Monthly forecast Dec 2006
The Qatar presidency in December will be a challenging one. December is a short month because Council members usually strive to finish their work by Christmas. However, there are a near record-high number of issues on the December calendar. These include formally scheduled "housekeeping items" such as:
- renewal of mandates of three peacekeeping operations in Cyprus, Côte d'Ivoire and the Golan Heights;
- consideration of the performance and mandate of two UN political offices, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau; and
- renewal of four sanctions regimes and/or sanctions monitoring bodies.
In addition, the Council has on its plate four very large political issues:
- Darfur, where an unprecedented proposal for a hybrid AU-UN operation is being explored-with significant implications for management and accountability as well as the use of UN funding, which will need input from other UN organs, not least the powerful budgetary body, the ACABQ;
- Lebanon, where the resurgence of the crisis has raised questions about whether the Council's promised focus in resolution 1701 on "long-term solutions" has been left to drift for too long;
- Somalia, where as this Forecast goes to print, Council members were divided on the merits of a proposed regional military intervention; and
- Iran, whose nuclear programme and the nature of any Chapter VII response to it continues to divide the P5 and loom over the Council.
In addition, the monthly Council focus on the Middle East is likely to take on enhanced importance, not only because of recent developments in the region, but also because Qatar has been a leading player on the issue during its term on the Council.
The Darfur crisis worsens and the 31 December expiry date for the current AU mission AMIS is looming. Most Council members are uncomfortable with anything short of a UN mission to replace AMIS. They are likely, however, at the end of the day to acquiesce in a compromise "hybrid operation" along the lines of the proposal that came out of the Secretary-General's high level meeting in Addis Ababa on 18 November. But the details will be critically important-including on the amount of UN "spine". It is not only Council members that will have to be persuaded. Commitment authority for UN expenditure from the ACABQ will not be easily obtained unless there is clarity on how UN management, accountability and standards can be complied with. If, in the end, Khartoum causes this proposal to fail as well, it seems the question of sanctions will be back on the agenda.
On Somalia, many observers and some Council members worry about the implications of the Council perhaps authorising a military operation in Baidoa, to protect one of the parties, in the absence of consent of the other party, when in the case of Darfur, it had allowed the need for consent from Khartoum to dictate the fate of thousands of civilians. At press time, the conditions under which any IGASOM force would be deployed continued to divide Council members. This issue is, however, only one of many which are being addressed against the backdrop of a possible wider conflict involving regional neighbours such as Ethiopia and Eritrea.