Transcript of Remarks at November 2014 Programme of Work Press Conference
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Central Africa
- Central African Republic
- Chemical weapons
- Commission of inquiry
- Golan Heights
- Human Rights
- Middle East
- North Korea
- Peace and Security
- South Sudan
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Remarks by the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for November 2014, HE Mr Gary Quinlan, at a Press Conference on the November Programme of Work
It's nice to back for our second presidency: a fairly ambitious month which is dictated to, of course, by the state of the world. But we also have some Australian initiatives that I'll talk about as well and am happy to answer questions about.
But just as a scene setter, I think it's worth just recalling at the very beginning that when you look at the globe at the moment and the nature of what we're all facing, we have a situation where we have a larger number of simultaneous crises, with a bigger impact, across a larger number of countries – parts of the globe – on more people, and mainly civilians, than we've had since the Second World War. And that's an extraordinary situation for us to be facing.
The actual number of conflicts, if you add them up, is slightly less than in a number of previous decades but it's the simultaneity of the crises, having that much wider impact and particularly on civilians. I think you know that a couple of months ago UNHCR put out astatistic on how many displaced people [there are] in the world – that's refugees and internally displaced. There were 51.5 million, and in the period after that we must have found that there are another three, maybe more, million who've been displaced by the intensification of the conflict in a number of places – obviously Iraq, South Sudan, CAR continues to be a major problem, and even the DRC in one or two areas recently. So we do face this enormous challenge.
The peacekeeping system which is the absolute core of what the Security Council does is under unprecedented strain at the moment. We have a larger number of peacekeeping missions and Special Political Missions than ever and the need for these, of course, is in a very real sense greater than ever before.
The nature of conflict has become more violent, more intense. This is not only because of terrorism – although terrorism is an element in this, a significant new component of the intensification of violence in different parts of the world, particularly by terrorists who are younger. All the data shows terrorists now are much younger than the previous generation, much more violent, much less uninhibited about being violent, they don't listen to communal or traditional religious leaders, and they talk to each other through social media, and bid each other up in competitive atrocities, if you like. So we are facing, a particular, serious problem, in relation to the intensification of conflict – but also the new nature of so much more widespread and more violent terrorism around the world.
The Secretary-General's announcement last week of the peacekeeping operations review, an external review, is absolutely timely. As you know, we've been moving as a Council to authorise far more robust peacekeeping operations over the last eighteen months – DRC, Mali, CAR and others. And we need to assess that – what is the need and how can we make peacekeeping operations fit for purpose. And how can we sustain them, of course, because they are becoming unsustainable just in terms of recruiting the people we want and equipping them.
The peacebuilding review – the post-conflict peace-building review which is being talked about and planned, which is parallel to the peacekeeping operations external review – is also going to be very important, focusing on countries coming out of conflict and moving to stabilisation. So these two significant reviews really are coming at an absolutely junctural point in how the UN approaches peace and security and all of us, as contributors and as participants in the UN.
So, to kick it off, I'll just remind everybody that we shouldn't be seeking perfection in all of this. I always quote Dag Hammarskjöld, when he said we're not here to take everybody to heaven, but we are here to save as many as we can from hell. And I think that should remain – and does remain – the guiding imperative of what the UN is all about, and certainly the sort of work that the Council does.
I don't want to waste too much time because questions and answers are what you're more interested in, but the programme of work was adopted this morning. It'll be up on the website.
Very quickly, we will obviously be reviewing progress in a number of key missions. In Burundi – where the Burundi Office closes at the end of December – the focus is on elections next year and an election observer presence.
We'll be looking at Liberia. We had a technical rollover of the mandate for Liberia until we could ascertain what the implications of Ebola were – politically, in security terms, economically, socially. So we need to look at that closely.
Lebanon – we need to look at the UNIFIL operations. Lebanon is under enormous stress as we know. Such a large number of Syrian refugees – 1.2 million living in Lebanon – means we're getting up towards approaching 30% of Lebanon's population being Syrian. And of course there are the security challenges from ISIL: the threat to the policy of dissociation, which is very important for Lebanon's stability and safety, with the Syrian conflict on the borders, and also the political impasse which continues about the selection of a new president. So Lebanon, which has a remarkably good degree of unity in the Council – we need to preserve that – but Lebanon is a priority for us.
