SECURITY COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS ISSUES CONCERNING
NEW YORK 31 January (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council had tried to strike a balance in January by focusing on Afghanistan, the Middle East and terrorism, while at the same time highlighting conflicts in Africa, Security Council President Jagdish Koonjul of Mauritius told Council members in the monthly "wrap up" meeting today.
The Council had remained deeply committed to Afghanistan, lifting sanctions against Ariana Airlines, reviewing sanctions against the Taliban, and unfreezing assets of the country’s Central Bank, he said. Hamid Karzai, Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority, had stressed in a Council briefing how vital the Council’s continued interest was to the Afghan people.
In an open briefing by the Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Committee, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, nine non-members had spoken to the Council, underlining the international community’s intent to act jointly in fighting international terrorism, Mr. Koonjul said. The Council had also begun regular briefings on the Middle East, which had remained a footnote of the Council’s agenda for too long.
The day-long public meeting on "the situation in Africa", attended by the Secretary-General of the Organization for African Unity (OAU), had attracted several ministers from both Council and non-Council members, he said. The President of the Economic and Social Council had also spoken at that meeting, which he hoped would herald a new era of cooperation between the two bodies, particularly in post-conflict peace-building.
Work in the Counter-terrorism Committee was well in hand and, indeed, would be a major component of the Council’s work in the near future, the representative from the United States said.
The major debate on Africa had produced a significant statement, he continued, which looked to future steps that could be taken. Last year, the Council had held 83 formal meetings on Africa. Hopefully, there would be fewer speakers this year and more results.
The representative from Norway said he welcomed the Council’s focus this month on African issues, as well as its decision to send a mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea. He also commended the Council’s transparency during the month, which encouraged openness and also made informal and formal meetings as businesslike and results-oriented as possible.
Openness in the Council over the past month had led to informative public meetings on Africa, East Timor and terrorism, the representative from Ireland said. Transparency was important because it brought interaction with other United Nations Members which provided a listening opportunity for the Council.
The open debate on Africa was enormously valuable, because now was a time of transition in Africa, he continued, with movement towards the new African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative. The debate was marked by a real sense of new beginnings.
The representative from Syria noted that, for the first time, the Council had organized a briefing session on the Middle East. For years, he had been looking forward to regular debates on that explosive region, which truly threatened international peace and security.
The open debate on the work of the Counter-terrorism Committee had provided a way to examine all forms of terrorism and develop means to combat them, he said. That had offered participants a chance to express their views on delicate matters, including the need to define terrorism and separate it from the legitimate struggle for self-determination.
The representatives from Colombia, China, France, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Guinea, Mexico, Singapore, Cameroon and the Russian Federation also spoke.
The Security Council met today in a "wrap up" session to review the work it had completed during the month of January, under the presidency of Mauritius.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius), in his capacity as President of the Security Council, said the Council tried to strike a balance during January by adequately addressing Afghanistan, the Middle East and terrorism, while, at the same time, refocusing attention on conflict situations in Africa. He was pleased that the public meeting on the situation in Africa, with the participation of the Secretary-General of the Organization for African Unity (OAU), had attracted several ministers from both Council and non-Council members.
He noted that the "open briefing" by the Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Committee, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, had been extremely useful. The participation of 28 non-members of the Council, nine of which addressed the Council on behalf of their regional organizations, confirmed the determination of the international community to act collectively to fight international terrorism.
The Council remained fully engaged and deeply committed to the situation in Afghanistan. It had lifted sanctions against Ariana Afghan Airlines, reviewed sanctions against the Taliban, and had unfrozen the assets of the Central Bank of Afghanistan. The address yesterday by Hamid Karzai, the Chairman of the Afghanistan Interim Authority, stressed how important the Council’s continued involvement was to the Afghan people in their quest for peace and stability.
