OFF THE CUFF
This document contains remarks made from 1 May to 30 September 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 after Security Council formal meeting on Sudan, 28 September 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the [Security] Council seems to be taking positive steps to lift sanctions against countries that are cooperating with this anti-terrorism campaign. How significant is that, and what role do you see for the UN?
SG: I think it is important that the Council has lifted sanctions against Sudan because it has complied, as we heard from the President, and also the letters that we received from organizations and governments around the world, including the two governments directly affected, who were keen for sanctions to be imposed - that is - Egypt and Ethiopia.
I think it is also important that the Council lift sanctions, sending out the message that it can impose sanctions but it can also suspend and lift sanctions, if the conditions they sought to correct have been amended. So I think it is a very important day for Sudan, and also for the way the Council works. Thank you very much.
Remarks by the Secretary-General at a reception organised by the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (ICC) during the 8th PrepCom, on 27 September 2001
SG: Thank you very, very much. I am extremely happy to be able to join you tonight and when I look at the room, and feel the energy that I do, then I know we're going to succeed.
I've had a very interesting experience with the ICC - our efforts to establish the ICC. Perhaps, I know Mr. Kirsch knows this, but not many of you will know, when the Statutes were adopted in Rome, I was on the other side of the world. I was in Argentina. But, I was on the phone with Hans Corell, the Legal Counsel. I was on an official visit and I had warned the Argentinian Government that I may have to leave and break the visit and go to Rome.
Corell and I were on the phone and I had other appointments in Buenos Aires and I said, "Hans, where are we?" and he said, "well, I think we may get it, but I'm not sure." And I said, "I'm about to leave for the airport to join you." He said, "Give me 20 minutes, I'll come back." I said, "I don't have 20 minutes." He said, "Well we have an important vote that is going to be taken and the results of the vote would indicate the possibility and the direction we are going to go." So I said, "I will tell you what I will do, I will head for the airport and when I get to the airport I will call you. If it's a go I will board the plane. If it is not, I will return to the city and continue my visit [laughter]." It was that close.
When I got it the airport I called Hans and he kept saying, "Can you hear me? Can you hear me?" [laughter]
I said, "Yes, I can hear you."
He said, "Can you hear the noise?"
I said, "Yes."
The vote had just taken place and the applause was deafening and I could hear it all the way to Buenos Aires. [laughter] And I'm sure quite a lot of the applause came from the Coalition [laughter]. And here you are continuing the struggle and the fight. And I agree with you we will have the Court. I'm determined to work with the governments and with you to ensure that the Court is established in the next year. The Court will function and those who have been hesitant will, in time, come on board. I don't think we should be deterred. We have hurdles ahead. We have lots of work to do. I was just talking to Mr. Kirsch about this, but we both agree that we will overcome these hurdles.
And I think the climate has changed somewhat since the 11th of September and I think we are going to get much more support that we had not counted on.
But I am also particularly pleased to see so many young people here in this room rooting for the ICC. You are the future. And to be so determined to ensure that we have a world based on the rule of law both at the national and international level is very encouraging so I wish you - I wish us! - great success. [applause]
And I hope when the time comes that we have taken concrete and effective measures to establish the Court. I will not be that far away. But even if I am, I will come. [applause]
Remarks to CNN upon entering UNHQ, 26 September 2001 (please quote CNN when using the following remarks)
Q: Earlier this week you said only the UN can give global legitimacy to the struggle against terrorism. Will the UN support a US-led coalition that might be formed without UN input?
SG: I think what is important here is that Member States commit to fight terrorism because the struggle is going to be a long one and it would embrace all countries. It cannot be excluded that there will be various groups coming together to do specific things, sharing information, sharing intelligence. At the same time I would want to see a broader coalition of UN membership determined to do whatever they can to end this terrorist scourge.
Q: So how will your office be taking the lead in this fight against terrorism?
SG: It's not so much my office as the Member States. I think you're going to see action by the Security Council, perhaps with specific proposals as to how governments can cooperate in fighting terrorism. And I think the General Assembly will also take measures, including its work on the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism, which will really pull it all together. We have twelve conventions which are very specific on certain aspects of terrorism like money laundering, financial issues but this will pull it all together in one sort of omnibus convention which I hope we would be able to make good progress on during this session.
Q: I ask this for this programme "Inside Africa": African nations are asking not to be sidelined in this. How can they in particular contribute? Is there a particular contribution?
SG: I think they can also play a role. I mean, Africa has suffered from terrorism. We saw what happened in Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi. They can start by sharing information with other governments, they can start by tightening their own controls they can start by ensuring that terrorists do not take shelter in their own countries and I think they have a role to play.
Q: On Afghanistan, on the humanitarian crisis on which Fred read a statement from you yesterday - you have a real conflict between the political and the humanitarian. How does that get sorted out? What are your discussions like with the US when you know there will be military action, when there will be a worsening of a refugee situation?
SG: I think most of the governments involved realize that we need to help the Afghan people. It is clear we should go after the perpetrators and those who committed this crime but we should also be sensitive to the needs of the Afghan people who have lived through several decades of war, live under a leadership they did not elect freely and cannot remove, and have gone through three years of drought. So we have a very serious situation and the UN humanitarian assistance has been an essential part of their daily existence, so I think it is important that as we move forward we do not forget the needs of the average Afghan.
Q: Do you have a message for the Taleban who show no respect for the UN: they've seized equipment, offices, threatened to kill people?
SG: My advice to them is to honor the obligations that the [Security] Council has demanded of them and in fact for the sake of their own people and country to cooperate with the international community in making the culprits accountable by releasing them to the international community.
Comments to CNN outside a briefing on UN staff security, UNHQ, 21 September 2001 (as delivered)
Q: Could you just tell us about your tour of the building, why you're going through the building?
SG: I wanted to go and see my colleagues and my friends for myself to make sure that they are all alright, and that they are coping in these traumatic times, and that they are managing the crisis both at home and here, and to console each other, and to let them know that we are in this together.
Q: Why did you write that the UN could be a source of global legitimacy for any coalition? Why are you stressing this point?
SG: I think we have a real crisis that affects the entire international community. What happened was a crime against our common humanity, and we need to stand together to fight terrorism. And I think the membership at large should work together and share information and decide not to shelter terrorists, decide not to let their systems be used by terrorists. And that is the only way we are going to defeat terrorism.
Q: Would you favor sanctions on countries that don't cooperate?
SG: I think the Security Council is seized of the problem, and they are discussing the issue now. And I think that pressure has to be put on, in the sense that all Governments should cooperate. If there is no shelter and no logistical support and no possibility for them to launder money, we will see fewer terr
Q: Is the building safe?
SG: I hope so. I think it's safe, because we are working very hard. In fact, the chief of security is talking to the staff, explaining to them all the measures that have been taken, walking them through the drills. I think we are quite safe.
Q: Do you worry about US over-retaliation?
SG: I think the statement by the President [George W. Bush] yesterday was balanced, it was a good statement, and he was able to describe the broad nature of the fight against terrorists. It's not just military action, but the broader set of initiatives and cooperative actions that Member States will have to take. And I think the President and the US administration, I am sure, are conscious of the need not to over-react.
Q: There was a vicious article in a New York paper critical of you and the UN itself, saying that the UN has done nothing to help in this type of situation. Are you offended by that?
SG: I'm not offended, but it is obvious that the author has not been paying attention to what the Security Council has done.
Q: And what you've done.
SG: And what I've done, and what the General Assembly has done. And so I treat that article with sympathetic understanding, and I hope when [she] catches up with what has happened here, [she] will write a different article.
Q: Any plans for UN administration of Afghanistan? Are you talking about that with the US?
SG: No. Not yet. We have not discussed that.
Presentation of credentials by U.S. Ambassador, John Negroponte, UNHQ, 19 September 2001
SG: Thank you very much, and welcome. You've come at a critical time. A lot is happening here, and we're going to have a lot to do together, so I welcome you to the UN. You've come at a time when the international community is thinking of putting together a coalition to fight terrorism, and I think you must have seen the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the sort of unanimous condemnation and the support that came out of the membership and the desire to move ahead and work together to fight this scourge. So we have a lot to do. Welcome.
Amb. Negroponte: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary-General. I couldn't agree with you more that we have an extraordinarily full agenda ahead of us at this very critical time. And of course we've noted that the United Nations did its part the very first day by passing resolutions both at the Security Council and in the General Assembly, for which we are extremely grateful. As President Bush said this morning, we're all working hard to form this international coalition against terrorism. I look forward to working with you, your colleagues and with the other Permanent Representatives here at the United Nations on this highly important project in the days and weeks ahead. Thank you so much for welcoming me.
SG: Thank you very much. Come and meet some of our colleagues.
Press Encounter with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Governor George Pataki at the World Trade Centre Site, "Ground Zero" New York, 18 September 2001
SG: It's much worse than I thought. I don't think any of the television pictures or the pictures we have seen on the front of newspapers give you an idea of the magnitude and horror which is now here at "Ground Zero", and the 5,000 people missing, each with his own story that we may never hear.
Q: The Mayor and I were talking earlier about how important it is for world leaders to see this, maybe even first-hand, and have an idea of what you're dealing with.
SG: I think it's extremely important. They're all shocked, but to see it close up gives you a completely different dimension. I think they all know that we need to come together to defeat terrorism. And we have to cooperate across the board to be able to do it and I think seeing this would give them also the message. I think you're going to have several of them coming to see it.
Q: Did you find out from the Mayor his secret for his ability to keep going during all of this?
SG: I must say, it's been quite remarkable -- the resilience and the exuberance of spirit, and the give and take, the generosity of the people, the way the City came together. The remarkable thing is everybody realized we're all in this together. Americans, people around the world, governments -- that if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere. So it was not just an attack on New York or the United States, it's on the world, and it can happen anywhere. That's why we all need to come together to fight (terrorism).
Q: The Mayor had talked about the countries that want to stay neutral, that might sit on the sidelines. Do you feel now from what you've seen, you may be able to do something?
SG: Most of the governments and the leaders I have spoken to would want to defeat terrorism and they would want to fight it. Some have voiced a word of caution that the horror has united us and our response should not divide us, and we have to approach it in such a way that we keep together, this grand coalition which has emerged over the long haul to defeat terrorism. I don't think any one of them is going to give an inch for terrorism, but we need to stand together.
[A journalist then asked a question of the Mayor, which he answered.]
Q: Do you have any idea of the number of foreign nationals that may have been affected, either missing or killed, in this catastrophe?
SG: I don't have the exact number, but I understand that 62 countries have lost nationals here in this disaster. This is why I said that no one can remain indifferent. And I must say I've been very happy to have the opportunity to tell the firemen and the policemen and all the health workers how much we admire and appreciate the work that they've done. And of course, to be able to tell the Mayor and the Governor, to thank them for their leadership and applaud what they have done for this City and the way they have pulled all of us together. Let's not forget, the UN is also a New York institution and all the Ambassadors and the staff there are rooting for you just as their governments around the world are.
Interview on CNN's "Larry King Live", 17 September 2001 (unofficial transcript) - for further use please contact CNN concerning copyright restrictions
King: To New York now for a few moments with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. What do you think of President Mubarak's idea of an international conference, all countries, on terrorism, under the auspices of your Organization?
SG: Let me say that from the UN point of view, and having spoken to quite a lot of Member States' heads of states and their Ambassadors at the UN, every one was shocked by what happened. And there has emerged a broad international coalition to fight terrorism. And as the other panelists have indicated, every country is worried about terrorism and everyone has suffered from terrorism. And they would want to join this fight. They would want to join the fight and as it has been [inaudible] to ensure that terrorists are given no refuge, no logistical support, no financial assistance, and that we will all band together to ensure that they are uprooted and the kind of crime which was committed here is not allowed to stand.
King: Well, what role, Mr. Secretary-General, does the UN have in this current case?
SG: I think the Security Council, as you know, passed a very strong resolution soon after the event. In fact, the first -- the first day they came up with a strong resolution, which was very quick for the Security Council, and a unanimous decision the next day appealing to all the international community to come together and fight terrorism, and that all necessary means must be used to root out, to go after the perpetrators and ensure that we all take actions to fight terrorism. I think the Security Council and the General Assembly will stand by that decision. Obviously, Washington is in touch with governments bilaterally also to get them involved in this fight. But the first statement from the UN is one of solidarity, one of pain for the American people and the determination to work with others to fight the battle.
King: I know you spoke with Secretary of State Powell today. Can you tell us the gist of that?
SG: We did speak about the work that is going on in Washington, the attempts to get the evidence and to go after the culprits, and the attempts to create a global alliance to fight terrorism. And I think the crucial work is being done now. But of course, as I have said earlier, we have to manage the response in such a way that it does not lead to new divisions within countries and between countries. Today, almost every society is multicultural and multireligious, and we have to make sure that we don't get into a division between the West and Muslims, because you do have Muslims in all these societies. You'll be creating divisions within the society and also between Christian and Western and Muslim states. And so the idea of organizing the response in such a way that we hold together this unanimous sense of fighting terrorism is important.
King: Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who today, by the way, visited Engine Company 21, a few minutes from the UN compound, the great firefighters of New York.
Interview with Tom Brokaw of NBC, Sunday, 16 September 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Brokaw: Mr. Secretary, first of all, thank you very much for joining us here tonight. Are you hearing any objections to the United Nations political coalition from your members?
SG: No, Tom. I think the members have been quite united. The Security Council acted promptly, issuing a very strong resolution. It was followed by a resolution by the General Assembly urging all nations around the world to cooperate in getting to the bottom of this and to fight against terrorism as we move forward. There has been some remarks coming from across the Atlantic, saying that one has to also be cautious and it should be handled in such a way that it does not become divisive within and between nations.
Brokaw: The French, for example, are stepping back just a bit tonight.
SG: They have said, and I think the British have also said, that we need to be careful and this is not a blank cheque. And I notice the Russians have also made other statements. Just before I came here I got a letter from President Khatami, offering his condolences and indicating that they are prepared to join the fight against terrorism.
Brokaw: Is the Administration keeping you up to date on its plans, broadly speaking, they are not going to give away military operations or other secret political moves, but by and large are they keeping you up to date on what they have in mind?
SG: Yes, I am in touch with them, but I don't think we have got to the stage where they have shared any information with me as to details of their plans. But what is important is that they are determined to work with other governments to ensure that there is political pressure, there is information sharing, there is logistics, and even in the financial areas, cutting off financial supply to terrorists. I think there is a lot that they are doing with other countries, and can do with other countries.
Brokaw: Pakistan, plainly, is going to be a key player in all of this. The United States is, according to all reports, offering to lift some economic sanctions that it has imposed on Pakistan. Have the Pakistanis been in touch with you asking for UN sanctions for any kind of an operation?
SG: Not yet. Pakistan has not made that request, but what it has indicated is that it will cooperate fully with the United States and the international community in the fight against terrorism. And so I think the US will be dealing directly with Pakistan on this.
Brokaw: Mr. Secretary, as you know the terrorist cells are not concentrated just in Afghanistan or in the outlying countries near and around Afghanistan, but around the world. Do you think in fact that the United States and even an international political coalition can be successful in wiping out terrorism?
SG: I think it is going to be a long fight. We can succeed if the governments come together and work together if no one gives them sanctuary or supports their activities. I was discussing this with my colleagues the other day, and we made the analogy between thieves and receivers - that some judges would tell you that there would be no thieves if there were no receivers. I think if the terrorists were not given shelter and people were not supporting their operations and governments came together to work as one in fighting this scourge, I think we will make progress, but it is going to take time. And in fighting the terrorism I think we also have to be careful not to create the impression that they all come from one religion or one region, because the leaders in the Middle East themselves have been victims of terrorism and they are against terrorists. So I think they can be very good partners in the coalition that one is putting together to fight the terrorists.
Brokaw: Mr. Secretary, a friend of yours, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, thinks it would be a good idea if we indicted the suspects as war criminals. That would give the United States then legal cover to go after those countries that are harbouring them, that's the suggestion from [inaudible]. Do you think that is a good idea?
SG: I think we have indicted a few people, quite a few political and other military leaders since the Bosnian war and the Rwandan war, but of course you have to come up with a Tribunal. In all these cases, we had to set up ad hoc Tribunals, one for Yugoslavia, one for Rwanda, and now we are talking of one for Sierra Leone and possibly one for Cambodia. This of course links up with attempts to set up a standing and permanent International Criminal Court, where people who commit crimes against humanity can be brought before these courts and be prosecuted.
Brokaw: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, thank you so much for being with us tonight.
SG: Thank you very much, Tom.
Press encounter outside Islamic Cultural Center of New York, 14 September 2001
Q: Mr. Annan, what would be your message to the world at this moment?
SG: My message to the world is, as we heard here, everybody is saddened by what has happened. We are all human beings, and we all believe that we should do unto others as we would have done unto us. And I think the message is clear, as we heard this morning: Islam is a religion for peace. It talks of God, the Merciful, the Almighty -- how would one kill in the name of a religion that professes peace, that professes God as God the Merciful?
I think the message should be clear: We should look for the culprits, and punish them, but we should not make anyone guilty by association, by religion, or by the region that he or she comes from. And I think this message is coming out from American leaders as well. It's very important that we respect that. The whole world has stuck together in solidarity with what has happened here in New York, with the American people and the American Government. And they have vowed to work together to root out terrorism. And I mean the whole world: Europe, the Arab world, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America and Africa are all going to work together, and we should focus on the culprits and not tarnish a whole people, whole religion and whole region with the same brush.
Q: How can we stop the cycle of hate, the hate cycle toward the Muslim religion?
SG: I understand that some people will be angry, and be vengeful and looking for a religion. We have criminals in every society, in every religion, and we should focus on the individuals that did this, and stop this Islamophobia, which is beginning to pick up. I condemn it utterly, as I condemn every aspect of hatred and racism. And we also have to understand that those who think they are believers, they must understand that true faith, real faith, insists on respect and demands that we respect others.
Q: Sir, did you know anyone in the World Trade Center who is missing?
SG: I have a friend, a colleague, who has lost a brother. Today, we had a gathering at the UN, and someone walked up to me and said, "I lost four neighbors." We also rang the Peace Bell today. The Peace Day is 11 September, when this [attack] took place, and one of the people who came today was saved on Tuesday because he had planned to come to the UN for the Peace Day because his daughter was singing, and therefore did not go to work. But he lost four colleagues.
Anyway, let's hold together, let's respect each other, and let's try not to go out and take the law into our own hands, accusing innocent people of crimes they have not done. The [US] Government is going about this methodically, and I am sure in time they will focus on the culprits, and let's wait for that.
Press encounter following adoption of Security Council Resolution 1368 condemning terrorist attacks in the USA, New York, 12 September 2001
Q: In this grave set of circumstances, what possibly can the UN hope to do once the United States has identified a nation that is harbouring or allied with the possible terrorist attack?
SG: I think the [Security] Council has spoken very clearly this morning - that the fight against terrorism is an international one. These attacks are an attack against humanity and the international community and governments should cooperate to fight terrorism and bring those responsible to justice.
Q: Diplomacy aside, what are your personal feelings right now?
SG: I cannot describe how I felt yesterday - the shock, the anguish and the realisation that men can be so cruel and so inhuman.
To watch what was going on downtown; to see the buildings crumble and see the citizens of this great city scrambling for safety and in one brief moment, all our sense of security was gone.
If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere. If it is New York and Washington today, where will it be tomorrow? So no one can be indifferent to what happened, but, of course, my greatest sympathy and deep condolences go to the families, those who are injured and their loved ones, and to the people and Government of the United States.
Encounter following Security Council meeting which lifted sanctions against Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, UNHQ, 10 September 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: …your reaction to the vote [on lifting of sanctions against Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]…
SG: It is very good that the Council is going to lift sanctions once the reasons for which they were been imposed have been fulfilled. So I think it is a very positive development and I applaud the Council for taking prompt action. Thank you.
Remarks upon arrival to UNHQ, 10 September 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, we haven't seen you in a while.
SG: I know. I think I deserve some holidays, and I went to South Africa, etc.
Q: The Racism Conference, I know you said it was still worthwhile to occur, but with all of the hullaballoo about the reparations, racism, zionism, it has left a bad impression on some people here. Eli Weisel, your good friend, said he didn't recognize your remarks. He thought it was a tragedy for the United Nations.
SG: Well I think, as I said over the weekend, these kinds of conferences tend also to bring in the divisions amongst states. It is not something that one can turn off and on. And I think in the end, delegations worked very hard to find a common ground and came up with a language that most of them can live with. And I thought that was worthwhile. It is regrettable that it was overshadowed by all the acrimonious discussions in the NGO conference, and also the whole discussion about the Middle East and the reparation issue because there were lots of other victims. The conference was about victims; the conference was about the future; the conference was to try and come up with a plan of action and a declaration that would mean something to all those people in the room and around the world who are victims of discrimination. I think in the end, we did not achieve everything we went there to achieve, but at least the issue of discrimination was put on the agenda, was discussed, and in the end, a document came out. It was tough going, but the Member States stayed on and stuck it out and came up with a document.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, what about criticism, while you were away, that conferences like this are a waste of money: they didn't do enough, they didn't accomplish enough and they were extremely expensive?
SG: I think these are decisions for the Member States. If the Member States decide to have a conference, and we're going to have one next week and two more, it's a decision of the Member States to do it. But I think we need to be careful not to dismiss all conferences. We've had conferences in the 90's, which have really done a lot for humanity, for empowerment of women, on issues of population, on environment, and I don't think we can dismiss them. Yes, this did not go as well as we thought, but it does not mean that the world coming together to discuss common issues and find a solution is not a proper thing to do.
Q: Do you think better preparation would have helped?
SG: Probably things could have been done differently. Perhaps better preparation, there could have been better preparation and the Member States could have tried to do more at the preparatory meetings. In fact, everyone had hoped that they would have made serious effort to settle their differences on the document at the last Prep Com in Geneva, and it didn't happen. In the end, the agreements were made at that eleventh hour in South Africa.
Q: Sir, on the children's conference next week, what are you hoping to get out of that conference, to see happen at that conference, and also are you concerned that the US is showing certain intransigence now towards the goals of that conference so that it could possibly may be a trend?
SG: I think the objective of the conference is clear. And I hope the leaders who are coming here are coming to focus attention on the needs of children from around the world -- from education, to health, and what society needs to do to protect children and ensure their future. I think the leaders who are coming here are going to be focused. And from what I have picked-up, I think the US is coming and will be participating in this worthwhile cause. We all want to protect our future. We all what to protect our children. And I'm sure the US will be here.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on the Middle East, things are getting worse and worse, and the Arab Foreign Ministers are saying the United Nations is simply standing by, watching what's happening, is not involved as it should be in the Security Council and probably also in the Secretariat. What do you think you can do now? And secondly, on Iraq, now that the Foreign Minister of Iraq will be coming for this Assembly, do you think it's time to see about renewing that round of talks that you started in light of the recent [inaudible]?
SG: I think on the question of the Middle East, let me first say that a lot is happening behind the scenes and there's lots of activities by the US, the European Union and myself, and even the Russian Federation. And I think tomorrow there'll be a meeting between Chairman [of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasser] Arafat and Foreign Minister [of Israel] Shimon Peres. And I hope that will be the beginning of a series of meetings in a search for a solution -- a solution in terms of calming the situation and getting the parties back to the table. The Security Council did discuss the Palestinian issue not very long ago, and I'm sure during the General Assembly, when everybody is here, there will be an opportunity for us to discuss this issue along the margins of the General Assembly.
On the Iraqi issue, the [Security] Council, of course, is still seized of it, and I have made clear the conditions under which I think I will be prepared to go ahead with the talks with the Iraqis. But if the Iraqi Foreign Minister were to come with some suggestions and proposals, obviously I'm prepared to discuss with him and to sit down with him.
Stockholm, Sweden, 6 September - press encounter after delivering the Dag Hammarskjold Lecture (unofficial transcript)
Q: Are you encouraged by the compromise at the South African conference [against racism]? Will it save the conference?
SG: I think so. Lots of work is being done. The South African government has worked very hard to produce a new text on the Middle East and they are working with other governments to come up with a compromise text on the issue of slavery, colonialism and reparation. And I'm hopeful that they will succeed.
And as I indicated earlier in answer to a question, that unfortunately often at these conferences, the give and take and the decisions are taken at the last minute. But I'm quite hopeful that with the good work that the South African government, Mary Robinson [Secretary-General of the Conference] and other governments are doing, including the European Union and the African Group and others, that we will find a solution. And the Arab Group is also very much engaged in a new spirit of compromise. So I'm quite hopeful.
Q: You do not concede that it's a major blow to the prestige and credibility of the United Nations -- the United States walking out, and so forth?
SG: I think, as I said, it was regrettable that the US left. In these situations, I always urge the Member States to stay on to defend their views, to defend their values and push for the right language. And I'm happy that many of them stayed because if you don't speak up and if you are not in the room to steer things right and to contain those who may direct things in the wrong direction, we will get the results we do not want. And that's why I'm so happy that most of the Member States stayed and are doing the necessary work to ensure that we have the right compromise.
Q: Can I press you slightly? Do you fear it will impact the credibility of the United Nations?
SG: I think the way it has gone -- let me put it this way. The Conference has achieved a lot already. It has achieved a lot in raising awareness on this crucial issue of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. And I've had the chance to say that no society is immune from racism. We just have to look around us. And therefore, it was important that governments went to South Africa, NGOs and others, to highlight this issue and to press for action, and a declaration and a plan of action.
The way it turned out, the difficulties among the Member States to come to an agreement was unfortunate and really created an image of an organization that is not able to get its act together and to tackle the essential issues. And I hope that in future conferences -- this is the third one we've had on racism -- we've had other conferences which have been equally contentious, but the Member States have shown the necessary give and take. We had the same contentious issues at the Special Session on AIDS. But in the end they made the compromise to come up with the right language. And I am happy that they did. I am sorry; I think it was unfortunate the US walked out.
Q: Sweden has decided to send back a 19-year-old homosexual man to Iran, despite the fact that sex between men is punished with death in Iran. And I would like to know your reaction to that.
SG: I don't know enough about the details to want to offer an opinion, but normally if a refugee, if someone with refugee status runs a risk of persecution, one would want to protect them. I don't really know the situation, the law at home, and so I really cannot go into details.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, do you as Secretary-General and the UN still after so many decades accept the occupation by Great Britain of Northern Ireland?
SG: Let me say that the Northern Ireland issue is not an issue before the Security Council or the General Assembly. It is an issue I have followed, and I know that the British Government and the parties in Northern Ireland are trying very hard to solve the problem. They seemed very close and they are still attempting to do it, and I hope they will succeed.
The recent incidents, particularly with the children, we've all seen it on television. But I would urge that the efforts to resolve it continue, and I'm sure that with determination and persistence they will find a solution.
Q: Can you in a few sentences describe what former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld meant to you?
SG: I think in a way, I said a bit about it during the speech. As I mentioned, I joined the UN system a year after his death. And of course, as a young man, watching him take principled positions, and doing it in an era where I myself as somebody from a colonial territory was very much involved in issues of independence, of freedom - I mean, following it, not that I was party to it - and to see the way he went about his tasks, the way he stood up to powerful forces in a serious attempt to defend the weak and honour the obligations or the principals of the Charter, was an inspiration to me and people of my generation. And I recall the day he died. The announcement came on the radio. I noticed how we were all shocked and couldn't believe that it would happen to him. And of course, as somebody who's worked with the UN, he's never left the organization. His spirit and what he stood for is always with us.
Q: What is the worst crisis you are facing today?
SG: I think from a global point of view, the Middle East is a really worrying problem for us. And I think the entire international community is focussed on this issue. And luckily, we're also trying to cooperate with each other -- the Americans, the European Union, the Russians, myself and with some of the Arab leaders, Egypt and Jordan. I would also say that the situation in the Great Lakes Region in Central Africa -- [Democratic Republic of the] Congo, Burundi, Rwanda -- which has pulled in so many countries, is also something that we need to press ahead and find a solution. It's affected so many civilians. The humanitarian situation is tragic. I just came back from that region, and unless we resolve that crisis, the countries in that region are not going to be able to focus on the essential work of economic and social development. Nor are they going to be able to attract investors. Nobody invests in bad neighbourhoods.
Q: There's not much attention being paid to that.
SG: You say there's not much attention? No, unfortunately. But I think it is beginning to change. The French Foreign Minister was there ten days, two weeks ago. The European Union Presidency, the Belgian Foreign Minister and [EU security chief Javier] Solana are going there next week. I've just come back from there. Claire Short, the British Minister, was in this. There's been much more international engagements. And I think we are pressing the protagonists to work with us to make peace. But we've also told them that they are the ones that can make peace. The inspiration for a viable and long-term peace has to spring from the leaders and the peoples of the place. And we are beginning to see that now. And the international community generally wants to work with them. The Inter-Congolese Dialogue process is moving forward. They had a preparatory meeting in Botswana and they're going to continue the dialogue in Addis Ababa. And I think the international community would want to work with them.
Q: I would like to know how you personally would like to be remembered.
SG: I have tried since I took office to try and stress that whatever the UN does, we must put the human being at the centre of our work. In this interdependent world, there are things that the UN can not do alone. And we should reach out and work in partnership with the NGOs, with the private sector, with the universities and the foundations, and pool our efforts to have greater impact on the crises that we are dealing with. And if at the time I leave it could be said that the UN is functioning a little bit better, I'll be very happy.
Q: You mentioned how shocked you were at Dag Hammarskjöld's death. Today there are theories coming out. Do you think we will ever know the truth about what really caused that airplane to crash?
SG: If we don't know more than we do after 40 years, it's difficult to say. But in life, you never know. Something may come up that will shed additional light on it, but I really cannot say.
Q: I wonder if we could get back to the Racism Conference for a minute. If you could say what you think the worst-case scenario that can still happen and what the chances are now for that to happen.
SG: I think the worst-case scenario would be for the Member States not to come to an agreement on the controversial issues, issues of the unacceptable language on the Middle East, and not to come to agreement on slavery, colonialism and reparation.
If they come to an agreement and adopt a document, the Conference would have been a success. The worst-case scenario is for them not to agree on a document or for them to come up with language that large numbers of delegations disassociate themselves with. And I hope we don't get there.
Q: What are your ambitions to make the Security Council a more efficient body in the future?
SG: I think the Council itself has been looking at its rules of procedure and I think the report by [Lakhdar] Brahimi will help strengthen peacekeeping operations, which also deals with the question of mandate, it also deals with what the Security Council needs to look for before it gives us a mandate, we think is going to help.
We talked earlier about the reform of the Security Council, but that is something that the Member States have not agreed on. So we have to talk about the efficiency of the Council as it is. And you will notice that the Council has become much more proactive, much more proactive in not just passing the resolutions but going to the field, visiting the crisis spots to see for themselves and engaging in some cases the people on the ground. They've been to Kosovo, they've been to (The Democratic Republic of the) Congo. They've been to Eritrea/Ethiopia. And you are going to see a much more dynamic Council. And they are working also much better, much more freely and openly with me and the Secretariat. And that itself is also important. And what is important is generally the Permanent Five are in contact. They're talking to each other. There's no ideological differences that divides the Permanent Members. So I think it's working much better.
Stockholm, Sweden, 6 September - press encounter after lunch with Prime Minister Goran Persson of Sweden (unofficial transcript)
Q: [inaudible - on the Racism Conference in South Africa]
SG: [inaudible]…but I think it has been able to get across to the world that xenophobia, racism exists in every society, and we all have to work very hard to uproot it.
Q: What has it meant for the North-South dialogue?
SG: I think there has been some tension, but I hope this is not insurmountable, particularly since the two issues concern both north and south. When you take the Middle Eastern issue, there were north and south positions. And of course, the issue of slavery, colonialism and reparations is also north-south. But I think that mature people can discuss these issues in a responsible manner, disagree, maintain their relations and keep going.
Q: What is your opinion of the countries that have left the Conference?
SG: As I said, it was unfortunate that the US and Israel left. I personally believe that all countries should stay at the table, fight for their values, fight for the right language and ensure that we come up with the right document. And many countries are today doing just that, and I'm still hopeful we will get the right results.
Q: You don't think it was a mistake to arrange this Conference?
SG: I don't think it's a mistake. If it were a mistake, then by implication we are saying that racism and intolerance do not exist. Look around you. It's very much an issue. It is unfortunate that the Member States could not organize themselves to discuss it in a calmer and more constructive manner without all the divisions.
Q: Was it premature?
SG: Not at all. As I indicated, we have it all around us. If we didn't discuss it this year, when would we discuss it? And I think the discussions will continue. What we hope is that once you have raised the awareness, and discussed what possible measures governments and societies can take, everybody would go home and focus on what needs to be done. The document or a declaration is only a beginning. The important thing is that they go home and act on these issues. Thank you very much.
Kigali, Rwanda, 3 September - press conference with President Paul Kagame (unofficial transcript)
President Kagame: I've had a very good discussion with our guest the Secretary-General of the UN and we've been discussing how UN can be very helpful in supporting Rwanda to rebuild itself and also other issues to do with the peace and stability in the region. I think the discussion has been extremely useful.
SG: Thank you very much Mr President. As you've heard from the President, we've gone over a number of issues today and of course I was able also to share with him my own appreciation and assessment of the desire of peace or the progress that I see we are making in the application of the Lusaka Accords and the determination of the international community to work with the leaders in this region to move the process forward. We discussed issues of economic development and what the international community and the UN can do, particularly at this crucial stage of reconstruction, reconciliation and rehabilitation. We also discussed the issue of AIDS and the need for leadership and sustained efforts to be able to defeat that scourge and the international efforts that have been made to assist countries in the developing world in the search for vaccines and cure which of course we don't have yet. But we both agreed that the resources are there to assist in the fight against AIDS. What we need to mobilise is the will to do so and we will continue that fight. Thank you, we'll take your questions.
Q: President Kagame, could I have your reaction to yesterday's announcement by Kinshasa that they've rounded up about 3,000 Rwandan rebels?
President Kagame: I think that, if it's true, that's a step in the right direction and that's quite useful in helping us advance the peace process in the Congo. That's extremely useful if it's found to be true and if we can build on that and do the rest that remains to be done in concluding the peace process.
SG: I indicated that, on that one, the UN observers will be given access to the three thousand men and of course with them working with our other UN colleagues make a determination as to who they are, which ones want to come back, and co-ordinate with the Government for their return. And of course we will need to do their screening and the assessment on the ground. I agree with the President that this is a step in the right direction. The mood is much more hopeful but there are still lots and lots of difficult tasks ahead so we should not relax and we need to persevere.
Q: Mr Secretary-General, I am Safari Gaspard from the New Times. There are reports that you met and held talks with Alexi Nshibiyimana, a man with a genocide record - Alexi Nshibiyimana, a man with a genocide record in this country - and I would like to know how true this is, and if it is, whether you had prior information that he had that record.
SG:I did not meet him. I had no meeting with any of them in Kinshasa, I know they said I met them in Kinshasa. I had no such a meeting.
Q: Mr President, I'm coming from German television. You were the military leader who ended the genocide, so you know what is the war now also for the population in the Congo. How strong is your feeling, because you know the suffering of your people, and you can imagine the suffering of the people on the market place, how they suffer. You the African leaders, how long will it take - three million in the Congo war, when will it be ended?
President: That's one very strong reason why we strongly support the peace process in the Congo. And as you are aware, if you know the history of the Congo, it is a long history with such a turbulence, coming to the point where we had this situation to do with genocidal forces in the Congo, pursing them there and all sorts of things, we returned millions of refugees back to Rwanda. The point is now, we're involved in a peace process, and we fully support it, we fully support the peace process. We've only being demanding one small thing, and I'm sure that is also being addressed in what we have just heard, that the three thousand people who are being collected in Kamina and so forth, that's why I'm saying it was a step in the right direction. It's an urgent thing to sort out this problem, and that's the way we look at it in Rwanda. We don't have every say in every problem, but we can make our modest contribution to make sure the peace process is advanced, and we're ready to do that. We've been pulling out our forces from the Congo, and returning them here; we've withdrawn back our forces, but we've been also demanding that this threat against our country be addressed, and those to address that are many, there are many parties involved to that problem and we can only work within the framework of the Lusaka peace process, and we fully support that. The sooner we can resolve the problem the better for everyone.
Q: Mr President, do you feel there is any room for dialogue between the Rwanda government and Interahamwe?
President: We've been first of all open about people coming back home, and whatever dialogue people need here in the country, we shall go along with that dialogue. We've been encouraging that, that's why if you've seen what we've been doing in the past, returning nearly two million people back to Rwanda, among them ex-FAR militias and so on and so forth, and the current political processes we're carrying out in the country, this definitely goes in the direction of dialogue, but for people to use other problems like the one we're trying to handle in the Congo, and take advantage of that, even when their background suggests they should be elsewhere, some of them actually should be answering charges with the Tribunal, in Arusha and justice here in Rwanda. So we have to make a distinction between what should be carried out as dialogue, political dialogue, internally to resolve whatever remains as problems in out country, to be able to move forward on different issues, and then having some of these groups there making false claims.
Q (in French): Monsieur le Secrétaire Général est-ce que vous ne pensez pas que l'armée rwandaise, qui a suffit la génocide doit avoir un prix parce que l'ONU n'a pas pu …
SG: Je ne crois pas que le monde marche de cette façon. Je crois que les Nations Unies ont établi un Tribunal que est en train de juger les dirigeants et les gens qui ont commis ces crimes. Le Gouvernement rwandais a son propre Tribunal qui fait son travail aussi. Donc je crois que c'est de cette façon … Je ne crois pas qu'on peut demander aux Nations Unies de payer un prix, de payer quoique ce soit pour ça. Evidemment, il y a d'autres moyens de coopérer et travailler ensemble. Et j'espère qu'on pourra le faire.
Q: Mr Annan, you're coming from Durban before this trip, and we heard today that the Israelis and the Americans have withdrawn from the conference there. What is your reaction to that?
SG: I have just heard that the Americans have withdrawn. I think it is unfortunate. I consider it regrettable because I would have likes to see them there. The question of racism, xenophobia and intolerance is something that all societies live with and should fight against it. It's an issue that demands action from all of us. It is an issue that is being discussed by member states and obviously they have different views and different standards. But the objective of the conference is to focus on the victims, to try and come up with a declaration and a plan of action where when each government goes home, they can use that plan to formulate their own national plan to fight racism. In this circumstances, on expects every country to be at the table to fight for what they believe in and to make their case. I don't think any attempt should be made to pick on one country or one region because as I said, we are all guilty of it and we all need to take measures to tackle it and I would have preferred that the US was there to fight with the others for the right solution, the right result and the right language. I regret their decision to withdraw. Thank you.
Kigali, Rwanda, 3 September - upon arrival (unofficial transcript)
SG: Bonsoir Mesdames et Messieurs.
Je suis très content de venir à nouveau à Kigali. On a pas mal de choses à discuter avec le Président Kagame. C'est la deuxième fois que je viens ici depuis que j'ai été nommé Secrétaire général. Mais on a eu l'occasion de parler assez souvent par téléphone et on s'est retrouvé à plusieurs reprises à New York et ailleurs et dernièrement à Durban.
So once again I am looking forward to very constructive discussions with the President. I've just come here from Kinshasa and Kisangani, where I found a new spirit and a new sense of urgency for the work we are trying to do for peace. It was not with the leaders that one has sensed that the Congolese want peace, that they are tired of war and would want to move on. The people spoke with their bodies, with their expressions, with their voice and the banners they put up. And I think we can build on this new enthusiasm and this new spirit and in my discussions with Rwandese brothers, I have sensed the same spirit and I think we should, as an international community, work with those countries and the parties, which signed the Lusaka Agreement to move forward for the benefit of the people of this region, who have suffered for too long and need peace and stability and I look forward to pursuing these discusions further with the President. Thank you very much !
Kisangani, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 3 September - (unofficial transcript)
Q: Est-ce qu'il y a eu des progrès en ce qui concerne la démilitarisation de Kisangani ?
SG: On a eu une très bonne discussion. On a cherché des informations. Tout le monde comprend qu'on doit aller de l'avant. On est tous préparés à travailler pour la paix. Mais on va continuer les discussions avec eux pour trouver les moyens d'aller de l'avant.
Q: Que pensez-vous de l'idée de la mise sur pied d'une commission d'enquête internationale pour établir les responsabilités sur les massacres de Kisangani ?
SG: C'est une autre question assez compliquée qui doit être traitée séparément.
Q: Vous visitez la RDC, vous allez visiter le Rwanda, pourquoi pas l'Ouganda qui pourtant est aussi impliqué dans la guerre en RDC ?
SG: Je suis allé en Ouganda plusieurs fois. J'ai vu personnellement le Président Museveni à Durban il y a trois jours. On a eu l'occasion de discuter. On se voit assez souvent. D'après mon calendrier, je n'ai pas beaucoup de temps. Mais j'ai estime que ce qui était essentiel, c'était la RDC ensuite le Rwanda.
Q: Vous avez rencontré les autorités du RCD, mais pourquoi pas Jean-Pierre Bemba du MLC?
SG: J'aurais l'occasion de le voir plus tard avant de quitter la région.
Q: Qu'avez vous dit aux rebelles du RCD tout à l'heure ?
SG: Je leur ai dit que vous les Congolais, vous devez travailler ensemble pour la paix, d'après l'Accord de Lusaka. On va pousser les troupes étrangères à se retirer. Il n'y a que les Congolais qui peuvent faire la paix. Il faut travailler ensemble pour protéger la souveraineté de votre pays. Il faut faire des compromis, il faut faire la paix pour la population, pour les Congolaises et les Congolais. Les femmes et les enfants ont beaucoup souffert.
Tout à l'heure, il y a une femme qui me disait : "vous êtes en train de préparer le Dialogue Intercongolais. Les femmes ne sont pas suffisamment représentées. On a notre mot à dire, puisque c'est nous qui avons beaucoup souffert". J'ai encouragé les hommes dans la salle, comme je l'ai fait à Kinshasa à s'assurer que les femmes participent et qu'elles participent pleinement.
Kisangani, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 3 September - Address to Civil Society (unofficial transcript)
Chers amis, Je vous remercie infiniment pour l'accueil chaleureux que vous m'avez réservé.
