OFF THE CUFF
This document contains remarks made between September-December 2000
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Remarks by the Secretary-General upon arrival at UNHQ, 15 December 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: We saw your letter of yesterday. Could you tell us please your initial reaction on what you feel the impact would be on the UN?
SG: I think the important thing is that the elections are over. We know the outcome. We know who the next President is going to be and as I said, I look forward to working with him and I believe the same goes for lots of world leaders who would want to work with him and of course there are many, many issues that are going to occupy him and those of us in this building and I really look forward to working with him. Over eight years we developed very good relations with President Clinton and Vice President Gore and I look forward to developing the same relations with President-elect Bush.
Q: What do you think this means for the payment of US dues?
SG: It is too early to say. As you know, in Washington it doesn't always depend only on the President. There are other forces in town which have incredible impact on these issues. But I hope that President-elect Bush will realize a natural leadership role the US has in this building and in the world - and hopefully agree with me that if the US were to pay its way and work constructively with other like-minded States, it can get a lot done in this Organization and around the world. And I hope that is what is going to happen. So I look forward to his leadership of this issue and I hope the Congress and the Senate will cooperate with him on this.
Q: The new century is coming, so what does this new century specifically mean to the humankind as a whole, in terms of both opportunities and challenges?
SG: I suspect you are expecting me to confirm that the next century will be the century of China. I have heard that too. But let me say that China has an important role to play in the world - it's a big country - and has a role to play, not only in this Organization, but around the world. And I have noticed that in the developing world, it is doing whatever it can to help fight poverty and give assistance and I hope this will continue. I think China, by joining the WTO, has joined the international fold and I hope that this impact will be felt in constructive and also in trading terms.
Press Conference in Asmara, Eritrea, 9 December 2000 (unofficial transcript)
I have had a very good stay here and had very good discussions with the President and the Ministers. We discussed the peace process and we are all very relieved and happy that we are signing a peace agreement on the 12th of December. That is a beginning.
But what is important is that the war is over. I have visited both Ethiopia and Eritrea and I can tell you that the leaders are determined to make peace stick. They are determined to honour their commitments and their engagements. This will be formalized in Algiers.
Yesterday, when I was able to go the countryside, I was so inspired by the reaction of people and their deep yearning for peace and I could understand the feeling of the people. I'm sure some of them didn't even know how this war got started, how they got caught in such a war. And now they are relieved that the war seems to be over and they will be able to pick up the pieces and get on with their lives.
I think what has happened in this region between these two countries, which were desperately trying to develop their economy and support their people, reaffirms my own belief that in war all are losers. No one can claim to be a victor in this war, particularly when you consider the misery, the hardship it has wrought on the people.
We have a responsibility to work with them in picking up the pieces. We the international community should do whatever we can to assist them. We have all condemned conflicts in Africa. We have all condemned this war. Now that the war is over, let's be constructive and work hand-in-hand with them in rebuilding the nation.
We also went through a near-famine and drought this year, and due to the work of the donors, the NGOs, the UN, the government and the UN international effort led by Catherine Bertini, we were able to avert a tragedy. But we now must begin to implement long term food security I commissioned a plan and I am now trying to put together a partnership to implement that plan to provide some security for the region and ensure that we do not periodically get into a famine situation.
The work ahead is enormous. It is going to require lots of resources and lots of effort. Those of us who are here representing the international community, those of us who are here to assist the government and the people, have the responsibility to pool our efforts and work together to have a greater impact. From what I have seen in the two days I was here, I think that is already happening, and we need to maintain it. I was also very pleasantly pleased by the warmth I saw between the population and the UN staff and the peacekeepers. I think we cannot succeed without their cooperation. We cannot succeed without their acceptance. As the General [Cammaert] told me yesterday, we are going to keep it that way. We want to work with the nation, we want to work with communities and with NGOs and other partners.
One final point I want to make. We are here for a very specific task: for the demarcation, to work with the parties in consolidating peace, peace that will lead to reconciliation, that will lead to trust, that will lead to the development of a good neighbourly relationship. We will not stay a day longer than is necessary. I know there has been concern amongst some in this region that we will come and stay forever. We have no interest to do that, and we don't have the resources to do it even if we wanted to. We will do what we are here to do and get out.
I will now take your questions.
Q: Why do you keep saying that the war now is over? On what basis do you make your statement? The Ethiopian Government issued a statement on December 7th saying that there is nothing to stop them from waging war? So do you think the Eritrean people should fully rely on your statement?
SG: I don't think they should rely on my statement. They should look at the facts. There was a war. Both Governments agreed to a ceasefire and the ceasefire has held. And they're going to sign a final peace agreement on the 12th of December. In the meantime, both parties have agreed that the UN peacekeepers should come in and help consolidate the peace, help demarcate the border and help them sort out the border issue once and for all.
It's one thing for people to write things in the newspaper, but what is happening on the ground. Is fighting going on? Are people shooting? I think the facts are more important than what is written in newspapers.
Q: How long do... [inaudible]
SG: We are deploying as fast as we can. I hope that by the end of January all the 4,200 men and women will be fully deployed. Depending on the cooperation of the parties, which so far has been very good, I will really expect us not to be here longer than about a year.
Q: What's the problem with regard to giving free air permission to the UN peacekeeping force, particularly from the Ethiopian side? We heard yesterday that you were delayed in Addis Ababa due to this question.
SG: The peacekeeping mission and the Special Representative, Ambassador Legwaila, are working on this. I think we are very close to an agreement. Some routes have been designated and we are trying to get both parties to agree to it. Obviously once we have a direct route and we can some straight across from Addis to Eritrea it will be a much shorter journey and it will also save us quite a bit of fuel and I think it is essential that the troops have freedom of movement by air and by road. I would expect that in the next few days. I hope not any more than that. We will have this issue sorted out because we need to be able to have that access not [only] for our daily operations and also for medical evacuations when they become necessary. We don't have to make long detours to get sick and wounded people to the hospital. I think we have made the point very clearly and the two governments understand this. I expect this issue to be settled. It is an operational necessity and it is also confidence-building for the peace process. I expect it to be done.
Q: You've been in Africa for a week now. Could you sum up your feelings on how the trip went and what you've learned?
SG: Let me first say that I'm very happy to be back in Africa. Through this visit, I have discovered very positive signs, very encouraging developments and what is happening here is definitely one of the encouraging news. In Sierra Leone I saw that some progress had been made but we still have a long way to go.
I hope what is happening here, this peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, will inspire other African leaders where there are conflicts to begin to understand that the only way to resolve these conflicts is through political means and negotiations and that there are no military solutions.
And indeed, they should really also begin to think about their people and have some concern for their welfare and have some loyalty to them. Because in the end it is the people who suffer, people who have no influence on the decisions, people who are not consulted on questions of war and peace.
We should also find a way of dealing with the war profiteers who fund these wars for commercial purposes within and without Africa.
Q: The problem of HIV in Eritrea is small but growing fast. Are you concerned that the arrival of the peacekeepers puts them at risk and also that they may spread the disease? What action is the UN taking on this?
SG: First of all let me say that AIDS is a global problem. It's worse in Africa. There was a meeting last week in Addis Ababa on precisely this issue where presidents and heads of governments were able to interact with civil society, international organizations and the private sector in discussing how to deal with this.
It is a problem which is on the top of my agenda and the agenda of the United Nations. Peacekeepers are briefed thoroughly on this issue and on protecting themselves and make sure that they don't put themselves or others at risk. We are very concerned about this, and the peacekeepers are very conscious of this.
I also had the chance to discuss this with the President. The level here is relatively low compared to other parts of the continent and I think we should do everything to keep it that way. I applaud the Government for the measures it has taken. We want to work with the Government to maintain it that way and to ensure that the country does not become a victim of the epidemic as other countries in region have done. And the peacekeepers will also help in their own work to help educate the public and [inaudible] the government's.
Q: Ethiopia agreed to sign an old Algiers draft because of various pressures. Had these pressures been put on Ethiopia then all this unnecessary bloodshed and destruction could have been avoided. What strong measures can be taken in the future to avoid another war?
SG: I think in any conflict you have two parties. It takes two to tango. Major efforts were made to avoid the conflict, to avoid war and to stop the war. Alas, we failed.
What is important is today the two parties have agreed to make peace. And we are going to sign an agreement. It is incumbent on all of us Ethiopians, Eritreans and the international community who are here to assist -- the UN agencies, the NGOs and the peacekeepers -- to do whatever we can to make this peace permanent and for us to put the past behind us and to move on and consolidate this peace and get on with the serious business of reconstruction. I think going and looking into the past and getting acrimonious -- who agreed, who did not agree, who did what, who did not do what, is not very helpful at this stage.
Let's focus on the task ahead. Let's focus on consolidating peace. Let's focus on reconstruction. Let's focus on getting the internally displaced people home. Let's focus on getting the refugees back. Let's focus on getting the internees and the prisoners of war released. That is the urgent task we have ahead. Let's not waste time saying whose fault was it that the war began or did not begin or did not end sooner rather than later. That is the message I will leave with you.
Q: Thankfully the two countries are going to sign a comprehensive peace accord in Algiers. But in both countries, the local media have to avoid hate language because these media reach the remotest areas in both countries. Do you have any project or programme to deal with such problems?
SG: That is an excellent comment. Peace is not just silencing the guns. Words can inflame and words can soothe. The leaders and the people in the region have to be very careful as to which language they use now that we have peace. It must be a language of reconciliation, a language of peace, a language of re-establishing brotherly relations between the two neighbours. That is something we should all do. You journalists have a responsibility when you write about this conflict. You have a responsibility when you write about what we're going to do in the future. I have a responsibility and my peacekeepers, the Special Representative, his Deputies and the Force Commander have that message. We have come in the name of peace. And in our own public information programmes, not only must we tell the people what we are here to do and how we are getting on, but we should also get out the message of peace.
I really thank you for raising the point. This is a point I made in the Middle East and it's very important in this case also. Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I hope we will all heed what he has said. But more importantly it is for the leaders. The leaders have to set the tone and I hope it will come.
Q: Yesterday you visited the Dutch peacekeepers [in Dek'emhare]. Are you aware that they will stay half a year only? Can you confirm that India has offered to replace them after that period?
SG: Yes, that is correct. The Dutch and the Canadian peacekeepers will be here for half a year. It is an arrangement we consciously entered into and it is a unique arrangement. About seven or eight years ago, a group of countries came together and formed what is called SHIRBRIG [the multinational United Nations Standby Forces High Readiness Brigade]. These are a group of Scandanavian countries, Canada, the Netherlands and others. There are eleven countries now and it is going to grow. What they agreed to do is to prepare and train peacekeepers and train elements for peacekeeping units that can be deployed into the field as quickly as possible. And we also agreed that when we deployed a SHIRBRIG brigrade, they will usually be first to arrive, install the mission, and prepare the mission for others to come in and relieve them.
It is important to deploy very quickly in a peacekeeping operation. The rapidity of deployment can make a difference between the success and failure of the mission. If you deploy quickly you can nip the problem in the bud or contain it.
We also agreed that if you deploy SHIRBRIG and you leave them on the ground for a long time, it becomes a bullet that you can shoot only once. But if you use them for a critical early stage of the operation -- for them to install the mission and withdraw to be available for another mission -- you really get maximum benefit out of it.
So we did agree that they would come for six months and then be replaced by other contingents. Your assumption is correct.
Yesterday, when I went to visit them, I was very impressed by how well this concept is working. They came in with their own systems, the headquarters was there with their computers. I saw Dutch soldiers who had arrived there ten hours earlier and they were already operational. If we didn't have this system it would have taken us much longer. The troops come from all parts of the world and then we bring in the equipment and other bits and pieces. It takes a long time to get a cohesive and productive force together. India will be joining the force. India will replace the Dutch contingent. In fact they already sent a recce team. That is moving ahead.
Q: When will the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Eritrean territory begin?
SG: These are issues that the MCC [Military Coordination Commission] will be discussing. In fact, the Ethiopian authorities have told me that they have already started, and that they have finished the first phase of their demobilization and are going to continue. I cannot tell you what the timetable is and when they will complete it. But I think as we sit with them and the military planners get together we'll have a better idea.
Q: Do you also have a replacement for the Danish group in SHIRBRIG? Also, you have just appointed the Danish Minister of Defence as head of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Do you have a soft spot for Danes?
SG: They are very good peacekeepers. They are good to work with. Yes, we have plans to replace the headquarters elements when they withdraw. Some may stay on for a while to hand over and to ensure continuity, but we do expect to replace them.
Yesterday, I appointed Hans Haekkerup, Defense Minister of Denmark, as my Special Representative to Kosovo. He's a very experienced Minister, and in fact, was one of those at the beginning of SHIRBRIG.
He has demonstrated his capacity to set a goal and get it done, and to work well with others not only troops but also politicians, and to work with various nationalities. I expect him to do very well in Kosovo.
He is replacing Bernard Kouchner, who did extremely well. Under Kouchner's inspiring leadership we have achieved more in Kosovo than one would have thought possible when the international community first got there. I will constantly keep looking for good leaders to head these operations. I have Joe Legwaila here and I will constantly be looking for good troops. The Danes provided me with good troops and that's why I take them. I take good troops from any country that offers them.
Remarks before joint meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali Said Abdella and Minister of Defense General Sebhat Ephrem in Asmara, 9 December 2000 - a.m. (unofficial transcript)
Good morning. I am very happy to be back here at this very historic and important moment.
Yesterday it was really wonderful seeing the people in the towns. The yearning for peace, the yearning to get back to their work was very moving and very genuine. It wasn't for show.
Remarks after meeting with President Isaias Afwerki in Asmara, 9 December - a.m. (unofficial transcript)
I just wanted to say that the President and I had very comprehensive and frank discussions regarding the war, the peace process and, now that the war is over, the priority areas that Eritrea and the international partners should focus on.
We both agreed that the most critical areas are going to be the human aspects -- the internally displaced, the refugees, the prisoners of war -- and we should do whatever we can to get these people back to their homes, to pick up their lives, and give them support in building their shelters, going back to till the land, develop agriculture.
We also recognize that there are two phases: the emergency phase that will help the people begin to pick up the pieces, and the long- and medium-term development processes.
And this, of course, will need the help of the international community. But in the final analysis, we have to rely on the people and the population and the government here to get it done.
I'm very encouraged with these discussions and I think once the agreement is signed, and we all get to work, we can move into next year with full confidence that this country is now going to focus on the essential work of rehabilitation, reconstruction and economic and social development. The President has assured me that he is going to mobilize the entire society and community for this essential phase of its national development.
Remarks to townspeople at Adi Keyh, Eritrea, 8 December 2000 - p.m. (from the town square, transmitted by loudspeaker, to a crowd of 5-10,000) (unofficial transcript)
I have read your signs and I know what you want and want desperately. The signs said NO more war. We want peace. We want perpetual peace. We want to get on with our lives. Too much killing, too much discussion. And I agree with you.
We came here today to offer solidarity and to tell you how much I and the international community were pained by the war you had to go through. It was an unnecessary war, A war which could have been avoided.
But now it's over. Now we have peace. And it is now that we realize that we have done. It is always when the guns stop, when the war is over and we begin to look around us that we realize what destruction we have wrought, how many people we have displaced, how many people have died, and it is then that people begin to think of the future - jobs, schooling for children, medical care, and in all this, we and the international community would want to work with you.
I have been so touched by this warm generous reception and the incredible desire for peace. I always knew you didn't want the war and in your hearts of hearts you wanted peace. Today you communicated it in a manner that could not have been more eloquent.
And on behalf of my wife, my team from New York and the international community, I say thank you. Courage. We are going to work with you through this peace process.
On the 12th of December in Algiers the peace agreement will be signed.
As you begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild your lives, you must know you are not alone. The United Nations agencies here are tremendous partners. The non-governmental organizations, the donor community and your own government will be working with you.
Thank you, my brothers and sisters, thank you. I would like to introduce Major-General Cammaert, the commander of the UN forces. Before we got here, he told me about the friendliness, the welcome he has received from all of you. I want that friendship to continue. We have come in peace and in friendship and we will only succeed if we have your trust and you work with us. And so I want you to continue that. And here is a man who is going to lead the forces here.
I also have another gentleman here who is the Special Representative, Ambassador Legwaila, who is going to lead our efforts in the peace process in both Eritrea and Ethiopia. He came recently from New York, and the General came from Netherlands. The troops and the people here have come from all over the world to help you.
There's another gentleman I want you to meet, the Deputy Special Representative, Ian Martin. You will be seeing a lot of him and so I want you also to meet him, and give him a big hand the way you did for Joe Legwaila and General Cammaert.
I have another tall man joining us, his name is Jean-Marie Guehenno. He is the head of UN peacekeeping operations, and he sits in New York but works with all the troops around the world and will be working with our men here.
Remarks upon arrival at Asmara Airport, 8 December 2000 - noon (where he was greeted by President Isaias Afwerki) (unofficial transcript)
I rejoice with the President, for the people of Eritrea and I rejoice for the people of Ethiopia and the region that this war is over and we are now going to be signing the agreement on the 12th of December in Algiers. The peacekeepers are already on the ground. They are deploying very rapidly and the demarcation process will begin. I have indicated that we are here to do a job. We want to do it efficiently, effectively and withdraw and then begin to work with the countries in the region, particularly with Eritrea, and others to develop the region.
Now we should focus on reconstruction. We should focus on economic and social development. The international community which worked with us to end this war I hope will be by our side as we try to reconstruct the society, reconstruct the infrastructure and develop the economy. We on our side -- that is the United Nations and the agencies -- will do whatever we can to help the people of Eritrea to move forward. Thank you very much.
Press Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 8 December 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Good morning. It is good to see you all here, and it is good to be back in Addis Ababa. As some of you may know, I spent some of my most formative professional years here with the Economic Commission for Africa. So coming to Addis is always a bit like coming home. I remember well this country's famous 13 months of sunshine. The sun seems to have been shining on us during the important work of the past few days.
I have had good meetings with Prime Minister Meles and other members of the Government. I was also able to see Ethiopian civil society at work by visiting an AIDS project and the Ethiopian Gemini Trust, which is supported by the World Food Programme. I leave Ethiopia with the clear impression that the Government and people are committed to peace.
I would like to make four brief points, and then I will be happy to take your questions.
First, on HIV/AIDS. For the past week, the African Development Forum has discussed a challenge that is second to none in Africa. It was very moving to hear the African Heads of State and Government speak so knowledgeably and passionately about the issue. I hope other leaders will follow their example. We need more such commitment, and we need it fast. I have a real sense that all Africans are newly energized to confront this problem: to talk publicly about it, to summon political will for it, and to truly fight back. The United Nations and UNAIDS in particular will continue to do all we can to help, in Africa and wherever else the consequences of this terrible epidemic are being felt.
Second, on the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The peace agreement to be signed on Tuesday in Algiers is a very positive step for both sides and for all of Africa. UN peacekeepers have begun to deploy, and the mission will work with the two parties to build confidence, move beyond mutual suspicion and create additional momentum for peace. Ultimately, of course, the will to peace must spring from the leaders and peoples themselves. I am hopeful because I know that both sides are fed up with war and anxious to get on with their lives. Here, too, the United Nations will do its utmost to help. But we will not longer; as soon as our work is done, we will withdraw.
Third, on the drought. As you know, since April we have been making significant efforts to address the effects of the drought in the Horn of Africa. The good news is that famine has been averted and a massive relief effort is under way. I believe this is a success story for all of us -- Governments, NGOs, donors and the United Nations. But the crisis is not over. Many people are still at risk, and the next few months will be critical. UN agencies will continue to work with the Governments and all our partners to sustain the recovery and ensure that people in need receive help. I appeal to the donor community, which has already helped make a huge difference in the lives of those affected by the drought, to continue their generosity.
Fourth and finally, now that the war is over, we should begin the urgent task of reconstruction and economic and social development in both Ethiopia and Eritrea. This will require vision and resources. I appeal to the international community to assist - and to give and give generously.
The United Nations has an important presence in this region, and my visit here has given me a good picture of the progress we are making and the many obstacles we still face. Let me take this opportunity to thank the Government and people for their very warm hospitality, and I look forward to my next visit. Thank you very much.
I will now take your questions:
Q: There have been calls made by the religious groups yesterday asking that religious groups be involved in all levels of government and UN efforts to combat AIDS, to establish the religious affairs desk with UNAIDS including an African representation, and also for ECA and the UN to call religious leaders for a conference to address the role religious people can play in the fight against AIDS. Therefore when are we going to see their requests answered?
SG: No. I think the fight against AIDS is a fight for all of us, for all sectors of society, governments, civil society, churches. And churches have a role to play here. And I think we should be able to engage and bring in the churches. I don't know whether the best way to do is to organise a conference of church leaders. But in many parts of Africa and the world, the church is involved. Some churches will have to be brought along in terms of their thinking and their attitude towards the use of condoms. But I think we need to work with the churches and leaders who are in touch with people and the community to get the message out. And we at the UN, and particularly the ECA. I'm sure we'll work with civil society, the churches, and we will press ahead. But I am not sure whether the best way to do it is to have a meeting of religious leaders.
Q: I would like to find out whether the UN thinks that African leaders are committed to fight the scourge because I think there are lots of conflicts on the continent and these are spreading. Yesterday alone, thousands of refugees arrived in Zambia, and this is the way that AIDS can be transmitted. Do you think leaders are committed, especially in resolving conflicts on the African continent?
SG: I hope they are, I think as we've seen here today, the two leaders in this region, Prime Minister Meles and President Afwerki are determined to end the conflict. They will sign a peace agreement, and they have given credible assurances that they will not resume fighting. The cease-fire has held. And the international community is here in full force working with them and we are deploying troops. This is what is required of all leaders in all the regions, that they give credible commitments, and demonstrate that they are really serious about peace. And the best way to do that is to honour the agreements they sign, whether it's a cease-fire agreement, they have to respect it and the peacekeepers will be in to help them keep peace. Otherwise, it is extremely difficult to send peacekeepers into a situation where there is no peace to keep. And so I have appealed often to African leaders to find ways of resolving these conflicts peacefully and politically and to move away from the tendency to pick up the gun. Our people do not need it. And in fact, their economies cannot sustain the kind of conflict that we have seen. I would hope that as many African leaders as possible will follow the lead that we see in this region between the two countries today.
Q: One of the messages that has come out of this conference is that the United Nations is going to mobilise more resources for Africa. We've heard in the past many pledges about [inaudible] resources for Africa and we know what has happened to those. How feasible is this, especially at a time when the UN is cutting costs and is struggling to survive on its own.
SG: I think that's a very good question. And I think when we talk about mobilising resources or making resources available to Africa we are not implying that the resources are going to come out of the UN budget. And I think what has become clear over the last few years is that on all these issues, we have to work in partnership with others. I think we understand better today what the UN can do and cannot do. What others can do better than the UN, and what the UN has to do with others. The fight against AIDS can only be won if we were to work in partnership, partnership with governments, NGOs, civil society, private sector, international organisations and foundations. That is where the money is coming from, it's by pooling our efforts and bringing to bear our collective efforts on the disease that we can have an impact. And so when we talk of mobilising resources, we are looking at multilateral institutions including the World Bank, we are looking at donor communities, we are looking at the contributions the private sector could make, and we are looking at efforts at the community level, at the NGO level, and this is why we form this partnership, the African partnership to fight AIDS, which brings all the stakeholders into the partnership for us to pool our efforts. And I think as you heard today, it also requires leadership, leadership from the top, where the head of state has to take charge, has to take the lead, put AIDS on top of the agenda and mobilise the whole society to deal with it.
Q: Now that the peace deal is to be signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea will you be recommending to the Security Council that they end their arms embargo?
SG: I think this is an issue the Security Council would want to discuss. But I hope that even if the arms embargo were ended that there would be no desire on either part to import arms, because as I said, the emphasis should switch to reconstruction and economic and social development. So there's no basis for rearmament to compete for the meagre resources. So I would hope, whether it is dropped by the Security Council or not, that it would be a [inaudible] issue, and that it would not be importation of arms. I think we have enough arms in the region already anyway. Thank you very much.
Press encounter after meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, Addis Ababa, 6 December 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I have had a very good discussion with the Prime Minister and I've been very, very encouraged by this visit. As far as I'm concerned, the war is over. The agreement will be signed on the 12th, and we then have to focus on the question of reconstruction, and economic and social development. And here, I hope that the international community and those with the capacity to give will give generously. I think this is a positive story, a great story for Africa, and I'm really happy that we are ending the year with a story of peace. And I hope that this story of peace will carry us through the next year, and that this is only the beginning and that we should be seeing other peaceful settlements on the African continent.
Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister for the cooperation you have extended to the UN throughout and extended to my special representative who is going to lead our UN efforts. I also have the chance to thank the Prime Minister for the incredibly close cooperation with Mrs. Bertini who was my special envoy earlier this year when we were afraid of the drought. The government really worked with us in partnership with the NGOs, and with the donor community and that was the only way that we were able to avoid a tragedy. So thank you Mr. Prime Minister.
Press encounter after meeting with Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, Addis Ababa, 6 December 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Thank you very much. I think you all heard the Minister. We had a very, very good discussion this morning, and I'm very happy to be here with my team at this time, when we are on the verge of peace. And as the Minister said, the signing is due to be organized in Algiers on 12 December, and I hope to be able to join him and the other leaders in signing that agreement.
I think this is a positive note, and a hopeful sign for the African continent. We at the United Nations and the international community are determined to work with the two countries to ensure that peace will be durable and long lasting.
We have started deploying our peacekeepers, and we will work with the parties to do the border demarcation. We do not intend to linger, and as soon as our work is done, we will withdraw.
I am very confident in this operation, the support from governments has been very good, we have all the troops we need unlike other operations, and we would hope to be able to accomplish this operation on time.
We also discussed the need for economic and social assistance and development, and of course we have touched on the issue of drought, and medium and longer-term food security. We are particularly pleased that we are about to put the conflict behind us, because it is what we need to see, not only between Ethiopia and Eritrea, but on the whole African continent.
We should end these conflicts and focus on the essential issue of economic and social development. We must do it out of concern and loyalty to our people, and because of our concern for our children and our grandchildren.
And so today, I'm actually very, very pleased with developments, and my team, who are here with me, Mrs. Bertini you have met, Mr. Joseph Legwaila is my Special Representative here and in the region, and of course Mr. Jean-Marie Guehenno, who is also head of UN Peacekeeping operations.
We will now take questions.
Q: What about the problem of the mines? Is Ethiopia ready to provide their maps?
SG: We will need maps from both parties to be able to move very quickly to demine, and I think it is very urgent that we get these maps. We are in discussion with the parties, and I'm hopeful that they will be forthcoming.
Q: This conflict has caused a lot of frustration - what lessons have been learned, and what now gives you hope that this will be successful situation?
SG: Obviously, each time there is a conflict of this nature, and people are getting killed, we at the United Nations are more than frustrated. You use the word frustrated, but we consider it a tragedy.
We had hoped it could be avoided. In the end it was not possible. Now that we are at this stage, where the parties are prepared to sign the peace agreement, we need to make it durable and to ensure that post-conflict peace building takes place. When it comes to making peace, in the final analysis it is up to the countries and the parties involved to do the real heavy duty.
The international community and outsiders can help, but the situation for a durable and meaningful peace has to spring from the leaders and the people. I am hopeful, because I know that both parties are fed up with war. The people want peace. They want to get on with their lives. I am quite confident in the peace that is going to be signed in Algiers, because the parties want peace, and we will work with them in ensuring that peace.
Press conference, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 3 December 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I visited Sierra Leone for the first time last year, one day after the signing of the Lome peace agreement. I have returned to support the strenuous local and international efforts that are being made to buttress the peace process after its near-collapse in May. I am also here to demonstrate my solidarity with the people of Sierra Leone, who have been traumatized by a catastrophic conflict, but who have also shown themselves incredibly resilient. They deserve our support as they strive to rebuild their country and find the path of lasting peace.
As you know, the upheaval in May called into question the RUF's commitment to the Lome agreement. It also shook the confidence of the international community in this operation and, indeed, in United Nations peacekeeping worldwide. Since then, we have gone a long way to reverse the reversal.
First, ECOWAS, the Government of Sierra Leone and my Special Representative worked together to produce the cease-fire agreement signed last month in Abuja. For the moment, that cease-fire is holding. It represents an opportunity to be seized -- although here I must sound a note of caution, since we have seen all-too-many agreements fall prey to renewed hostilities and thrusts for power.
Second, UNAMSIL is taking steps to strengthen its ranks, to replace departing contingents, to improve its overall management.
Third, preparations have resumed for the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This body can play a crucial role in moving the country towards national reckoning and addressing the root causes of the conflict. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has helped, and will continue to do so as necessary.
Fourth, on the all-important question of justice, as you know I have proposed the establishment of a Special Court for the prosecution of individuals responsible for the appalling crimes committed in this country. UN Secretariat legal officials have had extensive consultations and negotiations with the Government of Sierra Leone, and the UN Security Council is now discussing my report and recommendations. The Court is expected to try those who have the greatest responsibility. It is my sincere hope that this will help to put an end to impunity and to discourage others, in the future, from committing egregious violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
Having said all that, I am under no illusions about the difficulties that lie ahead. Large areas of the country remain outside Government control, closed to UNAMSIL and humanitarian agencies alike. We have yet to deal satisfactorily with the economic motives that are driving a large part of the conflict. Poverty remains entrenched throughout the country. Regional hostilities are festering. In short, we -- the international community, and the people of Sierra Leone themselves -- have our work cut out for us. Patience, as well as caution, is in order.
I would like to take this opportunity to call on the RUF to demonstrate its commitment to peace by allowing UNAMSIL, the Government and humanitarian agencies complete access to all areas under its control, and by guaranteeing the security of all those who come to help. A divided Sierra Leone is one that will not soon find peace.
I also urge all other fighting groups to honour the terms of the cease-fire. There is an urgent need for dialogue and reconciliation among the people of Sierra Leone. Let it start now.
If I take any one image of Sierra Leone away with me as I leave, it is that of the children, care-givers, foster-care families and community leaders I met at the Children's Centre in Lakka. Slowly but surely, these children are being rehabilitated from the horror they experienced as combatants. They are getting their childhood back; it's a great gift. The success of this effort could not have been possible without the understanding and acceptance of the communities involved. A real child protection network, national and international, has come together. It is a hopeful sign at a difficult moment.
All parties involved must now be unrelenting in their efforts to advance the peace process. For my part, I will spare no effort to rally the Security Council, the wider membership of the United Nations and the entire international community behind this goal. Thank you very much. Now I would be happy to answer a few questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, both in Port Loko and here you just called on the RUF to respect the clauses in the ceasefire, particularly the opening of all roads to give access to humanitarian agencies, your troops, etc. Now, with only seven days to go before the expiration of the 30-day ceasefire, if they do not adhere to the clauses in the ceasefire, what would be your reaction?
SG: I think in seven days time, within a week, the agreement comes up for review and obviously UNAMSIL and the other signatories to the agreement will be taking stock. I would hope when we come to that situation, the judgment will be made as to whether the ceasefire agreement is holding and is going to continue holding. From what I have gathered, it seems to be holding for now, and we hope it will continue to hold. But, if the ceasefire does not hold or begins to become fragile, then UNAMSIL will have to determine what steps to take. I would not want to get into any further details.
Q: I just have to make reference to your calls for a Special Court for Sierra Leone. First, do you think it's timely to call for a Special Court now when this is not a post-conflict situation? I AM particularly apprehensive because of the commitment of the rebels when they know they are going to be tried, (inaudible)… I should assume and rightly so that the problems of the country are both military and political. At the political front, Can UNAMSIL summon the amount of troops to deploy across the country in record time, that would be in about three months, that would ensure that Abuja works or not?
SG: This is always a difficult question -- -- the question of peace and justice. Can you have peace without justice is a question that is often posed. And, of course it's a question of judgment and timing. I think those who commit these atrocities should not be allowed to get away scot-free. Impunity must not be allowed to stand. And, of course, I spoke of two processes -- -- the first was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which would be much more broad-based and will affect a large number of people. And it is important for the population to know and understand what went wrong, what happened, and for us to go through a cleansing period , and a period of reconciliation. But there are elements of society who committed heinous and unimaginable crimes. Crimes against humanity, crimes against their own people and I think those crimes cannot be made to stand. And therefore, the call for a special tribunal I think is in order and I think in fact, in the long run it will perhaps strengthen the peace that we are striving for.
Q: How much have you achieved out of this visit, and what are the achievements? Also, what is the plan for UN has for the Congo for deploying military observers and peacekeepers?
SG: First of all, when you come on this sort of a visit, you come with a certain realistic objective. The objective first of all as I said is to mark my solidarity with the people of Sierra Leone, to hold discussions with the Government, to talk to my staff -- -- that is not just the troops, the NGOs, the development agencies and see some of the NGOs operating on the ground, and to encourage them, and I think that is an objective I believe I achieved. You may think that is a waste of time but I think it's a very important objective and it is important that we periodically take time to encourage those who have travelled far away from their families, and their parents to help in distance lands and to give a hand. And as someone who sends them here, I think it's legitimate that not only do I come and show my solidarity with the Sierra Leonean people but also to ensure that my staff are doing well and to thank them.
On the question of Congo, we have not been able to deploy for various reasons. First of all, the ceasefire agreement and the agreement of Lusaka has not held and the peacekeepers were going there to monitor the agreement, and it had not been appropriate for them to go in without a peace to monitor. We are on the ground, we have observers, we have a Special Representative and there was a meeting in Maputo recently. It seems to be more hopeful and if indeed they implement what they have undertaken to do at Maputo we will be there working with them and moving ahead.
And I think this is the second question I've heard about when are the troops coming in and are they coming in three months. Let me be very frank here. We in Africa cannot go around brutalizing our people, creating conflicts and immediately turn around and say where are the troops? Who's coming to stop us? Quite frankly, I think we have a responsibility, our leaders have a responsibility. We have a responsibility towards our people. There must be loyalty towards the people. Leaders after all are supposed to protect and look after the people and it is the reverse that is happening here. What I will say is that the international community can help and will continue to help. Peace cannot be imposed from the outside, peace cannot be imposed by foreign troops coming in. In the final analysis, the inspiration for real and viable peace has to spring from the leaders and the people concerned. And this is an appeal I should also make, that we should really all be determined to reconcile and reach out for peace. We in the international community will help, whether it is here, Congo, Eritrea/Ethiopia as we are doing. But in the final analysis the responsibility is ours and I hope, my brothers and sisters, you would agree with me on that.
Q: Some of your troops are going just about the time you are really trying to play the cards close to your chest. About this time, you are advocating for more troops to come while other troops are going. Is this not putting problems into your work? Have you stopped to question what are the reasons whey they are going? And how can you stop a recurrence of certain problems in the future?
SG: Let me say that first of all we have to accept that it is the sovereign right of any country to decide whether or not its participate in a peacekeeping operations. And it's that Government's right when it decides when it pulls out its troops. This is not the first time Governments have pulled out of peacekeeping operations. What it is important is that we are now focused on getting replacements and I must again take advantage of this opportunity to thank the Indian and Jordanian contingents for the very good work they did here while they were. And I had also had the chance to communicate this to their leaders, to the King and the Prime Minister. But we are doing our best to bring in reinforcements as quickly as we can. I don't own these troops, the UN has no troops, we borrow them, and those we borrow from can take them away.
Q: What is your reaction to the fact that Mr. Alassane Ouattara is not allowed to contest the legislative elections in Cote d'Ivoire?
SG: Quite frankly I was disappointed by that decision. We thought that after the disgraceful departure of General Guei, Cote d'Ivoire had the chance to return to normalcy even though there were questions asked about how the current president came to be elected. Everybody agreed to work with him, and I had hoped that all candidates would be allowed to participate in the elections. This selective elimination of candidates can complicate the situation and I would hope that it will not happen, but I was very disappointed by that decision.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, can you rebut what one of your hosts said this morning in Port Loko and that is that the ceasefire is allowing the RUF to rearm and regroup?
SG: I cannot confirm and I cannot rebut because I have no direct evidence. But what I can say is that indications that in the past that has happened. There are those who seemed to think there was something different about the ceasefire. Is it right? Is it wrong? We are going to be finding out very shortly as the first question indicated. But I think in my own statements and remarks this afternoon, I have made it quite clear all Sierra Leoneans have to seek the path to peace and have to reconcile. And I would hope RUF is not doing what you say they are doing, but I too have to work with those who want reconciliation, but at the same time they should be vigilant and not be complacent!
Q: Lets assume that the RUF failed to agree to the ceasefire and started talking "jargon" and spitting fire. What word of assurance do you have for the people of this country that they will be protected?
SG: Well, I think again we are into another hypothetical situation and we are dealing with real life and real operational situations. Obviously, our planners have to plan and look at various scenarios but it is not something that you discuss - it's not a seminar, it's a real live situation. And I would hope that when the time comes I hope not only my troops, but the Government and others would know what to do.
Press encounter following meeting with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone, Freetown, 2 December 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I understand you met with UNAMSIL officials. What was your message to them?
SG: My message with them was to carry on the great job they are doing here, to pool their efforts together and work regardless of which part of the United Nations they come from - whether they are military or civilian that they all have to focus on what we are here for -- -- to assist the people of Sierra Leone and the Government in reestablishing peace.
Q: So how do you see the situation in Sierra Leone evolving?
SG: I think I've seen improvements and the reports I have received also indicate we are making progress even though we have a lot to do. But we are moving in the right direction and we should be determined and persistent.
Press encounter upon arrival at Lungi International Airport, Sierra Leone, 2 December 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: This is my second visit to Freetown in about a year and I think it's an indication of the importance I and the entire international community attaches to this Mission. We believe that peace in Sierra Leone is possible and that if the people, the Government and the international community work together, we can bring peace to this land. We need peace, we need stability, we need prosperity. I believe that the people of this land have suffered for far too long for anyone to take steps or do anything that will delay the peace that they need. But I can assure you that we in the United Nations would do all we can to work with you in solidarity to establish calm and peace in this country. I hope during my visit here, to visit our own troops, to see the UN staff, the Non-Governmental Organizations, have the opportunity to talk to Government officials and NGOs. I will also be visiting areas outside the capital and I hope during my visit, to have a good sense of what is going on here, and to be able to talk to people to see what together we can do to accelerate the efforts we are making here. So I look forward to staying with you in the next day or two and I am happy to be back here. Thank you very much.
Press encounter upon arrival to UNHQ, 28 November 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: In Kosovo, there is a fear that the Albanians and the Serbs are going to start again. What do you think?
SG: I hope we will be able to put this to an end. I think we are trying to manage the situation as effectively as we can. What is good is that today there are contacts and discussions between UNMIK [United Nations Mission in Kosovo] and the Government in Belgrade. That is a positive development and I hope we will be able, working through UNMIK, to work out these problems with the Government in Belgrade. UNMIK and KFOR are doing whatever they can to calm the situation and avoid escalation.
Q: Mr. [Rauf] Denktash announced that he is not going to go to Geneva for the [Cyprus] talks. What is your advice to him?
SG: Well, I hope his position is not final. I think we are at relatively early stages of the talks and I know that he was not particularly pleased with some of the suggestions I put forward at the last meeting in Geneva. But in these long-drawn-out negotiations where you end up is not where you are today; what you discuss today may not have all that much bearing on the final results. So we are in a process. I think what is important is the final outcome. I would urge him to stay with us, and I am sure he will.
Q: You expect him in Geneva?
SG: I expect him in Geneva, and I expect Mr. [Glafcos] Clerides. We have lots of work to do. The people need it. The people deserve a stable situation and I think if we work diligently and persistently we will get the results we all seek. I expect him in Geneva, and I will be there.
Press encounter with former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, 19 November 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Did you come to any decisions?
Senator Mitchell: We had a very pleasant meeting and I am grateful to the Secretary-General for inviting me here. And we look forward to working soon and closely to do what we can to fulfill the mandate we have been provided.
Q: Did you ask for any police or military people to be on the backup, the technical team?
SG: I think it is a bit premature to get into these details and I think Senator Mitchell and the team will meet to discuss their own programme and how to proceed with the mandate. Obviously, I briefed the Senator on some of the developments on the ground, my own recent involvement in Doha and my experience during the Sharm el-Sheikh conference.
Q: Would you rather see this fact-finding committee get on the ground sooner rather than later?
SG: Oh, absolutely, and we both agreed to that.
Q: Is there any concern in your mind that it has dragged on a bit? That was the sentiment that came out of some the Council members last week.
SG: I think when you try to put together a group of prominent men like this together, they all have to disengage from their activities and it usually takes a little bit of time. I know that Senator Mitchell is trying to move as fast as is practicable.
Q: Is there a technical team yet?
Senator Mitchell: We are in the process of organizing. We will solicit advice and recommendations from the widest possible range of sources. But we will act independently and we hope to proceed very promptly and we are doing so.
Q: Why did you ask the Senator here?
SG: Why did I ask the Senator here? I thought it was important that we get together and exchange ideas and for me to brief him on how I see the situation on the ground as he prepares for his mission. That is why asked him to come.
Q: The Council now has on its table the Palestinian draft resolution calling for an observer force. How do you feel the timing of that draft with what you are trying to work through with the Senator and the different items that are in play? Would it be better to maybe hold off on the Palestinian draft while the fact-finding committee is getting underway?
SG: I think the Council action and the mandate they gave me is quite separate from what Senator Mitchell and his team are going to do. So, I am going to continue exploring with the parties as to how we can move forward on the suggestion that observers there should be deployed. So it will be a parallel exercise.
Q: Would you still like to see though some police and military officers on the ground prior to any observer force, along with the Senator Mitchell’s fact-finding team?
SG: That is something that the Senator and his team will have to discuss and determine.
Question and answer session with students following address to the Conference entitled "The Second Nuclear Age and the Academy", sponsored by the Nation Institute and the Office of Continuing Education of the Graduate Centre, CUNY, and hosted by the centre on Violence and Human Survival at John Jay College), 17 November 2000 (unofficial transcript)
[The Secretary-General was presented with a T-shirt and poster with slogans concerning nuclear abolition.]
SG: Thank you very much. At least here is someone who takes action! [inaudible]
Q: First of all, I would thank you for coming here today. I really appreciate all your work. I wanted to ask you a specific question: What do you feel about the US Space Command's plans to deploy the high-energy laser system in outer space? Do you feel that this would increase global tensions related to the development of nuclear arsenals, and is there anything that the UN can do to prevent this from happening?
SG: Many people believe that such a system could lead to a new arms race and create new incentives for missile proliferation. It is my hope that all States would take great care to weigh these dangers and challenges before embarking on the process which may well reduce, rather than enhance, their global security. So it's also one of the reasons why I suggested at the conference last year that perhaps the time has come for us to organize a global meeting on disarmament to discuss global dangers. There is a great deal of support for this idea, but not all the nuclear power states are enthusiastic about it. [Laughter]
Q: Most of the world's [inaudible] Governments endorse the democratization and the expansion of the powers of the United Nations. Is it advisable to have an expansion of the powers before or regardless of a democratization of the United Nations?
SG: I would want to put it another way. It's not necessarily -- I would want to see the institution strengthened so that it can do its work effectively, and given the means to do its work. But at the same time, I think it is important that people around the world and Governments become engaged and become aware of the dangers that we are dealing with, and mobilize public opinion to get the politicians to do something about it. So it is not something that the UN or multilateral institutions alone can do; Governments have a role to play, populations, civil societies have a role to play. And I think that if we each play our part, we can see a major improvement in our efforts to make the world a healthier and a better place to live in.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, my question is a follow-up in some extent to the previous one. You spoke about the need to intervene to protect human rights in some countries, and we all support that if we believe that it can be done properly. But I'm sure that many people here share my view that it can also be an occasion for military force, which may be used not only to protect human rights… [inaudible] but somewhat cynically in the interests of the main powers who are engaged in them. I wondered if you were confident that reducing the attention to the belief in national sovereignty if you pass such intervention is a prudent course in the light of the failures of the past century [inaudible]?
SG: I think that when I talk of intervention, I define intervention in a very broad way, beginning with benign, diplomatic intervention, to pressure, to "naming and shaming." And, in extreme cases, where the rights of people, or groups of people, are being systematically and grossly abused, that is where the international community may have to consider some sort of military action to protect -- that is the extreme case.
But we should not forget that we have intervened in many instances. When I suggested that, in extreme cases, the international community may have to consider forced intervention, some people scream. But I reminded them that it is something that we did, for example, in South Africa. We used sanctions to move the Government in South Africa. If I had made the statement I made last year when apartheid was at its height, the South African Government would have said, "What nonsense! What intrusion! What right do you have to interfere with our sovereignty?" That would have been the position of the South African Government.
But what would have been the position of the population? The majority of them were the blacks who were being oppressed. When we say we have to defend our sovereignty in these situations, who is speaking, and who is speaking for whom? I am not arguing that we should ignore sovereignty; it is one of the bases on which the UN was built. But what I am saying is that Governments should not be allowed to use sovereignty as a shield to brutalize their people, and claim that because of sovereignty, nobody has a right to say anything about it.
Even the UN Charter allows the use of force in defense in common interests. But the question which I also pose then is, what are these common interests? Who defines them? Who defends them? And under what authority? The UN Charter talks about future generations from the scourge of war, and today we see lots of people being brutalized, in danger, in their own countries. Do we sit back and say, because this is happening within countries, we have no right to say anything about it, and it has to be a cross-border war before we wake up? If the intention is to protect people and to avoid conflict, and to ensure that their rights are protected, isn't it relevant to act whether it's within a state, or to pose questions? But I'm not saying we should do away with sovereignty. What I'm saying is, in those cases where Governments fail to look after their people and to protect them, they should not be able to hide behind sovereignty and continue brutalizing them. And those Governments that respect the rights of the people and have loyalty towards their people have no need to fear that there will be intervention of any form, even the benign diplomatic style, because it will not be necessary. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I completely agree with Professor [Robert Jay] Lipton about the way you've changed the role of the Secretary-General. I appreciate and respect your efforts to uplift peace and human rights and social justice. Yet I couldn't in good conscience go home from this meeting without raising an issue with you that is being done in all of our names.
You've referred to Ambassador [Rolf] Ekeus as "the man who disarmed Iraq." If that is true, why are sanctions still in place? When will the nightmare of sanctions, that is being done in all of our names, and indeed done in the names of all of "we the peoples" of the UN Charter, when is that nightmare going to end?
SG: It's a good question, and it's also a question I discussed in Doha on Monday with the Vice President of Iraq and the Foreign Minister, encouraging them to cooperate with the UN and [to] work with us on Resolution 1284, to ensure that we move towards a day when the sanctions can be lifted.
I agree with you that sanctions are a blunt instrument. It's a blunt instrument that often hurts the people who are not the intended targets. And I can assure you that members of the Security Council and the UN are equally worried, and they are looking for ways and means of refining sanctions so that it is targeted against those individuals whose behavior we want to change and therefore create a system where you do not punish the people, the people who do not make the policy, the people who live in countries where they cannot even change the regime. And it is something that we are all discussing seriously. And in fact I had an occasion even in the Security Council to remind them that the sanctions on Iraq, ten years on, poses a serious moral dilemma for the Organization, along the lines of your statement. Because the UN has always been an Organization that helps the vulnerable, the weak, and we try to alleviate their suffering.
In the case of Iraq, we are being accused partially of being responsible for the suffering of the people. Yes, the Council was sensitive to that and introduced the "oil-for-food" scheme to help alleviate the suffering of the people. But in a way, Iraq has proven the Biblical saying that man does not live by bread alone. And there is distress in that country. We've also discovered that some of the people sell part of the food we give them to get other necessities for life. So this is an issue under very serious discussion. I have encouraged the Iraqis to come and talk to me here in New York, for us to find a way of breaking the current impasse, which I do not think is healthy, to find a way forward.
But I must say that the UN program has made good progress on the issue of disarmament. I referred to Rolf Ekeus because, under his leadership, the UN arms inspectors destroyed more weapons in Iraq than all the bombings of the Gulf War did. But there is this difficult and painful side effect that we need to find a way of dealing with. And I'm working on it.
Q: Just a teeny follow-up. Because a lot of people have said that their nuclear and missile capability has been dispensed with. They may have the tiniest biological and chemical capacity. I don't think that capacity, which could be in someone's refrigerator in southern Baghdad, justifies the continuation of the sanctions. Do you think that [inaudible]?
SG: Well, we set up a system that would allow us to have an objective assessment of what Iraq has and does not have. And that judgment, the judgment you've made, has to come from the inspectors. And the idea was that, once the inspectors have indicated that Iraq has been disarmed in the nuclear field, in the area of chemical, biological and missiles, there would be no need to maintain the sanctions.
There is no doubt that a considerable amount of weapons have been destroyed. But the inspectors who have the responsibility to certify have not given us a certification. And we would want Iraq to continue to work with us so that we can see light at the end of the tunnel. I cannot tell you how much there is there. There are people who disagree with the policy altogether, and ask the UN and me, "How do you think you are going to find a needle in the haystack of Iraq?" And this is your question. But this is something that the Council, in its judgment, has passed two resolutions, they have set up a mechanism for getting to the bottom of this, and it requires that Iraq should cooperate with them, so that we will be able to get that certification and suspend all the sanctions. That's the best that I can give you.
Q: My question is two-fold. It would seem that, over the history of the United Nations, the capacity of the permanent members of the Security Council to intervene in the outcomes of the UN processes is such that, while Iraq has no sponsor in the Security Council who will exercise the veto, Israel does. And therefore, while the Palestinians, who it would seem to me would be prime candidates for exactly the kind of protection of vulnerable people you referred to, Israel is able to defy that in spite of the fact that thousands of people have been injured or killed, overwhelmingly Palestinian. We all know that the international community will not be able to act, because the United States will, in the final analysis, exercise its veto.
Now, the question that I have is that, in these circumstances, what role is there for the Secretary-General directly to be an alternative voice within the international community who is willing directly to confront the United States in exercising its [inaudible]?
SG: Let me first of all say that, yes, there are five countries in the Security Council who have a veto. But it is five out of 15. I think we tend to underestimate the power the non-permanent members. Veto is a negative power. You can use a veto to block a decision, but you cannot use a veto to take a decision. If the other Member States are not in agreement, and they were to hold to their positions, none of the permanent five members can pass a resolution, even if the five were to band together. But of course, sometimes they come under pressure and they bend. But if the countries on the Council feel very strongly about an issue, there is no way that a positive decision can be taken, regardless of the five vetoes. You need nine [positive] votes to get a decision through the Security Council.
Let me now turn to your specific question of Palestine. Obviously, the UN has been involved in the Middle East and in Palestine from the beginning. In fact I tell my Israeli and Palestinian friends we were there from the beginning at [inaudible], as it were, from 1948. We have many UN resolutions and we have troops on the ground in southern Lebanon, on the Golan. And I was personally very actively involved in the recent withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon, implementing a UN resolution which had gone for 22 years without implementation.
Today, this morning, before I came here, I was in the Security Council discussing with the members the Palestinian suggestion that an observer force should be sent in to the occupied territories to protect them. Such a force cannot be deployed without cooperation of the two parties. The Council has asked me to work with the two parties to see how we can move forward on this process. And I, and my own people, have already been looking at what can be done, and I will be meeting with the two Ambassadors as soon as is practicable to begin the discussions.
And as you may know, I myself got involved directly in the Middle East process, convincing the two parties, Chairman [Yasser] Arafat and Prime Minister [Ehud] Barak, to attend the meeting at Sharm-el-Sheikh, to discuss what can be done to bring an end to the violence and end the tragedy, and it's a real tragedy, in the occupied territories, and then find a way of moving the parties back to the table to dialogue. These efforts continued last week: Sunday, I saw Chairman Arafat in Doha, Qatar, and on Tuesday, I was with Prime Minister Barak in London. So I am actively engaged in working with them, in finding a way to end the violence.
I will be seeing Senator [George] Mitchell this weekend to discuss his fact-finding [committee] for the region, that is to go down and try and determine what went wrong to provoke the violence and what we can do to end it. While the Secretary-General can take certain initiatives and act under his own authority, we cannot pretend that the Secretary-General and the Security Council are not part of the same Organization, but I do have a certain latitude of action, which I need not be tied up or bound by each action of the Security Council. And when I went to the Middle East, I did that under my own authority.
The issue is not how to confront. The issue is how to get all the parties working together, so that one can end the violence and bring a just and comprehensive peace to the region, a just and comprehensive peace that covers the Palestinian track, the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks, and see the day when the Palestinians, the Israelis, the Syrians and the Lebanese will all live in peace. It's taking a long time, but we're doing our best.
Q: I'm from Burma. I thought, after the fall of the Soviet Union, we feel that the United States has more power in world affairs. [inaudible] In a condition where the world is dominated by a single power. So my question, is how do you feel that [inaudible]?
SG: I would agree with you that the US is the only superpower in the world today. I know often people talk of a unipolar world. I do not believe we live in a unipolar world. There are other poles. Russia, Moscow considers itself a pole. China considers itself a pole. So does India and to some extent Brazil. And so, there are other sources of power in other centers which one has to factor in when one is operating in this interdependent and global world. And I think even the US realizes that there are times when it needs allies, and there are times when it has to work with others to get things done. And there have been situations where others have prevented the US from having its way. I don't think we should throw up our arms and say that, because the US is the only superpower in the world, we don't have a say and we should allow the US to do whatever it wants. That is not what is happening. The US does have lots of power, but it cannot do whatever it wants, even within the UN and around the world.
I think the issue we raised of non-proliferation -- I wish you had been at the NPT discussions in the UN, to hear the voices of many Member States who would want to see disarmament, who are pushing for non-proliferation. And they may not be powerful, but their voices collectively do have weight. And I hope they will continue working together to make this world a better place.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General. You've taken so many questions, we've really appreciated that. It's my view that one of the impediments to the UN playing a greater role in disarmament is the unequal distribution of power in organizations [inaudible]. I know that, in the wake of international demonstrations in Seattle, Washington, Prague, that you personally have made an effort to [inaudible] other organizations to look to the United Nations as a venue to try to resolve some of these issues. But I'm concerned about these same unequal power distributions will remain impediments. And so my question to you is, what do you think the prospects for both a further democratization of the United Nations and an enhancement of its power relationship to the United States [inaudible]?
SG: I think when people talk of democratization of the United Nations, one of the things they have in mind is reform of the Security Council. Many Member States today believe that the Security Council is rather anachronistic and that it reflects the geopolitical realities of 1945 rather than today's realities. Most Member States agree that this Council has to be reformed. Beyond that agreement, there's total disagreement on how to move forward. There have been discussions that there should be five new permanent seats: three for developing countries and two for the industrialized world, creating a Security Council with 10 permanent seats and perhaps increasing the total number to 24 or 26. So you have 10 permanent members and 14 or 16 non-permanent members. And the argument here is that if you did that, each region would be able to have a veto -- one would go to Africa, one would go to Latin America and one would go to Asia -- and that they would have a better say in the Security Council. And the argument is that if you did that, you would make the UN and the Council more representative, more democratic and it would therefore gain in greater legitimacy.
Those who oppose the reform of the Council maintain, claim that they are worried that, if the Council is expanded, it will lose its effectiveness. But I believe that it ought to be possible to expand the Council, to make it more representative and democratic, and keep it effective, particularly if it's going to gain in greater legitimacy.
On your other question, on how you enhance the power of the United Nations or the institutions, let me say that the UN is an Organization of Member States. But the public and civil society also have a lot to do. We are today seeing the emergence of a global civil society, that the people of all countries and all regions banded together sometimes to take on an issue of concern to them. We saw it on the landmine issue. Without the work of civil society and the NGOs, we wouldn't have the treaty banning landmines today. And that is a new, powerful player on the international scene. And indeed some people are worried that power is ebbing from Governments and the private sector to civil society, and they are having [inaudible] voice. I am working with them very effectively, and I think their voices should be heard. And when their voices are heard, the politicians will listen to them. And I think we should all become engaged, we should all talk about issues that are of concern to us. We should mobilize and let our elected officials know what is on our minds. And if we do that, we will see considerable change in attitude. And I think in some ways it would strengthen some of the things we are all looking for at the United Nations. Thank you.
Q: It is truly inspiring to hear your perspective of abolition from your respected position. And I was wondering what serious suggestions that you have for students and community members to work towards the ultimate goal of abolition in the United States. It's definitely something that has to start here [inaudible].
SG: You mean abolition of nuclear weapons? I think I gave three suggestions: Education, and advocacy and the work in transparency that is required. I think if we were to raise awareness, and let people know that nuclear danger is real, and that it is not something that is remote, and it is something that can even happen by accident, and that we need to become engaged, and let the policymakers hear our views, I think we will be able to awaken policymakers to serious discussion and consideration of that issue. But today very few people talk about disarmament.
And I also gave the issue of the question of environment. Everybody knows that global warming is taking place. Britain has seen floods they have never seen before. We've seen it here, droughts and floods everywhere, and yet we think it is so far away that it does not concern us, and we tend to treat disarmament the same way. I think we need education, we need public awareness, and we need to mobilize and let the policymakers know what we want. I think it would be a good start. And I would suggest we start. Thank you.
Press encounter following Private Meeting of the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, 17 November 2000
Q: Have you been asked to help with the concept of a protection force?
SG: The Security Council has asked me to explore with the parties how we can move forward. And obviously, that also means thinking through what sort of observer group will be acceptable and what would be the nature of their activities. So we are going to explore it. The Council has asked me, yes.
Q: Will you have meetings with the ambassadors here or will you be going to the region?
SGl: No, we will be working here. But, obviously we will be in touch with my people on the ground as well. Thank you.
Press encounter upon entering UNHQ, 16 November 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: I realize that you're not going to favour any side, but you were watching this election campaign from overseas. What's you comment on this incredible deadlock in the biggest power here at the United Nations?
SG: I think it's been quite amazing. I've been out travelling in Europe and the Middle East and people are rather baffled as to what is going on here. But what is important is that there have been no riots in the streets, no attempted coup. The institutions are working and there will be no vacuum. President Clinton is working flat out and I am sure he'll remain an active president until the 20th of January, and by then I am confident we will know who his successor is.
Q: There is a report in the Washington Post about some meetings between the Israelis and the Palestinians on an observer force. Is this a signal of progress? Will there be observers sent?
SG: I know very little about that. As you know I have been out of town and if these meetings took place I am now aware of it nor do I have the details. But I did meet Prime Minister Barak in London on my way in on Tuesday and we were able to discuss the situation on the ground and the need to do whatever we can to bring the violence to an end and get dialogue going.
Q: Based on your dialogue with Iraqi officials is there some sort of new relationship or is this once again a false hope?
SG: I think it's a first step. In these situations, it is not going to be easy. But at least there is an openness to talk; there's an openness to engage to find ways and means to break the deadlock and the current impasse and I think it's worth exploring.
Q: You are going to tell the Council what?
SG: I am going to tell them that I met with them and we are going to explore.
Q: One more on Sierra Leone. How much confidence do you have in this truce that was signed?
SG: Only time will tell. I think it's a question for the future to answer. These truces have been signed before. We hope they would honour them but we are not going to let our guard down. We're going to remain vigilant and carry on with our work.
Press encounter following Secretary-General's meeting with Prime Minister Barak, London's Heathrow Airport, 14 November 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: What was the purpose of the meeting with Barak?
SG: It's always useful when you can get together with a leader involved in a conflict, so we did discuss the situation in the Middle East and I shared with the Prime Minister the mood in Doha at the Islamic Summit and also he had the chance to share with me his discussions in Washington, but I think it was useful.
Q: Did anything specific come out of it?
SG: No I didn't expect anything specific but of course they are all in search of a solution, and we all want to do whatever we can to stop the violence, stop the killing, to stop the tragedy that is taking place on the ground in the Middle East and find a way of getting the parties back to the table.
Q: Do you see a role for the United Nations?
SG: I've been talking to both sides and also the Americans. As you can see they are encouraging and working with the parties in search of a solution.
Press encounter in Doha, Qatar, 13 November 2000, 9:30 p.m. (unofficial transcript)
SG: I did meet with the Iraqi Vice President and the Foreign Minister to discuss their relations with the UN and to find ways and means of breaking the current deadlock, which I consider unhealthy. And we had a frank and useful discussion.
Q: How important is that in your judgment?
SG: How important? I think it is important that we have begun to discuss the issues. Of course, they have issues, I have Security Council Resolutions, but we are going to find ways of discussing things.
Q: Sir, did you agree to a certain mechanism and what was the reaction of Prince Abdallah [of Saudi Arabia] to this agreement?
SG: We didn't agree to any mechanism as such. I have to review what we have discussed and then the contacts will begin. And then we will determine how to proceed. I did not discuss it with Prince Abdallah.
Press encounter after meeting with Prime Minister Rafic Hariri of Lebanon, Doha, Qatar, 11 November 2000, 7:30 p.m. (unofficial transcript)
SG: [I've just had a useful] discussion with Prime Minsiter [Rafic Hariri of Lebanon]. And I was happy to see him here again. He's an old friend, and we did discuss some of the issues in the region which are challenges for all of us.
Q: What about the situation in South Lebanon?
SG: We are monitoring it very, very closely. We know it's important, and we all have to be alert and ensure that the Blue line is respected by all.
Press encounter with Bahrain TV, Manama Airport, 11 November 2000, 3.45 p.m. (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary General, this is your first trip to Bahrain, I believe, and you came to inaugurate the UN House. Was that a successful inauguration today?
SG: I was very happy to be able to open the UN House. It's an essential part of the reform of the UN System, and we believe that the UN is more effective on the ground, at the country level, if all the Agencies pool their efforts and work effectively with the Government. So having them operating from one house is an important aspect of reform. I'm happy that Bahrain is the first country in the Gulf region to open a UN House, and I hope the others will follow the lead of Bahrain.
Q: Bahrain has been quite active in the UN Development Programme. Do you see further involvement of Bahrain in that area?
SG: Yes, I think Bahrain has overall, on the whole, been a very good Member State. As you know, apart from the development issues, they've also played a role in the political area - - and you were on the Security Council.
SG: And it is that kind of activity that I expect from the Member States.
And I would say that Bahrain is an active Member State, and I would encourage it to be so, because it is that kind of participation that makes the United Nations the kind of Organization it ought to be.
And I've always encouraged Governments to play a role, regardless of the size of the country. We are an Organization of states, large and small, with different cultures, different political systems, and every body brings some things to the table - - intellectual contributions, political, admin/organizational, and that is what makes the UN such an exciting Organization. So we look forward to continuing to work very closely with Bahrain. And I've had a very, very good visit with good discussions with the Head of State, with the Prime Minister and with the Crown Prince and the Foreign Minister as well. So altogether I've been very pleased, even though it's been brief. Thank you very much.
Second press encounter following inauguration of UN House, Bahrain, 11 November 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: [inaudible, concerning Yasser Arafat's request for a UN protection force in the Palestinian territories]
SG: He made an appeal before the Security Council, and the Council will obviously have to study it. I was myself not in New York when he spoke, but I am following the developments there very closely.
Q: Sir, has Bahrain agreed to host UNMOVIC here, like it did to the predecessor UNSCOM?
SG: I would hope so. There are discussions going on, but I expect things to go well.
Q: [Concerning UN resolutions on the Middle East not being implemented].
SG: I think the peace process and the discussions which are going on should be based on those two resolutions.
Press encounter following inauguration of UN House, Bahrain, 11 November 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: First of all, Mr. Annan, I would like to ask you about what you believe the significance is of opening the UN House in Bahrain?
SG: I think it is important that this house has been opened. It does underscore the close relations between the UN and Bahrain. But above all it proves that UN reform is moving forward. Part of the reform process is to bring all the UN agencies working in a particular country to operate in one house, thus encouraging them to coordinate their efforts much more closely and pool their efforts in helping the governments concerned.
So we hope to establish UN houses in almost every country where we operate. And I am very happy tht Bahrain is the first country in the Gulf Region to establish a UN house.
I've had the chance to talk to the UN staff today, and they are extremely happy to be in this house and on this site.
Q: We're extremely happy for your presence. My second question for you, Mr. Annan, is what do you think of the UN resolutions, which were issued regarding the Palestinian issue and were not implemented. How do you believe that these will be implemented?
SG: Well, I think the question of UN resolutions is an issue we've all had to live with. Some have been implemented expeditiously. In some cases, all the parties have cooperated. In some situation, we've not had that cooperation and implementation has not followed. And obviously, resolutions are not self-fulfilling. It's where the will is there to implement and the parties cooperate that we are able to move ahead very quickly.
The UN and the international community are forever trying their best to try and make this world better and to get its resolutions to be implemented, and we'll keep trying.
Press encounter following Cyprus Proximity Talks, Geneva, 8 November 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Let me say that I have met today with the two Cypriot parties, Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash, and the members of their respective delegations. As you know, they have been in Geneva since 1 November in talks with my Special Adviser for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto.
I have shared with the parties my assessment of where things stand, together with some thoughts on where things should go from here. I have given them some general observations on some issues of procedure and substance. I will not make my remarks public, for reasons you would understand, and I have asked the parties not to do so. I have asked the parties to reflect on what I have said between now and our next meeting.
I have invited the two leaders to come back to Geneva to resume the talks in late January, or anyway in January - we have to settle the date. I have also asked Mr. de Soto to travel to Athens, Ankara and to Cyprus later this month.
I hope that they will understand my words as an effort to take further steps in the direction of a comprehensive approach to a settlement. At the end of the day, it is for the parties to agree on a comprehensive settlement. The United Nations is seeking to facilitate the parties' efforts to reach that goal, and my observations are offered to them in this constructive spirit. I'll now take a few questions.
Q: You've always been extremely cautious in your comments on the process. Are you able to identify any more positive factors at all as a result of your most recent encounter?
SG: I think positive in the sense that we are still at the table, we are still talking and as long as we are talking, I think the prospect for progress is there and we should be hopeful. What I would also say is that we've recently really got into the substance and it is not just procedural. We are really becoming quite engaged now and I think that is good progress. But I cannot go beyond that.
Q: The Palestinian Authority has said today that Mrs Robinson is unwelcome in their land because she accepted the Israeli itinerary to meet with Mr. Sharon and Mr. Olmert and that her mission is departing from the resolution which came out from the Human Rights Commission. Do you have any comment on that?
SG: The High Commissioner for Human Rights has her own mandate and she does not necessarily always have to move in accordance with a resolution of the Human Rights Commission . The Human Rights Commission has itself decided to establish a commission of investigation and they are taking direct action. Mrs. Robinson is going to the region in furtherance of her own mandate. This trip had been planned earlier and was postponed and she is now undertaking that trip. She will visit Palestine, Israel, Egypt and Jordan and I think she will draw up the programmes with the respective Governments concerned and I think it's her prerogative.
Q: Have both Cypriot parties responded positively to your suggestions, your assessments and your views on how to continue with the negotiations?
SG: You know this kind of negotiations is a process, you put forward ideas and suggestions and the parties have to go and reflect on it. You don't get immediate reaction in the room and I didn't expect that. I've asked them to reflect on what I have said to them, not only in the next few days but between now and the time we meet in January.
Q: You said that you outlined your observations or thoughts on where do we go from here. Can you say where do we go from here?
SG: I think the whole objective is to a comprehensive peace process and we are moving, that's the direction I want us to go.
Q: I would like to know how do you think the final outcome of the election in the United States will influence the peace process in the Middle East.
SG: I think it's too early for me to presume what the next administration in the US will do, regardless of who wins. But what I would hope is that whoever is in the White House will continue the peace process. We have no option but to continue that process. We've seen the tragedy on the ground. The peace process is in distress at the moment. But I think we have to hope and we have to work out to resuscitate it. And I think it would be the responsibility of the next President of the United States. Mr. Clinton has invited them this week, so he is going to continue to talk to them. I hope the next President of the United States will pick up the ball and run with it and work in coordination with other friends of the peace process -- other allies of the process. Thank you.
Comments to the press, outside the Security Council, 20 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good Afternoon ladies and gentlemen, I've just come out of the Council discussions, and I understand you may want to ask me one or two questions.
Q: Secretary-General can you share with us what you told the Council, the basic message you gave them.
SG: Basically I told the Council about my own efforts in the region and the outcome of the Summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, and the need for all parties to implement it in good faith. Even though there may be aspects of the agreement that one or the other may not like, but we have to try to implement it in it's entirety, and of course I indicated that I will work with President Clinton in setting up the Commission that will look at the fact-finding body that will look into what happened, why we got to where we were and how we can take steps to prevent recurrence in the future.
Of, course this afternoon I will also brief the General Assembly on the efforts and the agreement in Sharm and the need for all of us to support it. It's only a beginning. We have heavy lifting ahead of us and it can only work if all the parties implement it in good faith.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, in this last week you said the situation was delicate and fluid. Also within that same day US Representative Holbrooke said that it was the most dangerous day in the Middle East in 20 years. How would you characterise what's going on there now, considering a lot of the violence is not abated.
SG: I think the violence has abated, I mean there is some violence going on but not to the same degree and the same level. What I will say is that the tensions are still high. Some aspects of the Sharm agreement have been implemented and steps have been taken but we are nowhere near the level where I would say it is satisfactory. So I think the next 48 to 72 hours is going to be crucial and I hope the parties will stick with the agreement and continue to implement it with the facilitation of the United States.
Q: What effect do you think the resolution of the General Assembly will have on the situation in the Middle East? Using your own expression, will the words in the resolution inflame or soothe the situation?
SG: I think it depends on the final text. I understand the parties are working on it, working on the resolution. Many amendments are being introduced and I do not know what the final text will be. I hope it will be a message that will be conciliatory, a message that will support Sharm, a message that will encourage the parties to implement the agreement, a message that will urge the international community, working with the two parties, to find a final comprehensive and a just and peaceful solution. If it is that kind of a message I think it will be helpful.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva last night passed a resolution creating another human rights enquiry calling on Mary Robinson and about six special rapporteurs to travel to the Occupied Territories. Is this a move that you think is helpful or unhelpful and might provide a sort of provocative atmosphere now, and are you concerned that the relationship between the UN and Israel is returning to a somewhat difficult and perhaps more hostile relationship at a time when it had been improving?
SG: No, I think the relationship between Israeli and the United Nations has been a difficult one. It's not always been as smooth as one would have liked. I think in recent months and recent years we have seen a certain improvement and I personally have been able to work with both parties in an even-handed manner. I think it is essential that I continue to do that and as an Organization we should be seen as an entity that tries to help move the process forward, that tries to work with the parties to find a just and comprehensive peace in the region. There is a Commission, or fact-finding mission, that was set up at Sharm and of course the [Security] Council itself had asked for that Commission to be set up. What came out of Sharm is something that both parties agreed to and I will be working with President Clinton in setting up that fact-finding body.
The Geneva resolution is something that is outside of what we are doing here. It was done by the Human Rights Commission, which is a body of member states, and they took that decision. I have not seen any official reaction from the Israeli authorities and therefore I do not know what their reaction to the Geneva decision will be. Obviously, for the moment, I am focussing on what was agreed at Sharm, and I will be working with the President [Clinton] in setting up that Commission and sending them in, in the expectation that both sides will cooperate so that we will find out what happened, how we got to where we are and how we draw lessons for the future to ensure it is not repeated.
Q: Israel indicated already last night that they weren't going to cooperate with the Commission in Geneva. I wanted to ask you, to what do you attribute the fact that you had an unusually high profile and were probably the first Secretary-General in many, many years that was accepted by both sides, Israel specifically?
SG: That's a difficult question to answer, and I am not sure if it is a question for me to answer. Let me say that I have tried to work very hard and even- handedly with the parties in search for peace. I think our efforts in southern Lebanon, where we drew the "blue line" defined the conditions for Israeli withdrawal, and encouraged both parties to work with us and respect the "blue line" was an important factor.
I think for the first time in many years Israel did work with us in implementing a UN resolution, and I think in the process perhaps they discovered that the UN can work professionally, can be even-handed and work with parties in implementing resolutions of the Security Council. I suspect that exercise introduced a shift in the region and a shift in the expectations of the United Nations in the region. Thank you.
Press encounter upon entering UNHQ, 19 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: You remember us? Welcome back.
SG: Thank you. You look familiar, vaguely, vaguely familiar. I am happy to be back.
Q: You had asked for both sides to refrain in the rhetoric. Yet, yesterday, as you know, we started out with the General Assembly Session and it was far from conciliatory. What are your thoughts as the GA continues its debate and its consideration of the resolution?
SG: Well, I've just got back and I'll be seeing some of the players and I will talk to the President of the Council. We spoke from Paris yesterday on this issue and I think, regardless of what was said yesterday, or maybe said today or tomorrow, I think my call for restraint, my call for people to use a language and the words they use is absolutely important, because language can also be violence, and it is not enough to still the guns. We have to calm the situation and I have appealed to the leaders and the people in the region to do that and I think we all have the responsibility to do (inaudible). I think it is legitimate for the Security Council and the General Assembly to be concerned with what is going on in the region and I am glad that they are engaged, but we should all take the necessary steps and pool our collective effort to calm the situation - and I hope this is what will happen.
Q: Where is this going after Sharm el-Sheikh? I mean there is no room for talking any more - where is it after spending so many days with all the players here in person, on the phone; what is your sense of where we're going?
SG: Well I think Sharm el-Sheikh was a new beginning, it was a first step. The real test is in implementation. And I think they had 48-72 hours to demonstrate their seriousness in implementing the agreement. And I think between now and tomorrow evening will be a crucial period. And I think the agreement also did call for resumption of dialogue and the talks within two weeks - that they will assess within two weeks if they should come together for the talks. And I hope the situation will be sufficiently calm for them to do that. Whether we like it or not, in the end there has to be peace, they have to talk to each other, they have to live together; they are condemned to be neighbours. And so I think the only way is peace. Without peace, there can be no security and we really need to do whatever we can to bring the parties back to talks. But the first thing is to curb the violence and the killings and save the people from the tragedy they have lived through the past three weeks.
Q: Does the General Assembly vote accomplish anything in (inaudible) tomorrow condemning Israel?
SG: I really have to assess the situation now that I have come - I really have been away from it for a while - I don't know enough about what is going on to be able to answer this question, but perhaps in another 24 hours I will be ready.
Q: On a lighter note, if I could, could I ask you another question - the other battle in New York. Who do you favour among the New York sports baseball teams?
SG: Oh, you mean the Subway [Series]? I think what is really wonderful is that either way, New York is going to win. And I am really delighted that our city would win the championship either way.
Q: Are you giving a diplomatic answer, Sir?
SG: What that a diplomatic answer? No, it was a factual answer. Either way we win the championship.
Comments to the press before leaving Sharm-El-Sheikh, 17 October 2000, 2:00 p.m. (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me say that I am encouraged by what has happened here today. You all heard the agreement that President Clinton read. And I want to thank President Clinton and President Mubarak for organizing this meeting and the tireless efforts that went into getting the agreement that was made public today.
But this is only the beginning. Much hard work remains to be done. And it has to be done on the ground in implementation of the agreement.
I think to silence the guns is great, is in itself an achievement. All of us, the leaders in the region and in the world, and each individual, will have to help make this work. We have to watch the language we use, if we are going to calm down the situation. Our language should soothe, should be a language of reconciliation. It should be a language that calms down the situation and encourages coexistence.
If we do that, in addition to the security arrangements that we're taking here today, and redeployment of forces, I think we stand a very good chance of succeeding and getting the peace process back on track.
Q: Mr. Annan, can you elaborate on the participation of the United Nations with the Committee [of Inquiry] chaired by the United States now?
SG: I think it is exactly as the President read it out, and I think that the document that the President read out will be available.
Comments to the press following his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, 15 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
(The Secretary-General was accompanied by Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa.)
Moussa: The President received the Secretary-General. A thorough discussion took place concerning the conference preparation and the importance of having that conference, if held, succeed. It should succeed. The situation is very, very serious. It's still very tense in the occupied territories. And [they discussed] the point the President stressed, the point on withdrawal, that the Israeli forces should withdraw from the territories, from inside, and end the blockade around the cities. This is very important in order to defuse the situation. This is the goal of the conference and [inaudible].
SG: I think the Foreign Minister has given you a clear indication of what I discussed with the President, but since we don't have too much time, maybe we should take one or two questions, and thank you very much for your patience.
Q: We haven't heard of any role of the Security Council; it's always crippled with vetoes.
SG: I think the Security Council has discussed this issue and passed Resolution 1323 on the developments in the region. But I think they also realise that important developments were taking place on the ground. There were attempts to bring the parties together, and I'm happy to say that that has succeeded. So they did not want to do anything that will complicate the delicate efforts that were going on, on the ground. But they have passed resolutions, they have been seized of the matter and they're following it very, very closely.
Q: Mr. Foreign Minister, could I ask you a question please? When you saw the demonstrations outside the mosque on Friday, Al-Azhar, you saw the demonstrations on television in the Gulf States, in Amman. Did that worry you about political stability in the region? You've seen it in your country; you've seen it all around the region.
Moussa: Indeed, it should worry us that the region is protesting and is in a state of anger, because of what took place in the Palestinian occupied territories. We are also angry, not only the people in the streets or in the mosques, but we officials, we are all angry. We cannot accept what took place. That is why, in our invitation to have the conference, the conference has one goal to achieve. It's to go back to normalcy, which means, by necessity, the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Palestinian towns and cities and from around those Palestinian territories, because we believe that moving the Israeli army into those territories is a clear-cut violation of all the agreements that have been arrived at in the last few years within the activities of the peace process. This is a cardinal point.
Q: But does it threaten political stability in moderate states like Egypt?
Moussa: I should say that the Israeli actions indeed threaten the stability in the whole region and threaten the prospects of a just peace, of a lasting peace, and the possibilities of the peace process itself succeeding, let alone achieving meaningful results.
SG: If I may add something to that. I think that it is extremely urgent that we take every step to bring the crisis under control, stop the violence and bring the situation to normalcy and hopefully get a dialogue going and get the parties talking. This crisis is not limited to the Palestinian territories and Israel. As you heard the Foreign Minister, it is a crisis that has affected this region. But it is broader than that. We've seen demonstrations outside this region, in Indonesia, even in the United States. It is going to affect global economic growth. Oil prices have hit their highest level in ten years. It is going to affect all countries, rich and poor. We've all seen what is happening in stock markets around the world. This is an urgent and major crisis for all of us. And that is why I, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, have devoted so much time trying to work with President Mubarak and President [Bill] Clinton to get this conference going, so that we can do whatever we can to bring the situation under control, to stop the killing.
I've seen so many innocent civilians dying. And as I said, I spent a week in the region. I've walked around the place. I've talked to Israelis and Palestinians. I've looked at the fear, the anxiety, the wariness in their eyes and they don't want this. This situation is not good for Israel, it's not good for Palestine, it's not good for the region and it has to stop. And we are going to do our best to succeed.
Comments to the press before meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, 15 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, could you just tell us how you think the summit will help?
SG: I think we've all seen the suffering, the tragedy, the killings and what is going on in the region. And I think we have a grave responsibility to do all we can to bring the violence to an end, to try and stabilise the situation and eventually get dialogue and the peace process going. I would like to thank President [Bill] Clinton for sponsoring this summit and President Mubarak for hosting it. I think they're doing the region and the world a great favour. And we will all work very hard to attain our objective.
Q: Can you afford to fail here?
SG: I don't think it's a choice. We don't have that option.
Comments following a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa, Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, 14 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I think we're going to try and organise the summit as quickly as possible. But as you know, those leading the mediation and the negotiations are the Americans with President [Bill] Clinton personally engaged. And I'm extremely happy that President [Hosni] Mubarak has agreed to host this conference and bring everybody here for us to try and bring the violence to an end and bring the crisis under control.
I think it's a unique opportunity; it's a grave responsibility and I hope we will succeed. We should succeed. We cannot afford to fail. As to when the summit would be, I think it is going to be held as soon as possible, but we shouldn't forget that not everybody is in the region. And President Clinton and his team have to organize themselves and come across the Atlantic. So the meeting probably will be Monday morning.
Q: What is on the agenda of the summit?
SG: It's not a press conference.
Comments to the press upon leaving the King David Hotel, Jerusalem, 14 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Can you say where we are in terms of this summit? Is it going to happen?
SG: It is going to happen. I had a conversation with Chairman [Yasser] Arafat this morning at 10:05, and he has agreed to come and he will be there. And I'm leaving President [Bill] Clinton and President [Hosni] Mubarak to work out the details. And so, we're going to have a summit very shortly.
Q: Do you think you can get the two sides to agree to a truce, or can you move the peace process itself forward?
SG: I think at the minimum, as I said last night, it is not unusual in situations like this to have a cease-fire, the cessation of hostilities, for the period leading in to the summit, and during the summit, and then try to make it a permanent cease-fire and turn it around. And I have asked both sides to stop firing [in the period] now up to the summit. And at the summit, one of the things we'll try to concretise will be a cease-fire and other issues that President Clinton has on the table.
Q: Given the animosity on both sides now, do you really think that's possible?
SG: We shall find out. I think usually you make peace not with friends, but with enemies, and sooner or later you have to talk. And I think the parties will need to sit together to talk, and I'm quite hopeful we will be able to stop the killing.
I've been here for about a week. As I walk around the streets, I've looked in to the eyes of people, Israelis, Palestinians, and I see the pain, the anxiety, the suffering. They want to end this thing, they want to live in peace, and I hope we can bring this to an end. Whatever little contribution we can make, we are determined to do that.
Q: Sir, two questions. Were there any preconditions for this summit to take place, on any side? And critics say this could be really bad if it doesn't pan out, if there is a flap.
SG: There were no preconditions. There were suggestions and certain demands, but we did discuss it with the parties. And there are no conditions. The only condition is what I have indicated, we should stop the firing, we should stop shooting, to give peace a chance.
You talk of a flap, implying one is taking a risk. When so many lives are at risk, when so much killing is going on, when there is so much chaos and sufferings, isn't risk worth it? And if we don't take the risk of coming to the conference, what do we do? Let it continue? Thank you.
Press encounter after meeting with Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, Gaza City, 13 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
(Nabil Sha'ath, President Arafat's Minister of Planning, addressed the press first)
Nabil Sha'ath: His Excellency the Secretary-General, Mr. Annan, had a very fruitful meeting with President Arafat. I think it was fundamental that this meeting looked into this question of ending this confrontation and of making it possible for a summit to succeed.
I would like to say that President Arafat and the Palestinian leadership and people value very much the efforts made by His Excellency the Secretary-General and will be extremely happy to see him, if the summit succeeds, participate in that summit, representing the United Nations, the international community, and international legality.
(A Palestinian journalist asked for the answer in Arabic, which was then given)
SG: Thank you very much. Let me say that I have had a very, very useful meeting with President Arafat, and I think we have moved forward. We have the chance to cover a whole range of issues - the tragedy of his people, his pain, and the situation in which they find themselves. He talked to me about shortages. Earlier, they had spoken to me about shortages of medical supplies. I spoke to Prime Minister Barak and [Acting] Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and they have assured me that they will lift the blockade for medication to come in. I have been told that there are short supplies of food and other items, which I will be raising. I wasn't aware of that until I got here.
But I think what is important is that we have a chance, we have a chance in the next 48 to 72 hours to sit around the table to try and deal with this situation, to try and end the violence and bring the crisis under control.
The whole world will be focussed on that summit. They have been following events here, and they are all pained by the deaths, the injuries, the chaos and the suffering of the people and the wounded ones - both Israelis and Palestinians.
I have looked at the faces and at the eyes of the people since I came here - the Palestinians and the Israelis - the anxiety, the concern on their faces. And we have an obligation to bring this to an end. We can either continue this conflict. We can either continue the shooting, which is no way to solve the problem. We have the chance to go to Egypt and resolve it.
And all the other leaders who have been invited to the conference have accepted to come. Tonight, I think we have made progress. And it is my own conviction and feeling that President Arafat has indicated he is in principle in agreement. He has to have some additional consultations with his leadership. He will be calling me tonight with his decision. I firmly believe that that decision will be positive and we will see him at that summit. And we will all have an opportunity to settle this issue.
And I want to thank all the leaders who have devoted so much attention to this, particularly President Mubarak, who is going to host this conference, and President Clinton who has been on the phone with me constantly, King Abdullah [of Jordan], Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and many others. And of course today you all read the strong statement from the European Union - 15 nations in Europe speaking as one - saying we want to see this end, we want to see normality returned, we want to see the killing stop, we want to save the lives of Palestinians and Israelis who are caught in this situation.
And I am looking forward to that summit and I think we should be able to make progress there.
Q: Is there a specific date for the summit? And who is going to attend that summit?
SG: I expect the summit to take place in the next 48 hours. On the participation, President Clinton and President Mubarak are discussing it, but I think the participation will be to the satisfaction of everyone.
Q: Do you consider East Jerusalem and the Shebaa area occupied areas by the Israelis?
SG: The Security Council has resolutions which deal with that - 242 and 338 - which deal with land for peace, and has made its position and has made statements in the past which are clear.
I was very much involved in the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and we did draw a Blue Line - a blue line which is to be respected by both parties and I think it has generally been respected. We have had incidents on the border, there have been violations, which should not be tolerated. And I have appealed to both parties to respect that blue line. (A journalist then asked a question of Mr. Sha'ath in Arabic, which he answered in Arabic) The Secretary-General who had the question and answer interpreted for him then commented.
SG: I would want to say that as is usual in these situations, when talks are going on in an attempt to settle a conflict like this, it is not unusual that a cessation of hostilities and cease fires are arranged during the period leading up to the summit, during the summit, so that at the summit one can try and firm it up and make it permanent. And I hope we will succeed in this. And I am quite confident that this cease fire can be achieved and the summit can go ahead and that we will make it permanent at the table. At the summit, obviously, there are lots of grievances on the Palestinian side, and the Israelis would also have their grievances to put on the table. All issues will be on the table, and the idea of the summit is to resolve these issues, resolve them quickly, so that the situation that prevails in this territory, in this area, can be changed.
Q: The Palestinians talk about not just a cease fire, but they claim, and probably correctly, that they are under siege. They can't travel between towns, the border crossings are closed - when you talk about a cease fire - are you talking about a lifting of these restrictions or just a cessation of the fighting?
SG: First of all, I have indicated that … at the summit all issues will be on the table, including the issues you've mentioned. But the minimum we need is a cessation of hostilities and cease fire for one to go to the table and talk. And I think that should be done and I think it is going to be done.
Press encounter on entering King David Hotel, Jerusalem, 13 October 2000
Q: There have been reports today that there will be a summit this weekend in Egypt to try to end the violence and bring the crisis here under control. What have you heard about that and do you think it might happen?
SG: Yes, I do think there could be a summit. As you know, I've been in constant contact with the leaders involved, and there is a general readiness to meet. We are now waiting for final word from President Arafat.
I've spoken with him twice today, and my sense is that he will attend, since he is as determined as all of us to end the chaos, stop the killing and save the people from further suffering.
Press encounter after meeting with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, Beirut, 12 October 2000
SG: Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
Once again I come to Beirut and the region at a critical time. As all of you know I spent the last few days in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Jerusalem trying to work with Prime Minister Barak and President Arafat to calm down the violence, to stop the violence. I think there has been far too many needless deaths and we need to do whatever we can to stop it. I don't think anyone is going to win this game. Israelis are losers, Palestinians are losers, we are all losers, and in the region as well as the world. And we need to do whatever we can to bring the bloodshed to the end. I had the opportunity in Israel and in Gaza to offer my condolences and deep sympathy to the families of those who have lost their loved ones and I hope our efforts will succeed. I know that there have been some nasty incidents on the ground this morning. I am in constant touch and I expect to go back this afternoon. In the meantime I hope that the security chiefs will meet in the region. I understand that Mr. [George] Tenet, the head of CIA [Central Intelligence Agency], has joined them and so we hope that they will be able, sitting together, to devise means of stopping this killing. You are also aware that with the abduction of the three soldiers in the South, that has also been an issue very much in the headlines. I am also aware of the 19 Lebanese prisoners who have been in Israeli jails for quite some time. This is an issue I see your government notes I have taken up with the Israeli authorities and we are pursuing that as well. I'll take your questions.
Q:(Translation from Arabic) What is the UN Secretary-General's position in this crisis, while he accuses Lebanon of violating Security Council Resolution 425, especially as there is a dispute regarding the implementation of this resolution and that the three Israeli soldiers were captured inside Lebanese territory?
SG: Let me say that I worked with your Government and the Government of Israel on the withdrawal from southern Lebanon. As part of that exercise we drew a Blue Line, the line of withdrawal, and requested both governments to respect the line and not to violate that line. The two governments wrote to me and to the Security Council, indicating that they had reservations, some reservations, with the line drawn but they will respect the Blue Line. And of course as part of that agreement, it was also agreed that the Shebaa Farms was not part of the UNIFIL area and the area that had to be vacated in compliance with 425. We have since then reported many Israeli violations whenever they cross a line, whether it's a truck or a lonely soldier, and you've always expected us to report violations. I made it clear from the beginning that we will report violations or will call it so regardless of who violated it. Our information is that those who picked up the three soldiers crossed the Blue Line and it is a violation. And just as when Israelis cross the Blue Line, I call it a violation. I think it is legitimate to indicate that it is a violation.
Q: Al-Hayat: President Assad said that the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese territories. Is it enough to say that Israel has to withdraw from this area?
SG: I think we have to base ourselves on the documents and the report to the Security Council and the exchange of letters I had with the two governments Lebanon and Israel, that led to the withdrawal of Israelis from the South. And I think in the report and in the understandings with the governments we indicated that Shebaa Farms for our purposes was in Syria and that it was covered by UNDOF not by UNIFIL. This does not exclude whatever arrangements Lebanon and Syria will make in the future as to the status of that particular territory. Now the withdrawal is done we've been grateful that it has been relatively quiet except for some stone-throwing that we are trying to bring under control. We are now trying to work with international donors to raise money for the reconstruction of the South, to develop the economy of the South and I hope the international community will give and give generously for this essential task because the people of the South need to be given the hope, the expectation that they can live peaceful and prosperous lives and I will continue to work with the Government of Lebanon for that.
Q: CNN: Can we get some reaction or confirmation by the Israeli army that four Israeli soldiers have been taken prisoners by Palestinian policemen in Ramallah, territory A within the past short period and how the issue of those Israelis in Palestinian hands and Israeli soldiers in Hizbullah hands. What do you think of this whole situation?
SG: I don't have the full report but I have got indication that something like that has happened and of course this doesn't facilitate my task, in fact it does complicate the issues we are trying to resolve. So now if that report proves to be correct we are dealing with several sets of prisoners, if you wish, or abducted individuals. You have the 19 Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails, which has been raised and we have been trying to work on. We then have the three Israeli soldiers who are in the hands of Hizbullah. And now you indicate there are four Israelis in the hands of Palestinians. All this complicates the work we are trying to do immensely but whilst it complicates it, I hope it does not mean that we will not be able to find our way out of this difficult and messy situation.
Q: Reuters Do you have any information about the three Israeli soldiers captured. Are they well and alive?
SG: None of my people have seen them yet and as far as I know, the International Red Cross has not seen them. I have made a request that access should be given to the international Red Cross or one of my representatives to see them, to be able to indicate that they are well and they're being well looked after. And I think that the Red Cross under its mandate has the right to visit individuals in those conditions without any conditions and I hope that request will be honored.
Q: Al-Jazira: Do you have any message from Mr. Barak to Lebanon or Hizbullah concerning the conditions of the negotiations for the detainees?
SG: I didn't bring any message.
Press Conference Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Jerusalem, 10 October 2000
Prime Minister Barak: Good evening. We've just ended a meeting with Secretary-General Annan. We are always thankful for the contribution that the Secretary-General is personally making to the efforts to bring peace to our troubled region.
We, first of all, discussed the issue of the soldiers that had been abducted into Lebanon. And we expressed our demand that the U.N. or Red Cross authorities will get an immediate, unconditional access to them, to bring information about their situation, their health, and so on, and that we expect their immediate release, since the abduction itself was a clear-cut [violation] of the international law.
After our pullout from Lebanon, we, of course, reiterated the fact that we hold Syria - as well as the Hizbollah and Lebanese Government , but Syria as the dominant player in Lebanon - responsible for the overall quick resolution of this issue. We feel that this is a major violation of the agreement and the spirit and we, of course, keep to ourselves the right to respond at the time, place and means that we will find appropriate.
I believe that the visit of Secretary-General Annan to the region is somehow contributing to the chances of the peace process as a whole. I know that he visited the Palestinians, and he shared with us some of his impressions. And I know that he invested a lot of effort in trying to push it towards tranquility. And we appreciate it, of course. Once again, we are thankful Mr. Secretary for your prolonged contribution to the peace effort. At the same time, we should tell you that we are at a crossroad where the real decision has to be made now.
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I think Prime Minister has given you a gist of the issues that we discussed. And last night, I had the chance of talking to some of you, explaining why I came and also gave a message to the public. I believe that, as the Prime Minister said, we are at a crossroad, that we do have a chance, we do have a window, however small it is, to be able to bring the situation under control.
I think what we need to focus on, is to stop the violence and bring the discussions back to the bargaining table. I know there is a demand and concern for a study or inquiry to be made into what happens, how it started and where we are going. And everbody has agreed this sort of study will be necessary. What we are now working on is the modalities; but that should not stop us from taking steps to bring this situation under control and move forward to the negotiating table. I have made it clear that in these situations, it takes two to tango. Neither side can claim to have all the right on their side or all the wrong on their side. What is important is that we take steps and stop the bloodshed now.
The modalities, I'm sure, will be worked out for the study. There are different views, but I am absolutely confident that in the not too distant future that could be worked out. So let's focus on the first things first and move forward and stop the violence and move back to the table. I will be going to Lebanon from here and I will have the chance to discuss the situation of the three soldiers who have been abducted. And I have also had the chance to raise here with my previous visits and now with the authorities the situation of the Lebanese prisoners. This is something that we have been discussing for some time. But what is important is that the soldiers not be harmed. They should be kept in good health. And I do agree with the Prime Minister that the Red Cross should be given access to them immediately and without conditions. And I have sent the same message down.
So let's get to work, stop the violence, move back to the negotiating table. This region has suffered too much. There have been far too many killings and casualties and I think we should really now find a way of moving forward once and for all. We are at the crossroads. Let's make the right turn.
We'll take your questions.
[The Prime Minister was then asked a question in Hebrew, which he answered in Hebrew.]
SG: I didn't mention something. I am very grateful that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet yesterday decided not to stick to the deadline of 48 hours. I think it helps. I think we need relative calm to work out these things. I think we should avoid any statements, on both sides, that will lead to tension on either side. I think we are in a period of delicate and acute diplomacy. Diplomacy by coersion doesn't work. And both sides should not make statement that are likely to inflame.
And I am also happy to hear the Prime Minister indicate that the relative calm which has prevailed and the instruction that has been given to the IDF would also help. But yesterday I said that this is not an issue for the leaders alone. It is not an issue just for Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat. It is not an issue even for the IDF alone. It's for all of us. The population have a role to play, Palestinian and Israeli, to work together to bring these things down. We all have a responsibility. We live in society and we have a responsibility to work with the leaders and others to make sure that the situation calms down, so that we can move back to the negotiating table.
With your specific question about the three soldiers, I have not seen them personally. My envoy or the Red Cross has not seen them. But we are working on it. From the information we have received, I understand they are well and that they are being well treated, but we can be able to confirm this once we've had access to them, and we are working very hard on that.
[The Prime Minister was then asked a question in Hebrew, and the same journalist then asked a question in English of the Secretary-General.]
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, in your meeting with Chairman Arafat, did you get the impression that Arafat instructed all his forces to stop the violence immediately? One question. And the second question, how is it that condemnation of Israel in the U.N. helps achieving the tranquility in the area? And don't you think it was a mistake to condemn Israel, like the mistake that Secretary U Thant made in 1967?
[The Prime Minister responded in Hebrew, and then the Secretary-General took his questions.]
SG: Let me say that the Security Council is the master of its own procedures and its own decisions. The Council acted having followed the situation on the ground, and I don't think their intention was to complicate the situation or to inflame it. I know that their resolution is not very popular in Israel; but I can assure you the Council, when it acts, usually tries to work towards calming the situation, to work for peace, not to inflame it.
I have come here as Secretary-General under my own good offices to try to see what I can do to work with the leaders to get the situation back on track, and I hope we will make some progress. I am determined to do everything I can, working with Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat, to move forward the process.
On your second question, I got the impression that Chairman Arafat is concerned about the level of violence. He is concerned about the level of Palestinian casualties. In fact, he told me "99% of the people who have been killed have been our people." And I think he is anxious to bring down the violence. He is anxious to see the situation calmed down. And this is what we are trying to work with him on. And I hope we will succeed. I am hopeful. I am optimistic that with good will on all sides, we can do it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have come. Thank you.
[A journalist asked a question in English of the Secretary-General concerning whether, in his view, the kidnapping of the three Israeli soldiers near the border with Lebanon was a violation of the Security Council Resolution on Lebanon - Resolution 425.]
SG: Yes, I consider it a violation of [Resolution] 425.
[The same journalist asked a question in Hebrew of the Prime Minister.]
Press conference at NATO Headquarters, Brussels 5 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, thanks for coming.
We just concluded a North Atlantic Council meeting in which the Council was addressed by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan. He is with us now, as is the NATO Secretary-General, Lord Robertson. Lord Robertson will have a few words and then Mr. Annan.
LR: Just let me says a few words to describe the hour-long meeting of the North Atlantic Council and the private discussion that Secretary-General Annan and I had.
It was a great pleasure and indeed a privilege that the Secretary-General of the United Nations should come here today to NATO Headquarters, but it is quite fitting giving the interface between this organization and the UN especially in Kosovo today and in Bosnia and Herzogovina as well.
We discussed a range of common subjects here today of importance to both of us - peacekeeping, especially in Kosovo where the UN and NATO are working hand in hand to bring stability and multi-ethnic democracy back to that troubled part of Europe - to take peace and democracy out of the ashes of ethnic conflict. We still have got a long way to go in Kosovo but we have been remarkably successful in what we have done and hundreds of thousands of people in Kosovo are alive today and back in their homes today, who would not have been either of these things had we not been there to help. And it shows that we have learned from previous experience. And then our challenges of course ahead [inaudible] and one of the subjects we discussed today was the United Nations new report on peacekeeping and we discussed what NATO might do as a regional organization, what the Euro-Atlantic partnership council, the partnership of 46 nations might do to help with this increasing task of peacekeeping that United Nations has to deal with in this troubled world today. We talked about how NATO might help to contribute and to help to that operation.
Our two organizations, Mr. Secretary-General, are evolving [?] in order to adapt to an ever-changing world. And in doing so, we are finding that we have increasingly common concerns and common goals as well. So it is no surprise that we are working so closely and so well together and I look forward very much that our two organizations be able to do more for the safety and security of this and future generations.
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary-General. I think you have given a comprehensive brief on what our discussions have been about this afternoon. What I should say is that the last time I was here, it was January 1999, and the Kosovo crisis was very much on our minds. I come back in the year 2000 and we are tackling Serbia and of course, as the Secretary-General said, we had time also to discuss UN/NATO cooperation, UN/EU cooperation and what steps we can take to strengthen peacekeeping to ensure that not only from the military aspect but also on the civilian side we get people on the ground as quickly as possible and begin operations soon after the conflict, or indeed preferably prevent and get to prevent the conflict, or get there early enough either to nip the problem and about how to contain it and I think our efforts and our cooperation are going to continue. I will now take your questions.
Q : George Markus - BBC: Mr. Annan, the international community took resolute action in the case of the Kosovo crisis. We are now perhaps on the verge of the end-game in Yugoslavia itself. Nonetheless the international community has to some extend played a more muted role obviously sensitive to the whishes to allow Yugoslav people to have their own voice heard. Their voice now has been heard. Do you think the time has come for much more resolute pressure from the international community to try and to compel Mr. Milosevic to give away?
SG: I think you are quite right that at the end of the day [inaudible] the Serbians themselves, the Yugoslavs will solve this problem. But they do need help from the international community and I think the international community has been there. The people of Serbia have spoken, they have made a clear choice, they are asking for a democratic rule, they want to have a say in the decisions that affect them. I hope this choice and their voice will be heard and that we will see the sort of changes they have voted for and they are seeking.
As to the international community, when you talk of resolute action, I am not sure what you mean if you are talking of the kind of action one took in Kosovo. I am not entirely sure that it will be appropriate. Each crisis has its own dynamics and has to be looked at on its own merits. And so I think the international community is following this and the events very, very carefully and I am sure would take whatever appropriate action is required, but of course would have to respect the wishes of the Serbian people and the next couple of days or week is going to be very crucial in that.
Q: Jan Balliaw - VRT-Television news: Question to both Secretaries-General: Don't you fear that the situation in Belgrade will escalate now that the first round has been, there was an annulation of the first round, of the elections?
SG: Well, it is difficult to say, it could, but since the demonstration started, [inaudible] they have been able to keep it under control. I know there have been incidents around the parliament, but I would hope that they will be isolated and that it is not going to get out of control. But with these situations you never know what happens. I think we have all followed the history of that region for the last decade and you cannot predict what is going to happen. But what I hope the leadership and Mr. Milosevic will hear the will of the people.
LR: I would simply say that I agree with Secretary-General Annan that the people must make the decision about the next stage and in Serbia … but I have no other comment to make at all on the domestic issues in Serbia.
Q: Egyptian Radio - I am just wondering does the opposition in Belgrade has the right not to give or to follow Mr. Milosevic as a war criminal and if this is happening what is going to be exactly the reaction of the UN and NATO?
SG: Sorry I am not sure I got the question, can you repeat the question?
Q: If the opposition in Belgrade decided not to follow Milosevic?
Spokesperson: The opposition to Mr. Kostunica is saying it did not want to see Mr. Milosevic taken as a war criminal.
SG: Obviously it is under the rules, the resolutions of the Security Council. Each Member State has the responsibility to deliver an indicted war criminal to the Tribunal for trial. I know that Mr. Kostunica has said that, but he is not in power yet. I don't know what he will do once he is in. I think we have to wait for developments and see what happens and then we will make a judgment about what next but I would not want to speculate at this stage.
Q : Télévision algérienne - M. Annan, voudriez-vous d'un mot renouveler ici la position de l'ONU vis-à-vis de la question du Sahara occidental, autrement dit, est-ce que l'ONU va opter clairement pour un referendum ou pas, et ma deuxième petite question: Arafat a proposé, à défaut d'exiger, une commission d'enquête internationale. Quel est votre position ? Please reply in French.
SG: I think there are lots of people here who would be happy for me to respond in English! No, no, à vrai dire je crois que les Nations Unies ont un mandat d'organiser un referendum au Sahara occidental. Ca fait dix ans qu'on n'a pas pu le faire parce qu'on n'a pas toujours eu l'accord des deux côtés, donc j'avais demandé à M. Baker de travailler avec les deux pour voir si on peut trouver un autre moyen pour accélérer le processus et avoir une solution. M. Baker a eu plusieurs réunions avec eux. La dernière était à Berlin la semaine dernière. Il n'y a pas eu un grand pas en avant, donc en rentrant à New York, je vais avoir une discussion avec M. Baker pour voir quels étaient les résultats à Berlin et puis j'aurai l'occasion de discuter avec le Conseil de sécurité. Evidemment il y a un plan pour régler la question, mais si on n'arrive pas à trouver une solution qui peut accélérer nos efforts, on va être obligé peut-être de continuer avec les identifications, les appels qui peuvent prendre encore quelques années.
En ce qui concerne la question du Moyen-Orient, évidemment on a vécu une situation tragique et on est en train de les vivre encore sur le terrain au Moyen-Orient. Hier, il y a eu une réunion importante à Paris. Mme Albright avait espéré de régler toutes ces questions. Je crois qu'ils ont fait pas mal de progrès sur un certain nombre de questions, mais en ce qui concerne la nécessité pour étudier pour vérifier pourquoi nous en sommes arrivés là, pourquoi cette violence et tirer des leçons pour l'avenir. Les parties n'ont pas pu se mettre d'accord sur les modalités qu'il fallait utiliser. J'avais espéré qu'à Charm el-Cheikh aujourd'hui les discussions pourraient continuer, mais évidemment tout le monde, M. Barak n'est pas à Charm el-Cheikh, donc je n'ai pas eu l'occasion de prendre contact avec le Gouvernement égyptien pour voir qu'est-ce qui se passe. Mais je suis cela de près, mais j'espère qu'ils vont pouvoir trouver une solution.
Q: Jeff Hover [inaudible]: If I may return to Yugoslavia, the earlier question about resolute action, is there not understanding that you want to allow people to take things in their own hands. Is there any pro-active element or anything the United Nations can offer to Serbia to try to move this along in an orderly and democratic way. Is there any action the UN can actually take?
SG: I am not quite sure what specific action you have in mind. I think there have been quite a lot of statements from UN Member States, important Member States who have tried to urge, to move this situation forward and encourage a rapid solution to the situation. Beyond that I am not sure if there is any concrete specific action one can take in the situation that you refer to. And I would want to repeat again that each crisis, each situation, has its own dynamics and what one did in one situation, does not necessarily apply in the other. So we need to be very, very careful how we move forward on this situation.
Press encounter following meeting with Javier Solana, Secretary-General of the European Council of Ministers and High Representative for Common Defence and Foreign Policy, Brussels, 5 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
JS: It is for me a great pleasure to receive here the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, important [inaudible] and an important friend to me. We worked together along the last years on many occasions and will continue to work together in the future. Let me say that above the great pleasure of receiving him here, we have had a very productive conversation, exchange of views on the main issues that you can imagine of the day. Of course, we have talked about the situation in Belgrade, we talked also about the evolution of the situation in the Middle East. You know Mr. Kofi Annan comes from Paris, where the important discussions have taken place yesterday in which he has played a very important role. I would like to say that we have talked also about the mechanisms of crisis management, that we are trying to establish here in the European Union and how this can be of any use for the new strategy that the UN is going to put forward after Mr. Annan's report on crisis management. We want to cooperate, cooperate deeply with the UN and cooperate deeply with the ideas and the strategies that in a very intelligent manner Mr. Kofi Annan is putting forward.
So Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, my dear friend, welcome!
SG: Thank you very much. I think I am also very happy to be here in Brussels and to see my good friend Javier Solana, and as he said, we have been in many trenches and on many fronts together, but today we had a chance to touch on the issues that he has explained to you this morning and we are both looking forward to working very closely together on the issue of crisis management.
I am excited with the European decision to set up a rapid reaction force of 50 to 60 thousand men all ranks, as well ensure that the civilian aspects of these operations from police, to judges, to administrators would also be available because those are the elements that are often most difficult to get and to get on time. We ourselves are going through reform of our own peacekeeping operations and we would want as to the extend possible harmonize our efforts, exchange information and enhance our cooperation and I think you are going to see far greater cooperation between the EU and the United Nations and for the first time during the Summit of the United Nations I met with the troika, so the European troika and the UN met at a very high level to really discuss how we move forward in the future. We now take your questions
Q: Journalist from Kosovo: Mr. Annan, the UN mission has built good credibility in Balkans, it is damaged yesterday, even more with the statement of your representative for human rights in former Yugoslavia, Mr. Dienstbier. How can you tolerate that Mr. Dienstbier, after his statement, when he proposed amnesty for Milosevic, he remains still in that position?
SG: First of all let me say that as far as the UN reputation in the Balkans is concerned, we have to be very clear on these situations. In these types of crisis in the final analysis the only people who consult it are the leaders and the people in the region. The UN and the international community come in to help. I do not think it is appropriate often to turn on them and say UN or NATO has failed. We can only succeed if the leaders and the people in the region do what is expected of them. If the leaders show loyalty to their own people, than do not brutalize them, it is in this context that we are trying to be helpful whether we are NATO or the United Nations and I think when you go to Bosnia today, they will put the UN's and international community's efforts into perspective and I think history will judge these efforts on the whole differently. They have been, they were very tragic to, exposures in Srebrenica and others, and I think we will see similar judgment in Kosovo and in Serbia with the efforts that we are trying to make.
Now turning to the statement made by the Human Rights Rapporteur, I myself issued a statement out of Paris yesterday making it clear that Mr. Dienstbier does not speak for the Secretary-General or for the United Nations or any intergovernmental body. He is a Rapporteur, an expert appointed by the Human Rights Commission as an independent expert and he speaks only for himself on this issue and I think he strayed a bit beyond his own mandate.
Q: à M. K. Annan et M. J. Solana: après l'échec des négociations hier entre Palestiniens et Israéliens et la continuation de la position israélienne à refuser tout rôle actif de l'Union européenne dans ce processus, quelles synergies possibles aujourd'hui l'Union européenne et l'ONU pour amener les Israéliens à stopper ce massacre qui vise les Palestiniens et les enfants surtout et y emmener M. Barak à Charm el-Cheikh?
SG: Ecoutez, évidemment c'est une situation très tragique et très grave. Nous sommes tous troublés par les violences et les gens qui viennent de perdre leur vie et j'ai eu l'occasion d'offrir mes condoléances à toutes les familles qui ont perdu des enfants et des membres de leur famille et je crois qu'on doit tout faire pour calmer la situation et éviter les violences. C'était l'effort qu'on avait fait à Paris, je crois que Mme Allbright a eu une discussion avec les deux parties à faire certains progrès sur la question de sécurité, mais ils n'ont pas pu se mettre d'accord sur cette question de commission internationale d'enquête. On avait espéré que si on avait pu régler cette question de sécurité des violences aujourd'hui en Egypte, on aurait pu commencer l'effort de mettre le processus de la paix en route à nouveau. J'espère, je crois que le Président Moubarak fera tout pour pousser dans cette direction. Evidemment M. Barak est rentré chez lui, mais j'espère que s'il y a du progrès, que s'il y a un mouvement à Charm el-Cheikh il peut se rendre là-bas, ce n'est pas très loin. Donc en vrai qu'est-ce qui se passe à Charm el-Cheikh. Les Nations Unies, et je crois qu'également pour l'Union européenne, M. Solana parlera pour lui-même, on soutient cet effort on soutien le processus de la paix, les médiateurs sont les Américains mais on travaille très étroitement avec les parties et je suis en contact avec le Président Chirac autant qu'avec le Président de l'Union européenne, avec M. Barak, avec M. Arafat et également avec le Président Clinton et Mme Albright. Donc on travaille ensemble. Evidemment ce sont les Américains qui sont "en lead".
JS: Je dirai un mot en disant que la question est posée dans le moment important parce qu'hier toute la journée la présidence de l'Union européenne ensemble avec M. Annan, ont travaillé jusqu'à très tard la nuit pour essayer de donner une nouvelle impulsion, une impulsion dans la direction d'essayer d'abaisser la température et ce qui est, à notre avis, est plus important, faire les parties revenir à la table de négociation. C'est la question, baisser la température, essayer de voir comment les esprits se calment et la violence disparaître et en même temps essayer de voir comment les négociations peuvent continuer. C'est le but, l'objectif de tout le monde. Je crois que le travail du Président Clinton et de Mme Albright, mais aussi le travail de l'Union et le travail de l'ONU, je crois qu'il rendra des fruits.
Q: Magnus [inaudible], Egyptian Radio: (1) Mr. Annan, if the UN believes that what is happening now in Palestine, it is against human rights, and all the human children even. Why there is now no international investigation, and (2) for Mr. Solana: why Europe was not included yesterday in the meeting between Mr. Barak, Mr. Arafat and Mrs. Albright?
SG: I think in a way I have already answered the question about the international commission by indicating that this was one of the main topics of the discussions yesterday. And of course to mandate that commission or to put a group together to study what happened, why we got to where we are and to draw lessons for the future you need the cooperation of both parties you need them to work with you, to be able to do it and that is why that discussion took place in Paris and I hope, I trust it will continue in Egypt. I have been on the phone even today with Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and I monitor it very very closely.
Mr. J. Solana: As we have said before, yesterday along the day a good number of meetings took place, many, several and very late at night as Mr. Annan has said.
The meetings took place in Paris, which is Capital of the Presidency of the European Union. At the majority of the meetings, President Chirac, who is President of France, and now President of the European Union Presidency, was present with all the teams. We have been in touch day and night. We continue to be. So let's say that the European Union was present and very clearly present.
Q: Agence de presse Beta: A M. K. Annan: vous avez fait un appel à M. Milosevic de respecter la volonté du peuple suite aux élections. Avez-vous l'impression qu'il va faire quelque chose dans ce sens?
A M. J. Solana: voyez-vous dans les derniers événements en Serbie, surtout, la décision de la soi-disant Cour, tribunal constitutionnel qui est sous les commandes de M. Milosevic, encore un essai de dilater les choses, de gagner du temps et de ne pas quand-même respecter la victoire évidente de l'opposition aux élections?
SG: I think that, as far as the events in Serbia are concerned we all witness it. We live in the age of IT and we see it instantly on our television and you are asking me if I believe Mr. Milosevic is going to respect the will and the choice of the people or not. Only time will tell. We are all following the developments and I think the next days or week is absolutely crucial and we will see what happens and we will have to make the judgment whether he respects it or not. So let me answer your question by saying it is a question for the future to answer (and developments?)
JS: At this point I think it is very difficult to interpret exactly what is the content of the resolution. And I would like to say regardless of that the following - for us, for the European Union, Mr. Kostunica has won the elections. And therefore he represents the majority of the people. And therefore the sooner he has the responsibilities that the people of Serbia have offered him, the better. I have suspicions that maybe the resolution that has been taken, the only objective is to delay the moment in which the person who had the support of the people of Serbia can take the responsibilities that the people, who have voted for him wish. Therefore, our position is to continue to support Mr. Kostunica, who for us has won the elections. He clearly is the person who has to run the country and to liberate the country in the future.
Q: (1) About the new role that the EU is going to play in security matters and not only within their own garden's fence. What do you expect of the EU in playing this role?
(2) How do you think will this influence the global powerplay with other very important actors? Are there risks in this new role also?
SG: Let me say that once the European Union has organized this force, this rapid reaction force, and the crisis group that you refer to, I think it will be in a better position to respond when there are crises it will be better prepared to act whether within NATO or outside NATO with other member states and within the UN mandate and with other UN Member States.
I do not see what Europe is trying to do here as something that should lead to conflict with other powers or other blocks. I think when if we look at the history of peacekeeping today, we will come to the conclusion that in almost each operation there is a strong regional dimension.
When you look at Bosnia and you look at Kosovo, even though it was an international operation, particularly Bosnia, most of the troops came from Europe. When you look at the operations in Cambodia, most of the troops came from Asia, without us joining in. And therefore the idea of strengthening and developing regional capabilities, I think it is a wise one. And in fact one is today talking of helping Africa develop a regional capacity which can be augmented by other international efforts and I think for Europe to organize this and be able to respond. I think it is a positive development it should not be seen as a competition or in conflict with other powers or other power and I do not see the dangers your question implies. Thank you.
Q: Dernière question: vous avez parlé de la question. (1) Est-ce que les troupes de la MONUC pourront encore se rendre au Congo? (2) Qu'en est-il de la succession de Mme Ogata à la tête du HCR? On parle de M. Kouchner et de Mme Emma Bonino.
SG: La dernière question c'est une déclaration en ce qui concerne le HCR. Le MONUC, évidemment on a un mandat du Conseil de Sécurité. On aurait préféré déployer des troupes, mais, les conditions sur le terrain ne nous permettaient pas de le faire. D'abord on a eu beaucoup de problèmes sur le terrain, il y a toujours les violations du cessez-le-feu. Si on va envoyer ces troupes onusiennes, il faut avoir une paix. You must have peace to keep. Où il n'y a pas de paix, c'est très difficile d'envoyer les militaires dans ce genre de situations. Il faut que les gens qui ont signé l'accord décident de mettre en application ce qu'ils ont signé et décidé de le faire. Ils doivent décider de coopérer avec les troupes onusiennes et si on n'a pas ce genre de coopération, on n'a pas ce genre de respect pour les accords, c'est très très difficile pour déployer des troupes. C'est pour cela qu'on n'a pas fait encore, mais évidemment nous sommes près à le faire dès que la situation est favorable.
En ce qui concerne le HCR, évidemment oui Mme Ogata va partir en décembre et d'ici fin octobre j'espère désigner un autre Haut Commissaire, il y a beaucoup de candidats. Je suis en consultation avec les Etats membres, j'espère que d'ici fin octobre, or peut-être même mi-octobre, je suis en position de désigner quelqu'un.
Press encounter with French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hubert Vedrine, Paris, 4 October 2000 - 8:45 pm (unofficial transcript)
HV: En raison de l'actualité, nous allons suivre les choses de très près en ce qui concerne les conversations qui se poursuivent à Paris en ce moment même. Nous allons tenter de faire retomber la tension au Proche-Orient et naturellement, nous parlerons aussi de la situation dans l'ex-Yougoslavie. Ce sont des questions chaudes, mais nous parlerons de questions de fond en même temps.
SG: Merci, Monsieur le Ministre. Je suis très content d'être à Paris à nouveau et d'avoir l'occasion de discuter les points chauds avec Monsieur le Ministre. Nous allons continuer nos discussions ce soir et j'espère qu'on aura des nouvelles et je compte aussi, si les choses se déroulent assez vite, rencontrer M. Barak et M. Arafat.
Q: Avez-vous des informations sur le déroulement des négociations?
SG: Non, nous sommes en dehors de la salle ( ?)
HV: Nous savons qu'elles se poursuivent, à trois, c'est déjà très important que les discussions à trois aient pu se nouer.
Q: Quel engagement peut prendre la France, …, ne serait-ce que moral?
HV: Pour le moment, cela se passe entre les Israéliens, les Palestiniens, sous l'égide des Etats-Unis, la France ayant offert son hospitalité, son amitié et sa disponibilité. Ce que nous avions indiqué, c'est que s'il y avait une formule d'enquête qui puisse satisfaire les différentes parties, ce qui est une façon de faire retomber la tension, l'Union Européenne était disponible pour participer. Je ne peux pas aller plus avant dans le détail parce que cela dépend du type de formule qui serait retenue.
Q: Vous croyez encore à un accord de paix pour plus tard?
SG: Pourquoi pas. Evidemment, il y a un problème en ce moment. Mais cela ne veut pas dire que si on arrive à faire tomber la violence, on ne peut pas recommencer le processus de paix. Il y a du travail à faire. Mais ce n'est pas impensable.
HV: Moi aussi, je pense que ce n'est pas impensable et je pense que les tragédies des derniers jours montrent que l'accord de paix est une nécessité absolue. Cela montre bien qu'il n'y a pas d'autre alternative. La paix se recherche sur un volcan. Il faut qu'elle aboutisse pour qu'on dépasse ce type de situation. Je crois que c'est toujours possible, mais il faut absolument d'abord sortir de cette situation terrible dans laquelle on est aujourd'hui.
Q: M. Annan, pensez-vous que M. Milosevic doit être "tried at a war crimes tribunal"?
SG: He is indicted and of course, the Tribunal is waiting for him to be delivered and if he is, he would be tried. Thank you.
Press Conference at the European Parliament, Strasbourg, 4 October 2000 - 9.30 am (unofficial transcript)
SG: Permettez-moi tout d'abord de vous dire tout le plaisir que j'ai à être parmi vous dans cette belle ville de Strasbourg. Avant de répondre à vos questions, je voudrais faire quelques brèves remarques sur l'objet de mes entretiens avec les responsables européens.
A few weeks ago, during the Millennium Summit in New York, I had a meeting with the European "troika" who said they wanted to put their relationship with the United Nations on a new footing. I very much welcomed this proposal since I am convinced that the European Union can make an even greater contribution in various areas of concern to the United Nations.
Yesterday, I had the good fortune of having very good and useful meetings with Mr. Prodi, with Commissioners Patten, and Verheugen and this morning with Commissioner Lamy and with other members of the Commission. We agreed that there are many areas - like poverty reduction, promotion of trade and investment, the struggle against HIV/AIDS, and bridging the digital divide - where we should work together more closely to reach the goals that world leaders set last month at the Millennium Summit. I would recall in particular that they called on the industrialised countries to grant duty- and quota-free access to exports from the least developed countries; to provide deeper and faster debt relief; and to give more generous development assistance.
The UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, which will be hosted by the European Union in Brussels next May, offers Europe a golden opportunity to live up to those promises, and to show the world that the commitments made at the Millennium Summit are not just words. I trust that the EU will seize this occasion to make a major contribution to the fight against world poverty.
Another area where I hope to see a bigger contribution from the EU is peace and security. With their experience in joint military exercise and standby capacities, European countries could help other regions - especially Africa - to strengthen the air capacity for peacekeeping.
As you may know, we at the United Nations are working hard to strengthen our own capacity in this area and reform our Department of Peacekeeping Operations. I should soon present to the General Assembly a plan for implementing the Brahimi Report which I commissioned on our peacekeeping activities.
I hope this will make it easier for EU members to support and participate in our peacekeeping operations - and we look forward to cooperating with the Rapid Reaction Force, which the EU proposes to establish by 2003. I have also stressed that, while the EU is going to develop its own procedures and standards for peacekeeping, it is important that its troops should be able to work with developing countries in the field.
Similarly, I know that EU Member States have decided to draft a Charter of Fundamental Rights, designed to make the overriding importance and relevance of fundamental rights more visible, and adding clarity and precision to the human rights obligations that are legally binding in the context of EU legislation, policies, programmes, and decisions. But it is important that this be done in the context of the international human rights standards which are already enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the various international conventions and human rights treaties. A carefully drafted Charter should set at least as high a standard on human rights for the EU as the standard its Member States have already committed themselves to under UN human rights treaties.
I look forward to further discussing on these matters with the French Presidency this evening in Paris and with Messrs. Solana and Prodi tomorrow in Brussels. Now, I will be happy to answer your questions.
Q: On Cyprus.
SG: Thank you very much. It is not a hard question at all but thanks so for the sympathy. Let me say that my statement at the beginning of the talks in New York between the two parties of Cyprus appears to have been misinterpreted or misunderstood. The statement of the two equal parties was prospective. I indicated that any such definition will have to emerge as a part of a comprehensive settlement and will be defined as part of the provisions of the settlement. So I did not put up any preconditions or did not grant any status in New York. I indicated the status of the two parties would emerge as part of a comprehensive settlement in the talks and I think that is very clear.
Q: On the Middle-East.
SG: Obviously, the situation on the ground is not very good and yesterday, I had the chance to discuss it with some of you and we all feel the pain and the tragic situation that the people on the ground are living today. But I would hope today in Paris where both Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat are arriving this morning. I think Chairman Arafat is already meeting with President Chirac. At the end of the series of meetings that they are going to have, both of them will meet with Mrs. Albright and there is a hope that there will meet in a trilateral meeting, the two of them with Mrs. Albright. Each will meet with President Chirac and I would also meet with each of them. I would hope at the end of the day we would at least be able to count on some understanding on stopping the violence to calm the situation. I think that this is the most urging task now to stop the violence and then try and bring the peace process back on track. Not long ago, both parties felt that if they worked hard, in a couple of weeks, they could have a (inaudible) agreement. I hope that if we are able to calm the situation on the ground, and get the parties back to work, this objective would still be achievable. But only time will tell and I think that what will happen today in Paris will have a major impact on whether we are able to put the peace process on track and move ahead as expeditiously as everybody hopes.
Q: The German have asked for an NGO to be suspended because of improper conduct.
SG: Let me say that obvisously the UN has its rules, we have NGOs who have accrediations. We have basic guidelines and basic rules under which they are accredited. If they break these rules, there is a price to pay but that decision as to whether they are breaking the rules and have a price to pay is taken by the membership at large. And Member States may bring a charge or complain that an NGO has broken the rules. But the decision to remove or withdraw the accreditation is up to the membership at large. So we should not assume that because one Member State makes such an accusation against a NGO that it looses automatically its accreditation. All the other Member States will have to review the facts and agree to that. But I think it has to be understood that in every situation we must have some guidelines and some rules and I think the NGOs, even among themselves, have certain guidelines, certain rules and have their own responsabilities.
Q: Should the next UNHCR High Commissioner be European?
SG: I think you are right, that Europe does make a major contribution to the work of UNHCR and the refugees. But in my search for a new High Commissioner, I want the most competent and able person, a man or a women. Questions of contributions are obviously very important. But they are not the dominant factor. It is not excluded that the new High Commissioner will be European, the last one was a Japanese, therefore the next one can come from another region. But I do not want to make a direct linkage between the percentage or the size of contributions and where the High Commissioner comes from. As I indicated to all of you, I hope to make a decision during the course of this month and I would send a recommendation to the General Assembly. I must say I do appreciate the interest all of you have in who is going to be the next High Commissioner because it is an important position.
Q: Peacekeeping (Dutch soldiers in Ethiopia/Erytrea mission)
SG: I think the most important aspect of peacekeeping is the ability to deploy very quickly, the rapidity of deployment. In most instances, if you can get the troops in very quickly, you can either (inaudible) the problems in the bud or at least contain it. The advantage of the shared brigades arrangements where Netherlands and a group of countries have come together to prepare brigades for peacekeeping operations is that they can deploy relatively quickly in comparison with other forces and yes they have discussed with me the understanding that they would want to go in quickly for six months to get the operation going, in the expectation that others would come in and relieve them. So that that capacacity, that shared brigade, will be ready for other operations and that if you get stuck in one operation, it will not be available for the next one. And I do accept that (inaudible) rationale and I am discussing with the Dutch authorities and others in (inaudible) on that basis. I would hope that once a decision is taken, by the Government and the Paliament, they would deploy quickly and we will take steps to replace them within six months.
Q: Is the mission too dangerous?
SG: I think the Eritrea/Ethiopian mission is a classic peacepeeking operation in the sense that two countries that went to war have now signed a ceasefire agreement and are in the process of finalizing a comprehensive ceasefire working with President Bouteflika of Algeria. I have spoken to the two leaders and I know that they are determined to stick to the peace agreement. I think they sort of suffer from war fatigue. They are not very rich countries (inaudible) and my sense is that they are serious they want to end the war. They are also in a situation where the two governements are very much in control of their own territory and their policy. It is not one of this modern-day peacekeeping operations where the peacekeepers get involved in internal conflict with warlords and all sides fighting. I will say that it is not as dangerous as some of the other operations and obviously peacekeeping operations are never risk-free. Some of our peacekeepers have died in car accidents, some have died from friendly fire, and other things as well. It is not a risk-free but it is not as dangerous as other peece keeping operations.
Q: What can you tell the Dutch Parliament?
SG: I can imagine the fear of the Dutch Parliament, of families and parents whose children go to participate in these operations, go to work on humanitarian operations. (inaudible) who have been killed in East-Timor, who have been killed in Guinea, who have been taken hostage in Chechnya. I would be very naive and very callous not to understand the sensitivity, the risk and concern the loved ones have. But the fact that there is some risk does not mean that we should do nothing.
Q: Should the EU do more in the Middle-East peace process?
SG: I think when it comes to peace efforts and attemps at mediation, the parties to the conflict usually agree on (inaudible). As of today, the mediator of choice, the mediator the parties have agreed on, is the United States, and they are trying to push the parties forward. That does not mean that the European Union which has considerable influence and power and means does not have a role to play. I think all of us, the European Union, the United Nations, the Arab States, Egypt and others, all have a role to play, which wish to encourage and support the process with pressure ... and pull the parties towards peace. The European Union has a role to play, the UN has a role to play and I think this is what is happening in Paris today. Ms. Albright will be there to talk to the parties but the talks began this morning with the meeting between Mr. Arafat and President Chirac at 8.30 and I will also talk to them. Indications from Paris are that the two parties may go to Sharm-el-Sheikh to talk to President Mubarak. As you can see, everybody is involved even though there is one mediator.
Press encounter following meeting with the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, Stasbourg, 3 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
The Secretary-General made some casual remarks before answering the first question…
Q: Arafat said he would not meet Barak in Paris tomorrow - what are your comments on the Middle East?
SG: It is a very tragic situation and I really feel sorry for those who've lost their lives. They have my full sympathy and condolences. I think none of us will forget that image of a child who was shot ….. in the presence of his father as his father was trying to protect him. I have been in touch with the leaders right from the beginning -- beginning last week, before I left New York -- appealing to them to do everything they can to bring the situation under control. I have spoken to both of them today.
Since last week I have had my own representative on the ground, Terje Roed-Larsen, more or less going in between the leaders, working with them to try to calm the situation -- and he is staying in touch with me.
Obviously the situation is very grave, and the leaders have not been able to bring it under control.
It is tragic, because I thought we were so close in the peace process. When we met at the Summit with both leaders, the plan was to use the next five weeks to make a final push for peace. Instead of moving forward in the peace process we seem to have almost an all-out war in a highly populated area. It is incumbent on the leaders to do whatever they can to rein in their forces and ensure that innocent civilians are not the ones who pay the price.
I was not aware that the question of international mediation has been rejected. I thought the Americans were going to lead such an effort. I know that meetings in Paris had been planned and I myself was going to meet with the two of them in Paris tomorrow. Obviously, depending on what happens between now and tomorrow, Mr. Arafat may still come to Paris. I think we should all do whatever we can to bring an end to this.
So now we have two agendas: one, an immediate end to the violence -- and I appeal to everyone concerned and anyone with influence, and particularly those directly involved, to stop it -- and then, to see if we can bring the peace process back on track.
Q: What is the situation with the Cyprus talks?
SG: Let me start with the aspect of your question I can answer. We have been at the table with the two leaders for some time. I think we began to make some progress last month in New York. In that, we are beginning to discuss the issues rather than the whole situation with each one putting forth their position and defending it .We are gradually beginning to tackle the core issues and the substance but we have a long way to go. There is not going to be an easy solution. And I think I am not in the position to give you an idea of a time frame. If you ask me if there will be a settlement before they join the European Union, it will presuppose that you or I know when they would join the Union. If you give me an indication on what that date would be, I would try to see if I can guess whether we will have a solution or not but we are going to meet again in November in Geneva, beginning of November, and we are going to push really as hard as we can . But in this situation, the actual solution is in the hands of the protagonists. The mediator can try to persuade, cajole, push, tease but they will have to settle and they will have to get into a serious give and take. I have always said that the inspiration for real peace must spring from the leaders of the people. Outsiders can help but they cannot impose peace.
Q: Portuguese peacekeepers died today in Timor. Do you have anything to say on that?
SG: I am sorry about the tragedy and I offered my condolences and sympathy today to families who have lost ones who were in East Timor for the service of peace. But I should say that that is one of the dangers we run in these operations. Peacekeeping operations are never risk free. It is always tragic and painful when it happens. I think that recently we have had a bad patch. We lost these two peacekeepers you referred to, and we also had three humanitarian workers who were brutally killed in West Timor and another one in Guinea in the past two weeks. I feel very strongly that governments in these areas where we operate either on the humanitarian basis or the peacekeeping basis have a responsibility to help us protect and secure these workers. Where we are not able to do it they should do everything possible to bring to justice those who harm humanitarian workers and peacekeepers. But for our Portuguese friends all my sympathies, all my condolences...it is not enough. How do you explain to the parents? How do you explain to the families that these young men and women who go out to help, who go out in the name of humanity, lose their lives or are sometimes shot? What words of sorrow can you use?
Q: Cyprus. In the last round of negotiations did you consider both sides? Is there a confusion between 'sides' and 'communities'?
SG: As far as I am concerned there is no confusion, and I was able to explain to both leaders why I have taken this position. To clarify, I said that the issue of equality -- or not -- among the parties should be resolved during the negotiations. If there is a global agreement, this issue must be settled in that agreement. That is what I said, and I stand by my position.
Q: Security Council expansion. Germany?
SG: I think that the question you raise touches upon the whole issue of Security Council reform which the Member States have to agree on. For the moment there are three European members on the Council: France, United Kingdom and Russia. In the reform proposals which most have mentioned, the creation of five additional permanent seats, there has been a tendency to say that there should be three permanent seats for the South -- one from Africa, one from Latin America and one from Asia -- and two from the industralized countries. Of course, Germany is one of the countries that is mentioned for this position. There has also been the suggestion that the European Union should have one permanent seat since it is becoming more and more cohesive. Will those holding the seats now give it up for one? Do you think you can convince them to do that? I don't know if that will be necessary. I can only answer that question once the outline of the Council has emerged.
As you know, there is a debate going on between those who feel the Council must remain small to be effective and those who argue that the world has changed so much and the organization itself has changed that the Council needs to be reformed to be made more democratic, more representative, so that it would gain greater legitimacy. I believe it is possible to reform the Council to give it greater representationa and legitimacy. So, this is not beyond human imagination and creativity, but you need to have the will.
Q: Who will receive the UNHCR job?
SG: I think obviously this is one of the most important posts in the international system. It's a position that affects the lives of millions of refugees around the world, and in some situations, internally displaced persons - not just the refugees, the question of protection and defense of asylum seekers which is becoming more and more of a problem in Europe, and which we need to tackle as well.
Let me say that this not an election, it is an appointment. So whether a country proposes one or two candidates or if there are four candidates from a country is immaterial. What I am looking for is the best man or woman to do the job. The best man or woman to lead this organization into the 21st century and assist the refugees. As Mr.Prodi has indicated, I will continue my consultations with the Member States when I return to New York and I expect to make the decision, or recommend a name to the General Assembly, within this month. Hopefully I will be able to do it by mid-October because I would want to have the appointment made as quickly as possible so that he or she would have at least two and a half months to prepare, to get themselves out of whatever engagement they have...that he or she may have to spend a couple of weeks with Mrs Ogata before she leaves the functions. Whoever is appointed will need all our help and the sympathy of the press. Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you will give it to him or her.
Press encounter prior to meeting with Walter Schwimmer, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 3 October 2000 (unofficial transcript from French)
Q: Yesterday, the Palestinians asked the European Union to interpose itself between the Israeli army and the Palestinian people. Do you think this a good idea? An idea that the UN could support.
SG: For the moment the situation is very violent and very serious. I think that the first thing to do is to work with both sides to calm the situation, to stop the violence which has hurt so many civilians -- including children. This is a tragic situation, it's a serious situation. I think if we can first stop the violence and continue working with the parties it would be step forward. The first thing is to stop the violence and then we can work with the two parties. They have asked for an international inquiry and I understand that the Americans have accepted to do this. I have had conversations with Mrs. Albright, with Mr. Arafat and with Mr. Barak -- and I [inaudible] them and work closely with them -- so we now have to see what happens.
Q: Should Milosevic leave? Is the opposition there following the right track?
SG: Looking at the results it appears that the people have asked for political change. Their choice must be respected. It is not up to me to decide who should lead Serbia, it is up to them [the people] to decide. I think the people have spoken.
Q: I understand that you are looking for funds for UNHCR. Have you received any thing from European organizations here in Strasbourg?
SG: I've just arrived, please give me some time! I hope that, as of tomorrow, I will have some commitments, not only for UNHCR but also other agencies such as UNDP and others.
Q: You appear to be saying that you don't want to get involved in the Yugoslav question....
SG: I think I was misunderstood. I did not say I did not want to get involved. I said it was not up to me to choose a leader for the Serbian people, it is up to them to decide. I think the people have clearly spoken on this matter.
