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.
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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs