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HEADQUARTERS PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESIDENT OF SECURITY COUNCIL

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

2 July 2002

The Security Council wanted the business of peacekeeping to proceed without interruption and would make every effort to avoid problems like that affecting the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, told correspondents this afternoon.

Responding to a question about the consequences of the Council's failure to renew UNMIBH's mandate for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the United Nations Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and the United Nations Mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO), he said the Council did not want to undergo that kind of agony every time the renewal of a peacekeeping mandate came up.

Sir Jeremy, who is the Council's President for July, told another correspondent there was no doubt that the absence of UNIFIL in Lebanon would affect the maintenance of calm on both sides of the Blue Line if the Council was unable to renew its mandate later this month.

[On Sunday, the United States vetoed a resolution renewing UNMIBH's mandate and authorizing the continuation of the multinational stabilization force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the Security Council adopted a subsequent technical, or rollover, text extending UNMIBH's mandate until midnight tomorrow. Washington is seeking immunity from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court for United States forces serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations.]

Asked whether there was any resolution on SFOR within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and on how to proceed after tomorrow, he said that NATO, like the European Union, was holding meetings and would have to make its own decision about the situation. The Council would ensure there was an appropriate resolution for a handover to the European Union and to NATO, he told another correspondent.

Asked to outline Washington's concerns, he said there was an apprehension on Washington's part that the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) might be the basis for politicized indictments of Americans, as the representatives of the superpower, which made the United States more exposed than other States at work on international security at the moment.

Was there an option to roll UNMIBH's mandate over for a few more days? another journalist asked. Were similar problems envisaged with the four other peacekeeping mandates scheduled for renewal this month?

Sir Jeremy replied that the option to roll the mandate over for a short period was always available. However, the Council wanted to solve the problem for longer than a few days. If it failed to achieve a generic answer to the problem -- which would be a tall order in the next two days -- the issues would be bound to come up in at least some of the other renewals this month.

Asked about the ideal aim for a handover resolution, he said the general aim would be to make the gap between UNMIBH ceasing its tasks on the ground and the European Union starting its functions on the ground as short as possible. The European Union was studying the possibility of advancing its work in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to bridge any gap resulting from Security Council deliberations, he added.

Another journalist asked whether any Council member had suggested that the United States withdraw its 46 unarmed police personnel from UNMIBH and allow the Mission to continue.

Sir Jeremy said there had been no detailed discussion of that, but there was a worry that such an action might not be the end of it. There could be serious consequences for United Nations peacekeeping and for the relationship between the Organization and the United States.

In response to another question, he replied that the Presidency was making sure that if necessary, there would be a resolution to ease the handover between UNMIBH and the European Union -- and between UNMIBH and NATO in some aspects -- if the Mission's mandate was not extended beyond midnight tomorrow.

Briefing journalists earlier on the Council's work programme for July, Sir Jeremy said informal consultations on UNMIBH would continue tomorrow following a private meeting on Somalia.

He said peacekeeping mandate renewals this month involved the United Nations Observer Mission in Prevlaka (UNMOP), expiring on 15 July, as well as UNIFIL, UNOMIG and MINURSO, which must be renewed by the end of the month. In addition, a new United Nations office was to be established in Angola.

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