorism financing, weapons management and the charcoal ban.  In addition to recommendations under consideration from the Panel of Experts, he noted that the Secretary-General appointed the Panel’s humanitarian expert on 17 August, a position that was vacant since the mandate’s beginning.

Ms. Laing, briefing the Council on 19 October, reported on the continued threat from Al-Shabaab and the Somali army’s operational challenges, despite initial success in taking significant territory.  Noting the Government’s “commendable progress” on consensus-building and the offensive against Al-Shabaab, Mr. Souef reported on the drawdown of 2,000 ATMIS troops in June.  Also noting the Government’s request for a “technical pause” of the phase two drawdown of 3,000 troops, he underscored the importance of carefully assessing the security situation and capabilities of the Somali Security Forces.

The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2705 (2023) on 31 October, extending the Mission’s mandate to 31 October 2024.  The Council requested the Mission to maintain and strengthen its presence across Somalia and to strengthen cooperation with the Government and African Union.  Expressing serious concern about the country’s humanitarian situation, the Council also strongly condemned any misuse or obstruction of humanitarian assistance and demanded all parties to allow full and safe access.

On 15 November, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2710 (2023), extending its authorization of ATMIS to 30 June 2024.  The Council authorized the African Union to deploy up to 17,626 uniformed personnel to ATMIS until 31 December 2023 and to complete the phase two drawdown of 3,000 Mission personnel by then.  In addition, the Council also authorized the deployment of up to 14,626 uniformed personnel from 1 January to 30 June 2024 and to complete the phase three drawdown of 4,000 Mission personnel by then.  Also unanimously adopting resolution 2711 (2023) in the same meeting, the Council renewed certain provisions of its sanctions regime on Al-Shabaab until 1 December.  Specifically, the Council renewed provisions on inspecting vessels and seizing items believed to violate the arms embargo or ban on charcoal and components for improvised explosive devices.

The Council adopted resolution 2713 (2023) on 1 December, renewing the sanctions regime and arms embargo against Al-Shabaab.  With 14 votes in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (France), the Council decided that all States shall take necessary measures to prevent all deliveries of weapons, ammunition and military equipment to Somalia, including by prohibiting their financing.  However, the 15-nation organ said that these measures shall not apply to deliveries or supplies to the Government.  As well, the Council also renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 15 January 2025.  On 1 December, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2714 (2023), lifting the arms embargo on the Government.  Recognizing benchmarks reached on the security transition, the Council further called on the Government to take all necessary measures to ensure that weapons, ammunition and military equipment are not resold or transferred to any individual or entity not in the national forces.

The Council issued two press statements on Somalia, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa in 2023.  On 7 June, the Council expressed concern about ongoing violence in Laascaanood in northern Somalia, displacing more than 150,000 people.  Welcoming efforts by Somalia, Ethiopia and clan elders to secure a ceasefire and promote a Somali-owned national dialogue, the Council further called on all parties to urgently reach a ceasefire agreement and UNSOM to provide further support within its mandate.  Also on 7 June, the Council condemned in the strongest possible terms the heinous terrorist attack on 26 May on the ATMIS forward operating base in Buulo Mareer, Lower Shabelle, Somalia.  The Council urged all States to cooperate actively with the Government to bring perpetrators and sponsors of terrorism to justice.


Meetings: 27 January, 12 April, 16 June, 30 June, 28 August, 30 August.

Resolutions: 2690; Not adopted: 639; Vetoed: 638.

Press Statements: SC/15207 (21 February), SC/15316 (9 June).

After two successive coup d’états, transitional authorities in Mali continued efforts towards re-establishing constitutional order. However, challenges persisted in implementing the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. Although authorities struggled with stabilizing the centre and regions bordering Burkina Faso, Mali and the Niger, due to extremist armed groups’ activities, they pressed for the withdrawal of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), despite concerns about spillover effects expressed by ECOWAS, neighbouring States and the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel).

On 27 January, El-Ghassim Wane, Special Representative and Head of MINUSMA, said that the year would be a critical one for the country, with several elections scheduled and the completion of the Mission’s internal strategic review.  In its decade of deployment, MINUSMA, alongside members of an international mediation team, promoted dialogue between the signatories of the 2015 Peace Agreement and responded to a humanitarian crisis resulting from attacks by extremist groups, which sparked the internal displacement of 412,000 people in December 2022.

Briefing the Council on 12 April, Mr. Wane said that the security situation remained volatile in the country, due to clashes since the beginning of 2022 between two non-State armed groups, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, resulting in more than 30,000 people displaced to Ménaka, in eastern Mali.  “Listening to those displaced persons who were begging us literally for drinking water was a shocking experience,” he said.

Meeting on 16 June, ahead of the renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate on 30 June, amid a fractious security situation punctuated by attacks by Da’esh in the north-east of the country, Mr. Wane highlighted tasks undertaken by the Mission, from facilitating the relaunch of the peace process to helping maintain a ceasefire and ensuring the protection of civilians. Although itself the target of attacks, MINUSMA aimed to create the conditions for its departure by helping Mali ensure the security of its population and its territory.  On the constitutional referendum, which had been postponed on 10 March until further notice by authorities, he said it would mark the first stage of the process in returning to the restoration of constitutional order.

The Council adopted resolution 2690 (2023) on 30 June, through which it decided to terminate MINUSMA, ceasing its operations and transferring its tasks and withdrawing its personnel by 31 December.  By the text, the Council called on the Malian Transitional Government to cooperate fully with the United Nations during MINUSMA’s drawdown, withdrawal and liquidation, the latter of which would begin on 1 January 2024.  It also requested the Malian Government to fully respect the status of forces agreement until the departure of MINUSMA’s final element from Mali.

On 28 August, Mr. Wane, informing the Council that closing the decade-old Mission within a period of six months was “a complex and ambitious endeavour”, said that, by 31 December, the Mission would have to repatriate 12,947 uniformed personnel, relocate a load of approximately 5,500 sea containers of contingent and UN-owned equipment and close and/or hand over 12 camps.  He noted that difficulties had emerged during the first phase of the withdrawal plan, with convoys attacked by unidentified armed elements.  The second phase of the process would be “incredibly difficult”, he warned.

