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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AND THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

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

31 January 2005

Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, and Djibril Diallo, Spokesman for the General Assembly President.

Spokesman for Secretary-General

Good afternoon,

**SG on Iraq

Last night the Secretary-General issued a statement on the Iraqi elections saying that current indications are that the elections have been successfully carried out.

He paid tribute to the courage of the Iraqi people. He especially congratulated all those Iraqis who were involved in either planning or monitoring the elections, and who worked in such a limited timeframe and under such daunting circumstances.

He also noted the contributions of the security forces, both Iraqi and international, in ensuring a relatively safe and secure environment.

The success of the election augurs well for the transition process, he said, with the next phase being one in which the Transitional National Assembly drafts a permanent constitution for Iraq, which is expected to be put to a referendum in October 2005.

The Secretary-General called for reconciliation on all sides. It is important, he went on to say, to ensure that all those who, for whatever reason, were unable or unwilling to take part in the election are now brought into the constitution-making process.

The United Nations, he said from Abuja, stands ready to continue its electoral assistance, to facilitate vital outreach efforts, and, if invited, to assist the elected Transitional National Assembly in its work of drafting the constitution. We have the full text upstairs.

**Iraq Phone Calls

While travelling in West Africa, the Secretary-General kept himself abreast of the latest developments in Iraq.

In addition to regular contacts with his own staff in Baghdad, he spoke by phone to Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, US Ambassador in Iraq John Negroponte and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

This morning, the Secretary-General also spoke to US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

**Qazi

From Baghdad, on this day after the elections, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, held talks with a broad range of Iraqi political personalities.

Qazi stressed that the elections represented an important step in the political process that must bring all Iraqis together in shaping the future of their country.

He emphasized the importance of encouraging a broad-based dialogue among all Iraqi political forces as the best way to address differences in points of view. He also stressed that all Iraqis must be represented in the political process, especially in the constitution-making process, to ensure that it realizes its objective of building a safe, stable and democratic Iraq.

Qazi said the UN stands ready to support Iraqis in the post-election period and is willing to provide its expertise to the Iraqis in the constitution making process if the Iraqi authorities seek its help.

**SG Travels

The Secretary-General has arrived in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where he is scheduled today to meet with President Paul Biya and to attend an early dinner, before leaving for New York. In fact that meeting with President Biya is probably just about over by now.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General addressed the African Union Summit in Abuja, Nigeria, telling the assembled leaders that “Africa has an indispensable contribution to make in ensuring that 2005 becomes a turning point for the continent, the United Nations and the world.”

He said he attaches the highest importance to nurturing the ties between the United Nations and the African Union. And we have copies of his statement upstairs.

The Secretary-General then gave a press conference at the summit site, in which he said, because of the “ugly stain” left by the appalling misconduct of a minority of peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, “The time has come to overhaul our entire training, disciplinary, and investigative regimes to ensure that we do not again experience this abomination in any of our missions.” He argued, “We cannot tolerate even one UN peacekeeper victimizing the most vulnerable among us.”

On Darfur, he said that he had just received the report of the International Commission of Inquiry, adding, “We are in the process of analyzing it and I shall release it to the Security Council very shortly.” He said that, regardless of how the events in Darfur are described, “serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross violations of human rights have taken place and this cannot be allowed to stand.” He added, “I believe that sanctions should still be on the table.”

**Security Council - Sudan

At 3:00 this afternoon, the Security Council has scheduled consultations on Sudan, to receive a briefing from the Secretariat on recent developments there.

Haile Menkerios, a Director in the Department of Political Affairs, is expected to brief Council members.

**Sudan

The UN Mission in Sudan has received reports that Sudanese police opened fire on Biga tribesmen who were demonstrating over the weekend in Port Sudan, in the country’s east. There are conflicting reports about the number of casualties in that incident.

There are also continuing reports of violence in Darfur, in the west. In south Darfur, several routes are currently closed for UN movement because of continued insecurity. Meanwhile, in west Darfur, the security situation appears to have calmed down since heavy fighting took place north of Sirba on 20 January, but the situation there remains tense.

