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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Questions and Answers with journalists and others following Secretary-General's statement to the Council on Foreign Relations. Following transcript made available by the US Federal News Service (Secretary-General's remarks checked by the UN)

Washington, D.C., 16 December 2004

RICHARD HAASS: I'd like to welcome everybody here today to the Council on Foreign Relations. I'm Richard Haass. I am the president of this organization, and as everyone here knows, the subject today is a more secure world, and who needs to do what. These questions were raised but also addressed by a report just issued, by the U.N. secretary general's high-level panel on threats, challenges and change.

For those of you who have not had a chance yet to read the report, let me just say that it is thoughtful. It's comprehensive. And it's readable, and indeed this year we have been treated, if you will, to two very interesting reports produced publicly. First, the 9/11 Commission Report, a very different group, on a very different subject. And now, this report. And as a result, I believe that we have a document here which will provide a lasting basis and an important basis for serious and sustained public discussion, debate and, hopefully, action.

Before I introduce our two speakers today, let me just get some housekeeping out of the way. I ask everyone to please turn off all things electric, cell phones, pagers, Blackberries. We'll make an exception for pacemakers but nothing else. [Laughter] Secondly, let me make clear that this meeting is on the record. Thirdly, the format will be, first, the secretary general will make some remarks. Then I will turn to General Scowcroft. Then I may ask a question or two. And then I will reserve the bulk of our time for you all to ask questions, and I'll have some guidance on that when we get to it.

Let me just very quickly introduce our speakers. First, the secretary general is one of the most recognizable individuals in the world today. He's the seventh occupant of his important office, the first to come from within the organization. And while a native of Ghana, I'd like to say he's also a resident of what many of us have come to see as this country's and the world's leading city. He's someone who has devoted the bulk of his life to making the world quite simply a better place, and we could not be happier than to have him today.

After the secretary general speaks, I'll turn to Brent Scowcroft. Brent is now the president of both the Scowcroft Group and the Forum for International Policy. He was, as you know, twice national security adviser, a career Air Force officer, retired with the rank of lieutenant general. He's one of these--I would say, and I think most of you, indeed all of you I would hope would agree with me--that he is truly one of this country's wise men, and therefore it was entirely appropriate I think for the secretary general to turn to him as one of the wise men and women who put together the report that is being discussed here today. The only lapse I can think in a career of otherwise good judgment on the part of General Scowcroft is he was once foolish enough to hire me. [Laughter] Mr. secretary general, you do us an honor by being here, and welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations. [Applause]

KOFI ANNAN: Thank you, Richard, for those very warm words. And thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for coming here in such large numbers. I must have been in the news lately. [Laughter] At the outset, let me deal with something I am sure is on the minds of all of you: the disturbing allegations over the oil-for-food program. We must get to the bottom of these allegations.

Paul Volcker is heading an independent inquiry--the most far-reaching in the history of the United Nations. All U.N. staff have been instructed to cooperate fully with the inquiry, or face disciplinary measures, including dismissal. The Volcker report will be made public once I receive it, and I will act on its findings. The Volcker inquiry, and those being conducted here in Washington, should not be seen as competitors. Let's all work constructively to bring out the truth. But let us also agree that the debate over the United Nations goes far beyond those matters. It goes to the very purpose of the organization in the 21st century.

Ladies and gentlemen, today, I want to speak about my vision of a safer world and a better United Nations. The attacks of September 11 were a wake-up call. We are living in a dangerous world. We face multiple threats that did not exist when the organization was founded; threats at the hands of non-state actors; threats that cross borders in an instant. These threats affect us all, and no state acting alone can meet them fully. Yet in responding to these threats, we are deeply divided on what approach is best to take and on what our most urgent priorities must be. That is why I have said that the international community stands at a fork in the road. If states fight among themselves and do not unite to fight the common enemies of humanity, they will be doing a great disservice to the peoples of the world.

