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Press Conference by Security Council President on Work Programme for February, 2 February 2011

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

While presiding over the Security Council in February, Brazil’s emphasis would be on the relationship between security and development, with the aim of evolving a more comprehensive approach to issues of peace and security, the country’s Permanent Representative said at a Headquarters press conference today as she outline the programme of work for the month.

Fully aware of the Council’s prerogatives and functions, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti was quick to point out that the idea was not to bring the issue of development onto the Council’s agenda, but to explore the linkage with security and examine how the Council could cooperate with the rest of the United Nations system in dealing with that connection. After all, she pointed out, the underlying causes of many conflicts were related to poverty, inequality, exploitation of natural resources, youth unemployment and lack of opportunity.

She said her country’s Foreign Minister would preside over a high-level debate on 11 February, adding that the attendance of his counterparts from Portugal, India, Germany, Colombia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Gabon, had already been confirmed. Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister and other senior officials would also attend, she said. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would brief the Council, as would an official of the World Bank, which was preparing a report on the link between security and development.

The Council would also follow up on the situation in Sudan following the referendum on South Sudan, she said, adding her hope that the vote would mark a successful stage in that country’s peace process. Also on the agenda were Côte d’Ivoire, Kosovo, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea-Bissau. The regular Middle East briefing was scheduled for 24 February, and would be preceded by a debate on Timor-Leste, on 22 February, in which that nation’s Prime Minister would participate. The renewal of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) was scheduled for later in the month, she added.

In an effort to deepen reflection on the protection of civilians, Ms. Viotti said, the Council would hold consultations on 18 February, in which protection-mandated Special Representatives of the Secretary-General would take part. In keeping with its regular practice of consulting on United Nations peacekeeping operations every 90 days, the Council had set consultations for 17 February, to focus on the question of national consensus and improved relations with host countries. A briefing on cooperation with regional and subregional organizations would be held on 8 February and a week later, the Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) would brief the Council.

Planned for 23 February was a session on preventive diplomacy, she said, adding that B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, would participate. A regular briefing on the activities of the “1718” Committee, concerning sanctions imposed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, would be given by the Permanent Representative of Portugal, Chair of that subsidiary body of the Council.

Questions for Ms. Viotti centred on the rapidly unfolding developments in Egypt and across the wider Middle East, focusing specifically on whether the Council intended to take up the situation in the context of its effects on international peace and security.

She said the situation was not on the Council’s agenda, emphasizing that as Council President, she had to express the views of its members, and so far there had been no request for a briefing on Egypt.

Speaking in her national capacity, Ms. Viotti said her country was following the situation very closely. It was a very important development, and the Brazilian Government had issued a press communiqué indicating its hope that Egypt would be able to evolve its political system in a way that took the aspirations of its people into account and maintained peace and security.

Asked how the Council could resist acting with so many lives under threat, not only in Egypt, but in many other countries, she said that, as President, she could “not at the moment speak to the situation right now”. The Council was following it very closely and waiting to see how it evolved. “So maybe later”, it would be possible “to expand a little bit”, she said.

Pressed further as to how the Council could ignore an “Arab revolution” in Tunisia, a “big struggle” in Egypt and elsewhere in the region, and the ability of those developments potentially to endanger international peace and security, she said the situation was evolving rapidly and all Council members were following it very closely. There had been no collective decision to take up the issue “so far”, she reiterated.

Asked when, and whether, the Council would take action on a draft resolution relating to Israeli settlements, she said: “We are consulting very closely with the main sponsors of it, but they have not indicated to us when they want to bring it to the Security Council for action.”

In response to a query about Darfur, she said a meeting on Sudan, scheduled for the end of February, would focus mainly on the North-South question and the referendum, but if there were any developments in Darfur, Council members would be open to considering them.

Concerning a briefing by the Secretary-General, the President said the Council intended to invite him to speak about issues relating to his recent trips.

She said she could not say whether the Council would take a further decision on additional sanctions against Iran, but the focus was presently on the diplomatic track.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was “not a feature” of the Council’s work programme in February, she replied to another question, adding that consultations were ongoing, with a “tendency” towards a negotiated resolution of the issue.

Responding to a further question, Ms. Viotti said the Brazilian Presidency had taken a great interest in enhancing the Council’s working methods, adding that Bosnia and Herzegovina was currently chairing the relevant committee.

Regarding progress on the recommendations made recently to the Council by Jack Lang, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, she said the Council was digesting them. As for a possible Russian draft resolution on the issue, she said she had not heard of it.

Expressing deep concern about the situation in Haiti, in reply to another question, she said attention was now pinned on the political process in hopes that the mission of the Organization of American States that had helped the country in the first round of electoral preparations would lead to a second round of elections that ultimately would give Haiti a new Government and a new Parliament, enabling the country to focus on the very urgent issues of reconstruction and development.

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