3 February 2009
Press Conference

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

PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT ON WORK PROGRAMME FOR FEBRUARY


Because the Security Council was entrusted with reacting “promptly and effectively” to threats to international peace and security, informal consultations were “extremely important” in broadening understanding and agreement through interactive discussion, Yukio Takasu (Japan), Council President for February, said today.


Describing the programme of work for the month at a Headquarters press conference, he said the mandate of the peacekeeping operation formerly known as the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) would end on 15 February.  It would be discussed under the heading “resolution 1839 (2008)” at a private meeting planned for 10 February.  Also expiring, at the end of the month, was the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).  An open debate on the matter was planned for 19 February with the expected participation of President José Ramos-Horta and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


He said the Council would hear a briefing on the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) on 5 February.  It would address the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on 17 February, but the situation in Darfur might come up before that.  Many other situations in Africa would be considered, such as support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  The Council would hold a debate on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) on 9 February, discuss the situation in the Middle East on 18 February and consider Iraq on 26 February


The situation between Djibouti and Eritrea might come up, he said, noting that a report on the parties’ compliance with their 14 January agreement to withdraw within five weeks was due on 25 February.  Consultations were ongoing regarding a possible briefing by Ibrahim Gambari, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General, after his return from Myanmar.  The subject for a thematic debate had not yet been decided.


Responding to questions, the President emphasized that the work programme was a preliminary timetable and subject to change.  Such issues as Gaza, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a possible International Criminal Court indictment of Sudan’s President Omer Hassan al-Bashir, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe might be addressed if warranted by developments.  Also expected was a briefing by Tony Blair, Middle East Envoy of the Quartet (United Nations, European Union, United States and Russian Federation).


Asked about peacekeeping operations, he said the 23 January debate on that subject had been an “exciting initiative”, which the Council working group on peacekeeping operations, chaired by Japan, would discuss further.  When the Council authorized a mandate, it became responsible for ensuring that the resulting peacekeeping operation had the means to carry out that mandate.  It was to be hoped that the working group could come up with concrete proposals by August.


In response to a question about the lack of peacekeeping troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said the situation was far from satisfactory, and expressed the hope that the current military actions would contribute towards stability.  However, the Council should help expedite the deployment of peacekeepers.


Asked about clocks he had handed out to Council members at the beginning of his country’s presidency, Mr. Takasu said that a gift was customary at such occasions, and that he had chosen that particular clock model, which was automatically adjusted by satellite, to promote the Council’s promptness and effectiveness.  The clocks were made by Seiko -- Japanese for precision, but also for success.


Responding to questions in his national capacity, he addressed the need for Security Council reform, saying the organ’s current structure did not reflect the reality on the ground.  The President of the General Assembly had announced that intergovernmental negotiations would begin on 19 February, and, after 15 years of consultations, there was now a strong momentum that would hopefully translate into flexibility on the part of Member States.


He went on to express the hope that not too much time would be wasted on procedural matters and that serious negotiations could start in March.  Negotiations were not consultations; the frustrations of the last 15 years of consultations should not be repeated.


The Council’s working methods rated among the five major issues of Security Council reform, he continued.  As Chair of the working group on documentation and other procedural questions, Japan felt there was certainly room for improvement.  After all, its working methods must help the Council respond promptly and effectively to threats to international peace and security.


Asked about his country’s contribution to peacekeeping, he took issue with a suggestion that Japan’s foreign policies were nearly identical to those of the United States.  Japan’s foreign policy was guided by its Constitution, which renounced the use of force as a means of settling international disputes, although it would defend itself against attacks and acts of terrorism.  Japan also had a broader concept of security.  Because the country had undergone “nation-building” after the Second World War, it was putting that experience to work in Afghanistan, among other places.  Another of Japan’s strengths lay in consensus-building.


Regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said the containment and neutralization of that country’s nuclear programme was in Japan’s national interest.  The six-party talks had not achieved that goal, and if peace and security were threatened, the Council should take up the issue.  As for the return of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to the country, the agency had decided to restrict the scope of its activities there strictly to human development and to exercise effective monitoring.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had refused those conditions in the past, and now that the Government had accepted UNDP’s decision, the Programme could resume human development projects.  Japan’s conditions were that United Nations assistance not be diverted and that it be devoted strictly to human development.


Still speaking in his national capacity as he answered questions on the Middle East, he said Japan had good relations with almost all parties in the region.  Unlike other countries, it had had no historical involvement with any party and could therefore be a trusted and impartial partner.  That afforded Japan the opportunity to work for win-win situations geared towards prosperity and development for all.  Within the Security Council, Japan would work for the ceasefire and for peace negotiations.


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For information media • not an official record