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Transcript of remarks to the press at the conclusion of Australia's UN Security Council Presidency

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL

Remarks to the press by the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, Gary Quinlan, at the conclusion of Australia’s UN Security Council Presidency

Transcript, E&OE

30 September 2013

 

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Well good afternoon everyone. I have just come from a meeting, an informal meeting with Council Members about Syria and a possible humanitarian statement. So I’ll come back to that if you like towards the end of today.

As you know, this is the end of the Australian Presidency, at one minute, well one second past midnight I guess, this evening, Monday night.

I am getting rather used to the job actually. But will be delighted to hand over to Azerbaijan … but it has been quite a month. And I think a good month from the point of view of the UN and certainly the efforts that Australia has tried to make, to actually do something worthwhile during that period.

I will come back to Syria.

A couple of highlights I would mention – the adoption of the resolution on small arms in the Security Council. The debate on small arms and light weapons, which was chaired by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop last Thursday afternoon – that is the first time the Security Council has adopted a resolution on small arms, although we have been debating the issue in the Council since 1999.

It had significant co-sponsorship – 11 members of the Council and 15 non-Council members – and we think it is a good result, a good product. And we have had very favourable responses from others including parts of the UN system which feel that they’ve been in a sense re-mandated for extra work in terms of small arms embargos, sanctions regimes, working through peace keeping missions and political missions with local governments on small weapons issues including control of borders and stockpile management and a whole series of things like that. Anyway, we think that is a good contribution to the UN agenda in all of those areas.

Among the other few things I will mention is Yemen – we had a high-level meeting on Yemen last Friday afternoon, also chaired by our Foreign Minister, and that’s important because it was attended by the Yemeni Foreign Minister Al-Qirbi, also the Gulf Coorporation Council Secretary General Al Zayani, as well of course as the Special Advisor for Yemen, Jamal Benomar. And it is important because it is coming at a critical phase in the national reconciliation process in Yemen.

There is a national dialogue process which is underway, which is basically to set the scene for the development of a new constitution and then elections to be held by next February. It’s a very ambitious timetable, very ambitious. The dialogue is a few weeks behind, so it is delayed by a few weeks in completing its work. There are some pretty fundamental issues there – the future of the South, and we are all pretty familiar with the history between the north and south in Yemen, a bad history over the years of conflict; and also the nature of what the new government will be in terms of a federative structure, whether you will have a parliamentary or presidential political system.

These are big issues for any country and coming out of the crisis that Yemen experienced it is not surprising that it is taking a little while to settle some of the parameters of these issues. But the Council wanted to have the high-level meeting, however, to be briefed, because the Council is determined to keep a close eye on what is happening in Yemen. We visited at the end of January and we maintain a very close vigil on what is happening there.

In terms of mandate renewals during the month of September – Liberia was the only mandate renewal. Things are going pretty well in Liberia and the UN is drawing down its presence.

The same in Sierra Leone where I think we are justified in having a fairly confident approach or assessment of where things are developing and likewise there is a significant draw down over the next six, seven, eight months in the UN presence – military presence, the security presence – in Sierra Leone.

Guinea-Bissau – Special Envoy or Representative Jose Ramos-Horta reported to the Council in early September. The main issue there, of course, is when we can get a date for an election. It was scheduled in November.  We – as a Council – remain unified in wishing to see an early election. We have to wait and see if further political work can be done in the next few weeks to enable us to have an election at that time. It may need to be slightly delayed but things are starting to look just a little better in Guinea-Bissau in terms of political outlook. Of course there are significant problems with criminality and drug running, but a little bit of progress is being achieved, so we’re keeping a close eye on Guinea-Bissau.

In relation to Somalia, we all know there’s a new window of opportunity in Somalia but the gains that have been made are easily reversible. We’ve seen what seems to have been an al Shabaab terrorist attack in Nairobi, a shocking attack which the Council condemned through a press statement. But it shows that al Shabaab are not out. They’re still there, they still occupy significant parts of Somali territory, of course. They are capable of causing difficulties in Mogadishu, so the security issues in Somalia are still there although much better than they were earlier on. And we’re watching that very closely to see what the future of the AU Mission – AMISOM – in Somalia would be, and the UN involvement with that. A joint team, AU-UN, has been making an assessment of this and will report to the Council, or the Secretary-General will report to the Council by 10 October so we can have a discussion about the future of the AMISOM arrangements and the UN involvement with that.

