OFF THE CUFF
This document contains remarks made from 1 January to 30 April 2001
(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 return to UNHQ from Philadelphia, 30 April 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Prime Minister Sharon said that he's sending Foreign Minister Peres to the United States to talk about what must be done to stop the violence. What do you believe both sides need to do to stop the violence?
SG: I think I should first wait to hear the message Foreign Minister is bringing. I have made it clear that the two will have to collaborate and to take reciprocal steps to end the violence, and that one cannot do these things sequentially, that the violence must stop before you talk about relieving the economic difficulties of the Palestinians and moving onto political dialogue. I think the discussions that appear to be taking place between the Israelis and the Egyptians and the Jordanians seem to show some flexibility in how they are approaching the crisis, so I am encouraged.
Q: Do you believe this plan is a good basis?
SG: I think the fact that there is a plan on the table, that all the parties are looking at, and are using it as a basis for discussion, is a positive development. I will wait to hear from Foreign Minister Peres as to the nature of his discussions in Jordan and Egypt. I think the fact that they are talking is in itself a very positive development.
Q: You have offered your good offices to mediate several times in the Middle East. But what can you really do, what can the United Nations really do, what will America let the UN do in these circumstances?
SG: I don't think it is a question of what can UN do, what can America let UN do. I think we are facing a major crisis in the region, and we all have to work together to assist the parties in ending the tragedy and getting back to the table. I think I can say frankly that we are working together, and by "we" I mean the US, the European Union, the UN, and the Egyptians and the Jordanians, who are also pushing for a settlement. I think it is important that we work together. The objective is to bring the parties to the table and to get the parties to settle. It is their peace that we are assisting them to do. So I don't think anyone claims absolute monopoly. What is important is that we all move the parties in the same direction, and that is what we are trying to do.
Q: But the UN does seem to be completely sidelined at the moment?
SG: I don't know what you mean by the UN. I would not say that - well - I was going to say that I am actively engaged with the parties, and with the leaders on the ground. If you define that as sidelined, or being sidelined, then so be it. But I am engaged with the parties directly and with other leaders who are trying to make a difference on the ground. We are all working together, and I think this is the way to go.
Q: The decision by Uganda to pull out of…[DRC]. How can this be seen as anything but a setback, from the efforts you have made in Congo, and what is the prospect for peace?
SG: I would not necessarily say it is a setback. Under the agreement they are all supposed to withdraw from the Congo. If indeed Uganda does withdraw and ends its engagement in the Congo, and respects the spirit of the agreement, I think it will be fine. Obviously I have heard the statement through the press, and I will need to get more specific details from the President of Uganda and I intend to do that.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, how do you comment on the US-China new step towards the spy plane? What is your reaction about that?
SG: Well, I think the two countries are talking, and I think it is important that they continue the dialogue and try and end this conflict amicably. I know that now the conflict is centred around the plane, the release of the plane, and I hope they will find a solution. Thank you very much.
Press encounter following Secretary-General's speech at the Annual Conference of the Council on Foundations, Philadelphia, PA, 30 April 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Today is the 100th day of the Bush administration. People are weighing in on how he has performed in different areas. How do you believe he has performed relating to the UN, relating to HIV, relating to third world debt, and relating to international peace mediation?
SG: A hundred days is a relatively short in the scheme of things. But let me say that in my own discussions with him and his team, they have indicated their support for the UN and I think they take the issue of AIDS very seriously. I think they have indicated strong determination on the issue of free trade, and I hope that we'll be able to work with them on other international issues. And I'm encouraged.
Q: Any progress on US dues?
SG: In December last year, we came to an agreement with the US Government, and we are waiting for payment of about $600 million, to be specifia, $582 million. In my discussions with the President and his team, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, there are indications that the fund is coming. I think everybody is on board. It's a question of certain administrative and legislative matters which have to be cleared up. And I expect the money to come very shortly.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you did lay out the issue very well on all in the speech. But what is the biggest challenge for you right now regarding AIDS, putting all of them -- private and the government forces together -- what is the biggest challenge?
SG: I indicated the biggest challenge is to get national leaders to lead -- to accept the leadership challenge and the fact they have to mobilize their society. They have to give the issue priority, priority not just in speeches, but also in their budgetary allocation, and to come up and work with us with plans to fight the disease. That is what the leaders of the countries in Africa and others have to do. But those in the industrialized countries have to also help by making funds and resources available, by lending their expertise and by engaging not just the governments, but the civil society and the private sector. As I indicated in my statement, the pharmaceutical companies are beginning to move, and have moved, but it is not only them. Other companies have a role to play. And of course, now that the Fund has been announced, I'm expecting Governments to make firm commitments to the Fund. The heavy lifting will have to be done by them, and I would hope that foundations, companies and individuals would also want to contribute.
Q: Can I ask about [the Democratic Republic of the] Congo? President [Yoweri] Museveni of Uganda says he wants to break [inaudible], to pull out of the [Lusaka] Agreement. Have you spoken to him [inaudible]
SG: I haven't spoken to him yet, but I want to study the full text of his statement. If indeed he is withdrawing his troops from the [Democratic Republic of the] Congo and pulling them back to Uganda, that is in accordance with the Agreement. We will monitor to see that what happens. But eventually, it's not just Uganda, all the foreign forces in the [Democratic Republic of the] Congo are required to withdraw in accordance with the Agreement they signed.
Q: Do you have a goal for this AIDS fund, a size that you would like to reach? What would it do that other allocations aren't already doing?
SG: First of all there are no other allocations. We are not spending anywhere near what is required on AIDS. I have indicated that we'll need $7-10 billion in additional money, new money, annually to fight the epidemic around the world. In fact the amounts of money being spent on the epidemic, on a problem this size, is pitiful.
Q: What role did your meeting with Bill Gates play in this initiative? Has he promised any additional monies or matching funds? Were you successful?
SG: The Gates Foundation has already issued a statement supporting the five objectives I put forward, and also the fact that we need additional money to fight the disease. I think they are happy that we have a comprehensive approach, an approach that is getting the message across, that it is not a choice between treatment and prevention and that we need to do both, and that we can come up with a strategy to do it, and raise the funds to do it. The funds are there. What we have to do is to generate the will of Governments to make those funds available.
Q: What kind of leadership do you need from the United States [inaudible]?
SG: I would hope that the US Government will join with other donor Governments in making funds available and not just funds, but also becoming actively engaged in the fight against the disease. As I indicated from the discussions I have had, which I intend to continue, I am hopeful that they will play their rightful role.
Q: You said that you wanted to raise $7-10 billion to fight AIDS. What would be the United States share of that?
SG: That would be up to the Government to decide. It would be a bit presumptuous of me to tell them how much they should pay. But given the size of the US economy and their leadership in the world, I hope they will pay a substantial portion.
Q: How much would you hope to see from the G7?
SG: The G7 will have this item on their agenda when they meet in July in Italy. And there are discussions going on amongst themselves and I'll be in touch with some of the leaders individually. But I am hesitant to sort of indicate how much they should pay. This is something that one will have to keep discussing with them in private. Don't get me to embarrass those I am hoping to get money from before they have signed the check.
Q: The meeting with [Foreign Minister of Israel] Shimon Peres later, there are talks of this Egyptian/Jordanian peace plan. Is this something that gets your hopes up or is this just more skirmishing?
SG: You are right. When I return to New York this afternoon, I'll be seeing Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel. We will discuss the Egyptian-Jordanian plan. He has just returned from visits to Egypt and Jordan. And I think it is an encouraging sign that there is a proposal on the table that both sides are prepared to look at. But it is too early to say whether it is going to fly or not. We've seen many proposals in that region. I'll be extremely happy if it were to fly because I would hope that both countries and both leaders would now want to pull back from the precipice. The situation in the Middle East is extremely dangerous and no one would want to see it get worse. So I am encouraged that they are now discussing a proposal, and I look forward to hearing from Foreign Minister Peres, not only about the proposal, but the nature of his discussions with Egypt and Jordan. And I will continue to work with the parties.
Q: Can we expect [inaudible] Fidel Castro - on the health issue in Africa?
SG: Yes, I would hope so. The Cuban government has sent many doctors.
Q: More than anybody else?
SG: That's correct. To Africa, I think they have about 3,000 or so Cuban doctors who are working in small villages to assist. The last time I spoke to him when he was here during the General Assembly last September, he indicated that he wants to continue that assistance. And I hope it will continue because the African governments need that help.
Comments made to the press by the Searetary-General and Prime Minister Rafic Hariri of Lebanon, following their meeting at the Secretary-General's residence, New York, 28 April 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Mr. Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen: I have had very constructive and useful discussions with the Prime Minister for over an hour, where we discussed the situation in the Middle East. We discussed the need for political and economic stability in the region. I raised with him my concerns about the Blue Line and the need for all parties to respect the Blue Line, as stipulated in the Security Council resolution. And he knows that, not only have I said that to him, but I have also made the same request and asked the Israelis also to respect it. Because that is the only way that peace can be maintained on that border. And once peace and political stability is assured, we will then be able to focus on the essential task of economic and social development, which I know is very much on the Prime Minister's mind and on the minds of the Lebanese.
Prime Minister Rafic Hariri: As His Excellency just explained, we went over all the situation in the Middle East, especially in southern Lebanon, and we have talked about the Blue Line, and I explained to His Excellency that Lebanon is respecting the Blue Line. It is Israel that is violating the Blue Line every day. Today they flew over the Lebanese sky twice, at least, and maybe more. Since they have withdrawn and the Blue Line has been drawn by the United Nations, Israeli aircraft are almost every day violating Lebanese sovereignty. And beside that we have Shebaa Farm which is Lebanese territory still occupied by the Israelis until today. This is the situation.
We would like to see the stability in the region, but we would like to see first our territory is liberated because, you know, we have responsibility to our people, to our generation, and we believe that all these problems can be solved only through the respecting of the United Nations Resolutions 242, 338 and 425. In the absence of a peace agreement among all the parties, I don't see that anybody can assure the stability or the security in the region. This is unfortunate but this is the situation. And this, history told us, and the last 20 years told us very clearly, that the only way to assure the stability and the security it has to be for everybody in the region not only for one without counting the others.
Q: What about the conflict between the U.N. and Lebanon concerning the resolution 425 and 242?
Hariri: There is no conflict between the United Nations and Lebanon. There is a way how to look at it. The United Nations has said that 425 has been implemented. We say that it has been implemented partially, maybe 90 percent, 95 percent, but surely not 100, percent because Shebaa Farm is in Lebanese territory. In any case, if it is under 425 or 242, there is one reality everybody is agreed upon, at least -- His Excellency as well -- that Shebaa Farm is not on Israeli territory and either it is under 425 or 242, but this will not make it in any case an Israeli territory. And if it is Syrian or Lebanese, between us and the Syrians there is no differences whatsoever. And the Syrians are saying it is Lebanese. We are saying it is Lebanese. So it is Lebanese.
Q: What concrete steps is the Lebanese government willing to take to ensure that the U.N. presence in the south will remain, especially in light of the new report coming out on Monday?
Hariri: No. the U.N. presence will be there, but they don't want to spend so much money, as His Excellency explained to me, and it is a matter of budget. It is not a matter of anything else. And if they want to reduce the number of people, it means that the Lebanese government is doing what it has to do. So it is a sign of admiration for the Lebanese government to reduce the number of people there.
SG: Let me say that we are not withdrawing. We are restructuring and scaling down, but we will be there. There is no question of the U.N. withdrawing their troops at this stage. It is a question of restructuring and giving the force the mobility to do the work that it has to do. We will be much more mobile. The numbers may be smaller but we will be there and actively engaged.
Q: How about the Syrian presence in Shebaa Frams which you say is Lebanese?
Hariri: First of all we did not discuss this with His Excellency, this subject was not raised at all. I don't think, there is no reason to be raised with His Excellency. I also respect him very much and we respect any opinion he bring to our discussion, but this subject is between the Lebanese government and the Syrian government.
Q: How about moving the Lebanese troops down into the south as the Secretary-General has asked in his reports, to assert control over southern Lebanon?
Hariri: In fact yes, he did. He read this section, and I give him the answer, and it is in his hand. (laughter)
Answer to question posed by journalist from Cote d'Ivoire after meeting with President Laurent Gbagbo, Abuja, 26 April 2001 (unofficial transcript)
[Question in French about the meeting with President Gbagbo of Cote d'Ivoire and the SG's call to action on the fight against HIV/AIDS]
SG: Premierement, je suis tres content d'avoir l'occasion de discuter avec le President Gbagbo la situation dans la sous-region, la question politique, et des questions de developpement economique et social. Je crois qu'on a eu une tres bonne discussion; on va rester en contact et continuer a travailler ensemble.
En ce qui concerne le SIDA je n'ai pas dit qu'on a tourne en rond. Je crois que j'ai mis sur la table une proposition claire, ferme, une approche que j'espere que tout le monde va accepter et adopter. On doit travailler ensemble, on doit mobiliser la societe entiere pour combattre cette epidemie et je crois qu'on va le faire. Merci.
Press conference on OAU meeting on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases, Abuja, Nigeria, 26 April 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am sorry that this press conference had to be delayed. You all participated in the conference and you know why it happened. Please be seated. Since you heard me speak this morning, I think we can go straight into questions and I will be happy to answer your question, so we can use the time more effectively.
Q: My area of concern is the proposed creation of the Global Fund. One, we would want you to expand more, the practicability of this. We know that when an idea like this comes, initially, most of our countries might say, it's OK, they would like to embrace it. But the practicability, and in the long run, they might not be forthcoming. One would want to know the structure that you have put in place already so as to ensure that this fund is effective, I mean practicable, because we all know that there is no money anywhere now for AIDS. So, we want to know this structure you will have on the ground, Sir.
SG: Well, I hope we all do not know that there is no money anywhere for AIDS. Quite frankly, if I shared the view that there is no money anywhere for AIDS, I don't think I would have embarked on this idea on trying to set up a Global Fund and encourage donor governments, private foundations corporations and individuals to pay money into the Fund. We have had a series of discussions, not just within the UN family but with other donor governments, foundations and the World Bank, about the need of establishing this fund and we are all working together. We realize that it is going to require substantial amounts of resources and it has to be sustained, it has to be over the long hall. The Fund that will be set up will have two windows: it will deal with HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. So, it will be applied to AIDS and other infectious diseases. Governments and others should be encourages to put in money and I hope that by the time we open the UN Special Session of the General Assembly, Governments and others would have already made announcements of how much money they are going to put into the Fund. The Fund will be governed by stakeholders which will be made of donors, the UN system and groups dealing with people infected by HIV/AIDS and the funds will be applied at the community level to national programmes at the country level and the emphasis will be on action at the country and community level. And I think from what I have said this morning it is clear that while I expect the African Governments and the leaders of the developing world to do a lot, the major donors and the developing countries also have a role to play, and I think there are indications that quite a few of them are ready to play that role.
Q: Thank you for the substantive speech today, it was quite detailed. I have a question to follow up the first question. First of all, have you won any commitment from any of the donor nations to put money into this Fund? And two, don't you run the risk now of creating such high expectations that If the Fund does not get even into the billions that there will be a devastating backlash here in Africa.
SG: Let me say that there are indications. We have indications from several sources that are ready to put money onto the Fund, but I will leave them to announce it themselves. Secondly, as to the second part of your question where you indicated that if we do not meet the targets, if there wouldn't be a backlash. I made it clear that the sums we are asking for is large, but we should also be conscious of the magnitude of the problem we are tackling. I think we have to be realistic and put the right dollar figure that we require. I hope we will achieve it but a least we know what it is that is required to get the job done. You are probably right that if we don't raise the money people will be disappointed. But do you think it would have been correct for me to ask for 150 million when I know it wouldn't do the job? To raise it and also disappoint people. I think it is much more realistic to let the world know the nature of the problem we are dealing with, the magnitude of it, and what resources are required and how we have to mobilize ourselves to get it done. It may be, some would say it's a dream. But first to dream, without that you don't get anything done.
Q: Sir, I would like to know what the UN is doing to strengthen the care systems of member countries, especially in areas of primary health care.
SG: I think the UN agencies, particularly World Health Organization, UNICEF and the UNAIDS are working with Governments at a national level to strengthen their health systems. But let me be clear. The basic responsibility for health systems and improvement of health systems, and setting the right priorities in applying the budgetary resources belongs to the governments. The international community and the UN can help, but the responsibility belongs to each and every one of our governments. And I think once we have our priorities right and even where we need help to draw the plans I think we should ask for their help and the UN agencies are working with some governments in doing that and we will. And, in fact the Fund that we are setting up, part of that money will also be used to strengthen health care systems. But the governments have to have the right priorities and we will work with them and in some situations, not only have we work with them to develop plans but we assisted them in implementation. But we have to be clear who has the primary responsibility.
Q: You talk about this Global Fund. As regards to Africa, doesn't that put dependency on the developed world and not on Africans themselves. Past history has shown that there is donor fatigue around because a lot of the developed countries start thinking we are putting money into Africa and it just goes down the hole. Rather, shouldn't the emphasis be on African countries themselves? Uganda has had tremendous success. Shouldn't we encourage we Africans to look for our own solutions. Why still asking for some funds as well.
SG: I think that was the thrust of my statement this morning. I agree one hundred per cent with you that the outsiders can help but the primary responsibility is ours and this is my message everywhere. The primary responsibility is ours in terms of leadership, in terms of priority, in terms of how we allocate our resources, in terms of how we get the communities and the families to work with us, in terms of how we use our schools and educational systems to get the message around, in terms of how we use our own traditional communication methods to get the message around. But we need help. We cannot do it alone given the amount of resources and some of the inputs, whether it's in terms of health equipment, in terms of medication and other aspects that will help strengthen the system. And I think if we do our part, it would energize and encourage the others to join us. So you and I have no disagreement, at all.
Q: 70% of those afflicted with AIDS live in Africa. Sometimes, in 86, the majority of conflict suffering from the debt crisis were in Africa and the UN convened a Special Session on Africa. Why is the UN no doing that this time around? Secondly, you talked of a war chest of trillions of nairas needed. You said that over several years. Can you be a little exact over how many years? And then, how will you overcome the question of donor fatigue, which usually follows situations like this?
SG: On your first question, I indicated, I stated this morning very clearly that there is a Special Session of the UN General Assembly in June on AIDS. So there is a Special Session in June on AIDS to follow up what we are doing here and I hope African Governments will participate fully in that conference. On your second question, yes to some extent there is a donor fatigue. But I don' think that means we should throw up our arms and not try and challenge them to push them to develop their will to contribute. And we also have to very clear. AIDS is not an African problem alone. AIDS is a global problem. If we don not win here in Africa, we are not going to win it anywhere else. AIDS is posing a problem in Asia, in Central America and in Eastern Europe. And we need to come together to deal with this issue. And I think in today's world, when people travel and cross borders and we are in constant communication, what is limited to one continent does not stay there for long. And so, it's a challenge for all of us and I think it's in the self-interest of all governments, rich and poor to join this fight. And I hope that message will be clear and I think we are getting through. And I think we are getting the response that we need, and I am not as pessimistic as some of you in this audience are. We will continue the fight. We will push and will try and get every one engage, get every one to do their part. Otherwise, we will be defeated.
Q: Have you w any specific commitment form the pharmaceutical companies on the prices for the antiretroviral drugs, and would you be prepared to see the global fund used to acquire generic drugs like those Nigeria plans to buy from India?
SG: I think on your first question, you may recall that I invited the Chairmen, CEOs of the 7 large pharmaceutical companies to meet me in Amsterdam on the 5th of April. I think they all came except Merck that couldn't make it at the last minute. At that meeting, we agreed that they would reduce the prices quite considerably and some have cut it back by 80%-90%, and some of the drugs they are giving away, I mean they have are donating some of the drugs. We also agreed that they should look at the group, the group of 50 countries, the least developed countries as a group and not get into individual, national negotiations with them, look at them as group and make the affordable medication affordable to them. For other developing countries giving differences in purchasing power, there were going to deal on country by country basis, obviously using their preferential pricing as well as voluntary licensing where it could be done. We also agreed that in offering these medications at reduced prices, it should not only be offered to Governments, but it should also be offered to serious NGOs that are giving care in some of these countries, and to private companies that are giving care to their staff and communities so that you'll be able to reach many more people through that mechanism. So, the first decision is to offer it to 50 countries as a group, and then expand access to it from Governments to NGOs and private companies that are providing care to their staff and communities. I think that is an important development. On the question whether the Fund should be used t buy the sort of medication that the President indicated Nigeria will buy this morning, I am not in the position to go into that kind of detail at this stage.
Q: You talked this morning and President Clinton this morning, there is no infrastructure before the antiretroviral cold be delivered. There is no infrastructure. So, at what point do you think these more affordable drug could possibly be available to HIV/AIDS sufferers. That's one. And two quickly. What do you think the withdrawal of the pharmaceuticals from the South African case does in terms of these countries power to import generic drugs? Do they have to consult with the drug companies or can they just do nit if they deem it necessary?
SG: I think on your first question, let me say that I hope I did not create the impression that one has to wait to have the entire health system in place before these antiretroviral drugs could be used. What I said was that that alone is not enough. We need to do other things. We need to strengthen the health system. We need to work to improve education and understating of the disease to others. And that just focusing on the retroviral medication is not enough I think in fact we have seen situation where you may not have the perfect health system, but the governments have been able to create supportive systems to be able to offer medication to some of them. At this stage, very small number of those infected in Africa are getting the medication. And I expect it to grow as the prices have come down, but along with the prices, we should set up a mechanism, even if it's basic, to be able to monitor and ensure that we educate the patients on how to use these medications. We need not have to wait for a perfect medical health system to begin to give them this medication to extend their lives. And so I think we can do it: Senegal and Uganda and others have demonstrated that with effective programmes you can really arrest the spread of the diseases and also help expand the life of those infected. So I will say, try get let's try meet the medication available but at the same improve the health systems and talk about prevention, educate people to look after themselves. On the question of what happens after the settlement of the South African case, I think the pharmaceutical companies accept that whilst we need intellectual property to protect research and give incentive for research, we also have to make sure that the medication reaches the poor and that we leave in a world today where citizen in this robust civil society, global civil society we have, cannot accept that life-saving medication is available but it is only reserved for the rich and not for the poor. And they themselves realize that the have to work with governments to make the medication available. And so, we will se, in my judgment a much more understanding application of agreements and acceptance that generic medication can be produced where it is going to save lives. I think the pharmaceutical, the major pharmaceutical companies themselves will continue to do whatever they can do to reduce prices and make it affordable and I suspect some of them will perhaps even team up with some other generic producers or encourage that to be done. I think what has happened in South Africa is not just a lesson for South African alone but it has an impact, a much wider impact and I do not see the pharmaceutical companies going to court to sue other countries that easily. I think that they will find a way of working with the governments and I think that's what' right.
