The Bahrain PresidencyDecember 1998
In December 1998 the Security Council held 9 formal meetings, adopted 7 resolutions, held informal consultations on 21 occasions and issued 2 presidential statements. At the request of Council members, the President held press conferences at which he issued press releases. After each informal consultation, the President briefed States Members of the United Nations. The President also held meetings for troop-contributing countries. During December, urgent African issues and Iraq pr eoccupied the Council, while many other important issues, including Cyprus, Afghanistan and the Sudan, were also discussed.
The members of the Security Council discussed ongoing developments in Angola and were briefed by the Secretariat on 2 December. On 3 December the Council adopted resolution 1213 (1998), in which it extended the mandate of MONUA until 26 February 1999, endorsed the recommendation contained in the report of the Secretary-General (S/1998/1110) to continue to adjust the deployment and force structure of MONUA in accordance with security conditions and emphasized that the primary cause of the crisis in Angola and of the current impasse in the peace process was the failure by the leadership of UNITA, and demanded the full implementation of the agreements concluded between UNITA and the Government of Angola. On 4 December the members of the Council were briefed on developments in Angola, and the President made a statement to the press in which he expressed the Council's grave concern for the safety and security of MONUA personnel in An dulo and Bailundo, which were under the control of UNITA, and demanded that UNITA permit their immediate and unconditional withdrawal from those localities.
On 9 December the Council was briefed on the safe withdrawal of those personnel. On 17 December the Council was briefed on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Angola. On 23 December the Council approved a presidential statement (S/PRST/1998/37) that called for the immediate cessation of hostilities in Angola and emphasized the responsibility of the Angolan Government and UNITA to facilitate humanitarian assistance efforts. It also expressed concern at reports that aircraft had been shot down over UNITA-controlled areas.
On 29 December the Council was briefed on the 26 December downing of United Nations flight 806 over UNITA-controlled territory. On 31 December the Council adopted resolution 1219 (1998), in which it deplored the lack of cooperation in permitting the prompt dispatch of a search- and-rescue mission for the passengers and crew of flight 806, d emanded that UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi immediately guarantee the security and access necessary for the search-and- rescue mission, called upon the Angolan Government to cooperate as appropriate, expressed its serious concern at the increase in incidents involving the disappearance of aircraft over territory controlled by UNITA, and called upon parties to cooperate with international investigations of these incidents.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
On 3 December the Secretariat briefed the members of the Council on the situation on the ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, specifically on the meeting between the parties to the conflict and on regional initiatives taken with a view to resolving the conflict by peaceful means. The President of the Council issued a press release in which he welcomed the outcome of the Twentieth Conference of Heads of State of Africa and France, held in Paris at the invitation of President Jacques Chirac. Council members expressed their support for regional mediation efforts and the initiative taken by the Secretary-General, which focuses on bringing the war to an end, resolving the crisis by peaceful means and effecting an immediate ceasefire. At the request of members, the President of the Council had a constructive meeting with the African States that had participated in the Lusaka summit on 14 and 15 December, and urged them to take formal steps towards a ceasefire agreement.
On 11 December the Council approved a presidential statement (S/PRST/1998/36) calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of all foreign forces and the initiation of an all-inclusive national reconciliation process, and expressing support for the regional mediation process begun by OAU and the Southern African Development Commu n i t y, currently led by the President of Zambia. The members of the Council also reaffirmed its readiness to consider the active involvement of the United Nations, in coordination with OAU, including through concrete, sustainab le and effective measures, to assist in the implementation of an effective ceasefire agreement and in an agreed process for a political settlement of the conflict.
On 18 December the Council held a formal meeting with a view to establishing the principle of transparency in its work. The Council discussed the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Sierra Leone and on the deployment of UNOMSIL (S/1998/1176) and gave its vie ws on the deteriorating situation in that country.
On 23 December the members of the Council had a further briefing from the Secretariat on the deteriorating situation in Sierra Leone, and the President issued a press release in which he expressed Council members' concern over intensified rebel attacks, the serious damage inflicted and the brutal attacks carried out against civilians.
On 29 December, after being briefed by the Secretariat, the members of the Council discussed the situation in Sierra Leone in the light of the persistence of grave incidents, the rebels' sustained deadly attacks against the Government, the fall to the rebels of a number of towns and the rebel threat to attack the capital, Freetown, on New Year's Eve. The President issued a press release in which he expressed the Council members' extreme concern at the deteriorating situation in Sierra Leone and condemned the savage attacks carried out by the rebels with the assistance of some foreign elements. Members of the Council demanded that such interference in the internal affairs of Sierra Leone cease and that the punitive measures taken against the rebels be intensified.