The Democratic Republic of Congo – we had discussions on that during the month. The security situation is better than it was, but (it is) still tenuous. There was activity over the weekend north of Goma – I think in a small town called Kahuna – and a couple of people were killed. The operations of M23 continue to be a serious worry and we’re keeping a close eye on that, but the real gift shift has been to the political and diplomatic initiatives that have been underway now over the last four weeks to try and ensure that we set up the situation where there is a unified response from all parties to the continuing threat from rebel groups. And as we know it’s not only M23, there are roughly another 30 rebel groups causing problems, particularly in the east Congo.

Sudan/South Sudan – discussed always during the month, discussed twice. Things are looking better between Sudan and South Sudan. But the issues are always a little tenuous and so we’ve got to keep leveraging improvements politically, particularly between the two leaders and supporting the role of the AU, which has been so instrumental through Thabo Mbeki and his team in pushing things forward. Humanitarian issues remain very big in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. And of course we’re worried – the Council is worried – about Abyei which has an undetermined status. There is meant to be a referendum to determine that status. That hasn’t taken place yet and we’re concerned as a Council that unilateral actions might be taken by various parties to help influence the outcome of the referendum and that this might cause conflict. It could become a source of major conflict, so the Council has very clearly sent a message that we don’t want any unilateral actions in those areas.

Libya…Libya has a very difficult security situation, we all know that. It’s bad. It’s seriously bad. And we’re keeping a close eye on that. There is a new electoral law, which is good, and there’s the beginning of a national dialogue process politically. But I have to say the security situation remains a cause of great concern.

Afghanistan – we had the quarterly debate on the UN presence, UNAMA. That was good. A lot of discussion and briefing from the Special Representative Jan Kubis about the April presidential elections which remain quite fundamental to the future outlook and underpinning international global support continuing into the future for Afghanistan. Credible, transparent elections are very important but things are moving in the right direction. The Council is concerned about targeted attacks on civilians, which are occurring and have increased in some parts of the country over the last few months, and on women – women holding office. A Police Commissioner, for example, in one province and a number of other areas. This is deliberate, it’s targeted and we remain very concerned about that. As an aside, I might comment that the next mandate for ISAF, the next authorisation from the Council, is due for adoption on 10 October and Australia holds the pen and is currently negotiating that.

We did have a monthly review of developments on the Middle East Peace Process, and the Quartet, of course, met here last week – but you’re familiar with all the details of that. The Council is simply again leveraging what support it can, of course, individually as Members of the Council but also as a Council, for the activities of the negotiators and we all know what is happening there.

One area I should flag which does remain a big concern to all of us on the Council – but we did not discuss in any formal way this month – is the Central African Republic. We expect that we will be discussing that during October, but I don’t want to anticipate what my Azerbaijani colleague might brief you on about that. The Secretary-General has submitted his report on BINUCA, the Integrated Mission, and some suggested changes to that Mission to strengthen its role. And the Council of course some time ago, about a month ago, indicated that it wanted the S-G to look at, “all possible options” for the UN to support an AU Mission, the security mission, which is going to be stood up there. And of course there were discussions last week – there was a ministerial meeting with the EU, France and others on the CAR and what can be done there.

The only other thing I should mention is Syria. In relation to Syria obviously you are all very familiar with the resolution that was adopted on Friday night. I don’t need to go through the history of that and all the rest of it. It’s easy to say these things are historic, but it is. It’s historic in a couple of ways. Number one, because it has embodied a norm laid down by the Council that the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere constitutes a threat to international peace and security. It has achieved unity in the Council which has eluded us for the last couple of years on Syrian issues. It has laid out a very firm basis, enforceable basis, for disposing of Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles. And, it has decided that in the event of non-compliance, the Council will impose measures under Chapter VII. So all in all, it is a very good outcome, certainly in our assessment. And now we have to get down into the detail of implementing it, which of course has already begun.

After the adoption of that on Friday night, both Luxembourg and Australia indicated at that meeting in our statements after adoption of that resolution what we had both been saying for a little while – increasingly – that we would be bringing a product, a draft product, to the Council on humanitarian issues, on the humanitarian situation in Syria. We did so on Saturday evening – we circulated a draft Presidential Statement, and I’ve just come from co-chairing with Luxembourg’s PR, Sylvie Lucas, an initial consultation among all Council members on where we go with that draft.