Q: Monsieur le Secretraire general, je voulais vous demander deux petites questions. Vous avez dit que vous avez rencontre les 6 grosses societes pharmaceutiques. Qu'est-ce que vous avez discute? La deuxieme question: vous avez parle de, il faut qu'il y ait beaucoup d'argent pour lutter contre le sida, et cet argent vient, quel est le systeme de coordination qui va etre mis en place par le systemne des Nations Unies ou encore quelle est la place des associations nationales dans les pays du tiers-monde qui luttent contre le |sida? Merci.
SG: Quand j'ai eu l'occasion de rencontrer les presidents, PDG des societes pharmaceutiques, on avait discute des prix. Je les avais encourage de reduire les prix des medicaments pour permetre aux pauvres de pouvoir les acheter et de pouvoir se faire soigner. On s'est mis d'accord. Je crois que plusieurs parmi elles ont reduit de 80 a 90 pour cent les prix pour permettre aux gens, les ressortissants des pays pauvres de pouvoir acheter ca. La deuxieme question, evidemment, il faut avoir un comite pour gerer les fonds. Et ce comite va nommer les gens representants les gouvernements, les gens des agences specialisees, de la societe civile, y compris les societes qui s'occupent des gens qui sont atteints par le sida. Donc, on va avoir un groupe qui va gerer les fonds, mais les fonds vont etre utilises sur le terrain dans les pays conernes mais pas sur le plan international.
Q: (inaudible) Women stand to be the most affected victims of the disease of every form of diseases. How are you going to get women involved from all the African countries and the world over? Thank you Secretary-General.
SG: Thank you for that question. I think women have a very important role to play because of their role in society and on this continent because of their vulnerable situation. I would want to see women play an important role at several levels. I think as government come up and draw up their strategies to fight the disease and to make a difference, women groups and women should be consulted and be involved in the elaboration of national plans. Not only should they be involved in the elaboration of national plans, we are also going to work with them and rely with them in the implementation of the plans, and those of us at the international levels who are dealing with the disease and are also coming up with the idea of the Fund must have participation of women at the decision making level. And I can tell you from the UN point of view, in fact, of the five UN agencies that are leading this fight, three of them are headed by women. I have Dr. Brundtland, I have Caroll Bellamy, and we have Thoraya Obaid who is head of the UNFPA. So, at our level, the women are very actively involved, and I hope we can do the same at the national level and I appeal to the governments to do that.
Q: My question, Sir, has to do with what you mentioned, about we need to combat this scourge in Africa, and you said the first thing is leadership. Mr. Secretary-General, don't you think it would have been better for you to wait for the outcome of this summit, the African leaders have gathered, before they part, because so far they haven't shown enough commitment…
SG: Who has not?
Q: …African leaders, in respective countries. Don't you think you should have waited before to se how the action plan from this summit is implemented before you make such a big statement about this huge financial commitment? Thank you.
SG: I don't know what your point of reference is and your starting point is. If you indicate that we are now 2001 and you maintain that leadership has not been shown, and we knew ten years ago where we were heading, we knew a year ago what this disease is doing, we knew five years ago. How much time do you think I should give the leaders after this conference before I say we need to show leadership. It is now. It was yesterday. It's not tomorrow. I think you would agree with me. Thank you very much.
Remarks on arrival in Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana, 23 April 2001
SG: Mr. Minister, let me tell you how happy I am to be back in Ghana. This is my first visit since the elections in December and I think the way the elections were conducted, in an open and fair way, helped to project the image of Ghana to the outside world, and I think they were all extremely happy that Ghanaians were able to undertake such a smooth democratic change and I think it is now important that we focus on the essential work of nation-building. Of course, the government cannot do it alone--all of its citizens, and private sector, NGOs, all have to play a role in working with the government and I am sure we will do this with lots of goodwill, but also a lot is expected from us. We have friends outside who want to help but we have to make it possible for them to help us. That is my brief message.
Dr. G.M. Brandful, Director of Foreign Affairs Protocol: Thank you very much, may I on behalf of my colleagues welcome you to Ghana. We are reliably informed that you are passing through to Abuja for an OAU Summit on AIDS. We are aware that the UN, an august body, shall be privileged to have a Ghanaian who is interested in human development.
Q: What is the organisation doing to check the alarming increase in AIDS? How does the organisation intend to help countries which are not able to cope with the spread of such an epidemic, which is a threat to the world?
SG: First of all, let me say that the African leaders have an opportunity in Abuja, to come together to join the fight against HIV/AIDS. Recently we are seeing new energy and new engagement on the part of leaders on this continent and around the world. The people are speaking out now, the conspiracy of silence is broken, and we need to have a comprehensive approach to the disease which combines the prevention and treatment.
We are engaged with other partners from around the world, the pharmaceutical companies, the donor community and the global civil society for all of us to work together to tackle this epidemic. But it also requires complete social mobilisation at the national level where action has to be taken, where it requires leadership of all of us, and in some countries in Africa, where the leader has been forthcoming, they have been able to reverse the trend in the spread of AIDS and I think we have very good examples on the continent from Senegal to Uganda. And now of course there's a big fight going on in Bostwana, so I will really urge all of us to get involved. Recently the pharmaceutical companies have also reduced the prices of their medications, but of course that alone is not enough, we need to strengthen our health system, we need to be able in our budget promises to give health a priority and this is an area that I hope the UN agencies can help, with governments, in coming up with the right programmes.
Q: Sir, are the circumstances ripe for your re-election as a Secretary-General?
SG: I hope so, I hope so.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General are you hopeful about DR Congo?
SG: I think there are hopeful signs coming out of the Congo and we went through a gloomy patch, but since January with the change in leadership, President Joseph Kabila, is determined to work with his compatriots to end the conflict, he is open to dialogue with them and is working much more effectively than with former President Masire. This is something we have not seen in the Congo for a while, the protagonists themselves are co-operating with us in redeploying their troops in accordance with the agreements they have signed, so we are now beginning to make some progress but we still have a long way to go.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, Ghana your home country has gone HIPC, how does that make you feel?
SG: I think this has to be determined by the economic conditions and the situation that the government has to deal with. I don't think it's a choice that the government would have made if the conditions did not demand that that sort of option be considered.
Q: Do you thing we've made the right decision?
SG: I think the government assessed all the facts and took a decision and I think we have a wise and democratically elected government and I think they are right to take the decisions they believe are in the interest of the nation, and I will support that decision.
Q: Your Excellency, I wanted to know the relationship between the UN and the current leader of Israel.
SG: The UN as an international organization deals with all governments and I as Secretary-General of the organization am in touch with the leaders in the region, with the Prime Minister Sharon, with President Arafat and other leaders in the region like President Mubarak, King Abdullah and others in an attempt to try and work with them, in ending the violence, and push the political process forward. So we are dealing with Prime Minister Sharon as we are with others.
Remarks upon arrival at UNHQ, 20 April 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Question on the Middle East. You've been having a lot of conversations with leaders all over. Do you see any signs of movement, is anything happening, is there any reason to hope that there might be some movement?
SG: There are discreet contacts. And I think lots of governments and leaders of goodwill are at work. And I hope that, in time, we'll see some movement. I think it is important that we all recognize that all these issues are linked -- the violence, the economic deprivation and the political process. And we need to tackle them flexibly. But of course, as I've said, it is essential that we find a way of getting the parties to engage and to talk because now that the killing is going on, now that we are living this tragedy, is more important reason to talk. And I would hope that the parties are listening to the good counsel that they are getting all around, and that they will work with us to de-escalate and try and move the process forward.
Q: Another quick question. I know you saw the Arab group yesterday. The Palestinian Observer has demanded that the Security Council do something. There's talk of another resolution. Would any of these be helpful? What can happen here? What do you see?
SG: I know that the Council members are concerned, very concerned, about developments in the region like everyone else. They've had intensive consultations about it. The President, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, is in touch with everyone. And I think what the Arab Ambassadors who came to see me pleaded was that the Council should take some action, should take initiatives that will help galvanize the parties to recognize that they have to work to stop the violence and begin to improve the situation and engage in the dialogue. They are as desperate as we are to see improvement in the situation. And Sir Jeremy Greenstock, President of the Council, and myself have been doing lots of thinking and talking and I think he is exploring how best the Council can move forward. And of course, I'm working and will be working very closely with the Council to continue to explore what initiatives we can do that will be positive for the process, let me put it that way. And this is what, in fact, the Arab countries came to talk to me about. We had a very good conversation. It was constructive, and non-confrontational, and they didn't come with demands. They really came to think together as to what the UN, in the form of the Security Council and the Secretary-General, can do to help the process.
Q: May I ask you about the AIDS drug agreement yesterday? That was a dramatic piece of news which presumably will be developing in Abuja. What do you think of the South African Health Minister's comments yesterday, that the drugs are not suitable for the developing countries, that they don't have enough money to buy them anyway?
SG: I think obviously the question of money is an issue. But one does not expect that the medication will get to everyone affected with AIDS immediately. It is going to be a progression. And I think the figures that we see in the South African situation, where about 10,000 people are now getting this medication, is that maybe in a year or so it can move to a hundred thousand, and then on to 400,000. So the fact that not everyone can get it, doesn't mean that we shouldn't get it to those who can. And I think, in fact, in all our efforts, we recognize that we need to focus on prevention and care, and that these are two important pillars of our strategy. We also recognize that we are going to need additional infusion of money, a real international global fund to help strengthen the health systems of these countries for our attempt to help them to be actually effective. I think these medications can help. They can help mother-to-child transmission. And we need to really work with the pharmaceutical industry, with governments, with NGOs, and companies that are giving care to their staff and the communities, as to how best we get this delivered. But availability of the drugs alone is not sufficient. We need to do much more.
Remarks upon arrival at UNHQ, 19 April 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Your thoughts on Burundi, first of all, the coup was obviously averted there, but it suddenly draws everyone's attention to the problem that some might say is more toxic in some ways than the [Democratic Republic of the] Congo.
SG: I think we are all relieved that the coup did not succeed because the OAU itself had indicated that coup-makers would no longer be welcome in Africa. And in all their meetings they have refused to encourage … [Sound system failed.]
Q: I'm sorry, Sir, I apologize. This coup that's been averted, there's been a lot of attention drawn suddenly. This is an on-going problem, potentially more serious than Congo.
SG: I am relieved that the coup did fail. As you know, President [Nelson] Mandela has been working with the parties in order to resolve the conflict in Burundi. A peace agreement had been signed, although some of the rebels had not signed it and are still engaged in armed conflict, and he had been working on a ceasefire with them and to get them to join the process. I think this coup, if it had succeeded, would have complicated the situation further. So we are all relieved that it has not succeeded, but it also underscores the work we have to do to try and calm the situation in Burundi.
Q: On the [Democratic Republic of the] Congo report, this is on the resources, there is somewhat of a predictable response: Congo endorses, the nations named deny. This is obviously up to the Security Council now to take some sort of action. Are you planning to talk to [Ugandan President Yoweri] Museveni, [Rwandan President Paul] Kagame, those named countries involved?
SG: I think I'm waiting for the Council action first, and I think the Council now has a report and will be deliberating on it. Following the Council discussions, one will decide what action needs to be taken.
Q: Quick question on the Middle East, where words really do seem to be failing at this point.
SG: I know. It is a very dangerous and explosive situation and we are trying to work with all the parties concerned within and outside the region, and countries with influence on the region, to try and calm the violence, end the violence, and move the process on to the negotiating table, on all aspects of it -- on the violence, on the economic deprivation, and on the political process. Thank you.
Remarks upon arrival at UNHQ, 11 April 2001 - on US/China relations (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, your reaction to the news from China about the presumed imminent release of the American flyers?
SG: I think I am relieved and happy that this crisis has been brought to a happy ending. I had the opportunity to send a message to the Chinese President regarding the disappearance of the Chinese pilot.
I'm extremely happy that this issue has been resolved because we were all concerned that the longer it got drawn out, the more likelihood, the possibility, that positions would have hardened in both countries and complicated and perhaps harmed the relationship that has taken so long to put together. And now that it is over, I hope we can go back to business.
I will be in touch with the Chinese leadership. I have already been in touch with the White House and the Secretary of State Colin Powell to congratulate President Bush and his foreign policy team, particularly Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Q: Is there anything the United Nations or its organizations do in establishing standards or rules that would define the rules of planes flying close to borders and to eliminate this kind of conflict in the future?
SG: I think there are rules that govern navigation, and the UN-associated agency, ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] does quite a bit of work on this. And there are other international practices and norms that govern aviation. And of course from time to time things do go wrong, but I think the rules that exist are adequate.
Remarks upon arrival at UNHQ, 9 April 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: There's a report in the New York Times today regarding sanctions against Afghanistan, that the Council might consider sanctions against Pakistan for violating those sanctions. Do you have any indication on how the sanctions are working and do you think that this would be a useful follow-up?
SG: I don't have the details and obviously it's a decision for the [Security] Council, but I'm not quite sure how close the Council is to taking any such action. And I've been on the road and I'll be talking to the Council members to see what there is to this.
Q: Sir, people are saying now that the situation in the Middle East has gotten to the point where it is explosive. Is there anything new that you or the Security Council should be doing or can be doing?
SG: I'm in touch with the leaders in the region, both with Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon and Mr. [Yasser] Arafat, and other leaders in the region and in Europe and also here. And I think what we are all trying to do is to work with the parties to try and end the violence and move on to ease the economic situation of the Palestinians, and of course, prepare the ground for talks. I know there are those who believe that as long as the violence is going on, one should not talk. I, personally, disagree with that. I think that is one more reason to talk and it underscores the urgency of bringing the parties together. And I would work with others to see what we can do to bring the violence to an end.
Q: Mr. Secretary, is it time for the UN, yourself, to get involved in the US-China dispute?
SG: I think they seem to be talking directly. For a while, they seemed to be making progress, but I hope the direct discussions will lead to results. But if my good offices are needed, I'm always available.
Q: On Kyoto, Secretary-General, do you see a role for yourself and the UN in trying to get that back on track after the American government having rescinded the agreement?
SG: I consider that decision unfortunate, but then the UN has a mandate to press ahead on environmental issues. Global warming is real. There's enough scientific evidence to indicate that it is real and that we need to take every step possible to try and halt it. I think the UN will press ahead with the Member States to ensure that this is done. And I hope the US position is not immutable.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, are you satisfied with the steps that the Yugoslav Government is taking regarding former President [Slobodan] Milosevic?
SG: I think his arrest is a first step. And obviously, as President [Vojislav] Kostunica had said, he has charges to answer for before his own people. But I hope that does not mean that he will not eventually end up in The Hague.
Q: You've just returned from Amman where you met with lots of Arab leaders. Now that you're back at Headquarters, what can you do, what will you do, in order to contain the situation on the ground on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?
SG: I will continue my contacts with the leaders and work with other interested parties to try and calm the situation, end the violence and move on, as I said, to ease the economic condition and eventually bring the parties to the negotiating table.
Q: How do two big powers say they are sorry?
SG: I think they will find ways of doing it. There are so many ways to do it, and I think they will find a way of doing it.
Nairobi, 3 April 2001 - Press encounter following meeting with Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning ladies and gentlemen, as you heard from the president, we have had a very ver y good discussion focusing on African issues, focusing from Sudan to the situation in Somalia, the Congo and Burundi and, of course, UN/Kenyan relationship and our activities here in Kenya. I have with me Mr. Toepfer who is the head of UNEP [UN Environment Programme] who has provided dynamic leadership for the UN activities here.
We are all here this time to attend the ACC, with the heads of agencies of the UN family. We meet twice year and this time we decided to meet here at the initiative of Toepfer, which I accepted immediately and we are having very very good discussions.
This morning I also spoke to the President about the issue of AIDS and the need for all of us to join the fight against this epidemic from top to bottom, requiring complete social mobilization in all countries. Yes, the epidemic has hit Africa the hardest but it is a global problem and we really need to mobilize the will and the resources to tackle it: prevention, education, cure and treatment.
I will now take you questions.
Q: [inaudible] on the US Navy plane currently being held in China.
SG: I have followed the developments following the collision of the two aircraft. I hope it will be settled peacefully between the two countries. I know that the US has asked for access to the 24 officers on the plane and, from what I have picked up, it is likely that they will be given access to the troops and eventually to the plane. I hope they will resolve it peacefully and I also offer my sympathies to the family of the Chinese pilot who is missing and I hope he will be found shortly.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, two UN staffers are still being held in Mogadishu. Do you have any comments on any new developments?
SG: Yesterday I had the opportunity of meeting those who were released and I was able to hear from them directly what an ordeal they had gone through. They were in good health and good spirits. We are in touch with the two are still detained. We have access to them and we make sure they have enough food and water. We are negociating to get them out and I am quite hopeful that we get them out as we got the others out. But let me add, that these lawless and reckless people who prey on young men and women from distant land who’ve come to help, whose only reason for being in Somalia is to help the needy, ought to understand that their behavior is something that the international community can not accept and can not condone. Aid workers deserve better treatment and deserve our appreciation and thanks rather than this kind of treatment.
Thank you very much.
Nairobi, 2 April 2001 - Press conference (unofficial transcript)
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the press.
Before I start, let me express my deepest sympathies to the Government and the People of Kenya for the tragic bus accident that occurred last weekend, and for the terrible fire in a boarding school where a large number of students perished.
I am delighted to be here in Nairobi and in Africa again. As you know, I am brought here on this occasion to attend the first session of ACC for the year 2001, and I am very pleased that this meeting is taking place in Nairobi. This city is the UN's only duty station in Africa and, of course, in the developing world. And the work we are doing at this year's ACC has particularly strong relevance to the people of Africa.
More than six months have passed since the world's leaders gathered in New York for the Millennium Summit and pledged themselves to free their peoples - from the scourge of war, from abject and dehumanizing poverty, and from the threat of living on a polluted planet with few natural resources left.
Nowhere in the world are those challenges more acute than here in Africa, so it is more than fitting that the entire UN family should be meeting here, in Nairobi, to discuss how we can work out and work most effectively for the implementation of the Millennium goals that our leaders set. And it is entirely appropriate that we spent part of this morning discussing the need for a mobilization of all actors against AIDS in Africa; but let me hasten to add that AIDS is not just an African issue. AIDS is a global problem, but for the moment, Africa is the worst hit.
It is a global problem and we should be concerned about fighting the epidemic in other parts of the world. This afternoon, as I said we spoke a lot about AIDS in Africa and that we should spend a good deal of tomorrow focusing on ways to strengthen the system-wide support for sustainable development on this continent.
The Millennium targets are ambitious, and they are not self-implementing. In themselves, they hardly do more than express a wish or an aspiration. Their impact on reality depends on an unprecedented effort by Member States and the UN family. We, the family, are here to discuss how each of us can best play our part. And we are here to discuss how we can spur our Member States to play their role to the fullest. For the ultimate responsibility - collective and individual - in ensuring that the Millennium goals translate into reality rests with them. I hope that the UN system that is meeting here in Nairobi, and are having a lively debate will also play her own part and I can assure you that we are determined to work in partnerships with governments, NGOs, civil society and the private sector and other stakeholders to ensure that we meet our Millennium commitments. I will now be pleased to answer your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General what is your opinion with respect to the decision of President Bush not to sign the Kyoto Protocol?
SG: I think the environment is one of the key issues we face today and those of you who have seen my report The Millennium Summit - We the People will notice that I devoted a large chunk of that report to environmental issues. I regret the US decision, but I think that gives us one more reason to fight in a more determined manner to bring environmental issues into focus. We need to take steps to halt climate warming. It is a fact. Yes probably not all the scientific evidence is in, but there is enough evidence and an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that it is phenomenon that we need to fight. I think on the issue of environment, when we discuss it often reminds me of an old African proverb that says that the Earth is not ours, it is a treasure we hold in trust for future generations for our children and their children, and I hope my generation or this generation will be worthy of that trust and we can hand over a healthy climate, a healthy planet to our children, and if we are going to do that, we need to work more urgently to fight the environmental degradation, which is a reality.
Q: Can you please comment on the arrest of Mr. Milosevic?
SG: Yes, I have issued a statement this morning here in Nairobi, but basically I believe that the Government of President Kostunica is moving in the right direction. The arrest of Milosevic I think is a right step and of course he also has charges to answer for before the Yugoslav Tribunal in the Hague and I hope in time he would be placed before the dock there as well.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, what is your position on the foreign troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo now that the peace process is starting all over again there?
SG: I think the signs there are a bit more hopeful in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the discussions in New York with the Security Council. The parties have begun to move to implement the Lusaka Agreement and the redeployment plan that they all agreed upon and the UN observer force has been deployed and they are monitoring the deployment of these troops. We have also begun to move in .. who will be working with the observers. On the issue of a political dialogue, there has been a very good meeting between President Masire and President Kabila who has agreed to cooperate with him and I hope all parties will cooperate with former President Masire so that we can move forward the political process. We cannot succeed on the military front if we do not move forward on the political process as well. The two go hand in hand, and so I would urge that they come together as quickly as possible and work with President Mesere to resolve the internal political situation and create a system that will be open to all Congolese and that they will have the possibility of participating freely in the government of their own country.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General I would like to get your comments on the crisis between Guinea and Liberia?
SG: The development in that sub-region is of great concern to the United Nations and to me personally. We have had a series of crises. It first started in Liberia then to Sierra Leone and now of course we have a conflict on the Guinea and Liberian border. I have here with me the High Commissioner for Refugees who some couple of months ago on his first visit ever as High Commissioner went to the region to discuss with the leaders how best they will cooperate with us to help the refugees and those in need and I think he was able to make some progress, but the leaders in the region and the UN are trying to work with the three leaders in the region, that is Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to defuse the situation and a summit is being planned in the next week or so between Presidents Taylor and Konte of Guinea and I hope at that meeting they will agree to continue to talk and resolve their differences politically rather than through military means. And I think generally that is a message African leaders must embrace to solve their problems through dialogue and through political means and not through the barrel of the gun. That is only an illusion that you can solve these problems through fighting.
Q: If Milosevic is convicted in Yugoslavia or in Serbia, what are the chances of him being extradited so that he can go to the Hague and what will the United Nations do to implement that extradition?
SG: I think obviously this will be an issue for the Tribunal to decide, but from what I have gathered the Yugoslav court will be trying Milosevic on charges dealing with corruption and abuse of power, but not on the charges that have been put forward by the Tribunal and the Hague. The Tribunal is accusing him of war crimes against humanity and so it would seem to me that the court should be able to try him on those charges, which are not the charges on which he is going to be tried in Serbia. In other words, the question of double jeopardy, which was implied in your question will not be applicable.
Q: I just wanted to know in terms of security for yourself and your staff coming in the wake of a hostage and abduction situation in Mogadishu what have you discussed about that.
SG: Security for myself, no, obviously I do have some security, I always try to keep it to the minimum and because sometimes it does hamper your mobility and activities, but we take appropriate precautions, but I am not going to be walking around with an army and I hope I will be free to go about doing my work, but we do take appropriate precautions, but thank you for the concern.
Q: What is the future of UNEP here in Nairobi, it's just a programme, it not an organization. Are there some plans to give this house a decision making competence?
SG: I think UNEP is the only global organization in the UN system dealing with environmental issues. By implication, I think you are raising more the question of resources and others. I think when it comes to decision-making authority and delegated authority, the head of this office has considerable margin for manoeuvre, of course, he cannot decide everything, a lot also depends on the member states, but he does have considerable authority. What is sometimes lacks is the adequate resources to carry out the huge mandate that he has and this is where both of us will be working with the Member States to give him additional resources for him to carry out his tasks. And I take it that the same goes for Habitat, don't feel that you [turning to Mrs. Tibaijuka, Executive Director of Habitat] have been left out I think you both need the additional resources to be effective and I hope it will be forthcoming.
Q: There are allegations of human rights abuses in Sudan is specifically because of oil, what is the UN information on this and are we now seeing a case of human rights abuses in the name of oil, in the name of economy?
SG: I am aware of those charges. In fact, I have Mrs. Robinson here with me and in fact she has assigned a human rights officer to Sudan to follow up on developments. He will be there on a regular basis. In addition, we will be designating a rapporteur who would also be looking into this situation. I don't think anyone should abuse the rights of the other people in the name of economy and in the name of commercial interest . And I think in order to encourage governments and companies to work together and to be sensitive to issues of human rights and others, that is why I came up with the proposal of global compact I launched the global compact in Davos and the key areas where I want companies to engage in is to respect core labour standards, human rights of the workers and the people in the region and to be environmentally sensitive. And I must say the response has been very good and the compact is not just for companies, it includes trade unions and NGOs and I think basically what we are doing is we are using the dialogue and transparency as powerful tools to steer the behaviour of companies in the right direction.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, following the conclusion of the Lockerbie Trial what step or what action is the UN planning to do regarding the downing of the Egypt Air 767 off the coast of New York where more than 35 Egyptian Generals died. And lastly, what is UN's reaction regarding the downgrading of the Nairobi City from B to C?
SG: Let me say that the last question is the responsibility for the Kenyan Government. We would be prepared to give them any advice or help should they need it, but they have the primary responsibility for that and so those of us in the UN system both here and beyond will be prepared to provide whatever assistance that we can. On your second question, the UN Security Council is not seized on the matter that you referred to. The issue of Lockerbie bombing was before the UN when the two accused were delivered, sanctions were suspended. Now sanctions are in suspension. What the Libyan authorities are seeking is a definitive lifting of the sanctions. The case is in appeal and I think that we will perhaps have to await the outcome of the appeal.
Thank you very much. Have a good day.
Nairobi, 1 April 2001 - Remarks upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (unofficial transcript)
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Vice-President. I am extremely happy to be here this morning and also in a way to have brought a bit more rain, and Kenya is a very important headquarters city for the United Nations. It is the only headquarters of the United Nations that is located in the developing world and we take it very very seriously and I know that Mr. Toepfer the Head of the UNON and UNEP does also. You have seen the energy and dynamism he has brought to this office and recently he has been joined by our colleague from Habitat another dynamic woman and we selected these good leaders to underscore the importance we attach to this office.
Today we all come here, heads of UN agencies from all over the world to discuss as you say the pressing issues of the day. I am looking forward to constructive and serious discussions here and I also look forward to meeting the President and the Kenyan leadership to discuss issues of regional concern. So let me just end here and so early in the morning.
We don’t want to keep the press waiting. I know you didn’t
get much sleep, but I hope you can get some rest today. Thank you very much.
Press encounter, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, 30 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I think I have spoken a lot this morning so let me just take your questions.
Q: In your meeting with President Kostunica, did you speak about his Government cooperating with the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia?
SG: Yes, he did tell me that his Government is working on the laws and that the relationship is moving in the right direction and that he is pleased with the progress that is being made. I will also be discussing this with Mrs. del Ponte.
Q: What about handing over Mr. Milosevic?
SG: I did not get into that. That is, they are handling it nationally.
Q: The veto of the United States of the Security Council resolution means the failure of the United Nations to protect civilians in times of conflict. What are your proposals to end the vicious circle? Secondly, you are known for your persuasive powers. Would you exercise them with Israel to convince that State to stop bombarding Palestinian civilian targets?
SG: First of all, I issued a statement on this situation yesterday and I hope you have all seen it. I am also in touch with the leaders in the region. I had a long discussion with Prime Minister Sharon recently in New York. And I have been on the phone with Foreign Secretary Shimon Peres only two days ago. And I was with Chairman Arafat in Amman. I am going to continue my efforts to work with the parties with the aim of ending the violence, getting the economic situation in the Palestinian territories eased and improved, and eventually getting the parties back to the table. I think it is essential that they resume their contacts and they come back to the negotiating table. I deplore the violence. I deplore what is happening on the ground. But I believe that is one more reason for us to make every effort to get the parties together, to cooperate and move in the right direction and to stop the killing.
Q: What came out of your meeting with President Kabila?
SG: We reviewed the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and I am very encouraged with the hopeful signs that the parties are determined to implement the Lusaka agreement. The signs are positive, but it has to be sustained, and we need to make progress, both on the military and political tracks. The President gave me the assurance that he is determined to cooperate. He wants to see peace in his country. He wants to have peace with his neighbours. And in addition to the international efforts and what the United Nations is doing, he would want to be able to pursue some of this bilaterally with Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. I hope the other leaders would also engage him.
Q: Ahead of the World Conference in Durban, do you see any risk in it being derailed by the issue of claims raised against former colonial powers?
SG: I think it is a very important conference and it gives us an opportunity to bring to the fore an issue that afflicts all societies, this question of racism, xenophobia, mistreatment of minorities. And I would want to see a conference that is forward-looking, a conference that will give hopes to those who are suffering, a conference that will impact on people and mobilize governments and people to do something about this problem. Thank you very much.
* *** *
Press encounter following meeting with Swiss President Moritz Leuenberger and the Swiss Federal Council Delegation, Bern Bernerhof, Switzerland, 29 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: (in French) I feel at home in Switzerland from the moment I arrive. I have fond memories of Geneva, where I studied and met my wife. I have very deep affection for Switzerland. I also take the opportunity to thank the President and the Federal Council, including the Swiss people, for the support and cooperation they have given to the United Nations. Switzerland as a country, even though not a Member of the United Nations, plays a very important role in all our activities, from economics to humanitarian development, and even in the past has provided us with very good peacekeeping troops and helicopter pilots, who have worked with us in the Balkans. And I hope that this will continue into the future. I am also quite excited about the prospects that the population and people of Switzerland will be making a decision next year on their association and relationship with the UN. Obviously, this is a decision for the Swiss people but if the decision were to be yes, it would be welcome with open arms, not just by the Secretary-General but all 189 Member States are waiting to welcome them formally into the family of nations. You play an important role. You are the headquarters of many important UN organizations and we are all grateful for your support. And I hope in the not too distant future (inaudible). I would also like to thank the President for the warm welcome my wife and myself and my team have received. He referred to the publicity I made for the transportation, but also congratulate it for developing such an effective public transport system. As someone who is concerned about it, I think that public transportation effectively designed is the best way to protect our environment . Thank you very much.
Q: Some people say that the appointment of Adolf Ogi is like direct intervention in Swiss affairs. Nobody knows what his exact job will be.
SG: They could say it's direct intervention if I set him loose around the country to campaign for you to join the UN. But basically, let me say that I do appoint quite a lot of Special Envoys and Special Advisors. I have appointed a lot of ex-politicians to work with me and in fact and just at the time Mr. Ogi was appointed at the beginning of January this year, I had appointed quite a lot of politicians to give me advice on financing for development. And that group is going to be chaired by ex-President Zedillo of Mexico who, until December, was a President. We had had on the panel Jacques Delors and Bob Rubin, a former Treasury Secretary all working to give me advice so it's a normal thing for me to turn to experienced politicians and statesmen to give me advice. In asking Adolf Ogi to give me advice in the field of sports and peace and development, I have identified somebody who is comfortable in the field of sports, who also understands the political area and to be able to engage the sportspeople in peace and development. Ever since I became Secretary-General, I have recognized that there are many things that the UN cannot do alone. We need to work with foundations and get the message out and I think that Mr. Ogi has a role to play in that. His activities will be global, it's not going to be focused just on Switzerland.
Q: The Kyoto protocol seems to have foundered. What are your views on this? SG: I think the environment is a very important issue and next year we're going to have a big environmental conference ten years after the Rio Conference, to review what has been achieved, and Kyoto is one of the key issues here. And the US decision does indicate that we need to work harder to get the environmental standards adopted and approved by all. And I hope that the public at large and the NGOs will become as engaged as they were in the past with this campaign to review and to get Governments to commit to environmental protection as we move into the Conference next year. It is regrettable that all Governments have not signed as Switzerland and others have done, but the pressure and campaign to get Governments to sign will continue.
Q: (In French) What would be your personal reaction if the Swiss rejected membership?
SG: (In French) I would be very disappointed, but it would obviously be a choice that we would have to respect, but it would be truly disappointing. And it wouldn't just be Kofi Annan, the individual, who would be disappointed but the 189 Member nations, but it was finally up to the Swiss.
Q: Do you think about the danger that neutrality will be endangered of Switzerland joins the UN?
SG: I usually do not answer a question by posing a question, but neutrality vis-à-vis whom? In the days of the Cold War, this concept of neutrality, of not joining one bloc or the other, did have real political relevance. But today when one talks of neutrality what does it mean? We live in a global world, we live in an (inaudible) world where on many issues no one country, however powerful, can resolve them alone. And that we often need to come together to recognize our interdependence and common humanity to tackle some of the big issues of the day. And I think it important that every country has its say or is in the room when crucial issues are being discussed. Last September, you all saw for yourselves the biggest gathering of Heads of States and Governments at the United Nations. In this global world that kind of possibility and that kind of action are important, but neutrality in today's world I don't understand it. Independent action taken in a dispassionate way, yes, but ….
Q: Do you think that joining the UN would hurt Switzerland's ability to continue [its] humanitarian work?
SG: I think Switzerland has set an admirable humanitarian tradition and when you consider the Red Cross and the work you do with the High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF and all that, but I think that by joining the UN it will not impact negatively on the humanitarian efforts. I think, in fact, it will strengthen your capacity to work in tandem with others, strengthen your capacity to be in the room when decisions regarding humanitarian issues are discussed, perhaps even in time, give you a chance to serve on the Security Council and help take some of the decisions that affect you and others.
Q: A few years ago, there was lots discussed on Security Council reform. Is it still an issue?
SG: Reform is always an issue in any organization. Reform is a process, not an event, so it will be on-going. It is an on-going process. On your specific question on the Security Council, the discussions that you referred to two years ago are still going on amongst the Member States and they have not come to any conclusions. What I can say is that I believe that all the Member States agree that the Security Council is in need of reform, but beyond that they don't agree on the details. And I do hope that the discussions that are taking place among the members of the General Assembly would bear fruit in the next year or two because the discussions have gone for far too long. There is a sense that reform is needed, I hope we would find the creativity and the wisdom to come up with the concrete ideas on how we move forward.
Q: Sir, did you discuss the situation in the Middle East during meetings with the government?
SG: We did discuss the difficult political situation in the Middle East, the concern about the violence in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, the need to work with the parties to end the violence, ease the economic squeeze on the Palestinian people and get them to the negotiating table. These issues are all inter-related. Of course at the Arab Summit, there was quite a bit of anger from the Arab leadership and the Arab population as to what is happening to the Palestinians. We also discussed the issue of Iraq, where the leaders in Amman tried to first of all, bridge the differences between Kuwait and Iraq, and of course, there was general dissatisfaction of the long-standing UN sanctions against Iraq and its impact on the population. But I think there was also a sense that Iraq has to comply with UN resolutions to see where we go from here.
Q: Do you have any comments on the hostage situation in Somalia?
SG: First of all, let me offer my deepest sympathy to the families of those who are still in captivity. I have lots of admiration and courage for those colleagues of mine who go to difficult and distant places around the world to help the poor and the needy, and they do not deserve to be treated this way. On Tuesday, I saw the President of Somalia in Jordan, and I asked him to work with us. Some have been released and I hope the remaining four will be released unharmed and that all hostages will be returned unharmed.
Remarks following meeting with the high-level Iraqi Delegation, Amman, Jordan, 27 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I had a very constructive discussion with Vice-President Izzat Ibrahim on the whole question of the Iraq-UN relationship and the question of the sanctions review that is going on. I also had the chance to brief him on my last meeting with [Iraqi] Foreign Minister [Mohammed Said] Al Sahaf, and we discussed the possibility of the next meeting which will probably take place in May in New York to pursue our search for a way out and to break this impasse.
Remarks following meeting with President Emile Lahoud of Lebanon, Amman, Jordan, 27 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: We discussed the UN activities in the south and the demining activities and the efforts we are going to make with the government to bring the donor community together to raise money for the reconstruction of the south. I am extremely pleased with the cooperation we are getting from the Lebanese authority, from the president and the prime minister. We look forward to continuing our constructive work with our Lebanese colleagues.
Remarks following meeting with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, Amman, Jordan, 26 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: We had a very good discussion with President Arafat on the need for all to work to end the violence and for us to find a way of moving forward. We have several issues in the region: the security issue, the economic depravation and the need for the political process to move forward. And any actions that increase the violence is something that we should stop. There is no need for any escalation and I think we are all going to work to find a way to bring calm for this region.
Remarks made by the Secretary-General upon his arrival in Amman, Jordan, 25 March 2001
I am extremely happy to have been invited by His Majesty to attend this summit at a critical stage in the affairs of this region and the Arab world. I look forward to meeting with His Majesty to discuss political developments in this region and other issues of mutual interest to the Jordanian government and the United Nations.
Press encounter following meeting with President George W. Bush, Washington D.C., 23 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I have had a very constructive discussion with the President. We did discuss the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia [FYROM]; we talked about AIDS and the UN Conference coming up. We talked about the fight against poverty and about trade, and the fact that the poor would much rather trade themselves out of poverty and live on handouts, and that we hopefully will do whatever we can to open up world trade. And we talked about the US-UN relationship and we were both satisfied that we have put behind us the difficult budgetary issue that has made our relationship difficult and promised to work very closely together on issues of mutual concern to the UN and the US. I’ll take your questions.
Q: Secretary-General, do you feel you now have US backing for a second term?
SG: The President did offer it and made a statement to the press. Yes.
Q: Did you talk about Iraq?
SG: The Iraqi issue also came up, and the review that is going on, and the fact that I will be going to the Arab Summit this weekend where this issue will also come up.
Q: What about the Middle East, Sir?
SG: It was discussed and, of course, you are also aware that when Prime Minister Sharon was here, he also came to see me in New York and we believe that we have to do everything possible to stop the violence and move the parties back on to the negotiating table. And I’m sure this is also an issue that I’ll be discussing a lot at the beginning of next week in Amman when I go to meet the Arab leaders.
Q: What, if anything, did you decide on [the former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia with the President?
SG: Our sense is that, while we should support the Macedonian Government in its attempts to put down the rebellion, the government has to be careful not to handle the situation in a manner that would exacerbate it -- pull out refugees, and perhaps divide the society even further. But we are firm on the territorial integrity and the unity of FYROM. Thank you very much.
Remarks by the Secretary-General and George W. Bush in Photo Opportunity at the White House, Washington D.C., 23 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
PRESIDENT G W BUSH: Good afternoon. It's my honor to welcome the Secretary General to the Oval Office. My administration thinks he is doing an excellent job as the Secretary General of the United Nations, and therefore, we heartily endorse his second term as the Secretary General.
I appreciate your willingness to serve a second term, Mr. Secretary General, and I'm looking forward to working not only to make sure that you serve a second term, but once that's done, work closely with you to keep the peace and to make the world more prosperous.
SG: Thank you very much. Mr. President, I'm also looking forward to working with you. And I'm very happy to be here. We have many issues to work on together, and I'm looking forward to our discussions this afternoon. We will go over a whole range of issues, including HIV-AIDS, poverty, the Balkans and African issues.
PRESIDENT G W BUSH: Thank you, sir.
Thank you, all. Have a great weekend.
Source: The White House News
Press encounter following meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Washington, D.C., 23 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: In your meeting today with Secretary Powell, did you discuss the Balkans in a way that you can stop the situation from spiralling out of control?
Might I ask another quick question, on Angola= You must have seen Jonas Savimbi's comments making an offer of dialogue. Do you think they can really get back to peace talks now?
SG: Yes, we did discuss the situation in the Balkans, and particularly in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the fact that one has to take steps to bring the rebellion and violence to an end, but we must do it in a manner that doesn't create bigger problems. I think one would want to see the territorial integrity and unity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia respected, but at the same time, we have to handle this crisis in a manner that doesn't lead to a new outflow of refugees and exacerbate the situation. So, we are going to be working with the Government and the leaders in the region to ensure that we can contain the situation.
On Angola, I also have read the statement but will need to get in touch with the Government of Angola to see if indeed there are any prospects for bringing them together. Obviously, at the end of the day, the parties have to talk. It's the only way to resolve their differences, and if Savimbi wants to talk on the basis of the Lusaka Accords, then we will see where we go from here.
Q: What about Iraq? Mr. Secretary-General, apparently you discussed that situation with Secretary of State Powell? Did you come up with any [inaudible] towards a new sanctions regime?
SG: Not yet. We did discuss Iraq but we didn't come up with any new proposals for a sanctions regime. Obviously, capitals are reviewing their own policies and I had discussions with the Iraqis last month, on the 26th and 27th of February, and I hope to meet with them again, perhaps in May, to pursue our discussions in an attempt to break the current impasse and to get them to cooperate with the UN in implementing the resolutions.
Remarks upon departure from Hyderabad Airport, India, 17 March 2001
In a short time, the things I have seen! I have derived inspiration from seeing a state in the third world using IT technology to really foster development and deal with the needs of its people in a very practical and forward looking way.
The Chief Minister and I have discussed earlier how if one approaches this issue creatively, we, in the third world, can leapfrog some of the painful and difficult development processes others had to go through. And I think you are doing it here and I had the chance to see six thousand women who are taking charge of their lives, who are engaged in micro-credit, illiteracy programmes and running their own businesses and it gave me hope that women in this state, at least would, in time, become full partners and bring their ingenuity and energy to bear on the development efforts in this society.
In fact, as I drove away I had a feeling that if I came back in 20-25 years, I shouldn't be surprised if the chief minister is a woman. Thank you very much.
Remarks at the Public Gardens, Hyderabad, India, 17 March 2001
Mr. Chief Minister, my dear friends, let me first of all tell you how grateful I am that you turned out in such numbers to give my wife, myself and my team from New York such an extraordinary welcome. I thank you for the welcome card that you gave me. In that card you talk about the myth about women, that women are weak, women need community, women need development, but you also state the fact that women are strong. The community needs women, development needs women. That is the truth that your Chief Minister has realised and is working with you to make this a reality. And I see that there are some men here who are also here to support you. I have been told before the things you have done, your micro-credit, your own businesses, your literacy programmes and all that you are doing for your children and yourself through family planning.
Society needs you; society needs its women. After all, women are fifty percent on average of each society and any society that refuses to use fifty percent of its talent is bound to lose out. And I have seen the energy you brought to the state. There are five million of you, but there are many more out there doing all sorts of things trying to improve the economy and the development of the society and improve yourselves and your families.
But what is important is that you should be able to participate in all aspects of life. Today it is micro-credit, today it is education to eliminate illiteracy, today is the campaign to get your children to be healthy. But that should only be the beginning; only the beginning, because tomorrow, embarked on the road that you have, you will be managers of companies, you will be politicians, many of you are ministers and there will be many more. And it will happen because you want it to happen and you can make it happen. And on top of that, you have in the Chief Minister a real partner who wants to work with you and the leadership of the state to make it happen.
What you are doing in your state is something we want to see done in every country in the world: to see the women take charge of their lives, to take charge of their finances and manage their own businesses and move on.
You are ahead of many, many nations in the world but your experience will be an inspiration for all of them and I will make sure they hear about what you are doing here. And once again let me thank you for your courage, your vision, your determination and the support you give to each other and for the warm welcome you have given us.
Thank you very much and good luck.
Media Encounter following talks with Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, New Delhi, 16 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
J. Singh: I am delighted to have this honour and opportunity to welcome my friend, His Excellency the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This is not the first visit he is making to India. We have had a very good meeting. We have discussed issues concerning India's commitments to UN, developmental process of UN, peacekeeping, question of terrorism, non-proliferation, disarmament, regional situations, and also the question of dialogues. His Excellency was advising a dialogue process with Pakistan. We discussed the situation in Afghanistan, including the destruction of valuable human heritage. I also took this opportunity to discuss the Middle-East peace process and also, the continuing sanctions on Iraq which we feel are now becoming counter-productive. I am delighted we had a very good meeting. I don't want to keep him too long from lunch, so I would request him to say a few words.
SG: You have heard from the Minister, indeed we did have a very good discussion. I am very happy to be back in India again and to have such constructive dialogue. India and the UN are very good partners and India is a very important member of the organization. And these periodical encounters where we view the problems around the world and UN programmes, is extremely useful for the organization and, I hope, for the government of India as well. But since we are going to eat, we may have one or two questions. I don't want to go on for too long.
Q to S-G: Sir what are the prospects of return of democracy to Pakistan and what is the UN doing about it?
SG: Well, in my discussions with the Chief Executive, he assured me that they are going ahead with their democratization programme and they will, if they will, hand over to the civilian government by October 2002 and that the process of elections has already begun. And the UN will be working with them on these elections to assist.
Q to SG: Sir, your term is ending by the year end. Last night in New York the African nations have requested that you should re-contest the polls. Have you given it serious thought?
SG: This is a question that has been on the table for a long time and I have indicated to the members that I will make up my mind by the end of March.
Q to J. Singh: Mr. Secretary-General yesterday said that this is the proper time for India and Pakistan to resume the dialogue with reference to the (Lahore Declaration). How do you react to it?
J. Singh: I appreciate the very wise counsel. The Secretary-General has voiced these words here, as also in Islamabad. India, as the initiator of the dialogue, remains committed to dialogue. The timing and the venue etc. of course has to be decided by the dialoguers themselves. We nevertheless continue to believe and hold that it is necessary that the dialogue should be successful. The conducive atmosphere for it must be prepared first.
Q to J. Singh: And it does not exist right now?
J. Singh: It must be prepared first.
Q to SG: Sir, what are your views on progress in Kashmir since you have visited both sides now?
SG: I think what...I am encouraged by the discussions I have held in the region and as you heard the Foreign Minister, they agree that the only way out is dialogue, the only way out is negotiations between the parties. And I had the chance to indicate that there are Security Council's resolutions which are important but they are not self-enforcing and the parties have to come together through dialogue to implement whatever agreements are taken, which the Security Council resolutions could bear up. But the parties have to really come together and negotiate. And I am encouraged that both parties are open and willing to talk. And I hope in due course, we will see them undertake that.
