Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sudan: Sudan to dominate Security Council’s December schedule

With just weeks remaining before the hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force is due to take over from the existing AU operation in Darfur, the situation in Sudan is set to dominate the Security Council’s programme for December, its President for the month said today.

Briefing reporters in New York, Ambassador Marcello Spatafora of Italy, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for this month, said the Council will be focusing on Sudan over the next several days.

In particular, since the transfer of authority from AMIS, the AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur, to the hybrid force – known as UNAMID – will take place on 31 December, it will be necessary for the Council to “assess where we stand with the deployment of the force,” especially given the difficulties associated with the deployment that were cited by the UN peacekeeping chief last week, Mr. Spatafora said.

Also on Sudan, the 15-member body will hear a briefing tomorrow from the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, on the Court’s activities related to Darfur. Then on Thursday, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes will brief on his nine-day trip to Africa, during which he visited Darfur, as well as Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

“Our main and first concern has to be the situation on the ground,” Mr. Spatafora said, adding that Mr. Holmes’ briefing will be crucial to “really have a first-hand assessment of where we are now in Sudan.”

Sudan is on the agenda again for Friday, when Mr. Spatafora, in his capacity as chair of the Sudan sanctions committee, will brief the Council on the report of the committee’s panel of experts.

Among the other African issues that will occupy the Council’s attention this month will be the situation in Somalia, which has been described by the top UN envoy in that country as “the worst crisis in Africa,” stated Mr. Spatafora. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to submit proposals to the Council for the renewal of the UN political office in Somalia, whose mandate expires at the end of this year.

The Council will also discuss Guinea-Bissau, which Mr. Spatafora said “represents a crucial test case for the UN’s ability to respond to post-conflict challenges.” Discussions are expected to focus on recent developments in the country’s fight against drug trafficking, which the Council has recognized as a “most serious and imminent threat.”

Turning to the Middle East, Mr. Spatafora said that the outgoing Commissioner of the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) examining the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and others, Serge Brammertz, will brief the Council tomorrow. The Council is also expected to hear from senior UN officials on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

The Council would address the issue of Kosovo, after having received the report on negotiations on the future status of the UN-administered province. “When the time comes we will assess and decide how to go forward on process and on substance,” the President said regarding the Council’s next steps with regard to Kosovo.

On Iran, he said the Council is expected to receive the quarterly report of the Iran sanctions committee this month. Asked about the recently released United States intelligence report concluding that there has been no ongoing nuclear weapons programme in Iran since the fall of 2003, Mr. Spatafora replied: “We will see at the proper time if and how this will impact on our work.”

On Myanmar, he said the Council is keeping in close contact with UN Envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who just returned from the region and is planning to visit Myanmar at the end of this year or early next year.

During this month the Council is expected to renew the mandates of a number of UN operations, including those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi and the Golan Heights.

It is also expected to renew the chairs of the Council’s subsidiary bodies, as well as elect two members of the Peacebuilding Commission. The Council will also hold meetings on the situations in Burundi and Sierra Leone – the first two countries to be on the agenda of the Commission. In addition, it will take up the Liberian sanctions regime.

Source: United Nations News Centre