Finally, on 30 August, the Council failed to renew the travel ban and asset freeze imposed through resolution 2374 (2017) against individuals and entities obstructing implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.  Members proved unable to reach consensus on two resolutions that would have retained such measures, amid the Mission’s drawdown.  The first draft, put forth by France and the United Arab Emirates, would have renewed the travel ban, asset freeze and extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts, but was rejected by the Russian Federation, although it garnered 13 votes in favour, with 1 abstention (China). The second draft, proposed by the Russian Federation would have renewed the travel ban and asset freeze for a final year and dissolved the Panel of Experts, but could not be adopted with only 1 vote in favour (Russian Federation), to 1 against (Japan) and 13 abstentions.

The Council issued two press statements on the situation in Mali in 2023.  On 21 February, it condemned the attack perpetrated against MINUSMA that day, near the village of Songobia, south-west of Bandiagara, following which three peacekeepers from Senegal were killed and five others injured. On 9 June, it condemned the attack perpetrated against MINUSMA that day, near Ber, in the region of Timbuktu, in which one peacekeeper from Burkina Faso was killed and seven others injured.



Meetings: 11 January, 13 April, 12 July, 2 August, 11 October, 30 October.

Resolutions: 2673, 2694, 2704.

Press Statements: SC/15175 (13 January), SC/15361 (20 July), SC/15449 (17 October).

In the seventh year since Colombia’s 2016 Peace Agreement, which formally ended over five decades of conflict between the Government and armed groups, the Council continued to take stock of progress and extend unanimous support for the accord’s implementation, particularly on rural reform and ethnic inclusion.  While welcoming progress with rural land distribution and reconciliation efforts, Council members also expressed alarm about continued violence against former combatants, human rights defenders, social leaders and Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2673 (2023) on 11 January, the Council decided that the UN Verification Mission in Colombia shall monitor the implementation of certain provisions in the Peace Agreement on rural reform and ethnic perspectives, a stance supported by Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative and Head of the Mission, who said that rural reform is moving to the centre of efforts to build a more peaceful Colombia.  Armando Wouriyu Valbuena, Secretary, Special High-Level Body on Ethnic Peoples of Colombia, and a member of the Indigenous Wayuu people, told the Council:  “For centuries we have lived in a State that does not see us.”  He called for guarantees of self-determination to ensure economic sovereignty.  Francia Márquez Mina, Vice-President of Colombia, added that the international community’s political, technical and financial support made it possible to advance implementation of the Final Agreement even when political will was insufficient.

Mr. Ruiz Massieu, on 13 April, encouraged the Council to continue showing unified support to Colombia in its efforts to implement the Final Agreement.  Mr. Šimonović (Croatia), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, stressed the need to ensure the security and protection of former combatants, social leaders and communities, including Afro-Colombian and Indigenous ones.

On 12 July, Mr. Ruiz Massieu told the Council that the Mission could contribute significantly to the Peace Agreement’s implementation by monitoring and verifying ceasefires.  With upcoming regional elections in October, he called on illegal armed actors to respect the right of all citizens to participate and on the authorities to take steps to guarantee a safe environment.  On 2 August, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2694 (2023), expanding the Mission’s mandate to monitor and verify a ceasefire between the Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN).  The resolution also authorized the addition of up to 68 international observers to the Mission and an “appropriate civilian component”, accounting for existing resources.

Mr. Ruiz Massieu, in his briefing to the Council on 11 October, urged the Government, former combatants and other stakeholders to prioritize constructive dialogue to further consolidate peace, adding that its inclusive approach and joint efforts with ex-combatants to improve lives was being jeopardized by threats from illegal armed groups.  Hrvoje Ćurić Hrvatinić (Croatia), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission said that comprehensive rural reform is key to reinforcing State presence, as well as providing development opportunities and public services in conflict-affected areas and historically marginalized regions. On 30 October, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2704 (2023), extending the Mission’s mandate by one year to 31 October 2024 in order to monitor and verify a ceasefire between the Government and ELN.

Issuing four press statements on Colombia in 2023, the Council on 13 January welcomed the Government’s announcement of a six-month ceasefire with armed groups and its commitment to seek broader peace through ongoing talks with the ELN.  Expressing concern on 17 April over continued threats and violence against former combatants and social leaders, the Council emphasized the need to increase the State’s integrated presence in conflict-affected areas and encouraged further progress to secure ceasefires.

In advance of regional elections in October, the Council urged the Government on 20 July to take all necessary steps to ensure fair and safe political participation and emphasized the importance of strengthening reintegration of former combatants.  The Council also encouraged the Government to transfer land for rural reform to intended beneficiaries, including victims and rural women, as soon as possible.  On 17 October, the Council again called on the Government to intensify efforts to implement the Peace Agreement’s Ethnic Chapter and urged the Government to take all necessary steps to ensure the security and protection of former combatants and social, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders.


Meetings: 24 January, 26 April, 6 July, 14 July, 2 October, 19 October, 23 October, 12 December.

Resolutions: 2692, 2699, 2700.

Press Statements: SC/15277 (8 May).

Throughout 2022, Haiti was gripped by a multidimensional crisis and a deteriorating security and humanitarian situation.  This prompted several significant developments in the latter part of 2023, including establishing a United Nations sanctions regime against individuals engaging with armed groups and criminal networks; bilateral sanctions by two States against high-profile Haitian individuals; and the Haitian Government’s request for an international armed force to assist the Haitian National Police address the heightened insecurity.

Meeting on 24 January, Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), told the Council that key developments, including the December 2022 signing of the National Consensus for an Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections agreement, if properly supported, could bring back accountability, the rule of law and democratic institutions to the country. However, with 5 million people facing acute hunger, unprecedented levels of gang violence and “not one elected official left in the country”, she stressed that, without the deployment of an international specialized force operating with the Haitian National Police, such progress remained vulnerable to being reversed.  “The people of Haiti are counting on you,” she told Council members.

Following her appointment as the new Special Representative and Head of BINUH, María Isabel Salvador warned the Council on 26 April that gang violence was expanding to areas of Port-au-Prince that were previously considered safe.  Homicide, rape, kidnappings and lynching had more than doubling in the first quarter of 2023, compared to 2022.  The Haitian National Police force was severely understaffed and ill-equipped to address the violence and criminality, and required international support. Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that the flow of illicit firearms and drugs into the country was fuelling violence, with heavily armed criminal gangs targeting critical infrastructure, including ports, court houses and major highways of the capital.

The Council heard from briefers on 6 July, including Ms. Salvador, who called for BINUH’s mandate to be renewed and adequately resourced.  Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), speaking in his country’s capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 2653 (2022) concerning Haiti, provided an overview of his visit to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from 12 to 16 June, noting that people in Port-au-Prince voiced support for the sanctions regime, with some requesting additional individuals to be designated. 

