OF THE SECRETARY GENERALS MEDIA STAKE OUT
THE MEXICAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
FOREIGN MINISTER, LUIS ERNESTO DERBEZ, 8 SEPTEMBER 2004
SG Thank you very much, Mr. Minister,
I am also extremely pleased to be able to join you here
with all the Latin American leaders to discuss the UNDP
Report on Dmocracy in Latin America. I am also very pleased
that Mark Malloch-Brown, the tall gentleman standing there
was able to join us.
The UN has been devoting a lot of attention
to good governance, institution building and social and
economic issues, and Latin America has had a very good example
of democratic transformation which has had impact on other
regions and we decided to take a look at what was happening
in the region, particularly in certain situations where
some elements of society were questioning whether democracy
was fulfilling their basic needs and their expectations
and we hope that the report that the UNDP has presented
to you will be a useful input for the debate about strengthening
good governance that has taken place in this continent and
in this region. And I am extremely happy that the Government
of Mexico decided to host this important seminar. And I
came down to lend my own support because of the importance
that the UNDP and we the United Nations attach to this topic
and the next few days should be very enlightening and constructive
period of discussion. Thank you very much. I will take your
Question.- (in Spanish) Thank you very
much. My question is for the Secretary General, Mr. Kofi
Annan. We would like to know what is your opinion regarding
the opposition of the United States against the increase
in the membership of the United Nations Security Council,
as well as if you could give us more details about the Mexican
Government proposals regarding the UN reform in the framework
of the Group of Friends of the UN reform.
SG - Yes. As most of you know we have
a high-level panel which is studying the UN reforms and
will submit proposals to me in December, on how we can adapt
the Organization and make it more responsive to the pressing
challenges of the twenty first century. They will deal with
policy issues such as when is intervention legitimate and
will also touch on the issue of preventive war. They will
look at the effective functioning of the General Assembly
and the Economic and Social Council and they will also look
at the reform of the Security Council and its expansion.
They will make specific proposals to me in December, which
I will then have to get the Member States to act on and
it is in that context that I am getting lots of support
from this region, and particularly from Mexico that has
taken the lead in putting together a group of fifteen states
who will work with me to try and steer the process to a
successful conclusion. At this date, I cannot say that the
US is opposed to an expansion of the Council. We are all
waiting for the recommendations from the panel and I will
take it from there. My assumption and expectation is that
all governments must recognize that we need to bring the
structure of the Security Council in line with todays
realities. The current structure reflects the geopolitical
realities of 1945 and so when the recommendations are made,
I expect them to be solid and I expect the full support
of the members, for us not only to transform the membership
of the Council but also to make it more representative and
more democratic so that it can gain greater legitimacy.
Question.- The question is for Mr. Annan.
Given the fact that conflicts in the Middle East take generation
upon generation in resolving, perhaps even longer. Do you
think the United States, Great Britain and the Allies will
be able to maintain their efforts in Iraq? Secondly, do
you think that weapons of mass destruction will ever be
found in that country? Third, do you think that democracies,
specially in the United States, are developing quick enough
in the sense of defending themselves against the biggest
threat at the moment really for them, terrorism?
SG.- You have three questions in one.
On the last question, I am not sure what I can say about,
whether democracy in America is developing fast enough for
them to be able to deal with terrorism. The other question,
I think that is an issue that the American Government I
working on, and they will come up with homeland security
and also some measures that deal with terrorism, but I would
also remind you that on the terrorist issue the Security
Council of the United Nations is very active, because we
believe and I believe that one the most effective ways to
fight terrorism is to get international cooperation, and
governments to work together, get governments to ensure
that no one offers safe haven to terrorists, no one allows
them logistical support, no one allows them to open bank
accounts for their operations and share information. I think
that political, diplomatic and security cooperation will
have a great impact on terrorists.
On your question as to whether the multinational
force of the US and its allies will be able to stay the
course and stay as long as it takes to pacify Iraq, arguing
that it has taken more than twenty years to do anything
about the Middle East. I think this is an issue of great
concern to the United Nations and we have been actively
engaged on the ground trying to help the Iraqis move well
through the political transition, and form a Government
of the people by the people, to ensure that the Iraqis will
be in charge of their own destiny and their economic resources.
And I am very grateful to Mexico for having received a group
of Iraqi officials to train them for their elections. When
will Iraq be pacified? Its a question for the future
to answer. As you see, the situation on the ground we have
a very serious security challenge, and until the multinational
force working with the Iraqi Government is able to secure
the environment, its going to be very difficult to
move ahead and do some of the constructive things that are
necessary to stabilize Iraq. So, we are working on the ground
assisting the Government, but obviously how quickly this
agency will be brought to a closure, I cannot say. My sense
is that they are in for the long run. How long governments
are going to stay the course, I really cannot say. But its
going to be a long process. But let me conclude by saying
that the stabilization of Iraq is in everyones interest.
