Annan Planning Ministers Iraq Meeting in Geneva
Annan Planning Sept 14 Ministers Meeting on Iraq in Geneva
Wants to discuss how international community moves forward on Iraq issues
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters September 8 that he would meet that day in his conference room with members of the U.N. Security Council in search of a solution to the issues of Iraq, and that he hoped to meet on the same subject in Geneva on September 14 with the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council.
The five permanent members are the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom.
"I am still hoping to have a meeting with the foreign ministers in Geneva on Saturday. There is one more phone call that I have to make later today to put everything on track," Annan said at a September 8 news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York.
"We need to work together to find out how we can move the process forward, how we can create security on the ground, how we can restore essential services and how, as an international community, we can come together to make this possible and help Iraqis and the region move forward in a peaceful and prosperous environment," Annan said.
Annan spoke the day after President Bush told the people of the United States in a televised address that the United States would introduce a new resolution on Iraq at the U.N. Security Council, in an effort to get more international support in helping Iraq overcome terrorism and become a functioning democracy.
The purpose of the secretary-general's news conference was to discuss the contents of his yearly report on the U.N.'s implementation of the U.N. Millennium Declaration it adopted in 2000, but he was asked many questions about Iraq.
In the report, Annan called the August 19 terrorist attack on the U.N. compound in Baghdad "a direct challenge to the vision of global solidarity and collective security, rooted in the United Nations Charter."
"Its significance," he wrote, "thus reaches beyond the tragedy that affects us personally, as individuals, or even institutionally, as an organization."
In his news conference, Annan made clear that the United Nations will continue its work in Iraq.
"We have pulled back some of our staff, but we have not closed our operations. We are maintaining core staff and our very able and large Iraqi staff working with them. But we will gear up as soon as we determine the (security) situation has improved," he said.
The report also said that while the issues of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are important, the world body must not lose sight of other threats such as poverty and civil war, which affect billions of people and should also be of concern.
"We have what I will call the hard threats: weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. But we also have the soft threats: poverty, deprivation and the HIV epidemic," Annan told reporters.
"Quite frankly, if you were to do a poll in each of the regions, I am not sure that weapons of mass destruction and terrorism would register very high with the people as to their main concerns and the threats they feel. What I am suggesting is that we should focus on those essential threats as well and do something about them, and not ignore them -- because for many, those are everyday issues which really destabilize their lives," Annan said.
Following is a transcript released by the United Nations of the Annan news conference.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE BY KOFI ANNAN
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, September 8, 2003
OPENING STATEMENT BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I've asked you to meet with me here this morning because I particularly want to draw your attention to my report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, which is published today.
The General Assembly requires me to submit this report each year, so that we can see how the Member States are doing in their efforts to fulfill the pledges they made at the Millennium Summit three years ago.
Those pledges include the famous Millennium Development Goals but also cover other global issues, starting with peace and security and disarmament.
On the Goals themselves, there is some good news. Since 2000 we have forged a stronger consensus on what needs to be done. If we maintain and increase the momentum of the last three years, the Goals can be reached by 2015. But it depends on Member States being really determined to act on the commitments they have made. This week's meeting in Cancún will be a very important test.
But on peace and security I felt that this year a simple progress report would not be enough. Events have shaken the international system. I am not even sure whether the consensus and the vision that the Millennium Declaration expressed are still intact.
Member States have been sharply divided about some of the most fundamental issues that this Organization was set up to deal with.
We all agree that there are new threats, or rather that old challenges have resurfaced in new and more virulent forms. But we don't seem to agree what exactly they are, or how to respond, or even whether the response should be a collective one.
We seem no longer to agree on what the main threats are, or on how to deal with them. And last month, in Baghdad, the United Nations itself suffered the most direct and damaging attack in its entire history.
All this is bad enough. But I also have an uneasy feeling that the system is not working as it should.
That is why I have urged Heads of States and Government to come in person to the General Assembly for the debate which opens in two weeks' time. I have asked them to come armed with good ideas on how to make the system work better.
In this report I put forward my own analysis of what is wrong, and some suggestions about what is needed.