We need, obviously, to look at Iraq and the UN presence there in circumstances we're all familiar with, so I really needn't say more than that. In the discussions we have on Iraq, on this occasion we'll not only have the SRSG Mladenov – he and his team do a superb job by any measure in very difficult circumstances – we'll also have the new Human Rights Commissioner, Prince Zeid, briefing the Council for the first time in his new role. He'll be briefing on the human rights situation in Iraq.
We'll also be reviewing developments in Guinea-Bissau. They had successful elections in May this year but there's a lot of work to be done in terms of governance, institution building into the future.
We'll have meetings this afternoon on Libya and South Sudan and I'd be proposing after those meetings to be available for comments. So I'll just signal that now so you may want to hold off detailed comments – but I'm in your hands – or questions about those until later today until the Council's actually had discussions on these.
We'll also be looking at Burkina Faso at my request as President because I think we need to ensure that we're up to date with what is happening on the ground in Burkina Faso.
This month Syria will remain a priority as always. This week we have the monthly review on progress on elimination of chemical weapons. An enormous amount of progress has been made since the adoption of that resolution under the Australian presidency, in fact, on 27 September last year. And there are two or three key areas we need to focus on. One, of course, is checking whether the declaration that Syria made in the beginning and which it has subsequently has amended in the normal course of events about exactly what their stocks were and their production facilities – we need to check. There are possibly a few anomalies there that we need to clarify. And also the destruction of twelve remaining production facilities which it has taken a long time to actually get around to the technical plans for their destruction, so we need progress reports on that. And also there's the issue of chlorine which is a concern to some members of the Council in particular, so we need to look at those sorts of issues. The discussion is tomorrow afternoon.
We'll have the normal Middle East discussions during the month, of course, and we'll also be looking at a couple of mandate renewals – Bosnia & Herzegovina; Somalia piracy – we need to re-energise, renew the mandate of the naval presence; I've mentioned UNMISS – later in the month we need to renew the mandate for South Sudan; and the Guinea-Bissau Office, we need to look at that.
There will be a couple of sanctions reports this month which will be interesting. Ninety-day reports to the Council – one is the DPRK, the so-called 1718 Committee, chaired by Luxembourg, and then the 1591, the Sudan Committee, which is chaired by our Argentinian colleague. DPRK is not in open briefing but Sudan is an open briefing. We have been pressing since we became a member of the Council, but certainly during our presidencies, to have all of those discussions in open briefing. For the Council, the DPRK is a special case…
Bosnia and Herzegovina – I might have mentioned that we need to renew the EU-led stabilisation force mandate there and have a discussion about the situation on the ground.
I should also flag quickly on Afghanistan – this is not for the Council to have a discussion this month – but Australia as pen-holder, coordinator on Afghanistan, will shortly be beginning the process of drafting and negotiating the resolution on the post-2014 successor mission to ISAF. This would be the NATO-led train, advise and assist mission. It will be important to have that resolution in place before the end of the year, so that will be an important task over the next few weeks.
We will have a wrap-up session trying to assess where we got to during the month and what work we have got to do into the future. Not all Members of the Council do wrap-up sessions, but it's becoming much more of an established practice, which is good.
We'll have the ICJ elections, of course, on Thursday. We've had to reserve the whole day. There's a complex parallel process of elections in the Security Council at the same time as elections in the General Assembly. We have to be tight-lipped – and we can't tweet and we musn't contaminate the information flowing between the two bodies! We might seek your advice on how to ensure that doesn't happen. (Laughs) And see where we get to. But last time, I think, we ran into a couple of rounds for elections – we ran through quite a few rounds. We just don't know what will happen there so we've got to make arrangements.
The famous footnotes in the programme, reserving places for discussions we anticipate, might be needed – and we'll see whether we need them. But obviously Mali – and happy to answer questions on that; Central African Republic; Yemen; and Ukraine would be another one which we've listed there. And Ebola, of course.
And, now, just very briefly because you want to get into questions, Australian initiatives. We're always full of initiatives, but usually they're pretty good so we'll see what happens. There are three that we're bringing to the Council.
On 19 November, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will be chairing a debate at Ministerial-level that the Secretary-General will brief, on counter-terrorism. A concept note on this will be circulated later today. The focus is on a few things. It's following up the two resolutions which were adopted in the last couple of months. The first one in August, on ISIL and al-Nusra, and then the next resolution, which was the foreign fighters resolution which was adopted in September under the US presidency, with President Obama chairing. So we will follow-up implementation of those resolutions, have a discussion.
Reporting on implementation was mandated under those two resolutions and reporting will continue into the future, but we'll have a look at the initial reports. There'll also be a report from me as Chair of the Al Qaida Committee on a report which the Al Qaida Committee expert team, the Analytical and Monitoring Team, has just completed on the nature of the threat from ISIL and ANF, and on the demographics, the recruitment, funding issues, travel, transit and what measures, what further measures beyond the earlier resolutions we need to put in place to deal with those. And a report also from the Chair of the 1373 Committee, which is the Counter-Terrorism Committee – that's the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Lithuania – on aspects associated with the counter-terrorism practices, policies, strategies and so on of the UN system. It really is a complex system, but quite a vital one to the global efforts against terrorism. We are drafting a Presidential Statement to try and pull all the elements of this together. It will be very practical and it will also have an element dealing with countering violent extremism, which is, of course, important in all societies these days.
Our second initiative will be on policing as an element, a component, in peacekeeping operations. That will be in the Council on the following day, in briefing and discussions also chaired by the Australian Foreign Minister, Ms Bishop. For that we have drafted a resolution which we'll start negotiating in the next couple of days. Policing has never been looked at in an integrated way as part of peacekeeping operations in the past. It's talked about in debates and discussions on peacekeeping. But there's never been a single, articulated debate about its role or a product coming out of the Council on that, so we hope that we'll get a good discussion and all the rest of it on those issues.
And then finally, the following week on Tuesday 25th, we are hoping that we can adopt a resolution on reform of the United Nations sanctions system. That's very much a technical resolution dealing with technical issues of how the sanctions regimes are implemented. It's not an existential debate about whether there should be sanctions regimes and the nature of sanctions regimes within the mandate of the Charter or of the Security Council. What we do is as a starting point is take it as a given – we have 14-15 sanctions regimes in the UN, we've created another two this year – one on CAR, one on Yemen. There may soon be another, who knows? And the question is how do we implement those regimes. Recognising that short of Chapter VII interventions on the ground through force and so on – that kind of Chapter VII intervention – that sanctions regimes are almost the only effective tool, the only tool that the Council can deploy to try to discipline some progress towards peace and security in a number of areas. And of course the sanctions regime has changed enormously over the years so it is now targeted. There hasn't been a blanket sanctions regime in the UN system since the last one ceased to operate ten years ago and we haven't had any moves on that for the last twenty years. That will be a difficult area, a challenge, but we hope to get some kind of progress on that. I should say that we've chaired a High Level Review on this for the last six months together with Sweden, Greece, Finland and Germany and a couple of important NGOs.
I think that's probably where I should leave it because you've heard enough from me as an opener. But very happy – maybe not happy, but available – to take questions and see if I can answer them.
Thank you. Let's start with Evelyn, please.
Thank you for this briefing, quite comprehensive. I'm Evelyn Leopold and I welcome you on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents' Association. I want to get back to Syria. It seems to be difficult to just isolate the chemicals that have been removed. There seems to be for people on the ground a siege, surrender and starvation system with the Government, barrel bombs, with ISIS, with all the different groups that are hitting civilians day after day after day. I'm curious how you handle that.
And secondly, on Ukraine, your Government is very much a part of the investigation (with) the Netherlands and any information that you have would be very much appreciated.
AMBASSADOR QUINALAN Ok, thanks Evelyn. And thank you for giving me this opportunity, as they say.
