DEBATE ON INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA & THE MECHANISM FOR INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNALS
Addressing the Security Council, the President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said he took great pride in closing down an institution of that calibre and in having kept his word to the 15‑nation organ that the Court would close by the end of 2017.
Theodor Meron, President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said that it was just over 25 years since the Council had created an international court for terrible crimes. He affirmed that the Tribunal had made plain that even complex trials could and must be conducted in accordance with the panoply of due process guarantees. As a result, the principles of international law were stronger and, “accountability for grave crimes is increasingly the expectation rather than the exception”.
Tribunal President Carmel Agius, noting that the body had finished its judicial work on 29 November, said that in supporting the creation of the Court, his predecessors had put their signature on an important page in the history of international justice and the fight against impunity. There was another history, however, he said, namely the history of those who were afraid to accept the Tribunal and even denounced it, of those who did not choose to fight impunity, but, for reasons of political or personal gain, blind nationalism and ethnic hatred, preferred immunity and even glorified those who had committed atrocities.
The Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanisms for Criminal Tribunals, Serge Brammertz, said his office remained focused on expeditiously completing the limited number of trials and appeals transferred from the former Yugoslavia Tribunal and on locating and arresting the remaining eight fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. It was also helping national jurisdictions investigating and prosecuting war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
There was a collective responsibility to build on the legacy of the Tribunals, Ambassador Lambertini said, noting that the primary responsibility for justice for war crimes rested with States, while the international community must be ready to provide assistance and to step in if international standards could not be met. The fight against impunity demanded full cooperation and did not finish with the closing of the Tribunals. The Council should continue to promote justice and accountability as an integral part of the United Nations strategy.
PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN LIBYA
The Security Council expresses grave concern about reports of migrants being sold into slavery in Libya. The Security Council condemns such actions as heinous abuses of human rights which may also amount to crimes against humanity. The Security Council calls upon all relevant authorities to investigate such activities without delay to bring the perpetrators to justice and hold those responsible to account.
BRIEFING ON THE 1591 COMMITTEE - DARFUR
With the Darfur peace process stagnant, armed groups from that region of Sudan were engaged in illicit cross-border activity while the Government continued to reposition unapproved military aircraft. Volodymyr Yelchenko, Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005), said the wider regional picture of spillover from Darfur resulted from the first joint informal consultations by his Committee with the Libya and South Sudan sanctions committees.
BRIEFING ON SOUTH SUDAN
The precarious security situation in South Sudan is a matter of grave concern, the Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations told the Security Council, urging it to use all means necessary to demand a change of course from leaders and parties to the conflict.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) had endeavoured to be more robust, nimble and proactive. Peacekeepers had helped protect humanitarian facilities, facilitated aid delivery and evacuated humanitarian personnel. They had intervened to protect civilians from abduction, recruitment, sexual violence and harassment, while Mission patrols had reached areas where they had long been denied access.
Half the Population Will Need Food by 2018 Says Emergency Relief Coordinator. Although more than two million people had fled South Sudan, seven million people — almost two thirds of the remaining population — still needed humanitarian assistance. About 1.9 million people were internally displaced, of whom some 210,000 had sought safety in the Protection of Civilians sites on UNMISS bases. Some 1.25 million people were in the emergency phase of food insecurity. In early 2018, half of the population would require emergency food. March would likely see famine conditions in several locations.
ADOPTION RESOLUTION ON THE Great Lakes REGION
Unanimously adopting resolution 2389 (2017), the Council reaffirmed that the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region remained “an essential mechanism to achieve durable peace and stability”. It thus called on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to make further progress in security sector reform, consolidation of State authority, reconciliation, tolerance and democratization.
It encouraged enhanced cooperation among all signatory States of the Framework, including Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia. It also encouraged continued support of the Guarantors, comprising the African Union, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations.
