The UN Security Council hears a briefing by UN Special Adviser JamaL Benomar via video link from Doha, during the council's emergency meeting on the situation of Yemen, at the UN headquarters in New York, on March 22, 2015. The UN Security Council on Sunday adopted a presidential statement on Yemen, voicing support for Yemeni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi and calling upon all parties to refrain from taking actions that undermine the legitimacy of the president. (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)
The UN Security Council hears a briefing by UN Special Adviser JamaL Benomar via video link from Doha, during the council's emergency meeting on the situation of Yemen, at the UN headquarters in New York, on March 22, 2015. The UN Security Council on Sunday adopted a presidential statement on Yemen, voicing support for Yemeni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi and calling upon all parties to refrain from taking actions that undermine the legitimacy of the president. (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)

by William M. Reilly

After assuming the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for April, Jordanian UN Ambassador Dina Kawar, the first Arab woman to hold the seat, announced on Thursday an ambitious program focusing on the Middle East and the role of women and youth in peace and security.

The UN Security Council hears a briefing by UN Special Adviser JamaL Benomar via video link from Doha, during the council's emergency meeting on the situation of Yemen, at the UN headquarters in New York, on March 22, 2015. The UN Security Council on Sunday adopted a presidential statement on Yemen, voicing support for Yemeni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi and calling upon all parties to refrain from taking actions that undermine the legitimacy of the president. (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)
The UN Security Council hears a briefing by UN Special Adviser JamaL Benomar via video link from Doha, during the council’s emergency meeting on the situation of Yemen, at the UN headquarters in New York, on March 22, 2015. The UN Security Council on Sunday adopted a presidential statement on Yemen, voicing support for Yemeni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi and calling upon all parties to refrain from taking actions that undermine the legitimacy of the president.
(Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)

The crises in Syria and Yemen and the Israeli-Palestinian issue will be high on the April agenda. She also said that in blocking out the program of work after consultations with the 14 other council members she “tried to leave some days off, not for vacation, but to leave time to deal” with the unplanned.
Kawar, who assumed the council presidency on Wednesday, graciously accepted numerous congratulations from reporters on her history-making role at a briefing she held to describe the 15- nation panel’s Program of Work for the month.
She said there would be three open debates, including one with Jordan’s 20-year-old crown prince sitting in the council president ‘s chair at a ministerial-level meeting on April 23.
The first of three open debates of the month will feature Zainab Bangura,, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative on sexual violence in armed conflict, Kawar briefed the council.
All member states and observer missions are allowed to speak at open council meetings.
The second open debate is the quarterly discussion on the Middle East.
“This will include the Palestinian issue, obviously which will for us, for Jordan, we attach immense importance,” Kawar said. ” The Palestinian issue is the core issue in the Middle East.”
The third open debate of the month, to be held on April 23, is “a very important topic for us in Jordan and that is the topic of youth and violence extremism,” she said. “This meeting will be chaired by his Royal Highness Crown Prince al-Hussein bin Abdullah who is the young crown prince and who is really interested in the issues and questions of youth in Jordan.”
“From our feelings there is a lot of interest about the topic with everybody,” the ambassador said. “The whole idea of this debate is to address youth engagement in violence extremism and the underlying causes behind it particularly the nexus between youth, sustainable development and economic and social dimensions. ”
“In addition, it will discuss the role of youth themselves encountering violence extremism and the steps which can be taken on the international level, including the United Nations, in order to address this issue,” she said.
But those are only the open debates. The panel of 15 has many sessions planned over the course of the month, including one on the humanitarian situation in Syria.
“We give a lot of importance to the issue of the Syrian crisis and the repercussions it will have on its neighboring countries,” she said while noting another ministerial-level meeting on April 24. “We have around 1.4 million Syrian refugees in Jordan” out of a total 4 million Syrian refugees in the region.
“The importance of this comes from the fact that these refugees do constitute 21 percent of our population,” the ambassador said.
The panel will also be updated on the overall situation in Syria.
Kawar also pointed out there would be briefings and consultations on several UN missions, sanctions and even anticipated the adoption of some resolutions on military ” drawdowns” and extensions of missions.
When asked about an alleged “Palestinian resolution,” she said there were “two (draft) resolutions floating around, but I have not seen them.”
The council president said there would be an unofficial gathering of the 15 council members on April 27. “That will discuss the destruction of cultural, religious, archeological and historical artifacts and their illicit trading during armed conflicts.” Enditem

Soce Xinhua

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