In a year characterized by mass protests and other challenges to entrenched leadership that frequently provoked violent reactions, the Security Council continued in 2011 to grapple with the question of protecting civilians in a manner consistent with the United Nations Charter, as the 15-member body remained seized of a wide range of conflicts, the birth of South Sudan, the Palestinian application for membership in the Organization and other developments.
The Council adopted 66 resolutions — 40 of them concerning Africa — and issued 22 presidential statements. Once again it strove for consensus, with only five texts requiring a vote, although two on the Middle East suffered vetoes — one by the United States and the other by China and the Russian Federation.
In total, the Council convened 213 public meetings in 2011, up sharply from the 182 held in 2010, with 115 of them concerning Africa, the setting of both Sudanese republics, as well as Libya, the one theatre of the “Arab Spring” that deteriorated into full-blown civil war. Much attention was also devoted to events in Côte d’Ivoire, where after an election defeat the former president refused to step down for five bloody months; and Somalia, where change accelerated after insurgents withdrew from the capital, stakeholders agreed on plans to meet transition goals, attention to piracy focused on increasing regional capacity for the prosecution of suspects, and access to aid for those suffering from widespread famine became increasingly crucial.