ADOPTION RESOLUTION 2390 (2017) - THE SITUATION CONCERNING IRAQ "OIL FOR FOOD"
The Security Council concluded that all the measures imposed in its resolutions 1958 (2010) and 2335 (2016) pursuant to Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations in relation to the Iraq oil-for-food programme had been fully implemented.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2390 (2017), the Council welcomed the fact that the remaining funds in the escrow accounts established pursuant to resolution 1958 (2010) had been transferred to the Government of Iraq pursuant to resolution 2335 (2016).
The Council acknowledged the Secretary-General’s final report on the matter (document S/2017/820), which stated, among other things, that the remaining $14,283,565 in the administrative escrow account had been transferred to Iraq.
ADOPTION RESOLUTION 2391 (2017) - PEACE & SECURITY IN AFRICA
The Security Council welcomed the steady and rapid progress achieved in making the joint force of the Group of Five Sahel States (G5 Sahel) functional, including through fulfilment of its initial operational capacity on 17 October.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2391 (2017), the Council requested the Secretary‑General to conclude a technical agreement among the United Nations, the European Union and G5 Sahel States [Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger], with a view to providing operational and logistical support through the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to the joint force conducting cross‑border counter‑terrorist operations across the region.
BRIEFING ON UNITED NATIONS SECURITY-COUNCIL SUBSIDIARY ORGANS
Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, briefed the council as Chair of the 1718 Committee on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, noting the sanctions and quick succession of new measures in recent months which required the body to help Member States and international organizations with implementation. Bolstered efforts were needed to lead the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea back to the negotiating table.
BRIEFING ON THE MIDDLE EAST - JERUSALEM QUESTION
Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov was briefing Council members during a special meeting called in the wake of President Donald Trump’s 6 December announcement that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy to that city from Tel Aviv. He reported that although the announcement had been widely welcomed in Israel, it had caused much anger among Palestinians and anxiety across the Middle East.
He expressed particular concern about the potential for an escalation of violence, noting that widespread demonstrations and clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli security forces had occurred throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the decision. There had also been protests in Arab areas within Israel, and in cities around the region and beyond, he noted.
Italy position on Jerusalem remained unchanged, according to the international consensus based on relevant United Nations resolutions. The status of Jerusalem as the capital of two States must be negotiated, taking into account the aspirations of both parties. Until then, Italy would abide by relevant resolutions and maintain its embassy in Tel Aviv. Ambassador Cardi expressed concern about the risk of unrest in the region, and called on all actors to refrain from violence or incitement. There was no alternative to the two‑State solution, and Italy would continue working towards that goal, he emphasized.
MEETING ON THE SITUATION IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF NORTH KOREA
The international community has a collective responsibility to protect the population of the DPRK if the State does not protect its own citizens, Miroslav Jenča, Assistant Secretary‑General for Political Affairs, said in his briefing. It must also consider the wider implications of the reported grave human rights violations for the wider region’s stability.
Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said escapees had reported widespread violations of human rights — including torture and deprivation of freedom of information and expression — in almost every aspect of people’s lives. They were combined with increased surveillance and abject conditions endured by detainees in labour camps. Military tensions in recent months had led to more severe controls over freedom of movement as well as civil and political rights, he said.
Ambassador Cardi said the intimate link between human rights violations and the threat to international peace and security could not be denied. Voicing concern at the lack of accountability of human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he pointed out that the regime denied its citizens the most fundamental rights, including violations that could be considered as crimes against humanity. Full accountability for the flagrant violations had to be ensured, including through referrals to the International Criminal Court. He also stated his grave concern regarding the reports of abductions, and called on the country’s authority to take concrete steps to resume full investigations.
BRIEFING ON SUDAN & SOUTH SUDAN INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
The International Criminal Court’s entire judicial machinery could be frustrated unless the suspects it had indicted appeared before it, the institution’s Chief Prosecutor cautioned the Security Council today, as members discussed different approaches concerning the arrest warrants issued by the Court in the case of Darfur, western Sudan.
Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, presenting her twenty‑sixth report on the situation pursuant to Council resolution 1593 (2005), noted that since submitting her last one, President Omar al‑Bashir of Sudan had travelled to a number of countries, some of which were States parties to the Rome Statute and all of which were United Nations Member States.