The global threats of our time include terror, deadly weapons, genocide, infectious disease, poverty, environmental degradation, and organized crime. They will not wait for states to sort out their differences. That is why I say to you today, we must act now to strengthen our collective defenses. We must unite to master today's threats and not allow them to divide and master us. And I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the only universal instrument that can bring states together in such a global effort is the United Nations. I am the first to admit the United Nations is not perfect, but our world will not easily find a better instrument for forging sustained global response to today's threats. We must use it to unite around common priorities and act on them. We must agree on a plan to reform the United Nations--and get on with the job of implementing it.

This message lies at the heart of the recent report titled "A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility." It is the work of a panel of 16 men and women around the world that I appointed last year. I am delighted that Brent Scowcroft, America's outstanding public servant, was one of the panelists. And Brent, it is good to see you here. The report contains a powerful vision of collective security. Whether the threat is terror or AIDS, a threat to one is a threat to all. Our defenses are only as strong as their weakest link. We will be safe if we work together. And the report puts forward a vision of a radically reformed United Nations. I share that vision. But what, exactly, would the United Nations of tomorrow look like?

Ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow's United Nations--in preventing terrorism, the Security Council has already done a lot to curb the flow of arms, funds, and technology to terrorists, but we must go further. The panel has proposed a definition of terrorism. It makes clear that no cause whatsoever justifies the targeting of civilians and noncombatants. Member states should use it to enact a full anti-terrorism convention. The United Nations must make clear that it has zero tolerance of terrorism of any kind for any reason.

We must also take strong multilateral action to keep deadly weapons out of dangerous hands. Tomorrow's United Nations would provide a more muscular framework to prevent a cascade of nuclear proliferation. We need tighter rules for inspections by the International Atomic [Energy] Agency. We need incentives for states to forego domestic uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities. And we need a verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty.

Tomorrow's United Nations will be an organization through which all states get much more serious about development and promoting development. All states must boost their support for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. This will save lives in the poor countries. It will reduce violent conflict and the appeal of radicalism. It will help secure governance and democracy. And it will help build acceptable and capable states that can deal with threats in their own borders before they harm their own citizens and others.

Biological security also needs more attention. We must fight AIDS with far greater determination. And I thank President Bush for his leadership on HIV/AIDS. We need a major initiative to build public health capacities in poor countries. And the Security Council and the World Health Organization should work more closely together to prevent and prepare for any disease outbreaks and improve our defenses against bioterrorism.

Ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow's United Nations also should provide a framework for the use of force in which all states have confidence. Under Article 55 of the charter, every state has an inherent right of self-defense. This includes the right to take pre-emptive action if it faces an imminent threat. Beyond that, the report suggests a number of guidelines to make Security Council decisions on the use of force more consistent and more effective. The Security Council must be proactive to prevent nightmare scenarios such as a nuclear terrorist attack from unfolding. The council must stand ready to use force in appropriate circumstances.

The report also recognizes something I have always advocated: that state sovereignty is not a license for mass murder. Governments must assume their responsibility to protect their citizens. Where they fail to do so, the Security Council must assume its responsibility to protect. The council may sometimes have to authorize the use of force to stop mass atrocities inside a state. States must be prepared to back up the council's decisions--not just with talk, but with action and troops.

Force should never be used lightly. It should always be the last resort. And if we act early, we are less likely to need it. Otherwise, we can find ourselves facing appalling situations such as we face in the situation in Darfur today. The international community must support the African Union's efforts to deploy troops and achieve a political solution. We must work to finalize the north-south agreement on which [U.S.] Ambassador [John] Danforth has done so much hard work. And we must build on the momentum, to secure peace throughout Sudan.

Ladies and gentlemen, one of the most important contributions the United Nations makes to global security is its work in rebuilding war-torn countries. Our record in Namibia, Mozambique, Tajikistan, Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and East Timor speaks for itself. But our work continues today in Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and elsewhere--including Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Afghanistan, we have worked very closely with the United States and the Afghan people, and the entire transition has taken place within a U.N. framework. The U.N.-mediated Bonn Process put together the interim government. The U.N.-convened loya jirga set the basis for an Afghan constitution. In the recent U.N.-run elections, Afghans freely elected their president for the very first time. The job is not over. But the United Nations is proud to have been the midwife at the birth of a new nation.