**Security Council - Other

Earlier today, the Security Council decided once more to postpone a formal meeting, which had been scheduled to take place this morning, to vote on a resolution on sanctions in Côte d’Ivoire. That formal meeting is postponed until further notice.

Today marks the last day of Argentina’s Presidency of the Security Council. Tomorrow, Benin will take over as Council President for the month of February.

**MONUC

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says that around 2,500 people have sought refuge near UN peacekeepers after fleeing the village of Che, in the Ituri district in the country’s north-east.

The villagers are now located around the peacekeepers' posting, and they claim to be fleeing from attacks by ethnic tribal militias around Che.

Today, the peacekeepers reinforced their positions since the number of people who are seeking their protection has increased to 2,500 from an initial 120.

The UN Mission is providing the refugees with water, and has sent a team of doctors -- the main injuries suffered were caused by traditional weapons including knives, machetes and arrows.

**Tsunami Update

An update on the tsunami: The UN assessment in Banda Aceh -- of 50 settlements of people who lost their homes -- revealed no immediate health concerns, though access to clean water, sanitation and food remains a problem.

According to the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Indonesia, the Indonesian military has welcomed a more permanent UN presence to reinforce the coordination of the assistance in the city of Calang. Infrastructure for a UN office there is under way, and several UN agencies already have staff on the ground.

Meanwhile, the UN’s World Tourism Organization is holding a two-day emergency meeting in Phuket, Thailand, to discuss how to lure visitors back to tsunami-hit areas.

In other news, Yusuf Islam, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, joined a team from the UN refugee agency over the weekend, to visit children displaced by the tsunami. And our own Hiro Ueki is the new contact point for public information and media relations in Banda Aceh. And we have more information on all of this upstairs.

**UNRWA

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, better known as UNRWA, confirmed that a 10-year old elementary school girl was shot and killed today while lining up in the yard of the UN-run school in Rafah.

A second girl was injured in the hand by a second bullet fired at the same time.

At the time of the incident, firing had been heard from the direction of the Israeli-controlled border area.

This is the fifth incident in the last two years in which children have been killed or seriously injured inside UNRWA school premises in the Gaza Strip. We have a press release on that.

**Afghanistan

Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, has wrapped up a three-day visit to Afghanistan, after calling for international arrest warrants for Afghan drug dealers. We have a press release on that in my office.

**ICTY

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today handed down an eight-year prison sentence to Pavle Strugar, a retired Lieutenant-General in the then Yugoslav Peoples’ Army (JNA), who was found guilty of war crimes in the Dubrovnik area of Croatia in 1991. The Tribunal found Strugar guilty of attacks on civilians and the destruction or wilful damage of historic and religious sites.

**Matsuura Condemns Killing of Journalist

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known as UNESCO, has condemned the murder of a journalist in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, calling it an “intolerable attack on democracy and the rule of law”.

According to reports, Abdias Jean, a radio reporter, was shot and beaten by police while covering a police raid on a shantytown district.

We have more on this in a press release upstairs.

**Disabilities

Finally, the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on the rights of persons with disabilities concluded its first week of work last Friday by drafting articles on equal recognition before the law, liberty and security. And we have a press release with more details on that.

That’s all I have for you.

Massoud?

**Questions and Answers

Question: There is this audit report out which says that about $3.8 billion were missing or corrupted by the Coalition Provisional Authority as part of the ...(inaudible) food programme money...(Inaudible) Iraqi money....Will the Volcker commission be taking that into account?

Spokesman: You’ll have to ask them that, I don’t know.

Question: And I just wanted to find out -- UNRWA. You talked about UNRWA, where this girl was shot dead by the Israelis. Will there be a new head of UNRWA now appointed?

Spokesman: Just a correction: I don’t believe the UNRWA press release said that the Israelis did the shooting. They said that the shots came from a border area controlled by the Israelis.

Question: The Reuters report said that, but in any case...

Spokesman: The UN didn’t say that. There will be a forensic investigation. We will eventually have an announcement to make. Not today, though.

Mohammad?

Question: Would you please give us more details about the calls of the SG with the President (Inaudible)?

Spokesman: That happened this morning our time. And I only got a very weak phone message from Marie Okabe of my office, who is travelling with him. So, I couldn’t get any details. We’ll see if we can get any more for you later. But I am sure it concerned the elections in Iraq.

[He later confirmed that the Secretary-General had discussed the Iraqi elections and the way forward, including the need for reconciliation among all parties and groups, particularly the Sunnis.]

Yes, Mark?

Question: Can the UN confirm that the report into Darfur did not conclude that there was a genocide but that there were people who acted with genocidal intent?

Spokesman: No, we cannot say anything about that report until the text is given to the Security Council. And we’re waiting to see whether that will take place tomorrow, as originally planned, or in light of some of the things that have been said publicly or written publicly about the contents of the report, whether it can go to the Council a bit earlier, maybe this afternoon. We’re looking into that possibility.

Richard?

Question: What’s the UN or the Secretary-General’s response to the weekend report that Kojo Annan was potentially involved in selling 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil in a deal with the son of Sheik Yamani?

Spokesman: I understand that Kojo Annan has given any information on that to Paul Volcker. And so, we’ll have to wait to see what Mr. Volcker’s judgement is on that. But in the meantime, we won’t be saying anything.

Jonathan?

Question: Fred, on Friday you said the Secretary-General wasn’t aware of Mr. Volcker’s links to Power Corporation and thus Total and BNP when the Secretary-General appointed him. Why did the Secretary-General not ask for a full financial disclosure statement from a man he was appointing to such a sensitive position?

Spokesman: Well, the implication of your question is that there was conflict of interest, and as I indicated to you on Friday, Mr. Volcker’s office has issued a statement. You said you still see at least the appearance of conflict of interest after reading that statement. We don’t see conflict of interest. The Secretary-General made his judgement on Mr. Volcker on the basis of his enormous standing in the United States, his reputation for absolute integrity and the Secretary-General has no reason to change his mind about Mr. Volcker on the basis of the links that you are describing.

Question: But Fred, I am not saying that it is a conflict of interest right now. I am asking you very simply: why did the Secretary-General not ask for a full financial disclosure statement from a man he was appointing to such a sensitive position? And in the light of staff regulations -- clearly, Mr. Volcker is not a member of staff -- but staff regulations within the UN which say that there should be full financial disclosure statement. Why would he not apply that to a man he was appointing to such a sensitive position?

Spokesman: I don’t think -- I just have to repeat what I said -- I don’t think the Secretary-General had any reason, and still today has no reason, to question Mr. Volcker’s integrity.

Question: So, he didn’t feel he needed a full financial statement? He was just gonna take it on trust?

Spokesman: I think he had every reason to trust in Mr. Volcker and he still does have that trust. Suzie?

Question: Once the Darfur report goes to the Security Council, will we get a statement from the UN? Will there be anybody from the commission of inquiry who can talk to us, or how will we get the UN viewpoint? And also, on the bombing that took place, I think last Wednesday in northern Darfur -- and there was a lot of discussion about it, how many casualties. The African Union was supposed to have been there on Friday, do you have any update on the number of casualties and what happened there?

Spokesman: Okay, on your second question, I don’t have an update, but that may be it’s just because we didn’t ask the right questions this morning. So, I’ll see if we can get any more for you after the briefing. On the first, we’ll see whether members of the panel have any intention of talking to the press. The Secretariat itself would not. I think we would let the Security Council digest the report. I think it’s something like 140 pages long -- and then consider it, and if they wish to talk to you about their views on it.

Abdurrahim?