Shortly after, on 14 July, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2692 (2023), extending the mandate of BINUH until 15 July 2024. By the text, it decided that BINUH’s police and corrections unit will include up to 70 civilian and seconded personnel as police and corrections advisers, to scale up its support to the training and investigation capacities of the Haitian National Police, and that its human rights unit will include dedicated capacity to address sexual and gender-based violence.

Meeting again on 2 October, the Council adopted resolution 2699 (2023) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation), authorizing the deployment of a Multinational Security Support Mission, headed by Kenya, in close coordination with the Haitian Government, for an initial period of 12 months, with a review after nine months.  By the text, the Council decided that the Mission may adopt urgent temporary measures in coordination with the Haitian National Police, as requested by the Haitian Government. 

On 19 October, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2700 (2023), through which it authorized the renewal for one year of the targeted arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze on Haiti established a year before.  By other terms, the Council also called on the recently authorized Multinational Security Support Mission to implement weapons and ammunition management processes and oversight mechanisms for their own arms, and to coordinate with the Haitian Government to this end.

Meeting on 23 October, Ms. Salvador warned that growing gang violence was plunging the lives of Haitians into disarray, with major crimes rising to new record highs and vigilante groups, such as the so-called Bwa Kale vigilante movement lynching at least 395 alleged gang members over a period of five months. Ms. Russell of UNICEF, also speaking as the designated Principal Advocate on the Humanitarian Situation in Haiti for the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, reported that half the population in Haiti needs humanitarian assistance, including nearly 3 million children.  Ms. Waly also reported that gangs were perpetuating horrific violence, enabled by sophisticated firearms brought into the country illegally.  It was crucial to stop the flow of arms and establish a robust regulatory framework for firearms for Haitian authorities to re-establish normalcy.  Mirlande Manigat, President of the High Transitional Council of Haiti — tasked with preparing for long-overdue elections — described a country in which thousands of children were deprived of education, patients were succumbing to wounds because they could not get to the hospital, and young girls and boys were being raped with impunity.

On 12 December, the Council heard once again from Mr. Biang (Gabon), speaking in his country’s capacity as Chair of the 2653 Sanctions Committee, who reported that more than half of Port-au-Prince was controlled by criminal gangs, making the daily lives of Haitians “a living hell”. The Sanctions Committee has made progress in expanding its regime, he said, emphasizing the need to effectively implement resolution 2699 (2023), restore the rule of law, reform the judicial system and provide professional training to the Haitian National Police.

The Council issued one press statement on Haiti in 2023 on 8 May, following a briefing on the situation in Haiti on 26 April. The Council expressed concern over the security and humanitarian situation in the country and condemned the increasing violence, criminal activities and human rights abuses which undermine the country and region’s peace and security of Haiti, including kidnappings, sexual and gender-based violence and recruitment of children by armed groups and criminal networks.


Afghanistan (5) 

Meetings: 8 March, 16 March, 27 April, 21 June, 26 September, 14 December, 20 December, 29 December.

Resolutions: 2678, 2679, 2681, 2721.

Press Statements: SC/15173 (12 January), SC/15246 (28 March), SC/15442 (14 October).

Two years after the Taliban seized power, the humanitarian crisis and the exclusion of women and girls from education and public life in Afghanistan worsened, with intensifying and comprehensive restrictions imposed on their rights and freedoms, including barring women from working in non-governmental organizations and the UN in Afghanistan.  The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) continued its dialogue and engagement with the de facto authorities, which remained isolated from global affairs, in an attempt to change their policies.

On 8 March, Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA, informed the Council that the country under the Taliban remained the most repressive country in the world for women’s rights, restricting their travel, study and ability to work freely. The Mission was continuing to engage with the de facto authorities, local opposition, civil society and, increasingly, Afghan youth.

The Security Council unanimously adopted two resolutions concerning Afghanistan on 16 March.  By the terms of resolution 2678 (2023), the Council decided to extend UNAMA's mandate until 17 March 2024 and called upon all relevant Afghan political actors and stakeholders to coordinate with the Mission in the implementation of its mandate and to ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of UN and associated personnel throughout the country.  By the terms of resolution 2679 (2023), the Council requested the Secretary-General to conduct and provide, no later than 17 November, an independent assessment, after consultations with all relevant Afghan political actors and stakeholders, as well as the region and the wider international community.  Such assessment should include forward-looking recommendations to address the current challenges faced by Afghanistan.

On 27 April, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2681 (2023) condemning the decision of the Taliban to ban Afghan women from working for the United Nations in Afghanistan.  By the terms of the text, the 15-nation organ called for the full, equal, meaningful and safe participation of women and girls and for the Taliban to swiftly reverse its policies and practices restricting women and girls’ enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Ms. Otunbayeva, briefing the Council on 21 June, said that the Mission asked its female national staff not to report to the office so as not to place them in danger.  They would not be replaced by male national staff, she added.  She also reported that, in her regular discussions with the de facto authorities, she was blunt about the obstacles they created through their decrees and restrictions — making it nearly impossible for their Government to be recognized by members of the international community.

Briefing the Council on 26 September, Ms. Otunbayeva reported that more than 50 decrees issued by the Taliban aimed at eliminating women from public life and education.  The Mission’s view was to maintain dialogue, to attempt to help change such policies. Ms. Bahous of UN-Women said restrictions were being enforced more frequently and with more severity, including by male family members, and accompanied by increases in child marriage and in child labour.  She also reported that Afghan women continued to call on international actors to use all means at their disposal to pressure for change, including sanctions without exceptions for travel, and the issue of non-recognition.  On 14 December, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2716 (2023), thereby extending for 12 months the mandate of the team monitoring sanctions against the Taliban and associated individuals and entities, which threaten Afghanistan’s peace, security and stability.

Ms. Otunbayeva, in her last quarterly briefing on 20 December, urged more direct engagement with the de facto authorities, stressing that “dialogue does not legitimize” but can encourage change. Noting UNAMA’s successful interactions with them on such issues as counternarcotics and drug addiction, private sector development and human rights she said:  “Many of the de facto authorities are open to further engagement with UNAMA and to seek an awareness of human rights standards.”  Mr. Rajasingham of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that, while more than 20 million Afghanis needed humanitarian assistance, there was a funding gap of $1.8 billion. José Javier de la Gasca (Ecuador), speaking in his country’s capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011), noted that certain terrorist groups had gained greater freedom of action. However, Shaharzad Akbar, of Rawadari, briefing the Council via videoconference, urged that the UN does not normalize relations with the de facto authorities until there was a swift reversal of restrictions on women’s rights.

