Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on UNIPSIL, the 1874 Committee, and other matters, at the Security Council Stakeout

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
September 14, 2009


Ambassador Rice: Good afternoon.

I'm going to make some comments, first, in my capacity as president of the Security Council, take your questions, wearing that hat, make a few comments in my national capacity and take your questions in that capacity.

So beginning with my role as Security Council president, we just completed consultations and we had Executive Representative Michael von der Schulenburg for the United Nations Integrated Peace Building Office in Sierra Leone, brief the Council on UNIPSIL's activities since June.

The Council also heard, as you know from Canadian Ambassador John McNee in his capacity as the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission's Country Specific Configuration on Sierra Leone and from the permanent representative of Sierra Leone, Mr. Shekou Toure.

This was a regularly scheduled briefing. And as you know, UNIPSIL's mandate expires on the 30th of September.

The Council and its consultations expressed its condolences to the people of Sierra Leone for the tragic ferry sinking last week. Our thoughts are with the families and the victims. Executive Representative von der Schulenburg described the progress UNIPSIL has made in implementing its mandate to support the government of Sierra Leone's efforts to consolidate the peace.

He also briefed the Council on the challenges facing the country, including high youth unemployment and drug trafficking. Council members expressed their strong support for the work of UNIPSIL and the executive representative.

Council members also expressed support for mandating the recommendations made by the Secretary-General in his report. And we look forward to adopting these recommendations in the resolution tomorrow for which all members express support.

Finally, several members of the Council addressed the issue of sexual violence in Sierra Leone and looked forward to reviewing the report on allegations of politically motivated rape.

The Council also heard an update today from the Secretariat about the establishment of the DPRK panel of experts. Resolution 1874 asks the Secretary-General to create a seven-person panel of experts to help the Council's DPRK sanctions committee, also known as the 1718 Committee, monitor and improve implementation of the sanctions regime. The Secretariat explained to the Council that due to various delays, the panel of experts has not yet been fully established. And it would be unable to submit an interim report as planned and requested by September 12th. However, based on the Secretariat's briefing, the Council believes that the panel of experts will be fully operational very soon and delays in establishing these sorts of panels are not unusual.

The chair of the 1718 Committee expressed the committee's willingness to support the panel of experts' work and suggested that the panel of experts be given another 60 days to prepare its interim report. Council members thanked the Secretariat for the update and agreed to allow the panel another 60 days to submit its interim report.

Now, I'm happy to take your questions in my capacity as president of the Security Council.

Reporter: I have a question about the situation in Sri Lanka. On the 2nd of September, you said some video footage that was broadcast showing summary executions by Sri Lankan troops is very disturbing and the U.N. reporter has asked for an investigation.

What action has been taken? And what is the United States doing within the U.N. to move this situation forward?

Ambassador Rice: Well, first of all, I'm taking questions in my capacity as president of the Council. If you'd like to come back to that, we can.


Reporter: The secretary of State is going to have -- are you going to call a meeting on rape by the end of the month with the secretary of State? Is there going to be another Council meeting that's not announced?

Ambassador Rice: As I've previously indicated, there will be a meeting as I explained on September 2nd when I briefed the press corps on the 30th of September in which we expect to adopt a follow up resolution to 1820. Secretary Clinton will chair the meeting on behalf of the United States.

Reporter: (Inaudible) – Is the panel being set up specifically in relation to the (Inaudible) to Iran (Inaudible) and do you have any timetable for when it's going to be discussed again?

Ambassador Rice: No. The panel of experts was set up in Resolution 1874 prior to any alleged violation. Yes, it did come up in the discussions in Council today. The 1718 Committee is actively investigating these allegations. It is sending letters out to countries that we believe might have some information or some interest or knowledge to share on this topic. Once the panel of experts is constituted, it will obviously support the work of the 1718 Committee in investigating this alleged violation. And obviously, it shows that many countries around the world are actively implementing 1874, the degree of public of national and international attention to this issue shows that this is a very strong regime that is bearing fruit.

Reporter: (Inaudible) -- back to the UAE about what to do with the weapons?

Ambassador Rice: I'm not going to get into the specifics of the committee's deliberations. That will be something that's determined in the context of its investigation and on this, as in other matters that come before sanctions committees. The committee will make a judgment about how best to deter and respond to violations in the past and prevent them in the future.

Reporter: As secretary to the Security Council, will you be bringing up the issue of potential war crimes abuses in Sri Lanka?

Ambassador Rice: I'm the president of the Security Council; not the secretary. And it will be for member states to raise that issue. It is currently not actively on the agenda, but it's a subject that has been discussed previously on the Council agenda and I imagine it could be raised by any member state at any time.

Reporter: Sorry. Just logistically, what does it mean that the panel is not completely established yet? Are there still more members to be chosen or how many?

Ambassador Rice: The panel's work has been slightly delayed.

It took the committee some time to work through its consultations to determine how to constitute the panel of experts. The members of the panel have been notified. In almost every instance, they are en route to New York and in two instances, I believe, they're already here ready to begin their work.

So we don't view this as anything other than a technical and logistical delay and not a long one that we expect.