The United Nations is equally committed to the birth of a new Iraq. I have long made clear that the international community must put the divisions over the war behind it. We must unite to build a new free and democratic Iraq. After the war, I sent a handpicked team to Iraq. They were led by the best peace-builder we had, [U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights] Sergio Vieira de Mello. He was brutally murdered by terrorists as he carried out his mission under the blue flag of the United Nations. So were 21 others that are--whose names should be better known: Nadia Younes, Rick Hooper, and other brave servants of peace.

Later, the United Nations was asked by the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqis to help end the occupation and secure the transfer of sovereignty. In response, I sent one of our most seasoned diplomats, Lakhdar Brahimi. He oversaw the selection of the interim Iraqi government this year, and he helped forge an Iraqi consensus on the timing and the framework for the elections. Since then, my special representative, Ashraf Qazi, and his team have been in Baghdad. They are working to ensure that the political process is as inclusive, participatory, and transparent as possible.

Often for security reasons, our staff work in Iraq and they are--who work in Iraq and their work receive little publicity. We operate without fanfare, based on the mandate given to us by the Security Council. The U.N.'s election experts have been at work both in Iraq and outside Iraq to help establish the independent electoral commission of Iraq. The commission has the responsibility to organize the forthcoming elections. The United Nations is advising and supporting the commission. The U.N. has helped to train 6,000 election workers and open 450 registration centers. We are helping to recruit and train up to 130,000 poll workers. The technical preparations for the elections on 30 January are on track, and we stand ready, if asked, to support Iraqi efforts to draw up a new constitution.

The United Nations achieves important results in peacebuilding around the world, but our efforts must be more strategic and better-resourced. Tomorrow's United Nations must have the capacity to move fast and see every job through. I warmly welcome the panel's call for a peacebuilding commission, supported by greater secretariat capacity. And I also firmly believe that tomorrow's United Nations must have reformed and revitalized institutions: a Security Council that reflects the 21st century world and not the world of 1945; an overhauled Human Rights Commission and a strengthened human rights commissioner; and a secretariat that is more open, more accountable, better able to recruit, retain, and promote the best people.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is a vision of the United Nations that I believe in. That is a vision I'm working to achieve. Next September, world leaders will come together in New York to review progress since the Millennium Declaration, which was adopted in the year 2000. When they do, they must reach consensus on basic principles and clear priorities. And they must take decisions to build tomorrow's United Nations.

I established the panel to open some windows and let in fresh air and new ideas. The period ahead will determine whether the winds of change are blowing through the corridors of the United Nations. Many of the important recommendations are directed to states. They will have to decide and to act. But I have no doubt that the United Nations must change. I will move quickly to implement recommendations which fall within my purview. I will work with member states to help them to decide, and act on those that are directed to them. And I hope the United States will play a vigorous role in the process of renewal and change. After all, American vision and values helped give birth to the United Nations.

America's support and leadership has always been crucial to a strong and successful United Nations. And America and the United Nations are working hand in hand today around the world, on peacekeeping, conflict resolution, humanitarian assistance, human rights, good governance and development. And today, America, no less than any other state, needs global cooperation to be secure. I therefore look forward to working with the government and people of the United States to make sure that we build a United Nations fit for the 21st century, and a safer world. Thank you very much. [Applause]

BRENT SCOWCROFT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General. I'm very proud to share the podium with you today. I think every American owes the secretary general a debt of gratitude for his efforts to make this a better world. My job is really very simple. The secretary general has really said it all. I just want to make a couple of comments about the report, from an American perspective.

The first thing I want to say is the remarkable degree of consensus that the panel had. There were 16 members of the panel, and they were as diverse as the members of the United Nations, and we had some difficult discussions. But in the end, we came together on a report that I think is not only forward-looking but is very supportive of the security concerns of the United States. Let me point out just a few, and I will--I have to repeat some of the things that the secretary general said.

A definition of terror, removing the possibility that terrorists can hide under the guise of freedom fighters to accomplish their job. It is quite clear now--and I think it will be acceptable to the United Nations as a whole--what terror is and what is--what people who practice that are, and not freedom fighters.