The consultations were very positive, very constructive. Our ambition is a bold one – we’d like to adopt a statement on Wednesday – Thursday at the latest. So we’ll see where we get to – I don’t want to anticipate whether we’ll be able to do that but the signs are good. There is a sense, and has been for quite a while, that we needed to act more quickly on the humanitarian situation. And frankly if it hadn’t been for the incident in Damascus on 21 August, which obviously then caused us all to focus on the chemical weapons issues, an immediate issue which needed to be addressed, I think we would have been talking about a humanitarian product, a statement, a couple of weeks earlier than we currently are. But speed is of the essence and we’re committed to trying to get a result as soon as we can in the next few days.

I think that’s probably about all I need to say as an introduction, so questions please.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Pamela?

JOURNALIST: Thank you Ambassador Quinlan and President Quinlan for the next few hours – and thank you for your term as Security Council President during a tough time. It’s Pamela Falk from CBS News on behalf of the UN Correspondents’ Association, thank you. My question is about this proposed PRST, the Presidential Statement on Syria. Valerie Amos has asked for some potential cross-border operations, there’s been some talk of it. How do you think that will play out in the final Presidential Statement?

And then also you mentioned the resolution as being enforceable and there’s been some debate about whether, certainly it’s binding, but whether it’s considered enforceable without the actual Chapter VII in the first draft. Could you explain why you believe that it is enforceable?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Yes, sure. In relation to the humanitarian (Presidential Statement) and the question of cross-border assistance – let’s see where we get to. You’ve seen the formulation because, courtesy of Reuters, I imagine, since it seems that the draft PRST was leaked a few hours after we circulated it on Saturday evening. And it is a key issue – we all know this is a concern for some who are concerned about what this means in terms of UN practice generally in humanitarian operations. There is specific language in the draft we have on assistance across conflict lines, but that’s obvious, it’s within Syrian territory. And the language of the PRST, since you’ve seen the draft, does talk about cross-border assistance as appropriate along the established guidelines under the UN for humanitarian assistance. I anticipate that will be a subject of discussion, so I really don’t want to speculate on what the likely outcome would be. But that formula, I would remind you, was agreed in April in a set of press points, press elements, that were agreed by the Council and were drafted by Australia and negotiated over an afternoon with all Members of the Council, and were issued in April. We’ve used the same formula that was acceptable to all members of the Council at that stage. And so let’s see how that goes.

In terms of enforceability of the (chemical weapons) resolution, as you’ve said Pamela, it is legally binding. It’s important. It has been framed quite strongly in the language. It speaks of – it’s quite decisive, it uses words like “decides” and “shall”. These are instructive, they’re not less than that. And of course the decision, the key decision, which is articulated on Chapter VII, says that the Council “decides” that in the event of non-compliance, measures will be taken. Now, of course, the question is what those measures would be but it already has said in the resolution, we’ve already decided that if there is non-compliance we will take action, we will take measures. Obviously we’d need to have a kind of, you know, discussion in the Council on precisely what those measures would be. I think that is a fairly high level of enforceability – certainly we’re very confident that that’s the case.

MODERATOR: Nabil.

JOURNALIST: Thank you. Mr President – how is the Council going to follow the chemical issues in Syria? Is the Council going to establish a new committee, let’s say, or what would be the mechanism? And do you expect to see Iran sitting at the table at Geneva II?

And I have a question on Yemen. Is the Security Council planning to send a message to support the National Dialogue in Yemen? Especially that Mr Benomar, I think, told the Council that he’s facing complications in the National Dialogue. Thank you. And would this message be – would the Council adopt a statement before or after the end of the National Council in Yemen? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Yes. Well, dealing with each of those three questions. Iran, Geneva II – I don’t know. It’s not something which has specifically been discussed in the Council and I’m here speaking, you know, as the Council President. So that subject hasn’t been discussed. All I can say is that every member of the Council has repeatedly placed a great deal of importance, of course, on achieving an early meeting of Geneva II. We all know what the realities and the difficulties have been in structuring that meeting and then deciding dates. There is a new commitment, I think, after the meeting last Friday evening before the adoption of the resolution on chemical weapons – the meeting of the P5, Special Envoy Brahimi and the Secretary-General – where the Secretary-General made clear his aim to convene the meeting by mid-November and all the actions are going on for that. We do know that there have been quite a lot of consultations, regionally and among various parties, about who would participate. I cannot anticipate what the outcome of that would be.

