The United Nations Blog Series: Looking back at Spain’s role in the Security Council

@IE University

Considering that this is no small task, it is important to reflect upon Spain’s role within the SC during this term.

December 31st, 2016 marked the last day of Spain’s position as a non-permanent Security Council member. It also meant that Spain’s month-long turn at the SC presidency was officially over. For two years, Spain had contributed to the maintenance of international peace and security on one of the most important organs of the UN. Considering that this is no small task, it is important to reflect upon Spain’s role within the SC during this term.

 

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Looking back at the challenges and accomplishments of Spain’s membership

Spain proposed a highly ambitious reform agenda when running for a non-permanent seat. Spain argued that the SC had to be made more democratic, by modifying the veto policy when presented with humanitarian crises. As a member, Spain passionately pursued the proposed reforms, while also co-sponsoring a number of resolutions presented to the SC. One in particular was aimed at guaranteeing healthcare and the protecting the sick and wounded in conflict-ridden areas. Other co-sponsored resolutions involved preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and deployment of UN observers in Syria to monitor the civilian conditions in Aleppo.

‘Women, Peace, and Security’

A main area of focus for Spain, throughout the two-year membership, was on women, peace, and security. Spanish diplomats have worked extensively to reinforce systems in place to protect women and children in conflict zones, due to this group’s vulnerability when faced with sexual violence, human trafficking, and forced marriages. Spain has also concentrated on strengthening the role of women in conflict mediation and preventive diplomacy, both crucial to promoting and maintaining peace in developing countries.

In many conflict-ridden countries, the presence of small tribal communities is significant. In these tightly-knit communities, civil society, particularly in the form of women’s groups, can be extremely effective when it comes to mediation and conflict resolution between armed groups. These initiatives can be extremely helpful in the promotion and maintenance of security and stability in peacetime as well.

Recent events (hundreds of women and girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria, human trafficking of migrants and refugees, and the enslavement of women and girls by terrorist organizations) have brought to light the atrocious human rights violations committed against women and girls specifically. As a non-permanent member of the SC, Spain fulfilled its promise to make these voices heard by representing the interests of women and girls in conflict-ridden zones at the UN.

 

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The SC rotating presidency

In December 2016, it was Spain’s turn to take over the SC presidency. Over the course of the month, a number of resolutions were successfully adopted in the areas of counterterrorism, non-proliferation, and maintenance of peace and security, as well as resolutions with particular regard to Iraq, Liberia, Libya, Sudan, and South Sudan.

The most consequential resolutions adopted had to do with the Syrian Civil War and Israel. Three resolutions were passed on Syria, demanding the humanitarian evacuation of the city of Aleppo, insisting on a peaceful transition from the Syrian regime, and consolidating the ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey (adopted on December 31st, 2016).

The resolution on Israel condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegally structures on occupied territory; demanded the cessation of all settlement construction; and reaffirmed that the United Nations did not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders. Astoundingly, the resolution was not vetoed by the United States, and was adopted unanimously by all 14 other members of the Council. Spain’s membership in the UN Security Council ended with a highly consequential presidency.

 

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