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 The United Nations, Meetings, Proclomations, Etc.
batmanchester
Posted: Mar 26 2007, 07:19 PM


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Group: Gone
Posts: 1,534
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06



DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL


The following is a near verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.



**Kosovo



Good afternoon. As you know, a short while ago we issued a statement on Kosovo, attributable to the Spokesperson, and I will read it for the record:



This morning, the Secretary-General conveyed to the President of the Security Council the report on Kosovo’s future status and the comprehensive proposal for the Kosovo status settlement, prepared by his Special Envoy for the Kosovo future status process, Martti Ahtisaari.



In doing so, the Secretary-General expressed his full support for Special Envoy Ahtisaari’s report and settlement proposal.



With the handing over of the report and settlement proposal to the Security Council, the process designed to lead to a determination of Kosovo’s future status has reached a decisive phase. The Security Council has been presented with a plan, which that the Secretary-General believes contains all of the right elements for a fair and sustainable solution to Kosovo’s future status.



The Secretary-General wishes to express his gratitude to Special Envoy Ahtisaari and to his team for their ongoing efforts to facilitate bringing the Kosovo future status process to conclusion.



And we have the report by Mr. Ahtisaari, as well as the addendum on a comprehensive proposal for the Kosovo status settlement, available on the racks and on the website. In the report, Mr. Ahtisaari says that, upon careful consideration of Kosovo’s recent history and the realities of Kosovo today, and taking into account the negotiations with the parties, he has come to the conclusion that the only viable option for Kosovo is independence, to be supervised for an initial period by the international community. He says that the comprehensive proposal provides the foundations for a future independent Kosovo that is viable, sustainable and stable, and in which all communities and their members can live a peaceful and dignified existence.



**Secretary-General in Israel



Turning to the Secretary-General. At a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today, the Secretary-General stressed once more his conviction that the long-term safety and security of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian State go hand in hand.



In his remarks to the press, he encouraged all Israelis to assess carefully the opportunity that may be emerging, saying that “we must use the weeks and months ahead to advance the political dialogue, since the alternative is renewed stagnation, which only means more extremism and violence”. The Secretary-General also stressed the need to give the new Palestinian unity Government some “political space”.



In his meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, the Secretary-General also discussed the Iranian nuclear issue, the situation in Lebanon and the importance of making progress on the Palestinian issue.



**Secretary-General’s Meeting with the Palestinian Authority President



Yesterday in Ramallah, the Secretary-General met with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. During a press conference on Sunday, the Secretary General stressed that “achieving peace will require all parties to go further than they have before. But it can and must be done.” And his message to Israel and to the world from here in Ramallah is that he is convinced that President Abbas is ready.



**Secretary-General’s Meeting with the President of Egypt



On Saturday, he arrived in Israel after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. In a press conference after that meeting, he said that he had explained to the Egyptian President all that has been discussed between the United Nations and the Government of Sudan on Darfur, including the deployment of hybrid peacekeeping operations and the humanitarian situation there. He added that he expects that President Mubarak and other leaders in the region will take the time and look at this issue more seriously to help the efforts of the United Nations and the African Union to address this issue as soon as possible.



We have the transcripts of the Secretary-General’s recent press encounters upstairs and on the website.



** Sudan



On Darfur, the Under-Secretary–General for Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, completed his five-day mission to Sudan today, returning from Darfur to Khartoum, where he met with Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Taha and Senior Assistant to the President Minni Minnawi, as well as with representatives of the donor community.



Mr. Holmes said the talks focused on issues of humanitarian access, the need for security guarantees so aid workers can operate safely, accountability for crimes when they happen and addressing the significant bureaucratic impediments that affect the aid community. Summarizing the impressions of his visit to Sudan, Mr. Holmes noted the extraordinary humanitarian achievements that have been made, given the massive scale of the problems faced. However, the one major concern was how long such a massive humanitarian response could continue, as large populations have been displaced for several years and ever more newly displaced people continue to flow into existing camps.



A planned visit on Saturday to a camp housing displaced persons in Darfur had to be abandoned, but Mr. Holmes noted it was due to communication problems, and was not a deliberate attempt to exclude him from the camp. “But, if this can happen to a senior United Nations official, you can imagine the effect on an ordinary humanitarian worker,” he said. “We need to see a return to the commitments made and actual implementation on the ground.”



There’s a press release that we’re expecting from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Mr. Holmes’ visit to the region. And he travels to eastern Chad tomorrow.



**Security Council -- Iran



And here, at the Security Council, there are no meetings or consultations scheduled today. But, on Saturday afternoon, for those of you who were here, the Security Council unanimously approved resolution 1747, which includes an annex adding 13 entities and 15 individuals to the list of those affected by sanctions measures. It calls upon all States to report to the Council’s sanctions committee within 60 days on the steps they have taken to implement the resolution’s steps.



In a statement issued yesterday in New York, the Secretary-General noted with satisfaction the Security Council’s unanimity in adopting that resolution, and he calls on Iran to fully implement the resolution’s provisions and to take, urgently, the necessary steps to restore the international community’s trust that its nuclear programme is peaceful in nature. The Secretary-General believes that a negotiated solution would strengthen the international non-proliferation regime and hopes that dialogue will resume on this issue of paramount importance.



** Democratic Republic of the Congo



And turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the situation is reported to be relatively calm in Kinshasa after days of deadly gun battles between the Congolese Armed Forces and the security detail of Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former Vice-President, who is reported to have taken refuge at the South African embassy. Some 96 members of Bemba’s security detail have, for their part, surrendered to United Nations peacekeepers and remain at the United Nations compound in the capital.



Over the weekend, also, the Secretary-General placed a call to Congolese President Joseph Kabila, during which he expressed concern over the latest escalation of violence and urged the President to ensure an immediate cessation of hostilities and resolve the situation through dialogue.



** Somalia



And also on Saturday, we had issued a statement on Somalia, which you can pick up upstairs, regarding the latest fighting there, and the Security Council also issued a similar statement last Friday evening, I believe.



**Commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery



And today, the United Nations is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro this morning addressed the General Assembly, saying that today, we celebrate the fact that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Yet around the world, millions of people are still deprived of their most fundamental human rights and freedoms. There should be no place in the twenty-first century for trafficking, forced labour or sexual exploitation, she added.



And we have copies of her statement upstairs.



**Press Conferences



Following this briefing, at 12:45, there will a press conference on this commemoration with the Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Permanent Representatives to the United Nations from Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago, Professor Rex Nettleford and the Director of the Department of Public Information’s Outreach Division. And that’s here at 12:45.



**Human Rights Council



In Geneva, the Human Rights Council is continuing this week with its current session due to conclude this Friday. Today, it has held a special event focusing on people living with disabilities in light of the recently adopted Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which will be opened for signature here at Headquarters this Friday, 30 March.



High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour addressed the Council's special meeting on the rights of persons with disabilities, reminding delegates that States remain the key actors in ensuring improved respect and protection for these rights.



And you can get more information upstairs, and we will have a press release on the day’s Council activities later in the day.



** Yemen



The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today reports that at least 29 people are confirmed dead and 71 others reported missing after smugglers forced some 450 Somalis and Ethiopians into stormy seas off the coast of Yemen. The incident occurred last Thursday, UNHCR reports. Some of the survivors say the smugglers forced the passengers overboard when they were still far from shore. Those who resisted were stabbed and beaten with wooden and steel clubs, then overthrown, where some were attacked by sharks, they say. The survivors were taken to a UNHCR reception centre, where they received medical assistance and other aid. There’s a press release on that upstairs.



** Angola



UNHCR also reports that nearly 410,000 Angolan refugees who had fled their country during 30 years of civil war have returned home from neighbouring countries. The High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, will attend a ceremony tomorrow to officially mark the successful conclusion of what has been the largest repatriation of refugees in Africa this decade. And there’s a press release on that, as well.



**United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime -- Human Trafficking



The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime today launched a global initiative to fight human trafficking, at the House of Lords in London. Some 2.5 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking at any given time, the experts say.



**International Strategy for Disaster Reduction



We also have a press release from the secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, which says that scientists and advisors from 29 specialized United Nations bodies are gathering in Bonn, Germany, for discussions on how a people-centred early-warning system could be implemented around the world. And there’s more information on that, as well.



And that’s what I have for you today. Anything for me?



**Questions and Answers



Question: Any question about whether the Secretary-General has a comment on the seizure of the British sailors and marines by Iran over the weekend, and whether he has a statement or any remark on that?



Deputy Spokesperson: No, he doesn’t. He has not commented. He did have a roundtable with the travelling journalists last Friday. He has a brief remark on that. But no, he does not.



Question: Any idea when the Security Council plans to discuss the Secretary-General’s report on Kosovo?



Deputy Spokesperson: As I think I mentioned last Friday, the discussions on the Secretary-General’s report have not yet been scheduled. The Security Council President for the month of March has indicated that it would happen in the following month, which would then place it under the United Kingdom presidency, so, I think you would have to check with the incoming president to see when the discussion will be scheduled. Today, the report has come out as a document.



Question: I asked you because the report was presented today, so I thought there would be some scheduling of the meeting.



Deputy Spokesperson: The meeting has not yet been officially scheduled. But Mr. Ahtisaari -- I think this is a response to a question that Erol had earlier -- will be here to present the report when the meeting is scheduled.



Question: A follow up on this. Now that Mr. Ahtisaari has really finished his job -- and he deserves nothing but congratulations for his persistence and diplomatic skills, and for putting the dot on the “i” of the final chapter of the Yugoslav crisis -- what is left for him? What is he going to be? Is his job really finished? Is his mandate over? And what is he doing now, in this, if I can say, “limbo”, between the Secretary-General’s report and expectations of the Security Council meeting?



Deputy Spokesperson: Mr. Ahtisaari is expected to come to United Nations Headquarters shortly to present the report to the Security Council.



Question: But is he still officially Special Representative, or is his job finished?



Deputy Spokesperson: He will be here shortly, as I mentioned, to present the report that he just wrote in his capacity as Special Envoy.



Question: Two questions. There’s a report that Ban Ki-moon had a press conference with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, at which he, Ban Ki-moon, said that Egypt should play a more active role in getting [President] al-Bashir to allow the United Nations into Sudan, and that the Foreign Minister of Egypt said pressure is not the point at this time. Is that accurate as to what had taken place there?



Deputy Spokesperson: Let me just... I think what you’re referring to is, on Saturday, the Secretary-General met with President Mubarak. I just gave you a recount of his account of the conversation that he had with the President of Egypt. And in it, the Secretary-General, just to reiterate, said he explained to the Egyptian President the discussions between the United Nations and the Government of Sudan on Darfur, including the deployment of the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping operation and the humanitarian situation. And he added that he expects that President Mubarak and other leaders in the region will take the time to take a look at the issue more seriously, to help the efforts of the United Nations and the African Union to address this issue as soon as possible.



The Egyptian President and the Secretary-General, as I mentioned, discussed this request. And I think there’s no question that they did not reject his request to get involved in the process. And I think the Secretary-General will be bringing -- pushing -- the Darfur issue in his coming days of talks, especially at the League of Arabs States Summit in Riyadh.



Question: Also, do you have any update on the status of Guido Bertucci from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs? There’s some word in the building that he may have been suspended -- could you confirm any of that?



Deputy Spokesperson: No, he has not been suspended. I have nothing else further.



Question: Before I get to my real question, what do we have to learn from the fact that, while in the region, the Secretary-General does not have any substantial statement on probably the most important crisis right now, with the Iranians hijacking the Brits? I mean, is it an oversight? Does he have no opinion on that? Does he not want…?



Deputy Spokesperson: At this point, he does not have anything publicly to say about this incident.



Question: So, basically that’s all we know -- that he’s not commenting on that? And that he’s staying away from the whole thing?



Deputy Spokesperson: That’s it. Yes.



Question: Okay. The second thing is, when we were briefed by Alicia Bárcena, we were told that not all of the people who were asked actually filled in the disclosure forms. Since then, some time has passed. Have those people been dealt with? What’s the deal?



Deputy Spokesperson: I’ll find out for you. I also followed up on Erol’s request to have Ms. Bárcena come to talk to you further, so you can probably discuss it with her further.



Question: And the second question is: how many people, if at all, are being urged to do what the Secretary-General has done, which is to make those statements public?



Deputy Spokesperson: I think what the Secretary-General says is that he hopes that he will set an example, and that it’s a voluntary process.



Question: The question is: how many people have been doing that? Has anybody done this thing?



Deputy Spokesperson: Since it’s voluntary, I’m not sure we’ll be giving out the information. But if I do have…



Question: You won’t be giving out the information about making public?



Deputy Spokesperson: If I have further information to give you, I’ll get it for you after the briefing.



[The Deputy Spokesperson later said that those who have not yet filled out their financial disclosure forms were being referred to the Joint Disciplinary Committee.]



Question: With reference to the Secretary-General’s reticence to comment on the seizure of the British sailors and marines, is this a case of “he does not wish to comment because of delicate ongoing negotiations”?



Deputy Spokesperson: That’s correct. Yes.



Question: That is the only reason, then?



Deputy Spokesperson: Yes.



Question: To follow up on this thing. If the Secretary-General does not have a comment, does he have any information on whether this was a trespass by British soldiers into Iranian waters?



Deputy Spokesperson: Right now the matter is between the countries involved. So, no, he does not have any further information.



Question: Marie, is the United Nations, in any capacity, involved with those negotiations between the Iranians and the Brits, or no?



Deputy Spokesperson: Not that I know of. There are no other questions?



Question: I just had two more, I’m sorry. On this thing that came up on Friday, of the Romanian “blue helmets” that left the country during the investigation of the death of two civilians in Kosovo, has the United Nations heard anything back about whether those soldiers will be made available for the investigation?



Deputy Spokesperson: As I mentioned, it’s up to the national authorities to pursue the investigation.



Question: But I thought the United Nations was doing its own inquiry into these people killed by rubber bullets in Kosovo.



Deputy Spokesperson: The United Nations would be. But the investigation at home can only be done by the troop-contributing country, in terms of any legal…



Question: And the other thing is: I noticed on the Deputy Secretary-General’s meeting with Ad Melkert of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) this afternoon... I guess I want to know the purpose of that, and whether we could speak to either or both of them before or after, given the North Korea-UNDP situation, and we also have a question for the UNDP about some hiring by Mr. Melkert. So, it would be very timely if you could at least put in a request for a brief stakeout.



Deputy Spokesperson: Sure.



Question: Please, did you have a scheduled date for the discussion of [resolution] 1701 at the Security Council? Is it going to be postponed to next month, or 27 March?



Deputy Spokesperson: I just looked at the Security Council programme before I came down here and I did not see anything for the month of March, I believe.



Question: It was supposed to be 27 March.



Deputy Spokesperson: No, that has been off the programme for a while. I don’t think there’s anything in the Council for the next couple of days. So, we’ll have to see, again, if it’s something that will be placed on the programme officially by the incoming presidency.



Question: Marie, on the Middle East conflict. There’s some indication that Saudi Arabia, in order to advance the peace process, may be contemplating establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. Do you have any information on that? Has the Secretary-General been encouraging this process, this trend, during his recent visit, or current visit?



Deputy Spokesperson: I have nothing on that specific question as of now. But he is still, as you know, in Israel today. He will be giving a second press conference shortly after his meeting with, I believe, the Foreign Minister.



There are no other questions? Have a good afternoon.

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2007/db070326.doc.htm
Top
batmanchester
Posted: Mar 27 2007, 05:47 PM


Advanced Member


Group: Gone
Posts: 1,534
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06



DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.



** Sri Lanka



I have the following statement attributable to the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General concerning Sri Lanka:



The Secretary-General is disturbed by the extensive and escalating violations of the ceasefire in Sri Lanka, which now includes an air attack this week by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).



He deeply regrets that air raids, military confrontations on the ground and suicide bombings have become a daily occurrence, prompting massive displacement and suffering for civilians.



The Secretary-General appeals to the parties of the conflict to break this vicious cycle of attack and retaliation, which only leads to more bloodshed and victims. He urges them to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible, without preconditions.



**Secretary-General’s Travels



Meanwhile, the Secretary-General has arrived in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where tomorrow he will address the Summit of the League of Arab States. He will also discuss his key concerns about Darfur and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, among other topics, with the gathered Arab leaders.



This evening, prior to the start of the Summit, he will meet with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.



Earlier today, he met with the United Nations country team in Jerusalem, before stopping over in Jordan where he met the King of Jordan, also named King Abdullah, who is also travelling to the summit in Riyadh, and the two discussed the Secretary-General’s recent meetings during his Middle East tour, particularly concerning the new momentum for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.



Speaking to the press before departing Israel yesterday, the Secretary-General said that, despite the obstacles ahead, he believes that solid grounds exist for hoping we can advance the peace process in the coming period. He said, “I believe we can and must make progress in the coming weeks and months.”



We have the transcript of that press conference upstairs and on the web.



**Sudan



On Sudan, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, and African Union Special Envoy, Salim Ahmed Salim, held today in Khartoum separate meetings with representatives of Darfur’s Arab tribes and leaders of civil society groups. Discussions during the two meetings focused on the joint efforts of the two envoys to re-energize the Darfur peace process. The two Envoys heard from their interlocutors their views on how to move forward with the political process and reach a sustainable settlement of the Darfur problem. Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim will hold a joint press conference this evening in Khartoum.



Also, the United Nations Mission today reports that, to date, nearly 9,000 internally displaced persons have returned to Southern Sudan and the transitional areas since January, under the joint plan for returns that brings together the United Nations, the Sudanese Government and the Government of Southern Sudan.



We have more information about developments in Sudan in today’s bulletin from the United Nations Mission.



**Security Council



The Security Council this morning unanimously voted to extend the mandate of the International Independent Investigation Commission, headed by Serge Brammertz, by another year, until 15 June 2008.



Council members then went into consultations to hear from Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hédi Annabi, about the recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.



** Democratic Republic of the Congo



And on that subject: the situation is calm and life has resumed its normal pace in Kinshasa, reports the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. United Nations peacekeepers, meanwhile, are patrolling the city, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is working with local authorities to assess the number of civilian casualties of last week’s fighting between Government forces and the security detail of Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba.



Here at Headquarters, out on the racks today is the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which he urges Congolese leaders to respect the principles of transparency, inclusiveness and tolerance of dissent. He also notes that assisting the Government in facing the challenge of disarming groups operating in the eastern part of the country remains a key priority for the United Nations Mission.



**European Commission/United Nations Cooperation



The United Nations today is hosting a workshop on United Nations cooperation with the European Commission. In remarks to the workshop participants, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said that cooperation between the two institutions is invaluable in carrying out the United Nations’ reform agenda. She said that there is an old saying that encapsulates this idea: “A problem shared is a problem halved.” And we have copies of her remarks upstairs.



**Human Rights Council



Turning to Geneva, the Human Rights Council today adopted, by consensus, two resolutions: one on the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and the other on the human rights special procedures, namely the special rapporteurs, independent experts and other mandate holders reporting to the Council.



The resolution on the Occupied Palestinian Territory calls for the implementation of the decisions taken at the Council’s special sessions on that topic, in particular to dispatch the fact-finding missions mandated by the Council at those sessions.



Earlier in the day, the Human Rights Council held a series of discussions with various human rights mandate holders, including those dealing with counter-terrorism, torture, freedom of religion and expression, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial executions and racism, among others.



** Haiti



From Haiti, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) reports that more than 400 gang members have been arrested since the beginning of the year as a result of operations undertaken by the Haitian National Police and backed up by the United Nations police and military. The local population played a vital role in many of these arrests by providing information on the whereabouts of gang members to the Haitian and United Nations police via confidential hot-lines. Haitian police and UN peacekeepers continue these operations throughout the country in order to apprehend gang leaders and members who remain at large, and to confiscate illegally possessed weapons and ammunition.



** Central African Republic



Concerning the Central African Republic, the United Nations refugee agency reports that United Nations and non-governmental organization representatives have completed a visit to the town of Birao in the north-eastern part of the Central African Republic and found the town in ruins and almost empty some three weeks after it was attacked by an armed group. The joint team also found that, while some of the town's residents were slowly returning and attempting to resume normal life, many others remained too afraid to return.



The UNHCR-led team also visited the border town of Am Dafok to assess the situation following a rebel attack earlier this month, which caused some 14,000 to flee the fighting. Some 700 houses and vital stocks of food were destroyed during that attack, UNHCR said. And we have more on this upstairs.



**World Food Programme -- Djibouti



The World Food Programme (WFP) says it may soon have to stop delivering food to 53,000 people in Djibouti, due to a critical shortage of funds. WFP says child malnutrition rates are at emergency levels in the Horn of Africa country, which has suffered a series of droughts during the past five years. The agency says it needs $1 million immediately to avoid halting distributions in May and $6 million in order to continue operations through the end of the year.



**World Health Organization -- Guinea Worm



From the World Health Organization (WHO): The World Health Organization reports that guinea worm disease could be wiped out worldwide in just two years, if progress continues at its present rate. Earlier this month, 12 more countries were declared guinea worm free. There are still some 25,000 cases of the tropical disease in nine countries, and it remains endemic in some villages in sub-Saharan Africa. If current efforts are successful, guinea worm would become only the second disease -- after smallpox -- to be completely eradicated.



**Under-Secretary-General’s Visit to Chad and Sudan



I have something hot off the presses from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.



United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, arrived in the town of Abéché in eastern Chad this morning, on the second leg of his two-week, three-country mission to Africa. The Emergency Relief Coordinator said he was looking forward to travelling to IDP settlements the next day, in order to assess for himself the situation on the ground. And we have upstairs, just now, a press release that you can pick up with some more details on Mr. Holmes’ strip.



**Press Conferences



Tomorrow, there will be a press conference at 12:30 in this room with Ambassador Frank Majoor, the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the United Nations, who will brief you on the Peacebuilding Commission field visit to Sierra Leone. Ambassador Majoor was the leader of the Commission’s delegation there.



And do you have any questions?



**Questions and Answers



Question: A couple of quick ones. First of all, you announced that the Secretary-General is in Riyadh and he’s going to be meeting with Bashar al-Assad and King Abdullah. Is that going to be all together?



Associate Spokesperson: No, those are two separate bilateral meetings. And whenever we can get the readouts of those meetings, I’ll try and squawk them.



Question: And the other thing is that, you read out some comments from the Secretary-General. Was that in response to -- because I haven’t seen the transcript yet -- was that in response to questions about [Condoleezza] Rice’s statement that she made last night?



Associate Spokesperson: No, not directly. This had to do with the press conference that he did, that did take place in Israel last night with reporters there. But he was talking more generally about his feelings about progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace track.



And that, by the way, includes his hopes for progress because of the recent attitudes expressed by Israeli Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert, Palestinian President [Mahmoud] Abbas, but also because of the efforts by others, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to push for progress on this.



And so, while he is in Riyadh, he’s going to continue with that effort, and we’ll see what sort of initiative the Arab leaders are willing to get behind while they’re there at the Summit.



Question: A follow-up on the Summit. You did not mention a possible meeting between Mr. Ban Ki-moon and President [Omer al-]Bashir of Sudan. So I was wondering if this has been cancelled, or…?



Associate Spokesperson: No, it hasn’t. It’s… What we expect is that he will meet President Bashir tomorrow. I just gave out the bilaterals that will take place later today, but we should have a list of bilaterals tomorrow. But we do expect that that will include President Bashir.



Question: Concerning his visit to Palestine and Israel, did the Secretary-General have any reaction to reports that settlers have illegally reoccupied a settlement that’s already been evacuated by the Israelis in the summer of ’05?



Associate Spokesperson: We haven’t made any specific comment about that particular settlement. Obviously, as you know, we have repeatedly called for a halt to settlement activities in general that could complicate any final [resolution].



Question: Any change you see in the final leg of the Secretary-General’s travels? Is everything going to plan? There are no more “surprises”, like it was in Baghdad?



Associate Spokesperson: If there were more “surprises”, it would come as a surprise. But no. As far as I know, the idea is that he will go from Saudi Arabia, he will go at the end of this week to Lebanon, and after that they should return some time over the weekend to New York.



Question: I understand that the French citizen who happens to be the station manager of the biggest Israeli newspaper in Washington and was in the entourage of the Secretary of State, previously, to Riyadh, now was denied entrance by the Saudis while in the entourage of the Secretary-General. My question is: did the Secretary-General say something? Because this is a step against the United Nations -- did he speak up for the United Nations?



Associate Spokesperson: Yes. We have spoken to the relevant authorities, trying to make sure that all the reporters that have been travelling with the Secretary-General have access to visit all of the countries on that tour, including the reporter that you are referring to.



Question: Is she going to Riyadh?



Associate Spokesperson: The question is whether the Saudis will provide the visa. But yes, we have spoken up on the need for this reporter, and indeed all the reporters, to have the necessary visas.



Question: Will you be able, tomorrow, to tell us what happened in this case?



Associate Spokesperson: I’ll try to get that information. You can also check with the Saudis whether they’ve provided any of the necessary visas.



Question: No, no, no, I want to check with the United Nations. Because my question is: What is at stake here is the honour of the Secretary-General, because the United States Secretary of State was able to take that person.



Associate Spokesperson: Thank you for telling me what’s at stake here. But my point is: yes, we have spoken up on behalf of this. Obviously, we don’t give the visas on behalf of the Saudi Government. The Saudi Government does.



Question: Kinshasa’s now calm and all this. Did the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) have a readout on whether Mr. Bemba’s still in the South African compound? How many people were killed in this round of fighting? What’s next?



Associate Spokesperson: In terms of the assessment on damage, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is trying to assess what kind of damage has been done. I believe I had read that out earlier -- that they’re working with local authorities to assess the number of civilian casualties that took place last week. So we’ll see back from them what assessment they get, once that exercise is complete.



As for Mr. Bemba, I don’t have… I could try to get the latest information for you. But I believe that he has been, in recent days, inside the embassy of South Africa.



[The Associate Spokesperson later confirmed that was still the case.]



Question: Has The Secretary-General, in fact, addressed a written invitation to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to attend the next meeting of the Quartet?



Associate Spokesperson: There’s nothing we can announce on that just yet. The arrangements for the Quartet meeting would still have to be made. As you’re aware, there are some plans to expand that meeting beyond the principal members of the Quartet. At this stage, all I can say is what the Quartet said in their communiqué of last week, which is that the Quartet principals do intend to meet shortly in the region. And we’ll have to see what we can say about the full guest list later on, once that develops.



Question: I wanted to ask you about the Central African Republic-United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) assessment mission. When there was another assessment mission done for Chad and the Central African Republic, there was a note in the report saying they would take note of the Central African Republic Government’s…mention that a lot of the fighting, or problems on the north-eastern border, were a spillover from Darfur. But the assessment mission did not think so. Do you know if the UNHCR assessment mission now believes -- I know there are two different missions -- believes that that is from spillover? Do they specify that at all?



Associate Spokesperson: That’s not part of the note I read. I can check up, or we can get in touch with UNHCR afterwards to see what their own individual assessment is of that. Certainly, two things have been happening. There has been a rebellion in some areas of the Central African Republic. Plus, there has been some degree of spillover fighting. How they gauge that, how UNHCR gauges that, you can check with them.



[The Associate Spokesperson later said that Birao was attacked on 3-4 March by a Central African Republic group, the UFDR.]



Question: Back to my question earlier. Some press indicate that the Secretary-General had invited these four countries I mentioned to the next meeting of the Quartet. Would you deny that?



Associate Spokesperson: I’m not denying anything. What I’m saying is that I don’t have anything to announce about the next Quartet meeting until that schedule has firmed up. Yes, it is clear that the Secretary-General and others have indicated that this could be a larger meeting -- an expanded meeting of the Quartet. But who precisely will be invited, those details I still have to wait for.



Question: Do I understand that more invitations have been issued?



Associate Spokesperson: There’s nothing for me formally to announce so far. I would need to wait until the plans are set before we can make an announcement about who the invitees are.



Question: Do you have any update for us on banning Mr. Holmes from visiting certain towns in the Darfur region, and whether there’s an effort to allow him to have access there?



Associate Spokesperson: Well, as I just read, Mr. Holmes did in fact leave Darfur. He is now in Chad, in eastern Chad, in Abéché today, and we have a press release on his travels there. He did visit some parts of Darfur, but there were some areas where he was denied. And we reported on that earlier this week. So what we mentioned yesterday is where we stand on that.



Question: Two questions. One is the Ivory Coast. It’s reported that [Guillaume] Soro, the rebel, is going to become the Prime Minister. I’m wondering what that means for [Prime Minister Charles Konan] Banny and whether [Gerard] Stoudmann, or anyone else in the United Nations system, has had anything to say about these developments?



Associate Spokesperson: Well, we have seen the press reports indicating that Guillaume Soro has accepted the post of Prime Minister. But we have yet to see an official announcement by the Facilitator, President [Blaise] Compaore of Burkina Faso, or from President [Laurent] Gbagbo or Mr. Soro himself, for that matter. The United Nations will work closely with whoever is appointed as Prime Minister and the new Government to support the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement. And I’ve seen some signs that over the next day or so, there’s a chance that the Security Council may also pronounce itself on this topic. So you might want to check with the President of the Security Council, what they have to say about this.



Question: The other question is about whistle-blower protection in the United Nations system. I’ve recently become aware of a UNOPS [United Nations Office of Project Services] e-mail sent by Jan Mattson to all staff, saying anyone who speaks to the press will face the most severe repercussions. And I’ve seen similar communications within some other funds and programmes. Does the Secretary-General’s bulletin on the protections for whistle-blowing apply throughout the United Nations system? Only the Secretariat? And what does the Ethics Office do to implement these rights?Associate Spokesperson: Well, the Ethics Office is there to hear of any complaints… If someone, for example, believes that their rights as a whistle-blower are being violated, they can always take that to the Ethics Office. And yes, the Secretary-General’s bulletin is applicable. And whistle-blowers are protected in the system, as is underscored by the Secretary-General’s bulletin.



Question: But I mean, if the e-mail sent to staff in order to chill communications to the press is presented either to the Secretary-General or someone else, what happens?



Associate Spokesperson: I don’t have any details about that particular email.



Question: If such an e-mail…?



Associate Spokesperson: Certainly we do have a whistle-blower policy. You can look at the Secretary-General’s bulletin. And whistle-blowers do have protection and rights within the system, yes.



If that’s it, have a good afternoon.

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2007/db070327.doc.htm
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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICEs OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL


and the spokesperson for the general assembly president




The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Ashraf Kamal, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.



Briefing by Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General



Just to let you know, we have a guest briefing at 12:30. The Permanent Representative of the Netherlands, Frank Majoor, will brief on the work of the Peacebulding Commission. So we’ll try to get this done fairly quickly, so that I and Ashraf Kamal, the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President, can do our part fairly quickly.



**Secretary-General Statement on Côte d’Ivoire



The Secretary-General commends President Laurent Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro for the steps they have taken to date towards implementing the Ouagadougou political agreement. The Secretary-General, in particular, welcomes the establishment of the integrated command centre on 16 March and the supplementary agreement reached on 26 March, which designates Mr. Soro as the new Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire.



The Secretary-General also commends President Blaise Compaoré for facilitating the supplementary agreement and congratulates Mr. Soro. The Secretary-General assures President Gbagbo and Mr. Soro of the readiness of the United Nations to work closely with them to support the implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement. He also expresses his gratitude to Prime Minister Charles Banny for his significant contribution to the peace process, in particular for his tireless efforts to rebuild trust among the Ivorian parties and launch the key disarmament and identification processes over the past 16 months. That statement is available in English and French upstairs.



**Secretary-General at Arab Summit



The Secretary-General today addressed the Summit of the League of Arab States taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and he urged the leaders gathered at the Summit to reaffirm their commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative, which he called one of the pillars of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.



The Secretary-General noted the positive signs for that peace process, including the formation of a National Unity Government in Palestine and the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. Solving the conflict, he said, is a moral and strategic necessity.



The Secretary-General also underscored other priorities, including the need to resolve the situation in Lebanon through dialogue; support for the security and recovery of Iraq, including through the International Compact for Iraq; and the need for peace and an end to strife in Darfur.



The Secretary-General today also attended a mini-summit on Somalia, chaired by the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud, which brought together senior officials of the United Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the African Union, the League of Arab States and the European Union, as well as the foreign minister of Kenya, to discuss the way forward for that country.



The Secretary-General also had a busy schedule of bilateral meetings, including a meeting with President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, with whom he had had a wider meeting with advisers, followed by a tête-à-tête. There will also be a summit meeting tonight on Darfur, which will be chaired by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and will also involve the Secretary-General and Arab League Secretary-General, Amr Moussa.



He also met, among others, with the Presidents of Lebanon, Mauritania and the United Arab Emirates.



Yesterday evening, the Secretary-General met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and he underlined the crucial timing of the Arab Summit. They discussed Iraq, the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, the National Unity Government in Palestine and the important Arab peace initiative, and Darfur.



** Sudan



Today in Khartoum, the Government of Sudan and the United Nations signed a Joint Communiqué, in which the Government of Sudan pledged to support, protect and facilitate all humanitarian operations in Darfur through rapid and full implementation of all measures outlined in the moratorium on restrictions, which was first penned on 3 July 2004.



Both parties recognize that progress has been made in addressing the humanitarian situation since the signing of the moratorium, and that this recommitment is to address current problems in the implementation of that agreement. Specifically, the Sudanese Government has, among other things, undertaken to extend current visas and permits through January 2008 to provide international NGO country directors and their families multiple entry visas, and to fast-track visa and customs procedures.



Also today, Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, travelled to Chad, where he met with the Prime Minister and Foreign Ministry officials, in the context of his consultations on revitalizing the Darfur peace process.



Meanwhile, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, arrived in the Chadian capital of Ndjamena today, following visits to IDP camps and aid projects in the area around Goz Beida, about 100 km from the Sudanese border.



Setting out from Abéché, Mr. Holmes travelled to Goz Beida, a hamlet whose population has more than quadrupled in the past three years due to the insecurity in the Chadian countryside and across the border in Sudan. Dwindling water resources are a pressing concern: non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the water sector warn the limited underground water supply could be fully depleted in a matter of months, putting tens of thousands of people at risk.



**Security Council



The Foreign Minister of South Africa, Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma, is chairing the Security Council today as it discusses the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations, particularly the African Union, concerning international peace and security. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hédi Annabi, briefed the Council on the cooperation the United Nations has received from the African Union in its work.



That debate is expected to continue into the afternoon, with 32 speakers inscribed. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Dhlamini-Zuma will speak to reporters at the Council stakeout at 12:30.



Once the meeting is done, the Security Council expects to hold a formal meeting to consider a resolution amending the sanctions imposed on Rwanda.



After that, the Council will consider a Presidential Statement concerning the implementation of the Ouagadougou political agreement for Cote d’Ivoire. And of course, you just heard what the Secretary-General had to say about that.



And yesterday afternoon, the Council President, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa, read out a statement to the press on Cyprus, which welcomed the Cyprus Government’s decision to remove the wall and National Guard post at Ledra Street as a step towards opening a new crossing point.



** Democratic Republic of the Congo



The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that humanitarian organizations continue to undertake evaluation and assistance activities throughout Kinshasa in the wake of last week's fighting between Government forces and armed elements loyal to former Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba.