Ambassador Cardi said that despite some progress, intercommunity conflict, human rights violations, impunity and a lack of accountability persisted in Darfur. The Council was faced with a prolonged and unsatisfactory stalemate linked to a lack of cooperation, he said, emphasizing that cooperation with the International Criminal Court was a crucial element of resolution 1593 (2005). The entire international community was called to action, and the Council could decide to act or not, he said, adding that it should adopt a mechanism that would facilitate greater in‑depth discussion before any conclusions were reached.
BRIEFING ON MYANMAR
Describing “the most heartbreaking and horrific” accounts of sexual atrocities against girls and women in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Sexual Violence in Conflict told the Security Council today that every woman or girl she had spoken with had either endured brutal assault or had witnessed sexual violence, including seeing women literally being raped to death.
Pramila Patten, reporting on her recent visit to Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh, said those shocking accounts indicated a pattern of grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Sexual violence was being used as a push factor for forced displacement on a massive scale, with some survivors being told to leave because they were not citizens of Myanmar. It was crucial that safe return of the Rohingya people be accompanied by basic security and guaranteed rights. Otherwise, the cycle of violence, impunity and forced displacement risked being repeated if the underlying conditions did not change.
Ambassador Lambertini said that violence must stop and humanitarian assistance must be delivered without discrimination. He commended Bangladesh for its solidarity in sheltering refugees, for which assistance by the international community was necessary. The safe, dignified and voluntary return of refugees was key to normalizing the situation, he said, calling on Bangladesh and Myanmar to continue their cooperation with the United Nations. Welcoming the announcement by the Myanmar Government regarding the recommendations of the Advisory Commission, he urged their full implementation. Accountability was fundamental, he said, expressing concern about serious allegations of sexual violence and urging that those responsible should be brought to justice.
BRIEFING ON CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC & UNOCA
Despite some positive developments in Central Africa, the overall situation still required concerted action at all levels to address sociopolitical tensions, economic difficulties and abuses by armed groups, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative to the region told the Security Council. Mr. Fall welcomed advancements in regional integration, particularly the free movement of persons achieved by the establishment of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community zone. UNOCA was supporting that schema as well as capacity‑building in mediation, early warning collaboration with civil society and gender mainstreaming for the secretariat of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
ADOPTION PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT ON LIBYA
Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya, the Security Council today reiterated that the Libyan Political Agreement of 17 December 2015 remained the only viable framework to end the Libyan political crisis and that its implementation remained key to holding elections and finalizing the political transition.
MINISTERIAL MEETING ON NON-PROLIFERATION/NORTH KOREA
The risk of an accidental escalation of tensions leading to conflict was being multiplied by misplaced overconfidence, dangerous narratives and rhetoric, as well as a lack of communication channels, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council. Briefing Council members on non-proliferation/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he emphasized that it was time for the immediate re-establishment and strengthening of communications channels, including inter-Korean and military-to- military ones, so as to lower the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding.
Ambassador Cardi, stressing the immediate and global scope of the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, extended solidarity to the peoples of the Republic of Korea and Japan, as well as to that country’s own citizens suffering under the regime’s military priorities. Strongly condemning Pyongyang’s weapons activities, he called upon it to abide by its obligations and abandon its chemical weapons programmes as well. Noting the strong measures imposed by the Council, the European Union and others, he emphasized that they would only have the desired effect if the Member States implemented them comprehensively and the Council maintained its unity. National capacity must be built for that purpose, he said, underlining the importance of submitting national implementation reports on time.
BRIEFING ON THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS & ADOPTION RESOLUTION 2393
The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process informed the Security Council today that he was particularly concerned as to the future of international collective efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians, pointing to a growing risk that parties could revert to more unilateral actions.
Nickolay Mladenov, briefing 15‑member organ on the implementation of Council resolution 2334 (2016), recalled that the text had reiterated its demand that Israel immediately cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. He underlined the Secretary‑General’s position that ending the occupation and realizing a two‑State solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine, was the only way peace could be achieved. However, no such steps had been taken during the reporting period.