As the year came to an end, on 29 December, the Council adopted resolution 2721 (2023), with 13 votes in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation).  By the terms of the text, the 15-nation organ requested the Secretary-General appoint a Special Envoy for Afghanistan, provided with robust expertise on human rights and gender.  Also requesting that Council members consider the independent assessment on that country, it affirmed that the objective of this process should be an Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbours, fully reintegrated into the international community.  In addition, the Council also recognized the need to ensure the full, equal, meaningful and safe participation of Afghan women in the process throughout.

The Council issued three press statements on the situation in Afghanistan in 2023.  On 12 January, it condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan on 11 January, which was claimed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan (ISIL-K) and resulted in at least five people killed and dozens wounded.

On 28 March, the 15-nation organ condemned in the strongest terms the continued terrorist attacks targeting civilians in Afghanistan, including the attack near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan on 27 March, which was claimed by ISIL-K and resulted in at least six people killed and several wounded.  On 14 October, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against the Imam Zaman Mosque in Pule Khomri on 13 October, which was claimed by ISIL-K and resulted in dozens of people killed and many more wounded.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Meetings: 20 February, 20 March, 23 March, 17 April, 2 June, 13 July, 17 August, 25 August, 27 November, 19 December

Resolutions: 2680.

Despite the United Nations’ repeated condemnation of its activities and calls to comply with Council resolutions, Pyongyang continued its intercontinental ballistic missile launches, and for the first time, launched military reconnaissance satellites, prompting seven of the Security Council’s nine formal meetings on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  UN officials also called on Pyongyang to resume dialogue towards the Korean Peninsula’s complete denuclearization and allow the unimpeded entry of international staff and humanitarian supplies. Despite differing opinions on sanctions relief and what should be the Council’s response to those launches, the 15-nation organ unanimously decided to extend the mandate of the Expert Panel assisting the committee overseeing sanctions against that country.

On 20 February, following the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s intercontinental ballistic-missile launch on 18 February, Mr. Khiari of the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations said that the “Hwasong-15” impacted in the sea within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.  On 20 February, Pyongyang also conducted a launching drill with two tactical nuclear rockets and did not issue airspace or maritime safety notifications.  Its launches, which have systems with nuclear-weapon roles, were capable of striking targets on the Korean Peninsula or reaching parts of North America.  Mr. Khiari, stressing that country must abide by its international obligations and resume dialogue towards the Korean Peninsula’s verifiable denuclearization, said the Council’s unity was essential to ease tensions and overcome the diplomatic impasse.

Following a 16 March intercontinental ballistic-missile launching drill, Mr. Jenča of the Departments for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, briefed the Council on 20 March, reporting that “the situation on the Korean Peninsula continues to head in the wrong direction”, as demonstrated by Pyongyang’s 14 launches of ballistic missiles in 2023.  Tensions were continuing to increase “with no off-ramps in sight”, he warned.  Calling for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea restart dialogue, he also urged that communication channels be enhanced, particularly military to military. On 23 March, the Security Council, unanimously adopting resolution 2680 (2023), decided to extend until 30 April 2024 the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the Committee overseeing sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Briefing the Council again on 17 April, Mr. Khiari said that, according to its official news agency, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launched a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile on 13 April.  With a five-year military development plan that included nuclear-weapon and ballistic-missile programmes, most of the systems tested were capable of striking countries in the immediate region and those tested on 13 April, 16 March and 18 February could reach most points on Earth.  “Diplomacy — not isolation — is the only way forward,” he stressed.  The UN was ready to assist the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in addressing its vulnerable populations’ basic needs, he said, calling on the country to allow the unimpeded entry of international staff and humanitarian supplies. 

The Council convened again on 2 June, following Pyongyang’s failed launch of a military reconnaissance satellite on 31 May.  Ms. DiCarlo of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs reported that a pre-launch notification was sent to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), but not to other international organizations.  While a sovereign State had the right to benefit from space activities, Council resolutions explicitly prohibited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from conducting any launches using ballistic-missile technology, she emphasized.

Mr. Khiari briefed the Council on 13 July, following another launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 12 July of a long-range solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, which eventually fell into the sea inside the Russian Federation’s exclusive economic zone.  He deplored the “tragic reality that tensions persist and remain unresolved, even after seven decades” since the signing of the Korean War Armistice Agreement.  The lack of unity and action in the Council did little to slow the negative trajectory, he added, calling for the re-establishing of communication channels, particularly those between military entities to avoid an unintended escalation.

On 17 August, the Council, taking up the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, heard a briefing by Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who reported on the increasing repression of the rights to freedoms of expression and movement, the persistence of widespread forced-labour practices and a worsening situation for economic rights.  Elizabeth Salmón, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, noting that victims had no access to reporting or protection mechanisms, called on third countries to refrain from forced repatriation.

Briefing the Council on 25 August, Mr. Khiari said that, on 24 August, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea conducted its second launch of a military reconnaissance satellite.  While Pyongyang issued a pre-launch notification to the Japanese Coast Guard, it did not issue airspace or maritime safety notifications to IMO, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) or the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a stance refuted by that country’s representative.

Mr. Khiari then briefed the Council on 27 November, following the 21 November launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s of “Chollima-1”, a rocket loaded with the “Malligyong-1” reconnaissance satellite.  Despite Council resolutions expressly prohibiting that country from conducting any launches using ballistic-missile technology, Pyongyang has consistently demonstrated its intention to continue pursuing its nuclear-weapon and ballistic-missile programmes, he reported.

The Council met again on 19 December after the fifth launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Mr. Khiari reported that the missile flew a distance of 1,000 kilometres and reached an altitude of 6,500 kilometres before falling into the sea.  Calling this launch a “serious concern”, he noted that Pyongyang did not issue any airspace or maritime safety notifications.  Unannounced launches represent a serious risk to international civil aviation and maritime traffic, he observed, urging that country to embrace diplomacy — rather than choosing isolation — as the way forward.


Press Statements: SC/15188 (30 January), SC/15375 (31 July), SC/15431 (29 September), SC/15529 (13 December).

