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

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Maintaining peace and security, preventing conflict and ending sexual violence against women in Africa would be among the Security Council’s top priorities in April, the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations said at Headquarters today.

Eugène-Richard Gasana said at a press conference on the Council’s work programme that Louise Mushikiwabo, his country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, would chair a ministerial-level briefing on 15 April on the root causes of conflicts across Africa, challenges to ending them and successes in that regard. That meeting, to be attended by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and potentially the Chairperson of the African Union, would issue a presidential statement.

Two days later, the Council would hold an open debate on “Women and peace and security”, he said, adding that the occasion would give delegates a chance to examine the Secretary-General’s 12 March report on sexual violence in conflict. Such themes had particular meaning for Rwanda, which had suffered the deaths of almost 1 million people during the April 1994 genocide, Mr. Gasana said, emphasizing his country’s commitment to preventing such mass atrocities in the future. “For the people of Rwanda, this month of April is one of mourning, reflection and remembrance.”

On Wednesday, the Council President said, after hearing a briefing on Mali by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, the Council would begin substantive consultations on the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission to that country.

The Council would address the situation in Western Sahara during an 11 April meeting with countries that had contributed troops to the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). Following that would be consultations with the Head of MINURSO on 22 April, and the likely renewal of the Mission’s mandate on 25 April. Also on that date, the Permanent Representatives of Bangladesh and Croatia, the respective former and current Chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission, would present that body’s 2012 report on post-conflict peacebuilding to the Council.

Afterwards, the Council would hold an open briefing, as well as closed-door consultations on Somalia, the President continued. Sudan and South Sudan would return to the spotlight once again on 11 April, when the Council was expected to hold consultations with the Head of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). On 29 April, the Council would hear a briefing on the African-Union United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), followed by consultations.

Following its annual retreat with the Secretary-General, scheduled for 22-23 April, the Council would hold its monthly open debate on the Middle East, Mr. Gasana said. On 4 April, delegation members would meet with Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, to discuss recent developments in that country.

He said other highlights this month would include two briefings, the first on 9 April by Margaret Vogt, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), and the other on 16 April by Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire. That would be followed by consultations on possibly adjusting the structure and strength of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), the President said, adding that, throughout April, the Council would continue monitoring the situations in Syria, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) region before holding a wrap-up session on 30 April.

Asked who would participate in the debate on the Middle East and whether it would focus on Syria, he said he did not have those specific details.

When asked whether Mr. Ban would focus on the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development goals during the 15 April briefing on peace and security in Africa, Mr. Gasana said he did not have the Secretary-General’s key speaking points, but the meeting would focus on preventing conflict and addressing its root causes.

Asked if the endorsement of the armed Syrian opposition by the League of Arab States would necessitate a change in the mandate of Lakhdar Brahimi, Joint Special Representative of the League of Arab States and the United Nations for Syria, Mr. Gasana said the matter was for the Arab League to address. The Council had not been consulted, and recognized Syria’s current Permanent Representative.

When asked whether the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s announcement that it would restart its shuttered nuclear reactor was in violation of Council resolutions, and whether the Council would take action as a result, he said the Council was monitoring the situation closely and would react accordingly.

Concerning the Council’s approval last week of an “offensive” combat force to neutralize and disarm local rebels and foreign armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, he said Rwanda had voted in favour of the text, which was a victory for all who sought peace in that country.

Regarding the United Nations threat to end support for two army battalions if the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo failed to bring suspected mass rapists to justice, he said “very important” information on the rapes remained pending.

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