7527th Security Coucil Meeting on Maintenance of International Peace and Security - Part 1

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30-Sep-2015 03:32:31
All United Nations Tools Must Be Used to Reverse Downward Spiral of Instability in Middle East, North Africa, Secretary-General Tells Security Council
7527th Meeting (AM)

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Rampant instability and terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa could only be stemmed through a united, comprehensive approach that addressed root causes, speakers stressed to the Security Council today in an all-day high-level open debate presided over by the Russian Foreign Minister with a briefing by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“We must work together to stop this downward spiral, using all United Nations tools,” Mr. Ban said, as he opened the meeting, which also included the participation of the United States Secretary of State and scores of other foreign ministers, with more than 75 high-ranking officials taking the floor in total.

A concept note for the meeting, prepared by the Russian presidency of the Council (document S/2015/678), cited the deteriorating situations in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen and the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It urged that a common understanding be worked out of “both the causes of the current profound security crisis in the region and of the political and other factors aggravating the crisis”, for the purpose of generating internationally agreed measures to stop escalation of conflict and terrorist activity.

Mr. Ban, in his opening, noted that the United Nations was currently developing a plan of action to prevent violent extremism and stem related conflicts, while avoiding steps that bred the resentment on which extremism fed. The plan would set out support to Member States through a holistic approach encompassing peace and security, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian action.

“The people of the Middle East and North Africa deserve our full support in meeting these tests and steering the region towards a path of freedom, safety and dignity for all,” he said.

Following those remarks, the Russian Foreign Minister made a statement in his national capacity, arguing that the rapidly deteriorating situation in the region and subsequent mass migration made it clear that new, united strategies were needed to defeat terrorism, taking into account the lessons learned after what he called previous “reckless actions” of international intervention.

In Syria, he said, those who were fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS), including the Government, should be supported in their effort, with due consideration for Syrian sovereignty and robust support to a political process of reconciliation and understanding. In that context, he reported that his country had been requested by the Syrian Government to provide military assistance to fight ISIL, which would be limited to air action and related engagement.

Other speakers in the debate that ensued concurred that ISIL and other violent extremists posed grave dangers, not only to the region, but the entire globe. Noting the opportunities provided to terrorists by the ongoing conflict in Syria and the resulting mass flow of migrants, most called for effective action to support a Syrian-led political solution consistent with the Geneva Communiqué.

Many expressed doubts, however, about working with the current Syrian Government towards that end, saying that its actions were causing massive civilian casualties. The French representative, calling for swift, and if possible united, action against ISIL in Syria and Iraq, stressed that all attacks against civilians and the moderate opposition must end during the quest for peace; abetting those who used barrel bombs would only fuel support for ISIL.

The Secretaries of State of the United States and the United Kingdom, stating that the Syrian crisis had begun with the repression of peaceful protesters and subsequent abuse of civilians, asserted that ISIL could not be defeated if President Bashar al-Assad remained in power. Both pledged to speak with the Russian Federation to prevent confusion in air operations, but cautioned against any the targeting of moderate groups.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, however, virulently criticized the foreign interventions that had led to regime change in the region, pointing to disastrous consequences in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere, and said that hegemonic power centres were again fomenting lies to destroy the Syrian State and allow terrorism to reign on its territory. Similarly, Syria’s representative said fighting terrorism required cooperation with his Government, stressing that military actions outside such cooperation violated the United Nations Charter and international legal norms.

Many speakers today spoke on the need to combat the ideology of terrorism and the recruitment of foreign fighters. “The fight against terrorism cannot be won by force for punitive measures alone,” Malaysia’s Foreign Minister said, speaking of individuals from his country who had been attracted to fighting abroad, as well as the country’s efforts to counter radicalization and misuse of religious doctrine. Many spoke about eliminating what they saw were the root causes of radicalization, including widespread youth unemployment and marginalization of minorities.

Some speakers spoke at length about the Israeli-Palestinian situation as a driver of terrorism, saying that the lack of progress in the peace process, the long-term occupation of Palestinian land and tensions over the holy sites were rallying issues for extremism. Israel’s representative, however, said his country had been beset by terrorism since its inception and called for renewed clarity and determination by democracies to prevail against the scourge.

Also speaking today, including at the ministerial level, were representatives of China, Jordan, Chad, Spain, Lithuania, New Zealand, Angola, Chile, Nigeria, Iraq, Kuwait (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Ministerial Council), Syria, Germany, Egypt, Serbia, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Italy, Libya, Qatar, Croatia, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Slovakia, Belgium, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Greece, Slovenia, United Arab Emirates, Hungary, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Denmark, Algeria, Uruguay, Indonesia, Norway, Guatemala, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Sweden, Austria, Belarus, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Australia, Iceland, Ukraine, Pakistan, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia, India, Morocco, Japan, South Africa and the Republic of Korea.

Also speaking were senior officials from the European Union, League of Arab States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Gulf Cooperation Council and the Holy See.

The representatives of Iran and Syria took the floor for a second time.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 6:36 p.m.

Settlement of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and countering terrorist threat in the region

Letter dated 1 September from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (S/2015/678)
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