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

5 September 2007

The new Permanent Representative of France, Jean-Maurice Ripert, said today that as President of the Security Council for September his priority would be Africa.

Briefing correspondents on the Council’s programme of work, he said that, on 25 September, the Council would hold a summit meeting on “Peace and Security in Africa”. That high-level meeting would build on the 28 August Council debate on conflict prevention in Africa. The summit would look at how the United Nations could assist African Governments and organizations in dealing with crises -- humanitarian and environmental -- that exacerbated some of the conflicts in Africa. In today’s complex crises, it was not enough to send peacekeeping forces to resolve conflicts.

One of the most difficult ongoing conflicts, the one in Darfur, would be addressed on 12 September, he continued, when the Secretary-General would report on his trip to Sudan, Chad and Libya. On that date, the Secretary-General would also report on his recent trip to Haiti.

There probably would be consultations on Chad and the Central African Republic, he added. On 27 August, in presidential statement S/PRST/2007/30 (see Press Release SC/9103), the Council, on France’s initiative, indicated its willingness to mandate a multidimensional international presence to provide security for some 400,000 refugees in Chad and 200,000 in the north-east of the Central African Republic. He hoped a resolution on that issue could be adopted. The European Union had offered the military component of that presence.

The Council would also deal with other crises, he said, including mandate extensions for the United Nations Missions in Liberia, Haiti and Afghanistan, as well as the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. There would be briefings on the Iran Sanctions Committee and the special tribunal for Lebanon. The Council might address the situations in Sierra Leone and Myanmar.

Asked for more details on the summit meeting on Africa, Mr. Ripert said his President, Nicolas Sarkozy, was fond of having direct interactions and hoped for an open exchange. There was no final document yet. The purpose of the meeting was to “ratchet up” attention for the conflicts that were ravaging the continent and to mobilize the United Nations family. The point was not to have the heads of State or Government give their solutions for the problems, but rather having a debate on the main challenges and how to address them. Eleven heads of State or Government have indicated an interest in participating, as well as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Alpha Oumar Konare, Chairperson of the African Union. The meeting would last about one and a half hours, longer if the debate “catches fire”.

One correspondent raised the issue of corruption in African Governments and asked what the Council planned to do to exert pressure on leaders “who don’t give a damn”. Mr. Ripert answered that, obviously, the Council did not plan to act in lieu of African Governments. The great lesson of the 2005 Millennium Summit was the reaffirmation of the value of global partnerships. Those partnerships implied that efforts should be made by all parties concerned: Governments, civil society, the international community and international organizations. The role of the Council was the maintenance of international peace and security. There were many organizations within the United Nations that handled good governance, development and international coordination. France had supported the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission, because there came a moment when all those issues had to be tackled at the same time. One could not just continue saying over and over that African Governments were corrupt. There were indeed problems with corruption in Africa, as there were elsewhere in the world. It was a worldwide scourge.

Asked why, among African issues, the question of Western Sahara had not been mentioned, he said not every situation could be discussed. However, discussions had been held and there had been some progress. The Special Representative periodically submitted progress reports. He would soon meet Mr. Van Walsum in person. There was no intention to address the matter in the Council now, but it was important that negotiations continue.

Although Côte d’Ivoire had also not been mentioned, he said the country had been mentioned as a footnote in the programme of work, which meant that the issue might be raised. However, at the current point, there was no particular reason to discuss it. The mandate for the mission there would come up in October.

Asked for a timeline on Chad and the Central African Republic, he said a joint military mission of the European Union and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had just gone there. He hoped the Union could give an operational concept within two weeks. Everything had to be done in consultation with Chad’s President. He hoped a resolution could be passed quickly, once all the necessary information had been received. After adoption, the matter would be voted on by the Union Council of Ministers, something that could happen, he hoped, by the end of September. Deployment could happen quickly, perhaps together with the deployment of the hybrid force in Darfur, so that operations in Darfur and Chad would be mutually reinforcing.

As for a plan of action on Somalia, Mr. Ripert said the Council would discuss the report of the Sanctions Committee on Somalia on 11 September. On 20 August, the Council had asked the Secretary-General for a report on how the United Nations might assist the peacekeeping operation there and replace it, if the operation was not satisfactorily carried out. The humanitarian situation was deteriorating and the security situation was not satisfactory. France had taken the initiative, together with the African Union, to assist in the establishment of the Burundi contingent. However, that was not enough. In Somalia, there was a political process going on, but at the same time the State structure was defective. It was a very complex situation.

He had not yet read Mr. Michel’s report on the tribunal for Lebanon, he answered to another correspondent’s question. There would be a meeting on the report on 19 September and that would address some specific points, such as headquarters, funding, and selection of judges. Although he did not want to prejudge what might be said later on, he did not see any particular difficulties. Asked if President Sarkozy, during his stay in New York, would discuss the situation with other leaders, Mr. Ripert said the President’s agenda had not been finalized yet. However, the President’s main focus would be the climate change event of 24 September, as he considered climate change a “fundamental” issue, the general debate and the Council summit.

Asked whether he anticipated the question of Myanmar to be addressed in September, he said that Myanmar had been mentioned in the footnotes and could be raised at some point. Obviously, the Council wanted to hear a progress report from Mr. Gambari, as the Council supported the good offices of the Secretary-General.

In his national capacity, he said his country was very concerned at what was happening in Myanmar, which was not an acceptable situation. He called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the return of fundamental and constitutional liberties, with respect for human rights. France would remain seized of the matter, but would leave it up to the Secretary-General on how he wished to conduct his good offices mission.

Answering a question regarding the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), he said the fact that it was on the programme of work was not related to recent events. The meeting had been planned beforehand, as there would be a report on the management of archives.

Addressing a question as to what could be read in the fact that the missile allegedly fired by the Russian Federation on Georgia was not on the Council’s agenda, he said that the matter was not on the agenda because nobody had asked for it to be put on the agenda.

Asked about Iran, Mr. Ripert said the matter would be taken up on 19 September, when the 1737 Sanctions Committee would report on the matter. He would be surprised if, on the sidelines of the General Assembly, the issue of Iran was not addressed, albeit not necessarily in a Council meeting. In his national capacity, he said Iran had not met its commitments and that the current crisis was extremely serious. Iran must confront its responsibilities. France would take up its responsibilities and favoured the multilateral framework. The time would come for increased pressure and to open the discussion in the Council.

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For information media • not an official record

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