By J Nastranis
UNITED NATIONS (IDN) – Two days after the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issued “a red alert for our world”, the new Security Council President Kairat Umarov has presented a content-rich agenda for the January programme of work of this vital organ of the world body which bears primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Umarov is Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN in New York – the first Central Asian country ever to chair the Council for January. Kazakhstan joined the Council as non-permanent member on January 1, 2017 for two years.
“Our Presidency will have three spotlights,” Umarov told journalists on January 2. “The first is non-proliferation, which is Kazakhstan’s hallmark in the UN. The second is the highlight on Afghanistan and Central Asia, which is crucial for the security of all of us. The third is the Middle East. So, we will have three important debates to on these three issues that are closest not only to our minds and soul, but also of relevance for the global community.”
The Council, he added, will hold on January 18 the High-Level Thematic Debate (Briefing) under the agenda item, “Non-Proliferation of WMD: Confidence-building Measures”.
Some Heads of State and Government, and Ministers are expected to attend the debate which President Nursultan Nazarbayev will address. His presence “indicates the high respect that Kazakhstan accords to the Council and the United Nations,” Umarov said.
The thematic debate will address key relevant non-proliferation issues on the UN Agenda, but through the prism of strengthening confidence-building measures (CBMs), with the aim of overcoming many country-specific, regional and thematic issues that have remained unresolved for many reasons, primarily, due to lack of mutual trust and goodwill, the Council President explained.
CBMs are necessary for implementing resolution 1540 since the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) is perpetuated by threshold states and/or destructive non-state actors. “CBMs, as we realize in the Council, should become part of not just the non-proliferation process, but in all political peace processes as well,” Umarov stressed.
The Secretary-General will brief the Council on non-proliferation and will highlight its alarming rise with its threat to global peace.
On the same day, after the Thematic Debate (or Briefing), the Council is expected to adopt a Presidential Statement (PRST) on conflict prevention to highlight the important role of preventive diplomacy at the regional level. “This PRST will be complimentary and supportive of the SG’s New UN Agenda for Peace with its security reform agenda,” Umarov said.
On January 19, the Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov will preside over a Ministerial-level Debate on “Threats to international peace and security: Building regional partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a model to link security and development.” Guterres will be a briefer.
A number of foreign ministers of the Security Council have confirmed their presence. And, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Central Asian States and Afghanistan too are planning to attend and speak.
“We also look forward to the adoption of a Presidential Statement, aimed at building a constructive and innovative regional partnership between Afghanistan and Central Asia. This draft has been elaborated in cooperation with the Office of Counterterrorism,” Umarov said.
He announced that the Central Asian States are committed to developing long-term cooperation with Afghanistan, as it is in their political and economic interests. “Afghanistan, we believe, should not be viewed as a threat but as an important and high-potential partner. It is therefore critical to integrate the economies of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, including Central Asian States. This can be achieved through enhanced interaction and connectivity by implementing regional infrastructure, trade, investment and transit transportation projects,” the Council President emphasized.
The Debate will aim at seeking ways to make the Central Asian region into a zone of peace, cooperation and prosperity through closer collaboration with the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA), the UN system and regional organizations to counter the many challenges faced by Afghanistan.
“This can be achieved by stronger emphasis on security-development nexus through development projects in Central Asia and Afghanistan with the support of the international community,” Umarov stated.
The quarterly Open Debate under the agenda item, “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” is scheduled for January 25. Keeping in view the sensitivities of the issue, Umarov said: “We are not intending to change the traditional political and humanitarian nature of this debate.” The briefer to will be decided by the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA).
Apart from these debates, Umarov said, Kazakhstan will have on its programme of work for the month of January, the issues such as Colombia, the United Nations Peace Keeping Force on Cyprus (UNFICYP) and Syria including the political, humanitarian and chemical weapons issues. “As for Syria, we had the 8th round of talks in Astana end of December,” he added.
Asked whether the Council would put any pressure on the Government of Syria regarding humanitarian aid and chemical weapons now that the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was “dead”, Umarov responded that the question of chemical weapons was going to be examined by the Council on January 9. However, it would not be possible to discuss the Mechanism, as that issue had already been decided.
The Council’s January program under Kazakh presidency contains a heavy focus on Africa reviewing seven peacekeeping operations in the region: MONUSCO (UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), UNAMID (The African Union / United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur), UNOWAS (UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel), MINUSMA (UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali), UNSOM (UN Assistance Mission in Somalia), UNSMIL (UN Support Mission in Libya) and UNMISS (UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan).
Umarov said, on January 30, besides the expected renewal of the mandate of UNFICYP, the plan is to take appropriate action on reviewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic (CAR).
At the end of the Kazakh Presidency, on January 31, the Council President will be holding “a formal wrap-up session to reflect on the work of the Council during the month, evaluate the implementation of its decisions, and reflect on the greater transparency of its work. It would also allow reflection on what the Council had not been able to achieve during the month, and how it could improve its work.”
Umarov told journalists that this being Kazakhstan’s first time to chair the Council, he hoped “this experience will help us to promote our priorities further with a concrete and practical results.”
He added: “We intend to be transparent and will therefore have as many open sessions as possible so that non-Council members can feel involved and contribute to the work of the Council. We also plan to arrange media stakeouts after the closed consultations and meetings of the Security Council scheduled for this January.”
Answering questions about the prospect of an emergency Council meeting on Iran at the request of the United States, the possibility of which was raised on January 2 by the country’s permanent representative Nikki Haley, he said that while Iran was not on the current agenda, he would be ready for the Council to discuss it if any member were to make a request.
Responding to a question on whether the Council’s discussion on non-proliferation would focus on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea or DPRK), he said that the briefing would be of a general nature rather than examining that particular example. However, it would probably be one of the subjects up for discussion, as other countries were willing to obtain nuclear capability because of the very tense international situation. [IDN-InDepthNews – 03 January 2018]
Photo: Ambassador Kairat Umarov (centre, on dais), Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN and President of the Security Council for the month of January, briefs journalists on the Council’s programme of work for the month on January 2 at the UN Headquarters in New York. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.