Press conference by Security Council President

from UN Department of Public Information
Published on 02 Apr 2009 View Original
The Security Council was closely monitoring developments in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, but it could not prejudge them, Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, Council President for April, said today at a Headquarters press conference.

"If there is a need for international action by the international community, they will ask for a meeting of the Security Council," he said of several delegations, including Japan, which were monitoring the situation.

Outlining the Council's programme of work for the month, he said the first of three open debates would focus on Haiti. Scheduled for 6 April, it was intended to augment momentum generated by recent visits to that country by the Secretary-General and the Council ahead of a donor's conference scheduled for later this month, in Washington, D.C. Special Representative for Haiti Hédi Annabi would address the Council during the debate on Monday, and institutions such as the Organization of American States, the Caribbean Community and the World Bank, among others, had been invited.

The second open debate would consider the mediation and settlement of disputes, he said. It was scheduled for 14 April around a report by the Secretary-General that had been requested by Burkina Faso and would be issued next week. On 29 April, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy would present her annual report during the third open debate. Mexico's Minister of Foreign Relations Patricia Espinosa would preside at that meeting.

Four briefings were slated to consider the Middle East, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau. The Council would also hold consultations on Iraq and Kuwait, as well as on the periodic report on the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and the report of the panel of experts on that country's sanctions regime. With the mandates for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) set to expire on 30 April, the Council would also consider the extension of those mandates.

Other issues that might come before the Council included Madagascar, which Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe had recently visited, and Djibouti and Eritrea, since a report on those two countries had been expected for more than a month. No requests had been made for a briefing on Myanmar, but it was still possible one would be held. Myanmar was not formally on the Council's agenda and divergent positions on that situation persisted among Council members.

Asked if he would use his position as Council President to speak with the United States about the cross-border activities of drug cartels, he emphasized that the Security Council did not address bilateral issues that were not on its agenda. Nevertheless, he believed the issue was already being dealt with in a positive way, with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent visit to Mexico and an official visit by President Barack Obama scheduled for 16 and 17 April. "This will be the best opportunity to review the broad agenda between Mexico and the United States," he said.

Responding to several questions about United Nations investigations into the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, he said the only official United Nations report was limited in scope and would focus only on the targeting of United Nations facilities. It had been requested by the Secretary-General, who had said he would share its conclusions with the Council. Reports by non-governmental organizations might address other issues, such as Israel's targeting of civilians and Hamas' use of civilians as "human shields". He would not be surprised if the annual report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict also addressed some humanitarian aspects.

Asked about Gaza and Israel's closure of border crossings there, he said that topic would most likely be part of the open briefing on the Middle East as well as closed consultations on the region. Responding to a question about recent comments by Israel's new Foreign Minister on the Annapolis peace process, he stressed that it was the Council's responsibility to continue taking actions based on its previous resolutions, which outlined a vision for two States living side by side in peace.

Replying to a question about the lack of humanitarian issues on the Council's agenda, he highlighted the Council's debate on international humanitarian law, which had been organized by France and held in January. Further, several delegations had insisted that the humanitarian aspect was essential in many cases before the Council. The debate on 29 April on children and armed conflict would be important in that regard.

Asked about the Council's possible future actions on Darfur, he said an open session had already been held along with several closed consultations. While the issue could be taken up at any time, no concrete announcement had been made regarding a visit by representatives of the African Union. The Council, nevertheless, felt it was important to stay informed about the evolution of peace negotiations as well as the humanitarian situation in Darfur. With special envoys from various Governments working on the issue, it remained a high priority.

To a question on MINURSO, he said the Secretary-General's new Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, would present a report on his recent visit to the region. It remained to be seen if new elements or political developments would be adopted by the Council when it considered extending the Mission's mandate, or if it would be a "technical rollover".

Asked about Sri Lanka's absence on the Council's agenda, he underlined the lack of consensus on the need for the Council to address that country's ongoing situation. Several members believed that humanitarian issues should be dealt with in other United Nations bodies, while others maintained that Sri Lanka should be brought to the Council's attention. To that end, it had already held several interactive briefings, many of which focused on the conflict's humanitarian impacts.

For information media - not an official record