SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS HIGHLIGHT AFRICAN ISSUES, TRANSPARENCY, BETTER TARGETED SANCTIONS, COUNTER-TERRORISM IN WRAP-UP MEETING

21 December 2001
SC/7251

SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS HIGHLIGHT AFRICAN ISSUES, TRANSPARENCY, BETTER TARGETED SANCTIONS, COUNTER-TERRORISM IN WRAP-UP MEETING

21/12/2001
Press ReleaseSC/7251

Security Council

4445th Meeting (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS HIGHLIGHT AFRICAN ISSUES, TRANSPARENCY,

BETTER TARGETED SANCTIONS, COUNTER-TERRORISM IN WRAP-UP MEETING

While sharing the desire of other delegations for greater transparency in the Security Council, it was important to note the changing trends in that respect, that body's President, Moctar Ouane (Mali), said as the Council concluded its wrap-up meeting for the month of December this afternoon.

Speaking in his national capacity at the conclusion of his country's second Council presidency in the last two years, he welcomed the increasing dispatching of Council missions to various regions, including the Great Lakes, Sierra Leone and Kosovo.  They had been instructive in terms of subsequent discussions and decisions in the Council.

In addition, he said, the development of direct contacts with parties to conflicts through private meetings had made it possible to hold frank and open discussions.  Remarkable progress had also been made in terms of greater efficiency and better targeted sanctions.  The Council's relevance had been confirmed, and the trend towards change would hopefully continue until the long-awaited reform was realized.

Jamaica’s representative said that while there had been some improvement in transparency, the Council should continue to seek ways to increase it in meaningful ways.  She called for more flexibility in the use of the Arias formula.

The Arias formula is a method by which the Security Council meets non-governmental actors from areas of conflict who are not parties to the conflict.

She said the success and reform of United Nations peacekeeping hinged largely on relationships with the troop-contributing countries.  Jamaica would continue to press for changes in that area.  She also expressed disappointment that no great inroads had been made regarding the question of peace-building.

Jamaica had chosen to focus on Africa because not enough attention was being paid to that continent, she said.  In the last two years, however, there had been concentrated efforts in that regard, while Africans and their leaders had increasingly begun to help themselves.  In addition, there was widespread support for regional and sub-regional initiatives on the continent.

Ireland's representative said the Council had rightly placed Afghanistan at the forefront of its agenda, adopting two resolutions and endorsing the Bonn agreement.  There was a very real need for the Council to support Special

Representative Lakhdar Brahimi in facing the very difficult challenges the United Nations would face in the coming months.

He said Ireland had always thought it was important that the Council show the greatest openness and engage with other United Nations bodies, as well as Member States.  Also of importance was instituting greater dialogue with the Economic and Social Council, because the Security Council needed an interlocutor on social issues.

Singapore's representative, using the Council's 15-member structure –- five permanent members, five members departing this year and five members departing next year -– detailed that body's five successes, five moderate success and five unsuccessful attempts to handle pressing issues during the past year.

Of the successes, he highlighted the Terrorism and the Counter-Terrorism Committee established under resolution 1373 (2001) as one of the greatest achievements in the Council's history.  What would the world have done following 11 September without the Council?  With one text, 189 nations had been obliged to comply with far-reaching anti-terrorism initiatives.

He said the Council’s moderate successes included the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and the handling of the Kosovo-wide elections.  Regarding the unsuccessful files, the Council could not find a way to deal with the serious instability in the Middle East.  Further, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), negotiations on the Western Sahara had stalled.

Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Bangladesh, Tunisia, Ukraine, Norway, Colombia, United Kingdom, China, United States, Mauritius, France and Russian Federation.

The meeting began at 3:20 p.m. and adjourned at 5:20 p.m.

Statements

IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that although there had been frustrations during its two years on the Council, including knowing sometimes that its vote would have little impact, there had also been periods of excitement.

He said the Council should develop a more sustained relationship with the General Assembly and other organs, the broader membership and the wider United Nations system.

Regarding the Council’s methods, he noted that there was little difference between its formal and informal meetings.  However, the working luncheon with the Secretary-General had emerged as a useful forum for the exchange of views with him.

Emphasizing the need for a more effective partnership between the Council and troop-contributing countries, he also called for a more transparent relationship between the Council and the Group of Friends.