I think all States need to take more account of global realities, and of each other's views and interests. They must set a higher priority on finding common ground and agreeing common strategies, rather than striking out on their own. And if they don't want others to strike out on their own, they need to show how multilateral systems really can deal with the problems that are of concern and worry to others.
I also suggest that we need to take a hard look at our institutions themselves, including especially the principal organs of the United Nations -- the Security Council, the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and maybe even the Trusteeship Council. If they are to regain their authority, they may need radical reform.
The report contains many questions. That is deliberate. My intention is to start a debate, not to finish it. But I believe this is a debate we must have, and one that must lead to real change in the way we manage our affairs.
Let me stop here and take your questions.
Question: Sir, this is the first time that we have all gathered together formally like this since the bombing in Baghdad. First, I would like to offer the condolences of all of us gathered here. We know that Sergio was a good friend as well as a trusted lieutenant. He was a good friend to many of us here, and we are all very sorry about what happened.
On the Millennium Declaration, you say -- pointedly I think -- that "while some States focus primarily on terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, for many around the globe, poverty, deprivation and civil war remain the highest priority". I wonder whether what I hear there is some element of criticism that what the world has been seeing in the last couple of years has been too much of a policy of stick and not enough of carrot. I believe that with the President's request for $87 billion yesterday, the United States is going to have spent more than $160 billion on Iraq, on what is essentially a war of aggression: not very much going to fighting to poverty, which some would say is where the seeds of terrorism are sown. Is that what you are trying to say here?
The Secretary-General: I think my point is that we do have many threats. We have what I will call the hard threats: weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. But we also have the soft threats: poverty, deprivation and the HIV epidemic. Quite frankly, if you were to do a poll in each of the regions, I am not sure that weapons of mass destruction and terrorism would register very high with the people as to their main concerns and the threats they feel. What I am suggesting is that we should focus on those essential threats as well and do something about them, and not ignore them -- because for many, those are everyday issues which really destabilize their lives.
Question: In raising the issue of reform of international institutions, including the United Nations, you yourself note that this is an issue that has dragged on in this House for over a decade. What makes you think that now, at this particular time, changes can actually happen? What kind of pressures and inducements can be given to actually get some results instead of talking on endlessly?
The Secretary-General: You are right. We have been discussing the reform of the Security Council, for example, for more than a decade. But I think that in the current climate lots of leaders have been concerned about the state of the international peace and security architecture and would want to see something done about it. I think that the Iraqi crisis brought this to the fore. But in tackling it this time, I hope we will be much more creative and much more daring, and look at the issue in a broader context and really try to make progress. My sense in my contacts with leaders around the world is that they seem determined to move forward. We should all put our thinking caps on and really make some creative proposals.
Question: On the issue of reform, one more time: the Middle East, by virtue of being the part of the world that produces the world's most oil and also being the arena for one crisis after another, directly affecting the rest of the world -- do you think that part of the world ought to be permanently represented on the Security Council?
The Secretary-General: I think that this is an issue that should be part of the discussions. The Member States will have to determine the criteria for the expansion of the Council. It is something that I would not want to prejudge at this stage. So, I am afraid I will have to say that we should wait until the debate begins. But you have made a point, and you have also submitted a criterion for selecting Council members, but let the Member States come to that.
Question: Mr. Secretary-General, you just spoke about new challenges. You spoke of divisions amongst Member States. Yesterday, President Bush took the issue of Iraq to a new definition, framing it in terms of the war on terrorism. Do you agree that the United Nations should enter as a partner with the United States in making Iraq the battlefield for the war on terrorism and, as the President said, taking the war on terrorism from American cities into the region? Do you think that the United Nations should be a partner in this, and do you think what the President said complicated the efforts here?
The Secretary-General: I think the United Nations has been discussing Iraq for a long time. There have been intense discussions since the beginning -- actually I would say going back to last September. The discussions going on in the Council today are about how we stabilize Iraq, how we work with the Iraqis to gain their sovereignty and how we implement the objectives that have been set by the Security Council, which are -- just to remind ourselves -- respect for the sovereignty and integrity of Iraq and to respect the fact that Iraqis must control their own economic destiny, that they should also control their political destiny and that the day that Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly.
