OFF THE CUFF
This document contains remarks made between January-April 2000
(To find a particular subject, press Control and F simultaneously, then type in the word you wish to find. To scroll from one encounter to another, type Control and F simultaneously, then type *****. Continue to click on "Find Next".)
Press encounter upon arrival at Bangui Airport, Central African Republic, 29 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Monsieur le Secretaire General des Nations Unies, bonjour et bienvenue en Republique Centrafricaine, je dis au nom de la presse centrafricaine, tant nationale que privee. Nous savons ce que les Nations Unies ont realise en Republique Centrafricaine. Vous arrivez, c'est la premiere visite d'un Secretaire General des Nations Unies a Bangui. Quel est le message que vous apportez, Monsieur le Secretaire General?
SG: Je viens avec un message pour la paix et la solidarite. Je crois que les Nations Unies et le peuple Centrafricaine ont travaille tres etroitement ensemble ces cernieres annees. Je suis content qu'on ait pu organizer avec la MINURCA une transition efficace et tranquille.
Maintenenant il faut continuer a travailler sur les questions sociales et economiques. Et je veux pouvoir discuter de tout ca avec le President et mes gens qui sont sur place, et j'espere avec les leaders centrafricains aussi.
Q: Monsieur le Secretaire General, certainement l'economie, vous l'avez dit, sera au centre des discussions. Ca veut dire que les Nations Unies seront aux cotes de la Republique Centrafricaine pour les activites au titre des actions de developpement?
SG: Je ne fais que lutter contre la pauvrete Je viens de sortir un rapport important des Nations Udnies pour le Sommet Millenaire. Et un des principaux chapitres traite cette question de pauvrete, le SIDA, et qu'est-ce qu'on doit faire pour aider l'Afrique, pour lui permettre de participer dans l'economie globale. Merci
Press Conference, Libreville, Gabon, 29 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Fred Eckhard, Porte-parole du Secrétaire des Nations Unies a présenté le Secrétaire Général, M. Kofi Annan à la presse.
SG: Bonjour Messieurs - Dames. Je suis arrivée hier soir. Ce matin, j'ai eu de très bonnes discussions avec le Président. On a fait un tour d'horizon des problèmes politiques dans la région. On a parlé des problèmes politiques, économiques et sociaux. Et j'ai eu l'occasion de discuter certains genres de problèmes avec le Premier Ministre et le Ministre des Affaires Etrangères ce matin. Je suis très content d'être là. C'est ma première visite ici dans votre pays, et j'espère que d'ici demain, j'aurai l'occasion de rencontrer beaucoup de gens et de pourvoir parler avec mes frères et sœurs gabonais. Alors, je prends vos questions. Posez vos questions en Anglais ou en Français.
Q: Mme Marie Colombe Ngondjou, Radio Télévision Gabonaise, première chaîne (RTG 1). Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, vous arrivez au Gabon après avoir visité un certain nombre de pays africains, quelle importance donner à cette tournée dans ces différents pays africains et particulièrement le Gabon ?
SG: Vous savez, j'avais commencé par Dakar où il y avait une Conférence mondiale sur l'Education. Et là j'avais lancé un autre projet "Education pour les filles - Eduquer des filles maintenant" et je crois que la question de l'Education est très importante pour notre Continent et pour combattre la pauvreté. Donc, je ne suis pas venu seul à Dakar. Je suis venu avec le Président de Banque Mondiale, le Directeur Général de l'Unesco mais collaborateurs de UNICEF, du PNUD [et le FNUAP]. J'ai eu l'occasion de discuter un certain nombre de choses avec des Chefs d'Etat, le Président Wade. Et maintenant j'ai passé par la Gambie avant de me venir ici. Je crois que en venant ici [en Afrique], ça me donne l'occasion de discuter un certain nombre de choses "tête à tête" avec les Chefs d'Etat, les encourager vers le développement économique et social. On a eu le temps de discuter la bonne gouvernance, les droits de l'homme et des questions qui préoccupent la sous-région. C'est une sous-région qui n'a pas mal de problèmes politiques - dans les grands lacs et d'autres pays. Le Président Bongo a toujours joué un rôle de médiateur dans ces genres de conflits, donc, c'était important que je vienne discuter avec lui pour voir comment on peut accélérer ce processus.
Q: Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, Rodrigue Asséyi Africa N°1. Avant donc votre tournée Africaine, vous avez dit que certains dirigeants Africains n'avaient pas le profil requis pour la Présidence de la République parce que s'appuyant sur leurs intérêts au détriment des intérêts publics. Aujourd'hui, vous êtes à la troisième étape de votre tournée après Dakar et Banjul, est-ce que vous maintenez vos déclarations ?
SG: Laissez moi dire d'abord que j'ai dit beaucoup de choses sur l'Afrique, je lutte pour l'Afrique, j'ai parlé de la question du développement africain, j'ai parlé des développements positifs en Afrique, j'ai parlé de l'Afrique en marche vers la démocratie, j'ai parlé de l'Afrique qui commence à reconnaître les droits de l'homme, une Afrique qui cherche à créer des états basés sur le droit, une Afrique qui cherche à reconnaître la capacité des femmes et les encourager, une Afrique qui souffre de la sécheresse, la corne d'Afrique où j'ai demandé les pays donateurs d'aider. J'avais envoyé un envoyé spécial dans cette région pour élaborer un programme accéléré pour ça. j'ai fait tout cela et je crois que j'ai un peu le droit de critiquer l'Afrique aussi de temps en temps et je le ferai.
Q: Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, Martin Ibinga, collaborateur Radio France Internationale (RFI). Après le retrait des Nations Unies en Angola, que compte faire votre institution pour l'avenir de ce pays ?
SG: On a terminé notre opération de maintien de la Paix en Angola, mais on n'a pas quitté l'Angola. On a un programme Aide Humanitaire et on a un bureau des Nations Unies - je vais nommer très bientôt un Représentant spécial qui va continuer à travailler avec le Gouvernement. Moi-même, je suis en contact avec le Gouvernement Angolais, et j'étais récemment avec le Président - j'ai eu des discussions très utiles avec le Président Dos Santos à la Havane. on va continuer notre collaboration avec le Gouvernement et le peuple Angolais.
Q: Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, Désiré Atomo, de la deuxième Chaîne de Télévision Gabonaise (RTG 2). On a cessé de qualifier l'Afrique Centrale depuis quelques années, quelques mois, comme une région à risque à cause des conflits et des guerres, apparemment cette situation semble se stabiliser à cause de la situation de la communauté internationale. Je voudrais savoir l'appréciation générale que les Nations Unies font de cette situation aujourd'hui et comment appréciez-vous personnellement le rôle qu'a joué le Chef de l'Etat Gabonais dans ces médiations, notamment, en ce qui concerne les deux Congo et du Congo Brazzaville en l'occurrence?
SG: J'ai toujours apprécié le rôle "Peace maker" et de médiateur du Président Bongo. J'ai eu l'occasion de le remercier aujourd'hui et j'espère qu'il va continuer à le faire. J'avais travaillé avec lui dans le passé et je vais continuer à le faire. Mais, je crois que l'Afrique souffre. On souffre nous tous à cause de l'image du continent. Aujourd'hui à l'extérieur, quand on parle de l'Afrique, les gens voient un continent en crise. Les investisseurs ne sont pas à l'aise. Personne ne peut investir dans un mauvais voisinage. Et donc nous tous on paie le prix, même s'il y a la paix dans notre propre pays. Comme la région est perçue comme une région perturbée, ça atteint tout le monde. Donc on doit travailler, tous les Chefs d'Etat, les Africains pour trouver des solutions à ces problèmes politiques et pouvoir pencher sur le travail essentiel qu'il y à faire dans les domaines économique et social.
Q: Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, Vincent Okoura de 2ème chaîne de télévision (RTG.2). Votre organisation s'implique fortement dans la Résolution des conflits à travers le monde. Peut-on savoir aujourd'hui, et ce même depuis votre prise de fonction, à quel niveau se trouve l'état du processus de paix dans l'ensemble des conflits en Afrique, et plus particulièrement les conflits au niveau de la région des grands lacs?
SG Evidemment, si j'essaie de répondre à votre question en détail sachant le nombre de conflits qu'il y a en Afrique, peut-être qu'il nous faut une heure pour décrire tout ça. Mais, laissez moi vous parler un peu des grands lacs. La semaine prochaine, le Conseil de Sécurité va envoyer une mission à Kinshasa et dans la région pour discuter avec les Chefs d'Etat et voir la situation sur place et continuer les efforts à trouver une solution. Du côté des Nations Unies, nous sommes en train de préparer la force qui doit être déployer au Congo, 5.500 hommes. On a presque tous les effectifs qu'il nous faut, mais il nous manque certaines unités spécialisées en logistique. Je suis en train de négocier avec certains Chefs d'Etat, j'espère qu'ils vont me les donner. Mais, nous sommes en pleine préparation et on va déployer ces forces aussitôt que possible. On a toujours insisté que les Chefs d'Etat qui ont signé l'accord de Lusaka doivent travailler avec nous pour les mettre en application, parce que les Nations Unies seules ne peuvent le faire. Premièrement la paix c'est un devoir pour les leaders, les peuples de la région qui vont être soutenus et accompagner par les Nations Unies. Donc je crois que si on travaille ensemble et chacun fait son devoir, on arrivera.
Q: ( Mme Julie Ponsard de Radio Unité) : Je disais donc que le Rwanda a toujours exigé des excuses, de vous-même et de certaines puissances comme la France et la Belgique , notamment au sujet du génocide de 1994. Hors, il apparaît qu'un memorandum sur ces massacres, mettent en cause l'actuel Chef de l'Etat Rwandais, Paul Kagame. J'aimerais donc avoir votre sentiment sur cette question et précisément donc pourquoi l'ONU a-t-elle hésité à rendre public un tel document?
SG: Effectivement qu'il y a eu un mémorandum qui était rédigé par un monsieur qui avait travaillé pour le tribunal Rwandais; ce mémorandum se trouve avec le procureur général à la Haye, ils vont décider s'il y a une suite a donné. C'est donc une affaire juridique, je ne veux pas rentrer dedans.
Q: Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, M. Alex Lewobi Leidji de Radio Gabon. Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, vous êtes Africain, qu'est ce que ça vous fait en tant que le Secrétaire Général de constater que quand il s'agit du Kosovo, les réactions sont promptes et quand il s'agit de la RDC, le cheminement est long ? Est-ce à dire que l'ONU a des préférences ou c'est de simples aléas?
SG: D'abord y a deux choses, l'opération du Kosovo n'était pas une opération onusienne, c'était une opération qui était prise par un certains membres des Etats membres, soutenus si vous voulez principalement par le OTAN. C'était pas une décision du Conseil de Sécurité. Hors on regarde le Congo, le Conseil de Sécurité était saisi, et on vient de créer une force, mais à vrai dire les Etats membres ont peur d'envoyer les troupes en Afriques, certains Etats membres qui ont les capacités ont peur d'envoyer les troupes en Afrique après la Somalie. Même un Gouvernement comme les Etats Unis a retiré ses forces après la mort des 18 soldats Américains. Et depuis là, on a posé une question tout à l'heure sur le Rwanda, je crois que le Rwanda est devenu une victime de la Somalie; après Somalie et Rwanda les Gouvernements occidentaux ne se presse pas à envoyer des troupes en Afrique, mais quand on regarde de près toutes ces opérations de maintien de la paix, dans chaque opération, il y a aussi un élément régional, et donc les Africains ont un rôle à jouer aussi. Et les Nations Unies est une organisation universelle qui doit vous accompagner, qui doit nous accompagner, doit nous aider. Mais nous aussi , on doit faire nos propres efforts.
Q: (Mr. Daniel Mboungou de la BBC) Mr. Secretary General, my question is in English. My question is not actually a question but a comment or a remark Africa is very previledge to have you as Secretary General of the United Nations. And before you, we had another African, Boutros Boutros Ghali. And if I could ask a question now, it is this. How can you manage in your term of office to benefit Africa, so that when you go, when you leave office, you can look back end say, well, I did this when I was Secretary Genaral of the United Nations?
SG: Let me say that when I took office, I had lots of hope for Africa. I thought I could count on the support, the energy and the cooperation of my African brothers, particularly the African leaders, and my African sisters for us to resolve the political crises and the conflicts in Africa. I am an African and I have travalled the continent. And I know that the men and women and the people of Africa want peace. They want elimination of poverty, they want education, they want a better future for their children. And this is all they demand of us, the leaders. In some parts of Africa, we have seen one conflict after the other, and conflicts exacerbate poverty. Instead of moving forward, in some situations there has been regression. When I go to some places in Africa, that I knew twenty years ago, It's worse than it was twenty years ago. And the people wants to move forward. And in this day and age, with the global economy, with the introduction of the information revolution, and information technology, we can use some of these new methods to leapfrog some of the painful development processes others went through. But it will require that we strenghen our institutions, work hard to establish states based on the rule of law, we respect the human rights of individuals. We create an atmosphere where the energies of the African men and women, particularly the women, who are very dynamic on this continent. This energies can be released, and they can play a role in developing this continent. And I also appeal to the leaders to use that talent, and after all, the role of the leaders is to help develop their societies and their people and to ensure that their people have the basic necessities in life to move on. When we do not do that and we create conflicts and we bring misery to them, then not only have we failed as leaders, but we have failed the nation and the future generations. And I would hope that for the time that is left for me as Secretary General, that the leaders will reflect on some of the things I have said and the work I am doing and work with me to put these conficts behind us. And let the African continent march forward and join the globol economy, focussing on economic and social issues. Let us bring Edcucation, health, clean water and developement to our people. That's all they ask for.
Q: ( M. Antoine Lawson, privé) M. le Secrétaire Général de l'ONU, donc aujourd'hui on se retrouve avec un problème qui traîne depuis vingt ans, le Continent Africain est à la recherche d'un siège permanent au Conseil de Sécurité, où en est-on et êtes vous favorable?
SG: Je crois que la question de la réforme du Conseil de Sécurité est toujours en discussion, c'est assez complexe; mais j'espère que d'ici la fin de l'année prochaine, on verra des progrès.
Press encounter following meeting with President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh of the Gambia, Banjul, 28 April 2000
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you've just had an hour-long discussion with the Gambian head-of state. Can we know what your discussions have centered on?
SG: Well, we did talk about peace and security issues in the region. We talked about development in Guinea-Bissau since the election and also the whole political situation in the region. We were also able to talk about the need for the rule of law on our continent. I also talked to him about the recent student incident, the riots here, and the fact that the law must take it's course, and that whoever is responsible, must be brought to the court and be prosecuted, and he did assure me that's exactly what is happening, and I hope that everyone will cooperate with the legal process.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the United Nations has in recent times taken part in electoral monitoring duties in various parts of the world. In fact, recently our own nationals served as United Nations monitors for the elections in East Timor. In this context, with regard to the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in the Gambia in the years 2000 and 2001, could we also expect the United Nations to be among the international observers for those elections?
SG: Election monitoring is one of the major activities we've been undertaking over the past ten years or so, but we do it at the request of the government. If the government requests us to participate, we will be prepared to do it. We often do not only participate, but we arrange and organize international observer teams to do it. So if the government invites us, we will consider it.
Q: As the custodian of the instruments of human rights, what is the United Nations position on the flagrant violation of human rights in this country these days?
SG: Well, you know my position on the issue of human rights. Not only do I speak about it, I I think human rights is the business of all of us. First of all, the people must know of their rights and do whatever they can to defend them. It's not an issue that we should leave to governments alone to defend. But we must do it, and also further the legal process and work with each other to protect the rights of our neighbours. The United Nations has given us standards through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other conventions, and these are benchmarks and standards that we should all observe. And I've always encouraged governments and people around the world to live by those conventions.
Response by the Secretary-General to a 13 year-old (Selly Raby Kane) of Radio Guneyi (youth radio) who interviewed him outside Dakar, Senegal, on 27 April 2000
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you know that Radio Guneyi is the only programme broadcast by and for the children of West Africa. How would you promote this kind of radio for children?
SG: First, the fact that I am here talking with you is an indication of how interested I am in the work you are doing. And I also attach great importance to this kind of radio that allows me to communicate with children, because what children have on their minds and what they have to say is very important both for me and for their parents. So, we should listen to you. That's why children's radio is so important for me and for us all. And I congratulate you as you continue to do your work.
Press Conference in Dakar, Senegal, 26 April 2000, at "Education for All" Conference (unofficial transcript)
SG: I just wanted to say that we are very happy to be here in Dakar with all of you. I think the Conference I came for is most important. And the initiative I launched today, "Educate Girls Now", is an issue and a problem I think we all share. And I believe that we can work together in partnership. We will really make a difference. [inaudible] I had been speaking at length this morning so I am not going to fling another speech on you. Let us go straight to questions.
Q: Thank you Mr. Secretary-General. My name is David Aduda. I work for Nation Media Group in Kenya. Mr. Secretary General could you outline for us how this initiative is going to work in light of the fact that you mentioned that national Governments should put in place some plans of action for the next years? Thank you.
SG: I think there were several statements that were made today, not only by me, but also by the President of the Republic of Senegal. First of all we would want to develop a real political will behind this initiative. Second, what we want is to focus on the issue raised this morning. It is an issue which, as I indicated in my speech, cannot be solved by Governments alone. The international community would also help. Concerned Governments have to put in place plans for achieving these objectives. The international community, the UN and its Agencies, the World Bank and all of us are prepared to help. And I indicated in the report that we are waiting for plans of action from the Governments concerned and will then move ahead with its implementation. Next question.
Q: Pius Njawe, journaliste, journal Le Messager, au Cameroun. Monsieur Le Secrétaire Général, vous avez pensé réunir tout autour de vous les Chefs des organismes de tutelle des Nations Unies qui travaillent de concert avec le Forum Mondial de l’Education. Je voudrais juste savoir Monsieur le Secrétaire Général si ces organismes qu’on accule de n’avoir pas respecté tous leurs engagements pris après Jomtien en faveur de l’Education vont nous donner des garanties au terme de la rencontre de Dakar: que les engagements qui seront pris vont cette fois-ci être respectés pour le bonheur de nos pays. Et il y a le deuxième volet de ma question qui s’adresse particulièrement.
SG: Une question
Q: Cela va être très court Monsieur le Secrétaire Général. Ca concerne la tournée que vous allez effectuer après Dakar dans certains pays africains. Il se trouve que vous vous rendrez au Cameroun où vous serez certainement accueillis par une grève d’enseignants qui protestent contre la clochardisation de leur profession dans mon pays. Vous serez également accueillis par des journalistes parce qu’ils ont un confrère en prison. Et vous y allez à la veille de la fête de la Journée Mondiale de la Liberté de la Presse. Pouvez-vous, Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, nous dire un peu ce que vous direz aux autorités camerounaises pour les interpeller par rapport à ces deux préoccupations qui me semblent fondamentales. Merci.
SG: En ce qui concerne la première question, demander des garanties, ce n’est pas si facile. Mais au moins, j’espère qu’on peut mettre un peu d’énergie dans ce genre d’activités, d’encourager les Chefs d’Etats et les populations de travailler avec nous. Les Chefs d’Etats et de Gouvernements ne peuvent réussir tout seul. Ils ont besoin du Gouvernement, des sociétés privées et de tout le monde. Donc au lieu de demander des garanties, c’est tout le monde qui doit s’y mettre. On doit s’impliquer et travailler tous ensemble.
Oui d’ici j’irai au Cameroun. J’aurai l’occasion de parler avec des Chefs d’Etats J’espère que j’aurai l’occasion de rencontrer certains étudiants et des professeurs. Et j’aurai l’occasion de discuter avec eux l’importance de leur Education pour l’Afrique et la nécessité d’avoir des fonds nécessaires pour l’Education, la nécessité pour les jeunes de devenir professeur, la nécessité d’avoir les ressources nécessaires pour l’Education, et pour payer les professeurs et des enseignants. Merci.
Q: Mamadou Mika Lom du Journal Sud Quotidien, Coordonnateur du Réseau sénégalais des Journalistes pour l’Education. Monsieur le secrétaire Général des Nations Unies, dans votre discours de ce matin, vous avez annoncé le lancement d’une nouvelle initiative spéciale en faveur de l’Education pour Tous. On se rappelle également que l’ONU avait lancé il y a 3 ans notamment en 1997 une autre initiative en faveur de 7 pays. Par rapport à cette avant dernière initiative, je voudrais poser justement trois petites questions.
SG: Une question
Q: Trois petites questions justement, Monsieur le secrétaire Général.
Q: Je voudrais savoir le nombre de pays bénéficiaires de cette initiative spéciale et les fonds qui ont été dégagés pour l’exécution de cette initiative? Merci beaucoup.
SG: Vous avez parlé de 7 pays. Je n’ai pas compris. Vous avez parlé de trois initiatives il y a trois ans. Quelles initiatives ?
SG: Non. Il y a maintenant deux choses. Ce matin j’avais dit qu’il y a dix ans on avait décidé à Jomtien en Thailande : éducation pour tout le monde. Et évidemment on ne peut pas dire qu’on est très fier des résultats qu’on a jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Et ce matin, en indiquant l’initiative pour l’éducation des filles, j’avais dit qu’on doit vraiment s’y mettre pour avoir l’Education pour tout le monde : filles et garçons.
Q: (un journaliste ne s’est pas présenté) : Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, peut-on avoir votre appréciation sur le discours du Président Abdoulaye Wade, ce matin, surtout lorsqu’il parlait des gaspillages et des lenteurs de l’intervention des organisations affiliées aux Nations Unies. Et ensuite par rapport aux financements des études qui, au bout du compte n’ont aucun rendement ? Merci.
SG: Je vous en prie Mesdames, Messieurs, une seule question. Je crois que chacun de ceux qui ont pris la parole ont posé 2 à 3 questions. Je ne crois pas que c’est raisonnable étant donné qu’il y a tellement de monde dans la salle. En ce qui concerne le discours de Monsieur le Président Wade, je crois que nous l’avons tous écouté, on doit tirer les leçons de ce qu’il venait de dire. Moi même, j’ai trouvé son discours très utile. Evidemment la question du chômage pour les jeunes est une question qui nous préoccupe.
Je crois que Monsieur Wolfensohn veut dire quelque chose sur cette question. Il y a 2 à 3 mois nous nous sommes retrouvés à Washington où j’ai donné une conférence à la Banque Mondiale en disant que l’on doit créer un milliard d’emplois pour les jeunes parce que franchement quand on regarde les statistiques démographiques, il y a tellement de jeunes entre 15 et 24 ans qui vont avoir énormément de problèmes. On doit leur trouver des places dans des écoles supérieures ou bien du travail.
J’avais aussi indiqué qu’on va essayer d’organiser un groupe avec la Banque Mondiale, le BIT et les autres pour développer une stratégie pour l 'Emploi des Jeunes et donc on va essayer de trouver une stratégie pour cela. Je ne sais pas si Monsieur James Wolfensohn veut quelque chose.
M. Wolfensohn: Ce que je veux dire, nous l’avons déjà discuté avec le Secrétaire Général : nous donnons tout notre soutien au Secrétaire Général. Ce que nous avons fait dans les 10 ans passés : nous avons doublé la somme que nous avions mise dans l’Education de 900 millions de dollars à presque 2 milliards de dollars. Nous allons travailler avec le Secrétaire Général aussi pour les jeunes filles, pour les femmes et pour les jeunes en général.
SG: Let me now also welcome my other colleagues. You have Mister [Koichiro] Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO. You have Madame Nafis Sadik [Executive Director] of UNFPA and Madame Carol Bellamy [Executive Director] of UNICEF. Your questions can be addressed to any one on the podium. Please continue.
Q: Mohamet Thiam, Radio Wal Fadjri. Après Jomtien (reste inaudible).
SG: You want to take that.
M. Matsuura: Comme j’ai parlé tout à l’heure en séance plénière il y a des progrès mais il y a des échecs aussi. C’est à dire on n’a pas pu atteindre l’objectif principal de donner l’accès universel à l’Education de Base avant l’An 2000. C’est vrai. Nous avons scolarisé beaucoup d’enfants. Nous avons alphabétisé beaucoup d’adultes. Il y a des progrès. Il ne faut pas oublier les progrès que nous avons faits. Mais il faut admettre en même temps qu’il y a eu beaucoup d’échecs, beaucoup d’échecs. C’est pourquoi nous disons et j’ai dit tout à l’heure en séance plénière qu’il faut faire encore beaucoup d’efforts.
Q: I am Mohamet Momo, News Agency of Nigeria. A question was raised here yesterday at the press conference which really baffled me. The industrialized world is not as enthusiastic as other countries as far as the EFA [Education for All] programmes are concerned. And too much it will be behaviour like this towards United Nations Programmes..…Can you explain to us?
Madame Bellamy: Well. I think it is fair to say that in terms of Education for All that most of the industrialized world does provide free education. Quality of education in the industrialized world, I think, can often be seen as much of an issue as quality is in the developing world. I would also point out that most of the donors to the activities of the UN agencies in the area of education are donors from the industrialized world. So I think it is not fair to say that the industrialized world is not interested in Education for All. That being said, I think that donor countries have been slow to recognize the importance of investing in education in times of particular crisis or emergency. And I think that it is beginning to change. But for too long education was seen as something of development and not something that took place in terms of either economic or conflict.
Malloch Brown : I think just for clarification. I was not here yesterday. But I understand the question yesterday touched on why the developed world was not represented by Ministers of Education here; but by development ministers or development colleagues. Obviously that is because Education for All is looked at by donor countries as fundamentally giving support to developing countries in meeting the goal of education.
The statistics for this meeting show that the share of official development assistance devoted to education has stayed relatively constant in the years since Jomtien. The problem is that ODA as a whole has declined, so that the actual resources available have decreased. And I think there is not one of us here in the panel who would not subscribe to the views of the NGOs represented here. Which is: the role, the principal responsibility of education in developing countries must lie with parents and Governments of these countries which absolutely must make it a political or public policy priority to meet the education needs of the children in any country. When they do, and put the right policies in place, they must be supported by additional international financial resources. It is not a big number. You have heard the billion number mentioned. It is an achievable goal to finance universal education around the world. I think donors in developing countries alike should all commit unequivocally to that goal.
SG: I think we have all heard the President say this morning, following up on what Mark Malloch Brown said, that the key is political will. And without political will, you can throw money at the problem and you will not be moving very far. I would also want to tell you that there is support for Africa if we get our act together.
Just before I left New York on Monday, one of the last things I did before I took the plane was to meet with the Presidents of the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. They came together as a consortium to support African education, particularly at the university level. And they have pledged one hundred million dollars. And then I hope other foundations will join them to work with African scholars to strengthen African education. Next question.
Q: : Abdoulaye Thiam, correspondant Africa N°1 à Dakar. Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, après Dakar vous allez visiter certains pays africains. Quand on sait que ces derniers temps vous avez beaucoup insisté sur les questions de la Démocratie, de la Bonne Gouvernance. Est-ce que vous aurez l’opportunité de reprendre ces thèmes avec les Chefs d’Etat que vous allez rencontrer ?
SG: Evidemment je voyage beaucoup et souvent j’ai l’occasion de discuter de ces thèmes avec les Chefs d’Etat parce que j’ai toujours insisté sur le fait que sans la Bonne Gouvernance, sans Etat de droit, sans respect pour les Droits de l’Homme, un pays ne peut vraiment se développer. C’est la base sur laquelle on peut bâtir un Etat stable, un Etat prospère, un Etat qui travaille pour le peuple. Donc j’aurai l’occasion de discuter avec les Chefs d’Etat de toutes ces questions et j’espère aussi avec certains membres de la société civile également.
Q: Would you consider this forum a success even if they have not yet agreed to a concrete action plan and a more transparent action plan to put more money into worldwide education.
SG: I think that what is said is important here. But first of all we are all here. We are all here taking the question of education, and education for girls, and Education for All very seriously. And we are dedicating ourselves to the goals that we set. If we were able to regenerate [this effort] and put energy and develop political will and get every one to focus on it, not only would we move in a more determined manner to achieve our objectives, but I am also sure that money will follow.
And I do not agree that we are [not] going to get all the commitments for which we are here in Dakar. But the resources will follow. First of all, all the agencies around this table are engaged to commit ourselves in a context that the donors community will push for. We have the ministers of development here and I think somebody thought that this was unfortunate that they came without the ministers of education. We are here because of the question you ask and I think that when they go back and report, their governments will be prepared to contribute to these major efforts.
I have raised the same theme in my Millennium Report and the Heads of States would also be discussing it at the [Millennium] Summit in September. And I hope not only will they discuss it but they will agree on a plan of action that they will be able to back with political will and resources.
Q: There are still a number of NGOs outside having difficulties getting access to this meeting. NGOs who came a long way and representing the NGO [consortium at] official meetings. There are several different versions on what is going on, what is going to be allowed or not be allowed. I understood there would be an open door policy and that does not seem to be the case now. I am wondering when that can be clarified, so that people can start participating in this meeting. Can you please explain what is happening?
Koïchiro Matsuura: Yes, we had initially invited major international NGOs, not necessarily national NGO engaged in education, in deference to [the number of] places available in the conference room. Yesterday I had a meeting with representatives of international NGOs who complained that are many national NGOs who came all the way, and are unable to get inside. Therefore, I asked for a list of certain NGOs so that they would be able to join us in the study session. I hope they are attending this session. If there is any other NGO which is still left outside the building, let me know.
Q : J’aimerais savoir, vous avez dit tout à l’heure qu’il y a eu des progrès mais aussi des échecs par rapport à Jomtien. J’aimerais savoir si vous avez identifié ce qui a causé les échecs de ce progrès. Est-ce qu’on peut savoir le montant que vous pourrez mettre à la disposition de ce plan pour atteindre l’Education pour Tous en l’An 2015 comme vous le demandent les ONG.
SG: Je ne sais pas si vous étiez dans la salle, ce matin quand j’avais parlé. Vous avez écouté le discours que j’ai prononcé ce matin. Pas encore ? Parce que j’ai répondu à plusieurs de vos questions dans mon discours. J’avais indiqué comme Monsieur Matsuura venait de dire qu’il y a beaucoup plus de gens qui se sont inscrits à l’Ecole il y a plus de 10 ans et qu’il y a maintenant beaucoup plus d’adultes qui sont capables de lire maintenant. Mais on l'avait dit évidemment.
On avait dit qu’il y avait plus de 110 millions de personnes qui n’étaient pas allées à l’Ecole dont ¾ de filles. Et il faut rectifier tout cela. On avait dit qu’il y avait plus de 880 millions de personnes qui ne peuvent pas lire et qu’il faut s’occuper d’eux .
Monsieur Malloch Brown venait de répondre à la deuxième partie de la question il y a 15mn disant qu’il faut 8 milliards pour régler ces problèmes. Et c'est là qu’on va compter sur les pays donateurs. On ne peut pas passer un chèque aujourd’hui de 8 milliards. Mais en travaillant ensemble en partenariat, on peut le faire. Donc je vous encourage à distribuer mon discours et celui du Président Wade. Merci.
Q : Antonio Correia de Melo Gois, of Folha de San Paulo, Brazil. You mentioned today in your speech a programme called "Basic color". This programme in Brazil is over in the State where it began because of political reasons. The new government does not agree with the last one. My question is how can international organizations can help this country to continue with those programmes without interruptions because of political reasons?
SG: Carol, you go first.
Carol Bellamy : I am not sure I can answer your question but I can say however that is a programme that serves as an example for other countries. So I would only say that scholarship-related programmes, concentrated on child labor, are now being put in place outside of Brazil. So one would hope that political leaders in whatever country sees that as a kind of a model that is useful in reducing the incidence of child labor and getting children back in schools. But they will see that it is not something officially they should engage in politically. I am sorry I cannot comment on the specifics…. But I would say this is a pilot project which is useful even beyond Brazil’s borders.
SG: I think you’ve raised a very important issue of policy continuity. Now I would like to ask Mr. James Wolfensohn of the World Bank to say something on this very important question.
James Wolfensohn : One of the things which is happening at the present time is that we are bringing together multilateral and bilateral institutions to try and think of their programmes in the longer term. But it is very clear that they can not be imposed on them; but what you need to do is to work with Governments, NGOs and civil society in general to try to establish a set of agreed principles in which the country is going to move. And then you could get a comprehensive approach to development which takes it outside of political turmoil. So people will agree if there is a good education programme that is something that continues as a matter of policy. And we are now finding colleagues of the international community in a number of countries. This idea can be a success inside the country. Now in Brazil we are encouraged.
Q: Bonjour - Karine Frank de RFI. J’ai tout juste une petite question. Est-ce qu' en 2015 on se donnera encore 15 ans de plus pour l’Education pour Tous?
SG: Ce serait formidable si on pouvait le faire avant. Et je serai très content si on pouvait le faire avant. Mais au moins sachant le monde actuel dans lequel on vit je crois que 15 ans n’est pas trop exagéré. C’est réel et on peut l’achever .
Q: My name is [inaudible] from Channel Africa. Is the quality of education for all sacrificed for the number of people who have been educated.
Matsuura : [inaudible] We would like to improve the quality of education. On the one hand our target is to provide a basic education programme for all children by the year 2015, but at the same time we are improving the content of education provided to children [inaudible]
Madame Bellamy : I think it is very unsafe [inaudible]
Wolfensohn : Je pensais que le Secrétaire Général allait répondre à cette question. Je suis en vacances aujourd’hui. Je viens de passer une semaine avec vos collègues à Washsington qui m'ont posé la même question. Mais ce que je pense c’est que le secteur dont nous nous occupons maintenant c'est le problème de la Dette. Malheureusement cela a mis beaucoup de temps pour nous pour l’annulation de la dette. On parle de 200 millards de dollars pour 40 pays. Et jusqu’ici on n’a pas vu les pays même qui sont les actionnaires aux sociétés internationales comme nous et le Fonds Monétaire International qui sont disposés à donner de l’argent pour l’annulation complète de la dette. Ce que nous essayons de faire maintenant est de rétablir le niveau de base pour que le pays puisse immédiatement commencer avec le programme social. C‘est ce que nous essayons de faire. Mais il y a toujours des gens qui vont dire qu’il va avoir plus que ça. Et ce qui est plus simple pour nous c’est franchement ce sont les actionnaires. Pardonner toutes les dettes du monde et les dettes de la Banque Mondiale même parce nous même avons des dettes : 100 millions de dollars des autres. Ce sera pas possible pour nous de pardonner la dette si les gens qui ont des dettes envers la Banque Mondiale pardonnait ça en même temps. Et ce serait très difficile pour les …. comme nous qui avont certaines sommes qui ont été mises par les actionnaires et plus que ça nous avons une centaine de millions de dollars de dette nous même.Ce n’est pas possible pour nous d’annuler nos dettes si des gens qui ont donné leur argent n’annulaient pas en même temps. Et ça c’est un peu difficile pour nous. Et c’est à cause de ça que nous avons établi à notre niveau une façon qui marche pour les pays et donne l’occasion pour eux de rétablir les programmes sociaux.
Q: Seydou Guindo, Radio Mali. Pour donner une éducation de qualité aux enfants il faut des moyens. Ça c’est vrai.Les pays africains sont pauvres et ça également c’est une réalité. Et au moment où la Banque Mondiale, le FMI demandent aux Gouvernements de limiter le recrutement des fonctionnaires. Au moment où ces pays ont des problèmes à payer leurs fonctionnaires, alors est-ce qu’on peut parler d’enseignement de qualité ? Est-ce qu’il n’y a-t-il pas là une contradiction entre ce que vous souhaitez et les réalités du terrain ?
Wolfensohn :C’est pour le Secrétaire Général, cette conférence de presse. Je suis ici comme un ami. Je dois vous dire que ce n’est pas aussi simple que vous le croyer. Il y’a plusieurs pays où les gouvernements payent beaucoup les professeurs plus que d’autres. Ce n’est pas vrai de dire que le problème est un problème de salaire. Ce n’est pas tellement un problème de salaire. C’est un problème où on a plus de professeur dont on a besoin dans plusieurs pays et ils sont sans qualité. Et ce qui est nécessaire est de renouveler les partenaires de l’Education dans plusieurs pays. On peut avoir des professeurs avec des compétences parce qu’on a normalement le salaire du pays. Ce n’est pas seulement un problème de salaire c’est un problème de gérance. Et sur ça je peux encore discuter beaucoup de temps après.
Q: Djadji Ba, Agence Reuters. La situation devient toujours tendue au Zimbabwe pas plus tard qu’hier il y’a eu des victimes. Est-ce qu’on peut avoir votre commentaire. Even English or French. I don’t mind.
SG: You said in English? You posed the question to me in French and you ask me to answer in English. OK. Thank you very much. Obviously the situation in Zimbabwe is a worrying one and I took actions to reduce the tension. As you know I myself talked several times to President Mugabe, and other Heads of State of the region have been in touch with him. I met him with him and learned that tomorrow there will be a meeting in London at the ministerial level during which three ministers from Zimbabwe will meet to discuss land reform.
I think no one is against [the necessity of land reform]. But it must be done legally and fair compensation to should be paid to the [inaudible]. And I hope and pray that we will fine a peaceful solution to this situation before it gets [inaudible]. Thank you.
Fred. One minute. I think before we break up I am going to ask each of my colleagues to give a brief message. Carol, we start with you.
Carol Bellamy: I hope [inaudible] Our focus will particularly be on children who ought to be in school, not child soldiers - children who are marginalized. Because in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children have the right to education and we will continue trying to assure basic education to all children.
Nafis Sadik: From the UNFPA perspective there are two points I would like to make. First of all there has been progress in education. But all of this went into reverse during the period from 1990 to 1995. Up to now [inaudible] specially the gender gap in adult illiteracy activity [inaudible] and even in some countries the role of girls include [inaudible]. One reason is of course the increase in population growth rate and the highest rates of growth are in the poorest countries who are the least able to afford the additional investment.
But in addition to that I think there is still a need to press for girls' education which UNFPA considers extremely important for many reasons: empowerment of girls to make decisions about themselves, for their future in life, whether to be married or not to be married, when to be married or reproductive decisions, on how to protect themselves against violence, against disease and against unwanted pregnancies. And therefore the quality and the content of education is extremely important. I think this is also addressed here.
I think in some countries and societies all the benefits of education for girls that were so well enumerated by the Secretary-General this morning in his statement and also to some extent being enforced by the President of Senegal, like empowerment, like control over their own lives, like knowing their rights, like economic opportunities, are the very reasons why some societies and countries do not allow full access of girls to education.
I think it is something we have to address and this is in the minds of the policy-makers.
Additionally in some countries, in fact, the type of education that is given to girls is also controlled. They must be educated to be docile wives, obedient wives and mothers and I think this again reflects on the quality of education and the content of education. And therefore there is a great importance of political commitment and leadership. And it is the reason why the Secretary-General has launched this initiative for girls' education. It is precisely this: to overcome some of these unexpressed and sometimes unconscious views on who should get education, what kind of education, and the content of that education. UNFPA believes very strongly that education is essential for the progress of all nations and that education is particularly important for the progress of any society regardless of where it may be. Thank you.
