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New York, 30 July 2003 - Secretary-General´s mid-year press conference (UN-UNITED NATIONS) 07/30/03) Source: http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp
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SG: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. We have just finished a meeting between the United Nations and some of the world´s leading regional organisations. We have these meetings every now and then, and this one has been particularly interesting and valuable.
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Many of us sense that we are living through a crisis of the international system, or – as some put it – of the “architecture” of international peace and security.
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The war in Iraq, as well as crises such as those in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, force us to ask ourselves whether the institutions and methods we are accustomed to are really adequate to deal with all the stresses of the last couple of years – or whether, perhaps, they are in need of a radical reform.
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But the threats we face are not confined to peace and security in the conventional sense. Indeed, one of the points most strongly made at our meeting was that our success in countering the more conventional threats may depend in large part on the progress we make in overcoming poverty and deprivation. These cannot be thought of as lesser priorities.
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That is why I attach great importance to the current trade negotiations. This is a great opportunity that we should not miss. We shall reach a crunch point with the ministerial meeting at Cancun in September, which I intend to attend myself. Decisions taken there will tell us whether this is to be a real “development round” – in other words, whether poor countries will or will not, at last, be given a real chance to trade their way out of poverty.
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There are two crucial issues in the talks. One is relatively narrow: the issue of intellectual property as it affects public health in developing countries. We must reach an agreement allowing those developing countries that cannot produce cheap generic drugs themselves to import them from other countries that can.
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The other issue is very broad, and potentially decisive for the economic prospects of many developing countries. It is, of course, the issue of trade in agricultural products.
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We must reach an agreement that allows farmers in poor countries a fair chance to compete, both in world markets and at home. They should no longer face exclusion from rich countries´ markets by protective tariffs and quotas. Nor should they have to face unfair competition from heavily subsidised producers in those same rich countries.
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Another non-conventional threat that we cannot afford to ignore is HIV/AIDS. Even though Africa is the hardest hit, the disease is spreading very fast in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. It is truly a global crisis. The General Assembly will hold a one day session on the AIDS epidemic on September 22, the day before the General Debate, and I have just written to all heads of state and government, urging them to do their utmost to arrive here in time for that meeting.
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Among other things, I hope this will result in increased support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Fund has made a good start. Money is being spent on the ground and is saving lives. But many more could be saved if the Fund receives enough money to fund the many excellent proposals it has received. It needs to spend three billion dollars next year, and current pledges are well short of that.
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Of course, not all funding for the fight against AIDS goes through the Global Fund. The total amount needed for this worldwide struggle is much greater.
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But I believe all these crises can be solved, if the peoples and states of the world are really determined to work on them together, making good use of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions such as those whose leaders are here this week. But we must not underestimate the gravity or the urgency of the task. We have a real opportunity to make the world safer and fairer for all its inhabitants and I am sure history will not forgive us if we neglect them.
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Let me take your questions.
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Q: I would like to ask two questions. The first question is on the Middle East – the Palestinian Authority has done what seems to be a creditable job of maintaining the truce, yet we see no commensurate concessions on the Israeli side. On the contrary, it now seems that President Bush has endorsed Ariel Sharon´s demand that the Palestinian Authority start to dismantle Hamas and other militant groups before he can take bigger steps. Does this development worry you? Could it undermine support for the road map?
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My other question is on Liberia. The humanitarian situation in Monrovia, as you know better than I do, is getting worse by the minute, yet the date and time of the arrival of ECOWAS forces is still uncertain, and the White House continues to insist that it will not send troops to quell the fighting. I want to ask a broader question about response to Africa in general as it relates to this. Last month Lynne Duke wrote in The Washington Post that the failure of successive American Administrations in Africa is part of a pattern which proves that the lives of Africans are less important to Washington than the lives of people in other parts of the world. I wonder what your feeling is on that view.
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SG: Let me start with the Middle East. I think the Middle East peace process and the road map have made some progress – some progress in the sense that we now have a ceasefire which has held for a couple of weeks. The Israeli Government has withdrawn from some parts of Gaza and Bethlehem, and I hope other withdrawals will follow. The road map demands of the parties parallel action for us to make progress: parallel action that is reinforcing – actions that give hope to the Palestinians that there could be a State at the end of the process, and steps that also give assurances to the Israelis that steps are being taken to end violence and terrorism.
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I do not think one should condition one´s own action in the way that your question implies. This is something that has worried those of us who worked on the road map: that past efforts failed because some of it became so conditioned that it was conditioned to death. We felt, on this one, there should be parallel steps by the parties; the Quartet stands by that approach and we would want to encourage that.
