12 October 2005

Transcript of Press Conference by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at Palais des Nations, Geneva, 10 October 2005

The Secretary-General:  Good morning ladies and gentlemen.  I'm very glad to be here in Geneva, and to have the chance to have an exchange with my friends in Geneva press corps.  It's been quite a while.  We've had sort of brief encounters, but a formal press conference, we have not had one in a while.  As you know, I spent a good part of my working life here, and I've never underestimated the importance of Geneva as one of the nerve-centres of the UN system, or the importance of the work so many of my colleagues do here.  Nor do I underestimate the importance of Switzerland, which may be one of the UN's newest Members, but a generous host country and contributor to the Organization from our earliest days.

But before I continue, I would want to start by expressing my profound sadness at the enormous loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake in Pakistan, the damage extending to India and Afghanistan.  I have directed the UN humanitarian community to do everything possible to assist the Government of Pakistan in their response.  A UN team from Geneva has set up a reception centre at Islamabad airport to help coordinate arriving search-and-rescue teams and international assistance, while UN agencies, UNICEF and UNHCR, are offering stockpiles of emergency aid materials and World Health Organization is sending in medical teams and World Food Programme is airlifting high-energy biscuits to victims in affected areas.  I was also saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by recent storms in Central America.  Every hour counts, and I urge the world to respond and respond generously and willingly.  This past week has been a bad one in terms of natural disasters.

During my stay here in Switzerland, I was delighted to learn that this year's Nobel Peace award went to the International Atomic Energy Agency and its Director-General, my good friend Mohamed Elbaradei.  I take it as a message, a message that we should all tackle the issue of non-proliferation and disarmament with much greater urgency than hitherto.

I was very disappointed that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference didn't make any progress and even more so, that the World Summit in New York last month could not even agree on a paragraph on non-proliferation and disarmament.  I consider the Summit a success that provides us with a solid basis to move forward.  We had a solid agreement on development and sustainable development and the environment.  We had a clear commitment of the Governments, all the Governments, to push forward with implementation of the Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015.  We have a framework for establishing a Peacebuilding Commission which would assist countries coming out of conflict.

We also have a commitment to the concept of responsibility, the responsibility to protect, which I think is a unique achievement that the Member States would agree that they do have the responsibility to protect civilian populations that are threatened with genocide, ethnic cleansing, or humanitarian crime.  And I think this is important for the UN, particularly when you consider what we've lived through with Rwanda, Srebrenica, for the Member States to commit that they will take action.  I think it's important and I hope, if and when there is a next time, which given the world we live, in may certainly come.  I hope, if and when there is a next time, which given the world we live in, may certainly come, I hope they will honour that pledge.

And, of course, they also agreed to establish a Human Rights Council and we need to work out the details of that, and to strengthen the human rights programme of the United Nations and to double the budget for human rights.  We have a very good Human Rights Commissioner and I think we should give her the tools to get the work done.

For the first time also, we had a political declaration on terrorism which I think was important.  A Democracy Fund was established.  And we have a basis to press ahead with management reforms.  And these are very important steps forward.

Since I came here, I've had very constructive discussions with the Swiss President and other members of the Federal Council.  One of the meetings that I've had here, which I'm sure is of interest to you, is my meeting with Detlev Mehlis who is the investigator of the UN International Independent Investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.  Lebanon, as you know, is going through an interesting but anxious moment in its history, and we, the UN, are playing a very crucial role there.

Before I take your questions, there is one other issue that has been raised through my stay here.  It is the issue of international migration, and an issue you are all familiar with from the launch last week of the report of the Geneva-based Global Commission on International Migration.  And more vividly, by the very serious situation migrants trying to cross from Morocco into Spain through the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.  I am convinced that this is an issue, and this issue of flow of people across borders, will consume far more of our energies in the years ahead.  We're going to need to do a better job of realizing its many benefits while addressing the difficulties it can cause.