We need to work together to find out how we can move the process forward, how we can create security on the ground, how we can restore essential services and how, as an international community, we can come together to make this possible and help Iraqis and the region move forward in a peaceful and prosperous environment.
But I think the issue of fighting terrorism is something that the Security Council and the United Nations have been involved in. The Counter-Terrorism Committee is working on that and, obviously, their fight is worldwide. The fight against terrorism will continue and their attempts to restore stability in Iraq should also continue.
Question: Are you saying that you agree to frame the issue of Iraq in the terms that President George W. Bush framed it -- as the "war on terrorism"?
The Secretary-General: I did not say that and I do not want to interpret the President. I think he spoke for himself and he was very clear. What I am saying is that the debate in this house and the discussions that we are having are on the question of how we implement the resolutions that have been adopted by the United Nations. The discussion today in the papers that is being discussed focuses on stabilizing Iraq and ensuring that we help them establish a democratic Government and a stable environment.
Question: You have asked everyone to put on their thinking caps. Does that absolve the Secretariat from putting on its thinking cap? The report is pure analysis. It is repetition of ideas that have been repeated many, many times. As you know, the system does not work unless there is a pretty firm lead from the Secretariat.
The Secretary-General: I am not sure it is always correct, but I will be making proposals to the General Assembly. I will be making specific proposals when I address the General Assembly.
Question: Without asking you to get too far ahead of yourself on what you will be announcing to the General Assembly, this past year has been characterized by international institutions not being able to coalesce and work together. Do you feel that a change in the Security Council that narrows its mandate and increases its size would help, and do you think the Security Council is the best arena to deal with what you call the "soft threats"?
The Secretary-General: I think that the need for Security Council reform is not questioned. I think if we can reform the Council and make it more democratic and more representative, it will gain also in greater legitimacy. I think most Member States would want to see that happen. I do not know if, by doing that, one would necessarily have to narrow its focus.
On the question of fighting the softer threats, I think it is not an issue for the Council. It is an issue for the Economic and Social Council; it is an issue for the General Assembly; it is an issue for the United Nations and its agencies and the family; it is an issue for the international community and donor countries. We must really focus on issues that are of concern to the poor and the voiceless, who are really hurting in the world of today. Their concerns do not always make it to the surface. Quite frankly, as I said, we had a meeting of all the regional organizations and we discussed major threats and issues around the world. We almost sort of teased each other that they should all go to their regions and organize a poll to see what the peoples in their regions and these countries consider to be the biggest threats and issues of the greatest concern to them. They would then come back and discuss if terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are on top of the list.
Basically, what I am saying is that, yes, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are important, but there are other issues, other threats, which affect millions and billions of people and which should also be of concern.
Question: Until now, the United Nations has traditionally been more of a referee than a player -- unaffiliated, not a partisan to world politics. Being hit and targeted by terrorists, conceptually, does this position have to change? Secondly, concerning the Security Council, can you flesh out what you mean exactly by "more democratic"? Do we need a change in who will be the members, and so on and so forth?
The Secretary-General: I think, obviously, it was a tragedy what happened on 19 August and it has had its impact. We need to look at how we do business. We need to look at the security of our staff, not just in Iraq, but around the world. But I think that the ideals that are embodied in the Charter are still relevant and the United Nations will continue its work. We are not, by the implication in your question, going to take sides. I think we will be fair and we will be equitable and we will be firm where necessary, but you do not necessarily have to take sides to be all that. We will defend the Charter.
I will say on the second question: Yes, it implies expansion of the membership of the Council and allowing other regions and other groups to be represented on the Council. We started with 51 Member States and we are now 191 Member States. Yes, we are an organization of sovereign States, but the structure of the Council has not changed and I think it is about time that we took the reform very seriously. It will entail expansion in membership.
Question: In permanent membership?
The Secretary-General: It could be increase in permanent membership as well as in ordinary, elected membership.
Question: You mentioned the Trusteeship Council in your opening remarks. It has been a long time since anyone has talked about the Trusteeship Council. What sort of role could you see that body playing in terms of the Millennium Goals and does it have any place, perhaps, in a place like Iraq?
