3 October 2008


3 October 2008
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





Unity should be seen as the guiding principle in political, economic and individual life, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the sixty-third session of the General Assembly, said at a Headquarters press conference today.

Speaking at his first press conference since the conclusion of the general debate this morning, the President described his early efforts to build unity among Member States, while responding to numerous questions about “hot potato” issues.

In response to a question on democracy and human rights in Myanmar, he described his role as that of a facilitator, supporting Member States as they sought a viable way to help “our brothers and sisters” in Myanmar.  “That is certainly one of the areas of our world that demands our attention and our solidarity.”  Discussions were currently in an initial, consultative phase that would allow Member States to gather objective information on the situation.

Unity was also integral to resolving the current financial crisis hitting the United States, he said.  However, it was not only unity among Member States that was needed on that issue, but also unity within each individual.  People should not act in one way on Sunday and in another during the workweek.  It was time to do away with the dichotomy that had been established between ethics and economic or political activities, in order to “put ourselves on the right track once again”.

Some people in business and politics were in the habit of attending religious gatherings on Sundays, he continued.  “You talk about justice, responsibility, brotherhood and stewardship in Sunday sermons, but the rest of the week you function only as the political or economic animal that you are supposed to be, and forget the intrusion of considerations of morality or ethics into the sacrosanct economic sphere of action.”

Noting that several crises were affecting the world at once, he said:  “We should not look upon crises as an inevitable gateway to tragedy.  I think that crises are moments of great important opportunity to grow and develop and take a quantum leap to something better.”  The current financial crisis would thus, hopefully, lead the United States and the world to make more enlightened decisions in the future.

Asked whether Iran should be allowed to submit a bid for temporary membership on the Security Council, in light of that organ’s sanctions against it, the President replied:  “There are members in the Security Council right now who have done things infinitely worse than Iran could ever do.”  Though threats by the President of Iran against Israel were very bad, the world was not destroyed by words but by actions.

The President declined to name the specific Security Council members he was referring to, but quoted a Spanish saying instead:  “For those who have the power of understanding, you need only a few words.”

Returning to the theme of unity in response to questions about the potential of the International Court of Justice to resolve disagreements over Kosovo’s independence and sovereignty over the Abu Musa islands in the Persian Gulf, Mr. d’Escoto emphasized his overall support for international courts of law.  However, countries should first try to resolve their differences through dialogue and bilateral negotiations.

Asked his opinion of the possible indictment of the President of the Sudan by the International Criminal Court, he explained that it was often difficult for the President of the General Assembly to speak out on certain issues when negotiations were ongoing.  “I’m trying to work for unity and this is a delicate thing.”

When asked why some Committee meetings were closed to the press, he explained that though openness and transparency were very good principles to follow, sometimes, in an effort to build unity, it was necessary to leave some negotiations closed and not speak out openly.  “Many times, something’s not aired openly, not because it’s so secret, but maybe sometimes you don’t want to unnecessarily add fuel to the fire.  Sometimes this would not help the most important cause because the most important thing is unity.”

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.