Syria + 5 more

Press conference by Security Council President on work programme for February

While it was currently seized with the ongoing situation in Syria and a range of issues around the world, the Security Council’s main focus in February would be a members’ mission to Haiti, according to the Permanent Representative of Togo, which holds the body’s rotating presidency for the month.

The Haiti mission, which would take place from 13 to 16 February, would allow Council members to examine the situation up close two years after the devastating earthquake and to better support the efforts of the national authorities and the United Nations system on the ground, Kodjo Menen told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference. On Monday, consultations would be held on a more specific terms of reference.

The impact of transnational organized crime on peace, security and stability in West Africa would be another major topic addressed, through an open debate on 21 February, he said. Women and peace and security would be the subject of another open debate, on 23 February.

The debate on organized crime, he said, was being held in the wake of assessment missions dispatched by the Secretary-General to Guinea, where the impact of piracy and organized crime had been examined, and one to the Sahel, which had looked at the impact of the Libyan crisis on the countries of the region. The open debate would allow further consideration of the way that the international community could assist the countries of the region to find solutions to the challenges they were facing.

He stressed that the effects of piracy and organized crime went far beyond borders and were linked to many security and economic challenges, such as the proliferation of arms and illicit drugs. He pointed to the possibility that the terrorist groups Boko Haram and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) had contact with criminal actors in the region.

On Syria, he said, the Council was already following up on the public briefing requested by the Arab League that had been held on Tuesday. (See Press Release SC/10534) The draft resolution submitted by Morocco had been the subject of discussion by experts. As the experts had been unable to make progress towards a consensus draft, “informal informals” at the ambassador level had started late yesterday.

The Moroccan delegation, he said, had come up with a new draft that had been disseminated to Council members that morning. Discussions would continue to try to reach consensus. There was a general feeling in the Council that it needed to send a message to the Syrian parties “to put an end to violence and to open an inclusive dialogue with all members, including civil society”.

Asked by several correspondents about the main obstacles to consensus on Syria, he said that the Arab League’s proposals for a hand-over of power to begin a political transition, incorporated into the original draft, had been staunchly rebuffed by several delegations and the new draft took that into account.

Included in the discussions, he said, was consideration of how the Council could encourage a peaceful transition of power that was not imposed from the outside. That was what he favoured, rather than specified steps that the Syrian authorities could refuse to carry out. It was clear that open and transparent dialogue in the country was needed. He noted Russian proposals to bring together the range of Syrian stakeholders for such dialogue.

In regard to deadlines for a response by Syrian authorities to a Council decision, he said that an extension of the original 15 days had been discussed on that, and the latest draft allowed 21 days, and 30 days had also been mentioned. Comments of the British Foreign Secretary that measures under Chapter VII could then be imposed was not indicative of the full body’s feeling, he stressed. They would not be adopted, because of the clear objections of some delegations.

On violence from non-Government groups in Syria, he said that the Council deplored violence from wherever it came and wanted it to end. The Council certainly did not want a civil war to break out. He could not predict when the issue would come up for a vote, but it was clear that members wanted to act swiftly and it might occur on Monday.

On other situations, stressing that his country had excellent relations with Israel as well as the Palestinians, he said that before Palestinian membership in the United Nations was taken up, discussions to resolve issues on the ground should be intensified. Asked about tensions in Senegal, he expressed hope that wisdom would prevail and consensus would be reached. In general, Togo was in favour of preventive diplomacy, he said. Crises should be anticipated, so they did not break out.

Asked about lessons to be drawn from previous African Union support for the former Libyan regime, he said that the continent was becoming more aware of the need for States to provide greater freedom for their peoples. What was important now was to ensure that that the Libyan crisis and other conflicts did not exacerbate the many problems of the region. “Let us be forward looking,” he said.

For information media • not an official record