South Korea Take Reins Of Security Council For February As North Korea Threatens Action


Feb. 1, 2013 – South Korea assumes presidency of the Security Council for February as the threat of another nuclear test by North Korea looms.

A confluence of events make February a ripe month for Pyongyang to consider conducting its third nuclear test. That Seoul is presiding over the body that has already passed two rounds of international sanctions against it is reason enough but there are two other events this month that North Korea may well mark with an expression of its defiance of the international community.

Late leader Kim Jong Il’s birthday falls on Feb 16 and the inauguration of South Korea’s president-elect Park Geun-hye takes place Feb 25. In a Jan 25 letter to the Security Council, North Korea gave note of its intention to “bolster the military capabilities for self-defence, including the nuclear deterrence, both qualitatively and quantitatively, to cope with the ever more undisguised moves of the United States.” 

Pyongyang has in the past shown a preference to act on holidays. It conducted its first nuclear test on Oct 9, 2006, timed to mar Columbus Day celebrations in the U.S., a second nuclear test on Memorial Day 2009, and a missile test – contravening Council resolution 1874 – on July 4, 2009.

The Council expanded sanctions against North Korea last month over its failed Dec 2012 missile launch. Pyongyang condemned the move and in the Jan 25 letter stated that, “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will continuously launch satellites for peaceful purposes to conquer space and become a world-level power.” 

- Denis Fitzgerald

Susan Rice Irked at ‘State of Palestine’ Nameplate in Security Council

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Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki was the first Palestinian to address the Security Council since the Nov 29 Vote Recognizing the State of Palestine (photo credit: UN Photo) 

Jan. 23, 2013 – Palestinian Foreign Minister Riayd Al Maliki addressed the Security Council’s regular monthly Mideast meeting on Wednesday sitting behind a “State of Palestine” nameplate, provoking a stern response from US envoy Susan Rice

Since the Nov 29 General Assembly vote recognizing Palestine as a non-member observer state, the UN Secretariat has changed the designation of ‘Palestine’ to ‘State of Palestine,’ in line with the GA resolution.

In her remarks to the Council, Rice had this to say:

The United States does not consider UNGA resolution 67/19 as bestowing Palestinian “statehood” or recognition. Only direct negotiations to settle final status issues will lead to this outcome. Therefore, in our view, any reference to the “State of Palestine” in the United Nations, including the use of the term “State of Palestine” on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term “State of Palestine” in the invitation to this meeting or other arrangements for participation in this meeting, do not reflect acquiescence that “Palestine” is a state. This statement of our position shall apply to Palestinian participation in meetings of United Nations Security Council or in other UN meetings, regardless of whether the United States specifically intervenes on this matter in the future.  

She also had tough words for Israel, whose envoy, Ron Prosor, told the Council – in reference to Israeli settlement plans – that “Jews have been building homes in Jerusalem since the time of King David 3,000 years ago” and that “the presence of Jewish homes in Jerusalem” is not a threat to peace.

Rice, who spoke after both Maliki and Prosor, said Israel’s current settlement plans “run counter to peace” and “would be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution.”

Meanwhile, the Holy See (Vatican) envoy, speaking at the same meeting, suggested that the solution to the Jerusalem issue is to have the city administered by a body similar to the UN Trusteeship Council (which suspended operations in 1994 following the independence of Palau).  

Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt said that the only way to guarantee freedom of religion and access to holy sites “might be to involve the United Nations in the Holy City’s safekeeping and administration in some relevant and effective capacity.”

Such a plan was originally envisioned in Resolution 181, which the General Assembly passed on Nov 29, 1947.

- Denis Fitzgerald

Kosovo Next for UN Recognition?

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Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian delegation celebrate Thursday’s historic UNGA vote recognizing Palestine as a state. (photo credit: UN photo)

Nov. 30, 2012 – Yesterday’s victory for Palestine at the UN will give hope to Kosovo that it too can soon join the United Nations as a non-member state.

To date, some 96 countries have recognized Kosovo as an independent state including 22 of the 27 EU member states. Pristina needs 97 votes in the General Assembly (simple majority) for admission as a non-member observer state.

