NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- For the first time ever, two countries have taken joint presidency of the United Nations Security Council as France and Germany on Friday assumed the role for March and April, the ambassadors of both countries said.
"The joint presidencies of France and Germany of the U.N. Security Council in March and April will send a strong European signal and showcase the unique cooperation of both countries in matters of international peace and security," German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen said.
Tradition dictates that each of the 15 Security Council members take turns holding the month-long presidency in alphabetical order. France will sit in the president's seat first in March and will be followed by Germany in April, but responsibilities will be shared throughout both months.
Top agenda items include a focus on women in conflict situations, strengthening international humanitarian law and fighting terrorism, as well as issues affecting Mali, where both France and Germany have military forces involved in the U.N.'s MINUSMA peacekeeping effort, and the Sahel region, generally.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass are also expected to preside over high-level events throughout March and April, including a scheduled disarmament meeting on April 2.
The month-long disarmament conference takes place every five years and typically involves contentious negotiations.
Deep divides within the powerful council have prevented progress from being made on issues like Syria, Yemen and most recently Venezuela.
As an original member of the Security Council, along with Britain, China, Russia and the United States, France is a veto-wielding member.
Germany last served as an elected member in 2011 and 2012, and will sit in the council as a nonpermanent member through next year. Like Germany, Japan -- along with India and Brazil, as part of the Group of Four -- has been pressing for a restructuring of the council so that a number of new permanent seat holders can be added.