The situation in Afghanistan Letter dated 21 May 2001 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/2001/511).
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Members:||Mr. Wang Yingfan
|Mr. Teixeira da Silva
The next speaker on my list is the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
I wish to begin by expressing my thanks to you, Sir, for convening this meeting on the important issue of Afghanistan. My delegation is pleased to participate, under your presidency, in a debate of the Council on this issue. I thank Mr. Haile Menkerios, Chairman of the Committee of Experts, and his colleagues for the commendable, accurate and comprehensive report they have presented on how to monitor the arms embargo and the closure of training terrorist camps in the Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan. This report reflects, among other things, the dedicated efforts of the Chairman and the members of the Committee to contribute to a viable and lasting political settlement of the Afghan crisis.
I also thank Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso for his introduction of the report and for his commendable leadership of the sanctions Committee.
It is very unfortunate that the continual efforts of the international community in recent years have not yet brought about any practical change in the bellicose and intransigent policy pursued by the Taliban on the ground. Based on their war-oriented policy and their total contempt for international opinion and demands, the Taliban leadership, with a view to rendering Security Council resolution 1333 (2000) ineffective by conquering more ground, even broke with the pattern set over the years and continued its military activities during the past winter. Recent reports from Afghanistan are also indicative of a new round of offensives launched by the Taliban.
The decision by the Taliban to interrupt the process of dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations, which they explicitly undertook last November not to abandon, is unacceptable and further testimony to the wide disparity between their words and commitment and their actions and practice.
The current increase in the military activity of the Taliban comes at a time when war and drought are plunging the country into a humanitarian crisis. As the United Nations recently warned, the number of Afghans made homeless by war and drought in 2001-2002 could more than double to over 1.6 million people. On the other hand, according to the officials of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Taliban leadership has recently embarked on increased harassment and threats against aid workers, making the provision of international assistance to war- and drought-stricken people in Afghanistan more difficult.
In view of all this, the report of the Committee of Experts has been released at a time when the disregard of the Taliban for the demands of the international community — set out, inter alia, in Security Council resolution 1333 (2000) — has become more evident. It is needless to recall that they are trying to flout a resolution that truly expresses the sentiment of the international community and was voted for, among others, by three Islamic States members of the Council. Therefore, it is essential that the international community do its best to prevent a breach of the resolution and thereby deprive the belligerent and intransigent party of the means it needs to further its military objectives at the cost of the continued suffering of the Afghan people and of instability in the region.
We believe that the report prepared by the Committee of Experts is an important and appropriate step in the direction of attaining that objective. The authors of the report are successful, to a great extent, in exposing the ways in which the Taliban procure military means, finance their military machine and organize other unlawful activities, including turning their territory into a safe haven for terrorists. The report refers rightly to the continual supply of arms and ammunition to the Taliban and dismisses the claim that their military machine survives on former stocks. The Committee, among other things, correctly notes the importance of putting an end to illegal flights to and from the areas controlled by the Taliban and the need to deny the Taliban access to turbine fuel and fluids needed for use in armoured vehicles.
As to the closure of terrorist camps in the Taliban-controlled areas, accurate reference is made to the reliance of the Taliban on non-Afghan elements in their efforts to defeat the United Front. In order to help to close these camps and to reverse the multiple harms arising therefrom, the international community should pay attention to the need for the repatriation of these elements, as underlined by the Committee. To this end, the removal of obstacles in the way of their return to their countries of origin and the encouragement of the officials of those countries to cooperate would be of great help.
In order to bring the military machine of the Taliban to a halt, it is essential to put an end to the trade in narcotics in Afghanistan. Although we welcome the ban on opium poppy cultivation ordered by the Taliban leadership, we doubt that it is driven by religious reasons, as claimed by the Taliban. The order was issued following a few years of abundant crops. Moreover, it does not cover the stockpiling, transit and processing of, and trading in opium and heroin. Had it been driven solely and genuinely by religious considerations, the Taliban leadership should have banned illicit drugs in all their aspects and should have ordered the stockpiles destroyed.