There was still a gap between the Council’s stated aims and its accomplishments, especially in the areas of rapid deployment as case in point.  In addition, Bangladesh urged greater involvement of women across the broad spectrum of United Nations peacekeeping operations.

NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said the work programme for the current month had taken the various interests of the Council members into account.  The treatment of West Africa had indicated the way the Council should act and should continue to act. In addition, conflicts in Africa had been addressed, and the tireless efforts of each member had been aimed to relieve the continent of its burdens.  However, that attitude did not apply to the other areas of the world, which required the same commitment and conviction.  It was mandatory for the Council to treat all matters that threatened peace and security in the world, or breached international law, in the same way.

The situation in Palestine, for example, was an issue that was of particular interest to his country.  Tunisia was still convinced that the Council had full and complete jurisdiction for peace and security in the Middle East region, he said.  The issue there was one of an occupation fraught with serious and systematic violations of international law.  Yet, up until now, the Council had not been able to play its required role in that region, particularly in the last 15 months.

He said the Council’s role was not exclusive, neither was it contradictory to the roles played by other international organizations.  In fact, it was a complementary one.  The Middle East issue was well known, as were the frustrations of the Palestinian people and the Arab world.  There was no room for double standards.  The Council could also define unified criteria and harmonized policy vis-a-vis sanctions.  Ways must be found to loosen sanctions at the appropriate time when the sanctioned State party had fulfilled its obligations.

He said reform of the Council was all the more necessary and pressing.  The thinking process on that should start now so that by 2003 there could be a consensus.  The present system was over 50 years old “and we should not wait for crisis so that we are forced to confer unwanted changes”, he said.

VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said his country may not have achieved everything it wanted and planned, but it had managed to bring its best effort to the Security Council.

He said it was common to hear criticism that there was much room for improvement in the areas of reform and working methods.  But having had an insider’s view of the Council’s workings, Ukraine found it amazing that it could still find time to do something to improve its image and working methods.

Although there was still much to be done, at least something was changing, he said.  With every passing month, discussions and various documents were leaving the consultation room for the Council chamber.  The process of change would persist, because without it, the Council would lose its identity.  There was a growing recognition, including within the Council, that reform was indeed indispensable.

PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that in the last two years her delegation had seen a very active Security Council.  But statistics only provided a mere picture of this body’s real workload.  In the past two years, Jamaica had advocated ways to increase and improve transparency in the Council, and there had been some improvement.  The Council, nevertheless, should continue to seek out ways in which it could increase its transparency in meaningful ways.  She also called for more flexibility in the use of the Arias formula.

She said that Jamaica’s short stay on the Council had convincingly illustrated that small countries like hers could make a valuable contribution to the work of that body.  Jamaica had chosen to focus on Africa because it felt that not enough attention was being paid to that continent.  In the last two years, there had, however, been an evolution of concentrated efforts within the Council in that regard, while Africans and their leaders had also begun to help themselves more and more.  There was also widespread support for regional and sub-regional initiatives on the continent.

Unfortunately, the issue of Western Sahara had not been resolved, she said.  Neither had the Middle East.  The situation vis-à-vis Iraq also continued to pose a threat to peace and security.  In addition, the thematic debates were so wide in their scope that they now formed a body of work that the Council should seek to ensure was reflected in the reports of the Secretariat and in resolutions.

Success and reform of United Nations peacekeeping largely hinged on relationships with the troop-contributing countries, she continued.  Jamaica would continue to press for changes in that area.  She also expressed disappointment that no great inroads had been made regarding peace-building.

WEGGER CHRISTIAN STROMMEN (Norway) welcomed the fact that the Council had held meetings on Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that the views of non-members had been taken into account before any decisions were taken.  Norway hoped that practice would continue.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the wrap-up meetings were extremely useful, especially when they were held in a public setting.  Yet last month some members had voiced concerns about the usefulness of the wrap-up exercise.  Today’s meeting had not been sufficiently advertised, and that probably explained the scant attendance of non-members.  It was important to allow those non–members to participate interactively in this meeting, as it facilitated transparency.

He said the last two weeks had seen situations of the greatest tensions addressed in the world.  He believed that through the adoption of the resolution on Afghanistan yesterday, the Council had found an innovative and even timely way to address a complex affair.