The next is the use of force. And I think one of the issues that brought about this panel was the difficulties in the recent Iraq--lead-up to the Iraqi conflict. The issues of the use of force were an important part of that discussion. I think that the panel report broke new ground in first reaffirming the right of self-defense, but clarifying in a sense--without changing the right of self-defense, clarifying it--that pre-emptive action--that is, action in the face of an immediate threat--is a part of self-defense. And that helped clarify the debate which so wracked us a couple of years ago, and it separates the issue of pre-emption--that is, the immediacy of attack--with prevention, where the threat may be as serious but the immediacy is not present. It won't solve all the problems, but I think it is a big help and it's broadly supportive of the arguments of the United States.

On the issue of proliferation, which is one of the most vexing problems we face, especially nuclear proliferation, I think the panel report shows the way for dealing with that issue with countries like Iran, for example, or any others who want to take advantage of the permission granted by the Non-Proliferation Treaty to do such things as enriching uranium and reprocessing plutonium.

And last, there is, I think, a considerable contribution on what we call peacebuilding, and that is to look at one of the major sources of conflict in the world today, and that is states that are under stress, states that are--we use the term "failing states," and to look at this as a more comprehensive issue. And it's not just conflict, it's not just reconstruction, it's the whole process. First, states under stress: How can one prevent the collapse of states struggling not with our threat problem, but with the problems of disease, poverty, environmental degradations, and so on? Going into states in conflict, how does one--how should the United Nations deal with that, and then the process after the conflict is over, which tends to be one of the most neglected areas, and that is reconstruction and building peace. And we thought that ought to be looked at as part of a whole continuum. And to deal with that continuum, we recommended a peacebuilding commission as a new entity in the United Nations that would give constant attention to this whole cycle of conflict and what to do about it.

In a broader sense, I think that this report first of all points out that the United Nations is only as good as its members, especially its primary members, want it to be. But the United States, but the United Nations is not some entity out here, some alien entity. It is us. And if we want to make it good, we can make it good. Secondly, it deals broadly with the issue of sovereignty versus the responsibility to protect. The United Nations was built on the sovereign independence of its members. Indeed, it says that the U.N. should not interfere in matters essentially within domestic jurisdiction of states. But in this new world, a world of genocide, a world of human rights violations, that sovereign independence is no longer sacrosanct. And one of the issues is, under what conditions does violence inside a country, genocidal violence, human rights violations--gross human rights violations--justify the intervention of the world community? And I think the panel helped quite a bit there.

If we want our own security concerns to be recognized by the United Nations, and of course we do, then I think the panel makes it clear that we must recognize the security concerns of others, whose concerns are very different from ours. As I say, for much of the world, it is not issues of global war. It is not issues of weapons of mass destruction attack and so on. It's how they can continue to survive in the face of poverty, in the face of disease, and so on. And I think last of all, the panel points out in its description of the nature of the world today, compared with that of 1945, that the nature of the world is such that unilateral actions, even by the most powerful states, are insufficient solutions to the problems we face today, such as, for example, terrorism. Thank you very much. [Applause]

HAASS: Thank you both. I did forget my manners a little bit. In addition to welcoming our two speakers, I should have welcomed the many individuals who are part of the secretary general's team at the United Nations; also [Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations] Ambassador Jim Cunningham, who has so ably represented the United States for the past few years; and [Stanford University's] Steve Stedman, who is the principal drafter of this report.

I want to begin by picking up on some of what Brent ended up with. And let me quote a couple of sentences in the report which get to the heart, I think, of the tension here. And it deals with prevention: "The short answer is that if there are good arguments for preventive military action, with good evidence to support them, they should be put to the Security Council, which can authorize such action if it chooses to. If it does not so choose, there will be by definition time to pursue other strategies, including persuasion, negotiation, deterrence, and containment, and to visit again the military option. For those impatient with such a response, the answer must be that in a world full of perceived potential threats, the risk to the global order and the norm of nonintervention on which it continues to be based is simply too great for the legality of unilateral preventive action as distinct from collectively endorsed action to be accepted. Allowing one to so act is to allow all." The obvious import of this statement is that if the United States or anyone else comes to the conclusion that it's necessary to take preventive military action, they have to take it to the council, and if it can't get the council to support it--if one of, say, the other four permanent members vetoes it--then the United States should stand down.

