UN Security Council Condemns Myanmar Massacre

A photo of the United Nations emblem
A photo of the United Nations emblem

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday condemned last week’s massacre in Myanmar of more than 30 people, including two Save the Children staff, that was blamed on junta troops.

The killings took place on Christmas Eve in eastern Kayah state, where pro-democracy rebels have been fighting the military, which took over the government from the democratically elected administration in February.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Security Council members “stressed the need to ensure accountability for this act.”

They also called “for the immediate cessation of all violence and emphasized the importance of respect for human rights and of ensuring safety of civilians.”

The statement said “at least 35 people,” including four children and two staff of Save the Children charity, were killed in the attack.

The Security Council also “stressed the need for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need, and for the full protection, safety and security of humanitarian and medical personnel.”

Anti-junta fighters say they have found more than 30 burnt bodies, including women and children, on a highway in Kayah state following the attack.

Two Save the Children employees have been missing and the rights group confirmed Tuesday that they were among the dead.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the February coup, with more than 1,300 people killed in a crackdown by security forces, according to a local monitoring group.

Self-proclaimed “People’s Defense Forces” have sprung up across the country to fight the junta, and drawn the military into a bloody stalemate of clashes and reprisals.

In the aftermath of the attack, Washington renewed calls for an arms embargo on the junta.

Western nations have long restricted weapons to Myanmar’s military, which even during the pre-coup democratic transition faced allegations of crimes against humanity for a bloody campaign against the Rohingya minority.

The UN General Assembly voted in June to prevent arms shipments into Myanmar, but the measure was symbolic as it was not taken up by the more powerful Security Council.

China and Russia, which hold veto power on the Security Council — as well as neighboring India — are the major arms providers to Myanmar.

AFP

World Powers Agree At UN On Inclusive Afghan Government

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 22: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly on September 22, 2021 in New York City. More than 100 heads of state or government are attending the session in person, although the size of delegations are smaller due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Eduardo Munoz – Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

The five permanent UN Security Council members found common ground Wednesday on Afghanistan with officials saying all the powers would press the Taliban to be more inclusive after their military takeover.

China and Russia have described last month’s Taliban victory as a defeat for the United States and moved to work with the insurgents, but no country has moved to recognize a government that includes international pariahs.

The Security Council powers all want “a peaceful and stable Afghanistan where humanitarian aid can be distributed without problems and without discrimination,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters after the meeting during the annual General Assembly.

They seek “an Afghanistan where the rights of women and girl are respected, an Afghanistan that is not a sanctuary for terrorism, an Afghanistan with an inclusive government representing all sections of the population,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Russia met in person while their Chinese counterpart Wang Yi joined them virtually for the talks of just over an hour.

A US official described the meeting called by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as “constructive” and with “a lot of convergence,” including hopes that the Taliban respect the rights of women and girls.

“I don’t think anybody is satisfied with the composition of this interim government, including the Chinese,” the official said.

Speaking to AFP before the meeting, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, agreed that the five powers all wanted an inclusive government.

“Unity is everywhere,” he said.

China has previously criticized the United States for freezing billions of dollars in Afghan assets.

But Beijing is also keen for the neighboring nation not to be a base for outside extremist groups.

Afghanistan was also the subject of virtual talks by the Group of 20 major economies that included the participation of several other nations including Qatar, the hub for Taliban diplomacy.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, addressing the G20, renewed concern about the Islamists’ caretaker government which includes no non-Taliban and no women but has ministers blacklisted by the United Nations on terrorism allegations.

“The announcement of a non-inclusive government was a tactical mistake by the Taliban, as it will make it harder for us to engage with them,” Maas said.

“It is important that they hear this from all of us. And we should also speak with one voice when it comes to the basic political parameters and benchmarks for any future engagement with them.”

The Taliban have requested to speak at the UN General Assembly but the United States, which sits on the credentialing committee, has made clear that no decision will be made before the summit ends early next week.

AFP

Buhari Approves New Security Measures For South-East, South-South

President Muhammadu Buhari presides over a Security Council meeting in Abuja on May 11, 2021. Credit: State House.

 

Following the recent attacks on security officials and facilities, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved new security measures for the South-east and South-south regions of the country.

The acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, disclosed this on Tuesday after a security meeting in Abuja presided over by President Buhari.

The IGP who briefed journalists alongside the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; and the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, refused to disclose the new measures, saying a decision was reached at the meeting not to, henceforth, publicise measures to be deployed to tackle insecurity in the country.

“The Security Council meeting which has taken place three times within the past 11 days has assessed the security situation in the country, particularly in the South-East, South-South as it affects law and order,” he said.

READ ALSO: Again, Buhari Holds Security Meeting With Service Chiefs

“We have some measures which we have outlined and have been approved by Council. We will see how we can change the narrative within the quickest possible means to restore law and order, peace in that area.”

The police boss also asked law-abiding citizens to cooperate and work closely with the security agencies in order to tackle the security challenges in the regions.

Speaking also, the NSA said he briefed the Council on factors that propel crime in the country, adding that President Buhari issued directives on how the issues can be tackled.

“I briefed Council on the enablers of crime and the need to find quick responses with a view to mitigating the growing threats to the society,” he said.

“These enablers are discussed in details and Mr President already gave out directions on how to deal with them, particularly issues of drug abuse as propellants for crime, how to make the Criminal Justice System much more effective as we as looking at the issues of unemployment.”

UN Security Council Holds First Meeting On Ethiopia’s Tigray

UN Security Council meeting on September 26, 2018 in New York on the sidelines/ AFP

 

The UN Security Council’s first meeting on the conflict in Ethiopia’s dissident Tigray region ended without members issuing a statement Tuesday.

European members forced the closed-door discussion to be held after African countries pulled out of organizing the meeting at short notice, highlighting divisions over Security Council action on the three weeks of fighting.

“South Africa asked for time so that the envoys can conduct their consultations and refer the matter to the African Union. A statement could complicate the situation,” an African diplomat said after the session.

A European diplomat, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Europeans “expressed their concerns, condemned violence of an ethnic nature and demanded protection of civilians,” during the session that lasted one hour 20 minutes.

France, Britain, Belgium, Germany and Estonia — backed by the United States — announced the virtual meeting after South Africa, Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines withdrew their request because envoys have yet to travel to Ethiopia.

“At a certain moment, we have to put it on the agenda, even if the Africans don’t like it,” a European diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The African Union announced on Friday that three former presidents had been appointed as special envoys to Ethiopia to help mediation efforts between the conflicting parties.

Asked about the Security Council’s lack of decisive action, a UN spokesman said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres supported the African Union is at the forefront of international efforts.

Forces loyal to Tigray’s ruling party have been battling Ethiopian soldiers for nearly three weeks.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has ordered the leaders of the northern region of Tigray to surrender ahead of a threatened all-out assault on its capital, Mekele.

Abiy launched the military campaign against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on November 4, accusing it of attacking two federal military camps in the region, and of seeking to destabilize his government.

Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed, but a communications blackout has made claims from both sides difficult to verify.

Guterres last week called for the opening of humanitarian corridors to assist civilians caught in the fighting, noting that authorities had so far rejected attempts at mediation.

Over 40,000 Ethiopians have fled to neighboring Sudan, the UN’s refugee agency said Monday.

AFP

UN Security Council To Hold Meeting Over Mali Crisis On Wednesday

FILE: Members of the Security Council vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on a ceasefire in Syria February 24, 2018 in New York. Don EMMERT / AFP

 

The United Nations Security Council will hold emergency discussions on Mali Wednesday, a day after an apparent military coup in the crisis-torn West African country. 

The meeting was requested by France and Niger and will take place behind closed doors on Wednesday afternoon, a senior UN diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, United Nations head Antonio Guterres demanded “the immediate and unconditional release” of Mali’s president and members of his government Tuesday after they were seized by rebel soldiers.

“The secretary-general strongly condemns these actions and calls for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rule of law in Mali,” a spokesman for Guterres said in a statement.

 

AFP

UN Security Council Cuts Schedule Over Coronavirus

UN Security Council meeting on September 26, 2018 in New York on the sidelines/ AFP

 

The UN Security Council will scale back its schedule for March as a precaution against the coronavirus pandemic, China said Wednesday.

