Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies

under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

The Address to the People of Kazakhstan by President

of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

A strong system «Responsible State - Responsible Society - 

Responsible Person» must be perpetuated in our country.

Anna Alshanskaya

Research Fellow in the Foreign Policy and International Security Department of the KAZISS under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Abstract. This article analyzes the activities carried out by the Kazakh delegation as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. The authors studied the key moments of Kazakhstan's work in 2017 and its chairmanship in January 2018. The main issues are considered, including stabilization of the situation in the countries of the Horn of Africa and the Middle East region; the strengthening of regional security and the cooperation of Central Asia and Afghanistan; and the issues surrounding the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Keywords: The UN Security Council, foreign policy, security, non-proliferation of WMD, nuclear disarmament, peacekeeping.


Kazakhstan announced its intention to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2010. In those years, before the start of the pre-election campaign, the cycle of external relations for Kazakhstan became somewhat uncertain. Firstly, this was fueled by the ongoing crisis in relations between the West and Russia and the onset of conflicts in the Middle East and later in Ukraine. Secondly, against the backdrop of the increasing influence of Russia and China in the post-Soviet space, Kazakhstan was extremely interested in enhancing interaction with the United States. In general, the country needed not only a balanced foreign policy, but also the strengthening of its positions at the global level as an important subject of international law. Moreover, the country was extremely concerned with resolving regional problems that the region had faced for many years. The issues of an unstable Afghanistan were still relevant and represented threats to the entire Central Asian region.

Accordingly, only the promotion of common regional interests within the framework of the UN Security Council could attract the attention of the entire world community to Central Asian themes and provide a constructive approach in this area, as well as securing the status of a peacekeeper at the global level.

It is important to emphasize that from the moment of gaining independence, Kazakhstan has established partnership relations with all the permanent members of the UN Security Council: USA, Russia, China, France and Great Britain. As a result, this helped not only to enlist the support of permanent members in the vote, but also, relying on the former approach of a balanced policy, to conduct further constructive negotiations with all participants in the international process.

 It should be noted that its becoming a non-permanent member of the Council was at the same time related to its flexible foreign policy, which suits the majority of geopolitical players. Noting Kazakhstan today, one can say that this country, becoming the first of the Central Asian countries to be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, once again proved itself not only as a reliable and responsible member of the UN, but also as a peacemaker in international conflicts and an uncompromising fighter against terrorism and extremism.

Work of Kazakhstan delegation for 2017

The main direction of Kazakhstan's work as a non-permanent member was set out in the political appeal of President N. Nazarbayev to the UN Security Council entitled “Kazakhstan’s vision for strengthening global partnership for building a safe, just and prosperous world”, based on the principles of the Manifesto “The World. The 21st century”.

During the year, Kazakhstan took part in 295 meetings of the Security Council. In addition to public meetings, 136 closed consultations and 41 extraordinary unscheduled meetings were also held. Moreover, 12 monthly meetings of the E-10 group (the non-permanent members of the Security Council) took place at the level of permanent representatives and 12 meetings at the level of political coordinators, as well as a number of special meetings with the UN Secretary-General and deputies. [1]

The most discussed issues in the course of the year remained the situation around the Korean Peninsula - namely, the issue of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons - and the situations of the African continent and the Middle East.

In the meetings on nuclear non-proliferation issues related to the numerous violations of the UN Security Council resolutions by North Korea, Kazakhstan demonstrated a decisive position. Taking into account the ballistic-missile launches by Pyongyang from the beginning of 2017, as well as the sixth round of nuclear weapons tests in early September 2017, Kazakhstan voted for the adoption of 2345 sanctions resolutions in March, 2356 in June, 2371 in August and 2375 in September 2017.

In this context, it should be said that Nursultan Nazarbayev's initiative “Building a world without nuclear weapons by the UN's 100th anniversary in 2045” remains one of the most important priorities of the country's foreign policy. Kazakhstan, along with the other 122 UN member states, voted in favor of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, approved on July 7, 2017, which is in line with the “Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World” adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in December 2015 at the initiative of Kazakhstan.

Speaking about attempts to resolve local conflicts, Kazakhstan relied here on expanding its participation in UN peacekeeping operations, and also promoted its position within the framework of the UN Security Council and its working bodies on peacemaking. Involvement in peacekeeping processes for Kazakhstan has almost always been one of the most important vectors of foreign policy strategy. The foreign policy of the country was conditioned by the nature of applying preventive measures and reconciliation of the parties.