Q to J. Singh: Did the question of UN reforms come up, and India's demand for a permanent place in the Security Council?
J. Singh: It certainly did come up. It is not like India is demanding. We have clearly announced our willingness to be a part of the expanded UN Security Council and we believe that this expansion, both in the permanent and the non-permanent members, ought to take place soon. After all, in the Millennium Summit, about 150 nations have voiced a similar desire and a large number of countries from across the world are now openly supporting India's candidature.
Q to J. Singh: What about CTBT?
J. Singh: This question was discussed. I made it known that India's views remain completely unaltered. We will not stand in the way of the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and that our commitment, which is a voluntary moratorium on any further nuclear explosive underground testing, remains. We shall not be undertaking that and that I think is explicit enough.
Q to SG: What are your views on India's chances for permanent membership of the Security Council?
SG: You have a Foreign Minister who said that India is not staking a claim but that, as the reforms move ahead, India has been mentioned by many countries as a potential member of the Council. And he is right in saying that at the Millenium Summit many nations indicated that the reform must go ahead. And I do agree with them that the Security Council must be reformed and brought in line with today's realities as its current composition and structure is a bit anachronistic.
Q: Do you believe India deserves the position of a permanent member?
SG: I have answered your question already (laughs).
Q to J. Singh: Pakistan proposed restrained regimes on equal stabilization...[inaudible]?
J. Singh: No. There already exist between India and Pakistan agreements on non-attack on each other's nuclear installations. That's an old agreement and it has been renewed in January this year. We have exchanged information about nuclear installations in each other's countries. Thank you.
Question and answer session after statement (SG/SM/7742) at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, New Delhi, 15 march 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: [Inaudible] ...in the larger context, the needs of housing the whole world. How do we cover the larger agenda? How do we take this across the world in a larger message for participation of the private sector and the business community in the housing needs, than just a governmental role? How can we push through appropriate technologies for environment friendly and prepared technologies for taking care of human beings in a large way?
SG: Let me thank you for your two questions. On the question on housing, I see I have (Arcot) Ramachandran here, who used to be head of UN Habitat and spent several years working on this issue.
I think on the question of housing, first of all, for the general public, one has to try and come up with a strategy that will offer them affordable housing. Affordable housing implies also assisting them with funding and coming up with schemes that will allow them to be able to acquire their own houses. But governments alone cannot do that. Companies should have an interest in working with governments to ensure that their workers have a roof over their heads and they will come to work the next morning, rested, full of energy and ready to go. There are areas around the world where private sectors and governments have come together and worked out schemes that offer that kind of affordable houses. Obviously, each society will have to approach it in its own way. We cannot have a "one shoe fits all" approach, but companies can play a role and lots of companies have done this around the world. I would want to see more of that done.
On the question of environment, housing, energy and water, before I go to that, I would also mention natural disasters, and in fact, as we have noticed with the climate changes, we are going to be seeing more and more disasters.
Yesterday, I spoke in Dhaka about the environmental changes we are witnessing. We are going to see more monsoons, more cyclones, climate changes, the ice caps are melting, sea water will rise and some islands and countries will vanish completely. As I indicated, Bangladesh will be one of the ones to suffer. So we need to plan ahead. Today we have the technological information to be able to predict when some of these natural disasters are going to occur and if we are able to use that knowledge to prepare the people and move them out of harm's way, we can save them. In the case of earthquake, which happens very quickly, we now have the scientific knowledge to know where the fault lines lie. We should be able to design against it. Japan has lots of earthquakes but they don't always have so many people killed because they design against earthquakes and have a design structure and building codification, and I think these are lessons that we can learn in other parts of the world.
On the issue of water, there are many countries that are today in distress when it comes to water. We are not managing water. We have to be able to get more crop per drop of water we use. Even for agriculture, the water tables are dropping because we are not managing water properly. And drinking water is going to be a serious problem, and if we are not careful, future wars are going to be about water and not about oil. But this is where the corporations have a responsibility. You are the ones that have the technology and the means to exploit the resources. There's lots of green technology around, but are we exploiting them? Are we using them? I don't think we are. I've often told companies, when you go into a country to operate, you don't have to wait for a government to pass a law to know that your operations should not pollute the water or the river or the lake that produces the fish. You don't have to wait for the governments for you to know that. If you are in lumber, if you have cut the tree, you must plant and make sure that it will be able to grow back 10 years later. And these are things that companies can do automatically without any governmental regulation and you have a role to play. Some companies are dealing and focussing on energy because they realise that it is a key area. There are fossil fuels that are throwing up greenhouse emissions and the poor developing countries where every tree is cut for firewood, if we can offer alternate sources of energy which is affordable, we will protect our forests and we will be able to help our environment.
I spoke to one of the leaders in the oil industry and we talked about clean energy. I said: "Are you getting involved in solar energy?" He said: "Yes, we are making huge investment, because the people are going to insist on clean energy and we are in the energy business, not oil business." And even when you look at what is happening in that industry, gas, natural gas production, is growing at the rate of 50% a year. Oil is not, because people are looking for clean energy and this is going to continue and it is those who go to green technology and are sensitive to the environmental issues who are going to make it in the longer run, who are going to really be able to compete and I would encourage you really to look at that.
And, in fact, in the third world, if we opt for green technology, we will avoid the wasteful approaches that the industrialised countries have had to go through and are still causing problems for the environment.
Q: Are you satisfied with what has happened on the global front and have you got the response that you desired from the Indian leaders? And what are your views on women's entrepreneurship and what directives are there for that?
SG: First of all, on the Global Compact, the participants are not just corporate leaders or corporations. I must stress that we also have trade unions. Trade unions and NGOs are participants and therefore even though it is not a code of conduct, transparency and dialogue can be powerful tools. What we are asking these corporations is to act responsibly and post it on their websites to indicate what they have done. If they don't tell the truth, their workers know that "this is not what is happening in our company". The NGOs are also monitoring and in fact by putting these things on their websites they are able to share, and we are able to share, the best practices. We get to know what is working and what is not working. And other companies can learn from each other and hopefully compete with each other in a positive way.
On the question of women's empowerment, I think we are making some progress but we have a long way to go and I am speaking globally, I am not talking about the UN. About the UN too, I think we have done well. I have brought in a lot of women in senior positions, leadership positions, who are working at the UN and heading UN programmes and agencies. But globally, I think what is happening is an emphasis on girls education which is the right place to start. Starting with girls education and working with the mothers to ensure that they all go to school. The tentative steps that are being taken also to give them access to credit and management so that they can take charge of their lives are important. I am also encouraged by attempts to get women engaged in political life and what has happened here in India with 33% of the local parliamentary seats being held by women, is important. I notice Pakistan has just adopted a law that is also going to do the same thing and in other parts of the world, in Scandinavia, it is about 45%. I am encouraged by what I see and I think that women are also beginning to have role models whom they can follow. And what is even more important, in quite a few of these organizations where women are in serious positions, one is beginning to see a critical mass that will become a network and support each other. I have seen situations where there is only one woman amongst, say, 20 top management and that is tough. I sometimes felt for them. Now they are holding their own. Thank you.
Q: Sir would you consider establishing a Task Force to prepare a template or a format in which generally the government and the industry and the NGOs could work together, which could then be used as guidelines in many countries?
SG: I think that while I agree with the idea, and I support the idea that they should work together in partnership, I would prefer to share with them experiences of good practices of where it has worked, explain why it worked and encourage people to emulate it, rather than try and come up with guidelines. In fact by working through situations where it has worked you are able to determine how to proceed. Maybe, over time we will be able to come up with guidelines of that kind but I would tell you that the first group that will resist the guidelines strenuously and you may scare them away, is the private sector, the businessmen. Am I right? (laughter).
Question and Answer session following statement (SG/SM/7741) at the United Services Institution of India, New Delhi, 15 March, 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: [partially inaudible, on reform of the Security Council and India's chances for permanent membership in the Security Council]
SG: I think you make it sound as if it were up to me. If it were up to me, then you probably would not have a problem. We have 189 member states who have to debate this issue and settle it and they have been debating this for seven years and I hope that, in the not too distant future, we will see some progress. But obviously, when one talks of the expansion of the Council and begins to think of countries that are likely to join, India's name comes up quite frequently.
Q: Are there any plans for sending UN observers or troops in Afghanistan?
SG: At this stage, there is no discussion of us sending UN observers to Afghanistan and I think before we even begin thinking of sending observers to Afghanistan, we must first determine what they are going to do there, what will be the mandate, what are they going to achieve. And then begin to see if any governments will give us troops for that operation. But I must say that, at this stage, there is no hint in the Security Council or amongst the membership that troops will be sent to Afghanistan.
Q: Do you think that the military staff of the UN that advises the Security Council is adequate?
SG: I think General Nambiar is right, and he can answer that from his own experience, and I can tell him that the situation hasn't changed much since then. But let me say that it is part of the reform. The reform proposals require that we strengthen considerably the military capacity at the UN headquarters for us to be able to do effective planning and back-stop the troops which are operating in the field much more effectively. And when I compare the resources of the men at the UN who are running and planning and supporting these operations, and I compare that with national level efforts, it is lamentable. At one point, when we had about 80,000 troops deployed, we had about 350 people, both civilian and military, at headquarters back-stopping these operations. And I think that there is now a realisation that while we don't want to become another NATO or create a NATO headquarters, we need much more resources and that in this first discussion the General Assembly gave us about 100 additional posts, but they are going to debate the issue further in May. I hope to get the resources that we need. I am determined to fight for that.
Q: How many recommendations from the Brahimi report were you actually able to get support for?
SG: Our decision-making process in the UN on these things is rather cumbersome. The first round of discussions, I would say, we probably got about a third of it implemented and I am not looking at it, there are aspects of it that I can implement myself without authority from the governments. So those aspects and those recommendations I am putting into effect immediately but there are certain recommendations that require governmental approval and budgetary resources for us to be able to carry through. On that I would say we have got about a third and there are other aspects that we need to go back to discuss in May.
One area where we seem to have run into some controversy is this whole area of information, if you need to set up a unit, you have to gather information for planning purposes to be able to anticipate. And so we're going to have to do quite a bit of convincing on that aspect. But I hope to be back in the General Assembly in May.
Q: What is your position on the establishment of the UN stand-by peacekeeping force; should the UN have it?
SG: I think the idea of a standard corps for the UN has been around for quite a while. I recall when I was head of the peacekeeping operations and we were desperately looking for troops to undertake urgent activities, I made a comment saying that, it will be like telling the Mayor of New York that I know there are lots of fires in this city, you will need a fire house, but we will build one for you when the fire breaks. Because it is really when the crisis has exploded and we need the troops that we have to go around governments, pleading and begging to get the troops. Member States have not been willing to consider the idea of a standing UN force for several reasons. First is the question of budget. How do you pay for it? Second, where do you locate it? And which legal regime covers it and a whole range of issues.
There is also a resistance from the big powers that they do not want to give the UN or the Secretary-General that capacity but the resistance doesn't only come from them. Some of the smaller ones do not want to have a standing army which can be used against them on the basis that they are either abusing their people, say humanitarian reasons, or they are not doing what they ought to do. So you have, let me say, general uneasiness about giving the UN a standing army.
So what we have tried to do is to engage governments and work out an arrangement where each government that is likely to participate in peacekeeping operations will join what we call the stand-by forces arrangement, where each government will indicate what capacity or capability to bring to the common effort, if they were to decide to participate in peacekeeping operations. It may be an offer of a battalion, a logistics unit, a hospital, so that at the time of need we can get into the system and extract who is going to offer what. But that depends on whether or not the government consents: "yes, I want to participate or not".
When we set up the force, the Military Advisor was a Canadian General, who is now head of the Canadian army, General Maurice Baril. I said: "Why don't you try and use a stand-by forces arrangement?" He did. He came and said: "I have a list of offers and our needs". I said: "Consult the governments," and almost everyone said no, we do not want to participate. I believe it was in Rwanda, and he said: "Well, that didn't help me," and yet it did. I said: "General, you've pulled a plug, how did it help you?" He said: "I got a quicker no. It is like a travellers' cheque, you need two signatures; without a second one, you know..."
So with the European Countries, for example a group of them, Scandinavian countries, the Dutch and the Canadians have come up to form what they call SHIRBRIG [Multinational Standby Forces High Readiness Brigade], where they have trained and positioned a brigade that can participate in UN peacekeeping operations should they decide to do so and they can deploy them very quickly and get into the field within a month to six weeks and in fact SHIRBRIG is the unit that I was referring to that is in Ethiopia and in Eritrea. India will be joining that force and probably will replace them as they rotate out. But they came together, trained together and have a brigade-size unit and they are now participating in Ethiopia. But it helps and yet it is not in the hands of the Secretary-General of the UN; it is still up to the governments. The only thing is we can move faster to cut down on deployment time. The lead time is very long, if they are on stand-by and they are ready, you can move them faster. Thank you.
Press encounter upon arrival at New Delhi, India, 15 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be returning to India for my second visit as Secretary-General. India is a leading member of the United Nations and the world's largest democracy. It is a vital partner in the United Nations' efforts to promote peace, security, democracy and good governance. I am looking forward to discussing all these issues with the government and to meeting with private sector leaders and members of civil society.
There is much to discuss, ranging from development through peacekeeping to nuclear disarmament. As in Pakistan, I will be encouraging the government to sign the CTBT. High on the agenda will also be regional issues, which I have been engaged with during my tour of South Asia. In particular, I will be urging a return to the spirit of the Lahore Declaration and to a renewal of the dialogue with Pakistan in order to reduce tensions and build confidence. This is essential to the peace of both nations and to the security of the people of Kashmir, who have endured too many years of violence and suffering.
As I said in Islamabad, you and Pakistan have too much in shared heritage by way of history, as well as family and cultural ties, not to resolve your differences. It is time to begin healing the wounds, to restore trust and to regain a sense of a common good and a common future. So long as grievances persist between both nations, and violence continues in Kashmir, you and Pakistan will be unable to tap the full potential of this important region. My good offices remain available should the parties wish to engage under UN auspices.
However, the important thing is that engagement begin, so that the peoples of both nations can embrace the opportunities of the new century.
This is the right time for India and Pakistan to resume the dialogue. Pakistan's leader General Musharraf assured me in Islamabad that he is ready to do so at any time. And, as I have said earlier, I stand ready to support the dialogue in any way that I can. Thank you.
Q: How can the international community tackle the problem of international terrorism?
SG: I think it will require co-operation. This is an issue that the UN General Assembly has discussed and it demands that countries co-operate and they do not give refuge to terrorists and co-operate in dealing with them. Because if you give them comfort and you give them protection, we all pay a price. It will require major international co-operation and information sharing.
Q: How do you assess the developments on India's claim to permanent membership of the Security Council?
SG: This is an issue that the member states of the UN are discussing and the new President of the General Assembly is taking up the issue. It is a complex issue. I wish I could tell you when we are likely to see concrete results but I am afraid it is going to take a while yet. And of course India is one of the countries that is mentioned as deserving of consideration to serve on the Council.
Q: Sir, are you carrying any particular message from Pakistan to the Indian leadership; from General Pervez Musharraf to the Indian leadership?
SG: I think I have already said enough. I already said enough.
Q: Sir, do you see any role for the UN Military Observer Group in Jammu and Kashmir in light of these statements?
SG: They have been around, they have been there for quite a while, and they have a mandate to be there. Obviously if they were, if India and Pakistan were, to engage and you had resolved the issue, there would be no need for the Observers. They'd be withdrawn.
Q: What was General Pervez Musharraf's reaction to your statement that the UN resolutions on Kashmir can't be implemented without India's assent. How did he react to it; how did the Pakistanis react to it?
SG: I really can't answer that but I did make my statement.
Q: Pakistan has been saying all along that a plebiscite is called for because that was [inaudible]?
SG: I think my statement is clear, my statement in Pakistan and my statement here is clear. Thank you very much.
Statement to the press upon departure from Dhaka, Bangladesh, 15 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Good morning, members of the press. As I prepare to leave Dhaka I wanted to share with you my impressions.
I have had a very, very good visit. I am sorry my stay here was so short. I didn't get to see as much as I would have liked to see.
But I've had very good discussions with the Prime Minister, with the Foreign Minister and others. And I had the opportunity of visiting the Peacekeeping Training Centre, and met many Bangladeshi Officers who have served with [UN] peacekeeping [missions], as well as the widows of some of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and died in the cause of peace, and some of their children.
One thing that is certain is, having seen what we have seen and how interesting your country is, we will come back. My wife and I were saying this morning that we should try and come back and stay for a longer period and see more of your beautiful country.
But as I leave I think we have strengthened the bond between the United Nations and Bangladesh, which has always been strong, and I am extremely grateful to the government and the people of this country for their support and the role they have played and are playing in the affairs of the United Nations.
Thank you very much.
Press Encounter on arrival at Zia International Airport, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, 13 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Can you explain, Mr. Secretary-General, about the purpose of your visit to Bangladesh and how do you evaluate Bangladesh's performance in the UN Security Council and UN peacekeeping Missions?
SG: The Ambassador (Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, Bangladesh's Permanent Representative to the UN in New York) is here, and you're asking me about the Security Council! He is the one you should be talking to!
Let me say that Bangladesh has played a very active role in the United Nations, and your presence on the Council now underscores the role you are playing in the Organisation.
The Council has been very busy during the last five years or so and your Permanent Representative, as a member of the Council, has played a very effective role.
In addition to that, you've been one of the strong participants in UN peacekeeping operations, and you've given us some well-trained and very good officers to work in peacekeeping operations. And we are grateful for the troops who are currently operating in Sierra Leone, and a new battalion is currently joining them.
So, if I am here, it is because I consider the role of Bangladesh in the UN important. And also I am here to renew our relationship and to discuss issues of mutual concern.
Q: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now playing a very critical role to ensure peace and cooperation in South Asia. How do you define her contribution?
SG: Oh, I think it is important that the leaders in this region work together to bring stability and economic development. So I value the role she is playing and I applaud it and I hope she will continue.
Q: Our Bangladesh Government yesterday condemned the demolition of statues in Afghanistan. Will you comment on this gesture of Bangladesh?
SG: I think I share the condemnation of what happened in Afghanistan. I think it was outrageous that those statues should be destroyed. And I had the chance to tell the "Foreign Minister" [of the Taliban] myself, to make it clear to him, although they say they are doing this in the name of religion, that true faith elicits respect and it demands that you respect what is sacred to others. There is no way that anyone can accept or condone what happened.
Q: Is it true that you are on a mission for your re-election campaign as the UN Secretary-General?
SG: That is out of the question. I don't travel around to campaign.
Q: What is your comment about the democratic process in Bangladesh?
SG: I know you'll be having elections some time this year and I hope that the elections would be smooth and there will be no violence and that people will exercise their right of choice, because today we all accept democracy as the only form of Government that ensures that the will of the people, and the people have a say in how they are governed and in the decisions affecting them. So I would urge all the voters to vote and I am happy that you will be going through another democratic exercise. Thank you very much.
Press Encounter on departure from Kathmandu Airport, Nepal, Tuesday, 13 March 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: You have had talks with the leaders of Nepal. What did you discuss with them?
SG: Well, we discussed a wide range of issues. We did discuss the issue of economic and social development, the issue of UN peacekeeping and the Nepalese contribution to that effort. We talked about political and economic developments in the region. And, of course, as the Prime Minister was in New York last year for the Millennium Summit, we also discussed the Millennium Declaration which gave us a plan of action, if you wish, asking the UN to focus on poverty alleviation, on girls' education, on being sensitive to issues of the environment, respect for human rights and helping governments establish democracy and rule-based governments.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, Taliban militants have turned down even the call of an earnest man like you and has discarded the call of other leaders. Are you thinking of taking any punitive action?
SG: The regime is already under sanctions. I am not thinking of any punitive action. But what is clear is that the action they have undertaken is not going to win them any friends, and this I made clear to them, and that it was not in their interest to do what they did. Besides, most Islamic countries and religious leaders have condemned it.
And I had the opportunity to remind the "Foreign Minister" [of The Taliban] that true faith elicits respect, and that one should respect what is sacred to others.
Q: Secretary-General, [inaudible] so that such incidents don't occur in the future. Have you given any thought to that?
SG: I think this is an issue that should be the responsibility of all of us. It has to be education. The UN obviously would want to do something about it, but in the situation of Afghanistan, where all attempts to influence failed, I think in the longer run what will help us avoid this sort of situation is education. Education about tolerance, education about respect for diversity, education that allows people to understand that you do not have to hate what belongs to others to love your own, to respect your own religion.
Love and respect for your own religion does not require you to be disrespectful of other religions and other cultures. It is that kind of education, and I think the UN is doing quite a lot. This year we have declared a year for dialogue among civilizations. For many years, UNESCO has had a programme on a Culture of Peace, and we are really trying to work on these things. And as UNESCO's own Charter says, since it's in the minds of men that war begins, it is in the minds of men that you have to begin to construct these elements of peace that I have been talking about.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, during your talks with the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister and the Foreign Minister, did the issue of the Nepalese proposal of establishing a Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre come up, and how do you see this proposal?
SG: It did come up and I encouraged it. Nepal has played a very important role in peacekeeping. You have lots of useful experience to share, and if you do establish that Centre, I would hope that you would make it available to your neighbours, and countries in the region that so desire should be allowed to come to the Centre. And we at the UN will do whatever we can, particularly through our Department of Peacekeeping Operations, to cooperate and assist with this exercise, if requested.
Q: Secretary-General, did the question of the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament come up, and will you move it out of New York?
SG: We did discuss that as well, and the government assured me they have identified premises and so we will be moving [to Kathmandu] with that development and in time the staff would arrive [here] and the Centre would take off. Thank you very much.
Secretary-General's comments to Assembly of Afghan Elders, followed by question and answer session with the media, Shamshatoo Refugee Camp, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan. Monday 12 March 2001 - 11:00 am (unofficial transcript)
SG: Mr. Foreign Minister, Governor and Commissioner, and my dear Afghan elders and Afghan brothers and sisters. I think my presence here should confirm to you that the international community has not forgotten you, and that you do have friends. I have personally been associated with your problem for over twenty years and was very involved with the first inflow of Afghan refugees to this region over two decades ago. Alas, the problem is still with us and the situation in your country has not settled for you either to return or remain at home. During that period, Pakistan has received millions of Afghan refugees and on behalf of all the Afghan population here and the Afghans who have been through Pakistan, I would want to thank the Government and the people of Pakistan, and the people of this province in particular, for their hospitality and kindness.
You can't hear? Il n'y a pas de micro? Can you hear me? OK, now it is better. I hope you have heard some of the things I said before and I do not have to start all over again.
