For the first time, an Indian Prime Minister will preside over a UN Security Council meeting

In its maiden stint as President of the important 15-member United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the month of August, India on Monday announced the agenda of the body.

The programme for August includes the Council’s discussions on the concept of maritime security for the first time, an in-person open debate spotlighting the safety of peacekeepers through technology and briefing on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, as key highlights.

In a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, India’s Permanent Representative to UN T S Tirumurti said the Security Council in August will focus on three major areas viz. maritime security, peacekeeping and terrorism, alongside briefings on developing situations in the Middle East and other regions.

He said an open debate on maritime security will be held via videoconference on 9 August. The debate will encompass such pressing issues as piracy and illicit trafficking in drugs, weapons and humans.

Chaired by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, this will be the first time that an Indian Prime Minister will preside over a United Nations Security Council meeting.

Emphasizing that the Council is discussing the concept of maritime security for the first time, Tirumurti anticipated robust participation in the open debate on the issue. Expressing hope that the engagement will be constructive, he said the meeting is not at all meant to take aim at specific Council members.

Technology and peacekeeping will be the theme of an in-person open debate on 18 August, India’s envoy to the UN, Ambassador Tirumurti continued.

The debate will spotlight several issues, including ensuring the safety of peacekeepers through technology and examining how to bring perpetrators of crimes against them to justice, he informed.

India’s envoy to UN, said that the Council will hear a briefing on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts on 19 August. Chaired by the External Affairs Minister of India, he said members will discuss the Secretary-General’s latest report on the matter.

Stating that counter-terrorism discussions reflect the Council’s desire to keep the spotlight on the issue, he said the Secretary-General’s related report focuses on the issue of financing and other concerns .

He noted that on Monday, the Council adopted a presidential statement on the drawdown of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), adding that it will consider other peacekeeping operations and related concerns, including a briefing on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on 25 August.

Regarding the recent increase in the number of targeted killings, including an attack on the UNAMI compound, he said the Council will focus on this critical issue in its related discussions.

On 30 August, the Council will take action on draft resolutions related to Mali sanctions, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Tirumurti said.

It will also consider a draft resolution on the theme of protecting the protectors on 18 August, he added.

In addition, August will feature briefings on countries and regions on the Council’s agenda, including one on 12 August on the situation in Somalia. Briefings on the Middle East will focus on the situations in Yemen on 23 August and in Syria on 4 and 24 August, respectively.

The Council will also hear a briefing on the Israeli-Palestinian situation on 30 August.

Responding to wide-ranging questions from reporters, India’s envoy to UN said discussions are ongoing about the possibility of producing outcome documents following the scheduled open debates.

Answering questions about recent developments in several countries, he said the issue of a possible peacekeeping mission in Haiti has formally been raised and discussions are ongoing.

Tirumurti maintained that the main concern right now is the safety and security of the United Nations mission currently operating in Haiti.

Regarding whether the Council will comment on a recent attack in Afghanistan, he expressed hoped that members can discuss the matter and issue a statement. In terms of a possible new United Nations mission in Afghanistan, Tirumurti said the Council is closely following peace talks, which will hopefully yield results.