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PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT

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

4 May 2004

The month of May would be a busy one for the Security Council, as it would address several African issues and give considerable attention to Iraq, this month’s Council President, Munir Akram (Pakistan), told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.

The African issues included the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Liberia, Somalia and Côte d’Ivoire, Mr. Akram said. As the Sudan was not currently on the Council agenda, James Morris, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), would brief the Council on the Sudan’s Darfur region on 7 May under “other matters”. A report on the human rights situation there was also expected. This morning, the Council had addressed the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Timor-Leste and the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) would also be discussed, he continued. On 7 May, the Council would be briefed in an open meeting by the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria in his capacity as Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The programme of work also included the regular items on Afghanistan and the Middle East. Cyprus was likely to come up, as the Council expected the Secretary-General’s report and a briefing by his Special Adviser, Alvaro de Soto.

Regarding Iraq, he said Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, was expected to report to the Council upon his return from the country. Discussions in several formats were expected regarding a new resolution on Iraq. The quarterly briefing by the United States and the United Kingdom, in compliance with resolution 1483 (2003), was due in May, as was the yearly review of the resolution’s implementation, which had been scheduled for 18 May.

He said a special event on the theme “UN peacekeeping operations”, scheduled on 17 May and presided over by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, would highlight the recent surge in demand for such operations. The meeting would focus on the increasing complexity of operations, evaluate progress made since the “Brahimi report” and address upcoming challenges. It was hoped that the Secretary-General would open the debate and a Presidential Statement was to be expected. A supplemental thematic discussion, on “complex crises and the UN response”, was scheduled for 28 May. The idea was to see how a comprehensive and integrated response to complex crises could be generated by the United Nations family so that the security, political, economic and humanitarian requirements could be adequately met. Participation by the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council was anticipated.

Addressing correspondents’ questions about Iraq, he said informal discussions on a new resolution would start before the scheduled 18 May meeting. It was not yet clear what the elements of a new text might be. The Council had already endorsed a multinational force, but it was too early to say what its shape might be. There was an evolving security situation in Iraq, and the Council would have to make judgements about when it would send a force. As Council President, he hoped a unified position could be reached.

The abuse of Iraqi prisoners had not been raised in the Council consultations so far, he said. It remained to be seen, however, what position Council members would take once the issue of Iraq came up.

Answering a correspondent’s question about allegations by the Democratic Republic of the Congo that Rwandan soldiers were on its territory, Mr. Akram said that Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hedi Annabi had briefed the Council this morning about recent developments in the region. The allegations and counter-allegations had been discussed, and the Council was likely to come up with an appropriate Presidential Statement in the near future.

Heraldo Muñoz (Chile), Chairman of the “1267 Committee”, which deals with sanctions against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, would brief the Council on his Committee’s report on 25 May, Mr. Akram said in response to another question.

Asked about his country’s election to the Commission on Human Rights this morning, and criticism by non-governmental organizations, he said, speaking in his national capacity, that Member States had obviously thought his country was a good candidate as it had received 43 votes. Pakistan was proud of its record and, as a developing country, it was doing everything possible to promote a human rights culture. However, everybody was entitled to his or her own opinion. “We are very comfortable with the fact that the international community sees us as a State which is responsible, ruled democratically, and has the rule of law despite all the challenges and difficulties we are facing”, he added.

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