Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for August
Even though August is often a month for vacation, the work of the Security Council neither can nor should be relaxed as a cold war mentality and power politics have created more uncertainty and instability in the world, its President for the month said at a Headquarters press conference today.
Zhang Jun (China), who holds the 15-member organ’s rotating presidency for August, said that the world is facing “one crisis after another”, spotlighting political turmoil, military conflict, terrorist threats, climate change and the food and oil crises. In this complex situation, the international community desires a greater role for the United Nations. During its presidency, China will adopt a responsible, constructive approach to uphold true multilateralism and strengthen communication among all Council members and Member States so that joint efforts can address global challenges.
One of China’s priorities for the month, he said, is promoting common security through dialogue and cooperation. On 22 August, the Council will be briefed on this issue, and he expressed hope that parties will reflect on what kind of international security is needed, how larger security disasters can be avoided and how the United Nations can play a more effective role in maintaining international peace and security. Humanity shares the same future and planet, and any country’s security is indivisible from that of others, he stressed.
Another signature event will be held on 8 August, focused on supporting Africa’s capacity to build and sustain peace. Noting that many African countries are facing crises such as COVID-19, conflict and climate change, he warned that years of development gains and hard-won peace are “in danger of being swept away” by current global crises. African countries have been the main victims of the butterfly effect of crises and conflicts occurring outside the region, and the international community must evaluate how best to help these countries. “We must go beyond humanitarian aid and focus on economic development,” he stressed.
He pointed out that, while August’s calendar appears to contain a relatively light programme of work, many situations are ongoing and will require further deliberation as the month unfolds. In this regard, he spotlighted the truce in Yemen that expires on 2 August, remaining uncertainties in Libya, escalating violence in Haiti and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. All of these issues require the Council to “make good use of its toolbox” and play its proper role according to the specific conditions of each conflict and country, he said.
In addressing these challenges, he emphasized that China’s presidency’s key working method will be to promote dialogue, consultation and cooperation among parties so as to “cool down conflicts and facilitate the settlement of hotspot issues”. He called on the organ’s members to work closely with each other to promote trust and cooperation to better carry out the Council’s duty. Noting the heat waves sweeping across the Northern Hemisphere, rising international tensions and the “high working temperature” of Council members, he advised the same to be cool headed in seeking diplomatic solutions to various issues through rational dialogue.
On that point, he recalled the practice of incoming Council Presidents preparing small souvenirs and held up a Chinese folding fan, expressing hope that it could help cool down global temperatures and tensions, as well as the emotional way in which the organ’s members have been working. He also said that the Council will use less air-conditioning in the Chamber as a symbolic step to demonstrate its seriousness in coping with the climate crisis, and expressed hope that, with joint effort, it can convey a positive message to the world that the organ works to ensure that it is a better place for all to live.
He also responded to several questions posed by media correspondents.
One correspondent asked for comment on Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan, and he underscored that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory and that the “One China” principle is a “red line” in Beijing’s relations with other countries. Recalling a recent phone call between China President Xi Jinping and United States President Joseph R. Biden, he urged Washington, D.C., to honour its commitment to the “One China” policy.
Asked a similar question about the possible consequences of Ms. Pelosi’s visit, he underscored that, if such a visit were to occur, it would undermine the “One China” principle, China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and stability and peace in the Taiwan Strait. It would also undermine relations between China and the United States. Noting that Taiwan’s tendency towards independence is further developing with the support of external forces, he said that “if we do not take appropriate, forceful action to stop this, the situation might be out of control”.
On a question regarding China’s thoughts on the tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, he stressed that the Treaty is a cornerstone of the international nuclear security and disarmament architecture. Emphasizing that the countries with the largest nuclear arsenals carry a unique responsibility, he said such States should be among the first to play their role in promoting nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use.
Another correspondent asked for more details on the Council meeting that will focus on achieving common security through dialogue and cooperation. Responding, he said that the Secretary-General will brief the Council on his Our Common Agenda report. This will allow a better understanding of his vision, and the Secretary-General may benefit from the perspectives and wisdom of Council members. The President of the tenth Review Conference will also brief the Council, as global common security cannot stand without a guarantee of nuclear security.
Asked for comment on United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement today that submarines provided to Australia under the “AUKUS pact” will be nuclear-powered, but not nuclear-armed, he said that American, British and Australian explanations have not been sufficient. China and other regional countries have serious concerns about this project, and he expressed hope that the relevant parties will respond to such concerns.
To a question about the best way to get the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea back on track, he said that, while the international community must maintain non-proliferation, it also must pay attention to the situation on the Korean Peninsula as a whole. Additional sanctions will only cause further deterioration and humanitarian suffering, and he called on all parties to stay calm and refrain from provocative actions.
On what the Council can do to overcome the perception that it is unable to act effectively in addressing current challenges, he stressed that the strength of the United Nations originates from the strong support of Member States. Detailing China’s strong support for the Organization, he urged major countries to bear their responsibility and take the lead in carrying out their obligations.
Asked about the Council’s plan regarding the serious incident that occurred on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, he said that it is watching this situation very closely and will act if necessary. The United Nations must ensure that mission mandates represent the expectations of the host country’s Government and people.
To a question regarding progress made on the Black Sea Grain Initiative, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts in brokering the Initiative, which was “a very important step in the right direction”. Noting that the first ship departed from the port of Odesa today, he said that this shows that the parties concerned can talk to each other and produce positive results. He also stressed that China has always attached great importance to food security — even before this crisis — and that it has worked closely with other countries to promote global food security.
For the full programme of work, please see: www.un.org/securitycouncil/events/calendar.