Along with this, one of the important activities of Kazakhstan in the UN Security Council was the search for a solution to the Middle East crisis, including within the framework of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thus, the significant event of the period under discussion was the talks on Syria held in Astana. The results of the past eight rounds of talks not only contributed to a constructive negotiation process with all parties to the conflict, but also gave hope for gradual progress in resolving the Syrian crisis.

It is worth emphasizing that the Astana process has significantly strengthened Kazakhstan's reputation in the Security Council as an objective, reliable and neutral partner. All members of the UN Security Council have repeatedly recognized the inter-Syrian talks in Astana as a productive process. Most members of the Security Council supported the adoption of the Memorandum on creation of zones of de-escalation in Syria, signed in Astana on May 4, 2017.

Taking into account the development of the crisis situation in Myanmar, which resonated strongly around the Muslim world, the Kazakhstan delegation supported and actively participated in the extraordinary and scheduled meetings of the UN Security Council, which called on the Myanmar authorities to cooperate actively with the international community, including the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Regarding issues related to the Central Asian region, throughout 2017, Kazakhstan has actively promoted common interests, including issues of further successful and safe development. Thus, monthly briefings were held in New York for the permanent representatives of the Central Asian states at the UN, in order to reconcile positions and be introduced to the main trends of the work of the UN Security Council. On September 22, 2017, during the participation of the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, K. Abdrakhmanov, in the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, a meeting was held with the heads of foreign affairs agencies of the countries of the region; following which, for the first time, a five-sided joint statement of the foreign ministers of the countries of Central Asia was adopted as an adjunct to the UN General Assembly.

Taking into account the stabilization of Afghanistan, the Kazakhstan delegation actively promoted the view within the UN regarding the need to provide Afghanistan with comprehensive and effective assistance in terms of economic and social development. These efforts were made in order to build communication with the outside world - above all, as part of the expansion of the potential for joint transport and trade investment with Central Asia.

Thus, the resolution on Afghanistan, adopted in March 2017, included fresh additions, highlighting the existence of threats to the countries of Central Asia emanating from terrorist organizations that use the territory of Afghanistan. In May 2017, consultations were organized between Central Asian and Afghan experts on the draft of the Statement of the President of the UN Security Council on Central Asia and Afghanistan, initiated by the Kazakh side, which was adopted in January 2018 during the chairmanship of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the UN Security Council. At the end of November 2017, the Kazakhstani side, together with the German delegation and the Afghan Mission, organized a meeting of the UN Security Council members on the Arria formula entitled: “Partners for Afghanistan: Linking Security, Development and Peace in the Central Asian Region”.

Regarding the issue of counter-terrorism, work on promoting “A Code of Conduct for the Achievement of a Terrorism-Free World” was carried out in the UN throughout the year. Kazakhstan became a co-author of resolution 2354, prepared by the Security Council's counter-terrorism committee, which applies everywhere in countering terrorist propaganda.

In terms of the situation on the African continent, to which about 75% of the agenda of the UN Security Council is devoted, Kazakhstan participated in more than 100 meetings and consultations. In this area, the members of the Security Council recognized the significant intensification of the work of the Sanctions Committee in relation to Somalia and Eritrea, work which was led by the Kazakhstan side. Today, the issues of the destructive activity of the Al-Shabaab and ISIS/DAISH terrorist groups are still at the center of the committee's attention.

Further, in order to ensure sustainable development, the Kazakh delegation to the UN is still working to launch the UN Regional Hub in Almaty, aimed at implementing the goals of sustainable development and humanitarian support in the Central Asian region.

In general, the Kazakh delegation contributed to the adoption of 61 resolutions of the UN Security Council, including 11 co-authorships, and 27 statements by the Chairman of Security Council. The meetings of the UN Security Council were attended by the leaders and representatives of the state bodies of Kazakhstan, including the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Taking into account the tense relations in the area, we may note a marked decrease in the level of trust between the main world and regional players, which undoubtedly affects the effectiveness of the work of the UN Security Council.

Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the Security Council.

January, 2018

According to set procedure, the Kazakhstan delegation took over the chairmanship position in the Security Council at the beginning of 2018. It is interesting that one of the first initiatives for the Kazakh delegation in this role was the official ceremony of raising the flags of the newly elected six non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, which is unusual. This event was part of the legacy of Kazakhstan's chairmanship of a specialized body.

