Bolton Remarks On Human Rights Council and Sudan
Remarks on the Draft Resolution for the Human Rights Council and Sudan
Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at the Security Council Stakeout
New York City
February 28, 2006
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think we had a very successful briefing this morning by Special Coordinator Alvaro de Soto. In the course of the discussions and the informal consultations that followed I think we had a chance to get his unvarnished opinions on a number of subjects, which I think is a pattern we should follow in other Security Council informal consultations so that the Special Representatives or the people in that capacity, who are out there on behalf of the Security Council, can report to the Security Council without filtering by others. And I think we had a very candid discussion and I look forward to more of such in the future. We then had a briefing by Under Secretary General Guehenno on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, currently, of course, the largest UN peacekeeping mission. And a discussion of that that followed as well. And with that I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.
REPORTER: (inaudible) Iran is offering to make up the difference if monies don't go to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, Iran is one of the world's largest perhaps the largest state sponsor of terrorism. I don't think additional assistance from Iran is the right direction to go. We're obviously, in the United States, studying the circumstances of the Palestinian Authority's funding very carefully consistent with the statement that the Quartet made. And that's where we stand on that.
REPORTER: The letter from Mr. Wolfensohn the other day and also the second to last paragraph of de Soto's remarks suggested that the situation is such that it could lead the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, the dashing of hopes for a Palestinian state, regional strife and so forth. Does the U.S. believe that the situation is that dire? And if so then what do you do about it, if so?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I don't think I have anything really to add to what's been said in Washington on the subject. The Secretary of State has been very clear that we're not going to fund Hamas or terrorist organizations. Now how that works out in its fullest implications, what Hamas' conduct is once it forms a government. All these are things that we have under advisement. And beyond that I don't really have anything to say to add to that.
REPORTER: Have you effectively suspended (inaudible) the text on the Human Rights Council until you get what you'd like?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, as I said yesterday, we're prepared to engage in renegotiation of the text to correct its many deficiencies. That's one option. We're prepared to do that now. Another option is to simply push off for several months any further discussion of the subject, perhaps to give people a chance to rethink. You know sometimes when you're in discussions after awhile you get set in mental patterns and sometimes it's useful to just take a step back and find new ways to conceptualize the disputes. But if the President of the General Assembly and others are determined to bring this to a vote this week, we will be in a position where we will record our vote as being against the resolution. So I don't think we're stopping anything. We're here trying to work constructively to get what we've been seeking all along, which is a truly reformed human rights decision-making mechanism in the United Nations.
REPORTER: Mr. Ambassador, Mr. Eliasson just had a press conference in which he made several points including saying that, yes, he was consulting widely; yes, he was open to negotiations, but he was loathe to open the text because he'd heard from people on the other side that if the text is open then there would be great difficulties. Also in response to something that you said, he said he was asked by the leaders at the summit to be the facilitator and he planned to go ahead and keep doing that. But as I said, he said he was consulting widely; he wanted quick action preferably before March 15. And I wondered if we could have your reaction to some of those points.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, we're in no rush. This process has brought us to a failed draft resolution. So you know the old well, I guess won't go into that. But you can continue the process and expect that you're going to have different results, I don't think there's any empirical evidence of that, which is why we've suggested real international negotiations. But, you know, I don't doubt that if the President brings it to a vote if he wants to bring it to a vote this week, he can do that and we'll cast our vote as I've indicated. And I say that again more in sorrow than in anger.
REPORTER: Mr. Ambassador, how do you prevent line-by-line negotiations?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: What's wrong with line-by-line negotiations?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: You know this is what an international agreement is. An international agreement is an agreement between nations, and how do you reach agreements between nations? You sit down with a text and a red pencil, countries sit across the table from each other and they negotiate it. I think that's a good thing myself.
REPORTER: And are you still for the two-thirds? There had been some talk that you'd pulled back from that.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I don't know who's doing the talking.
REPORTER: So you are still for it?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: That's a position we've articulated before. And you know this goes to the fundamental question of whether we're going to meet the standards that we set out for ourselves when we began the process, which is a truly, substantially reformed decision making machinery. And we don't think, unfortunately after a lot of work, but unfortunately this text doesn't meet that standard. We think that it's better to continue to negotiate to achieve real reform, rather than settle for second best.