Ma visite dans ce grand pays au cœur du continent africain n'aurait pas été satisfaisante sans cet entretien avec vous, citoyens de Kisangani, qui avez enduré tant d'épreuves au cours des dernières années.
Je tiens à vous dire que nous qui vivons hors de vos frontières n'ignorions pas vos souffrances. Nous avons compati à vos tourments, salué votre courage, et les Nations Unies sont à pied d'œuvre pour faire en sorte que les violences que vous avez connu ne se reproduisent pas.
Ma présence ici aujourd'hui témoigne du progrès accompli récemment en faveur du retour à la paix. Certains pensent que j'aurais dû venir beaucoup plus tôt en République Démocratique du Congo, où j'arrive pour la toute première fois. Mais il faut souligner que l'Organisation des Nations Unies n'a pas vocation à imposer la paix. Elle ne peut apporter une contribution effective qu'à partir du moment où il existe entre les belligérants une volonté réelle de respecter les engagements auxquels ils ont librement consenti. Si je suis parmi vous aujourd'hui, c'est parce que cette volonté existe à présent.
En effet, les signes d'une véritable avancée vers la paix sont apparents. Un dialogue a commencé, facilité par l'ancien Président du Botswana, Son Excellence Ketumile Masire ; il s'agit d'un dialogue qui donne aux Congolais l'opportunité d'exprimer leurs vues sur ce qui les divise aujourd'hui. Les Congolais eux-mêmes doivent être félicités pour la façon dont ils ont embrassé ce processus, pour leur volonté de se détourner des hostilités du passé, et d'aller ensemble vers un avenir démocratique. Car il ne fait pas de doute que si la confiance est rétablie au sein du peuple congolais, il sera plus aisé d'obtenir des forces étrangères qu'elles se retirent du territoire congolais.
C'est avec satisfaction que je note le départ progressif et généralisé des troupes étrangères. J'encourage tous les signataires de l'Accord de Lusaka à suivre cette voie.
La présence de la Mission des Nations Unies ici à Kisangani est aussi un signe en faveur de la paix, une preuve concrète de l'engagement des Nations Unies. Je tiens ici à rendre hommage à l'Ambassadeur Kamel Morjane, pour la façon remarquable dont il a servi l'Organisation des Nations Unies et la cause de la paix et de la stabilité dans la région. Je voudrais également vous présenter son successeur, M. Amos Namanga Ngongi, un homme dont l'expérience permettra de poursuivre efficacement l'action entamée par M. Morjane et ses collaborateurs.
La MONUC est ici pour vous servir, vous le peuple de la République Démocratique du Congo. Pour cela, je vous exhorte à l'aider dans sa tâche, qui est, entre autres, de normaliser la situation dans la ville de Kisangani, et de rouvrir le fleuve à la circulation humanitaire et commerciale.
Mes chers frères et sœurs,
La paix véritable peut vous paraître un horizon lointain, car il nous reste beaucoup à faire. Je voudrais vous inviter à garder confiance en vous-même, et aussi en vos voisins. Saisissez chaque occasion d'avancer ver la paix. Nourrissez sans relâche la flamme de l'espoir. Merci beaucoup.
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2 September 2001 - press conference (unofficial transcript)
Mesdames et Messieurs bonsoir,
En introduction, je tiens à redire à quel point je suis ravi de me trouver en République Démocratique du Congo. Ce matin, j'ai été reçu en audience par le Président Kabila, j'ai également rencontré le Ministre des Affaires Etrangères.
Comme je l'ai dit hier soir, à mon arrivée, les signes positifs se sont multipliés au cours de la période récente. Le dernier est le retrait des troupes namibiennes du territoire de la République Démocratique du Congo. Je salue ce retrait, le premier à être effectué par un Etat signataire de l'Accord du cessez-le-feu de Lusaka, et appelle les autres forces étrangères à se retirer le plus tôt possible.
Je me félicite aussi de l'achèvement de la Phase II des opérations de la MONUC, c'est-à-dire du désengagement des forces de la ligne de front et leur regroupement dans les positions défensives. Avec l'achèvement de la Phase II, la MONUC est maintenant en mesure d'avancer ses préparatifs pour la Phase III. Dans cette phase, doivent être effectués le retrait définitif de toutes les forces étrangères et le désarmement, la démobilisation et le rapatriement des groupes armés.
Je me félicite également de l'annonce par le Président Kabila, lors de l'entretien que j'ai eu avec lui ce matin, de l'invitation faite à la MONUC de visiter le site de Kamina où sont rassemblés 3000 (trois mille) éléments des groupes armés rwandais. Je me félicite enfin du lancement du dialogue inter-congolais et du succès de la réunion préparatoire dont je me suis entretenu aujourd'hui avec le Facilitateur, le Président Masire.
Tout ce qui précède crée une conjonction favorable mais aussi d'immenses attentes dans un peuple meurtri par la guerre. Notre devoir est maintenant de continuer 1/4 d'accompagner ce processus pour qu'il devienne irréversible.
Les prochaines étapes sont tracées :
- C'est le retrait total et définitif de toutes les troupes étrangères de la RDC ;
- C'est le désarmement des groupes armés ;
- C'est la liberté de circulation des personnes et des biens sur tout le territoire de la RDC, dont le ''bateau de la paix '' a été l'avant-garde;
- C'est enfin la reconstruction d'un pays ravagé par la guerre.
Cette reconstruction sera avant tout l'affaire des Congolais. C'est eux qui, par leur travail et leur maturité politique, peuvent convaincre la communauté internationale de s'engager davantage à leurs côtés. La tâche est immense. Il y a toute une stratégie de développement social et économique à construire. Ce matin, en visitant l'hôpital général de Kinshasa, j'ai mesuré une fois de plus l'ampleur des efforts à consentir, entre autres, pour vaincre l'épidémie du SIDA.
Mais la tâche est aussi politique. C'est le message que j'ai tenu aujourd'hui aux partis politiques et à la société civile. Pour construire la paix, il faudra l'adhésion de tous et donc le développement d'un processus politique qui débouchera à terme sur des élections.
Ma présence en RDC est l'expression et l'engagement renouvelés des Nations Unies, c'est-à-dire de la MONUC ainsi que de toutes les Agences d'accompagner les Congolais dans leur combat pour la paix et le développement.
Je suis prêt maintenant à prendre quelques questions ou bien écouter vos commentaires et vos conseils.''
Q (Afrique-Asie): Monsieur le Secrétaire général, vous aviez un rendez-vous à fixer ce matin avec les responsables de la rébellion rwandaise des Forces démocratiques du Rwanda. Ils devaient vous proposer des initiatives de paix qui ont conduit au dialogue ici en République Démocratique du Congo. Ils ont exigé que le gouvernement de Kigali fasse aussi la même chose en entreprenant le dialogue inter-rwandais. Etes- vous prêt à encourager cette proposition et à en parler avec les autorités du Rwanda?
SG: D'abord je suis ici pour encourager l'application entière de l'Accord de Lusaka. Cet accord est conçu sur la guerre au Congo Démocratique. Je suis ici pour discuter avec les dirigeants et j'aurai l'occasion à Kisangani de faire la même chose et au Rwanda. Evidemment, j'ai eu à discuter d'autres questions avec le Président Kagamé. Mais, en ce qui concerne la mise en application de l'Accord de Lusaka, la question que vous venez de poser ne s'applique pas.
Q: Mais le dialogue inter-rwandais?
SG: Ça c'est une autre chose. Nous sommes ici en train de parler de l'application de l'Accord de Lusaka. L'Accord de Lusaka ne parle pas du dialogue 2/4 inter-rwandais. Peut-être c'est l'essentiel, cela ne fait pas partie de cet accord.
Q (Agence congolaise de presse) : Monsieur le Secrétaire général, je vous ai suivi depuis le début de votre visite ici en RDC. Mais je ne vous ai pas entendu parler du panel relatif au pillage des ressources naturelles de la RDC. Je ne sais pas si cela est dans votre carnet de visite. Quelle lecture faites-vous des enquêtes qui se poursuivent en ce moment sur ce pillage ? J'avais également une deuxième question : C'est au sujet de la vaccination. Vous savez que la RDC est un pays en guerre. Est-ce que pour un pays en guerre on peut entrevoir une vaccination massive des populations flottantes qui, à tout moment, se déplacent d'un coin à l'autre ? Je m'imagine que cela peut causer des ravages à travers tout le territoire. Est-ce que ce n'est pas tuer pour l'amour d'argent en faisant la vaccination ? Je vous remercie.
SG: Effectivement, il y a eu un rapport des Nations Unies, dont la première partie a été publiée sur le pillage des ressources congolaises. Le travail continue, le panel est en train de poursuivre son enquête. Et je crois que la deuxième partie du rapport sera bientôt publiée aussitôt que le travail sera terminé. En ce qui concerne la vaccination, d'abord ce n'est pas la première fois et la première année qu'on essaye de vacciner les enfants. Je crois qu'il faut féliciter les Agences des Nations Unies, l'UNICEF, l'OMS et toutes ces agences qui cherchent à protéger les enfants aongolais. On a fait appel à tous les dirigeants, y compris les gens armés et les populations armées pour nous permettre de vacciner les enfants. Je crois qu'on va réussir. Evidemment, on prend des risques en allant là-bas mais je crois qu'on va réussir cette année. Je crois qu'au lieu de condamner cet effort, il vaut mieux l'applaudir.
Q (Radio-Télévision Nationale Congolaise) : Monsieur le Secrétaire général, en tant que responsable de l'Organisation des Nations Unies, quel est le pays que vous estimez avoir mieux réussi sa mission ? Ma seconde question est la suivante : est-ce que la MONUC va étendre sa mission à des actions plus humanitaires ?
SG: Franchement, je suis un peu perdu, je ne sais pas comment répondre à la première question. Vous posez la question du pays qui a le mieux réussi sa mission. C'est à la fois simple et un peu compliqué. Je ne sais pas si vous parlez des pays de cette région ou globalement. Il y a beaucoup de pays qui ont réussi leur mission. Je voulais parler des pays qui ont créé une ambiance où la population peut vivre en paix, où les droits de l'homme sont protégés, où l'on peut vivre en sécurité, en paix ; où l'on travaille avec le gouvernement et le gouvernement prend en considération les opinions de la population avant de décider. Je crois que si l'on considère tout cela, il y a pas mal de pays qui ont réussi leur mission.
En ce qui concerne la deuxième question, d'après des rapports et des renseignements que j'ai, il y a un besoin énorme d'aide humanitaire dans le pays et les Nations Unies ne cessent de demander aux pays donateurs de travailler avec elles. 3/4 Dans le passé, c'était un peu difficile parce qu'on n'avait pas accès à la sécurité pour passer partout dans tout le pays mais la situation commence à s'améliorer et nous allons accroître nos efforts. Merci.
Q (BBC/AP) : Monsieur le Secrétaire général, est-ce que vous pouvez estimer une date pour le début de la Phase III? Est-ce qu'il est question d'augmenter le nombre des troupes des Nations Unies au-dessus de 5,537 Casques Bleus?
SG: Je ne peux pas vous donner une date exacte parce qu'il y a certains développements, certaines étapes qu'on doit franchir avant d'être là. Aujourd'hui, on peut dire que nous sommes en Phase II et demi. Donc il y a une évolution positive. Je crois que les membres du Conseil de sécurité sont prêts à attribuer aux hommes et aux femmes les tâches nécessaires qu'il y a à faire en leur donnant les moyens nécessaires pour y parvenir. Merci et bonsoir.
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2 September 2001 - following meeting with President Joseph Kabila (text unavailable)
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1 September 2001 - at airport upon arrival (unofficial transcript)
SG: Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs,
Je vous remercie de votre accueil chaleureux. Je dois dire que je suis enchanté que le moment soit enfin venu pour moi de visiter ce grand et beau pays. Au cours des six derniers mois, l'exécution de l'Accord de Lusaka a connu des progrès réels, et à cet égard, le choix d'une date et d'un lieu pour la tenue du dialogue inter-Congolais à la suite de la réunion préparatoire de Gaborone est très encourageant. Le Président Joseph Kabila a joué un rôle déterminant dans le bon déroulement du processus, et je me réjouis de le retrouver dès demain. J'aurai également l'occasion de m'entretenir avec d'autres congolais, aussi bien à Kinshasa qu'à Kisangani, avant de rencontrer le Président Kagamé lundi prochain à Kigali. Au cours de mes discussions, mon attention se portera sur les paroles qui reflètent la confiance et le respect que les congolais se doivent mutuellement. Et je rechercherai ce même état d'esprit dans le discours de vos voisins, qui eux aussi, ont le devoir de respecter la souveraineté de la nation congolaise.La confiance et le respect réciproques sont les véritables bases de la paix à laquelle nous travaillons ensemble, et que j'espère prochaine. Merci!
Q (Presse Présidentielle): Votre Excellence, vous venez de mentionner là que vous voudriez que nos voisins puissent tenir compte de la souveraineté de notre pays. Beaucoup de résolutions ont été prises par le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies, contenant particulièrement le retrait des troupes d'agression de la République Démocratique du Congo. Ces résolutions malheureusement n'ont jamais été appliquées. Pouvons-nous penser, Monsieur le Secrétaire général, que l'ONU va enfin faire quelque chose pour le retour de la paix en République Démocratique du Congo? Et sinon, que pouvons-nous dire? Pouvons-nous penser à des moyens coercitifs pour des résolutions efficaces?
SG: Les Nations Unies sont là précisément pour ça. Nous sommes là pour travailler avec vous et les voisins pour assurer la paix dans le pays. Et si je vais à Kigali, effectivement, c'est pour discuter de cette question. Le Conseil de Sécurité est venu ici à plusieurs reprises, il y a la MONUC qui est là, mon Représentant M. Morjane qui malheureusement va nous quitter mais il y a M. Ngongi qui va le 1/2 remplacer. Donc on va continuer de travailler avec les Etats membres et mettre en application l'Accord de Lusaka. Evidemment, il faut du temps mais le but est clair, toutes les troupes étrangères doivent se retirer. Les Nations Unies sont là pour travailler avec vous pour assurer la souveraineté du pays et la paix. Je crois qu'on a démontré notre volonté. On va continuer de travailler avec vous.
Q (RTNC): Il y a une dynamique qui vient de naître à Gaberone et les congolais se sont accordés sur le retrait de toutes les troupes étrangères et là-dessus on est en droit de s'attendre à ce que le Secrétaire général et le Conseil de sécurité puissent changer la mission de la MONUC au lieu d'une force d'observation afin qu'elle devienne une force d'imposition de la paix. Etes-vous de cet avis ou comment entendez-vous aller dans le sens de ce que les congolais attendent de l'action de la MONUC?
SG: Ce n'est pas à moi de décider. C'est une question pour le Conseil de sécurité. Mais à vrai dire, je crois que nous sommes sur le bon chemin. Si tous les pays qui ont signé l'accord sont sincères et travaillent avec nous pour le mettre en application, on n'a pas besoin d'une force d'imposition. Je crois que les choses se déroulent assez bien en ce moment. On va travailller avec vous et les autres pour mettre en application cet accord. Mais franchement, ce n'est pas facile d'avoir les troupes nécessaires pour une force d'imposition. Donc je dois être très clair, on va travailler avec vous mais on doit travailler ensemble. On ne peut pas imposer la paix et je ne crois pas que le Conseil de sécurité pourrait être prêt pour ce genre de force.
Q (VOA): Monsieur le Secrétaire général, pourquoi votre visite maintenent après tout ce temps de guerre. Quelle signification peut-on lui donner en ce moment-ci?
SG: D'abord je crois que le moment est venu pour moi de venir comme je venais de le dire. Je ne suis pas venu mais j'ai lutté pour le Congo, j'ai plaidé pour le Congo, j'ai beaucoup fait pour le Congo de l'extérieur, de New York et d'ailleurs. Et je crois que c'est aussi important qu'on travaille pour le Congo et on s'assure que la communauté internationale est impliquée. L'essentiel, je suis là, j'étais en contact avec l'ancien Président Kabila, avec le président actuel, avec les dirigeants congolais. Je crois que c'est ça qui est important. Mais je suis là.
Lusaka, Zambia, 1 September 2001 - press encounter at the airport (en route from South Africa to the Democratic Republic of the Congo) (unofficial transcript)
Q: I would like to find out about your mission to the Congo and how you look at the Congo problem. Are we getting there? Are we about to resolve it?
SG: Well, I am going to the Congo to discuss the peace process with President Kabila and the other Congolese parties, and I will be in Kinshasa and then on to Kisangani.
I would also hope to visit the United Nations soldiers, who are far away from their homes, making a contribution in Africa, in this conflict.
I've always maintained that it is essential that we in Africa put these conflicts behind us and focus on economic and social development. And I am determined to put all my efforts into this direction and work with African leaders to end these conflicts. And that is why I am going to the Congo. And from there I will go to Rwanda to pursue the search for peace in my discussions.
I think the signs are hopeful. We're doing better now than we were six months to a year ago and I hope that the effort and the momentum will be maintained.
Q (Zambian National TV): I would to take you back to South Africa. It appears that most of the stakeholders, the US and the other major countries, have boycotted the Racism Conference. What significance has this for the Conference itself?
SG: Let me clarify the facts. I don't think it is accurate to say that most stakeholders boycotted the Conference. Most of the Member States of the United Nations were there.
The US was there, but at a lower level. What the US said was they were not sending Secretary-of-State Colin Powell, but there was a US delegation at the Conference.
This is a Conference that affects the entire world. There is racism and xenophobia in every society. No society is immune. And so if we are going to fight racism, it demands that all of us make a collective effort to join forces to fight it.
Governments must come up with legislation. They should have administrative institutions for coping with this. We should ensure that curricula at schools have the right material. Children are not born racist. They are taught to hate. And we can also teach them to accept others, to accept diversity. You don't have to detest the other to like who you are. And I think it is very important that (unintelligible), the problem of governance, and so all of us have the responsibility.
So many Governments came to South Africa determined to make a difference in this fight. Obviously, we have some difficult issues to thrash out, but I am quite hopeful that we will leave South Africa having raised awareness considerably, having energized civil society to act, having given the Governments a plan of action that I hope each one will go and draw up their own national plan to fight racism and xenophobia.
That is what we should aim for at the Conference in Durban. Thank you very much.
Durban, South Africa, 1 September - press conference at the World Conference Against Racism
Speaker: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We have about 20 minutes or so to take your questions. The Secretary-General will start with a brief, very brief opening comment. Mr. Secretary-General.
SG: Thank you. I've had a chance to say a few things since I got here. First of all, I am delighted to be back in South Africa and what better place to discuss how to overcome racism, discrimination, and intolerance. I believe the UN Conference on Racism has given the world an opportunity to face the issues of racism and discrimination squarely. Two issues threaten consensus -- the Middle East and compensation for slavery. I have made my views clear in my statement yesterday. I think the delegations are making genuine and serious efforts to find a compromise language, clean up the text, and come up with the text that will speak to every community, every government and every group that feels discriminated against and hopefully with a concrete plan of action that can be helpful to governments, NGOs, and societies when they return home. Let me now take your questions.
Q: Your Excellency, I'm from Channel Two News, Israel. And I wonder if you don't feel that adapting the suggested language against Israel will taint the UN as impartial mediator or even monitor in the Israel/Palestinian conflicts.
SG:I think the important thing here is that the documents and declarations that come out of this conference should be fair. I think there are attempts being made that that is the case. And in fact, there is lots of discussion going on as I indicated about the text as it now stands. And I would hope that the text will be cleaned up. The question of Zionism versus racism is dead. The UN rescinded that a decade ago and I don't think anyone should want to open it here or anywhere else. And I think the delegations understand that and those who don't are beginning to get that very clearly. And I would hope we would come up with a document that everyone will find acceptable.
Q: I'm Mr. Frank for One Voice Germany. I want to know, Mr. Secretary, if you want to have all specific references to Israel removed from the declaration.
SG: I think we are here to focus on victims of racism. We are here to insure that the current racist behavior, trafficking of human beings and all that are put to an end. We are here to encourage governments to take measures to protect the people against racism. And obviously, the situation in the Middle East is not the only one. There are other situations where people feel, where people are hurting. And I would hope that we would come up with a language, whether in a generic form or whatever, that will speak to every situation and will respond to the feelings and the pain of the people, that vulnerable people are feeling around the world.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General. Your speech yesterday made specific reference to the fact that where historical wrongs can be traced to companies or individuals they should be held so accountable. Can you tell us more exactly what you mean by that and why in particular you were referring to companies? Thank you.
SG: I referred to, I was referring to succession in the sense that in my statement I indicated that in some cases the individuals who committed those wrongs are alive and in some cases, if it was a corporate entity, the corporation is still in business and should be made to account. And historically we have had that sort of accountability.
Q: My name is Philip from The Press of India. There has been a demand by Dalit that the caste system in India be equated with racism. What is your view on that please?
SG: I think in my statement to the plenary, I did indicate that all forms of discrimination should be eliminated, whether by gender, descent, or whatever. So I think I've commented on that.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, good afternoon. I'm from Southern News in Canada. You had mentioned that two issues threatened consensus. I'm wondering what you think the chances of success are, whether you think that the document will be so watered down at the end that it will be meaningless. And I was hoping you would further comment specifically on Canada's participation in this conference.
SG: I hope that the document can be improved in the sense that delegations will come to a common ground. That need not necessarily mean watering down the text. It could also mean improving the text in a manner that it solicits the greatest possible support and in a manner that is also realistic and can be achievable. On Canada, I think by that you want me to comment as to why the foreign minister is not here. I wish governments had all been represented here at the highest level. I think this is an important conference and I think it is incumbent on all governments and organisations to come here and defend what they believe in and have their voices heard and push for common ground and the right language. But the decision as to whom to send, at what level and what individual he or she is a sovereign decision of the government and I would not want to comment.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, Charlyne Hunter-Gault, CNN Television. I learned from you in Baghdad that negotiations take place above water and underwater. And I'm just wondering what role are you currently playing in trying to salvage this conference, if indeed you feel that a salvage operation is what is required at this point. Are you indeed talking with the Americans, at what level, are you talking to the Israelis, at what level, are you talking to the Palestinians, at what level, and whoever else underwater, and to the question of if you feel this is a salvage operation at this point because of this conflict.
SG: Well, I don't know if it's a salvage operation. But let me say that I sense a mood and a willingness amongst the delegations to be flexible and to work for the right language. It needs a give and take, and it requires flexibility. I have been in touch with many delegations. This morning just before I came here, I met with the Black Caucus Congressional Delegation. I've met with a head of the U.S. delegation this morning. I've seen Aman Musa of the Arab League. I've seen the Egyptian Foreign Minister. And earlier I had met a Foreign Minister Fisher of Germany and Foreign Minister Ruggiero of Italy. I'm in touch with the African leaders who are here, the Heads of State who are here, and I'm also on the phone with some others. I've been on the phone with Secretary of State Colin Powell. I've seen the head of the U.S. delegation. So, lots of behind the scenes work is taking place. Obviously, I cannot share with you everything that I discussed with them and -- you know, somebody asked -- I once came out of meeting with Head of State and said what did you and the head of state discuss and I gave a general description, said I want details, blow by blow. I said I can do that but, if I do that, next time I meet with him he will only talk to me about the weather and his grandchildren and I don't want that. I think quite a lot of effort is being made to move the conference forward. I think all is not lost. I'm quite confident that with good will we will succeed. I think it is important that we leave here with an agreement. And as I have said, we will give comfort to the worst elements in every society if we were to fail. And it is important that we do succeed. And we should not allow one issue or other to derail this important conference for the rest of humanity. It is important for all of us that we succeed. There is racism and xenophobia in every society, and we need to really focus on that. And those who allow one issue to derail the conference would also be held accountable for the failure of the conference by the rest of the groups who are here.
Q: Claud Colart from EPTN. At the same time when most of the people were gathering here we saw the crisis of the refugee ship near Australia. There seems to be agreement now that New Zealand and the small island of Nauru will take these refugees. Two questions on that small, what's your view on how Australia dealt with this crisis? And two, there is disagreement, yes, but the ship still needs to get from where they are now to these two islands and Australia seems to be unwilling to be helping them.
SG: On that issue I have been in touch with the Prime Minister of Australia and also the Foreign Minister of Norway, as well as with the High Commissioner of Refugee, Ruud Lubbers, who is here with us in Durban. The ideal solution would have been for them to be processed and those found to be bona fide refugees given refuge in Australia, or be repatriated to a third country. But you know the position of the Australian Government, and normally, under UNHCR rules, the first port of call is the country that should try and do the screening and offer the refugee asylum. Given this position of the Australian Government, a compromise has been worked out where the screening would be -- where New Zealand and Nauru have offered. Those who are found to be bona fide refugees, some will stay in New Zealand, some will stay in Nauru. Australia has indicated they may take some and others will go somewhere else. It is a compromise solution. It is not an ideal situation, and I feel for the refugees who are on this ship in the heat, in containers. Even though some efforts have been made to improve their situation and give them some minimum comfort, this is not a way to handle a refugee situation. Of course, the Government of Australia maintains that whilst it's been very generous with refugees, it is now receiving lots of illegal and unprocessed immigrants, and it sees this as an attempt to put an end to that. But that does not give comfort to the men and women and children on that boat who are in need of refuge and support. And so we accept the compromise, and I hope it can be implemented quite quickly so that these people can leave the ship.
Q: Italy. I am sorry for the issue of my question, Secretary-General, but to Italy it is important, you know, after the G8 accident in Genoa. I would like to know your opinion of the FAO summit scheduled in Rome for November. The Italian Government would like to move it elsewhere for security reasons. Mr. Berlusconi yesterday said that he doesn't care that the summit should be held in UN agency headquarters.
SG: One of the issues I discussed with your Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero this morning was this issue of the FAO Conference. I think all of you know the issue, but basically normally these UN Conferences are held at UN Headquarters. Initially it all seemed straightforward until Genoa, and after Genoa the Prime Minister, as he has indicated, has to be concerned about sacred Rome and not have what happened in Genoa repeated in Rome. But the first comment I would want to make on that is, so far, no UN Conference has been attacked by violent demonstrators. The UN Conferences have not been subjected to that. Last year we had 150 Heads of State and Government and Kings, New York, and it went on very peacefully. Here we have had peaceful demonstrations, and I would hope that is the point that I think everyone should bear in mind. On Monday, the Italian Prime Minister will be meeting with Jacques Diouf, the Head of FAO, to discuss this issue and work out an acceptable solution. I would await that meeting. If they come up with an acceptable and workable solution, which is acceptable in practical and technical terms to the FAO, I will support it. Thank you.
Q: Chris McGill from the Guardian. Whole deal for this conference that a succession of African leaders are given speeches in which none of them have really talked about the very real problem of ethnicity on this continent and conflict that comes from ethnicity within their own borders. That they dealt really only largely with historical problems?
SG: I think historical problems have been raised because it is very much on the agenda. As I indicated, it's one of the two controversial issues. I hope if they did focus on that, it does not mean that they are oblivious to the concerns in their own society and the conflicts and their ethnic divisions. Most of the leaders here today are involved with conflicts on the continent either as combatants or participants or are working very hard to resolve conflicts on the continent, and in their own societies trying to deal with issues of division between religious groups and ethnicity. So I think they are very much aware of conflict. So the impression should not be created that they are ignoring their current crisis and taking refuge in issues of the past. I think both are of concern to them or should be.
Q: Secretary-General, from Channel Africa. The Southern Africa leaders are deeply concerned with the situation of civil war in Angola. The Angolan Government says that it would be helpful if the international community supports the idea of taking Jonas Savimbi to the International Court of Justice. What is the opinion of the UN, and has the Government of Angola approached the UN for help to take Savimbi to the International Tribunal?
SG: The conflict in Angola is one of the most painful on the continent with dire humanitarian consequences for innocent civilians. I think the only way to resolve that conflict is to apply the Lusaka Accords and get the protagonists to cooperate and work together. For the moment, there is hardly any contacts between the two. I think the reasons are well known to you. In my own judgment, you make peace not with your friends but with your enemies. To make peace you have to talk. I don't see how one can make progress if the parties refuse to talk. I think we need to be concerned about the conditions of the ordinary people in Angola. On the question of Savimbi and the Hague or before any tribunal, the issue has not been raised with me or in the Security Council by the Government.
Q: Secretary-General, Sally from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. On humanitarian grounds and grounds of compassion, should Australia have initially taken or accepted the refugees on board the Norwegian ship Tampa, and what's been your personal reaction to Australia's handling of this issue?
SG: I think, as I indicated, I would have preferred that Australia accepted them. In fact, under our own refugee convention which the High Commissioner for Refugee applies, it is the first call of duty, the first country that the refugee lands in that should try and give them refuge. I would have preferred that had happened in Australia. It did not happen, and we found a compromise solution. I hope that will give the refugees some comfort and refuge.
Q: (Translated from French) Secretary-General, I am going to ask you a question in French. I wanted to ask you if the problem encountered by the Conference are not due to a certain lack of preparation and perhaps even guidance which preceded it. Today we see that the conference is suffering from a lack of representation because there are only about a dozen heads of states who are present here. We accepted 30 last week, at the beginning of the week 22 and you have entire regions of the world which are not represented at the highest level. For example, there is no head of state from Asia in this conference. While Asia represents more than half of the population of the globe, isn't this also due to the fact that it has focused on a single issue to the detriment of all the others.
SG: (Translated from French) Obviously, I would have preferred to have seen many more heads of state here because this is a question, as I said earlier, which affects all of us, but they have taken their own decisions. It's not always that you have 150 heads of state at a UN conference like we had in New York, and perhaps next month we will have 90 heads of state for the Children's Summit, so in a sense I am somewhat disappointed, but it's also natural. For many conferences, the level of representation rarely goes beyond the Ministerial level. You have spoken about a lack of preparation, and perhaps we could have done some things differently. We could have prepared ourselves better, but I think that Mrs. Robinson and her team have done as much as they could. There have been four preparatory conferences, one in every region, and they have had a great deal of contact with many NGOs, and we hope that people are going to come to South Africa ready to make progress on the issues of the day. That's why I said earlier that we shouldn't allow a single issue to derail the conference, and I hope that by the end of the week the delegations are going to apply themselves and make sure that we have a conference that will be a success. Thank you.
Q: Secretary-General, Steve, NHK. On the issue of land, Southern Africa has experienced a lot of colonisation and apartheid policy, force removal. I would like your views on the current situation, particularly concerning South Africa and Zimbabwe.
SG: Sir, you talked about the land issue. You talked on the land issue in South Africa and Zimbabwe, but I am not sure I quite got the question. May I ask to you repeat it.
Q: Well, these issues are as a result of colonisation and apartheid.
SG: I am not too engaged or involved with this situation in Southern Africa, but I have been monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe. What I can say is that land reform in Zimbabwe is necessary, but land reform has to be credible, it has to be legal and adequate compensation paid to those whose land are taken. I think in a society based on rule of law, individuals will have to be assured that there will be protection of themselves and their property, and where a credible land reform takes place you normally do pay compensation. So I am not in disagreement with the search or the decision to have land reform. It's the process and their approach which I question. Thank you.
Q: Secretary-General, I would just like to know your comment and view on the current ongoing talks between leaders of Myanmar and Aung San particularly after the visit of special envoy Razali to Myanmar?
SG: I think my special representative Razali Ismail has done a very good job. He has kept the parties talking. We are making progress. As you have noticed, many opposition politicians have been released from jail. The process is moving ahead slowly. I cannot go into details, but we are moving ahead. Progress is being made. I expect to see Razali in New York who will give me a full report on his latest visit.
Q: Secretary-General, I am Hazel with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Black Press of America. You said earlier that you'd spoken with Colin Powell over the phone, that you'd talked with the Congressional Black Caucus. My question is, have you spoken with Michael Southwick, who is the President Official delegate to this Conference, and what have those conversations been like?
SG: I have also met him. I met him this morning. We talked about the Conference, the progress being made, the text and the language that is being discussed. He was concerned that we have a language that is fair, acceptable and a language that does not pick on Israel, which is the position of the U.S. Government. But we are here willing to engage and hoping that we will make progress, we will find a document, we will get a document that is credible and will allow everyone to participate fully. Thank you very much.
Q: (Translated from French) Mr. Secretary-General, I would like to speak in French, from the National Television of Burkina, so I am going to speak French. You said or you stressed at the beginning of your comments the two fundamental issues which seem to be problematic are, therefore, the Middle East and compensation for slavery. My country Burkina Faso supports the second solution. We condemn slavery as being a crime against humanity. From that point of view, we feel that countries that have been victims of slavery should, therefore, benefit from reparation. I wanted to know, what is the position of the United Nations on that matter? Is the Conference going to get involved in that issue, so perhaps after the Conference we will have a common position on that which will be adopted.
SG: As I said earlier, the question is on the table. It's one of the more delicate points in this Conference, but the question of reparations is very complicated. I don't think that this Conference is the forum to settle that. The question is not going to disappear. There are many people who are going to deal with it and it's going to continue, but I don't think that the place to settle this matter is here. Thank you..
Durban (Kingsmead Cricket Stadium), South Africa - transcript of Q&A session after Secretary-General's address at NGO Forum, 30 August 2001 (unofficial transcript)
MC: The first question will come from [inaudible]
Lady spoke in Spanish.
SG: Thank you very much for the statement I hope everyone heard her and you heard the translation or interpretation.
Basically, what she is saying is that the rights of indigenous people must be recognised. They must be recognised as a people to be able to project and insist on their rights and that this Conference should finally recognise them as people, as a group, without any hesitation, without any question or any brackets around the word peoples.
From Mauritania (in French)
SG: I think the issue of reparation has to be raised here as something that the delegates are going to discuss. I don't think anyone in this hall condones the wounds and the ills of the past and we have made it clear that one has to acknowledge that those things have happened.
Reparation is a much more complex issue but of course, as I said, it will be an issue that will be discussed here. It has legal implications, it has judicial implications and I'm not sure that it is an issue that one can expect to be taken up and settled here at this Conference. But obviously it is an issue that has consumed substantial hours in the preparation of this meeting and will be discussed.
I think a society can that has been wounded can forgive but that forgiveness cannot be expected as a matter of right. And I think what is important at this Conference is for us not only to come and resolve to deal with racism and xenophobia and discrimination and the welfare of people, as you have discussed in your own opening statement, and come up with concrete plan of action and declaration that will help governments deal with racism.
We have situations today which cannot be tolerated or condoned.
We have trafficking in human beings, we have situations akin to slavery, we have discrimination and xenophobia of all types and I've given you a list of groups who are victims. And we should leave this Conference determined to tackle those issues. We should not only deal with the issues of today but be forward-looking and set in place mechanisms that would ensure that the vulnerable groups, including the African Americans that you speak for, are protected and are not victims of racism and xenophobia.
From Palestine: Your Excellency, Kader Shirkat [shouts from audience and then inaudible]
Mr. General Secretary, your Excellency, as you know the Palestinian probably, colonial the Palestinian colonial issue is the last issue in the world.
And the UN in different and the UN in its different resolutions, General Assembly resolutions, considered it the right of the [inaudible] Palestinian people and the right of the Palestinians to return to their own homes.
And the UN does not recognise [inaudible] and does not acknowledge the annexation of the Palestinian occupied territories.
Your Excellency, can you explain me, how come that is the UN realise [inaudible] to implement its decisions and resolutions.
And how come, please to explain me, the UN marginalising and neutralising itself when it comes to the Palestinian issue.
And how comes that is the UN is replacing the UN resolutions and relying on the American reports like Mitchell report?
SG: I think the UN's position on the crisis in the Middle East is very clear. And in your own statement you alluded to UN resolutions, and I trust you were referring particularly to Resolution 338 and 242, the basis of which is land for peace. And we have continued to encourage negotiations and dialogue between the parties and I myself have been in touch and I'm in constant contact with all the parties on the ground and beyond, with the European Union, the Russians, the Americans. And this afternoon I'll be discussing this issue with your leader Chairman Arafat. And I think the UN position on this is clear. There has to be a solution, a political solution. We do not see a military resolution. And it has to be based on land for peace.
Secondly, on the question of the Mitchell report. The Mitchell report was an outcome of the Sharm El Sheik Conference where it was agreed that President Clinton, in consultation with me, should set up a committee, a Sharm El Sheik committee, to explore what measures could be taken to end the violence in the region.
Quite honestly, when we met last Fall I don't think any one of us expected the violence to continue till today.
The Mitchell report therefore came up with very sensible and constructive and workable proposals to get the parties back to the table.
The idea here was ceasefire, cooling off the area, confidence building measures and then negotiations at the table.
At the table I expect the negotiations to be based on the land for peace concept, on the UN resolutions, and therefore we are not substituting the Mitchell report for the basic UN resolutions that govern the conflict.
Dalit from India: Thank you, Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan, and others. I have been representing the dalit in the country and also stating that the discrimination affecting nearly 200 million peoples geographically, covering countries of Asia, Africa, Europe who have been discriminated on the basis of work.
And [inaudible] based caste discrimination does not find itself represented either in the list of victims or listing of sources of discrimination or even the listing of sources of multiple discrimination in the draft declaration or the programme of action for the world Conference. I take this occasion to demand therefore that all efforts be made to include dalits in the list of victims and caste into source of discrimination of work and [inaudible].
I hope our demands will be carried forward.
SG: That was a statement not a question.
(In response to shouts from audience) You've had your say, sit down.
Listen, we've come here to listen to each other not to behave the way you're doing.
Your leader, the person who has spoken in your name made a statement and appealed to the delegations who are going to be discussing this issue to ensure that your issue is on the agenda.
The Secretary-General of the Conference is here and I think that's very clear.
He made a statement He did not ask a question. And I heard him and everybody heard him.
There is no need for you as a mature person to stand up and scream.
Let's have dialogue. Let's have serious dialogue.
Let's listen to each other and respect each other. I listened to you very carefully. The message will be passed on. Let's turn on to the next speaker.
From the Caribbean: On behalf of the people of the Caribbean who managed to come to this Conference we want to say that we welcome the Conference and we also want to say that the Caribbean is a product of racism and intolerance and the population bears the scars of slavery either directly as the disenfranchised indigenous people, the displaced Africans and the displaced Indian indentured workers as well as the oppressors.
I want to ask the Secretary-General why is it that more effort wasn't made to mobilise and to support the people of the Caribbean to participate in this Conference because those of us who are here, we are here purely by our own efforts, extreme efforts and we are very under-represented at this Conference.
Can I have a response from the Secretary-General and an assurance that we will be considered and assisted to participate in the reviews of the outcome of this Conference.
SG: I think … I don't have all the details but all governments were invited and all NGOs were also invited to participate.
I think some of you got assistance to get here and I'm sorry to hear that you had to go through the struggle that you had to get here.
But the fact that you are here despite the difficulties is for me a statement and very encouraging because it shows the importance you attach to this issue and that you would do everything to come here to make sure your voices are heard.
I hope that as we take up the discussions here, that you and your group will have a chance to participate and also play a role in the follow-up after the Conference.
As I said earlier, what is important is what we do after the Conference not the declaration or the papers which are adopted here.
Yes, they are important, they will have provided a general framework, but when we go home we should all be energised and take on the fight. So let me thank you for coming here, let me thank you for the efforts you made to get here and I urge you to stay engaged and keep up the fight when you get home.
Irish Traveller: Just like to say we appreciate the chance to make a comment and thanks for giving us the time and space.
My name is Catherine Joyce and I work with an Irish organisation which is a national organisation representing travellers throughout the country of Ireland. And yesterday we were given a chance to talk to the Roma Conference about the experience of Irish travellers.
Also we heard about the experience of gypsies and Roma across the world.
We would like to say that the issue of gypsies, Roma, across the world needs to be addressed and it needs to be effectively addressed.
That needs to be done in consultation with those involved.
As a woman the intersection between gender and race oppression is very obvious.
And in order for that to be dealt with this Conference to ensure that any documentation issued looks at the gender dimension to all of the aspects of what goes on today.
As Europeans we've come a long way in terms of putting racism on the agenda but we've a long way to go in terms of addressing it. And in order to do it we need the might of NGOs, governments, of the Human Rights Commission and of the UN to [inaudible]and we hope that there will be a race unit developed maybe through the Human Rights Commission and that in that we would all, as NGOs and governments, participate in the development of that.
SG: Thank you very much for your comment and I must say we do expect this Conference to address all forms of discrimination and some of the issues you've raised are of great importance to us. Also at the UN and in my own travels through Central Europe, I've met with the Roma and I have received their leadership at UN headquarters.
Question from Sylvia Diaz from Paraguay (in Spanish)
SG: I think the groups you've referred to are all represented here at this Conference and at the UN we have a group for the indigenous people that meet with very regularly to discuss issues of concern to them and I'm happy that each one of the group you are listing is here participating in this Conference and I expect the delegates to take their concerns and issues very, very seriously at this Conference. Thank you.
Reed Brody from Human Rights Watch: Hello, Mr. Secretary-General. Victims from around the world expect more than empty words from this Conference.
They expect action. The Rio Conference in 1992 was a watershed and led to important legislation to protect the environment.
The Vienna Conference in 1995 led to the creation of the position of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
What will be the lasting effect of Durban. You spoke just now very eloquently about the importance of implementation and follow-up, yet when we look at the more than 250 paragraphs of the plan of action there's almost nothing on follow-up.
No new money to combat racism, no new programmes to combat racism. It's even unclear at this point whether there will be any official follow-up, whether the United Nations or the High Commissioner or anyone else will be reviewing or monitoring the commitments made here.
So my question is, what would you like to see in terms of concrete follow-up.
Would you like to see the United Nations, the High Commissioner involved in some way in monitoring the implementation of the commitments that are made here? Thank you.
SG: I see Reed you've struck a chord.
Let me say that I would also want to see implementation and this is something that we've been pressing for some time.
You will recall particularly the Millennium Summit and the Millennium Declaration - we insisted that the important thing is not the Conference, the important thing is not the declaration but the follow-up action and that it is incumbent on each government to walk away from the Conference and go home determined to do something about discrimination and racism.
But we cannot leave it to them alone. I want you civil society and NGOs to stay engaged, I want the private sector to stay engaged.
I want us to work with them in partnership to make sure it happens.
But the document that comes out of here can he helpful if it is properly structured with the right benchmarks. It can be a common framework that would allow all of us to press governments for action.