Wolfensohn: I simply want to say that we are very supportive of what the Secretary-General said this morning. The programme on education for girls amounts in our shop now to close to 900 million dollars a year out of 2 billion dollars a year we put in annually and we will continue to invest so that out of the 8 billion we spoke of the Bank at this moment [inaudible] is 2 billion, which I think is a reasonable amount to start. We are anxious to support the Secretary-General in any way we can. Believe me, this is more than just a talking meeting. This is a meeting where we will take some actions and we have to participate.
Malloch Brown: Mr. Secretary-General, first governance is extremely important as a political will. It starts with parents and it is striking in those countries where parents are engaged in demanding education for their children. It makes all the difference. In India, in the North, you see poorer education effectiveness because of disempowered parents. In the South, you see parents literally go into the classroom, camping on the classroom tables and demanding the teacher and the text books are there. So there is no substitute for political will which starts through the parents and works out through the political system. And we have seen it in Brazil where the way to cut through and get real education effectiveness of the classroom level was for Brazil to go straight to PTAs (Parent Teachers Associations) and headmasters and cut out the educational burearcracy in the middle in the first phase of the reform programme which we supported with the World Bank and the IDB. So international support, yes, but countries that are really mobilizing political will to deliver.
My second point will be that if Jomtien was about quantity as Carol indicated, the [inaudible] must be about quantity plus quality. The education bar is rising on us. We all live in the global knowledge economy where literacy is not enough, where competiveness in individuals and countries will come from our ability to participate in that knowledge economy and both internet raised comparative bar but is also part of the solution which allows the possibility of innovative new ways of supporting classroom learning and beyond the range of the teacher physically available to us. It also allows us to take vocational learning to people already out of school. So, I think it is a moment for "steady as we go" in terms of meeting Jomtien, but we are really adding some innovation and fresh thinking to [inaudible]. Like you just said, you all love a secret, it was an absolutely brilliant speech given at lunchtime today which nobody other than the person giving it heard, and so I can promise you a tremendous exclusive on this point. Just get hold of the text of the speech. I recommend it!
Koichiro Matsuura: On my part, I would like to stress the importance of working together with NGOs. As I said I had a long meeting with representatives of NGOs last night. Now, I was also very happy to hear the presentation of two representatives of NGOs about their deliberations on Monday and Tuesday and on this morning's session.
In promoting "basic education" we have to work together with NGOs. We are talking about marginalized children out of school, children in rural areas, street children in great cities. To reach out to these children, we have to work with NGOs and we need their collaboration and cooperation and more globally, we need NGOs also in political questions to [inaudible] Last night, I compared the draft agenda we have been working on officially with the action plan adopted by NGOs. There is only one major difference as far as I can see. The other parts, we have common targets and we have common objectives. The major difference lies in whether we should have time bound targets or not. In the official document we will be adopting, I hope we will have [inaudible]…NGOs have many time bound targets. But I would like to stress the final roles NGOs are aiming at are not different from ours. The only difference is in the past way, leading to achieving the final goal. So I would like to repeat my message that UNESCO continues to work closely with NGOs. Thank you.
SG: If I may, I hope the message we all take out of Dakar is a message of hope, a message of partnership. I think from the statements we all heard this morning and what we heard this afternoon it is clear that this is a huge problem and there are other huge problems that Governments cannot solve alone and tht we all have to become engaged, starting with the family, the community, the local and national levels and the international community should all pool our efforts to have positive and the right impact on this question of Education for All. I made it clear during my first speech as Secretary-General that alone I cannot do something and the UN alone cannot tackle these issues. We all need to work together - Governments, International Organizations, civil society, NGOs, private sector, trade unions and familties, and this is a message we should all take away from Dakar. I think the President also stressed it. I hope that in September when the Heads meet in New York at the Millennium Summit to discuss some of these issues they will also come with inputs from some of you. Before the Heads of States meet in September, there will be a Millennium Forum, an Assembly of NGOs from around the world in May in New York, where they will also discuss some of the issues in the Millennium report including education, poverty, peace and security, globalization and the protection of our planet, the environment. After that, there will be a meeting of parliamentarians. All the Presidents of Parliaments from around the world will meet in New York also to discuss the UN in the 21st Century, and to discuss targets like the one we are discussing here which can be achievable, and encourage all of us to put our collective energy behind this agenda and the targets we set and hopefully the Heads of States in September acting in your name will agree on an agenda for the first twenty years or so of this century that we can all line up behind and push forward. So on behalf of all my colleagues, I want to thank you and particularly the NGO community and the Government and individuals in civil society for the efforts we are making together and the partnership and I think together we will succeed.
Encounter upon arrival in Dakar, Senegal, 25 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Monsieur le Secretaire-General, bonsoir et bienvenue au Senegal. Quel sens donnez-vous a votre visite au Senegal et dans les autres pays africains qui vous accueilleront?
SG: Je crois ici a Dakar, comme vous le savez, il y a la Conference Internationale sur l'Education qui est tres importante pour l'Afrique, pour moi-meme et pour les Nations Unies. Dans mon rapport sur le prochain sommet du Millenaire, que je viens de publier, l'Education occupe une place assez importante. Il fallait que je vienne a Dakar par encourager le continent africain pour qu'il s'investisse vraiment dans l'Education.
Q: Vous allez aussi dans certains pays africain?
SG: D'ici j'irai en Gambie, au Cameroun, au Gabon et en Republique centrafricaine pour avoir des discussions avec les Chefs d'Etat sur un certain nombre de questions pour notre region.
Q: On sait Monsieur le Secretaire-General que la scolarisation des filles est une question qui vous tient a coeur. Quelles actions allez-vous entreprendre pour la rendre operationnelle?
SG: Je crois que demain nous n'aurons l'occasion de discuter pas seulement entre nous, mais nous allons travailler en partenariat avec la communaute internationale avec les gouvernements, la societe civile, et les ONG pour travailler franchement sans oublier les familles. Les familles doivent accepter que l'Education des filles soit tres importante. Si on arrive a eduquer une fille, on arrive a preparer une nation. Les nations commencent avec les familles et les familles sont toujours les femmes qui sont a la base.
Encounter of Secretary-General and Mrs. Catherine Bertini of WFP on occasion of Mrs. Bertini's mission to the Horn of Africa, Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport, 25 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG:Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen. Let me say that Mrs. Bertini over the past hour has briefed me on her mission to the Greater Horn to assess the situation on the ground for herself and to talk the leaders of the region. What we need to do to avert a serious famine situation. Our assessment is that the situation is serious, very serious, but that if the donor community and all of us pull our efforts and if those who have capacity to give giving give generously and early, we might be able to avert a disaster. There are problems, there’ll be distribution problems; there’ll be transport problems, there will be other questions of security that we will have to look at. But I think she and her team did a marvellous job, and I am grateful to Mrs. Bertini for taking on this difficult assignment. What we intend to do is we are doing a reappraisal of the needs and would then have another pledging conference in May for the four countries involved. And I would also be putting in a Regional Coordinator to be responsible for coordination of all these efforts.
Catherine, anything you want to add before we take questions?
Mrs. Bertini: We found that so many people are leaving on the brink now. And that, that means that it is critical that donors can’t forward immediately to support the needs of this people before they loose everything they have and risk of starvation We found also that water and health, basic health needs, are some of the most important concerns of people. So we are asking donors to help provide water, water purification, basic health needs, food and the support necessary.
SG: We take your questions.
Q: Can you repeat your intervention in French?
SG: Je disais que je venais de parler avec Mme Bertini qui m’a briefé sur sa mission dans la Corne de l’Afrique. La situation est très sérieuse, mais on peut éviter une vraie tragédie si les pays donateurs nous aident maintenant.
Q: C’est-à-dire ?
SG: Il nous faut de l’argent, il nous faut de la nourriture, il nous faut des médicaments, il nous faut des gens capables de traiter des questions de l’eau.
Q: Do you intend to take specific recommendations after [inaudible]
SG: No, I think Mrs. Bertini has a full report with the whole range of recommendations. Some of it I have already taken decisions on today. And I think in time, she would make the copies available to you. You will get the copies of the report, unless there is anything you want to add?
Mrs. Bertini: We have copies available for you. We make recommendations about the need for a quick assessment, about the need for an appeal, about the emphasis on water and sanitation that is required. The needs for additional food, for logistical support, for expertise and livestock in the areas of the region. For improve security measures and coordination.
Q: Money to control……. Which is still……. [inaudible]
SG: That is obviously a pertinent question and one of the difficult questions. And as long as the world goes on, I have to admit it makes it difficult for us to raise money as quickly as we would want to raise it. And this concern, I have discussed with the leaders concerned, but I think as Mrs. Bertini has said on her visit, that one can not punish the children for something that the leaders are doing that we may not like and this time child needs help.
Q: (En français)
SG: Evidemment, il y a des pays qui sont en guerre, c’est une question qui est difficile. Plusieurs pays donateurs m’ont posé la question. Comment peut-on espérer que l’on donne de l’argent aux pays qui sont en guerre, qui utilisent leur propre argent pour la guerre. J’ai eu l’occasion de discuter avec les chefs d’Etat concernés. Evidemment, si un enfant est en train de mourir de faim, on doit l’aider. On ne peut pas punir les enfants pour le comportement des leaders.
Q: Est-ce que vous imposerez des garanties pour que les dons, qu’ils soient d’ordre alimentaire, soient sous le contrôle de l’ONU, du PAM ?
SG: Je ne peux pas donner une garantie, 100 % de garantie, mais on fera de notre mieux pour assurer que la nourriture arrive aux gens qui en ont besoin.
Q: Can I ask another question about other items like Zimbabwe for example?
SG: I have to discuss the famine in Horn of Africa. Let’s deal with that.
Q: A year ago, monitors knew that this famine was coming [inaudible]?
Mrs. Bertini: We have done a lot of contingency planning in the United Nations. This is not a surprise that there is a drought now. It is however very sad that there is no rain in the last few months. The issue is not any issue of non-understanding or even not planning. It is just that now, it’s the critical time to raise the issue to the donors and that is why the Secretary-General asked our mission to go to say that the brink people and now using so many of their resources that unless there is international aid coming now, they may be a disaster.
Mrs. Bertini : We believe for most of the people in the region, this is still a question of at least weeks or months. Because, we have seen that they are selling the last [inaudible] the running out of the food that they have collected from the [inaudible] harvest. They do have some limited amount of support from the governments and from NGOS and from of course UN. But if they do not receive, depending of course [inaudible] additional assistance soon, then the [inaudible] will be [inaudible]. Specifically, much of the food for instance we have not had for the end of June. So unless we have significant more pledges for food by July, there will be no food to be out for distribution. For non-food items, for medicine or water for instance, the needs to be pledges and contributions immediately in order to contribute alleviate people’s needs. And also for seeds and tools, this is now the times where people planning seeds for harvest in November and the United Nations has appealed for seeds and we continue to ask donors to provide seeds necessary for planting now this week, this month.
SG: One more question
Q: Mrs. Bertini, would you describe the situation as a food crisis for the moment, or would you describe it as a famine?
Mrs. Bertini: It is a crisis now, it could become worse. But regionally, there are hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people in fact we estimated at 16 who do not have enough access to food, to water, to quality water, to medicines.
SG: Your question about Zimbabwe?
Q: It is about Zimbabwe, Mr. Secretary-General. How do you assess the situation now?
SG: Obviously, the situation is worrying. But I think the British Government and the Zimbabwean Government would be coming together in London on the 27th April, two days from now, to discuss this issue, the question of land reform. And how it will be funded. Because the issue is about land, and I think [inaudible] and myself as you know have been in touch with President Mugabe, encouraging them to reduce the tensions and trying resolving this issue legally, and through political means. And I hope the talks in London would be constructive, would be helpful. And that we would begin to see [inaudible] turn around because we need to manage a situation which is extremely dangerous and could get worse if it is not properly handled. Thank you very much.
Following meeting with FM Igor Ivanov of the Russian Federation, New York, 24 April 2000 (unofficial transcript and translation from Russian)
SG: Ladies and Gentlemen of the press - I have just had a very good conversation with the Foreign Minister and we discussed many issues, including the NPT conference which the Foreign Minister will address tomorrow. I was able to congratulate him for the leadership Russian Federation is showing in this area by approving both the SALT II and the CTBT. We talked about Iraq. We discussed the situation in Kosovo. We talked about the Millennium Assembly and the need for it to be results-oriented and a very serious working Summit. We hope that by the end of the day the heads of states will leave here with a sense of accomplishment and with a product that we can all work and that will steer us into the future. Mr. Foreign Minister…
FM: I would like to thank the Secretary-General for having received us. I have transmitted to him the address by President Putin which I will read out tomorrow morning at the meeting of the Conference stating the principles embodied in this important document will invariably be upheld and implemented by the Russian Federation.
We welcome the statement made earlier today by the Secretary-General (see SG/SM/7366). We welcome and support the provisions contained in his address, including those related to the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime, and geared towards further reduction of nuclear weapons.
I informed the Secretary-General of the active preparations for the forthcoming Summit meeting of the General Assembly. We are supportive of the adoption by that Conference of a tangible declaration that would facilitate or support the increased and more tangible role of the United Nations and that would facilitate further strengthening of international security.
Concerning regional conflicts, Russia would continue to invariably implement all the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. Lastly, we discussed we discussed issues related to the interaction between the Russian agencies and organizations including the [inaudible], the emergencies ministry, with the relevant United Nations system agencies. We expressed our satisfaction with the way this interaction and cooperation develops. Thank you.
Q: [In Russian - no interpretation provided]
FM: Such a memorandum has indeed been prepared, drafted. It is now undergoing scrutiny by our legal experts and as soon as it is ready it would be duly signed.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, in your statement today you mentioned the threats, the real tangible threats, of the destruction of the ABM treaty. Have you heard any constructive proposals and/or assurances from the Russians in connection with the preservation and strengthening of the ABM treaty.
SG: I think the Minister is going to have a chance to tell me and the rest of the world what the Russian position will be tomorrow. And it would be presumptuous on my side to speak for him.
Q: Mr. Minister, I wonder if you could answer in English, possibly, for the other…do you feel the vote by the Duma on START and CTBT has put pressure on the United States on the eve of this Conference, pressure that might help regarding missile defence systems or perhaps just lead to more of a deadlock. What is your opinion?
FM: First of all I would like to stress that those crucial decisions were not taken to exert any pressure on anyone or on any party. First of all we pursue our own national interests and the interests and the interests of international security. I would like to stress that Russia is resolved to further pursue the drastic reductions of the strategic offensive arms, and we are open for cooperation and we intend to say that there is a real alternative that is open to us and we intend to pursue this. We would be satisfied if by these decisions we would somehow assist the Commission in its work.
Remarks upon entering UNHQ, 24 April (unofficial transcript)
Q: [inaudible]…Elian Gonzalez situation resolved…this weekend?
SG: I've been feeling sorry for the poor little boy and I hope that this is the beginning of a solution and that it will soon be all behind him and he can live a normal life as a child. And I think that the law has naturally taken its role and I would hope that now that he is reunited with his father things will calm down and he'll be allowed to live a normal life.
Q: You met with the Iranian Foreign Minister. What happened in that meeting?
SG: Well, we discussed several topics including the Iraqi sanctions and Afghanistan - the drug issue in Afghanistan, as well as the dialogue among civilizations.
Q: What about the Iraqi sanctions, anything about the smuggling in the Gulf - did that come up?
SG: As you know, recently the Iranians have seized several ships smuggling Iraqi oil and there are certain costs associated with this, and they raised the issue of what is the international community going to do to make it easier for them -- and possible for them -- to continue that operation, in the way of financial assistance. Thank you.
Press encounter following Security Council meeting on Protection of Civilians in armed conflict, New York, 19 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I don't know if you have any comments you want to give us, but I am interested in your attempt to defuse the violence in Zimbabwe. Could you bring us up to date with that?
SG: Obviously the situation is worrisome. President Mugabe, whom I spoke to last night, now that he is back home, is trying to take steps to defuse these tensions. I look forward to speaking to him again. As you know, he has agreed to send a team to London to discuss the situation - there will be a ministerial team going to London - and that meeting will be on the 27th. I will be talking to him later today.
Q: From the news reports, the impression is that he is inflaming the situation with some of his rhetoric about the white farmers being enemies of the state. In your conversation with him, were you convinced that he was trying to defuse it rather than inflame it?
SG: Yes, I am basing my judgment on my direct contacts with him, not what I read in the press, and my sense is he is taking this situation in hand, and is taking steps to defuse it. I have encouraged him to do that, and I will be talking to him later today. I think we should encourage efforts at dialogue.
Q: How do you see what's happening there fitting into the focus on Africa here in the [Security] Council and concern for the future of that region?
SG: I don't think it's an issue for the Council at this stage. But of course we have all argued here in the Council and within the UN at large that we should take steps to settle conflicts in Africa so that we can focus on economic and social development. We have stressed the issue of good governance, rule of law and appropriate regulatory systems. In that respect it does affect the broader efforts the UN is making to bring good governance to the continent.
Q: Are you afraid that what is happening in Zimbabwe might further undermine stability of the whole region?
SG: We live in an interconnected world, where what happens in one country is instantly seen on television and [heard on] radio in other regions. You cannot help but feel that some of these developments can have a broader impact, but I hope it can be contained. This is why I am encouraged by my conversation with President Mugabe.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, Hun Sen said earlier this week that he was looking favourably on a proposal by Senator Kerry to break the logjam on the Cambodia trial. Can you give us a sense whether you think there may be a deal on this?
SG: Well, as you know, I met Prime Minister Hun Sen in Havana and we did discuss the trial and the ongoing discussions between the UN and the Government. There have been several proposals put on the table to break the one impasse we have - the impasse on how you handle a situation where one of the prosecutors disagrees with the other. And how do you have a review mechanism that is effective, expeditious - and there are proposals on the table that we are looking at and I am hopeful that we will be able to find a solution.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, we read yesterday about some of your thoughts on sanctions. Do you believe after the discussion in the Security Council that these kinds of sanctions regimes are actually counter-productive more than useful?
SG: I think the policy set by the Council, and there has been a lot of food put on the table for thought, both at the IPA [International Peace Academy] discussions and in the Council discussions itself, and I am sure that Council members will assess all this and determine how to proceed in the future.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, is there anything about the Cyprus summit here? Will the parties [inaudible], and the places, locations, New York or outside of New York?
SG: I would expect the parties to join me here in New York on 23 May.
Q: When do you expect to send Mr. [Terje Roed-] Larsen back to the region? And what will be his mission?
SG: Mr. Larsen is going back to the region next week, and he will visit Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Israel.
Q: And his mission?
SG: The mission will be to discuss with them the implementation of [Resolution] 425, and obviously the Council would be taking action on it, either today or tomorrow.
Q: As an experienced Director of Peacekeeping in your past life - some things went well, some things didn't - how do you rate the danger when Israel pulls out, the security vacuum there? What do you see happening, what are you worried about?
SG: None of these operations are ever risk-free. Obviously we will have to go in with the right strength, and with the right force, to be able to undertake our mandate, to defend our mandate and ourselves. We may need to strengthen the Force. We are doing our contingency planning. We will factor in the information Larsen brings back and then make proposals to the Council.
Q: How many thousands would you like to see there?
SG: We haven't yet determined - we have 4,500 at the moment. Some strengthening may be required, but I will have to wait until we have all the information and we have completed our planning.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, could you tell us also how you plan to go about addressing the sticky problem of settling the border between Israel and Lebanon, since the United Nations is going to be involved? And could you also give us your overall reaction to the movement on this issue by Israel - do you see this as a positive step? Do you think that this might help improve the prospects for Middle East peace elsewhere?
SG: I think we have all agreed that it would have been preferable if the withdrawal from Lebanon took place as part of a broader settlement with Syria, and then the withdrawal in Lebanon. Unfortunately that track seems to have stalled, and the Israelis have decided to withdraw from Lebanon in accordance with 425 and 426. Those resolutions give us specific tasks which we will undertake with the cooperation of all the parties concerned. The withdrawal will be to the international border.
Q: You met in Havana with the Foreign Minister of Iraq [Mohamed Said Al-Sahaf]. Can you describe that and tell us where things stand at this point? Your sense of how this issue will progress also, with Tun Myat?
SG: We did discuss [Resolution] 1284 which, as you know, they reject. We discussed also the oil-for-food scheme and the measures being taken to improve it. And also we discussed the inspection issue and I urged them to meet with Mr. [Hans] Blix, which at this stage they are not prepared to do because they believe it implies they have accepted 1284 which they have not. But we have not given up efforts to get them to cooperate with us.
Q: Did he give you any indication that they are interested to hear about 1284, talking about it, that there may be some hope that they will…
SG: He repeated the position of the Government that we all know.
Q: Why isn't Mr. Vorontsov's reply coming down to the Council?
SG: There is a report on its way. Vorontsov's report will reach the Council in the next day or so.
Q: But we understand it's not going to be issued as a document. Why not?
SG: I don't think all reports that go to the Council are issued as a document. There is nothing unusual about writing a letter or giving a report to the Council which doesn't come in the form of a document. We do it all the time.
Q: What do you think of the Dejammet report?
SG: I thought we need more of those kinds of reports. We need a bit of laughter in the building. Thank you.
Transcript of Address and Q & A session at the University of Havana, Cuba, 11 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Mr. President, Distinguished Rector, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, Above all, dear students, the leaders of the 21st Century, (inaudible)
Let me, first of all Director, thank you for this very warm welcome (inaudible). It is a great honour to join you today at this distinguished university, one of the oldest in the Americas, which has schooled so many of Cuba's leading artists, scientists and philosophers, and which, over these many years, has always had a keen sense of the national political mood.
I am very pleased to be here for my second visit to Cuba - and my first as Secretary-General of the United Nations. I am today in Havana to visit one of the founding Member States of the United Nations. But there are also more profound reasons why I am glad to have come.
Cuba may be among the world's smaller nations in terms of population and size, but its geography and history have given it a special place in the global consciousness. Cuba knows first-hand the ravages of colonialism. Cuba knows the fallout of this century's ideological and superpower competition. Cuba knows the scarcity and hardship that are the plight of so much of humankind. And Cuba knows the strains -- but more importantly the satisfactions -- of building a society of diverse peoples and influences. So a visit to Cuba is in many respects an encounter with history itself, and it is gratifying to see at least some of this for myself during my short stay on the island.
The resonance of Cuba's story on the world stage leads me to focus my remarks today on the phenomenon that defines our world at the dawn of a new century. I speak, of course, about globalization.
It may seem ironic for me to broach the issue of globalization here in Cuba --a country that has been under a wide-ranging embargo for so many years. I do so because the process of globalization affects every single country in the world, and most of the citizens of the world, even those who have not heard the word 'globalization'. For globalization is not new: commerce and cultures have criss-crossed the face of our planet for centuries. Coca Cola, often mentioned as the prime example of globalization at work; but the humble potato from the Americas conquered the globe centuries ago. Cuba itself served as landfall for some of the first trans-Atlantic explorers, and as a destination and entrepót for one of the earliest global markets: the sordid trade in human beings.
Even then, globalization had its darker side. But globalization today is different: its logic seems inexorable, its momentum is profound, and its potential is far greater than in any previous period of accelerated contacts on a global scale.
To those already enjoying them, the benefits of globalization are clear: faster economic growth, higher living standards, the rapid spread of new technology and modern management skills. It is creating wider choices and new opportunities for individuals and countries alike; and it is bringing people together in new and productive coalitions, overcoming barriers of distance, diversity and indifference.
But let me hasten to add that at present, only a relatively small number of countries are enjoying these gains. Many millions of people are excluded, left behind in squalor not because they have been exposed to too much globalization but because they have had too little or none at all.
Developing countries in particular face a range of obstacles to their participation in the global economy: high tariffs for their goods, crushing debt burdens, and their own poverty and underdevelopment. Conflict, corruption and disease -- including the AIDS epidemic, which is quickly becoming a global social crisis -- are other formidable constraints.
Notwithstanding the embargo, Cuba's achievements in social development are impressive given the size of its gross domestic product per capita. As the human development index of the United Nations makes clear year after year, Cuba should be the envy of many other nations, ostensibly far richer. This success does not, of course, alleviate the need for a global economic and political environment that is more conducive to the countries of the South. But it does demonstrate how much nations can do with the resources they have if they focus on the right priorities health, education and literacy. Cuba has created much to build on when the day comes -- soon, I hope -- for it to play its full part in globalization.
If exclusion is one serious failing of globalization as it stands today, another is the imbalance that has emerged between what global markets can and cannot do. Globalization cannot be regarded or pursued as a solely economic phenomenon, separate from the complex fabric of social and political life. It must mean more than creating bigger markets, because market forces alone, shooting off on their own trajectory, will never ensure that the needs of all people and their societies can be met. Much has been done to devise, and enforce, rules that facilitate the expansion of global markets. But attempts to address equally urgent social objectives -- such as eradicating poverty, protecting the environment and promoting human rights and labour standards -- have lagged behind.
The result is a growing backlash. Many millions experience globalization not as an agent of progress but as a disruptive force, capable of destroying jobs, traditions and even a society's cohesion, sometimes. With lightning speed. Even in the countries which others see as the driving force of globalization, ordinary people often feel they are at the mercy of unpredictable forces. Our central challenge is clear: we must ensure that globalization becomes a positive and equitable force for all the world's people.
The issue, in my view, is primarily one of governance: how the international community of sovereign states and multilateral organizations copes with global challenges; and how individual nations manage their own affairs so as to play their part, pull their weight and serve their peoples.
Governance at the international level is, of course, very much the concern of the United Nations. The multilateral system that exists today is a major achievement, given the terrible period of isolationism and world war which preceded it before 1945. What is not widely known today is that rules and institutions do exist which enable states to manage many different forms of global activity. Shipping, aviation, telecommunications, weather-forecasting, trademarks, patents, statistics, pharmaceuticals -- all these and more fall within the purview of United Nations agencies. The more we find ourselves living in a single economic space, the more we will depend on such essential services, norms and rules.
But the multilateral system as we know it needs updating and strengthening. We need changes in key decision-making structures such as the United Nations Security Council and in the international financial system. We need to open the international public domain to the diverse forces of civil society. We need private companies that show a stronger commitment to corporate citizenship. And we need a robust international legal order, with effective bodies such as the International Criminal Court and far better adherence to international human rights treaties, which are the accepted yardsticks of progress in the human condition. Indeed, international law is the language of the global community -- the means by which sovereign states can relate to one another and jointly steer the course of their common destiny.
But in a globalized world -- a world in which borders and sovereignty are becoming more fluid in both conception and practice -- states have a dual role. They are responsible simultaneously to their citizens and to the community of nations. It is not just that national behaviour has international ramifications; we have seen this in many different contexts, from refugee flows to cross-border pollution. More crucially, there is an essential link between how well a state organizes its affairs and how much its people can benefit from economic change. A well-functioning international system -- open, democratic, equitable -- can create vast new opportunities for states. Creating that system is our mission. But even if we achieved that goal today, some nations would be better equipped than others to seize those opportunities. Ultimately, national action is the determining factor. If there is a single idea that embodies the sum total of national action, that idea is good governance.
Earlier today, in my meeting with him, President Castro urged with passion that in speaking of governance, we should not overlook those actions of a Government which promote the well-being of individuals in society _ such as accessible and affordable education, universal health care, and the availability of various means to fulfil human potential. Low infant mortality and universal literacy are themselves indicators of successful human development. I do not think that any fair-minded person would disagree with President Castro on the importance of these factors.
Now the principles of good governance, if not universally practiced, are at least accepted: they include the rule of law, transparent and accountable public administration, respect for human rights, effective state institutions such as independent judiciaries, and the participation of all citizens -- including women and minorities -- in decisions that affect their lives. With such an enabling framework, a nation's creative energies can be liberated; without them, a nation will be unable to compete in the global markets. With them, a nation is more likely to have confidence in itself, and to enjoy the confidence of others, including outside partners and investors. Without, a nation is more likely to stagnate, and be unable to realize its potential. A state that denies itself open, democratic processes and institutions will thereby impede the development and progress of its people, denying them the chance to interact fully with the larger world. So if the United Nations is to help its member states to manage the forces of globalization successfully, it must also help them, when they invite it to do so, to meet their internal challenges.
I would now like to say a particular word to the students gathered here today. I see many of them at the gallery.
I know that the passage from a student life to a full professional life, with greater responsibilities, is a transition that gives rise to hopes, enthusiasm, and also uncertainties. You are more privileged than students in many other countries for, according to the International Labour Organization, 60 million young graduates around the world are searching in vain for work. There is nothing more devastating and disheartening than joblessness among people with such energy and passion for social change. In partnership with other multilateral organizations, including the International Labour Organization, and the World Bank, I am convening a policy network of the most creative leaders in industry, civil society and economic policy to explore solutions to this difficult challenge and create more opportunities for youth.
The United Nations has to deal with grand themes and grand projects. We have done so at greater length in the Millennium Report I have just presented to the General Assembly of the United Nations. These themes and initiatives will be on the agenda, throughout this year, as non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, religious leaders gather in New York for a series of millennium events aimed at nothing less than agreeing on a common vision for the new era. This series of forums will culminate with the opening at United Nations Headquarters on 6 September 2000 of the Millennium Summit of the United Nations, which is likely to be the largest ever gathering of Heads of State and Heads of Government. At the Summit, which will last three days, will be convened under the overall theme of The United Nations in the 21st Century. I am confident that the outcome of the first Summit Meeting of the Group of 77, which will open tomorrow in this beautiful city of Havana, will be a positive contribution towards the Millennium Summit of the United Nations. I am most grateful to President Castro, the Government and People of Cuba for hosting the South Summit.
As I look around this room, this beautiful Aula Magna, I am inspired: by the breadth of learning that occurs at this institution; and by the hope that you will come of age connected to the rest of the world -- through trade, travel and the Internet -- in a way no previous generation has been. Most of all I am inspired by the sense that you, the young ones, can make a real difference in putting this ambitious agenda into effect.
Thank you very much.
Rector.- Thank you very much Mr. Secretary-General. Now the Secretary-General will be glad to answer some questions. President Fidel Castro informed us before-hand that at 4:45 or 4:50 he will be obliged to leave this hall, and that he has been very pleased to attend this conference by the Secretary-General. So, professors and students. I would ask students and professors to identify themselves.
Q: Good evening my name is professor Eduardo Espinosa, from Havana University. First of all, I would like to thank you for being here at La Havana University and given us the opportunity of sharing your ideas with us. In the first part of your lecture you referred to your motivations for making this trip to Cuba. My question is in relation with your expectations on your visit to Cuba.
SG: As I indicated in my presentation this is my second visit to Cuba. My first visit was in 85, rather a long time ago, and I was saying I was anxious to come to Cuba, first of all to meet the leaders of the country and the people, and I hope I will have a chance to meet the people, and follow up on the development that has been taking place here. As I indicated in my lecture, from the achievements you have made in the areas of education, health and social development, you have a lot to share with the third world. From that point of view, I think the South-South Summit could not have taken place in a better set. And I think the South has a lot to exchange and to share with each other. The second reason for my coming here is to meet the leaders of the South, to share with them my approach to the Millennium Report, and also to seek their support. I've only been here for 24 hours, and I do not expect to be disappointed on the ambitions I came here with.
Rector: Another question?
Q: My name is Ruben Santoya, I am Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and History. Mr. Secretary-General, I wish to ask you, what are, from your point of view, the causes of the situations you have observed of disparity, polarization of richness, marginalization of large zones of the planet and large population masses from the benefits of globalization? And, do you believe this is something inevitable? What is the UN doing, and what could the UN do to solve these situations?
SG: The issue of poverty, the issue of disparity between the rich and the poor, and to some extent the issue of exclusion, these are causes that the United Nations has been fighting since its creation: in our projects around the world, in our dealings with Governments around the world we try to help the Governments and the peoples around the world to overcome these difficulties. I do not think this is a situation we need to accept without doing anything at all. And it is that spirit that led me to produce the Report that I have done for the Millennium Summit, raising issues that I believe the leaders of the world should attempt -- collectively -- to do something about. I do not believe that the situation which exists between, and within nations, where we have extreme wealth and extreme poverty living side by side, can be sustained in the long term without attempting to do something about it. It would require leaders of the North and the South to work together, and this is why we have stressed with our friends from the South that they need to strengthen their institutions, they need to develop good governments and they need to be able to create and environment that releases the energies of their people. And with the people of the North we are pressing them to work with us in developing a trading system that is open, fair and equitable. We believe that they should remove the tariffs that prevent access to goods from the developing countries. The poor much rather trade themselves out of poverty, rather than be given (inaudible). And by opening their markets, these countries, under proper leadership and proper economic management, can make billions and billions of dollars, far more than they will get from official development assistance. And I also indicated, that given the information revolution and information technology, we should be able to use some of these tools to allow the Third World to leap-frog some of the difficult development stages that others had to go through. And I also believe that we should be able to find means of giving them access to the new technology. And if we did that, it will offer a great deal of possibilities, not just for the poor but also for the developed nations.
Rector: The Secretary-General is asking us for two or three more questions, and then he will answer them together. You are first, please.
Q: Good afternoon Mr. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, I am Aidel Alvarez, Law student, of the Law Faculty of Havana University. Regarding the first Summit of the G-77, I wish to know your opinion on the contribution that this meeting could represent on the reform process that is taking place within the United Nations. Thank you very much.
Q: Good afternoon, my name is Juan Antonio Quintanilla. I am a first year student of the Law Faculty. In your excellent speech, you refer to the meeting you had this morning with our Commander in Chief, in which he told you that when speaking about a Government, the social achievements attained by this country could not be copied. In this regard, and taking into consideration the false accusations made anywhere concerning human rights in our country, and also on the human rights session taking place in Geneva, where there have been many problems, I would like to listen to your opinion about the completely unfair things that are being done to our country.
Q: Good afternoon, I am a second year student of Social Communication at our University. I am very glad that you are here today, and I wish to take the opportunity to ask your opinion concerning Elian Gonzalez. As you know, since December, the Cuban people has been battling to obtain the return of the Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez who has been kidnapped in Miami. We would like to know your opinion concerning this case. Thank you very much.
Rector: We are going to have to stop there. I think the Secretary-General wishes to answer this questions before our colleague, the President Fidel Castro has to leave this room.
SG: I will start with the first question, what contribution will the Summit of the G-77 mean. I think the G-77 is an Organization that embraces over a hundred countries from the developing nations. First of all, coming together like this, they should be able to share their own experiences, and encourage each other to focus on the essential task of economic and social development. They should also be able to press ahead the exchanges between them. There has been a tendency to look North, for trade and other exchanges, the South-South exchanges can be increased and its is increasing, and I think in some areas we have seen the benefits of South-South development in addition to the North-South exchanges. I would also hope from a very narrow, personal point of view, that since I issued the Report of "We the Peoples: the Role of the United Nations on the 21st Century", that they will also be able to discuss some of the recommendations I make in that Report and come to New York in September to support the efforts we are making to reposition and strengthen the UN for the 21st Century, and to tackle some of the major issues confronting us from poverty to the fight against AIDS, to the digital divide, to attacks on environment and how we can protect our environment, and a whole range of other issues. So I am counting on their support as well.
As to the question on human rights, let me say that the UN position has always been that human rights must be respected on all its aspects. And that from my point of view development is human rights, and human rights is development. In fact, I think some of you have followed carefully the recent declaration by Mrs. Robinson. She stressed very much, not only the political aspects, but the economic social, and cultural aspects of human rights as well. You must also know, that the Human Rights Commission that meets in Geneva is a Commission of Member States, and each Member State is free to put on the table items that it believes the Commission should discuss. And I think sometimes, when we talk of the UN, we sometimes lock the door together with the Secretariat, the Secretary-General, and the Member States. But I think what is important here is our attempts to improve the human rights situation in the world. We are also lucky that today there is a consciousness, a rising consciousness, amongst the peoples of the world, as to their rights. And I only want to add that when we talk of human rights, it is an area which is very difficult for one to pretend that everyone_ let me put it this way, in a recent address that I gave at the Human Rights Commission, at the beginning of April, I made it clear that when it comes to human rights, no nation -- and I mean no nation -- can claim that its work is done. We all have some work to be done to make improvements. Some have much further to go than others but I think we all have work to do.
On the case of Elian Gonzalez, let me say that now the legal process is on its course. I think Attorney General, Janet Reno, has been clear as to her intentions, and as to what the law demands. I have had the chance to say that personally I believe Elian Gonzalez belongs with his father. Thank you.
Rector: Comrade Fidel.
President Fidel Castro: I have requested to speak, not to ask a question, but to make a comment that should be considered. We, the students and the professors know well that Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization occupies the most difficult job in the world. The world has an enormous amount of problems, and he has to deal with all of them -- every day and continuously. It so happens he presented us with the Report he elaborated for the Millennium Summit. As you are aware we don't know if the Millennium has already started, or if will start in December. In any case, the problems will be there, so we cannot loose a single minute not striving for their solution.
I had the opportunity to have a copy of the Report in Spanish. We spoke over a long time, about different issues. For me, and our country, the conversation has been very interesting, as has been a great honour to receive the Secretary General, since we are not enemies of the United Nations. Indeed, I believe it is one of the few good things we have. It is not perfect, and we might have several expectations about the role that it could play in this world. This world is chaotic. It needs a particular orientation, an specific programming, and I believe that on a future - preserving all the cultures and identities - the world will require more than coordination. The world has to walk towards a direction that cannot be hegemonic nor unilateral, but should be made up of all countries. We hope for a wider and much more democratic United Nations Organization, which would have many more attributions.
One of the most difficult jobs, more difficult than the Governments, more difficult than any other institution's is leading such an heterogeneous Organization, in which so many aspirations and so many interests clash with each other. I wish to express my admiration for the role that the United Nations is playing. We should not ask impossible tasks to the United Nations. We have to ask the United Nations and its leaders only what is possible.
As part of our activities, we have read this summary of objectives for the United Nations for this Century. More precisely, it is a concrete programme for 2015 and 2020. It is a very interesting document and since we now have a copy in Spanish - we have seen the translation, which must be a very good one, since the UN has a very qualified staff for translations. I would like to add, as I said to him, that we have worked with the United Nations for almost 40 years, and we do not have a single complaint. There has never been a UN staff member who had interfered in our internal affairs, nor done anything negative. I have witnessed 40 years of relationship with the UN, and I have an excellent opinion of the UN Staff Members.
That is the reality. In order for you to have more information, I would like you to know that we have the intention of reproducing this Report so that our universities and our students know it, debate on it, organize round tables if they want to. I myself, have to leave now to attend a round table.
Thank you very much!
Press encounter at University of Havana, 11 April 2000, Cuba (unofficial transcript)
Q: What do you expect from the Summit?
SG: What do I expect from the Summit? Well, first of all, you know that it is not a UN meeting. So I would expect the Summit leaders who have come here with their own agendas-- I wish them every success and that they may achieve the objectives. But I would also hope that they leave here with a sense that they have strengthened the South-South cooperation, the cooperation between developing countries, and have the chance to discuss the aspirations of the developing countries as we enter a new era, the era of globalization where they are very keen to be given a fair chance to participate in the world trading system and to play a role.
