2 October 2013
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Security Council President on October Work Programme

The Security Council's work programme for October would include three open debates — on working methods, the Middle East and women, peace and security — as well as the first-ever high-level meeting on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan said today as he assumed presidency of the 15-member body.

Speaking at a Headquarters press conference, Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev noted that, in the first half of the month, Council members planned to visit the Great Lakes region — notably the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda — and hold a consultative meeting with the African Union Peace and Security Council.  On 21 October, upon their return, the Council would be briefed by the Secretary-General's Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, as well as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO).

The high-level meeting on 28 October would focus on strengthening the partnership between United Nations and OIC, he said, with planned briefings by the Secretaries-General of the two organizations.

He went on to say the Council's open debate on women, peace and security, on 18 October, would cover the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict-affected situations.  Members would have before them the Secretary-General’s 4 September report on the topic, as well as a paper prepared by Azerbaijan.  The United Nations Secretary-General was expected to address the meeting, as was the head of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and various civil society representatives.  The meeting was expected to culminate in the adoption of a resolution.

On 22 October, the Council would hold its open debate on the Middle East, he continued, with a briefing planned by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.  On 29 October, the body would hold its sixth open debate on working methods.

Specifically on Syria, he said the Council would consider on 10 October, the Secretary-General's recommendations related to chemical weapons use, as outlined in resolution 2118 (2013).  On 28 October, it would take up the report of the Director of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  The presidential statement on Syria, adopted today, focused on the humanitarian aspects of the crisis.  “Facts speak for themselves,” he said, calling the situation a catastrophe, in which tens of thousands had been killed.  Efforts by Syria's neighbours must be commended and their appeals must be met.

On 16 October, the Council would discuss the situation in Mali, he said, and on 23 October, hear a briefing by United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous, who would present the Secretary-General's report on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  On 10 and 24 October, the Council would hold regular consultations on Sudan and South Sudan.  Also on 24 October, it would hold consultations on the Secretary-General's semi-annual report regarding the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004), on the situation in Lebanon, with a planned briefing by the Special Envoy.  On 30 October, the Council would hear a briefing on Somalia.

Speaking next in his national capacity, he said Azerbaijan shared the view of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the need for more policy attention to the humanitarian situation in Syria, especially to ensure respect for international humanitarian law.

He noted reports encouraging certain refugees to move to other countries or settle in areas of foreign military occupation, which violated international human rights and humanitarian law.  In that context, he cited Armenia's idea to settle Syrians of Armenian origin in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.  Addressing the needs of Syrian refugees at the expense of internally displaced persons from Azerbaijan was illegal and could not be tolerated.

Taking questions, he said the Council, by today's presidential statement on the situation in Syria, had asked the Secretary-General to report regularly on latest developments.  The Secretary-General’s recommendations on the Council's role in the matter were due on 7 October.  The report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would be presented to the Council, along with the Secretary-General's recommendations.  “We believe this will pave the way for Geneva II,” and contain an appeal to both sides to soon start that process, he said.

Responding to a query on the Central African Republic, he said Council members had raised the situation in that country during bilateral meetings on 1 October, which was why a footnote had been placed in the October work programme.  The representative of France had announced that a resolution would be distributed.

On the upcoming Africa visit, he said it aimed to give members a picture of the situation on the ground.  Sanctions would not be taken up as a “special subject”.  At the end of their visit, Council members’ meeting with the African Union Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa would be helpful.

Concerning OIC — noting it was the world's second-largest intergovernmental organization — he said that several conflicts in that area were on the Council's agenda, most notably, energy resources, communications, inter-religious and intercultural dialogue.  The meeting between the two bodies would foster understanding.  Asked if that would hold true vis-à-vis the Syrian crisis, he said:  “Why not?  I'm not against it; I think it could be useful.”

Regarding the presidential statement on Syria, he said it was quickly agreed upon by Council members and easier to adopt than a resolution.  The Russian Federation had asked for more time to allow officials in its capital to agree on certain elements, but the process had not been difficult.  Only one meeting had been held to discuss the draft, noted the Ambassador.

As for the reporting on chemical weapons in Syria, he reiterated that the Council, on 10 October, would consider the Secretary-General's recommendations on the role of the United Nations.  On 28 October, the Secretary-General would present his recommendations to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

“We all prefer a peaceful solution to the crisis,” he said in response to a question on the Geneva II conference.  The agreement on chemical weapons would pave the way for wider political accords on that issue in Geneva.  The Council strongly supported the Geneva process, but it was not its mandate to decide who would participate.  “I don't think that, without the active participation of regional players, we could resolve the issue.”

As to whether Azerbaijan had raised the issue in other bodies of Armenia relocating Syrian refugees to Azerbaijani land, he said his Government had brought it up with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group and in the General Assembly “more than once”.  It had information that Armenia had started that settlement in Azerbaijani territories.  “It's a dangerous process with unpredictable consequences,” he stressed.

Adding to those comments, Mr. Musayev said a mission by the Minsk Co-Chairs had concluded that some 14,000 Armenian settlers had been transferred to those areas, replacing 750,000 Azerbaijani displaced persons, who had been forced to leave.  The Co-Chairs had urged the parties to refrain from any activities in those territories that would change their social, demographic character, including illegal settlement and economic exploitation.  He hoped they would follow that position with regard to settlers and refugees from Syria.

As to whether Security Council reform was a top priority, he said he supported the idea and looked forward to the 29 October discussion on that topic.

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For information media • not an official record