According to our information, the stockpiles of drugs in Afghanistan are huge enough to feed the market at a steady rate for about 10 years. We therefore highlight the conclusion of the report emphasizing the need to monitor the flow of drugs from Afghanistan as an integral component of the arms embargo. Effective control of the financing of the Taliban also requires control of the financial support provided to them by individuals and institutions in the region and beyond.
Most of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries face various difficulties and troubles emanating from civil war and lawlessness in that country, and they need assistance from the international community to cope with the situation. In this context, the need for training and equipment support from the international community to modernize the border services of the countries neighbouring Afghanistan is an appropriate point referred to in the report. In that respect, it is pertinent to refer to the crusade by the Iranian Government against transnational drug mafias. Among other things, that has led to the seizure of 263 metric tons of drugs in the past year alone. Needless to say, these endeavours, which have been undertaken at high human and material costs, help to a great extent to shield the other countries of the region, and far beyond, from the effects of the lawlessness in Afghanistan.
As to the recommendations made by the Committee, they are currently being considered within the Iranian Government on the basis of the assumption that monitoring is an indispensable tool for the enforcement of resolution 1333 (2000). Pending the result of the ongoing consideration, we believe that the eventual stationing of Sanctions Enforcement Support Teams in the region should, and could, be compatible with the sovereign rights of the receiving countries. Moreover, some aspects of the proposed mandate of those teams and of the Office for Sanctions Monitoring and Coordination need further clarifications, and more details should be known to enable the relevant Governments to comment. No doubt consultations between officials of the countries concerned and the members of the Security Council prior to any decision being taken by the Council could pave the way for the smooth implementation of any final decision.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of Uzbekistan. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
First of all, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for giving me this opportunity to speak at today’s meeting. I would also like, at the outset, to extend my thanks to the members of the Committee of Experts on Afghanistan, headed by Mr. Haile Menkerios, for the report they have prepared and for the very painstaking work they have done in implementation of Security Council resolution 1333 (2000). I would also like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Chairman of the sanctions Committee, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso, for the useful work that has been done in the Committee.
I would like to say that despite the limited time frame of its mandate, the Committee of Experts on Afghanistan has done an enormous amount of work. Their report proposes a regime for effective monitoring of the implementation of the requirements contained in the Security Council’s resolutions to ensure the adoption and implementation of the relevant decisions on sanctions.
We agree with the statement that the effectiveness of monitoring will depend on the direct involvement and commitment of all countries to its implementation. That, of course, also applies fully to us.
We also agree with the statement that the financing of arms and ammunition purchases and of the training of terrorists is integral to the overall problem.
Turning to paragraph 33 of the report, we agree fully with the statement that the flow of arms into, within and from Afghanistan is a major, long-term cause of insecurity and instability in the central Asian region. In that connection, we would note that Uzbekistan is ready to participate actively in discussions on the draft programme to monitor the illegal arms trade with regard to the situation in Afghanistan, which is to be submitted at the forthcoming United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, to be held in July of this year.
Uzbekistan also agrees with the view set out in paragraph 7 of the Committee’s report that there is a direct link between the funds obtained from the production and sale of drugs and support for the military activities and training of terrorists in Afghanistan. In that regard, we support the Committee’s conclusion in paragraph 61 of the report, namely, that the flow of drugs from Afghanistan should be monitored as an integral component of the arms embargo. In this connection, it is particularly important to take note of the view expressed in the report that strengthening the capacity of Afghanistan’s neighbours to monitor their borders is a key aspect of the measures to be taken.
The Republic of Uzbekistan supports the proposal made by the Committee to establish a United Nations Office for Sanctions Monitoring and Coordination in Afghanistan. Such an office would make it possible to establish a focused mechanism to monitor respect for the arms embargo and would help to close terrorist training camps and coordinate the activities of existing national structures of Afghanistan’s neighbours.
We consider constructive the proposal to establish groups in States bordering Afghanistan to provide assistance in the monitoring of sanctions. At the same time, we must note that the organizational aspects of that proposal will certainly require further work.
The Republic of Uzbekistan regards paragraph 45 of the report as one of the key provisions. That paragraph emphasizes the need to establish a central point for collating and analysing information provided by Member States about terrorist camps. We support the Committee’s conclusion that this database and the collection of analysis of information from Member States within a clear international structure will be one of the most important elements in ensuring effective monitoring.