Ambassador Cardi said the draft reaffirmed principles enshrined in previous Council resolutions. Jerusalem’s status as the future capital of two States was subject to negotiations between Israel and Palestine. The United States could play a crucial role in that regard, and Italy looked forward to proposals for a settlement. Expressing deep concern about increased tensions, he condemned rocket attacks against Israel and called upon all actors to exercise restraint.
BRIEFING ON SMALL ARMS & LIGHT WEAPONS
At a time of deepening regional tensions, expanding terrorist and criminal networks, and traditional and non‑traditional conflicts wreaking havoc on communities, the pressing issue of the spread of small arms, light weapons and their ammunition were key determinants of crises, demanding swift action to curb their illicit trade, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council.
Introducing the Secretary‑General’s report on the matter, Izumi Nakamitsu said the multidimensional and cross‑cutting nature of small arms was indisputable — from arms embargoes, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, child soldiers, counter‑terrorism and the protection of civilians in armed conflict to transnational crime.
Ambassador Lambertini said the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons constituted a serious threat to peace and security around the world, contributing to instability, violence and insecurity while undermining development efforts. Security Council resolution 2220 (2015) underscored the need to implement urgent measures. Addressing arms disposal efforts was critical in post‑conflict situations, he said, noting how illegal trafficking could contribute to institutional instability. In that vein, he highlighted actions and tools that could be deployed by Member States. Turning to the Programme of Action on Small Arms, he said its third Review Conference in June 2018 was an opportunity to achieve concrete progress by mobilizing stakeholders.
ADOPTION RESOLUTION 2393 (2017) - RENEWAL CROSS-BORDER HUMANITARIAN ACCESS AND BRIEFING ON SYRIA
The Security Council renewed the authorization for cross‑border and cross‑conflict‑line humanitarian access to Syria for a further 12 months, until 10 January 2019.
Adopting resolution 2393 (2017) by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (Bolivia, China, Russian Federation), the Council extended the authorization — first established by resolution 2165 (2014) — for United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners to use four border crossings. The extension also included the use of routes between areas under control by different groups in the conflict, following notification to Syrian authorities.
By the text, the Council requested the Syrian authorities to expeditiously respond to all requests for cross‑line deliveries by the humanitarian partners. It reiterated its demand that the authorities and all parties comply with their obligations under humanitarian law to allow aid access, recalling that some of the violations in Syria could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Ambassador Lambertini, welcoming the extension, stressed the importance of the predictability of aid. Still, he would have liked the resolution to address the failure of cross‑line assistance in providing urgent aid to areas such as Ghouta, he stated.
Special Envoy De Mistura noted how no progress on humanitarian issues have been made in Geneva. It was crucial to not miss the next opportunity in Astana, he said. Free and fair elections under UN supervision must be held soon, ensuring equal participation of all Syrians, including members of diaspora, refugees, and internally displaced people.
So far in December none of our convois have reached the besieged areas said the United Nations Relief Chief Mark Lowcock. Humanitarian organizations have very limited access and internally displaced people are in a dire situation he said, urging the UN Security-Council to strengthen efforts so that 2018 will bring some relief to those in need.
BRIEFING ON NON PROLIFERATION/IRAN
The head of United Nations political affairs urged the Security Council to maintain strong support for the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, asking its signatories to work out their respective concerns, as it remained vital for international stability.
“The agreement is in the interest of the global non‑proliferation regime and of regional and global security”, Jeffrey Feltman, Under‑Secretary‑General for Political Affairs, said in a briefing on the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015), which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.
Ambassador Cardi, reporting on the activities of the Sanctions Committee, described an 8 September meeting in which the launch of the Simorgh space vehicle was discussed, with some Council members calling it inconsistent with resolution 2231 (2015), while others contended that it could not be modified to deliver nuclear weapons. He also reported on communications from three Member States alleging weapons transfers from Iran, which resulted in communications with that country.