Next year, there will be a high-level dialogue on international migration and development in the UN General Assembly and it will be an opportunity to begin forging closer cooperation on this important issue.  For the immediate, I think UNHCR has been active.  It has three teams, one in Ceuta, one in Melilla, and the other one in the Canaries.  And it's in touch with the Moroccan Government, and I hope they'll be able to send a team in very shortly and they will want to determine the status of these people, get them the assistance they need.  So we are doing as much as we can, and we are on top of it.  I will now take your questions.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, first of all, on behalf of the Geneva press corps and our association ACANU [the Geneva Association of UN Correspondents], I would like to thank you very much for this opportunity to talk to you and we all hope that we will see you many more times this year and next year, especially here in press room three here for a proper press conference.  Thank you very much.  I've two questions on the UN reform agenda.  First of all, I would like to ask you whether you have a time frame in mind for the various projects that have been agreed upon in New York.  Secondly, in your introduction, you didn't mention the reform of the Security Council.  Given the resistance of the Americans and the Chinese and others, do you think that it is still realistic that we will see a reformed and expanded Security Council in your tenure, until the end of 2006.


The Secretary-General:  With regards to the time frame, we are going to be trying to get as much done as we can by the end of the year.  I hope we will be able to get the Peacebuilding Commission established, the Democracy Fund is established.  We have about 40 million in pledges already.  The discussions on sorting out the details of the Human Rights Council are also beginning.  I believe that we are not starting from scratch.  All the issues are known, and there was very good language which could have been agreed, but there were some tensions around it and it didn't make it into the Outcome Document.  So I believe that we should be able to establish the Council, work out the details, if not by end of this year, definitely by the time of the next meeting of the Commission in March.  On the management issues, we are pressing ahead with the management reforms and quite a lot of the things I can do on them on my own authority, others we need approval from the Member States and budgetary resources.  On the issue of Security Council reform, I'm sorry, it was an oversight.  As I said, I sort of focused on the agreements, but areas where they had not agreed, we are still working with them, pressing for an agreement.

It's not just on the Security Council reform, but also on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  When the leaders were in New York, I did challenge them to show leadership and not leave it to the negotiators if they are not able to do it and move forward with energy and vision to resolve this issue.  On Security Council reform, I still believe Security Council reform is necessary.  I don't think anyone can claim that the UN reform is complete without the reform of the Security Council.  I expect the Member States to return to the issue later on this year and discuss it.  I am still hopeful that we should be able to have some form of Security Council reform.  As you know there are two options.  And I don't know which one the Member States will adopt.  But it is interesting that almost all the Member States believe some form of reform is necessary.  What we need to agree upon is the nature and the type of reform.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, this morning, a splinter group of Darfur rebels have held hostage and released most of some African Union soldiers.  The team leader and another person believed to be a translator are still being held.  Are you concerned and also are you considering any stepping up security for UN aid workers, or possibly even putting on a temporary withdrawal?

The Secretary-General:  No, we are extremely worried about the volatility in that region.  And not only action and attacks by the rebel groups, but also criminality in the region.  We have suspended our activities in some parts of Darfur to protect our staff.  But I think what happened with the African Union soldiers is completely unacceptable.  And in fact, it was not long ... I think it was about a week ago that we ourselves reminded the Government of Sudan that it does have the responsibility for the protection of the humanitarian workers and the peacekeepers who are there on the ground.  And they should do whatever they can to assist the AU peacekeepers and bring those responsible to account.  They must also understand, I mean both groups, both the rebels and the Government must understand that if these incidents continue, it would impede humanitarian assistance and delivery.  It's already impeding access to some of the people in need, and it may require a cessation of operations in some parts of the territory.  But what they did with the African Union troops is absolutely unacceptable and a firm stand must be taken by the Government.

Question:  Mr. Annan, I wonder why you saw it necessary to appoint your own Special Envoy or Representative on pandemic influenza, just a couple of months after Dr. Lee appointed his own, Dr. Margaret Chen.  Because compared to two years ago on SARS, the whole world was very concerned with SARS as it is now was with this pandemic influenza.  You did not appoint your own Representative.  But, of course, WHO then was very proactive and outspoken.

