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The assessment was prepared under our responsibility following consultations with the other members of the Council.
I should be grateful if the present letter and its annex could be circulated as a document of the Security Council.
During the month the Security Council held 18 consultations of the whole and 10 public meetings, including five open briefings and one open debate (on protection of civilians in armed conflict).
The Council also adopted four resolutions, on the situation in Guinea-Bissau, the situation in Liberia, the situation in the Middle East (UNDOF) and the situation in Burundi, and four presidential statements, on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, protection of civilians in armed conflicts, the Middle East and Côte d’Ivoire.
In addition the President of the Security Council exchanged a number of letters with the Secretary-General, notably on the appointment of Terje Roed-Larsen as Special Envoy for the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004), on the appointments of four experts to the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) and on the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville.
Stressing on 16 December that there was, once again, a window of opportunity to revitalize the peace process, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs urged the international community to encourage the parties to persevere as they moved along the narrow and difficult road to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. Both parties seemed to have realized the potential for change inherent in the present situation. A recent poll had shown that Palestinians once again looked to the future with hope.
Israel/Syrian Arab Republic
On 15 December, the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was extended for six months, until 30 June 2005, by a resolution adopted unanimously, accompanied by a presidential statement in which the Council identified itself with the Secretary-General’s view that “the situation in the Middle East is very tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached”. It is worth recalling that UNDOF has supervised the ceasefire and disengagement between Israel and Syria since 1974.
Protection of civilians in armed conflict
The Security Council held an open debate on 14 December on protection of civilians in armed conflict under the presidency of Abdelaziz Belkhadem, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria. The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, gave an assessment of progress made in the implementation of the 10-points platform he had presented the previous year to the Council. Following this biennial debate, the Council adopted a presidential statement, in which it reaffirmed its strong condemnation of all acts of violence targeting civilians during armed conflicts. The Council recognized the importance of a comprehensive, coherent and action-oriented approach to protection of civilians in armed conflict. It stressed also the need for regional and subregional organizations to develop a regional protection strategy.