And so I want to thank the Government and the people of Pakistan, and particularly this province, for the hospitality they have extended to their Afghan neighbours. I do not think it is easy to understand the situation of a refugee. We sometimes believe intellectually we understand it, but I believe you have to go through it, you have to put yourself in their shoes to understand their condition. You can imagine yourselves and your comfortable lives suddenly disrupted. You are uprooted from your homes, uprooted from your lives, your loved ones, for reasons that you cannot always explain, decisions taken by others that you have nothing to do with, except that you find yourself in a foreign land, your life threatened and you feel that, if you did remain behind, something will happen to you. I know that, ideally, the Afghan population would want to be home. They would want to be settled in their own communities to get on with their lives but, for twenty years, because of wars and now of course the added drought has compounded their situation, some have had to leave.
We, in the international community, are determined to help the Afghan population within Afghanistan and outside Afghanistan. Yesterday, [in] my discussion with the Chief Executive General Musharaff, I indicated to him that we will help Afghans in Afghanistan and those who are outside it. We have agreed to work with the Government of Pakistan to assist you here and, at the same time, to assist those who are displaced in Afghanistan. I look forward to the day when things will settle and you will be able to go back and you will feel free and secure to go back to Afghanistan.
I would also want to take this opportunity to thank all my UN colleagues from UNHCR, [the] World Food Programme and our wonderful NGO partners who have worked with them here to make your life bearable. I heard the plea from your leader that what you are receiving here is not enough and that more can be done. Yes, obviously, more can be done. But I must also admit that it has not been easy to raise all the money that we need to carry out this work. We are pressing the international community and those with capacity to give, to give and to give generously and freely, so that we will be able to continue this essential work.
As I leave you, I would want to remind you that you do have friends outside this camp, outside Afghanistan, and people who are concerned about your welfare and would want to do whatever they can to assist you. And I pray for peace and stability in your country, so that --in time-- you can return and resume your life with your families and hopefully in peace and prosperity. Thank you very much.
Q: Are you reassured about the fate of the refugees of Jalozai and do you want to go there?
SG: I had wished to go to Jalozai but, for operational and other reasons, I am not able to do this and the Government has indicated that we will fly over it. And I have also received a full brief on it. But what is important was the discussion that I had with the Government yesterday, where they will work with us to help the refugees in this country, which would also mean that we have to create conditions that will make their lives bearable until such time that they are able to return. And, at the same time, as I indicated, we are going to help the displaced people within Afghanistan and expand our activities within that country so that they do not have an inducement to want to leave their country and cross the border to Pakistan.
Q: Have you discussed with the authorities here the ban on the flow of new refugees and the deportations of Afghans that are taking place, and my second question is [that the political process] now seems to have to come to a dead end in the view of many others. Do you think it is still worthwhile pursuing the political process and seeking a settlement under the present circumstances?
SG: I have had a thorough discussion with the Government on refugee issues, on the need to allow the refugees who are here to be assisted, for instance, as I said to make their lives bearable until they are able to return home. On the question of political dialogue, the dialogue has not ceased. The dialogue continues. My Special Representative Vendrell is here with us today. He has maintained his contacts with both factions in Afghanistan and I hope that, in time, he will be able to bring them to the negotiating table. There is no solution, there is no solution to the Afghan problem except through a political settlement. There is no military solution, and this has to be clear to all sides.
Q: Monsieur le Secretaire general, la situation est urgente. Qu'est-ce que vous comptez faire concretement?
SG: Concretement, je viens de dire que nous sommes en train de travailler avec la communaute internationale pour pouvoir aider. On a fait un appel pour de l'argent et meme avant de quitter New York, on a eu une reunion avec 24 pays les poussant de nous donner les moyens de pouvoir aider. Comme, hier, le gouvernement a accepte de permettre le HCR de travailler avec eux, je crois qu'on a deja fait un pas en avant et donc on va essayer d'ameliorer la situation et, en meme temps, d'aider les deplaces qui se trouvent en Afghanistan. Donc, j'espere que, d'ici tres peu de temps, on va pouvoir constater qu'il y a beaucoup plus d'aide qui vient ici. Sorry I have to go. Thank you.
Additional comments: I want to apologize to the Afghan brothers and sisters, because what I said had not been interpreted, and I just want to say a few words to you before I leave.
(Translation into Dari, the language most commonly understood by Afghan refugees at Shamshatoo).
I want to assure you that I heard the message your elder gave us when he spoke earlier this morning, and to let you know that you are not without friends.
I know it is not easy to find yourselves uprooted, your lives disrupted and to be thrown into a foreign country without knowing what happens tomorrow.
And what I want to tell you is that we are going to do our best --and we are doing our best-to get as much assistance to you as possible, both here in Pakistan and in Afghanistan for those who are in need and are displaced.
It is good that I came here to see things for myself and to hear your message, and I will take that message with me. And it will encourage me to work even harder to do what is right for you.
And I want to thank you for working very closely with UNHCR, with the World Food Programme, and all those who work in this camp. They told me the support they get from you, and how you participate very actively and organize your own lives, and I think that is very important.
Thank you, and we will not forget you.
Press encounter after meeting with the Chief Executive of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, 11 March 2001, 8 p.m. Islamabad time (unofficial transcript)
Chief Executive: Ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased and Pakistan is honoured with the presence of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan. And I want to say that the Secretary-General has made us a promise when I was at the Millennium Summit that he will visit the region. May I say to his credit that he has upheld his promise and he is here in the region. I am very sure that his presence here will bring about a change in the environment. I wish him success in the mission and all that I would like to say is that we are extremely honoured to have him here in Pakistan. We have had an excellent interaction with the Secretary-General and his delegation. I would with these initial words open the floor for discussion on any questions that you would like to ask or if the Secretary-General would like to initiate before you ask any question. Would you like to say something?
SG: I think, Mr. Chief Executive, you said it all. Only I want to say that I am indeed very happy to be here, to have had the chance to cover the ground that we have covered this evening and since we do not have too much time, let's take the questions.
Q: Excellency, my question is that last night you have given a press statement regarding the Kashmir issue. The prescription was that India and Pakistan should cooperate on the Kashmir issue. The Chief Executive sitting around this room has already stated and offered India that he is ready to meet the Indian leadership any time--at any time, any place, and at any level. But the Indian government's response is not so positive. [Inaudible] what [should] the United Nations and the Secretary-General of the United Nations [do], do you suppose? What should we do, what should India do, and what should you do? Thank you.
SG: I think the efforts to come together should continue. India and Pakistan have had exchanges in the past. You've managed to get the Lahore [Declaration] going and I hope that in the future, hopefully not in the too distant future, that the kind of engagement that you are referring to will be possible and, of course, as Secretary-General I would encourage both parties to come together to discuss the enterprises.
Q: Sir, the Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil said that you discussed the issue of Osama bin Laden and that there were new proposals that you hoped would result in some positive improvement. Could you tell us what exactly you discussed on the issue of Osama bin Laden and did the Taliban Foreign Minister say, confirm, that the statues, the Buddha statues, have been destroyed?
SG: We did not, there were no concrete proposals concerning Osama bin Laden as such but we did discuss terrorism and the need for Afghanistan to co-operate with the international community. As to your second question, yes I did discuss the statues with the Foreign Minister and I walked away from the meeting not very encouraged. Basically, he confirmed that all moveable statues have been destroyed and that the destruction of the two statues [the Bamyan Buddhas] had begun but he could not tell me the status of the demolition. And I was, I had hoped for much better news, and we then went on. And I must say I find if they do carry through this lamentable decision, I think they will be doing themselves a great deal of disservice and they will be doing a great deal of disservice to Islam in whose name they claim to be doing this. But I do not think anyone will accept that because not many, or hardly any, Islamic scholars or religious leaders have supported their position. And in fact, I did tell the Minister that true faith elicits respect and you feel you have to respect what is sacred to others, and I have often said that when you run across religious people, it is usually not the faith, not the Quran, but the faithful and how they sometimes behave.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, some time back Pakistan had proposed that the United Nations appoint a special envoy for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. What are your comments? Do you agree with this proposal or not?
SG: I think, as Secretary-General, my good offices are always available but for it to be effective it should be acceptable to both parties, which is clearly not the case at the moment.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I wish to ask you--is the world body so helpless that India has asked any party from outside to interfere in the affairs between Pakistan and India, and the United Nations say, all right. Do you agree or are agreeable to the contention that no party, no person , no country should interfere in this part of the world where the blood is shedding and I would like to have your comments about the offer of Pakistan to resume dialogue with India unconditionally. Thank you very much.
SG: I think I have answered the second question already. But as to the first question I am not clear that I got it. You are arguing that India has indicated nobody from outside the region should interfere in Kashmir? I think, obviously, for any third party role to be effective India has to co-operate with that third party, and if that is not possible then what would the third party do? What role will the third party play? The third party as I have indicated can encourage the two parties to come together, work with the two parties, but cannot be a mediator. A mediator has to be accepted. It is as simple as that.
Q: But don't you think that the United Nations has failed in the case of India and Pakistan?
SG: I see another hand there, yes.
Q: Sir, again on Afghanistan. Did you discuss the humanitarian issue with Foreign Minister Mutawakil? And what is the UN position because the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse now? Do you have any new suggestions?
SG: Yes, we spent a considerable amount of time on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, which I consider tragic, and we are making desperate efforts to raise more money to be able to help the Afghans, both within Afghanistan and outside Afghanistan. There are about a million people displaced, internally displaced in Afghanistan. They need help desperately and we are doing our best to get as much help to them. We've launched an appeal and we are working the phones with governments to get urgent money to them. So we will work with the government here to help those who are here and then assist those in Afghanistan.
Q: (inaudible) How damaging is the Buddha episode to humanitarian efforts?
SG: Obviously, some donors will be turned off. I do not think it is going to please them and [I don't think it] is going to make it easier to raise money. But we have to think of the people, the people who are in a tragic, desperate situation, who had nothing to do with the decision to destroy the Buddha. And I think a hungry child is a hungry child and we should do whatever we can to assist the people.
Q: During your talk with the Chief Executive, did you discuss the issue of Afghan refugees here and the ban on new Afghan refugees coming to Pakistan and the conditions at the Jalozai camp?
SG: We did discuss it, and I will be going there tomorrow.
Q: But were you encouraged by the Pakistan government's reaction to the ban on the entrance of new refugees?
SG: I think I've had a very good discussion with the Chief Executive and I'm very pleased with the outcome of the discussions. And as I indicated to you, we will be helping Afghan refugees here as well as in Afghanistan. And we will work with the government to provide assistance to the refugees.
Chief Executive: May I add sir, with your permission: We certainly had unanimity of views on the subject, that we ought to have a very balanced view on the issue of refugees, balanced support to the refugees who are in Pakistan, and also support to the needy within Afghanistan. And we requested the Secretary-General that the aid to be provided should have greater concentration on support within Afghanistan so that the people, the refugees coming into Pakistan from Afghanistan, are reduced to the minimum. That was one of the areas and of course Pakistan would like to co-operate with assisting the refugees, the Afghan refugees, in Pakistan.
Q: Will they be registered? Will they be allowed to be registered or moved from Jalozai to another camp? Is there a yes or a no on that one?
SG: I think what I have agreed here is that the details will be worked out between the High Commissioner for Refugees and the team. It may be necessary to move them to another site and to set up a camp where their basic needs will be fulfilled and that is also a possibility. Yes, we discussed it.
Q: Has Pakistan agreed to this?
Chief Executive: We need to examine this, yes. We certainly have agreed that we are going to examine this situation. It's not very easy to shift thousands of refugees from one camp to the other. We need to examine whether facilities can be improved in the existing camps or they need to be shifted to a better location for improving the facilities.
Q: In view of the situation in Kashmir, is there a possibility of upgrading the UN mission in the region and sending political observers also in addition to the military observers who are already stationed?
SG: In Kashmir? I think for a long time we have had the military observers and again you go back to the question of co-operation and agreement with both parties, and given the current situation I'm not sure your suggestion is going to be feasible.
Q: Is there any specific indication from any country that they would reduce aid, humanitarian aid, to Afghanistan, because the Japanese ambassador here or some official here was quoted as saying that, if the statues are destroyed, aid would be reduced? And the second question is: would there be any serious discussion about chances of reconstruction for Afghanistan to help the UN mediation process from Mr Vendrell's process? Would you raise that at all seriously in the 6+2 [an advisory group of Afghanistan's six neighbours plus Russia and the US] or in any other forum?
SG: I think on your first question, on the Taliban and the destruction of the statues, no government has told me categorically that if they do that we would not help the desperate and the starving people of Afghanistan. As I indicated, it may not help with our fund raising efforts, but I think we're going to make the efforts to get the money and I trust we will. On your second question, we have not got into the issue of reconstruction and development and raising funds for the very reason that most people were hoping to see us make progress on the political front with what Vendrell is doing with the 6+2. We've got some humanitarian aid going in but I would hardly call it developmental, and I think that if the donors see real progress being made with prospects for an end to the fighting then we will be able to raise money for reconstruction, but at this stage we haven't raised much money. Thank you very much.
Press encounter on arrival in Islamabad, 10 March, 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very, very pleased to be here in Pakistan on my first visit as
Secretary-General. I've had so many
friends from Pakistan, and worked with so many, that indeed I feel like I am
among friends already. Pakistan is
an important country for the United Nations and is also one of our key
contributors to UN peace-keeping operations. And we believe Pakistan can play a role in advancing regional stability,
peace and development -- all of which are also priorities of the United Nations.
I look forward to discussing a wide range of issues during my visit
here. I will encourage the
leadership to continue along the path towards civilian rule, as they are doing,
culminating in parliamentary elections next year. The United Nations is committed to promoting democracy, human
rights and the rule of law all around the world, and we stand ready to assist in
any way we can in all these efforts.
I am personally extremely worried about the humanitarian crisis in
Afghanistan. It is causing immense
suffering among a population, which has already experienced decades of
deprivation caused by war and drought. Our
most urgent priority is to provide the Afghan people, wherever they are, with
aid and assistance, as soon as possible. I am looking forward to visiting refugee camps on the Afghan
border, including Jalozai and Shamshatoo, to get a personal view of the crisis.
As you know, there is also enormous international concern over the
decision of the Taliban leadership to destroy historic relics and monuments in
Afghanistan, which are the common heritage of mankind. I know that the Pakistani authorities will do all in their power to
convince the Taliban not to carry out this lamentable decision. I welcome the recent efforts by General Musharraf, the Chief Executive,
and the Government of Pakistan in this regard.
I also expect that the Pakistani authorities will raise the issue of
Kashmir. I would like to encourage
progress in the relations between Pakistan and India, so important for the
peoples of both countries, who have so much in common. I call upon both countries to return to the spirit of the Lahore
Declaration. This will require
restraint, wisdom and constructive steps from both sides. In this connection, I will also be urging both countries to sign the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as soon as possible.
We have much to discuss, and I look forward to using this opportunity to
renew the bonds between Pakistan and the United Nations, and to make progress in
the vital areas of peace and development. Thank you very much. I'll
take some questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General,
in your remarks you have referred to the UN's interest in human rights all
over the world. Could you tell
us what specific steps the United Nations is going to take to stop the human
rights violations in the part of Kashmir controlled by India and which have
been verified by all the international agencies [which have said] that the
human rights have been violated grossly in that part of the world?
SG: I believe that in my
earlier remarks I did refer to Kashmir and my intentions vis-à-vis the two
countries. I think that on the
human rights issue, we have the Human Rights Commission, which has been very
active in this area and has rapporteurs, who monitor situations around the
world and report to the Commission in Geneva.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General,
you have referred to Kashmir as a source of tension and I think you also referred
to the Lahore Declaration. Will the UN be interested to implement its resolutions like
it implemented in East Timor?
SG: I think the UN resolutions
on Kashmir are on record and the UN has observers in the region. We have UNMOGIP. In fact,
the Chief Military Observer is here.
When it comes to implementation of resolutions, I think we have to be
clear here. The UN has two types of
resolutions -- enforcement resolutions under Chapter VII and other resolutions,
which require cooperation of both parties to get implemented. East Timor is a Chapter VII resolution. One often refers to Iraq. Iraq
is a Chapter VII resolution. The
resolution you are referring to here does not come under Chapter VII in the same
sense. And these resolutions are not self-enforcing. And therefore, the cooperation of the two parties, the two parties
discussing these issues and finding a peaceful way out, is the route I
Q: [inaudible] … Afghan Taliban
may be come up with some message for them. Or do you have any proposals to resolve the Osama bin Laden
SG: I will be seeing the "Foreign
Minister" [of the Taliban] here and I will have the chance to discuss
any these matters with him in detail, but let me perhaps dissuade any misapprehension
that may exist. I have not come
with any magic formulas or special formulas with regard to Osama bin Laden.
On the humanitarian issue, we have some concrete ideas to discuss with
Q: I want to ask - do you
have some fresh proposals on the Osama bin Laden issue from your side, or
from the Taliban side for your meeting tomorrow? And my second question is: do
you have any proposals with regard to this statue issue?
SG: I think this is an issue
I will be discussing with the Foreign Minister. He may have surprises for me and I would know better once I have seen
him. And, by the way, let me
say that the Secretary-General does not appoint rapporteurs. The rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Commission, which
is an inter-Governmental body. It
is the Governments, who appoint these rapporteurs, and I think this has to
Secretary-General has had a long trip. If
we can take one more question, and then break it off.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General,
do you think the UN Security-Council sanctions on the Taliban regime have
an effect on the economic situation, on the crisis that is prevailing over
there? This is what the Taliban
have been saying. Do you think
there is a link between the two?
SG: Well, what we are trying
to do as Secretary-General, as Secretariat, we are very actively trying to
get help to the Afghan people. We
have make an appeal and just before I left New York, we had a meeting with
24 Governments, asking them to step up their assistance -- in financial and
material terms -- so that we can give aid to the Afghan people. The situation is tragic, it is desperate. I have people on the ground and I have received their reports. Some of them are here to meet me this evening, and that is one of the
reasons I want to go and see the situation for myself, and also press the
international community to give and give generously, particularly those with
capacity to give.
Q: But don't you see the nexus between the sanctions and the situation
SG: Well, I think whenever you have these sanctions, this is often the problem. We have argued that sanctions can be a blunt instrument, and sometimes it can have unexpected impact on the innocent population -- whether it is in Iraq, or elsewhere. So, these are aspects of sanctions that the Council itself has become sensitive to and they are trying to find ways of mitigating this aspect of sanctions. But what is clear is that the Council will tell you that the people of Afghanistan are not the intended targets of the sanctions. Thank you very much.
Remarks after Security Council consultations on Iraq, 28 February 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Secretary-General: I briefed the Security Council on my discussions with the Iraqi delegation and shared with them the issues we discussed, which was rather broad-ranging. They did state their position on almost everything on the Iraqi dossier from disarmament to the humanitarian [issue] to the Kuwaiti prisoners of war and property to the question of compensation. So we did go through the whole gamut and they had their chance to state what they see as their grievances or the facts as they perceive them. I did indicate to them the need to comply with the resolutions and the expectations of the Security Council. We have agreed to meet again, either in April or May, and at that point, we will have a chance to go into more details and tackle some of the specific outstanding questions. This afternoon, after I briefed the Council, there was a sense that they generally felt that it was a good sign that the talks had begun and they encouraged that it will be continued. Obviously the Council itself is reviewing the Iraqi dossier. Capitals are reviewing it, and I think as we move forward, all this will have to come together somehow.
Q: In your discussions with the Iraqi Foreign Minister, did you put any ideas or any proposals on the table or any suggestions that might help the Iraqis get through this?
SG: Not at this stage. Not at this first and initial round, but it will not be excluded for the second round. As I said, in the second round we should be expecting to be able to go into details.
Q: With the Security Council still divided, and the United States and Britain and other members reviewing the Iraqi policy, how can it remain….until this is resolved?
SG: In fact this was one of the issues we discussed in the Council. The Council for the question of the need for the Council to agree on certain critical questions and to try and restore the unity of the Council. The next meeting will not be before April, and I think we have four to five weeks, or six, for the situation to evolve, and I hope by implication of your question the issues that you have been in mind would also be clarified or at least some of them would have been clarified by then, given the intense nature of the discussions going on on this topic.
Q: In your contacts with Secretary [of State] Colin Powell, did you discuss any kind of package or his ideas about sanctions?
SG: We did not discuss a package. We did discuss the need for a review, the need for consultations, and I think that's one of the reasons why Secretary of State Colin Powell was in the Middle East, to consult the leaders in the region. He had held talks in Brussels with the French Foreign Minister and others and of course when he was here not long ago he also had the opportunity of talking to the permanent members of the Security Council. So that sort of consultations [happened],but we did not discuss a package.
Q: Secretary-General, did you see any linkage as was brought by the Iraqis between inspections on Iraq and the rest of the region?
SG: I think the disarmament issue is obviously one of the key questions. Iraq maintains that it has fulfilled, or has indicated that it has fulfilled all the disarmament obligations and requirements placed on it by the Council. And of course the Council Members are saying, if that's the case, let the inspectors come in and check it out and certify, and we will move forward. So the disarmament issue is a crucial one.
Q: A follow-up on inspections. Mr. Secretary-General, the Iraqis have made it clear that they will not accept the return of inspectors. Have they made it clear what type of inspections they were talking about? Is it the OMV that they had in mind or every type of inspection?
SG: I think the OMV had been discussed but let me say this. We are at the beginning of a process, and I agree that they have the position that they will not allow the inspectors in. But they are also keen to see the sanctions lifted and one of the key requirements is to have, so I think they are a bit easier than on the OMV, on the monitoring, but even on the monitoring, they would also want to see paragraph 14 also implemented and so this issue also came up but I think one of the key issues we have to resolve is this question of inspection or verification of what has been done and what has not been done.
Q: In your mind, in what you said to the Security Council, how do you see the priorities of the Iraqis, as indicated to the Council through you?
SG: Well, I think it became clear at the end of the talks that the Iraqis, from the discussions that I had with them saw three key priority areas: the no-fly zones, the disarmament issue and the question of economic sanctions. As it emerged, I think these are the three key areas for them.
Q: Just to clarify, when you said disarmament issues, is it in the way that the Iraqis put it, in the implementation of paragraph 14, or disarmament in the way that the Council sees it?
SG: I think they are linked. You cannot separate disarmament in terms of paragraph 14, which talks about security arrangements for the region, and a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, but also the Iraq-specific disarmament requirements with the Council demands. In effect the Council at this stage, I think, is more interested in the Iraq-specific issue; Iraq, of course, would want also to ensure that others in the region are also constrained.
Q: What evidence has Iraq given you that they have no more weapons of mass destruction? They said they were going to present you with evidence of that. What was the nature of that evidence?
SG: They made a presentation and gave me a piece of paper.
Q: Which said?
SG: Basically, that they have complied. But obviously, this is why we are going back and forth, whether it will now be necessary for the inspectors to get back to verify and confirm. As I said, we are at a very early stage, and I hope, next time they come, we will be able to go into more details, be specific and press on the issues that need to be resolved to make it possible for us to move forward. Thank you very much and have a good evening.
Remarks upon arrival at UNHQ, 27 February 2001 - on Iraq (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning.
