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Bolton - Peacekeeping, Procurement & Other Matters

Remarks on Peacekeeping, Procurement and Other Matters

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at Security Council Stakeout
New York City
February 22, 2006

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Okay, so we had you heard the public meeting on the three counterterrorism committees and that debate. And we had briefings this morning on the situations in Haiti and Cote D'Ivoire. So I'd be happy to answer any questions that you have.

REPORTER: Ambassador, how are the talks progressing on choosing the new Secretary General, whether the rest of the Council is accepting your idea that the new Secretary General should be chosen by the middle of the year or no?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I will be reporting to the Council before the end of the month on my consultations, the bilateral consultations, which I undertook of all the Council members. And I can say from my general conversations, not those consultations, but my general consultations with the membership as a whole, that there is very wide support for the notion of an adequate transition period. It's a little bit difficult to say when you want to hold the elections since you can start at a given point but you can't predetermine you are going to finish at a given point. And that is a subject we are going to have to discuss.

REPORTER: On the subject of the G77's participation in tomorrow's debate, they had sent this letter requesting to participate, and we heard suggestions that the United States was not really that interested in letting them participate, but now it appears that they will. Could you detail what happened on that?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I can't detail what happened in your mind with suggestions and the like. I can tell you that my own initial feeling was that what we had in mind was a briefing by Secretariat officials that members of the Security Council would then respond to. There was a request, and by the way we don't have groups speak to the Security Council, member governments request to speak to the Security Council. We had a discussion in the meeting this morning and I must say there were a lot of different opinions expressed, the more I listened to it, the more I became convinced that allowing any member government at the UN that wants to speak in the Security Council deliberations over it made a good deal of sense. So we will open it tomorrow and the request from the Permanent Representative of Brazil I don't mean Brazil, I beg your pardon South Africa will be granted, and if other member governments wish to speak in accordance with the regular procedure, obviously it is up to the Council, but I don't doubt they would be granted as well. So we will have that procedure both for the meeting tomorrow on Peacekeeping, Procurement, Waste, Fraud and Abuse, and for the meeting on Thursday on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peacekeeping Operations.

REPORTER: (Inaudible) It is an ongoing story while you have been in the Council, but if you could take a historical look or a UN judicial look at what seems to be the arrest or detention of Ratko Mladic, a major war crime suspect for what happened in Bosnia, what type of capture or hunt for him? What does this signify, do you think, for the UN or the UN system?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, since that is the first I have heard of it, if in fact it has happened. I am just not going to comment on that, I don't think it is appropriate for me to do that.

REPORTER: Ambassador, one of the subjects to be taken up tomorrow, is of course, Haiti. There are reports coming out of South Africa that former President Aristide wants to initiate discussions on coming back there with UN officials and key countries, perhaps the US and the Haitian government, does the US feel that this is an appropriate time for him to be returning into that country?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I don't have any comment on that at all.

REPORTER: How concerned are you with the acts of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah? Is it a direct threat on Lebanon?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think Iranian and Syrian support for Hezbollah over the years has been well documented. It's why both among other reasons countries have long been on our list of state sponsors of terrorism. So that continuing support for Hezbollah as an armed faction within Lebanon is contrary to 1559 and contrary to the long-term best interest of the people of Lebanon.

REPORTER: (Inaudible) letter regarding the Kuwaiti property, are you planning as Council president to do anything besides that?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, right now the status of that is we have circulated the letter and we will anticipate reaction from the other members of the Council. And at that point I will be at a better position to make a judgment, whether something will happen this month or thereafter.

REPORTER: How are you on the Human Rights Council? You probably know, more or less, what the General Assembly President is going to come up with?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I don't purport to think that I know more or less what the General Assembly President is going to come up with. So maybe I will wait until he comes up with it to comment on it.