Q: During this Summit of the G-77 (inaudible) follow-up action which would be the base for a dialogue with the northern countries. But I´m wondering how you can have a successful dialogue when the northern countries (inaudible).
SG: Well, I think you have to have your position before you go in and engage another group`or the other side, and I think developing their position is a good start.
Q: Do you have any progress in terms of the Cambodian situation?
SG: No, we did make some progress at the last discussions, but the talks are on-going and we haven´t completed them yet. I haven´t met Prime Minister Hun Sen yet. It will be tomorrow.
Press encounter in Havana's Old Town, Cuba, 11 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Can you comment on the planned summit meeting between the two Koreas?
SG: I think it is very encouraging news that the leaders of the two Koreas are going to meet. I think it also bodes well for reduction of tension in the region and I hope that this is only a beginning of more intensive cooperation and dialogue between the two Koreas. I was in South Korea about two years ago when Prime Minister Kim Dae Jung was talking about his "sunshine policy" and I am glad that its beginning to bear fruit, and I think we should encourage it. I have noticed the beginning of a new openness on behalf of the North Koreans and I hope this continues.
Q: Will you be meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen?
Q: What will you be talking about?
SG: You know well - the establishment of a court for the trial for those who were responsible for the Khmer Rouge atrocities.
Press encounter with Spanish National Television (TVE), Madrid Airport, 10 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: First of all, this big polemics about Africa right now and then next appointment you have in Havana. This dialogue between North and South through the United Nations at this moment.
SG: Well, I think it is important that the developing countries come together to discuss what is happening in the world today, this globalized world, and also to share experiences. There are some positive lessons that developing countries can share with each other even in the area of information technologies. Exciting things are happening in India, Costa Rica and as I said my report, we need to alleviate poverty, we need to use information technology and computers to be able to leap frog all the difficult developmental stages that other countries went through. And the third world, I hope, would be able to do this and share experiences. So I am looking forward to very constructive and useful discussions in Cuba between the Heads of State of the South themselves. And I am also looking forward to having some very good dialogue, with some of them bilaterally, individually and separately.
And on Ethiopia, as you said, we have a difficult drought and we are facing another famine, another one following the last one fifteen years [ago]. The UN has responded. In December we made an appeal with the Ethiopian Government and now I am sending in Mrs. [Catherine] Bertini, the Head of the United Nations World Food Program in Rome, to go to the area and make an on-the-ground assessment and try to come back with a plan for us to make a much more accelerated effort to help the people in the region. But we can only do it if the governments and the leaders of the world who have capacity would work with us. They will give us the food, the resources and the financial support for us to be able to move quickly. I don’t think it is too late to save lives, I don’t think it is too late if we act now. Of course if we don’t act, the situation could get much worse and there is no excuse for not acting.
Q: There is an impasse, more than a year’s impasse dealing with Iraq. We have UNMOVIC after UNSCOM. You were the go-between in between Iraq and Washington. What is the near future now?
SG: Well, we have a new chairman, executive chairman of the inspection group – UNMOVIC- Mr. Hans Blix, who is a very experienced and very able man. He is now putting together his organizational plan, organigram, work program, which has to be approved by the Council. He is also setting up his staff, and I suspect by the summer he will be ready to operate on the ground. But of course, the Iraki government has to be prepared to engage and has to indicate that they are going to cooperate with us on the implementation of resolution 1284. As of today, they haven’t given that indication yet, but I hope they will, because they know Mr. Blix. He is very professional, he is fair, he is serious, even though he is tough-minded. They’ve worked with him before. He used to be Head of the Atomic Agency in Vienna [ The International Atomic Agency (IAEA)] and I hope they will work with him.
Press conference at WFP, Rome, 6 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Spokesman: Just to let you know that there is some original WFP footage of the Horn of Africa that you can get from Trevor Rowe in the back, and the Secretary-General has brought a surprise guest to the Press Conference, his Special Envoy for the Horn, Catherine Bertini, Head of WFP. Ladies and Gentlemen, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. Let me say that we are happy to be here in Rome for this ACC meeting, and when I say "we" I mean the heads of all the UN agencies who are participating in this meeting. We meet twice a year, and normally we do it in Geneva and New York, alternating between the two capitals. But at the invitation of Ms Bertini of the World Food Programme, we decided to meet here this year. We have many items on our agenda, the most prominent one is the Millennium Summit and we have again discussed the Millennium Report this morning, and the actions that will be required of us as individual agencies and collectively and how we would work with Governments, civil societies, the private sector to make some of the objectives achievable and get them implemented as quickly as we can. We will also be discussing technology and the technology divide, we will talk about trade in a broad sense and there are other issues, some of it internal that we will discuss. These meetings have always been very useful for us to exchange our ideas, sometimes compare policies and come together on urgent management issues, sometimes touching on questions of life and death, the security of our staff. And as you know, even in this building where we are today, the World Food Programme has lost 55 of its staff members between 1988 and now. They take risks, but they keep doing it because they believe what they do, with the support and comfort they bring to those in need is worth taking risks for. But of course Governments and those we go to help also have a responsibility to help protect these wonderful staff members that we send out.
I think I will now take your questions, and the only other thing I would want to say, you know that I have designated Ms Bertini as my special envoy for the Horn of Africa with regards to the famine there, and she will be travelling to the region immediately after this meeting and will make an on-the-ground assessment of what the situation is and ensure that our attempts and our efforts to alleviate the suffering will be much more effective, and of course when she comes back she will report to me and the other agencies. Beyond the immediate, we are also setting up a task force to work on food security for the Horn of Africa because this is the second time in 15 years that we are facing this issue and we need to tighten and strengthen our efforts.
I will now take your questions and if there are questions on the situation in the Horn and the work we are doing, Ms Bertini may also take some of the questions.
Corriere della Sera: My name is Maurizio Caprara, I am a journalist of the Corriere della Sera. In the last days, you received a letter from the relatives of the people who were in a plane, the ATR 42, that fell down flying from Rome to Pristina last year, and there were volunteers of WFP. They asked you to act for support of the international community on the investigation to understand the reasons of that accident. What do you plan to do, and what do you think that are the obstacles in a better understanding on what happened that night.
SG: Let me first of all say how tragic that accident was, and how it pained all of us, and I would want to send my sympathy and condolence to families, and my colleagues and their families who lost their loved ones. But the UN would open its doors, we will cooperate fully with the investigation. I have also asked UNMIK to be as cooperative as they possibly can. There are other aspects, I think, the British Army is involved here and also KFOR, and I think there are investigations going on in this country, and so there are a series of investigations going on to get to the bottom of this and to be able to take action necessary and put the matter to rest, and we at the UN will cooperate fully.
Russian State TV and Radio: I wonder if you have discussed with Mrs Robinson the problem of Chechnya and what measures are you going to undertake to stop the war ?
SG: I have discussed with Mrs Robinson, in fact she briefed me in Geneva the day she arrived from Moscow, I was leaving Geneva when she was coming and so we met at the airport and she gave me a full brief on her visit to Ingushetia and to Chechnya and Dagestan, and she did indicate and share with me her discussions with the Russian authorities, and the request she made to them that a credible investigation be mounted into these allegations and that we should get to the bottom of this, and I hope the Russian authorities are considering this very seriously.
BBC International Arabic Service: Please forgive me if I cannot prevent myself from asking about the Middle East situation concerning your last meetings in Geneva. What is the UN going to do after Israel withdraws its troops from the south of Lebanon, and what is the role of the UN in the Middle East in the coming period for the Middle East process of peace.
SG: The role of the UN ?
BBC International Arabic Service: Yes, let me ask why the UN does not make an effective role besides the United States of America in this Middle East process of peace?
SG: Let me answer your question. With regard to the discussions in Geneva on Tuesday with the Foreign Ministry Levy, we did discuss the Israeli intention to withdraw from southern Lebanon. We are all agreed, and I think the Prime Minister of Israel and the leaders in the region and the US and around the world agree with me that ideally the withdrawal from Lebanon should come as a part of a broader agreement including peace with Syria, but now that that track seems to be stalled, and I hope not for ever, the Israelis have indicated they intend to go ahead with the withdrawal by the end of July. They also indicated to me that the withdrawal would be in full compliance with Security Council resolutions, particularly 425, and that the withdrawal will be full and without conditions. Since then I have also spoken to the Prime Minister Barak of Israel and several other leaders that I am in touch with and we are discussing with all concerned how this can be made effective on the ground. I cannot say more than that.
On the question of why the UN is not in lead in the Middle East process, I think the answer is very simple. First of all, let me say that the UN has always been on the ground and has been involved. There are many UN resolutions and I think quite a lot of the discussions and the settlement are based on UN resolutions. For example, in the discussions on Lebanon, I have referred to 425 and on the Israeli-Palestinian discussion is based on the UN Resolution "Peace for Land" and besides we are the only ones on the ground. We have troops on the ground in the Golan Heights, we have troops on the ground in southern Lebanon and if the Israelis were to withdraw we will be active on the ground. As far as mediation is concerned, the parties have accepted, and I agree to the US as a mediator, and I think that is fine with us. We support the process, but you cannot have multiplicity of mediators and I wish President Clinton well, and I think he and the foreign policy team have done a very credible and very persistent work on this issue and I hope the Syrian/Israeli track will be picked up, but they are the mediators and we support them and in these situations it is always better to have a clear situation where there is one mediator, not several.
RAI TG1: In your talks with the Italian authorities, our Premier and our Foreign Minister yesterday, you focused a lot I have seen on the famine and water emergency in the Horn of Africa. Do you think that Italy could play a leader role in the rescue operation down there?
SG: I would welcome it. I think Italy and other Governments with means can really help in this situation. I think we can save many lives if we act and act now. And I have appealed to all the Governments with capacity and are able to give, to give freely, willingly and generously and promptly and I think when Ms Bertini comes back, we will able to even provide clearer information as to what additional requirements we need, but I will be very pleased for Italy to play a major role and I would encourage the Government of Italy, who have always been generous in these situations and in their relationship with the poorer and the developing nations, to play a role here. And I think I have been very encouraged in my discussions with the Prime Minister and also the Leaders of the Senate and the Camera dei Deputati that I saw. I was pleased to hear determination to work with me and the international community on the recommendations in the millennium report and, as you know, a large part of that deals with alleviation of poverty and relieving human suffering. Perhaps I would ask Ms Bertini to add a word here since she is based here and is working very closely with your Government and others.
Executive Director, WFP: Thank you. There are at least 12 million people at risk in the region and it is critical that we look at the needs that the people have and look now, because the Secretary-General’s interest is in preventing major effects of the drought. So he has asked us to send a mission to look at the needs in the region and to report back what else is necessary and how better can we coordinate our work. And most importantly to raise the public’s interest and knowledge in the prospect for a drought that might impact on the lives of over 12 million people. The Italian Government can be extremely helpful in being generous contributing to the UN agencies in their efforts to alleviate the hunger, to bring water, to help keep livestock alive in Ethiopia and in the entire region of the Horn of Africa.
Diario De Noticias, Lisbon: I would like you please to comment on the flight that two deputies from the Italian parliament in the European Parliament have done in Iraq against UN position and I think embargo.
SG: I just read about the reports in the press. I do not have the details of it and I understand the plane has been seized in Amman because the flight was in contravention of the United Nations sanctions embargo preventing flights into Iraq. That is all I know about it for the moment, so I cannot go into many details. If you are asking me about the situation in Iraq, obviously we are doing whatever we can to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people. The Security Council Resolution 1284 may bring some improvement or should bring some improvements in the oil-for-food scheme. But on the subject of the sanctions, per se. I think there are lots of questions being asked. The Council members and many UN members are posing the question as to whether our approach to sanctions is as optimal as it can be and that we should find a way of coming up with sanctions that are targeted against the leaders whose behaviour we want to change, rather than introduce comprehensive sanctions which turns out to be a blunt instrument and hurts the people who are not the intended victims of the sanctions and who, in some situations, cannot change their leaders overnight, so there is lots of thinking going on and I hope this will lead to some changes in approaches as the Council designs and applies sanctions.
CNN: (inaudible) … Horn of Africa, can you give us a sense of how this massive famine might be compared to previous....... and to follow up, how do you address donor...............since the same region faced a crises ten years ago and the intervention there was considered a mid-success.
SG: You are good. You can do it without a microphone. We estimated about 15-16 million people can be affected and they are in a picture of about six countries. Yes. About 6-8 countries in the region could be affected and we are talking about 15-16 million people. I think we have some other pictures on television. But I think that if we move and move quickly we can contain the situation. This is why we are making the appeal we are making and this is why Ms Bertini is going to the region. You refer to the previous attempts to intervene when famine struck that same region as something that was not entirely successful, and that it had mixed results. I would beg to disagree. I think the massive efforts to stave off starvation in Somalia and others, I think these succeeded. I think three months after the aid has arrived, three months after the peacekeepers had arrived there were no more walking skeletons. Many lives were saved, many people were helped and we had the entire situation in the Horn, lives that could have been lost were saved because the international community responded, the international community intervened. And I think when we are facing death or starvation on the scale that it could be if we do not intervene I would hope that we will not talk of donor fatigue. But you are right the fatigue may be there but I do not think we can justify it. I think in the face of such misery we all need to wake up and our consciousness and conscience should be prepare us to act and I hope I am speaking for all of us. I think our common humanity demands that we act and I appeal for us to act and act promptly. Catherine, do you want to add?
Executive Director, WFP: The international community has responded very well to food emergencies in the past. One example was the southern Africa drought where 18 million people were at risk in 1992 and 4 million tons of food went into that region, and as a result there was no famine and there were only small numbers of serious malnutrition. We hope that an early intervention directed by the Secretary-General will help us to be able to have that same kind of success with a lot of generous support which we expect from the donor community.
SG: In other words we are hopeful and we believe in the generosity of our fellow men and women.
Executive Director, WFP: When people say the floods in Mozambique or the tragedy of children not having enough to eat because of a drought, yes it is much easier to raise funds then. It is our mission now to convince people since none of us, as the Secretary-General says, want that as human beings to happen. And as since there is enough food in this world to ensure that no one has to starve, it is our job to convince the donors that now is the time to make the contributions, so that we can keep millions of people alive.
SG: And I hope in the course of this week or so we would also be able to tell you about the longer term group. The group that we are setting up to look at the longer term issues and try and improve and strengthen full security in that region.
La Stampa, Italy: Mr Secretary-General, I would like to ask you. Considering the next Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, if you did discuss yesterday with the Italian authorities the possibility that Italy will enforce its presence in the peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. Thank you.
SG: I did brief them on my conversations and encouraged them that when the time came and we needed reinforcements that Italy will cooperate.
Xinhua News Agency: I would like to ask you a question about Taiwan. What do you think about some Taiwanese leaders’ willingness to take part in UN organization especially after Taiwan’s local elections ?
SG: The United Nations policy of one China has not changed.
La Tribune de Génève: C’est une question sur le Kosovo, un reportage de ARTE a montré une énorme base américaine en construction dans le Kosovo. Je voudrais savoir si c’est avec l’sentiment des Nations Unies et quel est l’objectif de cette base.
SG: Pour commencer, je dois dire que la force militaire qui se trouve au Kosovo n’est pas une force onusienne. C’est une force multinationale, très proche de l’OTAN et chaque contingent, chaque bataillon a le droit de construire sa propre barraque, si vous voulez, et je ne peux donc pas dire quoique ce soit sur cette construction américaine. Je n’ai pas vu les plans, je ne suis pas au courant. Je crois simplement que, s’ils sont en train de construire ça, c’est pour loger, je l’espère, les troupes du maintien de la paix et pas plus. S’il y a quelque chose de plus, je ne suis pas au courant.
RAI TG3 Italy: Mr Secretary-General, you have said you have troops on the ground in several places around the world. What is the impact of peacekeeping operations in the new role of the United Nations. Do you think it has definitely changed?
SG: Obviously we have been in peace-keeping for quite some time. We have had some successes and we have had some failures, and some difficult operations, but the UN troops have made a change in many parts of the world, from Central America to Namibia, to Mozambique, and we have problems in Bosnia and Somalia, but on the whole I think we are making a contribution and I hope we will make contributions in Sierra Leone as we have made in the Middle East and in Cyprus.
Question (not identified): I would like to know, tomorrow you are going to meet with the Pope. I think he shares your worry about Africa, but even if the solution of the Holy See are quite different from the UN solution, what do you expect from this meeting, and if it is possible, can you explain to us which has been your role, the UN role, during the preparation of the trip of the Pope to Iraq?
SG: Well, he did not go to Iraq, and so the UN did not have to do anything about helping him get to Iraq, but I think his trip to the Middle East was a very positive one. I think he took a message of reconciliation and peace which was badly needed in the region, and I think I hope it would urge the parties forward in their search for peace. I will talk to the Pope about peace, about the situation in the world and I would hope he would also share with me some of his impressions from this trip. I once told the Pope that we are, he and myself, are in the same business, we both work for peace but we use different means. And so we will talk about peace. Thank you.
Question (not identified): My question is, in Geneva there is going on the Human Rights Conference. At this time the United States has decided to take an initiative in criticising China’s human rights record. I would like to ask your comments on it, and which do you think is better, confrontation or dialogue in defence of human rights ? Thank you.
SG: I am not sure that is a fair question, but let me put it this way, that I personally believe that human rights are universal, should be universal. They should be given expression in every culture, in any society. I am not saying that there should be a system of one shoe fits all, but each society can find a way of giving meaning to these rights, of accepting that human rights are equal, they are born in freedom and in dignity and that the states should protect them. I believe that, I also said in Geneva just a few days ago, that no nation, no nation can claim to have a perfect record on human rights. No nation can claim that their work in human rights is done and we all have some way to go in our own individual nations and collectively. And obviously we need to encourage governments to expand these rights to cover all groups and all their peoples within their territory and there are times when sometimes one spotlights a situation that one wants to see improved, but as you know the Human Rights Commission and the UN approach to human rights is also to work with governments, to help them strengthen their institutions, to encourage them to apply the laws, to encourage them to modify their constitutions and introduce laws protecting individuals. And so our approach is not only one dimensional, we do have a whole range of methods of cooperating with governments.
Spokesman: We do have time just for two more questions, we will have to take the gentleman in the fifth row, and then the gentleman on the left here.
RAI International: What do you think about Italian soldiers taking part in different peacekeeping missions in the world ?
SG: I have worked with quite a lot of Italian soldiers and peacekeepers and, in fact, as the previous questioner mentioned, we have them in southern Lebanon, where they have done a very good job and you have a large contingent in Kosovo today, that are also doing a very credible job, and I hope that we will continue to have this cooperation from the Italian people and the Italian Government and their trained men and women will work with us in troubled spots around the world.
Agence France Presse: I would just like to know if any progress has been made in setting up this tribunal to bring those to trial in Cambodia believed responsible for genocide. And could you also maybe answer a question on the Cuba/US crisis about this Cuban boy [Elian Gonzalez] in Miami. If the United Nations has a role to play in this little crisis.
SG: On your first question saying that our negotiations or discussions with the Cambodian authorities concerning the establishment of the special tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge, those accused of crime in Cambodia, is still ongoing. We have not concluded our discussions. At the last round we made some progress but we still have some way to go, and I wish and hope the outstanding issue will be resolved so that the trial can go forward and the tribunal will be set up.
On your second question, I noted the legal process is taking its course and I think the US Attorney General’s office and the National Immigration Service have made their position clear, and I hope the law will take its course and the best solution will be found for the boy. I understand the father is also on his way to the United States. I personally believe it is not a UN matter. We are not engaged,. but I personally believe that the child belongs with his father. Thank you.
Press encounter at the Italian Senate, Rome, 5 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: " What is your opinion on the reform of the Security Council after the proposal of the United States?
SG: I think I have been quite clear on Security Council reform. I have always indicated that, in my view, the Security Council is in need of reform and that the current structure reflects the geopolitical realities of 1945; and that today, as we enter the new millennium, it is even more important that we bring it into line with the realities as they are today.
I know that there has been an argument between the Members States. Some believe that the Council should be kept small for it to be effective. Others believe the Council has to become more democratic and more representative to gain in greater legitimacy.
In my view it ought to be possible to expand the Council, to make it more democratic and at the same time keep it effective.
I am encouraged by the remarks by Ambassador Holbrooke, that it means the US is likely to change its attitude, which had been to limit the size of the Council. And if they do go beyond twenty, twenty-one, as their position currently is, I think it will facilitate transaction amongst Member States for reform in the Council .
Press encounter following lunch meeting with Minister Massimo D’Alema, Rome, 5 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: (in Italian): Did you speak on the issue of the reform of the Security Council of the United Nations?
PM D'Alema: (translated from Italian) No, we have spoken on the preparation of the Millennium Assembly and the of the problems which will be at the centre of that debate, in particular on the need to be free from the fear of famine and poverty and in general on the role of the International organizations in the globalization era. We have outlined the ideas and Italy’s contribution on the issue of debt and fight against poverty. We have underlined that it is very important that the G8 be on the same path of the major themes that are at the centre of the Millennium Assembly. It is necessary that the richest countries put themselves at the disposal of common objectives that the Assembly will indicate. We have greatly appreciated the lines that the Secretary-General has proposed and that he will also outline today, before the Senate Assembly and before the Public Opinion of our country.
Q: What about the situation in the Balkans?
PM D'Alema: (translated from Italian) Yes, we have discussed in general, also of a better coordination in order "to win peace" and to favour the ethnic co-existence in the Balkans.
SG: I had a very good discussion with the Prime Minister and as you heard from him we all look ahead to the Millenium and are very very encouraged by his (D’alema) own reaction to my report and the preparation underway and I count on him and other leaders to discuss that report very seriously when they will meet in New York and to take concrete decisions as we move towards the future. Make the UN stronger (inaudible) and to focus our efforts on helping people to put the human being at the centre of everything.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General how is the situation in the Horn of Africa and what can be done to prevent the risk of famine?
SG: I must say I am very concerned about the situation in the Horn of Africa, and that is why have appointed special envoy Catherine Bertini who lives here in Rome and is the Head of the World Food Programme to lead an interagency mission to the area, to make an on the ground assessment of what has happened on the ground and how we can accelerate aid to them, we have given some aid but we need to give them much much more than we are doing now and I hope that the international community will respond and respond generously and we are not going to stop we shouldn’t stop with the immediate relief but try and come up with a strategies for assuring food security in the Horn of Africa because this is not the first time we have gone through this and we should use our scientific data much more effectively to also predict and prevent and prepare better for some of these crisis.
Press encounter following meeting with Italian Foreign Minister, Lamberto Dini, Rome, 5 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Italian Foreign Minister Dini: The Secretary-General came to Rome for an important meeting of the ACC of the UN, here with all the Agencies and Bodies. This a yearly event which for the first time is taking place in Rome. We consider this significant because as you have known the three Agencies which deal with Agriculture are those more directly concerned and involved in the fight against poverty which is at the top of the list of the Secretary General’s statement for the Millennium and the challenges of the Millennium that he has set out in preparation of the meeting of the United Nations in early September this year. The Secretary General has set out an agenda for all the world, the subjects and the matters and the issues that should be addressed by the world, to make the world better in the new Millennium. As I said fight against poverty is one, than, control of armaments, globalization and peace and he has summarized all this and the removal of fears from want and fear one feels for his own security and other things. It was an important document that has just come out. But beyond this, the Secretary-General was very generous with his time, this morning being the first meeting held in Rome. We reviewed together all the points of crisis mainly that we have around the world, our continuous concern for Kosovo and that is there, on which we were all involved and the conflicts in Africa that retain our attention Italy is also involved in helping to try to find a settlement in the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the question of Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo where the Security Council had decided to embark on military presence there if certain conditions are met . These are some of the matters we discussed. We briefly discussed also the question of Middle East and which important development may take place in the coming months and also briefly we touched upon the reform of the United Nations the issues that are open and to make the system stronger. Italy is a strong supporter of the UN system in all its agencies and the Italian contribution I think is a significant in terms of contribution to the budget but also a contribution to the peacekeeping operation of the UN and also military effort has been large in relation to the size of our country confirming the commitment that Italy has in the fight against poverty fight against conflict and in the defense of human rights that are much felt in our country. Thank you. Here is the Secretary-General and than a few questions as he will have to rush off.
SG: I think the Minister has given you a very clear idea of the issues we discussed this morning and I want to thank the Minister and the Government of Italy and the people of Italy for the contribution they made to the United Nations and for making Rome one of the major headquarters for the United Nations. As the Minister said 3 Agencies that deal with food security are based here in Rome and Italy has made major contribution to the work of the United Nations. In addition let me comment to you the report for the Millennium Summit "We the peoples: the role of the United Nations in the twenty-first century. It’s a report that looks at the world we live in today and tries to assess what we should do as we move from an international era to a globalized world and the challenges that we face, as the Minister has said, from security issues to poverty, to the question of sustainable development and the way we are plundering our children's future to maintain our own unsustainable existence is something that we need to do something about, and I would hope that when people gather in the United Nations this year and I say people because we are starting in May with the Millennium Forum where NGOs from around the world will come to New York to discuss this report and this issue and than in August we will have president and speakers of all the Parliaments around the world will come at the end of August to discuss the same topic and in September the 06 of September today the Head of States will come to New York to pursue with the same topic and I hope that at the end we will have concrete decisions by the Heads of States and Government on what the United Nations should be doing in the early decades of this century and so I would hope we will have your support and that you will also read this document and keep it alive.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General , the Egyptian Foreign Minister yesterday said the world was far to slow to react to the famine in the Horn of Africa and the world was waiting to see pictures of skeleton on screens before it reacts. Do you agree to this, and how can you speed up efforts to resolve this famine?
SG: I think that when we say that the world is slow to react unfortunately in fact the Minister raised this issue with me – the question of prevention – he mentioned this situation in the Horn I think it is always preferable to try and react as quickly as we can and in fact today with the modern scientific methods one can predict weather patterns and the indications of where draught or heavy rain fall is going to be to able to predict measures to assist. There has been some assistance but it is not enough and I myself have made a major appeal and I am sending a team to the region next week led by Mrs. Catherine Bertini of the World Food Programme; again a Rome based agency taking the lead on this import issue and I hope that the (inaudible ) would be and important basis for the international community to react and I urge those with capacity to give and give generously so that we can save lives, I think we may be a bit late but its note too late to save lives if we respond and respond on.
FM Dini: On this issue that Italy is prepared to mount a programme for Ethiopia and Eritrea , a drought programme will be announced soon as part of its effort that the SG just mentioned.
SG: I would also want to add on this one that (inaudible) set up a UN agency to see what further measures one can take to assure food security in that whole area Horn of Africa. We have been able to do quite a lot in Western Africa and I think its now time that we focus a bit more on the Horn of Africa.
FM Dini: I would like to recall that on 26 and 27 of this month there will be the donors conference on Mozambique here in Rome and therefore that also goes on the one hand drought on the other hand inundation and floods that have devastated Mozambique.
Q: Do you think that Italy will have a chance to be part of the Security Council?
FM Dini: We hope that in any event in 2001 or 2 yes.!
SG: The Minister has indicated in that in the short medium term at least, they hope yes. In the longer term I think the member states are going to take up the issue of the security council reform . Italy ha played a very Key , important role in the whole security council reform debate and I think Its view are well known and I hope that the member States will sit together and come up with a proposal for reform of the Security Council. They will reform the council to reflect today’s reality taken into consideration the key countries and the member states who play a key role in the Organization.
Q: What do you think about Mrs. Robinson’s mission in Chechnya?
SG: I spoke to Mrs. Robinson at the airport in Geneva yesterday on may way to Rome and she gave me a full briefing on her discussion in Moscow. She was reasonably hopeful that her views have been taken on board by the Russian authorities and that they are considering her recommendations that the atrocities be investigated. As I indicated in Geneva I think that when such serious and persistent allegations are made it is important they are investigated I would hope that the Russian authorities and President Putin would agree with me that it is important to investigate this, clarify the issue because it is important for them and fit is important for them in their relations with rest of the world and their own international image.
Comments following meeting with Foreign Minister of Israel, David Levy, at Palais des Nations, Geneva, 4 April 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Let me first introduce Bernard Miyet, Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. I think some of you may recall him during his days in Geneva as the French Ambassador here. Let me say that I was pleased to receive the Foreign Minister of Israel, Mr. David Levy, at his request in Geneva this afternoon. The Minister reaffirmed his Government's decision to withdraw Israeli troops from southern Lebanon in accordance with Security Council resolution 425, fully and without conditions. The Minister informed me that the withdrawal will occur in "one go" by the end of July. The Minister assured me of his Government's intention to cooperate fully with the Untied Nations throughout the process, within the framework of the relevant Security Council resolutions. The Minister and I agreed that cooperation by all parties concerned would be needed in order to avoid any deterioration of the situation during the withdrawal. I welcome these assurances from the Foreign Minister and look forward to a formal notification from the Government of Israel on this matter.
Q: Does this mean that the United Nations will move into the zones that Israel withdraws from?
SG: The Security Council resolution gives us several tasks and that is one of them. The first is to confirm that there has been withdrawal to international borders, to help restore Lebanese sovereignty over the territory and to help ensure peace and security on the ground.
Q: Do you think that Mrs. Mary Robinson's charges of violations in Chechnya are outrageous? Do you support her call for an international commission of inquiry?
SG: I did make a statement on that this morning. It must be on the wires.
Q: What decisions have been taken at this meeting?
SG: I think from the statement I have read that it is clear that we have had a good exchange of views. But I will not say that I have made decisions. Obviously, as things develop, I will have to discuss this matter with the Council and we are doing our own contingency planning to determine if the force needs to be reinforced and how. We will take appropriate action when the time comes.
Q: What mechanisms do you plan to set up?
SG: I think if the process moves forward, there will be several people involved. Of course the head of my peacekeeping department and the troops on the ground and myself. I am always involved. There may be people on the ground doing it with certain delegated authority, but I never wash my hands off, delegation does not meet abdication.
I think I will answer your question, you seem very disappointed. I did say that Mrs. Robinson has one of the most difficult tasks in the system. I think her trip to the region was useful. I believe that the allegations have been so persistent and are so serious that investigation into them will be necessary and healthy. I would urge the Russian authorities to undertake that investigation. Thank you.
Comments following Security Council meeting on Iraq, 24 March 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good Afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As you know I have just briefed the Council on the Iraqi oil-for-food scheme, and they have before them the report I submitted on the 10th of March. I am sure at the end of this the President of the Council himself will want to say a few words to you. But I will be happy to answer any questions you may have for me.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you said that the UN was in danger of losing the propaganda war over the suffering of the Iraqi people. Do you think the kind of response that there has been so far to your criticisms of the level of holds in the need for oil spare parts--there has been a response now from the United States--.is that sufficient, is that going to turn the situation around?
SG: I don't think it's been sufficient so far, that's why I repeated in the latest report that there has been some movement. The US announced in the Council today that it's lifting holds on about 70 items, and we have also now got the letter indicating that the Secretariat can approve some of the requests for medicine and food items without recourse to the 661 Committee. I would hope that after the discussions today and the review of this report, Member States will reconsider their policy on holds, because it does have real negative impact on the programme. It's been said often enough that the Iraqi population is not the target. If we all believe in that, we should take every step to ensure that they do get the assistance they need. I think it is important that we, the United Nations, do what the Council demands of us and, in fact, it puts us in a much stronger position to press others to do what they have to do.
Q: How close are you now to announcing a new director for the humanitarian programme and how hopeful are you that Iraq might cooperate with the latest resolution that created UNMOVIC?
SG: I hope to name the new director within a week. I would hope that one of his first tasks will be to press the Iraqi authorities to work effectively with him to implement the programme and to distribute as promptly and effectively the items we have in stock.
Q: Do you agree with the characterization of Ambassador Lavrov that the continued US and British bombing of Iraq is doing nothing to help Iraq to agree to inspections?
SG: I think Ambassador Lavrov spoke for himself this morning. But I would say that the bombing has gone on for quite a while, and obviously the impact is debatable. This has been going on for several years now and I would not want to get into whether Iraq would cooperate more or better the moment the bombing stops. But I don=t think the bombing helps.
UNHQ - following presentation of Polio Eradication Champion Award to SG and Ted Turner by Rotary International, 17 March 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Let me thank the Rotary for this partnership and for teaming up with us in an attempt to eliminate a major disease in the world. I don't think that without that partnership we would be where we are today. I think it only underscores what you are trying to do and what the UN Foundation, with the UN, the World Health Organization and UNICEF are trying to do. I think when we come together and work in partnership and focus our efforts there is very little we cannot achieve together. So I want to thank you for this and I hope there will be other issues we will tackle once we have dealt with polio.
Press encounter with French President Jacques Chirac, Paris, 16 March 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Est-ce que vos points de vue sur la situation au sud Liban concordent ou se rejoignent?
President: Nous faisons la meme analyse. La France soutient les analyses du Secretaire general parce qu'elles sont toujours pertinentes.
Q: La situation au Kosovo?
SG: Evidemment, la situation au Kosovo est grave. Nous sommes en train de travailler avec toutes nos equipes sur place et la KFOR est en train de faire le maximum pour calmer la situation. Je crois qu'on va pouvoir le faire au moins a Mitrovica et j'espere qu'on n'aura pas d'explosions ailleurs.
Q: Faut-il reactiver une resolution des Nations Unies pour assurer le retour des refugies palestiniens chez eux?
SG: On verra cela plus tard.
Press Conference at UNESCO, Paris, 16 March 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming this morning. As Mr. Fodha indicated, I had very useful discussions already since I came to Paris. I will continue later on today and tonight leave for New York. It is always useful to come here and exchange views with the French leaders and France, which is also a permanent Member of the Security Council, plays a very important role in our work as you can imagine. Some of the topics we touched were Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Middle East peace process, Iraq and many other issues. It would be best that I listen to you and take your questions.
Agence de Presse Irakienne: Monsieur le Secrétaire général, à propos de l’Irak, récemment vous avez dit qu’il fallait appliquer des sanctions intelligentes. Est-ce que vous pouvez nous donner un peu plus de précisions sur cette idée ?
SG: I think when we talk of targeted sanctions or "smart" sanctions as some call it, what we have in mind is a set of sanctions that will be targeted against the individuals and the leaders whose behaviour the international community is seeking to change. And trying move away from the kind of comprehensive sanctions which are seen as a blunt instrument intended to hurt the civilian population who is not the intended target of the sanctions. The kind of sanctions I am talking about were applied for example in Haiti, where the leaders were not allowed to travel, they were not given visas to move around, their bank accounts were frozen, the individual families were not allowed to travel. It was focused on those whose behaviour one is trying to change and did not have the kind of impact on the local population that reports are indicating is happening in Iraq. That is what we have in mind. Obviously many Council Members have also been giving (thought) to this. It would be a change in the decision by the Council. But it is something that I hope will come.
Agence de Presse du Qatar : On voit actuellement qu’Israël veut se retirer du sud-Liban. C’est un redéploiement plutôt qu’un retrait parce qu’Israël envisage de garder une partie du Liban, à peu près 1 km comme zone de sécurité. Cela veut dire que le dossier du Liban du sud va revenir aux Nations Unies au Conseil de sécurité. Croyez-vous que cela va être la cause d’une nouvelle résolution qui remplace la 425. La nouvelle résolution peut-elle garder les caractéristiques de la 425, à savoir retrait inconditionnel du sud-Liban ? Quel serait à ce moment là le rôle de la FINUL ou la nouvelle composition de la force des Nations Unies au sud-Liban ?
SG: Evidemment, on n’a pas tous les détails. Le gouvernement israélien a indiqué qu’il est prêt à retirer sa force du sud Liban. Mais j’espère que ceci sera fait en accord avec la Syrie et ensuite avec le Liban. Ce serait idéal. Mais s’il n’y a pas d’accord avec la Syrie et qu’Israël décide de se retirer, les Nations Unies qui se trouvent sur le terrain avec une force de maintien de la paix en tireront les conséquences. Pour le moment, nous sommes en train de réfléchir et planifier. On ne sait pas quel genre de déploiement Israël fera ni quelle sera l’attitude dans la région. Donc, pour le moment, je ne vais pas rentrer dans les détails, ni même oser dire quelle sera la réaction du Conseil de sécurité. Le Conseil de sécurité sera obligé d’attendre une action précise pour pouvoir réagir. Donc pour le moment, tout ce que l’on a, c’est la résolution 425.
Koweit News Agency: For more than one year now, Iraq has refused all cooperation with your Organization concerning disarmament and other issues. What message today can you deliver to Iraq to ask them to comply with international resolutions and help alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people ? What hopes do you have for a resolution of the Koweiti prisoners of war issue and the role of Mr. Voronstov ?
SG: First of all, the Security Council only recently passed a new resolution on Iraq, resolution1284, creating a new disarmament body, UNMOVIC. We have just appointed Mr. Hans Blix as the Executive Director. He and we have also appointed a college of inspectors. Mr. Blix is now busy putting together his team of inspectors and will submit a work programme to the Security Council which will be approved by the Council. He will also be making efforts to get in touch with the Iraqi authorities and discuss the cooperation. I would hope and urge the Iraqi government to cooperate with Mr. Blix and move on with the disarmament programme so that the Council will have the possibility of suspending or eventually lifting the sanctions.
Mr. Voronstov will be meeting me in New York next week to discuss the question of the Koweiti missing and the Koweiti property. I would hope he would be able to bring a new energy to the effort and I would expect that he will be visiting the region and also have discussions with the Red Cross and some other agencies which have been working on this issue until now.
RFI: Monsieur le Secrétaire général, l’ONU fait face à une accusation de complicité présumée de génocide au Rwanda. Ce sont deux familles rwandaises de premier plan à l’époque en 1994 qui portent cette accusation avec un dossier très étayé. Ces familles, via des avocats, vous ont écrit en janvier 2000 en vous demandant en tant qu’institution, mais en vous écrivant à vous, que l’ONU reconnaisse sa responsabilité dans la mort de ces deux personnalités, le seul Ministre Tutsi du gouvernement de transition à l’époque, et le Président de la Cour constitutionnelle du Rwanda. Manifestement, l’ONU répond par une fin de non recevoir à ces familles qui souhaitent connaître toute la vérité. Donc je voudrais savoir quelle réponse vous faites à ces accusations. Est-ce que l’ONU peut ou est prête à reconnaître sa responsabilité dans ces deux cas précis ?
SG: First of all, I have not seen the dossier and I do not have the details you refer to. And if of course there is a legal case, it will take its course but let me say that we need to be careful not to get into a situation where each time there is a crisis and the United Nations or an agency (comes into it), sooner or later we turn on them and say that if things do not work out perfectly, I think we need to also understand that some of these operations are conducted in very difficult situations and we have to have a sense of reality and a sense of what is possible. What happened in Rwanda was tragic and I, like all of you, feel the pain and the tragedy that took place. But to turn around and blame the peace-keepers who wanted to help and in a way to absolve those who actually did the killing is sometimes a bit stretched. What I think is important is that the international community did not close its eyes to the atrocities that took place in Rwanda or in Bosnia for that matter. And set up two international tribunals where those who are responsible are being put on trial. And in fact sending the message that impunity will not be allowed to stand and those responsible for those murders are to be brought to justice. And that is what is going on. To stretch and go beyond that, and then try to attack those peace-keepers who were there to help, when this happened in a very difficult situation, is something that I think …… (inaudible).