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On Liberia, you are right that the plans for deployment have been delayed for some time. I have been in constant touch with the ECOWAS leadership, with the United States Administration, and or course with ambassadors here. As I have indicated, we also intend to make a proposal to the Security Council for a deployment of peacekeeping forces; we may see a draft resolution very shortly being put to the Council.
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ECOWAS should indicate to us today what the D-Day should be for deployment of the forces. I think most of you saw the letter I sent to the Council which was intended to accelerate the deployment of these forces, so that we will be able to help the tragic and deplorable situation on the ground and try and get assistance to the people.
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In the meantime, the United States ships are sailing to Liberia. The President has indicated that they will support the efforts. They are in direct contact with the ECOWAS forces, having their meetings on the ground. I hope once they are on the ground, the two forces will cooperate and make a difference in the lives of the Liberians, who are in such dire straits at the moment.
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On your other questions, obviously some of these decisions on whether to intervene or not are a sovereign decision that Governments take with all sorts of factors involved, direct national interest or not. Of course, what I think is important, as we look around the world and live through these crises, is that we should, I believe, have a broader view of national interest. We have values to defend: we have values of human rights; we have been concerned about gross and systematic violations of human rights. I myself have said, from the General Assembly podium, that countries should not be allowed to use sovereignty as a shield to brutalize their people. I think out of that the Canadians did a very good report on the responsibility to protect.
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When we see situations where the country concerned or its neighbours are not able to help, I think the international community, the wider community, has the responsibility to assist, particularly where innocent civilians are trapped in the middle.
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Q: You have a very nice diplomatic style but this has been going on for weeks. Before President Bush went to Africa, the United States said we are going to help. Then there was a huge gap. Your predecessor Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the first, I think, to call what was happening in Rwanda genocide before anyone at the Security Council wanted to. Your envoy to Liberia, Jacques Klein, has been outraged saying, “I need a battalion tomorrow morning”, and so on. Can you be doing more to use your moral authority, by speaking out more publicly, instead of necessary words in a report? And are the people of Liberia being left hung out to dry by the United States and by regional Powers in West Africa?
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SG: In my discussions with them – both, as I said, the United States Administration, including the President, and the West African leaders – the West African leaders made it clear they would be prepared to send in troops, but they will need financial and logistical support, including air lifts. It was on that basis that they have had their discussions.
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Now they have two battalions ready to go. We will move one in from UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone, and the other one will come in from Nigeria.
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From what I gather, discussions are going on for them to get some assistance. Ten million dollars was offered by the United States, which obviously the Nigerians have indicated is not enough. This is why in my proposal to the Council I said they should allow us to support them, and advance money from the budget of UNAMSIL to get them there urgently and sort things out.
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As I said, the President indicated to me that the United States would want to help get humanitarian assistance to the Liberians, but of course they would not want to stay for a long time, because they are over-committed in other parts of the world. That is also one of the reasons we are sending in United Nations peacekeepers for the longer- term operation. But in the meantime it is urgent that we get the troops in to help pacify the situation and ensure that humanitarian assistance will get to the needy.
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Q: Can you give us some sense of the cost to the United Nations of sustaining and deploying the vanguard force? Is that, do you think, going to be sufficient to persuade the Nigerians to move ahead? Also, would you support, in a resolution that does all the things you were talking about recently, language that would essentially provide blanket immunity to members of the multinational force from prosecution for any war crime?
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SG: You are still stuck with that, aren´t you?
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Q: I would bet it would be in that resolution.
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SG: I should start with the question of the budget. The Nigerian battalion that is moving from UNAMSIL to Monrovia had finished its operations, and we had a responsibility to move it to Nigeria anyway. Now we are moving it to Liberia. What we will do is supply it until permanent arrangements are made for the support that it is going to get from the international community. I am not in a position to give you the figures, but if you are interested, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations can make them available.
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I have not seen the final draft resolution, and I am not sure that the paragraph on the ICC will be in it. We would not normally put it in United Nations peacekeeping operations resolutions. Besides, my own view is that the kind of crimes that we are talking about have never occurred with United Nations peacekeepers - they have never been anywhere near there. I have made clear my own view that some of the discussions that took place in the Council with regard to an attempt to have a blanket exemption for 12 months were really not necessary if it was intended to protect peacekeepers.