Q: Obviously you are aware of what Mr. Powell has been saying in the region. I wonder if he has communicated to you any of the ideas and the thoughts that are being discussed in terms of easing sanctions, and whether you have your own notion of what are "smart sanctions"?
SG: Let me say that on some of the ideas that Secretary of State [Colin] Powell has raised in the region, during his visit here he did hint at it without going into details, emphasizing the fact that the objective of the sanctions was not to hurt the Iraqi people, that they were not the targets, and one has to find a way of strengthening the disarmament regime and giving relief to the Iraqi people. So I am not surprised with the comments coming out of the region.
Q: Has there been follow up of the ideas as they have been shaped up?
SG: I think obviously he has had discussions in the region. He is meeting the French Foreign Minister in Brussels today. There are lots of discussions going on in capitals, and within the [Security] Council. I am sure that the Council members will need to work together on this and come to some consensus on how to proceed.
Q: Are smart sanctions part of this [inaudible]
SG: I think that would have to be for the [Security] Council to decide. I think as they review all these issues they will have to determine how to proceed, and I would not want to prejudge or preempt what the Council members may do, but obviously as you know there is lots of reflection and discussions going on, and I hope that out of all this will come something constructive.
Q: At the end of yesterday's meeting the Foreign Minister [Mohammed Saeed Al Sahaf] was very strong in his remarks about refusing to reaccept any weapons inspectors, under any circumstances; his insistence on involving Israel in monitoring - do you sense that the Iraqis are moving more towards some sort of flexibility or away from it after your talks with them?
SG: I think it is too early for me to get into that. But as I said we had good discussions, in a good atmosphere, and we are going to continue. I hope we will be able to tackle all the key issues, to be able to move forward. But I don't want to get into this at this stage.
Q: What do you think about the proof that he said he presented to you, on disarmament?
SG: We did discuss disarmament issues, and the way they saw it. They made a comprehensive presentation, indicating how they saw the facts, and also put forth quite a lot of their grievances as to how the regime has worked or not worked.
Q: The Iraqi side seems to be putting a lot of importance on the monitoring of the whole region, to make it a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Do you foresee approaching the Israelis, approaching other countries in the region, talking to them about this point, that the Iraqis seem to be focussing a lot of importance on?
SG: I think when it comes to regional security arrangements, it should not be an issue only for the Iraqis. We should all be interested in it. That is the only way one can assure long-term regional security for that region. I think it is an objective that we should all work for, and I myself have had an occasion to raise this in the [Security] Council and in other fora, that we should think, in the long term, of security arrangements and a nuclear free zone for the region, and in fact the Council had indicated this in one of the resolutions.
Q: So you support, Mr. Secretary-General, the activation of paragraph 14 of Resolution 687, which speaks about making sure the disarmament of Iraq is a step within efforts to rid the region of weapons of mass destruction?
SG: I have no doubt that we need to work on a regional basis to ensure long term security in the region.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, will you formulate a common policy at the end of these talks? Will there be some sort of statement that will tell us what the pending issues are and what you have achieved in terms of progress?
SG: I think after the talks obviously I will brief the Security Council and the Council will factor into its own discussions and decision-making my discussions with the Iraqis, but the decision will be up to them. If the question is, if at the end of the talks, we will be able to make a statement to the press, an indication of where we are, we will be able to make a statement. I don't know how much detail we can go into, but we will give you a statement.
Q: It's going well?
SG: It's going well. Thank you.
Remarks upon departure from UNHQ, 26 February 2001 - on Iraq (unofficial transcript)
SG: I think we have started well. We have had a long discussion, and the Iraqis shared with us their concerns. We covered quite a lot of territory, and the talks continue tomorrow. The spirit has been good, and I think that, from the indications they have given, we also are anxious to find a way of breaking the impasse. We are at the beginning yet; as I told you this morning, it's going to be a tough discussion. I can't promise miracles in the next two days, but we are moving along.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, do you have any reactions to the documents introduced this morning?
SG: I said we are still talking, and I would much rather not get into the details and the documents. Besides that, once we have discussed it, I would also have to brief the [Security] Council, a day or so after that, and we will have lots of time to talk. Thank you very much.
Remarks upon arrival at UNHQ, 26 February 2001 - on Iraq (unofficial transcript)
SG:Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I gather you are all here this morning because of the talks with the Iraqi authorities. This is a follow-up to discussions I had with First Vice President Izzat Ibrahim in Doha on the 13th of November during the Islamic Conference. And during that conference I was also able to talk to lots of Arab and Islamic leaders as to what their own positions were vis-a-vis the sanctions against Iraq. I am encouraged that the Iraqi delegation is here and we're looking forward to a frank and constructive dialogue, and I hope we'll be able to find some ways as we move forward of breaking the current impasse which no one considers satisfactory. I do not expect miracles in the two days of talks, but at least it is a beginning.
Q: Do you think it is time, sir, to adjust the sanctions at this point?
SG:Well, let me say that there is quite a bit of reflection going on here in the building and around the capitals of the world. For a long time the attitude had been: this is our policy, this is the way we do things. But I think recently we have put on the table that critical question of what should we be doing and I hope out of this review and search will emerge a constructive way forward. And I hope the Iraqis on their side have been doing a similar reflection and a similar review because obviously the members of the council are not satisfied with its performance with regard to Security Council resolutions and, of course, we all know the public discussions on the impact of the sanctions on the Iraqi population, and I hope that out of all these discussions and reflections something meaningful will come out.
Q: Do you hope that from these two days of talks they'll schedule further talks to make this the start of an ongoing process?
SG: I will not exclude that. As I said I don't think that we'll be able to resolve all the issues in the two days ahead, and so I will not exclude the fact that we may have to come back together.
Q: Since Doha -- this is where you agreed with the Iraqi delegation that you will have this meeting here - since then, what elements have been introduced to your talks with the Iraqis that will affect the way you are thinking and what will you ask them to do first at this point if there is to be building of confidence?
SG: I think I have already answered the first part of your question by indicating that in my judgment there's quite a lot of reflection and reviews going on as to what should be done, and that in itself is an important and healthy shift. As to what I will tell them I will expect out of the talks, I would suggest we come back to that at the end of the talks because I would want to talk to them directly, and do what I have described as a make-a-point diplomacy.
Q: No, I meant developments on the ground since Doha?
SG: I think that is what I indicated: there have been developments, there have been movements in capitals as to their own thinking, their own approach. The Council has been busy since there is a new U.S. administration that is also reviewing the situation, so there are lots of movements that can affect where we go.
Q: Sir, on the disarmament front, you've spoken about sanctions, it's been ten years since their weapons' inspections began - today Kuwait is celebrating their liberation, are you prepared to say that Iraq has cooperated to a certain degree? That they really have come a long way in cooperating, in getting rid of their weapons of mass destruction - that just a little extra remains? What's your assessment of where things stand on the disarmament?
SG: That is a judgment that has to be made by the inspectors. I think even UNSCOM indicated progress in certain areas, in the missile area - they indicated in the atomic area there had been considerable progress, they indicated there was some considerable work to be done on biological and chemical weapons. So they even admitted there had been some progress. Whether Iraq has fully complied with Security Council requirements is not a judgment that is left to me, it's a judgment that the inspectors will affirm or determine once they've been able to get back into Iraq but there's no doubt that some progress was made over the years when the inspections were going on.
Remarks upon arrival at UNHQ, 20 February 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen. I hope you all had a good long weekend. Who is going to ask the first question?
Q: Do you have anything to say about Iraq? Do you think these raids are going to complicate your mission with the delegation that is coming?
SG: Let me say that I was not consulted or informed before the air action. It was immediately after the air action that the US authorities called to explain to me that they saw this as routine, not escalation, not a qualitative difference in their activities in Iraq and that it was one action and it was not to continue. Obviously, the timing is a bit awkward for the talks that I am going to have on the 26th , but the Iraqis have confirmed that they are coming. So we will be able to pursue our attempts to break the impass and pull them in to cooperate with the UN.
Q: How optimistic are you, Mr. Annan?
SG: Ask me that question after my first round with the Iraqi authorities. We will know at the end of the talks. You have to have some hope, otherwise I wouldn't be getting into this exercise. It may take some time. I don't think we are going to have a miraculous breakthrough, but at least it is a beginning. It's a beginning.
Q: Is there any intention to condemn the killing of many Iraqis because of the aggression?
SG: I have been in touch with the President of the Security Council. The Council is seized of the matter. And as I said I have also spoken to the American Ambassador. And of course we are all coming back from a long weekend, and we will know this morning what action, if any, the Security Council is going to take.
Q: Can you give us your thoughts going into the Congo meetings this week? What do you hope to gain, what you hope the Council will do, what do you hope the various parties will accomplish in these few days?
SG: I think we have a new spirit among the protagonists. And I was very encouraged by my discussions here in tete-a-tete with President Kabila and President Kagame. And yesterday I had a very good conversation with President Kagame, who called to inform me that his troops and his country will be withdrawing from Pweto and they will withdraw 200 kilometers in the direction of their own country. I have instructed the UN observers and my Special Representative, Kamal Morjane, to get the observers ready to go and work with them on their withdrawal. I think this is a very important decision and I hope it will set the tone and lead others to take the same measures and eventually have everyone withdraw from the Congo.
Another significant development last week is the decision by President Kabila to accept former President Masire of Botswana as the facilitator for the Inter-Congolese dialogue and I think this is crucial. They are all linked. If you make progress on the dialogue and those who are fighting have a sense that they have a role to play and they can participate in national politics, you may be able to persuade them to stop the fighting. So we have two very positive [bits of] news leading into the talks this week and I hope when the others come they would also bring us some good news.
Q: Have there been some reassurances or are you hearing that there would be reassurances to President Kagame on the disarming of the Interhamwe, the remaining concerns?
SG: I think that is an issue, the issue of the Interhamwe, that we all have to be creative and find a way of dealing with that. As you rightly point out, it's of great concern to President Kagame and obviously if we are going to bring peace to that region we need to find ways of dealing with the Interhamwe. There are some ideas which are being discussed. I don't think they are ripe yet for me to discuss them this morning, but we are not ignoring that issue.
Q: Are all the various parties going to come, everybody that has been invited?
SG: As far as I know everyone is coming, but of course there can be last minute hitches, but everyone is expected here and I hope it will be a good meeting. Thank you very much.
Q: One quick comment, your reaction, Sir, to reports out of Kenya that four UN employees are being investigated for alleged extortion of money from refugees.
SG: I think it was important that we discovered this quite early and got to work very quickly. These camps for refugees are very large and Nairobi is a relatively large city and the moment we had a hint that some wrong doing was going on, the local Office started an investigation which was inconclusive and now we have the OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] with authorities from other governments and we are determined to go to the bottom of this and deal with those who are responsible. Of course, we will have to take measures to make sure that it does not reoccur and tighten our controls. I think it is abominable that refugees who are already suffering, who are displaced, whose lives have been uprooted, should be exploited in this manner. And those responsible should be dealt with harshly.
Thank you very much.
Press encounter with Colin Powell, United States Secretary of State, New York, 14 February 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I didn't know there were so many press people in this house! Let me say that the Secretary of State and I have had a very good discussion this afternoon, going over a whole range of issues and trouble spots around the world, and UN reform, as well as the UN-US relationship, which we believe is on a very good footing, particularly now that we have removed the main irritation that we have had for some time - the financial debate.
I am also extremely happy that the Secretary of State's first visit outside the US is to the UN. His first foreign visit is here and we are very happy.
Powell: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary-General. It is a great pleasure for me to have had this opportunity to exchange views with you. This is my first visit outside of Washington to another land, which happens to be the land in which I was born and raised, so it is not that far away, since I became Secretary of State. I took the opportunity this afternoon in our conversation to express to the Secretary-General our strong support, the President's strong support, of the work of the UN, and we look forward to working very closely with the Secretary-General and our other colleagues within the UN - the other member nations - in dealing with the various problems that exist in the world today. But also to take advantage of the great opportunities that exist - the spread of freedom and democracy and the opportunities to bring wealth to the people of the world, to allow people to reach out and touch their dreams and to be successful. So it is a time of challenge, a time of opportunity, but also a time of risk and danger. We know the important role the UN will play and we look forward to working with the Secretary-General and his colleagues.
I am also pleased that we have removed that irritant that existed in the relationship between the United States and the United Nations - the funding problem- and I would like to express my congratulations to the Secretary-General and to his staff, especially to our former Perm Rep, Dick Holbrooke, Ambassador Dick Holbrooke, for the superb work that he performed, and the members of the US-UN Mission who supported him in that effort, and especially Ambassador Cunningham who is now representing us here so well.
Mr. Secretary-General, it is a great pleasure to be with you, and I look forward to many more such meetings. Thank you.
SG: We will take a few questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary, the UN and Iraq plan some talks later this month. What is Washington prepared to give the Secretary-General some manoevering room regarding his negotiations, or does Washington believe these talks will do nothing to solve this decade-long stalemate?
Powell: I think talks can always be useful, and it would be presumptuous of me to suggest to the Secretary-General what he might or might not talk about. I think what is clear is that there are UN resolutions in effect, UN resolutions that bind Iraq and have been telling the Iraqi regime for the last ten years that what they have to do is to get rid of the weapons of mass destruction that we know they have been developing and have had over the years. We believe it is necessary for peace in the region, and to protect the children of the region, to protect the citizens of the region, for Saddam Hussein and his associates to come forward and to allow inspectors in, so that they can verify that the weapons are no longer there, that they claim are no longer there.
And so I am sure this will be a subject that the Secretary-General will discuss with the Iraqi representatives. The United States, at the same time, under President Bush's leadership, we are reviewing our policy in the region, both with respect to our responsibilities as a member of the United Nations, as well as our individual policies with respect to Iraq. So, I hope that the Iraqi representative comes with new information that will show their willingness and desire to comply with the UN resolutions and become a progressive member of the world community again.
Q: On Iraq as well, is the United States policy now under the new administration guided exclusively by the resolutions of the United Nations? Can you explain what are streamlined sanctions that are being referred under the so-called "Powell Doctrine"?
Powell: The "Powell Doctrine" - thank you very much!
With respect to US policy, when it comes to our role as a member of the Security Council, we obviously are bound by the UN resolutions and we are not trying to modify those. We are trying to find ways to make sure that the will of the international community is met by the Iraqi leadership, and so we are constantly looking at ways to make it possible for us to be assured that there are no weapons of mass destruction and there are programmes under way that would produce weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, do it in a way that does not hurt the Iraqi people. We have sympathy for the people of Iraq. We have sympathy for the children of Iraq. We see a regime that has more than enough money to deal with the problems that exist in that society. If only they would use that money properly, if they would see that all of the people of Iraq are benefiting from the money that they have, more money that they had ten years ago. And so that is our goal, to make sure that Iraq complies with the arms control agreements it entered into, and let's move on beyond this, and the burden of this is in Baghdad. The initiative should be in Baghdad, for them to do what is required and what is right.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you are just about to visit the Middle East, and obviously the situation has deteriorated very rapidly there in recent days. Do you think that the UN, and in particular the Secretary-General, using his good offices, has a role to play in trying to bring back things from the abyss?
Powell: Oh absolutely. And if you are specifically talking about the situation in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, that is very, very troubling, and the Secretary-General and I have been in constant communication with one another. I think I might say, without danger of contradiction, is that both of us have been talking to leaders in the region, and encouraging them to act as leaders and statesmen, to get the violence down. To get the violence down, to get the economic activity moving again, so that people see hope in their lives once again, and only then can we move on to see what the next step is in the quest for peace. In this particular period, we are waiting for the Israeli Prime Minister-designate to form his new government, even more than any other period this is a time for restraint, a time for patience, a time for everybody to control their passions, and not to keep moving in the direction that gets us on an escalating scale of violence that does nothing but see peoples' lives destroyed. And so we are encouraging all sides, and we are encouraging all other nations in the region, and all those nations that can help with the economic problems that the Palestinians are facing, to do everything they can now, for restraint, security, and giving a sense of hope to the Palestinian people by providing economic assistance.
Q: Mr. Secretary, what are your views on the International Criminal Court?
Powell: As you know, the United States, the Bush administration, does not support the International Criminal Court. President Clinton signed the Treaty, but we have no plans to send it forward to our Senate for ratification.
Q: Mr. Secretary, what message does it give the United Nations that your administration has not yet named a UN Ambassador, a Permanent UN Ambassador?
Powell: It shouldn't cause the United Nations here in New York any concern whatsoever. It takes us a while in our process to come up with people for jobs. I am still the only new official in the State Department, and I can tell you that, while I am surrounded by superb colleagues in the professional service, I am still a little bit lonely. I am anxious for new people to be appointed. But I assured the Secretary-General earlier that this process is well under way and he will, in the not too distant future, see the naming of a Permanent Representative who, I am confident, will do a superb job.
Q: Are you going to support the Secretary-General for a second term?
Powell: I don't know if he wants a second term. We will have to wait for him to speak first.
Remarks upon entering UNHQ, 2 February 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Sir, the Presidents of Rwanda and [Democratic Republic of the] Congo met yesterday. Can you tell us your thoughts on the significance of that meeting and what you hope to come out of the new Congolese President's visit here to the UN today?
SG: Well, I will know once I have spoken to him, but I think it is encouraging that the two leaders met yesterday and that they also met Secretary of State Colin Powell. I have spoken to him and will be speaking to him later after I have met them.
I believe that we have an opportunity to move the peace process forward. There is a new climate and a new situation which we should seize to move the process forward. I think it is encouraging that the two leaders met yesterday and I will pursue the matter further with the new President when I meet him this morning.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the UN mission to Haiti is coming to an end next week. Any new developments? Are you intending to go to Haiti for the inauguration? What is the position of the UN in all of this?
SG: We did have a long mission there, and worked with the Haitian Government and the Haitian people. Our activities are coming to an end, but our involvement with Haiti will not come to an end. We will continue that effort through our development assistance and other UN projects on the ground. I wish the new Government and the people of Haiti every success and I hope that all the efforts that have been made to install democracy would not be for nought, and that the Government will respect the rights and the will of the people.
Q: Can I ask you a question about Lockerbie? Do you think it's now time for the Security Council to move rapidly to lifting the sanctions on Libya, and what do you make of Colonel Qadhafi's statement that there is vital evidence which he is going to reveal next week but which he chose not to reveal during the court case?
SG: Well, the Security Council obviously will be reviewing the situation and I suspect the British Government would give them a report on how the proceedings went in The Hague, and to what extent the Libyan authorities cooperated with the Court.
I think, as to the lifting of the sanctions, the Council will have to determine if Libya has met all the requirements. You have noticed that there are many calls for the lifting of the sanctions, including one this morning from the OAU. The Council will have to decide what to do next.
On the question of the evidence that the Libyan leader referred to, I cannot comment because I do not know the nature of the evidence and I don't know why it was not presented to the Court.
Q: Just a quick follow up before I ask my question … you are still involved in the Libya file, I take it, so what is your position on the way things should go? And my question actually is about the [Middle East] peace process. You have with the EU made a lot of efforts in order to bring the two leaders, Mr. Arafat and Mr. Barak, together. Have you given up right now totally about a meeting?
Q: And what's next, and who failed the possibility?
SG: I think on the Libya file, you remember I gave a report to the [Security] Council last year - that was the final report I had to give to the Council on the Libyan issue. The only responsibility as Secretary-General I have under that Resolution is to ensure that observers are appointed to monitor the prison once the Libyan prisoner is sent to Scotland, to ensure that his conditions are good and that he is well looked after, and in accordance with international law. The rest is up to the Council.
But let me turn to the Middle East. On the Middle East, the parties maintain that they got very close in Taba, following their work in Camp David with President Clinton and others. We had hoped that they could have bridged their differences, but of course time was short and the talks were suspended. We would urge them to go back to the talks soon after the elections. I think the only solution for the situation is peace. The only way to solve the differences is through dialogue, not through violence, and I would hope that, whoever wins the elections, they would resume the talks, and give hope to the people that there is a solution, and the leaders are determined to find it.
Q: Taba was successful, you are saying?
SG: The two leaders tell me, both parties have told me, that they got a lot done in Taba. They came much closer than they were, and that the differences that exist could be bridged. In that sense I think they made real progress and they should pursue their efforts.
Q: On Libya again, I know you addressed the issue of sanctions, but in general, in terms of returning Libya to the diplomatic circle, do you feel that now is the time to re-enter them into the diplomatic circle, as many people have called?
SG: I think we have to accept the fact that Libya in the end did cooperate by delivering the two people and that was a big step. Without that there wouldn't have been a trial, we wouldn't be where we are today. Some governments maintain that Libya has a lot more to do, and to account for. Of course, the issue of compensation has been raised and whether that has to be settled before the Council lifts the sanctions or the Council can act before that, is an issue for the Council. I can't really judge what the Council will do.
Q: Back to the Congo, Sir. Do you see that the situation on the ground under the new President might change, for the UN possibly, allowing in new peacekeepers?
SG: I think there are other players. It's not just the new President. There is also the other governments with their forces on the ground, and the militias who are fighting in Congo. The idea would be to engage all of them on the military front and in a dialogue that will see the situation in Congo revolve for the better. What we would want to see is progress, not only on the military front, but on the political front, because some of those fighting today are fighting because they want to have a stake or a say in the political process in the Congo. So the two are intertwined. We need to find ways and means of making progress on both fronts. This is one of the issues I will discuss with President Kabila and I know that the leaders in the region are also actively searching for ways and means of energising the peace process. I am determined to work very very closely with them.
Press encounter with Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh after meeting with Prime Minister Goran Persson of Sweden at the Prime Minister's office in Stockholm, Sweden, 30 January 2001
SG: I am very happy to be back in Stockholm on such a beautiful day, and on top of this, as the Minister said, we had very constructive and very useful discussions. We know that there is a strong relationship between the United Nations and Sweden and I appreciate the support and the input of Sweden in the work of the United Nations. This morning we were able to talk about the Middle East, UN reform, crisis spots in Africa and of course the issue of economic development and humanitarian issues.
Q: What can the international community do to help the people of India?
SG: I think what happened in India is very tragic. I think the international community has an obligation to provide all the assistance that we can. And in particular, those of us with capacity must give and give generously and promptly. I send my deepest sympathies and condolences to those who lost their loved ones and to the entire Indian people.
[There was a question about what the EU can do to respond to the Indian disaster. The Foreign Minister responded by saying that the Commission was already trying to help with financial resources.]
Q: The Middle East?
SG: I think the last talks between the Palestinians and Israelis went on very well [inaudible] good atmosphere and from the reports I have read, both parties worked very seriously, very constructively, and they are very close on almost all the issues. There are certain issues that still need to be bridged but I am encouraged and I hope that as soon as the elections are over they could go back to continue their work. The Prime Minister and myself have discussed this and of course both of us support the process and are working closely with the parties.
Q: Do you see a role of the United Nations in the Middle East in terms of soldiers..?
A: As you know, the United Nations is already on the ground. We have troops on the Golan Heights, the Lebanese-Israeli border and there has been a discussion of sending a UN observer mission to Palestine but this has not been approved yet by the Security Council, and it is quite likely that the Palestinian authorities will bring the issue up again in the Security Council.
