Press conference by Ambassador Peter Wittig, Chair of the Security Council, presenting the program of work for the month of July

Jul 5, 2011

(near verbatim transcript)

New York, July 5, 2011


Thank you for your interest. I see you have the programme of the Council for the month of July in front of you.


Let me try and lead you through it. And let me highlight especially those issues that are of a higher political significance. All the issues are important but some might stick out as far as attention is concerned.


I guess number one will be Sudan, already in the coming days. You know we are heading for the independence of South Sudan on the 9th of July in Juba. Then the mechanics are that the government of South Sudan transmits to the Secretary-General a request for membership and the Council will take that up. We will most probably adopt a resolution on the 13th of July to recommend membership of this new state to the General Assembly which then - as it is envisaged - acts back to back on the following day on the 14th. This action on the 13th by the Council will be followed by a debate on the larger issues involved, on the perspectives and challenges and opportunities of the new situation in Sudan and the region and beyond. That debate will be chaired by the German Foreign Minister and other Foreign Ministers and ministers will be present.

As we speak, Council members are discussing, on an expert level, a resolution that is supposed to mandate a new mission in Southern Sudan, and here the timeline is once again the 9th. There will be intensive consultations on this resolution - on the form and shape and purpose of that new mission - in the coming days and we most probably will see a decision before - 1 or 2 days before - the 9th.

Other issues are outstanding. As you know a couple of CPA issues. The situation in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile will also be very much monitored by the Security Council and we will not forget the situation in Darfur. We have scheduled a briefing by the Head of UNAMID, Mr Gambari, and he is poised to brief us on 22nd of July on the latest situation in Sudan and the various processes, namely the Doha process and the Darfur based process.


Next issue I want to highlight is Afghanistan. This will keep us busy as early as tomorrow. You know the context: it's the transition, the incremental and condition-based transfer of security tasks and responsibilities from the ISAF forces to the Afghan security forces. That is the context of our debate tomorrow. The transition will start in July. We will have also some thoughts looking to the future - medium-term future - on the future design and assignment of UNAMA. And of course this will also be set into the context of not only the transition but also reconciliation: the Afghan led political process that is going on in Afghanistan. Stephan de Mistura will brief us tomorrow and we will have a debate following that briefing.


Libya, once again - how can it be otherwise - will be high on the agenda of the Council this month with two occasions to debate it. In consultations on the 11th, the Envoy of the Secretary-General, Mr. al Khatib, will be here and brief us on his efforts regarding a meaningful and sustainable cease-fire and regarding the political process. That will be on the 11th in the morning. And then we have a regular briefing scheduled and mandated by Security Council resolution 1973 by the Secretariat, the monthly briefings and I take it that it will be - once again - Mr. Pascoe who will take this upon him.


Syria. I think discussions on the draft resolution that is on the table - presented by the European Council members including Germany - will continue. We don’t know the result yet but there will be continuing discussions on that initiative.


Let me highlight one further issue, which goes back to a German initiative. That is the LRA problem - the Lord’s Resistance Army - and their activities in various countries of the region, pernicious activity including not only lot of loses of life but recruitment of child soldiers - and in general inflicting great harm on the civilian population. We want to hear a briefing - once again - by the Secretariat on their joint mission they had to the region. We hope that this can - once again - arouse some interest in this scourge that the LRA is presenting to countries of the region, not least to this new - soon to be new - member state of the UN, South Sudan.


Before I give the floor to you for questions, let me highlight two thematic issues we deem important and which constitute a German initiative, so to speak.

One is on Children and Armed Conflict. I had the honour and it's also really a commitment to chair a working group, the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict of the Security Council. It is a little bit a “one of a kind working group”, because it is the only working group that addresses a humanitarian issue. We will strive to adopt a resolution on the 12th of this month to further enhance the protection agenda to protect children better from recruitment and killing and maiming, and then in this instance in particular from attacks on their schools. This adoption and the ensuing debate, which is an open debate, will also be chaired by my Foreign Minister. There is a huge interest by not only member states but by a very active civil society with whom we have worked very very closely in the process to prepare that resolution. A very good partnership.