Let's deal with Ukraine first, yes indeed, where we're up to on this. We had the resolution, of course, adopted in July, and it was short, sharp, to the point. And we set out as a Council our expectations for a thorough, independent investigation and also that there would be access to the site which, if you recall, was a major problem at the time because of the security situation but also the intrusion of people who were, in fact, destroying parts of the site and corrupting it. So these are the key elements of that resolution.
In terms of the investigation, this is being led by an independent agency in the Netherlands – the Dutch Air Safety Board. You will have seen its preliminary report that came out a couple of months ago. That has not allocated culpability. It's trying to establish precisely what happened on a technical basis, a scientific basis but that is essential as we move then to the stage of establishing culpability and then accountability. That investigation process is still underway. It has the participation certainly of all the countries directly affected, ICAO's experts, a range of other expert bodies throughout the world, two Russian experts – and it's looking at all the issues that have been raised. So that process continues.
Our understanding is that this will report early next year but we don't have a precise date. But that investigation is completely independent and we had a discussion on 19 September in the Council, at the request of the Russian Federation, specifically on MH17 and where it was up to. And in that debate, questions were raised about what is happening and are all issues being looked at but Under-Secretary-General Jeff Feltman himself confirmed the UN assessment that that investigation – which is independent and to which I don't have access to all the information they're looking, at but we see the reports – is being undertaken in accord with internationally accepted guidelines. So that's just a fact.
Separate to that is the prosecutorial process. And I mentioned in the Council in a conversation with my Russian colleague after the debate on Ukraine the other day, that there is a prosecutorial process also being led by the Dutch, their prosecutors board, and that involves, I think, 13 other countries that have signed on to that prosecutorial process to look at all the evidence and sieve through that, which is an adjunct to the investigation, a consequence of the investigation. And that continues apace. There are hundreds of people involved in that exercise and some international organisations – expert bodies in Europe and elsewhere. We don't have timelines on any of that because we're in the hands of the prosecutorial services and what they find out. That is meant to establish the basis for accountability. I have to say, my own Government is determined – it's the number one priority, and the Dutch are the same and others who are directly affected. We will not let this go.
So that's where we're up to on Ukraine.
But on Syria, very quickly, the CW question. It is complicated because we adopted a very serious resolution, we do want to eliminate the program, and we want to be sure that we've done so. So that work continues. In relation to your other point about access and people – it gets worse and worse. And we can talk about that with other questions if you like.
Thank you, can we have Ali and then Carole?
Thank you. Oh my goodness, there are a lot of questions. Do you anticipate any discussions in the Security Council regarding the Palestine resolution? And if you allow me, I want to follow-up on the Al Qaida report from October 27, I think. Is there any implications that you expect in the Security Council, because you said that ISIL/ISIS is only part of Al Qaida. So is there any implications on the Security Council resolutions in this regard? Thank you.
Ok, look I'll try and be brief but thank you for the questions.
In relation to the Palestine resolution, we're in the hands of the sponsors and at the moment there's been no request for further negotiations. There were negotiations on a draft two weeks ago, I think, but that may not be precise – but it was certainly during October. And at the moment there has been some discussion between key parties, but no indication of when something might be brought to the Council, or the next stages or when the next stages of negotiation on that text will happen. So that's all I can say to that. You'd need to go to the parties who are working on that.
In relation to the Al Qaida report – it's an important background statement, assessment, for the debate we will have on 19 November. But there will be implications and particularly in regards to listings on the Al Qaida Sanctions List under 1267. So we have to be absolutely up to date – and this is Member States need to be – on designations and listings. We have to follow very precisely what's happening in the evolution of terrorism and go for the people and entities we need to list and designate immediately. Because what it's about is cutting off funding, cutting off sources of recruitment, and travel bans and so on.
Thank you, Carole.
I had a question about the sanctions resolution you're looking at. Can you be a bit more specific? I understand it's probably looking at the effectiveness of sanctions but can you give us an idea what you might be entertaining?
