Ambassador DiCarlo: Good afternoon. I’ll just give you a little summary of what transpired in consultations. Under-Secretary-General Ladsous updated the Council on progress between Sudan and South Sudan in implementing their bilateral agreements and in particular on their follow-up to President Mbeki’s June 9 proposals and the joint statement by the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan on July 1. Mr. Ladsous reported that there’s been some progress in the AU Border Program Technical Team’s efforts to “technically determine” the centerline of the demilitarized border zone between the two countries.
Council members noted the meetings held in Khartoum during the June 30-July 1 visit of the South Sudanese and Sudanese Vice Presidents as a positive step, but they expressed concerns about continued disagreements between the two sides and allegations of security incidents and underscored the importance of operationalizing the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism. Many Council members expressed continuing concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, where an estimated 700,000 civilians are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and reiterated the importance of a cessation of hostilities and a political solution to the conflict.
Now on Afghanistan, under other matters this morning, Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson provided the Council an assessment of his recent five-day visit to Afghanistan. He stressed that Afghans are united in building on the progress of the past decade to make further gains in the future. He also emphasized the importance of the United Nations staying in Afghanistan after the 2014 transition, and he emphasized the importance of an inclusive, transparent, and credible election next year.
Council members expressed their support for the UN role in Afghanistan through the transition and underscored the importance of having an electoral framework in place soon so that the election next year is free and fair and has wide participation from Afghans. Members also highlighted the importance of continued improvement of human rights in Afghanistan—especially for women—and of the UN’s role in assisting Afghanistan to expand women’s political participation.
Now if I could just make a few comments in my national capacity on these two issues. First, I’d like to underscore the importance of Sudan and South Sudan promptly implementing all of their bilateral agreements, and in particular on the final status of the Abyei Area. President Mbeki’s September 21st proposal is a fair and pragmatic solution that protects the interests of all parties in Abyei. And we call on the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-North to resume direct talks and ensure unhindered humanitarian access, a cessation of hostilities, and a negotiated political settlement of the conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. We call on Sudan to end its indiscriminate aerial bombardments.
On Afghanistan, also in my national capacity, I’d like to reiterate that the United States believes that the United Nations must play a central role in Afghanistan as it goes through three important transitions—security, political, and economic. In particular, UN leadership is critical to ensuring that the 2014 Afghan presidential election proceeds as planned.
I’m happy to take a few questions.
Reporter: What do you say to—we are hearing from some of your colleagues on the Council that they think the U.S. is pulling its punches with South Sudan, that you’re not coming down as hard on it as you should. And also, wondering if you could comment on the comments that Ambassador Churkin made today following up on his report on the Syrian chemical weapons. And one last question regarding the potential candidacy of Iran and Syria for the Human Rights Council.
Ambassador DiCarlo: Okay, three different questions. First of all, I think we have been very clear on both Sudan and South Sudan about the need for the parties to implement the agreements that they have made, the need for them to improve their relationship. I would reject the statement which you have made that we are soft on South Sudan. That is not clear, and we work with South Sudanese government and are assisting them through what is a very difficult period for a new country.
You mentioned the issue of Ambassador Churkin. I did not hear him directly, but I have heard reports of his comments. I think you know very clearly that we have supported a UN investigation of the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. We have called for the investigation, as the Secretary-General has by the way, to include any and all credible allegations of this. We certainly feel this is important. We understand that the government of Syria is talking about—or has offered an invitation to Angela Kane and to Mr. Sellstrom. Obviously, it is our view that it won’t take very long to come up with modalities for this investigation. It is quite clear that the investigators need to look at all sites where there have been credible allegations. As far as Ambassador Churkin’s comments are concerned, I do not think you need me to confirm what he already said.
On the Iran and Syria—sorry I forgot. They have not submitted the required paperwork for formally announcing their candidacies we understand, but in our view, attempts by either country to join the Human Rights Council are highly inappropriate given existing Human Rights Council mandates to investigate human rights violations in these countries, their egregious records on human rights, and their on-going collaboration to suppress the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.
Reporter: On South Sudan, I wanted to ask you—there’s reports of renewed fighting in Jonglei state today, and somehow the South Sudan government said it is not sending its army, that it’s a civilian matter (inaudible) by civilian authorities. I am wondering, well, does the U.S. think that the army should do more, and what is the UN’s role in trying to stop this deadly violence in Jonglei state?
Ambassador DiCarlo: First of all, we are deeply concerned about the violence—the intra-communal violence—that is going on in Jonglei state. We have called on the government of South Sudan to protect civilians. We have said it is the responsibility of the government to protect civilians. We have been very clear on that. The UN, obviously UNMISS, has a mandate to protect civilians as well—Chapter VII—but it is the primary responsibility of the government.
Reporter: Ambassador, on the Syrian issue. One of the points that Churkin made was about remarks made by the spokeswoman for the State Department in which she said the Russians have been blocking the Security Council granting access to the mission. And he said, I think correctly, that it’s not up to the Security Council to convey input to the Syrian government. What do you say to that?
Ambassador DiCarlo: First of all, it is up to the Syrian government to allow access. They’ve been called upon to do so a number of times by a number of member states, by the Secretary-General. I think maybe he’s twisting a few words here, I’m afraid. I think it’s—the issue we’re talking about now is to be united in calling for the Syrian government to allow the kind of impartial, thorough investigation that is needed to make a determination on this issue.
Reporter: Ambassador, (inaudible)
Ambassador DiCarlo: First of all, let me say that no decisions have been made about the U.S. presence post-2014. The President has been reviewing a range of options. He said this from the very beginning—he would look at various options to fulfill—what would be needed to fulfill the mandate that we would have to have for the U.S. He’s been in discussions with the Afghan government on this, and there are a range of things he is looking at. So I want to just clarify that, that there is no decision on this issue.
Secondly, we are very well-aware of the concerns about losing the gains that have been made—the hard, the very hard won gains by women, by others. I think that’s why we’ve made very clear that when Afghanistan will be standing up, it won’t be standing alone. We’ve got a bi-lateral partnership with them. We’re going to be there in the civilian way. We’re going to be working very, very closely with the Afghan government in the future, working with them on a range of issues. And obviously, the issue that you have raised, human rights and the issue of women—women’s empowerment, women’s political participation—is an extremely important one. And it’s not only to the United States, but I think you would have heard 80% of the Council making this point.
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