Foreign Min of New UNSC Member Spain is Visiting Gaza

Jan. 13, 2015 – Spain’s Foreign Minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo has arrived in Gaza as part of a Middle East tour that also saw him visit Jordan, a fellow non-permanent Security Council member.

Garcia-Margallo arrived in Gaza from the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing after visits to Amman and Ramallah. He was to be accompanied by the commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, according to the Spanish foreign ministry.

Spain began a two-year term on the Security Council on Jan. 1, winning one of the two available seats in the Western Europe & Others Group vacated by Australia and Luxembourg.

The Spanish parliament on Nov. 18, in a non-binding vote, called for recognizing Palestine as a state.

A Security Council resolution that calls for Israel’s withdrawal from territory it occupied since 1967 is expected to put to a vote sometime early this year, after the same measure was defeated in a 8-2-5 vote on Dec. 30 last year.

Garcia-Margallo is expected to visit areas devastated by this past summer’s war during his visit to Gaza. In Ramallah, he signed a cooperation agreement with his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad Al-Malaki, which sees Spain donate $33 million to the Palestinian Authority for 2015-17.

He will hold meetings with Israeli officials on Wednesday.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Fiji, Turkey, Venezuela Among the Running for 2015/16 UNSC Seats

Security Council Meeting on the situation in the Central African Republic.
April 16, 2014 – Fiji and Malaysia are competing in the Asia-Pacific group for the non-permanent Security Council seat being vacated by South Korea at the end of the year while New Zealand, Spain and Turkey are vying for the two spots available for the Western Europe and Others Group when Australia and Luxembourg finish their two-year stint on Dec. 31.

To date, those are the only two competitive races for membership of the 15-nation body for 2015/16 with Venezuela set to replace Argentina for the Latin America seat and Angola slated to replace Rwanda for the one available African seat.

Fiji is the only one of the seven candidates to have never previously served on the Council.

The election is set to take place in October with candidates requiring a two-thirds majority vote in the 193-member General Assembly.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Photo/UN Photo

Arab League Backing This Time Around Not Enough to Sway China and Russia


August 28, 2013 – When the 22-nation Arab League on March 12, 2011 endorsed calls for a no-fly zone over Libya, it cleared the way for the UN Security Council to authorize military intervention five days later.

The endorsement by the regional group was enough for China and Russia to withhold using their veto. Both countries abstained in the March 17 vote, along with Brazil, Germany and India. China’s envoy Li Baodong specifically mentioned the endorsement of the Arab League as reason why Beijing had not blocked the action.

Similar calls are being made to the Arab League these days to back military action against the Syrian regime, but an endorsement by the League this time around will not get the same response from China and Russia.

Notwithstanding Russia’s diplomatic and military support for Assad, Beijing and Moscow have both expressed concerns that the Security Council mandate in Libya – the protection of civilians using all necessary means – was used as cover for regime change.

Some months after the Libya vote, Baodong distanced himself from his stance on March 17, telling reporters that the Security Council should not be influenced by the decisions of regional groups. 

While Syria’s Arab League seat has been given to the opposition Syrian National Coalition, there is opposition against military intervention by other Arab League members, particularly Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon. Egypt too has spoken against intervention.

The League meet next week in Cairo and reports are that  the group will pass a resolution blaming Assad for the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack and call for referral to the ICC, but not back military intervention.

– Denis Fitzgerald

photo: UN Photo/Marco Castro

UN Security Council in Emergency Meeting over Alleged Chemical Weapon Attack Near Damascus

August 21, 2013 – The UN Security Council are meeting in an emergency session 3pm ET Wednesday over allegations that chemical weapons have been used in an attack near Damascus early this morning local time. 

The reports of a chemical weapons attack come as UN inspectors probing the use of such weapons begin their first week of work in Syria. 

The inspectors are mandated to investigate whether chemical weapons have been used, not who may have used them. But if they confirm that proscribed chemical weapons have been used in a targeted and large-scale attack, as the opposition are reporting, suspicion will immediately fall on Assad forces who are known to have these weapons and the means to deliver them.

– Denis Fitzgerald

UN Security Council Remove Osama bin Laden from Sanctions List

Feb. 25, 2013 – The U.N. Security Council has removed Osama bin Laden from its list of individuals subject to a travel ban and assets freeze for associating with Al Qaeda.

The Security Council’s 1267 committee made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on its website.

While bin Laden breaching his travel ban was no longer an issue, it is believed that an investigation into any assets he may have left was the reason for delaying his de-listing.

– Denis Fitzgerald