The year 2021 was marked by some challenges that the United Nations has worked and is still working on to mitigate, contain or warn of its dangers, including: armed conflicts.
The conflicts carried over from previous years continued, up and down, as in the case of Yemen, as in Syria and Libya. The confrontations in the occupied Palestinian territory intensified, as Israel launched a new aggression on the Gaza Strip last Ramadan, which resulted in hundreds of casualties, including 62 children. The Security Council failed miserably to issue a collective statement calling for an end to the aggression and the protection of civilians. The Secretary-General himself ignored the provocations of Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah throughout the month of Ramadan and did not issue a statement until after the resistance warned that the march of media in Jerusalem would be targeted.
And when the march was not canceled and the resistance fired its warning missiles to break up the march, he rushed and issued a statement condemning in the strongest terms the firing of the projectiles, but he did not have the kind of courage, like the Haaretz newspaper or the New York Times, to condemn the killing of Palestinian children.
An open session of the Security Council was held on May 15 at the ministerial level, and it discussed the situation without leaving anything out of it. 64 percent of Gaza’s population, or 1.6 million, remains primarily dependent on humanitarian aid. The United Nations says that the Israeli blockade, the internal Palestinian division and the repeated escalation are all factors that fuel dependence on aid, and keep the unemployment and poverty rates at 44.7 percent and 59.3 percent, respectively.
In Libya, the ceasefire has remained in place until now, despite many provocations, and the United Nations has focused its efforts on holding the presidential and legislative elections as desired by the Libyans. Acting Secretary-General’s envoy, Stephanie Williams, left her post last January and was replaced by Jan Kubis, who has Geneva as his headquarters. However, he was frustrated by the failure of the Libyan consensus on the elections and the failure to expel mercenaries and foreign forces, which threatens social peace in Libya. Therefore, he announced his resignation at the end of November. What was the Secretary-General but to return Stephanie Williams as a special advisor to him to follow up on what she had done.
The missions of the United Nations in Libya include a set of tracks: the political, the humanitarian, the human rights file, the migrants, the names required for the International Criminal Court, and the monitoring of the arms embargo based on Resolution 1970 (2011), which is entrusted to a specialized committee of experts that monitors arms shipments to the warring parties. The United Nations has proposed that the Libyan elections be held on December 24, 2021, and the voice seems murky on the issue of the elections, and all indications indicate that they will be postponed at least for two or three months.
Issues of interest to the United Nations
Egypt insisted on discussing the Renaissance Dam crisis before the Security Council. A session was held in June 2020 and another in July 2021, then a statement was issued by the Security Council, which closed the internationalization file. On September 15, the Council adopted a presidential statement on the Renaissance Dam crisis that ended the Egyptian-Sudanese bets on internationalizing the crisis and raising its level to be classified as a source of threat to international peace and security. The Security Council closed the door on the two countries’ attempts to return to the Council when it affirmed that this statement does not constitute a precedent for resolving any disputes related to transboundary waters. The Security Council’s main role is in maintaining international peace and security, according to the Charter of the United Nations. In other words, the UN Security Council did not consider the Renaissance Dam crisis within its competence because, as the statement described it, “technical and administrative.”
The coup in Sudan
The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Sudan, Volker Perthes, played a pivotal role in the Sudan crisis after the coup of Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan on October 25, which led to the suspension of the temporary partnership agreement between the military and political components and the disruption of the transitional period in Sudan. The United Nations was heavily involved in the mediation process between the parties, which resulted in the return of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on November 22 to the position of Prime Minister, which did not enjoy popular consensus within the country.
On October 28, the Security Council expressed its grave concern about the “military seizure of power” in Sudan on October 25, the suspension of some transitional institutions, the declaration of a state of emergency, and the detention of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, as well as other civilian members in the transitional government. The African Union took a hard line against the coup, which eventually led to its overthrow. The agreement enters the testing phase after the United Nations has developed a road map for recovery and a return to the democratic path that begins with the release of all prisoners, respect for the right to demonstrate and assembly, and improving the standard of living of the individual, working to allow the freedom of parties, setting a date for free and fair elections, ensuring proper competition and respecting the results.
The coup in Myanmar
The Myanmar military overthrew the democratically elected government in a coup on 1 February. The people protested peacefully against the coup, and the army confronted the demonstrators with force and killed hundreds of them. The human rights situation in Myanmar has deepened on an unprecedented scale, according to the Human Rights Council. Serious violations still occur daily, especially the right to life, liberty and personal security, the prohibition of torture, the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression. Since then, the military has arbitrarily detained more than 10,000 opponents, with at least 175 people reported to have died in custody – including many members of the National League for Democracy – reportedly likely to have died due to ill-treatment or torture. The Human Rights Council reports that more than 1,100 people have died since the coup and more than 8,000 have been arrested.
The members of the Security Council rejected the coup and the General Assembly suspended Myanmar’s membership. The Security Council also issued a statement expressing its deep concern over the conviction and sentencing of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison on 5 December, and renewed the call for the release of all those arbitrarily detained since 1 February 2021.
Civil war in Ethiopia
The issue of the civil war that started in November 2020 and continues to this day continues to be of concern to the international community, especially since Abi Ahmed’s government has not cooperated with the envoys of the African Union, the United States, or the Algerian mediation, and continues to reject all serious attempts to cease fire.
The war has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, as the World Food Program and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced the continuing displacement of people due to the conflict in Amhara, Afar and Western Tigray, while the United Nations estimates the urgent need for about 9.4 million people for food assistance in those areas.
Human rights experts also expressed grave concern about the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls in Tigray, Amhara and Afar, Ethiopia by parties to the conflict.
The experts said in a statement that these actions appeared to have been used as part of a deliberate strategy to intimidate, humiliate and humiliate victims and their minority ethnic group, with the consent of the state and non-state parties to the conflict.
These are some of the issues on the agenda of the Security Council, the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council. There is no room for discussing other issues such as Afghanistan, Mali, Niger, Cyprus, Lebanon, Somalia, Iran’s nuclear file and the current developing crisis between Russia and Ukraine.
Source: Asia Middle East Forum and agencies