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Aperçu des travaux du Conseil de Sécurité en 2008 - Communiqué de presse (extraits) (14 janvier 2009) Français
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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
Security Council
14 January 2009


Security Council
SC/9572

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council
2008 Round-up


WORKING GLOBALLY TO BLUNT CONFLICT, EASE TRANSITIONS TO PEACE, SECURITY COUNCIL IN 2008

GUIDED PROGRESS IN LONG-TERM PEACEKEEPING EFFORTS, FACED GAZA CRISIS AT YEAR’S END
 

Although seized of new crises in Kenya, Georgia and the Horn of Africa, the bulk of the Security Council’s work in 2008 involved pushing forward numerous initiatives it had authorized in the previous year concerning existing crises, including the deployment of innovative peacekeeping arrangements in the Sudan and the implementation of hopeful accords in the Middle East and various African conflict situations.

In total, the Council convened 217 public meetings in 2008, a marked increase from the 170 held in 2007.  It issued 48 presidential statements and adopted 64 resolutions.  Once again the Council strove for consensus to heighten the effectiveness of its decisions, with only four resolutions requiring a vote and just one resolution occasioning vetoes by permanent Council members.

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Another major challenge for the Council was nurturing several promising but brittle political agreements reached in 2007.  Accords reached in Annapolis, Maryland, in November of that year seeking a final settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the end of 2008 did not achieve their ultimate goal, but the Council supported efforts of the diplomatic Quartet (United Nations, European Union, Russian Federation and the United States) to maintain direct negotiations throughout the year despite outbreaks of violence.  On 16 December the Council produced the first Middle East resolution in more than four and a half years to reaffirm the irreversibility of the Annapolis process and subsequent negotiations, while purposefully showing a united front after the 26 December breakdown of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.  It issued a press statement instead of holding an open meeting to air member States’ views, but the growing civilian toll in Gaza moved it to hold a public meeting in the final hours of 2008.

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Following are summaries of major actions taken by the Council in the past year:

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Middle East

Question of Palestine

Meeting on the night of 8 January 2009, the Security Council expressed grave concern about the deepening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and the resulting heavy civilian casualties “since the refusal to extend the period of calm” between Israel and Hamas and called for an “immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”.

Adopting resolution 1860 (2009) by a vote of 14 in favour, with the United States abstaining, the Council also expressed its grave concern at the escalation of violence and emphasized that Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected in the densely populated territory that had been the theatre of a deadly 13-day conflict between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas militants.

The measure, which recalled that “a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means”, capped days of intense ministerial-level negotiations after Arab foreign ministers and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas flew to New York for urgent meetings with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon and Council diplomats to craft a binding resolution to end the fighting, which began on 27 December with Israel’s launching of a major offensive in response to rocket and mortar attacks by Hamas.

Immediately following the vote, Secretary-General Ban said he was heartened and relieved by the adoption of a resolution to end the tragic situation, stressing, however, that a political way forward was required to deliver long-term security and peace.  “My visit to the region next week will focus on helping to ensure that the ceasefire is implemented, that urgent humanitarian assistance reaches those in need and encouraging the diplomatic efforts currently under way.”  (Press Release SC/9567)

The action capped a two-week period of Council meetings and consultations over the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, and the ever-worsening humanitarian situation in the densely blockaded Palestinian enclave.  In an emergency New Year’s Eve meeting, the Secretary-General said he was profoundly troubled that the Council’s call for an end to the violence -- issued in a press statement the previous Sunday -- had gone unheeded.

“The conflict must end once and for all,” he stressed, noting that Gaza’s civilian population, its fabric, the Middle East peace process and the stability of the region and the world were all trapped by the indiscriminate rocket attacks carried out by Hamas militants and the disproportionality of Israel’s continuing military operation.

Conditions for the 1.5 million Gazans were “nothing short of terrifying”, he said, noting also that a continuing stream of rockets fired by militants were hitting southern Israel, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis now within range.  He emphasized that, even as the crisis raged, the underlying issue should never be forgotten -- that there must be an end to occupation, an end to conflict, and the creation of a Palestinian State.

The meeting adjourned just hours before the Council’s composition would change, with five new elected members -– Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda -- replacing Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa.  (Press Release SC/9560)

Throughout the year, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, re-launched at Annapolis in November 2007, strained to make headway, but the increasingly uneasy situation on the ground -- particularly the complex political, security, human rights and humanitarian crisis in Gaza -- dimmed hopes for a settlement with each passing month.  Despite regular bilateral contacts between the two sides, senior United Nations officials described a situation that was not improving in the way required to ensure a durable settlement.  They stressed the importance of making decisive advances towards peace as the calendar sped through 2008.