In order to do that and to save time and money, we should strengthen the existing international mechanisms and instruments for combating terrorism. We regard it as logical and natural, therefore, that the Committee should have concluded that the Office should cooperate closely with the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention and the secretariats of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Wassenaar Arrangement in Vienna.
We believe that the Committee’s recommendation in paragraph 45, regarding the central authority for collecting information, could be carried out on the basis of the existing counter-terrorism component in the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention in Vienna. That component could be transformed into an international centre to combat terrorism within this Office.
According to paragraphs 45 and 82 of the report, in addition to the mandate of the existing component, the tasks of the Office would include collecting and analysing information about terrorist training camps, and collating it before its subsequent submission to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. There would also be wide distribution of information about the camps. That would seem to be the most economical and effective way of establishing the mechanism for collecting information. We regard this proposal as a natural and organic way of implementing the recommendations of the Committee’s report, in accordance with the provisions of Security Council resolution 1333 (2000). We hope that that proposal will be understood and supported by all members of the Security Council. In conclusion, I would like to say once again that the Republic of Uzbekistan supports the conclusions and recommendations in the report of the Committee of Experts on Afghanistan sanctions.
The next speaker is the representative of Pakistan. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
I should like to begin by congratulating you, Mr. President, on once again assuming the presidency of the Security Council for the current month. It is, indeed, a pleasure to see you presiding over the Council as the representative of a country with which we value our strong fraternal relations.
Since this meeting is ostensibly devoted to the report of the Committee of Experts on the implementation of sanctions, it is for the members of the Council to discuss and examine the content of the Committee’s report. For our part, we are in the process of examining the recommendations and will formulate our position on the proposed monitoring mechanism, keeping in mind its feasibility, practicality and effectiveness, given the length and porous nature of the Afghan border.
While we categorically reject some baseless allegations contained in the report, let me take this opportunity to reaffirm, on behalf of my Government, that Pakistan, as a responsible and law-abiding Member of the United Nations, has been, and will remain, in full compliance with Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1333 (2000). We have been extending our fullest cooperation to the Security Council, and, as I said earlier, we will continue to do so. We welcomed the Committee of Experts to Pakistan, under the chairmanship of Ambassador Menkerios, during its fact-finding visit. We extended to it full cooperation in good faith as part of our policy of compliance with all Security Council resolutions, without any discrimination. We are adhering to the resolutions on Afghanistan, even though we are not in favour of sanctions as a matter of principle. We believe that sanctions are an unjust instrument, and that they are never productive. They never produce the desired results; they only hurt the common people. There are no smart sanctions; there are only dumb sanctions. The question is, what have these sanctions achieved?
There is a symbolic link between the sanctions and the tragedy in Afghanistan. The latest sanctions — those provided for in resolution 1333 (2000) — were enacted in the very week last December that marked the twenty-first anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union. That invasion triggered a tragic conflict which has yet to come to an end. So much has happened since that fateful December: the Berlin Wall has fallen; the cold war has come to an end; the Soviet Union has become history; the map of the world has changed; the dawn of the new millennium has arrived; and, strangely enough, old enemies have become new partners. Yet in Afghanistan, the victims remain the same. The anguish and pain of the people of Afghanistan remain undiminished, while their torment continues unabated.
Afghanistan was the last battle front of the cold war. It served as a catalyst to release energies that eventually brought about an end to that era of confrontation. The world as we know it today might not be the same had it not been for the immense sacrifices that the valiant people of Afghanistan made for the cause of freedom and the free world. With the end of Soviet occupation, the Afghan people rightly expected an environment of peace and reconstruction for their country, with external help and assistance. Unfortunately, the international community did not respond to the legitimate expectations of the Afghan people, who found themselves left by the wayside. After having used them to secure certain strategic objectives, the international community abandoned the Afghan people at the time when they needed the maximum external support and involvement in order to reconstruct their war-ravaged country and rebuild their shattered lives.