In relation to Yemen, the messages… All Council members spoke after the briefings – we had three briefings on Yemen including from Foreign Minister al-Qirbi, but also from (Special Adviser) Benomar and, of course, Secretary-General al-Zayani on Friday. All Council Members spoke with a very strong message of support for the National Dialogue process, the reconciliation process, and indicating – most indicated, certainly speaking nationally for Australia, we did – that the Council not only remains seized of the situation in Yemen but prepared to consider further action should that be necessary, should there be spoilers seeking to undo where we’re getting to with the political reconciliation process. I would anticipate that once we have some greater clarity in the next few weeks about the dialogue, the national dialogue and its outcome, my anticipation is that the Council will revert very quickly to looking at that situation, evaluating it and perhaps making a more formal statement. Australia does not hold the pen on Yemen – that’s another member of the Council and Azerbaijan, of course, will be Council President, but I do know that this is a priority in the minds of Council Members, including them.

In relation to how we proceed as a Council in continuing to look at the progress with the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, that’s something we need to discuss in the next ten days, two weeks. The current roadmap has the advance team and the initial group that’s from the UN, mainly on logistics and support, and the OPCW technical team, going into Damascus tomorrow, Tuesday. The Syrian Government is to provide additional information by 4 October, within 7 days of the adoption last week – additional information on its chemical weapons stockpiles to the information they provided, I think on the 19th of September. That’s another important part of the process. The Secretary-General will report back to the Council within 10 days of the adoption of the resolution – that means by 7 October – on how he sees the implementation of the resolution. And that will be a report that has the input from the OPCW on what the best way is to proceed and implement the detail of the arrangements is. And then of course there will be a 30-day reporting requirement by OPCW to the Secretary-General, and the Secretary-General to the Council. Now, as part of all of these arrangements – they all make a great deal of sense, they just sound a little bit complex when you try to articulate them – part of that will obviously be a discussion in the Council on the basis of the Secretary-General’s report – which should be by 7 October – of these sorts of issues and how we can most effectively ensure we’re being vigilant and actually looking very closely at how the whole thing is unfolding.

There are a couple of other milestone points, but I’m sure people have noticed. The OPCW is meant to have completed the destruction by 1 November of the production facilities and filling materials and equipment…that has been used and could be used for the construction of chemical weapons. And I think by 15 November there are destruction milestones and benchmarks that are going to be established so that we can see how to achieve the goal of destroying and eliminating these things by mid-next year, which is the ambition. I think that answers. I hope it does anyway.

MODERATOR: Can we have Michelle and then Matthew please?

JOURNALIST: Thanks Ambassador and congratulations on surviving September.

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Not yet – I mean, we have another six hours…

JOURNALIST: A few hours to go…A question on the humanitarian statement. In May, the Council discussions were revolving around a possible resolution. Why have you now decided to pursue a statement rather than a resolution? And up until you circulated the statement on Saturday night, how much involvement has Russia had in the discussions?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: On the first point, I mean it’s a very obvious question which should be – is a resolution going to be better in the circumstances than a PRST? But in a sense, quite seriously, we – Luxembourg and Australia – don’t consider that the main question because both, we think, are powerful documents. The reality is that we were doing a lot of work on this over the last five, six weeks before 21 August and the incident in Damascus with chemical weapons. We then put our work on hold. And we concluded that in returning to this now after Friday – with a new sense of unity in the Council hopefully that we want to entrench, including as we look towards Geneva II and the practicalities of getting that established – we think a PRST meets the need to have a strong, unified message quickly. A resolution takes more time – I mean, it really is as simple as that. And we looked intensely, both Luxembourg and Australia, at whether a PRST would deliver what we want and deliver what UN agencies and OCHA itself has asked for, and our conclusion is yes, it does. It’s a consensus document so it requires the agreement of all Members of the Council, all fifteen to sign on, to be comfortable with all aspects of the document. And secondly, it is a strong message; it is a consensus message – it’s unified.

One of the key problems, we’re told by the humanitarian agencies operating on the ground in Syria and in the neighbouring countries, has always been disunity within the Council. And that has undercut the ability of the UN and the agencies to operate in Syria. So our ambition quickly now, because we don’t want to lose the momentum and good spirit generated last Friday, is to get a agreement on something that sends a strong, unified message, and that’s why we have concluded that a PRST in the next few days – that’s the ambition – is the best way to go.

In terms of the involvement of Russia – I mean, I don’t want to characterise individual countries’ participation and involvement, but we’ve had extensive discussions with a lot of Members of the Council over some time and very extensive discussions with the Russian Federation. And I have to say, always constructive.

MODERATOR: Sorry, we’ll just go to Matthew first. Thank you.

JOURNALIST: Ok, thanks a lot. On behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, thanks for the stakeouts that you did this month. You did pretty much all – there was one Abyei one that got delayed – but thanks a lot. I wanted to – you referred a couple of times to pen holders and yourself being the pen holder and other pen holders. I wanted to ask you about that in the context of the DRC and also the Central African Republic. For the DRC, I wanted to know about this upcoming trip, if you can say what the goals of the trip are and how the decision making was. In the sense that it is my understanding that the pen holder on DRC, France, selected even up to and including what journalists are able to go on the trip. So I wanted to know, is that the case? Are there other leg leaders for Rwanda and Uganda and Addis? And how that selection may relate to the colonial history of the area? And what the goals of the trip are, basically, and how they were decided.

And on CAR – the same thing was said in August, that there was going to be action and there wasn’t. So sort of, I wonder, now, you know, you’re in the Council and you’ve said you’re concerned about it but for two months there’s been a variety from humanitarian groups and Secretary-General saying it’s falling apart, there’s no humanitarian access, Séléka’s running wild. So what explains the lack of production of the Council in your month on that topic? Thanks.

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Matthew, on the first question, I’m not going to confirm or not confirm whether the Council is making a visit anywhere shortly. There are various reasons, including security reasons where until a visit is announced officially by those responsible for it, I’m not in a position to do so. If the Council were making a visit, I would anticipate – if it were going to a number of countries – that a number of countries would be involved in the organisation of it, so that several countries would be involved. But on questions related to this, I’m afraid you really do need to address them to the Secretariat. But Council Members are clear that we’re not making comments on Council travel that might or might not happen in the future.

JOURNALIST: MONUSCO did. I just want to say that MONUSCO has made a series of announcements about it.

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: I haven’t seen those, I have to say.

[Interjection]

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN : Yes, alright. I’ll read them after this maybe and see what they’ve said.

On the Central African Republic – look, there’s been a joint assessment mission which has now completed its work and the Secretary-General submitted an advance copy of his report to the Council, I think late last week, for us to look at. Our anticipation is that that will be looked at quickly. Certainly, speaking nationally for Australia, it’s been our concern for a few months that we needed to address the situation in CAR, and urgently, given the magnitude of the crisis. It’s not only lawlessness in a general sense; it is, of course, a major humanitarian crisis and an even bigger crisis in some ways on the human rights front. We’re aware of that. There were discussions here, of course, in New York at a ministerial level meeting last Thursday, I think, by some of the key actors to try and galvanise a renewed sense of what precisely is the problem and now what we need to do. Now, I would anticipate and I understand, I was not present at the meeting, but understand it made a good deal of progress in setting out a direction which now needs to come back to the Council when we discuss the S-G’s report. As I say, I expect that will be real soon.

MODERATOR: OK, we’ll just have a follow up question here and then we’ll go to Evelyn, please.

JOURNALIST: Mr President, I was just going to, talking about the Reuters story that you actually have mentioned. There is specifically …that actually you and Luxembourg, you are doing this Presidential statement in order to avoid a showdown with Russia and China. And I know what you’ve said before, but is that the case actually that you were somehow afraid, I would say, to pursue with the resolution instead of this?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: No, look, I’m not going to characterise these kinds of internal dynamics in the Council, but it’s not true. Obviously we’re aware, very well aware of the different attitudes of different Council members – and there are fifteen Members of the Council – towards what the best product would be in a situation like this. Whether a PRST or a resolution and I think, you know, there are a number of countries that still have a few differences of what would be the best approach. But those differences – this is in the past – they’ve had differences in the past. What I’d have to say from this afternoon’s consultations, however, is that there’s a strong unanimity in favour of a quick PRST given the gravity of the situation and the desire to take advantage of the new mood after the resolution was adopted on Friday night. We had never quite settled in our own minds what the best way to go forward would be. The resolution (sic) is very pragmatic – it sets out some very practical objectives in relation to humanitarian pauses, humanitarian access, approvals of convoys, visas, customs procedures. All of these very, very practical matters that need to be addressed to facilitate humanitarian access. We’ve tried to steer clear of some of the, well, all of the political difficulties which have bedevilled the consultations in the Council prior to last Friday’s developments, on Friday night. And at the end of the day it was the practical, unified outcome which decided what we would do. So, I think that’s really all I can usefully say.

Q: You mentioned resolution, but it’s PRST.

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: PRST, sorry, did I say resolution?  

Moderator: OK, we’ll go to Evelyn and then just one more, thank you.