Regarding the Middle East, he said it was clear that another opportunity to make an impact had been let go.  Yet it was clear that all the members of the Council believed that peace should prevail in the Middle East.  He hoped that in the new year a common language would be found to express a common view that would inspire the actions of the Council.

JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) expressed pleasure that the Council was spending so much more time on Africa.

Regarding Security Council transparency, he said Member States often did not attend open meetings when invited and when they did participate, they read statements of position.

He said the United Kingdom was a strong proponent of Security Council reform but could not agree with the representative of Ukraine that the five permanent members were feeling the heat on that issue.  It was now quite clear that they were one of the few parts of the intergovernmental system that was actually able to take operational control of an ongoing situation.

CHEN XU (China) said last month had seen a lot of substantive work that yielded good results.  Within a relatively short space of time, two resolutions on Afghanistan had been adopted.  After a new wave of turbulence in the Middle East, there had been a timely discussion of the issue, even though no resolution had been adopted.  The meetings themselves represented the importance the Council attached to the issue.  There had also been comprehensive deliberations on Africa.  The individual focus on West Africa would be instrumental in providing a comprehensive response to the continent as a whole.

Regarding reform of the Council’s working methods and its efficiency, he said there had been many discussions and many of the issues raised were worthy of consideration.  China favoured the suggestion that non-members be solicited more frequently.  His country also supported the thrust to improve the working methods of the Council.  Whether the latter could be achieved, however, by holding more public meetings was an issue that deserved more consideration.

JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said there had been many important issues on the Council’s agenda, but this afternoon’s meeting was important because it offered an opportunity to hear the insights of outgoing members on the Council’s achievements and what had not been achieved.  While there were many areas for improvement, there were many others where improvements had been made over the last few years.

He said some mistakes had been made and transparency had remained elusive, but a system was developing in which meetings were held to seek the views of non-Council members, such as the one on the panel on the illicit exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The admonition that the Council could do better in its primary responsibility for international peace and security was one that members should carry with them into the new year.

BIJAYEDUTH GOKOOL (Mauritius) said key issues had been dealt with in a most adequate manner under Mali’s presidency.  The public debate on the Democratic Republic of the Congo was one of the highlights of that presidency, and it had kept the Council fully engaged for December.

He said there had also been a keen interest in peace and security in West Africa.  That subregion deserved the kind of attention that members had unanimously and unequivocally called for.  Mauritius would strive to keep the same high standards set by Mali this month when it assumed the presidency of the Council next month.

GERARD CORR (Ireland) welcomed the Council's strong focus on Africa in the last month.  It had held meetings on Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and West Africa.  That focus had allowed the Council to take valuable stock of progress as well as remaining challenges.

He said the Council had rightly placed Afghanistan at the forefront of its agenda, adopting two resolutions and endorsing the Bonn agreement.  There was a very real need for the Council to support Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi to face the very difficult challenges that the United Nations would face in the coming months.  On the Middle East, Ireland welcomed the Council's ability to hold the debate, but it was unfortunate that no consensus was possible at its conclusion.

Regarding Africa, he said there was strong value in periodically taking broad assessments of trends.  The Council could not reinvent the world, but it could integrate the best thinking into its own.  It would also be useful to stand back from time to time and look at the wider picture.

He said Ireland had always thought it was important to show the greatest openness as well as to engage with other members and bodies.  Also of importance was greater dialogue with the Economic and Social Council, because the Security Council needed an interlocutor on social issues.

EMANUELLE D’ACHON (France) said the views expressed by the outgoing members of the Council would be useful in the future.  The Council had confirmed its unanimity and ability to take speedy action on Afghanistan.  It had lived up to its commitments in that respect and it would continue to do so in January.

This month, she said, the Council also showed that it could attempt to tackle delicate issues.  Now work would have to continue on those same issues next year.

She said this month’s treatment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was also another success story that would help the Council in its future deliberations.

ANDREY GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) extended warmest thanks to the President and to the departing elected members of the Council -- Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mali, Tunisia and Ukraine.

Each of those delegations had its own face which it was impossible to confuse for that of another, he said.  Each had been able to act as itself.  They had been able to accumulate a certain amount of experience in the Council which would hopefully enable them to have better interaction with other United Nations bodies.