The next step in the process was the program of work of the Kazakh delegation which was approved at the January meeting of the Security Council members. A number of issues covered the most pressing matters on the agenda of the UN Security Council: non-proliferation of WMD; terrorism and extremism issues; settlement of local conflicts; the situation in Afghanistan; as well as pressing issues in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

During January 2018, under the chairmanship of Kazakhstan, about 30 meetings were held in the form of consultations, briefings and debates, resulting in the adoption of resolutions and press statements on behalf of the Chairman of the Council. [2]

Under Kazakhstan’s chairmanship, planned events were held on the situation in the Middle East and Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia, Darfur (Sudan), West Africa and the Sahel, Libya, Mali, Somalia and Southern Sudan; the activities of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia; as well as a visit by the UN Security Council members to Washington for a meeting with the US leadership. In addition, at the request of the US delegation, Kazakhstan convened an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Iran against the backdrop of mass social protest.

On January 9, under the chairmanship of Kazakhstan, a briefing and consultations took place on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, following which the Security Council members called on the Government of the Congo and the opposition forces to create the necessary conditions for the normal operation of the political process in the country, to prevent escalation of violence and to hold transparent and inclusive elections in December 2018.

         Another important event organized under Kazakhstan's chairmanship was the visit of the UN Security Council delegation to Afghanistan on January 12-15, 2018, during which meetings were held with the leadership of the country, representatives of political parties and civil society.

         The key activities of the chairmanship of the Kazakh delegation were:

         - a high-level thematic debate with the participation of the Head of State on the topic: “Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD): confidence building measures”;

         - a ministerial debate on the topic: “Building a regional partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a model for interdependence of security and development”;

         - scheduled briefings and consultations on the situation in the Middle East: “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian issue”.


Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: confidence-building measures

An important high-level thematic briefing on the nonproliferation of WMD was held on January 18 under the chairmanship of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. This topic is a key one for Kazakhstan and is actively promoted in the international arena, as well as being an approved topic on the list of topical issues on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

During the briefing, Nursultan Nazarbayev stated that he was paying close attention to the issue of increasing mutual trust between countries, something which is becoming an ever-more urgent topic. Special emphasis was placed on the role of Kazakhstan as an authority on anti-nuclear strategy.

Along with this, the Kazakh side emphasized the risks of WMD falling into the hands of destructive forces. The necessity of complicating the procedure for withdrawing from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was stressed, as well as the possibility of developing a special resolution determining the consequences for countries that violated the treaty. [3]

Noting the positions of the parties on disarmament issues, the permanent members in their speeches adhered to a more principled position. For example, the Russian side stressed that the complete elimination of nuclear weapons is possible only in the context of general and complete disarmament in conditions of ensuring equal and indivisible security for all. [4]

It is also worth noting that the meeting considered the issue of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. In this context, the participants have repeatedly stressed the promising example of Kazakhstan. An important project was the proposed Code of Conduct on the Achievement of a Terrorism-Free World.

The atmosphere of interaction on nuclear issues remains an obstacle to a new model of international cooperation. The multifaceted contradictions between its participants do not allow for accelerated measures for nuclear disarmament. In the current system of international relations, nuclear weapons are still recognized as an element of security assurance.

The result of the thematic briefing was the Statement of the UN Security Council Chairman under the number S/PRST/2018/1 on the Comprehensive Strategy for Conflict Prevention. Thus, along with issues of early warning, preventive deployment, mediation, peacemaking, post-conflict peace-building and strengthening accountability measures, this document for the first time included the problems of the non-proliferation of WMD. [5]

It is important to emphasize that, previously, such Security Council documents never had a focus on the broad resolution of local problems around the world within the framework of the general model. This is the first politically binding international act of the Security Council, developed and adopted under the leadership of Kazakhstan. The President touched upon the issues of conflict within contemporary international relations, offering practical solutions and recommendations.


Strengthening the partnership between Astana and Washington

 Most notably, the chairmanship with the participation of the President of Kazakhstan coincided with his official visit to the United States. The invitation extended to Nursultan Nazarbayev by Donald Trump has acquired special significance for strengthening bilateral cooperation.

Firstly, against the background of the growing influence of Russia and China on the Eurasian space, the USA began to experience a clear deficit in partners, including in the countries of Central Asia. Since the new US Administration has not established new dialogue platforms in the format of interstate relations in the region, respectively, for American partners Kazakhstan is becoming the best way to implement the formula “C5 + 1” (five Central Asian countries plus the USA) proposed by N. Nazarbayev.

Secondly, Kazakhstan, having political weight, can act as an intermediary in order to harmonize relations between the West and Russia, and, in particular, the Islamic world.

Thirdly, today, in the light of the tension between Pyongyang and Washington, the most urgent issue is the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. In this context, the role of Kazakhstan can be reduced to maximizing the use of all interactive political mechanisms to resolve this contradiction.