China, which holds the March presidency of the Security Council and is also the epicenter of the virus, wants to ensure “we will be in a better position to protect ourselves,” said its ambassador, Zhang Jun.

While no Security Council sessions will be canceled, China has advised a “scaling down of the meetings” including reducing delegation sizes, Zhang told reporters.

Informal consultations within the powerful 15-member body may also be shifted to a larger room so “that we have more space and less people,” he said.

The United Nations has pushed back major gatherings outside of the Security Council.

On Wednesday it indefinitely delayed a March 23-April 3 meeting on marine biodiversity as well as an April 13-24 forum on indigenous issues.

It already postponed a March annual meeting on the status of women that would have brought 12,000 people to New York.

No cases of COVID-19 have been reported within the 3,000-strong UN Secretariat, said the world body’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

The United Nations has halted tours and much of the staff has been asked to work remotely, Dujarric said.

AFP

UN Security Council, Kushner To Meet Over Trump’s Mideast Plan

Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is on the short-list of potential candidates for the president’s next chief of staff, US media said on December 13, 2018.  AFP

 

The United States has requested a closed-door UN Security Council meeting Thursday for President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to present the administration’s new Mideast peace plan, diplomatic sources told AFP Monday.

He intends to set forth the plan that Washington unveiled last week and to listen to the position of the council’s other 14 members, the sources said.

The meeting would take place several days before Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas comes to the United Nations — he is expected February 11 — to express opposition to the US plan and to demand adherence to international law.

AFP

UN Security Council Meets Over Syria

The UN Security Council meet at United Nations Headquarters in New York, on April 13, 2018.
HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 

The UN Security Council will meet behind closed doors on Friday to discuss an uptick in violence in the embattled Syrian opposition stronghold of Idlib, diplomats told AFP.

The meeting — which will begin at 10:00 am (1500 GMT) — comes at the request of Britain and France, with the backing of the United States, the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Thursday.

Some diplomats hope the session will provide an occasion to discuss the reauthorization of cross-border UN humanitarian aid deliveries to millions of Syrians.

Humanitarian aid currently flows into Syria through UN-designated checkpoints in Turkey and Iraq without the formal permission of the regime in Damascus, but that arrangement expires on January 10.

Last month, Russia and China vetoed a resolution that would have extended those deliveries for a year. Moscow says it will only approve a six-month extension using two checkpoints.

Three million people in the Idlib area benefit from that aid, according to the United Nations.

In a telephone call on Thursday, US President Donald Trump and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on “the need for de-escalation in Idlib, Syria, in order to protect civilians,” the White House said.

On Thursday, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities in the northwest of Syria.”

“We call on those fighting, especially in the northwest, and those with influence over them for the following: stop all attacks on children and services that provide for them, including health and education facilities and water systems,” she said in a statement.

According to UNICEF, at least 140,000 children have been displaced in the past three weeks due to fighting in and around Idlib.

Syrian ally Russia announced a ceasefire for Idlib in late August after months of deadly Russian and regime bombardment that killed around 1,000 civilians.

But sporadic clashes and bombardment persisted throughout the autumn before a spike in violence in the past month, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

AFP

Syria: UN Security Council To Meet Over Turkey Assault

UN Security Council meets in New York/ AFP

 

The UN Security Council will convene again Wednesday to discuss Turkey’s military incursion in northeast Syria, diplomats said.

This session was requested by European countries with seats on the 15-member council, the diplomats said Tuesday.

At a first meeting last Thursday, the council was divided, and only the European members issued a statement calling for an end to the Turkish offensive.

On Friday, Russia and China blocked a US-sponsored text that also called for and end to the Turkish assault.

AFP

Security Council To Hold Talks Over North Korea Missile Test

UN Security Council meeting on September 26, 2018 in New York on the sidelines/ AFP

 

The UN Security Council is expected to hold-closed door talks on North Korea’s test of a sea-launched missile, as European powers push for the world body to keep up the pressure on Pyongyang, diplomats said Thursday.

North Korea claimed to have entered a new phase in its defense capability with the test Wednesday of a submarine-launched ballistic missile — the most provocative since Pyongyang began a dialogue with Washington in 2018.

