SG in 2013; SDGs; Syria; Peacekeeping; DPRK

SG in 2013: The SG addressed both the GA and the press on his priorities for 2013 today. Going into the new year, political priorities include the conflicts in Syria and Mali, the Sahel region, the DRC, and the Middle-East peace process. The SG announced that he will be holding a pledging conference for the humanitarian situation in Syria on January 30, in order to raise additional humanitarian funds for the conflict. Mr. Ban also noted that sustainable development and the post-2015 development agenda are priorities for this year, as are UN reforms such as staff mobility, Umoja, and the CMP. “This is no time for business as usual… We will have to throw off another brake on our common progress: the tyranny of the status quo,” he said.

SDGs: The GA today created an Open Working Group to design a set of SDGs that the GA will consider and act on at its 68th session in September. The 30-member working group will consist of countries from all regions, and participation will be facilitated by a rotational procedure within the regions. The working group is an outcome of the Rio+20 conference in June and is scheduled to have its inaugural meeting in early February. The PGA stressed the “full institutional support of the United Nations system” in this effort and is committed to sorting out the procedural matters necessary for the Group to begin as soon as possible.

Syria: The SG met with Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi yesterday to discuss the current situation in Syria. Both expressed their concern over the lack of a unified international effort towards political transition, as agreed in Geneva last June. The two also discussed future diplomatic strategy, the security and human rights situations, the forthcoming humanitarian pledging conference in Kuwait, as well as the positions of many of the key players inside Syria, the region, and the international community. The same day, a UN delegation in Syria, representing seven UN agencies and led by Operations Director of OCHA John Ging, expressed shock over what they saw in Homs and Talbiseh, the latter city victim of more than twenty months of violence. UNHCR is also expanding its efforts to assist refugees in the region.

Peacekeeping: The SC held an open debate on peacekeeping yesterday, endorsing a multidimensional approach “to facilitate post-conflict peacebuilding, prevention of relapse of armed conflict and progress toward sustainable peace and development.” The day-long meeting featured a supportive statement from the SG and ended in the unanimous adoption of resolution 2086 (2013). The new approach aims to ensure coherence between peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development in order to respond more effectively to post-conflict situations; it also aims to use a combination of civilian, police, and military capabilities under a unified leadership. The US also issued remarks, emphasizing nine features (such as zero tolerance for misconduct and diversity of contributions) that the country would like to see included in the approach going forward.

DPRK: The SC tightened its sanctions on the DPRK today, while again demanding the country end its nuclear and ballistic tests. The travel ban and asset freeze within the sanctions will affect officials of the country’s missile launch facility and the satellite control center, as well as a banking official involved in the construction of the missile. Such additions are listed in the annexes to resolution 2087 (2013), adopted unanimously by the Council.