IN 2005, SECURITY COUNCIL ADDRESSES BROAD RANGE OF CONCERNS , INCLUDING TERRORISM,
SITUATIONS IN AFRICA , MIDDLE EAST, IRAQ , AFGHANISTAN
Jointly with General Assembly, Council Establishes
Peacebuilding Commission to Advise on Post-Conflict Issues
The volume and scope of the Security Council’s activities increased in 2005 as the scale of peacekeeping operations reached a historic high, but in a late-year action to ease that burden, the Council, acting concurrently with the General Assembly, operationalized a major decision of the World Summit and established a Peacebuilding Commission to advise it on post-conflict situations.
Throughout 2005, the Council considered a broad range of situations in the world’s most critical trouble spots, focusing much of its attention on Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and Africa. It also addressed a host of thematic questions, including, among others, action to counter terrorism, the impact of small arms in fuelling conflict, and the role of women in peace and security concerns.
The Council held 200 formal meetings this year, adopting 71 resolutions and issuing 67 presidential statements. The veto was not used in 2005.
Meeting on 14 September at the highest levels of State and Government in conjunction with the World Summit, the Council unanimously adopted resolutions on two of its most pressing concerns: global terrorism and prevention of armed conflict, particularly in Africa. On the latter, the 15-member body reaffirmed the need for a broad conflict prevention strategy and urged all African States and the world community to develop the capacities of African regional and subregional organizations to deploy civilian and military assets quickly when needed.
Topping the agenda for the Council’s consideration of conflicts on that continent were the situations in the Sudan, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, and Somalia, as well as post-conflict situations in Burundi, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau. Its six year-long effort in Sierra Leone came to a successful conclusion on 31 December with the end of the work of the United Nations Mission (UNAMSIL) there.
Notably, the Mission had completed the task of disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating more than 72,000 combatants, and facilitated the return of more than half a million refugees and internally displaced persons. The Government’s authority was restored around the country, national and local elections were organized, and the national security apparatus was restructured. Special Representative Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago told the Council on 20 December that the country had risen from the ruins of a devastating decade-long conflict and undergone a remarkable turnaround towards a future filled with hope and promise.
Despite what the Secretary-General has called the “consistent and forceful” Security Council response to the Darfur crisis and its important stand against impunity there when it referred war crimes charges to the International Criminal Court in March, the situation remained grim. The conflict began with an armed rebellion against the Sudanese Government in February 2003, but, according to the Secretary-General, most of the targeted violence was the result of the armed militia’s “scorched-earth policy”. In his latest report, Mr. Annan says “civilians continue to pay an intolerably high price as a result of recurrent fighting by warring parties, the renewal of the scorched earth tactics by militia, and massive military action by the Government”.
Capping off the debate on conflict in Africa in December, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, said that no amount of humanitarian relief could provide what those threatened by the conflict in Darfur had wanted most from day one: effective protection against violence of the most vicious kind, and the ability to return home. Without an effective ceasefire, a political solution, and a strong international security presence, the huge humanitarian operation involving thousands of relief workers and hundreds of millions of dollars in donor aid could be lost, he warned.
With vicious terrorist attacks this year in Egypt, Iraq, the United Kingdom and elsewhere underscoring the magnitude of that threat, the United Nations bodies most directly engaged in the fight -- the Council and its subsidiary organs and their expert panels – repeatedly underlined the need to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of those intolerable acts. Unanimously adopting resolution 1625 (2005) in September, the Council condemned in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism, irrespective of their motivation, and the incitement of such acts, and repudiated attempts at their justification.
Also by that text, world leaders around the Council table called on States to prohibit by law such incitement, prevent such conduct, and deny safe haven to anyone guilty of such conduct. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, having submitted the text, warned the Council not to underestimate what the world was facing: terrorism would not be defeated until “our determination is as complete as theirs, until our defence of freedom is as absolute as their fanaticism, our passion for democracy as great as their passion for tyranny”. He called on all to fight the poisonous propaganda at the root of terrorism.
Iraq was exposed daily to all kinds of “blind terrorism”, aimed at halting the democratic changes taking place and sending Iraq back into darkness, its representative told the Council on 14 December, adding that the major challenge facing Iraq as it built its democracy and launched its reconstruction was “standing up to terrorism”. The Secretary-General said in his annual report on the work of the Organization that “nowhere were the stakes higher and the challenges to global peace and security greater than in Iraq”. Most recently, the Council responded quickly and unanimously on 8 November to a request of the Iraqi Government to extend the multinational force in Iraq until the end of 2006.