JOURNALIST: Thank you very much, Ambassador. Can you define a little further what you mean by, if your PRST – I haven’t read all of Michelle’s story yet – the PRST, what you mean by cross-border? Is that going to be in there? And does that mean that you don’t go through Damascus? An aid group doesn’t go through Damascus? And also, you had, you emphasised when you first took over the Presidency that the visas were restricted to certain aid groups. Is there going to be something in there about broadening the visas? And does that not point to Damascus and give you trouble?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: There’s…look, I don’t in good faith – both Luxembourg and I have undertaken not to discuss the content of the resolution (sic) ourselves as the two progenitors…

[Interjection]

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: PRST – I keep saying resolution because you keep mentioning it! I’m still focused on Friday night. But we’ve undertaken to do that in good faith as lead negotiators, and I’m sure you understand and respect that. We certainly didn’t provide it to Reuters. A document is out there which looks vaguely familiar when I glance at it. And so that’s that point.

What I would say is that this area will be debated, I think, when we look at the PRST. But on cross-conflict zones, that’s easy. And cross-border access. But the point I make is that the language which I understand is in the draft was agreed in April by Council Members. And it lays down that cross-border access would be looked at as appropriate, if necessary, if circumstances required that – that in accord with the principles which have been established now since 1991 for how the UN operates in emergency and humanitarian situations where borders are involved. Now, that’s really all I can say, but we all know what that means and it’s an issue which, I think, should be resolved simply on the lines of what we agreed in April.

Moderator: We’re going to Benny and the Ambassador might also want to point out that AFP had that story as well on the weekend…

JOURNALIST: …As well as in Nabil’s website which is actually always good. Just as a matter of principle since this is a PRST and not a resolution and therefore not really enforceable in any way – and since we’re talking about a situation of civil war, some have called it, how do you ensure that since we depend on the Syrian Government for delivery of humanitarian …I saw the language and in the language it does say that all areas should have access. But since they’re fighting against those people, why would it be in their interest to allow people to get into areas where people are fighting against them? And the same question goes for the resolution on the chemical weapons – how do we ensure that areas that are not under Government or like… I mean, we assume that all the areas where there are chemical weapons are under Government control but some of them have in the perimeter rebels that might have access problems? So how do we assure that problem?

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: In relation to the latter one. I mean, obviously compliance, the actual implementation of the chemical weapons resolution, compliance is the test. Ultimately, it is obvious that it is the test. And all I can say is that we won’t know until we start what the practical issues on the ground are. Obviously the designers of the program, the work that’s already been undertaken and that which will be further undertaken by the OPCW and others in the next little while, will be very conscious of all of those issues. And in the event of non-compliance, I mean, this applies to all parties in the conflict, the issue of non-compliance – well, we have to see who’s not complying and then what the measures are for the non-compliers, whoever they are – whether this is a Government or whether it’s opposition groups. Now, what the result of that is, of course, only history will tell. So I mean, I think that’s the situation there.

And it’s a little similar, in fact, on the issue of a humanitarian PRST. Ultimately, we can’t enforce it on the ground. But then, let’s be realistic about this, if we adopt a resolution as an alternative – and we don’t think that’s necessary – is that going to give us any greater ability to enforce it on the ground? And the answer is no.

JOURNALIST: …under Chapter VII, it is.

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Yes.  A Chapter VII resolution on humanitarian access, no – we had not contemplated that. A PRST, of course, can always be converted into a resolution and a number of Council members have pointed this out. It’s been a consistent theme. The need now is a unified message – now, quickly. With the agencies themselves saying to us, this will make a difference, a PRST, to us on the ground. Particularly since it indicates the disunity in the Council is behind us and we’ve got a new opportunity. And there have been ongoing discussions, of course, with the Government in Damascus, as well as the opposition, consistently on these issues. In terms of the opposition, they of course – it’s a multifarious series of people on the ground who are opposing the Government in Damascus  - but the National Coalition, for example President al-Jarba and his group, have expressed to the Council themselves their willingness to abide by issues of humanitarian access, to provide the access on cross-conflict zones and areas and so on that we’ve talked about; to help de-militarise medical facilities, which is another key point in the draft PRST as you will have seen. So to the extent in a very imperfect situation of war, where you can get these kinds of commitments, I think we feel we’ve got a point to go forward. But if we don’t start somewhere and soon – now – we’re not going to end up anywhere. I think it’s called a linear equation.  So, alright.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much – thank you.

AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Thank you.

 

30 September 2013

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