Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for February

The main thematic focus for the Republic of Korea’s month-long Presidency of the Security Council would be civilian protection, Ambassador Kim Sook said today, briefing reporters at Headquarters on the 15-nation body’s February work programme, which also featured meetings on United Nations peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and Kosovo.

Pledging full cooperation among Council members and the Organization’s wider membership to ensure the Council worked effectively and efficiently, Mr. Kim said the open debate on protection of civilians in armed conflict, slated for 12 February, would provide an opportunity for Member States to enhance awareness about protection measures, as well as to identify opportunities and challenges on the horizon.

With a presidential statement as the expected outcome of the meeting, he said the Republic of Korea would propose possible sub-themes for the discussion: strengthening accountability to increase adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law; upgrading protection mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations; and bolstering protection specifically for women, children and medical workers in the field. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay were expected to provide briefings, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea would preside over the meeting.

Mr. Kim said that the Council’s second thematic meeting, scheduled for 13 February, would focus on cooperation with the European Union and feature a briefing by High Representative Catherine Ashton. Turning to the remainder of the programme of work, he said the Council planned meetings or consultations to consider mandate renewals for the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) (13 February), the Panel of Experts for the Committee on Sudan Sanctions (7 and 21 February), and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) (22 February).

The Council would be briefed in open session tomorrow, 5 February, on the situation in Guinea-Bissau, he said, adding that it would hold consultations regarding other country-specific matters during the month, including on the work of: the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) (5 February); the situation in Mali, including the composition and deployment readiness of African-led troops in that country’s north; and the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) (7 February).

He went on to say that, on 7 February, the Council would be briefed in open session by the representatives of the United Kingdom and Morocco, co-leaders of the recent mission to Yemen. The quarterly debate on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) would be held in the afternoon of 22 February, and the monthly briefing on the Middle East was set for 26 February.

Mr. Kim also flagged a wrap-up meeting his delegation would hold on the last day of the month to discuss the Council’s work and enhance transparency and cooperation with the wider United Nations membership. He said that other “pressing issues”, such as non-proliferation and the situation in Syria, were included in the “footnotes” of the Council’s work plan, and could be possibly discussed.

Answering several questions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in his national capacity, he said that in recent weeks there had been much “busy activity” at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and that “everybody is watching”. The non-proliferation issue was in the “footnotes” and he assumed the Council would convene “very swiftly”, if or when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea carried out a nuclear test. During consultations on the matter over the past month, he had seen that all Council members were “very unified and resolute”, and expected their stance to remain the same when the Council moved to condemn “such provocation.”

“I would like to see the Security Council take strong measures,” he continued, responding to another question on the matter. He said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had violated Council resolutions “time and again”, even conducting two missile tests in 2012. Now that country was threatening to “fire on” those that joined in implementing recent Council sanctions measures. That was obviously a threat to regional peace and security, as well as a direct attempt to undermine the Council’s authority. With so many serious issues at stake, he hoped for swift and resolute action from the Council, he reiterated.

On Syria, he told another correspondent that it was “no secret” that there was disagreement among Council members on the issue. During a recent closed-door briefing, Joint United Nations-Arab League Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had urged the Council to take a “strong lead” and ensure that all elements of the Geneva Communiqué on Syria were implemented. In any case, the Council would not lose sight of the situation on the ground and he expected that it could consult on the issue during the month.

As for whether delegations would discuss the Syrian crisis during the thematic debate on civilian protection, he expected that Member States could raise matters regarding civilian casualties and the refugee situation, with such displaced persons now facing harsh winter conditions. He also said that “heinous” terrorist acts were being perpetrated in the country that violated international humanitarian law.

On other matters, he confirmed one correspondent’s assertion that a letter had been sent to the Security Council from Syria’s Permanent Representative, regarding the alleged Israeli airstrike in that country. The letter had been received, but no further action had been taken.

For information media • not an official record