Q: Yesterday you chose to criticize the European Union on refugee asylum matters.
SG: I encouraged the EU to adopt the right approach to refugee matters [inaudible] that because of the popular resentment towards immigrants, some governments have taken approaches which are not in strict conformity with the 1951 Geneva convention on refugees. And as we move forward, Europe is going to need more and more immigrants to sustain economic development. It is right that we have the right approaches, the right policy and the right understanding of the role of immigrants in society.
Foreign Minister: The Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs in just one or two weeks to come would be a very decisive meeting for the EU to follow up what we have been saying about a generous policy on asylum and refugees. Therefore I think that it was very important to be reminded of this by the Secretary-General.
Summary of Press Conference by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and President of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat, Davos, Switzerland, 29 January 2001 (unofficial transcript)
(Press conference started about five minutes before midnight lasted until about 12:25 a.m. Monday, January 29, 2001)
SG: Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen. Let me, on behalf of President Arafat and myself, apologize for keeping you up so late. We have been in very constructive and long discussions. I have been personally very pleased with the talks in Taba, the progress that has been made, the spirit in which the talks were conducted and I think we now have something really to build on. I have been in touch with both parties throughout the process, throughout the talks in Taba. I've been on the phone with (Israeli Prime Minister) Barak today and of course I've had a long talk with President Arafat. We are very happy to be able to meet you this evening. I would hope that the international community working with the parties would be albe to build on what has been done in Taba soon after both sides realize how close they are that even though there are differences, they are bridgeable, and hopefully this could be done.
Arafat: Happy with meeting with you especially after the important meetings I had today. [inaudible]. I would like to reiterate once again the peace process. We strive to achieve a comprehensive just and lasting peace, not only between the Palestinians and Israelis but for the people of the region as a whole. I don't want to undermine the various meetings between the two sides, including Sharm el-Sheikh, which was convened under the auspices of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and attended by [inaudible]. You should keep in mind that we have been holding various negotiating sessions. And we are committed to continuing to do so. We have come a long way. (He recounted the various agreements signed with Israel). I would like to express my deepest appreciation for the Secretary-General for the efforts he is exerting to preserve and safeguard the peace process in his intensive deliberations with me and Prime Minister Barak. (He touched on all the difficulties the Palestinian people have been facing.) Despite all the difficulties the Palestinian people have been facing, we reiterate our commitment to pursue peacemaking and the peace process. We really appreciate the effort of the Secretary-General.
Q: Would you meet with Barak before the elections? (The second question pertained to Arafat's speech at the World Economic Forum).
Arafat: I'm not the one creating the stories of the Israeli army using uranium. There are international reports. If the meeting is necessary, why not? I had expected to see him here in Davos.
SG: We should look forward. We had a positive and constructive discussion [on] Taba. I think we are determined and should be determined to build on that and look forward to the future. The parties came together because there is conflict. They are seeking peace because of conflict. They can only end the [inaudible] through dialogue and negotiations.
Q: Suspended negotiations until after the elections? Arafat: I think this is the sole decision of Mr Barak. He's a man who makes his own decisions.
SG: I would hope that the statement is relative. I mean the parties have been in sustained negotiations in Taba that was suspended only yesterday. I would hope that what Mr. Barak is saying is that sustained efforts will be suspended until after the elections and that does not mean that other contacts and other efforts would stop. I would hope so.
Q: Will negotiations continue if Sharon becomes Prime Minister?
Arafat: We make peace with the Israeli Government? [Inaudible question and answer]
Q: What made you so angry today?
Arafat: I wasn't angry. Ask Barak why he was angry. The Palestinian people have been suffering for the last four months. I am stating in front of you that in the last four months, thousands of Palestinian families have been unable to get bread on their families' tables, aside from the continuous military escalation on a daily basis. (He referred to the report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.) We don't want a breakdown in the peace process. We will continue the peace process in spite of the difficulties we are facing.
Q: What did Barak say when you telephoned him?
SG: Like all of us he is encouraged by what happened in Taba. He also felt some of the things said in Davos were not conducive to the peace process. But I indicated that if one listens to the entire tape of what Chairman Arafat said perhaps it wasn't all that negative. In my long discussions with Chairman Arafat and was assured that he was encouraged by what happened in Taba and would want to pursue it, noting whatever we can to capture what was agreed in Taba and come back for negotiations as soon as possible after the elections and continue the discussions. The international community should support that, and encourage the parties to move forward.
Q: Progress in Taba?
Arafat: We have no right to go beyond what was agreed between the parties yesterday.
Q: A question on closing file on animosity?
Arafat: Did I send my tanks to besiege Israeli towns? Did I send my gunships to fire missiles at Israeli towns? Did I send my artillery? Am I using internationally forbidden weapons, including uranium? `Despite all of this I have never stopped or prevented any negotiating session or contacts between us and the Israelis in the last four months.'
SG: Before we break, I think we all have to accept there are peace talks because there is conflict. There are peace talks because that is the only way to resolve the [inaudible]. Now that we are moving forward, I would urge that we all dwell on the positive and build on it, rather than focus on some of the negative aspects. I can assure you that in my long conversation with the Chairman and the parties they are determined to go ahead and we want you to help us, encourage us through reporting and editorials to push us in the right direction. Thank you very much.
Transcript of questions and answers by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and others at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Sunday, 28 January 2001, following the Secretary-General's speech (unofficial transcript)
Q: I have found in my brief experience as somebody out of government that the best way that businesses can actually assist in what to do is engage in policies of social responsibility, often in the territories of a conflict. I wonder if you would comment, Secretary-General, on whether these businesses, if they get involved in the Global Compact, can also work with the United Nations people on the ground, because on occasion, they find it quite difficult to do.
SG: Let me say that we are prepared to work with corporations on the ground, particularly in conflict areas or in any of those areas where the UNDP, UNICEF and others are operating. UNDP operates in 134 countries and we are working with corporations at the national level as well. In areas of conflict, yes, we will be prepared to work with corporations on the ground, and, in fact, the Global Compact will start its first thematic dialogue in March where we will discuss how corporations should behave or position themselves in areas of conflict. I think that dialogue and that conversation will explore further how we can work together on the ground. But the simple answer to your question is yes, we are prepared to work with them on the ground in the conflict areas from Sierra Leone on the West Coast to the Democratic Republic of Congo and other parts of the world.
Q: I would like to ask Mr. Lindahl whether it will be his role to try to cooperate with some of many of these organizations which exist or which are interested in having business conduct monitored, especially the importance of having these businesses monitored in some of the emerging countries, because in some of the countries, if you start talking to them about business conduct, they do not even know what you are talking about.
Goran Lindahl, former President and CEO of ABB: I will give a brief response to that. The Global Compact does not exclude any of the other initiatives. The Global Compact created a framework for all initiatives, including those out of the UN organization. This means that we welcome any constituencies or groupings to participate in the dialogue to fulfill the 9 articles that we have in the Global Compact which cover human rights, labor and the environment. So, the response is yes, we want to have a dialogue with each and every party that is prepared to commit to the 9 articles.
SG: And I would want to add that the Global Compact is in effect also encouraging the sort of business ethics that you are referring to. I think most serious corporations are concerned about the issue you raised and are trying to ensure that their personnel are aware of the need to do what is right.
Q: We had a Chinese economist who came to the Harvard Business School or a year on a fellowship to study capitalism and democracy. At the end of his year, we had him to dinner and I asked him what is the most surprising thing you learned about the functioning of capitalism, as his training had been in Marxist economics. And he said without hesitation: I had no idea how important religion is to the functioning of capitalism. I had never thought about this before, but he said think about it. In many ways, America is living on momentum from his past. People go to churches where they are taught by people that they respect that they should voluntarily obey the law and that when they enter a contract, even if conditions change, to be honest, they should follow through on the contract. He said there is a system of belief that has to exist before capitalism will work. He said when you look around the world and Western powers have flipped their fingers and said: we want free markets here now, without a foundation of these basic beliefs, it simply will not work. I just wonder if you have a sense about this, looking around the world where experiments in development have and have not worked. Are the Western countries beliefs in democracy and capitalism ill-founded?
SG: Let me say that if religion is a factor in what you have described, I think I will base it on the fact that each major religion, whether it is Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or whatever, is an education in social morality. That education in social morality, about honesty, telling the truth, respecting your neighbour, treating your neighbour as you would want to be treated and so forth, gives you a certain understanding of how you relate to others. So perhaps this is what your Chinese friend was getting at.
Klaus Schwab, Founder and President of the World Economic Forum: I just wanted to say Secretary-General that we are joined by about 25 religious leaders here at this meeting because we recognize the importance of what our friend said about establishing a dialogue between the business community and religions.
SG: I wanted to pursue this a little bit. If indeed religion furthers capitalism and democracy and you build on that, then others will have lots of questions for the capitalists who sometimes are not sensitive to the needs of others in society. How can one in some cases have extreme wealth and immense poverty sitting side by side and it does not seem to bother anybody. What does religion say about that? That is the other side of the equation that we may have to ponder.
Mr. Schwab: In promoting the Global Compact, we sometimes have reactions that it is only something for large companies, or there are other reactions which said it is only something for companies in the European sphere where social responsibility is much more traditional, or that it is something which companies from developing countries do not address. How would you respond to those questions because, as I said at the beginning, we would like to have everybody here joining the Compact.
SG: I think the Global Compact in fact does work for the developing countries. First of all, most of the corporations we are targeting or we have asked to join us are operating in the developing world. If we are asking them to embrace these 9 principles and to apply them through their corporate world, and if they are doing it here and in Africa and in Latin America and in Asia, they are also getting the benefits of this good business and corporate behavior.
The other thing I would want to comment on is that we have quite a few companies from the developing world who have joined the Global Compact. In fact, we have had very important sessions in Brazil and in India where there has been quite a bit of interest in the Global Compact. Our difficulty is not attracting people from the developing world. We want to attract more companies from the United States and I think we are beginning to make progress. And thirdly, I do not think the Global Compact is meant only for big corporations. I think it is important for all of us individuals, corporate leaders and companies large and small, in our activities, to respect the environment, the basic human rights and the core labour standards.
Some will tell you it is difficult because it is expensive. I had an interesting discussion with an Indian friend today who said when it comes to child labour, you are asking us to stop it. He said of course we are against enforced child labour, but in some situations, the kids have to work because the parents do not have enough. He said you are not going to get the corporations to endorse this. And I said well they may say we cannot do it today, but they have to accept it as an objective and begin to work on removing this situation where children have to work because they do not have enough to eat. Other societies are dealing with this by telling the families that your children will have a full meal at school. Send them to school and they will be fed. Others are doing even greater experiments where they promise a savings scheme or a loan to the family, but they give it to them at the end of the fourth year when the child has gone through school. So once you accept the premise that children should not be exploited and made to work, you can then begin to move against it. And so I think the Third World has a lot to gain. And I think that all of us, whether we are running small, medium-sized or large companies, can make a contribution and have a role to play.
Press Conference at the Japan National Press Club, Tokyo, 24 January 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Moderator: Thank you very much for coming. As you can see this is the UN way of meeting the press. I am kept standing. I have been told to remain standing according to the UN System and Mr. Annan strongly wished to maintain this UN style of staying standing. As you know, Mr. Annan traveled through Beijing now arrived in Tokyo. He went to the UN University. So this is the UN House opening ceremony that he attended. Tomorrow, in order to attend the Davos World Economic Forum he shall be departing. This is the fourth press meeting here to be held in this place. In 1999, it was November, when he came over the last time. He unfortunately did not come in the year 2000. Here this time Mrs. Annan is with the Secretary-General. Thank you. We have simultaneous interpretation today. Therefore may I ask Mr. Annan for a very brief of five minute presentation at first, followed by questions and answers, Mr. Annan please.
SG: Thank you very much and I am glad you noticed that the UN way to stand for press conferences. Maybe we want to impress you that we work very hard and we do not have time to be sitting down.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am extremely happy to be able to join you again today, and to be back in Japan with my wife and the team from New York. I have had very productive and friendly discussions with Prime Minister Mori, Finance Minister Miyazawa and Foreign Minister Kono. I have also met many members of the Diet and various leaders of the political parties.
Today, as you heard I opened the UN House in Tokyo, and I hope that it would become not only the UN House but also the Japanese will consider it their house as well. After all, the UN, it is your organization. It is an organization of "We, the peoples" and we have really tried to open it up.
I consider Japan to be a true global player on the international scene, and there is a growing recognition of this fact worldwide. I just came here from Yaounde in Cameroon, where I attended the France-Africa Summit. The African leaders I met there were impressed by the historical visit of Prime Minister Mori to Africa which to them and to me implied the strong bond between that continent [and] Japan and the importance Japan attaches to the developing world. And I am also heartened to see that the Japanese leadership is being felt in the United Nations as we speak at the beginning of a new century.
I had a chance during my discussions to discuss a human security commission that the Japanese Government is helping to set up which will be headed by Mrs. [Sadako] Ogata and Prof. [Amartya] Sen. I think it is an important topic for us at the United Nations and I am happy that Japan is taking a leadership role in this because we are the UN, which places the individual human being at the center of all what we do. And I think the work that the commission is going to do is going to be helpful to the work of the United Nations and I have assured Mrs. Ogata and the Prime Minister that they will have my full support and support of the United Nations.
Let me say that as I traveled around the world and as the head of the United Nations one cannot overemphasize the importance of Japan's development assistance to countries in need around the world. I would also like to stress the indispensable role played by Japan in the field of disarmament and the emphasis you place on that. And I think it is important that we keep that subject alive, lest people become complacent about it.
And let me, through you, express my gratitude to the Japanese people for their contribution generally to all the areas of UN activity from humanitarian to development assistance, to contributions you have made to peace-keeping operations in one kind or the other, and the major contribution you made in East Timor for example has made quite a lot of difference in our work there.
As we move into the New Year we will all remember the Millennium Summit which took place last year and up to the Millennium Declaration which in effect gave us our marching orders as we enter this new century. The Declaration we see as a plan of action with specific datelines and specific targets, which we have to meet by specific dates. And the millennium plan of action coerces the fight against poverty to reduce abject poverty by 50 percent in the year 2015. It enjoins us to fight against AIDS, to be sensitive about the environment and to let the governments and people and public know that we cannot continue to exploit the resources of the world the way we are doing it and expect to hand over a healthy world to our children and their children. It also deals with Governance and it touches on the issue of globalization and the need to make it work for all. So we do have a big agenda to implement but it is not going to be implemented by the bureaucracy in New York alone. Each Government has a role to play, the private sector, civil society and individuals, we all have to work in partnership to make it happen.
This evening, after this press conference, I will be meeting Japanese UN Goodwill Ambassadors to see how best we can expand their advocacy role on behalf of the United Nations and the work we do and as you heard, I then leave tomorrow morning for Davos to attend the World Economic Forum. I will now take your questions.
MC: Thank you very much. We would like to take your questions. If you have any questions, please raise your hand. Please tell us your name and your organization. Please use the standing microphone.
Q: My name is Harada, Nikkei Shimbun. I would like to talk about the UN Security Council reform. According to all the information that we hear, there are different opinions and discussions that the permanent seats and the non-permanent seats, both should be increased. That for the specific seats, not 21 in total but 24 or more seems to be the big wave or the trend. This is my impression. May I ask your opinion, Sir.
SG: I think you are right that the discussions have been going on for a while. And the figures for expansion have hovered around those who wanted 20, 21, and 24, 26. My sense is that as of today, the most member states are thinking in terms of 24 seats, but of course, they haven't come to agreement on the nature and the extent of the expansion yet. But [at] the last Millennium Summit, there were quite a lot of supportive statements by Governments and the President of the General Assembly intends to pursue this reform issue in the course of this year. Thank you.
Q: (TV Asahi) I understand you are leaving here tomorrow for Davos Conference in Switzerland, and I have two questions about it. The first question is, how do you evaluate the significance of Davos Conference? And the second question is, Japan's Prime Minister Mori will join the conference for the first time as the Japanese but he speaks no English. What do you think of this point?
SG: Let me start with the last question. I think we live in a global village but it is also a diverse world. It is that diversity that makes it an exciting place. And I think the fact that he doesn't speak English would not prevent him from getting his points across. I've had a very good discussion with him here, and he made his points very forcefully and got across to me without speaking English himself, and I'm sure he will be equally effective in Davos.
On the question of the importance of the World Economic Forum. Let me say that it is important in the sense that it's a good convenient place. It does bring together business leaders from around the world to discuss economic and financial issues of the day and to exchange ideas. But over the years, it's expanded beyond economics. You will find in Davos poets, artists, politicians, and people from areas of conflict. So whenever I go to Davos, apart from speaking to corporate leaders and challenging them to accept their global responsibility whether it's in the form of the Global Compact where I advice them to embrace three core principles in the areas of human rights, quality of labour standards and environment. I'm also able to hold discussions with a whole range of leaders. I may even see Prime Minister Mori again in Davos but I would be taliing to the new Mexican President, privately speaking to some of the leaders from the Middle East areas where I'm engaged in. And so from that point of view, it is important. And it's always good to be able to exchange ideas. But of course, we would also have the demonstrators there today. Since Seattle whenever you have this sort of gathering, they also come and I think what they represent cannot always be ignored. It does imply the anxiety, the concern, the uncertainty people have about globalization and how it is impacting on their lives or way of lives, and some believe that it is taking their jobs away. So we need to understand these concerns and find ways of addressing them.
MC: Yes, please.
Q: Hajime Ozaki from Kyodo News. I'm very glad to see you here in Tokyo. Two questions; the first one is, on Monday, President Bush announced that he is not going to support the organizations which are performing or assisting the abortion worldwide. The same rhetoric we heard from Mr. Helms sometimes ago when he said that the United States is not going to pay the arrears, as long as the United Nations is assisting the abortion. Do you see any attitude from Mr. Bush toward the United Nations? The second question is a little bit shorter. What about your second term? Thank you, sir.
SG: On the first question, yes, I have also read about the declaration by the President and as far as the UN activities are concerned, and here you are talking about UNFPA. I think UNFPA and the U.S. have clarified the misunderstandings and they know the nature of our work and the work UNFPA is doing around the world. And so I hope this new declaration, this new policy statement by the Bush Administration will have no impact on the work and their support for UNFPA. I know it's a bit [of a] divisive issue internally and that I will leave them to sort it out between themselves, the Americans, that is. As to your second question, I have indicated that it is a difficult decision and that I need to think it through, but I will give an answer in March so you will. I will give you a signal as to whether how I will react, if the member states were to wish me to continue. After all, the decision is theirs.
Q: I'm a member of this Club and also a member of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. I used to work for UNESCO for four years from 1954 to 1957 as the first Japanese working for UNESCO in Paris. At that time, two political issues occurred. One was McCarthyism in the United States. Two or three US officers came to Paris to interview American employees in UNESCO, and one or two were dismissed as a result of this interview. My first question is that you can assure the independence of the UN organization from a member state intervening in their affairs. The second question is that it has been reported in papers that there are a lot of inefficiency in terms of budget activities of the UN, and also disciplinary inadequacy in the UN. This is my second question. How are you going to improve the efficiency or the performance of the UN staff members? I have noticed in Paris from 1954 to '57 some very lazy staff in UNESCO. My last question is…
SG: Three questions. Please limit your question so that others will have a chance.
Q: All right. My last one is my son was captured by the Iraqi army, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. At that time, nothing has been done efficiently by the UN to alleviate that kind of international conflict. My third question is very important, if you could answer these three questions.
SG: Where is your son, by the way?
Q: My son, luckily, after four months of captivity in Iraq was released safely. Thank God.
SG: I'm very happy to hear that for him. Let me start with your first question about what happened during the McCarthy era. Thank God, I hope those days are behind us, and I don't think it's going to happen that our staff members are being dismissed in the UN, because their government came to ask questions or wanted them fired. So, from that point of view, you can be assured that it doesn't happen and will not happen now. I know that period you are referring to and it is unfortunate that those things happened.
On your second question about efficiency. I have read some of those articles that you have referred to. I must say that I'm not going to claim that the UN, like all other organisations, doesn't have some problems. But I think one has to put this in context. First of all, some of the things I have read about and these investigations, we undertook them. We undertook these audit investigations, because we want to run an efficient and effective organisation. We wanted to find out where are the problems and to correct them.
Secondly, these articles that I have seen do not make any reference to the fact that they are covering a period of five years or more, and it keeps accumulation of things that create an impression that it is a norm. It does talk about the peacekeeping budget, and some excesses or some malpractices that were found in some operations.
You have to understand that these operations are not mounted in ideal situations. We often have to rush into these crisis posts to get things going, and it is not always easy to get the most efficient staff that we borrow from governments and get them there on time. So, sometimes, there are mistakes which are made have been made and mistakes will be made. But what is important is that during the period under review, the peacekeeping operations cost about 10 billion dollars or 1.2 trillion yen. So, when one talks about 80-50 million-yen, you have to put that in context, because in absolute terms it seems big, unless you put it into context and what percentage of operations it represents. But we are pursuing reform in the UN, and reforms are ongoing process, and searches for excellence are constant. And we want to make the organisation as efficient and effective as possible. I think over the last years, we've made quite a lot of progress, and it will continue. But what I plead is that when we do these reports, it has to be balanced.
When I was a young man at the age of 15, I will never forget the experience I had with the headmaster walked into a classroom. There were 45 of us. In those days, small classes were not the order of the day. You were lucky to get an education. So, there were 45 of us in the room, and he came in and put a sheet of paper on the wall with a black dot. The paper was quite white. It was about 1 meter by 1 meter with a dot. So, he asked boys, "What do you see?" Almost in unison, all of us shouted, "The black dot." He stood back and said, "So, none of you saw the broad, white sheet of paper. You all saw the black dot. Don't go through life focusing on the minor issue. See the total picture." When you cover the UN, I hope you see the bigger picture of what we do in the humanitarian area, what we have done in the rule of law and the norm we have set, or what we have done in health, what we have done in education, what we have done in development, and what we are doing all over the world. That's my only plea.
On your last question, wars will always be with us. We cannot avoid or prevent all wars. Men have been fighting each other since Mesopotamia and they've been fighting for over two million years. I hope that we will not need to send peacekeepers, that we don't have to mount peacekeeping operations or do peace building, because the world will entirely be at peace. We are trying to create an atmosphere where these kinds of wars will be avoided, and where we fail, we try to work with protagonists to end the wars. It requires education to end wars. It requires education to get people to understand that we can solve our differences politically and through dialogue and not through arms. You said that you worked in UNESCO, and it is in the UNESCO charter. Since it is in the mind of men that war begins, it is in the mind of men that we should build defenses. I think you will agree with that. Thank you very much and I will take the next question.
Q: My name is Hasegawa from Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei). My question concerns the financial difficulty of the United Nations. How do you appreciate the donation of Ted Turner to the UN. Another question is, tell me about your ideas to sort out the financial difficulty of the UN?