Ok, well I will try to be brief because I think the resolution is long and technical and so on – because it's to make sure that the sanctions regimes are contemporary. One thing I will say is that the UN system has so many different parts which are involved in one way or another in implementing sanctions – a very large number of parts. And as a contribution to our review, the inter-agency process within the UN put in a submission to us, which I think was agreed by something like 24 different agencies and components within the UN system, and they had to come together and -we understand – for the first time, actually work together on reviewing themselves the implementation of the sanctions regimes and what their obligations were in respect of that. Now I don't want to overdramatise that statement but it has had an effect already – whatever result we get on 25 November, if we get a resolution adopted – in helping the UN system cohere a little more. And this has been an ambition of people at senior levels within the sanctions area and the DSG, Jan Eliasson, for a while. So that's been a good product.
It's really going to be ensuring that Member States who don't understand the obligations on them – and that may sound a bit simplistic – but we need better guidance coming out of sanctions committees because they all operate independently of each other. I chair three of them. But we need a better understanding of what kind of guidance can be uniform in terms of obligations, which then need to be, of course, put into practice legally in Member States – that's how sanctions regimes operate. We need better ways of doing that. And then identifying technical assistance needs of those states who can't do it on their own. And, of course, there're a huge number of countries who do need that kind of technical assistance.
We also think that we should have one single, one-stop-shop in the UN system to work on that across all the committees. So we get some uniformity and all the rest of it. This applies not only in things like travel bans and everything else, but also in a more complex way in arms embargoes, which are a particularly complicated area.
The advice that the Council gets from the committees – we need to find, I think, more effective channels to ensure that is happening and happening quickly. And then there's the question of the Secretariat role, in respect of how they service sanctions committees. These are broad, generic headings and we're quite happy to provide some further information but it's very technical what we're about. But it's aimed at implementation, really. And some of that implementation is really quite down in the weeds, although some of it's also really quite strategic. We would think we should have a new body within the Council as a committee which looks after these issues on technical implementation. So we have a one-stop-shop on this. So that's more or less the gist.
Thank you, can we go to Nabil, please.
Thank you, Mr President. I would like to follow up on the sanctions regimes. Can you give us an example, let's say Libya. How would you like to see the sanctions regime on Libya to be implemented? What reform could make this regime more effective? Or is there any timeframe you think the sanctions committee should work within to implement the resolution? Or can you give us an example on Libya? Thank you.
The Council did strengthen the Libya sanctions regime fairly recently. And, of course, you'll be aware of the fact we're looking at a number of issues related to Libya generally, the political situation, the security situation. But also the role that sanctions have to play – targeted sanctions – in the situation we currently face. And that's a discussion the Council will, in fact, be having during this month so perhaps if I just reserve further comment at this stage until we have those discussions. Then very happy to talk about it.
Can I go to Edie, then Benny please.
Thank you Mr Ambassador – a couple of follow up questions. I know Ebola is a footnote, but it's obviously a big highlight. Are you expecting any kind of briefing on Ebola?
And on Yemen. We understand that there is a discussion of sanctions, possibly some new listings, this week even. What's the status of that?
And when you mentioned the Al Qaida report, you also talked about possible listings. Is this something that we can expect this month?
To answer the last question first, I don't know because it is going to depend on Member States. They have to make the designation, the listing. We want to use the report to catalyse action again and I think there probably will be a few more listings under the Al Qaida regime which will be proposed this month and then we quickly have to process them. And we move very quickly as we did with Boko Haram, for example, a few months ago we moved very quickly to do that.
On the Yemen sanctions, I understand from reading the media that there are some possible designations that are being talked about. And yes there are discussions about this which are a follow up, of course, to the resolution we adopted a little while ago this year on the Yemen sanctions regime about the fact that the Council was prepared to look at sanctions against spoilers to the political process. And we know what the sanctions are – they're financial, to cut off the money and the resources and the travel. So that's a work in progress but it's clear given the situation we face in Yemen at the moment, which is very difficult and very challenging, it's something which a number of countries are giving priority to. But I don't want to anticipate how that will be transacted in the next little while, but certainly one or two countries are pushing fairly strongly for decisions in that area.
Ebola – our expectation is and we've listed it as a footnote – our expectation is that there will be a discussion of Ebola in the Council. Certainly, also, we expect there will be a discussion probably fairly soon – next week, maybe – in the General Assembly as well. We understand the GA – the PGA – is looking at how that might be done, and particularly how the head of UNMEER, Tony Banbury, might be involved. But separate to that we would anticipate another discussion. The resolution we all adopted in Council – 2177 – a few weeks ago drew the largest number of co-sponsors, as you know, in UN history, and the Council did for the first time in a UN Security Council resolution, say that a health-related issue like this was a direct threat to peace and security. So there's an agenda there to be followed up.
I was going to ask about Yemen but I have two questions. One about, there was an Australian initiative last week to talk about the human rights in North Korea. Is that going to get to the Security Council agenda at any time?
And secondly on peacekeeping forces. What's the situation right now as far as you know and is there any need for the Security Council to address the situation in the Golan Heights, the force that is depleted, basically?
To answer the second one, nothing at the moment has been brought to the Council's attention, but we keep a fairly close eye on that. And of course I expect a number of Members of the Council will address that issue again during the Middle East discussions, the monthly Middle East discussions which are scheduled on the 17th. But if anything were to happen, of course, it remains a sort of litmus test in some ways of where we are in certain aspects of Syria and the borders. So people would, if there was a need, we would. But I've heard nothing at the moment about that.
In relation to the DPRK, there are a couple of processes – well, there's a process underway, I guess, which is not for me particularly to comment on as a Council member. But in the Third Committee in the General Assembly where there's the annual country resolution, that has a number of references in a draft resolution of which we are a co-sponsor but its originally co-sponsored by the EU and Japan, which takes up a number of recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry which reported this year and on which we did a meeting, as you say, jointly with Panama and Botswana a couple of weeks ago to re-introduce the Chairman of the Inquiry, Justice Kirby, who happens to be an Australian, to also present on the conclusions again. That resolution is working its way through the Third Committee, so that's one thing. It includes some references in the current draft that the Security Council should look at the CoI report and should make an ICC referral and should impose targeted sanctions. Now they're all recommendations that at some stage, speaking nationally – in my national capacity – we think should be done. It's a question of when and how you sequence this with the Third Committee consideration. We do not need a resolution from the Third Committee to the Council to undertake a discussion in the Council on DPRK and I know that a number of countries have expressed to me as President – but not all – but a number of countries have singled this out as an area that they think needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. By which they mean certainly in the November/December period.
Why not in Australia's presidency?
Well, we'll see. We'll have a look. We're talking to people. People are talking to us as well.
We'll go to Matthew and then Maggie, please.
Thanks a lot. On behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, thanks for the briefing and here's hoping you'll do stakeouts after closed consultations throughout the month.
That's the plan. It depends on your questions, Matthew! (Laughs)
Ok. Well, here goes. I wanted to ask about Syria, particularly the air strikes on Syria. I wanted to ask – obviously Iraq has invited the strikes that are taking place on ISIS or ISIL. Syria hasn't necessarily invited them. So I wonder – what's your view of the legality? Do you think it would be preferable to have the Security Council vote on them, authorise them? How are they legal?
And I also wanted to ask you on sanctions – I heard your remarks on Friday on that high-level event on sanctions. And I wanted to ask you there but I'll ask you here about the training of monitors, believe it or not. One of them on the Eritrea/Somalia Monitoring Group was shown a letter and he resigned. Ambassador Lyall Grant said that he was disciplined. Basically he wrote a letter saying that an Eritrean dissident was in Australia and that he or the group thought he would be a good leader in the future of Eritrea. Some call it the regime change letter. Now what I wanted to know is, among your various suggestions, is training for monitors – i.e. impartiality – do you think there's a need for that? And what training at present is given? And what ramifications are there from this resignation? Thanks.
To answer the second question, the question of how do you select the best experts – and attract the best experts, frankly, in the first instance and then select them to do these jobs – that is something that we've looked at during the High Level Review. And that will be reflected in any product we try and attain. This is an on-going process by the way, so it's very much an organic process into the future. So those sorts of issues indeed are being looked at and it is not a simple thing ever in these things because the composition of some of these groups, of course, is a complex process – let's put it that way. But the issue you raise is of people's expertise – and certainly impartiality, which must be a given – in terms of what we say and the objectives and principles under which the expert groups must operate has to be taken as a starting point.