Like the Palestinians, Kosovo’s road to full UN membership is blocked in the Security Council, with Russia sure to use its veto to prevent Pristina’s full-member state status 

Among the countries that have yet to recognize Kosovo are several member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, including Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan and Tunisia.

Morocco and Pakistan have expressed support for an independent Kosovo state but are concerned about the implications for their own territorial integrity due to the situations in Western Sahara and Kashmir.

Similarly, EU member states, Cyprus and Spain – who both voted in favor recognizing Palestine – have not recognized Kosovo. Both are also wary of the implications for their own territorial issues regarding Catalonia and Northern Cyprus.

It may well be the fledging governments in Libya and Tunisia who will bring Kosovo over the threshold with Tunis and Tripoli in the past year indicating support for recognizing an independent Kosovo, though neither has yet made a formal declaration.  

Should Kosovo seek a General Assembly vote before Sept 2013 then former Serb foreign minister Vuk Jeremic would preside over the session in his capacity as president of the 193-member assembly.

Denis Fitzgerald

(UN recognition of Kosovo as a state would also pave the way for its acceptance into football’s international governing body, FIFA. The country could then participate in international qualifying competitions for the quadrennial Euro and World Cup tournaments, a move that would be very welcome in football-mad Kosovo)

New Title, New HQ as Brahimi Seeks New Solution to Syria Crisis

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Aug. 21, 2012  - Lakhdar Brahimi, the newly appointed United Nations – Arab League joint special representative for Syria, will be in New York later this week, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Tuesday.

The former Algerian foreign minister will also be based out of New York, Nesirky confirmed, unlike his predecessor Kofi Annan, who set up headquarters in Geneva for the four months he spent seeking a solution to the Syrian crisis.

Brahimi also has a different title than Annan, who was joint special envoy for Syria. The new title and new headquarters for his peace mission indicate that Brahimi does not merely want to be seen as a replacement for Annan (a co-member of the Elders) but as someone who can bring his own ideas and experience to bear on brokering a solution.

He’s already incurred ire from the opposition by stating that it’s too early for him to say if Assad should go and angered the regime by describing the current situation in Syria as a civil war.

- Denis Fitzgerald

UN Pulls Plug On Syria Observer Mission

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Major-General Robert Mood and U.N. – Arab League joint special envoy for Syria Kofi Annan arrive at a Damscus hotel to address reporters in this June 22 photo. Mood stepped down as head of UNSMIS in July and Annan announced his resignation earlier this month citing lack of unity in the Security Council. (credit: UN Photo)

Aug. 17, 2012 – France’s envoy to the United Nations on Thursday confirmed that the mandate for the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) will not be renewed when it expires on August 19 and a smaller political liaison office will take its place.

The 300-strong unarmed observer force was deployed in late April to monitor a ceasefire that never took hold and suspended its activities on June 15 due to escalating violence.

“The conditions to continue UNSMIS was not fulfilled, but there was also a consensus (in the Security Council) about the need for keeping a U.N. presence in Damascus,” said Amb. Gerard Araud, president of the council for August.

That presence will consist of small office, some 20-30 people, which will include a human rights component, military advisers, and a demining team. Control of the office will shift from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to the Department of Political Affairs, said Edmund Mulet, deputy head of U.N. peacekeeping.

On Wednesday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the death toll in Syria after 18 months of violence is now “more than 18,000.”

- Denis Fitzgerald

Latest Version of UNSC Resolution on Syria

[The resolution failed to pass when permanent members China and Russsa used their veto to defeat the measure in a 13-2 vote on Feb.4]

UNSCR-SYRIA-BLUE 2 Feb 2012

List of Co-Sponsors: Morocco, France, United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Portugal Colombia, Togo, Libya, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Turkey.

