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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of International Organization Affairs > Reports to Congress, U.S. Votes, Fact Sheets, Testimony > Other Remarks > 2005 International Organization Affairs Speeches/Remarks

Remarks to the Press on the Situation in Burma

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at the Security Council Stakeout
Washington, DC
December 16, 2005

Ambassador Bolton: Well, weíre very pleased to have finished this first consideration of the Security Council for the situation in Burma. We received a briefing by the Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari. He discussed at some length many of the points that we had raised in our initial request for this briefing. The threats to international peace and security caused by actions of the Burmese government that have resulted in things like ethnic cleansing, refugee flows, international narcotics trafficking, trafficking in persons, failure to act adequately on threats like HIV/AIDS or avian flu. And I think the important point we came away with was that the Secretary Generalís comments that this situation obviously requires further scrutiny. Itís obviously up to the Security Council itself to decide what steps to take next. But itís certainly the intention of the United States based on this briefing to continue advocating Security Council scrutiny of and action in this area. Therefore we think, as a political fact, the holding of the briefing today was quite important. Now I must say, I put three questions to the Secretary General, which Iíll just mention to you. What can the Secretary General do to help bring about national reconciliation and democracy in Burma? What actions are you considering to address the deteriorating political, humanitarian, and human rights situation in Burma? And did he have any ideas on how the Special Envoy process could be made more effective? Obviously just in answering the questions there, he gave a few thoughts. We will be pursuing those questions. And as I say we will be pursuing the question of the future role of the Security Council, as to which we think this briefing today was the first step.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: Well, Iíd rather he answered them, this being a private meeting. But as I say, weíre going to be continuing to pursue those questions and to get additional information from them.

Reporter: (inaudible) What was the thrust of Mr. Gambariís briefing?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, it was very far-reaching. It lasted by my note 25 minutes and the briefing notes will be made available to the Security Council members hopefully today and I have no doubt the intrepid members of the UN press corps will undoubtedly come into possession of them in due course. But he covered all of the issues I just mentioned a moment ago. He talked about the internal human rights situation, and obviously the long detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and many other opponents of the regime. He talked about the frustration of the Secretary Generalís Special Representative and his inability to gain access the country. I would say although there was nothing new in the briefing, it was comprehensive and complete and I think was exactly what we had in mind as a first step here when we asked for the briefing to be held.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: Well, this is a fundamental question of Security Council jurisdiction. The Security Council addresses international threats to peace and security. And thatís why my initial letter and the comments made in the Security Council today relate to that point, and that includes the human rights situation inside Burma, which by causing a deterioration in internal conditions in the country can have ramifications for international peace and security. This goes back, as veterans will remember, to Resolution 688 to the immediate aftermath of the first Persian Gulf War when Saddam Husseinís internal repression of Kurds and others in Iraq causing massive refugee flows across international borders permitted the Security Council for the first time to declare internal violations of human rights to constitute a threat to international peace and security. And that is essentially the same case we make today with respect to Burma.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: I think progress was made. I think it was important to hear the briefing because this was obviously put together by Secretariat officials and represented their effort to put together an objective picture, which they did, and it wasnít a pretty picture. And again, that goes back to the fundamental reason why we asked for the briefing to begin with.

Reporter: Sir, you brought this to the Security Council first, does that mean you donít have faith in the Human Rights Commission?

Ambassador Bolton: I have almost no faith in the Human Rights Commission, which is why the United States is seeking to abolish it and we werenít going to wait for that happy event to occur. We felt that the continued deterioration of conditions in Burma warranted action in the Security Council, which is why we proceeded as we did.

Reporter: (inaudible) what is your next step in terms of strategy, getting it on the agenda?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think we want to consult with other members of the Council. In about two weeks obviously the Security Council membership will change by one third and I think we wanted to take into account the briefing today and consider our options. So I donít have a direct answer to that question, but weíre going to be moving on it in the near future.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: We have not been informed and I think in fairness to all individuals concerned I think itís best that I not comment on the specifics. However since I did answer the question to one of your colleagues, whom I donít see today, must be sleeping in late, let me just say that we think itís important to find the best qualified individual to succeed Commissioner Mehlis and that we want to see the overall professional career of that individual. Weíre not trying to make political points off the appointment and weíre really looking at this as what we hope will be a merit based selection by the Secretary General and thatís all. Iíve silenced the UN press corps. Good-bye, have a good weekend.



Released on December 16, 2005

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