(In French and in English)
Q : Où en sont les tractations sur M. Brahimi ? D’aucuns disent qu’il est malade, est-ce que cela vous semble intéressant qu’il soit nommé, où en sommes-nous ?
Je ne sais pas, il faut demander au Secrétaire général concernant la nomination du nouvel Envoyé spécial conjoint. A l’évidence la nomination prend du temps.
Q: The Secretary-General sent a letter to the Security Council about the future of the UN Observers mission in Syria. What are your expectations in terms of what are his recommendations and, whether the mandate will be terminated, whether there is the possibility of some kind of follow on UN operation, UN Office?
When you read the letter of the Secretary-General, it says that the conditions to keep UNSMIS are not fulfilled and the conditions are really clear: they were set by resolution 2059.
Having said that, I think that there is a consensus among the members of the Security Council that we need to have a UN presence remaining in Damascus in Syria after 20th August. We will have consultations tomorrow and we will see whether it is possible to have a consensus around the proposal of the Secretary-General which is to have a liaison office of the Joint Special Envoy in Damascus.
Q: The Security Council has ignored for a long time the fate of the abducted Lebanese in Syria. Now the abductions have moved to Lebanon. It seems like the Security Council should pay some attention to this crisis as the conflict in Syria is spreading to Lebanon.
If something happens in Lebanon, it is to the Lebanese government to come to the Security Council. For the moment, we haven’t heard anything from Lebanon. Of course we will be ready to react as we have expressed several times our support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon. We will have another opportunity to do it because we will examine resolution 1701, to renew the mandate of UNIFIL.
Q: Regarding the Lebanese abducted in Syria, are you using your offices as your national capacity to free those persons?
I don’t see how we could do it. Again, they are Lebanese so it is to the government of Lebanon to react first.
Q: On Mr Brahimi, the delay in making an announcement about any replacement for Kofi Annan says quite a bit, and it is public now that Mr Brahimi has great reservations about taking the job and is accused of being inclined not to take it. Is it going to be difficult to find someone?
It is difficult. Any candidate has to face the situation where first the Security Council is deeply divided, secondly, on the ground, both sides are fighting and there is no prospect for the moment of a political transition. So I guess it is an impossible mission. Therefore I do understand that people might hesitate to accept this mission. But we need to have somebody who could be available if there is any prospect of launching a political process.
Of course, it is a tough job. So it is pretty legitimate, if you are proposed the job, that you hesitate. As for Mr Brahimi, I don’t know, you have to ask the spokesperson of the Secretary-General.
Q: on Darfur: beyond the killing of this peacekeeper, there has been a chain of events: there were students shot at in Nyala at the end of July, there was the camp that was entirely emptied of 25,000 people because the peacekeepers didn’t or couldn’t protect the civilians there. I understand you always issue a statement when peacekeepers are killed, but since the last time the Council met on Darfur, it seems that things are going worse, Mr Gambari has left. What do you see: is it a sort of a forgotten issue?
I am not sure the situation has worsened because Mr Gambari has left. The Darfur situation has always been a very complicated to manage. First because we have a hybrid force. I don’t think it is very easy for two organisations to manage the same force. Secondly because the question is whether we are entering a real political process or not. Some members of the Council are considering that there are incidents, but that the situation is improving and that the government has launched a political process. They say that the problem is that the government does not have any money so cannot put money behind this political process, but things are running in the right direction. Other members of the Council –you know which countries are on either side- are saying that the Human Rights situation is difficult and the general situation is not improving. So there is a debate, and the Council is divided.
I want to remind you that there are issues where the Council is divided. People are saying that the Council is divided on Syria, and that the Council is becoming irrelevant. But there are a lot of other issues where we are divided. The UN is basically trying to unite countries which have different interests behind the same policy. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we are deeply divided. Darfur is another example of a division on a certain issue. Now that Mr Gambari is leaving, there will be the appointment of a new Special Representative very quickly, I hope.
Q: With respect to whoever the new Special Envoy might be, is there anyone that you might consider to be thinking outside the box on the Council’s [inaudible], how giving him some new tools? It is acknowledged that this new job may be tougher than it was when Kofi Annan took it. How could this new Special Envoy have any chance to succeed?
We wanted to give to the Special Envoy a tool by having a resolution adopted under chapter VII with the threat of sanctions to put pressure on both sides. As you know, we failed. Now the Security Council is so polarized that I don’t expect any decision in political terms.
You say that the Special Envoy will be totally useless. For the moment, both sides consider they can win by military terms. But we do hope that at some moment, there could be a realization, for instance by the regime, that they won’t crush the opposition, that they will have to negotiate. And if it reaches this moment, I think the UN is the only channel through which we could holdA negotiations. It is a bit an “on duty Special Envoy”. He will also have to work with the opposition, to unite the opposition, so that we have a real alternative to the regime. I do understand your doubts and your scepticism, but the UN simply can’t leave the room.
Q: Did you just say that another job of the Special Envoy might be to unite the opposition?
No, it is not a new job. He has a mandate which is clearly defined. The Special Envoy has to work with all parties, and one of the parties is the opposition. He needs to work with the opposition and to convince the opposition to be united behind a political platform.