 The Security Council,

pp1 Recalling its presidential statement of 3 August 2011,

pp2 Recalling General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/176 of 19 December 2011, as well as Human Rights Council resolutions S/16-1, S/17-1 and S/18-1,

pp3 Noting the League of Arab States’ request in its decision of 22 January 2012,

pp4 Expressing grave concern at the deterioration of the situation in Syria, and profound concern at the death of thousands of people and calling for an immediate end to all violence,

pp5 Welcoming the League of Arab States’ Action Plan of 2 November 2011 and its subsequent decisions, including its decision of 22 January 2012, which aims to achieve a peaceful resolution of the crisis,

pp6 Noting the deployment of the League of Arab States’ observer mission, commending its efforts, regretting that, due to the escalation in violence, the observer mission was not in a position to monitor the full implementation of the League of Arab States’ Action Plan of 2 November 2011, and noting the subsequent decision of the League of Arab states to suspend the mission,

pp7 Underscoring the importance of ensuring the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes in safety and with dignity,

pp8 Mindful that stability in Syria is key to peace and stability in the region,

pp9  Noting the announced commitments by the Syrian authorities to reform, and regretting the lack of progress in implementation,

pp10 Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, emphasizing its intention to resolve the current political crisis in Syria peacefully, and noting that nothing in this resolution authorizes measures under Article 42 of the Charter,

pp11 Welcoming the engagement of the Secretary-General and all diplomatic efforts aimed at addressing the situation, and noting in this regard the offer of the Russian Federation to host a meeting in Moscow, in consultation with the League of Arab States,

1.Condemns the continued widespread and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities, such as the use of force against civilians, arbitrary executions, killing and persecution of protestors and members of the media, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, interference with access to medical treatment, torture, sexual violence, and ill-treatment, including against children;

2. Demands that the Syrian government immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, protect its population, fully comply with its obligations under applicable international law and fully implement the Human Rights Council resolutions S-16/1, S-17/1, S-18/1 and the General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/176;

3. Condemns all violence, irrespective of where it comes from, and in this regard demands that all parties in Syria, including armed groups, immediately stop all violence or reprisals, including attacks against State institutions, in accordance with the League of Arab States’ initiative;

4. Recalls that all those responsible for human rights violations, including acts of violence, must be held accountable;

5. Demands that the Syrian government, in accordance with the Plan of Action of the League of Arab States of 2 November 2011 and its decision of 22 January 2012, without delay:

(a) cease all violence and protect its population;

(b) release all persons detained arbitrarily due to the recent incidents;

(c) withdraw all Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and return them to their original home barracks;

(d) guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstrations;

(e) allow full and unhindered access and movement for all relevant League of Arab States’ institutions and Arab and international media in all parts of Syria to determine the truth about the situation on the ground and monitor the incidents taking place; and

(f) allow full and unhindered access to the League of Arab States’ observer mission;

6. Calls for an inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation and extremism, and aimed at effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria’s people, without prejudging the outcome;

7. Fully supports in this regard the League of Arab States’ 22 January 2012 decision to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs, including through commencing a serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition under the League of Arab States’ auspices, in accordance with the timetable set out by the League of Arab States;

8. Encourages the League of Arab States to continue its efforts in cooperation with all Syrian stakeholders;

9. Calls upon the Syrian authorities, in the event of a resumption of the observer mission, to cooperate fully with the League of Arab States’ observer mission, in accordance with the League of Arabs States’ Protocol of 19 December 2011, including through granting full and unhindered access and freedom of movement to the observers, facilitating the entry of technical equipment necessary for the mission, guaranteeing the mission’s right to interview, freely or in private, any individual and guaranteeing also not to punish, harass, or retaliate against, any person who has cooperated with the mission;

10. Stresses the need for all to provide all necessary assistance to the mission in accordance with the League of Arab States’ Protocol of 19 December 2011 and its decision of 22 January 2012;

11. Demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and with the Commission of Inquiry dispatched by the Human Rights Council, including by granting it full and unimpeded access to the country;

12. Calls upon the Syrian authorities to allow safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance in order to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to persons in need of assistance;

13. Welcomes the Secretary-General’s efforts to provide support to the League of Arab States, including its observer mission, in promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis;

14. Requests the Secretary General to report on the implementation of this resolution, in consultation with the League of Arab States, within 21 days after its adoption and to report every 30 days thereafter;

15. Decides to review implementation of this resolution within 21 days and, in the event of non-compliance, to consider further measures;

16. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.