The demand for closed-door talks was made by Britain, France and Germany, as the United States and North Korea prepare to resume nuclear talks this week. Initially slated for Friday, the talks are now expected to take place early next week due to scheduling constraints, diplomats said.

The European nations consider the test a violation of UN resolutions, and pressed the US delegation to have the council take it up, one diplomat said.

“The Americans do not want a formal meeting” so the Europeans asked for a closed-door session, said another diplomat, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

President Donald Trump, who says he has a great relationship with Kim Jong Un, has shied from criticizing North Korea over its missile tests as the two sides seek an agreement for the North to give up its nuclear weapons.

“We are deeply concerned and we need to bring this back to the Security Council. This is another clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” the first diplomat said.

“This test is not neutral, and the Security Council should be able to discuss it,” the second one said.

In late August, Britain, France and Germany sought a meeting of the Security Council after North Korea tested a new “super large” multiple rocket launcher.

But in the end those three members of the council simply issued a statement calling for continued international sanctions against Pyongyang.

North Korea is under three sets of UN sanctions adopted in 2017 in an effort to force it to give up its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.

The sanctions limit North Korea’s oil imports and impose bans linked to its exports of coal, fish and textiles.

Since the US-North Korea talks began, Russia and China have been calling for the UN to start lifting sanctions so as to create momentum towards the North’s denuclearization. But the United States has refused.

UN Security Council To Discuss Kashmir On Friday

UN Security Council meeting on September 26, 2018 in New York/ AFP

 

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold a rare meeting on Kashmir after India stripped the region of its autonomy, sparking a row with Pakistan, diplomats told AFP Thursday.

The meeting will take place behind closed doors on Friday morning, the diplomats said.

Poland, which currently holds the council’s rotating presidency, has listed the matter for discussion at 10:00 am (1400 GMT), the diplomats added.

It is extremely rare for the Security Council to discuss Kashmir, which has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947.

The last time there was a full Security Council meeting on the Himalayan region was in 1965.

Friday’s discussion is not considered a full security meeting but rather referred to as closed-door consultations, which are becoming increasingly more common, diplomats said.

Parts of Kashmir that India controls have been under lockdown since August 4, with freedom of movement restricted and phones and the internet cut.

A day later, New Delhi scrapped Article 370 in the Indian constitution that had granted Kashmir special autonomy, splitting the state of Jammu and Kashmir in two and downgrading their status to union territories.

In a speech marking Indian Independence Day Thursday Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the decision was one of several “path-breaking” moves by his newly re-elected administration.

He said “fresh thinking” was needed after seven decades of failure to ensure harmony in the picturesque but tragic former kingdom, where tens of thousands have died in the past 30 years.

Pakistan observed “Black Day” on Thursday to coincide with India’s independence day celebrations.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has warned of possible “ethnic cleansing” in Kashmir, replaced his Twitter profile photo with a black circle.

Kashmir has been the spark for two major wars and countless clashes between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals, most recently in February when they conducted tit-for-tat air strikes.

AFP

Migrants’ Death: UN Security Council To Hold Urgent Libya Talks

UN Security Council meeting in New York on the sidelines/ AFP

 

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss an air strike on a detention centre in Libya that killed scores of migrants, diplomats said.

The meeting — to be held behind closed doors from 3:00 pm (1900 GMT) — will include a briefing from representatives of the UN refugee agency and the UN political affairs department.

Council members will hear a briefing from representatives of the UN refugee agency and the UN political affairs department.

At least 44 people were killed when the strike hit the Tajoura detention center east of Tripoli late Tuesday and more than 130 were severely injured, the UN said.

Tajoura held at least 600 refugees and migrants, including women and children. UN agencies said they expected the death toll from the attack to rise.

Tensions have soared in Libya since forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar, who holds sway in the east of the country, launched an offensive in April to seize Tripoli, held by a UN-recognized government and various militias.

World powers have been divided on how to respond to Haftar’s military campaign, with the United States and Russia refusing to back UN calls for a ceasefire.

The Tripoli government has blamed Haftar for the attack on the detention center.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame has called for an independent investigation and warned that the attack may constitute a war crime.

AFP