How can you possibly sell this argument, to either the president of the United States or the American Congress, that essentially we, the United States, should be prepared to place second our own view of what is in our own best self-interest?

ANNAN: [Inaudible] [Laughter]

HAASS: Mr. Secretary-General.

ANNAN: I thought you were going to give it to a member of the panel. [Laughter] [Inaudible]

SCOWCROFT: I'd be happy to. That is a very good question. First of all, this goes to the difference between pre-emptive and preventive action. And that's a line that you can't draw specifically, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder here. But if it is in fact preventive action --

HAASS: Let's postulate that it does not meet the criteria of imminence. Let's postulate that.

SCOWCROFT: Then by that case, there ought to be the exploration of every other opportunity. And that's what that language says, [that] there is time to pursue other kinds of things. If none of them work, if the threat is still there, then the Security Council, theoretically, can offer to help. I would say in the end, however, if one of the permanent members of the Security Council or a major state considers something to be in its vital interest, the U.N. is not going to be able to do anything about it. And that is [the] imperfect nature of the body that we have.

ANNAN: But one would also want to say that where one takes action with the support of the council and the legitimacy of the council, it is--its acceptability around the world usually is much larger. And I think if one country is allowed to take action, you are right that it will be a tough call for presidents and heads of states. But is that a privilege allowed one country or all countries? And when this happens, is it a precedent, or is it one of--and how do other countries look at it? And if indeed we are going to be concerned about collective security, then it is not only the action we take, but its implications and its impact on other member states, and how they are likely to act. But I do agree with Brent that if you do get a veto situation, then of course you are in a problem. We had that situation, I think, in the Kosovo crisis, where in fact I think the issue was not even put to the council because some were afraid that the council will veto--there would be a veto. And the Kosovo--action was taken in Kosovo, and then later on the council was brought in.

HAASS: Some would say obviously in Iraq as well, where the United States decided to act --

ANNAN: You mean Iraq I or Iraq II?

HAASS: Iraq II.

ANNAN: Yeah. [Laughter]

HAASS: One subject we haven't mentioned, which gets considerable prominence in the report--for those of you who are wondering what it looks like, there you have it--is the--there's two proposals that the wise men and women put forward to enlarge the Security Council, presumably to increase its legitimacy. Needless to say, any proposal to change the membership of the Security Council will not be seen by every country in the world as an unmitigated blessing. And as a result, its prospects, to be diplomatic, as one should be in this setting, are uncertain. Where does that leave the question of the Security Council's legitimacy in the meantime?

ANNAN: I think it is generally agreed that the Security Council today does not reflect the realities of the 21st century and more or less reflects the power structure of 1945, and that the world has changed. You have powerful regional countries which are playing an important role in the world, who are not represented by the council, and that we need to reform the council to make it more representative, more democratic, and thus gaining greater legitimacy. And I think if we can do that, it will really strengthen the council. Of course, there are those who argue that if you increase it from 15 to 24, you may slow down decisions. But it is a trade-off. Is it better to have a democratic and representative body, even if it takes a bit longer, than stick with the 15 as it is today?

The discussions are going to be difficult, as you have implied. I will not accept the implication in your comment that it may be impossible to reform the council. There's lots of activity around it, and I think the panel has offered two options. And my sense is that it should be possible for the members to agree on one or the other. Obviously there are a group of countries that are determined to get a permanent seat and are lobbying and campaigning very much for that. Then there are others in the organization which are determined to prevent them from getting permanent seats. But I don't think anyone disagrees with the need for better representation in the council. So the question is, when--at the end of the day, which option are they going to go for? The debate has just started, and I hope at the end we come to an agreement.

HAASS: Let me just ask one other question. Both of you mentioned what I think is one of the most important features of the report, which is this definition of terrorism that basically finally does away with the notion that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and basically says, whatever your cause is, essentially the end doesn't justify the means. How does one move--for what I agree is very important language--how do we move from that being in the report to something then where this somehow gets enshrined? What's the end goal for you with language such as that?