The Council issued four press statements on Pakistan in 2023. On 30 January, it condemned the suicide terrorist attack, claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, at a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, that killed 63 Pakistanis.  On 31 July, it condemned the suicide terrorist attack at a political meeting in Bajaur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, which killed 44 Pakistanis. 

On 29 September, the Council condemned the terrorist attacks targeting a religious procession in Mastung, Balochistan Province, commemorating the birthday of Prophet Muhammad and a mosque in Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, which killed at least 58 Pakistanis.  On 13 December, the Council condemned the terrorist attack on Pakistan’s security forces’ post in Daraban, Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.  The attack, which was claimed by Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan, a terrorist group affiliated with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, resulted in the deaths of at least 23 security personnel and more than 37 injured.

Cooperation with Regional Organizations

Meetings: 23 February4 May8 June12 October21 December.

Holding five meetings addressing the United Nations’ focus on its cooperation with regional and subregional organizations, the Council heard from representatives of the European Union, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the League of Arab States and the African Union.  As well, the 15-nation organ, in efforts to enhance its partnership with the African Union, opened a door to United Nations funding for African-led peace missions.

At a periodic meeting on 23 February regarding cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations, Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that the Union and its member States are the largest collective contributor to the United Nations budget.  He reiterated the Union’s commitment to support African-led peace support operations and ongoing discussions to use United Nations assessed contributions for operations authorized by the Council.

On 4 May, the Security Council heard from Bujar Osmani, Minister for Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia and Chairperson-in-Office for the OSCE, who reported on, among other things, its field operations, including efforts aiming at peaceful, comprehensive solutions for Armenia and Azerbaijan, the continued dialogue in Georgia and plans to reinforce reconciliation and trust-building in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Turning to Ukraine, he underscored that Moscow’s full-scale aggression eroded OSCE’s foundations by violating the Helsinki Final Act.

Ms. DiCarlo of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs on 8 June briefed the Council on the Organization’s efforts to developing an Arab regional youth, peace and security strategy.  Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, recalled the long-standing relationship between the Council and the League.  Noting that Palestinians in the occupied territories were suffering from heightened violence by Israel, he called for renewed support to the two-State solution.  He also warned the Council against allowing the Ukrainian crisis to dominate over other conflicts on the globe, stressing that the heightening tensions between major Powers has divided the international community at the expense of the collective action needed to tackle counter-terrorism and climate change.

The Council held a meeting on 12 October to address its partnership with the African Union, with Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, encouraging the Council to consider an African Union toolkit to deploy peacekeeping missions quickly when needed. Mr. Mohammed, Permanent Observer for the African Union, speaking on behalf of Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that the two organizations have worked collaboratively in preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and peace enforcement.  “The full potential of collaboration between the United Nations and regional mechanisms can only be harnessed when we have addressed the imperative of reform,” she added. 

On 21 December, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2719 (2023), agreeing to consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests from the African Union Peace and Security Council seeking authorization to access United Nations assessed contributions for African-led peace support operations.  In addition, by a recorded vote of nine in favour to none against, with six abstentions (Gabon, Ghana, China, France, Mozambique, Russian Federation), the 15-nation organ also adopted an amendment, presented by the United States, whereby African-led peace operations will have access to funding from UN assessed contributions not exceeding 75 per cent of their respective annual budgets, with the remaining amount to be jointly mobilized as extra-budgetary resources.


International Justice

Meetings: 12 June, 9 November, 12 December.

In 2023, with no more active trials and appeals related to core crimes, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals transitioned to its residual phase.  As well, the Council, to ensure a proper functioning of the Organization’s principal judicial organ, elected five judges to the International Court of Justice.

On 12 June, the Council heard from Graciela Gatti Santana, President of International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, who reported that the Appeals Chamber just handed down its last judgment concerning crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.  Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, reported that Fulgence Kayishema, the Mechanism’s most-wanted Rwandan fugitive — charged with the killings of more than 2,000 innocent women, men and children — was arrested.  His arrest was a signal moment in the global efforts to punish perpetrators of genocide, he said, adding that “this kind of result renews faith in international justice”.

Meeting independently from, but concurrently with, the General Assembly on 9 November, the Council elected five judges to the International Court of Justice beginning on 6 February 2024.  After five rounds of voting, the Council re-elected Hilary Charlesworth (Australia), as well as elected Bogdan-Lucian Aurescu (Romania), Sarah Hull Cleveland (United States), Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo Verduzco (Mexico) and Dire Tladi (South Africa).

Ms. Santana returned on 12 December to brief the Council that — with no more active trials and appeals related to core crimes — the Mechanism finally transitioned to its truly residual phase. “We have seen that securing international criminal justice is a lengthy and painstaking journey, a long-term investment that necessitates support well beyond the delivery of a judgement,” she said, underlining States’ pivotal role in countering the ever-growing trends of genocide-denial and the glorification of war criminals.  Mr. Brammertz reported that, with the completion of its mandate, his office was now also focused on its remaining residual functions, adding:  “There is no expiration date for the international community’s obligation to prosecute genocide crimes.”


Meetings: 23 March, 6 June, 18 December.

The Council held three meetings on non-proliferation in 2023, which addressed the progress on countries’ implementation of the Security Council resolution obligating States to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as the issue of Iran’s uranium stockpiles and the importance of restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on that country’s nuclear programme.

At the meeting held on 23 March, Hernán Pérez Loose (Ecuador), speaking in his country’s capacity as Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), stressed that the resolution remained a vital component of the global non-proliferation architecture, while also noting that the steady progress being made in its implementation remained “a long-term task”.  He also reported that 38 States had submitted voluntary national implementation action plans since 2007 — an increase of three since the Committee’s last report.  As well, Madagascar and Sierra Leone submitted requests for technical and financial support for national events.

Ms. DiCarlo of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs addressed the Council on 6 July and urged the United States to lift sanctions against Iran, while calling on Tehran to reverse actions inconsistent with its nuclear-related commitments.  However, she also noted the receipt of information on ballistic-missile parts seized in international waters and on alleged transfers of unmanned aerial vehicles from Iran to the Russian Federation.

Briefing the Council on 18 December, Ms. DiCarlo said that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — adopted in 2015 — was the best available option to ensure that Iran’s nuclear programme remained peaceful.  She also provided an overview of actions relating to the restrictive measures set out as part of Council resolution 2231 (2015), which endorsed the Plan of Action.  Björn Olof Skoog, Head of Delegation of the European Union, briefing on the work of the Plan’s European Union-led Joint Commission, urged Iran to resume full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to refrain from stepping farther away from its commitments under the Plan of Action.

