Iran is on the minds of many in the UN Security Council this week. UN Diplomats are awaiting a report by IAEA Chief Mohamed Elbaradei due by the end of next week and engaging in private discussions and strategy sessions in New York and around the world. However, Iran is largely a major issue for next week's official UN agenda.
This week, the Security Council has a busy formal agenda of closed-door consultations and open briefings on a range of issues. Meetings will cover other Middle East issues, such as violence between Israelis and Palestinians and the missing Kuwaiti prisoners of war from the 1991 Gulf War, African conflicts in Darfur and the Ivory Coast, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Monthly luncheon: Security Council members meet with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Monday for their monthly luncheon to discuss issues on the UN agenda. Annan's just back from a visit to Spain and the Hague in the Netherlands.
Darfur: the Council is expected to be briefed by the African Union's mediator Salim A. Salim on Tuesday(postponed from last week) on the latest developments involving peace talks and efforts to resolve the 3-year long conflict. Last week, the Security Council demanded that an agreement be reached between the Sudanese Government and rebels from Darfur by April 30. In addition, Council members are considering limited sanctions against 4 Sudanese from all sides involved in the Darfur conflict who are viewed as obstructing the peace process and violating human rights. . The US, Britain, and most council members back the sanctions. However, if China, Russia, or Qatar( who have previously expressed opposition to such a move) stick to their guns, the sanctions cannot be imposed. Such sanctions would require unanimity among council members to become effective.
There is growing concern about violence against Darfurian refugees in nearby Chad and a deterioration in relations between Sudan and Chad.
Later in the week, a new report by UN Special Envoy Terje Roede Larsen on the state of implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 is due. (In September 2004, the US and France co-sponsored the measure which, among other things, calls for Syria to end its occupation of Lebanon and for the disarming of Hezbollah militia in the country.
On Thursday, Council members are scheduled to hold closed-door consultations on the work of a council committee addressing the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.