REPORTER: In deference to what Edie asked you, (inaudible) it will die in the process, and it will be dead. So what do you how do you respond to that?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I don't think you can know the answer to that question until you try. And the bigger question, the more important strategic question, is if you have a discredited mechanism in place now, which is what the Human Rights Commission is, why should you settle for a new body that is at best marginally better than the old body? Why not continue the struggle over a longer period of time to achieve real reform? Why settle for less than what your standards are? And that's why I do think this is important in the overall context of UN reform. If this is the best we can do on the Human Rights Commission, what's going to happen on management reforms, on governance reform, on rules and regulations reform? I don't want us and I mean we don't really regard this as second best, I mean it's third best you can make up your own label. We need to work harder at this, and I think we're prepared to do that. As I've said there are different ways we can achieve it negotiations now or pushing things off for a period of months while people recalibrate what paths they might want to follow and we're open to either or both of those.
REPORTER: Even if it means the Human Rights Council (inaudible)?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We're willing to risk success, and right now we don't have success.
REPORTER: (inaudible) while negotiations continue?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I've said in private consultations that it might be worthwhile having the Commission meet again to remind everybody how bad it is so that we can get on the track of real reform.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Pardon me?
REPORTER: On Sudan, there are reports of violence escalating. The president of the country said that if the UN were to send troops there it would become a graveyard. Does that affect what you're doing in the Security Council how does it affect what you're doing?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think when the president of the country demonstrates that kind of attitude, where he's not apparently concerned with the welfare, the lives of its own citizens, it has to give everybody concern. We have been trying working with the government of Sudan, working with the African Union, working with the Arab League, working with non-governmental organizations, working with the other concerned countries to find a way to get a UN presence in Darfur to stop the genocide. That's our objective. And one can only hope that the government of Sudan shares the objective that its own citizens should live. But it's complicated. We've pushed hard, we're going to continue to push hard even though tomorrow is March 1 because this is something we feel very strongly about.
REPORTER: You once said the P5 should get permanent seats on the Human Rights Council. That's not part of your formal request now, is it? And why not?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: One concern we had is the provision in there now for term limits. I think our experience has been when the United States was voted off the Human Rights Commission in 2001 that the performance of the Commission in 2002 was even worse than it normally is. So I think we've got a strong contribution to make. It was always our view, obviously, that each member of the Permanent 5 had to get elected on its own. We weren't referring to automatic seats, but referring to the Permanent 5 convention. My concern now, given the term limits, is that America will go off, and that would be to the detriment of the Commission.
REPORTER: (inaudible) on the Guantanamo report about the review process?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We're prepared to defend our conduct in this forum or any other appropriate forum. That's the difference between the United States and some other countries. We're not going to try and block action, we're going to try and defend ourselves because we think we've got a record that can be defended. That's what we need in a workable human rights mechanism and we don't have that now.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Sorry?
REPORTER: With the war moving now into Chad?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think the cross border aspects of the conflict, both in terms of the flow of refugees and the military action demonstrates yet again why the situation in Darfur constitutes a threat to international peace and security and why we need to act to bring it under control. I'll just do one more here.
REPORTER: Last week President Bush asked the French President Jacques Chirac to involve NATO in Sudan? How far has that request gone and is there anything being done about that?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, we're still pressing ahead on that in terms of it being helpful if there were a formal request from the African Union or some other organization to get NATO involved, but I think the President has made clear his interest in the subject and what he'd like to see happen.
REPORTER: Mr. Ambassador?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I'll do one more.
REPORTER: Your last day as President of the Council, how did you find your month? Any thoughts? And how about the punctuality of the Council, and the morning briefing?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think punctuality is just fine right now. And I think it can be sustained, and I think it should be sustained because I think it's polite, among other things, not to mention efficient. The Council will have to make up its own mind on that and on the subject of the daily briefing, which I would also urge be continued, but that's really up to the rest of the Council to decide. And so with that I'll see y'all later.
Released on February 28, 2006