My delegation joins the delegations that have already spoken in congratulating you, Mr. President, on convening this meeting. I must recall that it is a consequence of a movement initiated a long time ago by, I think, all members of the Security Council. But I would like to pay tribute to five countries which are no longer members and which started a movement last year, with other members of the Council, to make some proposals on the Council's working methods. One proposal concerned the possibility of public meetings, and we are very happy that it has been implemented. The countries no longer on the Council that signed the relevant document last year were Egypt, Chile, Guinea-Bissau, the Republic of Korea and Poland. We should pay tribute to them.
NEW YORK, 10 NOVEMBER 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3942nd MEETING (Protection for humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations)
It is not only a question of transparency. As a matter of fact, it is a question of better participation of all the membership and of all of us working together towards the same goals. This is why the Security Council is involved in this question.
I must pay tribute to you, Mrs. Ogata. You started practical steps that led us to this session today. We heard you last year in informal consultations, following which we had a presidential statement on the matter for the first time. There was another presidential statement this year after we had heard your suggestions and comments. These statements that we adopted and I think sometimes we have to work in a more systematic way contain some ideas regarding protection of United Nations personnel and other international personnel. For instance, in both statements we recalled the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, adopted by the General Assembly in December 1994, which has not yet been ratified. I would like to profit from your presence, Mrs. Ogata, by asking whether you think that, even with its shortcomings, people would like this Convention to have an enlarged scope, and whether we could do something to ratify it. Can you do something to help implement what we have already said twice in our presidential statements?
This is also mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General on protection for humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations, where we see a certain number of recommendations that are very useful, some of which you have addressed today. I am very encouraged to see that some of these recommendations are already being translated into practical measures. That is why my delegation welcomes so much your contribution today and the idea that we are not working in theoretical terms; we are doing something concrete.
I have no comments on what you said, Mrs. Ogata, but seek some clarification. I do not need clarification on Kosovo; you were very explicit on that. But clarification is necessary with regard to the political support that you receive for Kosovo compared with the lack of political support for other situations you mentioned Afghanistan and Sudan. There are movements, even in the United Nations, regarding these two situations, which are very dangerous, and there are groups of countries and even directors of non-governmental organizations in the international arena working on them, and I would like to hear what you think it is possible for this Council and this Organization to do; it has been recalled that the General Assembly has the primary responsibility here. But we are all involved, including the Economic and Social Council. What could be done to give the same or more consistent political support to these two cases that you have mentioned?
You mention a number of matters with regard to Africa. We all know that Congo is central the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. These are all the problems of refugees, internally displaced people and forced population movements that you mentioned. One you pointed to that worried us so much in the past, in addition to demobilization and the reintegration of ex-combatants, is the flow of arms. Another is the separation of refugees from other entities that sometimes use the refugee camps for other activities. Are we doing something concrete about these questions? Is UNHCR involved and doing something practical?
This point is mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General, and addressed as well in the draft resolution we are preparing on the security and humanitarian and civilian character of refugee camps and settlements. I very much hope the Council will be able to adopt that draft resolution next week.
You mentioned three areas where all of us have to work together. We have already mentioned the complexity of wars and the fragility of peace. Your point that we should look at the human displacement factor is also very important. I think we can do something only if we look at the rights of the human being, at human rights.
There is another central problem, one I know you are very concerned with, as you yourself have already told this Council on previous occasions; I would like to ask you about the question of coordination between your own Office and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Are they working together? Is the coordination working? I will return to the question of coordination with regard to the third area you mentioned.
In the second area, you mentioned "soft" options and "medium" options. I exclude the fourth option, mentioned by Ambassador Lavrov, but you mentioned three other options and very much recommended the adoption of "medium" options. I agree with you on that. My country, for example, is very much in favour of the creation of a rapid deployment force to be used, if necessary, to help secure a certain kind of critical situation. But are we working towards creating that? I know that you are probably suggesting it, and in the draft resolution we are preparing we have something relating to stand-by arrangements on this. I know you work very closely with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Member States on these draft resolutions, but do you think that we can and should really move more quickly in this area?
You mentioned the link to subregional peacekeeping, and this is very important. For instance, you mentioned the situation in Guinea-Bissau. Is your Office already preparing something for the new phase? We have an agreement, we have a subregional effort by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), and are we already preparing something concrete to help this operation? I know you are making an enormous effort in Sierra Leone. In regard to your point about the necessity of dialogue and national reconciliation: we have that in Guinea-Bissau. Are we therefore doing something on this question in concrete terms?
Finally, regarding post-conflict situations and the return of refugees, this is often a factor that complicates situations. That is why I think coordination is so important, coordination among all the bodies and departments of the United Nations and with other international actors, as well.
Here I would like to ask you one thing. I know amnesty is very important as an element of confidence-building, and I believe that is what is being prepared in Kosovo. On the other hand, the rule of law should guarantee that situations cannot happen again, that people and leaders are accountable for their own acts. I know you are very much in favour of the International Criminal Court, and I would like to know if we are working in that sense. Because I think this is very important; human security is the only way of guaranteeing stability and peace. Therefore, I would like to know what, in these more critical situations, you are doing in that sense. I would appreciate it if you could give us more details.