Q: Vous avez eu des entretiens avec M. Richard, avec M. Védrine. Vos analyses et les analyses des responsables français convergent-elles à propos du futur de la situation au Liban sud. On dit qu’il y a 1,7 milliard de contrats présentés par l’Irak qui n’ont pas été approuvés par la Commission. Quelle est votre réaction là-dessus et que comptez-vous faire pour accélérer la procédure ?
SG: J’ai eu de très bonnes discussions avec M. Richard et avec M. Védrine également et je crois que sur la question du Moyen-Orient et du sud-Liban, il n’y a pas de différence entre nos approches. En ce qui concerne l’Irak, le rapport que je viens de sortir parle de ce que l’on appelle le « holding », c’est-à-dire les demandes qui ne sont pas approuvées par le Comité. J’ai demandé qu’il fasse le maximum pour débloquer toutes ces demandes pour nous permettre d’appliquer le programme en Irak aussi efficacement que possible. J’espère qu’ils vont collaborer avec moi.
African News Agency: On the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for Rwanda to survive, must the DRC die? Because the Rwandans have evoked the security situation as the reason for their continued presence in Congo. But is their security concern the responsibility of the United Nations or the DRC ? And on the continued violation of the Accords, why wasn’t there a biding United Nations resolution ? Why is the UN reluctant to accept the invasion of DRC by foreign forces as a violation of international law ? The UN has apologized recently for the genocide in Rwanda. How is it preparing to not have to apologize for the situation in DRC ?
SG: As you may know, the Security Council only recently passed a resolution authorizing a force of 5 500 troops to go in and support the observers in the attempt to help the countries in the region to implement the Lusaka agreement that they signed. I urge the governments in the region to respect the agreement they signed and implement it. And I think I can tell you that the Security Council and the international community are prepared to work with them in implementing these accords. But I would also have to indicate that Congo obviously is a very large country. The situation is very complex. And I don’t think it will be possible for a group of countries from our side to come in and impose peace. We will be able to work with the government and under the agreement all the troops in the country are supposed to withdraw from the frontlines. The foreign troops who have come in on one side or the other are supposed to withdraw as soon as the governmental troops which is also aligned against them … There is also a requirement that there should be a political dialogue and trying to resolve some of the differences politically. We are prepared to work with the government of Congo. In fact, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace-keeping operations just left Kinshasa about 3-4 days ago and has been visiting the region trying to ensure that the elements are ready in the region and the governments are prepared to work with us in implementing the Lusaka peace agreement. So, my short answer to your question is that the UN can help but the major responsibility falls on the countries involved and we are going to work very closely with them. …. (inaudible). President Kabila has raised his mind, and in fact did raise it when he was in New York, that, in his judgement, the Security Council should have condemned what he considers aggression by Uganda and Rwanda against his country. He believes that this is the source of his problem. But there is an agreement signed by all of them that they want to withdraw and we want to help them do that.
Q: Le processus au Sahara occidental est bloqué actuellement. Il butte toujours sur l’identification des électeurs. Que compte faire l’ONU pour débloquer ce problème et le référendum aura-t-il lieu à la date prévue ?
SG: Je ne crois pas que le référendum puisse être organisé comme prévu. Parce qu’il y a un retard important. On a aujourd’hui 130.000 appels. Pour trancher et traiter tous ces appels, il nous faudrait plusieurs années. J’ai demandé à M. Baker, mon Envoyé personnel, de réunir toutes les parties concernées et de chercher avec elles une solution pour sortir de cette impasse. J’espère que d’ici fin mai, il aura eu l’occasion d’organiser cette réunion.
AITV: Vous avez parlé de la décision du Conseil de sécurité d’autoriser le déploiement de Casques bleus. Qu’en est-il en RDC ? A-t-on un calendrier précis ?
SG: On n’a pas encore de calendrier précis, car nous sommes en contact avec les Etats membres qui pourront nous fournir des troupes. On a eu certaines contributions mais nous sommes en négociation avec les autres. On tient à déployer toutes ces troupes ensemble pour arriver en force. Je ne suis pas en mesure aujourd’hui de vous donner un calendrier, mais j’espère que toute la force sera déployée d’ici à fin juin.
EFE: Have you meant to say that the idea of a referendum in Western Sahara has been completly given up ?
SG: No, he asked if we have a date and if we can do the referendum with the original deadline. I have indicated that we have completed our identification process. We identified roughly 80.000 people but we have 130.000 appeals that we will have to review and that could take us several years. In the meantime, we are going ahead with our process. I also asked Mr. Baker to bring the parties to the table and to explore with them if there are other approaches we can take to resolve the issue and accelerate a solution.
AFP: Quelle est votre analyse de la situation au Kosovo ? Avez-vous l’impression qu’il y a une aggravation de la situation qui pourrait déboucher sur des violences accrues ce printemps et est-ce que, comme plusieurs responsables américains et occidentaux, vous avez l’impression que la responsabilité de cette aggravation repose sur les Albanais ?
SG: I am also very concerned and worried about the developments in Kosovo. Kfor and UNMIK are doing their best to try and bring the situation under control and there is no doubt that there have been provocations and provocative attempts particularly … into Southern Serbia and in the (Presovo) and from the observations of the commanders on the ground. This (litigation) falls squarely on the Albanian side or either former elements of the UCK or a new group that has emerged. But it is clear that it is the Albanians who are now doing the most of this provocation. The force is going to do everything it can to contain the situation and it is determined to calm the situation to Mitrovica and I hope we will not have confrontations in other parts of the country. They need the support of all the Member States and I hope the Member States will also be forthcoming if they need additional resources in term of police, military and financial support.
Ennahar / UPI: Les ministres des affaires étrangères arabes se sont réunis et ont appuyé une demande libanaise pour constituer un tribunal pénal international pour juger les responsables du massacre de Cana en 1996. Etes-vous favorable ou non à la constitution de ce tribunal pénal international ?
SG: La demande d’établir un tribunal pénal international n’a pas encore été posée au Conseil de sécurité. Le Conseil de sécurité doit agir et doit établir ce tribunal comme on l’a fait pour le Rwanda et la Bosnie. Je dois attendre la réaction du Conseil avant de pouvoir répondre.
Encounter following meeting with French Minister of Defence, Alain Richard, Paris, 15 March 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I thanked the Minister for the support of France to all UN peacekeeping operations. We discussed Africa and the situation in Kosovo.
Q: What would happen to UNIFIL if Israel withdrew from Lebanon?
SG: We follow the situation very closely. I hope that the withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon will happen in a context of agreement between Israel, Syria and Lebanon. But there is no agreement. We are getting ready. We have a presence on the ground and we are considering several scenarios.
Q: What do you think about the criticism addressed to the UN on the situation in Kosovo?
SG: It is easy to criticize but Bernard Kouchner and his team on the ground manage a difficult situation. Furthermore, they do not have resources, they have no means but we will go on.
Q: Does the UN intend to use force to bring Iraq to apply [Security Council ]resolution 1284 [on Iraq]?
SG: The UN has not used force against Iraq. Member States did.
Questions and Answer Session following Commonwealth Lecture, London, 14 March 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Well ladies and gentlemen. The Secretary-General has kindly agreed to take some questions so may I invite you to put your questions to him. May I suggest that in putting your questions, and they should really be questions rather than comments, you should please say who you are and if possible whom you represent, from which group you have come.
May I now invite questions:
Q: Good evening Secretary-General. Thank you. Titus Alexander. Charter 99. Charter for global democracy. Many of the issues facing Africa are also bound up with its relationship with the rest of the world and issues of global governance and issues of representation. For example in the IMF, Africa has just 2 per cent of the votes and decision making, the West is represented with 57 per cent of the votes. And issues to do with the relationships between the institutions of global governance, the World Trade Organization and them working together. My question to you is: do you see the millennium summit and in the future decade these organizations of global governance becoming more equal, more democratic and more capable of meeting the problems on an equitable basis the world on an equitable basis. Thank you.
SG: There are lots of discussions going on about the question of democratic representation in these organizations, in fact the World Bank and the IMF have been discussing this for about 2 years now how they can change or reformat their structure to give a greater voice to some of the developing countries . You refer to WTO and here we have been working a lot with the developing countries. UNCTAD in fact with Mike Moore of WTO to help prepare them for the new round of negotiations and also to train them on how they can implement the new agreement to their greater advantage. I think we all noticed that at the last meeting in Seattle which never really took off, the developing countries were much better prepared this time and united in what they wanted from the conference and they all hoped that this round would be a truly developing round and that the world trading system would become freer and fairer and it would give access to the developing countries in fact one of the recommendations that we’ve been stressing and I’ve been pushing is that the bigger trading nations should lift all tariffs on goods coming from the 48 least developed countries and I think this is gaining ground and I hope this will happen. The other institution which I hope will be reformed in the current decade is the Security Council itself which has also been under discussion for quite some time and I think there is going to be some movement on this in the next year or so. So the issue is on the table. The institutions themselves are looking at it and the countries themselves that feel disadvantaged are pressing so we will see some improvements in that. But of course it’s not just the changes and reforms but the Governments must take advantage of it. They must go to these meetings prepared and determined to speak for themselves and defend their positions. Nobody else is going to do it for them. And this is why we are trying to strengthen institutions, work with them and prepare them for these (inaudible) so that END OF TAPE Thank you
Q: Jane Foster from the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Most of the Commonwealth population is young. It’s under 30. In Latin America they call such, a demographic gift. I am asking whether you think that perhaps its time for development paradigms and theories perhaps to be guided more by demography when we look at the impact of for example HIV/AIDS in Sub Saharan Africa. It’s erosion of capacity which means there are already child-head households and child subsistence farmers. But in order to really fully harness the capacity of Africa, that young people, young men and women, need to be at the heart and the main stream of development, and that the exchange of intergenerational knowledge and skills need to be at the forefront. Thank you.
SG: I think that the statistics you gave about Latin America apply to the developing world as a whole. Those between the ages of 15 and 24 is growing and is a larger bulk(?). About four months ago I gave a lecture to the World Bank and I titled it "Creating a billion jobs". And you are quite right. When you have that many young people you have to find a way of keeping them occupied and productive. They either have to be in school or you have to create jobs for them which would mean that quite a lot of these countries will have to look at strategies that will create jobs or give educational opportunities for these youngsters to continue. I also indicated that the information technology and the information revolution can give access to knowledge to nations far away through electronic means and we can not only educate but also share concrete information on development, on agriculture, on health. But the indications are clear: if we do not create jobs and find ways of keeping them in school and training them we are going to have major major crisis on our hands and the reference you made to Africa where you have young people heading households, also indicates that we need to give them skills and training. Of course it’s a tough act (?) if they have to earn a living, look after their young sisters and brothers to go to school at the same time, but we need to find strategies to give them the tools they need as they move into the adult world.
Q: I’m David Sunderland . I’m from the international department of the Charities Aid Foundation. Secretary-General, in the United Kingdom we are in the middle of a quite radical charity tax review which will have profound effects both for giving from individual trust and corporate donors to charity and also help the charities themselves. CAF has offices in South Africa and also Ghana where there are similar changes. In South Africa for example, the Government is moving towards providing a supportive environment for charities and in Ghana a consortium of charities (the non-profit sector) is working with Government. In fact CAF is working with a number of Commonwealth institutions towards the next CHOGM in Sydney for a global campaign for this and I have two questions: the first one, is this relevant in Africa? You mentioned the very basic problems of conflict and of health care and what’s the UN’s position with regard to such a campaign.
SG: I think it depends on what the charitable institutions do but they can be very effective. They can be effective in the first place by empowering civil society and giving NGOs and civil society the support and the confidence to tackle some of the issues that they deal with and also facilitate the process of democratization.. They can also get involved in some of the development work and education and empowerment of women and I think I have seen how some NGOs have made a difference in third world countries and indeed if the laws are modified to make it easier and encourage people to give and give to charity I hope , I believe it will be quite beneficial. There will be more resources available but it has to be very carefully targeted to have the greatest impact.
Q: (Bill Morris, Transport and General Workers Union) Thank you. Secretary-General I think that the world was very moved by your recent report on the situation in Iraq. Could I ask what advice is being given to Governments, principal Governments responsible for the current situation in terms of the boycott and indeed the sanctions.
SG: I think most Governments are agreed that everything should be done to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people. We’ve all read the reports from UNICEF and also noticed the resignation of the 2 UN directors, and recently the Council introduced a new resolution, 1284 that is designed not only to press ahead with the disarmament of Iraq, but equally importantly to improve the oil for food scheme. It places no limits on the amount of oil Iraq can export thus increasing the money available for food, medicine and other supplies, and the list of restricted items has also been reduced so Iraq can import much more but there are problems that we need to face. We need to improve the distribution system. The Iraqi Government has to work with us to ensure that the distribution system works. Governments that have acquired the habit of putting items on h old, will also have to reconsider their own approach. For example we take the oil industry: to tell the Iraqi Government there is no ceiling on oil and you can sell as much oil as you wish, but then refusing the spare parts that would be necessary for them to be able to pump the oil, is an empty entitlement. So we would need to look at the holds for example on the spare parts to make sure that they are able to refurbish the oil industry which is in a terrible state of disrepair. And in fact they have been threatening that if they do not get the spare parts they may have to stop pumping. And I think the Governments involved are looking at this. I hope the Iraqi Government, and I urge them to cooperate with Mr. Blix who is an outstanding leader and used to head the atomic agency and had worked with Iraq before they know him he is very professional they should work with him on the disarmament front so that they can see light at the end of the tunnel. And in fact the Council indicated in this latest report that they should show progress which is a softening of the earlier position where they had to be totally disarmed. They should show progress in order for the sanctions to be suspended and I hope they will work with Blix. But on the humanitarian side I must say that quite a lot of the Member States share the concern you have expressed here and we are going to continue to do whatever we can to improve their lot and make the scheme much more effective and efficient. But it will take some time for the new improved scheme to have effect on the ground because there is a lead time of a couple of months.
Q: Sheila Fladder (Shreela Flaver?) Secretary-General. You used a word which I was hoping to h ear and that is empowerment of women. Ten years ago I was a delegate to the Lome joint assembly for three years. AT that time the programmes which were being put together through the European Union were very much targeted at infrastructure projects. They were not targeted at improving the situation of people and we moved from that to men and boys and then gradually we got tiny little components about women. I don’t know how you feel but it is my belief that if aid was targeted very directly to improving the lot of the women in Africa who do so much of the work I think it would improve the entire community and (applause)
Chief Anaoyoku: Thank you, thank you, Baroness Fladder
Sheila Fladder: And the environment
SG: No I agree entirely with you and I think this is the strategy of most of the UN agencies and Governments are also buying into it including the World Bank. We are focusing on women, we are focusing on education of women, we are focusing on empowering women by giving them access and encouraging access to credit. And it has been demonstrated that with a bit of advice and access to finances, and a bit of help on management, women do very well in business and in fact they are much more reliable when it comes to repayment of loans (laughter and applause). And I would also say that I have maintained that any society that deprives itself of the talent and creativity of these women who, after all, are 50 per cent of the population, is a loser and is really not going to make it unless they recognize that that talent has to be tapped. I know sometimes when you (inaudible) I was at the ECA in Addis for a conference and a head of State was asked how many women he had in his cabinet. His answer was extremely interesting. He said: " well I respect women, but when it comes to appointing them members of the cabinet, I want them to be extremely qualified, I want the best, and the most competent to joint the cabinet, and so I don’t have many women." (laughter) And I was sitting on the podium next to him. I said: "well the women I know tell me that they deserve the right to be given the opportunity to be as mediocre as the men in high positions." (Laughter and applause)
Q: Secretary-General. I’m Neil Seal. I have been engaged for some years in encouraging students from the Commonwealth and beyond to come to one of these inhabited ruins called, our university, the university of Cambridge, and consequently, I was hugely uplifted by what I thought was a solution to the many problems which you so movingly describe. And you mentioned information technology, distance learning, boardless universities, vocational skills, but the question I would put to you, and it is a question where I think we are beginning to see a positive answer is that whether you are attempting sustainable development, vocational skills, understanding about AIDS which is going to be prevention rather than expensive cures, whether it is understanding democratic values, the old educational methods which Cambridge, Oxford represent and which have really begun to break at their seams as far as the developing world are probably not appropriate for the century and for Africa’s future and that here many of the points that you mention actually converge provided we can educate, inform, whether it is someone in car mechanics or in agricultural development through these new technologies and perhaps this is where with your help in the United Nations and the AIDS agency we can make the greatest impact soonest rather than looking, of course women are hugely important, of course charity aid is tremendously important. But these are all bitty. The main drive is educating more people in precisely in the points that you were doing, so should we not have a UN-led at least a courage thrust here the problem being that advertizing is what drives this information technology and you are not going to have many customers in Africa so can we have some aid for this particular initiative because I think that may be one of the keys for the future which you so encouragingly describe.
SG: No I agree with what you’ve said and in fact that’s one of the areas that Jim Wolfensohn and I have been talking about. The World Bank is putting some money into that area and is setting up itself a distant learning system that will get information out on development and agriculture and water to the countries around the world. Last year, last October, I opened the conference in Geneva, the ITU conference with lots of the big name IT companies and one of the challenges we gave them is to try to work with the ITU and the UN system to give access to the developing countries of the new technologies that are coming up and in a discussion with Bill Gates we discussed of course the question of to be able to get it to as many people as possible. You need to have the systems in place, but of course with the development of the V satellite one should be able to reach as many people as possible. With a dish you can be able to reach any village community and this is something that we are following up and the UNDP, our development wing, is working with quite a lot of the Governments and encouraging some of the technology companies to work with us and we are encouraging universities to also look at this and in fact when I go back to New York on the 24th April I am meeting four foundations which are joining together to work on education in Africa and programming. But as I alluded in my talk need to get them in school or create jobs which goes back to y our comment that they should be given skills. They should be able to go out and make a contribution to the economy and not believe that they have gone to Cambridge or Oxford and they have got a certificate which absolves them from getting their hands dirty (laughter) and that when they go back home the society owes them a living and so I agree with what you have said and that is some of the things we are looking at. Thank you very much.
Encounter with Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, UK, in London, 14 March 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Foreign Secretary: Good Morning. I have just had a very full discussion with my good friend, Kofi Annan. I am delighted to welcome him to London again. He and I are good friends and Britain and the UN Secretariat are good partners.
We have had a full discussion, including issues such as Cyprus, the Middle East peace process, the reform of the Security Council, but we majored in our discussion on Kosovo, Iraq and also on Africa, on which Kofi will say a few words. Before he does, I would like to report on Kosovo and make a comment on Iraq. Kofi and I have reviewed the progress in Kosovo since the international force and the UN mission liberated the province. We have agreed that there has been much progress. Bernard Kouchner and his UN mission, and General Reinhart and the men and women of KFOR have worked around the clock to restore normality throughout Kosovo and to bring security and stability to its communities. As a result of their effort, over this past winter 600,000 people have been fed by the World Food Programme, 400,000 have been provided with temporary shelter, and 650,000 have been provided with blankets. We have managed to secure a successful passage through the winter for the very large number of refugees who returned spontaneously last autumn. 1,000 schools have been re-opened and 90% of the children of Kosovo have been able to get an education, something that they were never able to secure during 10 years of direct rule from Belgrade.
The Kosovo Liberation Army has been demilitarised. 8,000 weapons were voluntarily handed in, and 4,000 weapons have been confiscated. A new joint administration will harness the energy of Kosovars of both communities in rebuilding Kosovo’s institutions under UN guidance and the parallel structures have been dissolved. And now a home grown Kosovo Police Force is beginning to deploy on the streets of Kosovo, alongside the UN Police. Ordinary people are beginning to see the benefits in falling crime rates.
But of course much remains to be done and this should not surprise anyone. Rebuilding Kosovo after Milosevic’s ravages will take time. Today we both put the extremists on both sides on notice. We will not allow them to disrupt the process of restoring stability and bringing reconciliation. The UN mission and KFOR will have our total support in action taken against forces seeking to disrupt this process.
Justice is a crucial part of the international strategy. The UN have now established a legal code which has been accepted by the Kosovars. Bernard Kouchner has passed a regulation to provide for international judges and prosecutors to support the work of those appointed locally. We are awaiting news now from UNMIG on the numbers of international judges and prosecutors they need. But today I want to say that Britain is ready to respond. The Foreign Office has discussed with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Lord Chancellor’s Department how we can assist. I understand that we have now received 40 expressions of interest from lawyers who wish to work in Kosovo. I would expect shortly to see at least a dozen, perhaps more, of the British legal profession working to help bring justice to Kosovo. The first should arrive before the end of next month.
This follows the increase I announced earlier this month for an extra 60 British policemen on the streets of Kosovo and an increase in the British police trainers at the OSCE training school for local police. They will be joining and doubling the 60 RUC officers already working on the ground in Kosovo.
Britain provides more personnel to UNMIK than most other countries. Today I can announce we are strengthening still further that contribution. The British government has agreed to second a new Head of the UNMIK Customs Service and a new Deputy Head of the Trade and Industry Section in the Joint Interim Administration. This further commitment demonstrates our resolve to help Kosovo towards efficient government and a reformed economy.
Before leaving the Balkans, can I just add a word about my visit yesterday to Croatia where I witnessed a Zagreb Spring, a new government committed to bringing democracy and economic reform for its people and honouring its obligations to the world community on refugee return and the surrender of war criminals. The world and Europe will respond to that by opening the doors for Croatia for integration towards the European Union and towards NATO. We are willing to offer the same partnership to Serbia when it also accepts the need for the same change in regime.
Finally, on Iraq we have discussed much common concerns today about the humanitarian situation under Saddam. We discussed the reports Kofi will be submitting to the Security Council this week on implementation of the resolution drafted and sponsored by Britain. That resolution was a British initiative which offers a large and more comprehensive humanitarian programme. It offers the prize of total sanctions suspension if Iraq cooperates on disarmament. I share the Secretary General’s concern about the availability and distribution of medicines. Under the new resolution the Secretariat will have the responsibility for approving these and other goods and I hope that will speed up the process. But the government of Iraq has to do its part. Despite the efforts of the UN, the Iraqi government has yet to accept its responsibility for ordering enough medicines and making sure they are distributed to those who need medicine. It is for the Iraqi government to put that right. What stands in the way of proper distribution of medicines and availability to the people of Iraq is Saddam’s own unwillingness to do so.
SG: In addition to what you have heard from the Minister, we did discuss several African issues, Sierra Leone where the UN is deploying a force of 11,000, and we believe that the UN has made a major commitment in Sierra Leone and that if we are to succeed we need the cooperation of those who signed the Lome Agreement, particularly the RUF and their leader, Foday Sankoh. We did discuss the UN plans to deploy 5,000 plus men and women to the Democratic Republic of Congo where it is intended to help the governments who signed the Lusaka Agreement, implement that agreement and move on to a political settlement in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And here once again we will need the cooperation and the support of the governments involved in implementing
the agreement they signed in Lusaka. We discussed Ethiopia and Eritrea and the negotiations going on there, the Western Sahara and the plans for Mr Baker, my Special Envoy, to bring the parties together around the table to see what can be done to accelerate the search for a solution to the Western Sahara crisis.
I also would want to thank the British government for the support they have given to the crisis in Mozambique and the southern African region, from Mozambique to Madagascar. We all know what happened, it was a real tragedy, but I think we should not only focus on the emergency phase, we should begin to think of reconstruction, we should begin to think of replanting, we should begin to see how we help the Mozambican government and other governments involved with reconstruction because that is absolutely essential for a country that had turned the corner and was beginning to do extremely well. Ironically it was considered one of the fastest growing economies on the continent with 10% growth and I hope we can get back to that situation.
And finally I would want to thank the British government for its leadership on African issues in the Council and the general support it has given to the continent.
Q: Yesterday in Pristina there was published a report by Amnesty International which accuses KFOR and also army police forces of using excessive force during the violence in Mitrovica. Do you have any comments?
FS: I have not seen that report and will be happy to study it with care, but I would totally reject any idea that the KFOR forces have used unreasonable violence, and indeed anybody who has seen on television what happened in the course of Mitrovica will appreciate that the violence was directed at KFOR, was not initiated by KFOR and that I have not seen any evidence that KFOR itself carried out unreasonable violence. In fairness to the men and women of KFOR I think it has to be understood that they face a very difficult situation in Mitrovica which is not of their making. There are people on both sides who have been evicted from their homes. It is the job of KFOR, as the agent of the international community, to make sure those people have the chance to go back to their homes and it would be much better if those who are resisting that with violence did not do so.
Q: On the UN resolution 1284 on Iraq, was there agreement between the two sides on the way forward on implementing it and particularly on the issue of dismantling weapons of mass destruction as well as the humanitarian side regarding the Kuwaiti POWs and the other issues related to that?
FS: We both welcomed the fact that we now have a head of the Monitoring Commission in Dr Hans Blix and we very much welcomed the fact that we have secured agreement. I also am particularly pleased that we have now a consensus in the Security Council on implementation of the resolution. Even those countries who did not feel able to support the resolution are strongly supporting its implementation as the way forward. But I fear it is not within the hands of Kofi and I to deliver implementation, we do need the cooperation of the government of Iraq.
SG: And I hope the government of Iraq will cooperate with Mr Blix who is a very good man, whom they know because Mr Blix worked with them when he was head of the Atomic Agency. On the question of the Kuwaiti missing in action and property, you may know that I have recently named Mr. Vorontsov, the former Russian Ambassador to New York and Washington, as my envoy to work with the parties on this issue. And I would hope on the inspection that Mr Blix would be able to engage the Iraqi authorities as soon as possible.
Q: Minister and Mr Annan, on the peace process things are not moving as we all want them to be, especially on the Syrian-Lebanese-Israeli track. I wonder if you can share with us any ideas you discussed today that might give us any hope of resuming these talks?
SG: I think on the peace process we were all very hopeful there for a while until it hit a snag and I hope that it is not irretrievable because my own assessment is that the parties are reasonably close and if they were to come together again in the spirit of compromise and give and take, that they can find a solution and move forward. And I think it would be very important that we do make progress on the Syrian-Israeli track, which would also have direct impact on the Lebanese track and therefore have a comprehensive settlement in the region, and of course I am encouraged that the contacts between the Syrians and the Palestinians have resumed so that they would also move forward on that track. I do not know exactly when the parties are going to come back together, that is on the Syrian-Israeli track, but I hope we do not have long to wait.
Q: Mr Annan, the news reports suggested that the report that you are to give to the UN Security Council shows concerns about the impact of sanctions on the people of Iraq and it does not seem to be a matter of managing the sanctions but the problem is the sanctions themselves, and it seems that this message was reinforced by Mr Hans Von Sponeck. Is there anything that the UN can do to alleviate more the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
SG: I think that the Minister in a way referred to it, Robin referred to it in his earlier statement, dealing with the improvements that 1284 has brought about. The impact of 1284 will be felt in Iraq sooner I hope rather than later. It lifts the ceiling on oil sales which means that Iraq can generate as much revenue as necessary to be able to purchase food and medicine. It also requires that the programme be run much more efficiently and much more effectively and I would also hope that some of the items on hold will be reviewed so that we can move ahead for example with the purchase of spare parts and render the oil industry also equally efficient. But I think that the full implementation of 1284 will help the situation. This does not mean that I do not accept that to some extent, I mean sanctions has hurt the Iraqi population and I think the Council itself has been quite keen to do something to help the Iraqi people and that was the basic reason for the oil for food scheme and the attempts to improve it. And I would also be quite honest in telling you that there has been lots of discussion in the UN generally that as we move into the future we should be looking at smarter sanctions that will focus on the individuals whose behaviour we want to target rather than a blunt instrument that may affect the entire population. But I can assure you we are doing everything to improve the lot of the Iraqi people.
FS: And 1284 of course does hold out the prospect of the total suspension of sanctions. We need some cooperation from Iraq to achieve that, but that is there in the resolution.
Q: How would you specify the British position on the talks on Cyprus now? By the way, part of your answer in the House the other day gave the impression of a linkage between Cyprus’ accession to the European Union and the future entry of Turkey, could you clarify on that?
FS: I am glad you asked the question because I am very happy to squash any such mischief. The position of the British government has been clear and has been consistent since we took office. Indeed on this we have been more supportive of Cyprus than the policy adopted by our Conservative predecessors. Our position has always been that it would be better for Cyprus and it would be better for Europe if Cyprus could join as one single unified state. That is why we strongly support the UN process to try and resolve the division of the island. But, at the same time I have consistently said that Cyprus is entitled for its membership to be considered on its own right and on its own merits,
which are strong. And at Helsinki it was Britain that was successful in getting the other countries to agree to a clear statement that the unification of Cyprus is not a precondition of its membership of the European Union. That is our position. That is what we stand by. There is no Turkish veto. Thank you for asking the question.
Q: Mr Cook, as you know, there is insistence from the world capitals to accept the United Nations resolution, but at the same time we are seeing the government of Iraq refusing to cooperate while the people of Iraq are paying the price. Is there a way the world community or international capitals will look at it to address this problem if this new United Nations resolution doesn’t work?
FS: I think it is a bit early to say that the resolution has not worked and every single member of the Security Council is now trying to make it work. I also do think it is important to recognise that Saddam is not going to help us make it work if we start to contemplate what we might do in backing down if he does not help to make it work. There is absolutely nothing to stand in his way of carrying through the compliance with the resolution. It for the first time offers him the suspension of sanctions in return for progress on tasks, not the completion of tasks but only progress on tasks. If he is serious about not acquiring weapons of mass destruction, there is no reason at all why he should not help us find that progress.
Q: On Western Sahara you have talked about a way to accelerate a solution. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
SG: Yes, in my last report to the Security Council I shared with the members of the Council all the difficulties that we are having in implementing the agreement plan of 1991 and suggested to the Council that in the light of these difficulties I intended to ask my Special Envoy, Mr James Baker, to bring the parties to the table and explore with them other ways of implementing or finding a solution to the conflict. I expect that meeting to take place between now and the end of May, I dont know the location yet, and I would hope that at the end of those discussions we will have some ideas as to how the long standing conflict can be resolved.
Media Breakfast, hosted by the Royal Commonwealth Society, London, 13 March 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Mr. Larp: This is Peter Larp, I’m the Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, and welcome to the Commonwealth Society this morning. It is a unique honour and privilege to welcome Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. He is in the United Kingdom to deliver the annual Commonwealth lecture, which will be held tomorrow evening at the Commonwealth Institute, and the subject is "Africa – Maintaining the Momentum", and we are extremely delighted he will also be attending the Commonwealth Today service at Westminster Abbey this afternoon. May I also welcome Mr Shashi Tharoor, Director of Communications & Special Projects, Mr Lamin Sise and Miss Annika Savill from UN Headquarters, and Tina Micklethwait and Ahmad Fawzi from UNIC in London. Now, I’m not going to make a long introduction because time is short and the important thing is that you hear from the Secretary-General and have time for questions. May I point out though, that this is on the record this morning. So it is my pleasure again to introduce the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan.
SG: You don’t mind if I sit, I hope. I just wanted to first of all thank you all for coming this morning and to say how happy I am to be here with you. As you’ve heard this morning, I’m basically here to give the Commonwealth Lecture, and have some discussions with the Prime Minister on some of the issues confronting us today. But I thought this morning what I will do is to discuss with you some of the crises and the issues confronting us in Africa and give you also an indication of some of the tight spots if I can put it that way. I think Africa is today consumed by so many conflicts, from the Sudan to Somalia, to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Angola, and we are so consumed by these conflicts that, if you talk about Africa today, you mention the Continent, people tend to see a continent in crisis, and don’t go beyond that to understand that there are countries that may be doing relatively well. We have, as the UN, mounted a major operation in Sierra Leone, where we are trying to help implement the Lome Agreement, with some difficulties because of the behaviour of the Ariwel and for the (inaudible). We are building up our forces and we hope to be up to full strength by end of, let’s say by April, May, up to 11,000 troops. We have put in a stronger team, a good commander and a good special representative, and we are working very closely with the Government in the region, who had worked with Ecomog and have been supportive in our operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone. I would hope that once we are fully deployed, and with the help of the leaders in the region, we will be able to bring the situation under control. There has been some improvement – we have deployed to areas that Ecomog forces have never deployed to, and I think once the, all the troops arrive, you will see us in locations which have not been covered until now. But our big challenge and our big problem, is really in the Great Lakes region, mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the council has authorised a 5,000-odd-man force to help the parties implement their cease-fire agreement that they signed in Lusaka. They signed the agreement but the cease-fire has really never been observed – I mean, we’ve had quite a few violations of the cease-fire. My Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations is in Kinshasa and in the region, talking to the parties to ensure that they are committed, they will work with us. It’s such a tricky operation that even though the mandate has been approved, Member States are very, very cautious and we don’t, want us to proceed cautiously because it’s a huge country, there’s lots of suspicion amongst their parties, and of course the Congolese are also suspicious of the international community. When they came to the, when the her sub-states came to the Security Council in the month of April, Kabila and his team were still talking about what happened in 1960 when Lumumba was killed, and wondering if something like that might happen to him. I mention this to give you an idea of the suspicions and the environment in which we are operating. We have deployed about 90 military observers to the capitals and to the headquarters of all the protagonists, and of course the next phase will be to deploy the 500 observers with security and logistical support. That’s, we consider as that as phase two. If that were to go well, we can then move on to phase three where full UN peacekeeping force, I don’t want to give a figure, but much larger force, will be deployed. And of course we, when we often focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo, but we also have Congo-Brazzaville, which has a major political crisis and the country’s torn apart. The UN is not directly involved in the negotiations – it’s President Bonga of Gabon and his team that is taking the lead on it, and if I may say a word about Eritrea, Ethiopia; and the Eritrea/Ethiopia is really particularly distressing because the two leaders have been good friends, they have been comrade-in-arms, and they decided to separate, after the referendum Eritrea became independent, and President Afowoke and Prime Minister Mellis worked fairly well together until they had this border clash. Thousands have been killed but of course it’s off, away from the cameras and we don’t seem to be focusing on that. There’s intense efforts being made to get the parties to agree to a settlement. They accepted OAU mediation; they accepted an OAU framework and then a technical document was drawn up indicating how the framework agreement will be implemented. Eritrea accepted it but Ethiopia had quite a few questions, and that has taken quite a few months – by us I mean the OAU with the support of the Americans and ourselves – to try and sort out. We are not there yet but at least for the, except for a recent skirmish, the war has, I mean we haven’t had a hot war for about two, three months, but it doesn’t mean that it cannot happen because they are ranged at the border, and the terrible thing about this war is almost a, World War I type war, and ranged against each other in the trenches and they come in waves, and this is why so many people got killed. One word about Western Sahara and Angola, and then I will – in Western Sahara, we have tried to implement the settlement plan which was agreed to in 1991. It required us to identify all those people who can vote in the referendum, and that process has been quite cumbersome. I mean, we have today gone through all the numbers – that is those who were part of the 1974 census. That in itself creates a problem when you base the referendum on a 1974 census and lots of other things have happened, but you have to identify those qualify, and we did that but of course we’ve now come up with the mainly Moroccan side, 130,000 appeals, and if you go through the appeals, given the differences between the parties, it almost amounts to a second identification, and we had hoped to hold the referendum this year. With the divisions between the parties as to the implementation of the plan, understanding of what they have signed, and understanding of the agreements they had reached with Baker, we may be on this ‘til 2003, 2004. So what I have done is I have gone to the Security Council with a report explaining the difficulties we’ve had, and suggested that I should bring the parties back to the table under the mediation of James Baker, the former Secretary of State, for us to explore if there could be other ways of solving the problem rather than sticking firmly to the plan as, as it is, and I only collate two years ago, three years ago, when I brought in Baker, that is what I had asked him to do, to discuss with the parties, to see if the agreement as it stood could be implemented as is, and if not, what changes they were prepared to accept to make it implementable and when we can move ahead with those changes, and both sides said no, we accept the plan, we are for referendum, let’s go ahead. And we are still here, three years later, having made very little progress. I think Angola, if I may, is a bit in the news because of the report that the Ambassador Fowler of Canada has, is going to issue to the council – I know it is leaked to the press by, the report will come out on Wednesday and the council will discuss it. The Security Council decided, after some time, to tighten the sanctions on Angola because they felt it would make a difference. The war had dragged on, the parties are not talking, the Government believes there’s no point talking to Savimbi because he does not live up to his engagements, so and we believe quite, I personally believe that there’s no military solution, because even if one is able to destabilize the Savimbi’s army, which the Government seems to be quite successful in doing that, he has guerrilla capacity and can, and has incredible power for disruption if he decides to take to the, to the bush. In any case, the idea of tightening the sanctions to bring greater pressure to bear on him so that we can move forward to the implementation of the agreement, Fowler’s report indicates a rather, he briefed me – I haven’t seen the report as such – he came to brief me, and it did indicate that several African countries are involved, some country, indicated the countries that may be selling arms even though there may be no direct link or evidence of them because this is usually done through third parties, and it’s very difficult to pin them down. He indicated that capitals and countries that have been in use as transit points to get weapons to, and so it, let’s say he’s named names and I don’t know how these Governments are going to react. He also did take on the private sector and I know De Beers has indicated they will not buy any diamonds from Angola. Others have not said that but I hope others will come forward and say that, but as if all this litany and list of crises in Africa is not enough, we’re also dealing with the major crisis of AIDS, which in a way has killed more people than all the wars that I have listed. Now there’s a considerable awareness that the disease is a real epidemic and Governments and leaders have to do something about it, and I think the, the conspiracy of silence or the shame surrounding the disease is falling, is slipping away, and quite a few leaders are talking about it. I recall when President Moi was finally convinced to make a public statement about it, it did, there was a line about the use of condom, encouraging people to use condom. He couldn’t say that sentence – he said I, it will be, I’m encouraging people to be promiscuous. I can’t, (inaudible). I mean it gives you an idea of some of the, the difficulties. It took quite a while for one even to sort of utter, this is a culture (inaudible) in a way but I think that quite a lot of the leaders are now coming to face that there’s lots of international efforts, and lots of media. The media has been very good, there are things coming in from outside, so even when they don’t talk about it, outsiders do talk about it, they read it in the papers, they see it on television, and now the UN, apart from the high profile Security Council meeting, which is how we are working very quietly. In fact last year we had a meeting of a coalition of Governments, private sector, NGOs, research centres, where we’ve come up with a partnership, and they are to give me a report in May indicating what concrete actions we can do on the prevention side, on care, and a whole range of issues dealing with AIDS. That report will come in in May and it would also indicate who does what. Obviously the UN playing a very important role in this. It is in this climate, in this climate that I’ve discussed, that we often also talk about economic development, and economic and social development, which becomes a difficult proposition, because quite frankly, no-one wants to invest in a bad neighbourhood, whether you’re a foreign investor or a domestic entrepreneur, and this is one of the reasons why we try very hard to try and resolve these political conflicts, so that we can move on to the essential work of economic and social development, but we are doing this in a, in a, at a time when official assistance is declining; we are doing this at a time when the debt burden is weighing down quite a lot of the economies, although we’ve talked about debt relief and last year’s decision of relieving them with a (inaudible) of $70 billion worth of debt, has not taken off yet, even the Hippic has been very slow in having an impact on any of the countries, and I think the UN agencies have been asked really to focus, not only on alleviation of poverty but to work with governments in building the institutions, coming up with the right regulatory systems and ensuring that they are preparing the ground for a much more effective development and creating an atmosphere that will release the energies of the local people – an atmosphere that would attract foreign investment, because you cannot continue to rely on a declining ODN so you have to create an atmosphere where investment can also be attracted, and it is in this spirit that the whole discussion in Seattle and in (inaudible) in Geneva about the international trading system and what it can do for the weaker countries, is an important, is an important issue. There has been the suggestion that the 48 least developed countries should be given access to markets, and that all the time, some groups coming from those 48 countries, most of which are in Africa, should be lifted. I think there, there seems to be sensitivity or receptivity to this issue, but only time will tell. I don’t want to do all the talking – if I can say a word about Mozambique, where we’ve just gone through the floods, and it’s not just Mozambique, but the whole region – Zimbabwe, Botswana, to some extent South Africa, and Madagascar. I think it’s been a very difficult crisis for them to handle and of course we’ve had some rather unexpected developments, and when I spoke to the President it was interesting, he said you know, we thought the floods had been and we were beginning to pick up. We had no rain, it rained in Zimbabwe and others, and of course all the rivers floated, flowed back to Zimbabwe, I mean to Mozambique, and there they were again, and of course it’s the rainy season when you have this sort of rain and it’s ongoing, there is some concern that maybe the international community did not respond fast enough, and I think we need to find some way of organising ourselves to move fairly quickly in these situations. We have sent in a team, the UN that is, and appointed a humanitarian co-ordinator, but I have a feeling at the beginning there was a bit of confusion as to what was needed, there was doubts as to how long it would take to get helicopters from Europe to Africa but the South Africans I must say, stepped in and did quite a lot of work until others joined them. But the issue is not just one of emergency relief – I think once the waters have dried, dried up, we need to move on straight into reconstruction, replanting for the next season, otherwise they will have a much serious, much more serious problems. It is ironic that it is Mozambique that should have this problem because I think the, the Economist Intelligence Unit cited it as the most successful country and it was growing at 10% a year and that, they were doing very well. At least it’s an indication that they do use aid well when they get it, and they’re trying to get the basics correct and I hope we will continue to assist them. Let me not leave you with all bad news; I think we’ve had some other positive developments on the continent. We saw last year Nigeria return to a democratic rule, even though they are having problems at the moment on this introduction of the Sharia and religious conflict, but I think it was an important signal that democracy is making gradual progress on the continent in addition to the South African elections, where President Mandela stepped down peacefully for Mbeke, today or I think it’s next week we have a very important elections in Senegal, and I think it’s the first real challenge the Senegalese government has seen in an election in 40 years, and that in itself is a healthy situation. When there was a coup d’etat in Cote d’Ivoire, the African governments which had met last year in Algiers in July and indicated that from now on it was a very refreshing meeting, because three years earlier I had gone to Harare, and suggested to them that we should not, they should not welcome in their midst people who take over through their coup d’etat, and that we should help to restore democratic regime in Sierra Leone. I think it was the first, it was the first time anyone had spoken like that in the, in the OAU summit – as I recall, the Secretary-General of the OAU saying you are lucky, you are the only one who can say this and get away with it, because anybody else would be lynched. But three years later in Algiers, they were saying this – we should not have people join us when they have taken power at the barrel of a gun. Said we are happy to have President Obasanjo with us, President Mbeki, who’d been duly elected, and one of the Hersub states there, but we also have the rascals with us who came through the barrel of a gun, and we treat them all the same. We should decide that, as of now, we will not welcome them, and that was, so when the coup d’etat took place in the Ivory Coast, there was pressure on the government to organise elections before the OAU summit in July. I think in the end the government decided the elections would take place in October and hand over to civilian rule, and I think these are very positive developments. Maybe I should stop here now and let you ask questions.