On 16 December, after failing for several years to evolve a unified position on the Palestinian question, the Council adopted resolution 1850 (2008), with Libya abstaining, in which it declared its commitment to the irreversibility of the ongoing bilateral negotiations and supporting the parties’ “determined efforts to reach their goal of concluding a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues…”.  The Council called on the parties and regional and other States, as well as international organizations, to intensify efforts to achieve a two-State solution and peaceful coexistence among all States in the region.

Prior to adoption of the text, Secretary-General Ban had asked the Council to help “set us firmly, finally and irreversibly on the path to peace in the Middle East” by passing the resolution, acknowledging that it had been hoped by now that the world would be marking the conclusion of a peace agreement and turning to implementation.  Regrettably, that was not the case but “we must ensure that what has been started is seen all the way through to its conclusion”.  Four permanent members were represented by ministerial and other high-level officials at the meeting.  (Press Release SC/9539)

Two days later the Council held an open debate on the Gaza situation, with Robert Serry, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, stressing that the creation of a Palestinian State was “possible, necessary and urgent”.  Following statements by Israel’s representative and the Permanent Observer for Palestine, Council members and non-members alike underscored the importance of the 2008 advances leading up to the adoption of resolution 1850 (2008) and called for more progress on the ground, including a halt to Israel’s settlement activity and an easing of restrictions in Gaza and the West Bank.  They urged the Palestinians to advance their political unification.  (Press Release SC/9544)

The Council’s formal consideration of the situation in 2009 began on 22 January with a briefing by B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, who expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Gaza and urged Israel to cease its policy of allowing civilians to suffer for the unacceptable actions of militants, and to permit unimpeded delivery of fuel and basic necessities into the area.  He also condemned the escalation of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza by Hamas militants, noting that they had launched more than 150 of them since 15 January.  (Press Release SC/9232)

The Libyan delegation called a meeting on 3 December concerning the return by Israeli authorities of a Libyan vessel carrying humanitarian supplies to the port of Gaza, asserting that the Israeli actions were an act of piracy.  Israel’s representative responded by saying that no Member State would allow a shipment originating from a hostile State to reach a territory that served as a launching pad for terrorist attacks against its citizens.  If Libya truly wished to provide humanitarian assistance to Gazans, there were ways and means to do so.

On 25 November, Mr. Pascoe drew the Council’s attention to the landmark 9 November meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, between the parties to the Middle East peace process and the Quartet (United Nations, European Union, Russian Federation and United States).  He welcomed the parties’ engagement in “direct, sustained and intensive” negotiations, while cautioning that the inability of Tzipi Livni, Foreign Minister and leader of the majority party in the ruling coalition, to form a coalition Government and President Shimon Peres’ decision to call new elections -- now scheduled for 10 February 2009 -- might complicate matters.  Palestinians also remained divided as the rhetoric between Hamas and Fatah intensified.  (Press Release SC/9509)

The Council had held a ministerial-level on 26 September, at the request of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Affairs Minister.  Some speakers focused on Israeli settlement activity, saying it was changing the demographics of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and making it almost impossible either to establish a Palestinian State or convince Palestinians of the possibility of peace.

Israel’s representative asked why speakers had failed to mention the missile attacks against Israel by Hamas, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons or its support of Hamas and Hizbullah.  (Press Release SC/9457)

Dissatisfaction over the lack of progress following Annapolis had built up by the time Mr. Serry briefed the Council on 18 September, when he noted that, 10 months after the re-launch of the talks, the process was still at a crossroads.  With agreement still outstanding on core issues, “the important period ahead must see decisive advances toward peace”.  (Press Release SC/9448)

In August, as Mr. Pascoe reiterated the Secretary-General’s call to press ahead for real progress in overcoming differences and reaching agreement by the end of 2008, his briefing was also informed by the major rise in inter-Palestinian violence since July.  Hamas had seized control of the last remaining Palestinian Authority institutions in Gaza and its forces had detained three governors, two of whom remained in custody.  Reacting, Palestinian security forces in the West Bank had arrested dozens of Hamas activists, most of whom had later been freed on the orders of President Mahmoud Abbas.  (Press Release SC/9431)

Meeting in an emergency session on 1 March, at Libya’s request, Secretary-General Ban described the “deeply alarming escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel, and a terrible civilian death toll”.  He blamed both sides, condemning Palestinian rocket attacks and calling for the immediate cessation of “such acts of terrorism”, while also condemning the “disproportionate and excessive use of force” by Israel.  He called on all parties “to step back from the brink of even deeper and more deadly clashes”.  (Press Release SC/9266)

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