The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was followed by a fratricidal civil war. The warlords — some of whom are still there — who fought against the Soviet occupation forces started fighting one another after the Soviet withdrawal. The misery and suffering of the Afghans continued unabated.
Obviously the plight of the Afghan people cannot be attributed to the Taliban, who emerged on the scene only some six years ago. The Afghans have been suffering for more than two decades.
What has the international community done to alleviate their sufferings during these two decades? The Afghanistan problem is not about the Taliban. It is not about terrorism or drugs alone. It is about 25 million Afghan people who continue to suffer, and they continue to suffer because they have given so much for the cause of freedom. They suffered when they were forced to fight the Soviet forces. They suffered when warlords were pillaging the country. And they suffer today because this esteemed Council, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, has been enacting punitive measures against them.
These sanctions are said to be a smart and sharp instrument, like a scalpel, to remove a tumour without harming any other part of the body. We wish it were so. Instead, the sanctions have achieved precious little and yet destroyed much. One victim has been the peace process initiated by the Secretary-General through his Personal Representative, Francesc Vendrell. Mr. Vendrell, who had made a spectacular breakthrough in negotiations between the warring sides just before resolution 1333 (2000) was bulldozed through this Council, now finds himself on the sidelines, with the United Nations being accused of bias, discrimination and partisanship.
Another victim is the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. Much is being said about how the sanctions have no, or very little, impact on the humanitarian plight of the Afghans. This is blamed on the protracted conflict and the drought. This is at least what the world is being given to understand.
Well, while these two factors have contributed to the humanitarian situation, they do not explain why Afghans did not begin their internal and external exodus until after December 2000, when this resolution — 1333 (2000) — was adopted. After the adoption of that resolution, what had been a trickle became a flood. With almost 1 million internally displaced Afghans — and this is not my figure; this is the figure that has been given by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a part of this very United Nations system — and with almost 200,000 people becoming refugees after the adoption of sanctions last year, no one can possibility deny the link between the sanctions and the grave humanitarian crisis afflicting the Afghan people. Innocent children have been dying in the freezing cold. You, Sir, must have seen the photographs in newspapers. Innocent children have been dying in the freezing cold of winter and the scorching heat of this summer, while the world looks the other way.
The question is, why has the international community turned its back on a nation of 25 million people? It appears that an inimical and rigid mindset prevails in this Council against a Government which is in control of more than 95 per cent of the country’s territory.
With peace becoming even more elusive than before, the misery of the Afghan people increasing by the hour, and the issues that motivated the sanctions remaining unresolved, the sanctions have done every harm, but no good. The scalpel has turned out to be a bludgeon which has destroyed the body, while the tumour festers unmolested.
The wrong done now needs to be corrected. The damage done to the Afghan people needs to be reversed, and the ground lost by the peace process must be recovered. Isolation and ostracism have not helped, and they will not help. The sanctions have to be lifted and replaced with a system that aims at resolving all of Afghanistan’s problems by addressing the bigger picture.
The time has come to stop the obsession with one aspect of the Afghan problem and to concentrate on solving the entire problem comprehensively. To start with, efforts need to be made by all concerned to re-engage the Taliban and to bring them back from the position of insulation and intransigence. Engagement is the only solution.
The peace process of Francesc Vendrell, which the Secretary-General launched with great enthusiasm, also needs to be put back on track. In addition, more concerted efforts and generous financial assistance should be forthcoming to alleviate the plight of hundreds of thousands of Afghans, both inside Afghanistan and in refugee camps in Pakistan.
It is important, however, that while providing humanitarian assistance, international relief agencies must respect the religious and cultural sensitivities of the Afghan people. The international community also needs to appreciate the efforts that the Taliban have made to eradicate the cultivation of poppies, even at the cost of added hardship to Afghan farmers. The time has come to move away from the sanctions and towards a comprehensive strategy — one that heals the wounds and revives the body without damaging any part of it.
Pakistan shouldered the main burden of the decade-long war against foreign occupation of Afghanistan. At that time we sheltered more than 4.5 million Afghan refugees, and we are still bearing the burden of the ongoing conflict, with the continued presence of more than 2 million refugees in Pakistan and an additional tens of thousands who have recently arrived.