Question: I have some points on the Middle East. Just for the record, on Iraq -- the electoral assistance that the Secretary-General talked about in his statement -- are you in a position to outline what that neutral assistance might consist of and is a revisit by Lakhdar Brahim to Iraq, for example, on the cards?

Spokesman: Well, the transitional law calls for this new assembly, which is now a -- or, once it is selected as a result of these elections will be -- a sovereign body, to write a constitution, to present that constitution to the Iraqi public in a referendum. So, that’s one voting exercise, the referendum. Following adoption of the constitution, there would be elections for a government by the end of the year under the transitional law. So, we’re offering our services, as we did for the elections yesterday to the Iraqis for both the referendum and the elections by the year is end.

The same as we have done before. Not monitoring, but helping with the organization.

Question: Does that include giving advice on how to actually draft the constitution?

Spokesman: On the constitution, we’ve offered advice to many emerging nations on constitution-writing. It’s something that the Security Council has authorized us to do should the Iraqi authorities ask us for that help, and that’s why you’ve seen the Secretary-General’s and Mr. Qazi’s wording that we’re prepared to help, if the Iraqis ask us. But yes, we would advise on all aspects of the constitution -– political rights and human rights.

Question: Do you know if Lakhdar Brahimi intends to visit Iraq?

Spokesman: I’m not aware that he intends to visit now that we have a special representative there full time. That would be really up to the Secretary-General, but I’m not aware of any plans now.

Question: Some Iraqis are alleging that Iran sent 4 million Iranians to vote in the Iraq election. How seriously do you take that allegation?

Spokesman: I would leave that to the Independent Iraqi Commission to judge or any Iraqi, for that matter, who wants to raise an objection or complaint. There’s a procedure for doing that. I believe it’s the next seven days –- seven to nine days – that they have -- any Iraqi may raise a question or an objection.

Question: Given that the Secretary-General had previously described the United States and British presence in Iraq as illegal occupation, does he think it important that the coalition sets a timetable for the withdrawal of their forces?

Spokesman: The Secretary-General has consistently said that the decision to go to war in Iraq was not in conformity with the United Nations Charter. He did not pronounce himself on the occupation. He does not a have a view -– or I do not have a view of his to share with you now -– regarding the eventual withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq.

Laura?

Question: Just a piggyback on Abdurrahim’s question on the constitution. Would the 40-something people who are already there who are helping with the electoral assistance, would they be swapped out for constitutional people, or would there be a half and half if the Iraqis wanted it?

Spokesman: I think the electoral experts who are in Iraq now for the United Nations would continue in order to be prepared to work with the Iraqis if asked on the next set of elections. The constitutional experts would be separate. There would be a different set of people. So again, if asked, we would bring in the necessary people to advise the Iraqis on the constitution.

Question: So the numbers would go up in terms of the people entering Iraq or would they be handling this from Amman?

Spokesman: We would have to see how we feel the best way to do that would be, including a security assessment close to the time when we wanted to provide that assistance to Iraq.

Mark?

Question: Just wondering who would be the help on the constitution. Do you have a team of constitutional experts on standby? Do you assemble the team? Who are they? Are they ready to go?

Spokesman: I honestly don’t know if we have a team ready to go. I’d have to ask the Legal Affairs Department.

Question: Would it be under legal affairs or political affairs?

Spokesman: These would have to be, I assume, legal experts. It would be legal affairs, but most likely also advised by political affairs.

Question: Do you think maybe because of the detailed nature of the good briefing last week, maybe after the smoke clears, Ms. Perelli and company could return here to assess what happened in looking forward to the next few days –- just a suggestion. Normally we couldn’t care less, but did Kofi Annan meet with Kojo Annan in Africa on this latest journey?

Spokesman: I honestly don’t know. I’d have to check and get back to you.

Question: I also recall a few weeks ago we were talking about a tsunami special coordinator to be named last week, but I don’t think it happened. What was the latest with that?

Spokesman: I think the expectation is it’s going to happen this week.

Question: Is it a famous person that we’ll know?

Spokesman: I don’t know -- we’ll have to see.