In response to needs, the World Health Organization (WHO) distributed three metric tonnes of essential drugs and surgical materials, as well as 400 rolls of plaster and 100 sheets.



OCHA says that one additional concern has been the protection needs of vulnerable groups, including the families and dependents of the forces loyal to Bemba and arrested street children, as well as the risk of sexual violence and other human rights abuses.



** Gaza Flood



The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East says that sewage water yesterday flooded some 250 houses in the village of Um Nasser in Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip when the wall of a huge cesspool collapsed, causing some 1,500 people to flee the area. Among those too old or too weak to escape the flood, 4 people were confirmed dead yesterday and 18 others were injured; 11 others are still missing.



The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that 96 homes were destroyed or damaged and some 300 families had to be relocated to a temporary camp on higher ground in the region nearby. OCHA adds that preliminary needs assessments indicate that tents, blankets, mattresses, food and water are required for those who have moved to the new camp. UNRWA responded to this assessment by making 300 tents and 6 water tanks, as well as blankets and mattresses, available to the displaced civilians.



**Former Yugoslavia



The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia reports that Blagoje Simić, a former Bosnian Serb politician, was transferred yesterday to the United Kingdom to serve 15 years in prison.



Simić was convicted in October 2003 for persecuting non-Serb civilians in the town of Bosanski Šamac between April 1992 and December 1993. The non-Serb civilians were detained and confined under inhumane conditions, lacking sufficient space, food or water, and were subjected to torture including sexual assaults, the extraction of teeth and threat of execution. And we have more on this upstairs.



**Human Rights Council



Turning to Geneva, the Human Rights Council earlier today concluded its interactive dialogue on the reports of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions; the Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; and the Special Rapporteur on racism and racial discrimination.



The Council is currently holding a discussion with experts on human rights and transnational corporations, the right to health, and on the situation of human rights defenders. Meanwhile, here at Headquarters, the Human Rights Committee which oversees implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, will conclude its current session on Friday.



**FAO -- Locusts



The Food and Agricultural Organization is taking part in a new offensive against Desert Locusts in the Horn of Africa. Along with the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa, FAO has launched aerial control operations on the Red Sea coast near the Sudanese/Eritrean border. This week operations will start on the coast of northwest Somalia near Djibouti. And we have more in a press release upstairs.



**Bird Flu -- Indonesia



Turning to the bird flu, the World Health Organization (WHO) is welcoming Indonesia's decision to immediately resume sharing samples of the H5N1 avian influenza virus. And we have more on that in a press release upstairs.



**HIV-Circumcision



In the fight against HIV infection, experts are recommending that male circumcision be recognized as an additional way to reduce the risk of heterosexual transmission in men. That recommendation was made by an international consultation of experts that was convened by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS in Switzerland earlier this month. And we have more in a press release upstairs.



**ESCAP



The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is turning 60 this year, and we are celebrating the occasion with a gathering in Bangkok of major beneficiaries, stakeholders and partners of the Commission. In a video message aired at that event, the Secretary-General said that ESCAP has carved out a unique role in regional advocacy, consensus-building and cooperation. And we have copies of his remarks upstairs.



**Asia Africa Trade



In a joint report released today, the UN Conference on Trade and Development and the UN Development Programme say that foreign direct investment in Africa by developing Asian countries is growing and has the potential to reach much higher levels.



The report says that this significant observation owes much to the complementary nature of economic development between Asian and African countries, even though Asian direct investment mostly targets African natural resources. And that report is available on both UNCTAD and UNDP websites.



**Flag



You may notice that the UN flag is being flown at half-mast at UN Headquarters today, to observe the official mourning for the late Prime Minister of Armenia, Andranik Margaryan.



**Press Conference Today



Right after this briefing, there will be a press conference with H.E. Frank Majoor, the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN, who is the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission Country-Specific Meetings on Sierra Leone. Ambassador Majoor will brief you on the Commission’s field visit to Sierra Leone. And between now and then, we’ll also have, Ashraf Kamal to talk about the President of the General Assembly.



**Guest at Noon Tomorrow



Our guest at the noon briefing tomorrow will be Mr. Thomas Schindlmayer, Expert with the United Nations Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.



Also, the Permanent Mission of Greece wanted to remind you all that at the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium at 2 p.m. today, there is a concert by Voices for Peace, by Thea Musgrave, and also by the New York Virtuoso Singers and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Again, that’s at 2:00 at the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium and you’re all invited. Are there any questions before we go to Mr. Kamal?



**Questions and Answers



Question: Right. I want questions on two subjects, if that’s OK with you, Farhan. First of all, the Secretary-General talking on Darfur, it seems to have all gone in one ear and out the other since President Bashir said immediately “no” peacekeepers, just African troops, logistical things. Do you know if there’s any kind of pressure from Arab countries, or are they giving into his, as usual, supporting everything he says? And then, secondly, can we have Mr. Annabi’s text -- I don’t see it anywhere. And thirdly, where is Mr. Bemba –- is he still in the South African Embassy? And what’s wrong with him? I thought he was on his way to the Netherlands.



Associate Spokesperson: As far as I’m aware, yes, he continues to be in the South African Embassy in Kinshasa. We can check whether that’s changed in recent hours or not.



Question: Ambassador Kumalo said yesterday something’s wrong with his neck, but he wasn’t too…and he was on his way to the Netherlands for medical care, which our people thought was a little strange.



Associate Spokesperson: I think the South Africans who have him under their auspices might be better positioned to comment on that than I would be. As for the others, on Mr. Annabi, yes, we’re trying to get a hold of his prepared text for the meeting that took place in the Security Council. Once we have that, we will put that out and squawk it. And tracking back to your first question, yes, there’s further activity taking place today concerning President Bashir and Sudan. As I said at the start of this briefing, the King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, will convene a meeting fairly late this evening. It’s expected I believe to go on sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight. That will also involve the Secretary-General and that is designed to move forward on Darfur. And regardless of some of the comments that have been made by President Bashir in his public comments today, we continue, of course, to press ahead with our efforts on the light support package and heavy support packages concerning the UN assistance in Darfur. And as you know, we’ve also continued to press ahead on other matters, including with the humanitarian agreement that was reached at today.



Question: What moves has the President garnered? He keeps saying the same thing for the last year, no matter how many agreements there are. Is there a real concerted effort among Arab nations or just the Saudis?



Associate Spokesperson: Well, let’s see what kind of persuasion, what kind of effect, this mini-summit that’s being convened late this evening will have. Certainly, the effort is continuing, it’s going to be continuing throughout the night and we hope that this will assist in our efforts to help the people of Darfur.



Question: I know you gave quotes on this yesterday but I’d like some more clarification and explanation. Yesterday, there was a terrorist threat made against UN Headquarters here in New York, the NYPD Counter-Terrorism Squad sent SWAT members with machine guns to all the entrances and the UN Security Forces were on elevated alert, people were inspected more thoroughly coming in and out of the building. And yet the press corps here was not informed through an email or some sort of detailed announcement. I have a few questions for you. The first one is, why weren’t we told that there was a potential terrorist threat against out workplace and this building? Two, what is the procedure in place to inform people at UN Headquarters that there is a threat? Three, what will you do in the future to ensure that we are informed of these potential attacks?



Associate Spokesperson: Well, throughout the day in fact, including both before and beyond the noon briefing, I did talk to reporters and informed them of the fact that, what you call a terrorist threat, we characterize as an unconfirmed bomb threat. It is something that could, in fact, just as easily have been a hoax and it may indeed have been a hoax. It was a phone-caller, calling in some information about a threat to the building and calling in to the NYPD. And once the NYPD shared that information with us, we also stepped up our security, as did the police department. In terms of that, whenever we feel that there is any significant threat against the building, as you are aware, we have informed the press and indeed everyone in the building through the intercom system. And if need be, if there were any need to evacuate the building, we have procedures in place for that. As it was yesterday, work carried on as usual and, like I said, this was an unconfirmed threat. We do not know whether there was any credibility or legitimacy to it.



Question: I have a couple of questions but I’ll just do one and see if there’s more time. I asked you yesterday about the whistleblower policy and since I’ve obtained this UNOPS email that references a story that Inner City Press wrote about its Dubai operations of UNOPS and says “when we learn the identity of the individuals involved in any breach of confidentiality, we will apply the severest disciplinary action”. So, I’m wondering again, what is the position of Ban Ki-moon on whether UN agencies can threaten staff members for speaking to the press about alleged corruption at the UN?



Associate Spokesperson: Well, first of all, I checked after the briefing with UNOPS, who said they were unaware of any email joining, prohibiting anybody from communications. And they reaffirmed, by the way, in their discussions with me, that their personnel, as with all UN staff, are free to speak within the regular rules for all UN personnel.



Question: They don’t have a Press Officer, UNOPS doesn’t. But I’m going to give you the email but I’d like…



Associate Spokesperson: There’s actually a person who handles their communication and what I can do is put you in touch with that person and he can talk to you further. But I..



Question: Because it’s a Ban Ki-moon question and he’s the top of the agency. I tried to ask Ms. Barcena yesterday about it. It seems to me like he needs to have a… what is his position on whether the head of agencies saying to the press, you shouldn’t speak to the press is legitimate or not?



Associate Spokesperson: Well, I don’t know about the validity of that email. Like I said, the people who I talked to, deny that there was anything beyond…



Question: I just want to be clear. There’s two different things. There’s as it applies to this email, and that’s one thing. And then there’s two, there’s just this policy question. What is Ban Ki-moon’s policy on whether staff can be disciplined for speaking with the press about alleged corruption at the UN?



Associate Spokesperson: You know what the whistleblower’s policy and the Secretary-General’s bulletin is. And that policy stands. Staff who are whistleblowers are free and are protected in terms of their communications.



Question: So, if an individual gets suspended by a UN agency, and goes to the whistleblower policy, he’s already suspended, so what happens is that then he has a two-year case through the justice system of the UN -- which is admittedly broken. So, I guess I’m just seeking from you some statement, doesn’t have to be right this moment, but sometime today, what the position is of Ban Ki-moon on whether staff can speak to the press about alleged corruption at the UN? It seems like, I hear the policy there, but if you could just say it, that would be great.



Associate Spokesperson: That policy is clear, that if staff have any reason to believe any corruption or any mismanagement, they are free to speak. There are whistleblower protections and again, I can show you what the bulletin is. The text of that still stands.



Question: I don’t know, maybe I missed it yesterday because I wasn’t here, but it seems to me the UN system pretty much comments on any important events in the world. And nobody, not the head of OCHA, not the head of the Human Rights Council, not DPA, not Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have said anything about that situation with the Brits and the Iranians. I don’t know whether it’s a threat to world peace and security or whether it’s as important as other situations you comment on?



Associate Spokesperson: That’s not unusual, nor is it exceptional. The United Nations is an organization that deals with diplomacy and there are certain cases when there are certain diplomatic efforts or diplomatic problems where it may not necessarily be helpful to give comments right off the bat. At this point, I have no comment to give on that. We’ll see what down the line we can say.



Question: Well, let me try one thing. I mean is there any way for the UN to verify the GPS coordinates, as were given by the Brits? At least to say whether those coordinates are indeed in Iraqi or Iranian waters?



Associate Spokesperson: That’s a very nice try, but in all honesty, the basic point is that, at this point, I have no comment to make on this issue.



Question: It’s not important?



Associate Spokesperson: We’re not saying that it’s not important. I’m saying that, at this point, there’s no comment I could give and surely, you know enough about the work the UN does, that you know that that happens on a number of issues.



Question: Can I get the Secretary-General’s comment on the fact that the Zimbabwean opposition leader was arrested again today?



Associate Spokesperson: At this stage, what we’re looking forward to, there’s a regional meeting by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and we’re looking to see what stance the leaders attending the SADC meeting will take in terms of dealing with the problems that have been occurring in Zimbabwe. So, we’re waiting to see what’s going to come out of that first.



Question: What if they take no position?



Associate Spokesperson: We’ll make some commentary regardless, but let’s see what they have to say from SADC.



Question: Regarding these five diplomats kidnapped by the Americans in Irbil some weeks ago –- is the United Nations doing anything regarding them? I remember you did not issue anything at that time, but after the meeting of Baghdad?



Associate Spokesperson: Thank you, Mr. Abboud, for helping to prove my point that there are a number of situations, not just the one of the last few days, on which we have given no comment. Yes, we have given no comment on that, you’re quite right.



Question: I want to pursue Neil’s question. Before security determined that it was a hoax and a threat, is there a procedure to let the people in this building know that there is something going on, that they should be aware of, before you say it’s a threat or a hoax. You see, when you send in security with machine guns running all over the place, people working here should know what’s happening.



Associate Spokesperson: Yes, and we did talk to anyone who was asking us about this, about the nature of this unconfirmed bomb threat. But neither were we trying to play it up out of proportion. The work of this building doesn’t stop because of one anonymous phone call. And we continue to go about our work. But yes, we did inform anyone who asked about the nature of the security activity at the gate. And if anything more serious were to develop, if there were anything such as a confirmed or credible threat, further action certainly would be taken.



Question: Would you consider (setting up someone) for example so that the media can get precise information at that moment?



Associate Spokesperson: Yes, I’m in regular contact, I’m the person from the office who’s in regular contact with UN security on this. And UN security, by the way, when it feels the needs to do so, also does put out general information on the intercoms.



Question: Just one follow-up on what they’re talking about and then I have a couple questions. Maybe it would be helpful, if you know how we get emails from you folks, from the Spokesman’s Office, could we all get a blanket email just saying we’re investigating a call in? Just something like that, so at least we’re all informed and we’re not pestering you with phone calls? Is that difficult or worth considering?



Associate Spokesperson: I’ll talk it over with my boss. We’ll see whether that’s…



Question: OK, a couple questions. On Darfur, obviously the Arab League brings up a whole bunch of questions about Bashir and what he’s saying. Is Ban Ki-moon doing anything about the Human Rights Council and where it’s heading on making a statement on Darfur that appears to be something that probably will come to a vote I think tomorrow or the day after, that’s going to be very watered down…



Associate Spokesperson: Well, we’ll see what the Human Rights Council has to say first. Obviously, Ban Ki-moon has already made it very clear that he wants the work of the Human Rights Council not to be narrowly focused on one country, but to focus on a number of different issues and he specifically mentioned the need to take up the issue of Darfur. So, let’s see what they have to say.



Question: But he did, even before the Human Rights Council began its latest session, beg them to consider things and behave in a way that is equitable and fair and reasonable and its obviously a judgement call of a variety of countries, but in terms of the poor people in Darfur, and poor people suffering around the world in various places in which human rights are being abused, it looks like we’re heading for yet another series of major failures. Why wouldn’t he pre-empt and come out with a statement?



Associate Spokesperson: Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. The basic point is, the Secretary-General certainly hopes that the Human Rights Council will be able to deal, and deal seriously with the issue of Darfur. Let’s see what they have to say.



Question: A couple of questions. Is he reluctant, then, to lend his political clout to get certain issues pushed through?



Associate Spokesperson: No, no.



Question: His predecessor Kofi Annan, at one point, really put his foot down and asked for things to happen on the Darfur front, for instance.



Associate Spokesperson: No, the Secretary-General has already spoken about the need of the Human Rights Council to act on Darfur. And we’ll see how they act. Let’s not jump the gun and see what it is that they do.



Question: Just a follow-up. Does he at least urge the Council to adopt the Jody Williams report, which the Council itself sent? And it seems the versions of the resolution proposals does not specifically endorse that report?



Associate Spokesperson: I am not going to get ahead of what the Member States of the Human Rights Council are deciding any more than we do that when, for example, the Security Council is considering a matter. Let’s see how they react and then we can evaluate it.



Question: On the Human Rights Council, I think they’ve taken a decision to stop periodic reporting on both Iran and Uzbekistan? Does the Secretary-General have any comment on that action taken by the Human Rights Council to diminish country-specific human rights reports?



Associate Spokesperson: I’ll see whether we can actually get a comment on that. I’ll see whether there’s something for you on that.



Question: I had a couple of questions since you’re good at…



Associate Spokesperson: You’ve actually had three or four, but a couple in the expansive sense.



Question: I think the Human Rights Council and where they’re heading is pretty important. I had a question about immunity and when, because you handle these legal things, what are the guidelines in terms of lifting the immunity of a UN employee within the UN? And then I have another just small follow-up, whether you’re familiar with a case of OIOS of a Johannes Van Aggelin, a disabled UN employee who claims he’s been discriminated against? He’s a Geneva employee.



Associate Spokesperson: I’m not aware of that case. As for the waiving of immunity, the basic rule is that the immunity of staff can be waived by the Secretary-General. The decision by the Secretary-General to waive immunity can be for any number of circumstances, but it follows advice normally from his legal counsel.



Question: I have two questions actually. Do I understand correctly, if God forbid, some action had to be taken and clear the building you have some plan to squawk the same to us and I assume to everyone else in the complex?



Associate Spokesperson: Yes, and we’ve done that in the past. For example, on September 11th, 2001, we evacuated the building and I think the press was informed first on our squawk box, but then there were squawks throughout the building on that.



Question: And secondly, with reference to the Human Rights Council, do you have, obviously not right in front of you, but do you have, I’d like to have it, the particular statements of the SG in which he said he would like the Human Rights Council to focus less narrowly on Israel and on other things of importance?



Associate Spokesperson: Yes, that’s from a while back. It’s on our website, we can show that to you. And if that is it, then please Mr. Kamal will come up. And after that, we will have Frank Majoor, the Ambassador of the Netherlands, give his briefing at 12.30 on the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.



Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President



Good afternoon.



**Arab League Summit



Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa became today the first President of the General Assembly and the first Arab Muslim woman ever to address a Summit of the League of Arab States. Sheikha Haya, who received an official invitation from the Arab League Secretary-General, Amre Moussa, told the Arab leaders that “this honour of addressing the summit reflected the Arab world’s appreciation of the role of women.”



The President called on the international community to “deal positively with the Arab peace initiative of 2002, as it provides the necessary basis for a just, comprehensive and permanent solution that is consistent with international resolutions.”



She met with several Arab leaders including President Mubarak of Egypt; Mr. Moussa, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States; Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh; Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.



Her statement is available now in Arabic and we are awaiting the English translation. As soon as it is available, we will post it to the website.



**General Assembly Plenary



The General Assembly met in plenary this morning and granted observer status to the Islamic Development Bank. It also adopted a decision by which, hopefully, it would fix the “broken system” that Matthew was talking about. The Assembly would continue at its sixty-second session its consideration, under the item “Administration of Justice at the United Nations,” of the report of the Redesign Panel on the United Nations system of administration of justice and the comments of the Secretary-General on the Panel’s recommendations. The decision also requests the Secretary-General to provide more details on strengthening the Office of the Ombudsman. The Fifth Committee, on the other hand, is continuing consultations on the same subject and may end up adopting a framework resolution endorsing a new internal justice system at the United Nations.



**Security Council Reform



On Security Council reform, consultations are continuing with the facilitators who are expected to have a report ready for the President upon her return.



**Questions and Answers



Question: You express that she was the first Arab woman to address an Arab League Summit. Let me ask you again -- I asked it before. Does Sheikha Haya have a driver’s license? And if she does, is it valid in Saudi Arabia?



Spokesperson: She does have a driver’s license, yes.



Question: Is it valid in Saudi Arabia?



Spokesperson: I suggest you call the Saudi Mission and ask them that.



Question: It had been said that the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) was going to make its presentations to the General Assembly, to the Fifth Committee, in this current session. Did that happen?



Spokesperson: I haven’t looked at the calendar. I’m not sure if it’s this resumed session or the next resumed session.



Question: We keep hearing that they’re going to give a briefing here, but only after they finish with the General Assembly. But that was in December. But they’re not doing it, now, until May.



Spokesperson: I will check the date as soon as we finish and I will let you know.



Question: And if you have any “in” with them, and if you get them to sit where you are, that would be very good.



Spokesperson: Sure.



Question: How was her speech received?



Spokesperson: I was watching it on Al-Jazeera this morning, and it was fairly well-received.



Question: Did everybody applaud? Was there full applause? Or was it... I’m wondering.

Spokesperson: Al-Jazeera moved to live news at the end of her speech, so I cannot tell you if there was wide applause or not. I suspect that it’s a regularly courteous thing to do when the leaders speak. They applaud each other when they finish.



Question: One would hope.



Spokesperson: They do.



Question: I hope so.



Spokesperson: Anything else? Thank you.

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2007/db070328.doc.htm
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batmanchester
Posted: Mar 29 2007, 06:03 PM


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SECURITY COUNCIL PRESS STATEMENT ON IRAN




The following statement to the press was delivered today by the President of the Security Council, Dumisani S. Kumalo ( South Africa):



Members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the capture by the Revolutionary Guard, and the continuing detention by the Government of Iran, of 15 United Kingdom naval personnel, and appealed to the Government of Iran to allow consular access, in terms of the relevant international laws.



Members of the Security Council support calls, including by the Secretary-General in his 29 March meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister, for an early resolution of this problem, including the release of the 15 United Kingdom personnel.

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2007/sc8989.doc.htm
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batmanchester
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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.



**The Secretary-General in Lebanon



The Secretary-General met today in Lebanon with many key leaders, including Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Speaker of the Assembly Nabih Berri, and stressed to all the leaders the need to engage in dialogue for the purpose of promoting national reconciliation.



Following his meeting with Nabih Berri, the Secretary-General said they had discussed cooperation with the UN Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, as well as the issue of the special tribunal of an international character. He emphasized his commitment to the establishment of that tribunal as soon as possible, saying that he welcomes Lebanese national consensus on the tribunal, but stresses the importance of moving forward on this issue.



Later, the Secretary-General held a meeting with Prime Minister Siniora, which began with a political meeting, after which he had the opportunity to confer with many ministers in the Cabinet and then held a meeting focused on security issues. He told reporters afterwards that he was disappointed that the political crisis that has now lasted some four months has not been resolved, and he added that the path of dialogue and compromise has to be the way forward out of this impasse. He also noted the continued Israeli overflights of Lebanon, saying, “These violations of Lebanese sovereignty must stop.”



The Secretary-General also met with other Lebanese political leaders, including Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt.



We have the Secretary-General’s comments following several of his meetings upstairs and on the web, as well as a press release from UNIFIL providing an update on the work being done by its nearly 13,000 peacekeepers.



**Security Council



The Security Council today extended the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia by six months, until the end of September.



Yesterday, following the end of consultations, the Council President, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa, told the press that members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the capture by the Revolutionary Guard, and the continuing detention by the Government of Iran, of 15 UK naval personnel, and appealed to the Government of Iran to allow consular access, in terms of the relevant international law.



He added that Council members support calls, including by the Secretary-General in his 29 March meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister, for an early resolution of this problem, including the release of the 15 UK personnel.



The Council President also read out a press statement on Guinea-Bissau, saying that members of the Council expressed concern about the continuing political and social tensions there and called on the parties to resolve their differences through dialogue and strict respect for the constitutional framework.



Today is the last day of scheduled meetings under the Council Presidency of South Africa. The United Kingdom will assume the rotating Presidency of the Council for the month of April, and the Security Council is expected to hold its first consultations for that month on Tuesday, to discuss the programme of work. We expect that the Council President for April, UK Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry, will talk to you in this room about the Council’s work during April next Tuesday, tentatively at 11 a.m.



**Rights of the Disabled



The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol were formally opened for signature earlier today at an event in the General Assembly Hall in the presence of Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro. In her remarks to the gathering, the Deputy Secretary-General said that the Convention went from dream to reality in three short years. It is the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century, and the fastest negotiated international human rights instrument in history, she said.



She also expressed confidence that the Convention would relatively easily garner the 20 signatures that are required for its entry into force and she urged Member States to sign it, noting that around the world today fewer than 50 countries have specific legislation that protects persons with disabilities.



And at 12:45 this afternoon, there will be a press conference on the opening for signature of that Convention. Here to brief you will be the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour; the Vice-President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno; New Zealand’s Minister for Disabilities Issues, Ruth Dyson; Mexico’s Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo and Yannis Vardakastanis from the International Disability Caucus. So in just about half an hour from now.



** Central African Republic



The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, is in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, today, after spending the morning visiting some of the areas most affected by civil conflict in the northern part of that country.

Holmes said that the UN plans to establish coordination offices in these remote areas since one of the greatest challenges for humanitarian workers is reaching people in need. Tens of thousands of people are hiding in the bush, the road system is degraded, and there are few NGO partners on the ground, he added.



And we have a press release on that upstairs.



** Chad



Meanwhile, in nearby Chad, the World Food Programme (WFP) is warning that thousands of displaced Chadians in the eastern border region with Sudan are running out of food. WFP had planned to feed some 50,000 displaced persons but, because of continuing conflict and instability in the region, that number has almost tripled. WFP says it needs more than $7 million to provide additional food for the next six months.



And we have more in a press release upstairs.



** Haiti



The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) says that its Justice Section has so far helped to train a total of 334 judges and registrars working in 16 districts as part of an effort to strengthen the rule of law and the Haitian judiciary.



The programme, which was begun in August 2006, aims to deepen local judges’ and registrars’ understanding of the rules and regulations of the Peace Tribunals, with a view to improving and streamlining the administration of the tribunals and reducing the backlog in pending cases, among other goals. And that programme is run jointly with the International Organization of la Francophonie and the US National Center of States Court.



**Human Rights Council



From Geneva, the Human Rights Council today concluded its fourth session, adopting nine resolutions and decisions including, by consensus, one on Darfur, in which it expressed deep concern about the seriousness of the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law there.



In addition, the Council decided to convene a group, to be presided over by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Sudan, to work with the Sudanese Government and African Union mechanisms to monitor the situation on the ground and follow up existing resolutions and recommendations.



Other human rights resolutions and decisions adopted today addressed unilateral coercive measures, international cooperation, globalization, intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief, and the right to development.



**United Nations Population Fund



From the UN Population Fund, we have information that the Malawi Government today launched the first African Road Map to combat maternal and infant death. Every day, 16 Malawian women die due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth. The new Road Map provides strategies that will reduce these numbers and ensure that women go through pregnancy, childbirth and post-delivery safely, while also ensuring that their babies are alive and healthy.



And we have a press release from UNFPA upstairs with more details.



**UNESCO/Press Freedom Prize



For the first time, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is giving its annual press freedom award posthumously, to Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. She was killed in front of her Moscow home last October.



The award jury for the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize cited Ms. Politkovskaya’s “incredible courage and stubbornness in chronicling events in Chechnya after the whole world had given up on that conflict”.



And we have more in a press release upstairs.



**The Week Ahead



We will have upstairs for you The Week Ahead. Among the events taking place next week: our guest at the noon on Monday will be Mr. Eloho Otobo from the UN Economic Commission for Africa, who will brief you on their “Economic Report on Africa 2007”, which is to be launched in Addis Ababa the following day .



We will also have a press conference on Monday at 11:00 am, sponsored by the Ugandan Mission to the United Nations on the International Summit of Grandparents and Kinship Caregivers. The guest speaker will be the recording artist Patti Page. The following NGOs will also participate: the National Committee of Grandparents for Children’s Rights, the AARP, the Child Welfare League of America, the Grand Magazine, and the Florida Kinship Center-University of South Florida.



That is it for me, are there any questions?



**Questions and Answers



Question: Does the Secretary-General have any updated statement on the unrest in Somalia, in Mogadishu, right now?



Associate Spokesperson: No. The statement that we put out yesterday is what stands. Obviously, in that statement, he had expressed his concern at what was a significant escalation of the fighting on the ground in Mogadishu. And his Special Representative, François Lonseny Fall, also expressed his concerns, as we noted yesterday. Mr. Fall is continuing to follow-up. But today, as yesterday, the fighting is a cause for concern by us.



Question: Just a follow-up. Is the Secretary-General making any phone calls with reference to this? Is he speaking to the Organization of the Islamic Conference or...?



Associate Spokesperson: I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, but I do expect that in the coming few days he will in fact be making phone calls on this. But I’ll be able to give you the details once those have actually happened. But yes, he does intend to take this matter up with a number of leaders.



Question: Regarding the implementation of [resolution] 1701, is Mr. Ban Ki-moon going to visit the border areas with Syria or with Israel in the south?



Associate Spokesperson: He will in fact be visiting southern Lebanon tomorrow. He’ll make a tour of the area and we’ll have some information about that at the time. But yes, he will also be visiting the UNIFIL zone and will tour certain areas by helicopter.



Question: Will he meet anyone from Hezbollah in Lebanon?



Associate Spokesperson: I’ll see what the further meetings for today are. I know that among the other meetings scheduled are with some different members of Cabinet. And he is meeting across a wide spectrum of parties.



Question: Does the United Nations have anything to report, any progress, on the Iran-Britain standoff? Any progress at all that the Secretary-General has?



Associate Spokesperson: We don’t have anything particularly further to say beyond what I just read of the press statement that was read out by the President of the Security Council. Obviously, we’re continuing to monitor the situation.



Question: Since then, nothing?



Associate Spokesperson: We’re continuing to monitor the situation. You, of course, can also tell from the statements by the respective Governments where they stand on this.



Question: Yesterday, the Secretariat’s briefer about Zimbabwe to the Security Council was asked if he thought the situation in Zimbabwe was a threat to international peace and security. And he said that he does not think that it is. I’m wondering if that is the Secretariat’s position?



Associate Spokesperson: The Secretariat has mentioned in the past certain possible problems, including problems that could go across the border. However, we haven’t given any evaluation to the Security Council in terms of whether or not this constitutes a threat to international peace and security. And it’s up to the Security Council, of course, to determine these things. So, in some ways, it would be better to ask the members of the Security Council whether they are discussing, or whether they have any view, on whether this does constitute such a threat.



Question: I will do that as well. And there’s also another thing that came out of the Council yesterday: it’s that, back to the Secretariat, on Kosovo, there’s a discussion of getting a report for the Council about the implementation of resolution 1244, the original Kosovo resolution. But they said it’s up to the Secretariat to actually produce that report. Are you aware of that? That seems to be a precondition for going forward.



Associate Spokesperson: If the Council formally requests a report, obviously we always comply with that. So we would await any request for such a report.



Question: You’re not aware of such a request?



Associate Spokesperson: At this stage, the next event, which may happen as early as next week depending on when Council Members agree to it, would be the report by Mr. [Martti] Ahtisaari, on the question of final status. And, like I told you yesterday, Mr. Ahtisaari has made it clear that, once he talks to the Council, he’ll be willing to talk to you about that topic as well.



Question: Is that report that Matthew mentioned going to be a report from the Secretariat, or a United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) report, or just a specific report on Security Council resolution 1244? Who is going to do it?



Associate Spokesperson: We would have to see what and whether the Security Council would request any such report. Depending on what the Council wants, obviously.



Question: Yes, but we really don’t have, now, a clear picture of what is this report. Is that an UNMIK report? Or it’s a special additional report that has to be produced?



Associate Spokesperson: UNMIK already produces regular reports. We give the Security Council regular reports on the work that’s being done by UNMIK. If there is any need for any other sort of report, having to do with resolution 1244 and its implementation and its follow-up, we would await any request from the Security Council for what kind of information they’re looking for.



Question: You had a readout on the Human Rights Council. I was just wondering, does the Secretary-General have any remarks, especially in regard to Darfur and that resolution?



Associate Spokesperson: Well, in terms of the resolution: as you know, the Secretary-General has called for the Human Rights Council to branch out and look at a range of human rights issues, rather than focus narrowly on just one or two countries. So, it’s clearly a good sign that they’re able to deal with issues like Darfur. Beyond that, Louise Arbour is actually in the building now. In fact, she’ll be talking to you on disability rights at 12:45.



Question: But the question is specifically about the Secretary-General. Because I’ve read the resolution and it’s very weak, on reading it. So the question is: does the Secretary-General, in terms of not accommodating what Jody Williams had mentioned in the Mission and what their findings were -- they were barred by Khartoum and things like that -- so, is the Secretary-General at least expressing some sort of judgment on what…?



Associate Spokesperson: I haven’t spoken to him directly about the contents of this particular resolution. But certainly the Member States of the Human Rights Council were able to come to an agreement. It was an agreement that was satisfactory to all the Members of the Council. That, at least, is a step forward in terms of trying to get them to deal with this issue, and we hope they will continue to deal with this issue.



Question: Regarding [resolution] 1701, again: Obviously, Mr. Ban Ki-moon has pointed out that Israel continues to defy the international community’s wish to stop overflights over Lebanon. What’s the next step? Israel has been criticized for this for many months, but no action has been taken. Is Mr. Ban Ki-moon going to recommend, for example, bringing it before the Security Council?



Associate Spokesperson: At this stage, we already inform the Council regularly of any violations of resolution 1701, including overflights across the Blue Line. So, they are informed of that. And, as you know, I just read out what the Secretary-General had to say about this, which is that these violations of Lebanese sovereignty must stop.



Question: So am I to interpret from what you just said that Mr. Ban Ki-moon is satisfied that the people of Darfur are getting justice and that their human rights are being protected?



Associate Spokesperson: As I said, I haven’t heard from him specifically about the text of this resolution. Of course, the main person in the United Nations system dealing with human rights will be talking to you in just about 20 minutes from now. You can always -- although most of the questions will be about disabilities, I’m sure -- but you can ask her about that.



Question: In trying to follow up on yesterday’s noon briefing -- your answer to Mr. Pincas Jawetz: in essence, are you saying that he has no right to a judicial forum? And if so, isn’t that in contradiction to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which says everybody has a right to a competent judicial forum, and Section 29 of the Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, where the United Nations is required to provide a judicial forum for disputes, not only for contracts, not only for staff, but for everybody else?



Associate Spokesperson: Mr. Jawetz, like every other person who has applied for a press pass in this building, goes through a process, which includes a process of review by the Department of Public Information. They actually gave him an opportunity, after November, to have a period of several more months in which his pass was extended, so that he could show that he could submit any actual, original copy. After that period passed, and they did not receive any original copy, he didn’t get any further extension. It’s quite possible that he can continue to try in the coming months or the coming years to apply and to provide any evidence of any journalistic copy. But this discussion is really, essentially, about the question of “Are there any criteria at all by which we give out press passes”?



Question: Without getting into the substance of...



Associate Spokesperson: But he has availed himself of a process, and I assure you that his rights have been respected, and he has been treated with respect.



Question: But the Department of Public Information is not a judicial body. I’m saying the right to a competent judicial forum.



Associate Spokesperson: I think you’re going off on a bit of a tangent. His rights have been respected under the same sort of process that other journalists in this building face or would face.



Question: One thing on that, and something else on a follow-up on Jonathan’s question. I think yesterday you’d said that it was a joint decision by the Department of Public Information and the United Nations Correspondents Association. And I asked Mr. [Ahmad] Fawzi, and there was an on-the-record quote from him that it was the Department of Public Information’s decision. And in this meeting with the United Nations Correspondents Association, he said, “We are informing you, as a matter of courtesy.” So I wanted to ask you, is that your understanding as well?



Associate Spokesperson: And what Mr. Fawzi told me was that the United Nations Correspondents Association was informed and they raised no objection. I checked with Tuyet, who said that that was an accurate description. So in other words, the United Nations Correspondents Association was...