We have exhausted our patience and capacity to absorb any more refugees. We shelter the largest-ever refugee population anywhere in the world. What we need now are practical steps by the world community to deliver humanitarian relief inside Afghanistan to prevent the Afghans from fleeing their homes for neighbouring countries, and, for those already displaced, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international organizations should set up camps on the other side of the Afghan border to prevent any further influx into Pakistan.
Due to our proximity to Afghanistan, our difficulties as a neighbouring country need to be viewed from this perspective. Pronouncements from afar may appear convenient, but are flawed in their appreciation of the circumstances that are peculiar to Afghanistan.
A one-sided arms embargo, for instance, is not the solution. It encourages the side exempt from the embargo to continue the conflict. There are credible reports that the northern alliance still continues to receive arms from the outside and is engaged in launching offensives, and arms are coming not only from the neighbouring countries, but also from those outside the neighbourhood.
If the Council is really interested in solving Afghanistan’s problems, it must instead impose a comprehensive arms embargo — for which we have been pleading for years — which should be imposed under Chapter VII on all parties in Afghanistan. That would give both sides the same incentive to return to the negotiating table.
The Council, as part of its Charter obligation, should seek to promote peace through engagement with the realities on the ground, and not through isolation and ostracism. The Council must not fuel the continuation of the conflict through a one-sided arms embargo. The Council should let the Secretary-General pursue his peace mission through dialogue and conciliation.
While we are giving the Security Council our full cooperation — and will continue to do so — in the implementation of the sanctions regime in Afghanistan, unfair though it is, we would not like either the report of the Experts Committee which is under consideration by the Council or the creation of a monitoring mechanism to be used to unjustly implicate Pakistan. Baseless allegations, implicit or explicit, have been rejected by us in the past, and we reject them now.
Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1333 (2000) must not be allowed to serve the narrow ulterior motives of a few. We have said it before, and I will say it again: no country in the world stands to gain more than Pakistan from the return of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Accordingly, we follow a policy towards Afghanistan that seeks to support and supplement international efforts to promote a peaceful solution to the conflict and, indeed, a comprehensive solution to all of Afghanistan’s problems. It is a comprehensive strategy we urge the international community to devise. Pakistan will not lag behind in contributing to this endeavour.
I shall now give the floor to Ambassador Menkerios in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Experts on Afghanistan appointed pursuant to Security Council resolution 1333 (2000).
I should like at the outset, since this is the first time the Committee is formally meeting with the entire Council, to thank the Secretary-General and the Council for the confidence they placed in me and in my colleagues to come up with recommendations on this very important issue. I should like also to thank Ambassador Valdivieso and Mr. Stephanides, as well as their offices, for the valuable support and guidance they have given without interfering with the process of the work of the Committee. I should like also to thank the relevant Missions, particularly the United States and the Russian Federation — which were the sponsors of the resolution — for their contribution, collaboration and advice in the process of our work.
Having said that, I will not repeat once again an introduction of the contents of the report, which has been adequately presented by Ambassador Valdivieso. If you will allow me, Sir, I will only try to elucidate on some of the questions that were raised by the various delegations in their comments.
I should like to say that we feel, of course, rewarded by the comments that we have heard — comments which we believe have done service to the recommendations we have made. A few of the questions that have been raised I believe are pertinent and need to be explained.
There was one question regarding the extent to which the Committee consulted with the countries bordering Afghanistan with regard to their readiness and willingness to cooperate with the placement of people on the ground. I should like to say from the outset that if we had one shortcoming, it was the fact that we were not able to do this — first, because of the shortage of time, and, secondly, because, as was explained by the Chinese Ambassador this morning, the Chinese border is a very short sort of border, and no problems have been reported that would require deeper investigation. But, basically, it was because of the shortage of time that we were not able to visit China. But that does not mean that we did not hold discussions with representatives here at the Mission and also in the field with Ambassadors.
We tried as much as possible, when we generalized as to what the views of the countries bordering Afghanistan were, to mention the countries we visited and to exclude China, simply because we may not have known, with respect to those particular comments, what the Chinese position would be.