And I think Mrs Robinson, the Secretary-General of the Conference who's here with me, has also listened to your plea, which I share. And during the Conference we will try and make sure that we get a document that is competent, that is workable, and has achievable benchmarks.
But what is important is to be able to monitor and follow through and here your role as well as my role is important.
I have insisted that we should all work in partnership and I hope we will leave here with some ideas of what needs to be done.
I hope in some situations governments can use it to refine their legislation, they can use it to set up national mechanisms and you will press them in doing that and I on my side will also continue to monitor and speak up, but we need that document.
I don't know Mary if you want to add a word or two.
Mrs Robinson: Thank you Secretary-General. I will just add that our office has already taken steps to develop an anti-discrimination and follow-up unit.
But I do agree with Reed Brody. We need very specific measures to be committed to and I hope that the programme of action will require every country to adopt a national plan against racist discrimination and that each of you in your own countries can pin to that national plan.
That will be the vital thing.
Press conference following meeting with Federal Chancellor Schuessel of Austria, Fuschl, 28 August 2001
(The Austrian Federal Chancellor first made an introductory statement in German.)
SG: Thank you very much Mr. Chancellor. Let me on behalf of my wife and the team and the participants of the Dialogue Among Civilizations thank you and your government very much for providing this comfortable environment for our discussions. We are always happy to come back to Austria and as you say it is one of the homes of the United Nations. And I have also had a chance to discuss with you, in addition to the Dialogue among Civilizations, the situation in the Middle East, the Balkans and the financial situation of the UN and priorities for the next year as we move ahead. And I indicated to the Chancellor that as a result of the Millennium Summit last year the Member States have given us a very clear agenda and giving us a set of priorities to pursue and I believe the most pressing among them is poverty alleviation, the fight against HIV/AIDS and the protection of the environment for future generations. And of course, we are also going to press ahead with further development of international law, including the creation of the International Criminal Court. And I, like the Chancellor, enjoyed very much the discussions this morning on the Dialogue Among Civilizations. We had scholars and eminent persons from all over the world discussing whether today we are seeing an emergence of a global civilization based, in addition to all the civilizations and cultures and groups, that exist. I think everybody in the room said we should celebrate diversity and not be afraid of it. But in addition to that we are seeing an emergence of a global civilization or a set of values if you wish, shared generally by the world, a set of values that believes in the human rights of everybody - that people must have a say in decisions that concern them, that the will of the people must be respected, that the individual dignity and the rights of the person must be respected. And I think today when we listened to leaders around the world, nobody claims to govern under any other system but democracy. Everybody claims they are trying to build a society based on the rule of law and that they will respect the human rights of their citizens. And I think today no government or nation can systematically abuse the rights of its people and expect neighbors and others not to comment on it. So we have an emerging situation here which I think is very, very interesting. I will pause here and we will take your questions.
Q: (Translated from German) What were the topics of your bilateral discussions?
Federal Chancellor: The bilaterals were the situation of the United Nations, the financial situation of the United Nations, the problematic situation in the Middle East, the Balkans. We talked about human rights and strengthening the institutions for human rights i.e. in Europe or how to support the ambitions and the work of the United Nations, the next initiatives of the Secretary-General, the Conference on Racism in Durban, the Children's Summit which will start very soon in New York, by the way an old priority where Austria was always fully engaged because children are the poorest in the global society today. So I think a lot of problems but also chances were discussed and were very useful and fascinating talks. By the way we had an interesting coincidence that more or less at the same moment we had Helmut Kohl in Austria, we had the Yugoslav Foreign Minister Svilanovic here, we had the Acting EU President Louis Michel, the Belgian Vice Premier here in Austria, Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and important politicians from Russia and America, I think it's good to see that the dialogue is there, there is no alternative.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you are going to meet Rauf Denktash this afternoon. What do you expect, what do you wish?
SG: We would be discussing how we move the discussions on Cyprus forward. As you know we haven't met for some time and I would hope that at the discussions this afternoon we'll be able to explore how we move the process forward.
Q: Your wish?
SG: I think I've made my wish very clear that I would want to see a settlement of the Cyprus situation. But of course that's not going to be done today. He is coming alone and I hope not too far into the future I'll be able to continue my proximity talks with the two parties.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, Secretary of State Colin Powell has decided not to attend the Conference on Racism. How will that affect the success of the conference, and do you think the decision was made out of internal political business.
SG: Let me say that I think the Conference in Durban is going to be a very important conference. We are going to discuss an issue that touches every society and every country. No country is immune from racism and xenophobia. And the idea of bringing governments together to share experiences and come up with a declaration and a plan of action as to what can be done to fight racism I think is a laudable initiative. And I hope all governments will participate and at the highest level possible. Having said that, I think it is also clear that the decision to participate or not to participate and whom to send is a sovereign right of each country. I hope the US will participate and that they will come and sit with other governments to move the process forward, to fight for their common ground and to get the right language. I am going to South Africa this afternoon and I am looking forward to a successful conference.
Q: As to the reasons of this decision?
SG: That is a sovereign decision and discussions that I am not privy to and I prefer not to be drawn.
St. Gilgen, Austria, with Foreign Minister of Austria, Ms. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, 27 August 2001
The Austrian Foreign Minister first made a statement and answered questions.
SG: Thank you very much Madame Minister, good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am also very pleased to be here to be in this beautiful part of Austria. And this morning, as the Minister has indicated, we've had a chance to discuss many issues including the crisis in the Middle East, the Balkans and she has indicated the issue of globalization and I also had the chance to thank her and through her the Austrian people for the contributions they have made to the United Nations whether is police deployment in peacekeeping operations or military and other assistance in the role you played actively in our organization.
And of course tomorrow I look forward to participating very much in the Dialogue for Civilization. I think we live in an interdependent era and we should really celebrate our diversity rather than be threatened by it. We should not need to detest the other to love what is part of our soul, to love our group; and I hope that the discussions tomorrow would be fruitful and of course again tomorrow I meet Mr. Denktash who has come from Cyprus to talk to me about the Cyprus crisis. We will now take your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, where is justice if sanctions are put upon Iraq, Libya and Sudan, while Israel gets away with criminal actions, thank you.
SG: The Security Council is a master of its own deliberations. In all the instances or the crisis spots that you have referred to the Council having debated them carefully decides what action to take. Last week the Council had the chance of debating the Palestinian issue and the issue of observers. No concrete action was taken by the Council. But the Council is not insensitive to what is going on in the region and I as Secretary-General have been very engaged in this issue working with your President, I take it you are Egyptian. Working with your President, King Abdulla, the American administration, the European Union and the Russians in search of a solution to the tragedy that is taking place in the region. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on our list we have got about the themes you talked with Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner is also mentioned the international organizations in Vienna. I wanted to ask you when will you make public your decision about the extension of contracts of your Under-Secretary-Generals, namely Mr. Arlacchi in Vienna. What will you do to restore the confidence in UNDCP and ODCCP which has been completely shattered by the UN report about Mr. Arlacchi and will you make public the UN report about the boat project.
SG: Let me say that the decisions regarding Under-Secretary-Generals, their extension will be taken by me in the fall in New York. And of course these are decisions that will be made public. The report of the UN' s version of Inspector-General is usually given to the General Assembly and these reports will therefore become public.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, these were very dramatic hours in the Middle East this morning. An Israeli attack helicopter killed a Palestinian activist in Ramallah. Do you see in these circumstances still a chance for the Peres-Arafat meeting that was scheduled for that week in Berlin?
SG: I have spoken to Foreign Minister Fischer and he is trying to see what can be done to organize such a meeting and of course the UN, as I indicated earlier, my own office has been quite actively engaged in this and we will do whatever we can to work with Foreign Minister Fischer to move the process forward. We should also be aware that no date has been fixed for the meeting. There is a talk of a meeting but the date has not been fixed. I think the situation in the Middle East is very worrying, is tragic as I have referred to it earlier, we have innocent people suffering and I think the international community has an obligation to do whatever it can to bring an end to this misery. I would also want to say that when it comes to the parties talking together, I have made it clear for many months that in my judgement it is when the killing is going on, when you are living that tragedy, that you must talk. The killings should underscore the urgency of getting together to talk. I do not see how you can bring the situation under control if the protagonists do not come around the table. And so what Foreign Minister Fischer is doing in order to bring the parties together is the right thing to do and I would encourage that.
Q: How big is in your judgement the danger that this low-key warfare situation that we have on the ground will really escalate to a full war.
SG: Well, I have already referred to this situation as tragic and I have had a chance to say that I am worried. I am worried that if we do not contain the crisis it could spread. It's raised tensions in the region to levels that we have not seen in many years and it is a worry. So far it has not happened but it cannot be excluded.
Q: A question to the Foreign Minister - Austria has rather made a step away from the UN by withdrawing its soldiers from Cyprus. In which area could Austria reinforce its offer of assistance to the UN again or also the EU - one of the items before was also EU-UN. Austrian Foreign Minister answers.
SG: If I may add a word that the UN force in Southern Lebanon is being restructured. It's being restructured and we are reducing the force from this highpoint of last year of 5,600 eventually to two battalions with observers up to about 2,000. And so several other contingents serving with UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon will have to withdraw. Thank you.
Q: Given the continuing escalation in the Middle East are you hopeful to get United States participating in Durban in the Conference on Racism, considering that the Palestinians insist on criticizing Israel in that forum.
SG: Obviously each government has to take its own decision whether it participates in the conference or not. And that will be a decision for Washington. There are indications from Washington that if they do not get the language they want they may not participate. Efforts are being made and people are working on the language even as we speak. And Mrs. Robinson is already in South Africa working with other delegations. This is a matter between Member States. And usually at these conferences the Member States get together and negotiate a text. And I have encouraged all governments to be at the table to let their voices be heard and help negotiate a text. And hopefully seek a common ground, a common ground that will do what the conference is expected to do, really be forward-looking and come with a plan of action that will allow governments to take action to fight racism and discrimination and xenophobia and intolerance. No society is immune and we would hope that the conference will be able to come up with forward-looking suggestions and agree on a language that will permit participation by all.
Press encounter following luncheon with the Norwegian Minister of International Development, Anne Kristin Sydnes, Oslo, 21 August 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Thank you very much, Minister. I was very pleased to have had the chance to discuss this important issue of HIV/AIDS and our fight against it. As you know, it is a global problem that will require participation of every member in society to defeat, and I was very happy to see how Norway has taken it very seriously and that under the leadership of the Minister you have this forum which brings around the table people from all sectors of society, and that in a way is part of our strategy to fight the disease, encouraging each government to develop a national strategy, form a national group that will lead the fight and in Africa and elsewhere around the world we are also trying to get the prime ministers and the presidents themselves engaged to lead the fight and break the silence that surrounds the disease, so that people can come together and do whatever they can to assist those infected. But I think the Minister raised the issue of orphans. Today we have 13 million orphans, and the numbers are growing. And we are also extremely concerned with what I consider the cruellest of all transmissions, from mother to child. And it is one area that we also need to do quite a lot of work on and I think there are lots of organizations who are now becoming engaged. This is a long-term fight and I hope we will be persistent, we will stay the course and do whatever we can to defeat this epidemic, both in terms of re-energizing scientific research and search for vaccine and cure, as well as giving assistance to those who are infected and harping strongly on the message of prevention. Thank you very much. We'll take your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you have been talking to government politicians and opposition politicians today. Do you feel that Norway's commitment to the United Nations and the UN will be as strong in the future as it has been in the past?
SG: Yes, I am leaving Oslo with the firm impression that the Norwegian Government's commitment and the Norwegian people's commitment to the UN is as strong as ever. Today I met, as you know, yesterday and today I have met with Government leaders, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, Minister of International Development, I met the Speaker and I've met all the party leaders, and they've all assured me of their strong support for the United Nations and I'm convinced it will continue. We have had a good partnership and I'm looking forward to working ever more closely with Norway.
Q: Do you feel that the President of South Africa has done a good service to the fight against AIDS with his statements on HIV?
SG: Well, I know President Mbeki well, and I've had the opportunity to discuss this disease with him. He is a President who is as concerned about his society as anyone else. He's a President who wants to see economic and social development of his country, a President who realizes that the AIDS epidemic and the way it is ravaging society and taking away men and women in their prime has had impact on its society and its economic development, and he's going to do everything he can to help defeat this epidemic. I will be in South Africa at the end of the month and I will have an opportunity to continue my discussions with him on this, but he is determined to defeat the disease as well.
Q: Talking about the Middle East. While you've been eating lunch, Mr. Joshka Fischer has been meeting with Mr. Arafat in Ramallah and they are talking about a meeting between Mr. Arafat and Mr. Shimon Peres in Berlin in the near future. Are you coordinating the peace efforts in the Middle East with Mr. Fischer and what is your comment to the latest development?
SG: I am often in touch with Foreign Minister Fischer, as I am with other players and other actors in the Middle East conflict. I have always maintained that protagonists need to talk. It is when people are dying and the killing is going on that one has to talk. That is one more reason, and it should underscore the urgency to come to the table and talk. And so any attempt to bring the parties to the table is something that I support and I hope that Mr. Fischer's efforts will be successful.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, do you have any strategy to get the pharmaceutical industry more involved in combating AIDS?
SG: I am in touch, I'm engaged with the pharmaceutical industry. As you may know, two years ago I brought the chairmen, CEOs, together in New York, to encourage them to cut the prices and make the AIDS medication affordable to the poor. We met again last April in Amsterdam to review what progress has been made and to encourage them to reduce the prices further and where possible to give away the medication, and it is happening in some situations. They have agreed to offer reduced prices to all the 50 least developed countries, and in the case of other countries, do it on a country-by-country basis, and where necessary allow for them to re-licence for local production. I have also planned to meet them again in October New York, for us to review progress and what further can be done. They are responding and I hope we can work with them to really make this medication affordable.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, as you are from Africa and must be especially concerned about the AIDS situation on that continent, I would like you to say something about what do you think about the long-term consequences of the AIDS epidemic and also I would like to hear in general what are your hopes and expectations for Africa in the future?
SG: How much time do I have to answer? (laughter)
Let me say that, on the first one, I think all African leaders are aware that the AIDS epidemic is of ultimate importance for their countries. It is an epidemic which, if we do not handle properly, will take away not only the present Africa, but Africa's future; Africa's future in the sense that some of the most productive people and people in their prime are being killed by the disease. The percentage of people between the ages of 14 and 42, who are dying of the disease, is quite high, and these are the people you rely upon to develop society, so it also has impact on economic development and exacerbates the poverty. Children without parents who are breadwinners and children who become parents before they are boys and before they are grown, so it is a very serious situation for the African continent. This is why it is important that we do all we can to try and stem the spread of disease through education and making it possible for everyone who is likely to be infected, to know how to defend himself or herself, particularly the young people, and provide care to those who have been infected, and, as I said earlier, preventing mother to child transmission, and caring for the orphans of course you need to get the communities, women's organizations and everyone involved to be able to make a difference. And so I hope that the current level of activity, the current mobilization of effort to fight the disease will be sustained because this is a long-term effort. As for the future of Africa, I think we should work with the leaders to end the political conflicts and the fights on the continent, from Congo to Angola to Sierra Leone, because, unless we can end these conflicts, we cannot focus on the essential work of economic development. It is sucking the energy of the country. And countries that are at peace and at war are equally impacted upon by these crises because in some quarters when you mention Africa, they see a continent in crisis and nobody wants to invest in a bad neighbourhood, and this is a message that the leaders are also understanding, and I am working with them collectively to try and resolve the conflicts so that we can focus on the essentials: education of the youth, economic and social development, assuring that people have clean water, good health and education. Thank you very much.
Impromptu press encounter following meeting at Norwegian Parliament, Oslo, 21 August 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: (inaudible) on issues discussed during the meeting.
SG: We went over some of the crisis spots around the world: the Middle East, Iraq, the African issues, African crisis, African development, and the question of HIV/AIDS, which I know is of great importance here in Norway. I spoke to the Bishop of Oslo yesterday, who has just come back from Africa, and I understand there is going to be a fund-raising at the end of the month and I hope those with a capacity to give will give and give generously, because it is a real global problem. We also discussed U.N. reform, the financial situation of the U.N. and Norway's role in the Council and in peacekeeping operations, which I have already commented on.
Q: Do you think that Norwegians will do a great job in the United Nations and in politics in general.
SG: They are doing a great job already. I had several of them yesterday at the dinner. I listed a whole host of Norwegians working with us - Gro Harlem Brundtland, Terje Larsen, Jan Egeland, and in the past Kai Eide and Mr. Thorvald Stoltenberg, who was not only a peacemaker in the Balkans but also High Commissioner for Refugees, so we have excellent Norwegians all over and I think we are going to continue working with them.
Q: Would you like us to do more?
SG: I think you have been exemplary; you've done quite a lot, but we have lots of problems around the world, and not only am I asking Norway to do more but I am asking everybody else to do more and perhaps try and do as much as you are doing.
Journalist: OK - thank you very much.
Press encounter following luncheon hosted by Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thorbjorn Jagland, Oslo, 20 August 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister, and I am also extremely happy to be back in Norway again and, as you also know, Nane and I have had a very invigorating walk in the mountains, and today we have had a good round of discussions, which pulled me back to reality from the glorious beauty of the mountains, and in addition to what the Foreign Minister said to you, we did discuss the crisis in Africa - the Democratic Republic of Congo, the situation in Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Western Sahara, and on the Middle East and also the Iraqi issue I would want to thank the Foreign Minister and Norway for the work they are doing and the leadership position that they have played; they have played a major role in our efforts to settle the Middle East crisis. As you know, the Foreign Minister was also a member of the Mitchell Commission that came up with a recommendation that the entire international community has embraced and the two parties have accepted. Now the challenge is to get the two parties to focus their energies on the implementation of the Mitchell Report in its entirety and that is the challenge for us, the international community, and we are going to continue trying.
Q: Secretary-General, you have compared the AIDS pandemic in Africa with the third world war, but then you need to fight that war with the best medicines and what can be done to solve this, especially then relating to the big pharmaceutical companies.
SG: I think there are quite a few things that can be done. What is required is for us to recognize the magnitude of the crisis, have the will and the determination to tackle it. I think we have enough resources in the world to tackle it if the will is there. In my call of action I have five points, that we should try and give assistance to everyone affected with AIDS, and we should do everything to ensure that those who are vulnerable and likely to be infected know what to do to protect themselves, particularly the young, and we should encourage scientific research for vaccine and cure, and here I must also thank Norway for their contribution to the Global Vaccine Initiative, and of course the question of child to mother infection, which is the most cruel of all transmissions, and finally to do something to help the orphans. There are 13 million orphans today, and the numbers are growing, and I think what we can do is that if we have the resources we can get the communities involved, the women's organizations, and countries have demonstrated that it can be done - look at Uganda - Uganda and Senegal have made tremendous strides. What we need is for leaders to speak out, to lead, to break their silence, and to break the discrimination that surrounds this disease. Where AIDS is concerned, silence is dead, and I want everyone to come out, but governments alone cannot do it. We need to mobilize entire societies, governments, private sector, civil society foundations, individuals; we can all make a contribution and I hope everyone would also contribute and contribute generously to the Global AIDS Fund, which will be used to assist the poor countries in tackling this disease, and it is a global problem, it is spreading fast in Asia, in the former Soviet republics and in the Caribbean, so we need to really get busy.
Q: But the big pharmaceutical companies?
SG: The big pharmaceutical companies have now realized that while their intellectual property is necessary for them to do research, to provide the incentive, the medication must also be accessible to the poor, and they've made great efforts to reduce their prices. I've met with them last time in April and we've set up another meeting in October, to see how far, what we have achieved and what we can do better. So they have reduced the prices, in some instances they are giving away the medication freely, and we need to engage them as well as other constituencies to tackle this disease.
Q: A colleague of mine just came from Uganda, where he spoke to the President and he criticized you very much for not having done enough in Rwanda in 1994, and he also said that he thinks you should resign because of this. What do you think about that?
SG: Your friend said that or the President Kagame said that?
Journalist: The President said it to my colleague.
SG: Well, I would be surprised, because the President and I work very closely on lots of issues, and we were together in Lusaka and we are often on the phone. I think that on the Rwanda issue, two reports have come out, actually three - several reports. One is by the UN, one is by the OAU eminent persons and one by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and I think they tell a very interesting story. Mistakes were made, and in this war situation mistakes will be made and do occur. The important thing is to try to draw the right lessons and ensure that in the future those mistakes do not reoccur. It is very easy for people with a hindsight, with a cold and merciless knowledge and judgement of hindsight to appear so clever, and let those actors in the field appear like [inaudible] fools, but things are a bit more complicated than that and I expect historians to put it in some proper perspective, and I will be seeing President Kagame in South Africa, and I hope he will share this opinion with me as well, that he shared with your colleague - what is the name of your colleague?
Q: Do you see any problems, Sir, in the fact that the Norwegian Government invites you in the middle of the Norwegian election campaign?
SG: The Norwegian Government did not invite me. I came here on holiday, which had been planned here, because - as I said - we love nature and I thought Norway would be a good place to have a holiday. At the end of my two weeks of holidays, I stopped in Norway to have discussions, but the initiative of coming here was mine, the Government did not invite me, and at the end of my visit I stopped in to talk to the Government.
Q: As you know, the level of development aid is a big issue in the campaign. Can any of the parties be using your visit for their internal purpose?
SG: I don't think so and I will not allow it to be used.
Q: The G-8 meeting in Genoa put Africa on top of the agenda on the basis of the MAP initiative. I wonder, do you believe that the MAP initiative is just another vision of African Renaissance, or do you think that it could turn out to be a real turning point for African development?
SG: I hope it would turn out to be a real turning point, in that it is an initiative that came from the African leaders, an initiative that was endorsed by the OAU summit in Lusaka, and at the summit in Genoa the emphasis of the discussion was on implementation and on action and I hope that if that spirit is sustained, that we will see real results from this initiative.
Q: It has received criticism for being just another begging bowl for Africa. Do you agree in that criticism?
SG: I don't know if it is correct to describe it as a begging bowl, or as an initiative that has been put forward to be implemented in partnership with the developing countries. The Africans and the African leaders will make their own contribution but they want to work in partnership with the north [inaudible] and they will need help, and I think once you look at it as a partnership effort, then it is not a begging bowl, and definitely the leaders who proposed this initiative do not see it in those terms at all.
Press encounter following meeting with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway, Oslo, 20 August 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister, and ladies and gentlemen of the press. I think my wife and I are extremely happy to be here in Norway. We have had a rather invigorating walk in the mountains and everywhere we went people have been very kind to us. Our discovery of the Norwegian mountains began some years ago, when my brother-in-law, Bent Lagergren, who lives here, and his wife Ingeborg, invited us to walk in the mountains of the [inaudible] and then we decided that we will come back. And then when I came back here as Secretary-General, Oysten Dahle [spelling?] came and gave my wife and myself, having known that we walked in the mountains, lifetime membership in the Hiking Association, but as you know membership in any organization comes with obligation, and so I have now met my obligation by walking very, very long distances in the mountains. You have a beautiful country, and you are right, Mr Prime Minister, the mountains will be here next year, and we will be back. But next year would also be the year of the mountains, where we are all supposed to focus on sustainable development of mountain regions and conservation of the eco systems of the mountains around the world, and I think what I saw here leads me to believe that Norway has a lot to offer the rest of the world, and we have also been able to discuss with the Prime Minister in addition to what he has raised the fight against HIV/AIDS and to thank him for the contribution of Norway, not only for the fight against AIDS but in the whole area of economic and social development, the work you have done with us in the Middle East on peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the whole question of environment issues.
Q: United Nations has been in an economic crisis for many years. What is the situation now concerning the debt that is on the United States, and the United States I guess is one of the members of the family which draws quite a lot of profitable advantages, because they are equipping the Organization with huge amounts of various things, from military equipment to the administration as well. Could you please say a bit about these two things.
SG: Our financial situation has not considerably improved. Last December the Member States came to an agreement on the budget, reducing the U.S. contribution of the Regular Budget from 25% to 22%, and agreeing to reduce its contribution of peacekeeping budgets from 31% to 27%. On the basis of that agreement the U.S. Government was to have released $582 million in past dues. President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell have told me that they would want to see the money released and they are doing whatever they can. We have some problems in the Congress, where a Congressman has introduced a Bill that if the International Criminal Court is established and U.S. citizens are not exempted or are not immune from prosecution by the Court, then they will not release the money. This is an ex-post facto reservation that I don't think would please other Member States who had negotiated in good faith, and I hope the U.S. will release the money and continue to pay its dues in full and on time, without condition, as every Member State is expected to do. On the question of the U.N. contribution to the U.S., it is quite correct that the U.N. with its headquarters in New York brings lots of benefits to the city. The Ambassadors and their staff rent apartments, they rent offices, we do lots of purchases in the States, and in fact it is estimated that we put about $3 billion in the New York economy, so there is considerable benefits accruing to the U.S. as well, in addition to the political, economic and legal benefits that accrues to them.
Q: Mr Secretary-General, You have thanked Norway on repeated occasions for the country's large economic contribution in terms of GDP, or compared with the GDP. Norway's largest opposition party now suggests that the contribution from Norway to the U.N. system should be cut by more than $100 million. What do you feel about this proposal?
SG: Obviously this is a decision for the Norwegian Government and the Norwegian people to take, but as Secretary-General of the U.N., as you've heard me say in the past, Norway has provided leadership in the area of economic development, economic and social development, that I hope will continue. Norway has been the envy of many countries that would want to move in that direction. I think a cut of that magnitude will have a very negative impact on development assistance, at a time when we are encouraging other governments to follow the lead of Norway. I think this is something that I hope Norwegians are proud about, that they are providing leadership in this important area. I think the problem in our world today, which concerns most people, and we saw this in Genoa and other places, is the issue of inequality, the issue of exclusion, the inequality between states and within states, which we all have to do something about, and in fact we often talk about globalization. I think if globalization is going to work in the long term, it has to work for all, and I have often maintained that if we are able to help governments and other people to develop their resources, to make a decent living at home, we will be expanding world trade. We would also be able to take away the pressure from people to leave their countries to go and look for a living elsewhere, and I think it will have also a positive impact on mass migration, which as we know is also causing tensions around the world.
Q: The International Court in The Hague has ruled it is illegal to start nuclear war. Would you recommend all countries, including Norway, to support its stance in the upcoming General Assembly?
SG: You mean to fight against nuclear weapons, or nuclear war? Yes, I think as an Organization we are for nuclear disarmament. We have made a constant stand through the NPT non-proliferation treaty with CTBT agreement. We have not made real concrete progress either at the discussions in Geneva or elsewhere, and you may recall that in my millennium report to the General Assembly I recommended that maybe the time has come for Member States to come together and discuss nuclear dangers to this climate. Quite a few Member States were pleased with the idea, but not all the nuclear powers were amused.
Q: You spent a very long time at the Royal Castle and I was wondering if that was because you were discussing the foundation that the Crown Prince and his fiancée are going to make for the coming wedding?
SG: No, we had a very pleasant chat with The King and the Queen and the Crown Prince and the Princess, and we talked a bit about the wedding. I was able to congratulate them and offer them a bit of advice. And also we talked about art and our travels around Norway, and where to go next time. The Queen has some very good and helpful suggestions, and we will probably take her up on that and try those regions, but it was a very friendly conversation and I was very happy to meet the young couple; I think they make a wonderful couple, and they are going to be great together. But don't ask me to tell you the advice I gave to them - it was for them! (laughter)
Q: Can you give some information about how the economic problems affect the peace operations around the world?
SG: I think, if there is, there has always been an economic basis for political crisis. An old professor of mine used to say "when the hay is not enough, the horses they can bite each other", and we have seen situations where people are fighting over scarce economic resources, and that often leads to discrimination of sorts where sometimes whole groups are discriminated against because of race, because of religion, or something else, and these people often believe that their votes don't count. Even if they vote for this party or that party, the government does nothing for them, and therefore sometimes that situation is exploited by leaders, to gain political advantage in at least a conflict, and so we are now trying to tell governments that they have to find a way of ensuring that the services of governments is shared equitably, that the cloth of government covers each citizen, that each citizen is made to feel that the government is their government too, and where this does not happen and you have sustained discrimination of one group or the other, you are really building up conflicts and they often fight to get their share of the limited resources, and so sustainable development and respect for the rights of the individual often is a good preventive action before conflicts break out.
Q: The Security Council is preparing for a meeting this afternoon on the Middle East. Would the issue of sending peace observers or peacemakers to the area be on the agenda, and what about the U.S. playing an active role in the Middle East?
SG: On your first question, let me say that I have no doubt that the issue will be raised. It is an open debate, and the speakers will not be limited to only the 15 members of the Council. Any Member State of the Organization will be free to speak, and I am sure the issue of the observers there will be raised; whether the Council will be able to take a decision or not is not certain. The role of the U.S. is a decision for the U.S. to take, but the U.S. has an important leadership role in the region, because both parties believe that U.S. can help them get an agreement or help them out of this difficult situation. All of us - Norway, myself, the European Union, the Russians - have all been working with the U.S. and the parties to try and get, to calm the situation if I may put it this way. I know that there is a sense that the U.S. should do more, but that is a decision for the U.S. Government to take. But what is important, and what is essential is for all of us to recognize that the current impasse in the region cannot be allowed to persist. It is dangerous, it is raising tensions in the region, and if we do not take concrete steps to contain it, it may spread to other parts of the region and beyond.
Press encounter following Security Council meeting on , New York, 2 August 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Will you be here tomorrow?
SG: I'll be here.
Q: You're one of the few people who have read this report. I wondered if you think it will quell all of the hubbub about it.
SG: I hope it does. But let's wait until it is presented to the [Security] Council tomorrow.
Q: What about the Middle East in general at this moment? Where do we stand, do you think?
SG: I think on the Middle East situation, it is a very worrying situation. We've seen escalation, violence, and I think the international community really needs to come together and figure out some action that it can take to calm the situation before it gets completely out of hand. And I'm going to keep my contacts with the other players to see what collective action can be taken to calm the situation.
Q: The Racism Conference still goes on. Are you now more confident that controversial terms might be removed?
SG: I think the Member States are working very hard in Geneva to try and get the controversial language out. As I have said to them, both at the Human Rights Commission and at the OAU [Organization of African Unity] summit, we should really work hard to find a common link. It should be a forward-ooking conference. It should be a conference that comes up with a declaration and a plan of action that helps us fight racism. If we get bogged down in bitter fights and recriminations, it's really not going to achieve the objective we set for ourselves. So yes, no one can condone the ills of the past, slavery and other things. It has happened and it's uncondonable but we have to move forward and really take steps. There is slavery today, there is racism today. What are we going to do about it? I think that should be the focus.
Q: Thank you very much Mr. Secretary-General. Have a very good trip.
Secretary-General's remarks upon arrival to UNHQ, 23 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Welcome back. Could you explain why you ordered an inquiry into the UN video tape issue, shot in south Lebanon, and also, additionally, how would you characterize your conversation with [Israeli] Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon about it? Did you apologize?
SG: First of all, I think I have made it clear that I did not like the way it was handled. I think we could have handled it better and I wanted Mr. [Joseph] Connor to look into it to see what went wrong and to ensure that we draw lessons for how we handle this kind of material in the future and strengthen our procedures. I did speak to the Prime Minister on this issue as well as the Defence Minister, and I explained why my offer stood.
Q: Did you make an apology?
SG: No, I've told you what I discussed with the Prime Minister.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I have actually two questions. Could you please comment on the political changes in Indonesia today, and afterwards could you also comment on Iraqi criticism that you have not set a date for a second round of talks?
SG: On your first question, let me say that we have been following the developments in Indonesia very, very closely. I think what is important is the democratic process is being applied or being followed and of course the Parliament has designated Mrs. Megawati [Sukarnoputri] as the new President, and we wish her every success. And I hope that the kind of change that is taking place now will remain peaceful, it will be democratic, and that the nation will come together to get themselves out of this difficulty. Indonesia is an important nation, an important nation for the region and for the world, and we wish them every success.
On Iraq, I have made it clear to the Iraqis that the second round was going to take place once the [Security] Council has completed its own deliberations and that it would be counterproductive for me to engage in another round of talks while the Council itself is trying to define its direction. I think that is a reasonable position.
Q: After the G-8 statement on the possibility of sending observers to the Palestinian-Israeli situation there, what do you make out of the fact that the G-8 came out with that statement? And what do you think of the reaction by Mr. [Shimon] Peres and others in the [Israeli] Government speaking of the possibility of only enhancing the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] presence, rather than what the G-8 called for?
SG: I think it was an important development that the G-8 unanimously recognized that a third party presence, a third party monitoring mechanism, was necessary. I think now that they have come up with that recommendation, we need to work at it and try to see when and how we implement it. I know what you are referring to, some of the statements that have been made by leading Israeli politicians, but I think I will wait to see what happens when other sustained contacts are made with regards to implementation.
Q: Can I follow up on this? When you say now, "we need to work at it" -- "we" is who now? And what role are you particularly playing?
SG: By "we," I mean the international community and particularly the capitals that also took the decision in Genoa. And the group that has been working together has been the US, EU, UN and now the Russian Federation. I think we all have to pool our efforts to try and calm the situation on the ground and move forward.
Q: Sir, on Cyprus, now that Mr. Denktash has said that he is going to come see you in New York, I'm wondering can you give us any update on how you see the outlook for a resumption of peace talks, and when might he be coming?
SG: I think I should be in a better position to answer your question later on, when I have had my meeting with Mr. Denktash. But I would hope that we will be able to get things moving in the not-too-distant future.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, again on the international observer question. Are you aware of any requests so that the Security Council may meet in the next days or are you going to recommend something on it?
And if I may, a second question just because I'm from the German radio, I need your comment on the Kyoto Protocol finishing now. Is it progress, or is it not?
SG: I think, on the question of the Council, I'm not aware that the Council is planning a meeting on this issue. I think that the position that the Council has been pushing has now been embraced also universally by the G-8, and so I'm not sure the Council is planning another meeting. I've just got back, and I had no indications that they are planning any such meeting.
On Kyoto, I am pleased that after two night sessions, they were able to salvage the process and that Kyoto is alive, and that the Governments involved are determined to press ahead with its implementation. It is also important for us to notice that there has also been a shift in the US position, where President [George W.] Bush has indicated that they accept that it is important to do something about global warming, even though they don't think Kyoto is the vehicle. That is also an important development, and I hope that would mean that in time they would also come up with proposals that fit the spirit of Kyoto and work with other countries to do something about global warming.
Press Encounter with International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Juan Somavia, Geneva, 16 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Somavia: The Secretary-General has convened his network on youth employment that has been meeting here today at the ILO. It will continue its work tomorrow and has been reporting to the Secretary-General this afternoon. The members of the network are present here with us and I simply wanted to thank you for being here and to ask the Secretary-General to be at your service for the press conference. Thank you so much for coming.
SG: Thank you Juan. Ladies and gentlemen, let me thank all of you for coming this afternoon. Juan, thank you for the introduction and let me also thank you for hosting this network here at the ILO. In addition to our friends from the media, let me also welcome and thank the representatives of youth organizations and members of the High-Level Panel of the Youth Employment Network who are here with us this afternoon.
Let me give you a word of background. Last year, together with the Heads of the World Bank and the International Labour Organization, I convened a High-Level Policy Network on Youth Employment -- drawing on the most creative leaders in the private industry, civil society and economic policy. The aim was to explore imaginative approaches in creating opportunities for youth.
The Network was one of the key initiatives in my Millennium Report, which was prepared for the Millennium Summit and intended to help shape the agenda for the United Nations in the twenty-first century.
Why focus on youth employment? The facts and figures should speak for themselves. Youth make up more than 40 per cent of the world's total unemployed. There are an estimated 66 million unemployed young people in the world today -- an increase of nearly 10 million since 1965.
Of course, under-employment is also another growing concern. The majority of new jobs are low- paid and insecure. Increasingly, young people are turning to the informal sector for their livelihood, with little or no job protection, benefits, or prospects for the future. Being unemployed early in life takes a heavy and enduring toll on the individual. It can damage prospects for employment later in life, leading to a circle of despair, poverty and social instability. And thereby, it leads to a destructive circle for all society. We cannot afford to let this vicious circle continue any longer. Youth is our most valuable asset -- they are the leader of the future, they are the future.
That is why I am thrilled that we have been able to assemble such a group of creative and innovative people in our High-Level Panel. They are working on proposals that cover the full range of the challenge of youth employment: from sound macroeconomic policies to opportunities for young women, including education for girls as well as boys -- but I would want to stress education for girls. Some of you may recall that last year we had a special conference in Dakar "Educate Girls Now" and that initiative is still very much in force -- from the need of public-private partnerships to the need to harness the potential of information technology; and the need to create enabling environments for young people working in the informal economy, to encouraging young entrepreneurs -- both women and men -- and helping them gain access to capital. And I think most of you have also read about Hernando de Soto’s work, "The Other Path", and his determination to help the poor in the informal sector, give them access to capital and enable them to use assets and collateral.
These recommendations, once finalized, will be presented to the Member States of the United Nations. But this initiative will go far beyond Governments. The Network will form a growing web of partnerships to generate jobs and opportunities for youth. This afternoon at our meeting, we decided that the panel will be a standing group to keep advising me and the partners -- that is Juan Somavia and Jim Wolfensohn -- on the way ahead. They would also serve as advocates for youth employment and also get Governments to take this issue very seriously. So I started with three partners and now we are 15. I will take your questions.
Spokeswoman: We will start with questions on the Youth Employment Initiative. Only when we exhaust those questions will we like to expand it to other subjects.
Q: On behalf of the press that is more or less scattered here in this audience, Mr. Secretary-General, on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association (ACANU), our hearty congratulations to your re-election for another term. I will actually ask a more general question if I be allowed to do that and leave the questions on the Youth Forum which I am not a great expert on it and it is all fairly new as you outlined.
SG: May I make a suggestion to you? I think Marie had a very good suggestion. Why don’t we focus on the Youth Employment Initiative and when we move on to the more general questions, we will come back to you and give you the first question.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, my question is addressed to you and also to Mr. Somavia. In your very glossy brochure you have some startling data on youth unemployment, but there seems to be no data on China, the world’s most populous country and according to ILO officials they have no data on China for the last 10 years. So there is a big gap there.
SG: Juan will take that question.
Somavia: I think that you are right. It’s a gap that we believe that in the context of the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed with China, we will be able to deepen the knowledge of that situation there.
Q: I have a follow-up question. What are your rough estimates? What do you think are the number of unemployed in China? We have heard by the US Government officials of 100 million - is that a conservative estimate?
Somavia: Let me tell you the situation as we have been able to appraise it. Because of the move to the market, there is obviously a strong change from State enterprises to market-based industries. The first move towards reducing employment in State enterprises resulted in 20 million laid off workers and these moves are going to continue into the future. I think it would be hazardous to give you an off-the-cuff idea, but that is a very concrete figure - it is a figure with which the Government of China is working. Out of those, around 14 million have been able to find another job, 6 million have not. If that process continues, it is clear that there is going to be an unemployment issue and a social security and social protection issue present there.
Q: My question is what youth organizations are collaborating with the Youth Employment Network? And if one is not part of an organization, how can one be involved in the decision-making process and implementation of action plans?
SG: Let me make a comment on that and then pass it on to Juan. Let me stress that this is not an initiative that is going to be limited to the international organizations. It is an initiative that should embrace Governments. We cannot do this without Governments, without civil society, without the private sector, and indeed foundations. So at the national level, we would expect Governments to come up with strategies for youth employment. And in building up that strategy, I would expect them to consult the youth, women’s groups, civil society, others, and employers, of course, and then come up with a strategy for ensuring that the youth are looked after and that there will be decent jobs for them as they move from universities, or those who are not given skills to be able to cope with their daily lives. But I think that Juan may want to mention those who are participating here today.
Somavia: Yes, we thought that it was important, together with the Youth Employment Network, to consult with a group of heads of youth organizations. So we had that consultation in the course of Friday and Saturday, out of which there was a meeting this morning between the youth group and the Youth Employment Network. They are definitely going to be part of the process in which we are involved. So the linkage with youth organizations is there from the beginning.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, will your new Network and growing web give attention to troubled spots in the world like Palestine where you have growing and alarming signals of unemployment and growing poverty and the youth are very affected in that region of the world.
SG: It is a global effort and it will include all countries, including areas in conflict. Obviously, the areas in conflict have special difficulties and we have to tackle them specifically and take specific measures to help them. But that is a different topic. So yes, it will cover them.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I know that Africa is one of your main priorities and we can understand why. I am not going to come back on all of the recent proposals that you made for the promotion and for the improvement of the economy in that continent. But please could you tell us about some important guidelines which have been discussed or decided here during this meeting or which you are hoping to get out from this meeting, which could lead African youngsters towards reinforcing the African private sector - the weak African private sector unfortunately - to take over from those who did not succeed in the past and to help promoting what the African Union has called the African Initiative.
SG: The group had been sitting for much longer than when I joined them this morning, but let me say that one of the issues that had been discussed is education of the young, mentoring by more experienced people of young people, encouraging Governments and employers to consider youth employment seriously, and taking in young people whenever they can. In fact somebody said if we can encourage each company to at least take in one young person and train him, it multiplies incredibly.
But there was a very interesting suggestion -- is Hernando here, no he is not -- there was a very interesting suggestion talking about the informal sector and the fact that in the Third World the informal sector is often larger than the formal sector, and that those who operate in that sector often cannot get access to capital, they often are not encouraged to become entrepreneurs because they do not have documents and they do not know where to start, and that one of the areas where Governments can enhance their economic growth is by taking a very close look at this informal sector and encouraging young people to become entrepreneurs, in addition to of course finding ways and means of creating jobs for them.
We were also conscious in our meeting that the youth represent a tremendous force - not only are they the future, but even now, in political terms, youth power is quite a force. We pay lots of attention to grey power because the old are organized, and I think we are going to be seeing a situation where the young and the youth will also begin to organize themselves and demand attention from their Governments and policy makers.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, from the ideas you have shared with us, I have the feeling that you are referring to a very rich sort of youth that already have access to education and can dream about going to university. My question is what sort of strategy are you looking to address the needs of the indigenous youth?
