News / Middle East

Jordan Assumes UN Security Council Chair as Conflicts Persist

Members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution to temporarily increase the number of U.N. military personnel in South Sudan during a meeting at UN headquarters on Dec. 24, 2013.Members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution to temporarily increase the number of U.N. military personnel in South Sudan during a meeting at UN headquarters on Dec. 24, 2013.
x
Members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution to temporarily increase the number of U.N. military personnel in South Sudan during a meeting at UN headquarters on Dec. 24, 2013.
Members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution to temporarily increase the number of U.N. military personnel in South Sudan during a meeting at UN headquarters on Dec. 24, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Jordan takes over the U.N. Security Council presidency on Wednesday, the first day of its two-year stint on a 15-nation body struggling to cope with conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali and elsewhere.
 
Jordan will join Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Nigeria on the council until Dec. 31, 2015. The U.N. General Assembly elected Amman in early December as a replacement for Saudi Arabia after Riyadh turned down the seat in protest at the council's failure to end the Syrian war and act on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other Middle East issues.
 
Although Jordan was a last-minute stand-in for the Saudi kingdom, Amman's U.N. ambassador, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, has a reputation at the United Nations for his outspoken stance on human rights issues, U.N. diplomats say.
 
In April Zeid helped organize a boycott of a General Assembly meeting on international justice organized by Vuk Jeremic, a Serbian politician who headed the U.N. General Assembly. The United States called it “inflammatory.”
 
Several U.N. Security Council diplomats said Zeid may turn out to be an influential member of the most powerful U.N. body, even though Jordan, like the other temporary members, will not have the veto power wielded by the five permanent council nations - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
 
“Although Jordan got into the Security Council by default, Prince Zeid is one of the best-known ambassadors around the U.N. and a genuinely thoughtful critic of the organization,” said Richard Gowan, an international relations expert at New York University. “He could prove to be a surprisingly weighty voice in council debates.”
 
As president of the council for January, Zeid will organize briefings on the delayed destruction of Syria's chemical weapons and the escalating conflict in South Sudan, as well as the situation in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Sudan's Western Darfur region.
 
Syria deadlock
 
Another change in the council's composition is that at least one-third of the Security Council ambassadors in 2014 will be women - Samantha Power of the United States, Maria Cristina Perceval of Argentina, Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg, Raimonda Murmokaite of Lithuania and Joy Ogwu of Nigeria.
 
The increased percentage of women could lead to more council meetings like the informal session Luxembourg and Britain are planning that will focus on women's participation in the Syrian transition process - assuming a peace agreement is reached.
 
But diplomats and analysts says the new composition of the council - including the presence of Jordan - is unlikely to break the impasse over Syria's nearly three-year-old civil war, which the United Nations says has killed over 100,000 people.
 
Jordan has over 570,000 Syrian refugees on its territory.
 
The council remains deadlocked on Syria, largely because of differences between Russia, a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the United States, Britain and France, which have called on Assad to step down. Russia, along with China, has vetoed three Security Council resolutions condemning Assad's government and threatening it with sanctions.
 
According to Security Council Report, a think-tank that monitors the council's work, the recent failure, due to a U.S.-Russian disagreement, to get the council to agree on a statement condemning air strikes on Aleppo by Assad's forces highlighted the persistence of the deadlock on Syria.
 
“The five permanent members still dominate council business, and are not inclined to give the temporary members much leeway,” said Gowan. “On first-order issues like Syria, don't expect the change of the council's composition to have much of an impact.”
 
Diplomats said there will likely be heated Security Council discussions in 2014 on challenges facing U.N. peace keepers, including stabilizing South Sudan and launching a U.N. peace-keeping operation in Central African Republic. One issue for the West, they say, is the rising cost of peace keeping.
 
The five temporary council members staying through 2014 are Australia, Argentina, Luxembourg, Rwanda and South Korea.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid