Secretary-General's press conference
Geneva, Switzerland, 21 November 2006SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is as usual a pleasure to meet with you this morning and perhaps this will be one of our, this will be our last encounter, your last encounter with me as Secretary-General, and I want to thank you, over the years, the courtesies and the way you've covered the Organization and my own activities. Of course, we in New York sometimes seem to think that we are the centre of the world. But you here in Geneva do very essential work for the Organization and also for the international community, covering issues like human rights, humanitarian issues, health and issues of HIV which are of great importance to us, and so you have also done us a great deal of favour, and as you know, the humanitarian aspect is now very much an essential part of our work. Of course I know you go beyond the humanitarian and medical issues, but I want to thank you for your contribution and your work. I've said a lot since I got here in Geneva and over the last few months, so I would much rather not take your time reciting things that I have already said before, and I want to leave as much time as we can for questions, so let's go straight. I will try and answer your questions.
Q: Good morning, Secretary-General. I just, in the name of ACANU, I'm the President of ACANU as well as the chief correspondent for Reuters. I'd like to welcome you back here to Salle de Presse III. We appreciate very much the interest that you have always shown in what goes on here in Geneva, and your willingness to make yourself available to us, time permitting, for questions, when you come on your trips. We hope it's a lead that your successor will follow. So in the name of ACANU, I would just like to wish you a very peaceful and I am sure a very productive retirement, and who knows, perhaps we'll bump into you shopping in Globus one of these days.
So, I would just like to put just a very quick question to you on the situation in Darfur. In the last few days, there have been a number of pieces of news: both you yourself have announced the willingness of the Sudanese Government to accept the participation of the United Nations in a peacekeeping force; [Under]-Secretary-General Jan Egeland has talked about Sudan agreeing to new peace talks with the two rebel groups who haven't joined so far. But a lot of these things in the end have turned out to be false dawns, shall we say, in the past. So I just wondered what is your feeling about the situation at the moment. Is it really at a turning point, and what happens if it is just another false dawn?
SG: Thank you very much. I think the agreement I reached with the Sudanese parties in Addis Ababa a few days ago, I think, could be described as a turning point. For the first time, we brought everybody under one roof. By everybody, I mean the Sudanese authorities, representatives of the permanent members [of the Security Council]. We had also in the room the African Union, President Konaré, as well as representatives from Congo, Gabon, Nigeria and Senegal. In the past, one has sent messages to Sudan through individual channels, and I am not sure we all repeated the same, reaffirmed the same message, but for the first time, we were all in one room and agreed, agreed an approach, a three-phased approach, which we now have to implement. As I indicated to the press, the Sudanese accepted it, but indicated that they needed to consult on the size of the force, which we estimate should be 17,000 troops and 3,000 police. There [were] discussions about how the force commander would be appointed, whether it would be done entirely by the African Union, or joined in consultation with the UN, and of course, the question of the Special Representative who would act for both organizations, how he or she would be represented. Those were the only outstanding issues they were to consult on and come back as quickly as possible so that Konaré can put a proposal before the Peace and Security Committee of the African Union on 24 November. So in fact we do expect them to come with an answer by today, or latest tomorrow, and I know that the Sudanese and the regional leaders are meeting in Libya this morning and I suspect they will come up with some definitive answer. So I'm quite hopeful and I think Jan Egeland was right to also be hopeful. What is important is that we press ahead with immediate implementation because we cannot afford a gap, a vacuum at the end of the year, as we enter into 2007. Thank you.
Q: Secretary-General, there were calls for the UN to distance itself from the EU and the US in order to become an honest broker in the Middle East. What do you think about the Human Rights Council? Does three sessions on the Middle East discredit it, or does it give it more credibility as the only organ that really cares about and defends human rights, gross violations?
SG: Cares about which human rights? Sorry, I didn't get the last part.
Q: I am saying that the Human Rights Council devoted three special sessions to the Middle East. Some quarters say this discredits the Human Rights Council. However, other quarters think the opposite. What do you think?
SG: The Human Rights Council, which replaces the Human Rights Commission, was expected to look at the human rights record of all countries. In fact, the peer review mechanism was one of the innovations. I recall during the discussions, I myself suggested that one should look at the records, human rights records of the Council members; before they move on to look at records of others, they should start with themselves. So the idea or the expectation had been that they would take a broad view and look at as many situations as possible. Whether it's because of whether their meetings coincided with the Lebanese war, or not, they have tended to focus on the Palestinian issue, and of course when you focus on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, without even discussing Darfur and other issues, some wonder what is this Council doing, don't they have a sense of fair play, why should they ignore other situations and focus on one area? I hope as we move forward, they will broaden their work and look at human rights situations of other countries and deal with it, because if they concentrate only on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, we will hear the comments that you have indicated.
On the question of whether the UN should distance itself from the European Union and the United States, first of all, the US and the European Union and the countries in the region are major players and have great influence in any attempt to resolve the situation in the Middle East, so we need to work with them. But I have to be clear here. On the question of the embargo, or non-support of Hamas, it is the donors who have indicated they will not give any money, any support to Hamas until they agree to the three principles: acceptance of the existence of Israel, the end of violence, and commitment to obligations that had already been entered into. So even when you look at the January communiqué, it states clearly that the donor members have agreed not to give money. We are not donors, we were not in a position to do that, but we did push very hard to set up the temporary mechanism which will allow money to go into Palestine to help the needy and the poor. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, could you comment on the unfinished business of Security Council reform. Do you think that there still remains some necessary momentum or the windows of opportunities are already closed and we may wait another 10 years or so? Thank you very much.
SG: I hope the Member States will press ahead with the need to reform the Council and will not wait for another 10 years. I believe we have a good proposal on the table and I have made it very clear that as far as I'm concerned, no reform of the United Nations will be complete without the reform of the Security Council. We need to bring the Council's structure and membership in line with the realities of the twenty-first century, and not maintain agreements that cover geopolitical realities of 1945. Besides, the structure of the Council has caused quite a lot of problems, even in the reform process, because Member States tend to look at everything now through the prism of power, who has power, who is going to gain power, and who is going to lose, particularly when most of them believe that the UN has too narrow a power base focused on five countries. Any proposal you put forward about reform, about structures, is seen as to which group is going to win and which group is going to lose, and I must say, the behaviour of the P5 has not always been helpful. For example, when we were setting up the Peacebuilding Commission, they demanded five seats immediately, and they got it, and when we started discussing the Human Rights Council, they also wanted five seats reserved for them automatically. Of course the Member States reacted and they backed off that. And of course when this sort of thing happens, the smaller countries and the large number of non-aligned governments believe that the appetite for power amongst the P5 is insatiable and you have this sort of struggle. So I would hope that the proposal on the table, that would expand the Council to 25, and either create six more permanent seats without veto, or six semi-permanent seats, will propel the Member States forward.
They need to find a compromise. I have told them that they have a choice, a choice either to find a compromise and reform the Council, get into the room, participate in the Council's activities, whilst they continue to look for the perfect solution, or they can stand outside the Council and continue looking for the perfect solution which may elude them for another 10, 20 years. So, if there were to be a compromise, let's say they were to agree that instead of a semi-permanent seat of four years, or a permanent seat without veto, that they were to agree that the semi-permanent seats should be 10 years, or eight years, I am confident they would get an agreement. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to push for this sort of compromise or help them come up with a consensus. But I hope my successor will work with the like-minded governments and find a solution to it. It is absolutely essential that the Council be reformed.
Q: Mr. Annan, Sir, I wonder if you could assess for us the situation in Iraq, what you think can be done to improve it, bearing in mind the UN hasn't had a significant presence there for more than three years, and the British Prime Minister described it last week as a “disaster”.
SG: Is that a leading question? No, it is a very, very difficult situation and we need to really find creative means of bringing it under control. I think one of the key tasks which everyone realizes needs to be undertaken is the revision of the Constitution, revision of the Constitution ensuring fair power sharing and fair revenue sharing amongst the groups. As the situation stands now, the Sunnis feel that the Constitution, the revenue sharing and others, places them at a disadvantage, and everyone had agreed that there will be a revision of the Constitution. And I think what we have seen in Iraq, is each group is fighting for its place in Iraq, its place in terms of power, in terms of influence, in terms of resources, and if we can resolve that through the Constitution, I think you can take the steam out of it. I believe it is important to find a way of bringing the Iraqis together for them to discuss how they will proceed in resolving their internal differences. We will also need the neighbours to play a role, but we also need the international community, and I would hope that if we approach it on that basis, trying to resolve the issues that are dividing them internally, get it underpinned by regional and international support, then you may have to bring all the parties together into a broader conference of some sort to be able to do it.
On the question of the military presence, obviously it is a difficult issue. The US in a way is trapped in Iraq, trapped in the sense that it cannot stay and it cannot leave. There are those who maintain that its presence is a problem, and there are those who say that if they leave precipitously, the situation would get worse, and that they should stay on to help calm and stabilize the situation before they leave. I think the US obviously will have to think through this very, very carefully, but the timing of its departure will have to be optimal in the sense that it should not lead to further deterioration of the situation but try and get it into a level that when it leaves, when it withdraws, the Iraqis themselves will be able to continue to maintain a situation that would ensure a reasonable secure environment.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, during your tenure the disarmament moves within the world in general has apparently deteriorated and there are now all sorts of moves apparently to the expansion of the number of countries having nuclear weapons and so forth. To what do you attribute this, and do you see any possible fix for this in the near future?
SG: Let me say that the NPT, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has played a very important role in our efforts to control proliferation of nuclear weapons. I think it was [President] Kennedy who predicted that by now, we will have about 30 nuclear States. That has not happened, thanks mainly to the NPT and its application. Now of course, it has been challenged by some countries, and I think one often looks at North Korea and Iran. What is important is that we try to strengthen the NPT and the additional protocol and try and make it mandatory for Governments to sign on. We need to be vigilant, and I think we have something that has worked. What we need to do is to ensure that we do not weaken the NPT and its enforcement. I would also want to say that when you say that the disarmament and the non-proliferation [regimes] have weakened over the past 10 years, I'm not sure it is only merely over the past 10 years, because quite frankly, I don't think the nuclear powers have led and done what they should have done. I don't want to get into the argument of which comes first, disarmament or non-proliferation. I think they are both important, and I have often said that if the nuclear powers had led the way and set the example and disarmed, sending the message to the rest that there's no point arming yourself, spending millions and billions to arm yourself, if in the end you are only going to have to disarm. But as long as they hold on to their weapons, and even attempt to produce even more powerful weapons, because they need it for their security, other governments are going to want these same weapons for their security also. So we have to really [be] clear on this, and I think the disarmament is equally important as non-proliferation. Thank you.
Q: Monsieur le Secrétaire général, on a l'impression, pendant cette fin de mandat, que l'un des principes fondamentaux de la Charte des Nations Unies, en l'occurrence le principe d'autodétermination, du droit des peuples à la liberté et du devoir de la communauté internationale de leur venir en aide pour réaliser cela, se transforme, comme disait un défenseur des droits de l'homme palestinien, en devoir des victimes d'être des victimes sages, sinon ils seraient taxés de terroristes ou boycottées, y compris par quelques instances des Nations Unies. Pour le Secrétaire général des Nations Unies, pour l'ex-étudiant de HEI qui a tant disserté sur ces principes, pour le citoyen du monde: est-ce qu'un tel dérapage serait acceptable d'un point de vue légal ou moral? Merci beaucoup.
SG: Je vais vous répondre en anglais parce que je ne veux pas perdre les nuances.
Let me say that the right of auto-determination is something that we at the UN should and must respect. It was that right that led to the independence of Timor-Leste. It is that right that is driving us in our discussions with Polisario and the Moroccans. It is that right that is also guiding our work in Israel and Palestine when we talk of land for peace and the right of people to choose their own leaders. Around the world, we've been pushing good governance, and I think we can all say that in today's world there are many more countries that claim to be governed democratically, or many more people who have been able to elect their own leaders and determine their future. I don't think the UN can turn its back on that. And I think the situation you are referring to in Palestine and Israel is a particularly difficult one. It is something that we are all struggling with today. Lots of initiatives are being discussed now. You noticed that not long ago, the Prime Minister of Spain, the President of France and the Prime Minister of Italy, I think, came up with an initiative suggesting an international conference. There are other suggestions being made to try and find a way out of this. I myself, when I came back from the region last summer after the Lebanese war, indicated that what happened in Lebanon was a wake-up call and that we need to move very quickly as an international community to try and stabilize the situation in Lebanon and move on to resolve their relations with Israel, [and] look at the comprehensive peace in Lebanon, in Syria, and with Palestine. I think in the coming months or years, you're going to see a very active action on this. No one is satisfied with the status quo, nor should be.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, corruption is galloping everywhere. There is a conference coming up in Amman in a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, people on the ground, normal people like you and me and others, are very worried because corruption is taking its toll, and trafficking of human beings, narcotic trafficking, and the judiciary system. From your experience about how to tackle difficult issues, what would you suggest that can be done in a very, more firm way to remedy or somehow palliate the problem. On the other point, I would like to tell you that now that you are finishing your mandate, you have become in Latin America, you know, a figure, they say: Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan go hand by hand to support the African people and the African countries. So I think it is always nice to know that people out there in the world take you seriously. Thank you.
SG: I think they say Kofi Annan and Mandela because we both have grey hair. Let me say that you are right on the issue of corruption, internationally organized crime, trafficking in human beings and all that. But I think what we need to do to fight is, first of all, we have a convention against corruption. We need to work together across international lines. And we also need to encourage governments to be transparent, to open up their systems, not to create a situation where for each activity, people have to get so many permits, 10, 20 permits, and in some countries, you have to go through about 119 steps to be able to establish a company, and it takes about a year, and each step, a hand comes out for some, and there is a red tape that allows this sort of corruption. And if one can remove the red tape, and be transparent, and set up good regulatory systems, but create an environment that releases a creative force and an entrepreneurial spirit of the people, they will do it. And I think one should also be very strict and deal very harshly with corrupt officials if they come across them.
On the question of human trafficking and others, the international community is becoming quite aware of this, but this is also linked to immigration laws, where sometimes people take money to smuggle people out, take money to get them from point A to point B, and then hold them to ransom, that they have to pay huge amounts over a certain period, or push them into prostitution. We are all very aware now. The UN Centre in Vienna is working with governments very actively on this, but I think if we were to accept that migration is going to be with us for a while, it's not going to be stopped, and one cannot stop it by building walls, but what needs to be done is to have the right rules, right migration laws, accepting the fact that migration, if handled properly, could be a triple win, a win for the country of origin, a win for the recipient country, and a win for the migrant himself or herself. We saw a wonderful example of this during the World Cup.
Q: Mr. Annan, a pleasure to see you here. I'd like to go back to Iraq if I may please. Apparently, Syria and Iraq have just re-established diplomatic relations, which had been broken a long time ago, and the President of Iraq [Jalal] Talabani is going to Iran at the end of the week. Now, I'd like a reaction on this. Do you think that the situation there, that the Iraqis and their neighbours, are taking hold of something a lot faster than the United States expected and perhaps even wanted it to go this far, and do you ultimately think that this, taking control of their own situation, will be what will get the United States and others out of this mess?
SG: You may recall that I was in both Syria and Iran last September, and I have always maintained that one should engage them and that they should be part of the solution. And I sat with both leaders and discussed this issue through with them, and in fact, only three days ago, I was on the phone with President [Bashar Al-]Assad and President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad about the situation in Lebanon, and the need for them to work with me and with us to stabilize, to push for stability in Lebanon, and the unity of the Lebanese people. At that point, the President of Syria did inform me that his Foreign Minister would be going to Iraq to have discussions and I hope that once he's out, I will be able also to talk to him to find out what went on and what was agreed. But I think if the neighbours who have a role to play could come together and work with the Iraqis to calm the situation, I think it would be very positive. Neighbours can play a positive or a negative role. Neighbours can decide to support one side or the other of the parties in Iraq. They can also decide to work with them to de-escalate. This is why we have always encouraged the regional neighbours, the regional countries of Iraq, to come together to work, and of course, if Syria and Iran have a positive role to play, I believe that an Iraq at peace is in the interest of all the countries, including Syria and Iran. So I would urge them to use their influence and to do whatever they can to help pacify Iraq. One should not look at it in terms of whether it is helping the United States or (the) multinational force, it is their backyard too, and what is happening in Iraq does have a negative impact on them.
Q: Secretary-General, looking back at your time in office, what has been the biggest success of the UN in your time in office, an achievement that you're really proud of. Secondly, could you also mention the biggest failure of your time in office, a decision maybe that you really regret. Thank you.
SG: This question keeps coming up. I think we have made some contribution to the system, and there are a couple of areas that I think we should all be proud of. I did yesterday indicate that one of the areas of great importance is the determination of the international community to fight poverty and implement the Millennium Development Goals. Here we are taking into concern the needs and the interests of billions of people around the world, and if we can make progress on that, we will be helping many, many people. I am also pleased that we pushed human rights and the rule of law, and eventually, the Member States accepted their responsibility to protect. On infectious diseases, I think the world is becoming, is beginning to realize that we are in the same boat, whether it is SARS or HIV/AIDS. And the Member States and the world are now scaling up the fight against HIV/AIDS, led by the UN and UNAIDS, and the creation of the Global Fund, for the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, which I'm proud I pushed for. And I think also that the UN has reached out and opened its doors much wider to civil society, private sector foundations and universities, and working in partnership with all these partners, to help tackle the problems of the world, recognizing that governments alone cannot do it. I can go on but I think I should stop here.
On the question of regret, I still have to say it's the war in Iraq, and that the debate and the discussions that took place in the Council could not have helped us stop the war. I firmly believe that the war could have been avoided, and that the inspectors should have had a bit more time. And then of course, after that, on  August 2003, the tragic loss of my colleagues and friends who had gone there to help because we believe that regardless of the differences, we should try to get Iraq right. And these wonderful colleagues and friends offered to go, only to be blown away, and that really had a, it was very hard on me and my colleagues. It was very tough to digest and to accept.
Q: Tout en mettant l'homme au coeur des activités des Nations Unies par un appel à une nécessaire solidarité pour ne pas dire à un partenariat responsable, vous avez demandé aux Africains de prendre leur destin en main; aujourd'hui, pensez-vous que votre appel a été bien saisi? Cumulativement à cette question, j'aimerais savoir: quel est le message que vous adressez aux politiciens et au peuple sénégalais pour les élections présidentielles et législatives de février? Je vous remercie.
SG: Je crois que nous sommes en train de faire des progrès. Il y a des jeunes Africains, des jeunes leaders, qui cherchent à prendre les choses en main; qui ne demandent qu'État de droit; qui sont prêts à prendre des risques et contester les gouvernements si les politiques tournent dans une direction qui n'est pas acceptable. Ils n'ont plus peur. Je crois que cela est sain. Évidemment, il y a les sociétés civiles qui jouent un rôle important aussi, aujourd'hui, en Afrique et cela est nouveau. En ce qui concerne les élections au Sénégal, je ne sais pas si je peux m'en mêler, mais j'espère que tout le monde acceptera les résultats, que la campagne sera ouverte et équitable.
