23 December 2010
Press Conference

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

Press Conference by Mexico upon Conclusion of Security Council Tenure

 


During its participation in the Security Council over the last two years, Mexico had focused on strengthening the role of conflict prevention and resolution; the promotion and protection of human rights and international humanitarian law; and enhancing transparency of the Council, the country’s Permanent Representative, Claude Heller, said today at Headquarters.


Briefing correspondents on Mexico’s work in the primary body tasked with maintaining international peace and security, he said that the period was the fourth time his Government had been an elected to the Council.  Confronted with numerous crises over the past years, the Council had managed to fulfil that role, often in difficult and sensitive circumstances, including on the Gaza war and the flotilla incident, and situations regarding the Korean peninsula, Somalia and Sri Lanka.  In all situations, Mexico had promoted dialogue among Council members, as the Council was strongest when it reacted in a “unified and cohesive way”.


He said that during the Gaza crisis, the Council had managed to adopt resolution 1860 (2009) despite internal divisions.  During the flotilla crisis in June 2010, when Mexico was President, the Council had focused on getting Israel and Turkey to negotiate.  In April 2009, when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had launched a missile, the Council had issued resolution 1874 (2009).  Again, in June, at the occasion of the sinking of a ship of the Republic of Korea, the Council had held an interactive dialogue with the representatives of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.


Although the situation in Sri Lanka was not on the Council’s agenda, he said the Council had met outside the Council Chamber with Sri Lanka’s representative and John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.  As Chair of the Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee, he had visited the region — the first field visit of the Committee — to raise awareness for the sanctions regime and to call for cooperation by the Governments, in particular of Eritrea, with the United Nations.


Regarding the promotion and protection of human rights and international humanitarian law, he said Mexico had pushed for and had succeeded in getting human rights language into the Council’s resolutions.  As Chair of the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, consensus had been reached on new standards, formulated in resolution 1882 (2009).  Seven members of the Group had visited Nepal in November.  He also had addressed the human rights dimension during negotiations on mandate extensions for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).  He had chaired the 1540 Committee on non-proliferation, and had organized “Arria formula” meetings [a process that provides access to the Council for non-governmental organizations and other non-State representatives], on human rights and terrorism and on promotion of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security.


Answering a correspondent’s question about Sri Lanka, Mr. Heller said the United Nations should react to crises that could become violent and affect human rights.  He had proposed that the Council consider the issue, not from a political perspective, but from that of human rights, as the end of the civil war could lead to bloodshed.  The Council’s engagement had helped to raise awareness of the issue.


Asked about reports that the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and Puntland authorities planned to contract a private security company to train on anti-piracy measures, he said that issue had not yet been considered by the Sanctions Committee as it had not received information in that regard from its Monitoring Group of Experts.  He stressed the importance the Committee attached to engaging with Governments concerned, especially with Eritrea.


Responding to a question about Cote d’Ivoire, he said resolution 1972 (2010) of 20 December had sent a strong message of support for the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) without getting involved in the electoral debate.  The Human Rights Council in Geneva was considering the issue.


Asked if he thought that a proposed draft resolution to recognize the Palestinian State could be successful, he said that progress could only be made if there was agreement by the parties.  The settlements issue was a major obstacle to negotiations.  It was important, therefore, to build trust in order to encourage negotiations.  The issue would come before the Council in January, but without good-faith negotiations taking place, he did not foresee a positive outcome.  He pointed out that Mexico had an office in Ramallah and that it was in favour of a Palestinian State, living side by side with Israel, within mutually recognized borders.


Addressing questions about Western Sahara, he said the Council supported the work of the Secretary-General through his Special Representative Christopher Ross.  It was clear that the status quo was not acceptable, but there seemed to be no prospect for results.  The role of the Group of Friends in forging an agreement was important.  Recent incidents in refugee camps had showed the importance of considering the human rights dimension.


Asked in that regard about the contributions non-permanent Council members could make in the face of a permanent member with a very clear position on the issue, he said that lessons learned from the Western Sahara and Gaza situations had been that non-permanent members could be heard and could engage with each other.  That had led to a 10-hour negotiation on the mandate extension where the voice of elected members had been taken into account.


Asked what the Council could do now regarding the situation on the Korean peninsula, he said the priority issue, and a sensitive one, was nuclear proliferation.  The Council supported dialogue and engagement through the six-party talks.  He reminded correspondents that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was under a sanctions regime.


Answering a question about “defiant Heads of State”, Mr. Heller stressed the Council’s role in preserving international peace and security and the necessity of conflict prevention and resolution.  The adoption of sanctions against Iran was not meant to end dialogue.  Other issues were of a more internal nature.  In the case of Cote d’Ivoire, for instance, the Council could not be transformed into an electoral commission.  The situation, however, had a regional impact, and action by regional and subregional organizations, such as by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), was therefore important.


Asked about reform of the Security Council, he said the majority of General Assembly members agreed that the Council membership should reflect the current political world, but he did not see much prospect for an outcome to the debate that had started in 2002.  An expansion of the permanent membership was not a solution.  A compromise could be for elected members to be re-elected at the end of their term.  There also needed to be accountability of members, he said, pointing out that in 2008, Mexico had received 185 votes.


As for the veto, he said that given the position of the permanent membership, the veto right would continue.  It should be regulated, however, so that it was not used in situations of grave human rights violations or genocide.


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For information media • not an official record