Last point, an issue that is very close to our heart: climate security. We undertook the initiative to put this on the agenda on the 20th within the framework of an open debate. We want to focus on security issues of climate change. We do not want to replicate all of the various fora in which climate change is being discussed, i.e. UNFCCC and other fora. No, we want to specifically highlight the security-related challenges of climate change, namely two. That is the threat to - the existential threat - to especially small island states and low lying states by the sea level rise. Of course that affects a lot of member states of the UN. And secondly, the effects that climate change has on food security and risks it entails for the maintenance of peace and security.

There is a huge interest within the rank and file of the member states for that issue and as you can imagine especially by the small island states, who addressed a letter a couple of months ago to the Security Council with the plea to take this up on the agenda of the Council. This is what we are doing this month.


Let me stop here and give room to questions, if there are any.


Q: Mr Ambassador, on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association, welcome  to this press conference. [inaudible] I have a question to Afghanistan: the de-listing process, is it speeding-up? How many names can be dropped soon and when?

A: Well you have taken note that there was a regime reform lately. The previous Al-Qaeda Taliban Sanction regime was split into two. The philosophy of that was - and by the way I was chairing this one committee and  now I am chairing the two committees, one Al-Qaeda and one Taliban - the philosophy of this split was to highlight the fact that those two groups were operating with two different agendas and would have to be treated separately. We expected some more flexibility for the Taliban regime in the de-listing process. This is your question: more Afghan ownership and also a message that in case Taliban would be de-listed that could contribute to the Afghan-led political process. Of course there are strings attached, in that de-listing member states  of the Council have to agree and they have to fulfil the three conditions: the renunciation of violence, acceptance of the framework of the Afghan constitution and  severing ties with international terrorist groups.

Now the de-listing process is moving forward. We have various de-listing requests by the Afghan government and by others. We are currently in the process of reviewing the information and my expectation is that we will some de-listing decisions - notwithstanding of course that this is the prerogative of the member states and the members of this committee - but I think it is fair to say that we expect some de-listings in the coming weeks.


Q: This item "briefing by the IAEA" on the 14th. Is that with regards to Syria?

A: Yes. You might know that the IAEA reported on the situation in Syria and referred this to the Security Council and now the Security Council is taking it up and consultations are envisaged for the 14th of this month.


Q: Regarding Libya, there are now reports that there are some sort of agreements between rebels and Ghaddfi-forces [inaudible]. Do you have any information of any agreement reached here and also about this position that Russia has taken on this [inaudible] arms by France?

A: Well let me say this. We’ll hear a briefing by Mr. Al-Khatib next Monday on the 11th. I think this is the occasion to get an update from him on the contacts that exist. So I would not preclude the briefing of Mr. al Khatib at this point and time.


Q: A follow-up on Libya. There was a discussion this morning after the programme of work about the delivery of arms by France. And  I wanted to know: is it your understanding that the request of the sanctions committee to meet on this date or is this just floating out there. And on Sudan. I see that you have UNISFA on July 27th. Is there someone talking to the South Kordofans. Is it the idea of the Council currently that the Ethiopian troops authorized to be in Abyei would somehow be spread over a larger area and what is the status of human rights monitoring by UNISFA. Has there been further thinking of how they will actually monitor the situation of human rights situation in Abyei?

A: This morning we had a short discussion on the issue of the arms embargo or the arms delivery in Libya. There was no agreement on this issue.

And on UNISFA and South Kordofan I would say it is still very much a moving target. We have a mandate for UNISFA in place and the situation in South Kordofan is still volatile. There are thoughts whether a UN presence is further needed in other areas beyond a Abyei. But I would not venture to say where it is going. You might also know that there is an interim agreement - or framework agreement whatever it is called - on a border mission but that also has to be set into a broader framework and discussion on those issues are continuing in the Council.


Q: [Question about Security Council reform]

A: Can I make a suggestion to you? Since I am briefing on this upcoming presidency in the Council - that we speak to each other after this briefing. Because this is not a matter of the Council. This is a matter of the General Assembly and you refer to an initiative of the G4. So I’d rather discuss this separately with you.


Q: [inaudible]

A: Well thank you. Both issues are under consideration as we speak. On climate change, as I said there is a huge urge of member states to be forthcoming. There are many, especially, smaller islands or low lying countries, that urge the Council to have a follow-up. And we are discussing what kind of follow-up we will have. I don’t exclude anything here.

On Children and Armed Conflict you are right, the resolution revolves around not only protection agenda that already exists but we want an enlargement of the trigger mechanism for the name and shame list. And we also want the possibility, the avenue so to speak, that persistent perpetrators could be sanctioned within - and if possible beyond - the existing sanctions regimes of the UN. That is still under discussion and expert consultations are ongoing and I would not want preclude them at this point and time.


Q: Still any effort by the Security Council or the P5 to try and get the Khartoum government to agree to some kind of a UN presence or a UN monitoring on the northern side of the border after 9th of July? On Afghanistan, is there going to be any paper outcome?

A: To start with the second issue. Yes, it's a regular debate. Just the context is new, with the start of the transition, but it is one of those three-monthly debates that we are having in the Council. As I said, in a slightly new context that sheds a new light on our challenges.

Now on Sudan I refer to that agreement, this provisional agreement negotiated under the guidance of the high-level panel of the AU, under President Mbeki and also ssisted by the SRSG Menkerios, by the two sides on future border monitoring mission. Now it's not yet clear and not yet finally decided what will be the set up and the framing of that mission. I think that is one of the homeworks we’ve got to do in the coming days and weeks.


Q: [inaudible]

A: I don’t have any information on that point and I don’t think that it will be raised in the Council during this month.


Q: Will Germany raise that?

A: As I said I have no information at that point and I don’t want to comment on this. Since I haven't any information it would not be wise for me to comment. As I said its not likely that this issue - which is absolutely new to me – will be part of the Council agenda this month.


Q: Do you expect anything from the Palestinian side? They said they are going to push for their application of membership to the United Nations. Is it true that they have a July 5 deadline. And what are you going to do with the Syrian draft resolution?

A: Well on the Palestinian issue you mentioned the open debate that will take place on the 26th, so far scheduled. That will - I think - be an occasion to explore the various options that might exist on the Palestinian side. We have not been approached as  presidency by the Palestinian side, so it would be absolutely beyond my mandate to speculate what will be happening in the month. I just might indicate to you that according to information there is a meeting of the quartet envisaged for the middle of this month in Washington and that might also to be watched when one is speculating about or what the Palestinian side will be doing in the course of this month or beyond.

Syria, yes I just mentioned that there is this resolution - this draft resolution – on the table. I told you that the European countries took this initiative and they have support by other members of the Council. We want to broaden our support. The situation in Syria is a great concern to us and to others. Consultations will be ongoing. And I am not speaking here as presidency but national capacity: we hope that we enlist the support of  countries to support that resolution in the course of the next days and weeks.


Q: Some other countries mentioned that if you accepted to downgrade this draft resolution to a PRST, they might accept to go along with you. Would you  do that during this month?

A: Once again in my national capacity, the idea is to have resolution.


Q: [inaudible]

A: We take up a referral, a report of the IAEA emanating in the month of June. We are going to do this in the month of July and there will most probably be a briefer that we have from the IAEA - and that’s it for the moment. I would not want to go beyond that. That is scheduled and we don’t know what the outcome will be at this point in time and it's too early to tell.


Q: The recently agreed new mission in Abyei was very unique because it has such offensive arms, as artillery and tanks. Do you think the new mission in South Sudan should be as robust as the mission in Abyei?

A: As I said this moving target will be busy in the days until the end of the week, where we have a certain cut-off date, that is the 9th. We will be very busy to discuss the details of that resolution and of the force that is being mandated. I can tell you there are three  components: military - this will be the bulk -, civilian personal for the various peace building functions – not withstanding the various organisations of the UN family who will be present – and the third component will be a police force. Those are the three components of the mission, the three essential components. Now as to the balance of those elements that is still subject to consultations and negotiations in the course of that week.


Q: What is the outcome to be expected from the LRA meeting? What is the exact purpose of it? What should we expect from this meeting?

A: Yes, the purpose is to put this issue once again on the agenda. We think it is an important issue. There might be an outcome. It is, I think, in the realm of the possible to have a PRST if member states agree to a presidential statement. And then we take it from there. Of course we also want to highlight the importance of the regional efforts, being undertaken by the AU and the member states that are affected. So this is an important date and hopefully it can trigger more interest and more action to follow.


Thank you for your interest.

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For the Provisional program of work of the Security Council for July 2011, please refer to link:

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