Peacekeeping Operations

Meetings: 28 July, 7 September, 14 November.

Against the backdrop of the Mission in Mali — MINUSMA — preparing to close and the Democratic Republic of the Congo demanding the withdrawal of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in its country (MONUSCO), the Council heard that cooperation with host Governments and institutions was crucial to fulfil peacekeeping mandates and that those mandates must realistic and appropriate.  The 15-nation organ also heard calls for increasing women’s participation in peacekeeping operations, with briefers underlining the key role that women UN police officers play in building trust with local communities. 

On 28 July, peacekeeping operations force commanders briefed the Council on how missions’ military components help protect civilians. Mohan Subramanian, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), reported that the Mission engaged with the Government and its defence forces to prevent conflicts, and thus, protect civilians.  Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz, Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) spotlighted the Mission’s tripartite forum — the only venue where Lebanese and Israeli forces are in the same room addressing security concerns.  Otávio Rodrigues De Miranda Filho, Force Commander of MONUSCO, urged investment in improving data and technology, as well as having more females in peacekeeping missions.  “Women civilians are more likely to talk with women peacekeepers,” he added.  Mr. Lacroix of the Department of Peace Operations said that the annual gathering of force commanders at the United Nations Headquarter provides opportunity for in-depth exchanges to improve peacekeeping’s impact.

Mr. Lacroix briefed the Council on 7 September, noting that “peacekeeping is not a magic wand to help a country return to stability”.  Nevertheless, with the support of a unified international community, political processes and peace agreements were implemented.  Even where political solutions to conflicts seemed distant, peacekeepers continued to protect the lives of civilians.  He urged Member States to engage with host countries to facilitate effective and unimpeded implementation of Council peacekeeping mandates.

The Council took up the police components of peacekeeping missions on 14 November, with Mr. Lacroix observing the gap between Council peacekeeping mandates and what missions could deliver in practice.  Faisal Shahkar, United Nations Police Adviser, stressed:  “Successful police capacity-building and development efforts are undermined, and in fact, impossible when host State consent is lacking or withdrawn”.  Christine Fossen, Police Commissioner of UNMISS, emphasized that women UN police officers played a crucial role in building trust between local groups and national law enforcement.  Still, Karin Landgren, Executive Director, Security Council Report, noted:  “It seems vanishingly rare for United Nations police to remain on the ground once troops have left — but is it logical that they should depart at the same moment as other uniformed personnel?”

Maintenance of International Peace and Security

Meetings: 12 January, 16 March, 24 April, 14 June, 14 June, 18 July, 3 August, 14 September, 20 October, 31 October, 20 November.

Resolutions: 2686.

Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2023/4.

In 2023, the Council convened 10 meetings, including four open debates, under the agenda item “Maintenance of International Peace and Security” addressing how the rule of law, security sector reform, effective multilateralism, public-private humanitarian partnerships, regional organizations and peace through development can respond to hate speech and extremism, artificial intelligence, and conflict-induced food insecurity, among other threats to global stability.

During an open debate on strengthening the rule of law on 12 January, Secretary-General Guterres urged Member States to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.  Voicing concern about the “rule of lawlessness”, he reported on the flouting of international law in Ukraine, Israel, State of Palestine, the Sahel, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Haiti.  Joan E. Donoghue, President of the Court, added that States must participate in proceedings brought against them and comply with binding decisions, even if they disagree.  Countries’ long-term strategic interests were best served by fostering a robust system of international adjudication, she said.

On 16 March, Alexandre Zouev, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department for Peace Operations, underscored the importance of national ownership and adequate funding for security sector reform.  While outlining progress, including the launch of a systemwide programme of action, he pointed to major country-level challenges resulting from the lack of inclusive leadership and barriers to women’s participation.

An open debate on 24 April investigated effective multilateralism, with Secretary-General Guterres warning that tensions between major Powers were at a historic high.  He urged delegations to recommit to obligations under the UN Charter, place human rights first and use the full range of diplomatic tools to peacefully resolve conflicts.  Effective multilateral responses were urgently needed to prevent and resolve conflicts, manage economic uncertainty, rescue the Sustainable Development Goals and counter challenges to norms against nuclear weapons use and possession.

The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2686 (2023) on 14 June, urging Member States to publicly condemn hate speech and extremism, as well as to promote women’s full and equal participation at all levels of decision-making.  Secretary-General Guterres underscored that hatred of the other was a common denominator of escalating conflict and a conduit for atrocity crimes.  “Social media has equipped hatemongers with a global bullhorn for bile,” he added, noting that hate-fuelled language was triggering real-life violence in countries such as Myanmar and Iraq.  Spotlighting the Global Compact as a response, he called for a surge in education financing and urged religious leaders to prevent their followers from instrumentalizing hatred.

On 18 July, in the Council’s first formal meeting on artificial intelligence, Secretary-General Guterres highlighted the emerging technology as a defining moment for hate speech and disinformation.  Despite its potential to turbocharge development and realize human rights, artificial intelligence can also amplify bias, reinforce discrimination and enable new levels of authoritarian surveillance.  Existing challenges needed to be addressed while creating capacity to respond to future risks and bridging social and economic divides.

In an open debate on 3 August, the Council adopted a presidential statement addressing conflict-induced food insecurity and famine threats.  Member States were urged to increase humanitarian and development assistance and support vulnerable countries sustainably transform their agriculture and food systems.  Reena Ghelani, UN Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator, reported that the number of people suffering from acute food insecurity reached a quarter billion in 2022, the highest recorded in recent years.  Further, all seven countries where people faced famine-like conditions were affected by armed conflict or extreme levels of violence.

The Council convened an open debate on 14 September addressing public-private humanitarian partnerships.  Ms. McCain of the World Food Programme reported that up to 783 million people do not know when or if they will eat again.  She called on private enterprises to lead efforts to build essential infrastructure and supply affordable goods and services. Also briefing the Council were Jared Cohen, President of Global Affairs at Goldman Sachs, and Michael Miebach, Chief Executive Officer of Mastercard, both who expressed their commitment to contribute to addressing the challenges at hand in partnership with the public sector.