In general, the meeting demonstrated that confidence-building measures, as well as strengthening of the instruments of preventive diplomacy, can serve as a starting point for making progress on many critical issues that have not been speedily resolved due to political issues between world powers.  Nursultan Nazarbayev's visit to the US has been a successful continuation of Kazakhstan's multi-vector policy providing constructive dialogue and balance. The participation of the President of Kazakhstan gave the Security Council meeting political weight and a wide international resonance. As a result, the UN Security Council has become an additional international platform for sounding out Nursultan Nazarbayev's initiatives on global and regional security.


Building regional partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia

For almost two decades, Afghanistan has been one of the priority problems of the countries of the region in the sphere of security. Today, instability in the northern part of the country is of particular concern to the Central Asian states. Therefore, during its chairmanship, Kazakhstan decided to initiate discussions on stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan.

During the ministerial debates on January 19, 2018, Kazakhstan put forward its own idea regarding the integration of Afghanistan into the Central Asian region. Thus, taking into account the human capital and internal potential of Afghanistan, the interconnectedness of security and development issues in order to combat terrorism, violence and illicit drug trafficking can be a promising example, the so-called model zone of peace, cooperation and security.

 Noting the process of the meeting, within its framework the permanent members of the Security Council focused attention on different problems of Afghanistan. For example, the Russian side attached greater importance to the unprecedented growth of drug production and the development of the Afghan wing of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or otherwise the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham; while the American side paid special attention to the process of resolving the conflict in Afghanistan, as well as potential negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. In turn, the Central Asian countries noted the need for economic assistance to Afghanistan while simultaneously addressing security issues. They also stressed that Afghanistan should be viewed not as a threat, but as an important and promising partner with great undiscovered potential. [6]

In general, representatives of the member states of the Security Council positively assessed Kazakhstan's efforts to promote peace and stability in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Participants noted the need to ensure the security and stabilization of Afghanistan through strengthening the holding of peaceful elections and intensification of joint efforts to counter terrorist narcotic threats, which will become a key factor in the country's sustainable social and economic development.  At the same time, the importance of the first visit of the Security Council to Afghanistan, carried out at the initiative of Kazakhstan, was especially noted.

One of the main achievements of Kazakhstan in the Afghan case was the mission on Afghanistan, which took place from 12 to 15 February last year. Firstly, the mission successfully met with more than 120 representatives of the government and non-state sectors. Both the Security Council and the Afghan side expressed the need not only to expand regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism, but also noted the importance of providing donor assistance and the implementation of the “One United Nations” process at this stage. The issue of the active expansion of women's rights in Afghanistan, which was discussed with the first lady and representatives of women's non-governmental organizations, did not bypass the issue. 

Thus, the results of the ministerial debates showed that the Central Asian countries are ready to strengthen cooperation with Afghanistan by expanding cooperation and implementing specific regional projects. In this context, the regional formats that were raised on the agenda of the Security Council should contribute to the creation of incentives for regional peace and development, without losing its relevance.

As a result of the debate, the Presidential Statement, unanimously approved by all members of the UN Security Council, was adopted. It calls on the international community to support Afghanistan through the expansion of regional cooperation and the more effective use of preventive diplomacy tools. Moreover, the importance of applying the three-vector model of peace and development in Afghanistan was noted: the relationship between security and sustainable development, and a regional and coordinated approach within the UN.

The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian issue

The Middle East remains one of the important areas of the world order. During the chairmanship, Kazakhstan presented itself as an objective and mostly neutral partner. At the next open debate on the situation in the Middle East, which was attended by more than 50 representatives of member countries and regional organizations, special attention was focused on the status of Jerusalem. The members of the Security Council called for the observance of international agreements, taking into account the inalienable right of Palestinians to statehood and Israel's right to security and the speedy resumption of negotiations in a bilateral format.

The Kazakh side stressed its commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and called for avoiding unilateral actions that would impede the resolution of the conflict.

It is important to note that a significant number of states expressed concern over the reduction of the US financial assistance to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, which covers 50% of the needs of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, which could become a factor of social vulnerability and growth of radicalization of refugees.


In general, Kazakhstan's chairmanship in the UN Security Council was evaluated by most Kazakhstani and foreign experts as productive and effective, becoming both an invaluable experience for the diplomatic service and the entire state apparatus; and is thus a triumph for Kazakhstan's foreign policy, one which received a wide resonance in the world arena.