SG: I will start with the second one. I think it's simple to convince and encourage each member state to pay its dues in full and on time and without conditions. Quite frankly, if the Member States did that, we would not be talking about financial difficulties of the United Nations. The financial difficulties arose because some member states withheld their contributions to the UN, and imposed conditions for paying them. So, I have appealed to the member states that as part of the reform of the United Nations, and reaffirmation of their belief in the organisation, they should all undertake to pay their dues in full and on time and without conditions.
On the question of the Turner contribution, it has been extremely helpful. It has enabled us to undertake activities that we would not otherwise have undertaken. The Turner $1 billion donation, which is over 10-year period, is not used to cover regular UN operations or activities. We have used it to do other things: in caring for children in health and population that we could not have done otherwise, which has always been conditional. Besides that, the Turner donation has encouraged other major donors to come forth and make contributions. The Gates Foundation has up to today given us about up to 1 billion dollars. You may recall they made a major donation of 750 million dollars for vaccination, for us to work on vaccination. And they have made other contributions since then. Other corporations are becoming to engage or beginning to think of participating. This, also underscores the point I have been making all along that the UN cannot tackle these major issues alone, and that we need to work in partnerships, partnerships with governments, with the private sector, with NGOs and I really appreciate what Ted Turner and all the others are doing. So, where the private sector and civil society working with the government, we are able to do much, much more and to expand our capacity. Thank you.
MC: The next question, please.
Q: I am working for Asahi Evening News. I have two questions. One concerns about your term. What kind of message has been conveyed to you from the Chinese and Japanese governments where you have been visiting so far? The second question is what kind of role the UN can play for the stabilization of the reconciliation process in the Korean Peninsula? Have you decided on your schedule to visit North Korea?
SG: On your first question, let me say that I'm not travelling around the region to discuss my future, or my second term. We focus really on the essential issues of concern to Japan, China, or Japan in the UN and China in the UN. I think that's the way it ought to be. On the question of my visit to North Korea, I have been to South Korea, and I will go to North Korea, or perhaps the two Koreas together. I have not been able to set a time yet, but I'll arrange it. Ideally, I could have done it and should have done it now, but it's not convenient and I have other obligations. But I do intend to visit North Korea. I think the UN and all of us should encourage the positive signals, which are taking place. We should encourage the reconciliation between the North and South, and we should do whatever we can to reduce tensions in the Korean Peninsula. I discussed this also when I was in China and they shared this view. Your Government does as well. I believe that if all of us were to work together and encourage the two Koreas, we will be able to succeed, I hope.
Q: I am Yukihiko Machida with Mainichi Newspapers. Mr. Secretary-General, let me ask you the question with the so-called inefficiency if I might follow-up. What is your assessment of the activities of OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Office] and are you going to strengthen its role in the United Nations? Thank you.
SG: They are doing a very good job. The OIOS is a UN version of Inspector General. It was set up about seven years ago to help us audit ourselves and to strengthen our management practices. But like all UN organizations, it is a bit short staffed and this year we would be looking at our budget. And one of the issues on the table is possible increase in their staff. Thank you. It is interesting that almost everyone who has asked questions has spoken to me in English and I think that is why you asked me about the question in Davos. It is quite interesting.
Q: Thank you, my name is Kharduri Azhari, I am correspondent of Petra MBC from the Middle East. I think that you said that the United Nations style is standing so it seems to some people that the United Nations resolutions are standing also especially in the Middle East. So you see many resolutions not being applied or done by Israel, namely, so how do you evaluate this and do you consider it as a very reason why the escalation of violence is raging in that area now? And do you think that the United Nations forces or armies would be deployed to that area? Thank you.
SG: Let me start by saying that the UN has been involved in the Middle East for quite a long time and on the Palestinian issue that you referred to. We were there at the beginning and even though the UN resolutions have not yet been implemented, not all of them, and I will come back to that, have not yet been implemented. They have formed the basis of most of the discussions on settlement. Whether it is resolution 242 or 338 or even 194 on the return of refugees, so the UN contribution has been an important one qualitatively. I would also say that in addition to that we have a military presence on the border between Lebanon and Israel and in Syria on the Golan between Israel and Syria. We have our presence in Jerusalem, in the form of UNTSO. And yes, not all UN resolutions have been fully implemented, but interestingly enough we implemented 425 of the big four covering the border between Lebanon and Israel. When the Israelis withdrew and we implemented 425, which is the first time over 20 years that one of the resolutions has been implemented. And that resolution was very instrumental in the peaceful demarcation of the border where the UN went in and drew a blue line and asked both parties to respect it and not to violate it. And by and large they have done it. UN resolutions are not necessarily self-fulfilling. Sometimes the parties have to get together to discuss it and use it as a basis for discussions and to move forward. I had hoped that the talks that are taking place between the Palestinians and the Israelis beginning in Oslo and recently in Camp David and the efforts of President Clinton would have left led to a settlement. That didn't work and the parties themselves came together in Taba to discuss this issue. And unfortunately as a result of the killings yesterday it has been suspended but I hope that they would go back to the table.
If one is having peace talks, you are having peace talks because there are serious disagreements or fighting is going on. And one is having talks because there is fighting. And I think it is unfortunate that one would stop the process because this has happened, and if we do that, then we can create a situation where those who are against the peace process can always stop it by undertaking violent act here or there each time you decide to come together. So the UN will continue to work for peace, we will continue to put forward in resolutions, basis that we believe should be used for peace settlement, and where the parties are willing and cooperate with us, both of them, we are able to do it, but we cannot impose it. We need to work with the parties and often they also have to come together. I know in the Middle East because of what has happened in Iraq, we are accused of double standards that we have imposed it on Iraq. "Why can't you impose it on another situation?" But this is something that we have tried to explain and I hope that it is understood.
Remarks upon arrival at Narita Airport, Japan, 22 January 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I am very happy to be back in Tokyo. I do expect to have a series of discussions with the Japanese leaders including the Emperor and the Prime Minister and of course the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance. We shall be discussing UN reform, including I am sure the Security Council reform, peacekeeping and development. And, of course, as the Prime Minister himself has just come back from Africa, I look forward to discussing with him the situation in Africa.
Let me also say how sorry I was about the tragic accident in Mongolia where NHK lost two brave journalists. Those journalists were accompanying a UN humanitarian mission in Mongolia to see what they can do to bring them urgent assistance. So I offer, once again, my deepest and heartfelt sympathies to their colleagues and their families. Thank you.
Q: There was talk of sending a peacekeeping force to Congo. Is that still necessary at this point? And what is your view on the current situation there?
SG: Well I think that the Congolese situation, there is a new leader and he has just taken over and we need to wait for the situation to settle. And the leaders in the region met, those countries that are sympathetic and are fighting on the side of the Democratic Republic of Congo, indicated that they still will support for the Government of Congo. And I know that the leaders in the region, and we ourselves are trying to see what we can do to energize the peace process and hopefully bring the Congolese people together to resolve these differences. I would hope that their renewed efforts will yield some results. And I have just come from the France-African meeting in Cameroon and this was also the one of the major topics among the leaders there. Thank you.
Joint Press Encounter with Tang Jiaxuan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, Beijing, 21 January 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Minister Tang: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Ladies and gentlemen, just now I have held extensive discussion with H.E. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan on UN-related issue including the follow-up action of the Millennium Summit, reform of the UN and Security Council and UN peacekeeping operations. The two of us also exchanged in an in-depth manner our views of other global issues including some hot-spot issues. The discussion was a very good one and we managed to have very in-depth change of view. This is already the 4th trip to China by Mr. Annan as the Secretary - General of the United Nations. He is an old friend of China. The fact that he is coming to visit us at the beginning of the new century and on the verge of the Chinese Spring Festival means that the visit has special and positive significance. The Chinese government and Chinese people wish to extend the warm welcome to Secretary-eneral. President Jiang and Vice Premier Qian would also have meetings with him respectively. Now the floor.
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. I think you've given our friends here the ladies and gentlemen of the press description of the nature of our discussions, but let me say that China as a permanent member of the Security Council and a country that plays an important role in the activities of the UN and a country that I have worked with over the years always provides an opportunity for us to review not only how we can make the UN much more effective and efficient but also to tackle some of the, have discussions on some of the trouble-spots around the world and what we can do collectively to bring them under control. I was also happy to be able to hear from the Minister who has just returned from my own continent, Africa, and to share with me his own assessment of the situation there and the discussions he had with the African leaders in resolving some of the conflicts on the ground and on the important issue of the fight against poverty. I think we will now take your questions.
Q: I am from Xinhua News Agency. I have got a question for the Secretary-General. In light of the changes of international situation, United Nations is also confronted with many new challenges. How would you evaluate and comment on the role of China in the United Nations?
SG: I think China is playing a very important role and in fact I had the opportunity to thank the Minister for the constructive role they played at the end of the year when we were [inaudible] to resolve the conflicts surrounding the contributions of the member states. China is also playing an active role in UN peacekeeping operations and is participating in more than half a dozen operations, including East Timor, where we have about 55 Chinese policemen and women serving in East Timor. And I have also discussed with the Minister further Chinese participation in the area of peacekeeping and of course they also share my concern and the concern of the UN for the implementation of the Millennium plan of action following the Millennium Summit and the emphasis we have put on poverty alleviation, on protecting of the environment and on health and education of both girls and boys. And I think China is going to continue to play its role in the UN and I have seen how active it has been in the Security Council. And just if I may [inaudible] on peacekeeping, I think at an appropriate time the Minister and the Chinese authority make their own announcement but we did indicate other areas where China could be helpful.
Q: I am from Associated Press. Yesterday at the airport you mentioned the resolution on human rights, did you discuss this issue today? (There was a second question on the Secretary-General's future plans.)
SG: On the human rights issue we are continuing our discussions over lunch and I expect that we will tackle it then. But as you raise it yesterday, China has signed two covenants. It is a question of ratification and I intend to discuss it with the Minister. On the question of my future, I have not discussed it.
Q: I am a correspondent from CCTV for Mr. Tang. At the end of last year, China received visit by the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Aziz and the State Councilor Amat of China also visited Iraq. Some people say that there is some change in China's policy towards Iraq. Could you comment on that?
Minister Tang: China's policy towards Iraq has been consistent. The core contents of our policy are two: Number one, Iraq must unconditionally implement the relevant UN resolutions and honor its commitments that it has made in the past. Secondly, on the question of sanctions imposed against Iraq, China has always maintained that there is a need for an objective and actual appraisal of these implementations of those sanctions and the resolutions. Sanctions will only aggravate the suffering of the ordinary people of Iraq and China is not in favor of arbitrary use of sanctions. And the other thing which is very important is that it is most important to respect the sovereignty and territory integrity of Iraq as an independent country.
Q: I am a Japanese journalist. Regarding the reform of the Security Council, I'd like to know whether the Secretary-General has made the request to Minister Tang that China could understand the importance of the reform of the Security Council, for example to increase both the number of permanent member states and the number of impermanent members. What's China's response on this? (from Chinese interpretation)
Minister Tang: Actually we did not go into details as you have mentioned in your question. I reiterated our principle position, which has been made public in the past. I did give special emphasis on the following view that this reform of the Security Council bears on the keen interest of many member countries and therefore it is important to subject the proposals and discussion to soliciting of views of member countries and to have consensus. I also emphasized that the primary purpose of the reform should be improving the functions and the efficiency of the United Nation and the Security Council. In order to enable the organization to make more positive contribution to world peace and common development it should not be intended to sharpen the already existing different views.
[The last question was not recorded. It was on reaction to the transfer of power in the Philippines. The Secretary-General responded by saying that he was "very happy that the change in the Philippines took place peacefully. I think it is a victory for democracy. I wish the new president success, and I look forward to working with her."
Press encounter upon arrival at Beijing International Airport, 20 January 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. We are very happy to meet with you this morning. I have come to Beijing to hold discussions with the Chinese authorities on UN related issues and for us to discuss some of the crises we are dealing with and obviously we will also discuss UN reform. I had a chance to be briefed by Carolyn McAskie, as some of you may know, she has just come back from Mongolia where she had to rush there for the accident of the helicopter in which 14 people died, including one Chinese staff member who was injured and is back here in hospital. I have been quite touched by their courage and the determination of my colleagues. I have sent our deep sympathy and condolence to their families. And for us in the UN family, this is a very bad way to start the year to lose 14 colleagues in January. No, actually, it wasn't 14, we lost nine. Nine people died, 14 people survived. So to lose nine people in the helicopter early in the year is very, very difficult for us. But we are going to persevere and we are going to conclude, complete our work to be able to assist the Mongolian people who are going through a very disastrous situation -- drought followed by very severe storm weather, lots of ice. And the society that lives on the land and on its herd have almost lost their herd. We will be making an appeal for assistance in the course of next week and I would hope that the international community will give very generously. And I think I will take the questions since we don?t have too much time. We have to use our time effectively.
Q: What are your comments about the political situation in the Philippines?
SG: Yes, I have been following it. I have been on the road. The last I heard is that the president has indicated that he will step down and call for an election. I have been in the plane -- I hope nothing else has happened since then. I think if the President has decided to step down, then constitutional arrangements must be allowed to play their role and what is important is that the change, if it does come, should be peaceful and the indications are, for the moment, that it should be a peaceful change. And I think that is what we should all pray for.
Q: From Australian Radio. You're coming from the summit of African states. There was an announcement by the French to cancel half of billion francs in debt to some of the poorest African countries. What message do you think that sends to the rest of the world?
SG: I hope the rest of the world will follow the French example and that they will be encouraged to do that because it is quite clear and I think it is more or less universally accepted that one has to find a way of giving these poorer countries debt relief or they are not going to be able to make it. I think the French initiative is a powerful message, which I hope others will follow. Later on this year in May, we would have a conference for the least developed countries in Brussels. There are indications that the Europeans may lift all tariffs and quotas against imports from these countries and that would be another powerful message if it were to happen because quite frankly, the poor would much rather trade their way out of poverty rather than live on charity.
Q: What are the specific issues (inaudible) when you are in China? Are you going to reach any formal agreement with Chinese Ministries or anything specific?
SG: I have not come to sign any agreement but we have many issues to discuss which I hope we will be able to have frank and constructive discussions but I have not come to sign any agreement.
Q: The traditional Chinese lunar New Year is a few days away. Do you have anything to say to the Chinese people?
SG: First of all, I wish them good health, happiness and prosperity and I understand the year of the snake is a good one and the snake is the friend of the man in the Chinese culture. So I hope it will see us through in the coming year and that we would all have a wonderful year.
Q: (Inaudible question on the Koreas by NHK)
SG: We will definitely discuss the Korean peninsula and the developments in that area and the relationship between the north and south. But I have no intention at this stage anyway, no plans, of meeting the Northern Korean leader.
Q: When your Human Rights Commissioner, Mrs. Mary Robinson, came to China, she said when she left, she hopes to see the Chinese ratifying the covenant on social and economic rights early this year. Now you are back here, will you be pushing the Chinese on this? What are your hopes for human rights development in China?
SG: I have to say the human rights issue has often been discussed between me and the Chinese. And you will recall that Mrs. Robinson signed an agreement with them on technical cooperation. And I think when we look back, a year ago, we've made quite good progress. And we will be pursuing these discussions with them.
Q: To follow up there, as you said, there have been quite progress in discussions, but at the same time, the US government and British government said in the last 12 months, the human rights situation in China has actually deteriorated. At the same time, these discussions are going on. Is that something that concerns you? Is that something you will bring up with the Chinese?
SG: I think, first of all the human rights commission each year has a chance to discuss these sensitive issues. Mary Robinson and I are working very closely together. And I am looking at from the UN angle. I am not that engaged with the British Government or the American government's approach to these issues and what they have done. But from our point of view, we are talking about the Chinese, about moving forward, and working with them to ensure that the human rights programs and human rights are respected though the land and they have come on board for this and they sign all the covenants and we are going to keep on that.
Q: (An inaudible question about China's involvement in international peacekeeping)
SG: Well, the Chinese are participating, but could perhaps, I would encourage them to do more. They have military observers in quite a few operations including East Timor but I think they have the capacity to do a bit more and I would encourage them to do that 'cause they have several million people in the army and they could do more.
Q: (An inaudible question about on UN reform)?
SG: I think one of the issues on the mind of many members states this year is the question of Security Council reform. The last General Assembly they had many more positive comments on the Security Council reform. Whether we will be able to make progress in reality by the end of this year only time will tell. But we are also discussing internal reforms of the organizations some of the restructuring aspects that we are working on. In fact this, I don't want to be too technical, but this year for example, the Fifth Committee did agree on resource-based budgeting, which is quite a major achievement and a push forward. The scale of assessment of contributions of member states was also changed which I hope is going to bring to normal our the relationship with Washington and Washington will pay a considerable amount of its back dues, which will allow us to be able to do some of the things that we have difficulty doing now and permit us to encourage governments with troops to make contributions for peacekeeping operaions because in the past, some had been hesitant because we had not been able to reimburse them for the cost incurred in participation of peacekeeping operations. Since we don't have troops in the United Nations, we borrow troops from governments, on the understanding that we will reimburse them on the average a $1,000 per month. In the past, we have not been able to make this reimbursement because the member states have not paying their dues and we owe these governments several hundred million dollars. Now that the United States is going contribute $600 million, we will be able to reimburse these countries. Quite a few of them are poor so that they can continue to provide troops in future operations.
Q: What do you think of China as a permanent member and what's your expectation of China?s role in the future?
SG: I think China as a permanent member has an important role to play in the organization and has used in the council, the Security Council effectively. It has also been particularly sensitive to concerns and problems of the Third World and I do expect that to continue. I would ask Ms. McAskie maybe to switch places with me. She will tell you a little bit about her experience in Mongolia....
Remarks upon entering UNHQ, 8 January 2001
SG: Happy New Year, how are you?
Q: All right. You have a meeting with Secretary of State Albright. Final days for her, is that what the meeting is about?
SG: Obviously I suspect we will talk about her final days and her plans for the future. But I would hope that we will talk about some of the issues on our plate, from the Middle East to the Iraqi situation, to some of the peace activities in Eritrea and Ethiopia, and perhaps the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] also.
Q: Are you disappointed that the Clinton administration it seems was unable to seal any type of Middle East deal and are your efforts now going to be called for?
SG: I think they tried very hard, and obviously it's up to the parties to make peace. I think President Clinton did put quite a lot of effort into it and invested quite a lot of his personal capital to push for a deal. I think the efforts have not been wasted because we have moved forward. We all know what the issues are that are on the table. So even if he is not able to conclude a deal, I think he has helped the process, and what has happened in the past six months should help those who take up the process from him.
Q: Iraq. Are they coming?
SG: Well, originally I had expected them to come this week. But they are not coming this week and I will be travelling very shortly. So I would expect that the meeting will not take place until some time [in] February.
Q: Are they bluffing in their discussions or talks?
SG: Well, we haven't really been engaged in that sense. What I have offered is a date, or a suggestion of the time frame within which we could meet. I am expecting them to react.
Q: Uranium NATO weapons - booming story in Europe. Is the UN going to do more than just test? Is NATO responsible, do you believe?
SG: I think that UNEP [UN Environment Programme] has been engaged in this process for quite a while. I asked them last year some time to begin to look into it and at that point I was more concerned from the environmental angle. As you have indicated, these tests are ongoing, and once we have concluded the tests we will know precisely what environmental and health damage the uranium weapons pose, if any.
Q: During the course of this month, Mr. Secretary-General, the [Security] Council is likely to tackle the whole subject of conflict diamonds in various ways. There's a draft of a resolution dealing with Liberian diamonds coming out. How important do you think it is that the international community gets to grips with this problem of conflict diamonds in the course of the next few months?
SG: I think it is extremely important. It is important not only for Sierra Leone and Angola, but we have also seen a bit of it in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I think there are war profiteers who are not interested in peace, who fund these wars for their own financial and commercial interest, and the international community has to find a way of getting to the bottom of this and breaking the cycle. I think we are off to a good beginning, but we do have quite a lot to do. I agree with you that the international community should focus on the issue and come up with measures to counter them.
Q: I gather that, apart from meeting Madeleine Albright today, you also have a meeting scheduled with Pierce Brosnan. Is that correct? I am just wondering what sort of a job the UN thinks "007" could do for it?
SG: He could be a good advocate for one, and depending on the topic that we agree on, I think he can use his voice to help us with some of the work that we do, just as people like Michael Douglas who has been very active in disarmament. I think celebrities can be very effective advocates, provided the issue is right.
Q: You are not going to give him a licence to kill 'though?
SG: Definitely not.
Q: Do you think the Secretary-General should have that licence? Or diplomatic licence - should they have that licence to kill? Does the Secretary-General like the powers that he has?
SG: By that you mean you have power to make sure there are no wars and to stop all those who are creating these wars, then yes.
Q: Are you pleased with the way the Bush administration is going in the way of its selection of Secretary of State, Defence Secretary…are you comfortable with these people?
SG: Well, Secretary of State-designate Colin Powell I know quite well, and I am looking forward to working with him. I do not know the Secretary of Defence. I also know Conde Rice and we have also spoken on the phone. So I look forward to working with them and getting to know the Secretary of Defence.
Q: Secretary Albright was somewhat instrumental in your becoming Secretary-General of the UN. Is this a sort of a bittersweet moment, seeing her today?
SG: She is a friend, and I think she has been a dynamic Secretary of State. I think it will be interesting for us to sit together and look over the last four years.
Q: Thank you, Sir.
Remarks at the inauguration of the new offices of the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), New York, 8 January 2001
Thank you very much. This is a very good way to start the year, and I think I have been quite impressed by what I have seen. I think those of you who have stayed in this room and didn't walk around should probably take a walk next time you are here.
I think it is a pleasure to join you all in this landmark skyscraper in the Chrysler Building for a landmark event in the history of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). I must say it has been quite an eye-opening experience for me to come from the UN Headquarters building, with its traditional workplaces, to this open office plan.
One might say that you now inhabit the old and the new at the same time: the old, because your work will continue to involve long-standing challenges such as poverty and conflict; and the new, because these premises reflect the emphasis in today's global economy on innovation, transparency and the free flow of communications.
UNOPS has grown tremendously, as we heard this morning, in both the number of staff and the value of projects they are administering. This means that Governments and people are continuing to place their trust in the UN system, recognizing the unique role we can play and the vital services we can provide despite our own limitations. I want to thank you all for the hard work you are doing for the UN development community.
These projects, more than any other debates or meetings, are our main interface with the global public. Each and every project is important not only for what it offers but also for what it does for the credibility of the Organization. That makes each and every one of you a key emissary of UN value and effectiveness.
This is a crucial time in the history of the United Nations. Last year's Millennium Summit reaffirmed the place of the United Nations in the international landscape. But it also set out an ambitious agenda and raised expectations. I am sure that these new premises will help you all to work even more productively in the future, and I want to thank you for what you do, and wish you all the best for the coming year.
Thank you very much, my dear friends.
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