Reporter: (Inaudible)

Ambassador Rice: Just give me a second on that. Yes.

Reporter: (Inaudible) The work of the mission -- (inaudible) -- is not doing better when it comes to economy or jobs? So what do they do? What is their job?

Ambassador Rice: Well, this is an integrated, peace building mission. Its role is to help consolidate both the political progress and the security progress that has been made in Sierra Leone and also to support the government as it embarks on its own national economic and social development program and to deal with national and regional issues like youth unemployment, like drug trafficking and other forms of crime.

It has been a successful, early example of integrated peace building. The progress that has been made in Sierra Leone, everybody welcomed and acknowledged. Obviously, it remains a fragile situation, but one that's substantially improved over where it’s been in recent years.

Reporter: (Inaudible) -- sexual violence and what you call political motivated rape in Sierra Leone. Is this new? What did Mr. Michael von der Schulenburg -- (Inaudible) -- told you about it?

Ambassador Rice: Well, we expect there to be a subsequent report detailing some allegations that were made regarding the violence that broke out in March. We'll await that report as will many other members of the Council with interest.

Okay. Now, I go on to my national capacity. I just want to say a few additional words about the work of the 1718 Committee and the major international effort that's underway to fully implement the DPRK sanctions.

We very much look forward to the panel of experts becoming fully operational in the coming weeks. The Secretary-General has chosen an outstanding group of highly qualified experts for this team. And the group will play a major role in supporting the work of the 1718 Committee to ensure better implementation of the sanctions on North Korea.

In addition as you all have, we've seen the reports about a particular violation that a member state reported to the 1718 Committee last month. As I mentioned earlier, the committee is very actively engaged in investigating that. The increased attention and global cooperation that we have seen in light and in response to 1874, we believe will help in the detection and the deterrence of future violations.

The coordinated effort in response to implementation of 1874 sends a strong signal that the international community is vigilant, united and determined to see these sanctions fully implemented. The U.S. goal remains dialogue among the six parties that will lead to the complete irreversible and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

I also wanted to add a bit of information subsequent to our briefing of you a couple of years ago regarding the president's visit, President Obama's visit here to New York next week. In addition to his attendance at the climate change meeting, his speaking before the General Assembly and chairing the Security Council summit meeting on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament, the president will host a lunch for heads of state and government from sub-Saharan Africa. The lunch will be focused on building a 21st century partnership to increase economic and social development in Africa.

And in addition, the president will host a meeting with countries that contribute the largest numbers of police and troops to U.N. peacekeeping operations. This is an opportunity for the President of the United States to recognize whether often largely unheralded contributions of troops and police contributing countries to U.N. peacekeeping operations that are doing essential work to build peace and security in fragile situations.

So that's a bit more background for your benefit on the president's visit here.


Reporter: (Inaudible)

Ambassador Rice: I'm sorry. I'm not getting into scheduling details during the course of his time.

Reporter: (Inaudible) Did you send all the invitation to countries that will attend already? -- (Inaudible) -- Niger, Eritrea, Guinea won't attend -- (Inaudible) -- elaborate more on that.

Ambassador Rice: Yes. The invitations have already been issued.

Reporter: (Inaudible)

Ambassador Rice: I'm not going to get into every -- to the invitation list, but there are some countries that are not invited.

Reporter: What are the criteria of selecting those countries, please?

Ambassador Rice: This is a gathering of African leaders from sub- Saharan Africa, heads of state and governments, so they have to be at that level and we are looking to have a dialogue with responsible leaders about the future of Africa's economic and social development.

Reporter: Madame Ambassador, may I just restate my question about Sri Lanka and now you're answering in a national capacity and what people of the United States view is on evidence that has emerged of summary executions in Sri Lanka? And whether the U.N. is doing enough in your view to investigate and fully follow through on these claims?

Ambassador Rice: Well, the United States, obviously, is concerned by any allegations, including these allegations of violence against innocent civilians. This is something we are still, ourselves, seeking further insight and information on. And I'm not prepared to report on any specific action at this point.

Reporter: You've already partly answered this question, but it's helpful to have some extra material. You recently gave a speech outlining the change in administration's approach compared to the last one. Would you be able to briefly summarize how President Obama will consolidate this next week?

Ambassador Rice: Well, President Obama is looking very much forward to his first visit to the United Nations General Assembly, to chairing for the first time ever by an American president, an important session in the United Nations Security Council on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament and the other steps that I've outlined today and previously in terms of his meetings.

This is an opportunity for the United States to underscore the value we see in this institution, as well as to highlight areas where we hope and expect its performance can be improved. This is an opportunity that we welcome and it is fully consistent with the United States active reengagement in this institution and other multilateral institutions.

Reporter: Next week, will there be meetings at the foreign minister level or above of the Quartet and also the P5 +1 on Iran? And in addition concerning President Obama's schedule, will he at any time be taking questions from the press?

Ambassador Rice: I can't answer the latter. I just don't know. With respect to the Quartet, my understanding is there is likely to be a meeting of the Quartet as has been the tradition. And I also believe that there will be a meeting at a senior level among the P5 +1.

Thank you.


PRN: 2009/176