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PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT ON DECEMBER WORK PROGRAMME

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

4 December 2007

Sudan loomed large in the Security Council’s “intensive” but “holidays-safe” programme of work for December, according to Marcello Spatafora ( Italy), this month’s Council President.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, would brief the 15-member body tomorrow, 5 December, on the situation in Sudan, Mr. Spatafora told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon, following the Council’s consultations on its monthly work schedule. The next day, John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, would brief Council members on his nine-day trip to Africa, during which he had also visited Sudan’s strife-torn western region of Darfur.

On 7 December, the Sudan Sanctions Committee would brief the Council on the final report of its panel of experts, the Council President said. Moreover, since the transfer of authority from the African Union Mission (AMIS) in Sudan to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) would take place on 31 December, the Council must assess its deployment.

Among the Council’s many meetings and briefings (click on “Monthly Programme” on its website www.un.org/Docs/sc/), he highlighted a debate on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where the Presidents and Prosecutors of those two Courts would report on the “completion strategy”. The Chairmen of the Burundi and Sierra Leone country-specific configurations of the Peacebuilding Commission would address the Council on 6 and 18 December, respectively, and Serge Brammertz, former head of the International Independent Investigation Committee, would brief on 5 December. On December 19, the Council would address the issue of Kosovo, after having received the report on negotiations on the future status of the Serbian province.

Mr. Spatafora said the Council would also hear from the Chairpersons of subsidiary bodies who leave the body on 31 December. It would elect two members to the Peacebuilding Commission. Among the numerous mandates awaiting extension were those of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB). Topics that might come up during the month included: Iran; Iraq and the Multi-National Force; Myanmar; and Somalia, currently the area with the worst humanitarian situation in the world.

In the context of a seminar organized by Congo, Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, Mr. Spatafora said conflict resolution required strong coherence and interaction with other bodies in the United Nations system. In that regard, the Council Presidency had met with the Secretary-General and the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.

In order to underline the importance of the press, he announced that the Permanent Mission of Italy had organized “Unplugged; the first ever jazz concert for UN correspondents” on 5 December, featuring Alessandro Lanzoni, and which the Secretary-General would probably attend.

Asked when the Council would decide whether or not the transfer of authority in Darfur would take place, Mr. Spatafora said that decision had already been taken: authority from AMIS to UNAMID would take place on or before 31 December. However, the Council would have to assess how that transfer should be implemented. At a certain point before Christmas, it would have to hear from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations what would happen after 1 January.

He added that the Presidency could not answer a question about responsibility for delays in deploying UNAMID because that matter had not been raised in the Council. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, had addressed that matter at the stakeout recently.

Answering a question about MONUC, he stressed the importance of recognizing the moment when the mandates of long-running missions should be adapted, when there could be a drawdown, or when a peacekeeping force must be strengthened. The Council should not repeat the mistake made in Haiti, where disengagement had taken place too early.

Asked how the National Intelligence Estimates issued by United States agencies might impact Council negotiations on a third resolution seeking to impose sanctions on Iran, he referred to remarks made at the Security Council stakeout by several colleagues.

In response to another question, he said there would be a briefing on the Middle East on 17 December, followed by consultations. Unless there was a major development in the Middle East after that, an open debate was not foreseen, as there were only five to six work-filled workdays between 17 December and Christmas.

Responding to a question about Kosovo, he said the Council should first be briefed on the report of the Contact Group. Once the Secretary-General sent it to the Council, members could then assess the situation and decide how to move forward.

In response to questions about what the Council could do about Somalia, he said it was not his country, but rather the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, non-governmental organizations and the media who had described that country as the world’s worst humanitarian situation. There was a “unanimous awareness” in the Council of the urgent need to address the matter, and Mr. Holmes would touch on it during his briefing on 6 December. Once problems had been clearly identified, the Council should prevent Somalia from sliding off the radar screen. The Council was not a humanitarian agency, but it could keep the matter in the centre of the radar screen.

Asked about media reports that Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government was preventing food aid from reaching opponents, he said one should wait for the report of Mr. Holmes.

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For information media • not an official record



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