The Secretary-General:  Your question implies some sort of competition between WHO and myself.  We are one family.  There is no competition and I have a great deal of admiration for the WHO team here working on that issue.  You should also know that Dr. Nabarro came to me after consultations with Dr. Lee and he is in New York to help me as my coordinator and adviser, but we are working very, very closely with WHO and, of course, the entire UN system.  So we are working in tandem, not in competition, and I think it is going to be beneficial for the world and for the regions.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, a question about aid to the countries affected by the tsunami.  Today, we have a press release about the earthquake that just took place in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, you've mentioned this.  Do you think that the massive aid that was given to the countries affected by the tsunami is producing good results?  Are you satisfied?  And do you think that efforts need to be made to speed up reconstruction which, in one country at least, Sri Lanka, seems to be somewhat stalled?

The Secretary-General:  I think that in the beginning things worked very well.  We were able to help people immediately.  There were no deaths from disease or from lack of food or water.  But as far as reconstruction goes, it is slow, I talked with the Heads of State when they were in New York last month and I've talked about this with President Clinton, who is my Special Envoy for the countries affected by the tsunami.  We are working with Governments to speed up the rebuilding of houses for these people because they are in temporary shelters that are not very suitable.  So we must speed things up.  I will admit, it is taking a long time, and we are pushing Governments to speed things up.

Question:  Good morning, Mr. Secretary-General.  Two quick questions.  One on Darfur again.  You said in your opening remarks that during the Summit, you got a commitment from nations to protect against genocide.  Now the debate is still open as to whether genocide at one point occurred in Darfur or not.  The United States believed it was so.  Do you believe that more pressure must be exerted upon the Sudanese Government, will the Government listen to anything in order to stop the attacks that it has backed, in fact, participated in.  Then secondly, there are elections coming up in Iraq on the Constitution and also later in the year on Parliament.  What prospects do you see for that, and do you think that the country is heading towards civil war.

The Secretary-General:  You ask easy questions don't you?  Let me, on Darfur, say that obviously the US Government declared what had happened in Darfur genocide.  The UN has not made such a declaration.  The group that investigated the situation in Darfur made it clear that they could not describe it as genocide -- and besides, genocide has a judicial connotation, a judicial determination -- but in the process, when the ICC, the International Criminal Court, begins to look into these cases, it is not excluded that it may find individuals who had acted with genocidal intent but it didn't say that the Government as such was involved with organized genocide.  But that having been said, it doesn't really matter what you call it.  People have been suffering, women have been raped and crimes are being committed, and we need to take action to stop it and also send a message out to the people that impunity will not be allowed to stand.  So the pressure must be maintained on the Government but not only on the Government, on the two rebel groups -- SLA (Sudan Liberation Army) and JEM (Justice and Equality Movement).  In fact, what we are talking about, this one with the African Union troops wasn't the Government.  It was the rebel groups that did it.  And so both parties have to come under sustained pressure to respect the ceasefire and take the negotiations in Abuja seriously because without that political settlement, we will not be able to find a longer-term solution.  And if the situation in Darfur persists, it may have a negative impact on the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement, which is now moving forward between the north and south.  But let me also stress that Sudan needs lots of assistance and when I say Sudan, I'm not referring only to Darfur.  Southern Sudan has lots of needs.  We have thousands and millions of people who are going to be returning to the south after 20, 21 years of war.  There are desperate humanitarian needs and we need to assist them to resettle.  I think it would be a shame having pressed the Sudanese to make peace and having worked with them to make peace, that we sit back and allow lack of resources to put pressure on the agreement and its implementation. 