Question: Just to be clear: at the meeting, Mr. Fawzi said to the United Nations Correspondents Association people present, “As a courtesy, we are informing you of a decision we are about to take.” That was a direct quote that was sent to Mr. Fawzi for his commenting. It’s on tape.



[Another speaker] Actually, the former President of the United Nations Correspondents Association and the current President, they raised an objection. They said that it’s not our -- UNCA’s -- decision but it’s a decision of the Department of Public Information. Mr. Halder is here, and Tuyet is there. They raised an objection.



Associate Spokesperson: I was told that there hadn’t been any actual objection raised.



Question: Can I ask something about the Human Rights Council? There’s some controversy about an incident that took place. The U.N. Watch, a non-governmental organization accredited to the Human Rights Council, read a statement about human rights and was told by the Chair of the Human Rights Council that he wouldn’t be thanked for his statement and such statements would be stricken in the future. This is circulating quite widely, actually. So I’m wondering if the Secretariat has any position on whether -- it’s because he criticized, I guess, some things about the Council -- whether statements can be stricken from the record. Given the importance of the Human Rights Council to the United Nations system as a whole, you’re not aware of that?



Associate Spokesperson: I’m not aware of it. I’d need some more information. So I’ll get in touch with my colleagues in Geneva.



[He later told correspondents that the statement had not been stricken from the record.]



If that’s it, I wish you all a happy weekend and to remember that, at 12:45, we’ll have the briefing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in this room.

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2007/db070330.doc.htm
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Stronghold1
Posted: Apr 3 2007, 05:31 PM


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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.



**Guest at Noon



Good afternoon. Our guest at the briefing today is Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. Mr. Guéhenno will brief you on the International Day for Landmine Awareness, which will be observed tomorrow.



On that subject, we have an embargoed copy of the Secretary-General’s message for the day in my Office.



**Security Council



The Security Council this morning held its first consultations for the month of April, agreeing on its programme of work for the month. The Council President for April, Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry of the United Kingdom, will speak to you in this room at 12:45 about the Council’s work during the coming month.



Among the things the Council discussed this morning was the format of discussions they will have this afternoon concerning the report on the final status of Kosovo, which is to be presented by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari.



The Council is about to adopt a presidential statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo before resuming consultations in a few minutes.



Ambassador Jones Parry can tell you more precisely how this afternoon’s discussions will be held. Meanwhile, Mr. Ahtisaari has made clear that he intends to speak to you at the Council stakeout once he has briefed the Security Council, and we will squawk when that happens.



**Kosovo



Also on Kosovo, we have a press release from the UN Mission on how the Customs Service has been transferred today from the Mission to local customs officials.



**OCHA -- Solomon Islands



A team from the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination unit has been deployed to the Solomon Islands in response to yesterday’s devastating tsunami, which was caused by a large underwater earthquake, followed by some 27 aftershocks.



The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that the tsunami has caused the deaths of at least 28 people, with 19 injured and some 5,400 forced to flee their homes. Many more remain unaccounted for and search-and-rescue operations continue.



Solomon Islands authorities, who declared a state of emergency, estimate that 1,000 houses were destroyed on Choiseul Island. That estimate was based on an aerial assessment conducted yesterday. More information has been hard to obtain because of communication outages and difficulties of access.



Seismological experts, meanwhile, warn of a high possibility of further large earthquakes in the days to come.



**OCHA –- Funding



The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says it has provided some $130 million worth of life-saving aid during the first quarter of this year through its year-old Central Emergency Response Fund.



The money is being used to pay for everything from food, clothing and shelter, to vaccines and other medicines. The largest recipient of funding was Mozambique, where nearly $11 million helped in the response to severe flooding in the Zambezi River Valley and destruction caused by tropical cyclone Favio.



We have more information in a press release upstairs.



** Somalia



On Somalia, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour is deeply concerned about the high number of civilian deaths and injuries in the recent hostilities in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Reportedly, these were the result of indiscriminate attacks and aerial bombardments in populated areas.



The High Commissioner also condemns the repeated cases of desecration of bodies witnessed in recent days. She urges the parties to respect international humanitarian law and reminds them of their duty to protect the human rights of civilians at all times. This included granting civilians safe passage and allowing humanitarian agents to reach those who had been affected.



Meanwhile, UNHCR says that nearly 100,000 Somalis were now believed to have fled Mogadishu since the beginning of February, some 47,000 of them within the last two weeks alone. And the World Food Programme (WFP) calls on all the warring parties to stop fighting and to allow access to humanitarian agencies so that aid could reach those in need.



We have more details in the Geneva briefing notes.



**UNHCR -- Chad



Turning to Chad, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says it is dealing with a new wave of displacement in the south-eastern part of the country, following a deadly attack over the weekend on two villages.



According to the eyewitnesses interviewed thus far, the attack was led by Janjaweed militia, who were fought off by local self-defence militias and national army soldiers.



** Cambodia



On Cambodia, the international judges serving on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia today presented the President of the Supreme Court Chamber of the Chambers with a letter, which informs the Cambodian judges of their decision not to hold a judicial plenary session to adopt the internal rules of the court this month.



The international judges believe the Cambodian Bar's proposed first year fee for lawyers of $4,900 would create a prohibitive entry cost and was not in line with accepted practice at the international level. And they emphasized that the window of opportunity to hold a plenary on the court’s rules is closing quickly and they simply cannot allow for endless delays.



We have the full press release upstairs.



** Timor -Leste –- Election Observers



Counting down to the 9 April presidential elections in Timor-Leste, nearly 1,900 national observers from more than 50 Timorese organizations have registered to observe the voting, which will take place at some 500 polling centres in 13 districts throughout the country.



The United Nations Representative for Electoral Support, Finn Reske-Nielsen, said observers provide a valuable role in ensuring that the elections are free, fair and transparent while meeting national and international standards.



The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste says, in addition to national observers, 180 international observers will be accredited by the electoral authorities representing around 20 national delegations and organizations.



**UNESCO -- BBC Journalist



The Director-General of UNESCO is calling for the release of a BBC journalist who was abducted in the Gaza Strip three weeks ago.



Koichiro Matsuura also spoke out against the proliferation of hostage-taking involving members of the media in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, which he said poses a threat to freedom of expression.



“When a journalist is abducted, the whole of society is taken hostage,” he said. We have copies of his statement upstairs.



I’ll take your questions now. This is all I have for you. As I mentioned earlier, at 12:20, we’ll have Mr. Guéhenno here with you.



**Questions and Answers



Question: Do you have any update on the report that the Americans have released these Iranian diplomats which were captured by them around three or four weeks ago.



Spokesperson: I don’t have any more on that.



Question: No update on that?



Spokesperson: No, not on the side of the UN.



Question: The Saudi cabinet issued a statement today that Israel should accept the Arab peace plan that was discussed this past week with Ban Ki-moon at the summit in Riyadh before they go to direct talks. And I was wondering if the Secretary-General had any comments on that?



Spokesperson: No, he does not at this point.



Question: What is the procedure now with immunity when it comes to investigations of suspected wrongdoings at UNDP? Is that up to the Secretary-General to resort immunity if it comes to that?



Spokesperson: Well, I think there are rules governing immunity, and the Legal Department can probably give you more on that.



Question: And what are those rules?



Spokesperson: I said they can give you more on that. I don’t have these rules with me.



Question: In the briefing this morning, Peter Boyle said he found it shocking that smoking was still allowed in the UN building. I was wondering if you can tell us what exactly is the official position on that. There are signs saying that it’s not allowed -– that’s precisely where people smoke. Is there anything going on internally in the building with regard to this matter?



Spokesperson: No, actually, the rule is the same. There is supposedly no smoking in the building. Whether it occurs is a question to be addressed, I think, by the Member States. That rule was adopted, as you know, by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. And you’re right -- it’s not being enforced totally in the building. But the rule remains.



Question: I don’t know, Michèle, if Mr. Vojislav Kostunica met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and if he did, what would be the readout of that meeting. And also, there is one letter back in January that was written by the Prime Minister of Serbia to the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. I wonder if we can get a copy of that letter -- if we can see that letter regarding Kosovo -– back in January, I don’t know the date.



Spokesperson: Well, I think those are different issues. You can ask Mr. Ahtisaari about them. In terms of the letter itself, I will confirm for you whether it was received or not and what was done about it. As for the meeting, as you know, he will be also in the consultations first and the open meeting on Kosovo. And I hope you will have also…



Question: Who will be?



Spokesperson: I’m talking about the President.



Question: You mean Kostunica? What about -- did he meet Ban Ki-moon?



Spokesperson: Yes, he did meet Mr. Ban Ki-moon.



Question: What is the…?



Spokesperson: I don’t have a reading on that yet. It was this morning.



Question: One follow-up to Benny and another question. Maybe you’ll answer this. If UNDP officials decline to speak on a voluntary basis with prosecutors about the counterfeit matter at UNDP, would Ban Ki-moon consider lifting immunity?



Spokesperson: I’m sorry. Your “if” is a big “if”. From what I know, they’re collaborating with federal investigators. So there are no “ifs” here.



If you have further questions about UNDP and the situation of the fake money, then you can talk to David Morrison.



And further to your recent questions about the work being done in auditing UN activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, we have been informed by the Audit Operations Committee of the UN Board of Auditors that last week, the Committee completed the preparatory portion of the DPRK assignment, which was being done here at Headquarters as you know. A scoping report, which would determine the parameters of what is being audited, is currently being drafted for further consideration by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). That was in answer to your question yesterday.



Question: Will that be made public?



Spokesperson: You have to wait for it to be over first.



Question: There was a quote by the head of the Commonwealth, Don McKinnon, saying he spoke with Ban Ki-moon about the Fijian peacekeepers, and again asked him to either enforce or implement the idea that peacekeepers, following the coup, wouldn’t be used by DPKO. He said, and I’m not sure if it’s true or not, “Don, we need the peacekeepers”, Mr. Ban said. Did Mr. Ban say that?



Spokesperson: I cannot confirm this at this point. I cannot confirm this at this point.



I think we have to stop here because Mr. Guéhenno is with us right now.

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2007/db070403.doc.htm
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 4 2007, 02:56 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

**Guest at Noon

Good afternoon. Our guest at the briefing today is Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. Mr. Guéhenno will brief you on the International Day for Landmine Awareness, which will be observed tomorrow.

On that subject, we have an embargoed copy of the Secretary-General’s message for the day in my Office.

**Security Council

The Security Council this morning held its first consultations for the month of April, agreeing on its programme of work for the month. The Council President for April, Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry of the United Kingdom, will speak to you in this room at 12:45 about the Council’s work during the coming month.

Among the things the Council discussed this morning was the format of discussions they will have this afternoon concerning the report on the final status of Kosovo, which is to be presented by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari.

The Council is about to adopt a presidential statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo before resuming consultations in a few minutes.

Ambassador Jones Parry can tell you more precisely how this afternoon’s discussions will be held. Meanwhile, Mr. Ahtisaari has made clear that he intends to speak to you at the Council stakeout once he has briefed the Security Council, and we will squawk when that happens.

**Kosovo

Also on Kosovo, we have a press release from the UN Mission on how the Customs Service has been transferred today from the Mission to local customs officials.

**OCHA -- Solomon Islands

A team from the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination unit has been deployed to the Solomon Islands in response to yesterday’s devastating tsunami, which was caused by a large underwater earthquake, followed by some 27 aftershocks.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that the tsunami has caused the deaths of at least 28 people, with 19 injured and some 5,400 forced to flee their homes. Many more remain unaccounted for and search-and-rescue operations continue.

Solomon Islands authorities, who declared a state of emergency, estimate that 1,000 houses were destroyed on Choiseul Island. That estimate was based on an aerial assessment conducted yesterday. More information has been hard to obtain because of communication outages and difficulties of access.

Seismological experts, meanwhile, warn of a high possibility of further large earthquakes in the days to come.

**OCHA –- Funding

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says it has provided some $130 million worth of life-saving aid during the first quarter of this year through its year-old Central Emergency Response Fund.

The money is being used to pay for everything from food, clothing and shelter, to vaccines and other medicines. The largest recipient of funding was Mozambique, where nearly $11 million helped in the response to severe flooding in the Zambezi River Valley and destruction caused by tropical cyclone Favio.

We have more information in a press release upstairs.

** Somalia

On Somalia, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour is deeply concerned about the high number of civilian deaths and injuries in the recent hostilities in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Reportedly, these were the result of indiscriminate attacks and aerial bombardments in populated areas.

The High Commissioner also condemns the repeated cases of desecration of bodies witnessed in recent days. She urges the parties to respect international humanitarian law and reminds them of their duty to protect the human rights of civilians at all times. This included granting civilians safe passage and allowing humanitarian agents to reach those who had been affected.

Meanwhile, UNHCR says that nearly 100,000 Somalis were now believed to have fled Mogadishu since the beginning of February, some 47,000 of them within the last two weeks alone. And the World Food Programme (WFP) calls on all the warring parties to stop fighting and to allow access to humanitarian agencies so that aid could reach those in need.

We have more details in the Geneva briefing notes.

**UNHCR -- Chad

Turning to Chad, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says it is dealing with a new wave of displacement in the south-eastern part of the country, following a deadly attack over the weekend on two villages.

According to the eyewitnesses interviewed thus far, the attack was led by Janjaweed militia, who were fought off by local self-defence militias and national army soldiers.

** Cambodia

On Cambodia, the international judges serving on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia today presented the President of the Supreme Court Chamber of the Chambers with a letter, which informs the Cambodian judges of their decision not to hold a judicial plenary session to adopt the internal rules of the court this month.

The international judges believe the Cambodian Bar's proposed first year fee for lawyers of $4,900 would create a prohibitive entry cost and was not in line with accepted practice at the international level. And they emphasized that the window of opportunity to hold a plenary on the court’s rules is closing quickly and they simply cannot allow for endless delays.

We have the full press release upstairs.

** Timor -Leste –- Election Observers

Counting down to the 9 April presidential elections in Timor-Leste, nearly 1,900 national observers from more than 50 Timorese organizations have registered to observe the voting, which will take place at some 500 polling centres in 13 districts throughout the country.

The United Nations Representative for Electoral Support, Finn Reske-Nielsen, said observers provide a valuable role in ensuring that the elections are free, fair and transparent while meeting national and international standards.

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste says, in addition to national observers, 180 international observers will be accredited by the electoral authorities representing around 20 national delegations and organizations.

**UNESCO -- BBC Journalist

The Director-General of UNESCO is calling for the release of a BBC journalist who was abducted in the Gaza Strip three weeks ago.

Koichiro Matsuura also spoke out against the proliferation of hostage-taking involving members of the media in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, which he said poses a threat to freedom of expression.

“When a journalist is abducted, the whole of society is taken hostage,” he said. We have copies of his statement upstairs.

I’ll take your questions now. This is all I have for you. As I mentioned earlier, at 12:20, we’ll have Mr. Guéhenno here with you.

**Questions and Answers

Question: Do you have any update on the report that the Americans have released these Iranian diplomats which were captured by them around three or four weeks ago.

Spokesperson: I don’t have any more on that.

Question: No update on that?

Spokesperson: No, not on the side of the UN.

Question: The Saudi cabinet issued a statement today that Israel should accept the Arab peace plan that was discussed this past week with Ban Ki-moon at the summit in Riyadh before they go to direct talks. And I was wondering if the Secretary-General had any comments on that?

Spokesperson: No, he does not at this point.

Question: What is the procedure now with immunity when it comes to investigations of suspected wrongdoings at UNDP? Is that up to the Secretary-General to resort immunity if it comes to that?

Spokesperson: Well, I think there are rules governing immunity, and the Legal Department can probably give you more on that.

Question: And what are those rules?

Spokesperson: I said they can give you more on that. I don’t have these rules with me.

Question: In the briefing this morning, Peter Boyle said he found it shocking that smoking was still allowed in the UN building. I was wondering if you can tell us what exactly is the official position on that. There are signs saying that it’s not allowed -– that’s precisely where people smoke. Is there anything going on internally in the building with regard to this matter?

Spokesperson: No, actually, the rule is the same. There is supposedly no smoking in the building. Whether it occurs is a question to be addressed, I think, by the Member States. That rule was adopted, as you know, by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. And you’re right -- it’s not being enforced totally in the building. But the rule remains.

Question: I don’t know, Michèle, if Mr. Vojislav Kostunica met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and if he did, what would be the readout of that meeting. And also, there is one letter back in January that was written by the Prime Minister of Serbia to the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. I wonder if we can get a copy of that letter -- if we can see that letter regarding Kosovo -– back in January, I don’t know the date.

Spokesperson: Well, I think those are different issues. You can ask Mr. Ahtisaari about them. In terms of the letter itself, I will confirm for you whether it was received or not and what was done about it. As for the meeting, as you know, he will be also in the consultations first and the open meeting on Kosovo. And I hope you will have also…

Question: Who will be?

Spokesperson: I’m talking about the President.

Question: You mean Kostunica? What about -- did he meet Ban Ki-moon?

Spokesperson: Yes, he did meet Mr. Ban Ki-moon.

Question: What is the…?

Spokesperson: I don’t have a reading on that yet. It was this morning.

Question: One follow-up to Benny and another question. Maybe you’ll answer this. If UNDP officials decline to speak on a voluntary basis with prosecutors about the counterfeit matter at UNDP, would Ban Ki-moon consider lifting immunity?

Spokesperson: I’m sorry. Your “if” is a big “if”. From what I know, they’re collaborating with federal investigators. So there are no “ifs” here.

If you have further questions about UNDP and the situation of the fake money, then you can talk to David Morrison.

And further to your recent questions about the work being done in auditing UN activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, we have been informed by the Audit Operations Committee of the UN Board of Auditors that last week, the Committee completed the preparatory portion of the DPRK assignment, which was being done here at Headquarters as you know. A scoping report, which would determine the parameters of what is being audited, is currently being drafted for further consideration by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). That was in answer to your question yesterday.

Question: Will that be made public?

Spokesperson: You have to wait for it to be over first.

Question: There was a quote by the head of the Commonwealth, Don McKinnon, saying he spoke with Ban Ki-moon about the Fijian peacekeepers, and again asked him to either enforce or implement the idea that peacekeepers, following the coup, wouldn’t be used by DPKO. He said, and I’m not sure if it’s true or not, “Don, we need the peacekeepers”, Mr. Ban said. Did Mr. Ban say that?

Spokesperson: I cannot confirm this at this point. I cannot confirm this at this point.

I think we have to stop here because Mr. Guéhenno is with us right now.
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 5 2007, 08:54 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



COMMISSION ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT TO FOCUS ON OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED

BY WORLD DEMOGRAPHIC SHIFT, DURING 9-13 APRIL MEETING AT HEADQUARTERS

NEW YORK, 5 April (United Nations Population Division) -- The ongoing profound changes in the structure of world population offer a unique window of opportunity that countries should seize, the Population Division argues in a report prepared for the Commission on Population and Development, which will meet from 9 to 13 April at United Nations Headquarters.

According to a Secretary-General’s report on the changing age structures of populations and their implications for development (document E/CN.9/2007/3), as fertility declines, there will be an increasing number of producers per effective consumer at the global level and, as societies age, there is the potential for increasing their wealth as people save more in preparation for a longer retirement period.

Because of the number of producers per effective consumer increases during the first stages of population ageing, says the report, the countries that find themselves still at those stages have a window of opportunity that may last between 40 and 60 years. As fertility declines from high to intermediate levels and the proportion of persons of working age increases, it is possible to reap a “demographic dividend” by increasing production and improving the living standard of the whole population -- if enough jobs are generated for the increasing workforce.

Further population ageing could lead to increases in productivity and wealth, the report says. As people live longer, they are expected to accumulate enough wealth to cover consumptions needs after retirement -- hence leading to greater investment that may itself contribute to raise productivity and earnings.

The Commission on Population and Development will focus on these trends and their consequences when it meets for its fortieth session to discuss “The changing age structures of populations and their implications for development”.

Three keynote speakers will address the session. Ronald Lee, professor of demography and economics at the University of California-Berkeley, will speak on 9 April on the economic and demographic aspects of intergenerational transfers; Somnath Chatterji, head of the World Health Organization Multi-Country Studies team, will, on 10 April, address the health aspects of ageing; and Nyovani Madise, senior researcher at the African Population and Health Research Centre in Nairobi, will, on 11 April, focus on Africa’s young populations.

A press conference on 11 April at 1:15 p.m. will feature two of the keynote speakers, Dr. Chatterji and Dr. Madise.

Changing Age Structures and Their Implications for Development

Countries could benefit from the ageing of their populations if they take advantage of the opportunities offered by the current demographic transition, says the report of the Secretary-General on world population monitoring, focusing on the changing age structures of populations and their implications for development (document E/CN.9/2007/3).

The effects of the demographic transition on population age structures can be divided into three stages. During the first, there is a rejuvenation of the age distribution, as the proportion of children (persons under age 15) increases. During the second, triggered by fertility reductions, the proportion of children begins to decline, while the proportions of adults and older persons (persons over 60) rise. During the third, the proportions of both children and adults of working age decline, and only the proportion of older persons rises, as a result of long-term reductions in both fertility and mortality.

During the transition’s second stage, working-age adults constitute a significantly larger proportion of the total population than during the first stage, so that the number of potential workers per dependant (children and older persons) increases for a certain period until it reaches a maximum. During this period, a population is optimally placed to benefit from productive investment, because its levels of economic dependency are low and there are relatively more potential workers to support dependants.

In this stage of “demographic dividend” and “demographic window of opportunity”, possibilities present themselves for raising a country’s rate of economic growth and living standards. Consumption per effective consumer can rise at the same time as the share of gross domestic product consumed declines, and a larger share of national output can be shifted from consumption into investment without sacrificing living standards.

In addition, as people realize that their prospects for living longer are improving, the demand for resources to support consumption in old age emerges. At this early stage of the ageing process, countries can most easily establish an institutional framework that fosters wealth accumulation, thus setting the stage for a second demographic dividend. This dividend arises from the improving balance of asset-holders to workers, producing higher wealth per producer, which can boost labour productivity and raise asset income -- albeit at the cost of an initial phase of slower consumption growth. Unlike the first dividend, which is transitory, the second dividend can be a permanent feature of an older population.

Reaping the benefits provided by the two dividends depends on developing sound macroeconomic policies that promote savings and productive investment, increase employment and ensure a stable socio-economic environment facilitating sustained growth. One of the challenges during the window of opportunity is to educate and provide employment for the rapidly growing youth population (persons aged 15-24). In addition, societies that are advanced in the second stage need to plan for rapid population ageing by developing policies in areas such as health care provision and support to older persons.

Population ageing is pervasive and unavoidable. By 2050, the proportion of people aged 60 will have doubled and their number will reach 2 billion -- three times what it is today. Europe currently has the oldest population, with older persons accounting for 21 per cent of the population and children for 15 per cent. Africa has the youngest population, with older persons representing just 5 per cent of the population and children accounting for 41 per cent.

While Africa can look forward to a longer window of opportunity if its fertility decline continues, Europe and Northern America are no longer likely to benefit from the expected changes in age structure, because both are already well advanced in the population ageing process. Oceania will soon be in the same position as Europe and Northern America, while Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean have a couple of decades to benefit from the window of opportunity.

To take advantage of the opportunity provided by a relative increase of resources vis-à-vis consumption, countries should focus on promoting savings and on investing in both productive and human capital -- by allocating resources to the education and health of both the young and the old.

With pension reform at the top of Governments’ agendas, the report recommends a pension system consisting of a mandatory, publicly managed, unfunded pillar and a mandatory, publicly or privately managed, funded pillar that should include supplemental voluntary privately funded schemes. Such a system would provide the institutional framework best suited to promote wealth accumulation by current workers, and thus make more likely the realization of the second demographic dividend. To promote equity, solidarity principles should guide the operation of the system under the first pillar.

Among the other recommendations:

-- Governments should facilitate or direct the accumulation of wealth to cover consumption at older ages by setting up appropriate mechanisms to promote savings and investment, including the addition of a funded component to existing pension systems.

-- Governments should focus on intergenerational transfers and the institutions that support them, in order to ensure intergenerational equity.

-- To accrue the potential benefits of increasing support ratios, investments should be made in the education of children and youth, and in the generation of sufficient jobs for the growing labour force.

-- All countries will need to address one consequence of increased longevity, the number of persons requiring care because of disability or severe health conditions. In particular, with the main causes of death changing, developing countries need to prepare for the burden of ill health associated with the persistence of infectious diseases and the increase of chronic disease.

-- Social pensions and other transfer programmes targeting the elderly not only have effectively reduced poverty among older persons, but have had some positive spillover effects on children and the young. However, this indirect support by older persons for the young should not become a substitute for programmes targeting youth.

-- As Governments are increasingly concerned about the consequences of population ageing, and as policies are focusing on ensuring the long-term sustainability of pension systems and on mobilizing the full potential of people at all ages, there is a need for measures to balance work and family life and to promote gender equality.

World Population Trends

A report of the Secretary-General on world demographic trends (document E/CN.9/2007/6) describes a world characterized by significant reductions in fertility as contraceptive use has increased in most countries, both developed and developing. However, world population is currently growing at about 1.14 per cent per year, is expected to reach 6.6 billion in July 2007 and may stabilize ultimately at about 9 billion if fertility continues to decline in the less developed regions.

Other trends include:

-- A growing number of international migrants (an estimated 191 million in 2005), not only from developing to developed countries (an estimated 62 million), but from developing countries to other developing countries (60 million).

-- A considerably older population, with the global number of persons aged 60 or over more than tripling, from 705 million in 2007 to almost 2 billion in 2050, and with the number of older persons in the world expected to exceed for the first time in history the number of children by 2050.

-- An increase in the ratio of the population aged 60 or over to the working age population not only in the developed countries, but in the less developed regions. In the developed countries, the rate will increase from 32 persons aged 60 or over per 100 persons of working age in 2007, to 62 in 2050. In the less developed regions, the rate will increase from 13 persons aged 60 or over per 100 persons of working age in 2007, to 34 in 2050.

-- A largely urban world, with half of the world population living in cities in 2008 for the first time in history, and with urban dwellers passing from an estimated 3.2 billion in 2005 to an expected 4.9 billion in 2030. However, the less developed regions today have more than twice the number of urban dwellers than the more developed regions: 2.3 billion versus 0.9 billion. By 2030, the urban population in the less developed regions is projected to be 3.9 billion, four times as large as that in the more developed regions (1 billion).

-- A longer life expectancy in developed countries as a whole, where people can expect to live 11 years longer than in developing countries (76 years compared to 65 years) and 23 years longer than in the least developed countries, two thirds of which are severely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

-- A rural population in the less developed regions (3 billion) 10 times larger than in the more developed regions (0.3 billion). In addition, during 2005-2030 the rural population in developed countries is expected to continue its long-term decrease, down to 0.24 billion in 2030. In contrast, the rural population of developing countries will increase until 2019, reaching 3.1 billion, only then starting a slow decline.

Changes in the age composition of a population will determine the allocation of expenditures on services needed by the different segments of the population, says the report.

Population Programmes

Also before the Commission is a report of the Secretary-General on monitoring of population programmes, focusing on the changing age structures of populations and their implications for development (document E/CN.9/2007/4). The current demographic situation is unique, says the report, in that it encompasses the largest population ever of young people and elderly persons. The report stresses that the needs of all groups in society, both young and old, must be met.

Until recently, most Governments focused their attention on the growth and needs of the younger generation and little attention was paid to the ever increasing numbers of older persons. It was assumed that the family would take care of its elders, and most Governments gave low priority to the concerns of older persons.

The challenge now is to distribute limited resources to address the needs and rights of both young and old. National development policies should consider both youth and ageing issues as part of social and economic planning. Initiatives to address the challenges faced by each of those groups should be part of national development strategies and poverty reduction programmes. Because women tend to outnumber men at old ages, their needs deserve special attention.

Solidarity between generations at all levels -- in families, communities and nations -- is fundamental for achieving a society where no age group is forgotten. Intergenerational solidarity is also essential to achieve social cohesion and as a foundation for formal public welfare and informal care systems.

Prepared by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the report also describes the Fund’s Framework for Action on Adolescents and Youth, as well as the Fund’s programmatic work to assist countries in meeting the challenges of population ageing.

Financial flows

A report of the Secretary-General on the flow of financial resources for assisting in the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (document E/CN.9/2007/5) provides expected levels of donor and domestic expenditures for population activities in developing countries for 2005, and estimates for expenditures in 2006 and projections for 2007.

The report, prepared by UNFPA, says that donor assistance has been increasing steadily over the past few years, reaching $5.6 billion in 2004. If this trend continues, donor assistance may have reached $6.9 billion in 2005, $7.8 billion in 2006 and may be close to $8.6 billion in 2007. These optimistic estimates assume that donors increase their funding levels, but many major donors have not yet released their 2005 funding figures.

A rough estimate of resources mobilized by developing countries as a group yielded a figure of $17.3 billion for 2005. This number is expected to increase to $18.7 billion in 2006 and $19.5 billion in 2007. These figures also assume that developing countries continue to increase the resources devoted to population activities.

Although provisional figures show that both donors and developing countries are on target and indeed may have surpassed the 2005 goal of $18.5 billion, this conclusion is misleading, because the resources mobilized do not adequately address current needs, which have escalated considerably since the 1994 Population Conference and now include HIV/AIDS treatment. Indeed, for many developing countries, the lack of adequate funding remains the chief constraint to the full implementation of the Action Programme.

The recent increase in the flow of financial resources has been primarily a result of the increase in funding for HIV/AIDS activities. But these increases still do not meet current demands for resources to combat HIV/AIDS or treat those infected, which is higher than anticipated when the targets were set. Funding for family planning, which has been decreasing steadily, did not reach the suggested target of $11.5 billion in 2005, and is not meeting current needs.

The target amount may not be sufficient to address current global needs, even in the area of HIV/AIDS, where most of the increase in funding has occurred and where, according to the most recent estimates by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), $15 billion is needed in 2006 -- $8.4 billion for prevention and $3 billion for treatment and care. If not reversed, the trend towards less funding for family planning could undermine efforts to prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce maternal and infant mortality.

The report recommends that population issues figure prominently in national development programmes and poverty reduction strategies; that family planning and reproductive health issues receive the attention they deserve at a time when the increased focus is on combating HIV/AIDS; that the private sector play a role in mobilizing resources for population and development, in monitoring expenditures and in ensuring that targets are met; and that adequate resources be allocated to all areas of the Action Programme -- family planning, reproductive health, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and basic research and analysis.

Other documents

A report of the Secretary-General on programme implementation and progress of work in the field of population in 2006 (document E/CN.9/2007/7) reviews the progress made by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in implementing its work programme in 2006. It covers such activities as the analysis of fertility, mortality and international migration; world population estimates and projections; population policies; the analysis of population and development interrelationship; the preparation of publications and documents; and the substantive servicing of intergovernmental bodies.

A report of the Bureau of the Commission on its intersessional meetings (document E/CN.9/2007/2) focuses on such meetings held in New York on 3 November 2006, 7 December 2006 and 16 January 2007. The Bureau focused on the organization of the Commission’s fortieth session and discussed the relationship of the Commission with the Economic and Social Council, the implications of relevant General Assembly resolutions for the Commission’s work and the Secretariat’s work programme in the field of population.

A note by the Secretariat (document E/CN.9/2007/8) contains the draft work programme of the Population Division for the biennium 2008-2009.

Background of the Commission

The Population Commission was established by the Economic and Social Council in 1946 and renamed Commission on Population and Development by the General Assembly in 1994. The Commission, as a functional commission assisting the Council, is to monitor, review and assess the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994, at the national, regional and international levels, and advise the Council thereon.

The Commission is composed of 47 members, who are elected on the basis of equitable geographic distribution and serve a term of four years. The members for 2007 are Armenia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, China, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, France, Gambia, Germany, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Zambia.

For further information, please visit www.unpopulation.org or contact the office of Hania Zlotnik, Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, tel.: 212 963 3179, fax: 212 963 2147.
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PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR 2010 NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY REVIEW CONFERENCE

TO MEET IN VIENNA, 30 APRIL - 11 MAY

The Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons will hold its first session from 30 April to 11 May at the Austria Centre in Vienna, Austria. This is the first of three sessions of the Preparatory Committee that will be held prior to the 2010 Review Conference.

This session, which is open to all parties to the Treaty, observer States, specialized agencies, international and regional intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations, will address substantive and procedural issues related to the Treaty and the upcoming Review Conference in 2010.

The Chairman designate of the first session is Ambassador Yukiya Amano of Japan.

The purpose of the session is to prepare for the Review Conference in terms of assessing the implementation of each article of the Treaty and facilitating discussion on any issue raised by parties to the Treaty with a view to making recommendations to the Review Conference.

The Treaty, which entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995, requires that review conferences be held every five years.

The Treaty is regarded as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. It is designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to further the goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

For accreditation and further information, including for the film and photo opportunity on 30 April, please contact Veronika Crowe-Mayerhofer, Public Information Assistant, UNIS Vienna; telephone: +43 1 260 60 3342; e-mail: veronika.crowe-mayerhofer@unvienna.org.

Some meetings of the conference will be closed to the media. Further information on the preparatory sessionmaybe found at http://disarmament.un.org/wmd/npt/NPT2010/index.html.
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Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

ON ANNIVERSARY OF RWANDA GENOCIDE, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS CURRENT

CHALLENGE IS TO MAKE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT OPERATIONAL

Following is the message by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the 13th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, 9 April:

Last year, before being appointed Secretary-General, I visited Rwanda to pay my respects to victims and survivors of the genocide there. I had an opportunity to sit down and talk with those who had endured one of humankind’s darkest chapters. The experience had a profound and personal impact on me. I carry it with me every day I serve as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

On this 13th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, two messages should be paramount.

First, never forget.

Second, never stop working to prevent another genocide.

Today, our thoughts go to the victims -- the more than 800,000 innocent people who lost their lives, with terrifying speed. May they continue to rest in peace.

Our thoughts go to the survivors. Their resilience continues to inspire us.

And our thoughts also go to fallen colleagues of the United Nations family: peacekeepers and civilians who lost their lives in the line of duty as the genocide unfolded. They saved as many lives as they could, and should be remembered for their courage and commitment.

Since those horrendous weeks 13 years ago, the United Nations has learnt profound lessons. We have appointed a Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide. We have established an Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention, which has submitted an ambitious and important report. But we must do more -- much more. In the coming weeks, I intend to strengthen both these mechanisms, including by upgrading the post of Special Adviser to a full-time position.

Africa, too, has taken action. The historic Pact on Security, Stability and Development for the Great Lakes Region contains a protocol on prevention and punishment of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is encouraging that the countries of the Great Lakes have come together to reflect on the terrible conflicts that have afflicted the region, and are striving to ensure that future generations can live together not only within their own countries, but also with their neighbours. I profoundly hope the protocol will be ratified soon.

All the world’s Governments have agreed in principle to the responsibility to protect. Our challenge now is to give real meaning to the concept, by taking steps to make it operational. Only then will it truly give hope to those facing genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Preventing genocide is a collective and individual responsibility. Everyone has a role to play: Governments, the media, civil society organizations, religious groups, and each and every one of us. Let us build a global partnership against genocide. Let us protect populations from genocide when their own Government cannot or will not.

http://www.un.org/apps/press/latest.asp

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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

**Security Council

The Secretary-General this morning briefed the Security Council on his recent trip to the Middle East, on which, he told them, he focused on the Middle East peace process, Lebanon, Iraq, Darfur and Somalia.

