Press Conference by Security Council President

3 March 2009

Press Conference by Security Council President

3 March 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Ibrahim Dabbashi, Charge d’affaires of Libya, which holds the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council this month, told reporters today that the 15-member body had no plans to meet if, as planned, the judges of the International Criminal Court issued a warrant tomorrow for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

“The Security Council has nothing scheduled as an immediate reaction to any decision by the International Criminal Court,” Mr. Dabbashi said, responding to several questions posed during a Headquarters briefing on the Council’s work programme for the month.  In any event, he hoped the situation in the Sudan would not deteriorate and that, in its deliberations, the Council would take into account the efforts under way by regional organizations, including the African Union and the League of Arab States.

[Last July, the Court's Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, accused the Sudanese leader of committing war crimes in the Sudan’s western Darfur region, where thousands of people have been killed and over 2 million more have been driven from their homes since 2003 when fighting erupted, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militia.  If the Court’s judges approve the indictment and issue an arrest warrant, the Security Council has the power to defer the decision for up to 12 months under Article 16 of the Court’s founding Rome Statute.]

Mr. Dabbashi said Libya supported application of Article 16, and believed the measure was “very important to ensure the peace process was not undermined”.  That was also the position of the key regional bodies and actors, he said, stressing that, if the Security Council decided to defer the Court’s decision, African Union mediators would then have the chance to push the peace process forward.

Asked to give the tenor of the wider Council on the matter, he said it was no secret that the membership was divided on the use of Article 16.  There had been no calls from capitals to convene a meeting on the matter.  “There are no negotiations on Article 16 […] but there are bilateral consultations,” he added, saying that even those Council members not in favour of invoking the measure right now had not ruled out the possibility of its application at another stage.

Continuing, he said that those opposed to Article 16 generally felt the time was not ripe for its application.  Libya would continue consultations with those members, and hoped consensus on the matter could be reached.  At such time, and if necessary, the Council would meet to take a decision.  He told one reporter that, while he had not counted the number of votes [in favour of applying] Article 16, he was “working towards consensus”.

Mr. Dabbashi stressed that the Court’s decision involved “accusations” and that humanitarian issues must be dealt with impartially.  What was going on in Darfur had been politicized and subsequently had become an “international issue”.  In fact, it was not an armed conflict, but a tribal conflict, that developed into an armed conflict.  If the African Union had been allowed to handle the issue, he believed it would not have turned into what it had become.  The statements of certain members of the international community had provoked the actions of some groups in Darfur, he added.

Turning to the month’s programme of work, he said that, next week, from 11 to 14 March, Council members would head to Haiti for a mission headed by Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica.  Mr. Urbina would brief the Council on that visit on 19 March.  Also next week, the Council had planned consultations on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the implementation of Council resolution 1701 (2006) on Lebanon.

Further, on 18 March, the Council would hold an open debate on the report on ways the international community can support African Union peacekeeping.  Libya had not planned the traditional monthly thematic debate, but planned to give high priority and visibility to the discussion of that report and would convene that meeting at the ministerial level.  Indeed, with the African peacekeeping mission in Somalia and elsewhere “facing challenges”, Libya believed it was time to consider the matter, aiming to bolster the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations and adopting the recommendations in the report.  That meeting would be chaired by Libya’s Minister for African Affairs, Abdul Salam al-Tereyki, he added.

On 20 March, the Council would hold an open debate on Somalia, with a focus on piracy and the status of the ongoing peace process in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation.  This was a follow-up to two resolutions on the subject that were adopted by the Council in December 2008.  He said the Council’s retreat with the Secretary-General, to focus on United Nations peacekeeping, would take place from the 20th to the 23rd of the month and, in addition to the regular monthly briefing on the Middle East, discussions and actions were also slotted on the United Nations missions in Kosovo (UNMIK), and Afghanistan (UNAMA), among others.

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