SG: Let me say that we did not focus on the privileged youth. In fact our concern is not the privileged youth, it is the millions of young people who often are denied access to education, who are half-educated and underemployed. In fact we focused on the youth, as Mrs. Ruth Cardoso said, as a creative force and also as a victim. And in today’s world there are many young people who are victims - who are in great despair and live in a state of desperation and believe that help is not coming from anywhere. And of course you have the privileged as you referred to, but the privileged in this situation are not necessarily in the majority. Of course they have problems, but it is the other half which is of great concern to all of us.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, my question is about resources. Are you going to be looking somewhere new for resources for your innovative solutions. And the second question is about how this Network links up with ILO's full employment initiative. Thank you.
SG: We are not going to be looking elsewhere for extra resources. We are asking Governments and policy-makers to give attention to this issue, to give it higher priority in their own budgets, and to work in partnership with the private sector, with non-governmental organizations, with foundations and partners, to really push this issue forward. I think if the will is there and with the right determination and right policy decisions, we should be able to help the youth much more than we are doing now. We may need to work across international borders. But I think the first responsibility is for the leaders of the countries around the world, taking this issue seriously and looking for partners to work with them.
Spokeswoman: Because of the Secretary-General’s tight schedule we will now be broadening the subjects. So we go back to you, Robert Kroon.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, we are only a few days away from the G8 Summit in Genoa. I have a two-pronged question, first of all what is your message to the G8 leaders? Do you think that the captains on the ship are fully aware of the economic crisis that is threatening the world and what should be done about it? And the second aspect is the specter of violence. Already the troops of protest are converging on Genoa. There has been a letter bomb explosion today apparently, fortunately without any fatalities. Will the next summit meeting have to be held on a battleship instead of a cruise ship?
SG: Let me start with the last question. I think the last question is something that the G8 will have to decide. I have enough problems deciding where UN conferences should take place, and I look forward to their decision on that one. On the issues before the G8, I think that the question of poverty obviously is an important one, and the whole issue of globalization and its negative impact. By that I mean inequalities between States and within States. And I think it is important that we recognize that while globalization can be a positive force and has been a positive force and is not a new phenomenon, we need to take into consideration the inequities and the concerns of the poor and the marginalized. This is something I hope the G8 will be very conscious about.
The other issue I hope will be on the agenda is a question of our fight against HIV/AIDS. It is a scourge that is really of frightening proportions and it is not a problem limited to Africa. Africa of course is the hardest hit. But it is a global problem. It is serious in Asia, in eastern Europe, in the Caribbean, even in the United States, the statistics this year indicated that the infection rate has risen dramatically. So we cannot let our guards down and I hope everyone will join the fight. The Global AIDS and Health Fund is going well. I would hope that at the end of the meeting in Genoa that we would have received pledges of over a billion dollars. But let us not forget that the target is an additional 7 to 10 billion dollars a year. And this is not a Fund limited to Governments alone, it is open to private companies, to foundations, to individuals, and I think if we all pull our efforts we can make the target.
I think everyone has embraced the five main objectives of the call to action -- prevention, to ensuring that all those who are at risk have a means of protecting themselves, particularly young women who are now becoming victims, and I hope the scientific development of micro-(inaudible) would also help them take charge and give them the power and the means to protect themselves. We would also want to end or reduce considerably the cruellest of all transmissions from mother to child. We would want to be able to do something for the orphans. There are 13 million of them in the world today and the numbers are growing. We would want to be able to care for those who are affected by the disease. And of course, we want to encourage scientific research for vaccines and for cure. This would also entail improving the health-care systems in the countries affected. But we need not wait for five star hospitals to begin treating them. We can use our communities, we can be creative. Brazil has shown that. Uganda has demonstrated it and so has Senegal. So let us move on with the fight.
Q: Mr. Annan, you talked before about the book of Mr. Hernando de Soto who is a very famous Peruvian economist. He wrote a book about the mysterious capital. But if you read the book, you can see that Margaret Thatcher and Mr. Framer are the apologists for this book. Mr. de Soto also is a very famous and neoliberal economist. We know the situation in Latin America has broken a lot of small companies and enterprises. My question is do you recommend that these policies be followed?
SG: Before I answer that question, let me give you another item that should be on the G8 agenda - it is the climate change. It is very important and it must be on there. I think I have spoken quite clearly on that topic and I need not labour on it again today. On your question, let me say that even in the United States when you look at the small enterprises, small to middle enterprises, even in some of the well-entrenched economies, are creating the largest number of jobs. And so if one can have a situation where some of these small entrepreneurs, formal or informal, are creating jobs, I think we should encourage them. And when we talk of the role of the informal sector and the contribution it can make to the national economy, it is because it is the most dynamic half of the economy. When you look at the statistics, you look at some of these countries, you take transport, sometimes the informal sector creates more transport opportunities for the poor than the Government. Housing - sometimes they do more than the Government. You cannot ignore such a dynamic sector in the economy. So in that respect, Hernando is absolutely right, that we need to rethink how we capture economic growth and development.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, would you have something to say on the India-Pakistan talks that are just about to conclude today? Is there anything new that you have in terms of how these talks should move. The second question, Mr. Secretary-General, in the morning you gave a call for development and a round of trade negotiations. If you remember in the month of May, you gave the same call in Brussels which was rejected by all the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The LDCs said that we cannot make a double payment which we have already made. And today again you gave this call. There is general apprehension in the minds of many developing countries in the World Trade Organization today. Why are you jumping yourself into this at a time when they are all opposed to a new round?
SG: The first question about India and Pakistan. Let me say that I am very pleased that the meeting has taken place. You would recall that I was in the region in March this year, both in Islamabad and Delhi, and I had discussions with the leaders - in Delhi not only with Prime Minister Vajpayee but also with all the opposition leaders, encouraging them to have bilateral talks. So I am delighted that the talks are taking place. I think that is the only way to resolve the differences between these two great nations and if we are able to do it, it would mean a really great day, not only for the two countries but for the entire region. I have not seen any readout of the discussions, so I would prefer not to jump the gun, but I am really delighted that the discussions have taken place. I hope it will be successful and constructive and that it is the beginning of a sustained effort to resolve this long-standing conflict, and I wish the two leaders and the peoples of India and Pakistan every success.
On your second question, obviously as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I do not make policy for Governments, but I can make suggestions, I can have ideas. And in my judgement, the developing world should embrace another round. You put it in terms of they will be paying twice. They argue that the concessions that they gained at the Uruguay Round have not been implemented and therefore, some of them say they would want to discuss the implementation issues before they move on to the next round. But that is precisely one more reason to go to the next round. These implementation issues can be discussed at that round. If you do not have the next round to discuss implementation issues, where are you going to discuss them? We should not also assume that each time the Third World or the developing world get into negotiations, we are so dumb that we are always going to come up the worse off. We should go to these meetings well prepared, determined to defend our interests, and we can band together to make a difference. In fact I have asked UNCTAD and some of the UN agencies to help them to prepare for these meetings. If they do not go to the next round and they maintain at the last round, they did not get the resources or the benefits that they were promised.
What next? Do we sit and fold our arms -- that they did not implement the Uruguay Round and therefore we do not want another round? What concrete suggestions would those who oppose this round make? I think it is in their interests to go and defend themselves and to push, I said it has to be a truly development round, a round that opens up world markets for the Third World, a round that tries to eliminate the subsidies that the rich pay their farmers and all their industries that makes it difficult for the poor to compete. That is the only forum we can go and argue this, not by sitting it out. Thank you very much.
Press encounter in Geneva, 16 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Ladies and Gentlemen, once again I am happy to be back in Geneva to attend the Economic and Social Council. I hope to have the chance to also talk to Ministers who are here in Geneva to discuss specific issues. Of course, as we meet here, there are other major events taking place, particularly the climate change conference in Bonn which opens today. We have the small arms conference in New York, which I hope will also make progress. I can see that you are anxious to pose your questions. I will take a few questions.
[Asked about his reaction to the non-election of Adolf Ogi, his Special Adviser on Sports for Development and Peace, to the International Olympic Committee, he said he was happy the elections had taken place and he congratulated Mr. Jacques Rogge for his election to the International Olympic Committee. "I hope we will be able to work very closely together", he said.]
Press Conference with German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Berlin, 13 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Following Chancellor Schröder's opening remarks, in which he welcomed the Secretary-General, congratulated him on his re-election, and outlined the topics they had discussed - including the G8, the Secretary-General's initiative against AIDS, and the need to see successful negotiations at the Bonn Climate Change Conference next week - the Secretary-General responded (The Chancellor's translated remarks to follow):
SG: Thank you very much, Chancellor. Let me say how happy I am to be back in Berlin and to thank you personally and the Government and the people of Germany for the support they have given me and the United Nations. We have a heavy agenda but I know we can always count on the leadership and strong participation of Germany in all our activities.
I am grateful that the member states re-appointed me and, therefore, it will be possible for us to continue our important work. I would also want to comment on the several issues that the Chancellor raised. First of all I want to thank you, Mr. Chancellor, for the contribution for the AIDS fund that you have announced. I hope it will inspire others to follow, and I must emphasize here that this is not a fund only for governments. It's a fund that is open to the private sector, to companies, individuals, foundations and others to make contributions. And I hope those with capacity to give, would give and give generously because this is a struggle that we are all engaged in.
On climate change, let me start by saying that I agree with everything that the Chancellor has said but I would want to add that climate change is occurring. It is real. We have enough evidence to know that it is happening. There's enough scientific evidence to wake us up and let us take action. We don't need to wait for perfect science to be able to act. Each day we fail to act we are putting the earth at risk. And I think leaders of today, including myself, have a responsibility to the young ones to ensure that we leave them a planet that is habitable. We leave them a planet that they can survive on. Unless we begin to act we will put their future at risk. I also trust that in the end the Japanese Government will join other likeminded governments to press ahead with the implementation of this protocol. Japan, as a host country, has a historic and special responsibility and I am sure they will live up to that. We need to have reliability and dependency in international relations and international undertakings and I am sure that it will happen. Let me say that Jan Pronk, the Dutch Minister who has been chairing this meeting, has done a great job and he needs all our help. I spoke to your compatriot Klaus Töpfer yesterday, who is also pushing very hard, and we are all determined to work with the governments to ensure a successful conference in Bonn and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.
One final comment on another problem: small arms. As we speak there is an important conference going on in New York on attempts to stem the traffic in illicit arms. I think it is important that that conference succeeds. Yesterday in my meeting with Defence Minister Scharping he informed me that Germany has already destroyed 1.5 million such weapons and I applaud Germany for that. I think it is important that we do everything to stem the flow because in today's world it is these weapons that are doing all the killing in the wars that are ravaging our world. They are the same weapons that are killing people in our cities, that get into the hands of drug dealers, terrorists, and we need to really contain this flow. The intention is to ensure that we make this world a better place for us. Do not be distracted by statements made by others that the UN wants to get weapons away from people who legally own them. One has a right to own a weapon maybe, but we also have a right to protect innocent peoples in our community. And I hope we will have a successful meeting in New York. Three years ago in a report I issued in Africa I recommended that Africa, which is the poorest continent, should encourage that no government in that region spends more than 1.5 per cent of its GDP on arms, and I think we all have a responsibility to try and curb the spread of these weapons.
[Question to Chancellor Schröder on Germany's wish for a permanent seat on the Security Council, to which he replied that Germany is willing to take on more responsibility but is not pressuring for this.]
Q: Mr Secretary-General, how do you judge the prospects of Klaus Töpfer being re-elected as the Head of UNEP? My second question would be, what do you think about the work he has done so far?
SG: Klaus Töpfer has been a dynamic leader of the UN Environment Programme. He came to us with lots of experience from Germany as a former Environment Minister, and provided such visionary leadership and dynamism to the Programme and has started very important initiatives that I would like him to continue. I have no doubt that Klaus Töpfer will continue and his appointment will be supported unanimously by the member states. He is a great leader.
[Chancellor Schröder added expression of his respect and support for Mr. Töpfer (in German).]
SG: Thank you.
Press Encounter with German Federal Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping, Berlin, 12 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Sharping (translation): Ladies and gentlemen, we talked about the situation in the Balkans, about peace keeping operations in general, about the role of the United Nations and that it must be strengthened, and about German contributions. Not only the contribution in the Balkans, but also - as recognized by Kofi Annan and the United Nations - for example we have also helped in Mozambique and in East Timor, and I said that we will continue to be willing, and moreover interested, in a strengthening of the United Nations overall, not only through the contributions of the German Army but also the Police, as well as the strengthening of international law. Moreover, I am happy to meet with an old, and very likeable, friend.
SG: Let me say that I was also very happy to see the Defence Minister again. I always enjoy our encounters and the discussions we hold, and we also did talk about the Small Arms Conference in New York and I was really happy to hear that Germany has destroyed large numbers of these weapons. It was 1.5 million, which proves that it can be done. It is essential that we come to grips with these weapons, which are doing lots of harm in our communities, with criminals, with the drug traffickers, with war lords in war zones. It will be very essential that the whole world comes together and makes us sustain the effort to eliminate these weapons and to curb them, and I will do whatever I can working with civil society and governments to curb these weapons. And I am very, very grateful for the participation of the German Government and the support they have given us in all our activities. They are playing a key leadership role in the political and conceptual aspects of our work, and I hope it will continue.
Q: Mr. Secretary, the Minister just talked about a stronger German role for the United Nations. What kind of a role should that be and do you foresee a stronger role in the Middle East? Do you foresee a German participation with German observers on the ground?
SG: I think the German participation has been strong and I hope it will continue in areas of economic and social development, poverty alleviation, it will continue on the issue of the fight against AIDS. It will continue in peace keeping activities and it will also continue in our search for peace everywhere in the world, particularly in the Middle East. I think Europe has a role to play, and so does the US and the UN and other regions, particularly the leaders in the Middle East. The question of German troop presence in the Middle East was not discussed because it is not a real issue at this stage.
Q: I didn't ask about troops, I asked about observers on the ground, which are not military personnel. This is a new plan developed by the French and the German government.
SG: This is for the Middle East?
(Q:): Right, we are talking about the Middle East.
SG: I think there is a broad discussion on the search for peace in the Middle East and I would hope that if the time comes that contribution of that kind is needed, that Germany will play a role.
Q: Do you see it the same, Mr. Minister?
Scharping (translation): First of all my view is that to secure peaceful developments in the Middle East a lot more is needed than just sending observers there now. The Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs has certainly contributed a lot in a very critical situation to achieve at least a halfways reasonable ceasefire. Now both sides in the conflict have to reach agreement and introduce developments that allow discourse on the question of international participation through observation, through economic support or other means. We are not that far yet.
SG: Let me add something then. You talked of a Plan with the French and the Germans. I am not familiar with that Plan, but what some of us have discussed is perhaps a need for a third-party monitoring mechanism to help the parties move ahead with the implementation of the whole Mitchell Plan and in my own discussions with other leaders I have suggested that not only do we need a third-party monitoring mechanism, but it would also be helpful if we had the timetable for the implementation of the Plan.
Q: But would you welcome a German presence, a German participation there?
SG: I don't think we are this stage yet because on this we haven't even defined what the third-party monitoring mechanism would be. So I really don't want to be drawn on that but if we were to get to that stage we will discuss it.
Q: [Not audible, on ceasefire]
SG: Well it's not ideal. There have been incidents, but I think the level of violence is considerably down and I would hope that this trend will continue and that we can move forward very quickly to the implementation of other phases of the Mitchell Plan.
Q: How could you stop the escalations then?
SG: I think to stop the escalation one needs to work with the parties and the parties have to make a real effort to stop the escalation and there has to be confidence-building measures. There has to be real desire to move forward and they have to be prepared to deal with each other. Of course there is that deep mistrust and that is why I have a sense that they will need some international help to do it. I don't think, left to themselves, given the depth of the mistrust, it will happen as quickly as we would want it to see it happen.
Press Encounter by The Secretary General and German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer at the Foreign Ministry, Berlin, 12 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Fischer (translation): Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome. It's a great pleasure for us to welcome the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, here to Berlin today. This evening a group of us are also going to have dinner at the Charlottenburg Palace. It was a special pleasure today that five hundred final year students from Sciences Po, that is German - French students of politics, were at the Ministry and, completely spontaneously, the Secretary-General was willing to meet with these students so that we had a very good beginning to our talks.
Otherwise, we discussed intensively the Middle East regarding the current situation of the peace effort. We agreed that it is very, very important to proceed now with the implementation of the Mitchell Report, to begin with the mechanism towards building confidence towards ending the violence as well as leading to a lasting ceasefire. It is very, very important that this is supported by all the countries and I was able to thank Kofi Annan once again for the excellent cooperation that I had with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the region on the 2 of June, Mr Larsen.
We talked in detail about the Balkans, about Macedonia, about Kosovo, and about the need to find a political solution based on a silencing of arms and laying down of weapons for good. On this too we hold the same position. We recognise the importance of the elections that will take place in Kosovo in autumn, for the whole region. We also talked about the work of the United Nations and especially the Secretary-General's outstanding initiative for an anti-AIDS fund, a health fund to give the opportunity to the poorer countries to effectively fight this illness in the interests of those who are effected. In this regard the G8 Summit will be a decisive landmark in providing finances for the fund. I was able to once again reassure Secretary-General Kofi Annan, but the Federal Government fully supports this initiative and this will surely be part of his talks with the Federal Chancellor. G8 is imminent and these matters will be addressed accordingly. There were also a number of other issues, which I don't want to go into at the moment but I would like to once again say how happy we are to have the Secretary-General here in Berlin a second time, and last but not least, I would like to take this opportunity, both officially and personally, to congratulate him on his re-election. Thank you.
SG: Thank you very much Mr. Minister and let me say that it is always a pleasure for me to be able to sit and discuss global issues and the crisis spots with you. You've been one of the dynamic foreign ministers on the issues that we are tackling around the world and you've also been hands on going to the Middle East and helping move the cease fire and the process there forward. And you refer to the pleasant surprise you gave me as I walked in, the chance to meet these young people, and I always like to give time to the young people. As I told them, they are the leaders of this 21st century and it is important that they become engaged early and it is important that we give them attention and encourage them to take responsibility and become involved. I think the Foreign Minister has given you indications of what we've discussed. We have very little time and so perhaps we'll take one or two questions and I need to move on.
(One here, one there. First the lady.)
Q: … to what extent have you discussed the role of Germany in conflict prevention and how do you define your role ….
Fischer (translation): We didn't talk about this because our positions haven't changed. We fully support the United Nations, including the measures towards reform, and of course, for us with our multilateral approach in German foreign policy the United Nations is of overwhelming importance. Also the Security Council, I refer to the contribution of the Security Council in peacekeeping, or even peacemaking, measures, is essential for us. Primarily we talked about crises and about Macedonia, where - I can only reiterate - it is clear to me that NATO has decided and stated that a lasting political framework agreement must be in place, that there must be a lasting ceasefire and thirdly, that willingness to lay down arms is a precondition for NATO deployment. In this regard too there are no changes at present so we talked more about actual attempts at political solutions that are on the table. Now in the interest of gender equality, the next question from Mr. Monert please.
Q: Mr. Secretary General, you have debated on whether Germany should engage more strongly in the peace process in the Middle East. What's your opinion on this? SG: I think, Germany and the international community have a role to play. I think the European Union has been very dynamic and as you all know Foreign Minister Fischer himself was on the ground and his presence made a critical difference. I think the European Union and Germany should stay engaged. The US, the European Union, the UN - all of us have a role to play. And in fact I had the opportunity of discussing this issue with Foreign Minister Fischer and we are going to keep working together and do whatever we can to end the tragedy in the region. Thank you.
Fischer (translation): Thank you all.
Secretary General's remarks to some 500 German/French graduate students at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Berlin, 12 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: [Greeting in French] Let me say that this is a very pleasant surprise and I am really very happy to walk into a room full of young people, young students, dynamic leaders of the 21st Century. You are the future. And I mean that.
That is a good sign. It means we are ready to lead and pretty soon Mr. Fischer and myself will have to make space for you. And that's the way to do it. Take the responsibility. Take the leadership. And really ask questions and challenge us. There are things that I believe that we could have done better. When I look at the environment and in the Millennium Report to the Assembly last year it was one of the issues that I emphasised that we cannot continue exploiting the resources the way that we are doing it and expect to leave a healthy planet for you and your children.
Don't get me wrong, don't get me wrong, I have not joined the Green Party, but I believe in the environment and often I am reminded of an African proverb which says the earth is not ours, it is a treasure we hold in trust for our children, and their children and I think you should put pressure on my generation to be worthy of that trust.
Thank you. We have many more fights that are going on. The fight against poverty, the fight against AIDS, the fight for the right to be educated, particularly education of young girls and I think as you get out into the world I would want you to join this fight, as well as the fight for the environment, and do not assume that the individual cannot make a difference. An individual can make a difference. You can make a difference. You can, he can, and I can. In the environment you can make a difference with your choices, with your purchases, and what you go for, and I keep telling my friends in industry that they have made lots of money polluting the air. But they can perhaps even make much more money cleaning it up. Thank you very much
Speech by the Secretary-General in response to Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber's welcome, Munich, 12 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: [Opening words missing from recording] ……..to be here in this historic state of Bavaria. Yesterday I had the chance to walk around the city for over an hour and I had a feel for your city and the mood of the population and I walked back to the hotel, while I was waiting for my wife, quite exhilarated with the walk and the encounter with the population. And this morning I have a chance to discuss with you some very key issues affecting our world and, as I indicated, poverty and the fight against poverty is one of the key ones; and when about 150 heads of states and government met at the UN last year during the Millennium Summit the fight against poverty was on the top of the agenda, along with the fight against HIV AIDS, which is also a global problem. Even though Africa is the hardest hit today, it is spreading very fast in Asia, in Eastern Europe and in the Caribbean, and we all have to face it as a common tragedy. In today's world there is no "us and them" and when it comes to diseases no-one lives on an island. There is so much inter-dependency and interaction that we cannot be insulated from what is happening elsewhere in the world, and this is why I have come up with a call to action, and ask the entire world to embrace the fight and to do whatever they can in addition to making contributions to the global AIDS and health fund. We are off to a good start but we need lots of help. We need lots of help to make the fight against AIDS successful and I believe that your state, with its wealth and its capacity, has a contribution to make, and as Mr. Stoiber said, as Secretary-General of the UN, I have tried to reach out, to work in partnership with NGOs, with private corporations, with foundations and individuals for us to be able to tackle the major crisis we are all fighting. The UN alone cannot do it, the Secretary-General alone can do very little, and we need you, we need you to work with us and help us in tackling the major issues we confront in this area of globalization, from the environment, the fight to improve the world for our children and their children, and the fight against poverty, education, the attempts to bridge the digital divide, is a fight for all of us. Thank you very much.
Remarks to the Bavarian Police Training Institutions, Munich, 12 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Thank you Mr. Minister [Bavarian State Minister of the Interior, Gunther Beckstein] for your very warm words of welcome, and thank you my dear friends for coming here this morning to meet me here. I am always very pleased to meet fellow peacekeepers, and I was extremely pleased to hear there are so many of you have served in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in the essential work of keeping the peace, and to discover that the Minister himself went there seven times to encourage and support the peacekeeping operations.
Peacekeeping is indeed a very difficult task. For those of ymu who have participated in it, it is a task that requires patience, that requires openness, that requires discipline, and that ability to work with so many other people from around the world, from different cultures, with different languages, whereas you yourself are operating in a nation that is often new to you, with a language you don't understand and a culture that you may not be familiar with. But somehow the peacekeepers have to make these things work and in that respect it is perhaps much more challenging than the work we do at home.
And I would also want to thank the Government of Bavaria and Germany for making so many policemen and women available for the task of keeping peace because every community usually likes to hold on to its police. They need their police for their own community, and so it is a real sacrifice and a real sign of solidarity when a government releases the police to go and serve in difficult situations around the world. But without that sacrifice by governments like yours peacekeeping will not be possible, so I want to thank you, Mr. Minister, and the Government for having made that possible and I hope this participation will continue, not only in the Balkans, but in future in other areas where we can apply the experience you have acquired.
And finally, Mr. Minister and my dear Peacekeepers, as one peacekeeper to the other, let me say "Dankeschon".
Secretary-General's Press Conference in Lusaka, Zambia, 10 July 2001
Question: (inaudible on Western Sahara)
Secretary-General: Monsieur Baker continue de poursuivre cet affaire pour moi. Comme vous le savez, dans le dernier rapport que j'ai soumis au Conseil de Securité, on a proposé une troisieme voie pour essayer de faire avancer le dossier. J'espère que dans très peux, de temps M.Baker va inviter tous les parties pour une réunion, pour commencer à discuter. J'espère que ca marchera parce qu'on a besoin d'une solution.
SG: I can only speak for the UN. You would recall even when the Agreement was signed and general amnesty was offered we entered a reservation that we did not accept, that as far as we were concerned, the amnesty could not apply to those who had committed crimes against humanity and gross crimes against the people. And of course we believe that we should go ahead with the establishment of the Court to try people like Foday Sankoh and we are not party to any plans or any discussions to free Foday Sankoh and those who committed these crimes.
SG: I think the decision to transform the OAU into an African Union should be seen as an attempt to broaden the image of the Organisation because the OAU has to date by and large focused on political issues and I would hope that this transformation into a Union would bring the leaders also to focus on economic and social issues. As far as the question of political crisis is concerned, I hope that the leaders will redouble their efforts and work together to resolve conflicts and crisis on this continent because without that, they are not going to make much progress with the Union. Union implies stability, union implies a certain harmony, and if the are looking at the European Union, we should all remember that after World War II, they did resolve to settle their differences through dialogue and political means and Europe has had more than 50 years of peace and that has allowed the development of the European Union. If Africans want to go that route, the first business is to end conflicts and crises and work together to resolve the differences through political means and dialogue. And as I said yesterday, each leader must be concerned with the crisis on this continent. No one can say that my country is at peace and therefore conflict in this or that country is not my business. The crisis has disfigured Africa. When you talk about Africa today, people see a continent in crisis. It makes it difficult for governments to attract investments. No one wants to invest in bad neighborhoods so we need to clean up our neighborhood, we need to come together and pool our efforts and focus on the concerns of our people to be able to move forward and make the Union meaningful.
Q: In your address yesterday, Mr Secretary, you said that you're going to give attention to Africa, the sort of attention that it deserves. Could you just elaborate to me what form this attention is going to get and what Africa has not been able to get in the past?
SG: Let me perhaps remind you precisely what I said, that Africa will get the same focus and attention from me as it did during my first term. I think the United Nations has given quite a lot of attention to Africa. In fact 60% of the Security Council's agenda focuses on Africa. I don't think that is something we should be proud of and this is why I hope the work our leaders are being urged to do will perhaps take the African issues off the Security Council agenda in the sense that they will be resolved. The world community has focused recently on the question of AIDS, which is of great importance to this continent. As we speak there is a conference in New York on small arms, attempting to prevent illicit transfer of small arms which is doing most of the killing on our continent today. There have been serious attempts to give debt relief to the African continent. We are pressing for increased ODA. Recently the European Union decided to remove tariffs for all imports coming from least developed countries, everything except arms, and most of these least developed countries are in Africa, about 33 of them are here, and these are all attempts to assist Africa and move African issues ahead. Not to mention the major humanitarian assistance that we are providing for the continent. Thank you.
Q: [inaudible question on slave trade]
SG: I think slavery is something my organization condemns and we've been active through our agencies on the ground, not only in the Sudan and in other areas, and we've been extremely concerned about today's version of the slave trade, not only what you are referring to in Sudan, but also trafficking in human beings, which is going on around the world. The transport across borders of young women across borders for prostitution and young children who are drafted into armies or shipped across borders to work on farms and others. These are areas that we are fighting against through UNICEF and our other agencies.
Q: [inaudible in French on Western Sahara]
SG: Pas forcement, pas forcement parce que M. Baker va réunir toutes les parties pour discuter la troisième voie. Cette troisièeme voie, au début prévoit une autonomie substentielle envisage aussi un referendum au but de 4 à 5 ans pour l'indépendence. Et si les parties n'arrivent pas à se mettre d'accord pendant cette périod de 5 mois, on sera obligé de retomber sur les plans qui sont deja qui est acceptés par les 2 parties. Evidemment j'ai encouragé M.Baker à chercher une 3ème voie, parce que depuis 10 ou 11 ans on n'a pas pu mettre les plans en application. Donc, j'en suis arrive à chercher une 3ème voie qui peut-être sera pourra accellerer et faciliter une solution si on n?arrive pas à faire ça evidemment il faudra revoir le dossier et décider dans quelle mesure on va mettre en les plans application.
Q: [Question in French on DRC]
SG: Je crois qu'on a eu une très bonne réunion. Les deux chefs d'état on decidé de coopérer, de se téléphoner assez souvent et puis de travaller ensemble sur le terrain pour calmer la situation et evidemment il vont essayer d'établir une relation de confiance entre eux et avec leurs collaborateurs. Je crois que ça aussi ça va aider. Je les avais aussi encouragés a éviter de faire genres des déclarations qui a caractere provocateur soit à Kinshasa ou bien à Kigali et je crois qu'ils ont accepté de faire ça aussi. Mais en tous cas va voir une cooperation plus detendue entre les deux. [Response in French]
Q: [inaudible question on Angola]
SG: Let me first start with the humanitarian situation, which is very tragic and there are lots of people in need where we cannot get assistance to them because of security and because of access. But I think the basic problem is the continuation of the war, -- the war that has destabilised whole regions and created untold misery to the people of Angola. I have with me Mr. Ibrahim Gambari who is following that file for me. We are in touch with the Government, with the civil society, in Angola, who are becoming more and more active and who are demanding ever louder peace for the country, and for the people to carry on with their lives. And we will be working with the governments in the region and beyond to try and break the impasse that now exists and move forward. Thank you.
SG: Both parties maintain that they stand by the Lusaka Agreement and that they will respect the Lusaka Agreement, so at least that gives us a basis eventually to move them forward.
Q: Has there or has there not been any significant progress on Burundi?
SG: I think I will leave President Mandela to make the announcement on any breakthrough or progress on Burundi. There was a useful meeting, as I said, Sunday, and President Mandela is following it up with other consultations with the signatories to the accord and eventually also with the leaders of the region on the 23rd of July and I think he'll be in a position to make an announcement after the consultations he's having with the parties, but I think the meeting was helpful. Perhaps we are beginning to move in the right direction, but the outcome will depend on the consultations that President Mandela is undertaking at the moment. The Professor is getting impatient! Professor? (Laughter)
Q: [largely inaudible statement on HIV/AIDS on a natural cure in Lusaka]
SG: I have a suggestion. I have Dr. Peter Piot. Peter, why don't you join me here. Peter is the head of UNAIDS. Peter will look after you afterwards.
Q: [question on Zimbabwe]
SG: I think a great deal of the responsibility rests with the Government of Zimbabwe. I agree with the Government that land reform is necessary, but I also believe that land reform has to be handled in a legal manner with fair compensation paid to those who lose their property. And earlier on in the game we have had discussions with the Government about the UN becoming involved, becoming involved in the sense of working with the Government on a credible land reform and pulling in donor countries who would make funds available for compensation. But things have moved on much faster, before we could come to an agreement on this. And I hope that even though things have moved as fast as they have that it is not too late to take measures to calm the situation so that agricultural production can be continued and those who would need to be resettled, can be settled.
Q: [on Zimbabwe]
SG: I think I have answered that question in the earlier question.
Q: [inaudible on crimes against humanity and a second inaudible one]
SG: Just one question if you don't mind. Let me start with your second question. I think the least developed countries will attend or should attend the new round. UNCTAD, the UN trade organization in Geneva, working with WTO has been trying to help them prepare for the Conference and I think they had a meeting in this region with trade ministers to discuss that issue and I hope they will attend in their numbers, because I think it is important for the developing countries to participate in world trade. The more open the markets are, the easier it is for them to join. In my own discussions with leaders of the developing countries, most, almost all of them, would much rather trade themselves out of poverty rather than live on handouts and I think the only way to do that is to gain access to world trade and we need to be part of these negotiations to open up the market and I hope they will be there in their numbers.
Q: [inaudible on Foday Sankoh]
SG: I don't think he can be taken to any of the courts that you have referred to because they are all very specific. Rwanda, the tribunal in Arusha, is for the Rwanda genocide, the one in The Hague is for the Balkans, and in Serbia there will be a special court set up to try those who committed atrocities there. In fact your question links up with the first part of the question, which I'm afraid I didn't get to. There is an agreement to set up an International Criminal Court. That court will be able to bring them to dock and prosecute those who have committed heinous crimes or crimes against humanity. It will be a standard court. We will have to set up specific courts for Rwanda, for the Balkans, for Sierra Leone. The Rome Statute requires that we set up the court when we have 60 ratifications. As of today we have about 40 ratifications. My expectation is that by the end of next year the International Criminal Court will come into existence and we will then put in place a missing link in international law, which will send out a powerful message that criminals cannot act with impunity and that they could be brought to justice in an international court.
Q: What measures are the United Nations putting into place for child soldiers?
SG: I have a special representative who is fighting against the recruitment of children into the army. His name is Olara Otunnu -- some of you may know him. And we are working with governments, not only to dissuade them from recruiting boys and girls into the army in the first place but also to demobilize those who are already in the armies and recently you have seen that we have been able to get several of them released from the armies and in our own conventions and treaties we have set a very rigid guideline that anyone under 18 should not be drafted into the army and quite a lot of the governments have accepted that and we hope it will become international standard.
Q: [inaudible on African membership in the Security Council]
SG: I think it will depend on the agreement the member states come to. There are several proposals on the table when it comes to Security Council reform and there is no consensus yet. But all the proposals, which includes additional permanent seats, also envisages a permanent seat for Africa. And I suspect that when the time comes for the Council to move ahead with a reform and permanent seats are created, there will be one for each region: Africa, Asia and Latin America, although the OAU request is for Africa to be given two seats, two permanent seats.
Q: [inaudible on what the UN is doing for refugees in Africa]
SG: I think on the refugee issue, let me first clarify how we fund refugee programmes. We do it on voluntary contributions. We make appeals to governments for money. It's not just for the refugees but most of our humanitarian operations. We note that there is a kind of donor fatigue and governments respond more positively to some appeals that to others. In some situations we get about 90% of the appeal, the amount of money we need to undertake these operations. In others, the appeals may be oversubscribed and this determines the amount of resources that we are able to apply. We do have UN programmes, like the World Food Programme, that makes food available to the nations from governments and we provide sustenance and relief to these refugees. But there are times that we do not get the resources to do all that we would like to do. But we do pursue our efforts, in fact the High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Ruud Lubbers, is here with me in Lusaka and one of his biggest problems is getting resources to carry ou t his mandate and he is indeed cutting back, reducing staff, rolling back programmes and we are making all attempts to governments to get stronger support for this essential part of our work.
Q: In the meeting on HIV/AIDS with African leaders, did you also discuss an (economic) plan of action to be adapted at the OAU summit?
SG: The question is if I have discussed the economic plan, the first one put forward by Presidents Mbeki, Obasanjo and Bouteflika of Algeria, the Map Plan, and the second one, OMEGA, proposed by President Wade of Senegal. Both plans were intended to give African economic development an impetus and propel us forward into the 21st century with certain specific actions that they recommend. Attempts have been made to merge the two plans and that has been presented to the OAU, which will be discussed and I think it is a worthwhile effort and I am really proud that the African leaders are taking the lead on major economic and social development of the continent and I hope that the OAU will be able to discuss the document even though further refinement may be necessary. But I think that it is a very positive development.
Q: [on next month's Durban conference]
SG: I know that that is one of the hot issues as we prepare for this conference. I think no one, no rational person, can accept slavery as something which is human. It was abhorrent, and we should all condemn it. But the Conference I hope will be forward looking and come up with recommendations and solutions that will then show that we take steps to eliminate racism, in our current society, take steps to ensure that we do not engage in trafficking women and human beings, that we do not pursue activities of the kind to which reference was made to current day slavery, but I think slavery should be discussed. It should be discussed and brought to closure. It was a tragedy. It should not be condoned. We should confront it head on. But we should not use it to hold the Conference back or hold the Conference hostage. We should discuss it in the manner that makes everyone realize how terrible and abhorrent that was and determine not to ever repeat those grave errors of the past.
Q: [inaudible on Middle East]
SG: I did speak to President Arafat last night and also spoke to Prime Minister Sharon, late last night, to discuss the situation on the ground and to urge them to really move ahead with the implementation of the Mitchell Plan. Both sides of course believe the other side is not implementing the Plan and this is what President Arafat said here. In my discussions with Prime Minister Sharon he also believes that the other side is not implementing the Plan. What is important is that both sides have accepted the Mitchell Plan in its entirety. And we need to move ahead, and find a way of moving ahead and implementing it in its entirety within a firm and reasonable timetable, and move ahead to the peace talks. I urge all the parties to do whatever they can to end the violence and move on for the sake of their people to resolve this conflict. Thank you very much.
Press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, New York, 5 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: What's your take on the Iraq defectors story, and why do you think they cancelled the meeting?
SG: Well, I really don't know. I think it's up to them to explain it. As to the question of the defectors, I have very little details about it and so I really wouldn't want to get into it.
Q: Can you tell us about your trip to Africa that's coming up?
SG: Yes, I'll be going to the OAU Summit, where I hope I will have the chance to discuss with the African leaders the need to work together to end the crises and the conflicts on the continent, and particularly at a time when they are thinking of creating an African Union, to work together to end the conflicts and focus on economic and social issues. "Union" implies harmony. "Union" implies stability. And if you are going to form a union, they should look at how the European Union did it, and begin by ending conflicts.
Q: The Small Arms Conference begins next week. I wonder, there are some in America who fear the UN is trying to take away their guns. What do you think the main goal should be of this conference?
SG: I think the main goal is going to be to try and ensure that we control illicit arms trade, to ensure that guns do not get into the wrong hands. And when you look at the history of the last 20 years or so, most of the killing in the world, apart from the AIDS epidemic, is being done by small arms. We've worried a lot about nuclear disarmament, which is important and we should focus on. But these arms are doing incredible damage in cities, in war-torn areas, and I hope we can get the manufacturers and governments to work with us in controlling the flow of these illicit arms.
Q: A lot of going into the Small Arms Conference, a lot of complaints have come from NGOs that this is just going to fall very short of what's needed. There's not going to be an international treaty, no monitoring groups, not enough on licit arms, control of licit arms.
SG: I think that perhaps the document is not going to be as strong as we would have liked, but it is a step in the right direction. It is a recognition by the international community that we need to do something about these weapons. And I will not be surprised if on this issue, NGOs and civil rights activists rallied around it as they did on the landmine issue because it's an issue that is of great importance to everybody in every community and everyone with a young child to protect.
Liberty Medal Press Conference, Philadelphia, 4 July 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: On AIDS [inaudible]
SG: First of all, let me say good morning to you, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for coming to join me this afternoon. Now to the question.
I think we need to apply more resources to the search for vaccine and cure. And recently, we have seen more activity in that field. In fact, we have another fund called the Global Alliance for Vaccines, and we've raised about a billion dollars in search of vaccines for all types of diseases and making donations for research centres that are doing that kind of work. I think we need to take the AIDS epidemic very seriously. It is a global problem. Obviously today Africa is the hardest hit. But it is spreading fast in Asia, in Eastern Europe and in the Caribbean and in some parts of Latin America. And if we do not tackle it and take it seriously, we are going to have a major crisis -- a catastrophic crisis -- on our hands. The estimates are that if we don't take it seriously, in about 5 years or so, we could have a hundred million infected. Today we have 36 million infected, 13 million orphans, and last year alone, 5 million new people were infected. And everyday we have [7,000] people infected. So your question is an important one. We need to do whatever we can to accelerate the search for a vaccine and do that. Otherwise, we will have, in effect, start a third world war if you consider the numbers of people who've been killed already by this epidemic.
About the genocide, I think basically I've indirectly answered it, that if we do not tackle the issue, we are going to lose many more people and many more people are going to be infected. Many more children are going to lose their parents. As I say, we have 13 million orphans already. How many orphans do we have to get to wake up?
Q: Could you describe your emotions today, standing here in what is considered the nation's cradle [inaudible], receiving this Medal. Can you describe what your emotions were like seating up there among all the people [inaudible].
SG: I was very moved. I was very moved by the event, by the celebration, and to see so many people out there in the square celebrating the birthday of the nation. And those or someone who grew up like America in the colonial territory, I grew up in the Gold Coast, which was a British colony. And the struggle for independence, as I've had the chance to say to many people, was inspired by what happened here in this country. Almost all the colonial territories that fought for independence looked at this. And for me to sit there and know that this is where it all began, this is where the Declaration [of Independence] was written, and this is where people first came together and said, "We have to assert our independence, our uniqueness, our freedom and our dignity." And it was a very moving and touching experience there for me, both because of the work I do and also my own background, having lived in a colony.
SG: I think there are a couple of areas where the US and the other developed and richer countries and make a contribution. First, it's a question of development assistance. I think they can offer a bit more. The developed and the industrial world ten years ago committed themselves to making available 0.7 percent of their GDP for development assistance. The average today is at 0.2. Only a handful of countries have attained that target. No way is it [inaudible] a little over 1 percent is ahead of the pack. And I would urge that one offers a bit more development assistance.
The other issue that has been discussed is the question of debt relief. Today the poorer countries are paying more money to service their debt than they are spending on areas of education, health and others. There's more money flowing out of these poor countries to service debt than are going in. So I hope that debt relief, which has been on the agenda of the industrialized nations for many years, will be accelerated, and that help will be given to the poorer nations. Last year at the Millennium Summit, the heads of state and government did set an agenda, with timetable, for alleviation of poverty. And they did agree that by 2015, we should aim at reducing the people living in poverty by 50 percent. They have targets for education, for AIDS [inaudible] attempt to stop the spread of the AIDS [inaudible] and governance and also the environment. So we do need the resources to carry out those mandates.
Q: On the Rwanda massacre. What is the possibility that this would not happen again [inaudible].
