3 January 2008
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT ON JANUARY PROGRAMME OF WORK


Unfortunately, and as usual, January would be an Arab-African month in the Security Council, Giadalla A. Ettalhi ( Libya), the 15-member organ’s incoming President, said at a Headquarters press conference today.


Briefing the media on the Council’s provisional work programme for January, he said some 75 per cent of it was devoted to Arab and African issues.  However, it was not an exclusive programme of work and the Council could tackle other matters if necessary.  On 7 January, it would hold consultations on Chad and the Central African Republic, before considering the very important issue of Darfur on 9 January, when it would hear about the activities of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), and the political process, in a format to be determined.  The Council would consider the extension of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) mandate on 14 and 15 January.


The Council would discuss the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on 16 January, he continued.  Those discussions had been planned originally as consultations, but as the President of Serbia had asked to be present, another format would be decided upon in order to give him the opportunity to do so.  On 18 and 21 January, the Council would consider Nepal’s request that it extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in that country.  A debate on Iraq was also planned for 21 January.  The monthly briefing on the Middle East would take place on 23 January, followed by an open debate.  The situations in Ethiopia and Eritrea and in Abkhazia, Georgia, would also be considered.


He noted that, because it was his country’s first time on the Council and it would serve in the presidency again, it had not planned any thematic debate for January.


Answering questions, he said its membership was very important for Libya, which had been under Council sanctions for more than a decade, because it meant that from the perspective of others, things were “back to normal”.  It was also an opportunity for greater involvement in international affairs.


In response to numerous questions about Libya’s role as Council President and a country with good relations with both the United States and Iran, he said the latter was not mentioned in the provisional programme of work, but fell under the heading “non-proliferation” in the category of subjects that could come before the Council.  The situation was now under consideration by the Group of 5+1 (the five permanent Council members and Germany).  If they presented any conclusions or agreement on how to proceed, a wider debate could take place.


He stressed that his country enjoyed good relations with Iran, whose Vice-President had recently visited the country, and with the United States, which were “back to normal”.  Given its experience in non-proliferation, Libya was in a better position to understand the positions of both and it would try to be constructive.  It supported the right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, in line with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), but opposed the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons.  Having suffered under sanctions, however, Libya would be in a difficult position if such a course were to be proposed.


Asked about the absence of Lebanon from the January agenda, he said that question could come up during the debate on the Middle East.  Open debates were open not only to Council members, but also to the delegations of countries directly affected by a given situation and requesting a hearing.  However, such a debate would probably not result in a resolution or even a presidential statement.  Likewise, Sudan’s recent claims against Chad (document S/2007/774) were not on the agenda because the former had not asked the Council to address them.  The issue could nevertheless be raised during the debate on Darfur.


Responding to questions about the Kosovo debate on 9 January, he said last month the Council had discussed the “troika” negotiations while this month’s debate would be about UNMIK.  Yesterday, agreement had been reached that the format would be one of consultations, but this morning the presidency had received a request from the President of Serbia to address the Council, which had agreed to allow him to speak.  Therefore the format had to be adjusted and the debate now was about whether the formal meeting would be private or public.


Whether or not the Council might address the question of Kenya depended on developments in that country, he said in answer to another question.  Hopefully the situation would improve, but, if it deteriorated in such a way as to affect regional peace and stability, the Council might consider it.  In the same vein, the agenda said nothing about Pakistan, but that did not mean the situation there was excluded.


Asked why Somalia was only mentioned in a footnote, he recalled that, last month, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for that country, had stressed that the Council should do something about the peace process and the security situation there (see Press Release SC/9203 of 17 December).  All Council members were concerned about the situation and keen to do something about it.


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For information media • not an official record