The Council also continued to monitor closely the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, through its monthly open briefings by senior Secretariat staff. In the last such briefing, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, cited some positive developments, notably steps towards the implementation of the Access and Movement Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but he reported that violence had continued in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in Israel and Lebanon. That violence undoubtedly raised tension in the region at a time when the political situation was evolving rapidly. He urged the parties to strive for a return to calm.
Asserting that promoting Lebanon’s stability was a vital part of efforts to achieve a comprehensive Middle East peace, Mr. Gambari said that the country had endured yet another attempt to undermine its stability and independence through the brutal killing of Gebran Tueni and three others on 12 December. Mr. Tueni had been a champion of a democratic, sovereign, Lebanon and of a free press. By resolution 1644 (2005) on 15 December, the Council also extended the International Independent Investigation Commission concerning the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri until 15 June 2006, and expanded its scope.
Following are summaries of major Council activities in 2005.
Hopes for Middle East peace, in particular between Israelis and Palestinians, were rekindled in 2005 with significant developments, such as the holding of democratic Palestinian presidential elections, Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, and the opening of a border crossing between Gaza and Egypt -- marking the first time in their history that the Palestinians had assumed control of part of their border.
“There is a palpable sense of expectation of real, substantial and sustainable change in the region”, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast told the Council on 13 January, citing the democratic election of the new President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. The elections were followed by the resumption of direct talks between the new President and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The following month, Mr. Prendergast informed the Council that “hope flowed” from the summit meeting between President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 8 February, hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in the presence of Jordan’s King Abdullah. At that meeting, President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon signalled their desire to break away from bloodshed and despair, and reaffirmed their commitment to the Quartet-backed “Road Map”.
[The Road Map is a performance-based, goal-driven plan with clear phases, timelines, target dates and benchmarks, aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ending the occupation that began in 1967. It was put forward by the “Quartet” –- United States, Russian Federation, European Union, United Nations -- and officially handed over to the parties on 30 April 2003.]
On 9 March, the Council welcomed the conclusions of the 1 March London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority, at which President Abbas presented a comprehensive plan for strengthening the Palestinian Authority’s institutions in the areas of security, good governance and development of the Palestinian economy. The Council, through a presidential statement, also hoped the Meeting would be part of longer-term international support to the Palestinian people and Authority, and a contribution towards implementing the Road Map.
Stressing the concern of the United Nations over Israel’s failure to dismantle settlement outposts and freeze settlement expansion, Mr. Prendergast told the Council on 24 March that Israeli settlement policy could not be separated from the issue of the barrier under construction in the West Bank. The approved route of the barrier still incorporated a significant percentage of Palestinian land and had a negative effect on the livelihoods of many Palestinians. While Israel had stated that the barrier was a temporary structure to meet security needs, no one could observe its scope and route without being concerned over possible implications for the contiguity of the future Palestinian State.
In April, he reported that with Israel preparing to withdraw from settlements in the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank -- a landmark in Israeli-Palestinian relations -- the challenge for the parties and the international community was to ensure that the disengagement happened, thus, contributing to the momentum for peace and offering a real opportunity to revitalize the process. Coordination and cooperation would be needed even more in the challenging transition period once disengagement was complete.
Despite the doubts and difficult challenges ahead, he added, the hope and optimism of the past months remained, confirmed by the continued overall decline in casualties, violence and military operations. However, indicators on the ground, especially the apparent failure to break the tendency towards “retributive violence”, suggested that the current situation was fragile. That fragility was reflected in, among other things, the Palestinian economy, which, despite modest improvements, was still in a state of crisis, with an unemployment rate between 36 and 41 per cent in the Gaza Strip.
The Quartet met in Moscow on 9 May to review the situation in the Middle East, with a particular attention to Gaza engagement, and focus on how best to help the parties maintain the momentum at “this fragile moment of opportunity”. Both parties were reminded of the need to avoid unilateral actions that might pre-judge final status issues, and urged to implement their Road Map obligations.