Ambassador Cardi, speaking in his national capacity, said it was crucial for the Council to display unity on the important issue of non‑proliferation, as the international community worked towards related objectives. All participants, including the Iranian people, must continue to benefit from the Joint Plan of Action, and all participants must remain steadfast in its implementation. Taking note of the preliminary findings contained in the report regarding ballistic missile issues, he called on all parties to work through differences in a spirit of compromise and good faith. All stakeholders must resolve issue of concern by exploiting available avenues within the agreement, with the Council playing a key role, he said, reiterating his delegation’s full trust in IAEA activities.
OPEN BRIEFING ON EMERGING COMPLEX THREATS TO INTERNATIONAL PEACE
UNSC António Guterres said the perils of nuclear weapons were once again front and centre, with tensions higher than those during the Cold War. Climate change was a threat multiplier and technology advances had made it easier for extremists to communicate. Conflicts were longer, with some lasting 20 years on average, and were more complex, with armed and extremist groups linked with each other and with the worldwide threat of terrorism. Transnational drug smugglers and human traffickers were perpetuating the chaos and preying on refugees and migrants.
The changing nature of conflict meant rethinking approaches that included integrated action, he said, stressing that prevention must be at the centre of all efforts. Development was one of the best instruments of prevention. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would help build peaceful societies. Respect for human rights was also essential and there was a need to invest in social cohesion so that all felt they had a stake in society.
Ambassador Cardi, aligning with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said that during its presidency, his country had begun to address challenges in an integrated way, including a focus on migration and the nexus that phenomenon was connected to. Protection and empowerment of people was key to building resilient societies. The Secretary‑General should provide early‑warning information to the Council. In order to address all problems in a comprehensive manner, United Nations effectiveness must be improved through building synergy between all actors. In peace and security, capacity should be built to fully realize the concept of a peace continuum, as well as the building of inclusive political processes and resilient institutions. His country would continue to fully support reform to strengthen the Organization across the three pillars. In the Council, the interventions today showed that members had sufficient common interest to be able to reach consensus.
ADOPTION RESOLUTION 2394 (2017) - RENEW MANDATE OF FORCE MONITORING ISRAEL-SYRIA DISENGAGEMENT
The Security Council today renewed the mandate of the United Nations force that monitors the Disengagement of Forces Agreement between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights, for a period of six months, until 30 June 2018.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2394 (2017) on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the 15‑member body, condemning the use of heavy weapons by Syrian forces and armed groups in the area of separation, again emphasized that there should be no military activity in that area.
ADOPTION RESOLUTION 2395 (2017) - RENEW MANDATE OF COUNTER-TERRORISM COMMITTEE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORATE
The Security Council renewed the mandate of the Counter‑Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the expert body that supports the Council’s counter-terrorism architecture until December 2021.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2395 (2017), the Council stressed the importance of strong coordination between the CTED and the recently established Office of Counter‑Terrorism headed by a new Under‑Secretary‑General in engaging with Member States, as well as with all other relevant organizations, to improve the implementation of the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy.
BRIEFING ON AFGHANISTAN
UNAMA Head, Tadamichi said this year Afghanistan is experiencing record growth but it’s still not enough. We must place more attention on UN peace & development framework, reducing relying on funds & corruption.
The situation in Afghanistan is improving but there is still large action needed to address opium production. Addressing drugs threat is crucial for development & security issues in the country.
Next years elections in Afghanistan will be a fundamental opportunity to strengthen local institutions, the Italian delegate said. International support must give particular urgency to the fight against corruption, to the increased role of women into society & to human rights protection.
ADOPTION RESOLUTION 2396 - FOREIGN TERRORIST FIGHTERS
Italy is honored to have contributed to the adoption of a text that complements the fundamental resolution 2178 adapting it to the challenges we are all currently facing.
Many things have changed in these years combatting terrorism on the ground, but the global threat posed by terrorism continues to evolve and diversify. Measures as those introduced by this resolution tackling the phenomenon of retuning foreign fighters have become urgent, Ambassador Lambertini said.