Central African Republic
On 22 December the members of the Council met to consider the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Central African Republic and on MINURCA (S/1998/1203). Bernard Miyet, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, presented the report, and the Council members discussed the political, military and humanitarian situation in that country. The Council underlined the important role of MINURCA in maintaining a stable environment and in assisting the Government to establish a republican, multi-ethnic central African army and to provide assistance for elections to be held in the spring of 1999. The Council agreed to continue reviewing the Mission's ongoing presence in the Central African Republic in view of the Government's progress in achieving key reforms.
On 16 December the members of the Council discussed and expressed its views on the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Western Sahara (S/1998/1160), and were briefed by Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. On 17 December the Council adopted resolution 1215 (1998) extending the mandate of MINURSO until 31 January 1999.
Eritrea and Ethiopia
On 29 December the members of the Council were briefed by Ibrahima Fall, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. He said that while their common border was peaceful, fighting could resume at any moment, given the intransigence of the parties. The Central Organ of the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution had met at the level of heads of State and Government on 17 and 18 December in Ouagadougou and discussed the issue. A high-level delegation from seven States had visited Eritrea and Ethiopia in order to persuade them to settle the conflict by peacef ul means. Members of the Council demanded that both parties settle their dispute by peaceful means. The President issued a press release in which he affirmed that the members of the Council supported the continuation of the mediation endeavours undertaken by OAU, and asked both parties to support confidence-building measures, saying that they must cooperate with OAU in order to find a just solution.
On 15 December UNSCOM published its re port (S/1998/1172, annex II), and on 16 December the members of the Council met in order to discuss the latest developments in Iraq in view of the sudden withdrawal from that country of UNSCOM and IAEA personnel. The members of the Council expressed their concern at this development and at the fact that it had not been consulted when the decision to withdraw UNSCOM personnel had been taken. The Council discussed the report and expressed conflicting opinions on it. In the evening of 16 December, at the request of the Russian Federation, the Council held a formal meeting in order to discuss the aerial attacks undertake n against Iraq by the United States of America and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. At that meeting Council members and other States Members of the United Nations delivered statements explaining the position taken by their countries with regard to the developments. The Council members held further consultations on the issue on 17, 18 and 21 December, and the President issued a press release in which he stated that the members of the Council were continuing their discussions on the situation in Iraq and on methods of implementing Council resolutions, and that they were determined to continue such discussions in view of the responsibility conferred on the Council by the Charter of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security. The members of the Council contin ued their deliberation on this issue on 22, 23 and 29 December and were briefed by the Secretariat on the effects of the military strikes on the humanitarian programme and the fate of that programme and of programme personnel.
During a meeting of the Council on 9 December, the President raised the matter of a letter he had received from the Secretary-General concerning an invitation for the United Nations to participate in a ministerial conference scheduled to be held by OAU from 13 to 15 December in Khartoum in order to discuss the issue of refugees and displaced persons. A useful discussion was held. Some member s mentioned that Security Council resolution 1054 (1996) called upon all international and regional organizations not to convene any conference in the Sudan, while other Council members were in favour of exempting the aforementioned conference in view of its lofty humanitarian aims, and said that the Council should show flexibility in implementing the resolution. The matter of the conference did not concern only the Sudan, but the whole of the African continent. No consensus was reached on this matter.
In consultations on 23 December, the President said that the Arab Group at the United Nations had requested permission to include in the agenda of the Council a draft resolution on the Sudan and the destruction of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory. The members of the Council had a useful discussion on the issue. During the consultations on 29 December, the President said that after consultations he had decided not to put to a vote the draft resolution submitted by the Arab Group in order to give Council members sufficient time in which to consider it.
On 9 December the members of the Council were briefed by Francesc Vendrell, Director, Asia and the Pacific Region, Department of Political Affairs, on developments in Cambodia. The members of the Council welcomed the installation of a coalition Government in that country and affirmed the importance of providing assistance to Cambodia's economy.
Papua New Guinea
On 9 December the members of the Council were briefed by Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, who referred to the establishment by the United Nations of a Political Office in Bougainville and to the implementation of the Lincoln Agreement on Peace, Security and Development on Bougainville. The President issued a press release in which he said that Council members agreed with the Secret ary-General that the United Nations Political Office should continue to operate in Bougainville and that the United Nations was making an effective contribution to the peace process there. In a letter dated 11 December (S/1998/1157), the President informed the Secretary-General that the Security Council had agreed to extend the mandate of the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville to the end of December 1999, with a six-month review to ensure that the Office is making progress and is not an open-ended mission.