SG: I think this is an area that we are trying to improve our peacekeeping operations. I commissioned a report, which the Member States have endorsed, and we are trying to implement it now. In fact, the General Assembly will be discussing that report later on this year again, on strengthening UN peacekeeping operations. But let me perhaps expand your question a little bit. When we talk of the UN and UN peacekeepers and UN troops, the UN troops are troops which are offered by your government, mine, and other governments. The UN has no troops. We borrow troops from governments. In situations where governments are reluctant to put their troops in because they are afraid that the troops will be at risk, and the UN is not able to raise the troops or get the resources that we need, there is very little that the UN, as a Secretariat, can do. There are two UNs: the UN that is the Secretariat, and the UN that is made up of the Member States that take the decisions and give instructions to the Secretariat. The Secretariat is an instrument. The real means is in the hands of the Member States. So the other part of the question is, if we are faced with a similar situation, will the Member States make the troops available. Will the political will be there to intervene or to do something about it. And that is a debate that is going on. And in Rwanda, and let's not forget, at the time of the crisis the UN had about 250 men. 250 men can do something, but not very much, in a nationwide genocide. A request for additional resources did not come, so the question is, will the will be there the next time? Will the troops be made available? I hope you will all write about it in your papers and join the debate.
Q: Secretary Annan, how successful can the formation of the African Union be?
SG: They just agreed to form an African Union when they met in Syrte in Libya. And next week in Lusaka they will begin to give it form and meaning. I will be there. I think they have a long way to go. Formation of a union is a major undertaking, particularly if it entails economic and social and political cooperation. We have seen the European Union, which has made great strides, but is still a work in progress. I would hope that, now that they have taken the decision, they will begin to undertake the essential building blocks that are needed to give that union form. It is not going to be easy. It is going to take long, long and hard work. I hope that the determination will be there. I will be able to discuss it with the leaders when I am in Lusaka. But I think, at least they have taken the initial decision, and it is a positive direction to go. Which also implies, union implies, harmony, certain stability and nations at peace, working together. So we need to begin tackling seriously the crises in Africa. They need to resolve all these political crises and military conflicts so that they can focus on building that union, they can focus on economic and social development and prosperity of the people. Thank you.
Q: [inaudible, on contributions to the Global AIDS and Health Fund]
SG: We have received a large deposit on Monday, the Japanese Government paid in $200 million. I think we are in the area of $900 million today.
Q: How is the United States doing about that?
SG: The United States has paid $200 million, which President Bush described as a "founding" contribution, with indication that more would be forthcoming. I notice that the Congress in its discussions is trying to appropriate $750 million in next year's budget. So I think the indications are that more will come and I hope other governments will do more and of course the public and the foundations, and corporations too.
Q: Do you [inaudible] have any plans to meet President Bush here in Philadelphia?
SG: No, we wouldn't be meeting. Our schedules are both very tight, and I will be leaving for New York this afternoon, but I am happy that we are both sharing this Fourth of July, Independence Day celebration, here in Philadelphia. It is a great city.
Q: To follow up on the AIDS issue, there has been a lot of talk about medicine for AIDS patients, what about [inaudible]
SG: I think that is also part of the issue. In fact the UN organization, the World Food Programme, is very much engaged, working out a programme to provide food where it is needed, also to help fight the disease. We have lots of exciting initiatives taking place. I mean, obviously, you have to fight the disease on all fronts - prevention and treatment [inaudible]. Treatment reinforces prevention, so we are going to need medication, we are going to continue the search for a vaccine and a cure. We are going to try and tackle very aggressively the most vicious of all transmissions, from mother to child. The question of food and poverty is part of the problem. We are going to see what we can do to deal with that as well. The UN World Food Programme is working on that angle.
Another exciting programme, to show you how creative people are getting, is Bernard Kouchner, who is the French Minister of Health, called me about six weeks ago, he said, I have an idea. To help the developing countries who do not have top notch medical facilities I have got agreement from all the hospitals in three European countries that they will twin their hospitals with hospitals in the developing countries, and when he came for the Conference last week, that number has [increased] to nine states that are prepared to send their doctors to these areas, adopt hospitals, twin with them, be used as reference point. So there are lots of creative ways one can help.
Q: Mr. Secretary, we have heard your name pronounced more about three different ways today. Can we be sure we have it pronounced correctly?
SG: It is pronounced Annan, as in "cannon".
Q: [inaudible, on basketball player, Dikembe Mutombo, getting involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS]
SG: I was very happy to receive him, and to know about his project. For somebody who has done well wanting to go back and do something for his society and to create a hospital that will help look after the health of the community, help those with AIDS and other diseases, I think is a major contribution. It also indicates and sends out a message that individuals can make a difference. An individual who is in a position to assist should reach out and do it. I am always impressed and fascinated by people like him who have done well and put something back. I often say they remind me of farmers. A farmer knows instinctively that if you take something from the earth today, you need to put something back to be able to return tomorrow to harvest. Sometimes we forget it when we move into the cities and become very successful, that you do need to give something back, you need to give something back to make things move on and turn around. So I was very excited to hear about his projects and I was very proud of him.
Press encounter following reappointment for a further five year term as Secretary-General, New York, 29 June 2001
SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I think the floor is yours. I've just had a chance to say my piece this morning. If you have any questions, I will answer them.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you came to this House five years ago as Secretary-General, or four years ago actually, as an agent for reform. I wonder if you could set out what your next five years of your reform agenda would be institutionally and perhaps somewhat politically as well.
SG: I think on the institutional aspects I made it clear from the beginning, that reform and the search for excellence is an ongoing process, and we will press ahead to make this organization much more effective. As you know we just came up with results-based budgeting, we have been talking about sunset clauses and requesting programme managers to review all activities and indicate which ones have outlived their usefulness, have achieved their objectives, so that we can free resources for other and more pressing things. We will continue to ensure coherence and avoid duplication in this organization, and I will reach out and work much more effectively with the private sector, with civil society and foundations because this is an area of partnership and the UN can only be able to expand its capacity and achieve its goals by working in partnership with others, and I think the House is beginning to accept this, even though we had some minor problems at the recent conference.
Q: Secretary-General, is there a failure, if there is one, for the last 4 1/2 years, what is it? And is there a challenge in particular that you find daunting as you [inaudible] your second term.
SG: I think this week we have confronted one of the most difficult and astronomical challenges that the UN and the society as a whole would face, and this is the question of HIV/AIDS, and if you link that with our fight against poverty you realize we have a real challenge ahead of us. I think in the recent period, it was harrowing and a bit scary, when we had 500 peacekeepers taken hostage in Sierra Leone, something that we saw in Bosnia and Somalia and others, and swore never to have to repeat. But I'm happy that we were able to get over that situation, stabilize the troops so that we can continue with our work and for the moment, things are going very well.
Q: [There is a challenge coming up], and another emotional conference is going to be on racism and discrimination. I'm wondering if you have in your mind yet a scope of breadth, and what kind of hopes you have for that because of the importance of that discussion?
SG: There have been several regional [preparatory committees] and very serious discussions, and I would hope that this conference will be forward looking, will be constructive. Obviously it's a conference that should neither condone the past nor become captive to the past. We should look forward and look at the issues we face issues of racism, xenophobia and come up with ideas of we can eliminate it in our society, encourage Governments to come up with laws to protect people who are discriminated against on either grounds of religion, ethnicity or whatever. And so I am looking to a constructive and forward-looking conference, and I would appeal to everyone to focus on that, otherwise we risk derailing the conference by focusing on issues of the past, which I admit are important, should be faced up to and brought to closure.
Q: Regarding the last question, what are your chief concerns in the next term.
SG: I think I have indirectly answered that and also did at the last press conference in the sense that we are lucky that as we enter the new millennium, the Heads of State and Government were here in September last year, and at that conference gave us the Millennium Declaration, which if you wish is our agenda for the next 10-15 years dealing with poverty, AIDS, education, environment, governance, human rights - a very, very solid agenda there for us to pursue. Beginning this September I will provide the Member States with the first report on that agenda, and we will produce annual reports for the Member States indicating where we are succeeding and where we are failing and why, and where they need to do more, so we do have a solid agenda ahead of us.
Q: M. le secretaire general, en francais s'il vous plait: quelles vont etre vos nouvelles priorites pour l'Afrique dans ce nouveau mandat?
SG: Je crois que pour l'Afrique la question du SIDA est tres importante. On doit ettouffer toutes ces crises africaines pour pouvoir se concentrer sur la question economique et sociale, dont la question de pauvrete, la question de securite pour la population est tres importante. On va s'y mettre.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you quoted Dag Hammarskjold today. What would you say are the similarities between you and the former Secretary-General?
SG: Gosh, that is a very difficult question for me to answer. I hope others will have to deal with that, because I am one of those who believes that a man cannot see himself except through the reflection of a mirror, and you, the media and the public, have to play that role. I think if there is a similarity I believe that we both believe firmly in the principles of the Charter. We both believe in this Organization and what it stands for. We both believe that there is an obligation to speak and stand out for the weak and to have a certain understanding and compassion for the human condition. But it is not enough to recognize that you should not stop there but go out and do something about it, and encourage others to join you in trying to make a difference.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, congratulations.
SG: Thank you.
Q: Are we going to see some changes in your staff members?
SG: Yes, that is not excluded. There will be changes but at the same time there will be continuity. Thank you very much, and thank you very much for all your support. We have worked well together over the past four and a half years. You have asked many questions - sometimes you got answers, sometimes you didn't get answers. And I hope on those occasions when you didn't get your answers, you also realized I was wise not to answer them. Thank you very much.
Press encounter following transfer of former President Slobodan Milosevic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, New York, 28 June 2001
Q: What do you think this means to Yugoslavia and to the UN?
SG: I think it is very welcome news, and it also goes to show that we are developing a truly international law and this is another stone, another brick in the development of international law. I think what has happened today, which few thought was possible - here we see one of the most powerful men in the Balkans today in the hands of the Court at The Hague - should go to show all leaders who are bound to abuse their power that in today's world the peoples and the international community will demand accountability and would ensure that impunity is not allowed to stand.
Obviously, the Courts will have to decide his fate, based on the arguments, but I think this is a day that should also encourage the peoples, the countries, in the Balkans, to look forward and build a society based on rule of law, respect for the individual's rights and for them to live in harmony after a decade of disastrous war.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, he was indicted several months ago, and yet it seemed that only increased economic and political pressure by the international community got the Belgrade authorities to turn him over. Are you concerned that the indictment by the International War Crimes Tribunal in and of itself was not enough to have him turned over?
SG: I think the important thing is that he is in The Hague today, and he and his lawyers will have a chance to defend themselves, and the Court will do what it has to do, and I think justice will take its course, and I think that is what is important - not what got him into The Hague. So let justice take its course. Thank you.
Press encounter with Donald McKinnon, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, London, 21 June 2001
Mr. McKinnon: We are very pleased to have the Secretary-General of the UN here. We have just obviously discussed a pretty wide range of issues, because we are in fact working together on a number of issues, certainly in Sierra Leone--the Commonwealth is back there with technical assistance. I appreciated the full breadth of the briefing on there and the possibilities of moving forward. We always have worked together on Fiji, and I explained to the Secretary-General the developments toward elections in Fiji and ultimately Fiji coming back as a full Commonwealth member, if all goes smoothly. I did give the Secretary-General some background as to the invitation by President Mugabe for seven Commonwealth Foreign Ministers to meet and discuss the difficult issues regarding land and land redistribution in that country and issues generally in southern Africa. So, we've covered a lot of our cooperative areas and for me and the Commonwealth it's important that we have a permanently good partner with the UN. I've had many meetings with the Secretary-General, as he is now, and his position before he became Secretary-General. We've always had a good relationship. It's to the benefit of the Commonwealth that that continues and so welcome to London.
SG: Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, what are the constraints you face in the demobilization process in Sierra Leone?
SG: I think, first of all, it's a question of the will of the protagonists to put down their arms and demobilize, but we also need additional resources to be able to continue the demobilization. By additional resources, I mean resources to ensure that those who put down their arms are given a kit and some mimimum resources that will help them along, and also to try and reintegrate them into society. We are stepping up the effort with quite a good contribution from the United Kingdom and the World Bank and others and we will be speeding it up as fast as we can in the months ahead.
Q: You want more from Britain on that?
SG: Yes, I think Britain has been very cooperative. In fact, among the Permanent Members of the UN [Security Council], they have done a lot in Sierra Leone. They do have a Force and a presence on the ground working directly with the Government, not part of the UN Force. But they are a friendly Force and their presence has been very, very good. And I would expect them to assist in the question of development and disarmament.
Q: Mr. McKinnon, can I ask you about this Zimbabwe mission. What is its status and mandate going to be exactly, because the statement out of Nairobi yesterday talked about it dealing with the land issue and the differences between Britain and Zimbabwe purely, but the Commonwealth Action Group talked about a much wider agenda than that, didn't it?
Mr. McKinnon: I've not seen any statement out of Nairobi on this one, so, but anyway, at this stage the invitation has been that the seven Foreign Ministers will meet in South Africa, hopefully within the month of July. The issue is principally one of land, which of course is the basis of very many of the problems currently in Zimbabwe. If there can be some resolution towards those problems, that will certainly see a settling down of many of the political issues currently in Zimbabwe and hopefully some economic issues. Because the country is in very difficult economic circumstances, and of course other neighbours in southern Africa are feeling the impact of those. So we see this as an opening of the door by President Mugabe. It's a very good sign. Let's see where we go from there.
Q: What's your reaction to the assumption by General Musharraf of Presidential powers yesterday and what does that mean for Pakistan's return on the road to civilian rule?
Mr. McKinnon: Well, we do not think this is a very good sign. After all, we prefer Presidents to be elected or at least appointed by Assemblies, not just a person self-appointing themselves. That does not give a very good signal about a return to democracy. Even though it may not have any immediate impact on what's happening there now, we still want to see Pakistan get back to democracy. We believe they can do it earlier than the three-year timetable they've set themselves. We know General Musharraf is determined to see that happen. We would like to see greater effort going on there. At the same time I think people need a bit more hope than seeing what has happened in the last forty eight hours, which to most people would suggest that the military is reinforcing its presence in the country, not moving away from a determination to run the country.
Press encounter after meeting with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, London, 21 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. I've had a very useful and helpful discussion with the Prime Minister. We talked, naturally, about the Middle East, the African issues and the Balkans. We also discussed the upcoming General Assembly Special Session on AIDS. I'll take your questions.
Q: Did you [unintelligible] send invitations to the two sides in Cyprus for talks and how is it possible to overcome the difficulty of Mr.Denktash insisting on recognition?
SG: We are working on that. I haven't fixed a date yet for the next meeting, but my Special Representative, Mr. de Soto, is working out the problem, and I hope in the not too distant future we should be able to move on.
Q: Did you discuss Iraq?
SG: Yes, we did discuss Iraq. We did discuss the new resolution that the Council is reviewing in New York. And having come back from the Middle East myself, just a few days ago, I also discussed with the Prime Minister the mood in the region and the attitude of the leaders in that region towards the sanctions against Iraq.
Q: What chance do you think the British proposals for the new sanctions regime have of being passed in the Security Council?
SG: It's being discussed very actively in New York, in the United Nations. Some delegations, particularly the Russians, have some questions. The deadline for the next phase is the third of July. Whether this will be concluded before then or not, is difficult for me to say. Besides, I've been out of New York for a while.
Q: If it's not adopted by that deadline, will it be dropped altogether?
SG: I don't think so. I think they will persevere and of course the assistance to the Iraq people is essential, and so they will find a way out.
Q: Is Cyprus on your agenda with the Foreign Secretary, and is there any hope for new negotiation?
SG: Yes, I hope to discuss it with the Foreign Secretary, but as far as the new negotiations are concerned I'm not in a position to give you a date. And as I indicated, Mr de Soto, my Special Representative, is exploring this with the parties and others concerned, and I have indicated that I hope that between now and the end of the year we may be able to get the parties back to the table.
Question and Answer session with the Secretary-General, following the Cyril Foster Lecture at Oxford University, United Kingdom, 19 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Thank you very much for that presentation, Mr. Secretary-General. I have a simple question. Are there not circumstances when the people's will, if you will, might be wrong with regard to such values as peace or minority rights, and in such instances, in your view, would it be justifiable to constrain the democratic process in the service of these other values? Thank you.
SG: You said you were going to ask a simple question! [Laughter] Unfortunately, those are sometimes the vagaries of democracy and elections, that in some situations the people will elect the wrong people, sometimes nationalists who are determined to keep out other people. We have seen this in the Balkans and your question is: in those situations should other means be used to correct it or to stop the decline into possible disastrous directions? This is an issue I myself raised before the General Assembly two years ago, when I talked about humanitarian intervention, and posed the question that we at the UN belong to an Organization that gives primary importance to the sovereignty of independent States, but the same Charter also enjoins us to protect the individual and prevent them from the scourge of war, and our own instrument, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also talks to us about the rights and the human dignity of the individual: when the sovereignty of the state, in the question you've posed, and that of the individual are in conflict, which one prevails, and who decides, and who acts? These are very difficult questions and since the day I made that speech from the UN General Assembly, a lot of work is going on, research institutions are looking at this, we have universities working on it, and I hope towards the end of this year or early next year we will have some very useful thoughts and ideas which might help the members of the Security Council think through some of these problems when they have to take decisions. I'm not looking for guidelines or rigid rules, but at least a framework as to when they act and how they act. I think you would also agree with me that in today's world, those who would abuse and consistently abuse the rights of their people in a gross manner cannot do it and hide behind their boundaries and use them as a shield to carry on brutalising their people, and in most cases governments and outsiders -- civil society -- has intervened, not necessarily by force. I mean, when I raised the question of outside intervention in cases of gross and systematic abuse of human rights and some representatives at the UN questioned it and said the governments wouldn't be happy, or this country would not be happy, I referred to the case of South Africa - I said if I had made this speech at the height of South Africa, the South African Government would not have been happy, but what would have been the reaction of the people? Thank you.
Q: Mr. Annan, given the potentially destabilising effect of the process of democratisation, would you personally encourage the transition to democracy for countries which are presently non-democratic but are very stable?
SG: I think that change is always frightening, and change always entails some element of destabilisation at an initial stage, but I think if the people and the leaders concerned decide to go through the process and plan effectively for it, despite the difficulties they may encounter, I think in the end they will come out stronger, and better-off. You have referred to difficulties with such transitions, and I think you are referring to some - I don't want to name any countries, but I think we all have many examples. I think the process should be encouraged, and I believe that if the people are taken into confidence, and civil society are also brought in to work with the government, and there is public education and actual real debate you can get much more done. It is not something you can do from the top. You have to engage society, you have to open up, you have to encourage civil society to take part. You run into greater difficulty when this is done in a dirigiste manner from the top by the leaders, for the people, without consulting them and getting them engaged. So I think if it is done properly one can overcome the kinds of difficulties you refer to, and the society would be much better for it. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Annan, I wonder if you would talk for a minute about the process of getting consent to UN peace operations. I am thinking, in particular, of East Timor. What I am thinking about is, at the time following the violence in East Timor in September 1999, after the referendum, you made very strong statements about the effect of international criminal law in the process of trying to get President Habibi to consent to a UN peace operation going in. I wonder if you would just comment about that, given that it is in the realm of the normative, rather than military, or forceful persuasion.
SG: Are we using Chatham House rules? [Laughter] Let me say that normally, before we deploy peacekeeping operations we require the consent of the government or governments on whose territory these troops will be deployed. Because usually these operations are under Chapter VI and you require their consent and cooperation. In Chapter VII operations you can theoretically go in without their consent or approval, determined to enforce Security Council resolutions. But if you are going to do that, you must be sure that you have the forces and the means to carry out your mandate and protect your troops. In the particular case of East Timor, the violence broke out immediately after the elections. Prior to the elections we had asked the Indonesian authorities to allow us to bring some military observers and help organize security. They said no, they could do it themselves, they had the means and they had the capacity: as an independent country they would do it. Things remained fairly quiet, because I also believe that they thought the East Timorese would opt to stay Indonesian; that was one option. And the other option was for independence. When the results came out, the East Timorese had voted overwhelmingly for the option of transition to independence. And of course things fell apart and there was absolute violence. I then engaged the leaders, at that time it was President Habibi, requesting that they should control the situation since they said they had the capacity and they were the government and they should stop the killing and the carnage. I wasn't sure how much he himself was being misled, because obviously it was the military who were in charge in East Timor, and some of the reports he was getting I wasn't sure reflected the reality on the ground. When the question of sending in troops was raised, almost every government that had the capacity and was prepared to consider contributing to the force was not prepared to go in unless Indonesia gave its consent or invited us to come in. And so we had to mount an incredible diplomatic campaign to convince the Indonesians that it was in their interest to allow the international force to come in to help them. I was on the phone almost day and night with President Habibi. Yes, you are right that I did make a statement that if the government did not take its responsibility and stop the violence, they would be made accountable for the crime against humanity and would be brought to the dock. In the end he conceded and agreed that we should go in and governments began to provide troops, and the operation was led by Australia and we were able to go in and eventually calm the situation after much damage had been done. But let's assume for a moment that the Indonesians would not have acquiesced or invited us in. Would any government have been prepared to send in their troops? Or we will sit back and allow the carnage to continue. Luckily, in this case it ended the right way, but where the government says no, what happens? Thank you.
Q: Mr. Annan, …
SG: Are you from Ghana?
Q: Yes, I am from Ghana [Laughter]. I actually wanted to ask, in light of your Ghanaian nationality, you mentioned the inequality of poor and developing member states, and I wanted to ask how much you think your Ghanaian nationality has helped to raise the profile of West African countries in the international community.
SG: I think being a Ghanaian and an African, as Secretary-General it has had an impact and raised the profile of the continent, and from the reactions I get from black peoples everywhere and I think, I hope it has inspired some of them to work harder, and to reach out and live their dreams. I am often reminded of something that Eleanor Roosevelt said, advising a group of young women, but I think it also applies to other minority situations, she said, 'No one can make you feel inferior, unless you give your consent.' And I hope what I have achieved and done is an inspiration for others. Thank you. [Applause]
Q: The United Nations continues to receive more negative publicity than positive. How can we reverse that situation?
SG: Let me start by conceding that, like all institutions, we are not perfect. And we are working on it. But let me say that there is quite a bit of misperception as to what the UN can do and cannot do, and what the UN is expected to do. I think there are very high expectations from the peoples of the world, which is wonderful for the Organization, but the downside is that they always feel disappointed. We also have a problem in that we, ourselves, are not very good at telling our story, even the successful ones, and we need to do a better job at getting the message out. The other thing I should say, my own title 'SG' - I often say that it stands for ScapeGoat, because when things go wrong and things are terribly complicated and the governments don't know what to do with it, they dump it on the United Nations and tell their public: 'We have acted - we have given it to the United Nations, we have sent it to the Security Council'. But the resources do not follow - material, financial and otherwise - and they don't support the operations. But they do dump on us and I think we should also learn to say 'No: we cannot take this on, we don't have the means, and we are not going to be set up.' And we should be able also to engage the governments and the public in all the operations we undertake, to tell them what we are there to do, and what we cannot do. And I think, generally, the UN should - and I think we are beginning to do more and more of it - recognising and letting the public know what we can do, what we have to do with others, and what we need to leave others to do. And I think, by limiting our efforts and focussing on what we can do and rather than pretending to be everything to all peoples, we would also be able to deliver more, and perhaps in the process also improve our own image. But I think we do sometimes get a bum rap, we are doing much, much more than we are given credit for. [Applause]
Q: There is a contentious discourse in Western theory of weak, failed, collapsed, states which is applied particularly to Africa. Is democratisation the only solution to such states? Is the answer a sovereign, Westphalian state at all?
SG: I think in today's world, in a world of interdependence and globalisation, where all states at least aspire to rule by democratic principles, where all states aspire to be part of the international market and the global system, there are certain things that each state will have to do if it doesn't want to be marginalized and bypassed. And I think this also goes for the poor African countries. In some cases, as you have indicated, one will have to help put a failed state together. In others, one will have to help poor states organize themselves better. Poor states can be well managed, can be well run, and there are examples. I think what is important is that one works with these countries and governments to strengthen their institutions and come up with a regulatory system and encourage them and help them to build the rule of law. They cannot do it alone: they need massive external support in terms of development assistance, in terms of debt relief, in terms of encouragement for investors to go in and invest, but they have to organize themselves and perhaps sometimes do regional projects which would give the economies of scale that would attract investors. But I do not think they have a choice but to try and develop their state in a manner so that they can cooperate, they can participate in the global market. In my discussions with quite a lot of these states, as poor as they are, most of them would much rather trade themselves out of poverty rather than continue to live on handouts. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, in the context of what you proposed here in terms of peacemaking and peacekeeping and peacebuilding, how do you see the role of regional actors, especially in view of the last decade's experience?
SG: I think the UN is very clear on this: we do not claim a monopoly over conflict resolution, and we do believe that regional organizations and arrangements have an important role to play. In some crises, a regional organization has taken the lead. We have a very good example here in the Balkans, in the crisis in FYROM: the lead is taken by the EU, supported by NATO, and the UN is giving them, we have given them support, but they are in the lead. We have had an example in West Africa, where ECOWAS was the first to send troops into Liberia and to Sierra Leone. Of course today, the UN has taken over the Sierra Leonean operation. We have the OSCE tackling some issues in Europe, and the Organization of American States active in Haiti. So we do recognize the role of regional organizations and we cooperate with them. I try to bring them together once a year for us to discuss regional and international issues and to pursue further cooperation between regional organisations and the UN. Thank you.
Q: Your Excellency, would you comment on the Arab phenomenon of dealing with democracy or rather the lack of democracy. Of 22 countries, all members of the Arab League, straddling a very strategic area, over 300 million people, heirs to one religion, one nationality, one culture. The question is: do you feel there is a common denominator why 22 countries have failed to adopt democracy which is universally accepted as the most successful form of government today in the Arab world?
SG: You are determined to get me into trouble! [Laughter] Let me say that, yes, they do share culture and language, but they also have a different historical and political development. I think some of them are monarchies, others have a political system where the leaders have been in power for a long time. But I think even in that region, I can sense that change is evolving. I can sense the people are anxious to participate in the decisions which affect them. I can sense that the people want to express their will, and I think we would all have been very encouraged, monitoring the elections in Iran, for example. The percentage of Iranians who went to the polls to vote, particularly young women. I think this is a sign, in my judgement, of things to come in the future. Perhaps, implied in your question is that change has not been as rapid in that region as in other regions. But change is coming.
Q: Mr. Annan, I agree with you of course that democracy is an international issue, but one can envisage, especially in a situation where the United Nations is recommending that nation states adopt this type of governance, especially some poorer governments which are dictatorial in nature, will move towards governments paying lip service towards democracy, whereas in reality this is not taking place. What would the role of the United Nations be, and indeed the world community, in ensuring that new democracies that are emerging are really democratic in their governance?
SG: Let me say that in the work we do with our own development organisation, the UN Development Programme, we are working a lot with governments on issues of democracy, good governance, institution-building, and we also recently have organized a series of meetings for new and emerging democracies. I think the first one was in Warsaw, another one was in Benin, and more than 120 governments came to talk about democracy, to share experiences, and that sharing of experiences, is I think very helpful for the new and emerging democracies. I think the other development which is very healthy and in the long run is going to strengthen democracy or help development of democracy in these countries is civil society, civil society within those countries and of course the emergence of a global civil society that is linked up by the internet and are sharing experiences, helping each other and supporting each other. So I think even when it is fragile, even whilst what I refer to as fig-leaf democracy, even if one has to go through that stage initially, to get a true democracy, I think one should not despair. When I go to Africa today, and I travel around the world, I hear leaders talk about democracy, talk about human rights and talk about the rule of law. Some of them, you know and I know, they don't believe it. But it doesn't matter. The fact that they are talking about human rights, the fact they are talking about democracy, the people begin to be aware of these rights, and in time they begin to press for it, and gradually we see change. Obviously, in some situations it will take longer than in others. But I don't think we should give up. In today's world also, people are aware of what is happening in neighbouring countries, what is happening in other parts of the world. They have noticed situations where the military have gone back to the barracks and there have been elections. It happened in Latin America, it's happening in Africa, and I think it's a good sign and I think these countries will make it. Thank you.
Q: I would like to raise an issue of democracy within the United Nations itself, vis-à-vis the Security Council. There seems to be a great emphasis on what the Permanent Members represent and not so much emphasis about other members. And also I would like that looked at in respect of the veto, what will be the future of the veto on Security Council issues?
SG: I think we read a lot about the permanent members of the Security Council, but the other ten non-permanent members also have an influence and some power. I think we have to recognise that the veto is a negative power, you can use the veto to block a decision. But you cannot use it to force a positive decision and a decision cannot be taken by the permanent five without some votes at least from the ten non-permanent members. In other words you need nine to ten votes to get a decision. So the nonpermanent members are not as weak and helpless as they may initially seem, and I would urge them to use that trust, that power and use it effectively on behalf of the entire membership. Yes, sometimes there is pressure from the bigger countries but they do have power they can use. I referred earlier to Security Council reform, which I said almost every member state needs to be reformed, but they cannot agree on the details. I hope they may be able to make the change within the next two years. I may be proved wrong, but I think we need to look at it within a time frame. The question of the power of the permanent five is sometimes exaggerated. They do have it, they can block any decision that they believe is not in their national interest for one reason or another, but they cannot impose decisions. Sorry I forgot the second part of your question.
Q: What are your views about the use of the veto, it doesn't appear to be democratic?
SG: …If they can limit the veto. That is one of the debates that have been going on for a long time. I think it was probably going on when Marrack Goulding came about fifteen years ago. There have been discussions about eliminating the veto, proscribing the use of the veto, or even being able to overturn the veto by, let's say, a two-thirds majority, and all these proposals have not been, how should I say, accepted. It would have come in as part of the Security Council reform; since the reform has not been concluded we still have this issue, but I am very doubtful that the permanent five would allow that sort of suggestion that the veto should either be removed or should be proscribed. So in fact, as one looks at reform in the Security Council, rather than removing the veto, the member states are now considering creation of additional vetoes, almost implying they have given up the hope of ever removing the existing five permanent seats. I think that is an indication of where it is likely to go.
Q: I know a country which is heavily populated - a billion people - unquestionably there have been ten years of fair and free elections, with an independent judiciary, with a free press -- thank God, if they criticise the government they are not put in prison -- they report every day levels of corruption which are unimaginable. Should the funds of the United Nations be utilised to help this country? What is the difference between liberal democracy and democracy? [Applause]
SG: I think as you gathered, the gentleman is from India, and is a very prominent lawyer from Madras, for those of you who don't know him. Good to see you Ram. [Laughter] I think on the questions you have raised about what is happening in India, the UN agencies are working with them on a very modest level. The UN Development Organisation is very active in India. But let me say that to help governments deal with some of the issues you have raised, particularly on the issue of corruption and that kind of thing, there must be receptivity and willingness to accept help from outside. And sometimes governments are not always prepared to do that. They find that they're sort of washing their dirty linen in public. As you say, these things are published in the papers, people talk about it, and governments are toppled for it. But it doesn't necessarily imply that they will take assistance from outside. But a lot is happening, the World Bank, the IMF, UNDP, all of us are working on transparency, they are insisting that corruption must be uprooted, because in fact it distorts development, it distorts assistance and really undermines all the efforts that are being made to assist the poor. And so it is becoming part of conditionality and part of their efforts, and I think in that sense we will be able to help steer things right. Your second question I think I will give to Professor O'Neill to answer! [Laughter]
Q: Thank you very much for an interesting talk. Could you say a few words on the issue of those who are fighting against Western-style democracy and yet represent large sections of their own populations. I am thinking in particular of Islamist movements. Obviously there are real areas of dispute between Islamists and democracy, yet there is also an overlap, more often than people imagine, if you study them closely. Sometimes these Islamists movements are more representative than their governments and very involved in civil society. There's a tension there. What is the way forward, according to your view?
SG: I don't want to create the impression that there is only one form of democracy and democracy is a system where only one shoe fits all. I think each society tries to organise itself in its own peculiar way. But I did indicate in my lecture the basic ingredients one would expect from democracy at its best. And not all states have attained it yet. I think you mentioned some of the Islamic states, I had mentioned Iran, for example, earlier. And when you look at the way the elections were organized, not only this time but also the previous time, everybody claimed it was free, open and fair. People were surprised that in a society where women presumably are deprived and restrained and have to walk around in veils that they would go in their thousands if not millions to vote and exercise their right and express themselves through the ballot box in a manner that people in the West had not imagined was possible. Obviously they have a different system, and I hope in time their democracy will be strengthened and the question that you posed may not become necessary. Thank you.
Press conference with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Jerusalem, 17 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Mr. Peres: Mr. Secretary-General of the UN, thank you for the visit and offering a contribution for the peace process in the Middle East. I also believe that Kofi Annan is one of the greatest and the best Secretaries-General we have experienced, because the Secretary-General of the United Nations always, in face of conflicting situations, has managed them without becoming a controversial Secretary-General. It's very difficult to do so, to offer compromises without compromising himself. And the trust and the respect for him is great and high.
I think his present mission is of great importance, because in addition to the meetings which are taking place between the representatives of the Palestinian Authority and ourselves, there is a real need to explain to the leaders where does each party stand without all the time being the victim of others' suspicion.
I think the Secretary-General can really carry a message of subjectivity and hope and promise.
I think the Secretary-General played a very important role in our withdrawal from Lebanon, trying really to be true to the Resolution 425 in its own meaning and taking a very strong position on it. I think there is no doubt in the heart of any of the parties which are today negotiating in the Middle East about the need for a world coalition for peace that would comprise the United States, the united Europe, Russia and, if possible, the Egyptians and the Jordanians, when the United Nations can really bring them together in an agreeable manner.
I think the Secretary-General played an extremely important role in the production and the [inaudible] of the Mitchell Report, of which the report was submitted to the President of the United States and a copy to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It was very much dependent upon the two of them to make the draft of the Mitchell Report into a working paper. And happily, that is what has happened.
The Mitchell Report is, in my judgement, today the only valuable and important documents that can lead the parties from an air of desperation to a new beginning of negotiations.
I do hope the Secretary-General will take the initiative to introduce a parallel document to the Mitchell Report in the domain of economics. I believe the economy can play a major role in enhancing peace and bringing the parties together.
During our lunch and in private conversation we discussed this issue, and I believe the Secretary-General will find a ready and prepared mood to accept an additive to the political one.
I know that travelling in an area of controversy is not a real touristic experience, but then again if you're equipped with the sense of serving the highest cause of our lives - peace - you cannot [inaudible] these days in order really to pave the way for a better future. I thank you for your visit.
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Foreign Minister, and good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
I have had a full exchange of views with Israeli leaders last night and this morning. And, of course, I just came out of a very important and useful discussion with the [Deputy] Prime Minister.
And I did the same yesterday with Chairman Arafat and his colleagues in Ramallah.
My purpose in coming to your region was to seize the opportunity offered by the present cease-fire and to use it to help restore the movement towards a lasting peace, negotiated within the framework of United Nations resolutions.
My efforts have been fully coordinated with those of the European Union, the United States and the Russian Federation, and I think you heard Mr. Peres refer to an emerging coalition for peace. The international community is united in its concern about the fragility of the situation in the region and also in its belief that the Mitchell Commission's recommendations offer the most hopeful route back to renewed dialogue, in an atmosphere of calm and renewed trust, as Mr. Peres said.
I have been encouraged to hear both President Arafat and Prime Minister Sharon repeat that they fully accept the Mitchell Report in all its elements. I hope they will build on this vital piece of common ground.
By agreeing to a cease-fire, they have already begun the implementation of the Mitchell recommendation. I have been pressing them to agree on timelines for implementing all the others, and to accept the help of third parties in whom they both have confidence.
With Prime Minister Sharon I also discussed the situation in southern Lebanon. Once again I emphasized, as I did in Beirut and Damascus, the vital importance of respecting the Blue Line.
Let me make it clear that the United Nations is implacably opposed to violations of any kind, in either direction. Calm on this front is essential to stability in the region.
My talks in the region have reinforced my belief that this is a moment of opportunity to consolidate the cease-fire, by embedding it in a wider political process and moving forward as fast as possible with the implementation of the Mitchell Report.
I will now take your questions.
Q: Would it be safe to say that there's a difference between the United Nations and the Israeli Government as regarding two points -one, the flights over Lebanon and the sequence of applying the Mitchell recommendations?
SG: We discussed the flights over Lebanon, which we have reported to the Security Council as a violation. When we established the [Blue] Line, we indicated that all parties must respect the line. And when we talk of the territory of Lebanon, we mean terrestrial, marine and air as well. So for us it is a violation. The Israeli authorities have told me why they are doing it, but regardless of the reasons, for us it is a violation.
On your second question, I think both parties have accepted the Mitchell Plan. Now it's a question of implementation. I wouldn't say there's a disagreement, but what I would want to see is a clearer definition of the road ahead, with timelines, so that people do not think the only issue and the only thing they are dealing with is a cease-fire. The cease-fire is a good beginning; it's an important element of the whole process. But we need to have the timelines to make it clear to all concerned that if we implement the ceasefire, that's not the end of the road, and in fact there are good and positive things ahead to give hope and to encourage people to work for peace.
[Mr. Peres was then asked a question in Hebrew, which he answered in Hebrew]
Q: Mr. Peres, how do you see the refusal of Ariel Sharon to have a meeting between you and Kofi Annan and Arafat in Ramallah? How do you see this?
Mr. Peres: We are on talking terms with the Palestinians and we shall have a look how to arrange it eventually. Thank you.
[A journalist asked another question in Hebrew, which Mr. Peres answered in Hebrew.]
Q: [translated from the French] Sharon has stopped hostilities in Palestinian territories. Do you think he's a realist?
SG: Evidemment, quand il ya un cessez-le-feu, parfois il faut un peu de temps pour que ca se concretise sur le terrain. Mais, ce n'est pas facile d'obtenir cent pour cent de reussite.
Je crois que, le moment venu, ou doit decider si le cessez-le-feu tient ou non. Si le cessez-le-feu tient, mais il y a un ou deux incidents par ci par la, je crois qu'on va conclure que ca a reussi. Si on exige sur cent pour cent de reussite, et chaque fois qu'il y a un incident on dit que le cessez-le-feu ne tient pas, je crois que ca creera des problemes.
[The Foreign Minister was then asked a question in Hebrew, which he answered in Hebrew]
Q: We've heard from both sides. Do you think there will be an equal implemention of the Mitchell Report by both sides, especially now that Sharon refuses to start with implementation of even the Mitchell Report. Especially about the settlement issue, there was a refusal. I'm asking about having a three-way meeting with you and Arafat and Peres. Do you think this is a good beginning from Ariel Sharon?
SG: I expect both parties to implement the agreement fully, since they have both accepted it, and I don't think anyone, either side, should try to hold back. And I hope that will be the case. And that is what the international community is determined to help the parties to do.
On the question of a meeting, as the Foreign Minister has indicated, there is a discussion and I will leave the Foreign Minister to handle that.
Mr. Peres: I think there is a confusion. There is no disagreement, neither among ourselves, nor with the Palestinians. The Mitchell Report is built on a sequence. Number one is cease-fire, number two is cooling-off period, number three is confidence-building measures, number four is political negotiation.
I'm not aware that anybody suggested that the first station shall deal with the issues of the second and third stations. While this is a package deal, and there is an interconnection between all the four steps, there is also an order of doing things - a, b and c. We're at stage a, settlements belong to station number c, usually, when we shall talk about confidence-building measures. And we would like to get, in an orderly way, station after station until we shall arrive to the final one.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you're talking about the need to consolidate the cease-fire by starting with implementation of the Mitchell Report. Does this mean that there is a need to overlap the Tenet Plan with the Mitchell Report?
And for Mr. Peres, the need for a tripartite meeting with you, Chairman Arafat and the Secretary-General. Wouldn't that create such an overlapping of implementation of the Tenet Plan with the Mitchell Report?
SG: I think I made it quite clear here that the Mitchell Report is a package. As the Foreign Minister said, there is a certain sequence of events. But what I have said is to make it clear to everyone the linkages and the interrelationship, is to establish a timetable for how you go through the various phases until you get to the negotiating table, so that it is clear for the ordinary person who has not read the report that there is a roadway that will lead to the table for them to discuss peace. So that is what I am referring to.
On the question of senior-level meetings, I've been involved in many cease-fires. A cease-fire is not an end in itself. It's often part of a larger scheme. And a cease-fire is often managed on the ground by the military officers. But it is done in a political context. If there is a conflict at the lower level, between the military, you need to go to someone at the political level to sort it out and very quickly. And I have experienced that in those situations where you have that sort of link, where if there is a problem between the military, don't let it fester and become a bigger problem. But you have two senior people who can come together and solve it. So it would be reinforcing the cease-fire. It's not the beginning of political negotiations, as has been indicated. This is the way I see it.
Mr. Peres: May I say that the Tenet Report is a specification of the first step in the Mitchell Report. It's not a contradiction. On the contrary, it is a translation of the first step. The first step consists of four different acts. One is the cessation of fire, secondly the cessation of incitement, thirdly the redeployment of Israeli forces to the lines which existed before the intifada and fourthly, an improvement of the situation of the civilian life in the Territories.
We have said, and I insist that we shall do it, that when it comes to the Territories we shall go ahead and facilitate life in the Territories, reducing and bringing an end to the closures, enabling the flow of goods and people so that civilian life can go on without any collective punishment.
As far as the redeployment of forces is concerned, the Israeli move is supposed to take place 40 hours after the Tenet Report was published and so it happened. The second move is in a week later, when the Israeli army has to offer a timetable for the ongoing redeployment of forces.
When it comes to the cessation of fire, it is not complete. We insist it will be complete. And when it comes to cessation of incitement, we are at the very, very beginning, which I regret very much, because I believe we need a different climate of expression, publicly and privately, in order to have the train leaving the station and move ahead in the right direction.
Q: Was there a need for a meeting at this point with the Palestinians…?
Mr. Peres: I'm not aware that the Secretary-General has suggested that a meeting will start with negotiations on Chapters numbers two and three. But there is always room to discuss how to improve the cease-fire, how to improve the cessation of incitement, how to improve the conditions of life, all this within the framework of the first step.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, if I may, Mr. Sharon has said that the clock would start ticking on the cease-fire only after there is a complete cessation of violence. I would like to ask you if you accept that position.
And Mr. Peres, if you would, I think it's clear from what you've said so far that you believe a meeting with Mr. Arafat at this point would be useful. Are you going to try to persuade Mr. Sharon to agree to that meeting?
SG: On the first one, let me say that there are discussions going on about this issue, and as I said, the timeline and what I have suggested, and so I would want to wait until the discussions to come back to what you've said.
