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Middle East and North Africa Debate

On Monday (25 June), the Council will hold a debate on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, which is expected to focus on root causes of conflict in these regions and ways to address these conflicts. Secretary-General António Guterres is expected to brief. The debate will be chaired by Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Vershinin, and several countries and regional organisations are likely to participate in the debate under rule 37 of the provisional rules of procedure. At press time, a formal outcome was not anticipated.

A wide range of issues is expected to be addressed by the participants, given the broad geographical and thematic scope of the meeting. There will most likely be references to specific conflicts on the Council’s agenda, such as those in Israel/Palestine, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

A number of members are expected to focus on broader thematic issues that are applicable to many conflict situations. Some may focus on the importance of protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity as a way of maintaining order and security in North Africa and the Middle East. They may emphasise that decisions on international peace and security should be made through the Security Council, in accordance with international law, while criticising unilateral actions. In this respect, a concept note that Russia has circulated in preparation for the meeting posits that unilateral approaches to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa have hindered their settlement, and damaged the reputation of the Security Council. The note calls for “[c]oordinated approaches sealed by decisions of the UN Security Council”.

Other members are planning to highlight respect for human rights, adherence to international humanitarian law, and accountability as effective means of addressing potential and unfolding crises. These members may further emphasise the role of women and youth in preventing and resolving conflicts, and underscore the need to address social and economic inequalities that can serve as triggers of conflict. Some members may also underscore the role of mediation, including the importance of the Secretary-General’s good offices.

One issue in the concept note that could be addressed in the debate is protection of religious and ethnic minorities. In this regard, there may be calls for religious tolerance, both at the national and regional level, during the debate.

While the meeting is designed to focus on the root causes of conflict, the symptoms of conflict may also be a part of the discussion. The spread of terrorism, illegal arms trafficking, and an increase in the number of refugees—issues that have negatively affected North Africa and the Middle East—could be addressed in some participants’ statements.

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