Peter Larp: Give you a chance to have something to eat as well. Right, we’ve got about 35 minutes, so who’d like to – yes, Richard, go ahead. Oh, can I ask you to give your name and, and the paper as well? (Inaudible).
Q: Richard [Dowden] I work at the Economist. Could I ask you just to comment on two things – one is Angola, where the, the intention of (CUT) get everybody back to the negotiating table, but what’s in fact happened is that the government has taken advantage of the UN taking sides, as it were, to pursue what looks like a purely military situation, and that there’s now the ironic situation where Mr (inaudible) is begging for negotiations. Now obviously (inaudible) trust him, probably not, but nevertheless on paper we have this situation where Billy on the back foot is asking for negotiations and the government is saying no. The other one is, is on, is on DRC, where I just wondered if you thought of pursuing a similar policy to Mr Fowler, naming and shaming, and I see interestingly (inaudible). Because it seems there the war’s often really, whatever its causes, has turned into unashamed imperialism – where this is an empty country and the neighbours have moved in and grabbed the real estate. And that (inaudible) report saying well actually, Uganda is taking so much coffee and gold than it used to (inaudible) Angola’s taking oil, South Africa’s taking the mines, and sort of naming and shaming the underlying economic benefits to the participants, that might also have an effect.
SG: Let me start with your first question. I think you are right that we find ourselves in that situation, in fact when President Dos Santos of Angola came to New York, I discussed this issue with him and I know that South Africa recently indicated to him that the only solution is through a political dialogue, and they, the Angolan government got a bit upset about because they, their attitude is, dialogue, yes, but not with Savimbi. Dialogue with Savimbi wouldn’t lead anywhere, and the position they take is we would want to talk, we would want to talk with other credible leaders of UNITA, but not with Savimbi. The question then is how do you identify and these other credible leaders of UNITA and talk to them, and what influence would they have within the organisation. You may recall about two years ago they set up a UNITA in, in Rwanda, and I was quite sceptical of it at the time, because this was a group of peoples living in Rwanda who had no army, who had no control of a UNITA organisation, who pretended to be able to speak for it, and of course it lead nowhere. If we try it again, but if they try it again this time, who is it going to be? The President seems to think they may be able to attract key leaders to break away and eventually talk to them. Will that succeed, is that the way to go, I really don’t know, but what I do know is that sooner or later, you will have to sit and talk, and I told the President, you make with your enemies, not with your friends, and to make peace, to make peace, you have to talk – I mean, sooner or later. On the Democratic Republic situation, the Congo Democratic, I think what you’ve said is true, we’ve seen lots of war profiteering and it is something that some members of the Council have raised. The first time we’ve done, made real serious effort, or the Council has on this issue, we say what is being done on Angola. Hopefully once the Council discusses the report on Wednesday, they will see the, the possibilities of this sort of approach. It will require organisation, it will require resources, but it would be an interesting exercise if they were to take it on in the Congo as well.
Q: Secretary-General, Jon Snow, Channel 4 news – I’ve just been to Mozambique and I’m wondering whether we’re dismissing it as a failure too quickly. I wonder whether it isn’t actually something worth keeping a very close eye on because my impression was that UNDAC, who did a very good job over the course of the first flood, establishing an infrastructure, the problem was clearly the (inaudible) cyclone and second flood, that the international response has been suitably coherent and the operation on the ground has also been coherent. What worries me is that whilst this was a great success, the very much bigger floods in Orissa, for example, attracted almost no international response and I’m just wondering whether in fact it wouldn’t be possible to look to Mozambique as a model, possibly, of response. The UN seemed a very light touch in which each international team was given quite strong, an opportunity to play quite a strong role, and which the UN basically just did the core, you know, co-ordination, and perhaps there are very Indian circumstances which made Orissa a very different experience but one has to remember 12 million people were displaced and very far fewer than that in Mozambique and I just wondered whether you had any thoughts along those lines.
SG: I think the humanitarian co-ordination unit has been, has been looked at. You know, don’t forget we went through Turkey and also Central, Central America, where we, we learned some lessons which has also helped us organise ourselves better in Mozambique, and I think we tend to want to build on these (inaudible) and I think we are going to continue to do that. The, let me give you an example on this. Just as the international aid was coming in, I spoke to President Mbeki, who called and said, and said let’s organise a regional meeting in South Africa, because the crisis is a real tragedy for Mozambique, but it is not only Mozambique that is affected. Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa to some extent, so let’s take a regional approach, assess what assets we have in the region and what outsiders can bring in, and if you can tell the Americans not to go into details regarding their offer, but just say we are going to give x amount, because then we can, we will have time to work out the details. That becomes very difficult, because when the pressure is on and the media spotlighted the issue, each country wants to spotlight what they are doing, so everybody is in a hurry to do, and so it’s difficult to co-ordinate at the capitals before they get (inaudible) but your point is right, this time when they got there, there was a structure that they could slot in and get that done, and I think we will build on that.
Q: Did you know that Malawi put in two helicopters without any celebration at all, no media coverage (inaudible) rescued about 1,000 people.
SG: But what is remarkable is that the countries in the region rallied. With South Africa in the lead, I mean so they did offer quite a few assets given, within their limitations, you know, and of course now we have Madagascar, which is also going through this and is going to need help because it’s also extremely poor, but it does indicate the sort of natural crisis that we’re going to confront in September in my own report to the General Assembly, I highlighted natural disasters and its impact, and in fact that it does more damage, often, than the wars, but we tend to focus on the peacekeeping operations, forgetting what the natural disasters does – when you look at Turkey, Greece, Central, Central America, what we see in Africa, what we see in Asia, is quite a serious problem and of course we can do better prevention and early warning systems. It will not save everybody but it can mitigate against the situation.
Q: Ivor Geber, New Statesman; Secretary-General, I wonder if I can ask you how you view the amount of tension that the WTO’s attracted in the last few months, and while on the one hand here is the sort of international spotlight that UN agencies can only dream about-
SG: (LAUGHS). Not that kind.
Q: (inaudible) bad thing that we now talk about the WTO and use those initials in a way that’s never happened before?
SG: I think, I was in Seattle, actually. I went to Seattle for the, for the conference. I never got to see the conference hall. I was stuck in my hotel, I couldn’t get out. In fact Mrs Albright and Elaine Baschevsky were also there, stuck in another hotel, so we spoke by phone, and then flew back to New York, but I think there’s quite a bit of misunderstanding about the, the, the role of the WTO. I think for those who believe that this organisation shouldn’t have any authority, for a WTO that can have rulings that are enforceable, rulings that may make states feel they have lost in fact the last case, went against the US on the question of concessionary tax arrangements for US companies, and of course this drives some of the American right-wingers crazy, but when I listen to the arguments in, in Seattle, the question of labour standards, the question of human rights and environmental standards, early in 19, January ’99, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, I had raised these issues myself, telling the corporations that you need to apply these standards. In fact I asked them to enter into an, a global compact with the United Nations on environmental issues, labour issues and human rights, arguing in these areas we have international standards which their own governments have signed on to, and they should willingly apply them in their spheres of influence without waiting for governments to pass national laws for them to do it. You don’t need a government to tell you that you should pay a decent wage; you don’t need a government to tell you that you should avoid child labour in your companies; you don’t need a government to tell you that you should operate in a manner that is not environmentally damaging, and is also sustainable, so and we started discussing all this, and then bang, nine months later in Seattle, this was the centre of, and at that point I indicated that if they do not implement these standards, people are going to try and tack them on to the international trading systems, which I think is the worst possible thing to do, because in effect they are blaming WTO for domestic policy failure, and in some cases, these issues should be tackled at the international level, but you can imagine if anyone who was concerned about something tacked it on to their international trading system, that we are not going to be able to up, have a, a really free and fair trading system, but on the other hand, we should not dismiss those who, who feel concerned. I think what we saw in Seattle indicates the, the anxiety, the concern people have about globalisation, a change that is coming so fast, and they sense that it may impact on their jobs, they may – we may all be required to eat the same genetically modified food. (inaudible) what’s his name, Bouvier, the Frenchman, who says you are what you eat. He appeared in, the one who has been demonstrating against McDonalds, smashing up McDonalds, and he appeared in Seattle and he came with Roquefort, I don’t know how he got it in because it’s banned in the States, and was, and was giving it to people, became very popular, and this idea that globalisation is forcing us all to eat the same food, our freedom and culture – I mean, the concerns they have, I, it has to be addressed, but I don’t think you address it by loading it on to the international trading system. It has to be dealt with directly.
Q: Michael Binyon, Times – Secretary-General, on the question of deployment in Democratic Republic of Congo, do you see this is a reversal or perhaps a halt to the reluctance that’s been evident for some time now, to deploy any more peacekeeping forces anywhere, partly on the grounds that it’s become expensive and is possibly not very effective, and do you now see further scope for the deployment, and particularly if you’re able, say, to mediate a truce or a cease-fire in the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Do you see a willingness on the part of the rest of the UN members, to pay for such peacekeeping forces?
SG: Yes, if there’s a shift taking place, you are right that for quite a while, member states and particularly the Americans, didn’t want to take on any new operations for several reasons – for, because of cost and in some cases, lack of willingness to take any risks, any risks particularly in the operations in a place like the Congo. The membership is now ready to see what they can do to assist, and I think they’ve also been concerned about accusations of double standards – that if it’s Kosovo or somewhere in Europe, we rush there, but if it’s other parts of the world, we drag our feet. So recently we have set up several, not only are we operating in Kosovo, we are in East Timor, in Sierra Leone and now we have this initial deployment to the Congo. We are following the Eritrea/Ethiopia situation very carefully, and under the agreement, both the UN and the OAU will have a role. The initial phase, the OAU will be required to put in observers, and the UN will have to then set up a team to do the border demarcation, which will be binding. They have both sides, have agreed, if we can get them to accept the technical arrangement, it will be binding and of course we need to put in logistical support and security elements, to protect the cartographers and people who will be doing the work, as well as give a, and I think that the willingness is there to, to, to do it, and I think that we also need to be careful that we are much better organised and that the support is there, the support is sustained, so that we do not repeat some of the errors of the past.
Q: Essentially it’s, it’s a different version of the same question, but – Brian Hanrahan, BBC – one of the things that I think an outsider looking at it is going to say, is that all these deployments, all of these operations (inaudible). And I don’t, I don’t underestimate the argument that if you don’t start, you don’t finish, and you can only (inaudible) but there seems to be a kind of structural failure that we’re going to have to build every (inaudible) operation from scratch every time, it’s always going to be slow. Is there any way in which you can, you can see the members moving towards the idea of a not so much a strategic reserve as the ability to move resources from one area to another without having to negotiate every step every time?
SG: Well I think you, you’ve put your finger on one of the difficulties that we face in these operations. On the whole it takes us about 4-5 months to put troops on the ground, which is by far too long. We’ve made various attempts to try to shorten the lead time. One approach we did was to set up what we call the standby forces arrangements where we approached each member state and asked them what they would be prepared to offer in time of emergency, if they were to join a peacekeeping operation. Some offered a field hospital, others offered battalions, others offered logistical units or movement control units, and so we, ideally we have that in the computer and that should be able to move, we should be able to move quickly and put together a force knowing what is available. Unfortunately, it can only work if the governments concerned decide to co-operate. In fact we tried to use it in one operation and I recall my Canadian general who was my, the military advisor, said well we tried the standby forces arrangement, it was helpful in that we got a quicker no, so it’s like, so it’s like a travellers cheque. You need two signatures, you have one but without the second signature, it’s not much use, but other governments are putting together what they call the (inaudible), mainly the Scandinavian countries, Canada, Netherlands and here if, if they are able to put it together, it will allow them to release headquarters units in 48 hours and their formed units within a month, that is, if they decide to participate. As of now there are about 16 countries participating in this scheme and each of them is required to prepare a high-readiness brigade that could be released for operations very quickly, and in fact what the point you make, we had a very good example last year. When, after the elections in East Timor, when the crisis ensued, luckily we had Australia in the region that decided to take the lead, so you compare the speed with which the international community was able to go in with the traditional peacekeeping force, and you see the difference, so your point is absolutely valid. I have recently appointed a panel to look at these two separations, starting with a preventive action through peacekeeping, to the other end where peace enforcement may be required, and I’ve asked them not to look only at the, at the mandates the Council give us, the resources, the way we are organised and the strengthening that can be brought in. Each nation, before it declares war, ensures that it has an army, it has a force, it is prepared, before it declares war. The way we are doing it at the moment, we do it the other way. The Council takes a decision that requires thousands of troops, and then we begin to look for them, and these are some of the things that I hope the study will help us rethink through with the member states as to how we do them.
SG: I, (inaudible) it does need rethinking and of course rethinking has been going, for example the, there’s something called the White Helmets, which the Argentineans and others have been very actively engaged in, where you use unarmed military in emergency situations to set up camps, to go in very quickly and help deal with relief, and I, I think a few more governments are coming in, while the other thing we are also trying to do, the UN agencies, working with the World Meteorological Organisation and others, are trying to share as much scientific information as possible to anticipate weather patterns, to warn governments and to prepare ourselves for events that are coming, and they are pulling in quite a lot of other scientific centres because some of these countries often do not get the warnings or do not have access to the scientific information on changes in weather patterns, so it’s another area we are trying to improve.
Q: The Australia thing, I just wanted to ask you your thoughts about (inaudible) political difficulties and then you said, you sort those out and then you do the social and cultural. Can I ask you how the social and cultural developments are - (inaudible).
SG: Economic and social, economic and social development, I think there are certain countries, in fact we mentioned Mozambique, certain countries in Africa that are doing well. That should be encouraging, and not only should be encouraging, it should also be used as a good model for others to see that certain poor countries, well managed, can get out of this poverty. We talked of trading and access to markets, because quite frankly some of these countries would much rather find a way of trading themselves out of poverty than to live on handouts and in fact if they were to be given access to the international market, they can make billions and billions of dollars, much more than the assistance they are getting, but I also indicated they need to try and help themselves, to strengthen their institutions, make sure they have the transport - does quite a lot of harm to economic development, and also the regulatory systems that we are working from, so in fact the UNDP has re-oriented its work and will be focusing working with governments and policy advisors on the institution building and helping them create the kind of enabling environment I was talking about that will attract investment and economic and social development. And I think in some areas, they should be much more open to doing regional projects, because some of these countries are so small that if they were to work with their neighbours everyone will benefit. To give you one example, some of the West African countries have very serious electricity problems. Now suddenly Nigeria, which had been burning lots of gas, is going to put through a pipeline from Nigeria through to Ghana and others to really use this as energy for the region, and it’s something that they’ve come together to pool for and there are other areas where they can do that. You sometimes have resources, whether it’s oil or mines, which straddle the border, and one has to find a way of getting (the states) to work together rather than fighting over (the materials) so there are lots of interesting approaches that one can adopt.
Q: I’m Elizabeth Oheney, BBC World Service. I wonder does your being an African hamper you or aid you in dealing with all the myriads of problems on the continent. In that, do you feel yourself constrained to proposition yourself as, you know you are, Secretary-General of the whole world, and not just Africa. You don’t want to be seen as dealing with it, are you embarrassed by all the litany of all these problems, and I ask mostly because the overwhelming majority of the mail that we get in the African Service from the listeners seems to be that they think that you don’t want to be identified with the African problem so much in case you are perceived as being , not being-
SG: Being biased, not even-handed, yeah. No, I think that that is wrong, and in fact this question came up the very first year. Somebody asked me, are you going to give us special attention, are you going to focus on Africa? I said yes, I will focus on Africa because we have lots of problems in Africa, but it also has to be understood that, even though Africa is my base, I’m the Secretary-General of the other regions as well. But that has not prevented me and the Council, from focusing on - 60, 70% of the Council’s work is on Africa, because of the crises we have there. I spend lots of my time on Africa, I do give attention to other regions, but perforce because of all these crises I have referred to here, we are required to spend lots of time on Africa, not only in the political, but in the humanitarian area, as well. And then of course the question of trying to move the economy and social development with the work of the UNDP. Of course a Secretary-General has to be even-handed but also has to address the problems, the pressing problems of the day, and quite frankly a lot of the present problems are in Africa and so I’m spending lots of my time on it. I know that sometimes they feel … To give you an example, I went on a visit to Liberia, and an old man came with the President – and he brought a gift. I listened to his speech and I realised I had in front of me a very wise and a cantankerous politician. Because he said a couple of things, I said are you a politician, he said no I’m not a politician, but basically what he said was, we are very happy to have you here. We are not a very rich country, but to see that the Secretary-General himself has come, shows that we are getting attention. But what is even more important is that you are one of us, and if you don’t solve our problem, nobody will ever solve it, so we are leaving all our problems to you. Quite an interesting man, but the question you raised is -
Q: Chief Executive of the World Service, Mark Byfleet – just in the context of you say that 60-70% of your focus -
SG: The Council’s focus, yeah.
Q: The Council’s focus is on Africa, and much of the conversation has been about the political framework. I was interested in what you said about AIDS, because coming back from Southern Africa the statistics are truly-
Q: Mind-boggling. What more do you think should be done? Particularly in the context of the UN, knowing the scale of the issue, and the cultural change that you were talking about, seeing a willingness to discuss – what spearhead would you want in the next 12 months, say, to happen, that hasn’t happened before, to ameliorate the current calamity.
SG: As I said, I have commissioned a report which I will get in May, but I think prevention and education are really the key areas that we have to do something about. We are trying to get the leaders themselves, because they have to lead, to come out and speak out, and really remove the taboo that surrounds the disease. We are also talking to pharmaceutical companies and others to see how we can get affordable medicine to these people. There was a big debate between American pharmaceutical industries and South Africa. Some of the expensive medicine that’s being used in the United States can be produced generically on a very cheap basis in South Africa, but the pharmaceutical companies fought it, worried about their profits. I know that Gore and Clinton and others, I think they are almost close to coming to an understanding, and of course their concern was, is South Africa today, whereas would it be and what happens to our profits, so that’s one area that we are questioning. Of course, when I talk of UN areas, it also includes the World Health Organization and others. The group that is giving me the report in May does include the private sector, governments and others, and they will not only come with ideas of what needs to be done but who does what, and who is going to take the lead in what area. And- I think I will make it public, yeah. We will name names.
Q: I wanted to ask about the US. You’ve touched on the unwillingness of the US to expose its own people in operations, and one still sees very much the sort of post-Somalia mentality-
SG: And by the way you are seeing it in Bosnia and Kosovo too.
Q: Yes, absolutely. (inaudible).. I mean to what extent is it feasible to think that you could ever put in a realistic size peace operation in the DRC, for example, without the US being totally on board and committed to it, and this 5,000 suggestion is, surely it’s tokenism?
SG: Actually the 5,000 suggestion is, yes you may say it’s a token, but they also have very limited mandate. The 5,000 that are going into Congo are there to support an observer force of 500. 500 men who are there to monitor the withdrawal of the forces. And by the forces we mean not only the forces from Uganda and Rwanda but from Zimbabwe and Angola and the government forces. So in effect the forces of those who signed the agreement do what they are expected to do or they agreed to do, we will just monitor it. The rest of the force is logistical support and security units that could be used for instruction of the observers. Our observers are mainly unarmed, but they work with the protagonists and try and monitor the movements of the troops. It is the next phase, if they were to do this, and the Council was to decide to put in a peacekeeping force, that a much larger force would be put in the third phase. The Americans have indicated that they will not put in any troops. If they do not put in any troops, but do provide some logistical support that sort of thing can be helpful. But they have not indicated they will give logistical support. There are a couple of European countries and Canada that are looking at the possibility of supporting this. But I share your concern that if you’re going to put in a fairly large peacekeeping force and the governments with capacity are not willing to participate, can you have an effective force? This is a question that, because so far, quite a lot of the countries that have indicated willingness are from the Third World, from Africa and Asia, but even if they do come in with the battalions, with the troops, you need strong logistical support. Logistics is the glue that holds the army together. If you don’t have that glue, you have a problem.
Q: Could I just ask a supplementary? I mean is the fact that the US made Africa the theme of its General Security Council, is this all tokenism, is this just electioneering in the US and they’ll drift away?
SG: That question has been posed, and I think (LAUGHTER), let me say also that I think it is because it led that debate that we are today talking about a peacekeeping force to come, and I think they felt obliged to support it. I have a feeling if that hadn’t happened then, we’d still have difficulties in Washington with the money. There are some Congressmen who are holding back, so we haven’t got all the money yet for Congo.
Q: I think an external observer for the United Nations would say terrific brand, great use of colour, but market penetration in the north, very poor, in the south, pretty good. When you see Mr Blair, will you urge him and his counterparts to proselytise more effectively for the United Nations? Extremely rare that you hear northern politicians are going out on the front foot on behalf of a commitment to the United Nations? The United Nations is something that exists in the abstract, in some sort of way, which does things when you need them, but for which we apparently have no immediate responsibility.
SG: No, I think you are right. More can be done, and we should correct that. They do more because quite frankly I often say that when the UN was established, it was a dream, but today the reality has caught up with the dream, and in this interdependent world, we need the UN even more than before. Particularly as we live in a globalised village and we are going to need norms and rules that regulate relations between states. The UN is going to be needed more, and not just for peacekeeping. In fact when you look at the whole host of services the UN renders and how we affect the daily lives of people, from telecommunications and our control of frequencies to ICAO (the work we do on aviation) a whole range of areas where the UN affects daily life. But at the same time when you get into the area of the norms of international law, which is becoming more and more necessary, the member states are going to, and I keep telling them that each community has its norms and its rules, whether it’s at the village level or the national level. And the international community must have its norms and language too, and the language is international law. It is through systems like the UN that you refine and develop these norms and laws, and I would encourage them to say more about it. I know that periodically when they need us we hear a bit about ourselves on television, but they should be a bit more constant. Yes.
P. Luff: Well I’m afraid we have to start drawing things to a close now. And to take the last question to lead into my closing remarks, yes, a lot more needs to be done to promote the United Nations. This is my last Commonwealth Day – I join my colleague Jill Wright very shortly to set up a global radio station called Earth One. One of its points is going to be precisely to promote and to explain the United Nations, and its objectives, in a global context. We are extremely grateful to you for coming today, it’s wonderful on this Commonwealth Day, and sadly my last Commonwealth Day here, that you have chosen to come to the United Kingdom. May I thank you for answering all the questions with such perspicacity and wisdom, but also may I say that I would like to present you with a Commonwealth Day tie that the Royal Commonwealth Society has. Thank you again for coming and thank you all ladies and gentlemen, for joining us.
SG: Yes, one more thing I wanted to tell you. I hope you will all cover the Millennium Summit, which is in September, where we have asked, (what) people think (about the) millennium is so- (inaudible).. No, we have asked all the heads of states and governments to come to New York on the 6th of September, to discuss the UN in the 21st century. I’ll be putting out a report by the end of this month with some ideas. It will deal with globalisation and government, economic development, the environment, and a whole range of issues. Hopefully (it will also include) some specific, concrete things that we can do together. But prior to that, we will have a summit of all NGOs in New York in May, and then at the end of August, all the speakers and presidents of parliaments will meet in New York (to discuss) the same topic, and this will feed into the summit. Thank you very much.
Comments upon arrival at UNHQ, 2 March 2000, on Mozambique (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, any comment on Mozambique, and what is the international community doing to help the situation there?
SG: I think it is a very tragic situation, what's happening in Mozambique, and the region. I have been on the phone with the President and with other leaders in trying to seek assistance for the region. We have mobilised the UN system and have also begun very seriously raising money. We have got some response but the response could have been better. There is going to be a meeting in Pretoria on Friday, with participants from Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, in an attempt to take a regional approach to the crisis, and we are working very, very closely with them. I hope once the needs are further clarified the international community will respond and that those with the capacity to give will give, and give generously. Thank you.
Remarks following briefing to the Security Council on Asia trip, 29 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. I just briefed the Council on my trip to Asia and particularly on East Timor, Indonesia, and also my UN ASEAN summit in Bangkok. And of course, some of the other things I picked up on my trip. I'm ready to take your questions. I'm sorry, I'm in a bit of a rush, but let's go ahead.
Q: On Cambodia, the UN has insisted on a super-majority of an international presence on this proposed tribunal. You've said that you plan to send a team to Phnom Penh shortly. Is there some flexibility on that at this point?
SG: Let me not comment directly on whether the UN has insisted on that or not. But I will say that we would want to see the trial go ahead. I think the Member States and the Cambodian Government itself agrees with us that the trial should have some international character. Our concern is that it meets minimum international standards. What we are trying to do is to work out an arrangement with the Cambodian Government that will ensure a credible trial that meets minimum international standards. I hope, when the team goes to Cambodia next time, that that will be the final round and we will come to an understanding. I met Prime Minister Hun Sen. We both expressed the wish that the teams would be able to resolve this when they meet.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on your trip to Asia you were asked a question about Iraq and the sanctions, and you mentioned the idea of "smart sanctions." Will you be speaking about this to the Security Council?
SG: I think quite a few members of the Council themselves have been discussing the issue of sanctions. The idea of smart sanctions has been floating around this house for quite a time--the idea being, we should try to find a way of targeting the individuals, the leaders whose behaviour we want to change--get them to change their behaviour rather than coming up with a pervasive sanction which sometimes hurts people who are not the intended targets. I think this discussion will go on for sometime. I hope we will find some answers for future action.
Q: [specifically] on Iraq, or was it more general?
SG: It was more general.
Q: Just a follow up, Mr. Secretary-General, on the issue of sanctions. You did speak on the context of Iraq - [inaudible] not applicable to Iraq?
SG: I was asked a question about sanctions, and the sanctions in Iraq, and I made a general comment on the way sanctions have worked and why we need to find a better way.
Q: [another question on smart sanctions]
SG: I think I've answered the question twice.
Q: Can you comment on von Sponeck, Sir, who has become somewhat of a political hot potato, needless to say. He is the second employee of the Secretariat in a row to resign for the same reasons. Do you agree with him, and is he wrong?
SG: Well, von Sponeck is following his conscience. I've told him, conscience is very much a personal thing, and we all have to follow our inner compass when we feel strongly about it. But, it is the Security Council that sets policy, not von Sponeck or anybody in the Secretariat. We as civil servants have to implement these policies. He has served the Organization for 32 years. I spoke to him yesterday, and he did give me indications as to some of the difficulties he has with the programme in Iraq, which is an appropriate way to do it. I will be speaking to him further and others will be speaking to him while he is here.
Q: Will you be sharing your opinion with the Council on this?
SG: I will find a way of bringing the Council in. The Council will get to know what he thinks, what his observations are. Yes, the Council will know. But you'll hear more about it later.
Q: While smart sanctions are currently still an idea, do you think Hans Blix will have [inaudible]?
SG: Hans Blix is not involved with the sanctions. But, having said that, let me say that we all know that the implementation of the Iraqi resolutions have not been easy for anyone, and I don't think it's going to be any different for Mr. Blix. He's very experienced, he's a good diplomat, a good leader, and a good manager, and I hope he will be able to work with the Iraqi authorities for us to make progress.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, another UNMIK staffer was wounded near Bujanovac today. How concerned are you about increased tensions on the border of southern Serbia? And is it time for KFOR to consider sending additional reinforcements to the [inaudible]?
SG: I think the situation in Kosovo is very worrying. Bernard Kouchner and his team have done an admirable job, and I think the situation is difficult. I know there has been some criticism. But I believe that, given what we inherited, he has done quite well. I would also say that the job of ensuring or bringing about a secure environment is not a job for the police alone. The police and the military should do it together. I know there has been a tendency for people to say that, "if only we had enough police...". The military will have to work hand-in-glove with the police to ensure security. In some of these areas in Kosovo, there is no peace even for peacekeepers, much less to throw the police in.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, as you well know, the Iraqi Government has not made clear its position yet on the resolution. As Mr. Blix prepares to start his new job tomorrow, is there a message that you would send to the Iraqi Government?
SG: I hope they will cooperate, and I know other governments are in touch with the Iraqi authorities, encouraging them to cooperate and implement the Council resolution, fulfill their obligations under the Council. I think they have a very good man to work with. They know Hans Blix. They worked with him when he was head of the Atomic Agency [International Atomic Energy Agency]. I hope they will work with him again as they did in the past.
Thank you very much.
Briefing to the Security Council on visit to Southeast Asia, 29 February 2000
Mr. President, Excellencies,
I am pleased to be back among you. As you know, I have just returned from a journey of two and a half weeks during which I visited Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, East Timor, Australia and New Zealand. I also had the honour to attend the Tenth United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Bangkok - an important and constructive meeting which I hope will mark the beginning of a new phase in international economic relations, after the disappointment of Seattle.
In all of those countries I saw and learned a great deal.
It was encouraging to see the success of both Thailand and Singapore in recovering from the recent financial crisis. And I found it especially moving to witness the heroic efforts of the Indonesian government and people to overcome their many difficulties and advance into a new era of freedom and democracy, notably by bringing the military under full civilian control. I went there with a simple message: that the unity of a great and diverse nation such as Indonesia is best preserved by political rather than military means. I am glad to say this message was well received, because it corresponded to courageous decisions which the government had already taken. It is to be applauded for seeking a solution to the crises in Aceh and the Moluccas through dialogue and special programmes for economic and social development, rather than through martial law.
I believe the government is entitled to all possible international support in its efforts to improve the economic and social conditions of the population, since failure could have the most serious political implications not only for Indonesia itself but for the whole region.
I also had most useful discussions with the leaders of Australia and New Zealand, and had occasion to thank the Australian people, especially, for the leading role Australia has played in transforming the fortunes and prospects of East Timor.
Mr. President, I trust the Council will understand that it implies no disrespect for the other countries I visited if I say that, once I left UNCTAD X, East Timor and its problems became the central focus of my journey. That simply reflects the unusual responsibilities which have been given to the United Nations in East Timor. It is that issue that I wish especially to bring to your attention this morning.
If I had to sum up my findings in East Timor in one phrase, I would say that I was both depressed and impressed. I was depressed by the spectacle of destruction, much of which had clearly been inflicted systematically, and which was far worse even than I had imagined from what I had seen on television and read in reports.
But I was also greatly impressed -- by the East Timorese leadership, above all Mr. Xanana Gusmao, and by the determination of the East Timorese people to rebuild their country and to achieve reconciliation, both with each other and with their neighbours. Given the right kind of assistance, East Timor can have a good and stable future. That is where this Council still has a vital role to play.
The security emergency in East Timor has more or less ended, although of course there are still threats. Let me particularly commend the leadership provided by General Cosgrove, and congratulate both him and General de los Santos on completing the smooth and seamless transfer of responsibility from INTERFET to UNTAET.
The deployment of these two forces -- first a coalition of the willing, and then a United Nations peacekeeping operation -- shows the difference rapid deployment can make. I would like again to thank all those Governments which have rallied to support this operation. Had they not demonstrated such impressive political will, East Timor's history and prospects would be quite different from what they are.
But please make no mistake: there is still an emergency, and a very serious one. East Timor faces a daunting task of reconstruction - not only in terms of bricks and mortar, but also in rebuilding its society. People need jobs, schools, and clinics. Ports, roads, buildings: all must be re-built, or built from scratch. Laws and institutions must be put in place, and East Timor's people trained in all the skills required to run a modern state.
At the recent Tokyo conference, governments pledged more than $500 million in assistance -- a truly impressive sum. If all the pledges made there are fulfilled, this will be one of the rare cases where neither soldiers nor money are in short supply. But, as we all know, turning pledges into cash takes time. Funds are flowing, but not quickly enough. At present, there is still only 22 million dollars in the United Nations Trust Fund for East Timor.
The World Bank has also begun disbursing money, and has streamlined its procedures so that its representatives on the spot can make decisions on expenditure, within certain limits, without reference to Washington. Mr. Wolfensohn visited East Timor a few days after myself, and signed an agreement with my Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, under which some 21 million dollars will be released for urgent needs. We are also trying to attract members of the East Timorese diaspora to lend their skills and support.
Still, we need even greater momentum if the East Timorese are to feel positive changes in their daily lives, to achieve reconciliation among themselves, and avoid the dependency and social unrest which despair and national trauma such as they have been through can so easily breed.
I am glad to report that every country I visited promised to assist East Timor in this undertaking.
It was particularly heartening to sense good relations emerging between Indonesia and East Timor, between Australia and East Timor, and between Indonesia and Australia - three nations indissolubly linked by history, geography and trade. Already, UNTAET, acting on behalf of the East Timorese people, has worked out an arrangement with Australia on revenue sharing from oil and gas production in the Timor Gap. Although in the immediate future East Timor's share would not amount to more than 7 or 8 million dollars per year, there are hopes that in the medium term larger sums could accrue. In addition, efforts have begun to resolve thorny issues of property rights, and other outstanding problems. I left the region encouraged by the degree of goodwill that exists among the three peoples, and their desire to forge a harmonious future. I am sure President Wahid's visit to East Timor today will mark an important new step in that direction.
Mr. President, the effort to meet all these challenges must not be governed by arbitrary deadlines. None of us, I am sure, have any desire to keep East Timor under United Nations administration for a moment longer than necessary. Equally, however, it would be irresponsible to leave before the job is done. The timing of our departure must be decided by objective criteria of achievement.
Accordingly, I have instructed my Special Representative to draw up such criteria, in consultation with the East Timorese leadership, so that we will know when we have accomplished what we set out to do – when, in other words, the East Timorese are ready to assume full control of their destiny.
Both they and we must be patient, for that moment is still some way off. I said this when I attended a session of the National Consultative Council, the primary mechanism through which the representatives of the East Timorese people participate in the decision-making process.
And I say it again to this Council. You have provided an initial mandate which expires at the end of January next year. We will do our best to work within that timeframe; but we should be prepared to extend it if necessary. We must see this job through to its natural conclusion.
One crucial element in East Timor's ability to move forward will be a proper reckoning for past injustices. An Indonesian Commission of Inquiry, sanctioned by the Government, has already published a frank report on the violence, and the Attorney-General is demonstrating a will to move ahead with prosecutions and trials.
I am aware, of course, that the Security Council can choose to form a tribunal of its own. But, Mr. President, I share the belief - which is implicit in your letter to me of 18 February - that Indonesia should be given the chance to demonstrate its capacity to do a credible and transparent job of holding people accountable for their crimes. As you suggested in that letter, I am consulting with the Government of Indonesia to see what forms of assistance the United Nations can provide to help Indonesia ensure that international standards of human rights and humanitarian law are respected - and I urge Member States to do the same.
Not only is such credible and transparent justice essential for the people of East Timor. It would also promote the wider transformation to democracy occurring in Indonesia itself, and serve as a deterrent. I met with most of the key figures in the Indonesian Government, and they were united in their determination to move in this direction. They are surely entitled to our support.
May I now briefly mention a few other regional issues that came up consistently in my talks?
As you know, the United Nations and the Government of Cambodia have been engaged in negotiations over the nature of a tribunal to try Khmer rouge personnel accused of genocide and other violations of international humanitarian law. The international community and Cambodia itself agree that such a tribunal should have an international character and be able to ensure that minimum international legal standards are met.