Q: How do you want to make peace and put conditions on meeting and talking, which is part of the confidence-building?
Mr. Peres: We are following strictly, almost religiously, the sequence of the Mitchell Report. It is not an order introduced by us. It's an order produced by the Mitchell Report and, as I have said, it is a package that we are moving toward our last station, station after station, as it was described.
Q: There seems to be some misunderstanding between Israel and the Palestinians regarding the cooling-off period. While Sharon said it has to be six weeks, the Palestinians say it shouldn't take six weeks and we can proceed ahead with other questions in the Mitchell Report.
Mr. Peres: Well, the Palestinians suggested four weeks; Israel had suggested eight weeks; so the natural compromise is six weeks, which makes the two parties equally dissatisfied.
Q: Could I just ask, Mr. Peres, the Secretary-General made very clear to Israel that he would like to see the cease-fire matched by some kind of hope on the political horizon in order to make it easier for the Palestinians to abide by the cease-fire. Are you personally pushing your Government to speed up a return to political negotiations? Are you in complete agreement with your Government, or not?
Mr. Peres: Well, I'm not such a big pusher [laughter], but I believe that the first step includes confidence-building measures as well. For example, improvement of the state of the Territories, and the Secretary-General has expressed himself very clearly on it. I don't think he has met with any opposition on our side. But otherwise, we really have to move as it was described in the Mitchell Report and, may I say, I believe the whole Government of Israel, from the Prime Minister to the last member of the Cabinet, have accepted the Mitchell Report [inaudible], but really with understanding that this is the best way under the circumstances to [inaudible] the stalemate and scepticism and the desperation and move ahead.
We know it calls for efforts and sacrifices. We are not blind and we are not forgetful. We shall try indeed to do it as it should be done.
Q: Israel has expressed concern that the anti-racism conference in Durban in South Africa will become very political and anti-Israel. Are you aware of these concerns, and is there anything you can do?
SG: I am aware of several concerns which Mary Robinson and the UN team and all of us are trying to deal with it. The discussions are still going on and I would want to see a conference that is constructive, that is forward-looking, that helps us deal uith racism and xenophobia in our society of today, a conference that would encourage governments to set up laws and rules to deal with discrimination and xenophobia.
Obviously, there are issues that the conference could bring to closure. There has been the question of slavery, for example, and that is also a delicate issue, in addition to the one you've raised, which is being looked at very, very critically by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her team, the UN team. And I hope by the time we go to South Africa, we will have the issues resolved.
Press conference with Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah, 16 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
President Arafat (translated from the Arabic): I would like to welcome very warmly Mr Kofi Annan whom we hold dearly in our hearts. We can only mention his good offices in moving the peace process forward, at all levels, and to safeguard it.
The visit he is undertaking now is for the same aim and we thank him very much for it. Not just for his visit to us here, but in the entire area.
I have informed the Secretary-General that unfortunately the situation is very difficult and nothing has changed on the ground. The settlers' attacks have increased immensely on the ground, and in a very dangerous fashion. The burning of crops, the assassination of several leading personalities, including the Orthodox monk at the entrance of Jerusalem.
Movement on the roads remains extremely difficult. It is impossible to move on any of the roads crossing into Egypt and Jordan. It is extremely difficult. They have opened some of the side roads, but all the main roads are still blocked.
And I am sorry to say that Israeli soldiers are not listening to the orders they get from the political leadership and they are carrying out their military activities and their aggression.
We have asked the Secretary-General to approve the sending of international monitors to this region so that they can see for themselves on the ground what is and what is not being done, and so that we can begin with the implementation of the Mitchell Report as a whole, as a package, and not just the security aspect of that report.
I also suggested to the Secretary-General that we have another meeting of the Sharm-el-Sheikh Summit group, and at the level that he sees appropriate. And we also hope that the other co-sponsor of the peace process, the Russian Federation, will participate in that meeting.
And I say before you, Mr. Secretary-General, and before the world press, that we are disciplined and we are committed to fulfilling all the agreements related to the cease-fire. And we hope that the other side will make the same commitments, and especially to stop the crimes of the settlers against our crops and our people and our villages.
One more time, I would like to welcome the Secretary-General and to thank him for being here and thank him for his good offices in trying to move the peace process forward.
SG: Thank you very much, President Arafat.
It is important that I am in this region at this critical time. We all have been pained by the tragedy that has been going on here and we've been saddened by the loss of life, by the families who have lost their loved ones, and we send our deepest sympathy and condolences to all those who have lost family members, husbands, children, wives on both sides of the conflict.
But I think as we see the killing, we should see it as one more reason for us to urgently seek a solution, for us to do everything we can to bring the conflict to an end. The only solution is peace. There's nothing to be gained from the conflict or violence.
And I would also want to say that there can be no security without peace. Peace and security are the two sides of the same coin. And I think we need to really focus on that point and move forward.
I am gratified that both parties have accepted the Mitchell Report and its recommendations. Now we have to move forward and implement it in its entirety at the fastest possible pace.
Luckily we have a cease-fire which both parties have accepted. We have to try and consolidate the cease-fire and make sure it holds, so that we can move on to the other essential and important aspects of the Mitchell Report. That would give a sense of hope to the population and for both sides to know that sooner or later, but sooner rather than later, one would be back at the negotiating table trying to resolve these issues politically.
I have been to the region. I visited many countries in the region before I came here. And I can share with you the perception in the region - they are frustrated, they are concerned, they are worried. There is deep mistrust. They would want to see this conflict settled, they would want to see the region at peace. They would want to see a comprehensive settlement in the region, in accordance with UN Resolutions, particularly 242 and 338.
And I would want to assure President Arafat that the UN and other international players and leaders in the Arab world will work as hard as we can with the parties, with you and the Israeli Government, to bring peace to this region.
But the hard part has to be done by you, the parties, you and the Israelis. The international community can help, the international community can press forward, and we will be there working with you.
Later on today, I will have discussions with Prime Minister Sharon and I will also give the same message - that we need to move ahead as quickly as possible. We need to implement the Tenet Agreement and move on very quickly with the Mitchell Report.
I want you to know that you are not alone in this conflict. There are many people around the world, many nations, many leaders who want to help the two of you resolve this conflict and live in peace.
And when I see the faces of people, on television, either burying their dead or taking them to hospital, and you see that agony and that pain, you realize the urgency to resolve this crisis.
I think for the sake of the people, we need to work harder. The people need peace and they want peace. For their sake, let's push as hard and as quickly as we can.
We will now take your questions.
Q: What can the United Nations do to stop the settlements, please, especially on "natural growth."
SG: I think the recommendations of the Mitchell Report, which I believe should be [implemented] in its entirety, are very clear on that and recommend a freeze of all settlement activities.
Q: Is that the UN position then?
SG: We have endorsed the Mitchell Report.
Q: (translated from the Arabic): Mr. Secretary-General, the United Nations has resolved numerous crises. President Arafat has called for international observers to come to this region. Why is it that the United Nations is not implementing UN resolutions on this problem?
SG: I think, on the question of the observer force, as you may know, the Security Council did discuss it fully but the outcome was negative, and the observer force was not approved by the Security Council at that time.
In my discussions with President Arafat, this issue also came up. He believes it is important to have a third party mechanism to monitor what is happening and to monitor the performance of the parties vis-à-vis the implementation of the Mitchell Report. This is something that I will take up and discuss with the Israeli authorities and, I am sure, the other international partners.
On the question of implementation of UN resolutions, let me say that the UN resolutions in this region and on this particular conflict, have provided a very useful basis for the peace discussions and negotiations. In essence, the resolutions recommend land for peace. And this has been the basis for the settlement of the disputes in this region.
In addition to that, let's not forget that the UN and its agency UNRWA, is providing considerable assistance in the meantime to the Palestinian population. And we have troops in southern Lebanon and in Syria. And I am here, I am here because I want to work with you to find peace, and a peaceful solution to this conflict. So the UN is not absent. We are fully engaged, and I intend to stay absolutely committed and engaged in our search for a solution.
Q: (translated from Arabic): Mr. Secretary-General, you are the world's chief diplomat. Everybody is talking about the Mitchell report and not about United Nations resolutions. Are we expected now to ignore United Nations resolutions and replace them with the Mitchell Report while at the same time we are expecting countries like Iraq and Lebanon to implement United Nations resolutions? Has the Mitchell Report replaced international resolutions that the UN has issued?
SG: The UN resolutions stand, and are relevant. What has happened was the Mitchell Committee was set up after the Sharm-el-Sheikh meeting. The objective at that time was rather limited -- to look into the violence that exploded after 28 September and to make recommendations as to how one can avoid repetition of that violence.
That implies that, at that time, we thought that the violence was going to be short-lived and that they can deal with the reason for the violence and take steps to make sure it didn't happen again. Here we are, almost nine months on, and we still have the violence. So the five wise men who compose the committee came up with very constructive suggestions that would get us out of the current violence, and move on to confidence-building measures, including the end of the violence, end of the shooting, withdrawal of Israeli military equipment, removal of the blockade and the siege and eventually getting back to the negotiating table to talk about a final settlement.
So, if you wish, the Mitchell Report provides a road map to the negotiating table, and at the negotiating table the discussions that will take place will be in the framework of land-for-peace, which is the essence of the UN resolutions. And so that is the real situation and we should not see the Mitchell report as replacing UN resolutions and I hope my answer makes the picture clear.
President Arafat (translated from the Arabic): We must also remember that the Mitchell Report referred to UN resolutions 242 and 338 as the basis for any solution. This also came in the Egyptian-Jordanian initiative and Resolution 194 concerning the right to return. This was also clear in the recent European-US summit.
Q: This is a question for President Arafat: Are you both, yourself and the Secretary-General, in complete agreement as to the correct path back to peace talks from here, back to a final settlement of the whole situation, or are there areas, such as the deployment of international monitors, where you differ with the UN?
President Arafat: The question of monitors is not a difference between us and the United Nations. This is a resolution that was vetoed. And I remind you of many of the resolutions that have been adopted by the United Nations concerning the Palestinian people. And in particular, stopping settlements and considering it an illegitimate act. And many other resolutions concerning Jerusalem. Resolutions 242 and 338 which the Madrid Conference was convened to implement, under land for peace.
SG: Before we break up, if I may say one thing. I began by referring to the suffering and the economic deprivation of the people in the region. To end that, we need to move ahead very quickly with the peace process. We need to work with the International community to come in with urgent assistance, assistance that will help the people rebuild their lives. And this will have to follow the effective implementation of the Mitchell Report, that we have indicated.
So it is important that we do everything to make sure that the cease-fire holds, do everything to implement it and move forward very quickly with the implementation of all aspects of the Mitchell Report.
I think we have an opportunity, but a brief one, a fleeting opportunity to resolve this issue, and we should seize the moment. If we don't seize it may move away from us.
So I appeal to everyone to work actively for peace, for the sake of the people, for the sake of the region and for the sake of the two parties involved. Thank you.
Press encounter with Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud, Beirut, 15 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
FM (translated from Arabic): I held with the UN Secretary-General who is visiting Lebanon today and some of tomorrow useful, deep and fruitful talks in which we discussed all the issues that are of interest to the Middle East region beginning with the peace process passing also through the issues which affect Lebanon directly including landmines, the Lebanese detainees in Israeli prisons and the future of the peace process and the role that we expect from the United Nations in helping bring about a permanent and comprehensive peace without there being a deviation from the peace process and from its basis which we agreed on. And you know that Lebanon is committed to this process, and wishes to safeguard it, and the United Nations and the Secretary-General is personally attentive to it. I give the floor to the Secretary-General. We once again welcome him and we wish him a good trip and a role that is related to our confidence in the United Nations and in its credibility.
SG: Thank you very much. We have very little time and you've heard from the minister what we discussed. And we will take one or two questions.
Q: Did you notice, Mr. Annan, did you notice any will from the Lebanese authorities to restart the negotiations concerning the peace process?
SG: Yes, I think everyone I've spoken to believes that we should make every effort to bring a just and comprehensive peace in the region. Of course, they are also all preoccupied with what is happening in the Palestinian territories and between Palestinians and Israelis and believe that the international community should take urgent action to end the tragedy. But we should see the issue in a broader context, not just as resolving the Palestinian issue but try and bring about a comprehensive peace to calm the region once and for all.
Q: Mr. Annan, you hadn't mentioned a clear position of Shabaa Farms. Once you mentioned that it is Syrian, and once you said it is something for Syria and Lebanon to determine. So we need a clear position please.
SG: I think I've been very, very clear. I know that the Lebanese authorities believe that Shabaa Farms is Lebanese. But according to our records, and we made it clear in the report that the Security Council issued on the basis of which it had approved the Blue Line that it is Syrian and eventually when there's a settlement, I have no doubt that it will revert to Lebanon given the fact that Syria also has indicated that it is Lebanese. And I have appealed for patience and restraint because, in the long run, Israel is not going to keep it and if there is an agreement it will revert. What is important is that we avoid incidents on the Blue Line and in the Shabaa Farms.
Spokesman: Last question, please.
Q: Sir, how true are the reports that say that you have discussed with the Syrian and the Lebanese officials an initiative concerning for both of them to sit around a table with the United Nations under your auspices to discuss and to determine the borders of the Shabaa Farms and they have declined this?
SG: There was no such discussion.
Q: It isn't true?
SG: I've not had such a discussion.
Press encounter with Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri, Beirut, 15 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
PM: We had a very fruitful meeting. We have talked about the situation in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian-Israeli question. The Secretary-General believes that United Nations Resolutions have to be implemented, especially the 242 and 338. Lebanon believes, as well, that peace in the region cannot be achieved unless everybody respects the international law and the United Nations resolutions. Se we agree about it. And, but all of us we are worried about the situation in the Palestinian occupied territories. For Lebanon, as everybody knows, Lebanon is respecting the resolutions of the United Nations and we are working very close with the United Nations to assure the stability in the region. So, there is in fact we are in full agreement with the Secretary-General and we are, we used to work together, and we are continuing working together, now and in the future. Thank you.
SG: Thank you very much. I think you've heard from the Prime Minister what we discussed. Since we have very little time, maybe we should take your questions straight away.
Q: Monsieur le Secretaire General, est-ce que vous etes satisfait de la cooperation du gouvernement libanais avec l'ONU?
SG: Absolument. On a eu une tres bonne cooperation. C'etait des annees qu'on travaille ensemble et on va continuer a travailler ensemble. Je suis tres content. Je suis tres satisfait.
SG: Je suis content, oui.
Q: Quel est le role de l'ONU pour la preparation de Paris II?
SG: Pour le Paris II? Evidemment, j'ai discute avec le premier minister quand il etait a New York. On va travailler ensemble et j'espere que la communaute internationale vont etre tres positive le moment venu.
Q: Secretary-General, I'd like to ask you about your overview of the situation between Lebanon and Israel on the border where the Blue Line is. You were in Syria recently, you've just been speaking with Prime Minister Hariri here. What's your estimation of volatility along the border and the possibility of that being a trigger for some serious conflict again?
SG: No, I would hope that all parties will respect the Blue Line and that would also be my message when I get to Israel. I've already shared this with them. I think the border has been relatively calm and I want to see it that way. I think it is important that we do everything we can to respect the Line and to respect the territorial integrity of Lebanon. When Israel withdrew, the question of respecting territorial integrity of Lebanon meant respecting the terrestrial, marine and air. There have been these air flights, which is a violation of the agreement and I will raise it with the Israeli authorities and hope that will stop. Because we do not need any incidence that will trigger confrontation on the Line. We have enough problems on our hands, with what's going on in the Palestinian territories and we don't want to see a second front opened. So, my advice is that everyone should scrupulously respect the Blue Line and we are going to remain vigilant, monitor it, report to the Security Council and point our finger at the violators.
Press encounter following meeting with Speaker of the Parliament, Nabih Berri, Beirut, 15 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. I have just come out of a talk with speaker Berri and as you could probably guess, we talked about the situation in southern Lebanon, the restructuring of the UN forces, the violations of the Blue Line and the planes that come in daily and he appealed to the UN to ensure that these violations stop. We talked also about the demining process which is being undertaken under the UN's auspices and the generous contribution of Sheikh Zayed of the United Arab Emirates and also the need to do whatever we can to try and improve the economic conditions in southern Lebanon and encourage the donors to assist as well as try to attract investments. We also touched on the question of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and the future of comprehensive peace talks in the region and the prospects of such peace. Now I will take your questions.
Q: Excellence, que pensez-vous des menaces israeliennes au forces syriennes si Hizbullah continue sa resistance aux fermes de Shebaa. (translation: Excellency, what do you think of the Israeli threats on the Syrian forces if Hizbullah continues its resistance in the Shebaa Farms?)
SG: J'ai eu l'occasion de discuter ca avec Mr. Berri et j'aurai l'occasion de discuter ca avec premier ministre Sharon. Je crois que ce qu'il faut faire c'est d'eviter d'incidences sur la ligne bleue. On doit eviter toute sorte de violation, provocation, pour pouvoir continuer a calmer la situation.
Q: ( Khalil Fleihan from An-Nahar) Did you persuade Mr. Berri about Farms of Shabaa (inaudible)?
SG: No I did not persuade him. He has his position and the UN has its position. (Laughter).
Press conference following meeting with President Emile Lahoud of Lebanon, Beirut, 15 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning ladies and gentlemen, actually it is good afteroon. I just had a good discussion with the President. We naturally talked about the situation in the south, the Blue Line and the need to respect it and violations which have taken place. He talked about the Israeli flights and the sonic booms. We also did discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the need to try and find a just and comprehensive peace in the region as the only way of calming the situation in the longer term. And we talked about other issues of interest to Lebanon and the UN and of course the important demining effort that is being led by Mr. de Mistura and the UN team here and the economic situation and eventually the donor conference which had been planned and I hope a date will be set for that very shortly. I will take your questions.
Q: Did you discuss with President Lahoud the Shabaa Farms issue and what the UN can do so that this issue does not destabilize the situation in the region?
SG: Yes, we did discuss the Shabaa Farms and on that I think you all are familiar with the position of the Lebanese Government and the position of the UN as stipulated in Security Council Resolution. I know the Lebanese position that Shabaa Farms is Lebanese. In the document that went to the Council, on the basis of which we drew the Blue Line, we have stated our position, or the Council position, that the Shabaa Farms belongs, according to our records, to Syria and that in time this issue will be resolved and the land may revert back to Lebanon.
Israel knows that Shabaa Farms is not Israeli and will eventually withdraw and at that point I'm sure it will revert to either Syria or Lebanon. But since both Syria and Lebanon agree that it should be Lebanese, in time it will revert to Lebanon. But in the meantime the Blue Line, as it is drawn, has to be respected. We have enough problems in the region. We are all focused on calming the crisis in the Occupied Territory and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. We do not need to open another front. I have appealed to everyone to respect the Blue Line and to keep the situation calm. It's been relatively calm. In fact, we have statistics when we compare the number of accidents and deaths before the withdraw ended and the tracing of the Blue Line. There has been considerable improvement and I would want to keep it that way.
Q: What is the UN going to do to stop the Israeli (overflights of Lebanon)?
SG: Yes, I think my representative here has made it clear that these flights are in violation of the agreement. When Israel withdrew, we made it clear that when we talk of respect for territorial integrity of Lebanon we meant terrestrial, marine and air. Therefore, those flights into Lebanon are violations of the agreement and I will take this up in Israel when I meet Prime Minister Sharon.
Q: What are the obstacles to the donor countries' conference on Lebanon?
SG: I think it's a question of planning it properly and fixing a date. There is quite a bit of good will in the international community for Lebanon. And I have discussed this issue with the President today and I will also discuss it with the Prime Minister. And I hope it will be possible to fix a date and organizing a meeting fairly soon, at least to fix the date and to plan for it.
Q: There are many Israeli violations of Blue Line and for the south of Lebanon. You've already asked the parties to respect the Blue Line, and the Security Council is engaged. How do you explain this?
SG: We need to have a full cooperation of the countries and parties concerned. They have undertaken to respect the Blue Line and we are asking them to live up to their word. The International Community will continue to put on the pressure and indicate each time there is a violation that there has been a violation. And I think Mr. de Mistura, my representative here, has been quite firm on that. And reports do go to the Council on a regular basis. Each time there is a violation, we do report and we will be vigilant and continue to monitor the situation.
Press encounter upon arrival in Beirut, with Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud, Lebanon, 15 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Let me start by telling you how delighted I am to be back in Lebanon. As you know, I am visiting the region as part of the continuing search for a negotiated settlement of the Middle East conflict within the framework of United Nations Resolutions.
I am glad that a cease-fire is now in place between Israelis and Palestinians. But a cease-fire will not last unless it is seen by both sides as being part of a broader political process. I believe the Mitchell Report recommendations offer a possible route back to such negotiations. But the opportunity may not last long. We must seize it while it is there. To do so, we need stability and calm throughout the region.
Lebanon has as strong an interest as anyone in lasting peace and stability in the region. And your leaders have an important part to play in ensuring that calm prevails. I am therefore very glad to have the opportunity of meeting them today. We have much to talk about.
The whole international community must now maximize its efforts to bring about a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region, based on Security Council Resolutions, in particular, 242 and 338.
Q: How do you see the stability in south Lebanon after you talks with President Assad yesterday?
SG: I think President Assad, like all of us, hopes to see calm and stability on the border in Lebanon and this is an issue that I have also raised with Israeli authorities. I think all of us have a responsibility to respect the Blue Line and avoid any violations there and I think it is in everyone's interest.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, during your visit to Lebanon, is there any meeting between you and Mr. Hassan Nasrallah?
SG: We have not arranged yet any such meeting.
Q: Are you going to talk about the Israeli detainees in the Hizbullah area?
SG: I have just met the families of the Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails and, as I indicated, this is an issue I have raised many times with the Israeli government and I intend to raise it with the Prime Minister when I go back to Israel.
Question to the Foreign Minister: Mr. Minister, what do you say as you receive the Secretary-General and are there issues that Lebanon will raise with him?
FM Mahmoud Hammoud (translation from Arabic): I would first of all like to welcome the visit of His Excellency UN Secretary-General in Lebanon during these times and circumstances the region is passing through, mainly following the ongoing Intifada which has been going on for more than eight months and following the Palestinian demands to regain their full rights. We support the Palestinians' firm positions and the decisions of Arab summits, mainly those related to the Palestinian right to establish an independent Palestinian State on their national land, with Jerusalem as its capital. In addition to that, we have issues which begin by achieving a peace settlement based on the Madrid formula, international legitimacy resolutions and the principle of land for peace. These are among our firm positions and this is our strategic choice, in addition to the call for the implementation of United Nations resolutions related to completing the withdrawal from Lebanese territories, and also regarding the Golan Heights and the withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 border and as I have already mentioned, the Palestinian rights. The United Nations is aware of this position. We reaffirm this position. But what is of interest to us in this visit is to listen, and we will listen well, to the Secretary-General's assessment of the situation in the entire region towards what is important to the international peace and security, because the UN Secretary-General, as you well know, as stipulated in the UN Charter and within his duties, he is a partner in the search for the best means to reinforce international peace and security. We thank the Secretary-General for this visit and we welcome him once again. And our cooperation with the United Nations will be in the interest of both Lebanon and the United Nations and UN-Lebanese relations at different levels political, economic and social given the capabilities and resources the United Nations can make available to assist Lebanon following the liberation of the bulk of Lebanese territory. Thank you.
Press Conference in Damascus, Syria, 14 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am delighted to be back in Syria again. My objective in coming to the region at this time is to try and give new emphasis to the search for a comprehensive peace settlement based on UN resolutions, particularly Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Syria, needless to say, has a central role to play.
The immediate focus of my mission is the crisis between Israel and Palestine, but I also hope to help stabilize the situation on the Blue Line of Israeli withdrawal, with a view to avoiding further escalation by either side.
The recent violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians has cost many lives and caused great suffering, particularly among the population in the Occupied Territories.
The UN is now working with the EU and the co-sponsors of the Madrid peace conference to build on the ceasefire by ensuring that the parties implement all the recommendations of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact Finding Committee. This is a precious but a fleeting opportunity to re-start the political process. We must take advantage of it.
I had the chance this morning to discuss all these matters with President Al-Assad and I will now take your questions.
Q: Would you tell us what you discussed with the President?
SG: I just said it. I just indicated that I had the chance to discuss with him the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, the need to pursue a just and comprehensive peace in the region. We did talk about the Syrian track as well and the Iraqi sanctions, as well as the Israeli Lebanese border and the need to keep it quiet.
Q: Did you get the impression that the Syrians are rather disappointed that the UN resolutions have not been carried out?
SG: They believe that the UN resolutions are fundamental and primordial and that we should all seek to respect these resolutions. And of course ideally they would like to see them implemented and believe that they are of primary importance and valued and should be preserved and constantly be referred to as a basis for action.
Q: Is there any coordination between the activities of the UN represented by yourself and the other international envoys coming to the area, like Mr. Burns, Mr. Moratino and also the others?
SG: Yes, we are working closely together. As I mentioned earlier, the UN is working with the European Union, the Americans and the Russian Federation and I am also in touch with the leaders in this region to try and move the peace process forward. We are working together.
Q: Was there any discussion with the Syrian leadership about the issue of the Lebanese and the Israelis prisoners?
SG: We did touch on the issue, yes, and this is an issue that I know will be raised also in Lebanon and it will also be raised in Israel when I get there. So it is an issue that I will have an opportunity to discuss with both sides now that I am in the region, and I have done it in the past, we did discuss it.
Q: Anything moving on this issue?
SG: I have nothing specific to report.
Q: What was President Bashar's reaction to your pushing the findings of the Mitchell Commission report? Did you get any support from him at all?
SG: I think President Al-Assad understands, insists, that the basic frame of reference is the UN resolutions, particularly resolution 242 and 338. We did discuss the Mitchell report and I indicated that the Mitchell report is not replacing the resolutions but it is an interim step to get the parties back to the table and in settling their differences it will have to be based on "land for peace", which is the basic premise of the UN resolutions.
Q: Did he support it or not?
SG: He did support it in that broad context, yes. But he didn't want it to be seen as if the Mitchell proposals are replacing the resolutions and that once it is within the framework of the resolutions and is an interim step to get the people to the table to discuss it, then he was quite relaxed about it.
Q: Can you give us details about your talks with the Syrian President on Iraq and sanctions?
SG: I think his view is that the discussions going on in the Security Council should bear in mind, the Council members should bear in mind the concerns of the neighbouring countries because the draft resolution deals with the relations between Iraq and the neighbouring nations and he believes that before the resolution is passed the Council ought to bear in mind the concerns of the neighbouring nations.
Q: Anything about the Iraqi oil exports to Syria?
SG: This is part of the issue that is being discussed by the Security Council Resolution and it is in that context and other issues that he indicated that the Council should bear in mind the concerns and the interests of neighbouring states.
Q: Sir, do you expect the President of Syria to issue a statement supporting the Mitchell report as a preliminary step towards implementation of all the UN resolutions and did you encourage them to do so … so they won't be left from the whole activities that are going around?
SG: We did not discuss that, and I don't know if they are going to issue a statement, but we did have a very good and healthy discussion. As I have indicated, we agreed that it does not supercede the UN resolutions but it is an interim step. But I can not say they are going to issue a statement. What is important is I think we walked away with an understanding.
Q: Did you discuss the cut down of the UN forces in south Lebanon, one, and two what about Syria's membership in the UN Security Council next year?
SG: We discussed the situation in southern Lebanon. We didn't dwell too much on the restructuring of the UN forces. I expect this will be one of the main topics when I get to Beirut. On your second question, it is quite likely that Syria will be elected to the Security Council as a non-permanent member beginning January and I look forward to working with them.
Q: Have there been any pressures for Syria to be elected, by any world forces?
SG: I have not sensed any pressure in New York.
Spokesman: Last question.
Q: There have been serious breaches of the ceasefire yesterday with casualties on both sides. Do you have any reaction?
SG: I am aware of the incidents or the breaches on the ground as you described them. I think it is important that the parties have the courage and the strength and the wisdom to deal with what has happened and to not allow the breaches to derail the ceasefire which has been so delicately put together. Thank you very much.
Press encounter with Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Maher, Cairo, 13 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
FM: Welcome, Mr. Secretary, I must thank you because I've never seen so much press for any of my talks. It's a great pleasure and an honor to have you here. The Secretary-General has honored us with a visit at the beginning of a tour of the region. He has met with the President this morning and we had a talk between him and myself right now. We of course talked about the situation in the Middle East and the efforts to achieve peace. We are very happy to see the United Nations involved in this process. This has been our position all along and we learned [unintelligible]. We also talked about the situation in other parts of the Middle East and of the necessity to continue to keep in touch in order to conjugate our efforts towards the goal that we are both seeking. I want to say that the talks with the President were excellent. They took place in a very friendly atmosphere. It was very comprehensive. They talked about many many problems. And you know how much we appreciate the Secretary-General, how much we appreciate all the efforts he has been exerting not only in our part of the world but all over the world. And I expressed our hope to see the Secretary-General continue serving in this position for another mandate. So, the Secretary-General may take some questions if he wants.
SG: Thank you very much. Yes I think we should because we have very little time.
Q: [unintelligible] It is known that the Palestinian Authority is very much interested in having a cease-fire. What about if another movement against the peace comes out with a terrorist attack, will they take responsibility for the break up of the cease-fire?
SG: My attitude is that since both Parties have accepted the recommendations of the Mitchell commission and taken the first important step of cease-fire, we should really move ahead with the diplomatic effort and get the political discussion going, after the confidence building measure and all this. And I think once you've made a strategic choice for peace, you need to stay the course and to stick with it, and at the same time find a way of dealing with the terrorists. That is, if you allow the terrorist to dictate the pace of talks to determine when you continue your peace discussions then you are not going to move very far. And I also believe that is when the killing is going on one needs to talk. That's one more urgent reason to persevere and find peace. And so I would hope the Parties will stay the course and not allow a bomb here or there disturb the process.
Q: Secretary-General, the United States has traditionally been the main player in the peace process. What practical role can the United Nations play to complement the US role?
SG: The UN, let me put it this way, has been involved in the Middle East right from the beginning. And yesterday I had the chance to say, not only do we have troops in Lebanon and Syria, we are also the organization that has been giving considerable assistance to the Palestinian refugees right from the beginning. And we must not forget that even if today the Security Council is not actively seized, quite a lot of the resolutions on which these discussions are based are the framework for the discussions, whether it's land for peace, and all that came out of the UN and I think that's a valuable contribution. Today, I'm working in very close cooperation with the leaders of this region, the American administration, the EU and Russian Federation. I think there is emerging a real international alliance for peace to work with the Parties and move the process forward. And I think that is a very useful thing.
Q: But Israel views the role of the UN [unintelligible]
SG: Well, I've been dealing with them and I hope my efforts in the process will continue. I talked to the Israeli leadership. I am in touch with them as I am with President Arafat and I am going to continue to do that. And I think that is a step in the right direction.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, do we expect now that the Palestinian request for having international peace keeper or observers will be considered by the Security Council and would it this time have a chance to be passed?
SG: Well, I am not sure that the Security Council is ready to take it up again at this time. But if they do take it up, I think they should make sure it is successful because we wouldn't want to go through what we went through. I have no indication that the Council is prepared to take it up again.
Q: Just a follow-up. Isn't it a complementary role for the agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis and could it be considered a guarantee [unintelligible]
SG: I think whatever agreement is made as part of the efforts on the ground, whether it's a cease-fire or the implementation of the Mitchell report, will have to be a package. You can have a situation where you discuss a cease-fire on the ground with Mr. Tenet and ask the Security Council to take a complementary role. I think we need to have a focused and structured process which is good. I am not saying that I disagree with the intent behind your question. (the Foreign Minister then took a number of questions in Arabic, which he answered in Arabic).
Press encounter after meeting with Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, Cairo, 13 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I've just had a very good discussion with the President and as you can imagine, we talked about the crisis in the Middle East, we talked about the situation in Iraq and the review of the UN sanctions and of course discussed issues of interest to the UN and the Government of Egypt. I will take your questions now.
Q: The recent international efforts now to try to resume the negotiation between the Palestinians and the Israelis but with international guarantees to force Israel to stop building new settlements and [unintelligible]
SG: I think the whole idea behind the international effort is to try to bring the violence to an end. Now that the cease-fire is being consolidated, and we all have followed the work of Mr. Tenet, and as I indicated yesterday, there should be an effort to move on to the diplomatic process in order to ensure that the cease-fire also holds for the longer term. The question of the settlements is also one of the issues being discussed.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, despite the intensive presence of all these international mediators in the region, the Palestinian people are still suffering under siege and aggression from settlers. What will you do to help those people and press Israel to stop its provocation towards the Palestinians?
SG: I think the purpose of the efforts we are making is in the end to ensure that the siege would also be lifted. The Palestinians will be able to go about their business. And when we talk of confidence building measures, as proposed in the Mitchell report, these are the issues that we are talking about. And I think as we make progress in the work that we are doing, I would hope to see a better situation for the Palestinian people. I know they are suffering, I know the pain, and I think this is why we are all here.
Q: Do you have any plans to discuss again international protection inside the Security Council?
SG: I don't think it is on the Council's agenda at the moment. The Council discussed it once, but it was not approved. It is not on the agenda now and I am not aware that the Council intends to take it up any time soon.
Q: [inaudible, on the subject of Iraq]
SG: I think the Security Council is reviewing the Iraqi sanctions programme and the idea that the Council is looking at is to ease up the economic sanctions and in fact have (a certain) controls of blockages on the economic items going in for the benefit of the people, but will be stricter on the weapons side. There are other aspects that the Council is discussing. I'm not at liberty to go into it, because I don't know what the final outcome will be. It's still under discussion. I think the outline will become much clearer at the end of the month.
Q: Do you think Iraq will accept it?
SG: Well, Iraq has indicated it's unhappy with the proposals, but I do not know what it will finally do.
Q: Even though a cease-fire has been agreed to, of course there are people on the ground who do not agree with this. Do you foresee having to fine tune the cease-fire when you meet with the two sides?
SG: I think cease-fires are not always easy to consolidate, but I think very serious attempts are being made to ensure that the cease-fire holds. And I think for the past six days or so, Mr. Tenet has been sitting with the Parties during long hours trying to consolidate the cease-fire. I think it is important that both Parties who have signed on to think agreement make sure that it works. The people are suffering and we have to put an end to this tragedy. And once the cease-fire has been accepted and consolidated, I think it is only normal that we move on with the implementation of the full Mitchell recommendations which the Parties have both accepted.
Q: Because you have a good role concerning many conflicts, many issues all over the world, but we still feel that the United Nations is still absent concerning the conflict in the Middle East. Can you comment?
SG: I'm here [laughter]. I know that there is a sense that the UN is absent. I think there is also a bit of misunderstanding of the UN role. Not only are we physically present, as I said yesterday, with troops in the region, in Lebanon and in Syria, but the resolutions that have been the basis for settlements in the region, the land for peace, 242, 338, are all UN resolutions which provide a framework for peace. These ideas are not without value. And I think when you talk to the protagonists they all refer to these resolutions as a framework for moving forward. But at the end of the day, the Parties have to come to an understanding, have to work out the peace settlement with the support of the international community, with the support of the UN, the US, the European Union. And I think this is exactly what we are trying to do. But the foundation, in terms of resolutions at the UN are going to be absolutely crucial and has been underpinning these negotiations.
Q: [inaudible, in French, on the subject of Western Sahara]
SG: Je crois que nous sommes en train de chercher une solution. Evidemment, il ya un plan qu'on a pa pu mettre en application depuis douze ans. Donc, nous sommes en train de chercher un moyen d'aller en avant. Monsieur Baker est toujours en discussion avec les deux Parties. J'espere qu'ils vont se retrouver prochâinment, soit a Houston ou bien ailleurs, pour continuer leurs discussions. Evidemment, Le Conseil de Sécurité aura l'occasion de discuter ce dossier avant la fin du mois. Mais je crois qu'on doit attendre la décision du Conseil. Les discussions continuent entre les deux Parties en ce qui concerne les propositions auxquelles vous venez de vous référez. Donc, je ne peux pas dire exactement comment la situation va être résolue mais on continue toujours les discussions.
Press encounter with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa, in Cairo, 12 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa made opening remarks saying that his talks with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had focused on the Middle East and would resume shortly over dinner.
Q: How long do you think that the UN will continue to be unable to provide Palestinians an international protection?
SG: I think this is an issue that has been placed before the Council, and as you know it was not successful then. And the Council has not taken it up again and so I am not in a position to tell you if and when the observer force will go.
Q: Excuse me, do you have any updates on Jerusalem? It appears that Director Tenet has run into some kind of block?
SG: I think they are still talking and I hope that they will continue their discussions and come to a successful conclusion.
SG: Monsieur Baker est en contact avec les deux Parties et on va soumettre un rapport au Conseil de Securité au cours de ce mois, au mois de Juin, et je vous demande d'être patient parce que le rapport expliquera tout. En tous cas, Monsieur Baker est en contact avec les deux Parties. On ne cherche pas à imposer quoi que ce soit sur l'une ou l'autre des Parties.
Q: (translated from the Arabic) During the past eight months, more than 600 Palestinians were killed and more than 25,000 to 30,000 were injured, and there was no big international reaction on this level. But when only a few Israelis were killed, we noticed the whole world moved. How do you explain this? This question is asked by everyone.
SG: Let me say that I have said time and time again how much I feel for the people of Palestine and Israel and all the problems and the killings that have gone on and the tragedy and the suffering of the people which has to be stopped. So we have been concerned about any loss of life. Yes, most of them have been Palestinians and you have heard my voice when these incidents have taken place. And I think this is one of the reasonq why we all have to fight and do whatever we can to bring the violence to an end and move the parties back to the negotiating table. There is a genuine international effort going on to move the parties forward and stop this killing. And I feel very sorry for those who've lost their loved ones. We cannot bring them back, but we have to make sure that there will be no more bloodshed.
Q: (BBC) Mr. Secretary-General, What do you hope your visit will achieve, what more will it achieve other than all the other recent visits by high profile visitors to the region in the last two weeks?
SG: I think when you look back a couple of weeks ago, you see a difference in the situation. There is some violence but it is considerably lower than it had been for some time ago. We also have another qualitative difference: the parties have both accepted the Mitchell recommendations. The parties have agreed to a cease-fire. Mr. Tenet is there with them trying to firm up the cease-fire. We have another team on the ground working the political angle. There is my own Special Representative [Terje Roed] Larsen is very active on the ground with them. And I indicated that there is some international effort, including Arab leaders, the UN, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States, working as a team. We don't have different proposals on the table. There is one proposal on the table that we want implementing, in its entirety, by the parties, and we are going to work and press them to do that. It is in their interest, it is in the interest of their people and I hope that they will make the right decision.
Q: Excuse me, none of the resolutions concerning the Palestinian Rights has been implemented up till now, concerning the last answer, yours, and a second question when do we expect …
SG: …one question, one question…
Q: …excuse me, when do we expect the sanctions to be lifted from Iraq?
SG: First of all, let me say that the UN has been on the ground in this region perhaps much more actively than some people realize. We are the only ones with soldiers on the Lebanese-Israeli border. We are the only ones with soldiers in Syria, dealing with the Syrian-Israeli shooting. The resolutions of the UN are the basis for the peace talks that are going on. The resolutions are very crucial and helpful instruments when it comes to discussing peace…
Q: …excuse me….
SG: …wait, wait, wait, do you want me to answer or do you want to answer for me? Peace cannot be imposed. Peace has to be worked out with the parties concerned and I think this is what is happening. In some cases it goes faster than others. After twenty years or so we saw the withdrawal from Lebanon. Israeli troops left Lebanon and I hope we'll see other progress elsewhere. The question of sanctions is in the hands of the Security Council, thank you.
Press encounter upon arrival at Cairo Airport, 12 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Once again I am very happy to be back in Egypt, a country that is playing an important role in this region, and in the United Nations and to be able to exchange ideas with the President. I have been in very close touch with him and the Foreign Minister on this issue and apart from the role that the President has played in this crisis, you also would recall that he hosted the Sharm el Sheikh meeting last Fall.
I hope that the encouraging news that we have, that is that both parties have accepted the Mitchell plan, both parties have accepted the ceasefire, which is a very important first step. However, for the ceasefire to hold, in the longer term, we need to embed it in the peace process. And I hope during my visit here I will be able to encourage the parties to move in that direction. And I should also say that there has been lots of international players in the region. There is a real international alliance for peace working on this issue - the Americans, the European Union, the Russian Federation, the Arab leaders and the United Nations, are all agreed that we should push for full implementation of the Mitchell plan. There has been too much suffering in this region, too much suffering for Palestinians and Israelis who have lost many loved ones for us not to try to end this tragedy. We should do whatever we can to bring this tragedy to an end. I hope my visit to this region will help move the process in the right direction.
Q: Mr. Annan, you said that you can see a window of opportunity here. So how big or how small is this window?
SG: I think we have a fleeting moment, a fleeting opportunity which we must seize and seize promptly, and I hope the parties see it this way, otherwise we may lose an opportunity.
Q: And what do you personally hope to do with your personal involvement now, at this crucial stage of talks? What do you hope to achieve?
SG: I think I have indicated that I am working with a group of leaders and an international team. All of us are pushing for implementation of the Mitchell plan - agreement of the parties to move forward with specific commitments to implement the recommendations of the Mitchell plan.
Q: What are the prospects of holding a quadrilateral summit like the Sharm el Sheikh summit?
SG: I think it is too early to talk about a large conference in Sharm el Sheikh or elsewhere. It is not excluded for the future, but I think it is premature to talk about it.
Q: Did you have talks with the Saudi leaders?
SG: Not yet.
Q: Are you going to address the rights of the Palestinians civilians which are being violated, even after the declaration of the ceasefire? So far, these people cannot move from one place to the other, they cannot go to the university, they cannot attend their classes, they cannot get their food supplies every day. Are you going to address civilian rights?
SG: That is part of the issues and it also forms part of the confidence building measures which are part of the Mitchell recommendations that we are pushing to see implemented. And my man on the ground [Terje Roed Larsen] is working on it.
