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I should be grateful if you would have the text of the present letter and its annex circulated as a document of the Security Council.
Assessment of the work of the Security Council during the presidency of France
Under the presidency of France, the Security Council completed a busy programme in January 2003. The Iraqi issue was of most concern to the member States, with three meetings in the presence of the representatives of UNMOVIC and IAEA, including a public briefing.
The open meeting organized on 20 January on combating terrorism gathered 13 Foreign Ministers and allowed the adoption of a common declaration aiming at reinforcing the international community’s mobilization against this scourge.
The Council focused a large part of its work on Africa, holding seven consultation meetings on African issues, including Côte d’Ivoire, which were all followed by statements of the President to the press.
Three peacekeeping operation mandates expired during the month and were renewed.
A public debate was held on the report of the Secretary-General concerning children in armed conflict and was followed by the adoption of a resolution. In addition, the sanctions against Al-Qa`idah were renewed and the Council agreed on the composition of the sanctions committees for the year 2003.
During the month of January, the Security Council adopted nine resolutions and the President was authorized to deliver nine statements to the press (see appendix).
The members of the Council held 17 public meetings, including 3 with troop-contributing countries, and met in informal consultations on 20 occasions.
The French presidency tried to enhance the transparency of the Council’s work by holding briefings for the States non-members of the Council after informal consultations. The programme of work, the press statements and a summary of the Council’s meetings were posted on the presidency’s web site and updated daily.
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
The Council members heard a briefing, during consultations on 22 January, by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Gué henno, on the latest report of the Secretary-General relating to the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The Under-Secretary-General reported on the latest developments. The situation had remained generally calm in the past months, with the exception of some areas of tension, particularly a violent incident in December 2002 in the western sector and on 21 January 2003 in the Shab’a farms area. Tension remained between Lebanon and Israel over water at the Wazzani Springs on the Hasbani River. Violations by Israel of Lebanese airspace were continuing sporadically. Hizbollah continued to react to these overflights with anti-aircraft fire.
The Lebanese Joint Security Forces were more active in the areas vacated by Israel, but the Government of Lebanon continued to maintain the position that, so long as there was no comprehensive peace with Israel, the Lebanese armed forces would not be deployed along the Blue Line. Tension continued to prevail along the Line. The Secretariat therefore requested an extension of the mandate of UNIFIL for a further period of six months.
In their statements, the members of the Council expressed concern about the large number of minefields throughout the UNIFIL area of operation and hope that the humanitarian demining operations could be pursued.
The delegations which expressed views stressed that the relative calm in the area remained precarious, and that violations of the Blue Line by both sides could lead to an escalation of the tension. They supported the Secretary-General’s appeal for moderation.
The members of the Council paid tribute to the UNIFIL operations and supported the recommendations of the Secretary-General that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNIFIL until 31 July 2003.
Following informal discussions, the Council adopted resolution 1461 (2003), by which it renewed the UNIFIL mandate for six months.
Middle East, including the question of Palestine
On 16 January, after a public briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, the members of the Council exchanged views on the ongoing situation during private consultations.
The members of the Council deplored the continuation of violence on the ground, especially against civilians, including children, and the ever-worsening humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories.
The Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom briefed delegations on the meeting held in London on 14 January on Palestinian reform, underlining that it was part of the process established by the road map, and that the meeting had been constructive.
Regarding the coming agenda, the Under-Secretary-General indicated that the next meeting of the Quartet at the Envoy level should be held by the beginning of February 2003 and be followed by a ministerial meeting. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of making headway in establishing a supervision mechanism for the implementation of the road map.