Press encounter in Geneva, 2 October 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I am happy to be back in Geneva. I understand there are one or two questions you may want to put to me.
Q: Do you have any reaction to the violence in the Middle East?
SG: Obviously, it is very worrying, the violence in the Middle East. I have been in touch with the two leaders and appealed to them to do whatever they can to bring the situation under control and bring an end to the violence. I also have my own Special Representative, Mr. Larsen, who is on the ground and has been working with the two leaders to see what we can do to end the violence. I am going to continue to stay in touch with them. I hope these events are not going to derail the crucial peace talks and that despite this major hiccup and serious incident, the process will continue. We must succeed and the talks should go forward.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, President Arafat has called upon the United Nations to intervene in one way or another. Do you have anything to say about this?
SG: I know that there has been a suggestion that an international team be put together to review and investigate the events. I have also heard that a demarche has been made explicitly to the American Government. I am in touch with my office in New York and my man on the ground. We will need to analyze and review further the nature of the report of the request, whether it is to us, to the Security Council, or to the American Government. But I have heard the reports that there is a request for an international investigation.
Comments by the Secretary-General to the press upon arrival to UNHQ, Friday, 29 September 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary-General. I would just like to ask if there has been any progress in the Burundian peace talks and in the Burundian situation?
SG: We have the mediator here today, President Mandela. I am going to have a meeting with him at 9am, and then he will brief the [Security] Council. Obviously, most of the protagonists have signed the peace agreement, and now we have to try and get a ceasefire and move forward with implementation of the agreement. These are some of the issues I will be discussing with President Mandela. I trust you will have a chance to speak to him.
Q: What is the likelihood of a power-sharing agreement sticking, given the history of coups going back since basically 1972?
SG: Well, it is always a difficult situation when you get into power-sharing arrangements. The parties have to get used to each other, particularly parties which have been at war. So it is never an easy process, but it is an option that has to be considered.
Remarks at the 38th Anniversary Luncheon hosted by the Dag Hammarskjold Memorial Scholarship Fund of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) New York, 27 September 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Thank you very much, Sanaa [Youssef].
I walked into this room and immediately started fund-raising for the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. The first person I ran into was the Libyan Deputy Perm Rep. We made a deal that when the sanctions on Libya are lifted, he would triple or quadruple his contribution to the Fund.
Let me say how delighted I am to be here once again. I must apologise for not being able to join you last year. It is always a pleasure to come and join you at this luncheon, and encourage this noble endeavour, and also to welcome the young ones who are selected as winners. I think it is important and good that you have been able to persevere and maintain this scholarship programme, despite the financial difficulties that you run into. I hope next year that you will be able to name four, and keep them for a longer period than you have this year. If the fund-raising efforts we are all going to get involved in succeed I am sure you will be able to do that.
Let me also begin by congratulating the scholarship winners, the three of them who have come from far away countries. You have all stood up and been recognised. I hope you will find your stay here a very interesting one. You have been chosen from among more than a hundred applicants. I think you were able to come here at an historic moment, to be part of a unique event, the Millennium Summit, where leaders came from all over the world to reaffirm their belief in this Organization and send a powerful message to the world that the UN counts.
I think the plan of action that they gave us challenges us to deal with the issues of poverty, AIDS, armed conflict and the environment. I firmly believe that the capacity and the resources exist in our world today to deal with these challenges, if only we can muster the political will to take on these challenges.
I think that each one of us can play a role, including you, the journalists. How much do peoples of the world really know about the realities of others? Take for example my own continent, Africa. For many outside that continent, Africa only means hopeless misery and endless conflict. Sometimes there seems to be only one story that is told about Africa. Time and time again we hear the same stories. It is not completely wrong, but it is far from complete.
Let me share with you something Dag Hammarsjkold said when he was in my position. This was over forty years ago. We must view African countries through "a sympathetic understanding, neither a feeling of superiority nor a feeling of sterile pessimism, nor a feeling of facile optimism. What is needed is realism and understanding." And this is where you the journalists come in. You know how to put a narrative of understanding across to the reader, and to put events in context. Africa's problems have reasons and backgrounds. This is the challenge that you have. I am using Africa as an example, but it fits with every situation that you deal with. I hope that as media professionals you will be better communicators and you will be able to communicate these stories to the world's people in a way that will provoke better understanding and appreciation of the context in which those events take place.
If free society depends on a free and independent press, then much depends on your efforts. You have a great responsibility as press - men and women. I know in the past when I had appeared before you I have challenged you to get involved in preventive journalism, to stay with the story, even when you know there is not much interest. And write and write and write until policy makers wake up. Don't write one story and walk away, and then come back to it when there is blood on the floor, and then walk away when the blood ends. You can help us in many ways, and I hope we can encourage you to do that.
We can only hope to make globalization work for all, if knowledge is globalized. I think it is a bitter irony that staff and resources devoted to international coverage, coverage of international news, is being reduced by almost all news agencies. I hope we can find a way of reversing this trend. Good journalism in my judgement can help make the world a better place. But I also believe good journalism is good business. Tell a good story, and people will read it, they will listen. And if you put it on television they would watch, and your agencies would prosper. Keep at it. Thank you very much.
Comments by the Secretary-General to staff who marched to show solidarity in support of improved staff safety, UNHQ, 21 September 2000
Good afternoon, my dear friends. Shall we observe a moment of silence for those who have fallen in the name of peace? As we do that the UN flag will be lowered to half-mast. Can we pay attention to the flag?
[Moment of silence, as flag is lowered]
Thank you very much. My dear friends, I know that this year has been a particularly difficult year for us, for our colleagues in the field, those in humanitarian activities -- in Africa, in East Timor -- and not just this year. Some have also been kidnapped in the Caucasus. The operation that we undertake in these far flung areas has become a really dangerous one for our staff. We are taking all measures to strengthen security, to work with the governments concerned to ensure the security of our staff. We are also working on stricter guidelines for when we pull out the staff, and when they return. This cannot be a science. It will be a question of judgement. I hope most of the time we will get it right. There may be occasions when we will get it wrong, and I hope those will be very few.
But let me say that, today, we had a similar event in Geneva, where the staff marched in honour of those who have fallen. Mrs. [Sadako] Ogata and Mrs. Mary Robinson addressed the staff, and they, like you, marched in solidarity for the ones we have lost. I think the activities we undertake, the work we do for the poor and the needy, is a noble cause and is something that we can all be proud of. When the Heads of States were here on the first day of the Summit, they realised when they stood up for one minute of silence, they realised how dangerous our work is, and the risks we take every day in the field, performing the tasks and the mandates that they have given us.
I also would want to send a message to the families of the friends and colleagues we have lost, but I know that words are not enough. It is not enough for us to offer sympathy and condolences. It will not bring their lost ones back. But we have to become even more determined to continue our work, to help the needy, to get the message out to these families and others that their loved ones did not die in vain. We shall continue our work. We are going to take greater care. But there are millions out there who need our help, and we cannot let them down.
So let me thank you once again for coming in your numbers, in solidarity, to honour those that we have lost. I know that next Monday is Staff Day - this will be very much on our minds on that day too. I speak also for Mrs. Ogata, for Catherine Bertini, for Carol Bellamy, and all the heads of peacekeeping missions who have also lost people. They are all shocked by the tendency for people to attack staff members who have gone in the name of peace only to work. But this should make us more determined, not only to protect them, but to carry on with our essential work. I know it is going to make some of us hesitant as to whether we take on peace operations, we go to the field, whether we participate in humanitarian activities or not. I would hope this would not dissuade us. We need to carry out our work but we need to be careful. We need to take greater steps. We need to press the governments to help protect us. We need to ensure that those who attack humanitarian workers are brought to justice and we will do whatever we can to do that.
So, thank you very much for being here, for being here in solidarity,
and for the work that we have to do today and tomorrow. Thank you very much.
Remarks made by the Secretary-General to CNN upon entering UN Headquarters -- 19 September 2000
Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary-General. What do you plan to tell the envoy from Indonesia regarding the security situation in West Timor?
SG: I think I will repeat to him what I said to President Wahid -- that they need to bring the violence under control, they need to deal with the militia, they need to disarm them, they need to dismantle those refugee camps within three months and help the refugees who want to go back to East Timor go back. And until that is done, their own reputation and their relationship with the world can be compromised.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on Iraq: what is your sense of what's happening? You spoke with the Iraqi Foreign Minister yesterday -- there's this sense that trouble in oil markets, more sabre-rattling, what's your sense?
SG: I think in the discussions yesterday we did not touch on the oil-market and the oil-flows. We did talk about the Iraq-UN relationship. We did talk about moving forward. We did talk about the implementation of 1284, which they still do not accept. I had a very useful discussion with him on the UN relationship on the ground -- the oil-for-food, the humanitarian aspects, but we didn't get into the oil. The other Foreign Ministers here and other leaders were able to talk to the Iraqis, to Prime Minister Tareq Aziz and to the Foreign Minister, and quite a lot of them feel that we should find a way of breaking the impasse and get Iraq to cooperate with the United Nations. And so I will wait to see what these discussions and talks yield.
Q: Do you have any sense that they are going to let inspectors back in?
SG: It wasn't evident in my talks with the Foreign Minister but in this life I don't think one can say never or forever.
Q: Humanitarian aid workers still around the world are in peril. What can the UN do about it? We've had so many Security Council meetings about protecting aid workers…
SG: I think that as an Organization we are going to take greater steps to protect our staff and also come up with stricter guidelines as to where we can operate and where we cannot, when we should pull the staff out and stay out. So we're having a very, very critical review as to how we operate in some of these danger zones. We're also trying to put pressure on some of the governments in the areas we operate who are responsible for law and order. But what is unacceptable and really appalling is that these young men and women who go to these areas to help -- to assist -- then become targets. They are not at war with anyone. They went because they wanted to help, they went because they have compassion, they went because they understand the human condition and want to do whatever they can to help. It is unforgivable that these human beings would then become targets of either rebels or government forces which are at war with each other.
Q: Do you have any information on Peru?
SG: No, I think the information I have is what you may have: that President Fujimori has indicated he is going to call elections and he will not be a candidate and I hope that free and fair and transparent elections will be organized in the short-term.
Q: Will there be a breakthrough on Cyprus here?
SG: We are trying, but I can't say we are there yet.
Remarks made by the Secretary-General upon entering UNHQ, 12 September 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: The party is over. I wanted to get your feeling -- we had a lot of written statements from you -- on how it all came off last week, inside the building and outside.
SG: We're very happy with the way the summit went and I think the fact that so many Heads of State and Government came is a testimony of their belief and confidence in this Organization, and I would want to thank my staff for the great work that they did. I think a great deal of the credit goes to them. I was only the conductor and I think we got it done and I am very, very grateful. I am also grateful to New Yorkers for their courtesy, for their understanding, despite the fact that we caused a great deal of pain for them. But New Yorkers are world travellers and I think they also take pride in the fact that this city is the capital of the world, and last week we really made it so. We brought the whole world here.
Q: I don't want to inject any sour music, I think you said you were the conductor of, but, Iraq. Can you describe what they've told you regarding the experts you'd like to send in and your reaction to their reaction.
SG: Well they have indicated they will not cooperate with the team, and of course there is no point in my sending a team that they are not going to cooperate with. So I will have the chairperson of the team begin to do some preparatory work here until such time that there is some movement in the situation, or they see the usefulness of the group, because I think it will be useful for them, it will be useful for the UN, and I hope they will reconsider.
Q: The Sierra Leone military situation, when will the rotation shake up, occur, and how damaging has it been that they haven't gotten along with apparently the UN commander?
SG: I think it is always difficult in peacekeeping operations. You bring in forces from different countries and try to mould them into a cohesive, productive force. It is not helpful when there are differences and bickering between the commanders and this is a situation that cannot be allowed to fester and we are going to deal with it effectively and promptly.
Q: How do you feel after the summit? Was there some secret agenda that you had in a good way, Iran-US, listening to each other. Castro-Clinton handshake. Can you tell us about that?
SG: I thought those were delightful moments during the Summit. I mean, they were symbolic, but very important, for a US President and a Cuban President to shake hands for the first time in over 40 years - I think it is a major symbolic achievement. To see Mrs. Albright listening to President Khatami during the discussions on [The Dialogue Among Civilizations] and to see President Clinton listening to Khatami and vice versa is also very important, and, I hope that they are signs of things to come.
Q: Thank you. Thank you, Sir.
SG: Have a good day.
Exchange at presentation of petition signed by some 21 million people, urging leaders of the Group of Eight nations to cancel the global debt. The presentation was made by President Olesegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, and Bono, lead singer of the rock group "U2", as well as leaders of the "Jubilee 2000" campaign, New York, 7 September 2000 (unofficial transcript) ...
SG: Let me thank you Mr. President, Bono, for all the effort that has gone into this. I think when we talk of our common humanity, and we talk of solidarity, some people laugh at it. But you have taken up the cause of the poor; you have worked toward debt relief, debt reduction, and we have got 21.7 million people to support this effort by signing this document. I believe it is a sign that the world is awakening and our consciences are pushing us to go out and help those in need, and I hope this symbolic gesture by the ordinary people - men and women out there - are telling their governments, this is serious, do something about it. I hope that message gets through. I want to thank you and all those who signed this petition for their sympathy and concern for their fellow man and woman. I hope this is only the beginning. This is the new world; the new world where governments, NGOs, individuals, corporations, come together to tackle our common problems across national boundaries…and to cancel the debts.
Bono: I would also like to thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, and President Obasanjo, for standing with us in what is simply common sense. We have a chance to make a real difference, to a billion people living on less than a dollar a day, and the only thing that is in the way is bureaucracy and red tape. We are angry about that. We have the political will. We have met met with all the leaders, who listened to us. They promised a hundred billion dollars - this is big money - but we can't get it through and into the mouths of starving children because of bureaucracy. We believe that you, and the President here with us, will really make a difference in our struggle, not to get the point across, but just to get the money. Show us the money! And we thank you for that. God bless you.
Jubilee rep: I just wanted to say that on behalf of Jubilee 2000's 21 - at least 21 million supporters around the world - these are people who have given up their Saturdays, who have given up their spare time, who have given up their money, to dedicate themselves to the cause of debt cancellation for poorest countries - they will be so proud today to know that you are receiving this. But they will be even more proud on the day that the debt is actually cancelled; that the things for which they have sacrificed will actually come to fruition. I thank you too. Bono: We were really thrilled by this idea that the Secretary-General says [inaudible]. A lot of people in news culture are very cynical about governments, and we were thrilled to hear you say that it's "we the people", not we the governments. That's great to see the UN get back to where it started. Thank you again.
We The Peoples: The Role Of The UN In The 21st Century "International Question Time" BBC World Service, Monday, 4 September 2000
BBC: Welcome to a special edition of "International Question Time". Answering today's questions is the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Kofi Annan, thank you for joining us.
SG: Thank you very much, I am happy to be with you.
BBC: Kofi Annan is in New York hosting this week's Millennium Summit, which is being attended by over a hundred and fifty world leaders, the biggest meeting of its kind ever. A parallel event is been held at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London, where a distinguished group of academics, aid workers and commentators are gathered and they are going to be asking the questions for the next hour. Both these events have similar themes, what is the role of the United Nations in the 21st century? Secretary-General, let me exercise chairman's privilege and ask the first question. Your preparatory document for this Millennium Summit is called We the Peoples. Now, surely the peoples of the world are represented by their national governments, how can individuals around the world see the United Nations, as representing their interests?
SG: I think it is important that even though the UN is an organisation of member states, that we all accept that the ideals and the principles the UN exists to protect, belong to the people and therefore whatever we do in a way, we place the human being at the centre and I believe the peoples of the world should be able to join hands with the UN in making the world a better place and by peoples of the world I mean NGO groups, private sector foundations, all of us, should be able to work in partnership to tackle some of the majors problems that we are facing, from poverty to disease, to education of girls and so forth, and I think the peoples of the world, should see the UN as their organisation, as their forum, and work with us in making the UN what it ought to be.
BBC: Thank you very much. That is a very positive interpretation. One of the areas of discussion for this week's Summit is "Freedom from Fear". So lets take some questions which relate to that theme and the first one comes from John Dickie.
John Dickie, a member of the Institute: A simple question. First of all, Secretary General, Why does the UN take so long to engage in effective peacekeeping? For example, in Sierra Leone where the Lomé Accord is now over one year old, there are still not enough UN troops on the ground., and even though the United States is training 3,000 Nigerian troops they will not be in Sierra Leone until next year. Again, the diamond region is not under control of the central government and the disarmament centres have failed to retrieve even 50% of the weapons in the rebels' hands. Why does it take so long?
SG: Let me start by saying that, as you know, the United Nations does not have a standing army. We borrow the armies from the governments of the organisation. In effect, it almost some times seems as if it is when the fire breaks out that we begin to think of building a fire house. I often say if you were to compare the UN to the city of New York, were you tell the mayor we know you need the fire house but we will get you one when the fire breaks. The UN does not have an army, we approach our member states to help us, sometimes they respond very promptly other times they do not. And this is one of the reasons why I set up a high level panel, led by Lakhdar Brahimi, the former foreign affairs minister of Algeria, with many eminent persons including General Naumann of Germany, who was head of the NATO Military Council, to help us think through what we should do to be able to improve UN peacekeeping and they have given us a superb report, a report (that deals) with the quality of the mandate we get from the Council and urging the member states to give us the support that will allow us to deploy much more rapidly, perhaps within a month in some cases, and definitely not much longer than that. And if governments were to earmark trained units at home, that could be deployed for these operations, we can reduce a delay time perhaps from the four-five months that we require today, to possibly a month to six weeks.
BBC: Are you encouraged, John Dickie?
John Dickie: Well, with all due respect to Lakhdar Brahimi, who was such an excellent ambassador for his country here in London many years ago, Why is there not an attempt to shorten this time band by having for example a rapid-reaction force available to take troops into the area immediately?
SG: I think to have a rapid reaction force of the kind you refer to, implies a standing army. The member states have shown no desire or inclination to set up a standing army for the UN. They have raised the question of legal issues, question of location, question of budget, and this is why we have gone the second best route of encouraging the governments to have the units on stand-by at home for quick and prompt deployment. The idea of a standing UN army has been around for a long time but unfortunately the member states have shown no interest and no inclination and I think the approach we are adopting probably will help us ameliorate the situation if not get ride of it altogether.
BBC: Secretary-General, the British government in tandem with another main British party, the Liberal Democrats, has called for fundamental changes in the United Nations. It says "UN peacekeeping forces need more robust rules of engagement and better training, and it advocates a military staff College, possibly in Britain, to train officers to operate more effectively". How would you respond to that suggestion?
SG: Well, I am encouraged by the announcement because I have always made clear that the best peace-keepers are well-trained and well-equipped as soldiers. And so, any training we can give to the boys before they get into the theatre will be extremely useful. I said boys but today we have lots of women in peacekeeping troops, I'd better be careful. And I think the idea of training them and sending them in would be extremely helpful and the question of robust mandate, also falls in line with the study that the Brahimi team came out with. And I share that view because in the past we have tended to base our planning on best-case scenarios, in that we expect those who signed the agreement to be acting in good faith, to be prepared to cooperate and work with us. But of course, experience has shown us that this is not always the case. So we should go in with the clear rules of engagement, with the robust mandate, with the right force structure and strength to be prepared for all eventualities. And to be able to defend our mandate and ourselves.
BBC: This report that you and the questioner are talking about that was the report by the UN Panel on Peace Operations, was it?
SG: That is correct, which was released a month ago.
BBC: Let's have another question. Roger Williamson, Wilton Park Conference Centre: Secretary-General, How do you follow up that report? What is the process for follow-up? And when will we see results?
SG: We are beginning to follow up quite urgently. I have asked Louise Frechette, the Deputy Secretary-General, to take charge of implementation of the plan. The UN Summit begins on the 6th. The Security Council has decided also to meet at the Summit level during the three-day period here in New York and I expect that they would take up the report and also give us their support. The General Assembly would also have to act on it, but we intend to pursue it very aggressively. Of course it means more money and I would hope that the member states would be prepared to put up the money required.
BBC: Let's have another question.
John Owen, with the International Journalism Foundation, the Freedom Forum: Secretary-General whether it is Bosnia or Rwanda, East Timor, or Kosovo, there are always short, bitter disagreements about whether stability and reconciliation should be taking priority over the victims' demands, that those who have been accused of war crimes or human rights violations should be arrested and brought to justice. Given the excruciatingly slow process that we have been witnessing, Does he believe that the UN is putting peace and stability ahead of satisfying the victim's need to see that their tormentors have paid for the crimes?
SG: I agree with you that in the end justice is as important to peace as any other steps we could take, but we also need to move the society forward and we try to do both. If you look at the case in Rwanda, Bosnia, we set up a tribunal, we are in the process of setting up a similar tribunal in Sierra Leone, so we are sending now the message that impunity will not be allowed to stand and those who committed crimes against humanity will pay for it and at the same time we try to get the society to reconcile and move beyond conflict to peace-building and post-conflict development. But of course, there is always the question, Can one have perfect peace? And we are often caught with the question of, what do you do when search in some situations for perfect peace can derail a fragile peace agreement or would make some other people walk away? In those situations, do you abandon justice and just go for reconciliation? And can there be a reconciliation without justice?
BBC: Although of course, Secretary-General, in the last couple of days we have learned that fifteen highly dangerous detainees have escaped from a UN guarded prison in Kosovo. I wonder, is the United Nations the right force to be holding criminals?
SG: Obviously, this is a new area and a new activity for us but we also have to understand that the situation in Kosovo is very volatile and we are operating in a very difficult environment and KFOR and the UNMIK, the UN team under Kouchner are trying to do their best. Prisoners escaping from jail happens in many countries, but in a situation like Kosovo, which is fragile, where the institutions are weak, it is not surprising that this would happen. We are embarrassed, of course, and we are doing whatever we can to return them to jail.
John Owen, with the International Journalism Foundation, the Freedom Forum: Just a follow-up, Secretary-General, it also in my area, journalism, also gives local journalists to feel that justice is not being done quickly enough, ammunition to publish what, I think most of the free press would consider irresponsible reporting, as did the (deed) editor in Kosovo to name so-called collaborators with the UN, in a sense acting as a journalistic vigilante group, because they feel that the UN and the international groups are not pursuing these war criminals quickly enough. So I just wanted to say that also it spills over into the journalist community as well.
SG: Yes, but I would appeal to the journalists to understand the circumstances under which the UN is operating and therefore be a bit more sensitive in their own reporting, and take into account the state of the judiciary that we found and the fact that we almost have to build it from scratch including bringing in foreign judges and prosecutors, which is a very complex and unique situation. So, yes, there may be some delays, it may be slow, but I hope that journalists will make the point that slow as it is, we are moving forward and we are determined to take action against these people.