We cannot afford to see a destabilized Iraq in the middle
of that region. So we all have to do whatever we can to
pacify and stabilize Iraq. Thank you
QUESTION (in Spanish)
For the UN is the priority Iraq, or the
Middle East, or is it terrorism in Russia? Also, what are
the risks of the US having become the worlds policemen?
And finally, you are a human rights defender, what do you
think of the Mexican Government having authorized the use
of pepper-gas bullets in the Northern border against Mexican
indocumented migrants who are trying to cross the border
into the US?
SG Let me say that obviously the
fight against terrorism is an important issue on our agenda.
But I will not say that its the most important issue,
or the only important issue, on the UN agenda. We have other
equally important issues that we should not lose sight of.
Yes, Iraq has dominated the media and the press. But the
fight against poverty is an important agenda for the UN.
The fight against the HIV epidemic is an important issue
for us. Environmental degradation is an important issue
for us. Fair and equal trade is an important issue for us.
The non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is and so is terrorism.
And we need to be careful not to create the impression that
the only crisis in the world today is terrorism, when for
millions there are other present needs which need to be
taken care of. So, terrorism is one of our present priorities,
but let me also say on the question of human rights. First
of all, I want to thank the Mexican Government for the very
constructive and positive attitude it has towards human
rights, and the cooperation it has extended to the Human
Rights Commission, and I know that the Rapporteurs have
visited Mexico several times with all access made available,
and that is extremely important. On your question of migrants
and immigration, I myself consider migration as one of the
key issues of our time and in fact not too long ago I gave
a speech at the European Parliament arguing that immigration
cannot be stopped. Immigration is essential. What we need
to do is to manage it and ensure that the rights of the
migrants are protected and respected as they often leave
their countries to go and make a contribution elsewhere.
They are courageous men and women who are trying to make
a living and they should not be treated as criminals or
troublemakers. And they often do make a genuine contribution
in the new societies they join. They often bring new dynamism
and energy to those societies and it is often the societies
that have been able to introduce or welcome migrants in
an open democratic manner that have done well down the line.
QUESTION (in Spanish).-What progress has there been in establishing
in Mexico a training program for the organization of elections
in other countries?
SG- I think as far as the preparation and training of electoral
officers is concerned, we did a major one here in Mexico.
I have electoral experts in Iraq who are also advising and
supporting the process and other countries have offered
to assist and it is quite possible that down the line we
might seek further assistance from Mexico. We are very,
very grateful for the support that we have received here
and I think that it is the kind of international solidarity
I like to see as we attempt to stabilize Iraq.
QUESTION (in Spanish).- Mr. Annan, you mentioned in your
message that the great paradox of Latin America is that
democracy has not necessarily translated into achievements
for the most vulnerable countries and the poorest regions,
there are not enough job opportunities, there is no food
security. What is the concrete evaluation for Mexico? You
also mention that due to this disappointment, there is the
temptation to chose different and anti-democratic systems.
Is that the case of Mexico?
SG. I think that in the case of Mexico
we see a democracy that is in process and in transformation.
And I think the last elections indicated that the Mexican
democracy is alive and well; the electoral system has been
running for over seventy years. What I said this morning
is that democracy is more than elections. We need to be
able to also look into other needs of the citizens, particularly
the least privileged, their civil, social and political
rights. I talked about the need to ensure education, health
and others rights, but I think the Mexican government is
putting forward programs to deal with that. The problem
may be more acute in other countries in the region than
in Mexico, but each country, each democracy has its own
problems that it has to deal with. What is important is
to recognize what the problems are and take concrete measures
to deal with them.
QUESTION.- Mr. Secretary General, you
mention that United Nations was playing a leading role in
fighting terrorism. Yet, today Russia, after the killings
last week said that it would fight terrorism wherever they
found it in the world. So firstly, the United States acting
unilaterally against what it thinks is terrorism and now
the Russians are going to do the same. Is it not the job
of the United Nations Security Council rather than individual
SG.- I made it quite clear that I believe
in the fight against terrorism. Countries have to work together,
pool their efforts, share information and the Security Council
resolution immediately after the 9/11 required governments
to do exactly that, to cooperate and share information.
I think we need to be careful that as we attempt to tackle
terrorism, and fight the terrorists, we do not adopt approaches
and methods, which create other problems. And I have indicated
that yes, we need to come up with ways and means of fighting
terrorism effectively but also have to make sure that these
approaches do not undermine the rule of law and basic civil
rights of all people. Thank you very much.