He noted that previous "wrap up" sessions had stressed the need for the Council to interact with non-members of the Council to share views on issues. That was why Mauritius had alternated three speakers from the Council with three from outside, with Sir Jeremy Greenstock intervening after every six speakers to make the debate more interactive. He hoped that format had been well received.
Yesterday, the Council had begun regular briefings on the situation in the Middle East, which had remained a footnote to the Council’s programme of work for too long. The briefing by Terje Roed-Larsen, Special Coordinator of the Secretary-General for the Middle East Process, had been particularly useful, since he was actually operating in the field and could provide Council members with first-hand information.
He was gratified that the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) could participate in the Council’s public meeting on "the Situation in Africa" and hoped that would herald a new era of cooperation in addressing international peace and security, particularly post-conflict peace-building. Interaction between those two major United Nations organs had long been awaited.
WEGGER CHRISTIAN STRØMMEN (Norway) said he welcomed the Council’s focus this month on African issues, notably recorded in the comprehensive public debate on 29 and 30 January, as well as the decision made this month to dispatch a mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea. The transparency exercised during the month was also commendable. Members must be able to encourage openness and transparency and, at the same time, make the informal and formal meetings as businesslike and result-oriented as possible.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) expressed appreciation for the very skilful way in which the President had guided the Council’s work. The public meeting on Africa was both timely and useful, and there had been an excellent level of participation. The Council should perhaps narrow the focus of debate on the African continent to a few points that could be set out more concretely in a presidential statement. He was pleased about the agreement reached to create an hoc working group, as well as to work in greater cooperation with ECOSOC. That body would examine during the year ways of meeting the needs of post-conflict countries.
Regarding the Counter-terrorism Committee, he said that during the open meeting held this month, what had clearly emerged was the dedicated work being advanced, however silently and, even, invisibly. That Committee had the potential to greatly influence the preservation of peace and security. Indeed, that was the only sanctions regime not linked to a specific territory or country. Indeed, that subject had a global application, requiring such new mechanisms. Its creation would lead to discussions in the Council of topics never before discussed there, such as the entities involved in international terrorism.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the month of January had been a fruitful one for the Council. Mauritius had conducted its presidency with comprehensive planning, efficiency and transparency, and the Council had successfully fulfilled it work for the month. The last week of comprehensive meeting had fully demonstrated its capacity for leadership.
He hoped broad consensus could be reached on how to solve the problem of peace for Africa, and that it could be transformed into concrete actions. That question should be a priority on the Council agenda. He hoped communication could be strengthened between the OAU and other United Nations organs.
Afghanistan was another focus of the month. The Chairman of the country’s Interim Authority spoke briefly to the Security Council, but his mere presence there was significant. He hoped that the next president would continue to be seized with that country.
Regarding the conflict between Palestine and Israel, yesterday’s discussion had been insufficient. He hoped the Council would expand its focus on that issue. It was a pity the Security Council could not play a greater role.
He noted that he would be leaving New York shortly, and today would be the last meeting of the Council he attended as the Deputy Permanent Representative of China.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said he appreciated the format used for the meeting on counter-terrorism and felt that the Council should repeat that type of format with non-members. The debate on Africa had been excellent, and the Council would in future focus on the question of sanctions. France intended to make a proposal concerning a permanent mechanism on sanctions.
He added that the Council had shown its commitment to the Middle East in January and must continue to hold meetings on that issue.
STEFAN TAVROV (Bulgaria) thanked the President for his brilliant handling of the Council in January. He had been efficient and had eased the transition for new members. The work had been focused on crises in Africa, and that had been a good thing. The public debate had been a success. Particularly commendable had been the participation of Amara Essy of the OAU and various African ministers. That had made it possible to exchange ideas on cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU. In addition, the fight against terrorism had had its place in the month’s work. He wished to underscore the value of the transparent approach of the Counter-terrorism Committee.