ANNAN: I think that is a very important contribution by the panel, the definition of terrorism. It may seem strange. Some in this audience have saluted the U.N. for a long time. And in fact, because of the lack of agreed definition, the General Assembly could not agree on a universal convention against terrorism. We have about 12 conventions. This is the 13th convention [inaudible]--we couldn't move forward because of lack of definition. If the member states were to embrace the definition put forward by the panel, they should be able to act on that convention and enshrine it in the way you're implying.

HAASS: Thank you for that. OK, enough of me. What I'd like to do is open up to you. My only request is that when you ask a question you stand up, you wait for a microphone, you state your name and affiliation, and you make it a question that is succinct. And a statement that simply goes up an octave at the end does not quite count, [laughter] and I will do my best. Ruth.

QUESTIONER: Well, thank you, Richard, Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. Scowcroft. It is a brilliant report. Steve Stedman did you proud, and all the panelists did you proud. And there are really, from the point of view of public international law, a great many important changes or developments in it, including a more realistic account of self-defense, including [Chief Executive of the International Crisis Group] Gareth Evans' idea of the responsibility to protect.

But my question, if you'll permit me, is one that doesn't as such appear in the report, but it's an anniversary occasion as well, which is that it's the 10th anniversary of the introduction into this international organization of an ideal of transparency, which is when in, I guess, 1994 [former U.N. Secretary General Boutros] Boutros-Ghali created the office of inspector general or--known to aficionados as the Office of Internal Oversight Services [OIOS]. Is there any way to strengthen that office, expand it, expand it to other U.N. specialized agencies? I realize it's in the hands of the General Assembly, but it has done the U.N. proud and I think it's a very important function.

ANNAN: In my recommendations to the General Assembly this year, I have suggested to them that, since it's the 10th anniversary, it may be time to review the work and the mandate of the OIOS, the unit that you referred to. And I hope they will take it up and actually review it and strengthen it and, if need be, expand its remit. I'm not sure it would be easy for that one unit to cover all the U.N. agencies. There are many of them. What may be necessary is to encourage the other agencies to set up a similar mechanism with authority to look into things and ensure that there is accountability.

SCOWCROFT: Let me take advantage of this and make one comment where I think, where I wish the report had gone a little farther, and that is to increase the authority of the secretary general over his secretariat. He is not the chief executive of the secretariat, and that means that he can't operate the system in the official way he could if he had control over the people ostensibly who work for him.

HAASS: Since you opened it up, Brent, is there anything else you wish were in the report or not in the report? [Laughter]

SCOWCROFT: No, that's--that the one thing I think we could have taken an additional step on.

HAASS: Mr. Schorr. If you would just wait for a microphone, Dan, there's one coming at your 6:00.

QUESTIONER: Dan Schorr, National Public Radio. I have to learn to use the microphone. [Laughter] Daniel Schorr, National Public Radio. I think you are to be commended for your valiant effort to try to reconcile an international position with a known position of the United States with regard to pre-emptive or preventive or whatever it is. The policy of our country was most succinctly stated by President Bush when he said he is not going to ask for a permission slip from anybody to act in defense of America. That means that you may very well, under these circumstances, arrive at a point where the Security Council has not authorized action and a country--let me say a theoretical country--agrees to act all on its own. Is there a mechanism in the report, or are you considering a mechanism, for what the Security Council [should] do in a case of someone launching what is called a preventive action but not obtaining permission? Do you have sanctions against that country?

ANNAN: I don't think the report prescribed any sanctions or actions that the council will take, and I suspect Brent and the other panelists left it to the wisdom and the judgment of the council at that point as to what they do. But it is a very valid point.

HAASS: I thought also the secretary general made a telling point before, that if a country does choose to act unilaterally, it believes it's necessary, one of the potential costs of that action is it will receive less direct and indirect support for its policy than it might have otherwise. So it foregoes a certain degree of support, plus it runs the risk of, in some ways, legitimizing similar behavior by other states in ways that it may not want. So I think in some ways that's implicit in the report.

