News

27 January 1999


Press Release
SG/SM/6875



TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN AT UNITED NATIONS OFFICE AT GENEVA, 26 JANUARY

19990127

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QUESTION: Monsieur le Secrétaire général vous avez prononcé un discours devant le «Council for Foreign Relations» à New York le 19 janvier. Je vous cite. Vous dites que certes il est parfois tentant d'exprimer l'indignation que l'on ressent face à certaines transgressions surtout lorsqu'on sait pouvoir ainsi gagner des points sur le plan politique, mais céder à cette tentation irait à l'encontre d'une obligation plus large: celle de prévenir les agressions et de maintenir la paix. Fin de citation. Ma question, Monsieur le Secrétaire général lorsque les instruments qu'on a mis en place pour maintenir la paix et prévenir l'agression dévient de leur mission initiale dictée par la Charte des Nations Unies et deviennent un alibi pour l'agression et le déclenchement des hostilités est-ce qu'il n'est pas du devoir moral et politique du Secrétaire général en tant que garant de la Charte des Nations Unies de dénoncer les abus? En clair, Monsieur le Secrétaire général, pensez- vous que l'UNSCOM sous la direction de M. Butler a encore une crédibilité pour continuer son travail?

Le SECRÉTAIRE GÉNÉRAL: Certes, le secrétaire général doit parfois condamner et parler clairement et honnêtement et je l'ai fait souvent. Je l'ai fait souvent et même j'irai plus loin que cela, il y a des moments où on peut utiliser la force et oú l'utilisation de la force est légitime, donc ce que je disais au «Council for Foreign Relations» n'empêche pas que le Secrétaire général parle clairement mais le Secrétaire général ne peut pas adopter la même attitude et le même comportement, qu'un ministre des affaires étrangères ou bien un chef d'État particulier. Je dois, être conscient de l'intérêt général et poussé dans les réactions que le Conseil a tracées. En ce qui concerne M. Butler, j'ai eu l'occasion de dire que l'UNSCOM et lui ont eu un travail très difficile et compliqué à faire avec un régime qui ne coopérait pas, un régime qu'on est en train de pousser tout le temps à appliquer les décisions du Conseil de sécurité. Évidemment vous lisez tous les journaux, les membres du Conseil de sécurité sont divisés en ce qui concerne M. Butler. Le


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Conseil, comme je viens de le dire, est en train de chercher une solution pour aller de l'avant et nous sommes en train de le voir tous les mécanismes que l'on a aujourd'hui pour mettre en application notre résolution concernant l'Iraq. Donc on verra à la fin qu'est•ce que le Conseil mettra en place pour poursuivre le travail.

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QUESTION: Mr. Secretary-General, could you please elaborate to us on your position concerning the position of Iraq for non-recognition of United Nations Security Council resolutions and its borders with Kuwait. The second question: what if the Palestinian authority proclaimed a State next May? What is your position, Sir?


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The SECRETARY-GENERAL: I think Iraq is obliged to comply with all Security Council resolutions. All the efforts we have made in the past year or so was to get them to comply, not only with the disarmament aspects but also with the other aspects of the resolutions, including missing Kuwaitis and return of Kuwaiti property. There is a whole range of issues that Iraq must comply with and that has to be done. There has been no change in that. I would still urge and hope that they will do it. I was surprised by some of the latest statements in the press. There seems to be a sense of desperation setting in. But I hope we can find a way of bringing things back. I know the Arab States are trying, and we are trying in New York, and I hope the Iraqis will also be thinking about the way forward.

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QUESTION: Sir, the humanitarian situation in Iraq is deteriorating continuously because of the United Nations sanctions and according to your former assistant, Dennis Halliday, these sanctions are causing genocide. In your opinion, will these sanctions with their humanitarian results ever end, assuming the current Government remains in power. Or does Iraq have to be disarmed as you recently wrote in the world press, neglecting to specify if this meant weapons of mass destruction or total demilitarization of Iraq?

The SECRETARY-GENERAL: Let me start with your last point. The Security Council resolutions are clear. We are dealing with weapons of mass destruction. The Security Council does not call for total disarmament of Iraq. Iraq is allowed to keep some defensive weapons, but not so lethal as the types that we are seeking to destroy. Even in missiles, they can keep missiles up to 150 miles but not beyond. And so we are not seeking total disarmament, we are seeking to strip Iraq of weapons of mass destruction to ensure that it is not a threat to its neighbours. On the question of your other sanctions, I cannot argue with the fact that the sanctions have had a negative impact on the conditions of the Iraqi population. I think the Council itself, realizing that sanctions are a blunt instrument, immediately offered oil-for-food hoping that it will help alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people. It has not been a perfect scheme and there are discussions going on now, as you know, on the proposals on the table, some are suggesting that we improve the humanitarian oil-for-food scheme considerably, others are suggesting we lift the sanctions. What has also made matters worse is the price of oil which has dropped perhaps to its lowest level in many many years and also the fact that the Iraqi oil industry is in a state of disrepair and has not been able to pump up to the 5.2 billion dollars worth that it is authorized. So one is looking at all these things and looking at ways and means of helping the population and avoiding the kind of suffering they are going through which you refer to.

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QUESTION: My question is, recently we have seen the unilateral action by the United States and the United Kingdom in Iraq. Now we see preparation of the NATO Organization for unilateral action in Kosovo. Does it mean, in your opinion, that we are assisting the beginning of the end of the system of international governments established after the Second World War and the end of the role of the Security Council as the global council which is the final instance in the question of the global security?

The SECRETARY-GENERAL: Well I think that conclusion or judgement would be a bit of an exaggeration. Let me say that on Iraq, obviously there are differences in the Council, the United States and Britain maintain that they have the authority on the existing Security Council resolutions. We also know the views of the other Council members, including Permanent Members. So the best one can say here is that there is a difference of interpretation and I hope the Council will overcome this, find this unity and move forward.

On Kosovo, force may be used as you have indicated. I do not know whether it will come to that or not, but I think this is a question that has exercised quite a few of us. If the Council were to be fully faced with the issue, I am not sure whether there would be vetoes on the table or not. But we have to understand in recent history that wherever there have been compelling humanitarian situations, where the international community collectively has not acted, some neighbours have acted. Here for example I have in mind Viet Nam in Cambodia. And that did not destroy, I hope, the international system, and I think given the nature of the regime and what was happening there, the international community came to accept it. I am not making an analogy of implication here, but what I am saying is that those in the middle of the Kosovo conflict should listen to the appeals that are being made and we should not be placed in a situation which you have referred to where the international community may be divided. In my earlier appeals, I indicated that we should find a way of working together and that when we stand together, and put collective pressure, we almost invariably succeed, and I hope we can in this way.

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