Press Conference by Security Council President

4 August 2009

Press Conference by Security Council President

4 August 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE BY Security council president


The Security Council would meet this afternoon to adopt a resolution on children and armed conflict and it would renew by month’s end the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) set to expire on 31 August, John Sawers, Council President for August and the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, said today during a Headquarters news conference.

Briefing journalists on the 15-member Council’s agenda for August, the President said that by operative paragraph 3 of this afternoon’s resolution, the Council would expand the trigger criteria for listing parties to armed conflict in breach of Council concerns, which currently included parties involved in the forcible recruitment of children into armed groups, so that it would also include parties engaged in patterns of killing, maiming, raping and sexually abusing children.

The Council’s August agenda would also include open debates on improving the  Council’s oversight and management of United Nations peacekeeping operations to ensure they were achievable and deliverable, and on the Secretary-General’s report pursuant to Council resolution 1820 (2000) on women and peace and security, which listed systematic sexual violence as a war crime.  On Iraq, the Council would hear a briefing this afternoon by Ad Melkert, newly appointed Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and it would likely renew UNAMI’s mandate, set to expire 6 August.  

The Council would also discuss the Secretary-General’s report pursuant to paragraph 5 of resolution 1859 (2008) on outstanding obligations of Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, including on weapons of mass destruction, known as the “Saddam era” resolutions.  It would hold a briefing on the Middle East on 19 August.  Also on its agenda was the situation in Myanmar, where the trial of Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi was expected to end this week, as well as the 20 August elections in Afghanistan.

Responding to a reporters’ question on whether the Council would formulate a draft text on the “Saddam era” resolutions by year’s end, the President said the Council hoped to make progress on what was a complex situation concerning Iraq’s relationship with Kuwait on post-Gulf War compensation, Kuwaiti missing persons, the Kuwaiti archives, and Iraqi concerns over navigational access to the Persian Gulf, as well as weapons of mass destruction and pressure on Iraq to sign on to international weapons’ norms.  The Council aimed to do what it could to normalize Iraq’s relationship with the international community.   

Concerning the meeting on UNIFIL, he said the Council, on the initiative of France and the United Kingdom, aimed to break with past practice by hearing from troop contributing countries in good time before its own consultations on whether to renew a mandate.  That way it could better take into account contributors’ views.

Regarding the possibility of moving the Council’s debate on Afghanistan to an earlier date because of the prospect of electoral fraud and a deteriorating security situation, he said the United Nations mission in Afghanistan was actively trying to ensure as representative and inclusive an election as possible.  The Council would follow up on issues as they took place.  There was an important role for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union, the United Nations and individual countries.   

As to the Council imposing more sanctions on Iran, he said that situation should be on the minds of ministers during the General Assembly’s general debate in September.  The June 2008 proposal established the benefits for Iran should it choose to comply with the Council’s requirements and address the international community’s concerns.  The new United States administration had firmly identified itself with that initiative and had offered to play a full part in any negotiations with Iran.  The ball was now in Iran’s court, he said, adding that he looked forward to its response. 

Concerning Council action to lift the siege on Gaza, he said the Council wanted to see all provisions of resolutions 1850 (2008) and 1860 (2009) implemented, including the opening of all border crossings and the end of arms smuggling into Gaza, as well as full access for humanitarian aid into Gaza.  Those outstanding issues were of concern.  

In response to a question about what the reporter described as Israel’s ethnic cleansing and eviction of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, he said Israel’s continued expansion of settlements, forced evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes made peace between Israel and Palestinians much more difficult to achieve.  That would be an issue of concern during the Council’s Middle East debate later in the month.

As to whether the visit of former United States President Bill Clinton to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could result in that Asian country’s return to the six-party talks on nuclear non-proliferation, he said he understood Mr. Clinton’s visit was private and mainly concerned with seeking the release of two United States journalists detained there, and that he wished him well. 

Asked if reports that the United States was contemplating expediting its timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq had affected the United Nations’ and the United Kingdom’s thinking on Iraq, he said British forces had already withdrawn from Iraq.  As the role of the international coalition shrank, the centrality of the United Nations role grew in terms of its mandate and political involvement on the ground in dealing with Kirkuk, planning elections and supporting the Iraqi Government.  He did not, however, expect an expansion or broadening of the United Nations mandate at the current stage. 

Concerning the impact of the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the Council’s consultations on 20 August on Sudan’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, he said the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had requested the 20 August debate so it could report on election preparations.  There had been no requests from Council members, however, on other Sudan-related issues.

As to why the Council could not supply the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) with an adequate number of helicopters, he said the Council’s numerous offers to Sudan for that had been rejected.  UNAMID was not operating at full strength due to several factors, notably the constraints under which it had to operate.

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