United Kingdom responds to CIVICUS members’ Security Council questions
As part of its consultations with civil society during its Presidency of the Security Council for the month of August, the United Kingdom’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations responded to questions submitted by CIVICUS members on the security situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Gaza and Myanmar.
Civil society play an important role in the Security Council’s agenda and CIVICUS thanks the United Kingdom and all members of the Security Council for their ongoing commitment to involving civil society in the council’s workings.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Seven questions were submitted from civil society in the Democratic Republic of Congo reflecting a high level of concern about the security situation there in the lead up to elections in December. Members asked if the Council is monitoring the current situation as well as how the Council plans to prevent deaths during the upcoming elections.
The Security Council is monitoring the situation in DRC closely. In resolution 2409 we asked the Secretary General to provide us with 30 day reports. The Council also discusses the DRC frequently. The Security Council continues to underline the importance of peaceful, credible, inclusive and timely elections on 23 December 2018, in line with the electoral calendar, leading to a peaceful transfer of power, in accordance with the Congolese Constitution. The Security Council also continues to stress the importance of protecting civilians, including through the mandate for MONUSCO which includes the protection of civilians as a strategic priority. During the UK Presidency, there was a Security Council briefing on the DRC, focusing on the upcoming elections. The Ambassador’s statement can be found here.
A question on Eritrean-Ethiopian relations noted that the relationship has begun to normalise and improve rapidly. While there is no doubt that international and regional efforts have played a role in this improvement it is remarkable that there has been a push for an improvement of human rights and the democratic situation on the Ethiopian side but that the same has not been extended to Eritrea. Does the Security Council now plan to push to improve the human rights situation in Eritrea?
The Security Council issued a statement on the Signing of Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship between Eritrea and Ethiopia on 9 July 2018.
Palestinian Consultative Staff for Developing NGOs, from the West Bank asked about why the Council is reducing UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) services, especially to children, women and elderly people. They also asked if the Security Council would consider visiting Gaza.
UNRWA was established and is mandated by the UN General Assembly. The possibility of service suspension due to UNRWA’s current financial shortfall is a matter of grave concern to members of the Security Council; as was expressed during the 22 August Council consultations on the situation in the Middle East.
The UK remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. In the face of growing financial pressures, the UK has provided approximately $60 million USD in 2018. We continue to urge others to provide additional funding and regular disbursements to ensure that UNRWA can continue its essential work.
The Security Council is following closely and with concern the situation in Gaza, including through regular briefings such as that provided to the Council on 22 August by Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo.
Maisaa Alamoodi a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia asked if the Council would consider imposing sanctions on the Government of Myanmar if it continues to abuse the rights of the Rohingya and prevent their safe return home.
The UK’s overriding long term aim is the safe, voluntary and dignified return to Rakhine, under international monitoring, of as many as possible of the million Rohingya refugees currently in Bangladesh. We currently do not deem the conditions are right for the refugees to return. We will support Burma to do this, but it needs to make tangible improvements on the ground. Most immediately, Burma should allow the UN unfettered access to northern Rakhine.
The UK has welcomed Burma’s announcement of a Commission of Inquiry into the violence in Rakhine. It is now essential that the Burmese government now sets out how the investigation will be credible, transparent and impartial. We are still awaiting the ICC's decision if it has jurisdiction over Rohingya deportations to Bangladesh (a Rome Statute signatory).
Other questions received from CIVICUS members this month covered civic freedoms in Colombia, the withdrawal of UNAMID troops from Darfur, food insecurity in the Sahel, the relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, the deterioration of civic space in Uganda, Sudanese leader, Omar Al Bashir’s case in the International Criminal Court and the global threat of cyber crime.
These question/response are the outcomes of a Monthly Call to CIVICUS members to submit their question to the President of the UN Security Council. This is an opportunity for members to connect with an important international forum where decisions are made. CIVICUS staff pose the questions on CIVICUS members’ behalf during the President’s brief each month. Stay in touch and be part of this action by joining CIVICUS as a member.