On 20 October, the Council, in an open debate on regional mechanisms for peace and security, heard from Mr. Khiari of the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, who said that regional organizations and frameworks were critical to resolve conflict and bring credibility for preventive diplomacy.  Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile, stressed that “conflicts breed where there is poor governance, human rights abuse and grievances over the unequal distribution of resources”.  Thus, women’s meaningful participation in decision-making would enable progress in sustaining peace.  Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa, said the African Union was best placed to ensure the politics for prevention and resolution of conflict on the continent.  However, some UN resources were needed to fund African Union peace operations, he said, explaining that this would not weaken the Council, but, rather, help it to discharge its obligations through strong regional partners.

Briefing the Council on 31 October, Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), urged Council members to overcome their divisions and exercise the 15-nation organ’s authority in demanding a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, where more than 2 million Gazans were going through “a hell on earth”.  He underscored that a humanitarian ceasefire, coupled, of course, with substantive delivery of humanitarian aid inside Gaza “can at least stop this spiral of death,” warning that the Council’s choices now would have repercussions for generations to come. Surveying crises in many other parts of the world, including Syria and Ukraine, he said that UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations were struggling with funding shortfalls as they coped with 114 million refugees and displaced persons.  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) remained chronically underfunded, he added.

In a debate on promoting sustainable peace through common development on 20 November, Secretary-General Guterres proposed a $500 billion annual stimulus for the Sustainable Development Goals to respond to the battering that developing countries were experiencing from a perfect storm of crises, including crushing debt burdens, evaporating fiscal space and soaring prices.  Dilma Rousseff, President of the New Development Bank, pointed out that the growing concentration of wealth in the hands of the few increased inequalities in developing countries while also creating poverty and speculation.  Adding to that, Jeffrey Sachs, President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions, said that, by addressing the underlying political and economic factors, the Security Council could establish conditions for peace and sustainable development.

Threats to International Peace and Security

Meetings: 9 February, 14 February, 28 March, 13 June, 25 August, 7 December, 15 December.

Presidential Statements: S/PRST/2023/6.

Addressing threats to international peace and security in seven dedicated meetings in 2023, the Council took up issues ranging from terrorism, transnational organized crime, and small arms and light weapons to the climate crisis and sea-level rise.  To effectively tackle the cross-border phenomena, international cooperation and the protection of human rights were highlighted as prerequisites for thwarting instability.

Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, told the Council on 9 February that threats to international peace and security posed by Da’esh remained high, despite leadership losses and diminishing cash reserves.  That threat was increasing in and around conflict zones, including in Central and Southern Africa, as well as in the Sahel region. Weixiong Chen, Acting Executive Director of the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, expressed concerns over Da’esh’s increased use of technology and the slow pace of repatriation of foreign nationals with links to that group who remained in camps and prisons in north-east Syria.

Addressing the Council on 14 February at its first-ever open debate addressing the impact of sea-level rise on international peace and security, Secretary-General Guterres stressed that “rising seas are sinking futures”.  Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, pointed to the risk of mass displacement and food security issues, as much global agriculture is concentrated on coastal plains and low-lying islands.  Bogdan Aurescu, Co-Chair of the Study Group of the International Law Commission on sea-level rise in relation to international law, said the phenomenon could prompt the loss of State territory and threaten the very existence of States.

Secretary-General Guterres told the Council on 28 March that the online world provided a global platform to spread violent ideologies even further.  However, “just as terrorism drives people apart, countering it can bring countries together”, he said, while warning that tackling the scourge will never succeed if the denial and destruction of human rights is perpetuated.  Azali Assoumani, President of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union, noted that terrorism and violent extremism — which “really exploded in Africa” — were seriously impacting the socioeconomic conditions of entire regions.  Predictable funds were needed for African Union-led missions to prevent and fight the menace.

On 13 June the Council heard from briefers, ministers and delegates that it must ramp up its efforts to protect peace operations around the world and lessen the risk of conflicts from climate-related events. Mr. Lacroix of the Department of Peace Operations said that, alongside other cross-border challenges, environmental degradation and extreme weather events — amplified by climate change — increasingly challenged missions’ ability to carry out their mandates. Among the briefers was Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, President of Colombia, who pointed out his country’s Peace Agreement, which noted nature as a victim, included the protection of the environment in all sections.

Mr. Voronkov warned the Council on 25 August that the Da’esh affiliate in the Sahel was becoming increasingly autonomous, intensifying attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.  While the situation in Afghanistan grew progressively more complex, capacities of Da’esh in Egypt, Iraq, Mozambique, Syria and Yemen had been reduced by counter-terrorism operations.  Natalia Gherman, Executive Director, Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, said that, despite its diminished territorial control, Da’esh remained agile and ambitious.  Outlining solutions, she stressed that “our efforts must be evidence-based […] and human-rights-compliant”.

On 7 December, the Council, adopting a presidential statement, held an open debate where it tackled the growing threats posed by transnational organized crime and called on all Member States to improve border management and international cooperation.  Secretary-General Guterres observed that transnational organized crime — “often invisible, but always insidious” — was a vicious threat to peace, security and sustainable development.  Mr. Waly of UNODC, noting that organized crime was gaining footholds around the world amidst growing conflict and instability, called for institutions capable of delivering justice and resilient communities to confront illicit markets.

In another open debate on 15 December, the Council tackled the issue of illicit small arms and light weapons.  Calling them “the weapons of choice in initiating, sustaining and exacerbating conflict, armed violence, terrorism and other forms of organized crime”, Ms. Nakamitsu warned that their misuse facilitates human rights violations and gender-based violence.  Cécile Aptel, Deputy Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), reported that new technology contributed to illicit proliferation and the destabilizing accumulation of such weapons and urged UN peace missions to consider arms-related risks in protection risk assessments and conflict-prevention activities.

Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

Meetings: 26 January, 3 May.

The Council heard from almost 80 speakers on 26 January in an open debate on investing in people to enhance resilience against complex challenges when building and sustaining peace.  Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, warned that peace “is now under grave threat”.  The world was facing the highest number of violent conflicts since the Second World War and 2 billion people — a quarter of humanity — lived in places affected by conflict.  The role of sustainable development was the only route to durable peace.  Muhammad Abdul Muhith (Bangladesh), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, encouraged Member States to work together with the Commission, pointing out that its strengthened advisory role supported the Council in making decisions that benefit from broader peacebuilding perspectives.

