United Nations Security Council’s 2020 round-up

The Palace of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland The Palace of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland © Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on Pexels

In Focus by Tan Zhong Chen; Editor: Xavier Atkins

Despite the tremendous worldwide events throughout 2020, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) persisted with its mandate of protecting civilians and peacebuilding. Against the backdrop of the novel coronavirus infecting over 84 million people and the stark realities of worldwide inequality being laid bare, the Security Council continued to deal with the myriad of ongoing conflicts and their wide-ranging repercussions on civilian populations.

In direct response to the pandemic, the UNSC made numerous operational changes, both at the UN headquarters in New York and in its peacekeeping missions around the world. These changes included the implementation of remote voting, temporary suspension of troop rotations, and closer coordination with host Governments. The Council initiated or continued extensive work on almost every continent, overseeing peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts in countries such as Colombia, Cyprus, Sudan, and Afghanistan. It met with representatives from regional organizations such as the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the European Union. It faced the worsening humanitarian crises in Yemen and Syria that were sharply exacerbated as a result of the pandemic  – including spikes in food insecurity, massive economic shocks, and the overstretching of  healthcare systems already facing significant strain. It debated and addressed other broad topic areas, including nuclear non-proliferation, gender dynamics, and the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.

Specific measures on civilians in armed conflicts included the launch of practical guidelines to help mediators protect children in conflict, the scaling up of humanitarian action to address conflict-induced food insecurity, and a press statement on the 23rd of June marking 15 years since the adoption of resolution 1612 on children and armed conflict. With 2020 marking 75 years since the establishment of the United Nations, the Security Council pushed forward with its overwhelmingly important work.


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