He also discussed his recent report to the Council on the implementation of resolution 1701, concerning Lebanon. Afterward, the Secretary-General told reporters that the Lebanese Speaker of the Assembly, Nabih Berri, had invited Saudi Arabia to initiate consultative meetings, and that the Secretary-General was willing to dispatch his Legal Counsel, Nicolas Michel, to those meetings [if the parties are agreeable].

He said it is crucial to establish a tribunal for Lebanon at an early date and asked the Lebanese parties to follow the constitutional procedures.

The Secretary-General also said that the United Nations, the African Union and the Government of Sudan will participate in a technical-level meeting in Addis Ababa on 9 April, to finalize the measures for the heavy-support package for Darfur.

This afternoon, the Security Council expects to hear a briefing on the work of the Council’s sanctions committee on Sudan by its Chair, Italian Ambassador Marcello Spatafora.

And yesterday afternoon, the Council President, Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, read a statement to the press, saying that the members of the Security Council expressed their full support for the holding of the presidential elections in Timor-Leste on 9 April. They called upon all parties in Timor-Leste to adhere to the principles of non-violence and to democratic and legal processes.

The Secretary-General will also put out a video message over the weekend, expressing his hope for Timorese elections that will be free, fair, transparent and credible, and unmarred by violence and intimidation.

** Solomon Islands

Turning to the Solomon Islands, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says UN agencies are warning of potential health concerns following the recent tsunami, due to the shortage of clean drinking water, adequate sanitation facilities and malaria prevention.

The World Health Organization expects the number of malaria cases to rise in the next two months, due to an increase in mosquito breeding sites and the greater vulnerability of displaced persons.

There are also reports of diarrhoea outbreaks in camps where people have sought shelter. UNICEF says there’s a need for water purification tablets, jerry cans and water tanks. UNICEF has already used pre-positioned medical supplies and financial reserves, and is appealing for $500,000 to meet the most urgent needs of women and children in the region.

**WFP –- Afghanistan Floods

As spring floods devastate much of Afghanistan, the World Food Programme (WFP) has delivered one thousand tons of emergency rations to Kabul, enough to feed 60,000 people for 30 days.

The major highways linking Kabul to both the north and south of the country have been cut off by a combination of melting snows and heavy rains, and WFP remains concerned about people who may be beyond the reach of immediate assistance.

Also, in the southern province of Helmand, WFP says its trucks are frequently attacked by anti-government insurgents. We have a press release upstairs.

** Georgia

On Georgia, the Secretary-General’s latest report to the Security Council on the UN Observer Mission in Georgia and the situation in Abkhazia is out on the racks, and in it, he welcomes the recent progress between the two sides, including the continuation of joint patrolling in the Kodori Valley. He hopes that the sides will take further measures to improve the confidence between them.

However, the Secretary-General writes, the firing incidents that took place in the upper Kodori Valley on 11 March were a major setback, although no casualties resulted. He notes with regret that the situation along the ceasefire line has remained tense.

The report recommends the extension of the UN Mission by another six months, until mid-October.

** Democratic Republic of the Congo

We also have an update from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

DPKO says that the former guards of Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba and their dependents who are currently under the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) protection have been disarmed. The Mission is in discussions with the Government regarding their handover to Government authorities for disarmament or integration into the armed forces. No handover has yet taken place, however, as a detailed agreement is being negotiated by which the Government would guarantee respect for the human rights of these people, their proper treatment before the law –- should they face legal action, and guarantee MONUC Human Rights officials access to them for follow-up.

** Haiti

On Haiti, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti says that the Haitian National Police and UN peacekeepers earlier today captured wanted gang leader Alain Cadet, the alleged number two in the now dismantled Belony gang, which operated in the Bois Neuf and Drouillard areas of Cité Soleil in the Haitian capital.

The operation involved Haitian police, as well as 30 United Nations soldiers, police and formed police units, and was conducted at a home east of Petionville in the capital.

**WFP –- Bhutanese Refugees

The United Nations World Food Programme has welcomed a 1.5 million euro donation to its Bhutanese refugee operation in Nepal from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO).

WFP aims to provide food aid to more than 108,000 Bhutanese refugees over the next two years, at a cost of nearly 18.5 million euros.

**UNICEF -– Palestinian Child’s Day

Hundreds of children are marking Palestinian Child’s Day by gathering today in Gaza and Ramallah to speak out against violence. It’s the culmination of months of children-led campaigns, during which UNICEF has been training children on their rights and how to protect themselves.

UNICEF says the ongoing conflict is partly to blame for the violence, but cultural practices and the acceptance of violence as a fact of life also play a role.

We have more in a press release upstairs.

**Outer Space

On outer space, the Secretary-General has sent a letter to the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs encouraging greater participation in the five UN-sponsored outer space treaties. That letter went out to the Outer Space Office’s legal subcommittee, which just completed its forty-sixth session in Geneva.

This year is of particular importance in outer space affairs as it marks the 50th anniversary of the launching of the first artificial satellite and the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Outer Space Treaty.

And you can consult a list of satellites and other objects launched into space under the UN Registration Convention in the searchable online database of the Outer Space Office.

**Climate Change Report

We just want to flag tomorrow’s launch of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which will be released in Brussels.

After the report comes out, the UN Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization will have additional information on their websites.

We also have an embargoed press release from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change upstairs.

**UN Holiday

I'd like to remind you that UN Headquarters will be closed tomorrow, during the Good Friday holiday, and there will be no noon briefing on that day. The regular noon briefing will resume next Monday.

This is all I have for you. Thank you.

**Questions and Answers

Question: Now that the Iranians have released the British soldiers, and yesterday the British Ambassador also acknowledged that the Secretary-General also helped in a way. So now, what about the fate of these five Iranians who are in custody of the coalition forces? Requests have been made by the Iranian Government to see them. The United States authorities are saying that they will consider the request. Can the Secretary-General played any role in this issue to ease the tension in the area?

Spokesperson: Well, we could ask that question, but we don’t have any comment on this at this point.

Question: Did the Secretary-General get the letter from Talat, from [Northern Cyprus] Cyprus [leader]?

Spokesperson: That I don’t have confirmation of, but I can check on that.

[The Spokesperson later characterized it as private correspondence.]

Question: Some time ago, in response to a question, I believe you had indicated that some senior level appointment would be made in April and announced. Are there any in sight?

Spokesperson: We don’t have any at this point. I will make sure to let you know as soon as I get them.

Question: I missed the beginning of the briefing, but the Secretary-General referred to this proposal by Nabih Berri to arrange some meeting on Lebanon. Can you give us some more detail about this?

Spokesperson: Well, the Lebanese Speaker of the assembly had invited Saudi Arabia to initiate consultative meetings, and the Secretary-General was willing to dispatch his Legal Counsel, Nicolas Michel, to those meetings. It is about the tribunal.

Question: Where would the meeting be held and when …?

Spokesperson: We don’t have that information yet.

Question: What’s happened to the audit of the Thessaloniki training centre directed by Guido Bertucci’s people? It was supposed to be released in December, so we were told last year. What’s happened to that?

Spokesperson: Well, I don’t have that information. We’ll ask for you whether the audit is completed and whether it is available.

Question: I just want to ask you one follow-up on that, on Guido Bertucci. I’ve heard that he had been suspended, and then the suspension was taken off. Is there some way we can confirm that? It’s been an ongoing controversy and from what I’m told, he was suspended and then the suspension was somehow revoked. I don’t expect you to say it from here, but if there’s a way you could nail that down.

Spokesperson: We can check on that.

Question: Later on this afternoon, the Secretary-General is expected to receive a group of three ambassadors. What is the subject of their discussion?

Spokesperson: You’re talking about the G-77 and Non-Aligned Movement group?

Question: The Ambassador of Mali and others.

Spokesperson: I can check for you, what the subject was.

[The Spokesperson later said that the meeting had been requested by Mali on behalf of land-locked countries.]

Thank you very much.

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2007/db070405.doc.htm
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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon, everyone.

**Timor-Leste

We do expect, hopefully, to have a statement available for you concerning the elections in Timor-Leste. Those elections are reportedly proceeding well today, with the UN Mission in that country providing assistance. Among other things, the Mission provided additional ballots today to meet the high turnout at polling centres. The Secretary-General delivered a video message to the Timorese people prior to their first national elections since independence, telling them that they had reached a new milestone in their work to consolidate democracy. He said, “I hope the elections will be free, fair, transparent and credible. I hope they will be unmarred by violence and intimidation. And I hope they will lead to results accepted by all.”

We have copies of that message upstairs. And like I said, we do expect a further statement later this afternoon.

** Rwanda

Thirteen years ago, more than 800,000 innocent Rwandans were killed in an orchestrated criminal campaign now widely considered to be genocide under international law. And the Secretary-General recalled in a message that the experience has had a profound and personal impact on him when he visited Rwanda last year, and he carries it with him every day that he has been serving as Secretary-General. Two messages, he said, should be paramount as we remember the Rwandan genocide: “First, never forget” -- and “second, never stop working to prevent another genocide.”

The Secretary-General said the UN has learnt profound lessons from that tragedy and has appointed a Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide and established an Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention. But more remains to be done, and the Secretary-General has declared his intention to strengthen the existing UN mechanisms. He also appealed for the creation of a global partnership against genocide. We have copies of his remarks upstairs.

Later this afternoon, the Secretary-General will hand a signed copy of his message to the Permanent Representative of Rwanda at a planned meeting. The Rwanda exhibition downstairs, meanwhile, has been postponed and we’ll let you know when that is rescheduled.

** Afghanistan

On Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, yesterday condemned the murder of Afghan journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi, who had been abducted by Taliban extremists on March 5. He called on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

Koenigs said, “The perpetrators of this crime have shown absolute indifference to the value of human life,” and added that the rights of journalists to go about their work, free from interference or harm, should be recognized and respected by all. We have his full statement upstairs.

On Saturday, a serious attack took place on a convoy of civilian demining and security personnel, in which seven Afghan deminers were killed and another two wounded. The UN Mission in Afghanistan strongly condemned this attack on individuals who are actively working to improve the lives and safety of the Afghan community.

Meanwhile, also on Afghanistan, UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have responded to recent flooding in the country by providing food, shelter, and other vital assistance for hard-hit families. For its part, WFP has pre-positioned 350,000 tonnes of food in five locations around Afghanistan for rapid deployment to the most vulnerable families.

**Disarmament

The Secretary-General this morning addressed the UN Disarmament Commission here at Headquarters. He said the limited progress in addressing the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction, as well as the excessive accumulation of conventional weapons, was disappointing and unacceptable. He added that revitalizing the international disarmament agenda was a personal priority of his. That is why he had proposed a new Office for Disarmament Affairs, led by a High Representative, which would better mobilize the political will necessary to overcome the current stalemate and re-energize action on both disarmament and non-proliferation. And we have his full remarks upstairs.

**Climate Change

The Secretary-General, in a statement on Friday, welcomed the release that day of the findings of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and he expressed his concern that the impacts of climate change are increasingly noticeable, and likely to become more so in the future as extreme weather events intensify. The Secretary-General hopes that the parties to the Convention on Climate Change will avail themselves of the opportunity to make progress towards a comprehensive framework to replace the existing regime at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in December this year.

We have the full statement upstairs, as well as a press release on the findings from the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

** Solomon Islands

Turning to the Solomon Islands, the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team is now working in both the capital, Honiara, and in Gizo. Some 5,500 people remain displaced in the worst affected areas, according to the country’s Government. Sanitation is a problem in the spontaneous camps that have been erected near the centre of Gizo, while water supply remains a concern in some remote villages, since the earthquake damaged pipes and valves. The loss of the entire communication system in some remote areas is also hindering completion of a comprehensive damage assessment.

** Sudan

On Sudan, organized returns of internally displaced persons continue from South Darfur to parts of southern Sudan, reports the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA also reports that UN agencies and NGOs, working in support of the Government of Southern Sudan, have completed a first round of National Immunization Days against polio. An estimated 500,000 children under five were targeted by the campaign across Southern Sudan.

Also on Sudan, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday released two reports, documenting incidents of widespread sexual violence during attacks by Sudanese Government forces and allied militia in Darfur last December and the disappearance last September of at least 19 men, allegedly at the hands of the former insurgent forces headed by Minni Minnawi. High Commissioner Louise Arbour called for prompt and impartial investigations into the reported human rights violations.

The report on the December incidents said that at least 15 cases of sexual assault, including rape, had occurred, and that, based on testimony gathered, it appears that rape during the December 2006 attacks was used as a weapon of war to cause humiliation and instill fear into the local population. And the reports can be found on the High Commissioner’s web site.

**Security Council

There are no meetings or consultations of the Security Council scheduled for today. Tomorrow, consultations on the UN Observer Mission in Georgia are scheduled.

** Somalia

The World Food Programme is welcoming the release of a vessel it had contracted for food deliveries to Somalia, along with its 12-person crew, some 40 days after it was seized by pirates. The MV Rozen was hijacked near Puntland, in northeastern Somalia, on February 25th, and released in the same area last Thursday. WFP thanked elders in Puntland for mediating the release, but urged regional authorities, as well as Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, to curb piracy in Somali waters. It says the hijacking has caused delays in food aid shipments to Somalia and made shippers reluctant to carry cargoes there. And we have more in a press release upstairs.

** Madagascar

Turning to Madagascar, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has dispatched a five-member Disaster Assessment and Coordination team there. The team will help coordinate international assistance and urgent needs assessments in the wake of the recent series of cyclones that have struck the island nation.

**Democracy Fund

And last, the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board for the UN Democracy Fund will hold its fourth meeting tomorrow, to review progress on the work of the Fund after the inaugural year of activities and decide on priorities and policies for the future. The Secretary-General will address the Board, which meets in a closed session in Conference Room 7 at 10 a.m. tomorrow. And we have a press release with more details upstairs.

Do you have any questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question: Does the Secretary-General have any comment on the reported violation by the United States of a ruling for North Korea not to sell arms to Ethiopia?

Associate Spokesperson: We don’t have any comment on that. Since North Korea is under Security Council sanctions, it would be up to the members of the Security Council to decide if and how to proceed on that matter.

Question: Since so much was made out of UNDP spending United States dollars in North Korea, will the United Nations be investigated whether Ethiopia paid in United States dollars, too?

Associate Spokesperson: Again, any issues concerning the relevant sanctions – whether they are sanctions on Somalia, sanctions on the DPRK – would be issues for the Security Council and its respective Sanctions Committees to consider.

Question: Can you confirm that the opening of the exhibition was postponed because of a complaint by the Turkish Mission about the contents of the exhibition?

Associate Spokesperson: No, that was not the sole issue. The basic concern is that the normal process that we have to review exhibitions was not followed in this instance. We’ll now follow the regular process, taking into account all positions, as we do with any exhibition. And the exhibition has been postponed until the regular review process is completed. There was concern expressed.

Question: What exhibition?

Associate Spokesperson: This is the exhibition concerning Rwanda, the Rwanda genocide, in the Visitors’ Lobby.

Question: That doesn’t make any sense to me, because the organizers said that the Department of Public Information signed off on that exhibition.

Associate Spokesperson: Like I said, the normal process had not been followed. There is a process: before people sign off on an exhibition, any exhibition… Every exhibition in the Visitors’ Lobby goes through an approval process by relevant UN departments. That process was not completely followed and the sort of people who review exhibitions did not see all the items that were being exhibited in this case. That process will now take place, and once it is completed, the exhibition will be installed downstairs.

Question: Is it not the case that Turkey complained about a specific item that had to do with the Armenian genocide, or so-called genocide?

Associate Spokesperson: Yes, that did come up. That wasn’t the sole issue, that wasn’t the sole reason for…

Question: What other reasons were there?

Associate Spokesperson: There were other concerns about other contents. You know, there were a number of contents that needed to be reviewed. But there were other concerns about other things. As for Armenia, in any case, the UN hasn’t expressed any position on incidents that took place long before the United Nations was established. In any case, the focus during the anniversary of the Rwandan genocide should remain on Rwanda itself.

Question: Another massacre story. The Sudanese Government in its latest style -– yes-no-yes-no -– is currently no, I think… I am just utterly confused, where we are, what’s going on? What agreement there is? What is the current understanding of the Secretary-General as to what agreement he has with Sudan?

Associate Spokesperson: We did come out with an agreement, the text of which we put out after the Secretary-General’s meeting in Riyadh with President [Omer Hassan al-]Bashir, with Mr. [Alpha Oumar] Konaré from the African Union, and in a meeting that was convened by the King of Saudi Arabia. Building on that understanding, we are going to have a technical…

Question: But can you just explain what you think the understanding is?

Associate Spokesperson: The understanding is to proceed, first of all, with the heavy package and then beyond that, with the hybrid operation.

Question: But that doesn’t seem to be the understanding today, based on what the Foreign Minister said.

Associate Spokesperson: Well, but there are a number of events in the coming week and a half in which we’ll iron some of this out. First of all, later this week, in Addis Ababa, you are having a technical-level meeting involving the United Nations, the African Union and the Government of Sudan, at which we can clear up any of the last outstanding issues having to do with the heavy support package. Then next week, on 16 and 17 April, Alpha Oumar Konaré, the AU Chairman, will be here for high-level talks to discuss ways on moving forward with the hybrid force. So, hopefully, within the next week or so, you’ll have more clarity on all these issues, and we can actually get these next phases of our support for the African Union mission and eventually for the AU-UN hybrid force, to move ahead.

Question: Going back to a previous question on North Korea and US -– you said that on things to do with the Security Council resolution, the Secretary-General has no comment…

Associate Spokesperson: I didn’t say the Secretary-General never has a comment on issues having to do with Security Council resolutions. The question is, in terms of whether or not any resolutions were affected or violated by what was reported in the papers over the weekend, having to do with Ethiopia and North Korea. It is up to the Security Council and its Sanctions Committees to decide on how those sanctions resolutions are implemented. So…

Question: However, the Secretary-General has been very outspoken about allegations of weapons being smuggled from Syria to Lebanon. Why does he choose to comment on that one, but not on this one?

Associate Spokesperson: He had been receiving information about his recent Middle East tour, you are right. Although, you will remember, the Secretary-General in his comments… [talkover] – Can you please… What?

Question: On a point of order… You have a private conversation between yourselves. We have been waiting here to ask our questions.

Associate Spokesperson: I beg your pardon… [talkover] Everyone will be called on, in turn.

Question: [inaudible] on these subjects here…

Associate Spokesperson: I beg your pardon. Everyone will be called on, in turn, but kindly, do not interrupt me while I am in the process of answering a question. If you are interested in having questions answered, you really ought not interrupt. Once I am done with answering this question, I will take further questions.

Now, having said that, where was I? So, it is up to the Security Council to determine on how sanctions resolutions are followed. And as for the Secretary-General’s comments, yes, you are right that he commented about the allegations concerning weapon-smuggling into Lebanon. That has to do with his own follow-up and the fact that he was in the Middle East at the time and received some information. Although you will appreciate the fact that the Secretary-General also said that those reports would need to be independently confirmed.

Now, as for further questions, thank you for waiting patiently.

Question: Do you have more news about Turkey and the Turks?

Associate Spokesperson: On…?

Question: [inaudible] killed Turkish soldiers, almost 8 of them in…

Associate Spokesperson: In?

Question: In the north of the country.

Associate Spokesperson: In northern Iraq? I would need to check up on that.

[The Associate Spokesperson later said that the United Nations did not have a presence in the area and did not have first-hand information.]

Question: I heard what you said about Sudan. Recent news is that Oumar Konaré of the African Union and President Beshir have agreed that there would be no international troops and they would ask only for logistical and financial and technical support. Is this confirmed news?

Associate Spokesperson: I wouldn’t be able to confirm that just yet. Ultimately, we are waiting for Mr. Konaré to come here for discussions to flesh out disagreements and see precisely what kind of support we have. We do believe we have moved forward in terms of agreement on the number of troops that would be deployed in Darfur. And as for what precisely the hybrid force will look like, we would have more clarity on that in the coming week.

Question: Again on Sudan. Mr. Konaré is now in Sudan. You didn’t get any report from that. And what happened to the 14 pages of objections on the heavy support package that President Beshir delivered? Have they disappeared? Are they down to one page, or what?

Associate Spokesperson: They haven’t disappeared, but any of the concerns of views about the heavy support package can be brought up at the technical level meetings that will be taking place in Addis Ababa and hopefully, we’ll be able to resolve these over the course of this week.

Question: I am not going to ask you what Benny maybe missed to ask you whether Serbia complained about that exhibition, because of the genocide in Srebrenica. However, do you have any knowledge -- since the International Court of Justice is the UN body –- why, according to the press reports, judges did not issue subpoenas for the documents that were kept by the military archives in Belgrade in the case of suing Serbia for the crimes of genocide from Bosnia and Herzegovina? Do you have any knowledge of that?

Associate Spokesperson: I do not. Ultimately, that is a question to be asked to the International Court of Justice. The Chief Justice, Rosalyn Higgins, said that the decision had been taken and she said that the decision that was reached by the court speaks for itself. Beyond that, I would suggest that you take it up with the ICJ officials in The Hague.

Question: Can I follow up on this? I can follow up with the ICJ in The Hague. However, ICJ is a UN body, and I am wondering what is your opinion on that. Whether the UN is going to take any action? This is a huge moral opinion, because the UN accepted guilt somehow – not guilt, but mistake -- for the genocide in Srebrenica. And I am wondering whether you are going to intervene or to look into that.

Associate Spokesperson: Well, in terms of the UN system, there is a number of things there. Yes, the UN did acknowledge, and the previous Secretary-General did acknowledge remorse, for what happened in Srebrenica. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, for its part, had deemed that some of the killings that took place in Srebrenica could be considered to be genocide. So they did rule on that a few years back. But as for the International Court of Justice, that is a separate judicial body, and we do respect the principle of judicial independence. We don’t second-guess the judgements done by the courts, and so they are entitled to their procedures.

Question: The last thing Mr. Ban Ki-moon was talking about sending Nicolas Michel to Saudi Arabia for negotiations regarding the International Tribunal, what is the latest after the rejection of Mr. [Saad] Hariri for such negotiations? And he said he would go to Saudi Arabia only after a deal is struck. What is the situation regarding this?

Associate Spokesperson: As far as that goes, what we are doing, we are monitoring to see how the process goes forward in terms of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to organize talks among the various political leaders in Lebanon and our position remains that, if the parties are agreeable, the Secretary-General would then dispatch his Legal Counsel, Nicolas Michel, to those talks.

Question: Saudi Arabia said they don’t want to host that... as long as the Lebanese agreed beforehand.

Associate Spokesperson: Well, let’s see how the process plays itself out. Saudi Arabia is still talking with various different Lebanese leaders.

Question: On Somalia, it has been reported that a security expert of the EU has said that some of those who support the Transitional Federal Government may be complicit in war crimes, given the firing at civilian neighbourhoods last week. So I am wondering, since the UN is supporting all the way with the Transitional Federal Government and the WFP is just calling on them to take more action... if the UN has any response to that. That was an AP report on Friday.

Associate Spokesperson: Well, I can check whether we have any response. At this stage, no we haven’t responded to that. The UN support, by the way, is one in which a number of bodies including the Security Council, have recognized the Transitional Federal Government.

Question: So, the quote actually by the President of the TFG: “We will bomb civilian neighbourhoods.” He said that last week while they were doing that. So I guess, I am just saying...

Associate Spokesperson: Well, like I said, we have no specific comment on the EU report, but certainly, the United Nations is against the bombing or attacking of civilian areas. We have been against that across the board.

Question: On these exhibits. You have said there is this process for, I guess, the Visitors’ Lobby? There is an exhibit right now at the Vienna Café in that hallway. It is pretty graphic, and I just wonder if you can say or find out what is the review process for the exhibits, both in that space and for that exhibit in particular.

Associate Spokesperson: I believe that also in the Viennese Café and throughout the building, any exhibitions that are put up for display go through a process of being reviewed. And so the exhibitions that are installed have gone through the approval process.

Question: Does the Secretary-General have any plans or any outstanding invitations to visit either Syria or Iran?

Associate Spokesperson: As for Syria, I believe my colleague Michele said last week that he does intend to visit. We should have some more information for you, not immediately, but possibly we might have some more information in the coming days to provide about that. But nothing to say about Iran thus far.

Question: But the Secretary-General said that it had not been completed and the announcement has yet to be made. Does that mean he is taking back from the Spokeswoman?

Associate Spokesperson: No, the announcement has yet to be made. Like I said, I don’t have anything to say about that just yet. He did announce his intention to go, but I don’t have any specifics to give you now. Possibly, in the coming days, I’ll have some more information for you.

Question: On the former issue, you said that the Addis Ababa expert meeting to be held further in this week. But I think it was scheduled to be held this day. Was it postponed, or…

Associate Spokesperson: I believe it begins today and will continue. We will need to get some details about what the results of that meeting were as it proceeds, though.

Question: Does the Secretary-General have any comment on the Iranian announcement today, that it has gone to industrial production of uranium enrichment?

Associate Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General did talk to a few reporters earlier today as he was leaving the Disarmament Commission meeting, and he was asked about the announcement that Iran has reached an industrial scale of enrichment. He said, “I sincerely hope that even at this time, when the Iranian Government is undergoing Security Council sanctions, that they should engage in dialogue, with the intention of communicating. It is very important for any member country to fully comply with a Security Council resolution. I urge the Iranian Government to do so.” That is what he said, and we will put that out upstairs.

Question: You announced that journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi was murdered. Alan Johnson, the BBC correspondent has been abducted in Gaza for almost a month. Has the BBC or any organization contacted the UN for help in his release, and is there a policy that the UN has when dealing with abducted journalists, if anybody does ask for help?

Associate Spokesperson: We have, from time to time, put out statements if we believe that it is helpful. Obviously, there are security considerations on the ground in any abduction to study before we come out with a statement, in case it may adversely affect the conditions that the abductee faces. In the case of the journalist you mentioned, I believe that the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, has also come out with a statement asking for his release.

Question: But has anyone contacted the UN asking for help in his release?

Associate Spokesperson: I don’t believe that we are involved in any talks having to do with his release, no.

Question: You had indicated that the Secretary-General, on the occasion of the genocide of Rwanda has called for “global partnership”. Specifically, what is this call directed to, the Security Council, the General Assembly, the international community? And what form would that take?

Associate Spokesperson: That call is directed to all Member States, particularly those who have the ability to influence the course of potential genocides. Not obviously just the historical ones, but the ones that may still be taking place or incipient. And of course we have the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide who is entrusted with trying to deal with situations as they arise before they rise to that level. As for further details, by the way, you can find more in the full speech, which is available upstairs.

Question: Is there a plan to reassess what is taking place in Sudan. Is it genocide, as the United States has said? Is there any effort by the UN, I mean?

Associate Spokesperson: Well, as you know, the UN has made efforts to determine whether what was happening was genocide. There was an expert panel that went there and made its own assessment and the information that they had, they have then passed on for further work. Now, the matter is in the hands, a lot of the question of Darfur, is in the hands of the International Criminal Court. We are waiting to see how the Criminal Court follows up on this and it will be up to them to make any determinations. They, of course, can investigate genocide, as well as crimes against humanity and war crimes alike.

Question: Are you saying again that the International Criminal Court is totally independent and that you are just waiting to see what they are going to do, bearing in mind that the UN failed two times to prevent, or to involve or to engage the international community to prevent Rwanda and Srebrenica? Do you feel that more engagement is needed, or anybody else at the UN?

Associate Spokesperson: More engagement is needed. On issues like Darfur, certainly, there needs to be more engagement. And the sort of engagement that bodies like the Security Council in terms of the threats to peace and security side, and the Human Rights Council in terms of other violations that are taking place –- that involvement is needed and is encouraged by us. But in terms of what is happening on the prosecutorial front, right now, the International Criminal Court does have the necessary information, and it has started its work. And yes, like other bodies, it does have prosecutorial independence as it goes about how it proceeds with its work.

Question: But if turns out that again not enough documents are transferred to the International Criminal Court, what would be the role of the UN? Does the UN have any moral or any other legal alternative to push forward, to ask for all documents to be transferred to the prosecution?

Associate Spokesperson: Well, as with Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals, yes, nations are enjoined to provide all the documentation that they have at their disposal in order for those cases to be resolved. And we do encourage nations to do that. And you might also recall that in transferring the matter of Darfur to the International Criminal Court, the Security Council has issued resolutions on this. And of course, all Member States have to comply with resolutions of the Security Council.

Question: You started the briefing by saying that the UN has learned from what happened in Rwanda genocide, from the mistakes made. Do you really think, in the light of what is going on in Darfur, that the UN has learned anything?

Associate Spokesperson: Yes. Yes, I do. And I don’t think that it’s naïve to say that. Frankly, when I was a child, there were so many cases around the world of so much mass atrocity where a lot of times the international community did little to nothing. Nowadays, the international community – however slowly at times, however tentatively – does act, and the United Nations is one of the main engines trying to prod the rest of the international community to act, so that things are responded to. And yes, it’s imperfect. The very fact that decades after the Holocaust, here we are on one of these days, acknowledging an anniversary of yet another, more recent genocide, shows you how slowly the international community has acted, and yes, that is a very painful sort of failing. But have we moved forward over the decades? I believe so. And I believe the amount of attention that all of you have been paying -– even just now, on Darfur -– is a sign that people do care about things spinning out of control.

Question: This is not necessarily a follow-up to that. On the DRC, the forces for Peter Karium are being integrated into the army. Who in the UN system is going to actually make sure that these 370 soldiers -- how many are child soldiers and how many are not? And also, what is the UN system going to do, that this is clearly an individual who recruited child soldiers and is now offered a Government post?

Associate Spokesperson: As for any sort of monitoring on the ground, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is capable of monitoring the situation and trying to monitor such things as whether or not child soldiers are used. As to the question of Peter Karim’s integration into the army, we are following that. The Mission on the ground is following that. But, this is a decision that is taken by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and we leave it up to the DRC Government to make decisions about such things as integration of its forces.

Question: I am sorry -– I just want to understand this better. Does the UN have any duty? If it verifies that there are child soldiers, that they have been recruited -– what do they do with that kind of report? Do they give it to the national Government to act? Do they ask them to act? Do they send it to..?

Associate Spokesperson: The general rule is that, whenever we have information about the use of child soldiers or any such violations, we inform the responsible Governments and responsible parties of both the violations and what their responsibilities are.

Question: One more try about Bosnia’s case. The New York Times report suggested that the whole process became flawed in the absence of documents. So I would like to know if the Secretary-General would ask at least for a report or an inquiry from the ICJ?

Associate Spokesperson: I could check whether that would happen. However, like I said, one of the principles of the United Nations is our respect for judicial independence. We don’t tell the various judicial bodies, whether they are the judges or prosecutors, how to go about their work. And in this case, these were the decisions that were taken by the ICJ and, again, I would enjoin you to ask the officials there about any further details concerning that decision-making process.

Question: With all due respect, what about moral responsibility? We were just talking about the lessons learnt. Did we really learn a lesson? And if nobody asks why these documents were not subpoenaed, then the lessons were not learnt.

Associate Spokesperson: I don’t quite agree, because the moral responsibility having to do with Bosnian war, I think, has been underscored by a number of bodies. By the Secretary-General, by the Security Council, by our various human rights bodies. The ruling you are talking about is a judicial ruling that took place in a case between two States, Serbia and Bosnia. And the ICJ followed its procedures in terms of making its judgements. Whatever problems you may have with that decision, I would suggest you take it up with them. But certainly, we do not second-guess what the ICJ as a body does in terms of its procedures.

And luckily for us, because this briefing has gone on as long as it has, we now have the statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General concerning the elections in Timor-Leste, which is available upstairs and which I’ll read into the record.

**Statement on Timor-Leste

The Secretary-General congratulates the many Timorese who showed their commitment to democracy and peace by participating in today’s voting -- the country’s first Presidential elections since independence in 2002. The Secretary-General commends the national authorities, particularly the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration and the National Electoral Commission, for organizing the polling -- the first time the people of Timor-Leste have had the opportunity to administer their own elections at the national level. He also expresses his appreciation for the work done by the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) in support of the Timorese efforts.

The Secretary-General is heartened that the election was conducted in a general atmosphere of order and calm, and that the initial indications show high voter turn-out. He hopes that calm will prevail while the counting proceeds and when results are announced. The Secretary-General considers the 2007 electoral process to be an important step on the path to peace and stability in Timor-Leste, and hopes that the subsequent steps in the process -- including the legislative elections -- take place in an equally peaceful atmosphere.

The Secretary-General calls on the international community to continue providing assistance as Timor-Leste works to complete this year’s electoral process and to address challenges related to the security sector, the rule of law, governance and development.

And again, that statement is available upstairs.

And with that, I wish you all a good afternoon.

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2007/db070409.doc.htm
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 10 2007, 09:51 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


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Posts: 4,823
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Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon. I’ll start with a statement attributable to the Spokesperson on Afghanistan.

** Afghanistan Statement

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over the level of insecurity in Afghanistan, as witnessed by events over the weekend in the south and south-west of the country. These included the senseless murder of an Afghan journalist, who was abducted by the Taliban; an improvised explosive device attack, which killed six Canadian troops; and the murder of six Afghan deminers; as well as the murder of nine civilians, including five children, by a suicide bomber. The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the bereaved families and the respective Governments.

The Secretary-General strongly condemns such acts of violence and calls upon the Government of Afghanistan and the international community, including ISAF, to redouble their efforts to ensure stability, combat impunity and ensure an environment of respect for human rights.

** Afghanistan

And also on Afghanistan today, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says the number of Afghan refugees it has helped to return home voluntarily from Pakistan since 2002 has now passed the three million mark, making it the largest such operation in the refugee agency’s history. UNHCR notes, however, that more than two million Afghans remain in Pakistan, adding that the situation can only be resolved with continued international support.

** Chad

Now, turning to Africa and to Chad and Sudan, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that the situation following brutal attacks in south-eastern Chad in late March is far worse than previously expected. More than 9,000 Chadians from 31 villages have now arrived at the new site for internally displaced people (IDPs), joining some 9,000 others who had fled earlier attacks in the region. Estimates of the number of dead have also increased substantially, and the UNHCR says that the range is between 200 and 400.

Because most of the dead were buried where their bodies were found -- often in common graves owing to their large numbers -- we may never know their exact number, says UNHCR. Many who survived the initial attack –- particularly those most vulnerable, such as the elderly and young children –- died in subsequent days from exhaustion and dehydration, often while fleeing.

The Secretary-General is seriously concerned about this deteriorating situation.

** Sudan

Some of you asked yesterday about the technical meeting held in Addis Ababa attended by the United Nations, African Union and the Government of Sudan on the UN’s heavy support package to the African Union force in Darfur, known as AMIS. That meeting was held, as you know, in accordance with the decisions taken at last month’s meeting held on the margins of the League of Arab States Summit in Riyadh with the participation of the Sudanese President, the Secretary-General, the AU Chairperson, under the chairmanship of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia -- and of course, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.