Despite the serious nature of various incidents, a prolonged breakdown of the calm prevailing in the Middle East over the several months had been averted, Mr. Prendergast told the Council in June, citing evidence of a serious effort on the Palestinian side to maintain the calm and, on the Israeli side, of determination not to overreact to isolated incidents.
In his first briefing since taking up his assignment as the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, Alvaro de Soto told the Council in July that Israel’s disengagement from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank was “a moment pregnant with hope, but also fraught with peril”. Albeit partial and on terms largely set by Israel, the planned withdrawal represented a positive, precedent-setting step that the international community could not but support. His briefing was followed by a day-long debate, in which some 35 speakers weighed in on the issue.
Despite the dramatic scenes everybody had seen on television and in newspapers, of Israeli military and police personnel removing settlers from their houses in Gaza, Israel’s disengagement from Gaza and northern parts of the West Bank in August proceeded smoothly and with surprising speed, aided by the restraint generally observed by militant Palestinian factions, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari reported to the Council on the 24th of that month.
Among the issues that still had to be dealt with were border crossings and trade corridors, linking Gaza and the West Bank, movement within the West Bank, the Gaza airport and seaport, and the houses and greenhouses in Israeli settlements. While substantial progress had been made in addressing those priorities in the framework of disengagement, much work would be required to bring about agreement on them.
Returning to the Council on 23 September, Mr. de Soto reported that Israel had withdrawn the last of its military personnel and installations from the Gaza Strip in the early hours of 12 September. The Israeli Government, while facing vociferous opposition, had proved its ability to carry out democratic decisions in the general interest, while knowing that they would cause pain and disruption to a significant number of its citizens. Palestinian groups, by and large, held back from violent action against the settlers. A basis had been laid for a true partnership, which should encourage each party to understand and address the other’s legitimate needs and concerns, he stated.
The Council, in a statement issued following Mr. de Soto’s briefing, expressed support for the statement issued by the Quartet after its meeting in New York on 20 September to discuss the Gaza disengagement and the prospects for movement towards peace in the Middle East. Welcoming the successful conclusion of the Israeli withdrawal, the Quartet reiterated its belief that that brave and historic decision should open a new chapter on the path to peace in the region.
In order to translate the disengagement from Gaza into a sustained and negotiated peace, Mr. Gambari said on 20 October that energetic coordination, cooperation and engagement by Israelis, Palestinians and the international community were required. He noted that “an upsurge in violence has undermined the positive political developments and dulled the sense of optimism that had resulted from last month’s Gaza disengagement”.
The postponement of proposed meetings between President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon was particularly disappointing, and it was to be hoped that talks planned for November would continue even if further security crises occurred. “The political track has to be resilient to the inevitable ups and downs of this unstable post-engagement period”, he added. Of immediate social and political importance was reopening the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza.
Subsequently, the Council welcomed the 15 November Agreement on Movement and Access and the Agreed Principles for the Rafah Crossing between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the successful opening of the Crossing on 25 November as an important step forward.
During his final briefing for the year on 20 December, Mr. Gambari told the Council that with the Road Map’s target date for a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict just 10 days away, it was obvious that, despite some very important progress, the destination would not be reached on time. “Let me be clear: This does not in any way detract from the centrality of the Road Map. It remains the agreed framework for achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East”, he stressed.
He said, however, that the imminent deadline was surely an occasion for all parties to reflect on what more they could do to ensure that the Road Map obligations were met. In the present delicate period leading up to both Palestinian and Israeli elections, the forces of violence and despair must be met with concrete political and economic action. An atmosphere of stability and restraint would help ensure that voices of peace and moderation were heard and heeded during the crucial election period.
A string of terrorist bombings resulting in the death of several prominent Lebanese politicians and journalists, among others, held the attention of, and prompted action by, the Council throughout 2005.
The 14 February terrorist bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and others triggered immediate condemnation by the Council. In a presidential statement issued the day after the attack, the Council called on the Lebanese Government to bring the perpetrators to justice, and requested the Secretary-General to report urgently on the circumstances, causes and consequences of the attack.
A week later, on 22 February, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast informed the Council that the Secretary-General had selected a team, headed by Peter Fitzgerald, a senior law enforcement official of Ireland, to gather such information as necessary for the Secretary-General to report to the Council in a timely manner on the attack.
