|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Outgoing Security Council President
This week’s Security Council debate on sexual violence in conflict confirmed the importance of that issue and reaffirmed the decision to put it “front and centre” of the United Kingdom’s presidency, that country’s Permanent Representative said at Headquarters today.
Briefing on developments during his country’s June presidency, Mark Lyall Grant said the recently adopted resolution on sexual violence in conflict would help to end impunity for perpetrators and improve links between international and national actions aimed at bringing them to justice.
Summarizing developments in Somalia, he said that was one of the issues upon which the Council was in agreement, but he expected tough challenges in the future over the funding of the political office there. As for the recent debate on conflict prevention and natural resources, he said that one only had to see today’s news of fighting over the gold mines in Darfur to recognize that there was indeed a direct linkage between the exploitation of natural resources and conflict.
On Syria, he pointed out that there “has not been success, yet again”. The Council had, however, paid much attention to the crisis in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). Just this morning, it had adopted resolution 2018 (2013), stressing the obligation of both Israel and Syria scrupulously to observe their ceasefire agreement. The question of access for peacekeepers and the team investigating the use of chemical weapons may return to the Council in the next few months, he said, adding that the Council had held “quite a lot of discussion” on Syrian in various informal formats.
Turning to Mali, he said the “final green light” had been given for a transfer of responsibility from the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), due to take place on the 1 July.
He described today’s decision to remove Iraq from its obligations under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter as a “historic step”, and part of the normalization of relations between Iraq and the international community.
When asked whether he shared the views of his outgoing counterpart from the United States that Council inaction on Syria was a moral disgrace, he emphasized that “you cannot blame” the United Nations as a whole because it was up to Member States to take a stance. The Council had tried for two years to secure some leverage on the crisis, but unfortunately, three draft resolutions had been vetoed by the Russian Federation and China. Had they been adopted, the situation on the ground might be very different, he added.
Asked whether Kenya had a role to play in stabilizing the situation in neighbouring Somalia, he underscored the need for proper dialogue between the Government in Somalia and regional actors. A national constitution was needed to hold the State together and include Jubaland, Somaliland and other autonomous regions as part of the federal Government. He said he recognized it would be difficult to make progress on political dialogue and constitutional development after 20 years of civil war, and when large parts of the country remained under the controlled of by Al-Shabaab.
When asked whether all Council members shared the view that Iraq had managed its obligations under Chapter VII, he said some issues remained, such as the $11 billion in compensation due to Kuwait and the need to address the export of conventional weapons. The Council would continue to work with Iraq on those issues over the next few years, he added.
To a question about where Council members stood on the issue of Sudan following recent developments, he replied that there were currently two viewpoints in the Council, the first believing that a road map to peace was still in place and that “we’re still on track” despite “a few bumps in the road”. The second held that, with increased fighting in Darfur and a persisting humanitarian crisis, the situation was worsening. Speaking in his national capacity, he said the United Kingdom was in the latter camp.
Questioned as to what could be done to prevent future kidnapping of peacekeepers in Syria, he described a plan to equip them with body armour and heavy weapons. It was possible by a number of measures within the existing mandate to strengthen observation posts, enabling peacekeepers to protect themselves, he added.
Asked about Serbia and Kosovo in the context of the Council’s 14 June meeting, he said that “historic” occurrence had been instrumental in normalizing relations and resolving issues between the two, and could also help in speeding up the process of integrating Serbia into the European Union.
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