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Q: In your opening comments you talked about institutional reform. I was wondering how specifically you see that as relating to this Organization – whether you were talking about the Security Council specifically and the United Nations Charter.
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Beyond that, last week you issued a statement on North Korea that talked about encouraging signs. Since that time we have heard from the region that talks are bogged down, and I am sure you have seen John Bolton´s comments. How much more or less encouraged are you today on the issue of settling the Korean crisis?
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SG: On your first question, I think that, given the half year that we have just lived through, I would be surprised if most of the heads of State who are coming here in September do not say something about strengthening multilateral institutions – strengthening the United Nations in its capacity to respond to new challenges, looking at the realignment, hopefully, between the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council. I am confident that the question of Security Council reform will also gain new attention, because when we were going through the Iraqi crisis and holding discussions, I had contacts with many heads of State who felt that, given the way we are structured and the way the Council is constituted at the moment, many important regions and countries are not able to make their voices heard. In fact some even suggested that we should maybe have a summit outside the Security Council – a summit of leaders who were not necessarily in the Council - to see what contribution they could make to the debate. So I am sure that we will hear quite a lot about them, and I think that many issues will be opened.
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On the question of North Korea, the Chinese Government had been very active in trying to work with the North Korean Government and the United States Administration in finding a formula for dialogue and a meeting. I still think that we should give them a chance. These things are difficult. I know what you are referring to - some of the comments from the region. But I think that all parties today seem to be prepared to work through diplomatic and political means, and we should give the process our support, even if it takes a little longer.
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Q: The Arab League recently welcomed and saluted your report on Iraq. I have two questions. First, a lot of people in the Middle East are looking for the United Nations to develop its role in Iraq. Do you personally feel that you need a second resolution to develop the United Nations role? Or do you feel, like Mr. Vieira de Mello, that resolution 1483 (2003) is vague enough to enable you to act within its provisions? Also, has the United States of America moved away from its opinion about the United Nations being a debating society?
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Secondly, with regard to the Palestinians, what do you, personally, feel about the fence that is being erected by Israel and about the question of the Palestinian prisoners?
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SG: On your first question, let me say that there is quite a lot of discussion – the beginnings of discussion – among Member States as to the need for a second resolution that gives the United Nations a broader mandate and encourages the United Nations to take on more in Iraq. If we were to get a resolution or a proposal from Member States that asked us to do more, we would require a second resolution that would also provide a basis for the budget. But most of the Governments are saying that they would want to see the effort internationalized – but not only with regard to political and economic reconstruction and institution-building. They would also be prepared to consider expansion in the security area. If it were a United-Nations-mandated force and there was an international effort to pacify Iraq, they would all feel more comfortable contributing to it.
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This also applies to the reconstruction: some Governments have indicated that if they had to make a contribution for reconstruction, they would want to give it to a United Nations or other international body, and not necessarily pay into the United States-United Kingdom fund. So there are lots of issues that are being worked out. I am not sure we are anywhere near a second resolution yet. But the discussions are ongoing.
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On the question of the fence, I know that it is conventional wisdom that fences make good neighbours. But that is if you build a fence on your own land and you do not disrupt your neighbour´s life.
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Q: The United States has made it a condition for its further involvement in Liberia that Charles Taylor leave office. What is the status of negotiations as to his possible departure from Liberia, and do you believe that he should appear before the Court in Sierra Leone?
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SG: I think the understanding that he gave to President Obasanjo of Nigeria is that he will leave when the peacekeepers arrive. So if the sequence is right, when the peacekeepers arrive – the vanguard force – he should leave the scene and go to Nigeria, which has offered him exile. Then the reinforcements will come in to support the vanguard force. When it comes to the question of the Court, I think the law must take its course. The law does have a long arm, and we will see what happens.
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Q: Going back to Iraq for a moment, as you look at the situation in Iraq - with the continuing violence there and the problems – is it your view that a second resolution is really needed, that internationalization is really important to get Iraq back on its feet and really making significant progress?
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SG: From what I am picking up from the Member States, I think that the internationalization of the operation is important for them. It is a United Nations umbrella – it sends the message that they are operating under a United Nations umbrella. It is important for them – not just for Europe or India, but also for the region. The Arab States will feel more comfortable. I had a discussion with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amre Moussa, who said, “We would want to go in. But we cannot do it under the current resolution”, and exploring with me how they can find a way of cooperating with Sergio Vieira de Mello, my Representative, and therefore work more or less directly with the United Nations, rather than going in and being seen as working with the coalition.