The Secretary-General: I was not thinking of Iraq when I talked of the Trusteeship Council, but I think the Member States will have to decide what role it should play. You will recall that, in my own earlier reform proposals, I suggested that the Trusteeship Council could be transformed into a body where civil society and others could come to discuss issues of global commons - issues of concern to all of us, including the environment, the oceans. There were lots of issues that we could discuss. The General Assembly did not take it up at that time. That was just one idea; I am sure there will be other ideas that Member States can look at.
Question: You expressed your optimism earlier about reaching the Millennium Goals, but in your dark picture of the world in your report -- from divisions in the Security Council to the threats of terrorism and non-conventional and conventional weapons, the gap between rich and poor countries, increasing AIDS and malaria, and other aspects -- is there any room to be optimistic?
The Secretary-General: I see a very pessimistic fellow. No, I am optimistic. As I said, we have made a slow start. We had a good understanding in Monterrey on financing for development and, for the first time in many years, we have seen an increase in development assistance by about $7 billion. There are proposals on the table to try and increase development assistance. We need about $100 billion a year to be able to achieve these goals. We are around $57 billion. There is a proposal on the table for the international financing facility that, if embraced by Member States, could add an additional $50 billion. Major donors are looking at this.
And so we have a new atmosphere that, I would hope, the Cancun meeting will be a true development round. There are difficulties about agricultural subsidies. I hope we can come to some understanding and open up world trade and make it truly free and allow poor countries to trade themselves out of poverty. They would earn much more -- much, much more -- from trade than they get from development assistance if we really open up trade.
And of course, there is awareness around the world in the areas of education and health. Governments and the peoples themselves are pressing their Governments to become active in these social fields.
Question: Expanding on the question of the Security Council expanding, over the last few years one of the major problems in the Security Council has been the use of the veto, and also some inappropriate members -- like Rwanda being represented on it while the United Nations was discussing action there. Do you envisage, first of all, any expansion of the veto -- in which case, are you not multiplying your problems, rather than expanding yourself into efficiency - and secondly, would you recommend any criteria for admission to the Security Council, such as democratic governance?
The Secretary-General: I think all the discussions and debates which have taken place have factored in or considered the possibility of the creation of additional permanent seats and additional elected seats. And I do not think you are going to get an agreement without allowing for that. I am not sure that it will necessarily complicate your problem. I think also that the elected members have to understand their own power and their own input. In some way, they did during the discussions on Iraq this year -- for the first time you could see that the elected members played an important role. What we do not seem to understand is that the veto is a negative power. The veto can block, but the veto cannot take a decision -- cannot force a decision. Without the nine votes of the others there will not be a decision, so they do have considerable power, which has not always been used. But I think if it is reformed and other regions are effectively represented, you may see a Council that plays an effective role which is accepted easily around the world.
On the question of criteria, I think that the membership -- the General Assembly -- will have to have some criteria or understanding at least not to elect onto the Council States with issues before the Council, not to elect onto the Council States which are under sanctions by the Council. That would be at least a minimum. I hope that, as the Member States begin to look at how we can perform better, they will look at those kinds of things as well.
Question: That would exclude India and Pakistan, over Kashmir for example?
The Secretary-General: Well . . . .
Question: You mentioned that there are two sets of priorities -- hard and soft problems. To what extent would you say that the hard problems would be solved by solving the soft ones first? In other words, to what extent are the hard a product of the soft? If that extent is not very great, why would some countries that consider the hard ones a priority -- like the United States -- switch their priorities? We heard only last night that even America's own social spending is likely to suffer and to slow to make way for the fight on terrorism.
The Secretary-General: Let me answer your question by saying that the soft threats, as I define them, also have an impact on stability and security around the world. And if you were to deal with the soft threats -- which can have an economic basis, they can be political, they can be disease -- you might be able to make the world a safer place. Of course, what Governments decide to focus on depends on their own perception of the threats that they confront. I would also have to say that I do agree that if we are going to fight terrorism, we need international cooperation; one country cannot do it alone. You indicated, from the President's comments, that the United States has decided that terrorism is the key, which is fair. It is a judgement and an assessment that the United States has made. But if you went to Liberia today asked the average Liberian in the street, "What is the greatest threat? What is your worry?", he would probably tell you, "A child with a Kalashnikov, and all of these lawless people with guns in their hands, and small weapons are my greatest fear: do something about it; disarm them". So we have to realize that, whilst we have these major issues, there are issues of major concern to others that we also have to tackle.
Question: I was surprised to hear you mention the Trusteeship Council -- a dormant organ of this Organization. What do you have in mind?
The Secretary-General: I think I have answered that question. You may call it dormant in the sense that it has not been as active as the others. But the Member States have not -- it has not been abolished, either. And there are lots of issues that we are dealing with, so they have to decide either to give it functions or to do something else with it.
Question: Can failed States become a part of this?
The Secretary-General: The failed States: You mean if failed States can be the responsibility of the Trusteeship Council? That is something that the Member States will have to discuss.
Question (interpretation from French): You said in your report that there are still many countries that have the means, militarily speaking, to send troops into the field, but that they do not do so -- not, for instance, to Africa or countries where they have no financial or political interests. Since you will not be standing for office again, could you not bang your fists on the table and make your views know?
The Secretary-General (interpretation from French): Well, that is a sovereign decision to be taken by the States concerned. But recently we have begun to see a trend towards change. For example, France and the European Union agreed to go into Bunia. The United Kingdom went to Sierra Leone. A number of European countries are working with us -- in Eritrea and Ethiopia. So the situation is improving, but it is not perfect yet. It is the countries that have the means that can make a difference -- the countries that have the means that can act in a robust way to make all these young men and others put down their arms. So we are still discussing the matter. We are still encouraging them to act and to participate, and I hope we will succeed by encouraging even more participation than we have had so far.
Question (interpretation from French): Can you not bang your fist on the table?
The Secretary-General (interpretation from French): Banging your fist on the table is not necessarily the best way of getting results. Shouting and banging on the table are not as good as convincing people that it is in their own interests to commit themselves to an outcome. It is easy to bang on the table, but it is not necessarily the best way.
Question: President Bush last night spoke of more responsibility for the United Nations. How did you react to that? These days, because of the tragedy of 19 August, you are understandably pulling out staff. Would you get enough people of sufficient calibre to go back in again? You yourself have spoken about a United Nations administration. Also, you mentioned on Friday that you were considering a Foreign Ministers' meeting on the resolution. Have you made progress?
The Secretary-General: Let me say that, obviously, President Bush was also speaking to the Council members who are already engaged in discussions on a second resolution, and I think that the discussions are at an early stage as yet. But my own sense is that Iraq is of such importance that all of us will have to find a way of working together to stabilize Iraq. It also means that countries have to listen to each other. Yes, the United States has indicated that it would want to see more States involved. The States concerned have also indicated what they would want to see on the internationalization of the operations, not just on the military side but also on the civilian side -- the political and economic side -- and that they should have a say in the decision-making. Knowing the positions of the various parties, I think that if they sat and discussed the issue frankly and openly, we would be able to reach a solution. I am still hoping to have a meeting with the Foreign Ministers in Geneva on Saturday. There is one more phone call that I have to make later today to put everything on track.
Question: And will you have the staff in place?
The Secretary-General: Yes. Obviously, I think that security and a secure environment are very important for us, and we have discussed this with the coalition. We ourselves are taking steps to strengthen our security. But when we talk of security or a secure environment for United Nations staff, it is very precise, and it is not just for the protection of individuals, but also an environment within which we can do our work.
People are our work. If we are doing humanitarian work or facilitating a political process, we need to work with the people; we need to be able to get to them, and they need to be able to get to us. So that freedom of movement - that ability to work with the people -- is essential, and so for us, securing the environment is an essential part of ensuring that we do succeed and are able to deliver the mandate that the Council has given us. We have pulled back some of our staff, but we have not closed our operations; we are maintaining core staff, and a very able and large Iraqi staff is working with them. But we will gear up as soon as we determine that the situation has improved.