Question: And Peter Hansen -- has a replacement been chosen?

Spokesman: Not yet.

Mark?

Question: In terms of appointments, does the United Nations intend over the next couple of years, amidst this new kind of wind of change, to be any more transparent about how it chooses people to fill key posts? What criteria are required for the job, or would it continue to be done through telephone calls between friends which aren’t explained to anybody until the decision is made?

Spokesman: We’ll have to see. There is some thinking taking place now about the management side, including how appointments are made and decisions on appointments are arrived at. Don’t have anything to give you today, but the Secretary-General has asked his new Chief of Staff to give thought to those kinds of issues, and we would expect something of the initial announcement of his ideas in the next couple of weeks I would think.

Question: Along the same lines, is there much thought being given to the geographic spread of key appointments, for example, trying to get more people from Africa or Asia into Under-Secretary-General posts, or are you looking at more candidates from donor countries?

Spokesman: We try to have as broad a geographic spread as we can get, just as a matter of principle, not only at the highest levels but in the rank and file. So that’s one of our guiding principles.

Question: But is it an area of concern at the moment that you would actively be looking to maybe boost the number of Under-Secretary-Generals from Africa, for example?

Spokesman: I don’t know specifically how we stand. I don’t know what the numbers are and what areas, if any, are underrepresented. But as I said, as a matter of policy, we try to be as balanced as we can among the five regions.

Mark?

Question: On the same issue, is there any discussion about delinking jobs with nationalities? It’s the one thing that most people are amazed that certain jobs go to certain nationalities. As part of his reform would there be any delinking of that so there is actually appointment based on merit rather than nationality?

Spokesman: The Secretary-General said in 1997 that no government should assume that they own a United Nations job, and there has been considerable turnover in a number of key positions over the past eight years. So, I think the Secretary-General would continue to support that idea of rotating, and not keeping the same nationality in a given job.

Question: So, for example, on the UNICEF job, were any candidates who are not American considered for that job?

Spokesman: I don’t know the answer to that question. When it comes to certain specialized agencies, it is true that major contributors -- that the director of the agency tends to be drawn from among the major contributors, and not just for UNICEF. So that, yes, is a practical aspect of the selection that narrows somewhat the nationality choice.

Question: I know we’ve been through this before, but the Secretary-General is saying that the sanctions should be on the table –- gross violations have occurred. I think he’s said this before, and Human Rights Watch and others say it’s taking far too long for any type of action. Is the Secretary-General comfortable with his “name and shame”, or is he putting it on the Council?

Spokesman: Well, it is up to the Council to act, and he has made his personal views known. He has said all along that we shouldn’t wait for a decision on whether genocide has occurred in Sudan or not. That what is obvious is that gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law have taken place, and we need action. However, it’s not up to him to provide the action -– the troops. The African Union did step forward to provide monitors. The Secretary-General asked the Peacekeeping Department to give them technical advice on organizing their mission logistically, and we’ll see how the Council reacts to this latest report when they get it tomorrow or Tuesday.

Nick?

Question: Two questions, one on the Secretary-General’s conversation with Secretary of State Rice, their first since she was sworn in in that capacity. And second, are you afraid that Sudan would be able essentially to claim victory even if the Secretary-General said that there had been gross violations, but the fact that there wasn’t a pronouncement on genocide will give them a chance essentially to proclaim victory and an excuse to keep doing what they’ve been doing.

Spokesman: I think what we’re looking for is not what Sudan will say, but what the Security Council will now do.

On Condoleezza Rice, he has spoken to her recently. But whether that was just before or just after her confirmation, I’ll have to check and I can tell you after the briefing. [He later said the call took place on the day of her confirmation.]

Question: Would the Secretary-General consider wading into the middle of this debate about whether cases for prosecution in Sudan would be before the ICC or, as the United States appears to be suggesting, some other tribunal, perhaps a Rwanda- or Yugoslavia-type tribunal?