Despite the fact that the chairmanship of the UN Security Council is often formal and the permanent members are responsible for determining the main agenda, the work of the Security Council was undoubtedly provided with a “Kazakhstan dimension”.

As foreign experts note, during the chairmanship, Kazakhstan managed to tackle issues such as how the situation in Afghanistan can be regularized; and the regional security of the Central Asian countries, which are often not key on the agenda of the UN Security Council. Thus, the first visit of the UN Security Council members to Afghanistan on the eve of the ministerial debate organized by Kazakhstan made it possible to assess the effectiveness of the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to establish stability in the country and stressed the need to consider it as a long-term partner. [7]

In addition, the personal participation of the President of Kazakhstan, N. Nazarbayev, in the thematic briefing, once again confirmed the high importance that Kazakhstan attaches to the problem of the growing tension around nuclear weapons and the danger of their proliferation. According to experts, having established itself as an effective platform for negotiations on Iran's nuclear program and the Astana process on Syria, Kazakhstan can act as a model for resolving the nuclear issue caused by North Korea. [8]

The launch of the Code of Conduct on the Achievement of a Terrorism-Free World demonstrated, as a number of Chinese experts emphasize, the practical embodiment of the idea of ​​Kazakhstan to create a universal system for countering terrorism. [9]

In the opinion of a number of Kazakhstani experts, the chairmanship of the Security Council, firstly, is a tool to improve one's image and recognition in the eyes of the world community; and, secondly, it will contribute to the growth of the economic rating and improvement of the country's investment climate.

In general, summing up the results, we can say that the delegation of Kazakhstan in all the activities carried out impressive work, in particular, in the expansion on the UN platform of cooperation between all regional organizations in terms of the collective security of Europe and America, Asia and Africa.

Membership of the UN Security Council has increased the country's role on a global scale; strengthened its position in international negotiations; provided a qualitatively new level of interaction with other countries; and the opportunity to declare national priorities in the field of conflict prevention and peacekeeping. At the same time, Kazakhstan's activities in the Council have become a unique opportunity to advance Nursultan Nazarbayev's peacekeeping initiatives.

Summing up, it was unrealistic to think that Kazakhstan, being a non-permanent member of the Security Council, could solve certain global problems in such a short time. The Security Council has its alliances. Nevertheless, the Kazakh side, having worked more than a year in a purely pragmatic and realistic manner, demonstrated that it would not be swayed by anyone else's side or interests; and operated instead primarily from its own and its regional interests.


  1. Meetings conducted by the Security Council in 2017 // Security Council United Nations official website // https://www.un.org/en/sc/meetings/records/2017.shtml
  2. Meetings conducted by the Security Council in 2018 // Security Council United Nations official website // http://www.un.org/en/sc/meetings/records/2018.shtml
  3. Meeting Record during 8160th meeting // Security Council United Nations official website. – 2018. – January,18 // https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/PRO/N18/014/80/PDF/N1801480.pdf?OpenElement
  4. Выступление Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова на заседании Совета Безопасности ООН по теме «Нераспространение ОМУ: построение мер доверия», Нью-Йорк, // Официальные сетевые ресурсы МИД РФ. – 2018. – 18 января (Statement by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at the UN Security Council Meeting on “Non-proliferation of WMD: Confidence-Building Measures, New York, // Official Network Resources of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. – 2018. - January 18) // http://www.mid.ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3024503
  5. Statement by the President of the Security Council United Nations official website. – 2018.–January,18 // https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N18/015/65/PDF/N1801565.pdf?OpenElement
  6. Meeting Record during 8162nd meeting // Security Council United Nations official website.–2018.–January,19// http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/PV.8162
  7. How Kazakhstan reconciled the members of the UN Security Council // Central Asia monitor // http://centralasiamonitor.com/2018/02/how-kazakhstan-reconciled-the-members-of-the-un-security-council/
  8. A Kazakhstan Model for North Korea Nuclear Settlement // Huffpost. – 2018. – January, 10 // https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/a-kazakhstan-model-for-north-korea-nuclear-settlement_us_5a566f0ee4b088f20c39591d
  9. Китайские эксперты рассказали о значении председательства Казахстана в СБ ООН // Международное информационное агентство Kazinform. – 2018. – 13 февраля (Chinese experts talked about the importance of Kazakhstan's chairmanship in the UN Security Council // International Information Agency Kazinform. - 2018. - February 13) // http://www.inform.kz/ru/kitayskie-eksperty-rasskazali-o-znachenii-predsedatel-stva-kazahstana-v-sb-oon_a3152557