In relation to Syria, there hasn't been a debate of any substance on the question of air strikes and whether they're legal or not. It's not been something which the Council has discussed and I do not know whether Members of the Council individually would like to make points about this during consultations – I just don't know.
In terms of our national position, Australia is involved – we committed from the beginning and we operate in Iraq under request from the Government of Iraq and there are arrangements with the Government of Iraq both for the air operations we have, but also for the troops as trainers we're putting on the ground as well to assist. And there's a couple of hundred of those. But I know what you're asking and the question has not been discussed in the Council and as President there's nothing really I could say on it.
Ok, we'll go to Maggie, please.
Ambassador, yesterday the Spokesman said that Mr Banbury would brief on Monday in the Security Council on Ebola. From your comments, is that not confirmed since it's not on the schedule?
And secondly, since sanctions are trending here, South Sudan – the conflict seems to have become intractable. The two leaders aren't moving towards peace talks. The Council has many times threatened to sanction spoilers. You have a meeting this afternoon – any chance this might come up soon.
I think on that question – these issues will be discussed, I'm sure, this afternoon so I'll be available to say something about that at the stakeout afterwards.
In relation to the first question on Ebola, yesterday the Spokesperson apparently mis-spoke. They mentioned the Security Council was going to have a session on the 10th, but that was then corrected and they're anticipating that it would happen in the General Assembly. I don't want to – because I'm not responsible for the General Assembly – but we did check with the PGA's Office this morning, however, to see whether that had been locked in and I think it's purely a logistical matter and everything else, that's still being worked on. But there is an expectation that there will almost certainly be some kind of briefing to the General Assembly next week. But whether it will be on the 10th or not is purely a logistical thing. I don't know and I don't want to mislead you on that point.
Ok, we'll take the last two questions. We'll go to Errol in the front and then to Marcelle, please.
Thank you very much. Ambassador you, in your schedule there is a meeting on Bosnia. You mentioned that, on Bosnia & Herzegovina on the 11th of this month. Beside the prolongation of the mandate of EUFOR, what else would you expect? Have you had some input from the Secretary-General himself in the form of a report? Or are you waiting to hear from the High Representative?
Thank you. The Council does have a letter and report from the High Representative, Dr Inzko, and that will be the main discussion. He will provide oral briefing, of course, as well. There is the mandate for the Stabilisation Force which needs to be looked at. But beyond that, you know, we have a discussion every six months and a review. There will clearly be discussion of the political situation in Bosnia. There were elections mid-October, so we need to have a sense of where that is at, what the outcome was, what it means for further political evolution. You'd have to say that there's a lot of political stagnation and so we need to see what the evaluation of the High Representative is about all of that. And there are, of course, as always, complicated issues related to constitutional reform and court cases which are about who can in fact be part of the political process and all the rest of it. Sensitive issues – but those sorts of things are reported on by the High Representative and the document – there is a report, which I haven't read yet, I have to say, I just received it. There's not much more I can usefully tell you about Bosnia at this stage, I have to say.
Ok, thank you, final question, Marcelle.
Ambassador, you mentioned that you were keen to have a meeting on Burkina Faso. Do you know when that will be? And will it be purely an informational briefing or do you expect the Council to take some sort of action or make a statement? What could the Council do to help that situation?
That will be today, this afternoon. It will be the third subject we discuss. So we're doing Libya and South Sudan. I've requested a briefing from the Secretariat, from Special Representative Chambas – he'll come in by VTC. He's currently in Burkina Faso with the AU Special Envoy, former Prime Minister Kodjo of Togo, and with the ECOWAS representatives as well, to assess developments on the ground. So we'll hear from him this evening.
It's really an information briefing so that we know exactly what is happening on the ground, and obviously Members will be free to ask anything they want – but also to comment in any way they want. And so it may be that we feel there's something that we should say or whatever – I don't know yet until we do the information briefing.
