Press Conference by Security Council President on August Work Programme

2 August 2011

Press Conference by Security Council President on August Work Programme

2 August 2011
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Security Council President on August Work Programme


With the situations in Syria, Libya and Somalia becoming increasingly more worrisome, and attention needed on peacekeeping and other issues, the usually light August agenda of the Security Council was quickly filling up, the permanent representative of India, which holds presidency of the body for the month, said this afternoon.

“We had intended this to be a light month, but it might wind up with a fairly heavy agenda”, Hardeep Singh Puri told correspondents at the regular monthly press conference on the Council’s work programme.  Planned highlights included an open debate on peacekeeping on 26 August from the perspective of troop-contributing countries, of which India was prominent; having contributed over 100,000 troops to United Nations peace operations over the years.  That meeting would cover the Council’s traditional peacekeeping concerns.

A briefing on Somalia was scheduled for 10 August,he said, with the already complex situation there now being further complicated by drought.  Difficulties of delivering humanitarian assistance, the factor of Al-Shabaab and other issues would be considered in that light, he added.

Consultations on Sudan had been planned in view of the ongoing problems in Southern Kordofan and the anxiety over other outstanding issues regarding the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which remained, even though the new nation of the Republic of South Sudan had already come into being, he said.  Among other issues, the report on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) would be considered at a debate on the 24 August; and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) would be up for renewal on 30 August.

Also on the 30 August, there would be a briefing on Libya, over which many Council members were deeply worried, he said, with the implementation of resolution 1973 (2011) having become problematic.  Military operations had begun almost immediately, he commented, but the cessation of hostilities and national dialogue, central to the resolution of the crisis, were nowhere in sight.

Speaking in his national capacity, he encouraged all concerned to examine the best ideas, to figure out how to support the efforts of the African Union and to otherwise focus on getting the political process going.  He added that Council action on Syria had been put under a shadow by the problems of implementing the resolutions on Libya, with many delegations wary of going down the same road.

In response to questions, he said that negotiations on a draft resolution on Syria were ongoing.  They had started at 5 p.m. yesterday following the requests of six delegations to hold emergency talks due to increased violence in Hama and other areas.  The United Kingdom had re-introduced its two-month-old draft text on the situation with “a technical update”.  What he called a “robust and frank” discussion ensued.

He said that the Brazilian representative then presented certain additional “elements”, not necessarily an alternate draft, and in the late morning a decision was taken for the representatives of the United Kingdom and Brazil to sit down together to marry the material in both texts, with consultations planned to resume at 3 p.m.  The major problem was that two delegations would not accept a resolution, but a presidential statement, which required unanimity, was opposed by Lebanon.

A solution to the impasse might lie, he said, in finding a way of putting what normally constitutes a presidential statement into a resolution, which then would be put to a vote.  He noted that the United Nations Charter did not mention resolutions; it only mentioned decisions.  He added that he would like to believe that the Council was master of its own procedures and could find an innovative way of doing what needed to be done.

He stressed that a text on Syria was “still a work in progress” and cautioned against finger pointing.  Most delegations had similar positions that had not changed, desiring to send a balanced message to stop the violence and start political reform.  What he termed a more “maximalist” text would take longer and maybe not come to fruition.

Answering questions about India’s position, he said that it was important to express concern over the violence, and to call for restraint.  Further, it was important to end violence and to call for the start of a political process that factored in the aspirations of the Syrian people.  He felt the Council “must say something”.  Countering correspondent’s claims that India had at first opposed any Council action on Syria, he said his country had never been averse to adoption of a text, with the proviso that it “must have a calming effect, not an exacerbating effect”.

He cautioned against interpretations of India’s position gleaned from the statements of the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister at his meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister.  He said that a balanced approach was needed, however, since it could not be assumed that only innocent civilians had been killed, as over 300 security personnel had also died.

To other questions, he replied that he was not aware of any recent communications from Palestinians to the Council concerning the September effort they had announced to gain recognition as a State and to gain United Nations membership.  If the situation came up in the Council, he foresaw a likely veto.

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