Q: Monsieur le Secrétaire général, vous allez beaucoup nous manquer et je suis sûre que bien d'autres collègues partagent mon avis. La question que je voulais vous poser vous a déjà été posée; il s'agissait de savoir si vous aviez un regret. Alors, j'ai une autre question, un peu plus folle. Si on vous disait : «Monsieur le Secrétaire général, restez encore pour un autre mandat», est-ce que vous accepteriez? Si oui, pourquoi et sinon, aussi pourquoi?
SG: They say there's always a beginning and an end, and I think I've had my innings, two terms. It's reasonable and it's enough, and I think it is time to leave the stage to others and to another Secretary-General. I have made my contribution, and for all we know, he may even do better than I have done. I think the rotation and periodic change is not only democratic but also healthy. I was privileged and honoured over the past 10 years to lead this Organization, and I did my best to respect the ideals of the Organization and to lead it as effectively as I could. But I think the time has come for me to move on. I genuinely believe that even if they had asked me to stay, I would have said that the time has come in my life where I need a balance between action and reflection, and staying on as Secretary-General would not have given me that kind of life. I wish my successor well and I'm sure he will also make his contribution. He's a very nice man and he should succeed. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, they say you're retiring, but you look far from tired. So I would prefer to look at the word retire in the sense of putting on your tires. And considering Secretary-General that you come from a region of the world that seems to have so much need in terms of policy and in terms of economics and so on, what do you intend to do with your new tires?
SG: That's another variation on retire that I hadn't heard before. The one I knew was George Burns who at the age of 90, when he was asked are you going to retire, he said retire means tired twice, I'm not tired, not once, not twice, and I'm going to continue, and that was at 90. I don't think I will be as bold as his, but I'm not retiring, I'm moving on to the next phase of my life. I would want to work with the African governments and others on food security, to encourage them to take agriculture and agricultural productivity seriously. We are the only continent that cannot feed itself. We're also the only continent that did not go through the green agricultural revolution. We have the land and the skills, and I think we should really focus on agriculture. And apart from creating jobs, it will also give us a certain sense of security. As we speak, the UN is feeding millions of Africans, and this situation cannot go on. So I'll devote a bit of my time to that. I would offer advisory services if my advice is needed. Probably do some writing. There will be plenty to do, I'm not worried about that, but I would want to devote some time to Africa as well.
Q: Sir, I just want to follow up quickly on a question that this gentleman asked, and then, ask my real question. First of all, would you rule out ever coming back to the UN as a sort of facilitator or envoy in any crisis, like Mandela helped with Burundi for example? My other question is, one of the big leaps in the last 10 years has been of international justice, the International Criminal Court. But anyone who has dealt with the realpolitik on the ground of peace negotiations like Darfur or Northern Uganda with [Joseph] Kony [leader of the Lord's Resistance Army], knows that indictments or threat of indictments can complicate that process. Would you see any reforms, and also, do you think the big powers staying out of the ICC complicates the matter and makes it difficult for African governments to accept the rulings?
SG: On your first question, it will depend very much on circumstances and which crises. If there is a situation where I can be helpful, helpful in stopping a war or killings and getting people back to the table on a reasonable basis, I will consider it, but it would depend very much on the circumstances and the nature of the case. But let me hasten to add, I'm not seeking it. I have enough planned ahead of me, but if necessary, I will do it.
