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Africa would be at the heart of the Security Council’s work in March, with the 15-member body travelling to the continent ahead of open debates on the Great Lakes region and the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution, the Permanent Representative of Angola, the 15-member body’s President for the month, said today at a Headquarters press conference.
Providing an overview of the Council’s forthcoming work, Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins said the body would convene tomorrow morning for the adoption, hopefully by consensus, of a long-awaited resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as a resolution on South Sudan sanctions.
The Council would then depart on 3 March for Senegal, Mali and Guinea-Bissau, marking the start of what Mr. Gaspar Martins described as “an African-centric programme” for the month, aimed at addressing lingering conflicts while emphasizing the continent’s potential for peace and development.
“We want to change this narrative of Africa” being a place of unending turmoil, he said, emphasizing that the Council was hoping, by its presence on the ground, to serve as a “preventative element” in Mali and to see if it could help move the political agenda forward in Guinea-Bissau.
Once back in New York, he said the Council would hold an open debate on 21 March on the prevention and resolution of conflicts in the Great Lakes region, and another on 28 March on the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution in Africa, including the role they can play in educating young people to become better citizens and in steering them away from terrorism.
On South Sudan, speaking in his national capacity, the President cautioned against positions that would aggravate the conflict, such as applying sanctions on the main stakeholders. It was hoped that if the spread of arms could be reduced, a better situation for the future would emerge.
Other topics to be taken up by the Council in March would include Libya and the Middle East, he said. Furthermore, there would be a briefing on 31 March on cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union, with the latter’s High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, participating.
Highlights in the Council’s provisional programme of work include a briefing on Libya on 2 March, ahead of the adoption of a resolution regarding that country on 15 March, and a debate on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) on 17 March. Six consultations regarding the Middle East were scheduled, including two on Syria on 23 and 30 March.
Responding to a correspondent’s question regarding the nomination of the next Secretary-General, he said that question would be discussed more specifically in April, although there would be an informal gathering of Permanent Representatives in March as well. It was hoped that the next Secretary-General would be capable, regardless if it were a woman or a man.
Asked about the resolution regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said the text had been chiefly negotiated by the key stakeholders and that, hopefully, it would be adopted by consensus. He emphasized the role that China had played by inviting that country into negotiations. The nuclear programme in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had touched a nerve, and therefore had to be dealt with. Confidence-building measures would meanwhile continue, as “the last thing we want to see is another war situation on the peninsula”.
On the potential for women to serve as United Nations mediators, he said women in his country had been performing that role very actively. Women formed a majority in the world and it was thus normal that they should be involved — not because of their gender, however, but because they were capable.
Asked about Syria in the context of the cessation of hostilities, he said there was agreement to hold a meeting upon the Council’s return from West Africa on 9 March. Separately, there would also be a briefing on the Israel-Palestine question on 24 March.
In response to a question about Burundi, he said an erroneous interpretation of what had come out of Arusha, together with other factors, had fed a situation that came close to an ethnic clash. It was preferable to deal with the country’s President and encourage him to be more inclusive. Forcing him to step down would not be right.
Concerning possible war crimes in Africa, he said they should first be addressed in the continent’s courts. All crimes had to be accounted for, wherever they were committed, but if the International Criminal Tribunal became overcrowded, it would not be able to function. There had to be accountability in countries first.