Concerning the situation in Afghanistan, he said the Council had reacted quickly and appropriately. Also welcome had been the consensus on the extension of UNOMIG’s mandate. He was particularly grateful for the inclusion of an item on Kosovo, about which the Council should regularly remain seized.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) congratulated the President on "a very good month". The work of the Council should not be measured by quantity alone; quality was important, too. He had been pleased with the debate on Africa, particularly the presence of the ECOSOC President at the Council table. His own presidency in July might not follow that same format for the Africa debate, and he had taken note of the comment by the Colombian ambassador to narrow the focus.
He said the counter-terrorism briefing had been a deliberate effort of the collective strategy to be as inclusive as possible about the Committee’s work. He had been pleased to see the regional emphasis that had emerged in some of the statements. In addition, a major decision had been evolved this month concerning the working group on peacekeeping, but there was still a lot to do on other issues on the group’s agenda. He wished the new Chairman of the working group, Ambassador Strømmen, good luck.
FRANÇOIS FALL (Guinea) said his delegation appreciated the fact that several questions on Africa had been on the agenda during January. The President was inspired to have organized a public debate on that issue, which had allowed the Council to consolidate its perspectives on Africa. He hoped that ideas in the presidential statement would be taken into account by the Council and the Secretariat. The Council had agreed that peace and stability must be restored in Africa so that development could be taken up on that continent.
The interactive dialogue on terrorism had been useful, allowing all States to feel the pulse of the remarkable work done by the Committee, he continued. The Council had also organized a briefing on the Middle East, which had been a useful exchange on recent developments. He hoped the proposals that had been made would be acted upon soon.
GERARD CORR (Ireland) said the Council meetings on counter-terrorism and Africa had made the Mauritian presidency one of real achievement. The meeting on Africa had shown the wider picture and had involved the Council with the broader United Nations membership. His delegation supported a more interactive approach to the "wrap up" debate with that wider membership, and a more dramatic focus on issues.
He welcomed the policy of openness of the past month, which had led to informative public meetings on Africa, East Timor and terrorism. Transparency was important for its own sake; for the level of engagement with other United Nations members that it brought; and was also a listening opportunity for the Council. There was always a balance to be struck between Council efficiency and the insights of the wider membership.
The open debate on Africa was enormously valuable, partly because of the strong level of representation from Africa and elsewhere. But it was also valuable, because now was a time of transition in Africa, with the new African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative. The debate was marked by a real sense of new beginnings. The importance of coherence in the United Nations role was stressed, as was that of conflict prevention and development. He welcomed the reference in the presidential statement to an ECOSOC ad hoc working group on Africa. Another helpful meeting was the debate on counter-terrorism, since it provided an interactive dialogue on where the Committee was now.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) paid tribute to the Foreign Minister of Mauritius for his generous contribution, not only to the African debate, but also to the discussions and adoption of other decisions. Syria’s first month as a Council member had been rich and productive, thanks to careful planning and fair consideration of all views. Particularly satisfying had been the work undertaken with respect to the situation in Africa. He was also pleased with the decision to send a mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea.
He noted that, for the first time, the Council had organized a briefing session on the Middle East. For years, he had been looking forward to such regular discussions of the situation in that explosive region, which truly threatened international peace and security. The briefing by the Secretary-General’s representative, Mr. Roed-Larsen, had been informative and encouraging. That had provided further, accurate information about the situation on the ground. Indeed, that briefing had been a first step on the road to realigning the Council’s work in that regard. In many countries, the Council was often accused of having double standards, particularly when debating Middle East issues.
Also successful had been the open debate on the work of the Counter-terrorism Committee, which had provided a way to examine all forms of terrorism and evolve means to combat them, he said. That had offered delegations a chance to express their views on delicate matters, such as the need to define terrorism and differentiate it from the legitimate struggle for self-determination. The Mauritius presidency had made a great contribution towards achieving transparency in the Council’s work.
