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Transcript of Remarks at Security Council Press Stakeout - South Sudan, Libya, Burkina Faso

Thematic issues

  • Ebola
  • Humanitarian
  • Libya
  • Peace and Security
  • Sanctions
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Terrorism


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, on UN Security Council consultations on the situations in South Sudan, Libya, and Burkina Faso.

Transcript, E&OE

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN I'm sorry that we kept you so long, but the Council has had a very intense afternoon, meeting on three very important subjects and so I might make some brief comments.

As you know, the first subject we had consultations on was South Sudan, and we received a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan and Head of UNMISS, that's Ellen Løj. And participating also with her was the Force Commander, General Tesfamariam. And it's extremely important, the Council believes, as often as possible to have force commanders participate in these kinds of briefings so we actually get a sense of what is happening in terms of the military situation and security on the ground.

We particularly, of course, got a briefing about the renewed and very deadly clashes between Government and opposition forces in and around Bentiu, the Upper Nile State, over the past week. The SRSG spoke of the impact that this fighting had had on civilians both within and outside the UN protection sites which, of course, give refuge to over 100 000 people. And the destruction that it has caused humanitarians who are trying to help them. We have a major humanitarian crisis in South Sudan – it's one of OCHA's four Level 3 humanitarian crises in the world, the highest level.

The SRSG also provided us with an update about the IGAD mediated peace process as regional leaders continue to try and convene a meeting this week with President Kiir and former Vice President Machar. That has not been successful so far. Council members are extremely concerned about this level of fighting, which is, of course, a serious violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. We've expressed again our complete support for IGAD in the efforts to broker a political settlement. It's very fair to say there's a growing sense of frustration among Council members about the unwillingness, or seeming unwillingness if you'd like, of the parties to abandon their commitment to their own military strategies for a military solution and engage meaningfully in the peace process. This becomes a much bigger worry as we move from the wet season, as we are doing now, to the dry season which makes military operations so much easier, so much more lethal.

I was asked during the press conference earlier this afternoon about the question of sanctions in South Sudan. This is a very live issue of interest and topic of discussion among Council Members. In May of this year the Council discussed its readiness to consider all appropriate measures against those who undermine peace, stability and security in South Sudan – that's Resolution 2155, the current UNMISS mandate. And without going into detail, I would say there's considerable interest among many Council Members to look very closely at applying targeted sanctions and also for many, an arms embargo. And that will be a subject of great interest, I think, in the next couple of weeks. I understand that there is some media reporting in the last hour or two about that which I haven't yet seen.

We then moved on to a consultation about Libya. And this, of course, was with the SRSG, Bernardino Leon, who has been very energetically pursuing efforts at political mediation, as you know, between the two – what would we call them – the two rival political groupings, one of which is the legitimate Government, the other of which is not. But where we do need to mediate an outcome if we're going to have a political settlement, if we're going to have the basis for transition in Libya.

The members of the Council expressed their very deep concern at the situation and the continued instability across Libya. The time for a political settlement is running out. As the SRSG has said, we really are at a critical point, where it could all go wrong. And we may have no solution at all.

The members of the Council have given their full support to SRSG Leon and his efforts to bring the parties together to reach a political solution. The members of the Council have urged all parties to respect the ceasefire and have emphasised there can be no military solution to the current crisis. We've also urged all parties to engage in a Libyan-led political dialogue, facilitated by the UN through the good offices of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, and to take genuine and immediate steps towards political settlement. We've also endorsed the importance of access for humanitarian assistance for those affected by the situation in Libya, particularly those displaced by the fighting. We're now running into hundreds of thousands of people who've been displaced internally and, of course, increasingly large numbers who've fled the country over the border. And the general situation in respect also of terrorism within Libya and southern Libya, is something which is on the mind of many, many members of the Council, if not all members of the Council.

