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


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Plenary
28th & 29th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/10171
13 October 2003


SPEAKERS CALL FOR ENHANCED WORKING METHODS, GREATER TRANSPARENCY, AS GENERAL
ASSEMBLY BEGINS DEBATE ON ANNUAL REPORT OF SECURITY COUNCIL

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Background

The General Assembly met this morning to begin its two-day debate of matters related to the Security Council, including the question of equitable representation on and increasing membership in the 15-nation body.  The Assembly is also expected to consider the issues related to peace and security with which the Council has dealt since 2001.

Among the documents before the Assembly is the Security Council’s annual report (document A/58/2), which details the issues considered and decisions taken in the Council over the past 12 months.  It notes that during that period, the trend towards a steady increase in the Council’s workload continued.  There was also an increase in the growing trend towards transparency.

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The situation in the Middle East continued to be considered on a monthly basis, the major development being the publication of the Quartet’s “Road Map” peace plan in April.  Afghanistan was also the subject of debate every four to six weeks, sometimes with regard to specific issues -– security in February 2003, and drug trafficking in June 2003.  The report notes that Afghanistan will be the focus of a Council mission this autumn.

On general issues, counter-terrorism remained a matter for the Council’s attention, mainly through the work of its Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001), but also through the political impulse received in open meetings of the Council devoted to the question.

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Introduction of Security Council Report

JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States), president of the Security Council for the month of October, introduced the 15-nation body’s annual report.  He said the report, which covered the period from 1 August 2002 to 31 July 2003, indicated that the Council’s seemingly ever-increasing workload continued to grow.  There were many areas of focus, including Iraq, the Middle East, and Afghanistan, which were covered in detail in the report.  Africa, he continued, was also considered a high priority throughout the year, with the Council responding to worsening conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, while also working to encourage continuing progress in bringing peace and stability to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.

The Council, he said, had taken missions to Central and West Africa, and had focused on several issues affecting Africa, such as the threat of small arms and mercenaries, and the role of Council missions and other United Nations mechanisms in promoting peace and security on the continent.  In addition to addressing specific ongoing conflicts, the Council also held thematic discussions and open debates, including on women, peace and security; children and armed conflict; and the pacific settlement of disputes.  He added that the fight against terrorism also continued to be a major focus of the Council’s work, with the Counter-Terrorism Committee working extensively to fulfil its mandate set out under resolution 1373 (2001).

Highlighting a few specifics about the reporting procedure and the document itself, he said that as the Assembly had suggested in the past, the Council this year had produced a more focused report that was 68 pages shorter than last year’s.  That was some 300 pages shorter than the year before.  The report also opened with a narrative overview of the Council’s work, an innovation begun last year at the suggestion of the Assembly.

Although the past year had been an especially busy one, there had been an increase in the already growing trend towards enhanced transparency in the Council’s work, he stated.  The Council had held as many open meetings as possible, regularly conducted wrap-up sessions, and provided opportunities for all Member States to attend briefings.  For example, of the 200 meetings held during the reporting period, only eight had been closed, excluding ongoing consultations with troop contributing countries.  That compared with 32 closed meetings during the previous period.  The emphasis on greater transparency was intended to allow the wider United Nations membership to remain closer in touch with the Council and its deliberations.

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MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) ...

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He insisted that Security Council resolutions were binding on all Member States, and that anything else would discredit the Organization.  Saying that it was incomprehensible that Security Council resolutions on Palestine continued to be flouted with impunity, he maintained that international law could not be upheld when adherence to Security Council resolutions was an option to some and an obligation to others.  “Pressure cannot be exerted on the occupied, while the occupiers are being exonerated”.  On Security Council reform, he said that the challenges confronting leaders in the area of peace and security were a direct result of the “unrepresentative and undemocratic nature of the composition and decision-making nature of the Security Council”.  For 12 years brilliant ideas were advanced on how to correct the situation.  “How much more should the international situation deteriorate before we make the Security Council relevant to today’s challenges?”

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ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) ...

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... the Council had fallen well short of expectations with regard to the Middle East.  Its debates and proposed resolutions had not impacted the situation on the ground in the occupied territories.  Moreover, with regard to Iraq, the Council had faced its most crucial period to date.  It must play the central role, incumbent upon it, in helping to end the suffering of the Iraqi people.

STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica) ...

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 ... On the Middle East, he said that although the Road Map had been heralded as opening the way for peace, the process had unravelled to such an extent that a peace settlement was now a remote prospect.  The Security Council’s role in that situation appeared to be uncertain and tentative.  While, the United Nations was declared as being a party to the Quartet, under whose sponsorship the Road Map was launched, it was not clear to some through what agency the Organization was represented in that process. 

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MOHAMMAD HASSAN FADAIFARD (Iran) ...

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... He reiterated his country’s frustration with the Council’s inability to address the Palestinian question, and hoped that the monthly briefings continued in the current year.  He acknowledged that several resorts to using the veto in the past two years were responsible for the paralysis of the Council in that area.

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RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) ...

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To improve and maintain its credibility on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the Council needed to enforce its authority, in particular with respect to the commitment to the Road Map.  Also, the Council must not allow its resolutions to be manipulated or allow itself to be prevented from doing anything meaningful.  The Council should resolutely take action on the illegal construction of the Israeli expansionist wall, as well as decisively on the recent flagrant violation of Syria’s territory by Israel.

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VALERIY KUCHYNSKY (Ukraine) ...

... the Security Council had been further challenged by developments in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The first encouraging steps in the resumed peace process, based on the Quartet’s Road Map, gave way to scepticism over the viability of the peace plan.  While there were periods of relative calm, the recent suicide bombing in Haifa and the Israeli air strikes on Syria had escalated tensions.

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NGUYEN THANH CHAU (Viet Nam) ...

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The ongoing crisis in the Middle East, he said, was a source of profound continuing concern for Member States and was a challenge to the credibility of the Security Council.  The failure to secure the implementation of some resolutions, and to reach a consensus among the Council members on issues of the conflict, had led to further deterioration of the already volatile situation in the region.  The Palestinians deserved the Council’s resolute commitment so that their plight was alleviated and the peace process put back on track.  He warned that unilateral acts only worsened the situation.  ...

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ABDUL MAJEED HAKEEM (Saudi Arabia) said that while his country appreciated the Security Council’s interest in the Middle East region, and the issuance of resolutions thereon, there was cause for concern in that Israel had refused to implement all of the Council’s resolutions, which sought to resolve the conflict.  That harmed the credibility and effectiveness of the Council.  Israel’s refusal to implement the Council’s resolutions, one after another, showed its determination to torpedo the restoration of peace in the Middle East.  On the issue of Iraq, he called on the members of the Council to come up with a resolution, which would allow the Organization to play a lead role in that country.

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FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria), ...

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Syria, he concluded, had also strived to apply the principle of unanimity and consensus during its time on the Council.  The Council’s inability to reach a consensus because of the recourse to the veto was regretted, particularly regarding major challenges to international peace and security, such as the conflict in the Middle East.  ...

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ALEG IVANOU (Belarus) reviewed the successes experienced by the Council in the area of peacekeeping within the past year, and said that the decision to lift the sanctions against Libya had been of particular importance.  Furthermore, the Council’s activities against terrorism were also laudable.  However, the Council had not fully lived up to international hopes with regard to the settlement of the Middle East conflict.  The Council had failed to agree on some important aspects, as a result of which, the violence between Israelis and Palestinians had continued.  Moreover, the lack of unanimity, with regard to Iraq, was worrisome and had called into question the ability of the Council to address such questions.

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ISMAEL A.GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) ...

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Despite significant progress, some issues on the Council’s agenda, like the situation between Israel and Palestine, clearly needed further attention, he said.  Resolution 1397 was a landmark resolution embodying a vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side within secure and recognized borders.  Yet, the Middle East crisis remained unsettled and, since March this year, was further aggravated by the Iraqi conflict.  ...

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MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela) ...

The situation in Iraq, the Middle East and combating terrorism had had an effect on the world, and thus on the Council, he stated.  Agreeing with the importance attached to those issues, he said they had underscored the importance of multilateralism.  Regarding Iraq, a broad and active presence of the United Nations was necessary and vital, ensuring territorial integrity and sovereignty.  Reaffirming that a position of peace was needed in the Middle East, he supported the right of the Palestinian people for self-determination.  A fair solution there would be rooted in Security Council resolutions.

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