Press encounter on visit to the Middle East, New York, 8 June 2001
SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As you know I briefed the Security Council this morning and also issued a statement about my visit to the Middle East. I have been working in very close collaboration with many leaders around the world, in the Middle East and beyond. There is a real international team working on this.
I have been in very close contact with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Javier Solana of the European Union, Mr. Igor Ivanov [Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation] and of course, with the leaders in the region, in particular President [Hosni] Mubarak and King Abdullah, and of course Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon, Mr. [Shimon] Peres and President [Yasser] Arafat.
I do intend to go to the region to discuss with the leaders in the region the crisis in the region, to seek their views, to exchange ideas, to explore with them how collectively we can work together to end the tragedy and the violence and move the parties back to the table.
As to my travel plans - I will go to Saudi Arabia, to Egypt, to Damascus [Syria], to Lebanon and Jordan. I will end up in Jerusalem and Gaza, and I hope in the meantime the progress that is being made, the ceasefire is holding, attempts are being made to work with the parties by the team that is on the ground. We know that Mr. [George] Tenet is there, Mr. [William] Burns is there, and others are trying to work with the parties on the implementation of the Mitchell plan. I would hope this progress will be sustained and if it does I trust that it will also provide an opportunity and give the international community a chance to really make a collective effort to push them forward. I will take your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General. In light of this window of opportunity - at the end of next week when you return back to New York, what would you realistically hope to have achieved in pushing this forward? What specifically?
SG: I don't think I want to get into too much detail on that. What I have indicated quite clearly - that we have a proposal on the table, which both parties have accepted. Both parties have stated they accept the Mitchell recommendations. Both parties have now declared a ceasefire and the ceasefire is holding. I think the international community should work with them to get them into the logic of implementation of the Mitchell Plan, which envisages not just a ceasefire, but a cooling off period, confidence-building measures, and eventual return to the table. I think all of us, all those who are interested in calming the situation, are working in the same direction. There are no divergences of views or separate initiatives. We are all together on this.
Q: You are leaving on Tuesday, correct?
SG: I would hope to be in the region on Tuesday.
Q: If the ceasefire breaks down over the weekend, for example, will you still go?
SG: I hope the ceasefire doesn't break down. Obviously by implication of your statement, peacemaking is a risky affair. It's a risky affair for the peacemakers, and it's a risky affair for the protagonists. I hope it will not break down. It is holding, and I hope it will continue to hold.
The other message I will give to the leaders of the two parties is that obviously some of these events, attacks or bombs here or there, may happen, but once they have made the strategic choice for peace, they should stay the course, and deal with the terrorists when they strike. But not allow the terrorists to lead the game. Not allow the terrorists to determine when they meet, when they pursue peace and when they don't.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, for a few days now there has been a sense around here at the UN that you would indeed be making this trip. But up until the last minute it seems like there was a lot of indecisiveness surrounding your decision. What finally made you decide that this was the right time to go to the region, and what role can you play that the U.S. doesn't feel it can play right now?
SG: I wouldn't call the discussions or the process I went through to decide "indecision". I think it was assessing the situation, analysing the situation, working with our partners for peace, and determining the right timing to go to the region, and when I thought it would be most opportune and helpful to go. So it was a question of analysis, a question of coordinating with others, and a question of timing. And so I am going at the precise moment that I think I should go. The other things, the previous discussions and all that were part of the process.
Q: On the same question, you have been on the telephone a lot to determine this trip. Can you tell us who you have been speaking to?
SG: Gosh, I have spoken to quite a lot of the leaders in the region. I have indicated obviously to the two parties, to Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon and Foreign Minister [Shimon] Peres, to President [Yasser] Arafat. I have spoken to President Mubarak, Foreign Minister [Ahmed Maher el-Sayed] of Egypt, Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amre Moussa. I have spoken to the King [Abdullah] of Jordan, and I have been on the phone a lot with [Javier] Solana, the Prime Minister of Sweden [Goran Persson], who holds the European Presidency, [Russian Foreign Minister] Igor Ivanov, and of course, almost on a daily basis with Secretary of State Colin Powell, just as I have been with Solana and Igor Ivanov.
Q: Mr. Secretary. Do you think you could share with us what you consider the next steps in terms of confidence-building measures? Measures that you feel perhaps will really spur the process forward?
SG: Well, I think, without prejudging what the parties will do - I mean the confidence-building measures were one of the things - the ceasefire - for each party to appeal to its population to disengage, and avoid any violent acts. It would also require the right messages coming from the leaders. There should not be any incitement. The leaders have to watch their words. As I have had on occasion to say before "words can soothe, but words can also inflame". And in this sort of situation we don't need incitement. And then of course there will be the other issues of easing the economic squeeze on the Palestinians, and a whole series of other things that need to be done.
Q: Would you also be meeting with any non-government leaders, perhaps with people in the region?
SG: Well, I am rather on a very tight schedule. If time permits I would want to do that. Otherwise I will be focussing mainly on the leaders.
Spokesman: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
SG: Thank you.
Encounter upon arrival at Headquarters, 8 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Can you comment on reports that the Security Council will nominate your candidacy for a second term and that will be confirmed by the end of the month by the General Assembly?
SG: Well I think this is an issue for the Member States. They set their timetable and their agenda. And obviously, I'll be honoured if the Member States endorsed me and appointed me to continue the work that I'm doing.
Q: Have you been informed that that is going to happen?
SG: I am aware of that.
Q: When that happens, will that increase your ability to really make things happen, your clout, that kind of unprecedented endorsement as opposed to having to wait until the end of the year?
SG: I think I will continue to work as actively as I've been doing in trying to move the Organization forward, [and to] focus and concentrate on the issues that I'm working on. But of course that endorsement will be helpful.
Encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 4 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: About the peace process in the Middle East and the offer from the Egyptian leader, President Hosni Mubarak, what is your comment, Sir?
SG: I think we should all do whatever we can to end the tragedy in Palestine and I think the developments in the region over the weekend were very positive. The Israelis have declared a ceasefire. President [Yassir] Arafat has also declared a ceasefire, and we have to make sure they stick and that we move aggressively into the implementation of the Mitchell Plan.
Q: Sir, you announced several times that the Middle East [is] in major trouble. Can you send the Security Council to send troops to protect the Palestinian children and the unarmed from the Israeli's excessive use of force?
SG: That is a decision for the Council to take. They are in charge of their own deliberations, and I cannot tell them what to decide.
Q: Sir, the Security Council extended the oil-for-food programme for one more month. What's next, and what is your comment regarding what's called "smart sanctions"?
SG: I think the Security Council is in the process of reviewing the oil-for-food scheme. They had hoped that their review would have been concluded before the extension of the next phase. Since they were not able to do that, they did a technical roll-over of one month, to give them time to complete that work and then move into the next phase.
Q: Sir, if you're saying a message to the Arabic viewer or the Arabic speaker, that they are watching you right now on the Egyptian select channel, Channel 1 in the Egyptian TV, what can you tell them regarding the Middle East process and the United Nations role in that?
SG: I think we are all determined to do whatever we can to bring peace and justice to the region. We need the support of all leaders, and we need to bring the violence down. And I think we are on the right track, given the developments over the weekend. But we all have to work together to bring peace to the region. As long as the fighting and the conflict in Palestine continue, we cannot pretend that the region as a whole is at peace. So it's everyone's business. We all have to work together to calm the situation in Palestine. And we at the United Nations are engaged with other partners in working towards peace. And I will continue my efforts, in fact, my Representative [Terje Roed] Larsen just came this morning to brief me on developments on the ground. And I'm working very closely, not only with the Council, but other leaders in the region, and beyond the region, to ensure that …
Q: President Mubarak?
SG: I talk to him very often. In fact, I spoke to him over the weekend on this issue. And we will continue our efforts. Shukran.
Q: One question, please. What's your reaction to the Iraqis following through with their threat to stop exporting oil last night, and what, if anything, can you as Secretary-General do to get it flowing again?
SG: I don't think I can do anything. We need to wait to see the Council finish deliberations for us to determine what the outline of the new programme is. And of course, Iraq is a sovereign state. If it decides to turn off the oil, we can bring pressure to bear on them to change their position. Whether they would change it or not, only time will tell.
Remarks and Question and Answer session to U.S. Chamber of Commerce, followed by press encounter, Washington, D.C., 1 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
[Session on Private Sector Role in the Fight Against AIDS was moderated by Chamber President Tom Donohoe]
SG : Thank you very much, Mr. Donohoe and Carl [?], for those very kind and inspiring words.
This morning I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to talk to you about the revolutionary role business can play in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It is a chance for me to explain why the international community cannot win this fight without you, and why doing so may be in your own interest as well as in the broader interest of humanity.
HIV/AIDS is a global problem of catastrophic proportions. The world has never before faced a pandemic such as this. More then 4 million children have already died from AIDS before they reach the age of 15.
There is no more time for half-measures. In terms of life lost, children orphaned and the destruction of the social and economic fabric of whole societies and whole countries, AIDS is an unparalleled nightmare. What is more, its impact continues to grow. In the worst affected countries, where more than one in five adults are infected, infrastructure, services and productive capacity are facing total collapse. The challenge is enormous, but we are not powerless to face it.
That is why I have made it my personal priority to form a global alliance commensurate with the challenge. Only through global alliance will AIDS be defeated. And in our shrinking world, all of us need to be involved in the solution because, one way or another, sooner or later, all of us will be involved in the problem.
I began my campaign in April by speaking to the African leaders in Abuja, Nigeria, and it is clear that there is now a fundamental recognition among African governments that they must face the issue head on. Soon afterwards I went to Philadelphia to meet with philanthropic foundations and then to Geneva to address a World Health assembly of ministers from around the world. To all of them I issued a call to action, focusing on preventing further spread of the epidemic; preventing mother-to-child transmission; caring for those already infected; delivering breakthroughs, especially in vaccine; and alleviating the impact of AIDS on the most vulnerable, particularly orphans.
Prevention, care, research is a plan I believe we can all rally around. To achieve these we need leadership. And today I come to you, the leaders of American business; representatives of one of the greatest forces in the world, but one which has yet to be fully utilized in the campaign against HIV/AIDS. It is high time we tapped your strengths to the fullest.
But first, why should business be involved? Why should it be your business? The answer is simple: because AIDS affects business. The spread of the pandemic has caused business costs to expand and markets to shrink. As far as the current balance sheet and future indicators show, the business community needs to get involved to protect its own bottom line. AIDS is uniquely disruptive of economies because it kills people in the prime of their lives. More than four out of five people dying from AIDS are in their 20's, 30's or 40's. Especially in the early stages of the pandemics, AIDS tends to strike urban centers: the better educated, the leadership elite, and the most productive members of society.
A study in Zaire, the democratic republic of Congo, found the highest prevalence of rates -- prevalence rates were among white collar executives, followed by foremen, and then workers. And these states deaths leach profits out of business and economies. The loss of every breadwinner's income reduces the access of dependents to health care, education, nutrition, leaving them more vulnerable to infection. The cycle needs to be repeated only a few times and AIDS destroys an entire community.
Africa has been hit disproportionately hard. By the beginning of the next decade, South Africa's gross domestic product, which represents 40 percent of the region's economic output, will be 17 percent lower than it would have been without AIDS.
And by 2020, if current trends continue, the total work force of 15 countries, analyzed by the International Labor Organization, will have shrunk by 25 million people as a result of AIDS.
But the economic havoc of AIDS is not confined to Africa. It is building at an alarming rate round the world, including places not so far from here. In the English-speaking Caribbean, it is now the leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 44. In Russia, there were more new infections in 2000 than in all previous years combined. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the number of new infections has risen by more than two-thirds in the past year. In India and China, two of America's largest export markets and sources of supply, the trend is particularly disturbing. India will soon be the country with the highest number of people infected with HIV, and China is not far behind. By 2005, the two countries together will have 10 million or more HIV-positive citizens.
As 42 percent of U.S. exports go to markets in the developing world, the negative impact of AIDS on American business should be obvious. But the cost of AIDS reverberates on many other levels. It undermines regional and global security and stability. In January last year, the U.N. Security Council held its first meeting on health issue -- the impact of HIV-AIDS and security in Africa. A CIA report issued the same month stated that the burden of infectious diseases will add to political instability and slow democratic development in sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia and the former Soviet Union. That is certainly not good for business.
And as AIDS creates more poverty and deepens inequalities, it fuels a growing public backlash against globalization. This sentiment will only get stronger and more widespread if we do not show ourselves determined to mount a really serious response. And in that response, business which has profited most from globalization will come under more and more pressure to provide leadership.
So what can business do? Business is used to acting decisively and quickly. The same cannot always be said of the community of sovereign states. We need your help and we need it right now. There are already several examples that can prove unparalleled positive impact corporate action can have in the fight against HIV-AIDS. It is time to turn those examples into concerted and strategic action in the workplace, in advocacy, and in building on your corporate strengths.
The first line of action begins in the workplace. Those of you with employees in the developing world can draw up effective AIDS policies in consultation with them. Programs to educate your work force about HIV can become a cornerstone of our global prevention campaign. When your staffs are affected by HIV-AIDS, you can and must support them and their families, notably by providing voluntary and confidential testing, counseling and treatment.
The rapidly falling price of HIV-related drugs is ushering in a revolution for private sector involvement. The world's biggest pharmaceutical companies, as we heard earlier, now accept the need to combine incentives for research with access to medication in poor countries. As antiretrovirums (sp) become more widely affordable, it is now profitable for countries to treat their HIV-positive employees than to recruit and retrain new ones as untreated workers die. Indeed, one recent study in Africa showed that treating HIV-positive workers paid for itself up to 10 times over.
Volkswagen de Brasil offers a good example. In 1996, the company launched a comprehensive program for HIV prevention and education in the workplace, as well as treatment, including antiretrovirums (sp), and counseling for workers living with HIV and AIDS. The company also introduced strong policy to end discrimination and ensure confidentiality.
This began in 1996. By 1999, the company had seen 90 percent reduction in hospitalization among HIV-positive workers, and 40 percent reduction in the costs of treatment and care. Nine out of 10 workers living with HIV were able to remain symptom-free and productive. This led to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, reduced loss of employees to AIDS, and higher morale in the workplace. As a result, many families kept their breadwinners and many children still have their parents.
But of course, the contribution of business to fight against AIDS goes far beyond the individual workplace. You can have a wide-ranging impact as advocates for change by speaking up loud enough about HIV/AIDS epidemic and what can be done to stop it. Silence and stigma drives the virus underground and fuels the spread. Speaking up helps to halt it. Businesspeople are respected leaders in their communities. You can encourage action by all sectors of society, and particularly by your peers in other companies; you can use your skills and assets in marketing and communications, through product packaging and through advertising; you can help build the logistic expertise and capacity needed to deliver supplies of prevention and care materials; and you can transfer the technology of brand loyalty to help boost commitment, especially among young people, to the fight against AIDS, as well as linking your brands to a goal of social responsibility, following the examples of Levi Strauss and the Bodyshop.
You can offer your expertise in public affairs, human resources and corporate strategy planning to help AIDS service organizations and community groups which are in the fore-frontline in the fight against the epidemic and desperately need these skills. You can also adapt sector-specific approaches. Let me give you an example of that. In Thailand, some insurance companies encourage their corporate policyholders to develop HIV workplace programs, and offer preferential rates to those that do. They have seen reduced costs as a result of healthier workforces and gained new business by building their reputation for looking after their policyholders. And there are many other inspiring examples you can draw upon. The Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS is a consortium of companies that are working together to introduce better workplace practices and to encourage chief executives to offer -- to be leaders and innovators in the battle to halt the spread of the epidemic.
And in January 1999, I myself launched the Global Compact, a partnership between the United Nations and business, which encourages corporate responsibility in the areas of human rights, core labor standards and the environment. The compact's Learning Forum provides an effective platform for sharing learning experiences and best practices. It is heartening to note that the leading companies in some of the most affected countries have been inspired by local compact workshops to take action in the workplace and in the wider community in care and prevention.
Finally, you can contribute as donors. The total spending on AIDS prevention and care in low- and middle-income countries needs to rise to something between $7 (billion) and $10 billion each year. That is at least five times the amount that citizens, national governments, international donors are currently spending on the disease. It may sound like a lot, but Harvard has estimated that AIDS has already cost the world $500 billion. So $10 billion a year to defeat it seems fairly reasonable -- indeed, a bargain.
As a mechanism for mobilizing some of this extra money, I have proposed the creation of the Global AIDS and Health Fund to support national programs and strategies. It will be open to both government and private donors.
Over the past few weeks, there have been an exciting convergence of views on this concept from a variety of people -- governments, private foundations, civil society organizations and academics. We share a common vision that the fund must be structured in such a way as to be light and flexible and to ensure that it responds effectively to the needs of the affected countries and people.
My dear friends, by joining the global fight against HIV/AIDS, your business will see benefits on its bottom line. You will see direct benefits such as protecting investment and reducing risk. And you will make -- and you will also make less tangible, but no less important, gains in assets such as reputation and customer loyalty.
But even though HIV/AIDS poses a huge economic threat, it is first and foremost a humanitarian imperative. In fact, there is a happy convergence between what your shareholders pay you for and what is best for the millions of people around the world. That makes my job here today a little easier.
Together, I believe we will succeed, if only because the costs of failure are simply too appalling to contemplate.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Mr. Donohoe: Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary General, let's do an administrative question right up front. If somebody in this audience, in government or business, is compelled now to step out and help, who would they contact in your office to begin to seek the best way to be of assistance?
SG: I will say that they should contact Peter Piot in Geneva, who is the head of the UNAIDS. In New York, I will suggest they contact my deputy, Louise Frechette. And depending upon your interest and what you would want to do, you will be directed to one of the many activities that we do. And we can also provide lots of information and suggestions as to what you can do. So, Louise Frechette in Geneva -- in New York, Louise Frechette, deputy secretary-general, in New York; and Peter Piot, head of UNAIDS in Geneva.
Mr. Donohoe: Excellent. Now, staying on the process of encouraging governments to participate, and because this organization is somewhat known for convincing governments to act, a question often here is, what can the business community do here in the United States and elsewhere around the world to encourage government to step up with the type of support that you've been seeking for your effort?
SG: As I indicated earlier, businessmen have influence in their own communities. I think we've launched a global appeal which, as I said, is open to government and private donors. I think, apart from your own contributions and what you can do, you should be able to encourage the governments to join the fight, to do more.
I noticed in the current bill there is a tax exemption for companies that continue research for vaccines and other medical treatment. But I think your can encourage governments to see this fight as their fight, to see it as a global problem, to get them to understand that there are no islands in the world today, there are no foreign and domestic infections; it affects all of us; and that it is in their interest to join in the fight and make a contribution as we move on.
Mr. Donohoe: Now, there are a number of questions -- I quickly looked through these -- about the pharmaceutical industry. And why don't I try and put them together into a few and you could comment on them.
First, what opportunities will be available for the pharmaceutical industry to participate in the special session of the U.N.? Second, as you know, there is a great concern about patents and intellectual property rights going forward in this regard. And third, how do we engage the pharmaceutical industry without the public criticism that some have decided was the best way to sort of motivate people to act?
And if you could just talk about those related subjects and any other thought, I think it would be very helpful.
SG: Okay. I know several chairmen and CEOs of the pharmaceutical companies will be in New York for the AIDS conference. Some are coming as part of their national delegations, others are coming as part of a business group, and others are coming as part of the sort of global business alliance for fight against HIV/AIDS. And so they will be participating and present under many guises.
On the question of the intellectual property and patents and the need to protect it, I have no problems with that. I have made it quite clear that I believe the companies need the incentive to be able to continue their research for new medication and vaccines. And I have been very encouraged to understand that when you talk about AIDS, there are over 100 different drugs in the pipeline. And even the cocktail of AIDS of -- (inaudible) -- medication could soon be reduced into one pill. So there's a lot going on.
So what I have done is to engage the pharmaceutical industry. We got together a little over a year ago and asked them to reduce their prices in the developing countries; we signed an agreement with them. And we got together again at the beginning of April this year. At that point, five countries had been given access to medication at reduced prices. We then agreed on certain measures to be taken. First, the least-developed countries of 50 -- 50 least-developed countries will be treated as a group and there will be no need for country-to-country negotiations, and they will have access to the medication. On the other developing countries, because of the income differentiation, they were going to continue their practice of price differentiation, voluntary licensing where it was appropriate, and try and make medication available to these other countries as well.
I think what the companies have done is by agreeing to make sure that they can -- the poor countries can have access to the medication, they are introducing the necessary balance; yes, incentive for research, but the poor must also have access to the medication, otherwise you are in serious trouble. I was happy to be able to play a role between the pharmaceutical companies and the South African government in resolving the law case they had in South Africa because it didn't do anybody any good. In the sense of the pharmaceutical industries I told them, first of all you have to be a public relations genius to (go and see ?) Nelson Mandela, you know. (Laughter.) And to take on an issue that has been reduced to profits and people, profits and lives; even if you won in court, you lost. And I think it's been very, very good that this has been resolved, and the South African government has indicated they want to cooperate with the pharmaceutical company.
I think the pharmaceutical companies have been responsive, but we have to understand that they alone cannot do it. Medication alone or the antiretovirals alone are not enough. We need everybody to get involved. We need other companies to become involved either as donors or using their own resources to play a role on the ground. And so in my own advice at the World Health Assembly, I said we need partners, we need partners to fight this disease, and the pharmaceutical companies have proven to be good partners. And I will be seeing them again in October. And I think that's the way to go. Confrontation doesn't help anybody.
Mr. Donohoe: Well, I had -- that's very helpful. And I have two questions lined up, but you justgave me a chance to take care of one of the ones in the back here. It was a question for you to see that, in talking about South Africa, if you'll be able to get the political leadership there to take a more scientific approach to this serious problem. (Laughter.) And I sort of calmed down that question. (Laughter.)
SG: You did? So this is a calmed-down version you're giving me? (More laughter.)
No, I think in my discussions with the South African leadership, from President Mandela, I also have spoken to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Health Minister and President Mbeki, I think generally there is an awareness that there is a major problem in society which has to be tackled. There had been a debate, which I think you've alluded to, which has caused difficulties and problems for South Africa. But it is important that we put that behind us now that the conflict with the pharmaceutical industry has been resolved, to cooperate with them and for all to come together and pool their efforts to help the poor infected victims of this disease. And this is what I will urge everybody to do. And I am doing it myself.
Mr. Donohoe: Good. And I hope we'll do the same.
Now, there are four or five questions here about globalization, and they go in both directions. One set of questions say, do you think globalization has contributed to the spread of this disease? And, by the way, will globalization as it expands spread it even further in the future? And then finally, a global effort to attack it would be stronger than any individual effort. And I'm sure you'd have a comment on that.
SG: I think in my own remarks I said that there are no islands today and there are no, sort of, domestic diseases and international diseases. We live in a global village. We live in a shrinking world. And there are many contacts between us. And I think we should see it as such. Whether globalization made it worse or not, I think at this stage it's not that important.
And I must also say that globalization and travel and contacts between civilizations and countries has been going on all the time. It's only accelerated in the recent decades, and I think it's going to continue. And this is why it is important that when we are facing a challenge of the kind that I have alluded -- that we have discussed here today, that we all come together to fight it because no one is isolated, no one can be smug and sit in his or her corner and say, "I'm safe because it is somewhere."
We saw it recently with the foot and mouth disease. It started in one little corner, in England. Before you knew, it was in France, it was in Germany and everybody was worried. It affected meat supplies in this country and Canada because of the curbs that had to be imposed on it. And when you talk to the scientists and say, how does it move around, they say it can be by a bird that flies from England to France, you know, or to Germany. So there are so many ways. It can be by the winds. So how do you avoid this? And this is why we need to see it as our problem.
Last night I spoke to the Global Health Council, and they have a wonderful theme: There is no "them," only "us." And I think we should also think about that. A combination of issues. There is a concern in a number of questions here about the issue that you raised in your speech about the Caribbean. Perhaps the concern here is that that's very close to the United States. But it's not in the same condition as Africa right now.
Q: So what immediate types of steps can the people in the audience and the U.N. take to intervene now, to move on the educational front and on the treatment front to have the greatest effect before it gets out of hand?
SG: Yeah, I think the prevention is very important; prevention in the sense that we should make sure that everyone who is exposed and is likely to be infected must know what to do to avoid infection, particularly the young people. Those who are infected, we should try and take care of, and I think with the cost of medication coming down, we should be able to help some of those who are infected to live normal, productive lives. And I gave examples of what has happened in other parts of the world.
And I believe the government in Jamaica will need support from external donors to be able to do an effective campaign. But of course, the first thing would be for them to draw up a national AIDS campaign and how you fight the disease. And they must get the entire community involved. The leadership, from the prime minister down, must speak up and get the fight down to the community level, women's groups, NGOs, and let them all become involved. This is how the countries that have been successful have made it, because you bring in the families, the communities, and the mothers who have influence, and the schools, of course, and the churches have a role to play. So I think I'm talking about total mobilization of society.
Mr. Donohoe: Well, the last question, then, gives you a chance for a little bit of a commercial. It says: "What is the most" -- and this has -- there have been a number of questions here. "What is the most effective prevention and education program that you're aware of that companies could immediately move to and follow and adopt?"
SG: I think -- I recently -- you have companies in the African region, like Rio Tinto, who have been very good with their staff, looking after their staff, and also working with the communities. And I read recently that Anglo American has also decided to look after its staff. That is 50,000 people. When you look after 50,000 employees, you can imagine what numbers, even if you have a family, average family of three or four, you can quadruple or multiple that figure by five. And of course, they go on and share the message with their friends in the community and it gets the community also engaged.
So I will suggest that the companies start with their own staff, but not limit it there; in some cases try and reach out to the communities, the communities in which they operate. And that would also earn them a good reputation and loyalty from the community in which they are operating.
And the other example that we have seen -- you talked about logistics, how do you distribute this.
We have been able to team up with some companies, for example Coca- Cola. When we did the polio campaign, which is almost eliminated now, we needed, in a place like India, which is huge, we needed a network system. And we teamed up with Coca-Cola, which had trucks and people going to every village with refrigeration in their trucks. So we put the vaccine in there and we had it distributed to the villages where people were there to receive it, take it up and give it to the children. So, you know, these are some of the things that companies can do.
Mr. Donohoe: Perhaps we can put it in the Coca-Cola. (Laughter.)
SG: You are going to get into another trouble if you do that. (Laughter.)
Mr. Donohoe: We're always in trouble here.
Ladies and gentlemen, in just a moment the Secretary-General is going to welcome the press here. He'll stay up on the stage and they'll come up and ask some questions.
But I wanted to encourage you to participate in every way that you can find in this great challenge. I was thinking, as you were speaking sir, of all the conflicts in the world that you've been in the middle of, trying to calm down and resolve. And I think if you put them all together since you took office, none of them have the potential -- except for nuclear war -- of causing 20 million people to lose their lives. How significant this is, how important it is that you are providing the leadership, and how much respect we have for the effort that you're making.
And we want to thank you very much and pledge our support.
SG: Thank you. (Applause.)
Mr. Donohoe Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. If the press would just gather here, the Secretary-General will take your questions. It would be very helpful if you could identify yourself when he recognizes you, and if there's any problem in being heard, we'll let you know, and you can speak up or I'll pass you the microphone.
SG: Good morning.
Q (Name inaudible) -- with the Washington Times here in Washington. I want to ask you about the money that the Bush administration has pledged. It's about $100 million.
SG: No, $200 million.
Q: Two hundred million. Is that a number you think is acceptable? And do you think that Mr. Donohoe's comments -- that the business community need to, as you put it in your speech, persuade the Bush administration to raise that commitment?
SG: I think President Bush himself indicated that this was a founding contribution, seed money, with a promise of more to come as the fund evolved. And I trust that will happen. I would also expect corporations to make their own direct contributions in addition to encouraging the government to do more.
Q: And what is a reasonable amount? Ranging from what to what? What would you hope -- (inaudible) -- to be, given a reasonable amount of time?
SG: First of all, it's very difficult for me to say what a government should pay. It's obviously an issue for that government. But, given the magnitude of the problem that we are dealing with and the size of the fund that I have proposed, I hope contributions will be commensurate.
Q: What does that mean?
SG: (Laughs.) That I hope contributions would match the challenge that we are going to face, but I don't want to give a specific sum of --
Q: And from the corporate world?
SG: On the corporate side, given the discussion I have had with them today, I hope they will realize that it is in their interest to join this fight and join it in a manner that will be meaningful and that they should make substantial contribution to the fund.
Again, I will hesitate to give you percentage and the other, but I think they heard my message and they know we are in a big fight and we need big bucks.
Q: Associated Press TV. Can you just give use a comment on the death of Nkosi Johnson, the 12-year-old activist in South Africa?
SG: He was a very courageous young man, a courageous child. And I think he became a wonderful advocate and was able to reach many people beyond South Africa. I feel -- I offer my deepest condolence and sympathies for his death, and I think we will all miss him. We have lost a voice, a voice against the fight.
Q: Chuck Hurley, CNN. Some say that microbicides are a cheap way of fighting the spread of AIDS, especially in third-world countries.
SG: I can hardly hear you. If you can put the mike down a little, please.
Q: The big pharmaceutical companies show no interest in developing them because they're not big money-makers. What must be done to develop them and bring them to market, and what is the U.N. doing about this?
SG: Let me repeat and make sure I got the question. The pharmaceutical companies are not interested in developing medications for the African market?
Q: Specifically microbicides.
SG: Oh, yeah. I think microbicides -- did you hear, the development of microbicides? -- which I think has a great potential, particularly now that we don't have a vaccine or a cure. And I think we are going to see greater and greater encouragement of its use. I'm not sure that the pharmaceutical companies don't want to use it. I don't have the facts. But I think it is going to be much more pervasively used, and I know that there are advocates out there who will be pushing for it and we will see it on the market and we will see it in Africa.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, my name is Komesi Motumi (ph). I'm with Inter Press Service. A growing concern among AIDS activists is that during the negotiations for the establishment of a Global AIDS
Fund, the U.S. position has been that generic drugs be excluded from the procurement list. As you know, generic drugs pose an affordable option for many developing countries who have been pushing for them. Could you please assure us that the U.N. is going to ensure that generic drugs would be put on the procurement list?
SG: I am not aware that that is a U.S. position. But I can assure you that we would want value for money, and that the fund would be used to ensure that assistance and medication gets to the countries and those in need, and we would want to do it as effectively -- as cost effectively and efficiently as possible. And we are not going to exclude generics if that is the most effective way to do it in a particular country.
And we have also, in my own discussions with the pharmaceuticals, been encouraging them, where possible, to offer voluntary licensing so that the countries themselves can produce generic versions of medication. So we are not going to exclude that.
Q: Secretary-General, do you think it's telling that the first question from the business community today was how they can get government to give more money? Do you think that they really are getting the message?
SG: Well, I thought my message was clear, and I gave them lots of examples of what they can do in addition to giving money. But if in addition to what they are going to do or we expect them to do, they want to work with governments to give more, it will be fine. But if they want to leave it to the governments alone, then that would be wrong because governments alone cannot do it, and this is why we are trying to build this partnership to get it done; partnership not only at the national level, but a global one that would include all the stakeholders that I have listed.
Q: Secretary-General, sir, my name is -- (inaudible) -- News Service. There seems to be --
SG: Which news service?
Q: (Banan ?) News Service. There seems to be a lack of will on the part of leaders of developing countries, especially in Africa, you know, to tackle this problem. How successful are you to talk to them and to get them to take this a little more seriously, because this reflects also in the way the media covers the AIDS problem in Africa.
SG: I think the situation is changing. We met in Abuja last April at a summit, and quite a lot of leaders who were there have indicated their engagement; and their presence itself was a sign of commitment. Some are leading the fight in their own countries, like in Botswana, Festus Mogae, the president, is at the forefront of the fight. In Mali the president is talking about it. And we had quite a lot of the presidents there, from President Obasanjo, Kufuor of Ghana, Eyadema and all of them have promised to talk about it.
Q: Secretary-General, do you think it's telling that the first question from the business community today was how they can get government to give more money? Do you think that they really are getting the message?
SG: Well, I thought my message was clear, and I gave them lots of examples of what they can do in addition to giving money. But if in addition to what they are going to do or we expect them to do, they want to work with governments to give more, it will be fine. But if they want to leave it to the governments alone, then that would be wrong because governments alone cannot do it, and this is why we are trying to build this partnership to get it done; partnership not only at the national level, but a global one that would include all the stakeholders that I have listed.
Q: Secretary-General, sir, my name is -- (inaudible) -- News Service. There seems to be --
SG: Which news service?
Q: (Banan ?) News Service. There seems to be a lack of will on the part of leaders of developing countries, especially in Africa, you know, to tackle this problem. How successful are you to talk to them and to get them to take this a little more seriously, because this reflects also in the way the media covers the AIDS problem in Africa.
SG: I think the situation is changing. We met in Abuja last April at a summit, and quite a lot of leaders who were there have indicated their engagement; and their presence itself was a sign of commitment. Some are leading the fight in their own countries, like in Botswana, Festus Mogae, the president, is at the forefront of the fight. In Mali the president is talking about it. And we had quite a lot of the presidents there, from President Obasanjo, Kufuor of Ghana, Eyadema and all of them have promised to talk about it.
And whenever I see them in private, one on one, I also push them to speak up and to fight the epidemic, because silence is death, and they have to have some loyalty to their own people.
Q: Joe Firelli, UN Wire. There were some alarming statistics that came out this morning in the U.S. press about the renewed spread of AIDS in the United States. I wonder if you could just comment and try to put that into perspective in the context of the global efforts in states.
SG: I think that the statistics that came out about the prevalence of AIDS in the U.S. should be a warning signal to all of us. We cannot be complacent. We cannot say that we had AIDS but it's done, it's over. We have to be vigilant and really to continue our efforts to contain this disease, continue the efforts to search for vaccine and cure, and to maintain our prevention efforts. I believe that it is a wake-up call that we cannot be complacent and there's work to be done even in this country.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General -- (off mike).
SG: Can you put the microphone a bit closer?
Q: Excuse me. One of the worst rates in the spread of AIDS in the developed world is in Russia. And one of the greatest amounts of natural resources is also in Russia. Do you have an explanation as to why AIDS is spreading at such an alarming rate in Russia? And wouldn't that be an incentive for investment in controlling AIDS, because it's such an attractive country to invest in in terms of its resources and all the other -- the oil and -- .
SG: I was in Russia earlier this month, and my wife and myself met with some of the HIV activists, a group of NGOs, young people, dynamic young people doing great work in Russia. Quite a lot of it is from intravenous drug use. And of course it starts from there and then it begins to take on other patterns. As I indicated, that's how it started here and in other countries, and then it took on other patterns, to the extent that now that now more women are getting infected in other parts of the world than men.
And obviously, the government and the international community need to become very active in fighting the disease in Russia, in the former Soviet Republics, as we are doing in Africa. But it has to -- it requires leadership. It requires leadership from the government.
And I also discussed it with the government. I did the same thing in China. And when I was in India, I discussed it with the leaders too. So we keep pushing them to lead, to engage. And you are right, Russia has lots of resources, and in time it can be a very attractive business destination. So we -- it should be in people's interest to fight the disease.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, John Diamond with the Chicago Tribune. The AIDS problem seems to be very far advanced for the U.N. to just now at this date be making a pitch to the business community. Is this the first time the U.N. has made this pitch, or has it done so before and been ignored? You know, why now for this particular outreach that you're doing?
SG: We've done that before. In fact, as I indicated, we formed an alliance between the private sector, governments, NGOs and international organizations. And for the first time, I came together, mainly with the pharmaceutical -- brought the pharmaceutical companies together in May or April last year, and we were concerned about the price of medication and its inaccessibility to the poor, and encouraged them to cut their prices and reduce it for the poor. And we've been working with them since them. I've met with them twice since that occasion. We've agreed to meet periodically. We set up another meeting for October, and I'm meeting them at the chairman/CEO level. This is the pharmaceutical companies.
Others we have embraced in other forms. In the Global Compact, which was 1999, we brought together a group of countries working with us to improve issues of workplace, core labor standards, environment and human rights. And this also includes trade unions and NGOs. So we've been reaching out to them. Ever since I took over as secretary- general, I felt the U.N. alone cannot tackle some of the issues we are dealing with and that we had to work in partnership with others to be able to expand our capacity and reach and, therefore, embrace more energetically our cooperation with the NGOs and the private sector, trade unions and city managers in trying to reach out.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, UPI --
STAFF: I'm sorry. This lady first and then you.
SG: Go ahead.
Q: Hi. Rachel Zimmerman (sp), Wall Street Journal. The private sector and some of the philanthropies are a little nervous about the Global Fund and they're sort of expressing concern that it's more set up for governments to donate rather than them. What are you doing in determining the logistics of the fund to sort of ease their concerns that it's not just going to be this sort of bottomless pit, no accountability? If you could talk about that a little bit.
SG: I think the structure, the way we are structuring the fund would answer quite a lot of their concerns and I hope ease the anxiety. It is a fund that will be -- it's not a U.N. fund per se, it is a global fund, a global fund that will have a governance structure with private and public people on it. It would include representatives from the donor governments as well as the recipient government, the private sector, and NGOs and, hopefully, the international organizations.
But we would want to keep it small; we would want to keep the board small and responsive. We would also have an advisory panel made up of the best scientists and people attached to it to ensure that we are aiming for the right results and that our approach is going to be effective. There will be a small secretariat that will handle the day-to-day operations, and the banking functions will be handled by the World Bank. And we will encourage each government to come up with its own strategy, and the U.N. experts on the ground will help them if need be. And of course, request for funding will come from the ground. And depending on the quality of the proposals and its effectiveness, funds will be released to -- will be applied to it.
Q: Secretary-General, do you expect this particular campaign of the U.N. in general to get a warmer welcome in Washington now that the Democrats have got a majority in the U.S. Senate? And are you going to miss Senator Jesse Helms as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee?
SG: I was on the Hill last Thursday, the day it all happened, and I had arranged to see both the majority leadership and the minority leadership. The ground changed as I was entering the Capitol. One of my staff whispered to me that Senator Jeffords has switched and that the leadership of the Senate will change. I went ahead anyway and had my meetings with all the parties. I saw Congressman Hyde, Chairman Hyde, Mr. Gephardt, Mr. Daschle, Senator Helms. And we had very good meetings. And on this issue, both promised support. And so I can say that there is bipartisan support for the fight against AIDS. And if that is the case, then we should do well.
Q: Do you -- will you miss Senator Helms as Chairman of the Committee?
SG: (Laughs.) I think Senator Helms has been there and worked with the U.N. for a long time. We've also worked with Biden since he was a minority leader on the committee. And they've both come to New York to talk to us, and I've got used to dealing with them and working with them. And I'm looking forward also to working very, very effectively with Senator Biden, who is a great support.
Staff: Last question.
Q: Terry Shultz (sp) with Fox News Channel. Sir, the new administration, one of their plans is to transfer a lot of social spending to faith-based organizations, and that may go away from some NGOs. Do you have a sense of if and how that would affect AIDS efforts on the ground and whether there's any difference in the philosophies with faith-based organizations that may affect the AIDS struggle?
And if I could just tack on one little question, could we have a comment from you on the Middle East after that? I'm sorry.
SG: Comment on what?
Q: On the Middle East, when you're done.
SG: I think I will answer the last question, but not the first. (Chuckles.)
SG: No, let me start with the last question and I will come to -- I think on the issue of the Middle East, of course we are in very, very difficult situation. The U.S. government has reinforced its team there by sending Ambassador Burns to work with them and try and nudge the parties forward. There have been several security meetings, but I don't think much has come out of it yet.
There are suggestions, and I think it's also now clear that the entire international community supports the Mitchell report and its conclusions. And there's also a sense that the proposal put forward by Jordan and Egypt could be helpful, and these two documents taken together offer hopeful and constructive steps which the parties could take to end the tragedy and come back to the negotiating table. Whether we will be able to convince the parties to come to the table and how soon, I do not know. What is clear is that Prime Minister Sharon did instruct his soldiers not to shoot first, and President Arafat has been urged to issue the same statement. And, of course, you know the differences about the issue of settlements. But I hope that the discussions that are going on would move the parties forward a bit more. I am in touch with all the participants of the Sharm el- Sheikh meetings and there is a strong determination to move the parties forward using the Mitchell report. That's as far as I can go now.
On your first question, obviously this is an issue for internal political decision. But I would be saddened if decisions were taken that weakened the capacity of NGOs to play a role in this fight against the HIV epidemic. Obviously, there are some faith-based organizations that are active in the fight against AIDS, and I hope will continue and perhaps even do better with increased resources. There are others that we have problems with that I don't think are doing enough for the AIDS nor their own teachings supporting what needs to be done for prevention.
Encounter following meeting with U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, Washington, D.C., 1 June 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. I just came out of a meeting with the Secretary-of State and I've had a very fruitful stay in Washington. Yesterday I spoke to the Global Health Council on the fight against AIDS and this morning to the Chamber of Commerce. And here we've had the opportunity to discuss Iraq, the Middle East and the Secretary of State's visit to Africa, and AIDS struggle I will take your questions.
Q: On Iraq, Sir. Is the Secretary satisfied with the compromise [in the Security Council on Iraq]? Are you satisfied?
SG: Yes, because the Council is working as a team and they voted unanimously, 15-0, to roll over the Resolution and continue their work. And I hope that they will come up with an agreed position very shortly.
Q: Mr. Secretary. Do you think they will be able to reach an agreement or consensus on the Iraq sanctions in the one month period?
SG: I hope so. I think the members talked amongst themselves and decided that they needed a bit more time to work it out, and set the one month deadline. And I hope they will be able to do it.
Remarks upon arrival to UNHQ, 25 May 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Did you come away from your Washington trip more encouraged about UN relations with the United States and the prospect of paying up on all the dues?
SG: Yes, ymu can say that. I had a very good discussion with members of both parties. Obviously I had gone to Washington to see the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader; by the time I got there, roles had changed, but both gentlemen received me very well and were very supportive.
Q: Sir, on the Afghanistan report -- the Expert Report we have just got -- it recommends a new sanctions-monitoring mechanism. Is that a new thing, and also, what are your comments or reaction on the comment on Pakistan's cooperation or lack of monitoring of sanctions, and also the drug stockpiling by the Taleban.
