On November 1 Portugal takes over the UN Security Council (UNSC) presidency. For one month our country will be responsible for managing the Council's agenda, preside at all the meetings and act as spokesman. The presidency is held in turn by the UNSC members. During the current mandate Portugal holds the Presidency only once.
Portugal was elected as UN Security Council non-permanent member for the 2011-12 period. The election was fought with Germany and Canada, following an intense but very successful campaign among all UN member countries. In addition to taking part in the Council's daily work, Portugal holds the presidency of 3 UNSC subsidiary bodies - bodies established to monitor very specific aspects of UN resolutions. They are the Libya Sanctions Committee, the Sanctions Committee on North Korea and the Working Group on International Tribunals.
The Security Council's agenda in the first 10 months of our mandate was extremely intense. Unpredictable changes, especially in the Arab world, posed new challenges to international security and demanded a greater effort to overcome differences and reach consensus. Portugal has played an important role in this framework - highlighting the close ties with various regions of the world, we seek to build bridges with the Council members along with other UN members. Our country’s profile and the commitment of Portuguese diplomacy have ensured Portugal's relevance and credibility in the debates of the main body responsible for international peace and security.
The Portuguese presidency's programme reflects this profile and commitment. Although most of the topics scheduled were a result of previous commitments of the Council, Portugal managed to include specific initiatives on the priorities of our foreign policy. Among others, we highlight a session on "New Security Challenges" and a debate on the "UNSC Working Methods". An event is also scheduled on the action of the guerrillas of the Lord's Resistance Army in Central Africa. Other topics that were not under our own initiative, but reflect national priorities, include "Guinea Bissau", "East Timor", and the "Protection of Civilians".
During the UNSC presidency, Portugal will take part in various political events. On the 9th, the President will chair the debate on "Civil Protection", where the Minister of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs will also take part. On the 22th and 23th, Paulo Portas will chair the "East Timor" and "New Challenges to Security" sessions, respectively. On the 23th, the Minister will also host the Security Council monthly lunch with the presence of the UN Secretary-General.
The programme will be formally adopted on November 2, after consultations with other UNSC members. Changes can still be made if issues arise that require the Council's urgent attention - which may result from developments in the Middle East, and specifically on Palestine’s application for membership, or in countries like Libya, Syria or Yemen.