Spokesman: Well, we still haven’t seen the report officially, and so, I would let the Security Council get the report and debate it. Ultimately, the decision is for them to take. And I think the Secretary-General will be monitoring that but I’m not sure he’ll be wading into the middle of that discussion.

Mark?

Question: Actually he did say that he supported the Court -– but that’s an aside.

Spokesman: He’s a well-known supported of the ICC, yes.

Question: On the question of the list of names produced for taking part in whatever it did. Has the Secretary-General seen that list of names? I’m just trying to understand who gets to see that list of names, and what the process is surrounding that list of names now.

Spokesman: My understanding is that the list of names is contained in an annex to the report, which will remain confidential so that even the annex will not go to the Security Council initially. Sorry?

Question: Initially?

Spokesman: Well, my understanding is that the list is to remain confidential.

Question: Is that also from Kofi or does Kofi read it, the list?

Spokesman: The list is in his hands. Now, the Council has to decide how to act. And depending on what they decide, I guess, would depend where that list would go next.

Richard?

Question: You mentioned Mark Malloch Brown would look at management of how people are hired. There had been talk of a big shake-up still to come. Is that still in the cards? Is it weeks down the road? Is it just going to be people picked off one by one through goodbye, attrition, retirement?

Spokesman: I think the speculation about shake-up was mostly on your side of the aisle. Circumstance is providing the Secretary-General with a number of rollover opportunities. People coming to retirement age or at the end of their ten-year limits or what have you. So he will be in a position to name a number of new faces to key jobs in the coming months. I don’t think it’s his style to have a Halloween massacre, or whatever. But he will have the opportunity, through attrition, to name new people in key positions.

Question: See, it’s a just little confusing the message on this, because on the one hand, you are trying to give an image of management change, but on the other hand, whenever anybody says “is this a shake-up”, you say this is attrition. So, I actually don’t know what the message is from the United Nations. Is this a shake-up, or is it not a shake-up?

Spokesman: The Secretary-General has, through attrition, been able to name a new Chief of Staff. So, Mark Malloch Brown has come in with his own particular style and energies and ability and we expect that that position, because it’s such a crucial one, that the new face on the Secretary-General’s team will, in itself, make a big difference in how the last two years of the Secretary-General’s term are conducted. And then, as I say, other changes will come along in time. But mass firings are not in the cards.

Question: Any final comment on the departure of Mr. Kabbaj today? The last day for DPI man.

Spokesman: Well, he is one of the best known faces in the United Nations to you. He deals with your accreditation and your media assignments to cover various events. He’s done a very good job. He took over from Sonia Lecca a few years ago, who had been here for many many years. We wish him well. And I don’t think that the Information Department is ready to name a successor, but I hope that that will come soon. I hope for your sake it will come soon.

Jonathan?

Question: What if anything is Mr. Volker paid by the United Nations?

Spokesman: Nothing at all, unless it’s a dollar a year. I’ll have to check on you on that, but there’s no salary involved. [He later said it was a dollar a year.]

Question: Does he come under the 100, 200 or 300 series of staff rules?

Spokesman: Now you’re over my head technically there, so I would have to ask our personnel people that.

Question: Can you do that this afternoon?

Spokesman: Sure.

Okay. Djibril, want to come up and talk about the General Assembly?

Spokesman for General Assembly President

Good afternoon. The eighth informal meeting of the General Assembly to continue an exchange of views on the recommendations contained in the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change started this morning at 10 o’clock, and will probably continue this afternoon. By this afternoon, we would have had six sessions of this informal meeting, and because of your own deadlines, I’m providing you herewith certain trends that will be part of the General Assembly President’s summing up this afternoon. As I said, they are trends because this meeting has had -- by the time it’s over -- over 100 speakers, which is very important.

The President will, by this afternoon, note that most of the delegations were represented at the ambassadorial level, which is an indication of the importance Member States attach not only to the High-level Panel’s work but also to the preparatory process leading to the high-level meeting of September 2005. The President will commend the work of the High-Level Panel. In other words, he will note that several delegations had commended the High-Level Panel for its work and also congratulated the Secretary-General for taking the initiative to appoint the Panel.