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Those are the concerns that some of the countries have. They are the ones with the troops and the money, and they are going to make the contributions. So what they think and what they feel is extremely important. I think that the point they are making is, yes, if we internationalize it and take it as a concern of the international community, we would come in. I personally believe that what happens in Iraq is extremely important for the region and for the rest of the world, and that we all have to do whatever we can to ensure that Iraq is stabilized and that it can move on to a stable and peaceful life and live in peace with its neighbours. So whatever we need to do to move forward, we should not hesitate to do it. If it does take a second resolution to get everyone to pull together to get it done, let us do it.
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Q: Mr. Secretary-General, during the conflict over Iraq, some United States officials said that the United Nations was destined for the dustbin of history and the fate of the League of Nations. Yet here we are, just a few short months later, talking about internationalizing the force in Iraq and giving the United Nations a much broader role there. How do you feel about that, and what does this tell you about the architecture of what is going on in the world today in terms of multilateralism and unilateralism?
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SG: I think that the message that comes through loud and clear, given the reactions of other Member States, is that multilateralism is important for many States around the world, that for many States the United Nations is important, that the imprimatur of the United Nations – the legitimacy the United Nations offers – is important. I think that this is a very clear message, particularly for those who thought that the United Nations was dead and had no influence. I must admit to you that I did warn those who were bashing the United Nations that they had to be careful, because they might need the United Nations soon. This was some months ago.
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Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I know that we have spoken about Iraq, but, how would you, personally, assess the progress that the United States- led administration is making in Iraq in returning social services, improving the humanitarian lot and, hopefully, restoring democracy?
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SG: It is extremely difficult. The security situation is precarious. In fact, when the delegation was here and we discussed it, they made the point that women are afraid to drive. One of them even said that not just women but even men are sometimes afraid to do so. Essential services are not all up and running yet, even to pre-war levels, and here I am talking about electricity, water and sanitation.
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There is also a serious economic situation, because, quite frankly, the Iraqi Government had a civil service of 2 million people. Even if they had a family of six each, you are talking 12 million people who no longer have a breadwinner in that sense, even though some payments are being made. You have a situation where the army has collapsed, the police has collapsed. In a way, there is also no civil service. So it is extremely difficult to get things together. I note that Mr. Bremer has indicated that they are trying to build a new military and also start up a police force, but all of this is happening at the same time as one is trying to get reconstruction going, get the political process moving forward, strengthen institutions and attract private investors.
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Indeed, I was quite struck by an article that I read in the Financial Times in which Philip Watts, the Chairman of Shell, said that it was too risky and that the lives of other people were too important for us to go there. So we really need to get the security under control for people to go about their work, to be able to attract investors, to be able to get reconstruction under way. We are some way from that here.
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Q: Did you succumb to Rwandan Government pressure in your decision to recommend the removal of Carla Del Ponte from the Rwanda Tribunal? On a broader level, is it time to rewrite the rules for the use of force?
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SG: Absolutely not. The question of separation of the prosecutor function has been around for quite a long time. I think that we have to admit that it is extremely difficult for a Prosecutor even to run a tribunal in one country, but for a Prosecutor to run two tribunals thousands of kilometres apart, with major cases in the Hague such as the Milosevic one, while at the same time wanting to pay attention to Rwanda – we have had problems from the beginning. It was not all with the Prosecutor, we have to admit; there have been problems with other parts of the court. But we have now gotten to the stage where the Council would want to see the two tribunals bring their work to completion, and they have come up with programmes for doing that. It is their judgment that, if one had two separate prosecutors, one could accelerate the process to ensure that the work is done. It has been a very expensive process, with these two tribunals, in budgetary terms. There has been no politicking, and, if there has been, it has not been at my level, and there has been no pressure.
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On your second question – has the time come to rewrite the rules of intervention – I am not sure if I would put it that way, but let me say that since Iraq, Governments have been asking many questions. We are told that we face new threats, that there are new risks, new challenges that we have to confront, and that one should be prepared to take pre-emptive action if necessary. Did what happen in Iraq constitute an exception, a precedent that others can exploit? If not, and indeed we are going to make preventive action, or war, part of our response to these new threats, what are the rules? Who decides? Under what circumstances? This is a discussion that I know is going around in many capitals and, I am sure, will come here. This is also one of the reasons why I would also recommend that you take a look at the report entitled “Responsibility to Protect”. There are some interesting suggestions in it which can be a guide.