A communiqué issued after yesterday’s meeting says that the meeting finalized agreement on the UN heavy support package for AMIS, with the exception of one element on which the Sudanese delegation hoped to provide “a positive and expeditious response”. The meeting also agreed to move forward expeditiously with the implementation of the package, and continued international engagement will be important to facilitate the implementation of this package, as well as preparations for the third phase of AU-UN plans to enhance peacekeeping in Darfur, namely a hybrid operation.

Now, as you know, the visit of AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Konaré to New York on 16-17 April represents an important opportunity to advance and finalize plans in this regard. The communiqué in full is available in today’s bulletin from the UN Mission in Sudan, which contains an update on security and humanitarian developments in Darfur.

**Democracy Fund

Now, here at Headquarters, the Secretary-General this morning addressed the Advisory Board of the UN Democracy Fund, telling the Board that, although the Democracy Fund is a recent UN innovation, the United Nations democracy agenda is longstanding. In nearly every part of the world, the United Nations assists Member States conduct elections, improve governance, promote human rights and strengthen civil society. He told the Board that their work is vital to the Fund’s success, and the Fund’s success is vital to the UN mission. To date, the Democracy Fund has received a total of more than $61 million from 28 countries, with another $4 million in firm pledges. And there is a press release out with more details on the Fund.

**Security Council

The Security Council this morning held a private meeting on Georgia, which it is following with consultations on the same topic. The Prime Minister of Georgia and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Jean Arnault, spoke at the private meeting. In his report to the Security Council on the situation in Abkhazia, the Secretary-General had welcomed the recent progress between the two sides but noted with regret that the situation along the ceasefire line has remained tense. He recommended the extension of the UN Mission in Georgia by another six months, until mid-October.

Also today, out on the racks today a letter from the UK Ambassador to the Security Council, which will serve as the agenda item for the Security Council’s open debate on 17 April. The letter concerns the relationship between energy, security and climate. And I believe the Security Council President mentioned that to you in his monthly briefing on the programme.

** Somalia

Turning to Somalia, the UN Political Office for Somalia and other members of the International Advisory Committee today held their first meeting with Somalia’s National Governance and Reconciliation Committee in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the planned reconciliation congress. Stressing the independent nature of its mandate, the Reconciliation Committee said that it continues efforts to bring on board all clans, each of which will be allocated quotas for all representative members of Somali society, including women and Somalis abroad. The Reconciliation Committee said it would be in a position to announce a final date and venue for the congress by April 16th and has proposed that Saudi Arabia be made a member of the International Advisory Committee.

** Haiti

And turning to Haiti, the UN Stabilization Mission there says it will be providing security and logistical support to the Provisional Electoral Commission in organizing the 29 April local elections there. Some 73 mayoral and municipal delegate seats will be up for grabs in 10 districts during the planned vote, and some 300,000 voters are expected to cast their ballots.

Meanwhile, UN peacekeepers and the Haitian police have detained some 51 presumed gang members in the ongoing security operations in the crime-ridden neighbourhoods of the capital.

** Colombia

The UNHCR is also expressing concern about the humanitarian situation in southern Colombia, where heavy fighting between the Government and an irregular armed group has forced at least 6,000 people to flee their homes in the past two weeks.

And you can read more about that in UNHCR’s briefing notes.

**Climate Change

And UNESCO is out today with a new report on the threat climate change poses to sites on its World Heritage List. The report looks at 26 endangered sites, including the Tower of London, which is threatened by rising sea levels and flooding. Meanwhile, the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs around the world are at risk from rising sea temperatures. On land, the melting of glaciers is affecting the appearance of sites known for their outstanding beauty, while warmer temperatures may destroy the habitat of rare wildlife species. There is more in a press release from UNESCO on this upstairs

**WFP

The World Food Programme (WFP) announces that its new Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, officially took up her duties today in Rome. She will divide her first month between WFP headquarters in Rome and in the field. Her first mission will be to Africa, which she will visit at least twice in her first 90 days, WFP says, and you can read more about that in their press release.

**Press Conferences

And then press conferences to flag for you. At 1:15 p.m. tomorrow, on the occasion of the fortieth session of the Commission on Population and Development, here to brief you on that will be Dr. Somnath Chatterji, the team leader of Multi-Country Studies at the World Health Organization, together with a senior researcher at the African Population and Health Research Center.

**Photo Exhibit

At 6:30 p.m. today at the Vienna Café, there will be an inauguration ceremony for the photo exhibit “In Remembrance of the Victims of the Conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia”, organized by the Mission of Georgia to the UN. The Prime Minister of Georgia will attend the ceremony.

That’s what I have for you. Anything for me?

**Questions and Answers

Question: I wanted to just ask you about the Reconciliation Committee for Somalia -- if Saudi Arabia could be a member. You also mentioned clans. Do you know if the Islamic Courts militia is part of it? And also, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)?

Deputy Spokesperson: I will have to check into that for you. I will let you know after the briefing.

[The Deputy Spokesperson later added that neither Saudi Arabia, the Union of Islamic Courts nor the Organization of the Islamic Conference were members of the Committee.]

Question: Could you tell us what the one element that the negotiators in Addis could not… that was not agreed on in the Darfur talks yesterday?

Deputy Spokesperson: My understanding is –- and you’ve probably seen in press reports –- that the one element involves tactical attack helicopters. But as I mentioned in my briefing, the Sudanese delegation is hoped to provide a positive and expeditious response to this, and we have been told that hopefully that will happen before Mr. Konaré comes to New York next week, when he meets with the Secretary-General.

Question: Regarding the exhibition today at 6:30 – was the exhibition announced together with DPI or any of the UN organs, or was it done by the Permanent Mission of Georgia?

Deputy Spokesperson: All exhibits here involve UN preparation, together with the Mission, so it involves …

Question: Will anyone from the DPI speak at the event, apart from the Georgian Mission?

Deputy Spokesperson: We can find out.

[Following the briefing, the Spokesperson’s Office announced that exhibitions held in non-public areas were not the responsibility of Department of Public Information and that the head of that Department would not be attending the event. For further questions, correspondents were invited to contact the Mission of Georgia.]

Question: On DPI, will we meet the new USG any time soon?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, let’s ask him.

Question: On this Rwanda exhibition, what is going to happen with it?

Deputy Spokesperson: As I mentioned, unfortunately, the standard review process was not followed this time, and so they are waiting for the standard review process to take place, reviewing the wording of many aspects of that exhibit, and I am waiting to hear from the head of DPI when the actual opening date will be. But yes, it has been postponed.

Question: I have one more question. In Nepal, I cannot really figure out the quote. It seems like Ian Martin said that the election of the Constituent Assembly cannot take place now, before 20 June, and then some have just expressed concern about it. Do you know what the UN’s position is?

Deputy Spokesperson: I have not seen an announcement by Ian Martin about the election date, but I will try to find out where we stand on that.

Question: Has the Secretary-General announced any more senior official appointments, or does he intend to announce any soon?

Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t know from when you are referring, but if there haven’t been any announcements, there haven’t been any announcements.

Question: [inaudible] there was a gentleman named Mr. Kim, and I believe he still works at the Secretary-General’s Office, and his designation is not clear.

Deputy Spokesperson: Mr. Kim is the Deputy Chief of Staff.

Question: The other thing is that, yesterday, it was asked about this small arms shipment being allowed by the United States to go to Ethiopia to be used in Somalia, and that is in clear violation of the Security Council resolution, which the United States itself [inaudible]. Now, is it obligatory on any Member State to explain its actions to the Member States?

Deputy Spokesperson: It is a Security Council matter, there is a Security Council Sanctions Committee. It is probably best to address this question to the Committee Chairperson, for starters.

Question: Does the Secretary-General have a position on that?

Deputy Spokesperson: No, he does not.

Question: Co-Chairmen of the Alliance of Civilizations are supposed to meet the Secretary-General later on today. We haven’t heard anything on that subject for months, despite the fact that there was a report, also months ago, part of it action-oriented. Can you ask the secretariat of the Alliance to give us a briefing?

Deputy Spokesperson: Sure, we can ask if they will give you a readout after the Secretary-General’s meeting today with the Permanent Representatives of the two countries that are most heavily involved.

Question: Since you mentioned that the Secretary-General came up with a report recently on Abkhazia… Recently, Ambassador Churkin of the Russian Federation told us that one of the reasons that the President of Kosovo was not allowed to speak in front of the Council was because the official of Abkhazia was not allowed to come here and brief the Council. He stated, in particular, that he was not issued a visa. Who is that official, do you know? Why was he not issued a visa? And when was he invited to brief the Council? Or is this a permanent request somehow?

Deputy Spokesperson: I think you should address that to the Security Council membership since it’s their meeting and they are the ones who are organizing it.

Question: Given that Iran is proceeding with enrichment of uranium, are you concerned, or is the Secretary-General concerned, about the safety, since IAEA is not providing technical assistance at this stage, or limited technical assistance?

Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General was asked about the latest developments regarding Iran yesterday, and I think he told a couple of news outlets who spoke to him that he hopes that, even at this time, when the Iranian Government is undergoing Security Council sanctions, that they should engage in dialogue with the intention of communicating. It is very important for any member country to fully comply with the Security Council resolution, and he went on to say that he urged the Iranian Government to do so. So that’s the latest that I have and we have that upstairs for you.

Question: [inaudible]

Deputy Spokesperson: No.

Question: It’s just a follow-up on the exhibition downstairs. Before, I wrote a story, which ended up with the cancellation of the exhibition. I read carefully what was written there and it was accusing Turkey of genocide. Do you not think that the United Nations should be neutral on international matters?

Deputy Spokesperson: On the matter of the exhibit, I really think we gave our explanation yesterday. I repeated it now. I mean, the focus, as you know, of the exhibit was intended to be on the Rwandan genocide. The Secretary-General’s intention was to go to the exhibit so that the world would not forget the thirteenth anniversary of the occurrence of genocide in Rwanda. It is unfortunate that other issues have clouded this exhibition and the fact that it had to be postponed. My only comment from here right now is to be able to announce when we can announce the opening of this exhibit.

Question: I just wanted… if you could give us a little more clarification: when the United Nations is really using the term “global warming” and when it prefers to use the “climate change”?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, that’s a technical question that I would refer you either to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), or the UNFCCC in [ Bonn]. And we can certainly put you in touch with them, and if they are here next time, let’s put the question directly to the experts.

Question: But, for example today, when you said that UNICEF is saying about the climate change, so can you give us from the point of view of the whole of the United Nations -- any explanation of that, besides that we can go directly to that agency?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, UNESCO has issued this press release today, associating the phenomena of climate change and its World Heritage sites. So it’s not UNICEF -- it’s UNESCO, which is a specialized agency. There is a whole press release up there, so why don’t you take a look at that, see how they are explaining that in there, and then we’ll take it from there. We can approach the experts, if we need to.

Question: I wondered if the Secretary-General has any response to the large demonstration in Iraq yesterday, about asking for the withdrawal of occupying forces?

Deputy Spokesperson: No, he does not.

Question: Just one more about the exhibition. Is one of the reasons of the cancellation, or postponement of the exhibition, because the previous head of DPI had approved it and then the newcomer has not approved it yet?

Deputy Spokesperson: No, no.

Question: The Secretary-General’s report on Georgia talks about this joint fact-finding thing… the helicopter incident in the Upper Kodori Gorge… so this hasn’t been finished yet. Do you know when that… Does UNOMIG or DPKO -- when is this report going to be finished to find out who did [talkover]?

Deputy Spokesperson: There was a press release that came out, I believe, last week. There was an interim press release on the status of that investigation. So let us take a look at that. Maybe it will say when it will be completed. Also, I don’t know if [Special Representative for Georgia] Jean Arnault -– if you might want to catch him on his way out from the consultations, if that will be another way.

Question: There are indications that Ethiopians are imprisoning a number of Somalis. Is this legal under international law? And the fact that there is a legal elected Government in Somalia?

Deputy Spokesperson: I am not aware of the issue that you are referring to, so we will have to look into that and to get you guidance, if there is some.

Question: At 3 p.m., the Secretary-General is meeting with the Prime Minister of Georgia. Can we get a readout on that tomorrow?

Deputy Spokesperson: Of course.

Question: And do we know anything at all in advance? The topic that they will be discussing?

Deputy Spokesperson: That will involve Georgia. But I will get you…

Question: Nothing specific?

Deputy Spokesperson: I will see if -- the readout -– if we can get one for you today. Not to wait till tomorrow. OK?

Have a good afternoon.

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2007/db070424.doc.htm
http://www.un.org/apps/news/spbrief.asp?DateD=2/1/2007
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 11 2007, 10:41 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon. I’ll start with an announcement of the Secretary-General’s travel plans.

**Secretary-General’s Travel Plans

The Secretary-General plans to travel early next week to Europe and the Middle East. His first stop is Rome for an official visit to Italy, during which he plans to meet with senior Italian leaders. He also expects to meet with the Pope in Vatican City.

He then travels to Bern for an official visit to Switzerland, where he will meet with leaders of the Swiss Government. While in Switzerland, he will attend a meeting of the Chief Executives Board (CEB), which brings together, on a regular basis, twice a year, the heads of the organizations of the UN system, under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General. The third leg of the trip will take him to Doha, Qatar, to address a forum on democracy, development and free trade. And his final scheduled stop is Damascus. During his official visit to Syria, the Secretary-General plans to meet with senior Government officials, including the President, on a range of issues.

** Algeria

I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Algeria.

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the terrorist bombings that occurred today in Algeria, killing and wounding many innocent civilians, in what has been reported as an attempt against Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem. He extends his sincere condolences to the Government and people of Algeria and, in particular, to the families of the victims.

The Secretary-General believes this deplorable incident, the latest in a series of similar attacks in the Maghreb region as a whole, shows the need for concerted international action against terrorism, which has the effect of undermining the normal functioning of societies and disrupting the lives of ordinary people.

** Sudan

Turning to Sudan, the UN Mission there continues to report a number of security incidents involving humanitarian activities in Darfur. Among the incidents reported over the past few days are an armed robbery on a medical clinic run by an NGO in North Darfur, a shooting of a vehicle being used for a vaccination campaign in South Darfur and a shooting between armed militias and police inside a camp housing internally displaced persons in West Darfur.

Yesterday evening, the UN Mission strongly condemned an unprovoked attack carried out earlier that day by unidentified armed men on an African Union patrol team at a water point in North Darfur, during which one member of the [African Union Mission in the Sudan] protection force was killed.

** Democratic Republic of the Congo

Now turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Mission (MONUC) there has contributed to the departure of Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba from Kinshasa today, following a request by the Congolese authorities and also by Senator Bemba himself. Bemba was granted permission by the President of the Provisional Office of the Senate to leave Kinshasa. Following that, MONUC provided security for the Senator’s transportation from the Embassy of South Africa to the airport of Kinshasa, where he took a plane for Portugal, where Mr. Bemba is to receive medical treatment.

** Somalia

On Somalia, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the humanitarian situation in that country is dramatically deteriorating and that aid workers are facing serious political obstructions as they work to help internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups. As a result of the political obstacles, UN agencies and their partners have been unable to hand out food and basic supplies in areas hit by drought, floods and conflict.

**Security Council

As you know, there are no meetings or consultations of the Security Council scheduled for today. But, on the racks, is a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council, informing the Council of his appointment of two experts to fill vacancies on the Al-Qaida and Taliban Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.

** Nepal

In Asia, the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) today began three days of registration and storage of Nepalese Army weapons at the barracks in Kathmandu. On the first day of the process, the Nepalese Army presented some 850 weapons for registration and storage by UN teams. Fourteen UN teams, supported by UNDP, registered each weapon individually for storage. Arms monitors are present throughout the registration process, and will maintain a 24-hour presence at the Barracks from today to monitor the weapons. Surveillance cameras have been installed at the site.

** Afghanistan

Turning to Afghanistan, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, singer Clay Aiken took part in a press conference at the UN Mission’s headquarters in Kabul this morning. Aiken said that the people of Afghanistan were without question the country’s greatest natural resource. He especially highlighted the eagerness for learning among people of all ages. And there is more in a press release from UNICEF upstairs on that.

**North Pole

And, then, six teams of adventurers are racing to the North Pole, and one team hopes to raise nearly half a million dollars for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in the process. Jake Morland, a former UNHCR field officer, and long-time friend James Turner are among the 15 competitors who left the last inhabited outpost in northern Canada on Monday. The race to the Pole is expected to take at least four weeks. They are hoping to raise 250,000 British pounds from sponsors. They want to earmark that money for a special trust fund to cover urgent medical evacuation for refugee children. So far, they’ve raised more than $50,000. And there is a press release from the UN refugee agency on that item.

**Press Conferences

Today, at 1:15 p.m., there will be a press conference on the occasion of the fortieth session of the Commission on Population and Development. Here to brief you, will be Dr. Somnath Chatterji, the team leader of Multi-Country Studies at the World Health Organization, accompanied by Dr. Nyovani Madise, senior researcher at the African Population and Health Research Center.

And then just to flag for you -- tomorrow, at 1 p.m. here we have scheduled a background briefing by a senior UN official on the Secretary-General’s upcoming report on system-wide coherence, which will be presented by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on Monday.

That’s what I have for you today.

**Questions and Answers

Question: You mentioned Somalia. I wanted to ask you two things. The Arab League has mentioned that a peace conference has been put off for a full month, until mid May. Has the UN been informed of that? And also, does the UN have any idea how many people have been killed in this most recent… one of the clans says it’s a couple of thousand… so does the UN have a figure? And finally, there is a quote from the Defence Minister of the Transitional Federal Government to the effect that certain sub-clans should be expelled from the city or exterminated. So I am wondering: with this language, people, I guess, are asking whether the UN system has any comment on its continued either use of the Transitional Federal Government or… the WFP called on the Transitional Federal Government to help it combat pirates. What is the UN’s response to the Defence Minister?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, specifically on the remarks you are quoting today, I don’t have anything, since that was just in press reports. In terms of what the UN is doing, as you know, we are involved both politically and on the humanitarian front, as we have reported to you in recent days. On the humanitarian situation, we had an update, as I reported today on the deteriorating situation there and, obviously, continued displacement. This is of great concern to the United Nations. And I don’t remember your first point. Oh, about the conference, yes.

The number of deaths, I have to tell you that, in most situations, UN agencies on the ground are there to help the victims and those who are still alive. If we have any statistics, those are generally not the UN’s own statistics, because death tolls are generally… statistics are provided by the local authorities.

Question: And mid May? Do you have any confirmation?

Deputy Spokesperson: That I do not have anything further than what we reported yesterday.

Question: Any reaction from the Secretary-General about the two proposals that are on the table about the Western Sahara? And what is the process from now? Is it going to be published as a document, or is it going to be included in the report of Mr. Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council about MINURSO?

Deputy Spokesperson: Ok, on… I think you are referring to the meeting that the Secretary-General had this morning with the Moroccan Permanent Representative… this morning he presented to the Secretary-General his Government’s autonomy initiative for Western Sahara. The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation, as well as his hope that the parties would find a mutually acceptable solution. The Secretary-General also noted a previous Security Council decision on the Western Sahara issue. I think the second plan that you mentioned is the Polisario plan -- and yes, I can confirm that we received that, as well, yesterday. And, in terms of where these plans go, they will be transmitted to the Security Council for them to take them up. In what format and when, I can’t tell you, because this just happened a few hours ago, when we received the report.

Question: Mr. Ban Ki-moon met with Bashar [al-Assad] in Riyadh. What is he going to discuss in Damascus, other than what he discussed in Riyadh?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I don’t think we are in a position here to tell you what he will discuss in a meeting that is going to be quite a ways from today. But, generally speaking, he, as you know, the Secretary-General visited a number of countries after and before his attendance at the Riyadh summit last month. He is continuing his visit to the Middle East by going to Qatar and Syria, and he hopes that his visit, especially to Syria, will be useful and constructive in continuing his efforts to contribute to the ongoing peace efforts in the region.

Question: Is there any progress regarding the exchange of prisoners in the Middle East?

Deputy Spokesperson: I have nothing further on any specifics.

Question: You indicated that Polisario also submitted a plan. There was no scheduled meeting yesterday with the Secretary-General. Where and when was that plan submitted?

Deputy Spokesperson: I have no details. All I can tell you that we are in receipt of that, as well.

Question: Prime Minister [Fouad] Siniora has sent a memorandum to Ban Ki-moon yesterday on the tribunal. Any reaction to that?

Deputy Spokesperson: All I can say at this point is that, yes, I confirmed before I came here that we are in receipt of a letter from Mr. Siniora and that we are studying it.

Question: Do you think Mr. Ban Ki-moon will discuss the matter of the tribunal with President Bashar al-Assad?

Deputy Spokesperson: Again, I will have tell you that the readout of the meeting with the President of Syria will be made after the meeting.

Question: Can you tell us what the meeting with Mayor Bloomberg is about?

Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with the Mayor of New York, Mayor Bloomberg, this afternoon. The Secretary-General hopes to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest to the City of New York and to the United Nations. These include the City’s continuing support for the Capital Master Plan, ways to work together on climate change and possible cooperation in UN peacekeeping operations.

Question: Can you elaborate on cooperation in peacekeeping?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, again I’d like to give a readout on that afterwards, but, as you know, New York City has one of the most diversified police forces around, and the Secretary-General would like to explore possibilities, nothing specific... But, as you know, getting police to join peacekeeping operations is one of the high priorities for the UN. So, I think he would like to explore that and talk about possible cooperation.

Question: With reference to this letter that you said you just received from Prime Minister Siniora to the Secretary-General, is that going to be released at some point and, if so, vaguely when?

Deputy Spokesperson: The letter was just received. They are studying it. At this point, I have no information whether it is going to be made public or not.

Question: By any chance, do you know whether Mr. Ban Ki-moon got an invitation from the Iranian Government?

Deputy Spokesperson: I have no information about any plans for him to visit Iran at this moment.

Question: Is it possible to request a stakeout with Mr. Bloomberg?

Deputy Spokesperson: I think that is something you might want to take that up with the Mayor’s office.

Question: Has the Secretary-General made any comment about Hizbollah’s comments about rearming because of another war in Lebanon?

Deputy Spokesperson: No, I have nothing further on that.

Question: Regarding the Capital Master Plan, do you know if they are going to discuss instead of on the lawn building, building on the Robert Moses Park, and whether Mr. Ban Ki-moon has been reaching out to the, I guess, New York State political officials that have…

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the Capital Master Plan, as you know, has been approved and, as far as I know, the ground-breaking on the lawn should happen this summer.

Question: So there are no circumstances under which... because there are reports that Mr. Bloomberg is still trying to get that skyscraper built on…

Deputy Spokesperson: We will have to find out what his plans are, if he has any proposals. But, as far as the UN is concerned, the Capital Master Plan has been approved and we are very much looking forward to moving ahead with the plan.

Question: Can I ask you something about Georgia? Yesterday, there was this meeting between the Georgian Prime Minister and Mr. Ban Ki-moon. What was said at that meeting? And also, there was a report that the Georgian delegation met with Mr. Guéhenno on the ninth. And I am wondering if Mr. Guéhenno ever met with the Abkhaz side, or if that is the totality of his contacts on the conflict.

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we will have to ask Mr. Guéhenno’s office. As for the readout, I believe we do have one, I just don’t have it with me.

[The Deputy Spokesperson later added that the Secretary-General and the Georgian Prime Minister had discussed the investigation into the events of 11 March in the upper Kodori valley by the Joint Fact-Finding Group. The Secretary-General thanked the Prime Minister for Georgia’s cooperation with the investigation and assured him that the United Nations would do a thorough job. The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister also discussed the human rights and security situation in Georgia’s Gali district. In that context, the Secretary-General noted that the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) had strengthened its human rights and police presence in Gali. The Secretary-General also encouraged Georgia to engage in dialogue with Abkhazia, and he called for greater cooperation on security along the Georgia-Abkhazia ceasefire line. Regarding any possible meetings between the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, and the Abkhaz side, the Deputy Spokesperson later added that Abkhaz representatives were not in New York and that no meetings with them were planned.]

There are no other questions? Have a good afternoon.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/spbrief.asp?DateD=2/1/2007
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 12 2007, 09:18 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

** Iraq Statement

Good afternoon. I will start with a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the attack on the Iraqi parliament.

The Secretary-General deplores the bomb attack in the Iraqi parliament today, which has killed several Parliamentarians and left many more people wounded. This attack targeted Iraq’s elected officials and attempted to undermine one of the country’s sovereign institutions. The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims, the Government of Iraq and the Council of Representatives. He once again urges all Iraqi leaders to come together in a spirit of unity in order to stem the violence and work towards a more peaceful and stable Iraq.

** Iraq

Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, condemned in the strongest terms today’s attacks in Baghdad on the Al-Sarrafiya bridge and at the Iraqi parliament, Qazi said that the bombings constituted attacks on the symbols of Iraq’s proud history and hope for its future. They showed the need for enhanced dialogue and national reconciliation. He called on the Iraqi authorities to apprehend the perpetrators of these criminal acts and bring them to justice. We have Ashraf Qazi’s statement upstairs.

**Secretary-General’s Press Encounter

The Secretary-General was asked by a reporter after his town hall meeting about the abduction, one month ago, of BBC journalist Alan Johnston in Gaza, and he said that he was deeply concerned. The Secretary-General said that Johnston’s coverage of Palestinian issues has earned a great reputation worldwide, and he emphasized that freedom of coverage, as well as freedom of the press, should be protected as a matter of principle. “I sincerely hope that those who are responsible for this abduction should release him unconditionally and immediately”, the Secretary-General said.

Asked about the ongoing dispute in Lebanon about the international tribunal, the Secretary-General said he was very much concerned by the lack of progress on this issue, and he reiterated his hope that the Lebanese Government will take the necessary constitutional procedures, and will work through dialogue and the promotion of national reconciliation. He also discussed his hopes for progress on the deployment of peacekeepers to Darfur. And we have a full transcript of his remarks upstairs.

**Town Hall Meeting

The press encounter, as mentioned, was right after he spoke to staff at UN Headquarters and duty stations around the world in a town hall meeting, telling them that he had been profoundly moved by the professionalism, commitment and hard work he has seen among UN staff during the past three months. He told the staff that he has asked his senior managers to identify their priorities and goals in a measurable way, and that he is also working to strengthen the Management Performance Board. Afterwards, the Secretary-General told reporters that the town hall meeting –- in response to a question -– was very useful and rewarding, and allowed him to learn there are certain concerns among staff, particularly on his proposals to promote mobility among staff members. He said he would have closer dialogue with the staff.

**Security Council

And here at the United Nations today, the Security Council, at 3 p.m., will hold consultations on Sudan and Somalia and other matters. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations will provide an update on the meeting that took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday, involving the United Nations, African Union and Sudanese officials, concerning the heavy support package for Darfur for the African Union force in Darfur. Then, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tuliameni Kalomoh, will brief Council members on recent developments in Somalia.

** Lebanon

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, is currently in the Middle East. In a press conference in Beirut today, she said she had been shocked to see the destruction caused by the recent conflict in southern Lebanon and its considerable impact on children.

She also visited a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, where she noted the very high school drop-out rate. Referring to that visit, she said it was crucial that children, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized ones, be encouraged to continue to go to school. She also stressed that all parties should respect international humanitarian law with regard to the protection of children, and ensure that schools are zones of peace. And there is a press release on her visit upstairs.

** Sudan

And on Sudan today, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that, due to a reduced demand for food aid, it will gradually shift its operations in southern Sudan from emergency war relief to longer-term recovery, after more than 20 years of delivering food aid to the region. And there is a press release from WFP on that subject.

** Burundi

A delegation of the Peacebuilding Commission is currently on a four-day mission to Burundi. The mission is led by Norway’s Permanent Representative, and its main goal is to discuss with the Government and other stakeholders how the Commission can best support national peacebuilding efforts, bring increased attention to ongoing peacebuilding efforts in Burundi and communicate the main principles and purposes of the Peacebuilding Commission to stakeholders on the ground. And there is more information upstairs.

** Solomon Islands

Turning to the Solomon Islands, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that humanitarian activities are still being hampered by lack of access to, and communication with, tsunami-hit areas. Nevertheless, UNICEF has managed to send tens of thousands of packets of oral rehydration salts to the western town of Gizo. And UNICEF, together with the World Health Organisation, is planning a measles vaccination campaign for this coming Monday. And there is a press release on that with more information.

**FAO

And there is also a press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on a new strain of wheat virus that can lay waste to entire fields and that is spreading from East Africa to Yemen. And there is more information on that for you.

**Deputy Secretary-General

And just to give you heads-up, at 3:15, the Deputy Secretary-General will deliver an address to the General Assembly informally briefing on the rule of law. The meeting is an informal one and is closed, but we will make the statement available after it is delivered.

**Press Briefings

And at 1 p.m. today, there will be a background briefing in this room, by a senior UN official on the Secretary-General’s report on system-wide coherence. That report is scheduled to be presented by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on Monday.

At 11:30 a.m. tomorrow, there will be a press conference with Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Union Commissioner for External Relations. Ms. Ferrero-Waldner will meet with the Secretary-General tomorrow morning and will be here after that meeting to take questions.

And that’s what I have for you today.

**Questions and Answers

Question: Why is this meeting closed –- on the rule of law?

Deputy Spokesperson: You should probably ask the General Assembly Spokesman, but there are many briefings in the General Assembly that are informal. But frequently, we make the remarks available by senior officials.

Question: The Iraqi insurgence has come this far. Has the Secretary-General ordered some special security measures for the UN mission in Iraq?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I can’t comment on any security matters and movement of UN personnel, obviously, for security reasons. But generally, the world security measures and conditions are evaluated around the clock, and I am sure that following this morning’s incident, there is especially close attention being paid to the situation in Baghdad.

Question: In East Timor, Mr. Ramos-Horta has criticized the UN Mission for not having provided better security or not being more involved –- he asked the UN for answers. Does the UN have any answers?

Deputy Spokesperson: I have not seen any reports that had come directly from his to the UN on this matter. And as far as… I think we have been reporting to you from the UN mission that the situation so far has been calm regarding the elections.

Question: In Kosovo, there has been a poll showing that the acceptance of the UN is at an all-time low. I don’t remember exact figures. Some 20-30 per cent of the population approved of what the UN is doing and everyone else thought that the UN was doing a terrible job. What kind of response is the UN giving to these figures and these findings?

Deputy Spokesperson: My understanding is –- and this is from the UN authorities in Kosovo, the UN Mission there –- they say this is the latest of the regular quarterly surveys done by the UNDP in Kosovo, and it is based on opinion polls among its population. The UN Mission there has not been involved in this project, but we are told that UNMIK’s ratings have gone up and down in different quarters in the past. The UN Mission, when we asked them, did not have an immediate comment on the latest movement, but there could be several factors impacting on the public’s perception, but I don’t know, I can’t speculate further.

Question: But, movement or no movement, this is an ultimate figure here, and that is: the UN is overwhelmingly unpopular in Kosovo. What strategy, if any -– and this is not about how the poll was done and not a question about movement –- the question is, with the UN so unpopular, is the UN engaging in any kind of strategy to deal with this?

Deputy Spokesperson: I think the UN, from the start of its mission, has had a very proactive strategy in trying to reach out to the people of Kosovo. Specifically on what it is doing in response to the latest poll, I will have to find out from them on the ground.

Question: But if you are not wanted there, what are you doing there?

Deputy Spokesperson: The Security Council has mandated the UN to be there, it does have the mandate to be there, and it will be there until the Security Council tells it that it does not have to be there anymore.

Question: We know that there a few International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials in Iran. Can you give us some information on how their progress is going?

Deputy Spokesperson: I’ll have to check with the IAEA on that. I don’t have anything directly from them today.

Question: I am sorry if I missed that -- what is the reason for the Secretary-General meeting with former President Clinton? And whether he is considering engaging him in any new job or something?

Deputy Spokesperson: On the latter, I don’t know. I will give you a readout of the meeting after it happens. My understanding is that President Clinton asked for the meeting. And as you know, Mr. Clinton played an instrumental role in the tsunami recovery efforts for the United Nations.

Question: Just one more on East Timor. Ramos Horta is saying: “I asked the UN for an explanation.” So I am wondering if there is one. Are you saying, unless he writes a letter…

Deputy Spokesperson: No, I have just not seen anything. So I will follow up and if there is anything, we will get back to you, as we always do, with your questions.

[Following the briefing, responding to a question about complaints from Jose Ramos Horta, one of the presidential candidates for Timor-Leste, the Deputy Spokesperson said that some candidates had submitted complaints through the channels provided for by the law; they were being dealt with in accordance with the procedures. Others, while maintaining that there had been flaws, had announced that they would not submit formal challenges.]

Question: It was announced that the UN’s representative in Gambia, who is a UNDP representative, was thrown out for having challenged the President’s claim that he could cure AIDS with no medicine, but in some other way… He was expelled from the country, and now UNDP has replaced him with another person, who presumably won’t criticize. Can you explain why –- who made the decision in the UN system to -– unlike Jan Pronk, whom Kofi Annan stood behind to the end of his term –- to actually replace someone who was expelled for having criticized…?

Deputy Spokesperson: You really need to address this to UNDP. It was a UNDP representative, and it was the UNDP who I think…

Question: But he was also a UN representative.

Deputy Spokesperson: I understand, but I think this person came back to the UNDP for consultations. We would really have to ask the UNDP.

Question: The Secretary-General had no role in…?

Deputy Spokesperson: I’d have to check with UNDP.

If there are no other questions, have a good afternoon.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/spbrief.asp?DateD=2/1/2007
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 17 2007, 07:51 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

**United Nations and African Union -- Darfur

On 16 to 17 April 2007, the Secretary-General and the African Union Commission Chairperson, Alpha Oumar Konaré, met at United Nations Headquarters for high-level consultations on Darfur. The Secretary-General and Chairperson Konaré believe that the situation in and around Darfur is at a crossroads. They expressed serious concern at the prevailing dire security and humanitarian situation on the ground, and continued attacks against civilians and the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) peacekeepers, as well as inter-tribal fighting and incidents of aerial bombardments. They called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in order to alleviate humanitarian suffering in Darfur and create an environment conducive to political negotiations.

The Secretary-General and Chairperson Konaré reiterated the determination of the United Nations and the African Union to jointly lead efforts to advance the political process, and to finalize plans for a strong peacekeeping operation, which would be capable of implementing the security aspects of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) and providing protection for the civilian population.

The Secretary-General and Chairperson Konaré welcomed the broad support of the Security Council for the work of the African Union and United Nations Envoys for Darfur and called for a roadmap to be elaborated by the Special Envoys, as well as continued international support for their efforts to move forward towards substantive negotiations. They urged all movements to join the process in earnest, under the joint African Union-United Nations leadership. They also welcomed the agreement of the Government of Sudan with regard to the United Nations heavy support package for AMIS and reiterated the determination of the United Nations and the African Union to proceed expeditiously with the implementation of the heavy support package and finalization of planning for the hybrid operation.

We have the full statement upstairs.