We didn't want to waste time on this, so we indicated to Members of the Council this morning that we requested this and arranged it for this afternoon. But I'll say something after at the stakeout, after the discussions.
Ok, thank you everybody. As you can tell, we've got a busy afternoon and we'll see you at the stakeout after.
Can I just ask one little question? I've been holding my hand up all the time.
Alright, two. I can do two. Yes, ok.
Thank you very much for the opportunity. I am Anna from Museom Armenia. First of all, congratulations on becoming President or as you say in Australia, half your luck. So my question is about the elections in Ukraine which were held this Sunday in the eastern part of Ukraine. What is your professional evaluation of these elections? And during this one month which some people say is not a very long time but a lot of things can change during the month in the world, what kind of steps do you think can be taken to de-escalate the whole situation around the Ukraine and around this conflict? Thank you.
Ukraine at the moment is not a subject yet allocated to the agenda for the month – no one has requested a meeting as yet on it. But we've made provision to have a discussion on the Council. There's not a great deal I can say as President on this because we haven't had a discussion since the elections that took place on the weekend. But in terms of national comments, a number of countries obviously have expressed comments and the Secretary-General has expressed comments as well about the nature of the elections. But there's nothing that has come out of the Council that I can convey to you. And you know, I'm speaking as President. So that's the first thing.
Secondly, in relation to, again, there's really nothing I can say since we haven't had a discussion in the Council on this.
(inaudible – Australia's national position)
Australia – we regard the elections as illegitimate and unhelpful.
Joseph Klein, Canada Free Press. In both your capacity as President of the Council and in your national capacity, just in terms of the Palestinian resolution to set a two-year timeline to end the occupation. Do you anticipate your office this month taking an active role in trying to bridge any gaps in the text and could you comment in your national capacity regarding the concept of the Security Council setting a two year deadline.
And on Iran, I noticed there's no reference to Iran here, even in the footnotes. And November 24 is the deadline for presumed completion of the P5+1 and Iran agreement, if there is to be one. And if there is one in which centrifuges are going to be still maintained in Iran, enriched uranium, in your view would that require some adjustment of existing Security Council resolutions? Is that contemplated? No enriched uranium? And the sanctions regime as well. Thank you.
In relation to Palestine – I don't know because in the first instance, another Member of the Council is taking the lead on the resolution and has circulated it for discussion. I, as President, need to know, to be advised at the right time, and we had an initial discussion with a number of people about this yesterday during bilaterals before today – where that's all up to. But of course if people thought this would be useful at some stage, the President is in the hands of the Council and would want to help. But that's the situation there.
In terms of our national position on that, and we've been frank about this, we are very concerned that setting an arbitrary date like that is actually not helpful, it's counter-productive to getting a resolution which could attract unanimity within the Council. So that's a stated national position.
In relation to Iran, Iran's not on the agenda, of course, as such, of the Council, but non-proliferation is. The P5+1 process is outside the Council so in a sense we're price-takers in the Council to see what progress is made on the P5+1 process, negotiations. So we will have to wait and see where we're up to on the 24th. If an agreement is reached then or subsequently, if it's extended – the period to negotiate, then there would be implications potentially, of course, for the sanctions regime. And I chair the Iran Sanctions Committee. Our expectation would be that the parties to the agreement would then, whatever the agreement is, that they would then come to the Council to say, this is what we've agreed, if there are implications for the sanctions regimes imposed through the UN, could we now look at dealing with that. But at the moment we're in a sort of holding pattern to see what the P5+1 process delivers.
I had a quick question. And that was, you said something about NATO? And I thought you said something about training? I didn't understand what that was.
This has to be the end, I apologise. But basically we have the ISAF NATO Mission in Afghanistan which runs out, its mandate finishes at the end of this year, 31 December. The NATO countries and partners, which includes, nationally speaking, Australia as well, have agreed that there should be a successor mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Forces, the ANSF, and so on – both military and police. So this would be a successor mission. It would be a different footprint, different structure than the military mission that has been there to date. But we're working on a resolution whereby the Council could welcome or support that successor mission into the future.