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Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I understand that you discussed the issue yesterday with the President of the Council of Europe. Do you intend to move forward this fall with a new initiative, or will you wait until Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Dentash gets out of the political spectrum?
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SG: That is a very blunt question. Let me say that my position is still the same. I will be prepared to step back in and help once there is real, genuine political will on the part of both the parties. Mr. Dentash has recently made some proposals about moving forward with confidence-building measures, but the reaction of the other party had been that there was a proposal, a plan on the table, let us try to work and move on that basis. I know that there will also be elections in northern Cyprus in December. I do not know what that will bring and what changes that holds for us, but my position is that, if the parties are genuinely interested, we will assist them. But until then, I do not think that it would be worthwhile.
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Q: Mr. Secretary-General, your Special Envoy to Iraq and you yourself told the Security Council about the United Nations concerns about human rights and the treatment of prisoners of war according to the Geneva Conventions and international law. Could you give us a follow- up of this situation and, by the way, of the situation of the Guantanamo prisoners as well?
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SG: I think that this is an issue that Sergio Vieira de Mello has paid attention not only in his previous capacity as High Commissioner for Human Rights but also in his current position and on the ground in Iraq. He is trying to help sensitize the people and giving training courses. He is going to start a whole series of activities to help in this area, and he is also stressing with the coalition that prisoners of war in Iraq must be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Regulation. I think that they themselves have undertaken to do that, both in the resolutions and in their own statements. I have my position; it has been very clear – in fact, yesterday that was one of the issues we discussed with the regional organization, that we have to be careful not to believe that there is a trade-off between human rights and our efforts to contain and fight terrorism, and that people should not be asked to give up their civil liberties and freedom for security. If you do that, do you, in the end, have security? So we believe that there has to be fundamental respect for the rights of individuals and for human rights.
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We are concerned that, under the guise of terrorism, Governments all around the world are using the T-word — and tagging people with it — to abuse their rights and lock them up in jail and to deal with political opposition. We are seeing an erosion in respect for human rights, which is of concern to all of us.
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Q: (spoke in French) I have a general question. Are you concerned at the moment about the state of Africa? Do you believe that the international community and the United Nations are doing enough to solve the various crises on the continent?
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SG: (spoke in French) Obviously, Africa is in a deplorable state in terms of conflict. But the West has recently been of assistance: France is in Côte d´Ivoire and a European force has been deployed in Bunia. There is therefore a certain level of commitment. The United States and the European Union are working with African countries to prepare peacekeeping troops. At the economic level, Africa has the full support of the G-8 and others for the New Partnership for Africa´s Development. We are therefore making progress in certain areas.
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With regard to AIDS, there is a need for money to assist people and to treat them. But there is not enough money. A meeting was recently held in Paris on this issue. Some efforts have been made, but they have been insufficient.
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What I would say is that the commitment of Europe to Africa is continuing. The Americans have also indicated to me that they will do the same. But there is a lot of work left to do.
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Q: You have just wrapped up a conference about the crisis of international systems. How can you preserve the United Nations as an essential stage for international security decisions? In Liberia, for example, it is going to take three months for United Nations peacekeepers to deploy. We have seen a pattern of countries having to take the lead in a multinational force before the United Nations can go in. Is that model relegating the United Nations to a second-tier place in the world? What can you do to reinforce the United Nations as an essential stage?
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SG: I think there is a real practical reason why we sometimes resort to the use of a multinational force. As you know, the United Nations does not have an army. We approach Governments to lend us troops once the Security Council has given us a mandate. While the Council prepares a resolution, we have already started talking to Governments that may be ready to join us in Liberia. Normally, it takes about three to four months to deploy peacekeeping troops. When the situation is urgent, therefore, we tend to look to countries with lift capacity and well-trained troops to be able to go in very quickly. The French went to Bunia in about two weeks. That has given us time to prepare a follow-on force, which is going to go in this summer. Once the force is on the ground, the French will leave. There are therefore very practical reasons for taking the route we take.
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In situations where we do not have the emergency we are seeing in Liberia, we have time to plan and get the peacekeepers in without sending in a multinational force ahead. That is a supportive and reinforcing arrangement that can work if one gets the response. It has been demonstrated recently in Bunia.
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Q: And how do you ensure that the United Nations remains an essential stage for international security decisions?