SCOWCROFT: Yeah, this is a very difficult issue. I think since the Iraq thing we've all learned a great deal more and everybody is a little bit wiser. What the report tried to do is to clarify a little more what the situation was. There's always this ambiguity in an organization like the United Nations. It's been there since we first set up the League of Nations. But this is an attempt to clarify the situation and to lead to steps that hopefully will get the world community united on issues of the use of force.

ANNAN: I think the other issue the panel pressed is that where there is a convincing and persuasive case, the council must face up to its responsibilities and act, rather than create a situation where a member state feels it has to go outside the council to take--to get redress or to take action.

SCOWCROFT: That's the other half of it.

ANNAN: That's the other half, yeah.

HAASS: There.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Miriam Sapiro. It is indeed a momentous report, and everyone who worked on it is to be fully congratulated. I for one am delighted by the clear line that you have drawn between pre-emptive force, which is permissible, and preventive force, which is not, and laid to rest the debate that's been swirling around the United Nations for not quite the last 60 years, but for many years, over whether or not you could use force in the absence of an armed attack. I think the underlying point is--that hasn't been made yet--is that it really goes to the fact that the charter is a constituent document, and you are able to interpret it as we look towards new threats and new actors, and have done so very successfully.

With that in mind, turning to the "duty to protect," which is a new term, I wonder if you could address, Mr. secretary general, or anyone else who would like to, the question of whether or not states could act in humanitarian situations when the council is unable to; if you have laid out factors for the council to act but not addressed whether or not individual states could, in a Kosovo or a Darfur-type situation, perhaps through a regional organization.

ANNAN: I think the report doesn't cover specifically that aspect of, if the council doesn't act, if individual countries can go ahead. I think the panel's approach is that where the government concerned fails to protect its population or is unwilling to do it, and gross and systematic abuse of human rights is taking place, the international community does have a responsibility to step in and protect the population.

If for some reason the council doesn't act, and a regional organization were to come up with an approach, the council does not claim monopoly over all these crises. And under our own Chapter 8 of our charter, we do allow and support regional organizations to take action. Take Darfur: In the end, it was the African Union that came up with a plan to send in monitors and protective force and policemen to ensure that the IDPs [internally displaced persons] in Sudan were protected. But we also knew that the African Union didn't have the capacity, and it was going to need lots of help, logistically, financially, and otherwise. And the deployment has been slow, and we are all trying to help.

I think the question that may be posed down the line is if we get to a point where there is a sense that the African Union cannot carry this through or do it as expeditiously as necessary, what will the council do? Will the council face up to its own responsibilities? We've had situations where regional organizations have started dealing with crises, and then turned back to the council saying, "We've run out of money. We can't carry it on. If you would take it over." So the cooperation with the regional organizations is clear. Where we have an--[inaudible]--is an individual state deciding to step in and take action on its own.

SCOWCROFT: Let me just say, yeah, the report does not address that specifically. The secretary general pointed out how regional organizations can act, reporting to the Security Council. But the responsibility to protect, while it's not laid out in the report, I think clearly we did--we believe that it is the responsibility of the world community, that not individual states have the right to decide when there is a genocide or something and take action, because that can be too easily confused with aggressive action and so on. So, implicit in the responsibility to protect is that the U.N., the world community, sees this depredation and takes action as a community.

HAASS: We've got time for a few more questions. I'll ask people to be as succinct as they can. Mr. Kalb.

QUESTIONER: Marvin Kalb with the Shorenstein Center at Harvard. Sir, like everyone else, I join in our common enthusiasm for an effort to improve the U.N. At the very beginning of your talk, Mr. secretary general, you addressed the scandal at the United Nations. They were brief comments. I wonder if you could explain, since there are now charges of corruption leveled at the United Nations, how could this have happened on your shift? What do you think is going on?

ANNAN: I think, as I indicated at the outset, it is something I want to get to the bottom of too. First of all, the oil-for-food program was a complex program with many responsibility centers. We do face this pressing issue which is of concern to all of us, and that is one of the reasons why I set up the investigation and that we have given all support and all cooperation to Mr. Volcker and the other two panelists, Judge [Richard] Goldstone of South Africa and Mark Pieth of Switzerland. And we would want to work with them to get to the bottom of this. And it was a unique program, a program that the U.N. has never run before, and I think it is important that not only we look at it to see where there was fraudulent behavior, but also draw the lessons necessary for the future.