On Iraq, we've been active in Iraq, assisting with the political transition.  We have had constitutional advisers working with the Iraqi authorities and as you know, just about a week ago, we had to put our foot down to get them to reverse an anti-democratic decision they had taken.  And we are going to continue working with them.  We had all hoped that the constitutional process would be a uniting exercise.  We had expected or hoped that it would be as inclusive as possible and pool all Iraqi groups together, for each of them to see their future in a unified and democratic Iraq.  We have a Constitution that gives lots of authority to the regions and the centre is not as strong as it could be.  What will be the implications down the line, I cannot say.  And even as we speak, some attempts were being made to try and improve the document so that it will, to some extent, assuage the concerns of the Sunnis.  If we do not get a universal acceptance of the Constitution, the likelihood of the violence continuing is there.  If it had been an inclusive exercise as when everybody had embraced the Constitution and everyone saw his interest protected by the Constitution, I think it would have been a rallying exercise.  We are not there at this stage.  The nature of the elections in December will depend on the outcome of the referendum.  If the referendum succeeds, we will have an election in December that will establish a new democratically elected parliament.  If the referendum were to fail, we will still have to go ahead with elections in December, to establish a new Constituent Assembly that would then have to begin the constitutional process anew.  So there are questions down the line that only the future can answer.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, this Organization which you represent symbolizes hope to millions of people around the world, but it seems like lately it's been going through a really awkward phase.  Quite apart from those who intentionally denigrate it, there are people who are saying that something's gone wrong, that a lot of things have gone wrong.  The Organization has even been targeted directly -- if we recall what happened in Baghdad -- and these institutions are barricading themselves in so that they can continue to do their job, which is to protect others.  The United Nations has kept silent when it ought to be denouncing these mistakes.  Its symbols -- and I'm talking about people here -- are involved, rightly or wrongly, in proceedings relating to sexual misconduct, embezzlement and mismanagement.  My question is this:  who is responsible for these mistakes, and are you still confident that we will see the Organization get back to the work it was created to do?

The Secretary-General:  The United Nations is not a satellite out there somewhere.  The United Nations is the Member States.  The United Nations can function, can do many things, so long as the Member States have the political will to act.  I believe that the ideals of the United Nations are still valid.  I often say that it's like the Bible or the Koran -- I'll say it in English so that my meaning won't get lost.  We talk a lot about religion and faith.  The problem is not with the faith.  The problem is not with the Koran or the Bible.  The problem is with the faithful, is with the faithful, and how they interpret or behave and I think to some extent it also applies to our Organization and our ideals and the question you have posed.  Last month, over 150 Heads of State and Government came to New York to try and look at the challenges and threats we face in the twenty-first century and how collectively we can organize ourselves to face it.  And you know how difficult the negotiations were.  In the end, we did come out with an Outcome Document, but it gets a bit disappointing that they cannot get away from the tendency to look at it from a narrow national interest, even though they all admit the issues we're dealing with today cannot be resolved by any particular country alone, however powerful.  So it's a sort of educational thing that we need to go through, but it differs from region to region.  The European Group were very strong supporters of the reform.  They are living the experience of multilateralism.  They are not afraid of it.  I'm not sure every other region is there.  But I hope the European experience sets a lesson for other regions as to how sometimes and often the collective interest is also the national interest. 

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, this is about the Human Rights Council.  Everyone welcomed this decision wholeheartedly.  Yet the Human Rights Council is an empty shell -- in other words, we don't know who will sit on the Council.  But as Mrs. Arbour said, no State has cause for complacency.  In other words, there is no State that doesn't violate human rights somewhere.  So how do you think we can reach a balanced and fair decision and have model States?

The Secretary-General:  First, they decided to establish a Human Rights Council.  We are in the process of working out the details.  We should be able to do this.  Obviously, we are also going to change the method of selection.  Today, if one region, under the rotation system, nominates a country to be a member of the Council, they are automatically accepted by the General Assembly.  But with the changes, each candidate must have two thirds of all the votes.  So that if a country is nominated and doesn't get two thirds of the votes in the General Assembly, they must withdraw their candidature and another candidate must be nominated.  I hope that with this approach we will be able to improve, shall we say, the list of countries participating in the Council.  The number of members has not yet been decided.  I myself have proposed 30.  They are now looking at between 30 and 40.  I don't know what they are going to decide, but I think in any case that we will see a change with this method of selection, and it will help us.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, I wonder if you can expand a little bit on what you said before the ExCom of UNHCR about reforms and the question of the protection of the whistleblowers, for instance.  Does that mean if a whistleblower goes public -- I'm thinking of the case of the former High Commissioner, for instance -- does he or she no longer risk his or her job?  And the second point, the same context, how is it possible that the former High Commissioner was exonerated by you from purported harassment charges and early this year he was forced to resign all the same?  Thank you.

The Secretary-General:  First of all, I'm not aware that any whistleblower who has gone public has been forced to resign.  We are indicating that we are coming up with better protection of whistleblowers and people who come up with the information and I think the idea of protecting them is something that we are serious about.  And it will come out.  On the question of the former High Commissioner Lubbers, I'm a bit surprised that it would come up now.  I think we should sometimes let certain things lie and let me say that, and I like the way you said purported accusations.  That issue was investigated and went through deep process.  He had a chance to respond.  And I came to the conclusion after consulting my own people and lawyers that the evidence did not support the accusation and a judgement was made then.  But because of some of the things, particularly what you are doing now, hounding the gentleman, not letting the issue drop, go after him time and time again, in an organization that lives on voluntary contributions, with rumours and leaks, it was totally unfair to him.  He has left in the interest of the Organization and I think we should leave it there.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, during the debates in the General Assembly there was a lot of talk about a committee that is going to help the Secretary-General in his decisions regarding the budget.  That is, this committee would have two tasks, first to reduce or lighten the Secretary-General's burden in the area of expenditure, after the "oil-for-food" report, and secondly to exercise a certain amount of oversight over the "activities of the Secretary-General".  My second question concerns the task and the mission of Mr. Mehlis in Lebanon.  It's been said about the content of the report that Mr. Mehlis found nothing tangible in the way of leads in the assassination of Rafik Hariri.  It's been said that the Lebanese Prime Minister has asked you to extend Mr. Mehlis' mandate for two months.  That is, the mandate ends on 25 October, so until 15 December.  Is the Secretary-General going to decide to extend this mission without knowing what's in the report that will be submitted on 21 October, if there is anything real?

The Secretary-General:  I didn't quite understand your first question.  You're talking of the committee established by the General Assembly.  I don't believe that is the case.  It is a committee that they are going to establish, they are going to establish what is called an "ethics committee", and they have talked about accountability:  they are going to set up a group to work with me.   And then there is also the idea of an inspector general, which already exists now in the form of OIOS, which already is required to submit reports to the General Assembly, but they want to give it a lot more resources and make it more effective.

As for your question about Mr. Mehlis, I haven't actually seen the report.  The report is not finished, and so I am not going to talk to you about its contents.  Whether Mr. Mehlis' mandate is going to be extended or not, that will depend on what is needed.  If he needs to continue working, if he has things to do, I will see.  But if he has completed his work, that is something else.  But I cannot say anything until I have seen Mr. Mehlis' report.

Question:  Secretary-General, you recently appointed Dr. Supachai to head UNCTAD and people say you have a passion for trade lifting people out of poverty.  What is your message to the trade negotiators and ministers meeting in Hong Kong with reference to the poorest of the poor, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa?  And secondly, with reference to the threat of terrorism, how well prepared is the UN to respond to a mass attack, a multiple attack, in many cities? 

The Secretary-General:  I think on the question of trade, this is something that came up very much at the last Summit.  I believe the best way to assist the poor, yes, development assistance helps, debt relief helps, but the big difference will come from a genuinely free and fair trading system that allows the poor to trade themselves out of poverty, and levels the playing field, with subsidies removed, and I can tell you, agriculture subsidies does undermine agricultural productivity and effectiveness of third-world producers.  And I would hope that the Hong Kong Meeting will really make progress.  This issue was also discussed at the GA (General Assembly) summit. And I was there with Supachai and others, and we did press for the elimination of subsidies, and a real attempt to improve the trading system for the poor.  And, quite frankly, they will get much more out of trading than development assistance could ever give them.  And so I would hope that would happen.  And you raised a question ...