That is what we have done. We have provided a framework — a framework based on our discussions with those countries, all of which welcomed support in these areas. We did not discuss the placement of personnel on the ground, simply because that issue had not been finalized when we were holding discussions with them. But we understood that all of the countries we visited do have support teams, or technical support from the United Nations or other international organizations, as well as bilaterally with friendly countries — technical support with personnel on the ground.
Therefore, we did not feel there was any particular reason that they would in fact reject such a move; and in general terms they welcomed it. So we put it in the form of a general recommendation — to be based, however, on an assessment visit to all those countries to establish need in any or all of those areas and to determine their readiness to accept this. A concrete suggestion would then be made to them on the basis of the assessment mission. So if there is a feeling that there is no need, that would be taken note of at the time of the assessment visit.
Concern was voiced by the representative of Tunisia that some of the general recommendations had not been widely discussed at the international level and had not been the object of final agreement. That is true. These are recommendations which have on the whole been accepted, for instance, by members of the Wassenaar Arrangement. Others have been viewed positively on a general level. But they are still proposals, and as such they will be presented at the forthcoming United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects, to be held from 9 to 20 July.
We, however, see value in our recommendations, given the need to create a more effective monitoring of the illicit movement of small arms. The recommendations we have included in this draft text would prove positive if adopted on a wider scale.
There was a concern voiced both by Ireland and by Norway about fuels that are used for military purposes: that our recommendation is that regard should not harm the humanitarian effort. That is a very valid point. We have come to learn that some of the fuels and, especially, the lubricants that are used for military hardware are not used for flights that are required for humanitarian purposes. These could be identified, especially the lubricants that are needed for heavy military machinery, which are not required for humanitarian efforts. If there are any fuels that could be used by both — since a precedent has already been established by which flights are banned but by which particular consideration is made for humanitarian flights — fuels used for military purposes could be banned, and then, if there is a need for humanitarian flights, the same procedure for allowing flights to take place could be used to allow the use of such fuel for humanitarian purposes. We feel that is easier than completely opening it up and enabling military equipment to use these necessary fuels and lubricants.
Another question raised, again by Norway, was whether it would be advisable to place monitoring support teams in offices with other United Nations agencies that are operating in Afghanistan, rather than locating them outside Afghanistan. These technical teams would be going to the neighbours of Afghanistan to support their efforts. I think this remains to be seen. The efforts of these teams need to be seen within what we have tried to establish as an overall view of this matter: that the sanctions must not be viewed in isolation from all the other efforts that the United Nations is making to resolve the problem in Afghanistan. If they are seen as part and parcel of the effort towards a political solution, of humanitarian relief efforts and of economic support, then there will be a greater need for all the various agencies involved in the area to coordinate in terms of what they are doing, rather than seeing them as one aspect of a United Nations effort completely isolated from other efforts being made.
We heard this when we were in the field also: we tried to learn the views and opinions and to secure information from the various United Nations agencies operating there. Some said, “Look, we do not want to say anything; we are engaged in a humanitarian effort, and we do not want to have anything to do with the sanctions business, because that is going to jeopardize what we are doing on the humanitarian front”. So the concern is understandable, and it has been raised there too. But we feel that this could change; it needs to change. It all needs to be seen as a package, with each component important to the operation of the others.
Moreover, most of these teams would be working with the various ministries and agencies of the countries themselves. If we were to send a team to a particular country, it would be working directly with the customs officers and with the ministry of the interior that polices the borders, or perhaps with the army, in trying to make their capacity to control their borders more effective. Thus, it would not be a committee that would sit in judgement and try to oversee what the country is doing; rather, it would be engaged with the country’s activities, so we do not feel it would be seen in a negative way, as some described it in our discussions there. We hope this will minimize any negative view of these bodies.
Those in my view were the questions that needed to be addressed. Our task was to come up with recommendations that would be helpful to members of the Council when they take decisions on this issue. We are very glad that we could be of service.
I thank Ambassador Menkerios for responding to the issues and questions raised by members during their statements, and I thank the other members of the Committee of Experts for their presence in the Council Chamber today.
There are no further speakers on my list. The Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Council will remain seized of the matter, and will consider the recommendations for action contained in the report of the Committee of Experts.