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

The Security Council’s programme for April features open debates on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, and on conflict-related sexual violence, its President for the month told a Headquarters press conference today.

Vanessa Frazier (Malta), who holds the 15-member organ’s rotating presidency for April, said that the signature event “Children and Armed Conflict” — to be held on 3 April — will present an opportunity to discuss the consequences of denial of humanitarian access to children.

The Council will also have a debate on peace and security in the Mediterranean — chaired by Malta’s Foreign Minister — which will focus on the challenges of migration, terrorism, human rights abuses and natural hazards.  This debate aims to foster a more nuanced understanding of the Mediterranean by delving deeper into the root causes of these security issues while shifting to the positive role young people can play in addressing them.

There will also be two high-level meetings:  the quarterly open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, chaired by Malta’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and briefed by the Secretary-General.  In this context, she underscored that the Council must uphold its responsibility and ensure a ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas.  Also, any forced displacement of Palestinians inside or outside Gaza, as well as any ground offensive into Rafah, should be firmly rejected, she asserted.

The second high-level meeting — the annual open debate on women, peace and security, to be held on 23 April and chaired by Malta’s Deputy Prime Minister — will focus on addressing conflict-related sexual violence through de-militarization and gender-responsive arms control.  It also aims to identify opportunities for cross-leveraging arms control.

In addition, the Council will meet on numerous country-specific files of “utmost importance”, she said, pointing to meetings on Colombia, Yemen, Libya, Haiti, the Great Lakes, the humanitarian situation in Gaza and Syria, the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

On working methods, she spotlighted the pivotal role of civil society in informing the Council about the situation on the ground, noting the invitation of numerous civil society briefers.

She also responded to several questions posed by media correspondents.

One correspondent — emphasizing that every Security Council resolution is binding, in accordance with Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations — asked whether non-compliance with Council resolutions compromises the credibility of the United Nations and its main organ.  She responded that the Council will have to meet to discuss the implementation of the 2728 (2024) ceasefire resolution.

On practical goals vis-à-vis the situation in Gaza, she said that, without a ceasefire, it will be challenging to implement any resolution on humanitarian access.  Even the International Court of Justice noted the difficulty of implementing the provisional measures without a ceasefire, she added.  She also commended Qatar, Egypt and the United States for working tirelessly on the ground, trying to ensure a ceasefire agreement, the release of hostages and increased humanitarian aid.

Responding to concerns that — in response to the adoption of Council resolutions — Israel is hitting the Palestinians harder, she said:  “I understand the pain, […] the anger, [and] the frustration”.  However, she opposed the logic that the Council resolutions mean “more wars”.  She also stressed the need to focus on the spillover effects of the conflict in Gaza, drawing attention to the situation in Lebanon.

On the reports of Israel’s raid of al-Shifa hospital, where 200 were reportedly killed and buried alive, she said that the Council will discuss it when it receives the first report.  In her national capacity, while recognizing Israel’s right to protect its population, she deplored any attacks on humanitarian sides and emphasized that country’s responsibilities under international law.

As to whether Israel — with the help of the United States and other countries —   is attempting the complete dissolution of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), she voiced support for the Agency and welcomed the action taken by the Secretary-General, including the immediate suspension of the indicated persons.  There will probably be a meeting on UNRWA, she said.

When asked about her reaction to United States President Joseph R. Biden sending another round of weapons and bombs to Israel, she said:  “That’s not a question a diplomat can answer.”  However, she stressed that everything should be done to achieve a ceasefire and everything contrary should be opposed.

On Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent statement that he will be closing Al Jazeera’s operations in his country, she said that it is “unacceptable for a head of Government to make such announcements”. Journalists are not allowed to report on Gaza; they are being targeted and have suffered many casualties, she observed, advocating for the rule of law and freedom of the press.

Responding to a question on the dire situation in Afghanistan, she said that it will be discussed in the meetings on children and armed conflict and conflict-related sexual violence.  “It is impossible to have a country where 50 per cent of people are completely marginalized,” she stressed, voicing deep concern about the situation of women there.

When asked about Ukraine, she said that, despite not being mandated, a meeting is “inevitable” as “we mustn’t lose focus” on this ongoing conflict. 

For the full programme of work, please see:

For information media. Not an official record.