Question:  Yes, with reference to the heightened threat of terrorism.  Thank you.

The Secretary-General:  How the United Nations will respond to multiple attacks in various capitals, at the same time.  I hope by responding, you don't mean physical action by the United Nations to deal with this? 

Question:  In the humanitarian sense. 

The Secretary-General:  That will be an extraordinarily difficult challenge, if we have to tackle several of those situations at a time, may God forbid that, but obviously, one has to look at all scenarios, including worst case scenarios, and, in fact, we are seeing it today.  There are natural disasters, and somebody referred to the tsunami, we referred to the earthquake in Pakistan, and we have the situation in Central America, which is also very tragic, but has been pushed off the front pages and out of television, because of the size of Pakistan.  And yet, there are real needs there, and when you look at what has happened in the last couple of months, from Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Rita, to Pakistan, to Central America, and to the tsunami, all this in one year, in a matter of 10 months.  And all these crises are competing for resources from the same sources.  They are competing for logistical support, and so I hope that, obviously one needs to think about the scenario you mentioned, but if it does happen, it's going to be a real challenge, not only in logistical terms, but in terms of resources and organization and getting things done.  Obviously one of the first things you need is effective coordination, and you really would have to have good coordination teams at all the spots. Thank you.

Question:  I would like to ask a question about the Spanish enclaves, what is happening there.  Do you think, Mr. Secretary-General, that this is entirely a European issue and that the Europeans must solve this, or do we need an international approach, possibly even a United Nations approach, to such migration issues?  Thank you.

The Secretary-General:  I think it is a question that requires cooperation, international cooperation.  It is for that reason that two years ago I encouraged the establishment of the Global Commission on International Migration.  And they delivered their report last week, and I hope you will have a chance to look at that as well.  Obviously, it's a very complex issue, the whole issue of migration from the point of view of the countries of origin, countries of transit, and the recipient countries.  There are benefits, and there are some disadvantages.  What is clear is that when you take the European continent, and you look at the demographics, migration is going to be necessary.  There are several European countries that cannot sustain their current level of economic development without immigration.  One would also have to help the immigrants settle in, and the immigrants should also accept and respect the laws of the countries they are in.  What is important is that we do not make a futile attempt to stop movement of people across borders and migration.  It will not work.  It's been happening for centuries, and today we have about 200 million people living outside their country, and the movement of people will continue.  What is necessary is to manage the process, manage it fairly and equitably, in the interest of all, in the interest of the country of origin, transit countries, and the recipient countries, and above all, respect the rights of the migrant or those on the move.  Obviously, there are criminal elements, we are concerned about human trafficking, people who move across borders with drugs, and all that.  Yes, we should find ways of dealing with them, but we should not in the process brush aside people who have legitimate asylum claims.  And so it is complex and has to be tackled.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, all the rapporteurs and international experts agree on how hard it is to implement international human rights law.  That being the case, and even if the United Nations is not a party to the human rights conventions and covenants, what is your position on the applicability of human rights by the United Nations administration, and also the applicability of resolutions or the non-applicability of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly directed at the administration of the Organization?

The Secretary-General:  I'm not sure that I understand your question.

Question:  I'm sorry to ask you this question, but in the light of various measures taken by the administration in Geneva and New York, without a response, let me be so bold as to put the basic question to you:  what is your position concerning the application of General Assembly resolutions directed at the administration of the United Nations and, therefore, what is your position as to the viability of and respect for human rights by the United Nations administration.  For example, there are individual cases, it's just a matter, for the moment in any case, of finding out your position on these two issues.