The report, which was transmitted to the Council in late March, raised some very serious and troubling allegations, and concluded that an independent international investigation was needed. Therefore, the Secretary-General endorsed the team’s recommendation that such an investigation be established, the aim of which would be to reach conclusions as complete as possible about who was responsible for Mr. Hariri’s assassination.
Noting with concern the fact-finding mission’s conclusion that the Lebanese investigation process suffered from serious flaws and had neither the capacity nor the commitment to reach a satisfactory and credible conclusion, the Council established the International Independent Investigation Commission, unanimously adopting resolution 1595 on 7 April. German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis was appointed by the Secretary-General to head the investigation
Subsequent killings, which the Council condemned, included those of Samir Qassir, a Lebanese journalist; George Hawi, former leader of the Communist Party; and Gebran Tueni, Lebanese Member of Parliament, editor and journalist.
Presenting his first report to the Council on 25 October, Mr. Mehlis pointed to “converging evidence” of Syrian involvement in the killing of Mr. Hariri, and invited Syrian authorities to carry out their own investigation into the killing in an open and transparent manner, saying that such an investigation would allow the Commission to “fill in the gaps” in its report.
Countering the Commission’s findings, Syria’s representative said the report had been clearly influenced by the political climate prevailing in Lebanon after the assassination, and rejected the charges that his country had not sufficiently cooperated with the investigation.
Formally endorsing the Commission’s report, the Council, in a ministerial meeting on 31 October, called for Syria to cooperate fully and unconditionally with the Commission and insisted it not interfere in Lebanese affairs through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1636.
The Council also decided that all individuals suspected by the Commission or the Government of Lebanon of involvement in planning, sponsoring, organizing or perpetrating the murder be subject to travel restrictions and freezing of assets. In addition, it endorsed the Commission’s conclusion that Syrian authorities must clarify a number of questions that remained unresolved and detain Syrian officials or individuals the Commission considered as suspects.
Defining the crime as a terrorist act, the Council said that the involvement of any State in it would constitute a serious violation of that country’s obligations to prevent and refrain from supporting terrorism. It requested the Commission to report to the Council by 15 December on the investigation’s progress, including on Syria’s cooperation, so the Council could consider further action.
In a second briefing to the Council, on 13 December, Mr. Mehlis asserted, “it remains to be seen whether Syrian cooperation would be full and without conditions”. On the Lebanese track, the Commission had been able to resolve most impediments, thanks to the cooperation and willingness of the Lebanese authorities to facilitate the Commission’s work in all possible ways.
Meanwhile, the Commission was trying hard to make headway on the Syrian track, but its relationship with the Syrian authorities had been “marked by conflicting signals”, causing confusion and delays. At the present rate of Syrian cooperation, he noted, the investigation might take another year or two.
Two days later, adopting resolution 1644, the Council demanded that Syria respond “unambiguously and immediately” to the Commission, and extended the probe initially until 15 June 2006, leaving open the possibility of a further extension.
Acknowledging the Lebanese Government’s request that those eventually charged with involvement in the terrorist attack be tried by an international tribunal, the Council asked the Secretary-General to help that Government identify the nature and scope of the international assistance needed in that regard, and to report to the Council in a timely manner.
The Council also authorized the Commission, following Lebanon’s request, to extend its technical assistance to that Government with regard to their investigations on the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Lebanon since 1 October 2004. It asked the Secretary-General, in consultations with the Commission and the Lebanese Government, to present recommendations to expand the Commission’s mandate to include investigations of those other attacks.
In other action, the Council, on 22 June, commended the Government of Lebanon for the successful conduct of parliamentary elections held between 29 May and 19 June and congratulated the newly elected Members of the Lebanese Parliament. The new Government of Fuad Siniora was formally established by the 30 July parliamentary vote of confidence, as reported to the Council on 24 August by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari.
Significant progress was made in 2005 in the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004) with the news of Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon.
In resolution 1559, adopted on 2 September 2004, the Council called on all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon, as well as for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, and supported the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory.
The 26th of April -- the day of Syria’s formal notification to the United Nations that it had withdrawn all of its troops, military assets and intelligence apparatus from Lebanon -- was undoubtedly an historic day for the Syrian and Lebanese peoples, and for the Middle East, the Council was told on 29 April.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s first semi-annual report on the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004), Special Envoy Terje Rød-Larsen noted the withdrawal would require a wide-ranging redefinition of the long-standing close ties between the two countries, and the full implementation of all requirements of the resolution would help enable the people of Lebanon to begin setting aside the “enchaining and constraining vestiges of a captive past”. It would also set an important precedent, illustrating the international community’s commitment to the full implementation of all Council resolutions.
