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Transcript of Remarks at Security Council Press Stakeout - 1718 (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) Sanctions Committee and Darfur

Thematic issues

  • Accountability
  • Commission of inquiry
  • Darfur
  • DPRK
  • Human Rights
  • Humanitarian
  • Mali
  • North Korea
  • Peace and Security
  • Sanctions
  • Sudan
  • Yemen

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL

Remarks to the press 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, following UN Security Council consultations on the 1718 (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) Sanctions Committee and Darfur.

Transcript, E&OE

Good afternoon.

The Council held consultations this morning on the DPRK sanctions Committee – that's the 1718 Sanctions Committee – and then we had a briefing and a discussion under 'Any Other Business' on the reports from late last week of mass rapes in north Darfur.

Before providing a quick read out on those discussions, I just wanted to draw your attention also to two press statements which were issued by the Council on the weekend – the first on the 20th anniversary of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; and the second on the formation of the new government in Yemen and on the new sanctions designations for Yemen.

I might also note that tomorrow, of course, is 11 November – that's Remembrance Day. This year, of course, is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and tomorrow morning the Council will observe a minute's silence at 11.00am for the armistice in 1918. You may know that the armistice came into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. So we'll observe a minute's silence for that.

In relation to the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee, Olivier Maes, the Chargé for Luxembourg, representing Ambassador Sylvie Lucas who is the Chair of the Committee, briefed us on the work over the last three months. This was the 90-day report, the regular 90-day report. The Committee obviously plays an essential role in monitoring the implementation of sanctions measures by states and investigating violations and considering ways to strengthen the implementation of those sanctions which are, in fact, by any measure, quite a strong series of sanctions measures that have been agreed in the last year and a half, in particular. The Committee is supported by a Panel of Experts and Olivier Maes briefed us on the Panel's work and on its mid-term report for 2014, including follow-up to the very significant violation of the arms embargo involving the ship, the Chong Chon Gang in 2013.

As you know, on 28 July the Committee designated the main company operating the Chong Chon Gang vessel – Ocean Maritime Management – and the Council was briefed on the Committee's efforts, supported by the Panel of Experts, in making sure that that designation is enforced by states and to promote lessons learned out of that particular violation. And the goal is to strengthen awareness of the sanctions regimes among Member States. There is a concern, frankly, among many of us that Member States are not adequately aware of the sanctions regime, the full nature of it and its scope, and the obligations to implement it and to report on implementation to the Committee. And indeed to look at the new information that is provided via the Committee on evasion techniques employed by a Government like the DPRK so that we have much better practice in implementing the sanctions.

Council members reiterated their support for the Committee to monitor and strengthen the implementation of the measures. They commended Ambassador Lucas for all the work that she has done in the last…22 and half months, I guess… of chairing that Panel. Both the Council and the Committee continue to closely monitor the DPRK's actions and the Council has repeatedly condemned the DPRK's flagrant disregard for our resolutions, most recently through the series of ballistic missile tests this year. Over 100 missiles have been tested by the DPRK this year, 13 of which have been ballistic missile tests. Council members urged the DPRK to comply with the resolutions and meet its international obligations.

Finally, several Council members raised concerns about the systematic human rights violations by the DPRK, as documented by the Commission of Inquiry. And these Member States – speaking nationally, including my own – supported the Council considering the recommendations directed to it by the Commission of Inquiry.

On Darfur, we received a briefing on the reports of mass rape in North Darfur and UNAMID's efforts to investigate those claims. Assistant-Secretary-General Edmond Mulet briefed us, and Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura briefed us by VTC from Geneva. ASG Mulet advised that UNAMID had been denied access to investigate reports for almost one week, from 4 to 9 November. Ms Bangura confirmed that yesterday on 9 November a verification team was finally allowed to access Tabit village in the north of Darfur. And they spent several hours touring the village and interviewing residents about the allegations. The UNAMID team has reported that none of those interviewed confirmed that any rape took place on that day and they found no evidence or information to confirm the allegations reported in the media. Ms Bangura added, however, that there had been a heavy military presence during the team's visit and she stressed that while the rape allegations remained unverified, in her view it was not possible to conclude that no sexual violence took place.

Ms Bangura said that it was critical that UNAMID continue to have unrestricted access to Tabit to complete its investigation and to provide any humanitarian and medical assistance that may be required. More broadly, she reminded the Council that neither she nor her predecessor had been permitted to visit Darfur. She was ready to engage – she noted again – the Government of Sudan on issues of sexual violence and urged the Government to facilitate her visit.

Many Council members expressed concern about the allegations and the fact, in particular, that access had been denied and it was noted that this was a violation of the Status of Forces Agreement between the Government of Sudan and UNAMID, and restricted UNAMID from carrying out its mandate.

Many Council members said it was imperative that UNAMID was able to fully investigate such allegations and that those responsible be held to account.

Finally, I might just briefly note that the Council will this afternoon have an informal interactive dialogue on Mali. This has been characterised as a "brainstorming session", to quote directly USG Hervé Ladsous, who called for this during his last briefing on Mali to the Council, which was on 8 October. And it's obvious that it's very necessary that we undertake this kind of quite forensic look at the situation on the ground, the mandate, what we can do to reinforce the capacity of the Mission to meet that mandate, and that we look at all options. We'll be briefed not only by Under-Secretary-General Ladsous but also by Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Ameerah Haq and by Deputy Military Adviser Major-General Adrian Foster.

So that's basically the key elements, I think.

JOURNALIST: Sure, thanks a lot. I wanted to ask on Darfur.
Thanks for what you said about what Ms Bangura said. There's a press release
put out by UNAMID that has this line in it: "Village community leaders reiterated
to UNAMID that they co-exist peacefully with local military authorities in the
area." The press release doesn't mention at all the military presence. So I
wanted to ask you, one, if you could comment, what do you make of this press
release by UNAMID? And two, does the report by the Secretary-General on allegations
of covers up by UNAMID of attacks on civilians and on peacekeepers, where does
it stand? He said that the, the Spokesperson said that an executive summary
of the report went to the Council. Is the Council going to have a meeting on
it? Are you going to have a full report? And are you satisfied with UNAMID's
press release on these allegations of rape?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Matthew, on the second part of the question.
Members of the Council are very concerned on this whole question of UNAMID and
UNAMID reporting, but also what UNAMID is doing. And one of the big issues there
is the denial of access and restrictions that are imposed largely by the Government
of Sudan, with whom UNAMID has a formal arrangement on access. But also, of
course, by armed opposition groups and that is inherently more difficult sometimes
to get the access that's needed.

That report has not yet been discussed by the Council. I expect that it will be over the next couple of weeks. A number of members of the Council are extremely interested in it. We want to be sure that we've lined up the briefers from the Secretariat to have a proper discussion of that report.

Secondly, in relation to the UNAMID press release, I think the key is that they've indicated that they had access but it was the first time since November 4, when they'd been seeking access. And they had proactively been seeking access to be able to undertake investigations. That's a long period to have access denied, by the way, in a circumstance like rape. You really do need, as Ms Bangura reminded us, to have access straight away, for obvious reasons. So that's one point I'd make. The second point is UNAMID has made it extremely clear in its press release that it will conduct further follow-up actions, including possible further investigations and patrols and that they will do that in cooperation with the Government of Sudan and other parties. We have confidence that that will happen. SRSG Bangura is making this a top priority for her and so is the Secretariat itself and we were reassured about that this morning by ASG Mulet. So I think that's basically it.

JOURNALIST: Thanks, I wanted to follow up on the issue that
Ms Bangura said (on) the heavy military presence during the interviews. Is the
Council planning to make any sort of statement to the Sudanese Mission expressing
concern about that? Because obviously when one thinks about these kinds of delicate
interviews, having that kind of military presence makes them almost useless,
I would think. Will this be followed up by either the Council or are you going
to leave it in the hands of Ms Bangura?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: A number of members of the Council expressed
very strong concern over this. Those who spoke – and not every member of the
Council spoke this morning, but a substantial number did – were concerned by
the unanswered questions that surround the presence, why was there such a strong
presence? And why in all areas where the investigating team wanted to look and
wanted to talk to people? There clearly are concerns in a situation like that
of whether or not there has been in some sense "a wall of silence" created.
That was one phrase used by SRSG Bangura – her concerns about that, and
whether the result was to create an environment of threat and intimidation and,
indeed, even the fear of reprisal. These are the sorts of concerns that a number
of members of the Council had.

I think we've all agreed that the proper course now is to ensure that the UNAMID further investigation or continued investigation happens as soon as possible and that there is high level contact between UNAMID and the Government of Sudan to ensure that that happens and all the relevant support that's needed from the SRSG and senior levels of the UN Secretariat will be provided.

JOURNALIST: Thank you. Ambassador, the United Nations talks
about accountability and transparency constantly. But it appears that the impact
of sanctions on civilian populations is being very, very much held in secrecy
and only the Department of Political Affairs has access to that information;
also, which countries are most heavily invested in having sanctions placed.
And Kofi Annan had referred to sanctions as a "blunt instrument of war". And
there have been studies saying that the civilian population is actually safer
during war because there are laws limiting certain things but there are no laws
limiting the sanctions.

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: I can't give you perhaps the full answer
that you want on that. It's not something that we've discussed this morning
in the Council, of course, but speaking nationally, I would point out that the
sanctions regimes implemented now by the Council through the UN are vastly different
to what they were ten years ago, twenty years ago. There has not been a comprehensive
set of sanctions against any country or in a situation undertaken by the UN,
introduced for the UN, for twenty years as a new set of sanctions. And the last
comprehensive set of sanctions ceased ten years ago.

What we talk about now and, indeed, what we do is targeted sanctions. And those sanctions are against individuals and entities who are a threat to peace and security. So they are now much more finely crafted towards individuals. I mean, you saw it with Yemen over the weekend: the three individuals who are spoilers who we've designated because they're spoilers of the peace process, including former President Saleh and two senior people in the Houthi movement. It's very finely targeted to cut off the supply of money, resources and other support, including arms, of course, to people who are trying to prevent the peace process working.

What you're talking about is a far broader debate. Really the Council, has very few instruments that it can use to try and enforce a discipline to attain peace and security. And the sanctions instrument is virtually, short of more serious, more robust, more direct Chapter VII interventions, really the only instrument it has.

Australia is sponsoring this month, initiating a debate on sanctions on 25 November in the Council as one element of our presidency. This is the conclusion of a six month review on the implementation of sanctions which we have co-sponsored with Sweden, Finland, Greece and Germany and a couple of significant NGOs and think tanks. And we should have together a really good debate on that occasion. And perhaps a product from the Council.

JOURNALIST: Ambassador Quinlan. If I heard you right, there
was new information, including new evasion techniques, that was presented in
the Council meeting today on DPRK. Do you think that you can expand a little
bit on that?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: If you take the ship and the way in which
the arms which were being sent from one country to North Korea, allegedly for
maintenance and then returned, the way the paperwork was done, the documentation,
the way the sponsoring through certain dummy companies who would receive as
the purported end user, even the physical nature of how things have been hidden
on board ships and so on. I can't give you all the detail as I'm not familiar
with all the aspects of it, frankly, but it goes to all that range of things.

But when you look at other sanctions regimes with which I am fairly familiar, issues of documentation and using companies and the nature of the way in which those companies are deployed and used, and their relationship to the end user, there's new information becoming available all the time on these sorts of things. And it's information we have to get out to Member States because they have to know what to look for.

JOURNALIST: Hi Ambassador. We've heard about half the Member
States talked about the human rights situation, on the North Korean situation.
How does that compare to past meetings that you've had on this discussion and
how do you see this playing out with the conversation in the GA on possible
referral to ICC?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: It's a similar number – I mean I
don't have the exact arithmetic in my head – but a similar number, give
or take, who mention it always, the human rights situation in the discussions
on the 1718 report. Basically because the abuses of human rights are systematic,
industrialised, they violate all international norms on human rights, and it
is taken as an indicator of the way in which the DPRK also is violating international
non-proliferation norms and Security Council resolutions. So it's seen in that
context.

What it means for the future – I mean, there's a Third Committee resolution, as you know, which I think was tabled last Thursday. I can't speak to the Third Committee of the General Assembly, but that will be debated in Third Committee and then brought forward for a decision. So that's one element and in that resolution there are references to the Commission of Inquiry and the recommendations coming out of the Commission of Inquiry. That's one track that is underway.

Separate to that is the Security Council itself. And there are a number of countries – and speaking nationally not as President of the Council, including my own, Australia – which are strongly committed to having a discussion of the Commission of Inquiry as soon as possible this year.

Thanks.

Last Updated: 17 June 2015
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