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SG: This is the only organization where all the Governments can come to discuss these issues. In our earlier discussions, I also made it clear that I am not the only one saying this. Governments are telling us, the world and their people that the United Nations is important for them and that they take its decisions seriously. Those Governments are also saying, for example, “If you want us to become involved in Iraq, go to the United Nations and get what we perceive as a United Nations mandate”. So it is an important place not just for convening power; it also brings Governments together to discuss common and mutually important issues. And many Governments stand by the Charter; they stand by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is important to them, so we need to listen to what the other Governments are saying.
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Q: I just want to get back to some of the comments you made before about Liberia. Yesterday, Liberian President Charles Taylor made indications that he was going to reconsider stepping down. On the heels of that came the announcement that his Government was rejecting the rebels´ offer of a ceasefire. What possibility do you therefore believe there is that Taylor will step down from office and that the situation will be resolved?
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SG: We are living in a very fluid situation. Of course, all those statements are also a sort of negotiation. How serious was that statement? Was it a psychological message to the other side? I cannot say. But he has given a firm indication to the President of Nigeria that he will leave. He expects him, and we expect him, to leave.
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Q: Under what conditions would you advise the Security Council to send peacekeeping forces without being accused of supporting an occupying Power?
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SG: I think that the discussion that is going on is this: if a new resolution is introduced, most Governments would want to see a resolution that also mandates a security presence and encourages Governments to join in to pacify Iraq.
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Q: Following up on a previous question, will you support the use of multilateral preventive action? I would also like to know your take on the debate on the definition of family that is taking place in many countries and societies these days? We have seen countries changing laws. The Catholic Church is also talking about this issue. I would like to know what your take is on this.
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SG: I am not sure I got the first question, about multilateral intervention.
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Q: Would you support multilateral preventive military action?
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SG: I think the Charter is very clear. Where there is a broader threat to international peace and security the Council can authorize collective action for the use of force. The Charter foresees that, but there are clear conditions, and the collective nature of the action is also emphasized.
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On your second question, I know that this debate has been going on. Even my own church, the Anglican Church, seems to be engaged in this. I believe that individuals should be allowed to make their own choices and that we should be careful not to draw conclusions, or adopt prejudicial attitudes, towards people for their choices and preferences. That is not something that I think the Organization should get involved in.
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Q: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, non-governmental organizations working in Bunia are painting a very dire picture of what is happening. There is no security in the camp for internally displaced persons; food rations are down to a third of what a person needs daily; and sanitation and water are an issue. What is the United Nations doing to address this?
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SG: I think that at the moment we are handicapped. The force we have is in Bunia and its environs. The Ituri region is a much larger area. That is one of the reasons why I have for some time been asking the Council to give us additional troops so that we can put in a brigade to cover the territory of Bunia. That is what we intend to do when the brigade begins to arrive, next month. We have not been able to get the Multinational Force to go beyond Bunia – and in fairness to them, their mandate limited them to Bunia. We have the same problem in Afghanistan, where the International Security Assistance Force looks after Kabul but will not go outside Kabul. The Governments do not want to do it either.
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But I hope that, when the expanded force arrives beginning next month, we will be able to do better by the people who are trapped in this situation.
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Q: Two quick questions. On Liberia, the United States and certain members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have said that they want to patrol the ceasefire, not to enforce the ceasefire – in other words, that fighting should stop. It has not, and I wonder how that circle can be squared.
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Secondly, on Rwanda and Carla del Ponte, do you think that Rwanda will accept the new Prosecutor by cooperating with the Court and also allowing investigations of its army, which, I think, caused the split with Carla del Ponte?
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SG: I think this is one of the issues about Liberia: whether one waits for a ceasefire. Appeals have been made; they have signed a ceasefire; it has been broken many times. Appeals have been made for them to lay down their weapons and honour the ceasefire. ECOWAS, which is in discussions with them - because the leaders are in Accra in discussions – one of the factions, for example, has indicated they will withdraw from the port and give it to them when they arrive, indicating that, once they are there, understanding or arrangements can be made. This is what they are saying.
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What is also important is that this is one of those rare situations where, even though the ceasefire has broken down, both sides genuinely seem to want the international-multinational force to come in – not just the Government army and the rebels, but also the population. My sense is that the risks that we are concerned about may not be as great as we think they are. Obviously, none of these operations are risk-free, and one will have to be very careful.
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On the second question, if we send in a new Prosecutor - if the Council were to decide to appoint a new Prosecutor for Rwanda – he will have the same mandate as Carla del Ponte has. He or she will have to investigate and follow up all credible allegations and let the law take its course. There should no deals, no understandings; the law must take its course. (UN.ORG 07/30/03)
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