Press Conference: Abdou Abarry of Niger, President of the Security Council for the month of December, on the Security Council's Programme of work for the month .
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Press Conference: H.E. Mr. Abdou Abarry, Permanent Representative of Niger to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for December 2021

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The Security Council’s programme for December features an open debate on security in the context of terrorism and climate change, as well as several thematic briefings, including one by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, its President for the month told a Headquarters press conference today.

Abdou Abarry (Niger) said that his country’s new President, Mohamed Bazoum, will chair the high-level open debate on international peace and security in the context of terrorism and climate change on 9 December.

Noting that the meeting will be open to United Nations Member States, he said it aims to explore the links between terrorism and climate change, as well as strategies which the international community might deploy to tackle them on a regional and global level.

Three thematic briefings will be held during the month, he continued, including one on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals on 13 December, and another on non-proliferation on 14 December. A third, on migration, will be held on 7 December, and will feature a presentation by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Turning to other scheduled activities, he noted that customary meetings will be held on Yemen; the peace process in the Middle East, including the Palestine question; and the three tracks of the Syrian crisis: chemical weapons, and the political and humanitarian situations. There will also be meetings on Sudan and South Sudan, and on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in light of the expected renewal of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) mandate, which is set to expire on 20 December.

Further, an assortment of significant adoptions will be considered, he continued, including one on Security Council resolution 2442 (2018) — which allows international naval forces to join in the fight against piracy in the waters off the coast of Somalia — and others tackling sanctions against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), and Al-Qaida; the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD); and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).

Later in the month, on 16 and 17 December, consultations will be held between the Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, he noted, adding that the venue and format are yet to be decided upon due to the pandemic.

Asked about the upcoming elections in Libya and that country’s prospects, he spoke in his national capacity, noting that the country has ceased to exist as a State after 10 years’ turmoil. The ensuing chaos — and the arsenal of weapons that has been made accessible to a horde of bandits scattered across the region — has also impacted Libya’s neighbours. The consequences of this instability have landed especially hard on Mali and Chad, where an attack by a column of heavily armed mercenaries from Libya left the President of Chad, Idriss Déby, dead.

While Niger is doing everything it can to ensure national reconciliation in Libya can be brought about, he said that the conditions are not yet propitious for elections that can pave the way for lasting peace; there is no consensus around who can stand for elections and a lack of common understanding of the electoral code. Without a firm foundation for lasting peace and reconciliation, elections risked generating even more bitter differences, as has been seen in other countries in Africa, he cautioned.

In response to a follow-up query on the recent resignation of Ján Kubiš, the Special Envoy on Libya and Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya, he said the diplomat Nicholas Kay has been proposed as a replacement. However, he added that he was unsure of the added value of appointing a new representative barely a month before the elections.

On a question about the plight of migrants in Libya, he said the issue is of great concern to Niger, as it is a country of transit. Many non-governmental organizations operate in the north of Niger to regulate flows of migration and to discourage young women and girls from undertaking the perilous journey across the Sahara, he said, adding that the ensuing deaths are unconscionable and must be avoided.

He stressed that Libya must not be a country of refoulement, as migrants who end up there are exploited in detention camps and prisons which are run by groups who are not answerable to State authorities. The international community, African Governments and the Council must try to ameliorate this situation which concerns the most fundamental human right, that of the right to life, so that people do not die in the sea or in Libyan prisons, he said.

Responding to a question about disparities in vaccine access, he stated that the issue, and the lack of solidarity in response to the situation, is unacceptable and must not continue. Recalling that the Security Council had adopted resolution 2532 (2020) to strengthen solidarity in the fight against the pandemic, he said that consultations will be held in January on its implementation. However, he pointed out that in countries such as Niger, the forceful mobilization against the COVID‑19 pandemic is having a negative — and regrettable — impact on the fight against diseases like malaria and dysentery, which are far deadlier and more worrisome.

In response to a question on foreign fighters in Libya, he stressed the need for a demobilization process to be set up in cooperation with the neighbouring countries from which they came, as their return in a disorganized fashion risked creating further difficulties.

Turning to a question on a resolution co-sponsored by Ireland and his country on the link between climate change and international security, he said three countries had sent in letters expressing their reluctance to accede. He hoped to continue consultations and negotiations with these countries, as well as the others to find a minimum degree of consensus in the coming days, he said, adding that “it would be really quite undesirable to see divergences in the Council on such an important issue”.