BBC: Another question.
Christopher Lord, Institute of International Relations in Prague: You have talked about the problem of setting up courts and sending in international judges and of course, recent UN peace operations have included important civilian police elements, and one of the recommendations of the Brahimi Report, which you mentioned, on the future of peace operations, is that the UN should study the possibility of formulating an interim criminal code for using in its operation. So could you tell us what your first thoughts are about the feasibility of this? And do you think, for instance, that the General Assembly could in principle adopt a resolution endorsing such a code one day?
SG: We are studying, and my legal team is looking at it, and I think the entire report is before the General Assembly. Obviously we are looking at this. Also at the same time when we are trying to press ahead with the establishment of the International Criminal Court, which I would hope in time would also be responsible for trying some of the criminals that we are talking about on this programme. But I think the idea of the UN operations being prepared both on the judiciary, the penal and the police aspects as we go in, is a positive suggestion and I will have my team look at it and I hope that the General Assembly will go along with us because we have run into these kinds of problems from Somalia to Kosovo as someone has referred to other places.
BBC: Next question.
Cyril Townsend: I work for a British-Arab Council and I wonder, Secretary-General, if I could turn to the Middle East. The Gulf War ended over ten years ago,. Sanctions have been imposed for that period, they are working for the extent that the population are suffering in a horrendous way but meanwhile smuggling is allowing Saddam Hussein and his cronies to do very well, thank you. The most recent Security Council Resolution is unacceptable to Saddam Hussein and you have no crucial UN inspectors in Baghdad. Could I suggest, Sir, this is a good moment for the UN to have a rethink and drastically change its policies towards the regime, and in particular target that regime rather than the long-suffering people of Iraq?
SG: Thank you for that question but let me say that the Council members are very conscious about the points you have raised and particularly the plight of the Iraqi population and that it was that consent that led to the creation of the Oil for Food Scheme, which obviously was not intended to take care of all the uneasiness and has not. We are at a critical stage, as you say, we have a resolution, 1284, that the government has rejected, we have no inspectors on the ground and on the whole issue of sanctions, members have been doing a lot of thinking here in this house, and I trust that in time the members of the Council will decide to make adjustments if they deem it necessary.
BBC: We have a question from Melanie Bright.
Melanie Bright, Janes Defence Weekly: Richard Holbroke recently said "UN peacekeeping needs more funds, more and better trained civilian and military personnel, and a coherent command structure with better central direction out of New York." This to me sort of implies creating an administrative defence within the United Nations. Now, I am wondering, Is there the will among UN members to create a peacekeeping department using military models?
BBC: And Richard Holbrooke, of course, is the United States permanent representative to the United Nations
SG: Yes, I think Ambassador Holbrooke is right, that we need to strengthen UN peacekeeping and in fact, the report which has just been issued confirms the observations of Holbroke. And what we are trying to do is not only try and get well-trained and well-equipped soldiers in the field but here at headquarters trying to set up proper back-stop and arrangements to make sure those who are here, who support the operations in the field are well-prepared, well-equipped and can do it effectively. We do it with a mix of personnel, both military and civilian, and I would hope the member states will support our initiatives, our efforts to reform and strengthen peacekeeping because after all, it is the soldiers who are on the ground whom we are trying to support better, whom we are trying to help protect and I think that they will see it not only that it is in the interest of the organisation as a whole but it is also in the interest of their own armies and soldiers at a time when we are all very concerned about casualties.
BBC: This might be an appropriate time to take a question from Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, who is the former Commander of the UN forces in Rwanda in 1994, which of course were unable to prevent the genocide.
Romeo Dallaire: If we could go back to your report We The Peoples and look into the future regarding peacekeeping. Is it one of your aims with that report to move sovereign states from their current self-interest rules of participation in peacekeeping to in fact raise them to a higher reason, higher vision, of global humanism or human security around the world?
SG: Thank you very much. Romeo, it is great to hear you, it has been quite a while and I am very pleased that you are able to participate in this forum and I think Chatham House has done very well by bringing you out there. Let me say that that is precisely what I have argued, that in this global era we need to have a broader definition of national interest and that if we continue to pursue our national interest in narrow and selfish terms we will be doing ourselves a disservice, because in this global world, no one can afford to think in purely local terms. And it is also in that spirit that I raised the question regarding sovereignty and the tendency to use it as a shield, and that is also being challenged and questioned.
BBC: Romeo Dallaire, let me ask you a blunt question. Given your experience, Are you suggesting that there has been something of a racist element to decision-making at the UN?
Romeo Dallaire: You are asking to define self-interest in different nations, and from the response to Rwanda versus the response to Yugoslavia, which is in the back door of Europe, one will tend to believe that that was a component in the decision-making of the big players, certainly.
SG: I should say here that when Romeo was in charge in Rwanda and was very short-staffed and did not have capacity that he needed to get his job done, those governments with capacity did not offer, he was also faced with an awkward situation where he had very few men to try and cope with a very difficult situation whilst governments with large armies and capacity went in to evacuate their nationals and gave him no support at that critical period. They just removed their nationals and left Dallaire and his several hundred men to cope on their own. And that is the kind of behaviour, I hope we will not see in the future.
BBC: Secretary-General, I am sure you are aware that a book has been publicised this week that documents the Rwanda genocide and the events leading up to it and it claims very authoritatively that your predecessor, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in his previous existence as Egypt's minister of state for foreign affairs, did a secret arms deal with Rwanda which ran between 1990 and 1994 and provided the then Rwandan administration who took power with many arms. Six weeks after the last delivery, the genocide began and subsequently, Boutros Boutros-Ghali inadequately briefed the Security Council. Do you feel that his actions critically enabled and exacerbated what happened in Rwanda?
SG: I really do not have the details of that report and would hesitate to comment on it. But I think while he was Secretary-General and the question of Rwanda came out, the Council members, the entire membership and everyone was aware of what was going on in Rwanda. I do not think anyone can use lack of information as reasons why we did not act. It was a question of lack of will.
BBC: It so happens that the author of that book who spent six years writing it, is with us today. Where is she? Linda Melvern, What will your response to the Secretary-General be?
Linda Melvern: I find his remarks quite strange really, because I have interviewed some of the ambassadors who were on the Council at the time. Colin Keating (the then Permanent Representative of New Zealand), who was President (of the Security Council in April) 1994, when the genocide began, has told me that with better information the Council may have acted quite differently and indeed, Sir David Hannay, (the then Permanent Representative of the UK) that I interviewed in December last year, has said to me that the Council was very badly informed about what was going on. I do know that Boutros Boutros-Ghali controlled the flow of information to the Security Council. Indeed, Secretary-General, I think you were sitting in a Council meeting once to be asked a question by Colin Keating only to tell him that you could not reply because, without the authority of the Secretary-General, you were unable to do so. I think people find this a puzzling way for the Security Council to behave.
SG: No. Let me say that we had in place a different system, there was a gentleman, former Indian Ambassador, Chinmaya Gharekhan, who served as, if you wish, Secretary-General's special representative to the Council and he passed information from the Secretariat to the Council, and in effect, for a long time, was the only person allowed to brief the Council. This changed when I took office and the responsible officials as the head of Peacekeeping Department, Mr. (Bernard) Miyet; the head of Political Affairs Department, Sir Kieran Prendergast, and Sergio Vieira de Mello, when he was in charge of Humanitarian Affairs, and the agencies the heads of the UN Programmes, UNHCR, World Fund Programme, now go directly to brief the Council. But let me say this, I think that the point is correct, that the information flow was channelled and controlled through one person. But what I cannot accept is for Council members to say that they did not act and do more because they were not getting reports from the Secretariat. There were members in the Council who knew more than the Secretariat knew, who through their own intelligence, their own reporting, their own ambassadors, had much more information than the Secretariat had. It is a question of dialogue often between the members themselves, between the Secretariat and the members. And so the idea, that if we had known more, we would have acted and taken greater action, I think is something that I personally cannot accept. And not only that, Mrs. Albright has made it quite clear that her mandate was clear not to encourage the deployment of additional troops to Rwanda. And so the question I maintain was not one of information but one of will, with all due respect to Colin Keating, whom I know and I respect and I worked with when he was on the Council. Thank you.
BBC: Linda Melvern, Rwanda remains a scouring and wounded country. What in your view might the UN do now?
Linda Melvern: I am very bothered as a journalist that the Council conducts its business in closed sessions. This is a recent development. Twenty years ago, we could have seen what the options were, what the information was. And yet, the Council now a days is completely unaccountable and I find that very worrying indeed.
SG: I think there are quite a few other people who share this concern and the Council has come under some pressure to open up and it is responding by having a few more open sessions. But you are quite right, that all their deliberations were open and the members had to argue their positions and take responsibilities for positions they took publicly, and I think maybe as part of the (…. ) as we pursue our reforms, this may eventually be one of the areas the members states may open up.
BBC: Let's have a question from Hella Pick.
Hella Pick: Secretary-General, since you have now been talking about the Security Council, How do you see the reform of the Security Council, not only just in terms of greater openness but to open up the membership to Africa, to Asia, to the continents that are now not represented as permanent members? The British government in its report, in its recommendations, has now made this proposal, but of course, these are old proposals which have been around for a very long time and the Security Council in its present configuration simply does not want to take these kind of decisions. And linked to that, I would ask you if you would comment a little bit how you intend to gain greater support from the United States, particularly given that this is an election year. Do you see that after the election you will be able to do something to gain the support of the United States for all these various issues that you have been discussing but in particular also the reform of the Security Council?
SG: You have asked me two tough questions in one minute. Let me say that on the Security Council reform, almost every member state I have spoken to, agrees that the Security Council needs to be reformed. So, on that there is almost total unanimity, but beyond that, you have no agreement as to how the Council should be organised and the nature of that reform. But I think the debate breaks…you have two debates going on. There is a group who believes that you have to keep the Council small in order for it to be effective. And then you have those who believed that the Council ought to be brought in line with today's realities and that its current structure, and composition, reflects the geopolitical realities of 1945, and that we should make the Council more democratic, more representative, and thus allow it to gain greater legitimacy with the world's people. I personally believe that it ought to be possible to reform the Council to achieve both objectives, effectiveness, make it more democratic and representative, and in a way, permit it to gain in legitimacy. In the past, member states got stuck on the question of numbers. The US at one stage said no more than twenty one and others wanted to go to twenty six. I think given the British statement and an earlier statement by the Americans that they were prepared to be flexible on the number, I would hope that at this Millennium Summit, there will be some serious discussions among heads of state to move the process forward. I am not suggesting that we will get a decision on the Summit but at least we should be able to move forward. On your second question, I hope whoever wins the White House and whoever comes, whoever takes the Congress or the Senate, that they will realise that the UN, in this global era, is an indispensable organisation that they should support. The US has a natural leadership role in this house, but to lead the others it has to pay its way, it has to assume its bigger responsibilities with the organisation, and work with other like-minded governments to strengthen this organisation. We have lots of support with the American public, poll after poll indicates that about 65-70% of the American public supports the UN. I would hope that we will find some way of translating that popular support into action in Washington, and hopefully, there will be some indications of this after the elections.
BBC: We have moved on to one of the other areas of discussion that today and the Millennium Summit, which is renewing the United Nations. And going back to Hella's first question, Lord Desai, you asked a similar question, What did you make of the Secretary-General's response?
Lord Desai: The crucial question, Secretary-General, would be whether the veto can in any way be modified. Now, what I would like to hear is this, Is there any movement to move from a veto to even a qualified majority voting which might make the Security Council more efficient, although I am sure that the big five may kick up their heels about that?
SG: Yes. This is an issue which has been floating around for a while, but first of all, some have suggested let's do away with the veto. I do not think that is a realistic one, because the five permanent members are not going to give up this privilege. And to do away with the veto you need their agreement and I do not think you are going to get it. There has been the suggestion that, maybe, the veto should be qualified and prescribed and one should have a clear understanding as to the circumstances under which the veto can be used. The other suggestion has been that we should come up with a mechanism to override the veto, let's say two thirds of the members of the Council can override a veto, and that also has not been embraced. And so, the discussions on Security Council reform seem to be veering more towards creating additional vetoes, with some arguing that one veto is as effective as ten. And so the issue of limiting the veto or eliminating it, does not seem to be going anywhere. Whether at the end of the day, when the Council has expanded, and the Council is reformed, the member states would have the courage to tackle this issue, which most people are beginning to see as a real democratic issue, and of course they tell the UN; they often tell me, you go around the world, as the United Nations, promoting democracy, promoting the rule of law, promoting a say for the people in the way they are governed and decisions that affect them but you are not practising in your own house.
BBC: Let's move on to another theme of this week's Millennium Summit and we have a question from Percy Guge.
Percy Guge, Member of Chatham House: Regarding Freedom from Want and overcoming famine and starvation, Could I ask if there could be two approaches to this, and immediate approach and a long-term approach? The immediate approach is this: that where there are areas in the world where starvation prevails and there is terrible famine. Could there not be some kind of crash-programme where planes could be flown bearing food stuffs to these areas straight away in order to relieve the hungry millions? Regarding the long-term approach, Could there not be some kind of strategic thinking on the matter and try to forestall famine where we know that draughts and floods occur in order that we may say that there is indeed Freedom from Want, which is one of the four freedoms from the Second World War? Thank you.
SG: I agree with the approach that you suggested and in fact this is what we try to do. Let me give you a real concrete example. Today we have famine in the Horn of Africa and it has affected several countries, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, and to some extend, Somalia. What we did, was mount an immediate programme of assistance and organised a donors conference to raise money to be able to give them immediate support. I set up a team headed by Catherine Bertini, the head of the World Food Programme, who went to the area with the team, made an assessment and we began moving in food by air, by rail, by ship, and distributing the food to the needy population. At the same time, we set up a task force, for long-term food security planning for the region, headed by the head of FAO in Rome. So Mr. Jacques Diouf, (the Director General of FAO), went to the region with his team, and they are doing a very serious work with the governments in the region, in the hope of ensuring, taking steps that would ensure longer-term food security. This has been done in other regions around the world, and he is quite confident that, with the support of the governments, this can be done. And so, I share your approach and we are trying to apply them around the world. Thank you.
Simon Burall, from Charter 99: Five years ago, the Fiftieth Anniversary Declaration from the General Assembly made some fine commitments to poverty reduction and so on, and yet little movement has been made on those and other commitments made on the UN events. What is there to prevent this declaration coming out of this Summit leading to lots of fine words, and yet not actually seen much progress towards the goals that it set? And specifically, I am wondering whether you will be willing to set up a technical review team to monitor progress on the declaration? And technical being a way of removing it from the politics of the UN and narrow self-interest, and also a way perhaps of looking at greater accountability of member states themselves to have them implementing the progress towards these goals.
SG: I would hope that the results of the Summit would be implemented by all. I think this time we are taking a different approach. In the past, there had been a tendency for us at the UN, or for others to think the UN can do everything, we identify a problem, we identify an issue, and we expect the governments to give us the money to go out and deal with it. In this report, and since I came, I have taken a slightly different approach, because governments have cut back on their development assistance, so I did not want us, as the UN and as organisation, chasing diminishing dollars to be able to tackle these huge problems that we are dealing with. So what I am saying is yes, we have a problem of poverty, we have a problem of girls education, we have a problem of Aids, and it is a problem for all of us. I would expect the Summit to come up with the programme of action that will give much notice, not only to the UN, but to the individual member states and that they all should go back home and come up with a programme of action for fighting poverty, and we have set targets that we believe are achievable. We will monitor it (by technical monitoring), and give periodic reports to see how far we have gone, and who is doing what and who is not keeping up. And I think if we all bring our collective effort to bear, governments, NGOs, private sector foundations, universities, and international organisations, we will make a difference on these issues. This is not a celebration, it is a working session and I hope they will all leave satisfied that they have worked and they have given us a plan of action that they all go home and implement with us.
BBC: Secretary-General, you have said if all these various sectors come together they can make a difference, but that is a very big "if", is it not? Are you something of an idealist?
SG: I think not only am I an idealist, I dream and I hope all of us dream. First a dream. Without a dream you would not go anywhere, and I think quite frankly when you talk of my being an idealist, we are beginning to break grounds in several areas. Take the question of Aids. The issue with Aids is unaffordable medication, and delivery systems in the third world. We are talking to governments, we are talking to private sectors, there are very active NGOs doing very good work in this area. We have been in discussions with the consortium of five pharmaceutical industries asking them to make these medications affordable and some have discussed the possibility of selling them at 80-90% discount. We are pressing them to allow governments in South Africa and Northeast to produce generic versions of these medications which would be affordable to the population. This is how you work with the private sector, this is how you work with NGOs in setting other areas. I do not think I am being naïve, or just dreaming blandly, but yes, I am optimistic, yes I dream and I will keep dreaming. BBC: I think we have a relevant question from Malcolm Harper.
Malcolm Harper: Hello, Secretary-General, I am from the United Nations Association.
SG: Hello Malcolm, How are you?
Malcolm Harper: I am very well thank you, I hope you are well.
SG: Good, yes. Malcolm Harper: I was going to ask you a question about HIV-Aids, because it seems that success in the struggle against HIV-Aids is as crucial as anything to the well-being of humanity indeed, possibly to the survival of humanity. And, How can you assure us that the Heads of state of this week Summit are seriously going to address this issue?
SG: I think I have been pushing the heads of states whenever I meet them and I think the report is also clear. And the Plan of Action or the Declaration that they will be signing at the end of the Summit, also embraces the recommendations I made on HIV-Aids. And in all my contacts with the heads of states, either individually or collectively, I always challenge them to take action on Aids, to speak out against Aids, and that in this situation, silence is death and that they should take up the challenge and I think, as you know in Africa, it is not only taking away Africa's present, is also taking away the future. In some countries, about 25% of the population are infected and those infected are often the professional class, the teachers, the doctors, and the lawyers and people who normally would be expected to help developing an economy. And so you are right that it is a fight which we cannot afford to lose and we need to find ways of arresting the spread of the Aids and finding ways of getting affordable medication to those who are already infected and particularly (…) protecting pregnant women and the children. Of course, today we already have millions of orphans who at the age of 10 are sometimes forced to look after their siblings. So, it is a real problem, and this is why I believe when we are dealing with these kinds of problems we cannot leave to governments alone, we cannot leave it to the UN alone. It is such a huge problem that all hands have to be on deck, and this is why I have been proposing and pushing the kinds of partnerships that I referred to earlier.
William Shawcross: You have been in this job four years almost, four long years I imagine. And as an idealist, What would you say are your greatest disappointments in this job so far? And, What have you learned, what new lessons have you learned about the way in which the world tries to deal with evil?
SG: I think my disappointments have been those situations so far, that are of our darkest failures, Srebrenica, Rwanda, and of course you will recall in East Timor we fought very hard to get help to the East Timorians. In the end, we did, quite a lot of destruction had taken place but we were able to do it. But my disappointment and frustration has been the fact that, evil does exist, we know it does exist, and yet we often do not have the courage or the will to confront it. Not only do we not have the will to confront it, in some cases where action, rapid action, could contain or nip the problem in the bud, we do not move. It is when the situation is hopeless that we suddenly wake up and want to do something. Usually by then is late. What I would hope is that as we move into the next century, we will be prepared to take preventive action, we will be prepared to act in the interest of humanity, that we will be prepared to stand up to protect those whose rights are grossly and systematically attacked. So in effect what I am saying is, when we have the capacity to do good, we should muster the will to act. It is that inability to develop that will, to move the international community to do the right thing, which often disappoints me most. If the capacity was not there, it would be different, but to know that is there but it is not being offered and no one wants to move, is sometimes very difficult to explain to those who are caught in those deplorable and painful situations I have to deal with sometimes.
William Shawcross: Do you think that in the case of Sierra Leone, the world has mastered the will to act and do you think in retrospective list, the Lomé Peace Agreement last year was a disastrous peace agreement, an agreement too far and that the United Nations should not have been associated with?
SG: It was not an ideal agreement. The parties of the conflict and the leaders in the region wanted to sign it and were determine to sign it. We entered the reservation, particularly with regard to amnesty, indicating that amnesty that they referred to, in our judgement, cannot apply to crimes against humanity and probably just as well we did because we are now in the process of setting up a tribunal to put Foday Sankoh (the rebel leader) and some of the others on trial. But even in Sierra Leone, I think the kind of will that we had expected has not been forthcoming. You will recall that when the 100 peacekeepers were taken hostage, and I asked for a rapid reaction force, no government responded. But luckily the British did go in with the force albeit not under the UN. But their arrival was very crucial, they came at the right psychological moment and their presence helped us to contain the situation, to stabilise the situation and begin to reinforce the peacekeeping operation, and hopefully we will be able to continue to build up and work with the government to expand its administration throughout the territory. But I will say I am not entirely pleased with the kind of support and will that has been exhibited so far. We have (secured Security Council approval to) increase the force from 13,000 to 20,500 with the possibility of going to 26,000. I do not have the troops yet, and those who have well-trained troops are not offering. The US Government has agreed to train Nigerian battalions but that will take months and we probably will not see them in the theatre till some time next year. And when you run an operation like that you cannot take advantage of momentum even when you have created it, following the operation in Kailahun and the action we took against the West Side Boys. So, it does make it extremely difficult running this operation and we will keep pressing and cajoling and encouraging governments to give us the forces we need.
BBC: I will tell you what disappoints me about this session, is that we did not have any questions submitted about one of your priorities, Secretary-General, which you talked about under the headings "Sustaining our Future". Now, Why did you see the world's environment as a priority for the UN?
SG: This is an extremely important area and I must say, during the eighteen months that we consulted member states as we were preparing the report We The Peoples, not a single ambassador raised the issue of environment, which is an indication that it is going out of the radar and yet, the way we are plundering the resources of the earth, we are not going to leave a very healthy air for our children and their children and when you look at the weather pattern and the need and the floods and changes that we are having. In 1998 alone, natural disasters cost governments 100 billion dollars. We had more natural disasters in '98 than in the decade preceeding, in the 80s. And I think unless we are able to protect the environment and, we continue to, to….and sign the Kyoto protocol, and contain the greenhouse gases, we are going to create a situation that will perhaps during your life time and mine, will be a very dangerous situation to have. And of course, my concern is for the children, the future. There is an African proverb, let me end with that, which says that "The earth is not ours, it is a treasure we hold in trust for our children and their children" and I am not sure my generation has been worthy of that trust".
BBC: Thank you very much Secretary-General, and thank you to all of you who contributed and participated. Apologies to those of you whose questions we did not have time to…but above all, thanks to Kofi Annan for being so thoughtful and so thought-provoking and so forward- looking. So how will the United Nations perform in this new century? The debate has just started. Thank you for listening. Good bye.
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