The Secretary-General:  Let me try and answer the question, as I understood it.  I think the General Assembly resolutions and Security Council resolutions are to be respected by the Member States of the Organization.  They don't always respect them, they don't all always respect them, but they are expected to respect them.  And, of course, we as a Secretariat have an obligation, not only to accept these resolutions, but promote their implementation and respect for these, whether it comes from the General Assembly or the Security Council.  Thank you.

Question:  I'm talking about a particular resolution -- there are others -- but I mean 51/226, which is directed at the administration of the United Nations and which hasn't been implemented yet.  This resolution was adopted by the General Assembly in 1997 and is brought up again each year, and it's also dealt with in the Fifth Committee, without ever being implemented by the United Nations administration.

The Secretary-General: I see you have a special interest in this particular resolution.  You have a special interest in this resolution, and I don't think all the people in the room are as excited about that resolution as you are.  So I would suggest at the end of the meeting we have the administration, everything, we can discuss it.   Let us move on to the next question please.

Question:  My question concerns your proposition on resolution of Kosovo problems, and I also would like your position to other problems like Kosovo, for example Abkhazia and Ossetia, which were forcefully included into Georgia during Stalin regime.  Thank you.

The Secretary-General:  With regards to Kosovo, I had commissioned a study, which was conducted by Ambassador Kai Eide.  He gave me the report last week.  The report revealed the progress in implementing the standards, and we had indicated that if enough progress is made in standards, we will move on to the discussion of the status issue.  Having reviewed his report, I have recommended to the Security Council that we begin the status discussions.  I shall name a Special Envoy very shortly, who will conduct those discussions.  It is not an easy topic, we need to discuss it both with Pristina and Belgrade, and in doing it, we also have to be conscious that Kosovo does not exist in isolation, and be conscious of the impact any decision may have in the sub-region.  I cannot tell you when I expect the exercise to continue, but we will get into it with determination and good faith, and try and find an acceptable solution.  On Abkhazia and Ossetia, you know that on Abkhazia, I have a Special Representative in Tbilisi, who is working with the Georgian Government and with the Government of the Russian Republic on this issue.  They meet periodically, here, the Friends of Georgia meeting.  We haven't made as much progress as I would like, and our efforts continue.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, I would like first of all to thank your Director-General who occasionally gives us the floor.  My question, getting back to Africa, since increasingly people are talking about Africa so that they can have a clear conscience, but when it comes time to think about things, the Africans are not there.  Mr. Secretary-General, I have a question about the Habré case.  President Wade of Senegal promised you he would extradite him.  Is the position of the United Nations still the same today -- in other words, do you want President Habré to be extradited if he is not tried in Senegal?  My second question:  when your term is over, are you going to run for President of your country?

The Secretary-General:  With regard to the Hissène Habré case, I am waiting to speak with President Wade, I haven't been able to do so yet.  But, obviously, there is a case against him, and I hope that ... I can't say anything until after my discussion with President Wade.  I am going to talk to him.  As far as my activities at the end of 2006 are concerned, I will not be a politician, I will not run for the office of President of Ghana.  I have done a great deal of work.  For 15 years I have been in a "high-pressure" job, if you will, first in charge of peacekeeping operations and nearly 10 years as Secretary-General.  I think that I will need some rest after that.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, I'd like to go back to an expression you used, and that is "multilateral diplomacy".  Hasn't this idea reached the limits of its usefulness?  You have cited a number of cases -- the non-proliferation treaty, the disarmament conference, the Iraqi crisis, the reform of the United Nations -- in the light of all this, what future, not a utopian or idealistic future, but what realistic future do you see for this idea of multilateral diplomacy, and haven't its limitations become apparent?

The Secretary-General:  We have a tendency when talking about such things to cite the failures but not the successes.  For example, the international community, even where Iraq is concerned, worked together for the first Iraq war.  The international community worked together.  We saw with the tsunami, we worked together.  On questions of human rights or international law, the United Nations has a duty:  it is the United Nations that works with the Member States to promote the conventions and all that.  So in certain areas things are working well.  If today we have not been able to reach an agreement on non-proliferation and all that, that doesn't mean that we must give up, that it will never work.  That doesn't mean that we must give up our ideals because we did not succeed today.

