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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Security Council
2001 Round-Up
SC/7266
14 January 2002



AFGHANISTAN, TERRORISM, AFRICA, CONTINUING MIDDLE EAST VIOLENCE
AMONG CRUCIAL ISSUES FOR SECURITY COUNCIL IN 2001

Adopts Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism Strategy; Sends
West Africa, Great Lakes Missions; Monitors Kosovo, East Timor Progress


In the shadow of the 11 September attacks on the United States, terrorism and the question of Afghanistan loomed over the Security Council's agenda in 2001. Throughout the year, however, the Council also focused on a global range of unstable situations, notably the long-term conflicts in Africa and the continuing violence in the Middle East. In addition, the significant progress in Kosovo and East Timor was closely monitored.

The Council once again demonstrated its interest in holding open debates on issues that have an impact on global peace and security. This year, the discussions addressed: civilians in armed conflict; women, peace and security; small arms and light weapons; conflict prevention; and HIV/AIDS.

On the day after the terrorist attacks, members broke tradition by standing in unison to adopt a resolution condemning them, expressing sympathy with families of the victims and the host country. Council members also expressed their readiness to combat all forms of terrorism in accordance with Charter responsibilities.

On 28 September, the Council adopted a wide-ranging and comprehensive resolution – 1373 (2001) – with steps and strategies to combat international terrorism and established a Counter-Terrorism Committee to monitor its implementation.

Before 11 September, the Council had met twice on Afghanistan, mainly to strengthen sanctions on the Taliban. On 13 November, during the first Council meeting on Afghanistan after the attacks, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the country was one of the United Nations’ greatest challenges and that challenge was now at its “most urgent stage”. The subsequent plan for a broad-based political reconstruction of the country, presented to the Council by his Special Representative, Lakdhar Brahimi, had progressed to its second stage by year's end.

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A lack of progress was highlighted in other tragic situations. For one, no agreement was reached on the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, as the death toll continued to climb in the cycle of violence that began in September 2000. Open Council debates heard more than 40 speakers each, with most speakers criticizing what they called illegal and inhumane acts by Israel, with some condemning all acts of lawlessness and terrorism. Two draft resolutions that proposed the establishment of an observer force and a monitoring mechanism, respectively, failed to be adopted in separate meetings, due to the negative vote of the United States.

Following are summaries of Council activity in 2001.

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Middle East

Israel/Palestinians

In five meetings during 2001, the Council provided a forum for Member States to express their deep concern over the deteriorating situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as violence within Israel, as the cycle of violence that began in September 2000 continued. The Council reached no agreement on action, however, as twice the United States vetoed resolutions.

On 15 and 19 March, in an open debate -- requested by the Group of Arab States, the Islamic Group, and the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine -- many governments expressed support for an international observer mission to the region. Most speakers criticized what they called Israel's use of excessive and indiscriminate force against Palestinian civilians. Several speakers also condemned all acts of lawlessness and terrorism. Almost all speakers urged an end to Israel's economic blockade of Palestinian towns and its encirclement of villages with troops and tanks.

On 27 March, the United States vetoed a draft resolution expressing the Council's readiness to set up an observer force, explaining that the resolution ignored the basic need to have the agreement of both parties. The United States would have supported the text, he said, if it had called for an end to incitement and violence, as well as for the implementation of all agreed commitments, including the agreements reached at Sharm el-Sheikh.

On the 20 and 21 August, the Council heard from 48 speakers on the situation, as it held another open debate at the request of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Implementation of the recommendations contained in the Mitchell report was overwhelmingly stressed at the meeting as the only viable path towards ending the violence in the Middle East and reviving the peace process.

That report, the product of a trip to the region by former United States Senator George Mitchell, that was issued on 21 May, included a call for an immediate ceasefire, a renunciation of terrorism and a resumption of peace talks and rebuilding confidence and trust between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It also called for a freeze on construction of settlements, a lifting of economic restraints on Palestinian areas, a limit to Israel’s use of lethal force against Palestinians, as well as for the Palestinian Authority to prevent Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

In the August meetings, many speakers continued to support the establishment of an international observer force in the Middle East. Others decried the further escalation of violence, Israeli extrajudicial assassinations, the occupation by Israeli authorities of Orient House and other Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, and what they called other deliberately “provocative acts”.

The Islamic Conference urged the Council to take the necessary measures to protect Palestinians, to restitute Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, and to lift restrictions imposed upon entry to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Muslim and Christian places of worship in the city. "The protection we seek should restrain Israel from continuing its illegal and inhuman practices that target the Palestinian people, and clear the air for resumption of the peace process", he said.

On 14 December, meeting from late on Friday night until early the next morning, the Council again failed to adopt a draft resolution by which it would have condemned all acts of extrajudiciary executions, excessive use of force and wide destruction of property, and looked to the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to help the parties. The draft received 12 votes in favour with 2 abstentions (Norway, United Kingdom), and was vetoed by the negative vote of the United States.

Israel/Lebanon

In 2001, the Security Council twice extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), on 30 January and 31 July, through the unanimous adoption of resolutions 1337 (2001) and 1365 (2001), respectively. By the latter resolution, the mandate was extended until 31 January 2002, maintaining the mission’s military strength at 4,500 troops.

By those resolutions, in light of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in June 2000, the Council called on Lebanon to reassert its authority in the south, deploy armed forces there more quickly and control all checkpoints. The Council also expressed concern about serious violations of the United Nations withdrawal line and urged parties to end them. It supported UNIFIL efforts to maintain the ceasefire along that line by patrolling, observing from fixed positions and keeping close contact with the parties.

Israel/Syria

The mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was extended twice in 2001, most recently on 27 November, by resolution 1381 (2001), until 31 May 2002. The UNDOF was established by Security Council resolution 350 of 31 May 1974 to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria and to supervise areas of separation and limitation.

After each of the extension resolutions were adopted, the Council expressed, through a presidential statement, its agreement with passages of the Secretary-General’s reports on UNDOF in which he called the situation in the Middle East potentially dangerous and likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement was reached.

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For information media - not an official record