On 4 May, the Council, while welcoming significant progress by Lebanese parties towards implementing some of the provisions of resolution 1559, expressed concern at the lack of progress on disarmament of militias and the extension of control by the Lebanese Government over its territory.
The Council, gravely concerned about persistent tension and violence along the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel, twice extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), first on 28 January and then on 29 July. Unanimously adopting resolution 1614 on 29 July, extending the Force until 31 January 2006, the Council called on the Government of Lebanon to fully extend its “sole and effective” authority throughout the south, including through the deployment of sufficient numbers of armed and security forces and to exert “control and monopoly over the use of force” on its entire territory.
The Council twice renewed the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has supervised the ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974. On both occasions, first on 17 June and then on 21 December, the unanimously adopted resolutions extending the mandate for further six-month periods were accompanied by a presidential statement, in which the Council identified itself with the Secretary-General’s view that “... the situation 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”. The most recent extension would take the Force through to 30 June 2006.
Addressing the ever-present threat of terrorism to international peace and security, the Council condemned -- in the strongest terms -- all acts of terrorism irrespective of their motivation and the incitement of such acts, and repudiated attempts at their justification. Adopting resolution 1624 on 14 September at a meeting of Heads of State and Government, the Council also endorsed the work of its Counter-Terrorism Committee, directing it to work with Member States to help build capacity, including through spreading best legal practice and promoting information exchange.
Formally known as the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001), the Counter-Terrorism Committee was established to monitor the implementation of that resolution, through, among other things, reports from States on actions they had taken to that end. Adopted in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, resolution 1373 called on Member States to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, refrain from providing any support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, and deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support and commit such acts.
Addressing the Summit-level meeting, the Secretary-General called for the Council’s full backing of the five elements of his proposed comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy for the United Nations, including completion of a comprehensive anti-terrorism convention and denying terrorists the means to carry out their attacks through States’ accession to the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Tabling the text on terrorism, British Prime Minister Tony Blair described terrorism as a movement with an ideology and a strategy, not just to kill, but to cause instability and confusion among the enemies of terrorism.
Briefing the Council on 26 October, Ellen Margrethe Løj ( Denmark), who assumed the Committee’s chairmanship from the Russian Federation on 1 April, said recent events had proven that the Committee remained a crucial instrument of the international community in the fight against terrorism based on dialogue with and assistance to States. As part of its revitalization, the Counter-Terrorism Committee now had a fully staffed Executive Directorate (CTED), as established by resolution 1535 (2004), as well as more resources to give Member States guidance in their anti-terrorism efforts. In a briefing on 20 July, she noted that during the first three months of her chairmanship, the Counter-Terrorism Committee had focused on dialogue with States, strengthening its methodology for identification of States’ needs for technical assistance and ensuring transparency.
In a presidential statement adopted on 20 July, the Council reaffirmed that any acts of terrorism were criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivations, and reiterated its condemnation of the Al-Qaida network and other terrorist groups for ongoing and multiple criminal terrorist acts. It also called on all Member States to become parties to all 12 international conventions against terrorism. With recent events stressing the urgency of redoubling efforts to combat terrorism, the Council urged all States to cooperate in bringing to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of acts of terrorism.
On 25 April, the Council stressed the different mandates of the three anti-terrorism Committees and reaffirmed its call for enhanced cooperation among them in monitoring Member States’ implementation of the respective Security Council resolutions relevant to them. Through the adoption of a presidential statement, it also welcomed the General Assembly’s consensus adoption on 13 April 2005 of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
In a presidential statement adopted on 18 January, the Council, after learning of delays by 75 Member States in reporting on national efforts to defeat terrorism, issued an urgent call to States that had not reported to do so in order to maintain the universality of response which the threat of terrorism required. Prior to issuing the statement, then Committee Chairman, Andrey Denisov (Russian Federation), said the Council’s counter-terrorism-related resolutions and decisions of 2004 had created a new and more comprehensive and multifaceted counter-terrorism agenda, and had also put additional challenges before the Committee, which required additional efforts to accelerate its revitalization.
* *** *