Question: The overwhelming perception in the Middle East now is that any new resolution in Iraq, in order to have any credibility and to give more power to the United Nations in Iraq, must really provide a very visible political role for the United Nations in Iraq -- very visible to the Iraqi people, most importantly. Secondly and equally important -- and I would like to have your reaction on this -- the Iraqi people and many Arabs I have spoken to -- and this is, as I said, the overwhelming perception -- believe that the United Nations should control oil production and oil revenues; secondly, should be responsible for the awarding of contracts to foreign countries; and thirdly, should be responsible for ensuring that Iraqi oil is not privatized. What are your opinions on these points?
The Secretary-General: I think the issues you have raised are very much part of the discussions which are going on at the moment. The question of greater United Nations involvement, or the United Nations playing a leading role in the political area, is also something that several Member States have put forward, believing that this will bring greater legitimacy to the process and acceptability to the region. So I would say, let us wait and see how the discussion proceeds, because it does cover the operations across the board: those are the discussions which are going on now.
Question: In the economic field, in oil production and revenues --
The Secretary-General: An essential part of the discussion is also to try to establish an Iraqi administration that will be responsible for running its own affairs; it is not so much for the United Nations to go in and take over the administration and management of Iraq, but for us to ensure that we accelerate the establishment of a Government and the transfer of authority and to have the Iraqis run their own affairs, as indicated in the Security Council resolution. And so I would want to see how we end up with all the discussions and negotiations which are taking place now.
Question: After the attack on Iraq -- which, in your report, you called a direct challenge to collective security -- now seems to be the moment to redefine the United Nations role there. In the debate, one of the proposals is to have the United Nations take charge of the political transition, but we have not heard clearly from the Secretary-General what you think the capabilities of the United Nations are and what the United Nations has the desire to do there. Could you lay out for us your vision of what you think the United Nations is capable of?
The Secretary-General: I think I have been very clear in my discussions with the Member States that are running this. If I am a bit hesitant, it is because I was the first to tell the Member States that some of these discussions should take place behind closed doors and that they should try and have an understanding before they come public with documents and create a sense of division. So do not expect me to go into too many details, but let me indicate that, in situations where the Member States have come together to deal with a crisis situation and establish a new political order, the United Nations has often run the political facilitation process and the United Nations Special Representative has often led that process. If Member States, by coming together to deal with Iraq, want to see that model -- whether the model of Afghanistan, Kosovo or East Timor -- they are all on the table for discussion, and the United Nations has had good experience in these areas.
Question: You made a statement recently that the elimination of nuclear weapons should be the top priority of the international community. Two of the nuclear-weapons countries -- India and Pakistan -- are coming to the United Nations General Assembly session. They had just opened talks, and now they have backtracked, there are no talks and there is again talk of some sort of confrontation. Will you be trying to get these heads of Government and State together in order to resolve their differences, because this is one of the priorities of the Security Council and one of your priorities?
The Secretary-General: I have always encouraged dialogue between the two States, and on each opportunity I have with the leaders, I raise this issue, and I intend to raise it. I think it is important that the dialogue continue. Both leaders recently sent out signals that they were prepared to engage in a sustained dialogue, and I hope that we will be able to get them back to that. Of course, the issue has been complicated by some of these terrorist attacks. But I hope that that is not going to derail indefinitely the willingness to talk, because I think that without dialogue -- without an attempt to resolve these issues peacefully -- we may not be able to resolve the issue of violence either.
Question: I want to ask you about Colombia. The rebels have asked the United Nations to come to the table. Your special representative -- or the mediator -- seems to be seen with skepticism by both sides. What is the role that the United Nations is going to play in this, and are you keeping your special representative?
The Secretary-General: Yes, my special representative will continue his work. My good offices are available. We are not approaching the process with scepticism, but we are approaching it cautiously and with discretion.
Question: In your report, you talk about double standards on applying proliferation norms on nuclear weapons and in terms of weapons of mass destruction in general. You refer to weak enforcement of provisions. Keeping in mind that the United States seems to be very much in favor of discrimination in proliferation and ad hoc enforcement regimes, how can you encourage a universal system of control and elimination of weapons of mass destruction?