But translating that wish into specific arrangements has proved difficult. I have recently exchanged letters on this subject with Prime Minister Hun Sen, following which we had a very constructive meeting in Bangkok. We agreed that there is a real need to resolve our remaining differences so that trials can begin.
The main concern on the United Nations side is to ensure that the judicial system set up for this purpose under Cambodian law does indeed reach international standards. It must guarantee the arrest and surrender of all indictees; it must exclude any amnesty for genocide or crimes against humanity; and it must include an appropriate international element among both prosecutors and judges.
Some of these issues are extremely difficult, but we shall continue to discuss them with the Cambodian government. I shall shortly be sending a United Nations team to Cambodia for that purpose, in the hope that this will be the last and decisive round of discussions. Prime Minister Hun Sen has indicated readiness to receive the team. Let me assure you that the United Nations is acting in good faith, purely with a view to ensuring respect for the international standards that have been developed over the years. I sincerely hope that I can count on the support of Member States for the Organisation's efforts to arrive at an acceptable solution.
In Myanmar, the situation has languished for too long without any signs of progress. I sought the help and advice of a number of leaders in the search for ways of breaking the current impasse between the State Peace and Development Council and the National League for Democracy. It is my sense that flexibility is needed from both sides. For my part, I intend shortly to appoint a new envoy who will pick up where Mr. de Soto left off.
I also had an opportunity to forge closer ties between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Although the United Nations and individual ASEAN members are long-standing development partners, ASEAN is the only major regional organisation without observer status at the United Nations.
Thailand, which holds the current presidency of ASEAN, took advantage of UNCTAD X and the presence in Bangkok of ASEAN leaders to organize an ASEAN-UN summit, with the participation of ASEAN heads of state and government and the heads of United Nations agencies and programmes.
This informal meeting covered many issues, and broke new ground with respect to preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution. I suggested that the time had come for the United Nations and ASEAN to step up their co-operation in the general area of peace and security. The United Nations would also be prepared to work with ASEAN in the context of the ASEAN regional forum.
There seemed to be general agreement on these points. Officials on both sides will be exploring the possibilities, and I expect further progress in the months ahead.
The heads of state also recognised that East Timor is an important part of the region. They were pleased that they had rallied to its support following Indonesia's decision to accept the need for a multinational force last September, and expressed their willingness to help with the reconstruction effort. The recent tour of the region by Mr. Gusmao and Mr. Ramos Horta had clearly been a great success.
Let me now conclude by repeating once more my plea to the wider international community to support our operation in East Timor both politically and materially, and to show both support and understanding for the difficult transition that Indonesia is going through.
In Indonesia, the implications of failure hardly bear thinking about. In East Timor the worst may be over, but in some key respects our job has only just begun. The international community must remain involved for the long run. This is a crucial test for all of us. It would be tragic indeed if, after such suffering, we did not make the best of this promising moment in East Timor's history.
Now I would be grateful to hear your comments and happy to answer any questions. Thank you very much.
Remarks to CNN upon arrival at UNHQ, 29 February 2000
Q: As recently as yesterday, a senior Iraqi official, Nizar Hamdoon, rejected any dealings with Hans Blix. The Iraqis have still not accepted the Council resolution, they continue to complain about sanctions and the Sanctions Committee, and have rejected your proposal from yesterday on the Hajj. How do you see us moving beyond this with Iraq now?
SG: I think that other governments are also in touch with the Iraqi authorities. I think we are still at the early stages of this vote. Mr. Blix doesn't start until the 1st, and he's already in town. I saw him yesterday. He will start formally on the 1st of March and begin to work out his plans. I'm sure at an appropriate time he will be in touch with the Iraqi authorities. I hope their position will be flexible.
Q: Do you think they'll change their policy sooner or later?
SG: We shall see. Thank you.
Press Conference with Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, Wellington, 23 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
PM: The Secretary-General and I had a very good conversation this morning in which we discussed the very considerable contribution we have made for a country of our size in East Timor, and he also took the opportunity to thank us for the work we have been doing in Cambodia on de-mining. We have had some general discussions about peacekeeping and what Member States can do to help the United Nations. We have ranged over the United Nations budgetary issues, spoken a little about disarmament issues, certainly nuclear disarmament is very much in focus with the Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference coming up at the end of April. The Secretary-General also talked about the upgrading of conventional weaponry that is going on in Europe post-Kosovo, and raised some concern about where the weapons being disposed of in the upgrading process might end up. There are obviously implications for developing countries and arms races there. We also talked a little about the Millennium Summit of the United Nations which is due to occur in the first week of September. It, in many ways, as everything connected with the millennium, offers the opportunity for the UN to take a fresh look at its direction. He has expressed the hope that I might be able to attend and certainly that it something New Zealand would want to be highly represented at. So that=s the broad range of what we covered and I=ll hand it over to Mr. Annan.
SG: Thank you very much Prime Minister. Ladies and gentlemen, let me say how happy I am to be here, waking up to bright sunshine in a very harmonious city, and as the Prime Minister indicated, we did cover lots of ground in a relatively short time. But perhaps shouldn=t repeat what we=ve discussed by take your questions now.
Q: [Inaudible - related to cutting down size of UN]
SG: I think a lot has been said about the UN bureaucracy. We=ve been undergoing reform for quite a number of years now. I do not intend to imply that the reform is completed because in my judgement reform is a process, not an event, and it is ongoing. We have slimmed down and cut back quite considerably and I think we now are in the process of consolidation.
I think the emphasis at the Millennium Summit in my judgement should be more on vision. It should be on the kinds of issues that the organization should be concentrating on in this interdependent world. I think we should look at how we make globalization work for everybody including the poor, and I believe that in this global world, the kind of work the UN does, providing values, establishing norms that facilitate relations between states, are things that are going to be very important. I suspect the Member States would also charge us to do as much as we can on alleviation of poverty, on the environment, and a whole range of issues. So to be more substantive and forward-looking rather than organizational and structural.
There may be some discussions on structure. Some people have raised the question do you need all the UN agencies? Should the mandates of some of them be expanded? Should some be consolidated? The Summit may not take this up but they may charge us to look into that as well.
Q: There is some concern in this country and elsewhere about the effect of sanctions on Iraq. We understand that two UN officials resigned over that. Can you give us your thoughts on this situation?
SG: Yes, in fact we've lost three of them. The first one to leave was a former head of the humanitarian operation in Iraq, and his replacement has resigned effective 31st March. He is coming to see me in New York next week to discuss the Iraqi programme. I will admit that sanctions is a blunt instrument and sometimes can hurt the civilian population who are not intended targets. The Council itself has been concerned about this and that is why it established the oil-for-food programme in Iraq to be able to help the civilian population.
There are discussions going on as to how the Council and the UN as a whole can influence behaviour of a leader who doesn=t want to change. How the sanctions can be targeted against those leaders rather than come with a proposal that hurts the population. These are being called smart sanctions. Smart sanctions can take the form of closing the foreign bank accounts of the leaders concerned, refusing to give them visas to travel, and other restrictions that directly affect them and their families. This was applied in the case of Haiti for example which led to the resignation of the then military leader General Cedras.
In April, the Council will be having a discussion on sanctions and I hope (they) will be able to come up with some ideas as we move into the future. But the Iraqi (sanctions), obviously the Council has the mandate for those to continue. It has been ten years now and until the Council changes its policy, we will have to apply it as it is. But the whole sanctions issue is being discussed not only in the Council and in the UN, but by certain research centres in academia, and I hope we will find some better ways of influencing the behaviour of leaders.
Q: The mood in the Council, is there a strong support for change?
SG: Let me say that there are many in the Council who have doubts. But I would not say there is a strong support for change at this time. I think perhaps the best way to answer your question was in recent years, whenever the question of sanctions has been posed, the Council has asked for a humanitarian impact assessment. They want to have an assessment of how that will affect the population before they take the final decision. This happened in the case of Sudan and, in fact, the sanctions were not imposed.
Q: There has been criticism of the UN in the past for being too slow to act, for being seen too cumbersome. What can you actually do about that?
SG: I think one may talk about the UN in these sort of circumstances. We are talking of two Uns. We are talking of the UN that is a secretariat and takes its orders from the Member States, and gets its resources and support from the Member States. And the second UN is the UN of the Members States that makes the decisions, that has the troops, that has the resources, and can show the political will and follow it up with resources, or not do it. In situations where the will is there and the governments are determined to act, we can move quite fast. In fact, the Prime Minister and I discussed this, and we thought what happened in East Timor was a remarkable example of where the will was there and the resources followed very quickly. Normally, it takes the UN two to three months to put troops on the ground, because we borrow these troops from governments from around the world. It is lengthy negotiations and sometimes they don=t want to do it, whether you have a Council resolution or not.
We are trying to work with the governments to try and improve our capacity to deploy fairly quickly and we have come up with what we call the stand-by forces arrangements where Member States are encouraged to indicate to us what units C what capacity C they will make available to the UN, should they decide to participate in the peacekeeping operation. There is another arrangement, the Shirbrig, where a group of European countries, mainly the Scandinavian, Netherlands, the Canadians have joined in, each training high readiness brigade that can be made available to UN peacekeeping operations if they were to decide to participate at a very fast rate, and so to cut down on deployment time which is absolutely crucial because the rapidity of deployment can make a difference in any crisis. You can either nip it in the bud or contain it.
As the Prime Minister and I discussed earlier this morning, if we had gotten to East Timor three or four months after the violence, we can all imagine what the situation would be like. But because of the will, the support and the generosity of governments and people like yours, we were able to move fairly quickly.
Q: Why was there not the same sort of impetus when you looked at Rwanda and Burundi?
SG: I think what had happened was.... Let=s step back a bit. In Rwanda, the world was still very much focused on what happened in Somalia. We had just withdrawn or we were withdrawing out of Somalia after the American troops were killed and one of them drafted through the streets, so the nations were traumatised. The Americans were not anxious to take on another Somalia, as it were, so Rwanda in a way became a victim of Somalia and the membership was not ready to take another risk. In fact, a similar kind of debate is going on in the Council regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is a huge country with a very complex and messy war situation, even though we have an approval from the Council to send in about 5,000 troops,
but mainly to back up 500 observers who are there to monitor withdrawal of troops and cease-fire application. There is a great deal of hesitancy on the part of the Member States because they feel the risks are much higher, and in today's world, unfortunately, we have lots of huge armies who want zero casualties, who don't want to take risks, who would only go into situations if they are certain there would be no casualties, because they cannot explain to their population why the body bags are coming home. It is as simple as that.
Q: Our new government says it will ratify the Kyoto protocol on global warming this year. Your reaction to that?
SG: I think it would be good that they ratify the Kyoto (protocol) and I think the more governments that we get who ratify it, it would put pressure on this to come in, and I think we all need to be concerned about the environment. I don't think governments are doing enough, and I will be very happy to see your government do that.
Q: (question indistinct related to the likelihood of the USA ratifying Kyoto protocol in an election year.)
SG: I don't think anything will happen this year, in an election year, in the US. But on the question of the environmental conventions and agreements I believe that the environment is something we should take very seriously and governments should sign on to this. I know sometimes there are very strong pressure groups within government within countries that fight against this, but it does require leadership to override that and top bring the people along.
Q: In Srebrenica recently you apologized for events.
SG: I think the report on Srebrenica was done for several purposes. First, I thought one should know what happened in Srebrenica. Secondly, I think it was important for all of us, not just the secretariat member states, the world at large, to know why we failed in Srebrenica and to learn from that experience, and take steps to ensure that next time we get into these situations we are much better prepared and much better equipped, and in the course of this year I will be putting forward a report to the member states on how these operations can be strengthened and improved.
These were the objectives. It wasn't to set up the UN up to pay reparations, and we also need to be careful when we raise those kinds of issues and blame those who go in to help. By doing that we sometimes absolve the actual criminals and culprits who are now being brought to trial in The Hague, and in the case of Rwanda in Arusha. We went in to help. Maybe we could have done more. We are looking at what went wrong and how we should see it and I think one has to put things in context.
Q: (question indistinct: related to contributions to peacekeeping)
SG: I think the wonderful thing about peacekeeping operations is that a group of nations come together, large and small, and participation may not be as large as for example the US may have to offer. In our peacekeeping operations, the numbers from individual countries can range from 10 in the case of one to about 10,000 in the case of the other. I think you may be able to help in some of the logistical areas, giving us air support. If you are not able to give us large infantry, there are special niches such as field hospitals or others that you can offer, but your contribution is important. We have worked with Australian troops in several peacekeeping operations and we appreciate their professionalism and the contribution they have brought to the field, and I would encourage that you continue Prime Minister.
Q: East Timor, you praised our contribution there. How long do you expect to see us keep peacekeepers there and do you expect countries in the region, like New Zealand to contribute to its reconstruction?
SG: The initial mandate the Security Council has given us is two years and we are going to try and do as much as we can to prepare the East Timorese and then we will leave when the job is done. I don't know whether we will be able to do all that needs to be done in two years, or some adjustment may have to be made by the Security Council. I think on the peacekeeping front we have enough contributions for the operations in East Timor at the moment. But we are going to need help for reconstruction, for the operations in East Timor at the moment. But we are going to need help for reconstruction, for the establishment of the civil service, for schools, hospitals, and I would also encourage individual entrepreneurs. New Zealand entrepreneurs to take a look in East Timor and see what prospects there are.
We ourselves are beginning to now bring in the money that was pledged in Tokyo - about $500 million were pledged by the donor countries -- and the money is beginning to flow and we will be going to tender for infrastructure refurbishment and a whole range of other issues. I would also encourage individual companies, not only to look at what is up for tender, but also what they could go in and do individually to set up facilities.
Q: (question indistinct: related to New Zealand contributions to reconstruction)
PM: We didn't discuss the reconstruction side of it but obviously Matt Robson, who is the overseas aid minister, was up there recently with Mark Burton, and I am sure there will be a number of proposals come to Cabinet about how we might help. While the devastation in East Timor is obviously extreme, on the other hand it is a very small country, so the scale of what has to be done is probably commensurate with the resources that New Zealand and other small countries have to put in.
Q: Should Indonesia make reparation for the destruction of East Timor?
SG: We are now in very intense negotiations with Indonesia on a whole range of issues, including their property rights. I was encouraging them to try and resolve these issues very quickly with my team. Encourage them to replace some of the archives and documentation, which were destroyed and burnt during the mayhem. The question of reparation was not raised at this stage. I think what is important is that we conclude our negotiations with them, that those who are responsible for the violence are brought to trial, and that East Timor also develops good relations with Indonesia and Australia and its other neighbours. I think both President Wahid and Xanana Gusmao are keen on doing that. Whether the issue of reparation will be raised or not is a question for the future.
Q: (question indistinct: related to desirability of countries contributing 0.7% of GDP towards development aid)
SG: You are not going to get me to say that is an unrealistic figure. I think few countries, Norway and I think Denmark and others, but I think it is a figure that I would encourage governments to try and meet. There was a very interesting study in the United States where the public was asked to comment on the extent of USA development assistance and the results were interesting. They thought in fact their government was giving much more than it was actually giving and they were prepared to support that level of assistance. But the US has one of the lowest percentages when it comes to this development assistance. We are encouraging all governments to try and honour that commitment and move up to that level. Obviously it is up to the government and the population to decide, but I would be happy to see that recommendation met.
Questions and Answers after speech at National Press Club of Australia, Canberra, 22 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: I won't spoil your day by talking about Richard Butler who appeared here a little while ago, but I would like to ask you…
SG: I hope you enjoyed him…
Q: We did. I would like to ask you a bit about the future government of East Timor and I hear, I don't know whether this story is apocryphal or not, but I hear you were once a roommate of Jose Ramos Horta in New York. Is that true? I was wondering if you could tell us when you know Xanana Gusmao and Horta would be ready to rule in East Timor?
SG: I have met Horta and we were not roommates. I think I am a bit older than he is. But on East Timor let me say that we do have a challenge in the task and I had a very useful discussion with my own team on the ground and also with CNRT leadership and with the National Consultative Council and with the bishops, with Nascimento and Bello, and met some of the ordinary East Timorese. The Security Council has given us initially a mandate of two years. In two years, during our presence, let me back away from it, during our presence in East Timor we are going to work with the East Timorese to prepare them for independence, build institutions, set up administrative services, the educational system and all the sorts of services each state will need to be able to stand on its own, including development of the judiciary, training police or security force of some sort, but hopefully police, and ensure that by the time we withdraw there will be East Timorese in position and ready to run the state. I hope we will not leave before the job is done and I think before we leave we should be sure that we have done our job we should be guided by specific achievement and criteria rather than arbitrary timetable of one sort or the other and I trust that the East Timorese leadership will work with us in this direction. We don't want to linger, we don't want to stay much longer than is necessary. On the other hand, I think it would be irresponsible not to do as much as we can before we leave. If you expected a specific date, I am not in a position to give you a specific date, but we are working hand-in-glove with the East Timorese leadership and will continue to do that. Thank you very much.
Q: My question is about the sanctions on Iraq. Abstracting from the humanitarian considerations the OPEC cartel is pushing up its prices by restricting production and some easing of sanctions on Iraqi oil exports will relieve the situation, I think, prior to it becoming really dangerous as it did in 1973. Can you enlighten us on that?
SG: The question of sanctions is a difficult one for the organization and for quite a lot of us. Sanctions is a blunt instrument and sometimes affects the population who are not the intended target of the Council. The Council itself is discussing it and we are trying to look at ways and means of introducing what has come to be called "smart sanctions". Smart sanctions being sanctions which are targeted at the leaders whose behaviour one is attempting to change either by freezing their bank accounts, refusing to give them visas to travel and a whole range of specific sanctions directed at them rather than making the population suffer. It was with this in mind that the Council established the Oil for Food scheme under which we sell a certain amount of Iraqi oil. At this stage it is 5.2 billion dollars every six months. To use the money to buy food and medicine for the Iraqi population and of course 30 per cent of that revenue also goes towards compensation for claims against, the compensation fund, for claims against Iraq and that committee sits in Geneva. The Council itself would be discussing the sanctions issue in April. As the major topic for discussion and I would hope that as we search for a more effective way we will be able to come up with something to spare the population who have never been the intent of the sanctions. I know that the Iraqi sanction issue has been in the press lately because the head of my office there - the humanitarian coordinator - Hans von Sponeck - has just resigned. He is the second one to resign. The first one resigned, Dennis Halliday, and there has been a third staff member who has resigned, arguing that their conscience does not allow them to stay on the job because they felt it was affecting the local population instead of the leadership of the regime. This is something that I will be looking into when I go back. Von Sponeck is meeting me in New York and we will review the situation to see what steps could be taken to make the regime more effective. Oil prices, I noticed only two days ago, that the OPEC countries came together and seem to be indicating that they will increase the level of their productions slightly not to create a situation where oil prices get out of control and create uneconomic downturn. Iraq has indicated that without the spare parts necessary to repair its industry it may have to cut back on its production. I have recommended to the Security Council that they should allow Iraq to import in millions of dollars worth of spare parts to be able to sustain the industry. Some of it is still on hold, blocked by Council members, and I would hope that it would be released shortly because you cannot run an oil industry without essential spare parts. And if we allow that industry to collapse not only would the world economy, and by your implication, be affected, but would not be able to provide the assistance to the Iraqi people that we are all trying to do. Thank you.
Q: I really want to talk about money. You are owed billions and you spend billions. I am sure that people here would be appalled as you are to believe that only 50 members of the United Nations out of 188 have paid up, and that includes Australia has paid up. Now, substantial members actually put conditions on the United Nations before paying. I wonder whether the United Nations could put perhaps some conditions on them by saying that they will not buy or take any service in procurement for the United Nations if they haven't paid their fees?
SG: I wish I could do that today…(laughter). No, let me say that I consider the UN dues a legal obligation and member states should pay their dues in full and on time and without conditions. Besides, the scale of assessment is something that the member states agreed to among themselves. The scale is based on capacity to pay, and if the US pays 25% of the budget today, it is because of the size of its economy. If Japan pays about 19% it is because of the size of its economy. And I think it is a fair criteria they have agreed to among themselves. And it becomes unfair to those member states who pay on time and other member states either do not pay or impose unilateral conditions for their payment. Some years ago when I was the Director of the Budget, I made several proposals to the membership but they did not accept them. One was that those in arrears must pay interest on what they owe. And after all, even they do it for school fees in the States. But the Membership were not too keen to accept this. The only penalty we have today is to take away their vote in the General Assembly, not in the Security Council, in the General Assembly if they accumulate two years in arrears. That is really not a penalty. And it is applied in such a manner that if I owe two million I can pay one million, circumvent and manipulate to keep the vote. When I was the Director of the Budget I proposed that if anyone, any country, accumulates two years arrears, they should be required to clear the totality or 50% before they get their vote back, because that's the only way you can have teeth in it. Also, for the calculation of the two years in arrears I felt it should be principal plus interest if one could introduce interest so that they hit the ceiling much faster. It is amazing as the General Assembly approaches and the question of voting in the General Assembly in September comes up quite a lot of them rush up to pay, but then of course nine months has gone by and there have been other ideas, other suggestions that would have encouraged the UN to develop other sources of funding. Some have thought of a one-dollar or two-dollar, not tax, let's say surcharge, on each international air ticket bought which will raise perhaps a billion plus for some of these operations or as Professor Tobin suggested, a tax on international flows. None of these ideas has been accepted by member states and I know that the United States in particular is very much opposed to this, saying it is a tax and only the US Congress and Senate can tax its citizens. So we are in a very difficult sort of situation and we keep constant pressure on the member states to pay their bills and to pay their dues and do what they have undertaken to do.
Q: I was wondering if you could give us an update on the situation in Western Sahara and whether the UN still has hopes to hold some kind of referendum there or whether you have given up on that effectively?
SG: We have not given up on our search for a solution, but we have some difficulties at the moment. You know the agreement or the referendum plan was agreed to in 1991 and since then we have been trying to organize a referendum and that referendum can be organized only if we have the full cooperation of both parties. And the parties are very conscious that the numbers of those who are registered and approved to vote will have a direct impact on their results, and so at one time or the other we have had difficulties with the parties. Recently we have had quite a lot of difficulties with appeals. We identified about 89 odd individuals to vote in the referendum. But we have about 130,000 appeals which almost amounts to a second identification process which can drag out the process given the level of cooperation we have had, maybe for another two or three years, and even then I am not sure we will eventually get their cooperation to make it happpen. I have given a frank and honest report to the Security Council sharing with them the difficulties we have and suggested that maybe the time has come for me to bring the parties together under the chairmanship of former Secretary of State James Baker, who is acting as my personal envoy, to explore with them how we can move forward and how we can find a solution to this impasse. And so that is where we are and the Council will be discussing that report shortly and I hope that between now and May and that Mr. Baker will be able to bring the parties to the table.
Q: Can I take you back to East Timor? Australian Foreign Minister Mr. Downer has been talking about the need for the UN to have a clear exit strategy in East Timor and he has focused on that two-year date August next year. Do you think the UN has a clear exit strategy and would it be possible given the destruction that you described for the UN to have completed its mandate by August next year?
SG: I think in a way I did answer your questions. My answer to the first question being that the Council has given us an initial mandate of two years, but there is a lot to be done and I think we should base the determination of our success or our ability to leave on what we actually achieve on the ground. It may take two years, it may take less, it may take a bit longer and I think we have to be realistic about this. Obviously the Council will have the final say, but I would not at this stage want to be boxed into a specific date or timetable because it depends very much on the progress we make on the ground and how quickly we are able to work with the East Timorese in preparing for independence and creating a situation that would be sustainable.
Q: I would like to ask you about non-government espionage…
SG: Which means you (inaudible) prove the government espionage (laughter…)
Q: There have been several cases recently of non-government espionage in the press and elsewhere including your own organization - one prominent case involving an Australian aid contractor working on taxpayer-funded projects and spying for the Australian government in East Timor. I would liketo ask you how damaging you believe that activity is and how you might stamp it out?
SG: No, let me say that when the UN sends people into a region to do a specific job we expect them to focus on exactly what they are there to do. If they get involved in unauthorized and illegal activities in the sense of UN mandates it does compromise the organization and it does create problems. I suspect you are also alluding to Iraq where some of the inspectors were accused of spying. I made a statement at the time that this was before we started getting to hear much more. If indeed that was correct it does undermine the whole agency that has a programme of inspection around the world. If the governments concerned believe that the inspectors are not coming to inspect their chemical or nuclear capability but they are coming to do other things they will no be inclined to cooperate and so we do not encourage something that we do not approve and if we find staff on UN contracts doing that. We should deal with them firmly and quickly.
Q: You said before that politics is stubbornly local. My question is in two parts. Was your decision not to bring up the issue of mandatory sentencing with Prime Minister John Howard yesterday at all influenced by his comments last week that outsiders should not speak on the morality of Australian domestic issues and secondly given Australia's strong stance on East Timor do you think Australia should also accept international views on its domestic policies?
SG: Let me say that my decision not to intervene had nothing to do with what the Prime Minister or anybody else said before my arrival. I think some of you were at the press conference yesterday and if you were not you probably might have seen it on television when the issue came up and the Prime Minister said that this is a domestic issue we are dealing with and while the Secretary-General is here let's focus on international issues, and he's right. I have come from far and I thought we should do that and that is why yesterday I said that we should all follow the lead of the Prime Minister and essentially it is a domestic issue, it is a matter that could be of concern to the United Nations only to the extent that it may pertain to international conventions in the field of human rights or rights of children which Australia is a party. And I am sure Australia is conscious of its commitments in this regard. And since the government is dealing with this I don't think I should be drawn into this and I think one should respect that. You are smiling; I take it that you agree with me (laughter)
Q: Just to seek clarification - have you or will you be referring the matter of mandatory sentencing to Mary Robinson?
SG: I was surprised to read something about that in the press. I did have a private conversation with the leader of the opposition and I usually don't discuss my private conversations and if you don't mind I wouldn't do it this time either.
Q: Can I just take you to the Israeli-Lebanon issue? Given the violence in the last few weeks in that area do you believe that Israel would be able to meet its July 1 or July target to withdraw from Lebanon and if they do, do you believe that Syria should withdraw as well and do you approve any agreement which allowed Syria to stay in the country in the event of Israeli withdrawal?
SG: You don't ask easy questions, do you? No, let me say that I, like all of you, I trust have been very encouraged by developments in the Middle East. A few months ago, or barely a month ago, I thought it was possible, and I still hope it will be possible, to get a comprehensive peace agreement in the region, not only settling the Palestine issue but also the Syrian and Lebanese issues and you do realize that the Syrian and Lebanese trucks are quite linked together. Ideally I would want to see a situation where there is progress on both the Syrian and Lebanese tracks and therefore Israel settles with Syria and consequentially withdraws from southern Lebanon. If that does not happen prime Minister Barak has indicated his firm intention of withdrawing the troops from Lebanon from the 7th of July, he has been as precise as that. This is an issue that we are following very closely because we have the UN peacekeeping force on the border between Israel and Lebanon and they have done a very good job for many years and it would have implications for our own persons and we would have to know what would be required of us if this withdrawal were to take place. I have no reason to doubt that Prime Minister Barak would go through with these intentions and if they were to withdraw obviously Lebanon and Syria have their own coordination agreement and this is something that will have to be settled between them, but I hope in time if we have, if and when, and I believe we will have a comprehensive peace in the region. I would hope all foreign forces would withdraw all around and go back home. Thank you.
Q: Yesterday, you described Australia as a model country and a model United Nations member. You know in the past few years we have been criticized by several UN committees specifically about child detention, mandatory detention, for illegal immigrants etc. Do these issues not count or these issues raised with you with the Prime Minister yesterday, or is a model country now one that is criticized but these things swept under the carpet now?
SG: I think what is important now is that countries have their well-established legal procedures for dealing with some of the conflicts that you are referring to and I think when procedures are set up which are transparent - you refer to the refugee issue. I think on the refugee situation your country has been quite generous in receiving refugees. I know you have had some problems with new arrivals who do not go through the approved mechanism that you have set up with UNHCR and others but it is important that these be dealt with fairly and promptly using your own laws and I think a nation is not judged by one incident, you use a whole range of criteria to judge what makes a nation and what makes a nation stand for or why I would refer to a nation as a model UN member. When I hear questions like that I am often reminded of a very important lesson I learned as a young man. I was in boarding school in high school and the headmaster came in one day and put a broad white sheet with a dot on the right hand corner on the board and we were 45 of us and he said "boys, what do you see?" We all put up our hand and said, "Black dot". "Not a single one of you saw the broad white sheet. You all saw only the black dot. Don't go through life forgetting the broader picture and the goodness in things and focus on the white dot". That is something that I have carried with me all my life.
Q: [Inaudible question]
Q: You have expressed some pessimism about the international arms control regime heading the NPT conference that is coming. Given the nuclearization of the Southeast Asian area, given emerging doubts about the future of the ABM, what needs to be done in the international community now to get the arms control agenda back on track. What are the chances of any progress at the NPT conference given the variety of views we are hearing and finally what chances are there now of getting the fissile material cut-off treaty off the ground?
SG: I think on the question of disarmament and the whole armaments issue I don't think we are in very good shape. I don't think we are in good shape because you refer to the explosions in Asia, in India and Pakistan, and of course Security Council discusses but of course India and Pakistan say that we are prepared to discuss nuclear disarmament but not just our case, all other cases and the permanent five and those who belong to the nuclear club should also be prepared to discuss their own cases. And I think in the long run if we are going to make progress the nuclear powers must take the lead in demonstrating that these armaments are going to be dismantled and approach it with such serious and purposefulness you send a message to them "don't become an India or Pakistan and if you devote your resources to it, you will only have to dismantle it and it is not worth the investment". I think we are going into the NPT regime at a difficult time and I have tried, we should try and encourage the key nations themselves to set the tone. I have to be helpful because of my job and I don't think it is going to be an easy conference…(tape cuts out)….it's going to be a difficult conference but I hope the public will also get involved and continue to pressure their own governments and particularly the nuclear governments to become more sensitive to the concern, after all we have only one earth and we all have the responsibility for it. And usually when we talk of nuclear weapons I am reminded of an African proverb, which says that "The earth is not ours, it is a treasure we hold in trust for future generations". And I think we should be worthy of that trust.
Q: Just back on the question of mandatory sentencing. You also said in your speech besides saying how stubborn politics is a local issue, that we always had to be on our guard about protecting the rights of the minorities. What do you think you would expect aborigines to say to your story about the black dot on the white sheet? Isn't this one problem here that we do have a problem that the minority in this country feel very strongly about and you're saying that we have a democratic process that we could deal with it?
SG: I have also told you that your government is dealing with that and I don't think that is something they have ignored or brushed under the table. And I think I have said enough about that topic. Thank you.
Q: How do you think the current status of the United Nations itself stands? Do the various pressures for reform of the basic political structures look more threatening than they did a couple of years ago or are there any obvious reforms that you would like to see before you leave your position?
SG: I think on the question of reforms we have made quite a bit of progress on the organizational and structural aspects of it and tightened the structure and made the leadership much more coherent and at the field level get the UN agencies to pool their efforts in order to have greater impact on the ground. We have had some difficulties, let me put it this way, we haven't made much progress in areas like Security Council reform where the membership have been discussing it for quite a while and this is an issue only the member states can decide. The membership all agrees that the Council should be reformed. That the structure and the composition of the Council as it stands today reflects the geopolitical reality since 1945 and it was time it was brought in line with the 21st century. Beyond that one cannot get much agreement amongst them. There have been suggestions that we should expand, increase the size of the Council from 15 to 20 or maximum 26. There are people on both sides of the debate, those who believe that the Council should be kept small in order for it to keep its effectiveness. And those who believe that the Council has to be increased to become more representative and more democratic and thus gain in greater legitimacy. I believe it ought to be possible to do both, to make it more democratic and keep it small enough to be effective. Suggestions have been made that five new additional permanent seats should be created, three for the developing countries, one each for Africa, Asia and Latin America, and two for the industrialized countries. But then of course if you are going to give a seat to Asia, who gets it? India would seem a natural choice, but Pakistan and others have a problem with that. If you go to Africa, would it be Nigeria, Egypt or South Africa? Latin America? Brazil would see itself as a natural, but Argentina and the Mexicans have other issues. The member states are grappling with this and I hope they will find a solution some time soon. There are other areas where we require governmental agreement, whether it is an area of sunset clauses to remove projects that have been on the books for more than five years or resource based budgeting so discussions continue. Later in the year we are going to have the millennium summit and beginning in May NGOs from around the world will meet in New York to discuss the UN of the 21st century and give us their view of what we should be focussing on. At the end of August, speakers and presidents of parliaments from around the world would also meet in New York to discuss that topic and then the heads of states and governments come in September and hopefully out of that will emerge some visions, some concrete ideas as to what the UN of the 21st century, at least in the first half of the 21st century, should focus on and that is something we are looking forward to very, very much.
Q: I wanted to ask you one of those "What if?" questions from history and it concerns East Timor. In late 1998 or early 1999, before President Habibie made his announcement about a consultation within a year on the autonomy package for East Timor, what was the possibility, do you think, that had they been allowed to run their course they could have achieve a benign and perhaps more peaceful outcome in East Timor?
SG: That was the approach of the discussions until that point had been on autonomy and the approach had been that if they voted for autonomy special arrangements and constitution would be written to make that possible. If they rejected autonomy it would lead over a period to independence and a period that would have been negotiated and agreed to. But from the moment independence was put on the table by President Habibie the ball game changed and the discussions focussed on that and in fact the question that was posed during the popular consultation was quite different from what it would have been if independence had not been on the table.
Q: inaudible…unexpected honour to ask you a question. Sorry to take you back to an issue that you said you don't want to address, but we would like to thank you first for acknowledging the crowd at the front at the protest and we appreciate it. You have asked to support the United Nations in its work and I guess the question of mandatory sentencing works both ways and there are many of us who do support the work of the United Nations but we also need the support of the United Nations in our work in human rights in this country and I am slightly worried that perhaps you have been misinformed about the work of this government on this issue and it is a burning question for many people in this country who have pursued many domestic routes to solve the problem but unfortunately black people are being locked up at an alarming rate and we saw the tragic death of somebody who was locked up for mandatory sentencing laws and can you suggest ways that people could use United Nations processes in this country to further the rights of an important minority in Australia.
SG: I think I will prefer…I indicated that I have had private conversations and I would prefer to stick with that and there were things that were discussed in those conversations that I will stick to. I know what you are saying and I think you also heard what I have said and I think I have said it three or four times and there are things that one in my position discusses in private that you don't go and put on public display.
Press Conference with PM John Howard of Australia, Canberra, 21 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
PM Howard: Well, Good Morning Ladies and Gentleman. The Secretary-General and myself, and then the Secretary-General, myself, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and Defence Minister have had discussions of over an hour…(inaudible).
Our discussions this morning of course traversed the events of last September. I thanked the Secretary-General for the leadership he had shown and the skill and the speed with which he and the United Nations had assembled the international force that went into East Timor. Without that diplomatic skill and speed, the very positive outcome simply would not have been possible.
We both believe that the transition, which is now underway, is working effectively. We've seen this week the return of the first batch of Australian men and women from East Timor. We are well satisfied in Australia with the leadership of Mr. De Mello from the United Nations, and we'll continue to play a very constructive role both militarily and otherwise.
We both agreed on the importance of the relationship, both between East Timor and Indonesia, and also between Indonesia, East Timor and Australia. We see the relationship between Australia and Indonesia as, of course, amongst the most important relationships that this country has, and we'll both continue to work very hard to build on the fundamentally sound foundations of that relationship.
I also took the opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for the role he played in securing the release of Peter Wallace and Steve Pratt from detention in the former Yugoslavia. It was a difficult operation and many people played a role in that. And the Secretary-General played a very positive role.
Finally, by the way of introductory remarks, can I say that the relationship that I've developed on a personal basis with the Secretary-General, the admiration that I've felt for the role that he played last year is very strong indeed. I think the United Nations performed with very great skill and great distinction. The leadership displayed by the Secretary-General in that particular exercise is something of a role model for United Nations action in areas, which may pose similar challenges. I am personally delighted to have you in our country, Secretary-General, and I'll have an opportunity at lunch to expand on those remarks of personal welcome.
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am extremely pleased to be here in Australia. It's my first visit and the Prime Minister and I had a chance to have very useful discussions this morning and as he said, it was as if we have known each other for a long time because we've spent so much time on the phone. And when we met today, it was like old friends coming together.
But I must say that we could not have achieved much without the support and the leadership that the Australian Government and the people of Australia showed. Without that generosity and that determination to help those in need, we couldn't have made it. It is because of your leadership, Mr. Prime Minister, and the commitment of Australia, that we were able to mount a force that quickly.
It is almost a record that a UN force is able to go down within two weeks of a crisis. When the atrocities started early September, I think very few people thought that we could have put a force on the ground by about the twentieth. And here it is mainly due to the leadership. And I want to thank Australia and all the other countries that joined in the force to bring calm to East Timor.
I have just come from East Timor, as most of you would know. The transition is going well, and we have again achieved another incredible and a seamless transition from the Australia-led INTERFET to UNTAET. These military operations are complex, but under the able leadership of General Cosgrove, Dos Santos, it has gone extremely well.
East Timor is going to need help, help of its neighbours, particularly Australia and Indonesia, and the rest of the world. And I think with a bit of help, and sustained effort, East Timor can make a go of it.
I would also want to take this opportunity to thank Australia for all the help it has given to the UN in all aspects of its work, from development to humanitarian and also the intellectual contribution you make to our work. Thank you and we'll take your questions.
Q: [Prime Minister, on a domestic issue.. [inaudible].. will the coalition be able to offer tax cuts, personal tax cuts…]
PM: Jim, I'm sure you can tempt the Treasurer or I on a domestic political matter another time today, but I think, it's out of courtesy to my guest, I don't want to get into domestic political matters. Australia's involvement, commitment to East Timor, was an issue of bipartisan support in Australia and I would rather keep domestic political matters, for propriety's sake, away from this news conference. But I'm sure you could tempt one of us some other time today, and don't forget.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you've said East Timor is going to need help from its neighbours, Australia and Indonesia. Given what happened before the INTERFET force went in, do you think Indonesia has any particular responsibilities to East Timor now in terms of perhaps reparation?
SG: I think, let me say, what is important and what the Indonesian Government is doing now to ensure that those responsible for those atrocities are brought to trial. Justice must take its course, and I think once those are tried, and those responsible imprisoned, it will send a message that impunity is not allowed to stand, and I hope that it will also be a deterrent for the future. I think both Indonesia and East Timor realise that they are bound together by history and geography, and it is in their interests to have good relations. We are in the middle of discussing a whole range of issues, including property rights with the Indonesians and I hope those talks will go smoothly. So far, they are going smoothly. I would not want to be drawn on the issue of reparations at this stage. I want us to sort out the outstanding issues that we are working out now.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, are you happy with progress so far of the Indonesian human rights investigation and the removal of General Wiranto from the Cabinet, and do you see any role for the UN to conduct its own separate investigation or tribunal?