** Sudan

The United Nations Mission in Sudan says that a fire broke out yesterday in the market place at the Abu Shouk internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in North Darfur. The fire destroyed around 100 shops, but no human casualties were reported, and local police say the fire was started accidentally. Meanwhile, in West Darfur, four children were reportedly killed by unexploded ordnance over the weekend, and the African Union Mission in Sudan will investigate the incident.

The United Nations Mission in Sudan has more details on these incidents, as well as on recent hijackings of United Nations and other vehicles, in today’s briefing note.

**Secretary-General -- Sudan

As I mentioned, the Secretary-General recently wrapped up his two-day meeting with African Union Chairman Alpha Oumar Konaré on Darfur, and he spoke to the press afterward to say that, although he is encouraged by the positive signs from the Sudanese Government, the important thing now is to implement these agreements into action. He said that the African Union and the United Nations have agreed to move towards deploying a hybrid operation in Darfur and to intensify their political process. They have also instructed their special envoys, Salim Ahmed Salim and Jan Eliasson, to come up with a more detailed and workable road map for the political process. We have the agreed conclusions of their consultations upstairs -- the statement I read earlier.

**Secretary-General’s Travels

Later today, the Secretary-General leaves for Italy, Switzerland, Qatar and Syria. He will return from the Middle East by the middle of next week.

** Afghanistan

The Secretary-General was deeply distressed to learn of the fatal incident which occurred earlier this morning, when a United Nations convoy was hit by a remote-controlled explosive device in Kandahar city, resulting in the death of an Afghan driver and four Nepalese contractors working with the United Nations Office for Project Services. The Secretary-General has also learned with sadness of an explosion which took place at a school in Herat this morning, in which at least four children were killed and four others wounded. He is deeply concerned at the security situation throughout Afghanistan, which results in increasing numbers of civilian casualties. The Secretary-General strongly condemns such despicable acts of violence against civilians and sends his profound condolences to the bereaved families and respective governments of the victims of today’s incidents.

We also have a statement from the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan, which says that intentional attacks on civilians are a clear violation of international humanitarian law, and the United Nations will be pursuing full accountability for those who are behind this.

** United States -- Virginia Polytechnic Institute Shooting

Earlier today, the Secretary-General was also asked about the killings yesterday at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and he said that the rampant killing of innocent civilians is unacceptable, and he condemns it in the strongest terms. The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the killings in Virginia. This tragic incident underscores the common bonds of all humanity. “We all grieve with the survivors,” he said, “and the families of all victims.” The Secretary-General hopes for a profound healing process for the many individuals and communities affected.

**Security Council

The Secretary-General this morning addressed the Security Council’s open debate on energy, security and climate. He noted that the planet’s warming is unequivocal, its impact is clearly noticeable and it is beyond doubt that human activities have been contributing considerably to it. The Secretary-General stressed that the issues of energy and climate change can have implications for peace and security. Specifically, he said that when resources are scarce -- whether energy, water or arable land -- our fragile ecosystems become strained, as do the coping mechanisms of groups and individuals. This can lead to a breakdown of established codes of conduct and even outright conflict, he added.

Another possible consequence of climate change was increased migration, he added, which could deepen tensions and conflicts, particularly in regions with large numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees. Calling for early action vis-à-vis climate change, the Secretary-General said the resources of civil society and the private sector must be brought in and that the Security Council has a role to play. We have his full remarks upstairs.

**Security Council –- Consultations

And while on the subject of the Security Council, we have just been told that the Council will most likely hold consultations on Lebanon, specifically on resolution 1701, following today’s open debate.

** Iraq

The Secretary-General delivered a video message to the international conference on Iraq’s refugees and internally displaced persons that began today in Geneva, telling the conference that for many fleeing Iraqis, resources are dwindling. Many will become destitute. The Secretary-General urged neighbouring countries to keep their borders open and uphold the principle of no forced return, and he asked Iraq to work to create the conditions for the safe return of Iraqis.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes and High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres laid out the challenges being faced by the two million Iraqis who have left their country, with as many as two million more internally displaced. Holmes said that the key point of the crisis, and of future humanitarian response, is the protection of civilians. He said that we must find ways to operate inside Iraq despite the terrible insecurity which dominates significant parts of the country.

We have the Secretary-General’s video message upstairs, and we also have a press release from the World Health Organization, which says that the escalating violence and widespread insecurity are putting severe pressures on the health of Iraqis. It notes that, on average, 100 people were killed daily in 2006.

** Lebanon

United Nations Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel arrived in Beirut today, and told reporters at the airport that he has come to Lebanon with an open mind and an open heart, and is ready to engage in a substantial dialogue as he assists the Lebanese on their way towards the ratification of the agreement on the establishment of a tribunal of an international character. He said he would meet with the whole spectrum of the main interlocutors involved, including the President, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of the Parliament.

Mr. Michel underscored that the tribunal was requested by the legitimate Lebanese authorities, and its creation was unanimously supported by the first meeting of the country’s national dialogue. Although it will take at least one year after the adoption of its legal basis for the tribunal to become operational, he said, now is the time for the adoption of that legal basis.

**Kosovo

Turning now to Kosovo, International Prosecutor Robert Dean today presented to the United Nations Mission his interim report regarding the deaths and serious wounding of protestors during last February’s demonstration in Pristina. The interim report states that there is a substantial basis on which to conclude that Romanian gunners attached to the Romanian Formed Police Unit were indeed responsible for the four woundings -- two of which were fatal. But there is not enough evidence pointing to which specific Romanian gunners were responsible for firing the wounding shots, and the evidence does not show at this time that the entire group of Romanian gunners acted unlawfully. The interim report does add, however, that there is a reasonable suspicion that three of the shootings constitute crimes under Kosovo law.

In light of the above, the report says that the United Nations Mission, the United Nations, and the Government of Romania may consider initiating appropriate procedures for compensation for the surviving family members of those fatally shot and for those seriously wounded. Again, this report is not final. The investigation is continuing, and we have more information on that upstairs.

** C ôte d’Ivoire

In response to your questions about the dismantling of the demilitarised zone dividing Côte d'Ivoire, we have been told by the United Nations Mission in that country that it supports this dismantling, as it is in line with the Ouagadougou Agreement. The United Nations Mission also says it is ready to assist in this process, upon request from the parties.

This is all I have for you. Thank you.

**Questions and Answers

Question: Michèle, I want to know, in this deal with Sudan on Darfur, did China play any role in order to facilitate this agreement? Do you have any information about that? Do you have any comment on that -- on China?

Spokesperson: Not that I know of. As far as I know, the discussion took place between the parties -- the African Union and the United Nations. And the agreement was reached after three meetings between those parties.

Question: The other thing I wanted to know about was: in Afghanistan, you’re talking about these Nepalese who were killed, right?

Spokesperson: Yes.

Question: Were there facilities in which they are working, over there?

Spokesperson: They were contractors, from what I gather.

Question: Contractors? The Nepali Government has contractors? And these were Nepalese who were killed?

Spokesperson: Nepalese were killed, and they were contractors for the United Nations.

Question: For the United Nations?

Spokesperson: Yes.

Question: Any plans for Nicolas Michel to go to Syria while the Secretary-General is in Damascus?

Spokesperson: At this point, I don’t know. I do know that he arrived and he’s focused on his duties there, in Lebanon, to meet the different parties.

Question: Another question: the report on resolution 1559 will be released as scheduled on 19 April? Can you confirm it?

Spokesperson: As far as I know, yes.

Question: I’m not sure if it’s a very appropriate question, but I would like to ask: is there any reaction of the Secretary-General when the nationality of the shooter at Virginia Tech was disclosed this morning?

Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General does not have any reaction on the specific nationality of the shooter. I think he condemns what happened regardless of the nationality of the person involved.

Question: First of all, are there going to be any surprises with the Secretary-General travelling to the Middle East? My question is: can he, anyhow, go to Tehran, for example, this time?

Spokesperson: He was asked that question today at the stakeout and he said no.

Question: My second question is regarding yesterday’s questions: does the Secretary-General have full confidence in this chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte, after what has been released in the media, and after Ms. Carla del Ponte was accused by the former prosecutor in theMilosevictrial?

Spokesperson: I said everything I could say about this and I would say about this yesterday. My statement stands. The statement I made stands.

Question: The Secretary-General does have confidence in her?

Spokesperson: Yes.

Question: Are there any talks at the United Nations on who is going to replace her after her mandate legally expires in September this year?

Spokesperson: I don’t know at this point. I don’t have the information.

Question: About the journalist, Alan Johnston, from the BBC: the Secretary-General said last Tuesday that “I will do whatever I can in my capacity as Secretary-General to end this abduction”. Any information about this effort so far?

Spokesperson: I don’t have anything. We don’t have anything concrete on that yet.

Question: On the Secretary-General’s comments in the video conference: while he called on Iraq’s neighbours to open their borders to the refugees, to the contrary, the neighbours are actually closing the borders. The United States wants them to close. And also, for example, for Turkey there is a terrorist infiltration problem from Iraq, and for Syria it’s the same thing. How do you comment on that? How do you see the United Nations position, and the neighbours’ position and the United States’ position?

Spokesperson: I would suggest that you follow the work of the conference that is taking place in Geneva right now, where those issues are being raised.

Question: Just with regards to the heavy support package: do you have any details on the deal at the moment?

Spokesperson: Well, at this point, Mr. [Jean-Marie] Guéhenno gave some information yesterday afternoon during the stakeout, and we’ll probably... We’ll try to get more, additional, information for you if you need it.

Question: I’m sorry. Just to clarify, because I confess I missed yesterday. Do you know what the nationality could be, or the colour of the uniforms, of the 3,000 troops?

Spokesperson: I don’t have that information at this point but Mr. Guéhenno might have it for you. I think this is still in discussion, so I don’t think we will have specific information on the uniform.

Question: Do you have any details on this suggestion that Sudan retains veto power over the crews of the helicopters?

Spokesperson: No. I don’t know anything about this, and I think you should address these questions to Mr. Guéhenno. And I will try to have him come and...[The correspondent was later informed that the primary UN concern regarding the helicopters was that the requirement for air support be met effectively.]

Question: So is it fair to say that, at this moment, there is no deal on the heavy support package yet?

Spokesperson: Well, there is a deal on the heavy support package.

Question: Well, you say that there’s a deal, but these issues are not resolved. So how can there be a deal when there are issues that are not resolved? I’m confused.

Spokesperson: Well, I mean, the whole… The package itself is accepted.

Question: What uniforms are they going to wear?

Spokesperson: What they are discussing is how to carry them… how to make it, practically, a reality. [She later added that it was expected that the troops would wear some form of UN insignia.]

Question: Well then, it’s semantics. Because it sounds to me like you’ve got a deal, but all the details have to be discussed.

Spokesperson: Well, yes, there are some details still being discussed -- like the granting of land, like the granting of water rights for the troops.

Question: That’s clearly logistics. But more fundamental questions are: what colour uniforms are these people going to wear? And whether you can send these people who might not be from Africa? If you determine that you have specialist need for some Europeans, or some Indians, or whatever for that matter -- is that allowed or not? It seems to me that there’s still disagreement on this issue.

Spokesperson: I think on this issue there are a number… there are agreements. And when Mr. Ban, the Secretary-General, and Mr. Konaré spoke to the press earlier today, they did mention that there was an agreement.

Question: So what is the agreement? Is there an agreement that you can have any nationality whatsoever amongst these 3,000?

Spokesperson: Well, the priority would be given first -- that’s what Mr. Konaré said -- will be given first to African Union troops.

Question: Sorry to keep on going on this, but it’s kind of important. Have the Sudanese accepted that you can send non-African troops in this 3,000?

Spokesperson: I suggest you address those specific questions to the people in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. And we’ll have that information… they will, I’m sure, have that information available for you if all the details are worked out at this point.

Question: You mention that there is a deal on that heavy support package and they are -- correct me if I’m wrong -- now discussing as to exactly how it is to be implemented.

Spokesperson: Yes.

Question: Is there any sort of timetable involved therein? And do they have any sense of urgency? Do they have a sense of sufficient urgency, such that -- crossroads though it may be -- if they don’t do something very quickly, the route out of the crossroads is going to lead to the world’s biggest cemetery?

Spokesperson: Well, they are fully aware -- and this was expressed clearly during the meeting -- they are fully aware of the urgency of doing something about the situation. And I think this was very clearly expressed.

Question: One thing on Darfur: Senegal a few days ago had said that it was thinking of pulling its troops out after five of them were killed in Darfur. Do you have any update on whether they are, in fact, going to pull those troops out?

Spokesperson: I think this information should come from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. I don’t have the confirmation of it.

Question: On what you read out about Kosovo, on this investigation of the Romanians: I remember about less than a month ago, the United Nations expressed some displeasure that the Romanian troops actually left the country without the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo being in favour of it. So, I’m wondering if you could say -- since they say a crime was committed, but they can’t figure out who did it -- whether it was helpful to this investigation that the Romanian troops and their supervisors weren’t in the country? I mean, might they have been able to identify who did it, if they had been there? What was done to figure out…?

Spokesperson: What they said was they weren’t able to identify who exactly did it. Whether they were present or not, there would have been the same conclusion.

Question: But did they speak with them? Did they interview them and say who fired the rubber bullets and did it?

Spokesperson: I don’t really know the details of the investigation, but we can try to find out for you.

Question: One last question. There’s been a lot of controversy in the last few days about the first round of elections in Nigeria. Human Rights Watch has said that it was filled with fraud and should be redone. Is the United Nations in any way involved? Has Mr. Ban made any calls? Does the United Nations have any thoughts about this major election with, now, 50 deaths and a lot of irregularities, in Nigeria?

Spokesperson: As you know, the United Nations is not, for the time being, involved in the electoral process. The process is being taken care of by the electoral council there. And…

Question: Is there going to be… Is the United Nations observing it? Is it monitoring it?

Spokesperson: No. The United Nations is not officially monitoring it. They have international observers, which are accredited with the national electoral commission.

And I’m sorry. There’s one thing I forgot to say earlier:

Following the noon briefing today, there will be a press conference on the United Nations Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific, which will be launched tomorrow. Mr. Robert Vos, Director of the Development Policy and Analysis Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, will be here to brief you on the survey. Please be advised that this press conference is embargoed until tomorrow, 5:30 a.m., New York time.

And at 1:30 this afternoon, there will be a press conference with Ambassador Angus Friday, the Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations, who will brief you on global warming, on behalf of the new bureau of the Alliance of Small Island States.

And tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. there will be a press conference sponsored by the Mission of Canada to the United Nations by the non-governmental organization “Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict”, who will brief on violations against children in Sudan.

Thank you very much.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/spbrief.asp?DateD=2/1/2007
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 19 2007, 10:20 PM


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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

**Statement on Sudan

Good afternoon. We have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Sudan.

The Secretary-General views with deep concern the evidence that has been presented to members of the Security Council regarding the flying of arms and heavy weapons into Darfur, in violation of Security Council resolution 1591 (2005).

He is especially troubled by reports that private or national aircraft have been illegally provided with UN markings and used for military purposes. If further substantiated, such actions would be in clear violation of international law and in contravention of the United Nations international status.

The Secretary-General will continue to work closely with the Security Council on this issue and will expect full cooperation from the Government of Sudan, other Governments and all other parties to provide prompt clarification.

**Secretary-General in Rome

The Secretary-General arrived in Rome from New York early Tuesday and started his official visit to Italy with a meeting with the President, Giorgio Napolitano, followed by one with the Foreign Minister, Massimo d’Alema. The topics covered included the Middle East, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kosovo, climate change, UN reform, Darfur, Somalia and Western Sahara.

At a joint press encounter with the Foreign Minister after their meeting, the Secretary-General told reporters that he had very useful and constructive meetings with the two Italian leaders. He commended Italy as the only country to rank in the top eight in both troop and financial contributions to the United Nations.

In response to a question about the killing of the Mayor of Nagasaki, Iccho Itoh, the Secretary-General said that he learned with shock and regret of the assassination. He said that Mayor Itoh “was a champion of peace for a world where nuclear war would never happen again”. We have a full statement available upstairs.

The Secretary-General was also asked about capital punishment, and he said that he and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour “fully support the growing trend in the international community towards the abolition of the use of the death penalty”.

The Secretary-General then continued his discussions with the Italian Foreign Minister over a working luncheon and then met with the Foreign Affairs Committees of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, among other officials.

Right now, he is expected to be having a tête-à-tête meeting with the Pope. Later tonight, he will attend a dinner hosted by the Presidents of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives.

**Security Council

The Security Council this morning held consultations on the diamond sanctions on Liberia, with a briefing by the chair of the Council’s Sanctions Committee for that country, the Ambassador of Qatar.

Under other matters, Council members also discussed the report of the monitoring group on Sudan sanctions.

Yesterday evening, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement on Lebanon, which, among other things, welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to evaluate the situation along the entire Lebanese border and invites him to dispatch an independent mission to fully assess the monitoring of the border. It welcomes the completion of the second phase of the deployment of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

** Iraq Conference

High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres spoke at the closing of the conference on Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons in Geneva, and he lauded the Iraqi Government’s very welcome new policy to support the Iraqis outside the country.

He noted other recent achievements, including the adoption last week by the United Nations of a strategic platform for humanitarian action inside Iraq; the continued commitment of the countries that have been hosting Iraqis to go on granting protection and assistance until their voluntary return would be possible; and the unanimous recognition of the generosity of the host countries, especially of Syria and Jordan, and the clear commitment for burden sharing with those countries.

Guterres underscored that this was not a pledging conference, but “there was really a very clear commitment of support,” which he hoped will be translated in meaningful forms in the very near future.

**Timor-Leste

The UN Mission in Timor-Leste is pleased that the national preliminary results for the first round of the presidential elections in Timor-Leste have been announced. The final results would, of course, be certified by the Court of Appeals after consideration of any appeals that are lodged within the permissible 24-hour period.

As mandated in Security Council resolution 1704, the UN Mission has provided technical and logistical support, as well as electoral policy advice in support of all aspects of these elections.

The two candidates who have obtained the highest number of votes will now contest a second round on 9 May. Again, these elections will have the benefit of considerable assistance from the international community including through the United Nations.

The United Nations is particularly pleased that the first round of the election was completed without any serious incidents of violence and intimidation during the campaign, vote and the counting of ballots, and that candidates have made full use of the appropriate legal channels to raise their concerns about the process.

** Western Sahara

The Secretary-General’s latest report on Western Sahara is out on the racks today. In it, he recommends that the Security Council call upon the parties, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, to enter into negotiations without preconditions, with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. The neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauritania, should also be invited to those negotiations.

The Secretary-General also encourages the parties to lift all restrictions on UN military observers’ freedom of movement, and calls on them to remain engaged with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He also recommends that the Security Council extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Western Sahara for a further period of six months, until 31 October 2007.

**ESCAP

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in a report said management of exchange rates is the biggest challenge facing Asia-Pacific economies in 2007.

In its annual economic and social survey of Asia and the Pacific released today, ESCAP also forecasts the external environment in Asia and the Pacific to be less favourable in 2007. It also states that the region is becoming the locomotive of global growth and developing economies in the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 16 per cent of global output and one-third of world economic growth in 2006.

A special study also estimates that the cost of gender discrimination to the region’s economies, saying that the region is losing $42 billion to $47 billion dollars a year due to restrictions on women’s access to employment, and another $16 billion to $30 billion a year because of gender gaps in education.

**OCHA – Uganda/Sudan

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the situation in northern Uganda and parts of Southern Sudan has improved significantly in the past year.

More than 300,000 people have returned home from displaced persons camps in the wake of sustained security improvements -- a result of progress in peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army.

But OCHA notes that 1 million people still remain in the camps, and that the area requires continued emergency relief and protection, as well as assistance in returns and early recovery.

We have more in a press release upstairs.

**Background Briefing on Darfur

And then on Darfur, and as a follow-up to yesterday’s questions, we will have a background briefing for interested correspondents with a senior United Nations official today, 18 April, at 3:15 p.m. in the DPKO conference room, that’s room S-3727 A. It will be on the heavy support package.

That’s all I have for you.

**Questions and Answers

Question: Do you have any details, in terms of schedule and meetings, regarding the Security Council’s mission to Kosovo?

Spokesperson: No, I don’t have any readings on that.

Question: Just a follow-up on that. The US actually declared today that it would support Kosovo if it declared its independence, outside of what’s going on. What’s the UN’s position on that? Also, what is the subject of the SG’s meeting with the Pope?

Spokesperson: Well, we don’t know at this point. When they are finished meeting, I’ll let you know what they discussed.

As for the Kosovo issue, we don’t have any specific opinions on what a Member State says concerning another part of the world.

Question: Recalling my question of a couple of days ago as to how President Bashir got authority over approving helicopters, I know you don’t express an opinion but perhaps you could forward this question on to some of the people directly concerned with the issue. In light of subsequent events with the UN-painted planes, is it not possible that that strange issue whereby he arrogated to himself the right to approve specific items of military equipment was not in fact a smokescreen for his other actions with these UN-painted planes and other armed troops?

A totally unrelated question, by chance, if I just haven’t seen it, do you have the names of the first and second candidates in the Timorese election?

Spokesperson: No, I don’t have that information. On the first issue concerning Darfur, the best thing is for you to ask that question at the DPKO briefing. Then you will know exactly whether the facts you are citing are actually the facts.

Question: In northern Iraq, in Kurdistan, the PKK element is continuing to attack Turkey and the US is very concerned about this and it has urged Turkey to deal with it peacefully. But it fears that the attacks might be increasing. At the same time, Turkey is responding; the Chief of the Army has said that it should launch an incursion into Kurdistan if Parliament approves this. Also, Turkey has launched diplomatic measures with Iraq, urging Iraq to take urgent measures. So we have a very difficult situation here. Is the UN concerned about this? Is it doing anything before the situation turns into a full-blown crisis?

Spokesperson: Well it is a situation that we have been following very closely for quite a while now. What the UN will do, I cannot anticipate. But of course we will be keeping you informed about this.

Question: In an interview with Corriere della Sera, the Secretary-General said that there should be laws, internationally-accepted rules, on how to deal with hostages, but that nobody had yet come up with any concrete ideas to the UN. The question is does the SG himself have any guidelines? Does he have any ideas, for instance, on whether there should be negotiations with kidnappers regarding ransoms?

Spokesperson: No, in the interview with Corriere della Sera, which, as you probably know, was done in English, translated into Italian, and then translated back into English by a number of wires this morning, he did stress that it was a matter for Member States to discuss. He did say that hostage taking was a despicable act but he did not suggest any specific form of action, saying that it falls under the responsibility of Member States.

Question: In that case, can we see the transcript of his interview? It sounds slightly different than the way it was translated back, and for those of us who don’t speak Italian, is it possible to release what he actually said in English?

Spokesperson: Well, we would have to transcribe it for you, which has not been done at this point. I’ll try to get that for you whenever we can.

[The Spokesperson later added that the Secretary-General had said: “It is necessary to have common rules to face the knot of the seizures, and the United Nations is the right place to set them. I invite Member countries, Italy included, to present such a proposal to the General Assembly.]

Question: The Secretary-General is going to attend this Chief Executives Board meeting in Geneva of the UN funds and programme. When he announced the North Korea audit, I think it was said that he was going to try through that body to get the funds and programmes to begin releasing internal audits… somehow improve the system. Do you know if that’s on the agenda? And also now that it’s basically the ninetieth day since he announced it, what’s happening with the audit?

Spokesperson: I can try to have a readout for you on how far the audit has gotten. As you know, it’s not our responsibility. It’s with the Board of Auditors, and they’ve been working on it. I’ll try to find out for you how far they’ve gotten on this issue.

As for the Geneva meeting, it’s a meeting with the Chief Executives and they’re discussing quite a few issues, and this will probably be one of them.

Question: We’ll find out what they discussed after that meeting?

Spokesperson: Yes. It’s a long meeting. It’s a two-day meeting.

Question: Yesterday you read out that in Kosovo they said that someone was responsible, but they didn’t know which soldiers. It’s since been reported that the Romanian peacekeepers were using out-of-date rubber bullets that had expired in 1994, so they had hardened. I don’t know if you can answer it here or they can answer… whoever sent this used ammo, this decade-old ammo, might they be held responsible? And what is the UN’s policy in terms of peacekeeping, troop-contributing countries bringing in long-expired or otherwise defective ammunition?

Spokesperson: I can only tell you that this is an issue for the group that investigated what happened and I don’t have the answer. They would have the answer.

Question: There was actually something in the Congo that was similar, where a battalion from South Africa brought in, it was said, old munitions that went off-line. Is there any DPKO position on checking ammo before troops are deployed?

Spokesperson: We can ask DPKO that question.

Question: The Nigerian situation is getting increasingly deplorable. The opposition parties have come together to say that the elections should be cancelled. I wanted to know… what is the sense of the Secretary-General regarding what is going on in Nigeria right now with all the violence and the election manipulation? And secondly, you said yesterday that the United Nations is not monitoring the election. Why is that so?

Spokesperson: Not directly. ECOWAS is monitoring the election. You have a number of other international observers accredited by the Electoral Commission. But the UN as an institution is not.

Question: But why not? The UN has monitored elections…

Spokesperson: All this depends on the request from the Member State.

Question: Does that mean that Nigeria has not made a request?

Spokesperson: There was no request made, and the request went to ECOWAS. ECOWAS is monitoring the elections.

Question: So what was the answer to the first question?

Spokesperson: I think that this is a situation that the SG has been following since the beginning of the week. He is still waiting to see how things are developing. He’s certainly concerned about it.

Question: On the mission of Mr. Michel to Beirut, who has he met so far? And any progress on the international tribunal? Also, when do you expect him back? Is there any indication?

Spokesperson: I don’t think there is a date set for his return. He is meeting different people. How far has he gotten? I don’t know at this point. He was still meeting people today. So I will try to get a list of people he has met for you. But at this point I don’t have the information.

Question: According to the presidential statement that was issued last night on Lebanon, the SG is authorized to send a monitoring mission to assess the border between Lebanon and Syria. When will that mission be sent, and when will they present their report to the SG? How many people will be on the mission?

Spokesperson: I don’t have that information yet but it is certainly a question for which we will have an answer very soon.

Question: There was an OIOS report that was due last November on the Thessaloniki Centre. We were told that it was almost there last November and then we were told it was almost there every time I’ve asked since. We are now in April and I’m told it is not going to be issued before the next GA. Last time we were told it would be during the last GA. It seems a little bit… it’s not that fast, let’s put it that way.

Spokesperson: We’ll ask for you. Actually, you should ask directly. You should ask DESA about this.

Question: DESA? I thought I should ask OIOS.

Spokesperson: Yes, the OIOS.

Question: In that case, I don’t know if anybody ever requested it, but could we have OIOS brief us here?

Spokesperson: We have requested that.

Question: What was the result of that request? How long ago was that request made?

Spokesperson: First they said they are not commenting on ongoing investigations. So they will comment on an investigation once it is over. So we can get them to talk about something when it’s over.

Question: Can they comment on when an investigation will be over?

Spokesperson: We can ask.

Question: It seems that we’re stuck here in a vicious circle. You say that they will not brief us until the investigation is over. Meanwhile, the investigation is being… in order to find out when the investigation is over, you’re asking me to ask them. It almost seems like they’re trying to avoid us.

Spokesperson: No, they’re not trying to avoid you. As a matter of principle, they don’t comment on an ongoing investigation.

Question: But the investigation has gone on for a long, long time. And I’ve seen at least one draft of this investigation late last year, which makes it seem like most of the investigation is done.

Spokesperson: Well I cannot comment on this because I don’t have the information.

Question: Where do we seek comment from OIOS? Who is it exactly we should seek comment from? What’s the name of the person?

Spokesperson: I’ll try to get someone who can speak on their behalf or have one of them come and speak to you.

Question: You just said we should seek comment from OIOS. So, who do we seek comment from?

Spokesperson: I’ll get a name for you.

Question: On Western Sahara, the Secretary-General has called on the parties to negotiate directly and called on the others -- Algeria and Mauritania -- to join them on matters that directly concern them. And he also [inaudible] following the Baker approach. Why limit the field of work of Algeria and Mauritania to matters that only concern them directly? Why not search for a general political solution to the issue? Also, why does he suggest that the Baker approach be followed since Morocco has rejected the Baker II plan for Western Sahara? Why not try a novel approach?

Spokesperson: I think what you said about a comprehensive solution for the region has already been discussed with several stakeholders in the situation. When he mentions Algeria and Mauritania, it’s because they are on board for the specific issues concerning them. But it doesn’t mean that the comprehensive approach, an original approach, is not being sought after.

Question: On the question of the white aircraft, this report obviously is a month old, and it’s not clear to me when all this happened. It seems to have been referred to even before this monitoring group report. Was this discussed at all by Mr. Ban when he met President Bashir in wherever he was… Addis, I think it was?

Spokesperson: The violations? Yes. Actually, the Security Council sanctions committee had already spoken to the people responsible. What they were referring to I guess…

Question: These people?

Spokesperson: The Sudanese Government. Only the Council can answer those questions. As far as I know, those incidents that they mentioned in the report date back to the middle of March.

Question: Since then, I believe the Secretary-General has met the President of Sudan.

Spokesperson: Yes, he has.

Question: So, I’m saying… in that meeting, was this raised?

Spokesperson: A number of violations were raised.

Question: Specifically related to the white aircraft?

Spokesperson: No.

Question: Why did he not raise the question of white aircraft with the Sudanese President? Isn’t that something he’s concerned about?

Spokesperson: Well it’s something he’s certainly concerned about. However, the specific case of the white aircraft is something that the Security Council is discussing with the Government. They are still trying to investigate about that aircraft with the UN insignia on it.

Question: Isn’t this something that specifically concerns the Secretariat? I mean it’s an abuse of the UN-identifying characteristics in a place where there’s a big peacekeeping presence in the south and there’s some UN presence in Darfur. It seems to me par excellence a subject that peacekeeping should be dealing with and taking up with the Sudanese. Has that happened at all?

Spokesperson: Well, peacekeeping has already taken up the issue. This information was conveyed to the Security Council… the information about the violations. The information about the aircraft was conveyed to the Security Council on the 5th of April. The UN also informed the Security Council on Sudan’s violations, different violations in repeated reports dating back to 2006. So the violations had been reported steadily.

Question: But my question is not that. My question is what is the UN Secretariat doing with relation to Sudan? Has there been any demarche by the Secretariat to Sudan?

Spokesperson: When it comes to the sanctions, and violations of the sanctions…

Question: These aren’t violations of the sanctions.

Spokesperson: Of existing sanctions, yes, they are.

Question: Painting aircraft white is a violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, which the UN was party in negotiating, and is an abuse of the UN logo, and these are not questions for the Security Council. These are questions for the Secretariat. So I’m asking you, what is the Secretariat doing in relation to Sudan? And what has Mr. Ban done, having met the Sudanese President, about these particular white aircraft violations?

Spokesperson: These particular white aircraft violations were not yet confirmed to the Secretary-General. For any State or any actor to co-opt the insignia of the UN, which of course implies privileges and immunities and a humanitarian purpose, violates the law of armed conflicts and also violates article 100 of the UN Charter on the exclusive international character of UN operations. If this is confirmed, of course, this is to be condemned and very strongly so.

Question: Is the UN taking any steps to confirm or disprove?

Spokesperson: Definitely yes. There is an investigation going on about the whereabouts of this plane, and whether it is one plane or several planes, and this is being pursued.

Question: And who’s doing the investigation?

Spokesperson: The Mission on the ground is doing the investigation.

Question: The UN Mission?

Spokesperson: Yes.

[Correspondents were later told that the Monitoring Panel for Sudan was handling the investigation.]

Question: On Iraq, we see from outside that the UN is almost scared to go deep into the problems of Iraq. It’s participating in the conference in Geneva and the neighbours’ meeting in Egypt. But when it comes to the real problems on the ground, the UN is staying out. For example, what is the UN doing in relation to the refugees, while the US is condemning Syria for hosting terrorists?

Spokesperson: There is a meeting right now on refugees and discussion on practical steps to help the refugees.

Question: Is the UN mediating between the US, between the Iraqi Government and the neighbouring States?

Spokesperson: You’re asking me whether the UN is involved in the political situation itself? The UN is mostly involved in the humanitarian situation right now and the economic development situation. As you know, because of security issues that affected UN personnel in Iraq, the UN has said repeatedly that as long as the security situation is the way it is, it could curtail UN involvement.

Question: What is the improvement you expect on security issues?

Spokesperson: Well security issues for…

Question: Do you expect the US to leave or do you expect them to…?

Spokesperson: There are a number of conditions and you can see from the security situation right now that it is a difficult situation for the UN to extend its participation in the effort. We are doing the most we can on the Iraq Compact. We are doing the most we can on the refugee issues with the neighbouring countries. And I think the UN is very involved in other issues concerning Iraq.

Question: The Secretary-General addressed the staff in his Town Hall meeting, the staff here at Headquarters and worldwide. After that he said has heard the concerns…

Spokesperson: I don’t have specifics on this, but I’ll get back to you on this.

Question: To follow-up on the question on Nigeria, it was reported that UNDP was actually asked to help with some aspects of the election. I’m not sure if they have, but that they were asked to do it. Is that a request to the UN? When you said the UN had no role in the election, is that just the Secretariat or the UN system as a whole?

Spokesperson: I would be surprised that UNDP would be asked to participate as an electoral observer. It would be the United Nations Secretariat that would be seized of the matter, not UNDP.

Question: You mean the observers?

Spokesperson: I’m talking about international observers to the election.

Question: Also, I wanted to ask you about the exhibit commemorating the Rwandan genocide… when you think it will actually be reopened, and whether the language will be shown to any missions prior to that taking place.

Spokesperson: The language is being changed right now. I don’t know if it will be shown to anybody. I do know that the exhibit is to open very shortly, either at the end of this week or at the beginning of next week.

Question: Two unrelated questions if I may. In view of both the importance and increasing complexity of Mr. Michel’s mission, would it be reasonable to expect that he would come to brief us upon his return? And may I hereby request that he be urged to do so. In an unrelated question on this whitewash episode, do I understand… is there a special UN investigative committee or is it one of the UN’s regular forces in the Sudan, and have they been charged with investigating the whole issue, this whitewash issue, and to see whether or not the whitewash has been “wet-washed”?

Spokesperson: The UN Mission in the field is the first body to investigate. Of course, DPKO and other… Political Affairs here, we’re all concerned about the situation.

Question: What about Mr. Michel? Would he come to brief us, do you think?

Spokesperson: Whenever he comes back. I have some additional things on UNDP and the Nigerian elections. While the UN is not observing, as I said, the Nigerian elections, but we have been providing advisory services and technical assistance to Nigeria’s Election Commission through UNDP, which is managing a basket fund of assistance from multiple donors. So that is the role that UNDP is playing.

Thank you very much.

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2007/db070418.doc.htm




Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICES OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT



The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Ashraf Kamal, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon. We have a group of Latin American journalists attending the briefing today. We would like to welcome them.

**Statement on Iraq Bombings

A statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General about the bomb attacks in Baghdad:

Following the horrendous carnage in Baghdad yesterday, where a string of bombings left nearly 200 people dead and many more injured, the Secretary-General expresses his outrage at the callousness and scale with which innocent civilians are being slaughtered on an almost daily basis in Iraq. Another deadly bomb attack registered today only underscores his concern.

