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I would be grateful if this letter and the attached assessment could be circulated as a document of the Security Council.
Assessment of the work of the Security Council during the presidency of
Singapore (May 2002)
United Nations Disengagement Observer Force
56. On 24 May, the Security Council held a private meeting with troop-contributing countries to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). The Deputy Director of the Asia and the Middle East Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the Force for the period from 16 November 2001 to 17 May 2002. There was a short exchange of views, during which one Council member stated its views on UNDOF and a troop-contributing country posed some questions to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
57. At informal consultations on 29 May, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations introduced the Secretary-General’s report. Council members reviewed the situation in the area and the activities of UNDOF. They also considered the draft resolution to renew the mandate of UNDOF, and the draft complementary statement by the President of the Security Council, prepared by the presidency. Council members agreed to the suggestion made by one Council member to extend the mandate of UNDOF by seven months instead of the usual six months to synchronize the mandate renewal to the United Nations budget cycle. Council members agreed with the sentiments expressed in the draft statement that the situation in the Middle East was likely to remain tense unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem could be reached. In this regard, some Council members referred to several diplomatic initiatives, including the Arab peace initiative, which could bring the process forward. Council members agreed to circulate the two draft documents, as amended, in provisional form, for adoption the following day. Accordingly, on 30 May, the draft resolution extending the mandate of UNDOF by seven months was adopted unanimously as resolution 1415 (2002) and the complementary statement by the President was issued as S/PRST/2002/18. Subsequently, the Permanent Mission of Japan conveyed a written protest addressed to the President of the Council, all UNDOF troop-contributing countries and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations to register regret that the seven-month mandate instead of the usual six months was decided without prior explanation and notice to troop-contributing countries.
The Middle East, including the Palestinian question
58. Council members met in informal consultations in the late afternoon of 1 May to discuss the Secretary-General’s letter of 1 May concerning his efforts to implement Security Council resolution 1405 (2002). His letter provided a chronology of events and his analysis leading to his decision to disband the fact-finding team. There was an exhaustive and comprehensive discussion on how the Council should respond to the Secretary-General’s letter and a draft resolution tabled by the Arab Group. Various attempts were made in the interim in the corridors, within regional groups, and with the facilitation of the President to draft alternative proposals that could command the support of Council members. Before midnight on 1 May, all 15 heads of delegation were invited by the President to an informal private meeting in his office to find creative and practical ways for a solution. This effort did not succeed. Just past midnight on 2 May, it became clear that the differences could not be bridged. The Council therefore proceeded to the Security Council Chamber to take action on the Arab draft resolution but eventually a decision was taken to postpone action. The President then resumed informal consultations during which Council members agreed to a proposal that the Council send a letter to the Secretary-General in response. The presidency was tasked to prepare a draft. The presidency was also told to convey this decision to the press. Later in the morning of 2 May, during informal consultations, the presidency circulated a draft letter for consideration by Council members. Unfortunately, Council members could not reach an agreement on the substance or the form of the Council’s response to the Secretary-General’s letter. Consequently, no action was taken on the draft letter.
59. On 3 May, the Secretary-General briefed Council members in informal consultations on the outcome of the meeting on 2 May of the Quartet (consisting of the United States of America, the Russia Federation, the European Union and the United Nations) in Washington, D.C., hosted by the United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell. According to the Secretary-General, in addition to commenting on recent developments, the Quartet agreed on a three-pronged approach to move the process forward: addressing security, economic and political elements in a parallel and comprehensive way. The Quartet also agreed on the need to urgently prepare an international conference which would provide an opportunity to agree on concrete steps and timelines needed to reach the collective goal of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and within secure and recognized borders.
60. The intensive period of discussions on the Middle East ended on the evening of 3 May in an open debate, with the participation of 38 speakers, including the 15 Council members and the Vice-Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Council adjourned after this open debate without taking any further action.
61. In informal consultations on 15 May, Council members heard a regular briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. Council members had a general exchange on a number of issues, namely, the situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including the urgent need to rebuild and reform the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority through strong donor support, the situation across the Blue Line, and the various diplomatic efforts under way, including preparations for the convening of an international conference on the Middle East. Council members remained fully supportive of the efforts exerted by the Secretary-General and his envoys, including through the Quartet.
Arria formula meeting on the Middle East
62. On 7 May, an Arria formula meeting on the situation in the Middle East in the context of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) concerning women and peace and security was held at the initiative of the Permanent Representative of Norway, Ambassador Peter Kolby. A Palestinian woman, Maha Abu-Dayyeh Shamas, and an Israeli woman, Terry Greenblat, both involved for several years in the promotion of peace and human rights in their communities, shared with members of the Security Council the nature of their work, the realities on the ground, prospects for peace, and the role of the international community including the Security Council. Ms. Abu-Dayyeh Shamas is the Founder and Director of the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion of the social and legal status of Palestinian women. Ms. Greenblat is the director of Bat Shalom, the national Israeli women’s peace organization and a core member organization of the Women’s Coalition for Peace. Their involvement in the Arria formula meeting was facilitated by Equality Now.