German Presidency - UN Security Council in July

Jul 5, 2011

Presidency of the Security Council

Germany has taken over the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council in what will be an eventful month. Alongside the changes sweeping the Arab world, work will focus primarily on South Sudan’s imminent declaration of independence. Speaking on the eve of Germany’s month as President, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said, “The architecture of the world is undergoing dramatic changes – and this has to be reflected in the work of the United Nations.”

Internationally, my interest lies in maintaining long-standing partnerships and in developing new ones,” the Minister said, adding that Germany wanted to build bridges to the new powerhouses of the 21st century. He also underlined Germany’s intention to help see the United Nations too present a true reflection of the balance of power in the modern world.

Focus on the Arab world

The upheaval in the Arab world – particularly the situation in Libya – has occupied the UN Security Council for months. Libya and the international intervention mandated by the United Nations are firmly on the agenda and set to remain there throughout July. The UN Special Envoy to Libya, Abdul Ilah Khatib, will report to the Security Council on the current situation.

In addition, Germany and its European partners will be working to see the situation in Syria return to the agenda too. “During our Presidency, we will continue to campaign for the Security Council to send out a clear response to the unacceptable tactics of repression and violence being used in Syria,” declared Minister Westerwelle on 30 June.

The Presidency of the UN Security Council changes every month, passing from member to member in alphabetical order according to the states’ English names. Having started its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the Security Council on 1 January 2011, Germany will take over the Presidency for the first time on 1 July. Holding the Presidency means chairing the debates and consultations which take place during the month in question and organizing the voting among the members.

A new state

Another focus of Germany’s Presidency of the Security Council is the Sudan. South Sudan is expected to apply – at the same time as it declares its independence on 9 July – for membership of the United Nations. As Minister Westerwelle emphasized, “A new state’s declaration of independence is a historic event.” He identified the goal here of seeing two stable Sudanese states coexist as good neighbours from 9 July on.

It is planned that the Security Council, chaired by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, will communicate its recommendation on South Sudan to the General Assembly on 13 July, where the relevant decision will then be taken. That day’s Security Council session will also be an opportunity to take stock of the political situation and consult as to the challenges which lie ahead in the Sudan.

When the UNMIS mandate expires, an operation which currently has peacekeepers stationed in northern and southern parts of the Sudan, the United Nations will continue to provide South Sudan with advice and support through a peacekeeping mission. War-zone conditions have arisen recently, particularly in the border region of Abyei. For a transition period – until North and South Sudan agree on a sustainable solution for Abyei – the newly founded UNISFA mission is intended to pursue the demilitarization of the region, enable access for humanitarian aid and guarantee security. Alongside the issues affecting the north-south border, the crisis region of Darfur also remains a cause for concern to the United Nations and UNAMID, its mission there.

Other regions on the agenda

Next to the Sudan and the Arab world, the focus will also be on Afghanistan. A debate is planned for 6 July to discuss the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in particular. July will also see the Security Council look at such African countries as the Central African Republic and Côte d’Ivoire as well as the Great Lakes Region.

Finally, the Middle East conflict is always on the Security Council agenda, and is addressed every month; July’s debate will be open to non-members. The discussion is particularly likely to include the Palestinian Authority’s possible intention to apply for full UN membership for Palestine in September.

On Germany’s initiative

Two more such open debates are planned for July on Germany’s own initiative, providing an opportunity for the international community to discuss some urgent international-relations issues and state their positions on them. The subjects will be the protection of children in armed conflicts and climate change and security.

The protection of children

The debate on children and armed conflict planned for 12 July is to be chaired by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle personally. Germany is already deeply involved in the topic; it assumed the chair of the Security Council Working Group of the same name on 1 January. The Minister has described improving the protection of children – the most vulnerable in any armed conflict – as a duty which lies particularly close to his heart.

The intention of this debate is to create an opportunity to address at the political level the question of how to protect the weakest in society. Germany is seeking the adoption of a resolution to extend the protection regime for children in wars and other armed conflicts, particularly to include the protection of schools and hospitals.

Climate and security

With the open debate of 20 July, Germany wants to create a firmly established place on the Security Council agenda for climate and security, a topic which is crucial to the future of mankind. The debate is intended to centre around the security-related effects of climate change: rising sea-levels and the resultant security risks, as well as food security.

“We can already see how scarcity caused by climate change results in conflict over the control of resources – which can in turn lead to violence, war and destruction. This is a point,” said Minister Westerwelle, “which we want to address, and we intend to launch the long-term process of doing so.”

Under Article 24 of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council bears chief responsibility for maintaining international security and peace. Climate change threatens the existence of many island states – the United Nations has more than 40 small island countries among its membership. Security risks are posed not only by the issue of refugees but also by conflicts breaking out over the control of resources which climate change will make increasingly scarce.

© GermanyUN