SG: I think the important thing is to make those responsible accountable and the Indonesians are moving ahead in a determined manner to do that. I met with the Attorney General as well as the Human Rights Commission when I was in Jakarta, and I think they are taking it very very seriously. And if they do mount a credible and transparent trial, I really do nothing but counsel or see any need to set up an independent tribunal.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, did you discuss the need for a rapid deployment force this morning with the Prime Minister and how important is it to get something like this set up?
SG: Not in those specific terms, but I think the Prime Minister and I, and the Ministers who were there with us, agree that when you have the sort of crisis we had in East Timor, it is essential that you are able to deploy rapidly. And I said it was possible because of the role Australia played. There are a group of member States who have come up with this scheme called a Shirbrig where each of them develops a high readiness brigade in their own countries that will be ready for international service if they decide to participate. That high readiness brigade will be essential for future UN operations, but we did not get into the development of a standing UN army as such.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, are you aware of the controversy over Australia's mandatory sentencing laws, and has anybody raised it with you?
SG: I think you just raised the question with the Prime Minister. And you are right, there are reasons why he is the Prime Minister and I am the Secretary-General.
PM: Can I just say on the issue of the Indonesian pursuit of human rights violations, I totally share the view of the Secretary-General on that. I think Indonesia deserves a lot of credit and understanding for what she's done on this, and I think the process should be allowed to work in Indonesia. And I believe the Indonesian Government has displayed a great deal of strength on the issue. It's not easy. We obviously will follow it closely, as will the Secretary-General. And Australia joins the United Nations in encouraging the Indonesians to firmly and fairly and effectively deal with that issue. We've got time for one more question and then, if after a short interval, you care to hang around, I might return.
Q: Should Australia provide intelligence material to the Indonesian human rights investigation?
SG: I'm not sure I would put it in terms of intelligence material. But whoever has information regarding the atrocities which were committed should cooperate with the prosecution. We obviously will cooperate to make sure that those accountable are brought to trial. And I think if you say Australia, if you mean INTERFET should cooperate with regards to whatever information they may have, I think that would be appropriate.
Q: Not just INTERFET, not Australian intelligence material. I mean the British and the American and NATO powers provided such material to the tribunals in the Hague. Should not Australia do the same in Indonesia?
SG: I think this is something I'm sure that the prosecutors will be in touch with you, with us, and anybody else who is likely to have information or evidence. I think we should be forthcoming because otherwise the criminals may get away, if we do not cooperate. Thank you very much.
PM: All right. Thank you very much.
Press Conference at the end of SG visit to Dili, East Timor - 18 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I think we all had a very emotional 24 hours here. I think some of you were in Liquica with me, and again this morning, you've seen the reaction of the people, the enthusiasm. And the song they sang for us, this morning, which really reflects their own dreams and hopes. And I think I made a statement this morning, and I need not waste any more time but I must say this has been an emotional visit for me. I've been very moved in coming here by what happened in Liquica, the history of the struggle and how we were received this morning. Maybe I will let Xanana Gusmao say a few words to you and then I will take your questions.
Xanana Gusmao (translated from Portuguese): It was a great honour for our people to receive the Secretary-General. Since the initial mandate we understood that we would have a new period of solutions. I recognize the longstanding commitment of the Secretary-General. His visit here is yet another confirmation of that commitment of his. Had it not been for him I would not be standing here today addressing you. And I would like to reciprocate and assure the Secretary-General that we are ourselves committed to work with UNTAET and with Sergio Vieira de Mello, in the knowledge that we are with them.
SG: Thank you very much. Now I will take your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, do you support, does the UN support, bringing to justice senior Indonesian military officials who are responsible [inaudible]
SG: Absolutely. I have made it very clear. And in fact, during the crisis when we were pressing the Indonesian Government to take action, I did say that if they did not they would be made accountable for crimes against humanity and the Council and all of us have pursued that, and I am happy to say that the Indonesian government itself, and when I was in Jakarta recently I got assurance from the highest level of the government that all those responsible will be made accountable and brought to trial. So we are waiting for justice to be done and I am encouraged, yes.
Q: Why didn't you bring the issue of prosecutions or international justice tribunal in your speech to the people?
SG: I think I have been saying a lot about that and I think what is important in my discussions with the leadership, also, and yesterday, in Liquica, I did say that we must have justice in the court and justice is going to be done, and we should avoid justice in the streets. And if I did not say it then, perhaps it was an omission, but I have been saying a lot about that in the last week that I've been in the region and again yesterday in Liquica and I stand firmly by that.
SG: First of all, I think my presence here and the visit I did to Liquica was in the spirit of solidarity and I had the chance to speak to some of the widows and the families who have lost their people. As I indicated we are all appalled, we all abhor the violence and the torture that took place here. And those responsible are going to brought to trial and the international community is going to work with the East Timorese people to reconstruct and to build their society. I think the message here is that impunity should not be allowed to stand and those responsible are going to be put on trial and I hope that trials would also serve as deterrent to all those who might be inclined to take this kind of brutal action.
Q: Mr. Annan, you go to Australia next, and the debate there at the moment is that the UN mission should be reduced, [that] you should leave within two years, if not less, on the basis of past experience in Cambodia and Bosnia, and its due to the matter of cost. Is that something you would support?
SG: Obviously, we are not here to stay forever. We have a job to do and we would want to do it as quickly as we can, in close cooperation with the East Timorese people and their leaders. But the duration and the nature of UN operations is determined by the Security Council and it is from the Council that we will take our lead.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, there seems to be, judging by the posters held outside by the people, a concern whether Indonesia will pay for rebuilding East Timor. Did you discuss this issue and do you feel that Indonesia should contribute to rebuilding East Timor?
SG: I had very useful and long discussions in Indonesia regarding their relationship with East Timor. UNTAET is at the moment in a whole series of negotiations with them, regarding a range of issues from property and rights to other issues, and future good relations between the two neighbours. I think out of these discussions and negotiations should emerge an understanding of who does what and who offers what. So, at this stage, I prefer not to jump ahead of the discussions under way.
Q: I would like your comment about the decision of President Wahid to drop General Wiranto. You said in Jakarta that an international crime tribunal is not necessary. Can you comment on President Wahid's decision to suspend General Wiranto?
SG: First of all, let me be clear. What I said in Jakarta and I repeat, and I've said all along, that it is essential that those who committed the atrocities be brought to justice. The Indonesian Government is now in a process of doing that and the suspension of General Wiranto is seen as part of the judicial process. I indicated that if the Indonesian authorities go ahead to pursue this effort and mount a credible trial, I do not believe that the Council will want to set up another international tribunal. I did indicate, however, that the Council is going to monitor and follow the situation very closely and depending on what happens, if the trial does not go forward as planned, they may revert to the international tribunal and that is a position I maintain.
Q: Legislation is under way at the moment in Indonesian courts to set up a human rights tribunal. What would you like to see the Indonesians do? What kind of court would you like the Indonesians to set up?
SG: I think the main things, the important things are that the investigations should proceed, should be credible, and that the judicial system should be transparent and should meet a minimum of international standards.
Q: Mr. Kofi Annan, we were informed that you were going to West Timor, but the visit did not take place. Was it a kind of compromise during the talks with the Jakarta government? The compromise that they would give the East Timorese refugees all the support? That's why you were going there, to see the place, what is [inaudible] with the refugees.
SG: My decision not to go to West Timor has nothing to do with the Indonesian government. It was purely logistical. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Kofi Annan, [I am] from "Tais Timor", UNTAET newsletter. In your speech just now, you mentioned something like: "I wish we could have prevented it." "What is the meaning behind these words: "I wish we could have prevented it"?
SG: By that I meant I wish all parties to the agreement would have lived by their commitments and established the secure environment which was promised. There was no doubt that they had the capacity to do that, if we judge by how the voter registration went, on the day of the ballot how things went smoothly. The capacity was there if the will had been there and this is one of the reasons why the international community came down that heavily on the Indonesian authorities for not meeting the commitment.
Q: So, do you think it was a mistake to give Indonesia security responsibility under the May 5 Agreement. And, do you personally take any responsibility for what happened in East Timor?
SG: Let me say that it is easy in hindsight for one to be wise and pose all sorts of questions. We have to recognize the history of East Timor and the history of East Timor and Indonesia. We also have to recognize that Indonesia was exercising authority over East Timor with troops and the police here, and in the agreement refused to have any international troops come here. We had unarmed military observers and police, and they gave us solemn assurance that they have the capacity to maintain law and order and that they will do it. I think that we need to be careful not to always turn on those who come to help and say that things went wrong and we are responsible for them. I think that we have to be careful to ensure that those who committed these crimes are made directly responsible and are being put to trial. If each time the UN goes to assist people in difficulty, they are going to be blamed for that, we are going to have a situation where governments are going to be hesitant to get involved n these situations, or to send troops or anybody. And in fact we are witnessing this in the debate that is going on around Congo for example. I think what happened here was very tragic. I think that it is also significant that the international community mobilised and within two weeks had a force here to help retain, contain the situation and today has an operation to try and help East Timorese to rebuild. I think that important message is that the international community did not throw up its arms when the conflict when the conflict began, and the killing began, and said: "What do we do" but mobilized a major force to come in and deal with it when the Indonesians failed in their promises. That I think is the message that should go out. We demonstrated our common humanity; we demonstrated our international responsibility. We demonstrated that when others are in difficult situations it is a concern for all of us. That is what you guys should be writing about.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, did you receive any concrete [inaudible] form the Indonesian Government that they are going to help the return of refugees who are in West Timor?
SG: Yes, we spent quite a lot of time discussing and I did request that they should ensure that the militia does not intimidate them and that the East Timorese who are in West Timor should be able to exercise their right freely. Those who want to remain in Indonesia and perhaps relocate elsewhere should also be given the assistance and the possibility to do that, and of course, those who want to remain in West Timor should also get the assistance of course, and they may decide to remain in Indonesia for the moment but may change their mind in the future and return to East Timor and that option should also be preserved. We have agreed that the Indonesian Government will sit with UNHCR and work out very concrete plans on how we assist the refugees to get back here. It was very much one of the major topics in Jakarta.
Q: Are you worried that the East Timorese people will get too comfortable with the money [inaudible]?
SG: I think, let me state an answer, maybe later Xanana will say something for himself, I think on the contrary. We are not here to create a society of dependents. We are here to give East Timor assistance in launching this state. I would hope that by the time we leave, most of the administration will be in the hands of East Timorese, who would have worked alongside us and maintain the momentum and carry on with it. We hope that we will be able to work with the governments in the region and the private sector to create a viable economy that could be sustained by the new government. If we create an atmosphere of dependency, and make the East Timorese entirely dependent on us, it would then not be possible for us to withdraw that easily and if that were to happen we would have failed, and that is not the direction we are moving in. And I think all our plan is to help them stand on their own and create a viable state and economy.
Upon leaving the conference room, which was very hot, Secretary-General Annan remarked: I was going to say, you see how sweaty all of us are and I have done nothing but speak. And if I am sweating like this you can imagine what it means for those who are doing the real, hard work here. Please give them a pat on the back when you file your reports. Thank you very much.
Address to UNTAET staff and NGOs in Dili, 17 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Thank you very much, and Sergio, let me say that I did get the message. You turned the lights off three times to get me to understand the circumstances under which you work.
I am very pleased to be able to join you here this afternoon and to meet with the UN staff and our partners from the NGOs without whom quite a lot of the work we do would be much more difficult.
I know that some of you have gone through the three incarcerations of the international presence here. Some of you were here during the critical period, when the atrocities went on.
Many people were killed, East Timorese and our staff members, and I recall a critical juncture when the decision was taken to evacuate the international staff, and we spent the night on the phone with [Ian] Martin going back and forth so we could have volunteers, and we were so relieved to see that so many people wanted and offered to stay, and decided that we cannot abandon our East Timorese brothers and sisters.
Some were not so lucky and are no longer with us. May I ask perhaps to observe a minute of silence for those who lost their lives during that criticial struggle?
Now attempts are being made, serious attempts, to bring to justice those who are responsible for the atrocities. And here in Dili, in East Timor, UNTAET is trying to set up a judicial system. It may be still getting off the ground but is being built, and I think it is important that we seek justice in courts, in the system, and not in the streets.
But let me assue those of you who are working here for the international community that there is lots of goodwill and lots of support. You may sometimes doubt it because it hasn't been translated into concrete projects and employment on the ground.
In the Tokyo pledging conference we raised 500 million dollars. These are pledges that now we expect will be converted into cash, and for the projects to begin in earnest.
We are building from scratch as you all know, and the task is going to be slow, difficult, complex and we should be patient.
I can understand our frustration because we sometimes feel we are not doing enough and we are not going fast enough to help the East Timorese for whom we are here to assist. We must persevere and we must be determined to move ahead.
I know it is sometimes frustrating particularly for those of you who are here on the ground. And I sometimes feel it too when you read in the press: what have these people done in the six months as soon as the end of the conflict? Why haven't they reconstructed East Timor? Established the school system, hospitals? All all in six months?
We and those who judge us, and write about us, must have a sense of realism and what is possible. Sometimes I feel like saying: why are you asking us? We have just arrived, ask those who were here before us. But in any event we have a job to do, and with the determination, cooperation and to pull enough efforts, let's move on and get it done.
On behalf of the entire international community and your friends in New York, I want to thank you, who are on the frontline trying to do whatever you can to alleviate the suffering. And regardless of the organization you work for, a UN agency, NGO or whichever, we are in this together, and I saw today around the table when I met with some of the agency heads, and I hope to see some of the NGO heads also, I was impressed by the harmony, the cooperation and the determination to work together, and this is the way we should do it.
I want to finally thank you for all your personal and individual contributions, and I hope between now and the time I leave tomorrow, I will have the chance to meet as many of you as possible. Good luck, and thank you very much.
Press Encounter with journalists aboard plane from Jakarta to Dili, 17 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, this was a major project for you - East Timor - and I believe you have said that you wouldn't have changed anything in the process despite the violence that ensued. Have you had any second thoughts, as we now head into East Timor? Did it unfold the way you would hope it would in the end?
SG: I think we should look back to the history of East Timor and remember that this was a conflict that had persisted for about twenty-five years. And in the process, thousands have died. At least today it's been brought to an end and the people of East Timor have taken charge of their own destiny and now are beginning to rebuild.
Obviously, reconstruction will take time. I've read press reports saying that after six months the police have not been established, the judiciary is not established, reconstruction is not completed. I don't know of any nation that was built in six months. We are beginning to get the money that had been pledged. In fact, after me comes Mr. Wolfensohn of the World Bank. We are working very closely together and the money is going to begin to flow, and reconstruction will begin in earnest - the creation of jobs, quick impact projects that will create jobs for the people.
I think the East Timorese realize that this is going to be a long road. I can understand the initial frustration of some of the citizens, but I think in the long run they will take charge of their own destiny and live the dream they have waited for twenty-five years.
Q: What are your personal thoughts as we now fly from Indonesia, in the air, to East Timor?
SG: I must say that, in fact yesterday, I saw [former Indonesian Foreign Minister] Ali Alatas in Jakarta, and I was taling to Mr. Jamsheed Marker and some of the people who have been involved in this. And I recall my communications with [independence leader] Xanana Gusmao who said, yes, it was painful, it was difficult, but we would not have had it any other way. And now at least we can move forward and build.
I would hope that the East Timorese will reconcile among themselves. I would hope that the East Timorese in the diaspora will come back and help rebuild the nation. I have been encouraged by the discussion I've had with ASEAN leaders n Bangkok, and the discussions I had in Tokyo and China, where these Governments have committed themselves to help East Timor. And I think this was also reflected in the success of the pledging conference in Tokyo. And East Timor, which has good relations with Indonesia, which is embraced by the region and ASEAN, as difficult as it is going to be, I think we'll stand a much better chance of success.
Q: Would you have liked to have seen the camps in West Timor?
SG: I would have liked to see the camps in West Timor, but there were several reasons - the question of logistical reasons and also some of the on-the-ground arrangements that became a bit more complicated.
And besides, going straight to East Timor rather than going via West Timor gives me a bit more time with the people on the ground, with the leaders. And also, of course, to have the occasion to review with the peacekeepers how things are going.
I've had a chance to discuss the West Timorese situation very, very fully with the Indonesian authorities, and I've impressed upon them the need to contain the militia, and work with us to get the Timorese to go back to East Timor or to make a free choice, either to remain in West Timor or relocate in another part of Indonesia.
But they must exercise that choice and be given freedom of movement.
Q: Are you worried about a culture of dependency in the inaternational community in East Timor?
SG: That is always a risk, but I think this is something that we are going to try and work with the East Timorese and the countries of the region to try and build as viable an economy as possible so that it will not become so dependent on the international donor community. Initially it will have to be, but I think we need to work with them and help them stand on their [own] feet.
Q: As a human being, what do you want to see on the ground in East Timor as we are in the air flying there?
SG: Well, I think I have received enough reports and seen a lot of [inaudible] to know what to expect on the ground. But it also encourages me and should propel me and all of us to try and move as quickly as we can to get the reconstruction off the ground and to give the people hope…hope that real help is coming, hope that the reconstruction is going to begin in earnest and that it will be sustained.
Q: Has there ever been a UN operation that has been so much in control? Is there another place where the UN is effectively being the Government and has been so much in control?
SG: I think this is a first. We were in Namibia and in Cambodia, but in these cases, there were Governments. I mean there was a Government in Cambodia, and we worked with them. So East Timor is a first, really, for the UN.
Q: It is quite a challenge.
SG: It's quite a challenge, and we need all the help and support we can [get] from the international community, from the donor community, and we would expect the East Timorese to work with us partiently to get the reconstruction [under way].
Q: How long do you think it will take for the recreation, or reconstruction of East Timor?
SG: I hesitate to give you a time frame, but it is going to take several years. This is not something that will be done in months.
Press Encounter with Attorney General, Marzuki Darusman, Jakarta, 16 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Attorney-General: We have the honour to welcome the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan. We were able to touch on practical matters of cooperation with regards to settling the issues on violations in East Timor following the submission of the report by the Human Rights Commission of Indonesia. I have enlightened the Secretary-General on the overall plan of the Attorney-General's office to proceed with investigations and review of these cases and will also be able to make headway within the coming three months or even earlier than that. We have also been able to touch on the need to establish a working relationship with UNTAET with the possibility of our team going out to East Timor if necessary to reinforce the findings of the Commission. In the long run we have touched also on issues on cooperation and conducting training and advisory assistance to the Attorney-General's office.
SG: Thank you very much. I think the Attorney-General has given you all the news on what we talked about and I was very happy to listen to him, hear his plans and how he intends to proceed, and obviously the Government and expeditiously and I want to thank him for the briefing he gave me a few moments ago. Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, are you considering amending the oil for food deal with Iraq following the resignation of one of your officials in Baghdad:
SG: I don't think the Security Council has any immediate plans to modify the oil for food scheme. We are continually trying to work to make it as effective as possible. So I think the programme will go forward. I would just have to appoint a new director of the oil for food programme. But there are no immediate plans for changing the programme.
Q: Are you satisfied Mr. Secretary-General about the ongoing investigations of the Commission on East Timor's atrocities?
SG: I think what is important is that it is being done professionally and its being taken very seriously and I think we should let the process take its course and I am satisfied with what I have seen and what I have heard.
Q: Mr. Darusman, are you going to name names of the military who are involved?
Attorney-General: Well the review as I mentioned is now well under way. We hope to be able to determine the initial list of possible suspects within the coming three to four weeks and this will relate to the report of the Commission that was submitted to us. Thank you.
Press Encounter with President Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia, Jakarta, 16 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
President Abdurrahman Wahid: Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. His Excellency, the Secretary-General of the United Nations had a nice talk with me, and the Vice President about many things. And I am glad to report that at the end of the meeting there was consensus among us that the United Nations will work as much as possible to assist Indonesia in many ways in its economic recovery, as well as political stability. And we said also that we would use UNCTAD for trying to find new frameworks of cooperation within the United Nations for, let’s say, the situation in the future. Besides that, in the talks we talked about East Timor, about the situation in Indonesia, about the investment prospects for Indonesia and so forth. So, I think it’s better to listen to the Secretary-General about it. Please.
SG: Thank you very much Mr. President. I will be very brief, because you have said with the press the nature and the extent of our discussions. And perhaps we’ll take the questions that they may have arised.
Q: [Concerning prosecution for human rights violations in East Timor.]
SG: Yes, we did discuss about it. As you are all aware, the Government has begun a judicial process to make accountable those who were responsible for the violence. And I think that process should take its course. As I have said earlier I support what the Government is doing in this area. And it is important that those who were responsible for the atrocities be brought to justice in order to send the message out that impunity would not be allowed to stand. And it will also be a deterrent that for those who would be minded to attempt that in the future.
Q: Do you now dismiss the possibility of having an international tribunal?
SG: What I have said is that the Government has already demonstrated its determination to bring those responsible to account. If the Government puts them on trial, and justice is done, I do not believe that the Security Council would insist on setting up an international tribunal. Of course, if that doesn’t happen, the Council has a right to revert to it.
Q: What is your criterion of justice?
SG: What is yours? [Laughter]
Q: Secretary-General, are you happy that the President has promised to give a pardon to General Wiranto, if he is prosecuted and found guilty? Are you happy about that?
SG: I think that, if I am correct, the announcement that came out two days ago was that he will be suspended pending the outcome of the proceedings. Once those proceedings are out, the necessary decisions will have to be taken. And so, I am going by the decision that was announced two days ago.
Q: And if he was pardoned, would accept that?
SG: I haven’t look at the legal documents, and the details of Indonesian law to know how pardons are accorded in this society and this circumstance. I would not want to be drawn into that aspect.
Q: President Wahid, did you give any assurances regarding a pardon for Wiranto …?
President Wahid: You know that between friends there is no need for assurances, as long as we work in the right way, in the right manner. That means that we will prosecute those involved, and then later the decisions will tell us what to do.
Q: [Concerning the people of East Timor’s impatient with reconstruction.]
SG: I think the question of the process of nation building is obviously a slow one. We did have a very good pledging conference for them in Tokyo. The results were very satisfactory, and the funds are going to begin to flow now. And there will be reconstruction and job creation projects. In fact, the head of the World Bank comes in tomorrow, and he will follow me to East Timor. And we are working together with the Bank and other donor communities to reconstruct East Timor. Obviously, it’s a long process and we do understand some of the frustrations on behalf of those who are unemployed. But we are determined to move as fast as we can and to work with them.
Q: [Concerning the situation in Moluccan islands.]
SG: We did discuss, and the President shared with me the steps the Government is taking to bring the situation under control and the efforts they are making to engage the people concerned, and also to enhance economic and social development in the regions concerned. I think that is a very important step -- the question of dialogue, open-minded dialogue, and economic and social development.
Q: [Concerning travel by the President and the Secretary-General and "flip-flops".]
SG: I think one has to be in a position of responsibility to appreciate what happens if one is on the road. You are not only dealing with the issues in the cities that you are in, but your office follows you. And I am sure in the case of President Wahid, not only is he dealing with issues in the capitals, whether it is Tokyo or Paris or wherever, but, he is also has to deal with the issues taking place back home. So, in other words, if you are not careful, you are working twenty-four hours. And leaders in today’s world are often, of course, also exposed. You guys never give us any break. The cameras are constantly on us. Your mikes are constantly on, and so sometimes even when we are talking to ourselves, you grab it and put it out, and then tell us we are not doing what we should do. But, I think what is important is really the end result. I think the President gave a certain indication of what he wanted to see done, and what he was going to do. And I think two days ago that was done. And I think we should be focusing on the results rather than the process.
Q: [Concerning refugees in West Timor.]
SG: We did discuss the issues of the refugees in West Timor and the need for them to be able to go back freely to East Timor and those who want to stay in Indonesia, make the free choice either to remain in West Timor or relocate to other parts of Indonesia. We are going to be working closely with the Government through the High Commissioner for Refugees, and I also had a meeting with the Minister of Defense, who are going to work with us to ensure that the unruly militia elements and those who are intimidating refugees are brought under control and that we can assist in getting the refugees back. And this morning with the President we talked about opening the road between East Timor and West Timor, not only for refugee return, but also for normal commercial purposes.
Q: President Wahid, the fact that you suspended General Wiranto, what kind of message did you want that to send out to the military?
President Wahid: No message, because they understand the situation very well without any message. I just dealt with the persons not with the military as an institution. That’s what’s important, but it’s not the message.
Q: Is there any ground for blaming the United Nations for the destruction of East Timor, in terms of not everything was done to prevent it?
SG: We had an understanding with the Indonesian Government in the sense that the Indonesian military and police would assure security for the East Timorese to exercise their right and for the popular ballot to be conducted, and as you know on the day of the ballot things were under control, everything went well. But of course, we all know what happened then. The security forces were not able to live up to that engagement, and in fact some of them became embroiled in thrashing the place. And this is why the Commissions of Inquiry were set up and that also explains why we are in the judicial process. What is important is that the UN and the international community did not throw up its arms when the violence ensued, but worked with the Indonesian Government and governments around the world, and particularly in the region, to come in and help restore order in the place. And of course now we are faced with the question of reconstruction. And it demands the cooperation of all and I am very happy that good relations have developed between President Wahid and Xanana Gusmao. And I think East Timor realizes that good relations with Indonesia are important and Indonesia is also prepared to establish good relations with East Timor. And that bodes well for the future. There was a lady here.
Q: [Concerning the Indonesian Government’s reform efforts.]
SG: First of all, let me say that the Government has given me a clear impression that it is committed to reform. And I think that the signs are all around us, and serious efforts are being made to transform the society. And I am not talking only of the economic and financial aspects, but I think on the military aspects, for the first time in many decades, the civilian authority over the military has been asserted, as is the case in any normal democratic society. And I think this is important. Obviously, any major transformation of the kind we are witnessing here is going to take time. And we need to be patient and not look for rapid results over night. And I think with that spirit and that support, I think the changes that President Wahid and his Government are trying to bring about will succeed. And I think we should be patient. Thank you very much.
Press encounter with Defence Minister, Juwono Sudarsono, Jakarta, 16 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: East Timor and the negotiations going on between the United Nation administration on the ground and the Indonesian Government with regards to a whole range of issues, from property to border and other aspects of our cooperation.
We were also able to discuss our efforts to get the refugees in West Timor to go back and the efforts that need to be made to contain some of the militia elements who maybe impeding the return of these refugees.
But of course we also acknowledge that there may be some East Timorese who may want to remain in Indonesia, in West Timor, and they should be free to exercise that choice, either to remain in the West or relocate freely to wherever they want to go in Indonesia.
But what is important is that the refugees should have the freedom of exercizing their free choice and going back to West Timor as some of them would want to.
Defence Minister: I’d just like to express my appreciation to the Secretary-General and his team, which arrived in Jakarta. We have assured the Secretary-General that the Department of Defence and Armed Forces Headquarters are helping the due process of legal prosecution in as speedy a manner as possible so that the alleged atrocities in East Timor can be cleared through the proper legal process.
As of now, we are still waiting for the legal process to take place, and we await, with patience, the office of the Attorney General and the Department of Law and Legislation to facilitate the legal process set in train.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, did you discuss violence in outlying areas, the disintegration that is occuring elsewhere in Indonesia?
SG: If by that you mean Aceh and the Mollucas islands and what the Government is doing to bring that under control, yes we did discuss that and the Minister briefed me on the steps which have been taken to calm those situations as well.
Q: There is a comment. Some people have said there is international pressure on President Wahid to make a decision on General Wiranto. What is your comment, Sir?
SG: I suspect in Indonesia, like all other countries, Ministers serve in the Cabinet and the President has certain prerogatives. And here the President decided to exercise his prerogative.
And if the President believes that it is in the interests of the country and the Government, as a new Government they don’ t want to have any cloud over the Cabinet, or in the Government, that they would want to start with a clean slate and therefore ask General Wiranto to step aside and suspend him, I think it is the prerogative of the President.
I don’t believe you need any international pressure to make that judgement.
He is a political leader, he’s in charge of this country and he’s excercised his judgement and his prerogative.
Q: Did you discuss the issue of the military, which is clearly factionalized? Did you discuss the impact that the Wiranto issue is having, and can you tell us what that impact is?
Defence Minister: No, I just assured the Secretary-General that the principle of civilian supremacy is set in place. There is no question of any imminent or long-term military coup. The President and the Cabinet are in full power over the military.
What ever factionalism there is in the military , they can contain and handle.
Q: Secretary-General, are you still insisting that an international tribunal is needed for human rights violations?
SG: I have not insisted that an international tribunal is needed for human rights. What I have said is that it is absolutely essential that those who are accused should be brought to justice. Those who were responsible for the atrocities in East Timor must be held accountable.
The Indonesian Government has giving every indication that it is doing that. And I have maintained that if the Indonesian Government maintains this line, and brings those responsible to trial, there‘ll be no need, I suspect, for the Security Council to establish a second international tribunal. So, basically it is in the hands of Indonesia.
Defence Minister: Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, thank you very much.
Press Encounter with Speaker of the Indonesian Parliament, Akbar Tandjung, Jakarta, 15 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I had a very good discussion with the Speaker.
We discussed East Timor and the question of the refugees in West Timor, and the need for them to be able to return, and to resettle wherever in Indonesia that they may wish to settle. And if they want to stay in West Timor, to be able to do it freely.
And we discussed the question of bringing to justice those responsible for the crimes committed in East Timor, and the Indonesian efforts to set up a credible trial and make sure that impunity is not allowed to stand.
Thank you very much.
Press Encounter with FM of Indonesia, Dr. Alwi Shihab, Jakarta, 15 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q : Mr. Secretary, if you could discuss what the Foreign Minister and you talked about - the major topics.
SG: Well, we've had a very good discussion - a first discussion, because we'll be continuing our talk during my stay here.
We talked about the economic and financial reforms that are taking place in the country. We talked about the human rights commission's report and the follow-up action that the government is giving to it.
We talked about East Timor and the UN-Indonesian relationship and the efforts that are being made to get the refugees in West Timor to go back to East Timor.
Q : Regarding the human rights report, which advocated an international tribunal, can you just clarify what the United Nations would like to see?
SG: I think what we would want to see is that those who are accused of the crimes committed in East Timor are brought to trial and are made accountable.
The Government of Indonesia has demonstrated its determination to do just that. And if the Government is mounting a credible trial and prosecuting these people, I suspect the Security Council would not rush to set up a competing international tribunal.
Obviously, the Council Members are going to keep their eye on developments and see what's happening here. In the meantime, I applaud what the Government is doing and I encourage them to ensure that there is the rule of law, and prosecute these people, so there will be a deterrent to future perpetrators of such crimes.
Press Encounter with Indonesian FM, Dr. Alwi Shihab, upon arrival at Jakarta Airport, 15 February 2000, 11:15am (unofficial transcript)
FM: I think that this is a very fortunate and historic moment for us to welcome the Secretary-General of the United Nations and I wish him every success. And we would like to explore more possibilities of enhancing our relations with the United Nations.
We will have a meeting today, and then we will have dinner and of course His Excellency is going to meet with President Gus Dur and some other Ministers. I hope all the best for Indonesia and for the United Nations.
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. I am extremely happy to be here. This is my first visit ever to Indonesia.
As the Minister has indicated, I come at a very important time in the history of Indonesia, and I look forward to having very useful discussions with President Gus Dur (Abdurrahman Wahid), with the Foreign Minister and other Ministers and for us to discuss some of the developments that are taking place here, and also the Indonesia - United Nations relationship. Thank you very much.
Q: If President Gus Dur pardoned the General (Wiranto), would the United Nations continue to reciprocate?
SG: I think what is important is that we have engaged in a judicial process. And I am personally very pleased that the Indonesian Government has taken on the responsibility of ensuring that those responsible for the atrocities in East Timor will be made accountable and will be brought to trial. And I think that process has begun, and we should allow the judicial process to take its course.
Q: Mr. Secretary, do you feel better being here with General Wiranto suspended?
SG: I think I have answered the question. There is a judicial process, which is now in course, and we should let it take its process.
It was the President's decision and I think he has exercised his prerogative.
FM: Thank you.
Press Conference, Singapore, 14 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Spokesman: We get underway with a brief statement by the Secretary-General then we’ll take your questions, the Secretary-General.
SG: I think I’ve said a lot today but let me say that its been a great pleasure to be back here in Singapore and although its my first visit here as the Secretary-General of the United Nations and I’ve had a very very useful and helpful discussions with the Chief Minister, the President, the Prime Minister & the Foreign Minister. We covered a range of issues both regional and international and we discussed UN & Singaporean relationship and I had the opportunity to thank the government for all the support they have given to the UN & the international community and the contribution that Singapore is making, not just in the financial and material terms but also the intellectual contribution that brings to our work at UN both at head quarters and another arena. I think I would now pause here and take your questions since we don’t have too much time.
Q: Thank you, Secretary-General. After Singapore, you’re going to Jakarta, then to East Timor. Would you care to tell us what you will you be doing in East Timor?
SG: I would hope to be able to have discussions with the East Timorese leaders and particularly Zanana Gusmau and also review our own operations in East Timor and the visit some refugees and have discussions with the military commanders about what is happening and to discuss and review the status of our operations & see what we can do to accelerate them.
Spokesman: Thank you. Someone else? Gentleman in the front row?
Q: You know you said that the we cannot meet the challenges of the new millennium with an instrument designed for the middle of the twentieth century. And what progress have we made towards changing that instrument to meet the challenges of the twenty first century?
SG: I think at the organizational & managerial level we’ll make quite a lot of changes. The UN and its agencies are working much closer together. We’re trying to get our operations at the national level to be much more effective. We’re pushing UN Agencies in the specific countries to work more as a team and pool their efforts for greater impact on the economic and social development that they are there to do. We are working much more effectively with civil societies, the private sector foundations and Trade Unions because really by working through partnerships of that kind it will permit us to extend our capacity and be enriched because govts are not giving us all the money we need. In other areas, we haven’t been that successful, for example Security Council Reform, the debate here goes on. And later on this year we’ll have the Millennium Summit in New York where I hope world leaders will come to discuss the UN of the Twenty First Century and give us the sense of direction and some vision as well as come up with concrete suggestions as to how we tackle specific problems in a manner that could be measurable in the next twenty or fifty years. And I’m looking forward very much to that discussion. It will not just be a discussion of heads of states and government. In May, we will have the forum for NGO’s to be a global meeting for the Civil Societies from around the world in New York, and in August we will have a meeting for all speakers of all and presidents of parliament from around the world who would also come and discuss this topic. And of course, beginning of September we have the Heads of States and Government. But I think what is important for all of us, not just a member State, and those who work in the UN, but for you the public, individuals who are concerned about the world that we live in, is that the world is now so inter-dependant that we need to really press forward together and work together for the kinds of norms and values and standards; and regulate the mechanisms that I spoke about today in my lecture to make it easier for government and others to work together. And we indeed forty five years ago, yes, government held on very tightly to their sovereignty and the questions of sovereignty was not questioned. And therefore when the UN was established, it was a dream. But today the dream and the reality have caught up with each other. Without the kind of things that the UN is doing in this inter-dependant world it will be really messy and I hope we will all not only root for it but encourage our governments and other states to join in. I know that some people are not comfortable when I say that sovereignty as we know it traditionally is being redefined by globalization and international cooperation. And we need to come up with new approaches for dealing with it and States’ sovereignty whether we like it or not is being challenged and there are vast areas that escapes state control for the moment, and there was economy financial flows and commercial activities have become truly global. The national policy is far behind us and we need to work together to cope with these things. Thank you.
Spokesman: Thank you, someone else, Gentleman in the third row.
Q: Mr Secretary-General, there was an announcement a couple of days ago that you are looking into appointing a person from the Secretariat to promote democracy in Myanmar. Do you have any further news on this? And will there be any other such persons appointed for example to promote democracy in other parts of Asia?
SG: First of all, you are right that I’m looking at appointing a new special envoy to work for the Government of Myanmar in encouraging a Democratization and Reforms. That individual is not necessarily going to come from the Secretariat & I may appoint a personality outside the Secretariat to engage the Government of Myanmar and other political forces to work with us in moving the process forward. And I think if we are able to do that to be in the interest of the govt,. the People of Myanmar, and then for the region. I have in several other situations appointed an envoy to deal with specific or particular problems, but I have no immediate plans to appoint other envoys for other regions or other countries in the region. But I am engaged with other govts. in the regions through other means.
Spokesman: Any other questions, gentleman in the front row?
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, can you comment on the event which happened in Jakarta with the President Abdurrahman suspending General Wiranto?
SG: I’m going to Jakarta from here tomorrow morning What I will say is that I’ve been following developments very very closely. And obviously, President Wahid is exercising his authority and doing what he thinks is right for the country; and of course a judicial process has also begun and I think I should let that process take its course.
I think that is all. I thank you & have a very good evening
Press Encounter with PM, Singapore, 14 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
PM: We had a good discussion on matters concerning the UN. The UN is very important for all countries but I would say that it is true that smaller countries need the UN much more than the powerful countries. We had a discussion on events in the region. The Secretary-General was very interested in my reading of the situation in Indonesia and other countries in the region. If you want to ask him some questions or if you have some questions for me I would be pleased to answer them.
Q: I would like to know your reaction to the news from Jakarta that President Wahid has suspended Gen Wiranto and I have a different question. I wanted to know what you think of Mr Camdessus’ suggestions that the G7 be extended to include other countries. Do you endorse that suggestion?
SG: On your first question, let me say that it is all part of the process in that the results or the report of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights abuses has been made available to the Government. The UN conducted its own investigation and that report is also in front of the Security Council and what is happening in Indonesia with the indication that the Ministry of Justice will look into these accusations. I see this as a very positive process and I’m pleased that the Indonesian Government seem determined to hold those responsible accountable. And I think we should let the judical process takes its course.
With regards to your second question, I agree 100% with Mr Camdessus. I have myself repeated time and time again that it is no longer acceptable and there is not going to be acceptable for long for a group of 7 to 8 countries to come together and make decisions which affect the economies of other parts of the world without fearing that their group under represented. So I think what Mr Camdessus said should be taken very seriously, I hope the G7 will consider their own approach.
Q: Hwee Goh from Channel News Asia
PM, so what was your view of Indonesia starting right now and my second question was there any discussions on Singapore or Asean with regards to the UN’s role?
PM: Well, I think from my view of Indonesia I would prefer to reserve it for another occasion, I concentrate on UN matters because Indonesia is a big subject, you can carry on starts and it can go on for sometime. Yes we believe that Singapore can play a modest role in the UN where we have participated earlier on in discussions from Laws of Seas and environment and other matters which lead to certain international regimes being established. We are seeking a place in the Security Council in, I believe 2001 2002. We are working hard to ensure that we get the necessary support and if we get elected I can assure the Secretary-General that there is no problem to work in close co-operation with him and with his staff to contribute what we can.
SG: And I also had the chance to thank the PM and truly the people of Singapore for the very strong support they have given the UN in all our activities and their intellectual contributions to our work. And also to thank their most sincerely for the support we got in Carmene? and East Timor.
Q: May I ask you about the resignation of Mr von Sponeck, humanitarian co-ordinator from Iraq. Could I take your views from it, in terms of his replacement as well as and what do you think of his opinion, that you know, of humanitarian and US embargo should be separate?