On 3 May, during an open debate on future-proofing trust to sustain peace, Mr. Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Council: “Full compliance with human rights is the best antidote to the inequalities, unaddressed grievances and exclusion, which are often at the root of instability and conflict.”  Further, human rights, an end to impunity and the participation of women and youth must be the driving forces out of the crisis in Sudan.  Cynthia Chigwenya, the African Union’s Youth Ambassador for Peace for Southern Africa, pointed out that young people’s participation in formal peacebuilding was impaired by factors such as limited financial resources for youth initiatives. Perceptions of youth as “inexperienced” or “instigators of violence” also hindered their inclusion in conflict mediation, she added, calling for increased inclusiveness in peace-making processes.

Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Meetings: 13 February, 23 May, 5 July.

With the cycles of conflict becoming more intense, frequent and complex, the Council held three meetings, including one high-level open debate, where briefers reported that civilians were not being protected in armed conflict.  Rather, violations of international law were “shockingly” high, with Government armed and security forces as the main perpetrators of the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access.

On 13 February, Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict, noting that 25 situations on the matter were being monitored, told the Council that in 2022 trends in violations remained “at a shockingly high level”.  Najat Maalla M’jid, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, called for more efforts to prevent the grave violations against children and their risk factors before conflict erupts.  However, she also reported that children affected by conflict were taking actions, providing peer support, promoting peace, and preventing radicalization in Syria, Ukraine, Africa and Latin America, to name a few.

During a high-level open debate of over 80 speakers on 23 May, Secretary-General Guterres warned that the world was failing in its commitments to protect civilians in armed conflict. Greater respect for international humanitarian law through action and accountability was needed he said, emphasizing: “It is the difference between life and death, between restraint and anarchy.”  Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, President of ICRC, said all parties engaged in urban warfare must prioritize civilian protection, avoid the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas, ensure essential services and enable neutral and impartial humanitarian access.

Ms. Gamba, briefing the Council on 5 July, reported that Government armed and security forces were the main perpetrators of the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access.  She cited 2022 statistics of 27,800 violations against 18,890 children, including killing and maiming, along with 7,622 instances of recruitment and 3,985 abductions.  She also noted achievements, such as the Iraqi Government’s action plan to prevent the recruitment of children into conflict and its repatriation of 1,448 Iraqi children from north-east Syria.  Omar Abdi, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, said that the highest numbers of grave violations against children were in protracted conflicts, including in Somalia and the State of Palestine.

Women, Peace and Security

Meetings: 7 March, 14 July, 25 October, 26 October.

The Council, in a ministerial-level meeting and two open debates on women peace and security, heard that, two years shy of the twenty-fifth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000), the rights of women around the globe remained under threat. Sexual violence continued to be used as a tactic of war, torture and terrorism.  The Council also heard calls for national dialogue on the role and duty of people in uniforms to protect citizens and the need for stronger Government action and financing to advance women’s participation in peace and security efforts.

On 7 March, the Council held a ministerial-level debate on women, peace and security.  While there were several historic firsts for gender equality since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), Ms. Bahous of UN-Woman stated:  “We neither significantly changed the composition of peace tables, nor the impunity enjoyed by those who commit atrocities against women and girls.”  Ms. Eggers of ICRC said that States must ensure that a clear prohibition of sexual violence is integrated into national law, military doctrine and training. Leyman R. Gbowee, Founder and President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, underlining the need to move beyond political rhetoric, declared:  “Without funding and political will […] resolution 1325 (2000) will remain a toothless bulldog.”

In an open debate on 14 July on conflict-related sexual violence, Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, noted that rising militarization and arms proliferation were bringing conflicts to a boiling point, with gang rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence used as tactics of war, torture and terrorism.  Nadine, a Survivor Champion for the United Kingdom Government, highlighting the views of many survivors from different countries, said they wanted States to have an organized national conversation about the role of people in uniform and their duty to protect citizens.

Holding its annual open debate on women, peace and security on 25 October and 26 October, Secretary-General Guterres stressed that stronger Government actions and financing were necessary to advance women’s participation in peace and security.  Spotlighting near-gender-parity in Colombia’s peace negotiations, he nevertheless reported that, out of 18 peace agreements reached the previous year, only 1 was signed or witnessed by a representative of a women’s group or organization.  Ms. Bahous called for more women’s leadership and efforts tackling political violence, reporting that in conflict-affected countries only 23 per cent of parliamentarians and 20 per cent of ministers were women.

Working Methods and Organizational Matters

Meetings: 30 May, 5 September, 15 November, 14 December.

Addressing its own working methods on several occasions in 2023, the Council unanimously adopted on 30 May its annual report covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2022. João Genésio de Almeida Filho (Brazil), whose delegation coordinated the drafting of the report’s introduction, said that, despite the “disturbing signs of deterioration” within the Council’s political environment, it nevertheless achieved important results whenever it placed the need for cooperation above individual perspectives.

The 15-nation organ held its annual open debate on 5 September, with more than 40 speakers calling for the Security Council to be more transparent and inclusive in conducting its business to meet the challenges posed by current global and regional conflicts and crises.  Calls were also made for improved working methods, including a more equal distribution of duties to draft resolutions and fewer closed-door consultations.  Also addressed was the use of veto, Council membership expansion, meeting formats and due process for Sanctions Committees.

On 15 November, the Security Council heard from the Chairs of the three counter-terrorism-related Committees.  Lana Zaki Nusseibeh (United Arab Emirates) noted that the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, Monitoring Team and 1540 Group of Experts coordinate their work through joint visits at the invitation of Member States.  Vanessa Frazier (Malta), Chair of the 1267 Committee encouraged Member States to participate in updating the Sanctions Lists, while Andrés Efren Montalvo Sosa (Ecuador), Chair of 1540 Committee, reported that 185 countries submitted initial reports on the measures they took, or were planning to take, to implement the respective resolution. Ms. Nusseibeh, as Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, spotlighting eight country visits in 2023 to assess Member States’ implementation efforts, said the Committee has also facilitated technical assistance to Member States.

Briefing the Council on 14 December, the outgoing Chairs of nine Security Council subsidiary bodies detailed their work on progress made.  Ferit Hoxha (Albania), Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and other Procedural Questions, said that the Committee produced three new notes of key importance to the functioning of the Council, including one note on penholdership. Detailing work of the 2127 Committee, Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana) said the Committee met 15 times in various formats to discuss the security situation in the Central African Republic, the activities of armed groups and the monitoring of the arms embargo. Meanwhile, Mohamed Issa Abushahab (United Arab Emirates), speaking for Ms. Nusseibeh, reported that the Counter-Terrorism Committee “broke new ground” by agreeing on a set of guiding principles on threats pose by the use of unmanned aircraft systems for terrorist purposes.

For information media. Not an official record.