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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Security Council
4363rd Meeting (AM)
SC/7135
31 August 2001




AS SECURITY COUNCIL REVIEWS ITS WORK FOR MONTH OF AUGUST,

SEVERAL SPEAKERS DEPLORE ‘INACTION’ ON MID-EAST


The Security Council today held its second “wrap-up” meeting to discuss its work over the past month under the Presidency of Colombia. The first public wrap-up meeting was convened in June, on the initiative of the Council Presidency for that month, the delegation of Bangladesh.

Several Council members praised the clarity and focus of the Colombian Presidency, with particular emphasis on the adoption of two significant texts – a resolution on the Council’s role in the prevention of armed conflict, and a Presidential statement on the small arms issue. Many also emphasized the two-day debate on the situation in the Middle East, but regretted the absence of specific Council action on the “worsening situation” there.

The month -- presided over by both the Foreign Minister of Colombia, Guillermo Fernandez de Soto, and the Permanent Representative, Alfonso Valdivieso -- began with a public debate on small arms in the wake of the General Assembly special session on the subject in July. At that meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan reminded the Council that the illicit small arms trade was conspicuous for its lack of a framework of binding norms and standards. Foreign Minister Fernandez de Soto, who chaired that debate, said the goal was to deepen Council understanding of the issue by broadening the discussion to include non-members.

On 20 and 21 August, the Council held its two-day debate on the situation in the Middle East, which focused primarily on implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee (known informally as the Mitchell Report). That report, issued on 21 May, called for a number of actions, including an immediate ceasefire, a renunciation of terrorism and the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Speakers in the Council debate urged action before the situation became unmanageable.

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General Comments

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WANG YINGFAN (China) said he highly appreciated the role played by the Colombian Presidency in the adoption of a presidential Statement on small arms. Africa was a highlight of the Council’s work in August. Apart from consultations on some of the hot spots in the region, members had also held a valuable exchange with the International Peace Academy on a regional approach. Hopefully, the positive outcome of that meeting would be implemented.

He hailed the open debate on the Palestinian and Israeli violence as timely and necessary. Entrusted with the maintenance of international peace and security, the Council should take prompt measures in response to that worsening situation. Over the last couple of months, much time had been spent drafting the resolution on the prevention of armed conflict. Meanwhile, the Council should not stand idly by with respect to the situation in the Middle East. Regrettably, the Council had been unable to take action on the situation following the open debate on that conflict.

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CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said meetings like the one at the Princeton Club would be more beneficial if Council members were accompanied by their experts, and if a report were issued immediately afterwards. The Friends Groups issue, raised by Singapore, had received support but the Council had not yet taken it up. Also, the Council had requested briefing notes but the Secretariat had provided only summary notes.

On the issue of continuity between Presidencies, he said each succeeding Presidency seemed intent on leaving its own stamp. Longer-range elements that presented unifying themes -- such as those that came up in planning peacekeeping operations -- should be encouraged. The veto was undemocratic and stymied serious consideration of issues. The threat of that veto was behind the Council’s failure to act this month on a question concerning the Middle East. The Council should refuse to consider any item if a Member threatened a veto before the issue was discussed. Finally, the Council should set aside time to discuss the issues brought up in wrap-up sessions.

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The meeting began at 10:50 a.m. and was adjourned at 12:31 p.m.


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