On 8 December the members of the Council were briefed by Mr. Prendergast on the situation in Afghanistan, and members expressed their views on the political, military and humanitarian situation in that country. On the same date the Council adopted resolution 1214 (1998), in which it demanded that all parties stop fighting, resume negotiations under United Nations auspices and cooperate with the aim of creating a fully representative national government. It also called upon all Afghan parties to cease providing sanctuary and training for international terrorism and to cooperate in efforts to bring indicted terrorists to justice. The Council also expressed its readiness to consider the imposition of measures with the aim of achieving the full implementation of its relevant resolutions.
During consultations on 15 December members discussed the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus (S/1998/1149) and were briefed by Mr. Annabi on the situation in Cyprus. On 22 December the Council adopted resolutions 1217 (1998) and 1218 (1998), in which it decided, respectively, to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period ending on 30 June 1999 and to endorse the initiative of the Secretary-General announced on 30 September within the framework of his mission of good offices , with the goal of reducing tensions and promoting progress towards a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus. On 14 December the President chaire d a meeting of States contributing troops to UNFICYP.
Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
On 11 December consultations were held to discuss the report of the Secretary-General on Kosovo (S/1998/1147). Alvaro de Soto, Assistant Secretary -General for Political Affairs, introduced the report. Council members drew attention to the grave humanitarian situation in Kosovo and appealed to both parties to the dispute to exercise self-restraint, to respect their commitments fully and to reach a mutually satisfactory political settleme nt. The President made a statement to the press in which he stressed the need for both parties to comply with their obligations under Security Council resolutions 1199 (1998) and 1203 (1998), to fulfil their commitments and to assume their responsibilities by reaching a political agreement, which alone could guarantee regional peace and stability.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
On 29 December consultations were held to discuss the report of the Secretary-General on UNMIBH (S/1998/1174). Mr. Annabi introduced the report. With reference to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said that the annual ministerial meeting of the Peace Implementation Council, held at Madrid on 15 and 16 December, had expressed its support for the work being done by UNMIBH in the area of police res t ructuring and reform. Council members stressed that problems and difficulties relating to refugees, displaced persons, legal reform, police reform and structural reform of key State institutions could be overcome only if the necessary political will was t h e r e . Ongoing international support for Bosnia and Herzegovina was needed in order to achieve progress in those areas.
International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
On 8 December Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, made a presentation to the members of the Council in which she drew attention to the failure by the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to comply with Security Council resolution 1207 (1998). Judge Kirk McDonald said that the Yugoslav authorities had failed to honour their commitments under international law, the Charter of the United Nations and Security Council resolution 827 (1993), by which the Tribunal had been established. She also spoke about the refusal by the Belgrade authorities to issue an entry visa to the Prosecutor of the Tribunal. The Council engaged in a discussion and exchange of views on the subject.
On 16 and 23 December the Council held formal meetings on the maintenance of peace and security and post-conflict peace-building; 18 States not memb ers of the Council were invited to participate. A number of important ideas were put forward concerning the importance of the role played by the Council in the aftermath of conflict, in particular in ensuring a smooth transition from peacekeeping to post-conflict peace-building. The Council later adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/1998/38) in which it reaffirmed its primary responsibility under the Charter for maintaining international peace and security, stressing the need to prevent the resurgence of escalation of conflict. In that statement, the Council recognized the importance of the post-conflict peace-building efforts of the United Nations to that end in all regions of the world. It also recognized the importance of exploring f urther means to prevent and settle conflicts based on t h e Charter and generally recognized principles of peacekeeping, and that would incorporate post-conflict peace-building as an important component.
The Security Council also underlined that economic rehabilitation and reconstruction often constituted the major tasks facing societies emerging from conflict and that significant international assistance became indispensable in promoting sustainable development in such cases and in preventing the resurgence of conflict.
Since it became a member of the Council on 1 January 1998, Bahrain has urged the Council to hold open meetings with the other Member States in order to give effect to the principle of transparency by allowing Member States to participate in the deliberation of, and to be directly informed about, the proceedings within the Council. Bahrain has called for increased recourse to such meetings, and took the initiative, during its presidency of the Council in December 1998, of proposing issues for discussion in an open forum. On 18 December the Council held a fo rmal meeting to discuss the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Sierra Leone (S/1998/1176). The Council also held an open debate at its meetings on 16 and 23 December on the subject of t h e maintenance of peace and security and post-conflict peace-building. The State of Bahrain affirms that the Council will keep Member States informed about all matters that are discussed at Council meetings in accordance with the principle of joint participation and in fulfilment of the Council's mandate to ensure the maintenance of international peace and security. Bahrain also helped in the preparation and production of a report submitted by the Chairmen of the Security Council committees concerning the principles and steps to be taken into consideration by the Security Council in the future when deciding to impose sanctions, with a view to ensuring that third parties are spared the effects of sanctions.