The Secretary-General:  You have to have an objective or standard to aim for.  I hope you agree with me that dreaming is also necessary.  You have to dream sometimes.  Because if you don't dream, you cannot really reach out and do something.  You have to first have the dream, and then you begin to implement it and push for its implementation and give it pillars.  So don't dismiss dreams, or standards which are not achieved immediately. 

Deputy Spokesman:  We're running out of time, but I understand we may have time for one more question and we would like to give the floor to Gordon Martin who I understand is the senior journalist here who has been diligently working for over 25 years.

Question:  It's wonderful again to see you, sir, and thank you very much for being with us.  We have in the room today the honour of having with us one of the most devoted and hard-working and courageous servants of the United Nations, namely, my good friend Mohamed Sahnoun.  Do you see any hope, sir, of the situation in the part of the world with which he deals, in Somalia and so on, do you see any hopeful signs there?  Thank you.

The Secretary-General:  Thank you Gordon, and it's good to see you again, it always is.  Let me say that the Horn of Africa is a difficult and a complex region.  Starting with Somalia, we have not and they have not made much progress.  They agreed in Nairobi to set up a Parliament, which they did, they elected a President and they set up Ministers, and they were to move back into Somalia to continue their work.  But, of course, we also know the insecurity in Somalia, and they needed to, first of all, establish themselves, ensure their own protection, and begin to rebuild governmental institutions.  This has not happened.  My Special Representative, François Fall, is doing all he can to assist them, but it is an extremely difficult situation, and in fact several of the Ministers have had to leave Somalia again.  I cannot tell you when they are going to be able to return and security is not about to be brought under control.  There was about four months ago, IGAD talked about sending in a force of 20,000 to try and calm the situation.  I didn't think it was a viable proposition.  They do not have the means, nor the troops to put 20,000 troops into Somalia and sustain them.  It's going to require lots of logistical support and lots of resources, which is not available at the moment.

Then you have the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, where the Boundary Commission came up with its findings.  We have not been able to implement it.  We have the peacekeepers on the ground.  And this is something you cannot do unless the two parties cooperate.  Eritrea insists that it should be implemented automatically.  Ethiopia says we admit, we accept the Commission's findings, but we want to discuss before we implement it.  So we have a sort of a stand-off, one is insisting on discussion before implementation, the other one is insisting on implementation before talks.  And we've tried.  I've sent in envoys to try and break it up.  One side receives the envoy, and the other side refuses.  And so we're going to try and see how down the line we'll find a way, what will break this impasse.  And today you have a new political situation in Ethiopia. They had elections, the opposition did very well, and I think Parliament is supposed to open today or this week.  And I think the dynamics in the Parliament and the issue of governance would also change, and I don't know what will be the attitude of the new Parliament and the Government on this issue, of the border. 

On top of that, we have a serious humanitarian situation in the region, and we've been encouraging the Governments to take food security seriously, and to work with the international community to begin to draw up plans to ensure that they do establish a mechanism and a system of food security, so that we don't have to go through periodic famine, which kills lots of people and demands lots of resources.  And properly planned, these resources can go into productive agriculture.  I have been pressing donor Governments and the African Governments that we should take agriculture seriously.  Unfortunately, of all the continents, Africa is the only one that has not gone through a green revolution.  We should be able to have better agricultural productivity, we should be able to have better irrigation systems, we should be able to have more crop per drop, we should have effective food storage systems and food processing systems, so there is lots of work to be done, and I know that in discussions with the Ethiopian Government, they are beginning to look at this issue of food security very, very seriously.  So while there are hopeful signs, there are lots of other difficulties in that region.  And I think, Mohamed Sahnoun, who is here with us, has done quite a lot of work in the region, and he knows what I am talking about.  Thank you very much. 

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