On the second question, you've raised a very tricky issue. There's always been this tension between peace and justice, which comes first, and people would argue, can there be peace, real peace, without justice. And yet, sometimes, the search for justice, if it's not sequenced properly, can complicate the search for peace. One example you have seen is, for example, the Lord's Resistance Movement, who are now in negotiations with the Government of Uganda. But [Joseph] Kony, who is the leader, doesn't want to appear if the negotiations are in public until he is amnestied, and of course, the ICC cannot do that. President [Yoweri] Museveni promised him amnesty, but he is not in a position to give him amnesty when the indictment has been issued by the Court. We've had other situations where we knew that some of the people worth negotiating with had committed crimes and would eventually find themselves in the dock. Yet, we found a way of negotiating with them to bring about peace. [The] Balkans is a good one. There were travel bans on some of the parties, but we used to make exceptions and fly them here to Geneva to have negotiations to be able to resolve the conflict. And some of the people we really worked with to get agreement was Milosevic, Mladic and Karadzic, and of course now we know they are history and that they are - one is dead and two are on the run. So in Sudan, this issue is posed. There are indictments, and there is a feeling that some senior members of the army and others are worried that if large numbers of UN international forces were to come in, they would be coming in to arrest them, although we've indicated that the mandate we are going in with is to create a secure environment, to protect the IDPs, to ensure that humanitarian workers have access to the needy, and to help implement the agreement that was reached in Abuja. But I don't think this has mollified them, and it is an issue that we are dealing with in our discussions. I cannot give you a formula. In some situations, we have been able to achieve peace, and then turn to the question of justice. In some situations, like your own country [South Africa], you set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and encourage people to come clean. But when you get into a war situation and a peacekeeping mode, it's a very, very fine judgement, a very keen judgement is required as to how you sequence the search for peace and justice.
Q: Sir, like everyone in this room, we were very sorry to hear you say this is your last press conference. But from what we hear of your future residence plans, perhaps we can hope for an occasional lakeside seminar somewhere between here and Vevey. But we do wish you and your family all the very best in the future. My question, I'd like to ask Sir, are you satisfied with the performance of UN peacekeeping forces? Do you think they are doing a good job, ought there are to be more of them, should the whole system be beefed up or perhaps be allowed to die away? Thank you.
SG: Some years ago, one thought that UN peacekeeping was on its last legs, after the peak in the nineties when we had about 75,000 troops deployed. We went down drastically to about 10,000 to 15,000. We are now back up to about 90,000, and if all the deployment demanded of us were to go through, including Darfur, we'd probably get to over 120,000-140,000 which is huge for the UN. We are not a big military organization. We backstop and support these operations with a relatively small number of staff. But I was gratified not long ago, and some of you may want to look at it, the Rank Corporation did a study indicating that the UN does peacekeeping operations better than the US Government and others, and I thought that was gratifying for my staff who work very hard on this. Having said that, let me say that we are almost at the outer limits of our capabilities. I have shared this with the [Security] Council, that they need to be careful not to pile too much on us. There is a limit as to what a relatively small organization can take on. We've also had some problems in the peacekeeping operation.
I think I should take this opportunity to address the issue of sexual exploitation which has been written about so extensively. I think in a way, I'm not criticising anyone, but the way they have been written about, I don't think has been entirely fair to the bold and hardworking peacekeepers, military and civilian, who are deployed around the world to help. As you know, the UN does not have its own army, we borrow the troops from governments, and we borrow them from governments who are willing to give us troops. Some contingents are much better commanded than others. We have had some problems with some soldiers, and a handful of civilians, some of whom we've sacked and some other soldiers we've sent back home. But I wish if when one is covering these things, one would say, a contingent from such and such a country, a soldier from such and such a country, has done this or that, not the UN is involved in this. In fact, what is even interesting on two recent incidents, we could not even discipline these, we had to send them for the government concerned to discipline them. We may have eight different contingents in a country, and one contingent, members of one contingent, may commit such a crime. Six or seven others, well commanded, never have any other problems, but we give them the same blanket condemnation - the peacekeepers in Congo. There are some large contingents, extremely well commanded, kept busy, whose troops have never been involved in this. And I don't think it's really fair. So I would urge you, sometimes, if you can, to get into a bit more detail, you know. It also helps us put pressure on the governments concerned to train their soldiers properly to be responsible and also know that we are going to monitor whether they are going to discipline the troops when they are sent home or not. So I am pleading for a bit of fairness. And I think the peacekeeping operations will continue unfortunately. We would be happy if we did not have any peacekeeping operations because peacekeeping operations and deployment of troops reflects the type of world we live in, the turbulence, the conflicts, and we would much rather be out of business. But unfortunately, the trend is going the other way.
Thank you very much and good luck.