30 April 2008
Press Conference

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

PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT ON WRAP-UP OF WORK FOR APRIL


Security Council President Dumisani Kumalo ( South Africa), in a press conference today on the work of the Council during the month of April, called it a “very hectic month”, during which the Council had dealt with a number of interesting issues that warranted a summary as the month came to close.


He said one of the most gratifying experiences had been the Council’s hosting of a “mini-summit” on strengthening the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations, in particular the African Union.  President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa chaired that meeting, which was attended by several Heads of State.  “That was a very important meeting,” said Mr. Kumalo.  “We have really built a relationship that will continue into the future.”  The meeting with ambassadors of the African Union Peace and Security Council was equally significant and would become an annual event that would continue well into the future.


The most frustrating experience had been the Council’s inability to pronounce itself on the situation in the Middle East, particularly the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Mr. Kumalo said.  The Council had been caught in a “winless” situation, with the various sides deadlocked over whether the humanitarian situation should be addressed on its own or in conjunction with either the regional security situation or the political situation.  Comments made by a member of the Libyan delegation during that debate, comparing the situation in Gaza to that in Nazi concentration camps, had been particularly detrimental to the discussions.


Speaking in his national capacity on the issue, he said the solution to the problem lay in negotiations between the parties for the creation of two States, with a Palestinian State existing beside Israel.


Among the other issues he felt had been worth a mention was the Council’s work on the situation in Somalia.  “We have started a momentum which we hope we will build on as we go into the future,” he said, adding that he was still holding out for a Council mission to Mogadishu.  Meetings on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) had also contributed to positive steps forward.


Regarding the recent meeting on Zimbabwe, he said the Council was working very hard at a subregional level to help the citizens of that country overcome their problems.  In response to a question, he said the United States and the United Kingdom had “overplayed their hand” and that Southern African countries were capably dealing with the situation.  “I know the frustrations we all share -- it’s not perfect, why can’t it happen very quickly –- but it’s the best thing we have going,” he said.  “We should encourage that.”


In reply to a series of questions about Western Sahara and disagreements over a draft resolution on that issue, he said two proposals were on the table and it was up to all the parties involved to decide which they liked better.  Some of the language in various draft resolutions could be seen as “tilting towards Morocco” and should be more closely examined.  In addition, the use of the term “realism” was potentially troubling.  “If we are in the business of realism, we should tell the Palestinians to become real and accept the situation in the Middle East; we should tell the Serbs to be real and accept Kosovo.  If you are going to have realism, do it all over the place.  Don’t just do it to the poor Saharawis because they are weak and they are not Morocco.”


Mr. Kumalo reaffirmed the Council’s support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Western Sahara, despite possible differences of opinion between the Envoy and the Secretary-General.  “I support him.  As long as he delivers the results I’m for him.”


Responding to a question about the legality of a draft resolution on piracy off the coast of Somalia, he stressed the need to address piracy specifically as it related to that country and not in a more general manner.  A Security Council resolution on piracy should not infringe on what States parties to the Law of the Sea had already agreed upon.


Turning finally to the significance of a draft resolution on Sudan, he said the text was noteworthy in that it supported the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which was “one very successful thing happening in Sudan”.  It was necessary now to ensure that, rather than getting bogged down with reports, the Council and UNAMID pushed forward action.


The Council President concluded by saying expressing regret over having to cut his briefing short because he needed to return to the Security Council debate on small arms, which was another significant accomplishment this month.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record