REPORTER: (Inaudible) Maybe you answered this before I came, but the jurisdiction problem between the Security Council the G77 are basically saying that, you know, that you have no right to take this even.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I have said before, and I think it is quite clear, that both the Security Council and the General Assembly have equities in the problems of peacekeeping procurement, waste, fraud and abuse and sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping. These are matters that both bodies can consider. But it is obvious that the Security Council has a role because if you consider, for example, the question of waste, fraud and abuse and peacekeeping procurement that can't be exclusively a General Assembly role, because if the Security Council never created any peacekeeping operations, there would not be any examples of procurement, waste fraud and abuse in peacekeeping. So quite obviously, the antecedent decision is the Security Council's, it is a matter involving international peace and security, and the waste or abuse of peacekeeping resources undercuts the effectiveness of peacekeeping and risks people's lives. So we have been very clear from the US perspective that we think it is important for the Security Council to proceed, we have a responsibility as a permanent member of the Security Council and as a government that pays 27% of the cost of peacekeeping to address the issue, but if the president of the General Assembly decides to hold a debate on the subject, a public debate on waste fraud and abuse in peacekeeping, we will participate actively, and we support more public meetings on theses kind of subjects.

REPORTER: (Inaudible) Federal Authorities that are investigating the Security Council as well? I mean, the procurement department as well?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I don't comment on ongoing criminal investigations.

REPORTER: Maybe this question has been asked of you earlier, is it true that are looking towards having a closed door meeting on this peacekeeping operation?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: No it will be open, open to you ladies and gentlemen of the press. Anybody who wants to speak, any member government who wants to speak, will be able to speak, that was the subject of the discussion in the Council this morning. As I said although it wasn't where I started out, the more I listened to it, the more convinced I became that a really full open debate with any member government that wants to participate discussing the problems of waste, fraud and abuse, or sexual exploitation and abuse will be all for the good.

REPORTER: (Inaudible)

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I assume you all have had lunch by now. Well, I think that the, although one reason, to have had debate only among Security Council members would be the expressed desire of many countries to have a debate in the General Assembly. One could say maybe you should have a debate in the General Assembly, instead of having it in the Security Council as well, but I think the Security Council is going to be the more likely body to take decisive action. So I welcome debate in the Security Council. And I welcome everybody coming into the Security Council, if all 176 other countries want to speak tomorrow, I will be there, just as I was in here from 11:20 until about 10 minutes ago.

REPORTER: Is there a next step planned? This is sort of an airing of dirty linen of the UN in the Council, but is there a next step planned after this?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I don't think it is an airing of dirty linen at all. This meeting tomorrow stems from a report by the office of internal oversight services, a part of the UN secretariat charged with uncovering this kind of mismanagement and fraud. And the meeting on Thursday, stems from our continuing interest in the report written by Prince Zeid, who was authorized by the Secretary General to do that on what the UN's response has been to the findings of Prince Zeid's report and how the UN is implementing the policy of zero tolerance against sexual exploitation and abuse. I think if you don't discuss the fact of the problem, you don't acknowledge the problem, as in the oil for food scandal, you cannot solve the problem. So in terms of what step to take, I think that this is something that all member governments will be considering. We consider it very seriously because we pay 27% of the cost of peacekeeping. And I have a responsibility, my mission has a responsibility to US taxpayers to make sure that our tax dollars are spent wisely. But as I have said before, after we have our debate in the Security Council tomorrow, I am sure there will be other steps that could be taken. And if there is going to be another debate at this General Assembly, I would welcome it.

REPORTER: (Inaudible)

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Pardon? The only non-Council member I believe who has asked to speak, pursuant to rule 37, is South Africa, but there may be others so I can't say.

REPORTER: (Inaudible)

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Mark Malloch Brown, the chief of staff will speak tomorrow.

REPORTER: (Inaudible)

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: No, and we don't have any intention either for tomorrow or Thursday. The purpose was to have an open discussion of this, you know there are a lot of people who have said the Security Council does not have enough open meetings, that it is not transparent enough. Well, we are having an open meeting so we are having two open meetings.

REPORTER: (Inaudible) Why not have someone like that here?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: You know, what we are going to do tomorrow is perhaps others and then we can consider what other steps to take.

REPORTER: (Inaudible)

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, as you know, the scale of assessment is up for negotiation this year, including questions for recalculation of the capacity to pay. And I'm sure we will be actively involved in that debate.

REPORTER: (Inaudible) Have you been studying the names?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: You know I've now met with just under 160 of the Permanent Representatives individually. I'm working my way toward 185. There are six that I'm not going to see, you can imagine which six they are. But I'm getting very close to it; you can see I'm working along.

Released on February 23, 2006


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