BRIEFING ON PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS
Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Bintou Keita underlined how UN Peacekeeping encourages member states to ensure and develop new, specific training to adapt to different capabilities. Continue reassessment is needed to tackle evolving challenges.
BRIEFING ON SYRIA
Although the United Nations and its partners were continuing to deliver life‑saving aid despite constant challenges, some 13.1 million people in Syria were still in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, the Under‑Secretary‑General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council.
Introducing the Secretary‑General’s report (document S/2017/982), Mark Lowcock said that the United Nations 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview for Syria, released last week, highlighted the continued plight of the Syrian people. Syria remained the world’s largest displacement crisis, with half of all Syrians displaced. Not only were an estimated 1.75 million children out of school, but one third of schools had been damaged or destroyed, and fewer than half of Syria’s health facilities were fully operational. Nearly three million people lived in besieged and hard to reach areas, 94 per cent of them in eastern Ghouta.
EMERGENCY BRIEFING ON NORTH KOREA/NON-PROLIFERATION
The Security Council was briefed by USG Feltman and Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi as Chair of 1718 Sanctions Committee on North Korea following the ballistic missile launch by DPRK, November 28th.
USG Jeffrey Feltman, said that there is nothing more dangerous to peace in the world of what is taking place right now in North Korea. The United Nations Security Council needs to do all it can in oder to prevent escalation. The solution can only be political.
As Chair of sanctions committee, Sebastiano Cardi briefed the United Nations Security Council expressing strong condemnation for continuous violations by North Korea, & particularly the last ballistic missile launch. He was satisfied that the Submission rate of States' implementation Reports on sanctions for the last resolutions was much higher than previously.
BRIEFING ON DESTRUCTION AND TRAFFICKING OF CULTURAL HERITAGE BY TERRORIST GROUPS
With the obvious goal of undermining national identity and international law, terrorists — particularly in armed conflict situations — were not only destroying lives and property, but also historical sites and objects, the head of the United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism told the Security Council.
Under‑Secretary‑General Vladimir Voronkov pointed out that when terrorist groups targeted World Heritage Sites, they attacked common historical roots and cultural diversity. Illicit trafficking in cultural objects also led to the financing of terrorism and criminal networks. The protection of cultural heritage had therefore become a vitally important task for the international community.
Audrey Azoulay, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the adoption of Council resolution 2347 (2017) testified to a new awareness of the importance of culture in reducing conflict, preventing radicalization and fighting violent extremism. Already, 29 Member States had shared information on new actions taken to protect cultural heritage, strengthening tools and training of specialized personnel.
Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) called for greater implementation of the almost universally agreed conventions against transnational organized crime, against corruption and for the suppression of terrorist financing. Cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases must be strengthened, and more information exchanged. The art market and museums should pay special attention to the provenance of cultural items they were considering acquiring.
Jürgen Stock, Secretary‑General of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), called the destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage in armed conflict serious transnational crimes, which financed terrorist groups, hindered reconciliation through attempts to erase and desecrate public assets, and caused loss to the global community.
Alessandro Bianchi, Project Leader of Cultural Heritage Protection in Italy’s Ministry of Culture, said such assets were in the cross‑hairs of the enemy, viewed as symbols of identity that deserved desecration and destruction. Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had demolished 36 of 80 notable buildings in Mosul in June 2014 because they were legacies of the Shia community. He advocated better coordination between law enforcement and judicial bodies in preventing illegal excavations, harmonizing customs procedures and inspecting the trade in artefacts.
Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Council president for the month of November, speaking in his national capacity, said attacks on cultural heritage were linked to violence against local populations, in addition to multiple other harms. All forms of trafficking in cultural property must be stopped, which was a main priority for Italy. In that context, he described Italy’s support for the Blue Helmets of Culture initiative, the Unite4Heritage campaign, and the working groups on Da’esh financing and the smuggling of cultural artefacts, as well as its cooperation with UNODC, UNESCO and INTERPOL to address illicit trafficking. Italy also had worked with France in bringing about the adoption of resolution 2347 (2017), and continued to work on the issue because preservation of cultural diversity was vital to peacemaking and equitable development.