Sticky Issues in U.N.

February 15, 2008
Just six weeks after joining the United Nations Security Council, Costa Rica must take sides on sticky issues, such as Iran’s nuclear program and a likely declaration of independence by Kosovo.
Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno said he would use the Iran issue to push for nuclear disarmament by other nations, a proposal he expects to meet with strong resistance.
The ministry will decide in the coming weeks whether to back Kosovo’s likely declaration of independence, Stagno said.
Stagno would not state his position on the resolution to sanction Iran slated for debate in the Security Council. But he did say the international community is applying a double standard by hounding Iran while ignoring other violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which calls on signatories that have nuclear weapons to stop developing new technologies and work toward disarmament.
“I don’t know how successful we will be,” Stagno said. “We will probably receive strong pressure (by nations that say) that this is not the right moment to enforce other obligations because it could dilute the focus on Iran.”
Stagno said he would consider an upcoming report by the International Atomic Energy Agency before making a decision on the resolution, which calls for asset freezes and travel bans for certain Iranian officials, according to the news agency Reuters.
On Kosovo, Costa Rican Ambassador to the U.N. Jorge Urbina said a declaration of independence by the ethnic Albanian majority there would weaken the United Nations by taking the issue out of the Security Council’s hands.
“It’s not appropriate,” he said. “The situation will escape control by the United Nations.”
The ministry will consider six factors in deciding whether to support a declaration of independence, including whether Kosovo can govern itself, whether clear boundaries can be identified, and what neighboring countries think.
Two conflicting principles are at play, Stagno said: The right to self-determination and a U.N. resolution protecting Serbia’s territorial integrity.
Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when NATO intervened to stop Belgrade’s aggression against the Albanian population.
Costa Rica has made “modest” progress in pushing its own agenda in the Security Council, Stagno said. Costa Rica, together with four allies, presented 19 recommendations to the U.N. General Assembly to change how the council functions. One proposal would allow the council´s members to speak about an issue only after hearing from the nations directly involved.
Costa Rica voluntarily followed this rule last month, refusing to speak before the Israeli and Palestinian representatives in a debate on Gaza, Stagno said.
“The council’s working methods are so institutionalized that even the slightest change encounters great resistance,” Stagno said.
 

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