President Jean Ping will summarize the views of delegations on collective security, by mentioning the fact that several delegations have pointed out the relevance of the points made by the high-level group on collective security, notably its interdependent nature, as well as the fact that the international community should take collective action to deal with it.

On the issue of development, President Ping will note that several delegations deplored the fact that, while the report recognized the central role of development in the collective security system, the report has not amply examined that issue. Furthermore, several delegations have expressed their concern that the report tended to view development under the narrow angle of security.

On the issue of Security Council reform, President Jean Ping will note the fact that delegations consider this as one of the most important questions that Member States have to deal with; that several speakers have noted that the existence of diverging views on this sensitive issue should not paralyze the preparatory process leading to the high-level plenary of September 2005; that if there is a consensus which seems to be coming up on the need to enlarge the Security Council to make it more representative, more efficient, more transparent, that the views expressed using models A and B suggest that there is still divergence of approach on the issue of the reform of the Security Council. He will also note that several delegations reminded the meeting that the reform of the Security Council should not focus only on the issue of enlarging the Council but should also focus on important issues, such as the improvement of its work methods and decision-making mechanism.

On the concept of the right to protect, the President of the General Assembly will note that this concept has been the subject of several comments on the part of delegations, and that for some delegations this is an emerging issue of international law, while others cautioned against the risks this concept might bring about, vis-à-vis principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of Member States, as contained in the Charter itself.

On the issue of terrorism, the President will note the fact that several delegations have welcomed the recommendations of the report, according to which the issue of terrorism should be treated in a holistic manner, including under a cultural angle.

On the issue of regional cooperation, President Ping will note the fact that several delegations welcomed the recommendations recommending reinforcement of cooperation with regional and subregional organizations.

On the issue of the reform of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, the President will note that several delegations deplored the fact that the high-level report did not put forward specific recommendations on the reform of the General Assembly and ECOSOC. So, these are some of the emerging points that I wanted to share with you, that are likely to form the basis of the summing up by the President of the General Assembly when the meeting ends this afternoon.

That’s all I have for you. Any questions? Yes?

Question: One of the things that has come up in this General Assembly meeting on the reform panel report is that there is a distinct difference between the positions taken by certain countries -- the G4, who are interested in having a permanent seat in the Security Council and a group of non-aligned countries, which are represented in the so-called Kofi/coffee club. The Kofi/coffee club supports model B, albeit with some changes and the G4 want more of A. Is there a way they’re going to come to some sort of a compromise, come to some sort of meeting, which is absolutely essential?

Spokesman for General Assembly President: The President noted that there may be a need for further consultations after today’s meeting. He suggested a new date, 22 February, as a possibility for further consultations. But just to mention, as you said, delegations did comment on both options, models A and B. I have here the report that says that model A, as you know, provides for six new permanent seats, with no veto being created, and three new two-year, non-permanent seats divided among the major regional areas, and the report lists those areas. Whereas model B provides for no new permanent seats but creates a new category of eight four-year, renewable-term seats and one new two-year, non-permanent and
non-renewable seat, divided among the major regions, again listed.

So these are the bases on which several delegation are pronouncing themselves and, after this afternoon, consultations will go on, not only around the date I mentioned, but also among the ambassadors I had mentioned earlier who had been named as facilitators to help the President move the process forward.

Question: But is there a possibility? Because if they don’t come to some sort of a compromise, these divisions, which are becoming sharper, might divide the membership and cause irreparable damage to the UN reform process.

Spokesman for General Assembly President: As you may have heard, several delegations mentioned the fact that there being diverging views on the Security Council should not be a stumbling block to the preparatory process leading to the high-level meeting in September 2005. Member States are aware of the importance of having a coherent, constructive and efficient preparatory process leading to the high-level segment in September 2005.

Thank you.

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