John R. Bolton Haiti, Lebanon, and Other Matters
Remarks on Elections in Haiti, Lebanon, and Other Matters
Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative
to the United Nations
Remarks at a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
February 15, 2006
AMBASSADOR BOLTON (as President of the Security Council): Good morning. The Security Council agreed on another press statement today on Haiti. And I'd like to read that first. So this will be a press statement by the Security Council on the situation in Haiti. I am quoting now from what was agreed obviously by the members of the Council.
"The members of the Security Council call on the Haitian people to uphold their commitment to democracy in the rule of law, manifested in their peaceful participation in the vote of 7 February, 2006 by refraining from violence as the results of the election are tabulated and reviewed. We urge all Haitians with concerns or questions about possible post-electoral irregularities to pursue these peacefully and legally with the Haitian electoral authorities immediately. And they call on those authorities to fully investigate those charges. The members of the Council reiterate their call for all Haitians to respect the results of the election when they are announced and to remain engaged in the political process."
So that's the end of the statement on Haiti. And I'd be happy to take a few questions.
REPORTER: (inaudible) circulated yesterday, a proposal for changing the method for how the next Secretary General will be chosen. They're basically proposing more active involvement with the General Assembly and there are other specific proposals out there. I wonder if the US government had a chance to review this document and if you had any initial reactions to it?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON (in his national capacity): We are reviewing it now. We certainly welcome constructive suggestions. We have already begun consultations in the Security Council this month on the selection of the next Secretary General. As you know, the charter of the United Nations specifies that the Security Council takes the first action; and we have begun those consultations.
REPORTER: I have a couple of questions on Lebanon if I may. First question is there are reports that armament is crossing from Syria into Lebanon, and the Lebanese army is saying that this is legitimate; (a) have you tried to get clarification of this as the Security Council and from whom? And (b) if this is a violation of 1559, what will you do about it? And then I'll ask my second question.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Right. Well, we are still looking for specifics. I've seen those reports as well. I think Resolution 1559 is clear on the obligations of all countries to stop illegal transfers of arms into Lebanon. Beyond that I can't be more specific at this point, but it's obviously something we are concerned about.
REPORTER: (Inaudible) You are still looking for specifics, how?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We are in consultations with the government of Lebanon, the UN is in consultations with the government of Lebanon, and the inquiries are being pursued. But I don't have anything new for you.
REPORTER: My second question is that there were about a million people were on the streets in Lebanon yesterday, opposing really the UN resolutions in effect. There are major pressures and worries about political leaders of Lebanon (inaudible). Does this Security Council feel that it should do something now to send the message to protect the lives of those leaders rather than act, God forbid, only after assassinations?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think the most important thing is for all countries, and particularly Syria, to come into strict compliance with resolution 1559 and Resolution 1595. One way to stop assassinations in Lebanon is to eliminate the external interference and to bring the justice the people who are responsible for the assassination of Rafiq Hariri and other prominent Lebanese. So that's the course we are pursuing at the moment.
REPORTER: Ambassador, what do you draw from the meeting of experts on the DRC sanctions and what follow-up would the US call for?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: What we said in the meeting this morning is that we were disturbed that a number of countries were still not fully cooperating with the experts. We think that cooperation is critical and we urge the experts and others to do what they can to get cooperation to acceptable levels. We also said that it's incumbent on all states in the region and elsewhere to strictly adhere to the sanctions and that is a very important principle for us.
REPORTER: Is there anything else that can be done to stop the smuggling of, for instance uranium, gold, that the Council can do to put pressure on people to stop the practice?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, our view, I'm speaking of the American view, is that it is principally the responsibility for member states. And that is one reason why we support the continued operations to put the DRC in control of its territory and the constitutional referendum was important, the step towards elections was important. And we call on the other member states to respect that territorial integrity and uphold their own obligations.
REPORTER: By helping transfer weapons to Hezbollah, is the Lebanese army breaking resolution 1559?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I don't have specifics on exactly what is happening.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I am going to repeat what I said a moment ago. I hear from you what they are saying, but at this point we don't have specifics and I am not prepared to comment on it further.
REPORTER: (inaudible) If the army is in fact saying it is legal to let the weapons in? And you said this is a violation of 1559, what would you then do about it, or would it be a violation?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: And as I have said several times now, since I don't have all the facts, I don't want to comment on hypotheticals. The text of 1559 is clear and that is what we have to measure against whatever the facts turn out to be.
REPORTER: Can you comment on the possibility that Venezuela is seeking a Security Council seat and the United States is making the demarches to oppose that bid?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I don't think it is any secret that we think that membership on the Security Council is a very important subject. The United States, traditionally, does not say what countries it votes for, but I don't think there is any mistake that Venezuela would not contribute to the effective operation of the Security Council. I think we can see that from their actions in the past six months in the General Assembly, which have been unhelpful. And I don't think it would be conducive to an effective and well-functioning Security Council.
REPORTER: (inaudible) outcome of this morning's meeting between you and Mr. Eliasson on the Human Rights Council?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We had a full and frank exchange of views, not in my capacity as President of the Security Council, but as the representative of the United States. And we stressed the importance of complete and effective reform of the discredited Human Rights Commission and our intention to work hard and make that happen.
REPORTER: Anything about (inaudible)?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We are prepared to work with other governments on draft texts of a resolution but our position is unflagging, that we want real substantial reform, not simply cosmetic reform of the existing Human Rights Commission.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: How did you get to do that? (laughter)
REPORTER: (Inaudible) closely reading of it, are there any specifics that you see are promising?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I have to say because of the press of other business, I haven't read it. And as a lawyer, I can tell you, I don't comment on documents I don't read. Now, Mr. Turner from the Financial Times, the Master of Ceremonies for today's.
REPORTER: Regarding the UN local employees in Eritrea how much longer do we have to wait before the UN actually does something about protecting its own?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think the UNMEE officials have made clear their displeasure, and it's something that I think will be discussed in the near future. We expect to convene a meeting of the Algiers witnesses in the very near future and I am sure that will be part of the discussion. Now, I will just take a few more questions.
REPORTER: What is your comment about the Afghanistan resolution?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, we are very pleased at this resolution. We think that the meeting in London, from January 31-February 1, was an important step forward. The Afghanistan compact was an important step forward. This resolution is intended to convey the full support of the Security Council. It was adopted unanimously. And I hope that it will be conducive for the further process in Afghanistan.
REPORTER: I'm going to go at this one more time. If the United Nations thinks that in case this is happening, (inaudible) armaments through the borders from Syria to Lebanon that this would be an alarming development, an alarming violation of 1559. Your answers do not give me the impression that you think it is alarming at all. You seem to say it's fine and we'll find out later. Is that (inaudible) is this a violation and if it is, what are you going to do about it?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I didn't say it was fine. And we are making efforts to ascertain what the facts are. I was simply saying that it is important to ascertain the facts clearly before we react to it, but I think the text of 1559 is clear. Okay, one more.
REPORTER: As an official who's ties to the White House are strong, I was wondering if you have any thoughts about the Vice President's shooting of a friend in Texas. Do you have any comments on that and how the White House is handling the release of that info?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: No, I do not have any comment on that subject. See y'all later.
Released on February 15, 2006