SG: Well, let me say that on the question of the new monitoring mechanism that you have indicated, I am going to be discussing it with my staff, not only those here but those in the field, to see how we can do that, if we can, and what changes we will have to make in our own operations. On the question of the stockpiling of drugs, this is an issue that has been around because it was linked with the fact that the Taleban had eradicated the cultivation of the poppy and statements had been made that they already had a stockpile. I have heard the statement, but I have no concrete proof of it. What we do know, from all accounts, is that poppy production has more or less been eliminated for this year which is quite an incredible achievement in the (period) of one year. But we will continue to monitor that.
Remarks to the press following briefing to the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, 22 May 2001
SG: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
I have just briefed the [Security] Council on the situation in the Middle East and shared with them my grave concern, and also indicated the encouragement that we all feel by the announcement made by [US] Secretary of State Colin Powell, that he is strengthening his team in the region for them to assist the parties in their search for a solution. And as he indicated, they will help them with timelines and some road maps. But of course, the parties will have to decide to engage. We also indicated that we believe that the Mitchell Report and the Egyptian-Jordanian proposals offer a possible way out for the parties. And as I have indicated to many of you, I hope the parties will seize this opportunity and work with the international community to come out of this tragedy.
I also indicated to the [Security] Council that in my own discussions with world leaders, and particularly last week in Europe, where I had a working dinner with all the EU [European Union] Foreign Ministers plus Mr. [Romano] Prodi, Mr. [Javier] Solana and [Mr.] Chris Patten, we all agreed that the international community will have to work together. And they are all supporting the two proposals and the documents as a basis for moving forward.
I had similar discussions in Moscow with President [Vladimir] Putin and [Foreign Minister] Mr. [Igor] Ivanov. And of course, I am constantly in touch also with the US Administration, and the Egyptian and Jordanian leadership. And the group that met in Sharm-el-Sheikh has stayed very closely together in trying to find a way out of this effort and I think the Council is going to play its role.
I also indicated to the Council that I will keep up my active involvement and, at the appropriate time, will be ready to go to the region.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the British oil-for-food resolution grants you broad responsibilities to oversee or establish the arrangements for conducting trade between Iraq and its neighbours. Are you confident that you will be able to persuade Iraq's neighbours to cooperate in this arrangement? There are concerns that they are liable to suffer retaliation from Iraq?
SG: First of all, we have a proposal on the table and I will have to await [Security] Council action and Council decisions. Once the Council has acted, we in the Secretariat would take appropriate measures. As to whether I'll be able to encourage the neighbours to stick to the Security Council resolution, I think it would depend on the nature of the resolution, and I will say that only time will tell.
Q: Are these two issues linked at all? Some Arabs make the linkage between the Iraq situation and the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Do you see these issues linked at all?
SG: In the minds of many people in the region and in the minds of people in the streets, it is linked. I visit the region often and you hear the comments on why is it that it is only in our region and on Arab States that sanctions are imposed. So in the minds of people in the streets, this is very much linked. And this is something that we should be conscious of.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the Taliban today ordered all Hindus in the country to wear some kind of identification. Is this something that the United Nations is concerned about and plans to object to?
SG: I need to have all the details before I determine what the UN can do or should do.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, how significant is the new Iraq resolution in both easing humanitarian suffering in Iraq, and also getting closer to Iraq meeting its obligations on UN resolutions?
SG: I think, as I indicated, you have a draft resolution on the table. And I do not know what the final outcome would be. And I think it would be premature on my side to jump into this and make judgements or conclusions one way or the other.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, two things. In the past, you've played a big role in bringing the Summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh together a few months ago, a year ago. Are you willing to do that now, to bring a Summit for the Sharm-el-Sheikh partners together? And secondly, there is an idea for monitoring the implementation of the Mitchell Report rather than for sending monitors as requested by the Palestinians. So there is the new idea of monitoring implementation -- a certain body to do so. Do you support that?
SG: I think, let me say that on the issue of a Summit, there may be eventually a need for a Summit. But at this stage, what we are trying to do is to encourage the parties to work on the constructive basis of, and the specific recommendations of, the Mitchell Report, to try and end the violence, begin confidence-building measures, and eventually get to the table. On the issue of monitoring, yes, it has for the first time been raised. But any monitoring mechanism will have to be worked out with the parties.
And you've raised the question of whether I'll be prepared to bring the parties together in a Summit. I think when the time for a Summit comes, I am sure that the parties I've referred to, the group that I've indicated are working hard on this, and I've also indicated that there is a convergence, I think if the time comes, they will be ready, but I'm not sure.
Q: Do you support the monitoring idea of the implementation of the Mitchell Report, do you find that helpful?
SG: The monitoring mechanism can be helpful in the sense that you have targets and benchmarks would address specific tasks, which one would monitor to ensure that they are being implemented, I suspect the parties themselves would be doing some monitoring. The question is, if you're going to set-up a third party monitoring, it will require discussions and cooperation with the parties.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, Iraq now is threatening to stop the oil-for-food programme. Does the Secretariat have any contingency plan to alleviate the suffering if Iraq stops the programme?
SG: I hope it doesn't come to that. But if Iraq were to stop the programme, or refuse to participate in the programme, the Secretariat will have no means of providing assistance to the Iraqi people. We use the resources from the sale of the oil to do that. And you know how difficult it has been for the Secretariat to raise sufficient resources for humanitarian work around the world. If it were to happen, the demand for the Iraqi population would be quite high and I'm not sure we'll be able to raise the money. So my hope is that the scheme will continue. Obviously, some of the efforts are being made to improve the conditions of the Iraqi people and make sure that the sanctions do not harm them. But if Iraq were to "turn off the taps", then we'll be in a very serious situation.
Q: The new United States government does seem more ready, Secretary-General, to take more of a part now in the Middle East process. Do you think that's a good thing? Do you think it's perhaps a little late in coming? And what do you think the US role should be to try and stop the violence?
SG: I think the steps that the US announced yesterday and the strong support it has given the Mitchell Report is very encouraging and I think is very positive. Beyond that, they have put a team in place that is to assist the parties in implementing aspects of the Mitchell Report so that they can end the violence and bring this tragedy to an end. And I think the Secretary of State [Colin Powell] indicated that he personally is prepared to do more if required. And I know that he is working in close coordination with other leaders and with myself. And I would hope that the efforts which began yesterday, and in fact the team apparently is already on the ground now, will make some progress. I know that there are people who felt that the Administration should have pursued the Middle East effort with the same involvement and energy as the Clinton Administration. But we have to understand when a new administration comes and is taking stock and making a judgement as to how it should tackle a certain issue, it does deserve the time to do this. But anyway, what is important [is] today, they are directly engaged and they are doing more. And they have indicated they are prepared to do more if necessary. And we should all work together to get some results.
Press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 21 May 2001
Q: The Mitchell Commission Report is being released this morning. Are you hopeful perhaps that this can serve as a basis for possibly trying to end the violence?
SG: I am quite hopeful and I have already stated that publicly. Senator [George] Mitchell will release the report today and speak about it and I think all of us, the European Union, and I suspect the Bush Administration, would also strongly support the report. I think there are elements in it which should allow the parties to step back and take steps for a ceasefire, confidence-building measures, and eventually, return to the table. And I hope this opportunity will not be wasted and that they will seize it as a moment to step back from the precipice and try and end the violence in the region. It's a real tragedy.
Q: There have been a lot of calls for the United States to get more involved. What would you like to see the United States do? What do you think would be effective?
SG: I think it is obviously up to the United States to decide what it can do, how to do it and when to do it. What I can say is that there's been lots of movements behind the scenes, lots of discussions and lots of efforts. And I hope sooner or later, sooner rather than later, we are going to see some results after all these efforts.
Q: Are you concerned about the fact that Arab nations have called for cut off of all ties with Israel?
SG: It's not going to make a settlement easier, but I'm encouraged that [Egyptian] President [Hosni] Mubarak has indicated he would stay engaged. As one of the two countries that has made peace with Israel, his engagement, his commitment in the peace process is important. And I trust King Abdullah [of Jordan] would also stay involved, because the group that met in Sharm-el-Sheikh, that is the European Union, the US, myself and Egypt and Jordan, have stayed in touch throughout this crisis trying to find a way of pushing the process forward. And we need the engagement of [Egyptian] President [Hosni] Mubarak.
Q: You yourself have been actively engaged for the past few days ….
SG: I have been very busy on the phone with Washington, with leaders in the region, and with my own people on the ground, and with [European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier] Solana, who is in the region. And so we would continue that effort.
Press encounter following commencement address [on climate change] at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, 20 May 2001
SG: I think I've had my say this morning, so I'll take your questions straightaway.
Q: In light of the points that you made today about the reasons for acting on global climate change, what's your analysis of why the Bush administration has taken the position that it has to counter those points?
SG: It's difficult for me to speak for the Bush administration, but let me say that I've noted that since the initial statement, there has been quite a lot of discussion and reaction from around the world and within the nation. And I have a sense that the administration itself is rethinking its environmental policy, or there has been a slight shift in some of the latest moves since the Kyoto decision. So I hope the decision on Kyoto is not immutable, because we do need the United States to become engaged, to work with other Member States and other leaders around the world to contain the climate change problem.
Q: I wonder whether you thought it was a good decision by Arab States to cut off contacts with Israel after the F-16 threat?
SG: I felt it was going to make it much more difficult for us to find a solution, but I was encouraged this morning when I heard on the BBC that [Egyptian] President [Hosni] Mubarak had indicated that he will continue his efforts for peace. As you know, President Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan have put forward a proposal, a peace process, which I believe, taken together with the Mitchell report, offers us a basiq for bringing the parties together and moving forward. And the role of President Mubarak and King Abdullah, the two countries in the region that have made peace with Israel, is very important and I hope they stay engaged. And I will continue to work with them.
Q: Do you believe that the Bush administration is engaged enough in the facilitating process?
SG: I think they are becoming more and more engaged, and they are much more engaged now than they were at the beginning.
Q: What are the things that you see that contribute to the perception that there is a shift and a reconsideration of the environmental policy of the administration?
SG: I think, on some of the other environmental statements that have been made, I seem to sense that the door is being left slightly open, not completely shut, and that they are willing to talk to others. And I think the test will come in July, when the countries of the world come together to discuss the environment [in Bonn]. And I would hope the administration would go in there, ready to engage, ready to give and take and ready to explore with others what we can do to protect our environment. And I would urge them to do that.
Q: Could you cite any specific things that have given you this idea that the door is open?
SG: I know that there has been quite a lot of consultation with leaders, particularly the European leaders and others, and, of course, here in the country we have also seen the reaction of environmental activists. So there is a series of things. I don't want to cite any specific things. But I think the important thing is that dialogue is going on, it's not that "this is our position, and the door is shut." That's important.
Q: I'm actually asking this question for a fellow reporter who was in Sudan just about a month ago.
SG: I wish him well in Sudan; it's a tough place to be.
Q: Are there any plans on the UN side to respond to the slave trade in Sudan?
SG: I think that UNICEF and the UN agencies have been very actively engaged in protecting children, not only in crisis situations -- whether in refugee camps or others where children are placed at a grave disadvantage -- but we are also determined to ensure that children do not become soldiers. We have a special representative now who is traveling the world, going to trouble spots, dealing with the question of children in armed conflict. And we have today 300,000 children who are armed, who are soldiers, who are also caught in this situation. So we deal with a whole range of issues affecting children, and we are determined to make a difference.
Q: I know we've been talking a lot about the slave trade, about global warming today. What is it you can tell us that is positive this morning?
SG: In the world? I think the one positive thing you noticed this morning at the commencement, there was quite a lot of energy and quite a lot of hope. And I think once you have hope, and people believe you can do something about that, you can do something. On the environmental issue, there are lots of developments, technological breakthroughs. People are looking for renewable sources of energy. Corporations are beginning to understand that even though they make lots of money polluting the world, they probably can make much more money cleaning it up and coming up with a "green" environment. And visionary businessmen are looking in that direction. And what is also encouraging is that civil society groups are engaged. They are pressing companies and Governments to make the right policies, to move in the right direction. And I think this is very encouraging. Ten to fifteen years ago, that was not the case. When I hear -- of course he is one of the best business leaders -- when you hear John Brown of British Petroleum, talk of clean energy, "We're going into electric energy, we are looking for other sources," seeing the energy business, people are going to be looking for clean energy, and that's the direction I should push my company to, I think that is progress. And there are others who are following in the same path.
Q: What's your level of confidence that the United States will return to the Kyoto talks in July? Have you had any direct discussions with the President on that very question?
SG: They have not given me any specific proposals as to what they will do. But the fact that they are engaged, the fact that they are talking to their partners, I expect them to be in the July meeting and to participate. And as I indicated, that would be the real test of the direction they are going to go in. But I would hope, and somehow I feel, that their situation is not immutable when they sit with the others and begin to discuss or what is really the important thing.
Q: When you spoke to the students this morning, were you calling on Americans to make concrete changes in their lifestyles? And if so, what changes?
SG: In a way you can say that whenever I speak to these student groups, you are implying that I spoke to the students, and through them, to the larger world. And the message I had for the students today was not only for them-- you're right. It's a message for all of us. When we decide to buy a new car, why wouldn't we buy a car that is energy efficient? If we all did that, I think you will see a difference in the corporate manufacturing practices. If we decided to buy a house and insisted on an environment that is healthy, that is protected, that is "green", the developers will understand that very quickly. There are all sorts of things that we can do. And not only through making choices through our purchases and all that, but we should also speak up. We should be active, we should be advocates.
And this is one of the reasons why I came up with this Global Compact idea, encouraging corporations to work with us. And the Global Compact basically demands that companies sign up to nine values in the areas of human rights, environment and core labor standards. And this is a very simple, straight work in trying to make corporations socially responsible, and for them to play a role. We tend to think Governments can do a lot, but in today's world, Governments cannot do it alone. They need to work in partnerships with the private sector, with civil society, to do it. The Global Compact simply commits companies into saying, "I will make sure that my production or my facilities do not pollute, for example, the water that produces the fish. I will not wait for the government in Country X to pass a law, before I refuse to employ a child, before I pay decent wages, and so forth." And the response has been quite remarkable, particularly from European nations' corporations, and the American companies are signing up, too.
Q: You mentioned the role of civil society in affecting change. How constructive do you think are the protests, many of which students are involved in, at the free trade discussions of the FTA, and things of that nature. What do you think is the voice that they bring to change the way things are?
SG: Let me first of all say that civil society does not always take that route. And there are lots of well-structured and well-organized NGOs and civil society groups, which have learned the art of politics, the art of lobbying, the art of pressuring, the art of getting Governments to come up with the right policy, and are very active at the international level in the UN and elsewhere. But let me turn you your specific question and say that I know that the violence and noise and shouting, in some cases, have crowded what these people are trying to say.
I think that globalization has made people uneasy. They feel that it is affecting their lives, it may affect their jobs, and that no one is in charge -- and sometimes, no one is in charge. And this is really uneasy and frightening for the people and I think we need to take time to react and to respond to the genuine anxiety that people feel in this country and elsewhere. We saw it with the Asian crisis, with the financial crisis, people who thought they had come out of poverty and were doing very well, who were beggared overnight. How do you go and tell them, "Yes, the factory was operating yesterday, but you lost your job because somebody in New York pressed a button and took the money away." This is very unsettling and very frightening for people. And we need to really explain it to them, and of course the benefits of globalization are not being shared evenly. And indeed the gap between the rich and the poor, between countries and within countries, is expanding. And people are seeking answers and asking questions. The leaders are not always able to explain it to them. And we have to find a way of not only explaining it to them, but also ensuring that whole groups of countries and regions are not marginalized, and that globalization benefits as many people as possible, if not all.
Press encounter at 54th World Health Assembly, Geneva, 17 May 2001
SG: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I have had a few very productive days in Europe on this side of the Atlantic. I participated in the Conference on Least Developed Countries in Brussels. I think that is a very important conference. I was very impressed with the participation and the new format where we had Governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector talking about development and opening up trade access. I was also able to raise the issue of AIDS with some of the Ministers that I met, and in the evening of Monday (14 May) I had a working dinner with the 15 European Union Foreign Ministers. We discussed the crisis in the Middle East, the Balkans, the crisis in Africa, and of course the global fund for AIDS. My expectation is that they will all join the global approach that I have outlined and make contributions to the fund. Of course today, I addressed the World Health Assembly. You all know that. I will take your questions.
Q: Do you have any plans to visit the two Koreas, and do you have any message to them or suggestions concerning their efforts towards reconciliation.
SG: I have always supported the efforts to bring the two Koreas together. I am on record as supporting the sunshine policy of President Kim Dae-Jung. I have already been to Seoul, and I do intend to visit the two Koreas at some time in the future. But I have not fixed a date, and I do not know what will happen next year.
Q: Do you have any reaction to the British proposal to reduce the level of sanctions against Iraq?
SG: I was in Moscow as you know where there was a review of those proposals. And there again, we discussed the crisis in the Balkans, the Middle East and Iraq. They have started reviewing the British proposals. The Council as a whole will have to consider it and take some decisions. Some of you might be aware that I had met earlier this year with an Iraqi delegation and we were to have a second round which I have postponed until this review is completed. I do not know how long it will take the Council to act. There are some suggestions that they should conclude their deliberations in time for the extension of the oil-for-food scheme on 6 June, as we enter the tenth phase. If that does happen, then we will have a new proposal.
Q: Do you think that the British proposal to limit the sanctions to weapons would be useful?
SG: We all know that the public at large and also the region had been very concerned about the impact of sanctions on the average Iraqi, on the Iraqi economy, and particularly on children. So any attempts that would ease the impact of sanctions on the population and allow the people to have a normal life is something that we should all support.
Q: You speak of the global fund to fight AIDS and Mrs. Brundtland speaks of the international fund. How do you feel about this?
SG: When I launched the fund, I referred to a global fund and not a UN fund as such. It was on purpose because I wanted to attract others to join the fight. I launched the fund and I think I also explained the purposes for which the fund would be used. So it is an international fund and it is a global fund which will be open to donor Governments, to the private sector, to foundations, and to individuals. I hope some Governments from the South will also make contributions because some of them do have the capacity. I should add here that when I was in Abuja for the African AIDS summit, the African leaders themselves decided to make an additional contribution for AIDS by undertaking to increase their budget allocation for health to up to 15 per cent of their budget, mainly for AIDS.
Q: Are there any new developments on the Cyprus issue?
SG: No specific development to announce, but we have not given up our efforts and it is not excluded that sometime in the future, or between now and the end of the year, we may come together again.
Q: What is your opinion of the decision of the United States to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol?
SG: I think that was an unfortunate decision. Since that decision, I have noticed that the United States' Administration has taken several positive steps or decisions on other environment-related issues. Global warming is real. It does exist. We have enough scientific evidence to know that it is real. I would hope that the Member States would work together to ensure that we tackle global warming. I think there is a debate in the United States itself where environmental activists and others have raised their voice. I do not think the United States decision or the decision that President Bush announced should be taken as something that is immutable. It is something which I think is part of a process. My own belief as someone who lives in the United States is that the Americans do care about the environment. They are concerned about environmental degradation. And I am sure that President Bush himself shares that view. My hope is that as the debate continues, the United States will join other countries from the North and the South to protect our environment. Each time I talk about the environment, I am reminded of the old African proverb that says that Earth is not ours, it is a treasure we hold in trust for our children and their children. I hope my generation will be worthy of this trust.
Q: What is the role of youth leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS?
SG: I think that young people and youth leaders really have a role to play. First of all, AIDS today is hitting the young the hardest. The number of people between the age of 13 to 25 who have been hit is a very high proportion of the populations infected. I saw a young youth leader at a big conference in Addis Ababa, talking to young people and adults, trying to share her own experience with the population. She was AIDS infected. Perhaps she was one of the most powerful advocates or spokespersons. I sat with her over coffee and I said don't you think there should be more like you, young people taking the lead and speaking about AIDS. She said yes, and I said who will the young listen to, you or me? She said I think they are more likely listen to me and share my experience. She may be right. But I think the young people talking to each other and talking to their peers is an important part of the struggle. That does not mean that leaders should not speak up. I think if we are going to win this fight, it does require leadership from the top for us to do this. But the young have an important role to play and I would encourage them to do this. We should give them space to speak out and play a role. Thank you very much.
Press encounter after meeting with Igor Ivanov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Moscow, 16 May 2001 (unofficial transcript)
FM Ivanov: Ladies and Gentlemen, this morning the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and I discussed a broad range of international problems. Naturally our discussions focused on the activities of the United Nations with regard to the maintenance of peace and security. We also discussed ways to enhance the role and efficiency of the UN in international affairs. Yesterday President of Russia Vladimir Putin confirmed during his meeting with the Secretary-General Russia's uncompromising support for the goals and principles of the United Nations' Charter and our desire to enhance and strengthen the role of the United Nations in the international affairs.
We discussed how the role of the UN can be strengthened with regard to the maintenance of strategic stability in the world. We also discussed regional conflicts including those in the Middle East, in the Persian Gulf, in the Balkans, around Afghanistan . The discussion was very practical and we discussed how specifically we can use the mechanisms of the United Nations in the political and diplomatic unblocking of the conflict situations. I confirmed to the Secretary-General our strong support for the United Nations and our willingness to continue making a practical contribution to the efforts of this unique and universal international organisation.
Russia highly appreciates personal contribution of the Secretary-General Annan to the strengthening of the role of the United Nations, its authority and Russia will support the candidacy of Kofi Annan for second term as Secretary-General.
SG: Thank you very much. I think the Foreign Minister has explained to you very clearly the nature of our discussion. And I would like to thank the Foreign Minister for his support and the way he does with the United Nations and also for the news he shared with you this morning and which the President also expressed yesterday. And I can assure the Minister that I will do all my best to continue working with the Russian Federation and other member-states to make the UN the strong organisation that is up for the twenty first century. I think at this stage it will be more effective to take your questions since we do not have much time.
Q: Is the United Nations going to impose "smart sanctions" during the tenth phase of the "Oil for food" program and if not during the tenth phase then when and if at all?
SG: Let me say that this is an issue for the Security Council. There are obviously reviews taking place in capitals and at the end the Security Council will discuss this issue and decide if and what modifications should be made in sanctions regime. At this stage I cannot predict or prejudge the changes that the Council may wish to make during the extension of the "oil for food" scheme for the tenth phase which would be in early June. So, I do confirm that the discussions are going on but I don't know when they will be completed.
FM Ivanov: As for the Russian position the question to us is not about smart sanctions, less smart sanctions or smarter sanctions. We have totally different approach. We have UN Security Council resolutions with regard to this issue and we assume that on the one hand these resolutions should be implemented, and on the other hand the sanctions should be lifted. We proceed from these two parameters when we elaborate our approach.
Q FM Ivanov: [beginning inaudible, about the Russia's position with regard to the National Missile Defence of the US]
FM Ivanov: First of all I would like to mention that I am going to Washington with the firm desire to uphold a constructive dialogue with the United States and to develop mutually beneficial relations between our nations. We carefully studied the recent statements by President Bush and State secretary Powell. And it follows from these statements that the US is going to cooperate with Russia in the building of stability and security in the twenty-first century. We are ready for this kind of cooperation in the interests of strategic stability and international security. We are pleased that a fruitful discussion has started on these issues of key importance. We hope that we have moved from general philosophy to the discussion of practical questions. We should assess the challenges and threats that international community can face in the twenty first century and ways to resolve these problems. In any case, we should be careful in reviewing the various disarmament agreements that we elaborated together over the past decades and that maintain international peace and security. Once again I'd like to repeat that we are ready for a constructive discussion on all these problems and we should seek joint solutions providing the security of Russia is maintained and keeping in mind world stability in general.
Q: With the aggravation of situation in the Middle East what is the current status of the problem and the activities of peace keeping force there? And what steps should be made to block the deadlock?
SG: You refer to peaceeeping force in Palestine. I take it that is a reference to the demand of observer force, the force to protect Palestinians which has been requested by the Palestinian authority and President Arafat. If that is the question then let me say that Security Council had discussed this issue and it was not approved, you know, it was vetoed by the US. And recently I have learnt that this issue may be taken up again or Palestinians may ask the UN to take it up again. But for the moment there is no approval for such a force.
And the second part of your question - What is being done to stop the tragedy. I think today we have two documents on the table - the first is the proposal by Egypt and Jordan and the second is the Mitchell report. I believe those two documents could provide a way to step back from … [one word inaudible] and really begin to talk and seek a cease-fire. I believe both of them should be interested in that. This finally may improve the economic situation for the Palestinians and eventually make the sides talk about the final solution. There are lots of efforts by many leaders trying to help in this tragedy and I myself I am actually in touch with both leaders, both parties and other leaders in the region. And we discussed the situation extensively with President Putin yesterday and Foreign Minister today. And we are all going to continue this effort until we are able to put an end to the violence in the Middle East.
FM Ivanov: The situation in the Middle East is the greatest concern to us. We paid significant attention to this issue at yesterday meeting with President Putin and during our today's discussion. As General-Secretary said Russia and other countries are doing their best by bilateral channels and through multilateral diplomacy means to stop the violence and then to resume the negotiations. You know about the initiatives that exist and have just been mentioned.
There are other initiatives as well. The main thing now is to start practical implementation of those initiatives. The US, Russia, EU ,Secretary-General of the UN, other countries should make a joint effort to resolve the current situation, to influence the leaders of the conflicting parties and assist them in finding solution in the interest of brighter future of this region. We do not have any ready made recipes as to how the conflict can be resolved/ We have begun discussions and will continue them in Washington with the other parties.
Q to FM Ivanov: [about the forthcoming Russia - US summit]
FM Ivanov: There is a fundamental agreement between the Presidents to get together. To meet in Genoa even before the G-8 summit. This question is now being thoroughly studied by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the American Department of State. Secretary Powell said that we discuss this issue every day. This emphasises the willingness of both sides to arrange a meeting in the nearest future. When the agreement is reached we'll tell you about it.
Press encounter after meeting with Guennady Seleznev, Speaker of the Russian Parliament, Moscow, 16 May 2001
SG: We talked about the crisis in the Middle East, we talked about the Balkans, and we talked about Chechnya. We also discussed the relationship between the UN and Parliamentarians, particularly the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the fact that last year all Speakers and Presidents of the world held a meeting in the UN - the first such meeting, and it was a very successful one.
Press encounter after meeting with Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Moscow, 15 May 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: We have discussed the Russian Federation's relationship with the United Nations. And his [Vladimir Putin's] belief in UN. And I was able to thank the President and the Russian people for the strong support they have given to the Organisation. And where the UN is seen as an important part of their foreign policy. And we have agreed that in this interdependent world we need the UN more than ever. We've also reviewed the situation in the Balkans, Middle East and UN sanctions in Iraq. We have also discussed Sierra Leone and were able to thank the President for the very effective helicopter crew that is operating with the peace-keeping operations. Finally, I told the President that I am looking forward to seeing him in New York during the General Assembly. Thank you.
FM Ivanov: [Translated from Russian] I would like to add the following to what has just been said by the Secretary-General. President Vladimir Putin expressed Russia's firm support to the UN, firm support to the activities of the United Nations with regard to commitments to peace and stability. Russia believes that the basis for international activities should be the respect for the UN Charter and the principles of international law. This is necessary to resolve the conflicts and the problems which the international community is facing now. President Vladimir Putin has assured the Secretary-General that Russia is the UN's reliable partner in the time to come.
Q: Sometimes the UN in local conflicts is replaced by NATO. What do you think about it?
FM Ivanov: [Translated from Russian] I think I have already clearly stated the position of the Russian Federation : in order to resolve regional conflicts we should respect the principles of the United Nations Charter. This primarily has to do with the use of force. We proceed from this assumption when we formulate our approaches to settlement of regional conflicts and other solutions. On other issues, we believe that the United Nations should be the key international organisation to resolve all the problems and to secure peace and stability in the world.
Q: Have you discussed ABM treaty and the American decision to withdraw from that treaty?
SG: We have not come up directly, but I had the chance to state my position very clearly. And I think that my position is one that indicates that we need to build an international treaty system which is thoroughly assessed and we must be sure that the new anti-ballistic missile system does not lead to another arms race. And obviously the US government has indicated that strategic discussions are required, long and deep strategic discussions on this issue. And I believe that dialogue has begun and the US administration has sent envoys around the world to explain their position and I believe they have been in Moscow recently. Thank you.
Press encounter with Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh and EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, Brussels, 14 May 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Anna Lindh: We have invited Secretary-General Kofi Annan to a dinner we'll have now with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union. We are very pleased to see you here discussing with the European Union how we can cooperate as we are both trying to work for peace and development and how we then can strengthen and how the EU can help to strengthen also the UN and how we can work together.
We will discuss both crisis management, conflict prevention, Middle East and I think some other issues as well tonight. We wish you warmly welcome here.
SG: Thank you very much, Minister. I am extremely happy to be here and to be joining you and the other Ministers to discuss UN-EU cooperation. It is already very good, but good things give in to better. And we are determined to move ahead and make it very effective. And as the Minister has said, we will tackle these issues and crisis force and I hope, if time permits, I would also want to be able to discuss the fight against HIV/AIDS, the new global approach and the global fund, which I believe we need to be able to tackle that scourge that is causing so many problems around the world. For the moment, Africa is the hardest hit, but it is a global problem. It is spreading in Asia, in Eastern Europe, in the Caribbean and some Central American countries. So we do have work to do. Thank you very much.
Q: Pour Monsieur Solana, comment vous appliquez les resultats du rapport Mitchell et pour M. Annan, est-ce que vous etes pour une protection internationale pour les Palestinians?
J. Solana: Apres Monsieur Annan!
SG: I think the Mitchell Report is an excellent report and I'm happy that Javier Solana who is here with us also served on that panel. I think it is an important document, which gives us some very constructive and helpful ideas, which I hope the parties will take advantage of an work with the international community to help find an end to this tragedy, at least to stop the killing and find some ways of easing the economic pain of the Palestinian people and eventually get the two to the table.
J. Solana: I have nothing to add because the Secretary has explained perfectly what is the aim of the report and how to apply it. What I'd like to say is that we would like to use the report as a paper, a document, and together with the Egyptian and the Jordanian document, non-paper, could move the process forward and stop the cycle of violence, in particular now, these days, today, when really the situation is so bad and in particular now that the Israelis are doing something beyond which is proportional to my mind.
Q: Do you think that the EU military involvement is a good thing for the United Nations?
SG: Yes, I would hope that we will be able to continue to work with EU Member States. Don't forget that we have several working with us in Africa today, in Eritrea/Ethiopia. And we have them in other operations, in the Middle East, in South Lebanon on the border, in Syria, in Jerusalem, and we have EU military observers in other operations. And I believe that now that the EU is creating this crisis group we are going to even be able to work closer together. Thank you very much.
Anna Lindh: And our aim for tonight is also of course to discuss how will we be able to really use the EU military also to the benefit of the UN and we would be able to learn more about peacekeeping as that is the UN priority and speciality.
Press Encounter on return from Washington D.C., 11 May 2001 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I met with Presidents [George W.] Bush and [Olusegun] Obasanjo. We launched the Global AIDS Fund and also had a chance to exchange some ideas about UN dues and the decision in Congress to attach an amendment to the 244 [million US dollars]. And you all heard Secretary of State [Colin] Powell's comments on the Hill during the hearing, and I think the President also did indicate to me that he would also want to see the dues paid without any withholding. Yesterday I had the chance to tell you that as Secretary-General of the UN I have always maintained that these dues are legal obligations and they have to be paid by all Members States in full, on time and without conditions. I will take your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you have a mission going to the [Democratic Republic of the] Congo next week, a very important mission, seeing a lot of African leaders. I would like your thoughts please about the importance of this mission to the UN, and also just how difficult it's going to be to resolve the Congo question which has been a really big worry for you for months and years now.
SG: I think the crisis in Congo with the involvement of so many neighbours is perhaps the greatest challenge that the UN is facing today. We are seeing hopeful signs, but we are not out of the woods, not by any means. I think it is important that the Security Council team is going to Congo to discuss with the leaders and try to push them to make the compromises necessary to move the process forward. I think they will also be able to assess for themselves on the ground how the operations are going, what needs to be done, and I think more importantly the ability for them to encourage the leaders and get the leaders to talk to themselves. There are a couple of ideas that the Council would also want to explore on the ground.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, did the President [Bush] or Mr. Powell give you any indication that the United States would try to catch up on its debt to the United Nations? Congress is talking about half a billion dollars; your figures show closer to two billion.
SG: We didn't get into all that detail, but my sense is that they would want to see the US honour the understanding that was reached last year, and pay a substantial portion of their arrears, and of course continue to pay its annual contributions, both on the regular budget and on peacekeeping. We did not get into the balance of the arrears which is still outstanding. I think it will be another debate and another discussion.
Q: Can I ask you one more question, on the AIDS, are you any further in deciding, or did you discuss with the President what this Fund should look like - independent panel, World Bank, who [inaudible]?
SG: Yes, it will be a Global Fund, a fund for AIDS and health, and it will have several windows - AIDS, TB, malaria, and contributors may make targeted contributions for one or the other, or give us funds generally which we could use. It will be a global fund that governments, individuals, private sector, foundations can pay money into, and we will have a governance structure which would have representatives from donor countries, the private sector, NGOs, particularly those fighting the AIDS disease, and the international organizations. There will be a scientific committee that will assess what we are doing to make sure that things are heading in the right direction and that the money, the Governors of the board will ensure that the money is going to the people in the countries that need it, and that the communities are being engaged. The World Bank will handle the funds, will do the banking and the funding arrangements. There are other details that we are still trying to work out but it will be done in the next week or so.
Q: Sir, on the donation of the US$200 million. Are you disappointed that such a wealthy nation like the United States did not contribute more, and also, are you concerned at all about how reliable these promises of money are from the United States? They seem to depend on the vagaries of politics and [inaudible]
SG: In the ceremony with the President there were also two Senators, Senator Frist and Senator Leahy. So there are lots of people on the Hill who believe that this tragedy should be tackled globally and is a responsibility of all of us, and I think there will be and there is a bipartisan support for this. The President also indicated that the US$200 million was a founding contribution, if you wish, "seed money", and there is a promise of more to come. I would hope that this would also energize other leaders.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, there have been recent reports about turbulence in relations between the UN and the United States. What is your impression of President Bush's and General Powell's general attitude towards the [inaudible]
SG: I think they are both very supportive, and in fact when I first met President Bush at the White House we did discuss the US and UN relationship, and he made it clear that he values the work of the UN, and he wants to work with us. This morning it was very clear that both of them are very supportive of the UN and believe that there should be no withholding of the funds, that it is the wrong thing to do. As you saw, we are also cooperating very actively on this AIDS issue, and I hope to see them here during the AIDS Summit - an important US delegation will come here. I cannot say that at this stage it would include the President, but they will be participating very, very actively, and the signals are good. They are going to work with us and I am looking forward to working with them.
Q: Did they reiterate their support for your second term?
SG: No. I think once said is enough. Once is enough.
Q: What about the confirmation of Mr. Negroponte? Did they indicate that that might go forward a little more expeditiously?
SG: I didn't discuss it with them this morning, but the information I have is that it will be going to the Hill very shortly for the hearings.
Q: Do you think that is an obstacle for the UN? There is no Permanent Representative, someone like Richard Holbrooke, in place.
SG: I think it is always good for Governments to have their Ambassadors appointed to the UN as quickly as possible. In the interim, Jim Cunningham is doing very, very well. I hope the hearings will go forward smoothly and that Mr. Negroponte will join us shortly.
Q: Sir, have you heard anything from the Iraqis about their next trip here?
SG: I saw them, as you know, in Amman. I had a session with deputy President Izzat Ibrahim and Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. We postponed the session this month and I will try to set a date next month once the Council review is completed. Thank you very much.
Press Encounter on departure from UN HQ to Washington D.C., 10 May 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: How much of a setback is this vote today?
SG: Let me say that obviously, following the votes, there is a level of frustration and anger out there. I hope the dust will settle and that we will look forward to the future. I have no doubt that next year the US will be back on the [UN]Commission [on Human Rights] and I hope, in the meantime, they will work with other Member States to get back on. I think we should focus on the future developing relations with their allies and other Member States to give the US the opportunity to play its natural leadership role in the Organization. I personally do not think that attaching amendments to dues due to the UN is the right way to go. I have always maintained as Secretary-General that Member States should pay their dues in full and on time and without conditions. I am pleased that they have not attached anything to their $582 million in arrears which is to be released to the Organization that was part of very delicate negotiations last December led by Ambassador [Richard] Holbrooke. If that had happened, it would have been seen as a break of faith by other Member States - and so I am happy that did not happen. Obviously I can not applaud their withholding or their attachment to the $244[million], but I am told this is the best we could get. But I hope at the end of the day, when all is said and done, that they will find a way of removing that as well. But I think the solution is not attachments, it is not punishing the UN, but working with the other Member States and looking forward.
Q: What do you hope to get out of your meeting with President Bush at the White House?
SG: I think tomorrow it will mainly be on AIDS. It will be on the global call to action to fight the AIDS epidemic and the establishment of the Global Fund for AIDS and Health -and I hope the event tomorrow morning will set us off in the right direction and that other leaders will come on board to support the effort.
Q: Are you pleased that the Bush Administration was against this punitive action in Congress and also did you notice that UNESCO, the money from UNESCO went through? Is there a chance of the US returning?
SG: I think it is very, very positive and I am really grateful that President Bush and the Administration did not endorse this withholding of the funds and believe that the funds should be paid and that the US should establish normal relations with the UN - and quite frankly I thought at the beginning of the year we were there, after the vote last December, and we should try and stay on a very even course and normal relationship with the US. I am also happy that the funds for UNESCO ha[ve] been released and I hope in time the US will join UNESCO sooner rather than later. They belong in the Organization - and I know lots of American scientists are dying to get back there and we need US backing.
Q: Are you going with any ideas regarding the situation in the Palestinian territories as the escalation is really dangerous - are you going to discuss any ideas with President Bush to see how this situation can be taken up?
SG: The main discussion will focus on AIDS, which is a major catastrophe and a dangerous epidemic for the whole world. There may be an opportunity to discuss the Middle East and I would say that what happened today is another major escalation of the conflict which no-one can or should condone. And we are all working very hard to get the parties to understand that they have to pull back from the precipice and sit down together to begin to resolve this issue. It is only through dialogue that they can get a ceasefire - that the economic conditions will be eased and they will find their way to the discussion of the final settlement based on [resolutions]338 and 242.
Q: Going back to the [Congressional] amendments on the International Criminal Court - could you comment on that?
SG: I think we know the position of Washington but I hope it is not immutable.
Press encounter with CNN upon departure from UNHQ to Washington, D.C., 9 May 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: I know you are running late, but good to see you. Can you just express in your own words what you are concerned about regarding the latest Congressional news on funding for the UN?
SG: I have heard that there are attempts by some members to withhold contributions to the UN. I think we were all surprised by the outcome of the vote. The vote was undertaken by 54 members of the ECOSOC [Economic and Social] Council. I also understand that the US had written commitments from about 11 Member States who did not vote for them. I think to extend the frustration beyond that and punish the entire membership would be wrong and I think it would be counter-productive. I think it would aggravate the situation. The US has played a very important role in human rights. Without the US, and the role of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, we probably would not have had a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They have been very active members of the Council since 1947, and a leading light in this whole area of human rights, within the Commission and outside the Commission. I hope and trust their engagement will continue, whether they are on the Commission or not. I am confident that next year they will be able to get onto the Commission and this situation will be corrected. I think they should work towards next year, rather than wanting to punish the membership at large.
It wasn't so long ago, you were here at the end of last year when, with the work of Ambassador Holbrooke, with a group of Ambassadors, we were able to put behind us this whole debate about budget, the US contribution, whether it is 25 [per cent] or 22 [per cent], and the US contribution to the peacekeeping budget. So I was really confident that we had a basis to move forward with a new relationship between the US and the UN, and hoping that the US would work with other like-minded countries to make this organization what it ought to be, and I really, really would not want to see this vote on human rights create another major hurdle for us to come over. It is a temporary setback and I am confident that it can be corrected next year, so they should work with the other Member States and with me to move the Organization forward.
Q: Was there a plot against the US? Was it political, or was it just the four European countries…as you said, the vagaries of democracy?
SG: I think it is difficult for me to say what propelled Member States or what makes Member States vote the way they did or did not. But obviously there must have been some irritation with some of the recent actions taken by the US Government, but I had hoped they would not have linked it so closely to the human rights issue. Thank you very much.
Press encounter with CNN upon arrival at UNHQ, 7 May 2001 (unofficial transcript)
Q: A question for you, please, on the vote in [New York on the membership of the UN Human Rights Commission]. There's been a lot of talk out of Washington, some angry words. How concerned are you about the impact this is going to have on Congress' relationship with the UN in the future?
SG: I hope it won't have a lasting negative impact. I can understand the frustration, the shock, and the surprise. And I think despite all the hard work Ambassador [James] Cunningham did, this is a decision by the Member States. It is one of the vagaries of democracy, when people vote, you never know which say it is going to come out. And I think what is also important is that the fight was really between the Western European Group, within the Western European Group, because they had four candidates and three seats. And you saw the way the elections went. The US has played a very important role in human rights. They were there at the beginning when the Universal Declaration was being written, and we all know the role of Mrs. [Eleanor] Roosevelt and other Americans. And I hope they will stay engaged whether they are on the Commission this year or not. And next year, they have a chance to come back, and I hope that will happen.
Q: Is this something you discussed with Secretary of State [Colin] Powell last week?
SG: Yes, we did talk about that. Of course, like all leaders and officials in Washington, he was surprised. But I think the US engagement and commitment to human rights will continue.
Q: Just one question of a human rights nature. There is concern also in a lot of countries that the US is moving very much to the right on issues such as the death penalty, the upcoming execution of Timothy McVeigh, the support here. There are concerns by a number of countries outside that the US is moving too far on this issue. Is that your concern?
SG: I can't speak for the Member States on how they perceive these things. But naturally Member States, particularly those who have been very strongly supportive of the International Criminal Court, have been disappointed by the US not coming onboard. On the issue of death penalty, the UN itself does not encourage that as an organization. In the two tribunals we've set up, we do not encourage death penalty. This may have played a role or may not. Really it's up to the individual countries to indicate what went into their thinking and how they voted the way they did.
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