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said the work of the past month had confirmed the appropriateness of his decision to join the creative and important work of the Council. The central concerns and vision of his own delegation had been reflected in the way the President had guided the work. The greater transparency was a sign of the will of the Council and the United Nations to attain more openness. The successful session on Africa had been transmitted around the world, not only to Africa, but also to Latin America, and Mexico itself. That would raise global awareness of the African situation.
He said that through the presidential statement on Africa and throughout the discussion, paths had been created that deserved follow-up, aimed at deepening understanding among the whole United Nations. The prospects for the establishment of a working group on the basis of those discussions had been a signal of Council’s unwavering support for Africa. That emphasis would lead to further progress. Also noteworthy had been the adoption today of the resolution on East Timor, as well as the work being done by the Council to combat international terrorism.
CHI HSIA FOO (Singapore) said that looking ahead was important, but it was also important to look back and see whether Council objectives had been met. To improve transparency, Council members had decided that a critique of its own functioning in a public meeting could help non-members understand its work. Unfortunately, those meetings had not interested others from the United Nations community.
There had been clear successes in the Council during January, one of which was the strong focus on Africa. The Council had held a highly successful open meeting on African issues. That continent needed the Council’s attention and resources.
The open debate on East Timor had reinforced the United Nations presence there and demonstrated wide support for the United Nations peacekeeping successor to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). It was widely recognized that the United Nations must make East Timor a success story.
Regarding Afghanistan, the Council had restructured sanctions against the Al Qaeda terrorist organization. It had recognized that Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups had continued to pose a threat to international peace and security. A second point about Afghanistan was the interest and level of participation in public Council meetings, which demonstrated that the international community was still seized of the issue.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said the Council agenda in January had allowed it to address the thorniest questions relating to peace and security. Those questions concerned areas of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, while others, such as terrorism, were more general.
Africa had remained at the centre of concern of the Council. The Council had considered the situation in Africa within the framework of a high-level public debate, for which the presidency had scrupulously prepared. It had been proposed that a working group be created in the Council to monitor implementation of recommendations about Africa and also find ways to improve cooperation with the Economic and Social Council.
Afghanistan had also been a subject of considerable follow-up. The Council had made a proposal for restoring peace and stability in that country, as well. Terrorism had been the subject of public debate, which had been very constructive, and had allowed all members to speak about their efforts to implement resolution 1373. The formula for that debate was judicious, and he hoped it would serve as a lesson.
He concluded that the Middle East was of great concern, and he would like to have seen more attention focused on it. He hoped that would be the case in the future.
RICHARD WILLIAMSON (United States) joined others in commending the President for his outstanding tenure. The Council had done a good job in January, taking significant steps in several important areas and building a sound basis for the coming months. It had set in place further new ideas and procedures for a more interactive relationship with the troop-contributing countries, which was important for United Nations peacekeeping and for the Council’s efforts to do its job well. The new mechanism would unfold in the coming months, and he looked forward to Ambassador Strømmen’s leadership in that regard.
He noted the report of the Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Committee and felt that the work was very well in hand. Indeed, that would be a major component of the Council’s work in the near future. The Council had also heard from Interim Authority Chairman Hamid Karzai in a session that was a model of efficiency. Afghanistan would be on everyone’s minds, as the challenges there were addressed. Again, a strong basis had been laid for further United Nations and Council involvement.
The major discussion on Africa had produced a significant statement, which looked to the future and steps that could be taken, he went on. The establishment of a working group in coordination with ECOSOC should have focus, be substantive and make a concrete contribution to the Council’s work. Last year, the Council had held 83 formal meetings on Africa; hopefully, this year, there would be few speakers and more results. January in the Council had been an excellent beginning to the new year; the agenda had been very heavy, but many things had been done well.
SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said he was grateful to the Mauritius delegation, which had had a very complicated month. The President had guided his ship in a very dignified way. The Council had approved all the decisions it was supposed to have approved, for which the President deserved congratulations. The gift, an elegant carafe, would help the mood in the coming months.
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