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore), using the Council's 15-member structure –- five permanent members, five members departing this year and five members departing next year -– detailed that body's five successes, five moderate success and five unsuccessful attempts to handle pressing issues during the past year.  He added that he would not touch on the "hardy perennials" such as Cyprus, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), where there was a mixture of good and bad news.  Still, it was clear that the Council needed to rejuvenate its efforts to address outstanding issues in those files or close them altogether.

Of the success, he highlighted the Terrorism and the Counter-Terrorism Committee established under resolution 1373 as one of the greatest achievements in the Council's history.  What would the world have done following 11 September without the Council?  With one text, he said, 189 nations were obliged to comply with far-reaching anti-terrorism initiatives.  Without the Council, that could not have been achieved.  The Counter-Terrorism Committee had done impressive work thus far and its Chairman, Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock (United Kingdom), had been deservedly praised.  He went on to say that of the country-specific situations handled by the Council this year, only East Timor could be considered a true success.

In 2001, he said, the Council had adopted an important presidential statement spelling out exactly what was needed to preserve the promise of full recovery there, including an ongoing peace mission comprising military, civilian police and civilian components.  He warned, however, that mishandling the exit strategy from East Timor -– as happened in the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau -– would endanger the progress that had been made.  He noted also that the Council had made significant progress in its methods of work, leveling the playing field for all 15 members on the speakers list and the series of "15 = 15" lunches held by Ambassador Greenstock.

Of the situation in Africa, he added, the story was simple:  compare the Sierra Leone and Liberia of 2000 –- when peacekeepers had been held hostage by the Revolutionary United Front –- to the situation there today -– when peacekeepers were disarming those rebel fighters.  The $1 billion Member States had contributed to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) had been well spent.  He also noted that Afghanistan had begun the year as just another forsaken country on the Council's agenda, but the events of 11 September which forced the decisive intervention of a United States-led military coalition, as well as the subsequent work done by Lakhdar Brahimi, had paved the way for a new Afghanistan to emerge.

Turning to the Council's unsuccessful files, he noted that the body could not find a way to deal with the serious instability in the Middle East.  Further, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), negotiations on the Western Sahara had been stalled.  He noted that no movement had been made on Georgia, and Angola presented a similar depressing story, as the humanitarian situation there continued to deteriorate.  He did note, however, that the briefing this morning by Ibrahim Gambari had finally highlighted some good news.  He added that the working group on sanctions had done a great job under Bangladesh, but that all of its members would be leaving the Council within the next 10 days.

He said the Council’s moderate successes had included the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and the handling of the Kosovo-wide elections.  He added, however, that there was no exit strategy for Kosovo, and since there was not even a regular review of the mandate of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Council was in danger of the "Cyprus-ization" of the Kosovo file.  Other difficult issues were Iraq and the Great Lakes region where, despite a successful Council mission to the region last May, the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained fragile.  He also said that despite an agreement in principle on reform in the Council's annual report, little progress had been made.

MOCTAR OUANE (Mali), speaking in his national capacity, said the meeting marked the conclusion of the second Malian presidency of the Council in the last two years, the end of 2001 and the end of the biennium 2000-2001, on which Mali had worked alongside the other departing Council members.

He said the major event of the last two years from the Malian standpoint had been Mali's presidency of the first Security Council Heads of State and Government Summit under President Alpha Oumar Konare.  That period had also seen the positive settlement of certain conflicts, such as the one in East Timor.  But the same

biennium had also witnessed the resurgence of old conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

While Mali shared with other delegations the demand for increased transparency in the Council, he said it was important to note the changing trend in that respect.  Mali welcomed the increasingly frequent practice of sending Security Council missions to various regions, including those dispatched to the Great Lakes, Sierra Leone and Kosovo.  The missions had been instructive in terms of subsequent discussions and decisions in the Council.

He said the development of direct contacts with parties to conflicts through private meetings had made it possible to hold frank and open discussions.  In January 2000, the Malian presidency had organized a fruitful exchange of views with Nelson Mandela, facilitator for the conflict in Burundi.  Remarkable progress had also been made in terms of greater efficiency and better targeted sanctions.  The Council's relevance had been confirmed, and the changes that had started to occur would hopefully continue until the long-awaited reform was realized.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.