The Secretary-General: On the question of nuclear disarmament, I think the nuclear Powers also have to show an example. They have to demonstrate to the rest of the world that they themselves take the issue of disarmament very seriously and that they are determined, and will take demonstrable steps, to reduce their own stocks. Otherwise, it is extremely difficult to convince others not to try to get them, either covertly or otherwise. So when I talked of double standards, I meant that we should all take the issue of disarmament very seriously, and that those who have nuclear weapons should demonstrate by their own acts that they are taking the lead in disarmament, and that others should follow. It would also discourage others from getting these weapons if you have to disarm or get rid of them at the end of it.
Question: If, say, Saddam Hussain were caught alive, would he be taken care of by the Iraqi administration now? Could he be tried in the law court in Iraq or elsewhere, since there is no proven criminal charge against him? Would that be legitimate and in accordance with international law?
The Secretary-General: For the moment, the coalition which runs Iraq has indicated that all Iraqis caught will be put before a court in Iraq. They have not set up that court and they have not defined the outlines of that court. So I do not know how that will be done. But the Authority running the Government -- running Iraq -- indicates that they would hold a trial in Iraq.
Question (interpretation from French): On the issue of Iraq, it seems you are facing a dilemma. On the one hand, you want to protect United Nations personnel in the field; and you have reduced the size of the mission there. On the other hand, you are saying that remaining present in Iraq is important. How are you coping with this situation and how do you expect to overcome this paradox?
The Secretary-General (interpretation from French): I think we first have to improve the security situation. We are in touch with people in the field and have sent our own experts to study the situation. We are currently carrying out our work with a fairly reduced number of staff, but we are working closely with our local Iraqi staff. We also have people standing by in Amman and Cyprus to return as soon as the situation improves. Once we feel that it is possible to work, and they will go right back as soon as possible.
Question (interpretation from French): Is the restoration of more satisfactory security conditions a prerequisite for upgrading the role of the United Nations on the ground?
The Secretary-General (interpretation from French): Yes, a significant improvement in the security situation is essential before we make any significant increase in the number of personnel.
Question: How do you see your personal role in your attempts to bring closer together what are almost polarized positions between some European Member States and the United States? In particular, with regard to enlargement of the Security Council, what do you think about Germany and Japan becoming permanent members?
The Secretary-General: As far as my own efforts are concerned, I am in touch with Member States both here and in capitals. This afternoon I will meet with Council members in my conference room, and I am hoping to see the P-5 Foreign Ministers in Geneva at the end of the week. All of this is in search of a solution to the issues of Iraq that we are discussing now. These efforts will continue. I am also talking to a large number of Member States. I also believe that, whatever we do, we need to engage the leaders in the region as well as Iraq's neighbours. I think that is going to be important.
You also raised another question --
Question: Regarding Germany and Japan.
The Secretary-General: I think that when we talk about Security Council reform Germany and Japan are often cited. But there are other countries and other criteria to look at. I do not want to prejudge what the outcome of extensive discussion on expanding the Council will be. Germany and Japan have been mentioned in the past, but there are others.
Question: After all of these momentous issues that we have been discussing, I am sorry to raise a housekeeping issue. But I do it at the request of a large number of my colleagues. In recent days there have been moves around the Security Council area that impinge on our working conditions. There has been a physical structure erected. There have been new arrangements made about where journalists may move around in the Security Council area. In neither of these cases have we been consulted. I think that the United Nations Correspondents Association has gone out of its way this year to make itself available to discuss these things. We understand security concerns, but we would like to be consulted. I would like, if you could, for you to send a very firm message all the way down the chain of command that we are to be consulted, and not disregarded, in the future on these decisions.
The Secretary-General: Thank you very much for that question. In fact, I was not even aware of it until this morning, when Fred told me. I have not even seen the structure. So maybe when I leave you here I will go look at it.
Question: If you could stand in front of it like Ronald Reagan and say, "Tear down this wall": that is what we would like.
The Secretary-General: I see you are getting applause. I will look at it and we will look into it. Obviously, you are right that there should be consultations. We will discuss it.