Tuesday 5 August 2014
1. On 31 July 2014, Rwanda, which is a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period January 1st 2013 through December 31st 2014, has completed its second and last presidency of that organ. During that period, our country presided over the Council twice, in April 2013 and in July 2014, as the presidency is rotating, by alphabetical order and on a monthly basis, between members of the Security Council.
2. For both presidencies, Rwanda decided to convene “Wrap-Up Sessions”, which provide an opportunity for the Council to assess its work, through country-specific situations and thematic issues considered during the month, and critically examine its progress on those issues, its processes, and how it can increase its efficiency and effectiveness.
Last year in April, the session was organized under the format of a private meeting, closed to the public and to the media, but this year, Rwanda decided to convene a Wrap-Up Session under the format of a public briefing.
3. The convening of this meeting under the public format was based on the need to enhance transparency and to enable the larger public to be well apprised of the Council’s work. Indeed, according to article 24 of the UN Charter, it’s the UN general membership, which represents the citizens of all our countries, that confers on the Security Council the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
4. Rwanda’s presidency in July 2014 was very busy and unpredictable, as several conflicts erupted or worsened during the month (Gaza/Israel, shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, Iraq and Libya). In July 2014, the Security Council held thirty-five (35) meetings overall, mainly related to conflict-specific situations, but also to thematic debates such as peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding. Those meetings comprise of two (2) open debates (public meetings in which all UN member states can speak), ten (10) briefings (public meetings in which only the fifteen members of the Security Council can speak), fifteen (15) closed consultations (informal and closed meetings between members of the Security Council), seven (7) adoptions (public meetings aimed at taking action on draft resolutions or draft presidential statements) and one (1) private meeting with troop- and police-contributing countries. Additionally, the President of the Council convened an informal interactive dialogue on post-conflict peacebuilding, which was held on Tuesday 15 July.
5. Regarding Council pronouncements, the Security Council adopted five (5) resolutions, three (3) presidential statements, sixteen (16) press statements, as well as four (4) elements to the press. It is worth noting that the number of press statements adopted during the month of July 2014 was the highest since the introduction of “press statement” as a tool of the Security Council, in November 2000.
6. The main topic of the Rwandan presidency was the thematic debate on peacekeeping, as Rwanda, which is among the top troops and police contributing countries in the world, celebrated, in July 2014, its tenth anniversary in peacekeeping operations. On Monday 28 July, Rwanda convened an open debate on regional partnerships in peacekeeping and its evolution, during which resolution 2167 (2014), introduced by Rwanda, was unanimously adopted. This resolution expressed its determination to take effective steps to further enhance the relationship between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, in particular the African Union, in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations. It further stressed the need to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing regional organizations when they undertake peacekeeping under a Security Council mandate.
7. Furthermore, Rwanda firmly believes that peacekeeping, multidimensional and robust as it may be, cannot alone resolve conflicts. Indeed, maintenance of international peace and security requires concrete, coordinated and sustained action from the stage of conflict prevention to that of post-conflict peacebuilding. It’s in this context that the Security Council held, on Tuesday 15 July, a briefing on post-conflict peacebuilding. This meeting was followed by an informal interactive dialogue between members of the Security Council, the President of Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), various Chairs of the PBC Configurations, countries on the PBC agenda (Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone) and the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support. The meeting was frank, direct and fruitful, as it was an opportunity to further discuss on how to strengthen the PBC advisory function to the Security Council, and on how to address the recurring relapse into conflict, mainly on the African continent, as demonstrated by conflicts in South Sudan and in the Central African Republic.
8. During the month of July 2014, the Security Council also considered a number of country-specific situations. It is important to note that although African conflicts continue to be present in the work of the Council, they were not a majority of situations considered in the programme of work for July 2014, contrary to previous months. However, this was not due to the decrease of conflicts in Africa, always dominated by crises in South Sudan and in the Central African Republic, but to the worsening situations in other parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East (Gaza, Syria and Iraq) and in eastern Ukraine.
9. In the Middle East, the Security Council was yet again confronted with the resumption of hostilities in Gaza. Given the magnitude of the conflict, which had taken more than fourteen hundred (1,400) lives, mostly civilians, women and children, the Security Council met in emergency on five (5) occasions to discuss the situation, including two night meetings, which are the closed consultations held on Sunday 20 July at 9:30pm and an adoption meeting held on Monday 28 July at midnight (night of Sunday-Monday). In this regard, the Security Council adopted, for the first time since 2009, Council products on the Palestinian question. The Council adopted a presidential statement (calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire), three (3) press statements (including those condemning the events that triggered the current conflict, which are the abduction and killing of the three Israeli teenagers, followed by the abduction and killing of the Palestinian teenager) and two (2) elements to the press.
10. On Syria, following the persistent violation of the humanitarian resolution 2139 (2014) by all sides, the Security Council unanimously adopted, on Monday 14 July, another humanitarian resolution (2165), by which it authorized UN humanitarian agencies to use routes across conflict lines and four (4) additional border crossings (with Turkey and Jordan), without the consent of the Syrian Government, in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people in need throughout Syria, through the most direct routes.
11. On Ukraine, the Security Council met in emergency on Friday 18 July, following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, resulting in the tragic loss of 298 lives, mostly citizens from The Netherlands. The Council also adopted a press statement (SC/11480), followed by a resolution (2166), calling for a full, thorough, independent and unhindered international investigation.
12. It is worth noting that the situations in Gaza/Israel, Syria and Ukraine brought to light, in a single month, the division among Council members, especially when involving interests of some of the five permanent members. To be fair, the Security Council should be commended for overcoming its divisions and adopting critical decisions, such as the humanitarian resolution 2165 on Syria, resolution 2166 on the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine and the presidential statement (S/PRST/2014/13) on Gaza. Nonetheless, it is clear that in July 2014 like in previous months, influential members of the Security Council were once again unable or unwilling to use their influence in finding a sustainable political solution to all those crises.
13. As Rwanda has now completed nineteen (19) months in the Security Council, we can say that the outcome is so far positive. We have initiated and introduced three (3) important documents of the Security Council, which were all adopted unanimously. Those documents are (1) the presidential statement of 15 April 2013 (S/PRST/2013/4), addressing the root causes of conflict in Africa; (2) resolution 2150 of 16 April 2014, calling upon States to recommit to prevent and fight against genocide, reaffirming its responsibility to protect, underscoring the importance of taking into account lessons learned from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, and condemning without reservation any denial of this Genocide; as well as (3) resolution 2167 of 28 July 2014 on regional partnerships in peacekeeping, stressing the need to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing regional organizations, particular African Union-led peacekeeping operations.
14. More generally, Rwanda has always, in the Security Council, advocated for African interests and was always driven by the need to prevent conflicts, genocide and other mass atrocities; to protect civilians during armed conflicts, including by using the principle of the Responsibility To Protect (R2P); to find peaceful solutions to conflicts and to ensure an effective post-conflict peacebuilding, in order to avoid relapse into conflict.
Deputy Permanent Representative
to the United Nations