The final comments I'd make are about Burkina Faso. This was an item requested by the Presidency, ourselves, under Any Other Business. A briefing, effectively, from the Secretariat about developments on the ground. We had hoped to have a VTC connection with the Special Representative of the SG, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, but because of technical problems and, frankly, also the curfew, it's very late at the moment in Africa, we were unable to make that connection. So we were briefed by Under-Secretary-General Jeff Feltman, who has been in more or less daily contact, in fact, with Chambas about all of this over the last week and before. There was a very general consensus that we need to continue to monitor the situation as it evolves in Burkina Faso and I think we can expect a press statement – not this evening but some time in the next 24 hours.

There is a clear intent by the Council, very clear uniform intent to support the united voice that we've seen already through ECOWAS and the AU Peace and Security Council and the AU Commission itself and the UN, participating through Chambas and the Secretary-General, in trying to find out what's going on but also mediate a process as quickly as possible – if not immediately – to setting out a road map and moving to a civilian transition. We're very keen, in particular, to be part of one single united international voice on this, sending the same clear message, that that transition needs to take place and take place as soon as possible. There are a couple of major things happening in the next 24-48 hours. The President of ECOWAS, who is the President of Ghana, the President of Nigeria and the President of Senegal will be in Ouagadougou tomorrow to bring their authority to bear in trying to help with the mediation of this crisis. And the ECOWAS Summit which has been called for the 6th to discuss ebola will now also discuss Burkina Faso. So the Council is determined to do what we can to support those processes and to speak with one voice.

And I think that's really about it.

JOURNALIST: Was there any discussion from DPA of the possible
spread? Some people are calling it kind of an African Spring. There are a number
of other leaders on the continent who have long serving, trying to extend term
limits. Is the UN on the lookout for that?

And also, did France acknowledge helping Blaise Campoaré escape the country and find refuge elsewhere? Did France acknowledge that? Was there any discussion of his future role in the country?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: I know nothing about that allegation.
That was not raised in discussions and also I'll leave you to pursue that through
any other means.

In terms of the regional impact, obviously we had a briefing from Jeff Feltman on concerns regionally, because there is the possibility of spillover of instability if we end up with violence or anything of that kind. We did not go into detail into the politics in the region. There was no discussion of that at all.

JOURNALIST: On the question of South Sudan, the Americans
raised the issue and said that they are planning to present a sanctions resolution
or resolution that would establish a sanctions regime. How soon would you like
to see a text of the sort reaching the Council?

And on the question of Libya, I understand that the idea of carrots and sticks for those who are helping or supporting the upheavals that are going on there was raised. Could you maybe explain what exactly carrots and sticks might mean?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: In relation to South Sudan sanctions and
what the US may or may not be planning to do, I invite you to talk to the United
States about that but I have just seen, I have noticed, a piece of media reporting
to the effect that they may be putting forward something fairly soon in relation
to sanctions. As I said, it was a very lively subject of discussion and I would
expect it will be a preoccupation for members of the Council over the next few
weeks to see whether something would be or would not be proceeded with on that.
But that's really all I can say on that.

In relation to carrots and sticks with Libya, this obviously could relate to a number of things. But one of the issues again is sanctions. In August, I think it was 27 August, we, through Resolution 2174, we strengthened the current sanctions regime, specifically the arms embargo and so on, in respect of Libya to extend its scope and to take into account the people who might try and spoil the political transition. So there are things out there which might be instrumentalised, so we will be looking, I think, as a Council at what might be done to provide a degree of serious support and what is seen as serious support to the efforts to achieve a political settlement. I don't want to say we're about to impose sanctions – there was no discussion of that in substance but the issue of sanctions and whether they should be applied or would be useful was raised by a number of people for us to think about.

I think we're going to be getting kicked out.

JOURNALIST: A brief question on Libya. Can the so-called opposition
control some of the various militias? If one did make a deal with them, various
militias and flipped out jihadists and what else is running around?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: I mean, the precise relationship of different
members of parliament to different elements of the militia is a bit unclear,
it's a bit murky but there's no doubt that there are connections of various
kinds like this across too much of the political spectrum in Libya. It is an
issue, it is a problem.

JOURNALIST: Can you just clarify if an arms embargo came up
in the context of South Sudan?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Yes, a number of countries – speaking
nationally for Australia, including ourselves – suggested we have an arms embargo
as part of the sanctions package.

Ok, thank you.

Last Updated: 18 June 2015
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