SCOWCROFT: Let me just say, Marvin, that this broad oil-for-peace program was not under the secretary general, it was under the Security Council, formed as a committee which oversaw the contracts and so on and so forth, and that is where the primary responsibility for any lapses lies.

QUESTIONER: Jeffrey Pryce, Steptoe and Johnson. Mr. Secretary- General, this month marks the successful conclusion of the NATO military operation in Bosnia, an operation characterized by international mandate but a NATO command structure, and overwhelming force in the initial stages of deployment, which is contrasted with the frustrating experience of UNPROFOR [United Nations Protection Force] which preceded it. And you have some experience in this area. I wonder what lessons you would draw from the Bosnia experience for the successful operations as far as command structure and force structure in post-conflict stability operations?

ANNAN: I think the comparison between the UNPROFOR period and the NATO period is an interesting one. And in fact, in 1996--or no, December 1995--I was the one who handed over the U.N. operations to NATO. The U.N. didn't have the forces we needed. We were very stretched. And in fact, there was a remarkable experience we had. We brought in troops from all over--from Kenya, from Pakistan, troops who hadn't seen snow before--to take military action in Bosnia, including during the winter. We had a group of troops--we didn't even have the equipment. We negotiated with Austria to train them, then they came up and said--no, it was Germany first--that they couldn't do it because their law didn't allow it. Austria agreed to do it, and that--we also ran into problem there. Then they went to Slovakia to be trained. It took us about three months to get the training and to get them in there. This was how we were scrounging for troops. And if you look at Srebrenica, there was only a company there, a Dutch company, when the massacre took place. They were not equipped to take care of themselves and take care of their mandate. So at the time of crisis, when the war was at its peak, we couldn't get the troops. But when the war ended, we got the best troops, well-armed, well-equipped, to deal with the situation.

So I would agree with you that if you do go in with an effective force, well-trained, well-equipped to handle its mandate, in fact you may not even have to fight at all. We have a--we believe in peacekeeping. Sometimes you can show force in order not to use force. And when troops arrived in a very robust manner, the rogues wouldn't take them on even. They are bullying the innocent and the ill-equipped, but they wouldn't take on that force. And in fact, we saw that at the end in Bosnia as well. So, effective, well-trained force is necessary. The best peacekeepers are well-trained soldiers. And so I do agree with the implication in your question.

HAASS: We've got time for one last question. Yes, ma'am? Whoops, up here. Right.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. My name is Vivian Lowery Derryck and I'm with the Academy for--

HAASS: Could you speak up a little bit?

QUESTIONER: My name is Vivian Lowery Derryck and I'm with the Academy for Educational Development. And I want to first thank both speakers for their clear and candid statements. And my question has to do with the peacebuilding commission, which is a welcome innovation to address a huge and really growing need. I'm wondering if there has been any thought or if the panel discussed any possibility of integrating that peacebuilding commission with the Trusteeship Council [for non-self-governing territories]. I recognize the charter constraints of that, but the commission's mandate and that of the Trusteeship Council seem to be quite similar. Thank you.

SCOWCROFT: Well, let me start on that one. We talked about using the Trusteeship Council for things like that but, unfortunately, the name carries a heavy burden, and states who are under stress and in conflict don't want to appear to be trustees of the United Nations, and therefore the panel recommends the dissolution of the Trusteeship Council. We thought it was just too much of a burden to carry.

HAASS: One of the very few traditions we have at this august institution is we try to begin and end meetings on time. We find that it tends to be an incentive for people to come. What I'd like to do is, first of all, most important, thank both the secretary general as well as General Scowcroft for giving us not simply their time but their service and their insights today. And I'd like you in addition to join me in thanking them, [and] to ask you all just if you could wait for one minute while the secretary general has to get to another meeting so he can somewhat expeditiously exit. But again, Kofi, thank you very much for coming to the Council. [Applause]

ANNAN: Thank you.


Off-the-Cuff on 16 December 2004