SG: Han von Sponeck, had served the UN well for about 36 years. He’s been my humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq for over a year, he has submitted his resignation which I accept with regret, and I wish him all the best and every success in his future endeavours.
With regards to the UN programme in Iraq, the Council resolutions are clear, we will continue to implement the humanitarian programme and we will do our best to make it as effective as possible in order alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people. The Council itself realise that sanctions can be a blunt instrument and that is the reason why they established their oil for food scheme to be able to get assistance to the Iraqi people. I hope in time Iraq will co-operate with the Council, implement the Council resolutions so that the sanctions will be lifted.
Thank you very much.
Transcript of press conference in Bangkok, 13 February 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I think we’ve all had a rather hectic few days. This is my first official visit here to Thailand since I took over as Secretary-General. And during the visit I’ve had the opportunity to have very constructive discussions with the Prime Minister. I had an audience with the King where we also discussed a range of issues including globalization and development issues. And have had equally constructive discussions with the Foreign Minister. Yesterday I had the chance to talk to several of the ASEAN leaders who are attending the meeting as well as attending the Summit… UN-ASEAN Summit, the first ever. And I had individual meetings with some of the leaders including Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia. I think the trip here has been very useful and I hope the discussions at UNCTAD X will continue in the same spirit that it opened yesterday. And I look forward to a constructive and useful meeting here. I think I’ve said a lot since I got here and I did not give a lecture this morning but rather take your questions. The floor is open.
Q: Sir, taking into consideration the present demand you have in regards to peacekeeping operations, the trust of globalization and trade and development, do you see a larger role for NGOs? And do you think that you have adequate resources, i.e. staff and money, to tackle the task ahead, sir?
SG: We’ve never had adequate resources. In fact, technically speaking we are broke. But we have managed to keep on with our work. Let me say that we do need NGOs, we do need to work with civil society, the private sector and trade unions. And I made this very clear during my very first speech to the General Assembly that alone I can nothing and alone the UN can’t do much. And we need to reach out and work in partnership with civil society and the private sector. And a lot has happened since then. NGOs are very actively engaged in all the areas the UN operates in, from development to social issues, to humanitarian, and in areas of peacekeeping where we work side by side with them, sometimes the NGO delivering humanitarian assistance. And in fact quite a lot of the UN agencies deliver their relief through NGOs. So we have been partners for a long time and we do need them.
On the question of funding, there has been quite a lot of pressure on member States who have not paid their dues, to pay. And I think we are making some progress. I think it is only fair that if member States gives their responsibilities and mandates to the United Nations or any of the agencies in the UN family, that they are given adequate resources to carry out their tasks.
Q: Sir, I am Suria [ph] of the Hindu Newspaper of India. Sir, did you, during your visit to Bangkok, receive any representation from any separatist group in Jammu and Kashmir? And if so, could you say what that was about? And independent of that, is there any move to take the Kashmir issue off the UN agenda at the time of the Millennium Conference? And if I can have a second question on East Timor…
SG: … I think there are so many other pressmen here who would want to ask questions, if I would … if I could appeal to everyone to stick to one question. But go ahead - ask you second question. [laughter]
Q: So on East Timor, is there any move by the UN to hold a general election there, either before of immediately after the territory becomes fully independent? Thank you.
SG: On the question of Kashmir, yes, a petition was handed over to us at the UN office here in Bangkok. And as to your second question, I wasn’t quite sure. You asked if there was a decision to take Kashmir off the agenda during the Millennium Assembly. Was that correct?
Q: Any move to drop this issue…
SG: … any move during the Millennium Assembly? No it will not be one of the topics that we will be discussing during the Millennium Assembly. I would hope that the member States, the heads of State and Government who are coming to New York will come to discuss the UN of the 21st century, look forward, and perhaps also… decided to take action on certain specific problems that we all face that can be managed. And come up with proposals for dealing with them including timetables and measurable standards that we will follow through as the years... But we are not going to take on issues like Kashmir.
On the issue of East Timor, yes, we will organize elections for the East Timorese before the UN operations end. And I can’t give you a timetable now but perhaps within the next two years or so. So that the East Timorese will have the chance of electing their own leaders in a democratic fashion and they can take over the Government and we will withdraw.
Q: Hi, Chris Johnson [ph], Reuters. Are you confident there can be a credible trial of former leaders of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia?
Secretary-General: That is what our discussions with the Cambodian authorities have been about all along, that we need to work together to establish a tribunal that will be credible and meet minimum international standards. I had a good meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday. And I will be sending a team to Phnom Penh to discuss outstanding issues. And I hope to dispatch the team as soon a practicable.
Q: John Koch [ph], [unintelligible] Seoul, Korea. It’s nice to see you again Mr. Secretary-General.
SG: It’s good to see you.
Q: My question is… there’s two parts to it. Basically there’s been a lot of huffing and puffing on the part of the developing countries on how they’ve been disadvantaged by globalization. My question is: they’re willing to talk the talk - are they willing to walk the walk and submit national development plans to the UN or agencies? I’m talking about management consultant plans which reflect a desire, a commitment to take stock of their situations and in view of the fact that so many of these countries have squandered resources and aid, and few of them have used aid effectively. And in that connection, with the plethora of UN institutions committed to development, how would you feel about a Security Council session devoted to globalization in which a process was laid out and streamlined for a one-stop window for countries who were serious and were willing to submit to certain performance criteria and accountability for the use of resources made available to them? Thank you.
SG: Let me first say that one of the major areas of UN agencies, particularly UNDP and others, is institution building, working with Governments to strengthen their institutions, human resource development, and also working with them to come up with the right regulatory system and encouraging them to set up a government based on the rule of law and transparent and accountable. Obviously this is going to take time and it not going to move at the same speed in each country and each region. The Security Council, I’m afraid, will not be the right place to have the sort of global… the conference on globalization or a discussion on globalization as you’ve indicated. But there have been discussions in the ECOSOC, Economic and Social Council. The General Assembly itself has taken on the issue and we will come back to the issue of globalization during the Millennium Assembly Summit. It will be one of the topics that we will deal with. And so the membership at large will have a chance to say something about this topic at the highest level. Thank you very much.
Q: Ditmar Peterson [ph] from the German newspaper Hundredsplat [ph]. You have mentioned that you met Dr. Mahathir from Malaysia yesterday. May I ask you, do you share Dr. Mahathir’s view of the world economy?
SG: I think I spoke out yesterday very clearly and gave you my views. And I spoke from my own observations and experiences. And I think you have to deduce from what I said yesterday where I stand.
Q: Thank you. Jasper Goss [ph]. I’m a freelancer. Sir, the debate over capital controls, to follow up from this question, has been steadily increasing since the speculatively-induced private sector crisis of the last few years. We are all aware of the disastrous social effects in Russia, Mexico, South Korea, Brazil, Indonesia, inter alia. The need for capital controls and the necessary mechanisms for the redistribution of global wealth seems more pressing than at any time since the 1930s. Do you support global mechanisms for wealth redistribution? Specifically, do you support the Tobin Tax?
SG: The Tobin Tax, as you know, has been on the table for a long time and it hasn’t gone anywhere because of a lack of support for it from member States. And there have been other suggestions. I mean there were suggestions about one- or two-dollar tax on each international air ticket bought for the revenues to be used for development and peace and security issues. That did not go anywhere. But what has happened since the Asian crisis is that there has been quite a lot of discussions in Washington, New York and other capitols and amongst the G-8 about new financial architecture and what sort of steps one can take to strengthen the system and to ensure that we do not repeat the upheavals that we went through. The governments, individual governments themselves, have take steps to strengthen their local national institutions and their regulatory systems. And there’s also been a strong call for transparency on both sides – on the sides of the industrialized country and on the side of the developing countries. And I think the efforts that are being made are paying fruits and I think both governments and the IMF, the World Bank and the international system, have learnt a lot from the crisis that occurred two and one-half years ago. Thank you.
Q: Peter Jansen [ph], DPA. I understand that at the ASEAN-UN meeting yesterday the Foreign Minister from Myanmar requested the UN to take a more active role before democratization, I think he called it, and apparently your response was a smile. I wonder if you could elaborate a little bit on your smile, whether or not the UN is indeed interested in doing that.
SG: I’m smiling. [laughter] No, let me say that we have tried to engage the government of Myanmar. And as you know I for several years now, have had a special representative who visits periodically, Myanmar. He’s now moving on – this is Alvaro de Soto, who is now taking on a new function as my special representative for Cyprus and has been working with me on the Cyprus negotiations. I do intend to name a replacement, to appoint a new envoy whom I hope the government would engage. And our approach had been to nudge the government to encourage them to open up, to engage other forces, other political forces in the country and move towards democratization and to create the type of confidence that will encourage the international community to come in and assist them. These efforts continue. I think yesterday we heard one side of the equation - what the international community should do, and the UN agencies. But I hope sooner or later we would also hear about what measures the government is taking or is going to take to open up on the process of political reform and democratization, so that we can more ahead together and improve the lot of the people in Myanmar.
Q: Matthew Pennington from AP. What do you think about Michel Camdessus getting a pie in the face this morning from an NGO activist?
SG: I thought that was bit rude. [laughter] And also I don’t Michel Camdessus deserves it. Quite frankly, he and the IMF have done a lot for the international system. Sometimes they’ve taken the rap for policy failures at the national level and sometimes they perhaps have also made some mistakes. But on the whole, when you look at the role of IMF during the past two and one-half years when we tried to counties off the ground and to help them recover from a crisis, I think the World Bank has worked very closely and effectively with them. Take Thailand for example. I think there may have been difficulties at the beginning but in the end they saw eye-to eye. At the beginning Thailand was supposed to manage its budget in such a way that there would be 1% surplus. In the end they agreed that Thailand can run a deficit and had about 4-5% deficit to be able to get the economy going. And Thailand expanded its expenditure in health and education with the understanding of the IMF.
Michel, in 13 years at the helm of the International Monetary Fund, has made a major contribution and I think we owe him a debt of gratitude. I’m going to miss him as a colleague and as a friend, and I applaud his achievements at the Fund. And all of us went through a rough patch, and a difficult patch, and we are not out of it yet. And we all facing rapid change with globalization that I’m not sure most of us are able to digest and adapt. And I think it’s unfair to heap all the blame on Michel Camdessus. He’s been a great leader and I wish him well.
Q: [Richard Roth, CNN] Mr. Secretary-General, do you think it would be helpful for your visit… during your visit that General Wiranto step down or have that matter resolved inside the Indonesian Government? How helpful will it be to the situation? And what is the latest you may have heard? I know you didn’t meet with President Wahid. But perhaps you’ve heard something overnight.
SG: Well I met President Wahid yesterday briefly at lunch and during the meetings. But I’m going to Indonesia in about three days time and we will have a long session. I’m following very closely developments in Indonesia at the political and social level and I’m also following very closely the discussions going on between President Wahid and General Wiranto. It is an issue that I will leave President Wahid and the Indonesian government to resolve. I think the sooner the issue is put aside so that they can focus on the essential task at hand. Indonesia is going through a major national transition. It wasn’t long ago that it went through another transition that is the one with East Timor. And it is an important country in the region and its stability and prosperity concerns us all. And I wish them every success.
Q: You say the quicker the issue is put aside, the better….
SG: Resolved. Resolved, the better. As soon as the issue is resolved, the better. Because it’s a bit of a distraction from the major tasks they also have ahead of them.
Q: Sir, on the first day you arrived in Thailand you made a comment on the boy-soldiers to Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai. I want to hear from you clearly what you praise or what you comment on the Thai commander’s ending the incident by killing all ten gunmen at the hospital.
SG: First of all let me say that on the question of boy soldiers, this is something that the United Nations has taken a very strong stand against and I have a special representative working that problem. And I was very pleased a month ago, last month, when member States met in Geneva and agreed to raise the level of recruitment of young men and women into the army to the level of 18-years-old.
On the question of what my comment on the siege at the hospital, I did indicate in my discussions with the Prime Minster that it was a relief, and I was satisfied that none of the patients at the hospital got hurt. And that hospital is the last place that you would expect this sort of an episode. Regarding any other aspects of the crisis, I don’t know enough about it to comment and I understand, I trust, the government itself is going through its own investigation and will take appropriate action as it sees fit. But my comment was a relief that the patients had not been harmed because you could imagine if you are patient, or if you have a relative or someone at the hospital, for this sort of thing to happen in a location like that.
Q: Do you expect the new envoy to be sent to Burma? how soon will he or she be visiting the country? And a related question: Our Prime Minister requested UN assistance on the resettlement of certain groups of Burmese students here. How soon can this be helped? Thank you.
SG: We haven’t established any timetable. First of all, I said I’m going to appoint a new envoy. And he would eventually go to Myanmar. We haven’t fixed a date.
On your second question, we did discuss the question of refugees in Thailand. And I thanked the Prime Minster for the generous support Thailand has given to refugees over the years. And I encouraged them to continue. And to continue to welcome these refugees from Myanmar and to protect them until such time that the situation at home allows them to get back. And I indicated that we, through the High Commission for Refugees, will provide every assistance possible. Yes, the Government did suggest that there should be burden sharing and some of the refugees, if they could be reassigned to third countries. It wasn’t a discussion about students as such. It was a discussion about refugees.
Q: Thank you Mr. Secretary-General. My name is Imtiaz Muqbil from the Bangkok Post. The international community, the so-called international community, is always in a rush to give wide support for statehood for many old problems like East Timor and other countries that were annexed. Isn’t it about time that the same international community came out just as much in support of statehood for the Palestinians? And would this be a year to actually go ahead with that?
SG: Well, I don’t know if I will share your phraseology that the international community is always in a rush to confer citizenship on territories. I don’t think the East Timorese would agree with you either because if you consider the history and the time…. On the Palestinian issue, the Palestinians are now in negotiations with the Israelis. They’ve made some progress and I hope that the discussions will continue. We have all been optimistic that the issue will be resolved this year, just as we’ve been on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks. And I think we should continue to support that effort and the negotiations. I do not believe that the international community deciding to confer statehood would resolve the underlying issues. And I think they are going about it the right way. And I would urge all parties to stay at the table and work very hard to achieve a peaceful solution.
Q: [CNN] Do you think though that General Wiranto should be, as part of some sort of deal in resolving it and moving forward on the issue, do you think that he should be cleared of any potential charges? Be free of any tribunal?
SG: Well that’s a hypothetical question that I don’t want to get into right now. In fact it came up yesterday and I said President Wahid himself was just going to leave yesterday to go to Indonesia to confront this issue. And I think I should leave him to deal with it. And I will know more about it when I get there. I would not want to run ahead of him or prejudge what he may do or not do.
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen
Stakeout with FM Surin Pitsuwan, Bangkok, 11 February 2000 (Unofficial transcript)
SG: Thank you very much Mr. Minister. Let me only add that in the past two days I’ve had very fruitful discussions with the leadership of this country. I had a wonderful visit with The King, the Prime Minister, and now another useful discussion with the Foreign Minister. I’ve also had the chance to visit the UN headquarters and talk to my own staff here. And tomorrow of course we look forward to the important conference of UNCTAD where I hope the member States will be able to rededicate themselves to the importance they attach to world trade and its future development. We will now take your questions.
Q: My name is Matthew Pennington from AP. My question for Mr Annan. I understand that tomorrow you’re going to meet with the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and I was hoping you could give as an indication of what you see are the possibilities of a compromise on the Khmer Rouge tribunal and how important you view tomorrow’s meeting in establishing whether an agreement can be made with Cambodia on this?
SG: Well, this is the second meeting I’ll be having with the Prime Minister on this issue. As some of you may know, I met him in New York last September when he came to attend the General Assembly meeting. We are still in discussion with the Cambodian authorities and the issue is by no means dead. I believe that it ought to be possible for us to resolve our differences and establish a credible tribunal to try those accused of crimes. And I would not want to go into details of what I will tell the Prime Minster tomorrow. But out main concern is that we establish a court that is credible, we establish a system that will ensure that all accused will be arrested if the judges indicate so, I mean those accused will be arrested, that if amnesty is granted, it will be applied fairly and squarely across the board. And that some people who have committed serious crimes will not find themselves amnestied while others are brought before the Court. So our main concern is to ensure that there is a mechanism that is fair, credible and meets the standards that we are discussing with them. And I hope tomorrow we will be able to take it further. In addition to that I have indicated to the Cambodian authorities that a UN team will got to Cambodia to discuss some of these issues with them and hopefully bring the issue to closure and a satisfactory conclusion.
Q: [unintelligible], from the Bangkok Post. Tomorrow will be the first ASEAN-UN Summit. [Unintelligible] How is this meeting significant to you and what are your expectations. [Unintelligible]
SG: I think tomorrow’s meeting is important in the sense that it is the first time that such a meeting has taken place and I congratulate the Thai Government for taking the initiative of making this meeting possible. I hope we will use tomorrow’s meeting to deepened ASEAN-UN relationship further. I hope I will be able to discuss the issues, economic and financial issues confronting this region and I also hope to be able to discuss with them the question of South-South cooperation and what experiences this region can share with the other regions, for example Africa. And obviously I would hope also to be able to discuss issues of peace and security and thank the Governments around the table for the support they have given us in East Timor.
FM Surin: We had discussed the issue of sharing our development experience with Africa. The Secretary-General is very keen on trying to bring Africa and ASEAN together. And I have told the Secretary-General that we are certainly prepared because we have gone through our own problems of development and we have achieved a higher degree of development than we started off with three decades, four decades ago. We are now prepared to share those experiences with other countries in other part of the world. And of course we have discussed what we can do, how we can help. And we think, as far as our friends in Africa are concerned, there has already been a great deal of interest in Asia. Japan certainly has taken the initiative and ASEAN and other countries certainly can work together to help.
Q: Gina Wilkinson from NPR. Mr. Surin, I was wondering if you could explain to me Thailand’s position on the Burmese refugees and what assistance you would like from the UN in resolving issues with Burma along the border. And Mr. Annan what position or what the UN can do to help Thailand resolve this issue of Burmese refugees.
SG: You want me to go first? Well I think on the issue of the Burmese refugees, let me first thank the Government of Thailand for its traditionally generous attitude to refugees over the years. I know that they are now coping with another one, this time from Myanmar and the High Commission for Refugees has been working very closely with the Government and giving them all possible assistance. And we will work with the Government in proving protection and support for these refugees until the situation at home permits them to return. Thank you.
FM Surin: [unintelligible] the Thai Prime Minister has reassured the Secretary-General that Thailand’s commitment to humanitarian assistance to displaced persons, to those who have to run away from violence, from war, that commitment is unwavering. And do what we can within our ability to help shelter those people. But we also have limitations and the Prime Minster has asked the Secretary-General to look into the possibility of resettling some of these people who are willing and who will have opportunities to prepare themselves for future responsibilities. Not all of them will be prepared to do that. But there are many of them who are in special category and the Secretary-General certainly accepted the request of the Prime Minister to work with UNHCR to look for more opportunities, more place in more countries to give these people opportunities to prepare themselves for their future contributions to their own country, communities, societies in the future, wherever, whatever those societies are going to be.
Q: Excuse me, Mr. Surin, are you talking about the refugees in the camps along the border or the students?
FM Surin: I’m talking about the people in the Manillie [ph] camp who are in a special category. Those along the border are certainly being taken care of well by the UNHCR, by the international NGOs and by the people of Thailand. And I do hope that at one point the situation you know in their own country would be safe, good, and peaceful enough to allow them to go back. But so far we have certainly appreciated the contribution from UNHCR, looking after them and trying to help them, and all international NGOs helping them along the border.
MOF Spokesman: We have an appointment in the other room and if you don’t have any more questions. One more?
Q [unintelligible], Agence France Presse. I’d like to know the position of the Secretary-General regarding the possibility of convening a war crimes tribunal for those who perpetrated the East Timor violence.
SG: I think, as you may know, I have received the report of the commission that I set up to look into this. And the Indonesian Government has also done its own investigation and the President has indicated that they will proceed with the prosecution of those accused. The Security Council has my report and they are studying it. I cannot prejudge what the Council will say. But obviously if the government itself were to proceed with a credible trial, the Council would not want to compete with a second trial. But we’ll keep an eye on things to make sure that indeed they do go ahead and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
Thank you very much.
Press conference at Palais des Nations, Geneva, 31 January 2000 - on Cyprus; Chechnya (unofficial transcript)
SG: I have had very useful meetings with the leaders of the two parties, his Excellency Mr. Glafcos Clerides and his Excellency Mr. Rauf Denktash. I think we can say that we are building on the foundations of the last proximity talks which were adjourned in New York in December and I am encouraged that it will be possible for us to continue building on that foundation to work for a comprehensive settlement later this year. As most of you will know, I will be leaving Geneva tomorrow morning for Southeast Asia, visiting several countries, including East Timor. But my Special Advisor, Mr. Alvaro de Soto, will continue the talks on my behalf. Let me also tell you that I have asked the parties to maintain the black-out regarding the substance of the talks in the interest of ensuring the seriousness of the effort. My Special Advisor, Mr. Alvaro de Soto, will brief the press at the end of the talks. We are looking at a process which is likely to be complex and difficult. We are hoping to work in earnest with the parties on a continuous basis over the coming months toward the goal of a comprehensive settlement.
You may also know that I have just come from Moscow where I had a chance to meet with Acting President Vladimir Putin and discuss many issues of mutual interest with the Russian authorities, including the crisis in Chechnya. The Russian authorities maintain their position that this is a war against terrorists who are being supported by an international terrorist network. I stated my position that whilst we all would want to see terrorists contained, and we must fight terrorists, the effort to fight terrorists must be focused on the terrorists and efforts should be made to avoid situations where indiscriminate violence is visited on civilians. I also pressed the need to make sure that we could provide assistance to them. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and UN agencies including the World Food Programme are working with the Russian Government and are providing assistance to refugees in Ingushetia and Georgia. Of course we are not in Chechnya yet but this is an issue that we are studying as more and more refugees are returning to Chechnya. I will now take your questions.
Q: Could you tell us how you see chances of progress. To what extent are you coordinating the negotiations here with the European Union?
SG: As I said, the talks are going to be complex and we do not expect to settle them here in Geneva. But we are building on what happened in New York. The atmosphere is good and I hope that we will make progress in the next week to 10 days. We are in touch with all the players.
We have several Governments who have Ambassadors who are following the talks very closely and some of them are here or in New York. We are also in touch with the European Union. In fact, just before I left New York, I met Javier Solana. We have followed very closely what happened in Helsinki and we are in touch with all concerned.
Q: Mr. Clerides said you were talking about four points, while Mr. Denktash said that there are more points. How many points are being discussed?
SG: We are discussing all the core issues and issues which are important to any of the parties.
Q: Can we please know the number of issues because there is a confusion now?
SG: I do not think there should be any confusion about this. When you get into these sorts of negotiations, issues do come up. In our document, we had at one point identified four core issues. But additional issues have been added by Mr. Denktash and all the issues are on the table.
Q: You said that you are building on the first round of talks. Does that mean that your Special Representative will be bringing in new proposals or new ideas?
SG: It could be new proposals, it could be getting into more detail on issues which have already been discussed and are on the table. But we hope to get deeper into the process and to be able to move forward.
Q: Are you discussing the four core issues or are you discussing more issues?
SG: I have indicated to you that no one is supposed to go into the substance of the talks. I am not going to share with you at this stage what I discussed with one party or the other. I think it is sufficient for you to accept from me that we started with core issues and additional issues have been added by one of the parties, which is fine with us.
Q: Sir, is there any prospect for meeting Mr. Denktash’s demands, i.e. recognition of the breakaway state?
SG: We are in the process of talks. I think we need to wait until the end as to how it will emerge. I think, as I said, that we are making progress, but you have to wait until the outcome.
Q: The Security Council resolutions rule out recognition. Do you see any chance of recognition in view of this?
SG: At the end of the process, and at the end of the negotiations, we never know where we will end. We never know what the outcome will be. I cannot prejudge the outcome of the negotiations.
Q: How many rounds of talks do you expect there to be?
SG: I would hope that after this round, we will come back in the early summer to continue the process. And I hope from there on, we will make a sustained and determined effort to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
Q: What is the role of Security Council resolutions?
SG: I think what we have discussed with the parties is that all issues are on the table. We are encouraging them to come to the table to discuss these issues without any preconditions and to work with us until we find a solution.
Q: Did I understand correctly that you said you are working for a comprehensive settlement by the end of this year?
SG: I said we are working towards a comprehensive settlement in the course of the year. It is a hope. And I think we can achieve it if we all work hard enough and come into the discussions with the spirit of give and take and the right mood to compromise.
Q: Can we take it from what you said about your meeting with Mr. Putin that the Russians have excluded any mediation from the UN on Chechnya?
SG: I did encourage them to try and bring the fighting to an end as soon as possible. They listened to the idea. What they tell me is that their problem is that they cannot find an interlocuteur valable on the other side to sit across the table and talk. But there is beginning to emerge a group of Chechen leaders that they may be able to negotiate with.
Q: With all due respect, what do you expect from the Geneva talks?
SG: What do I expect from the Geneva talks? Further progress.
Q: Are the Greek and Turkish Governments represented here? Do you see the improvement in the climate between them as part of the mood towards progress in these talks?
SG: I think the improved relations between Turkey and Greece is a very positive factor. And the European Union decisions in Helsinki are also helpful and have clarified and removed certain impediments. Yes, there are representatives of both Governments here, both the Greek and the Turkish Governments do have representatives here, who are following the talks very closely. I will be meeting with them separately this afternoon. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.
Press conference with First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Alexander Avdeev and Deputy Foreign Minister of Russian Federation Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Moscow, 28 January 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have had a whole day of very good and constructive discussions, beginning with Acting President Putin and here at the Ministry with the [Deputy] Ministers. We have covered lots of grounds – the situation in North Caucasus, the UN operations in Georgia and Tajikistan, peace talks in Nagorny Karabakh, UN – Russian relationship, the need to move forward in Iraq, and of course, we are all relieved that we have a Chairman for UNMOVIC who will lead UN operations there.
Let me say that I do come here periodically to have discussions with Russian authorities, and these opportunities allow us to cover and discuss issues of mutual interest between the UN and the Russian Government. And the discussions today have been [as useful – inaudible] as those in the past.
I will pose and take your questions, [and we will see if] the Ministers have anything to add.
Q: [inaudible – Did you discuss the Middle East peace process?]
SG: Yes we have discussed the Middle East peace process and the conference that will take place in Moscow next week. I am encouraged by the peace process. I think the parties are serious, and they are working hard to achieve peace.
Here, I am not talking of only peace between the Palestinian and Israelis or the Israelis and the Syrians. I believe we will also see the movement on the Lebanese track. I wish the Government of the Russian Federation and all the participants in the meeting next week, including my own Representatives, a very successful meeting.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, what are your concerns about the plight of civilians in Grozny, and the bombardment, and the refugees on the Ingushetian border?
SG: We did discuss this issue today, and the Government was able to indicate to me what they are trying to do to get assistance to them. But I have made it clear from the very beginning – and I think you all know my views – that we are all against terrorists and that terrorism should be rooted out. However, the force we use against them must be proportional, and be focused on the terrorists we are trying to get rid of.
I think we should be very careful to avoid situations where violence is used against innocent civilians. Because such situations often risk violating international humanitarian law. As you may know we are working closely with the Russian authorities to get assistance to the displaced and the needy. We are at the moment operating in Ingushetia, but we have indicated that when the situation permits we would want to operate on the Chechen side of the border, as well.
Q: [inaudible, concerning Chechnya]
SG: I think the point I made was understood. My Russian hosts explained to me the circumstances in Chechnya that have led to the action they have taken. And I made my point on the need to protect civilians, to make sure that civilians are not placed in danger. And I also urged that the war should be brought to an end as soon as possible, so that people do not have to suffer, particularly the innocent.
Deputy Minister S. Ordzhonikidze: (translated from Russian) I would like to add just a few words. During his meeting with Acting President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and during our negotiations, we have emphasized to the Secretary-General that the Russian side pays maximum attention to, and takes every possible care of, the security of both its soldiers and its own citizens of Chechen nationality. Should it have been otherwise, the military operation would have been over a long time ago.
First Deputy Minister A. Avdeev: (translated from Russian) I also have a few words to add. First, the visit by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Moscow is an important event in our relations with the United Nations. Our negotiations have been held along the lines of a greater role for the UN in the modern world, a greater role for the UN in strengthening stability and security.
The central event of the Mr. Kofi Annan’s visit was his meeting with Mr. Vladimir Putin. They have had a general overview of the situation, and specifically they have discussed important developments which, unfortunately, have a destabilizing effect on the modern world. It is very important that the United Nations and Russia, as a UN member state, find common approaches and do our best to achieve stabilization in crisis regions.
The Chechen theme, of course was present during our negotiations. I would like to repeat here that the issue of proportionality that you have raised in your questions is the one of academic nature. Within the specific Chechen context, the peaceful civilians there unfortunately have long been deprived of their human rights. Because their human rights have been denied them by the activities of terrorists.
We have discussed this practical situation from the point of view of struggle against terrorists, from the point of view of ensuring the humanitarian and all other rights of all peaceful civilians. We have used concrete examples to demonstrate to the Secretary-General that the catastrophic human rights situation of the people of Chechnya is the result of terrorist activity, and that the only way out is an earliest possible military victory over terrorists. The next and central phase in the process of resolving the Chechen problem would be negotiation on the formula for the autonomy of Chechnya within the Russian Federation.
When our Western partners, as well as our partners from among international organizations, urge us to start negotiations as soon as possible, because it is by way of negotiations that the Chechen problem should be addressed, we say yes, without negotiations the Chechen problem can not be resolved. That means that we will negotiate, after a military victory is achieved or, perhaps, while the military operation is still going on, if the Chechen side has a representative leader whom we can start negotiations with on the elaboration of the formula for the autonomy of Chechnya within the Russian Federation.
As far as proportionality is concerned, this issue, although academic, is an ambiguous one. Because an early military victory over the bandits will mean an early resolution of the Chechen problem. Second, proportionality or the lack of is not subject for reflection and discussions when it comes to fighting terrorism, because the struggle against terrorism calls for very resolute actions. We must beat the terrorists by military force as soon as possible, because they are destabilizing the situation.
As for the proportionality which you refer to, it concerns the efforts aimed as saving the lives of civilian population. Representatives of international organizations have been to Chechnya more than once, they have seen how we were organizing safe corridors for the civilians to leave Grozny, how we were trying to establish contacts with local communities and elders and with the representatives of civilian population in the territories which are still under the control of the Chechen field commanders, in order to make easier the life of the civilian population. The civilian population on the liberated territories can avail themselves of all the human rights they are entitled to under the Russian constitution, which are in line with the international standards.
Once again, the issue of proportionality is the one of how to put an end to the atrocities against the civilian population committed by terrorists, and how to liberate the remaining territories and rebuild peaceful life there.
I would like to draw your attention to a terrible episode, a video recording which was broadcast yesterday by the Russian television – that was the scene of execution by terrorists of a Chechen woman. That was jut one episode in the series of atrocities which are currently taking place there. So, when we talk about proportionality or the lack of it, I would like you to focus on the actions of terrorists in the territories under their control.
SG: Imposing sanctions on the Russian Federation has not been discussed at the United Nations, and I did not raise it in my discussions.
First Deputy Minister A. Avdeev: (translated from Russian) The legitimacy of Maskhadov is not an emotional or political issue, this is a legal issue. Having been elected [President of Chechnya], Maskhadov introduced the Sharia law and the death penalty; according to some sources he personally witnessed executions. President Maskhadov campaigned for the independence of Chechnya and its cessation from the Russian Federation, and thereby he grossly violated the Constitution of the country, of which he is a citizen. The combination of all these legal issues proves that he is ceased to be the legitimate President, and we can no longer consider him as such. The terms "legitimate" of "illegitimate" are valid if used by you journalists, in an emotional sense, but not in the legal sense. In our view, Maskhadov is not a legitimate president, and he himself is to blame for the situation he has created.
Q: Who is Russia prepared to negotiate with in Chechnya?
First Deputy Minister A. Avdeev: (translated from Russian) So far, there is no one we could negotiate with. You know, - and Acting President Putin has mentioned it to the Secretary-General – that we are trying to establish contacts with the leaders of civilian population in the liberated territories, the elders, community and political leaders, but so far none of them – or no group of them – can claim to be a representative leader capable of negotiating on behalf of the entire population of Chechnya. The reason is obvious – such a group can only emerge when the entire territory of Chechnya is liberated, and the entire Chechen population can freely delegate to their most authoritative representatives the powers of negotiating with Moscow.
Q: [inaudible, a follow-up on Maskhadov’s legitimacy]
SG: I think that the [Deputy] Minister has indicated his view on why Russia does not consider him [Maskhadov] a legitimate representative, and I do not think I need to comment on that.
Q: [inaudible, did Iraq refuse to cooperate with Mr. Hans Blix?]
SG: I think Mr. Blix is a very experienced disarmament expert. As you know, he headed the International Atomic Energy Agency for many years, and he has worked in Iraq, and has worked with the UN Security Council, and he is a skilled administrator. I think he is the best man for the job. We have had an initial reaction, - and I think this is what you are referring to – from Baghdad.
We are at a very early stage yet. We expect Mr. Blix to take up his functions in the next few weeks, and then begin to engage the Iraqi authorities and move on with his work.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, what is your opinion of Acting President Vladimir Putin? Is he an easier, or a more difficult, negotiating partner than Mr. Yeltsin?
SG: We have had a very frank and constructive discussion. We have discussed all the issues openly and frankly. I think each leader who takes over a position has to do things his own way, and bring to the job his own experience and personality. President Yeltsin did it his way, and Acting President Putin is doing it his way.
Thank you very much.
Remarks following adoption of Presidential Statement on Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 26 January 2000, 1:15 pm (unofficial translation from French)
Q: It seems to me that it wasn't a real success because from the New York declaration, we reached a declaration that is quite lukewarm. What do you think?
SG: But at least each Head of State who participated reaffirmed his support for the Lusaka accords and we had the opportunity to discuss in detail with President Kabila and I believe that things are clearer. Obviously, we shall have difficulties but we are ready to go forward and the Security Council will approve a resolution in a few days.
Remarks following concensus by Security Council on nomination of Hans Blix as Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC/Iraq, 26 January 2000, 1:15 pm (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, could I get two seconds from you? Are you pleased that the Council, led by the French Ambassador, has settled on Mr. Blix's appointment?
SG: I’ve already sent a formal letter to the Council President recommending Mr. Blix’s appointment, and once I get their consent I will go ahead and make the appointment--and Mr. Blix is available.
Q: Do you think it’s going to make a difference? What makes you think Iraq might cooperate with him to get the process going?
SG: Well, I think this is something we’re going to have to test. But I think he will make a difference. He’s a very experienced man. He has already worked in Iraq has been in the disarmament field for a long time. I do expect, I hope that Iraq will cooperate, and I think we are going to do everything we can to get them engaged in the game.
Q: What about the international scene? Is he ready for what appears to be a more difficult assignment?
SG: He’s a very experienced man, and I’m sure he knows what he’s getting into.
Q: How did his name come up? Did you have any say in it?
SG: We've been discussing with the Council members over the past ten days and I'm very pleased we have a consensus on him and I think it is essential that the entire Council and everybody supports him and works with him and we're off to a good start I suspect.
Remarks upon arrival at UNHQ, 26 January 2000 (to Russian State TV/Radio, on visit to Russia) - 26 January 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Your Excellency, would you please tell us what is the purpose of your trip to Russia?
SG: I think there are quite a few issues that I would want to discuss with the Russian authorities. We will, of course, discuss the situation in Georgia, Abkhazia, Tajikistan, Nagorny-Karabakh, and the situation in the Caucasus. We would also discuss UN/Russian-related issues and, of course, my statement in the General Assembly on UN action in difficult situations or what one has called "humanitarian intervention". And it would also give me the chance to meet, for the first time, Acting President Putin, whom I've talked to several times on the phone, but this will be our first opportunity.
Q: Are you going to discuss the situation in Chechnya, and if yes, do you see any solution to this crisis?
SG: Yes, we will discuss the situation in Chechnya. I have always pressed for a peaceful and political solution, and I've been very concerned about the situation of the civilians. We are doing what we can to give them assistance, but I think in these sort of conflicts, the interest of the civilians -- the innocent civilians, the vulnerable -- must be paramount in everyone's mind.
Remarks upon arrival at UNHQ, 14 January 2000 (Iraq) (unofficial transcript)
Q: I know that we had your signal last night that there was no decision on the Chief of the Iraq Commission. Could you tell us how the process has been, consulting with the Council these past days?
SG: Well, the consultations are still going on on the side. It's been a bit more complicated than one would have expected. We all knew that it was going to be difficult, but I am continuing my consultations today and I am still hoping to be able to meet the deadline of 30 days.
Transcript of SG outside Security Council following meeting on AIDS in Africa, 10 January 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: You appear to have made a political statement in your introduction, your speech today? Can you answer for how you…
SG: I made a political statement?
Q: Yeh, you haltingly called Vice President Gore "Mr. President", then qualified it later. Was this a political statement?
SG: No it was not political at all. I mean, I did say "Mr. Vice President", and then noticed a plaque in front of him which said "President", so I corrected my statement.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, does this mean that now finally attention is going to be shifted from other parts or areas like Balkans [during] this month on Africa, and what is the attitude in the Security Council?
SG: I think that is a question you should reserve for the President of the Council and for Council members. What we have witnessed this morning is finally the acceptance of the very clear link between economic development, between poverty, and conflict. There is an economic basis for conflict, and the Council is trying to look at the conflict issue in a much broader context.
Q: [unofficial translation from French] Do you think that this meeting is going to arrive at something, because apparently the sum which has been allotted for this fight, if one divides it by the number of people in the world who have AIDS, it comes to less thank five dollars per person? Do you think that this is a lot for research?
SG: No, no. I hope that this is a start. We need an enormous sum. We have started today, and I hope that everyone will collaborate, not only economically and financially, but also politically.
Q: What was your reaction to what Gore did announce, to what he said?
SG: I think it is a good beginning, and I hope other governments will follow suit and that in time Washington will work with other governments, particularly governments with capacity to give and give generously and willingly.
Q: And your thoughts on this as precedence, Sir, a health issue in the Council, as precedent setting?
SG: I think I did raise the question that what this meeting this morning underscores is the link between poverty and political conflict, and I think this link has today been put on the table, very clearly, in the Council. It doesn't necessarily mean that the Council is going to focus on economic issues, but I think it is important that one is aware of the clear linkage, and tries to encourage action on some of the issues that affect poverty and that exacerbate conflict.
Q: How do you react to the charge that Vice President Gore's being here today is more about domestic US politics than heightening or elevating the issue of AIDS in Africa.
SG: It is not the first time that a senior political figure has chaired a Security Council meeting. Don't you forget that during the General Assembly last September, we had the Prime Minister of the Netherlands chair the meeting, and I think others have done it before, and I expect others will follow. And so, from my point of view, I think his presence here was healthy and it did help put the issue of AIDS on the international agenda, firmly. Thank you.
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