PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
3 December 2002
At a headquarters press conference this afternoon, Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, the new President of the Security Council for the month of December, outlined the Council’s work programme, including scheduled open meetings and its handling of Iraq’s disarmament programme.
He said that because of the forthcoming holidays, the Council had a busy and intense three weeks ahead of it. The Council was this afternoon scheduled to hear a briefing by John Mills, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), about the magnitude of the food emergencies facing several countries in Africa.
On Wednesday, the Council would hear from Vice President Jacob Zuma of South Africa in an open meeting about his role as facilitator of the peace process in Burundi. There would be another meeting on Friday, concerning the work of the United Nations arms inspectors in Iraq, that would hear Hans Blix, Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) under Council resolution 1284.
In the coming week, the Council expected to deal with three resolutions which concerned, among others, Sierra Leone and Angola. Presidential statements should be expected on Somalia, Afghanistan and Liberia, he added.
Starting next Monday, the Council would hold consultations on Georgia and Kosovo. There would be an open meeting on Tuesday on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The Council would also meet formally to bring to an end two peacekeeping missions in the Balkans –- Bosnia and Herzegovina and Prevlaka.
During the third week, starting on 16 December, there would be open meetings, including one to give the outgoing chairmen of the various sanctions committees the opportunity to report on their work to the Council. The second open meeting would be a wrap-up session on the Council’s work for the year. The Council President said he wanted to keep the idea of wrap-up sessions and work programmes, noting that the last such session took place in June.
There were a number of issues on the Council’s agenda being kept in abeyance for the right moment to be taken up. One was the declaration to be made by Iraq on its weapons programmes by 8 December. Another was a meeting with the Council and the Prime Minister of the Central African Republic next Monday, 9 December. A report on the future engagement of the United Nations in Angola would be discussed with a presentation by Ibrahim Gambari, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative. Cyprus would perhaps be another topic to be considered.
In a question and answer session, he was asked whether Iraq’s declaration on its programmes concerning weapons of mass destruction would become a public document after its receipt by the Security Council. He said the declaration was supposed to have two components: military and non-military civilian equipment
or programmes. He agreed that in principle, it could be a public document. “But, as of today, we have to see how it comes, first, concerning the language. If it comes in Arabic, it has to be translated. If it is filled with technicalities, it had to be analyzed by UN experts. We have to be ava1ilable as a Council”, he said.
Asked what period the report of UNMOVIC would cover, he said the last three months. The report was supposed to be due today. The correspondent also asked whether there would be more consultations on the oil-for-food programme, and also if a new draft resolution on the programme was being prepared.
The Council President replied that there had been consultations on the subject in the Council today. He drew attention to two draft resolutions by the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation respectively. There had also been suggestions from the United States which could result in a new technical roll-over text. It was the intention of the United States delegation to introduce amendments to the goods review list from the very beginning, which was one of the most difficult issues, he said.
“But, if that is the intention, there’s probably going to be a new draft resolution presented by them (United States) in order to make the technical roll-over feasible. We’ll see what would be the reaction of the other countries”, he said.
He said, in response to a question, that he had no indications when Iraq would submit its declaration. Iraq had been asked to present it to the Council by 8 December. What would the Council do on receiving the document? How would it disseminate the information, and what specifically would it do? Would there be a Council meeting on it?
He said he would be available to consider reactions from Council members. He was aware of the interest of delegations in the subject. A pragmatic approach would have to be adopted.
He was asked what specific ideas the Council now had on the Palestinian question, as the efforts of the Quartet -– Russian Federation, United States, European Union and United Nations -- were not fruitful. He referred the correspondent to the open briefing the Council would have on 16 December on the Middle East. The Quartet was expected to meet on or about 19 December. A lot depended on the political developments in the region, including the forthcoming elections in Israel. Those developments could affect the Quartet’s road map on resolving the crisis. If developments were warranted, he said, a meeting of the Council could be convened.
He told a questioner that a decision had been taken to hold next Monday’s consultations on Georgia in private.
A correspondent said that looking at its schedule, the General Assembly had been discussing the question of the restructuring of the Security Council for more than ten years now. Could the President of the Council give an assessment as to when countries, such as Japan and Germany and others from different regions, could become permanent members?
He replied that only yesterday, the General Assembly President had been approached for a permanent representative who could be one of the two vice-chairmen of the working group on the subject. It was widely known that the question was related to the composition of the Security Council, particularly, an increase in the number of its permanent members. It was a “tricky” exercise, one that would take a long time for an agreement to be reached. Many countries recognized that, including the Council’s permanent members, he added.
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