Concept note: Security Council meeting on Peace and Security in the Middle East
(Concept note: Security Council meeting on Peace and Security in the Middle East)
The recent developments in the Middle East and the Arab world are at the centre of international attention and diplomatic efforts. Over the last 18 months, the Security Council has been confronted with several threats to peace and security in the region. The League of Arab States, in addressing these developments, has also played a crucial role for the maintenance of international peace and security.
The meeting of the Security Council at the level of Foreign Ministers on 26 September 2012 is to analyse and assess issues that are currently on the agenda of both the Security Council and the League of Arab States. The objective is to strengthen the relationship between the two organizations in their common efforts for peace and stability in the Middle East. The meeting will be chaired by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby, are expected to brief the Council.
Common challenges for the Security Council and the League of Arab States ...
The United Nations is strongly engaged in the Arab world, particularly in the field of peace-keeping and peacebuilding (UNTSO, UNDOF, UNIFIL, UNSMIL). The Security Council and/or the General Assembly remain engaged in addressing several specific situations in the region, including Israel and Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.
The League of Arab States has been actively working for the resolution of a number of conflicts in the Middle East and the Arab world, e.g. in Libya, Yemen and the Israeli-Palestinian question. On 31 January 2012, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States briefed the Security Council on the League’s efforts to reach peace in Syria.
In his report on the “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations” (S/2012/614), the UN Secretary-General highlights the growing cooperation between the United Nations system and the League of Arab States, including on questions of international peace and security. It encompasses the whole range of conflict prevention and resolution issues, thus looking at peace-making, peace-keeping and peace-building as well as disarmament and combating organised crime, terrorism and drug trafficking.
The fundamental changes that began to unfold in the Arab world a year and a half ago have dramatically added to these challenges. The legitimate aspirations of the people in the region for more democracy, economic freedom and human rights – the pillars of sustainable peace and stability - engender new opportunities and responsibilities for both organisations. Reflecting this common responsibility, the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and of the League of Arab States appointed Kofi Annan as their Joint Special Envoy and, at the end of his mandate, Lakhdar Brahimi as their Joint Special Representative for Syria.
… and how to meet them.
The League of Arab States has assumed a leading and unifying role with regard to regional peace and security, speaking in a clear voice to the international community. It has become the key interlocutor between the region and the world. In remarks made on the occasion of the League of Arab States Summit in Baghdad, on 29 March 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that “the Arab Awakening has given the League of Arab States a new sense of purpose”, and that, in historic times, it has “led by example”.
In times of transition, it is necessary to foster and intensify the fruitful cooperation between the Security Council, which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security, and the League of Arab States, which - as a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter - interacts with the Security Council in the context of the pacific settlement of disputes and the maintenance of international peace and security. And while the internal developments in every Arab country are of their own unique character, the international community must take a new, fresh look at the region as a whole. The United Nations should build a comprehensive partnership with the League of Arab States that will help to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of the people in the Arab world and to tackle the common challenges in the political, security, economic and social fields.
Working with the representatives of the League of Arab States we want to explore concrete options for enhanced cooperation with the Security Council, and between the Secretariats of the two organizations. The Security Council should work together with the League of Arab States to positively influence regional processes in order to prevent them from degenerating into disputes.
Participants in the meeting of the Security Council are invited to explore the strategic aspects of cooperation between the Security Council and the League of Arab States. While attention to specific conflicts on the agenda is welcome, we would however like to encourage participants to address over-arching as well as institutional questions. The latter could include:
- How can we strengthen the existing LAS-UN cooperation on political issues?
- How can we jointly place more emphasis on conflict prevention and resolution?
- Should we regularly assess the cooperation between the Security Council and the League of Arab States? Should we follow similar examples and have annual meetings between the Security Council and the League of Arab States?
- How can we strengthen the institutional ties between the LAS and the UN, e.g. by establishing a UN Liaison Office in Cairo? Is there specific UN expertise that might be useful to building further capacity?