In the face of these latest provocations, the Secretary-General expresses his solidarity with the Iraqi people and he appeals to all communities of Iraq to show maximum restraint. He calls urgently on the political and religious leaders of Iraq to come together in a spirit of dialogue and mutual respect in order to find a way out of this destructive spiral of violence.

Still on Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, also issued a statement, warning that these horrific acts threaten Iraq’s integrity and viability, jeopardising the country’s future, and thrusting its citizens deeper into the cycle of violence and vengeance. He again called on all Iraqis to resist being pushed into the abyss of calamitous sectarianism.

We have his full statement upstairs.

**Statement on Arab Peace Initiative

Another statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General:

The Secretary-General welcomes the statement yesterday by the Arab Ministerial Committee for the Arab Peace Initiative, which indicates increased engagement of the League of Arab States to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The Secretary-General looks forward to meeting with the Ministerial Committee that has been formed to promote this process.

**Secretary-General in Europe

The Secretary-General wrapped up his visit to Italy today after he visited the UN Logistics Base in Brindisi, where he observed the main facility that provides support to UN field operations worldwide.

He toured warehouses, stocking tents, blankets and high-protein biscuits, which are ready to be sent at the outset of any humanitarian emergency worldwide, and he listened to staff explain the logistical challenges of setting up communications equipment in remote peacekeeping outposts.

The Secretary-General then flew back to Rome, where he attended a luncheon hosted by Mayor Walter Veltroni before leaving Italy for Switzerland.

He is scheduled to be meeting right now in Bern with Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey. He will have a working dinner with the President and other senior leaders before he travels to Geneva tonight.

** Sudan

The Tripartite Mechanism, composed of representatives from the United Nations, the African Union and the Government of Sudan, which oversees the implementation of the UN support to the African Union Mission in Sudan, held its 10th meeting yesterday in Khartoum.

The participants welcomed the Sudanese Government’s acceptance of the UN Heavy Support Package, as well as the pledge from Sudan that the Permanent Mission of Sudan in Addis Ababa has been instructed to expedite issuance of travel visas to AMIS staff and associated personnel.

We have more details on that meeting in today’s bulletin from the UN Mission in Sudan.

** Lebanon

UN Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel is continuing his visit to Lebanon, in which, since arriving on Tuesday, he has met with the Lebanese Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament, the President of the Republic and a number of Lebanese parliamentarians and political leaders.

All of his interlocutors have expressed support for the establishment of the tribunal. Mr. Michel has emphasized that it is in the interest of all to have the tribunal established within Lebanon’s constitutional process. He will continue his meetings in Beirut tomorrow.

**OCHA - Gaza

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that Israel’s restrictions on where Palestinian fishermen can fish are hurting the 40,000 Gazans dependent on the fishing industry for their primary source of income.

As those Palestinians have become progressively impoverished in the last six years, the World Food Programme, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and other humanitarian agencies have been working to provide food and support job creation.

We expect a press release on this from OCHA later on this afternoon.

** Uganda

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today reiterated her call to the Government of Uganda to review its forced disarmament strategy in Karamoja, in north-eastern Uganda, where violence and human rights violations have continued to escalate since her report last November.

In a report released today, Arbour deplored Uganda’s failure to implement the recommendations in her last report. She concluded that any disarmament process must be accompanied by concerted and sustainable development initiatives in order to stabilize the situation in Karamoja.

We have more on that in my office.

**Children and Armed Conflict

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, just ended a two-week mission to Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Her conclusion was that children bear the brunt of the armed conflict in the Middle East.

Interacting with children in the region, Coomaraswamy said she was disturbed by their expressions of fear, anxiety, anger, revenge and hopelessness. But she added that she was pleased that both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government said they were ready to review school curricula to make sure they weren’t inciting violence and hatred.

We have more on that upstairs.

**HIV/AIDS

Out today is the Secretary-General’s report on developments in the past year toward achieving universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment.

He says important progress has been made, but much more needs to be done in the areas of prevention and fulfilling international commitments. The rapid scaling up of services must also be balanced against ensuring the long-term sustainability of those services, he says.

**UNHCR

Mr. L. Craig Johnstone of the United States has been appointed as UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees. He succeeds Ms. Wendy Chamberlin, also from the United States, who left in December last year. He is expected to assume his duties in June.

**UNESCO

All next week, a UNESCO mission will be in Peru to assess the state of conservation at Macchu Pichu, one of its World Heritage sites.

That’s all I have for you.

**Questions and Answers

Question: Do you have a response to the letter written to the Secretary-General on the New York Times report yesterday about the planes being used for attacks in Darfur?

Spokesperson: Not the letter… you mean the report to the Security Council?

Question: Yes, which was in the New York Times yesterday. The Ambassador called for an inquiry, suggesting that this was blatantly false and without any basis, and also questioned why it was released selectively to the New York Times. Do you have any response to that?

Spokesperson: I don’t know why it was released to one media but I can say that it was released to all the media, also because that same information was released in another British newspaper about two weeks ago. So it’s nothing new. The report concerns events in March, the sighting of that plane, and yesterday I gave the Secretary-General’s reaction on this. There was an official reaction of the Secretary-General.

Question: You said there was going to be an inquiry into this?

Spokesperson: Yes, UNMIS has been instructed to convey the Secretary-General’s concern expressed in the statement yesterday, and to seek clarifications from the Government on the reported use of the UN marking on aircrafts for military use.

Question: Is the UN going to take up with the Government of Kazakhstan the fact that its international registration code is “UN”?

Spokesperson: I cannot say at this point. Certainly, there is clarification to be obtained. Among the clarifications mentioned, there has to be clarification obtained about that.

Question: Will the Secretary-General instruct his staff to maybe suggest to Kazakhstan that they use a different designation other than “UN”?

Spokesperson: Well, this was not going to be done at the level of the Secretary-General. It’s going to be done at the level of, certainly, DPKO and other agencies.

Question: Regarding the mission to the Lebanon border, is there any progress regarding sending that mission?

Spokesperson: No, I can just confirm that the mission is going to be sent but we don’t have the details yet.

Question: The Sudanese Ambassador said he was going to write a letter. Is there a way for us to obtain it once you get it since it’s all about media coverage and the entire report is no longer confidential?

Spokesperson: Sure, certainly. If the letter comes, I will let you know.

Question: Back on Sudan, did the SG in fact receive and read the experts’ report before yesterday’s story was published?

Spokesperson: He was certainly aware that there had been violations. He didn’t have the details of those violations. As you know, he officially protested against a number of violations when he discussed Darfur, first when he was in Saudi Arabia, when he met with Mr. Bashir, he talked about the violations. He did not specifically mention that one plane, or those planes, because he did not specifically refer to that, no.

Question: But did he actually read and receive the report before yesterday’s story broke in the Times?

Spokesperson: Those reports go to the political affairs branch of the United Nations.

Question: So he read it?

Spokesperson: Probably.

Question: There have been many calls, probably to you as well, but from what we read in the media there are a lot of requests to the UN to come in, step in for the Kirkuk issue. As you know, it’s probably going to be bigger in the coming days. There was a report by the International Crisis Group today calling on the Secretary-General to appoint a special envoy to solve the Kirkuk problem. Have you received any formal request from any side, from the Turkish side, Iraqi side or Kurdish side?

Spokesperson: Not that I know of, but I can inquire about it. As you know, the Secretary-General is travelling at the moment.

Question: On the carnage in Iraq… is it the responsibility of the Iraqi Government or the occupying forces? There’re so many people that have been killed. It’s an absolute outrage what has happened. Who takes the responsibility… the occupying forces or the Government of Iraq?

Spokesperson: I cannot answer that question.

Question: Any news on the replacement or when a replacement will be found for Mr. [Alvaro] de Soto in the Middle East?

Spokesperson: No, not yet. Mr. de Soto’s contract is still continuing and as soon as it is finished, they will announce the new envoy.

Question: You said that the Secretary-General welcomed the efforts on the Arab Peace Initiative and he’s willing to meet with ministers. When is that going to happen?

Spokesperson: When he is going to be in … as you know, he’s going to go for the Iraq Compact [meeting] very soon in Sharm el-Sheikh, and probably will be meeting the ministers at that time.

Question: Is the Secretary-General going to attend the meeting in Cairo of the second round of the Baghdad Conference… the 3 and 4 of May?

Spokesperson: Yes, but it’s not going to be in Cairo. It’s going to be in Sharm el-Sheikh; that’s what I just said.

Question: The Secretary-General met with the Pope and they reportedly discussed multilateralism, inter-cultural dialogue and UN reform. Have they discussed any other issue, for example, the Middle East conflict? And also, the Secretary-General has invited the Pope to visit UN Headquarters. Has the Pope accepted the invitation?

Spokesperson: I don’t have that information yet. I know the invitation was extended. I can give you a better readout of the meeting. What you have is what I have in terms of what was said at that meeting.

Question: It’s been announced that the United States and Australia are going to start trading asylum seekers, i.e. people that try to go to Australia will be sent to US facilities and people trying to get to the United States from Haiti and elsewhere will be sent to Australia. This is in an attempt to make it less likely for people to try to get into the country. So I’m wondering whether anyone in the Australian press, whether anyone in the UN system, UNHCR or elsewhere has any comment on this type of asylum strategy.

Spokesperson: Not that I know of.

Question: On the plane thing, yesterday we had a briefing by a senior UN official, at which he said that he thought it was from Kazakhstan because of the symbol system that Mark brought up. Actually that plane shows up in a registry of planes sales as having been sold by a Russian airline to Sudan. So I’m wondering whether the senior UN official or DPKO… if the only basis for the Kazakhstan thing, was the “UN” symbol on the [inaudible]? Also, if it’s possible, given this situation, to actually name the individual? Why he only spoke on background, given that he spoke to like 40 reporters here?

Spokesperson: Well, he spoke on background. This is the current practice, as you know. When we want to give you additional information on one subject, where we don’t have a specific statement to make on that subject, we want to give you information. I think this is standard practice at the UN.

Question: Had he asked Kazakhstan, for example, if it was their plane or… but it seemed like that’s what he said.

Spokesperson: This was a possibility evoked. There is an investigation on what the plane is about. He also mentioned in the same briefing that some people sighted that plane, not only on the Janjaweed-controlled part of Darfur but also in the Chadian Government-controlled part of eastern Chad. And there were also sightings in the Central African Republic. Is it the same plane? We don’t know. At this point, we’re trying to ascertain the facts.

Question: I just want to nail down either the basis for the Kazakhstan thing… was it entirely based on just the “UN” being on [the plane]? Has the UN system run the number that’s actually painted on the plane’s wing? Given what it said yesterday, when will DPKO be providing an update or saying, here’s whose plane it is?

Spokesperson: Didn’t I just say that UNMIS is on the ground and trying to investigate this? So we’ll have an answer.

Question: On Sudan, Russia and China are actually opposing sanctions on Sudan, and the US is coming out saying that they will… if the UN doesn’t come forward, if Sudan doesn’t do more, they will put sanctions on Sudan. Isn’t it that the UN system is not working properly? That’s my question.

Spokesperson: What do you mean?

Question: Is not the UN system on Sudan working properly so that the sides are coming out with different ideas, different perspectives, different strategies?

Spokesperson: But you know that we are made up of a number of Member States, who have different interests and different strategies and different political views. So I don’t think it’s new to the UN. It’s part of our existence as an institution that you have different positions on an issue, whether it be sanctions in the Security Council or it is other matters in the General Assembly. So I don’t think it’s something new to the UN. We are not talking about the Secretariat here. We’re talking about the Security Council. The Security Council certainly doesn’t take instructions from the Secretariat. Nor does the General Assembly take instructions from the Secretariat. You are dealing with different entities here.

Question: This is a follow-up to the Thessaloniki audit. What does the SG intend to do in the stand-off between [Office of Internal Oversight Services] (OIOS) and [the Department of Economic and Social Affairs] (DESA)? [inaudible]… DESA’s refusal to accept OIOS recommendations from that audit… Who will he be backing in this stand-off and how will he be backing them?

Spokesperson: Well as far as… we got some information for you from DESA, and we heard that the final report on the Thessaloniki centre issued by the Office of Internal Oversight Services on 23 February, which is the one after the one you mentioned, it is still part of an ongoing process between the two departments – the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and OIOS. The main focus of the final stage is to finalize recommendations to be implemented by DESA. So this is… we’re not at this stage yet. The conclusion that was reached that the two departments are at a stand-off… when I asked DESA that question, they said it was entirely false. They said that both entities considered that the audit process is a consultative one and that is what is going on now.

Question: I just want to say that whenever there is an OIOS report, it has to leak out, it’s never presented, it’s an ongoing process, recommendations take 50 years, and somewhere, for the sake of transparency, maybe this new administration can [inaudible]. Eventually diplomats are going to get it - like the one that was just done - and we will get it.

Spokesperson: But I think there are some audit reports that come out regularly. I mean audits are part of the way this house functions.

Question: I endorse everything Evelyn says. Under Ban, we still have yet to see evidence that the UN has any intention of becoming any more transparent than ever it was. Another question: regarding the 38th floor, what is the status on the hiring of all the staff there? Is the process almost finished yet?

Spokesperson: It’s still being finalized.

Question: How much longer because obviously there’s a wide sense of lack of communication between the membership and the 38th floor because the 38th floor is not working yet because it hasn’t got people there. How much longer is that likely to take, that process?

Spokesperson: I don’t have an exact date but I do know that you had been told of the number of people who had presented candidacies. I think right now we are at the final stage of the process. I cannot give you a date.

Question: In the next couple of weeks? I mean, just a month ago, it was in the next couple of weeks and now it’s… I’m just left a bit confused.

Spokesperson: I didn’t say the next couple of weeks.

Question: Not you, but a month ago, people were saying we’re almost there. And we’re still almost there. I’m just wondering what does that mean?

Spokesperson: We’ll find out soon. I’ll let you know.

Question: Yesterday I asked a question about what measures the Secretary-General has taken to respond to Staff concerns… in the town hall meeting with them. Were you able to get an answer?

Spokesperson: I do know that there are consultations continuing between the Department of Management and the Staff Council on those reforms, and I think this also is an ongoing process.

Question: This is a follow-up to the report from the person who visited Israel and the Palestinian territories. Is she equating the Israeli education system to that of the Palestinian education system, where we see examples of children being taught to hate Jews, to hate others?

Spokesperson: You’ll be able to ask her the question. She’ll be here on Monday as our guest at the noon briefing.

This is all I have for you.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the President of General Assembly

Three short, albeit important, announcements:

The five facilitators on Security Council reform will be meeting with the Assembly President at 5 p.m. today to hand in their report. The President will take a look at the report, turn it over to Member States, give them a few days and then they will decide what to do with that.

ACABQ decided on Monday to take up the Secretary-General’s proposals on restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations when it returns from its recess on 15 May.

On mandate review, the informal consultations of the plenary are scheduled for tomorrow morning to introduce the new co-chair, who is theAmbassador of Namibia.

**Questions and Answers

Question: Just remind me what’s going on with the mandate review process. I just completely lost touch with it. So where are we in terms of proposals and discussions and so forth?

Spokesperson: There are some proposals that they think they can get consensus on but they were waiting for the naming of another…

Question: I’m sorry, who’s they? I mean, really, treat me like a total know-nothing on this one.

Spokesperson: Member States were awaiting the appointment of the second facilitator to maintain the required balance and this is why…

Question: I still have no idea what you’re talking about, I’m sorry. What are we talking about here? What is the proposal in terms of how many mandates are going to be cut and who is discussing what about…?

Spokesperson: I can get you the final report on that. It will give you all the details.

Question: Who’s the other facilitator?

Spokesperson: Ireland.

Question: So once they get a developing country, which is obviously going to be Namibia, then they’re actually going to start to work?

Spokesperson: Yes, that’s the hope.

Question: On system-wide coherence -- that dreadful phrase -- I see the SG wants the pilot programmes… he wants to do something about the women’s operation. Do you hear any discussion on environment? Now that climate change is very much in the news, I remember the panel report saying the UN has 200 days of meetings around the world on this issue, all of it overlapping. The developing countries not even having the staff to send to… Is any of that going to be condensed? Or is it just to have a new climate change…?

Spokesperson: As I said when the report came out, the easy part of it was, I hope, the issue of women, because that is a structural change that you can effect immediately and amalgamate everything. But other parts of the report require a lot of work because they are basically governance and financing, and this means money and sovereignty, and the way to run things. And this takes a little more time, to put it modestly, than other things like structure.

Question: Just on system-wide coherence, do you have a prediction… there were two days of debate, Monday and Tuesday, what happens next? What’s the next step on system-wide coherence?

Spokesperson: If I have to make a prediction, I will say it will take significant time. And again, that’s a very conservative estimate.

Question: On the urgent audit that Ban Ki-moon called for of UNDP in North Korea, they keep saying now that the ball is in ACABQ’s court, that the 90-day clock… I’m not really sure where it is. You once said that it had… what is the status about the GA…?

Spokesperson: Again, I told you that the ACABQ said we have not yet received the report. Once they receive the report, they schedule some time to discuss it and then they make the recommendations, and then it goes off to the Fifth Committee.

There was one question; I think Evelyn asked Michèle about the OIOS reports. You know it’s a decision by Member States that the OIOS reports remain with OIOS and are released on request by Member States; released to the particular Member State that asked for that report. So, like you said, you will eventually get them once Member States get them.

Question: It could be a decision by the Secretary-General to show some transparency. I mean Betsy Pisik has already run, a week ago, a storyon the Greek institute report. And it goes on this way. Different people go after them and get them. Why not all…?

Spokesperson: We should all become very close friends of Betsy.

Question: Why not just give the damn thing out because we never know where the process ends. The process always goes on. I’ve been here a long time and I’ve yet to get an OIOS report that makes sense, that’s not a summary of the year’s investigation.

Spokesperson: Let’s just hope for the best.

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2007/db070419.doc.htm
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Posted: Apr 20 2007, 09:21 PM


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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICEs OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT



The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Ashraf Kamal, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

**Statement on Mission to Fiji

Good afternoon. First, a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General:

The Secretary-General has dispatched a fact-finding mission to Fiji in response to the Security Council’s concern about the situation and its call for a peaceful resolution and the restoration of democracy.

The mission’s objective is to gain a first-hand assessment of the situation in Fiji through broad consultations with the interim authorities, representatives of all political parties and civil society. The mission, which arrives in Fiji on Sunday, will also meet with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the resident diplomatic community.

The mission is being led by Jehangir Khan of the Department of Political Affairs and will include political and electoral experts, as well as representatives from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNDP. Following its consultations in Fiji, the mission will report its findings and recommendations to the Secretary-General.

**Secretary-General in Switzerland

The Secretary-General last night in Bern attended a joint press conference with the President of Switzerland, in which, in response to a question on Iraq, he said he would be launching the International Compact for Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh on 3 May, together with the Iraqi Prime Minister.

The transcript of that encounter is available upstairs.

This morning, the Secretary-General attended a breakfast with the State Council of Geneva, during which he expressed his appreciation for its commitment to the United Nations by hosting 22 international organizations and more than 35,000 international civil servants and their families.

He later opened his first session of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) of the UN system. In the first session of the two-day meeting, the UN leaders discussed how best to coordinate their efforts in Aid for Trade, to enable developing countries to participate fully in the global trading system, and adopted a so-called tool kit to ensure that UN entities facilitate employment and decent work in the course of their operations. They also discussed system-wide coherence.

The Secretary-General and the CEB move on to a retreat this afternoon. Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General had also talked to UN staff at the Palais des Nations.

He wraps up his visit to Switzerland on Sunday morning, when he leaves Geneva and travels on to Qatar and Syria.

** Somalia

Unable to cross the city, displaced Somalis are now fleeing north from the capital, Mogadishu, as they seek refuge from the intermittent but intense fighting that has once more gripped the city, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports.

Meanwhile, aid deliveries have also been severely hampered by continued insecurity, including the harassment and detention of aid workers, new bureaucratic regulations imposed by the Transitional Federal Government and lack of access to stocks pre-positioned in the Mogadishu area.

At least 213,000 people have fled Mogadishu since the beginning of February, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, while field reports indicate that the number of displaced may even be as high as 300,000.

UNHCR yesterday started handing out relief supplies to thousands of displaced people in Afgooye, a Somali town some 30 kilometres west of Mogadishu. That’s despite fresh fighting in Mogadishu and yesterday’s explosion on the main road between Afgooye and the capital, which cut links to the small town.

The Secretary-General’s latest report on Somalia, which is out on the racks, says it is imperative to secure an immediate end to the fighting, through a cessation of hostilities and a commitment to peace by all stakeholders. He adds that using military solutions to stabilize Mogadishu would likely be counterproductive.

** Lebanon

UN Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel has completed his meetings in Lebanon. Today, he met again with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Noting the support of all his interlocutors in Lebanon for the special tribunal for Lebanon, Michel said it is time for the Lebanese parties to demonstrate their support for the establishment of the tribunal. Such an outcome is possible only if the parties resume their dialogue, he added.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Premier Siniora, Michel voiced his conviction that the preferred outcome would be the early establishment of the special tribunal after agreement among the Lebanese parties.

Michel, who is leaving Beirut tomorrow, said he hoped that the parties will continue to seek a solution to the impasse and urged them to do so.

** Sudan

High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is scheduled to visit Sudan next week, on his second visit to the country. He will arrive Monday in Khartoum, where he is scheduled to meet senior Government officials and the UN team on the ground.

UNHCR has been asked by the UN system to expand its operations for the internally displaced in Darfur, and Guterres will be looking into this issue during his talks with Sudanese officials.

UNHCR has a press release upstairs with more details on his trip.

Also, the Secretary-General’s latest report on the UN Mission in Sudan is out as a document and will be discussed by the Security Council next Monday. In it, the Secretary-General says that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between north and south Sudan has reached a delicate stage, and the parties must devote considerable attention to the verification of the redeployment of their forces.

** Nepal

The Nepal branch of the UN human rights office today released the findings of its investigation into last month’s killings in the town of Gaur. The 27 individuals, most of them linked to the Communist Party, were killed in a brutal manner, the report says.

The office also says that there can be no doubt that most, if not all, of the killings could have been prevented. And the incidents highlighted once more the weaknesses of law enforcement agencies, which, aware of the potential for clashes and other violence, were grossly ill-prepared to ensure effective crowd control.

The UN human rights office adds that it is the duty and responsibility of all actors in the peace and electoral process -- and especially the State -- to ensure that the events of 21 March are not repeated.

We have a press release on that upstairs.

A delegation from Nepal, including Government representatives, senior political leaders, members of the Interim Legislature and civil society figures is scheduled to visit United Nations Headquarters in New York from 23 to 25 April. This is an important visit that affords the delegation and the United Nations a chance to interact at a critical juncture of the peace process in Nepal and the United Nations support for it through UNMIN.

The aim of the visit to New York is to strengthen working relations with the United Nations and international agencies and resource institutions that are supporting Nepal’s peace and transitional justice processes, provided for in the Comprehensive Peace Accord.

Following the New York visit, the delegation will visit Peru to look at the work of that country’s truth and reconciliation commission.

The United Nations has requested the assistance of the United States authorities in issuing entry visas for the Maoist members of the delegation.

**Security Council – Western Sahara

The Security Council is holding consultations on Western Sahara following a meeting with troop contributors involved with the UN Mission there. Council members are hearing from Peter van Walsum, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara. We expect that Ambassador van Walsum will speak to you in this room after he is done in the Security Council, at approximately 1 p.m.

**Deputy Secretary-General

The Deputy Secretary-General departs over this weekend on a visit to Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. She is presently in Geneva. She will attend an annual meeting with UNDP’s regional management team there on Africa’s development agenda in a reforming UN system. She will also attend bilateral meetings with Congolese officials on the ground.

The Deputy Secretary-General will also travel to Kinshasa to visit our UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and, while there, she will meet with President Joseph Kabila and other Government officials. She returns to New York at the end of next week.

** Haiti

Two separate UN missions are currently visiting Haiti. A group from the Division for the Advancement of Women of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs has been there since Monday to discuss ways to eliminate discrimination against women. Officials from ECOSOC arrived on Wednesday to assess the post-conflict reconstruction challenges faced by the country.

After yesterday visiting Cité Soleil, where the UN Mission has recently achieved a significant reduction in gang violence, the ECOSOC mission today is in Cap Haitien and Ouanaminthe, in the northern part of the country.

**Measles Campaigns

In one of the fastest responses to a major outbreak of the measles, 16 million children and adults in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have been vaccinated against the disease since early March.

The campaign was organized by the country’s Government, with support from UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

Those agencies are also supporting a massive two-week measles immunization drive in Iraq. Starting Sunday, some 8,000 vaccinators will fan out across the country. They’re trying to reach the nearly 4 million Iraqi children between the ages of one and five. Because of the country’s security situation, many have never received routine immunizations.

We have more information on those two campaigns upstairs.

**Update on OIOS Audit Report

In answer to a question yesterday about the status of the OIOS audit report of 23 February 2007 on the Thessaloniki Centre, I want to clarify that the audit itself has been completed; no further audit work has to be done. OIOS is currently finalizing the recommendations in light of additional clarifications received from DESA at the meeting of the two departments on 22 March.

These recommendations, once finalized, have to be implemented by DESA. One recommendation, regarding the closing of the Centre, has already been implemented. When the recommendations are implemented, the audit process will be complete.

As you know, the implementation of audit recommendations is carried out under the oversight of OIOS itself. Upon receipt of the recommendations of OIOS, DESA will provide a timeframe within which the recommendations are to be implemented.

**Upcoming Press Conferences

Just a look ahead at press conferences on Monday: at 10 a.m. in Room 226, there will be a press conference on the “Next Steps towards an Arms Trade Treaty”. Briefing will be by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Jorge Urbina, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica; Kirsti Lintonen, Permanent Representative of Finland; and Joseph Dube from the Control Arms Campaign. There will also be a video message from Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen Mirren.

The guest at the noon briefing will be Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, who will brief on her recent mission to Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

We also have the “Week Ahead” for you. It will be in my office.

That’s all I have.

**Questions and Answers

Question: Regarding Mr. Michel in Lebanon, what we understand is that he requested from Mr. Siniora to send another letter to the Security Council asking for chapter VII. Can you confirm this please?

Spokesperson: No, I cannot. We spoke to his office this morning and this was not mentioned. We will try to get Mr. Michel when he’s back here to talk directly to you.

Question: He tries to have the same distance from all parties but by publicly supporting Siniora, and he said that he represents the real Government of Lebanon, isn’t he taking sides here… because Siniora’s Government is a party to the dispute in Lebanon.

Spokesperson: I have no comment on this.

Question: You said what is supposed to be discussed by the Security Council on Sudan next Monday? Also, when is the Secretary-General supposed to receive the final results of the investigation on the painted aircraft in Sudan?

Spokesperson: That I don’t know yet. That is being carried out by the team on the ground, so we should know a little more about it next week.

Question: What did you say is on Monday?

Spokesperson: I said on Monday… about the press conference?

Question: Something within the Security Council that you mentioned?

Spokesperson: The Security Council meeting… I can check that for you again. You can sit with me afterwards. I’ll get the information for you.

Question: I’m just wondering with regard to the Deputy Secretary-General’s visit… I’m still not entirely sure what her job is. What is it that she does, that she focuses on?

Spokesperson: She has a number of management responsibilities. She was the one who really oversaw the whole report on system-wide coherence. I have asked her, and she has accepted, to come to you; this will be her first press conference with you.

Question: You said something about development. So she’s the head of development?

Spokesperson: She’s not the head of development. She’s working on development issues, yes.

Question: And management?

Spokesperson: Yes.

Question: But what’s the difference between her role and the Secretary-General’s role on management? Because the Secretary-General’s been driving a lot of the management change. So that’s why I’m trying to understand. And then you’ve also got a head of management. So I’m trying to understand what her role is.

Spokesperson: They all work together. They work together on this. The system-wide coherence –- she works specifically on that issue for all of the last two weeks. As I said, she’s coming back here next week and we’ve asked her, and she has agreed to come and talk to you.

Question: When the Secretary-General saw the Pope, he said that he will appoint a High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations. Will he or she be an Italian? What criteria will be followed? And finally, what will happen to the old Dialogue of Civilizations?

Spokesperson: Well, I don’t have that information yet. I know they did discuss the Alliance of Civilizations. As for whether the person will be Italian, I don’t have that information at this point.

Question: And criteria?

Spokesperson: We’ll try to find out for you what the exact criteria is.

Question: Yesterday, the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Lavrov, was quoted as saying that the Ahtisaari Plan is dead, and he was then quoted as saying that he compared the Ahtisaari Plan with Annan’s Plan on Cyprus. First of all, what’s going on with Annan’s Plan on Cyprus? Is it dead? Do you share that opinion? And do you share this opinion of high international officials that Mr. Ahtisaari’s plan on Kosovo is dead?

Spokesperson: Well, we’re not sharing the opinion of anybody at this point. As you know, the whole issue is in front of the Security Council and you are going to be able to ask questions later on today about the issue.

Any other questions? Ashraf.

Briefing by Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly

The five facilitators on Security Council reform (the ambassadors of Tunisia, Cyprus, Croatia, Chile and the Netherlands) met with the President of the Assembly yesterday afternoon and presented to her the report on the intensive consultations they conducted with Member States over the past three months.

The report reflects all current positions on the issue of Council reform and explores new ideas on moving forward, most notably the possibility of a transitional approach to reform in all its aspects –- including the categories of membership, the veto and expansion and size of the Council.

“A significant number of Member States tend to agree that their ideal solution may not be possible at this stage, and believe that it may be more reasonable to consider the best possible substantial solution for now,” the report states.

It continues: “A transitional approach assumes an intermediate arrangement and should have as an integral component a mandatory review to take place at a predetermined date.” The text also suggests that the next stage of discussions on the issue could include an agreement on a negotiating process.

The President of the Assembly considers this report an important contribution and is transmitting it to Member States this afternoon, stating: “I share the facilitators’ view that there is a path forward that Members States can build on, taking advantage of the current momentum.”

We will make copies of the report available as soon as we can -- very soon after 1 p.m.

And she also received a letter from the G-4 yesterday after the meeting in Brasilia, expressing basically the same sentiment -- that there’s a feeling that negotiations should start as soon as possible.

That’s all I have.

**Questions and Answers

Question: What exactly is the transitional approach? Can you specify what its components are?

Spokesperson: By transitional approach, what I think the report means is that everybody has now come to realize that the best and ideal solution may not be on the table at the moment. So the best thing is to seek something more realistic and see where we can deal with an expansion perhaps in the size, along with working methods, and at the same time have a mandatory review date for that transitional arrangement, so that everybody who still has a position that they want to see come to fruition can hope that this will be done when they review the transitional arrangements.

Question: That all sounds very vague. Does it imply, for example, that Japan will be in as a veto Power and nobody else?

Spokesperson: No, I don’t think the transitional arrangement deals with the veto power. I think the veto power is one of the more controversial issues, one of the more complicated issues. If you like, the more complicated issues are set aside for the moment for a future point when they can review them and review the transitional arrangement.

Question: Does it mean that now the conclusions are that reform of the Security Council is not possible at this stage?

Spokesperson: No, not at all. This is exactly what the report says. The notions that the facilitators provide are basically a summation of the position of Member States. And the facilitators feel that there’s enough momentum and that everybody is becoming more realistic about what could be possible and, therefore, these ideas should be explored by Member States.

Question: In other words, you mean they’re unwilling to do anything at this stage?

Spokesperson: I didn’t say that.

Question: I mean… that’s what we understand.

Spokesperson: I will repeat what I said. I did not say that there’s nothing to do at this stage. I said there are positive ideas in the report, and I quoted some parts of the report. Again, it’s up to Member States. If the facilitators have actually conveyed the actual feeling of Member States, then there is room for addressing and considering these proposals, and that would lead, hopefully, to negotiations.

Question: As far as I understand, the facilitators are of the opinion that the time is not right yet for ideal approaches of reform?

Spokesperson: Exactly.

Question: Did they explain why?

Spokesperson: The ideal approach would be that every country gets exactly what it wants, which we know is a bit difficult. If you move from idealism to realism, then things could be a little more possible.

Question: Is the General Assembly President going to, at the same time, make a suggestion that members of the Assembly start at a particular date to start talking about possible transitional arrangements?

Spokesperson: Well, the way she’ll be looking at it is… give the Member States a few days to digest the report and then hold a meeting and ask them whether they feel that this is the right thing to do right now.

Question: I’m wondering… the SG’s away and his Deputy’s away. By some strange coincidence, the very first time out of New York, the SG and the Deputy in the same country… who is the boss now at the UN?

Spokesperson: Michèle just left so I wouldn’t know… the SG leaves somebody. If the Deputy’s not here, she deputizes somebody to be Officer-in-Charge, but I don’t know who.

Question: So maybe the SG’s trying to show the world that this august body can be run without my presence here and even my Deputy…

Spokesperson: No, I don’t think we can say that. It’s just a coincidence that they both have…

Question: And the GA President is also about to leave too?

Spokesperson: No. She’s here.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/spbrief.asp?DateD=2/1/2007



http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2007/db070420.doc.htm
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 23 2007, 09:32 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

**Guest at Noon Today

Our guest at the briefing today is Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Ms. Coomaraswamy will brief you on her recent two-week mission to Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

** Somalia

A statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Somalia:

The Secretary-General is gravely concerned about the continuing heavy fighting in Mogadishu, which has reportedly killed more than 250 people and forced more than 320,000 from their homes in the past six days alone. He deplores the reported indiscriminate use of heavy weapons against civilian population centres, which is in disregard of international humanitarian law.

The Secretary-General calls on the parties to immediately cease all hostilities and to facilitate access for the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance. He reiterates that there is no military solution to the Somali conflict and renews his call for an urgent resumption of political dialogue.

**Secretary-General in Qatar

The Secretary-General arrived in Doha, Qatar from Geneva late Sunday afternoon, to open the Seventh Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade. He began the day Monday with a meeting with the President of Finland, who was also scheduled to open the Forum later in the day. The Secretary-General then held talks with the Prime Minister of Qatar, and then with the Emir of Qatar.

The Secretary-General told reporters travelling with him that the international conference being convened by Qatar on democracy, free trade and development focuses on three key issues that the United Nations is working for in the region, as well as worldwide.

He added that, on free trade, he was frustrated by the level of progress concerning the Doha Round of trade talks. In his speech today, which the Secretary-General should be delivering right now, he emphasises progress on the Doha Round as soon as possible. The Secretary-General is scheduled to leave Doha for Damascus tomorrow morning.

Over the weekend, the Secretary-General had chaired the meeting in Switzerland of the Chief Executives Board that brings together all the leaders of the UN System. The Board agreed, at the conclusion of its meeting, to restructure arrangements for cooperation among UN organizations to ensure a more transparent, cost-effective and coherent approach to developing common programmes. The Board will meet again in six months to complete the new arrangements.

It also decided to develop a coherent approach to support the Aid-for-Trade initiative launched at the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization, to build capacity to underpin the efforts of developing countries to benefit from the changing international trade regime.

