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PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT

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

2 June 2005

The Security Council would spend a considerable amount of time on Africa, making this “a very African month”, Jean-Marc de La Sablière (France) said this afternoon at a press conference to present the Council’s programme for the June French presidency.

Côte d’Ivoire would be one of the priorities, he said, noting that during consultations this morning, the Council had discussed renewing and strengthening the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI). Its mandate would expire tomorrow, and members were unanimous in their willingness to adopt the best possible draft resolution to support South African President Thabo Mbeki’s facilitation to the best of their ability. The United States delegation was not in a position to approve the strengthening of UNOCI’s forces, due to internal procedural reasons, but it would be in a position to take a decision in the third week of June.

He said that several discussions on the situation in Darfur would include a presentation by the Secretary-General this afternoon on the outcome of the Addis Ababa Conference, held on 26 May, to support the African Union’s efforts both in the field and at the level of mediation between the parties. On 29 June there would be two meetings on Sudan, one to discuss the North-South peace process and the other on the question of combating impunity. In addition, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations would explain the planned deployment of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) in Southern Sudan, and Luis Moreno Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, would brief the Council on progress concerning Darfur in keeping with resolution 1593 (2005).

Regarding other crisis situations in Africa, he said that on 15 June, Burundi’s Minister of Justice would address the Council, at his own request. He would convey his Government’s reaction to a report by Tuliameni Kalomoh, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on the international investigative commission on crimes of genocide committee in Burundi prior to the Arusha Peace Agreement. On 23 June the Council would hear an update on the situation in Guinea-Bissau, where presidential elections were scheduled for 19 June. On Liberia, the Council would consider the report of experts on sanctions and discuss the renewal of those measures.

Turning to other parts of the world, he said that on 16 June the Council would hear an update by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which would complement the 31 May briefing by Hoshyar Zebari, that country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. The 16 June meeting would take place about a week before an important conference being organized in Brussels by the United States, the European Union and the Government of Iraq. Some 85 countries were expected to attend, demonstrating the international community’s renewed commitment to rebuild Iraq’s economy and institutions.

He said that on 8 June, the Council would hear a report by Demetrius Perricos, Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and on 20 June, outgoing Controller Jean-Pierre Halbwachs would present the final report of the International Advisory and Monitoring Council for Iraq. The Council would examine the files on confiscated Kuwaiti property on the same day in the presence of Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov.

The Council’s monthly consideration of the situation in the Middle East would take place on 17 June, with Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, giving possibly his final briefing. He would inform the Council in particular about the Quartet’s initiatives, just a few days before the important summit to be held between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

He said Afghanistan would feature on the Council’s agenda on 24 June, when it would consider the provision of electoral support, as well as combating the production and trafficking of drugs. Jean Arnault, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, would provide an update on the legislative and provincial elections set for 18 September. Also, Antonio Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Prevention, would report on progress in combating drug production and trafficking. With the poppy crop covering two thirds of cultivated land in all Afghan provinces, the Security Council and the international community were firmly committed to waging that very fundamental struggle, however difficult it might be.

Recalling that the Council had just renewed the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) until 24 June, he said it would have to examine that matter, once again, in order to finalize the draft resolution following up on the Secretary-General’s report on the organization of the forthcoming elections.

He said that on 13 June, the Council would consider the issue of impunity and the protection of civilians -- the half-year reports of presidents and prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. On 21 June there would be an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, following a briefing by Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

Asked whether the invitation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor had been made by unanimous agreement, Mr. de La Sablière replied that he was coming because resolution 1593 (2005) had referred the situation in Darfur to the Court and required him to brief the Council. The invitation was not the initiative of any particular delegation.

Another correspondent asked whether the Council would be more proactive on Darfur if Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the situation there genocide, as President George Bush had done yesterday.

The Council President said the Council’s referral of the situation to the ICC had been based on the report by Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights, which had described events in Darfur as crimes against humanity. It was up to the ICC to define those events.

Was it not strange that the Council was not going to revisit the question of Lebanon under the French presidency, given the extent of France’s interests in that country? the same journalist asked. Had the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon achieved all the objectives expected of it as far as the French Government was concerned?

Mr. de La Sablière said that Lebanon’s inclusion on the agenda did not depend on France holding the presidency. So far this month, no special report on Lebanon was expected. Lebanon was included as a footnote on the programme because the Council might wish to express something on the Lebanese elections, which were scheduled for 19 June.

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