**Security Council on Sudan

The Security Council this morning is holding consultations on the UN Mission in Sudan, with a briefing by Tayé Brook Zerihoun, the Acting Head of that Mission.

In his most recent report to the Security Council on the Mission, which came out last week, the Secretary-General says that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South Sudan has reached a delicate stage, and the parties must devote considerable attention to the verification of the redeployment of their forces.

**Security Council on Kosovo

The Security Council will hold consultations this afternoon on Kosovo and other matters. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno will brief Council members on the current situation on the ground in Kosovo. Following consultations, he will go the stakeout to take a few of your questions.

The Security Council will be sending a mission tomorrow to Belgrade and Kosovo. The six-day trip will also cover Brussels and Vienna. Its objective is to get a firsthand look at the political, economic and social situation on the ground. For details about the mission’s composition and terms of reference, you can look at the relevant letter from the Security Council Presidency to the Secretary-General, which is out on the racks today.

Also, the head of the mission, Belgian Ambassador Johan Verbeke, will come to this room at 11 a.m. tomorrow to give you more details about the trip.

** Iraq

Ibrahim Gambari, the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor dealing with the International Compact with Iraq, is beginning a week of travels to build up support for the Compact. He is accompanied by the Governor of Iraq’s Central Bank.

Gambari is in the United Kingdom today, and will travel from there to Kuwait, Bulgaria and Belgium before returning to New York next week. And, you will recall, the Compact will be launched formally in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 2-3 May.

** Sudan -– Humanitarian

The World Food Programme (WFP) reports that, because of a Russian wheat shipment that arrived in Sudan today, it will be able to feed nearly 300,000 schoolchildren. Those children are enrolled in WFP's school feeding programmes in three chronically food-insecure Sudanese states. WFP will also be able to feed 6,000 participants in food-for-work projects. We have a press release on that upstairs.

**World Food Programme

Also from the WFP, the agency’s new head, Josette Sheeran, is currently on her first visit to Africa since taking office earlier this month. She was in Ethiopia today to discuss how WFP can increase the amount of food it buys on local markets.

On Wednesday, she will head to Sudan, where WFP has its biggest aid operation. She intends to visit Khartoum, Darfur and Juba, before heading to Chad this Saturday. We have more on her trip upstairs.

**Deputy Secretary-General

The Deputy Secretary-General is currently on a three-day visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Asha-Rose Migiro arrived Sunday in Kinshasa. At the airport, she reiterated the United Nations’ commitment to assist the Government and the Congolese people in their efforts towards reconstruction and reconciliation. During her visit, she is expected to meet President Kabila and Prime Minister Gizenga. She will depart tomorrow.

**Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

An update on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) operations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:

At the request of the DPR Korea authorities, UNDP will withdraw its remaining two international staff members from Pyongyang on 3 May. They will proceed to Beijing and will be accessible to facilitate the audit. The WFP has agreed to provide storage and support for current UNDP office assets, as well as to make any necessary further payments on behalf of UNDP. All UNDP records are secured.

UNDP’s programme in DPRK remains formally in suspension. UNDP will retain its lease on its Country Office building in Pyongyang until further notice.

** Haiti

The arrest of gang leader Belony Pierre on Saturday, 21 April by the Haitian National Police marks another significant step forward in the fight against Haiti's armed gangs. Belony, who led a gang in Bois-Neuf, Cite Soleil, was arrested by Haitian National Police officers in St. Michel de l'Attalaye, 100 km north of Port-au-Prince. He was immediately transferred to the capital, where he faces charges of murder and kidnapping.

Belony's arrest was carried out by the Haitian Police. The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) provided additional security during his transfer, and subsequent detention at the headquarters of the police judiciare in Port-au-Prince. The gang leader has been on the run since the end of February, when MINUSTAH forces, in support of the Haitian National Police, seized control of his Cite Soleil headquarters.

**UNODC

The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is urging Member States to develop a more coherent global regime for fighting organized crime. Speaking to the sixteenth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Antonio Maria Costa said law enforcement is operating in an “informational fog”, due to a lack of information on organized crime activities. We have more on that upstairs.

**United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour leaves tomorrow for Central Asia. Her two-week trip will take her to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Arbour’s aim is to increase her office’s engagement in the region. We have more on that in my office.

**UNESCO

The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has adopted a landmark decision on protecting the Old City of Jerusalem.

The unanimous reaffirmation by UNESCO’s Executive Board of the need to safeguard the World Heritage site marks the first time that Israelis and Palestinians have worked together on this issue. Both sides consulted with the board on reaching this decision and continue to work together.

UNESCO sent a technical mission to Jerusalem in February, after Islamic authorities there complained about an Israeli construction project they said threatened the Al-Aqsa Mosque. We have more information in a press release upstairs.

**Guest at Noon Tomorrow

Our guest at the briefing tomorrow will be Mr. John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Mr. Holmes will brief you on the humanitarian situation in Somalia.

I’ll just take a few questions, because Ms. Coomaraswamy is already waiting.

**Questions and Answers

Question: You made this announcement about DPR Korea. I have seen the letter from UNDP to North Korea. It says they were told on 6 March that they had to leave by the end of April. Is this persona non grata? I mean, they are being thrown out of the country. How does the UN view it, and is North Korea still on UNDP’s Executive Board when they threw all the international staff out?

Spokesperson: As for being on the Executive Board, I will check out for you the situation. And we are not describing… The UNDP already decided to withdraw its staff from there, so we don’t consider it as being persona non grata that situation.

[The Spokesperson later added that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Executive Board.]

Question: At they time, they announced they were suspending, they said that these two would remain in until the audit was completed. Now they are being thrown out of the country. Why wasn’t it announced when they were told they had to leave and how is it… Obviously something changed, because they said that they would stay there to facilitate the audit.

Spokesperson: Since it is the third of May and no agreement has been reached, they are leaving the country on the third.

Question: The letter from them to them says that March 26 they were told by [inaudible] that they had to leave by the end of April. If it is not persona non grata, what is it when a Member State tells UN personnel you must leave the country?

Spokesperson: I would underline the fact that it was UNDP that decided to leave in the first place, to withdraw its personnel.

Question: What is the status of the audit?

Spokesperson: As far as we know, the external auditors are now accessing UNDP records in Korea. Priority records are being copied and transported out of the country for their use. We don’t know if the external auditors will be able to visit the UNDP projects. That will be up to the DPR Korea authorities. But we do not anticipate that the suspension of UNDP’s programme in the DPRK and the departure of the international staff will have an impact on the audit.

Question: And when will we see some results from the audit?

Spokesperson: This is going on right now. I cannot answer that question.

Question: So you are saying that the UN has no comment on the fact that North Korea threw out these two remaining staff from North Korea?

Spokesperson: We don’t have any specific comments on this, because this was something that was announced before.

Question: I never heard it. When countries throw people out, normally people get a bit upset. But it sounds like the UN is not having problems with UN staff being thrown out of North Korea.

Spokesperson: I have to say that UNDP had announced first that they were withdrawing their staff. They had only kept two on a temporary basis.

Question: Right, can you remind me when the decision was taken that these two would then leave by the UNDP?

Spokesperson: I don’t know when this decision was taken, but I know that it was announced that they will leave by 3 May.

Question: It just strikes me that the sequence of events is that North Korea threw them out, after which the UNDP announced that they would withdraw…

Spokesperson: No, no, I am sorry, I am sorry, they were withdrawn before. You can go back to your files. The UNDP announced that they would withdraw their international staff way before this. This occurred afterwards. So, the sequence of events is not quite the way you have it.

Question: The former Foreign Minister of Germany said that Turkey’s entry into the European Union was of the utmost importance, because it would signal that a strong Muslim country was able to modernize, and also it would be a strong signal to the terrorists and jihadists. What is the position of the SG regarding Turkey’s application for joining the European Union?

Spokesperson: This is a matter for the Union to decide and it is a matter between Turkey and the Union.

Question: There is increasing tension between Turkey and, I don’t know what you call it now, I guess the Kurdish provinces of Iraq. A lot of people are worrying that a conflict might break out over the next few weeks. Does the UN in any way raise the alarm bells over this? Is the UN engaged in any kind of mediation about this, in any kind of talks?

Spokesperson: Not that I know of, but I will try to get some information for you on that.

Question: On the Sudan shipment, do we know who made the donation? Was it the Kremlin, the Government, one of the humanitarian agencies?

Spokesperson: We have that information in the press release upstairs. So you can have it.

Question: It does not specify who from Russia made the donation.

Spokesperson: I will find out for you additional information and who did that.

[The Spokesperson later said the donation came from the Russian Government.]

Question: Are there any contacts between the United Nations and Iran regarding attending the 3 May conference in Sharm el-Sheikh?

Spokesperson: If there is any contact, you mean?

Question: Between the United Nations and Iran regarding attending the conference of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Spokesperson: All the invitations were done by the Foreign Ministry of Egypt.

Question: Because Condoleezza Rice is calling for Iran to attend. Is the United Nations doing anything in this regard?

Spokesperson: No, as far as I know, the UN is not directly involved with the invitations.

Question: I want to ask you about the elections in Nigeria. The international monitors consider that it wasn’t free and fair. I would like to know if the Secretary-General has any comment on that?

Spokesperson: As you know, we are not observers at these elections. However, I did ask, and the Secretary-General says he continues to closely follow the developments in Nigeria, including the report from observer groups, which have expressed concerns, as you know, about the recent election. He strongly urges those with grievances to use the legal and constitutional means to address their complaints. He appeals to all national actors to resist any resort to violence. This is the reaction I got for you on the Nigerian elections.

Question: And has any international organization asked the UN to intercede in the process?

Spokesperson: No.

Question: When the announcement of the North Korea audit was made, there was also the intention to do a wider audit on the role of UN agencies. Is that ongoing? Or is that waiting for the North Korea thing to end, or…

Spokesperson: In the DPRK it is proceeding.

Question: In the DPRK it is proceeding, but what about other agencies in the UN…

Spokesperson: As I mentioned to you before, the first step was the DPRK and it is going to continue.

Question: So, until the DPRK is done, there are not going to be audits of other agencies?

Spokesperson: Of other agencies? No.

Question: On humanitarian conditions in Somalia, the Secretary-General has always expressed his concern about the situation there. I was wondering about, if there are any ideas, or concepts, or proposals by the Secretary-General to resume the political dialogue in Somalia.

Spokesperson: Well, as you know, the case of Somalia is right now in front of the Security Council, studying the situation. So, at this point, the Secretary-General has not taken any new initiative.

Question: There is a letter from the Transitional Federal Government to WFP, and I think to other agencies, saying that only they can bring in food, or aid, only if the Government inspects it. We have heard that there are not enough inspectors. I am wondering, what is the UN doing in the face of this directive of the Transitional Federal Government? Are you aware of this problem?

Spokesperson: We have asked about it, and we should have an answer about what the UN is planning to do and about what the situation is for you. I don’t have it right now.

Question: This regards the Darfur heavy support package. So, what is the current plan in terms of follow-up, troop-contributor meetings and so forth? Where do we go from here?

Spokesperson: We are waiting, I think, for answers from some of the troop-contributing countries. We don’t have that yet. As soon as we get something on it, I will let you know.

Question: Is there going to be another meeting this week in the Council?

Spokesperson: I don’t know when it is scheduled for. I’ll check for you.

Question: On the 29th of this month, Karzai and [inaudible] are going to meet in Ankara. Does the UN have anything on it?

Spokesperson: I don’t have any information at this point on this.

Question: In the Ivory Coast, these days, they are happily celebrating the newly-found unity of the country and of the army. Is the Secretary-General satisfied with the role of the United Nations and the international community, as far as this country is concerned?

Spokesperson: So far, I think, things are proceeding. We are hoping that we proceed with the agreements as reached, and that we’ll get to a peaceful solution.

Question: When are we expecting to hear from Mr. [Nicolas] Michel about his trip to Lebanon?

Spokesperson: Mr. Michel, as you know, we have upstairs for you all the statements he has made in Lebanon, and you can have them upstairs. Unfortunately, he has to travel very soon, again. I have asked him, and he would be willing to come and talk to you, but after his return, which probably will be next week.

Question: Is he going to Switzerland regarding this conference?

Spokesperson: He is travelling.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/spbrief.asp?DateD=2/1/2007

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2007/db070420.doc.htm
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 24 2007, 11:43 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon. Our guest at the briefing today is Mr. John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Mr. Holmes will brief you on the situation in Somalia.

**Secretary-General in Syria

The Secretary-General is in Syria, where he met for an hour and 15 minutes tête-à-tête with President Bashar al-Assad.

On the plane ride from Doha to Damascus, the Secretary-General and his delegation talked for two hours with the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Muallem. And, following the meeting with President Assad, the Secretary-General met with Vice-President Farouk al-Shara.

The delegation also visited the UN Development Programme (UNDP) office in Damascus, and stopped over to see the work done by the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), whose more than 1,000 troops have been deployed in the Golan Heights since 1974, to maintain the ceasefire there.

The Secretary-General just spoke to reporters before leaving Syria, saying that he had held constructive meetings with the Syrian leaders. He said that President Assad has assured him of cooperation in all matters relating to peace and security in the region, including the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006).

** Sudan

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports that unknown armed men attacked an international NGO vehicle yesterday near Marla, 55 kilometres south-east of Nyala, in South Darfur, and they shot at the vehicle. As a result, two staff members were injured.

Also yesterday, the UN Mission says, a group of young men armed with sticks entered the Ardamata camp for internally displaced persons, five kilometres east of El Geneina, in West Darfur, and started threatening the people there. Local police intervened to address the situation, but humanitarian workers suspended their activities in the camp. The reasons behind this incident remain unclear.

We have upstairs a press release from the World Food Programme (WFP), about the visit by its Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, to Darfur and southern Sudan this week to view food aid activities on her first international mission as head of the world’s largest humanitarian relief organization.

**Security Council

This afternoon, the Security Council will hold a closed meeting of its Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions.

And you’ve just been briefed by the Belgian Ambassador on the Security Council’s mission to Brussels, Belgrade, Kosovo and Vienna, which is scheduled to depart this afternoon.

** Côte d’Ivoire

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hédi Annabi just wrapped up a 12 day visit to Côte d’Ivoire. In an interview with the UN’s radio station in that country, he said he had found an easing of the situation, as well as a very clear willingness on the part of Ivorian leaders to implement the Ouagadougou Accord in a timely manner. Annabi added that the UN would continue to help the parties implement the Accord.

We have the full transcript upstairs.

** Cyprus

The UN Mission in Cyprus today released the results of an inter-communal survey measuring public opinions on the island.

The poll, which was conducted last January and February, indicates that majorities in both of Cyprus’ communities feel that the UN has an important role to play in Cyprus and that its presence on the island is essential.

The survey also shows that Cypriots believe inter-communal contacts can pave the way for improved levels of trust, and that a federal solution is still the best hope for resolving the Cyprus problem.

We have more on this upstairs.

** Colombia

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe chaired a meeting yesterday, bringing together senior officials throughout the UN system with a high-level delegation from the Government of Colombia that was led by Vice-President Francisco Santos and Foreign Minister Fernando Araújo.

The meeting allowed an open and constructive exchange on United Nations work in Colombia, as well as on the status of peace efforts in Colombia. In that context, United Nations officials expressed the willingness of the Secretary-General to use his good offices in support of a negotiated solution. The Colombian delegation expressed that, should appropriate conditions exist, the Colombian Government would value UN contribution in its peace efforts.

We have a press release upstairs with more details.

** Democratic Republic of the Congo

Renewed fighting between militias and Government troops in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has forced thousands of civilians to flee, according to the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

WFP has provided more than a thousand tons of food to those displaced, while UNHCR has conducted dozens of rapid assessment missions to follow up reports of serious human rights abuses.

We have more information upstairs.

** Madagascar

WFP says it has started flying desperately needed food and other humanitarian supplies into north-western Madagascar. The area has been cut off after one of the worst cyclone seasons in years left bridges and roads destroyed. As part of a four-week operation, WFP plans to use helicopters to transport essential relief items to some 20,000 people in isolated villages.

We have a press release upstairs.

**United Nations Children’s Fund

UNICEF has issued a statement condemning, as a war crime, the use of a minor in a Taliban execution.

It says that, a video circulating in Pakistan, showing a young boy beheading an adult, is a “terrible example of how children can be used by adults to commit heinous crimes in times of conflict”.

We have copies of the statement upstairs.

**Guest at Noon Tomorrow

Our guest at the briefing tomorrow will be Ambassador John McNee, Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN and head of the ECOSOC Ad Hoc Advisory Group’s four-day mission to Haiti. Ambassador McNee will brief you on the group’s evaluation of the current situation in Haiti and its assessment of the post-conflict reconstruction challenges the country faces.

This is all I have for you. Thank you.

**Questions and Answers

Correspondent: There was this, I am sorry if I missed this, there was this speech by Mr. Ban in Geneva, in which he said that they were the first Correspondents’ Association…

Correspondent: I have to raise the issue officially. The Secretary-General met with the Association of Correspondents last week in Geneva, and he told them that we here, [the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA)], have never invited him out. So I wonder… and we have an official transcript of his remarks. My colleagues were shocked by the remarks, to say it mildly. I want to ask you, what was the reason for him to say that and why did he say that, in Geneva, while we had meetings with him here, in New York, at our invitation. And I am pretty sure that he enjoyed the meetings, also.

Correspondent: And also, just to add, we did invite him to the annual UNCA dinner. He was seated with the [inaudible]. So all proper courtesies were extended to him by UNCA.

Spokesperson: Well, thank you to all three of you. I am sorry these remarks created a misunderstanding, which I want to lift immediately. It was meant in a light-hearted way by the Secretary-General. It was referring to the irritation expressed by some members of the Geneva press corps that he was not able to travel to our second headquarters at the Palais des Nations until last week. The comments were meant in jest, and not intended to be taken seriously. I can assure you, that the Secretary-General is most appreciative of his meetings with UNCA, particularly the two gracious invitations extended by you to him early in his tenure and, most recently, for his 100 days in office. He has told me how highly he values these informal exchanges and the exchanges he had with the correspondents’ association. And the work you do, covering the UN, is to him essential.

Correspondent: As the treasurer of the Organization, I’d like to just add to that, which is that this is an official UN transcript document. I don’t, for one minute, with the greatest respect, of course, to the Secretary-General, doubt his word when he says he meant it in jest. But when one sees it purely in print, without the benefit of his facial and vocal expressions and his presence, it is impossible to tell that it was in fact meant in jest, which makes it somewhat more serious.

Spokesperson: Point well taken.

Question: Another issue is that he seems to favour Geneva to New York, calling Geneva the headquarters of the UN. I wonder, can he show more appreciation of what New York is doing for him?

Spokesperson: I don’t think that he appreciates Geneva more than he appreciates New York. I can assure you that he just met with Geneva recently, and he has met with you several times. As I said earlier, he truly appreciates these meetings, particularly the informal exchanges he has with you, which, as you know and you can tell, were open, very frank and sincere. And I think he truly appreciated them. And I think he has told you himself that he appreciated those meetings with you.

Question: In his talk there, he said that Geneva was the largest UN city in the world and that there were more international organizations and more diplomatic staff. It may be the real UN headquarters. I am wondering, I don’t know if that was a joke as well, but if anyone could get the numbers, to know what the basis of this is. And also, I don’t know if you will answer this, but who is writing his speeches now, like what is the process of that?

Spokesperson: I don’t know if that was a speech. He just improvised that. He was answering questions after a lunch. It was not a speech in any way.

Question: Got you. Can we get those numbers?

Spokesperson: Sure, sure, you can have those numbers on how many agencies there are in Geneva, how many people work there, that you can have. No problem there.

Correspondent: Just for the record, some in New York have advocated moving the UN out of New York, but… just for the record.

Correspondent: I would just like to make a suggestion that, since the transcript does appear on the UN website, that perhaps there could be a note attached saying that this was said in jest.

Spokesperson: Well, it is not right now on the website. It has been sent to you, but it is not on the website.

Correspondent: Some diplomatic missions saw the transcript. I got a reaction from some missions also.

Spokesperson: Okay.

Correspondent: Maybe there should be a section on the website for humorous speeches.

Spokesperson: It was just a humorous remark of an exchange that took place, and that was about very serious issues.

Question: Since the institutions like the World Bank and the IMF are part of the Bretton Wood institutions, and here is the President of the World Bank, Mr. Wolfowitz, involved clearly in a case of nepotism, favouritism, does the Secretary-General have any problem with Mr. Wolfowitz’ continued presence at the World Bank, which is undermining the World Bank itself?

Spokesperson: No, not at this point.

Question: Could you please ask him?

Spokesperson: We could ask, but I do not think that we would have a reaction to a situation that is occurring right now in the World Bank.

Question: There was a report on National Public Radio here yesterday about reports of forced abortions in China and problems with China. So, it, maybe… I have been sort of trying to… that is a pretty credible media source. Is anyone in the UN system aware of this, looking at this, has the UNFPA said anything, are you aware of this?

Spokesperson: Of course the UNFPA has been following these issues for a very long time. You can find a number of…

Question: This was a specific report of last week about women being forced to go to clinics and forcibly aborted…

Spokesperson: No, I don’t have a specific remark on that specific news report.

Question: There is a case now that the Supreme Court is considering whether New York City can collect real estate taxes from portions of diplomatic missions that are used as residences. It is the Permanent Mission of India vs. New York. And Mongolia as well, but the name of the case is India. I know that the US State Department is siding with the Permanent Mission of India in this case. Does the UN have any position on the case? Does it feel that all of these premises should be tax exempt?

Spokesperson: We don’t have a position on this at this point. As you know, there is a committee about the relationship with the Host Country in the General Assembly, and they are handling this type of situation.

Question: Are they handling it? Because we don’t have the Spokesman for the GA…

Spokesperson: But you can ask the Spokesman even if he is not here today.

Question: There was a report I read about UN staff being kidnapped in Sri Lanka. Did you talk about this? Do you know about this situation? Is there a situation where there are negotiations underway to ensure the freedom of these staff?

Spokesperson: We don’t have any confirmation of those reports. We have heard them. As soon as we have a confirmation, we’ll get something for you on that.

Question: I mean, are there… when you say “we”, do you mean you checked with the Sri Lankan mission and they don’t know if their staff went missing?

Spokesperson: A mission? I am checking with the UN presence there.

Question: So you don’t know if there are any staff missing or not?

Spokesperson: I don’t know. We don’t have any confirmation. They have not confirmed those reports. I heard them through the press, also.

Question: It seems a little bit confusing that the UN wouldn’t know if its staff was missing or not.

Spokesperson: Well, they have not confirmed that it is true.

Question: Regarding Mr. Ban’s trip to Damascus, can you confirm that he is with Nicolas Michel and Roed-Larsen?

Spokesperson: No, he is with Roed-Larsen and with Mr. Pedersen. He is not with Mr. Michel, who is travelling elsewhere today.

Question: When will Mr. Michel be in New York?

Spokesperson: Most probably Saturday or Sunday this coming weekend.

Question: Can we have a press conference with him after he gets back?

Spokesperson: Yes.

Question: What is Mr. Roed-Larsen’s position in the UN right now?

Spokesperson: Well, it hasn’t changed. He is still in the same position, and that is why he is with the Secretary-General in Syria.

Question: Do you have anything on Nicolas Michel’s mission? Was it successful? [Inaudible.]

Spokesperson: As you know, he has met with different people and we gave you a readout of his different meetings. He is willing to come and talk with you. The problem was a logistics problem. He had to travel. He will come definitely and talk to you about it. He did brief members of the Council and he briefed the Secretary-General about the results of his meetings. I don’t have that yet.

Question: And are they encouraging, I mean, since he briefed the Secretary-General, are the results encouraging, discouraging?

Spokesperson: Well, Mr. Michel always sees encouraging signs.

Question: The UN opinion survey in Cyprus, is this an official survey? And if it is official, is it going to be taken as a basis for any new UN initiative on Cyprus?

Spokesperson: Well, it was, as you know, taken to assess the two communities’ attitudes towards the UN presence. So, of course, it is going to be part of any follow-up discussions on Cyprus.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/spbrief.asp?DateD=2/1/2007

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2007/db070424.doc.htm

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mynameis
Posted: Apr 25 2007, 09:00 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


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Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

Our guest at the briefing today is Ambassador John McNee, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations and head of the Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group’s four-day mission to Haiti. Ambassador McNee will brief you on the group’s evaluation of the current situation in Haiti and its assessment of the post-conflict reconstruction challenges the country faces.

Also present at the briefing will be the Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations, Ambassador Leo Merores, and the Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations, Ambassador Philip Sealy, who were on the mission.

** Iraq

On Iraq, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has issued its tenth report on the human rights situation in that country, which notes, despite some progress, frequent failures of the Iraqi institutions to protect the life and dignity of all Iraqis in a manner that conforms to international humanitarian and human rights laws.

With regard to the ongoing Baghdad Security Plan, UNAMI is concerned that large numbers of Iraqis, among them professional groups and law enforcement personnel, continued to experience intimidation and killings. It also notes continued political interference in the affairs of the judiciary, a matter in need of urgent attention.

Unlike previous reports, the Mission’s now quarterly human rights report does not contain official statistics of violent deaths, regularly gathered by the Ministry of Health and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad. This is because the Iraqi Government decided not to make such data available to UNAMI. This is a matter of regret because UNAMI reports have been regarded as a credible source of information regarding developments in the human rights situation in Iraq.

The Mission will continue to speak with the Iraqi authorities and urge them to provide the necessary information.

**Secretary-General’s Travels

The Secretary-General is on his way back to New York, ending his week-long trip to Italy, Switzerland, Qatar and Syria. Speaking to reporters yesterday as he was leaving Damascus, the Secretary-General said that he was delighted with his first visit to Syria, adding: “It was short but productive.”

He said that, during his discussions with President Bashar al-Assad, he had encouraged the President to reach a border agreement with Lebanon, and Assad had agreed to reactivate the Border Committee with Lebanon. The Secretary-General warmly welcomed this positive step.

The Secretary-General told reporters that he had discussed the issue of a tribunal for Lebanon with President Assad. The Secretary-General said that the most desirable path is that the Lebanese people should find their own way, in accordance with their own constitutional procedure.

**Security Council

On the Security Council, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, this morning briefed the Security Council in its open meeting on the Middle East, telling them that the political and diplomatic initiatives aimed at rejuvenating peacemaking in that region have continued to evolve in a mostly positive fashion. However, Pascoe said, the forward momentum we are witnessing on the political and diplomatic level is threatened by the deteriorating security situation on the ground, especially the continuing violence experienced by both Israelis and Palestinians. Leaders on all sides must do their utmost to prevent this latest upsurge of violence from escalating any further.

Pascoe added that the United Nations continues to be deeply concerned about the fate of kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston, and reiterates the Secretary-General’s call for his safety and immediate release. We have his statement to the Council upstairs. Pascoe has informed us that he will talk to reporters at the stakeout after the open debate on the Middle East.

**Security Council Mission

The Security Council mission to Kosovo arrived in Brussels today, where it was received by Belgium’s Foreign Minister, Karel de Gucht. Mission participants met with Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as a representative of Javier Solana, the European Union’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy. The mission also held a working lunch with the European Union’s Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn. This evening the mission heads to Belgrade.

** Sudan

On the Sudan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres arrived in West Darfur yesterday, where he urged local officials to improve security, on the start of a four-day mission to Sudan. He announced that Sudan had agreed to an expansion of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) work in West Darfur. We have details in a press release upstairs.

The United Nations Mission in Sudan reports that the cooperation between the United Nations, the Sudanese Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan to implement the joint plan for returns continues. Since road convoys started in February 2007, more than 26,000 internally displaced persons have been assisted to return to their homes. The United Nations Mission in Sudan’s daily bulletin is also out today, and it includes information about the recent reports of the Mission’s work.

** Central African Republic

On the Central African Republic, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have sent a seven-truck convoy from the capital, Bangui, to a north-eastern area of the country, near the border with Darfur. That humanitarian convoy carried seeds from FAO, food from WFP and educational materials from UNICEF. This year the United Nations and its humanitarian partners have asked for nearly $55 million in aid for the Central African Republic. Only 32 per cent of those funds have been received so far.

**Democratic Republic of Congo

The Deputy Secretary-General has wrapped up her visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is now in Brazzaville to attend a meeting of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country directors for Africa. During her stay in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Deputy Secretary-General met with President Joseph Kabila and various political leaders, including members of the opposition. Her message to all her interlocutors was that the United Nations is prepared to continue working with the Congolese authorities and Congolese people to promote reconciliation and reconstruction.

Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is calling for greater protection of endangered animals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have a press release on that in my Office.

**UNRWA

In its latest report, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) finds that living conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continued to decline during the second half of 2006. Israel’s impounding of customs revenues and the freeze in donor support has left the Palestinian Authority starved of resources and unable to provide basic services, UNRWA said. It found especially dire conditions in Gaza, where 80 per cent of households were living on less than a dollar a day, and unemployment stood at 40 per cent. The full report is available on UNRWA’s website.

**Humanitarian Response Capacity

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today launched a $62.5 million inter-agency appeal for building global humanitarian response capacity. The appeal seeks funding for 11 sectors to strengthen global humanitarian response capacity. These areas include agriculture, camp coordination and management, early recovery, education, emergency shelter, emergency telecommunications, health, logistics, nutrition, protection, water, sanitation and hygiene.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes stressed that the aim of the appeal is to reinforce United Nations support to Governments in providing relief and protection to people affected by emergencies. The press release is available upstairs.

**Central Asia

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today wrapped up a two-day visit to Kyrgyzstan. She met with a variety of officials, including the country’s President and Foreign Minister. Ms. Arbour said she was pleased by Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to develop a strong civil society. But, at the same time, she raised concerns about domestic violence in the country and reports of ill-treatment and torture of detainees. Ms. Arbour is now in Tajikistan, where she will stay for several days before heading to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

And, while on the topic of Central Asia, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific says it will hold its next session in Kazakhstan in late May. It will be the first time the Commission’s highest decision-making body is meeting in Central Asia.

We have more on those items in my office.

** Africa Malaria Day

And finally, today is Africa Malaria Day. This year’s focus is on fighting the disease in countries where it is endemic. Each year, one million people die from malaria. More than 80 per cent of those deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa, and malaria is responsible for almost one in five deaths of African children, according to UNICEF. The agency’s Executive Director, Ann Venemen, is calling for greater use of insecticide-treated bed nets, which cost just $10 each and have been shown to significantly reduce malaria deaths. We have more information upstairs.

I will take a few questions. Then we’ll have our guest for you. Any questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question: In the New York Sun, actually Benny had an article about the United Nations Development Programme and North Korea. I was just wondering: did the Secretary-General know about this decision to follow through with North Korea’s demands for the remaining two United Nations employees to leave the country? And also for the transfer of the equipment and other things to North Korea, worth about two million dollars?

Spokesperson: As far as I know, and what I’ve said in this briefing about two days ago, is that this was being left to the care of the World Food Programme, still staying on the ground. I did not say that these assets were transferred to the North Korean Government. So, I just want to get that fact straight.

[The Spokesperson was referring to equipment owned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).]

The second aspect of this: the Secretary-General knew about, he has been following very closely, what is happening there.

Question: And where does this leave the audit? Are the auditors now going to go to… I guess, these two gentlemen went off to Beijing -- is that where they’ve gone? Are the others going to meet up with them in Beijing, or are they going to go to North Korea? Has Ban Ki-moon requested that the auditors go to North Korea? Where does this whole investigation stand?

Spokesperson: Well, the whole investigation is being pursued, as you know, and, as I said yesterday, in no way will the audit be, in any way, blocked. All the information will be made available to the auditors. And the United Nations Development Programme made sure that they will have access. For instance, the accounts that they had are still open. They have a minimal amount of money in those accounts, and the reason is so the auditors will have access to those accounts.

Question: One other follow-up. Who’s calling the shots here? Are the North Koreans dictating what the United Nations needs to do? And also, where’s the guarantee that this equipment, which I understand has some -- you know, there’s some specialized equipment here -- that that’s not going to go to the North Korean military, for instance?

Spokesperson: Well, for the time being, it’s in the care of the World Food Programme. I can get more information for you on what guarantees they have -- that this will stay with the World Food Programme. But, as far as I know, that is the situation.

Question: Just a couple of questions. On Syria, was the Lebanon tribunal discussed at all? Because I’m not sure you talked about that. Was there an agreement? Did Syria basically give its agreement to the tribunal?

Spokesperson: Well Syria said they accepted to... Let’s say they would encourage the Lebanese to implement the tribunal.

Question: But did Syria accept the tribunal as designed with its current statute, and agreed to that? Because there’s been a lot of negotiation going on between Syria and various people trying to change the status, and the nature, and guarantees, and all the rest of it. It would be helpful to actually get a little more sense of what Syria asked for, and what the United Nations agreed to or didn’t agree to with regards to the tribunal.

Spokesperson: The Secretary-General is coming back today. I should get more about it. As you know, he had a tête-à-tête with President Assad and these issues were discussed. So I should get more for you on that, on specifics.

Question: One other thing, the Staff Union is basically handing out leaflets at the entrances to all the United Nations staff, basically asking for a freeze on the Secretary-General’s mobility package. In talking to some of the representatives, the concerns are that, basically, the Secretary-General is pushing through a mobility package that, first of all, changes the terms and conditions and understanding upon which a lot of the staff joined this Organization, and that it didn’t address fundamental issues of family, visa issues, security tenure and all the rest of it. How does the Secretary-General and his team respond to this request to freeze that mobility until there’s more of an agreement with the staff?

Spokesperson: Well, for the time being, as you know, the Staff Union is asking for a meeting with staff on the issue and to discuss the issue. As far as I know, the mobility package has been extensively discussed with them. I realize they are not fully satisfied with the answers they got, and I think this issue is being discussed.

Question: How?

Spokesperson: With the management services. With the Office of Ms. Bárcena [Department of Management].

Question: In light of Jonathan’s previous question, is there a formal list of other countries, besides North Korea, somehow produced at the United Nations, which is available to be seen? Other countries that may be under the investigation triggered by this investigation in North Korea of the United Nations Development Programme?

Spokesperson: Okay, I will try to get that information for you.

I have got some additional information from the United Nations Development Programme right this minute. I’ve got some information about the number of projects, because I had that question earlier today.

UNDP had 24 active projects at the time of its suspension and 6 projects that were operationally complete. Where it was complete, standard UNDP procedures came into play, including transfer of ownership of project assets to Government counterparts. The projects were halted pending decisions upon UNDP’s future in the country. Though Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) authorities have signed for custody of project assets, the formal title transfer has not taken place. A full inventory of all items of value will be completed before the staff leave the country. This is the information I just got from UNDP.

It is important to keep in mind that, in all cases, the DPRK authorities were already in possession of the assets, in some cases for several years. Nothing new has been given or physically transferred to the DPRK authorities. This is what I just got from UNDP.

Question: So it sounds to me like the assets were transferred to North Korean authorities and counterparts.

Spokesperson: Counterparts.

Question: What counterparts?

Spokesperson: Well, this was for the projects that were completed.

Question: Didn’t you say they are in possession of the other assets?

Spokesperson: I can get you the information on that from UNDP…

Question: This is a question of the other assets?

Spokesperson: In some cases, yes.

Question: Does it say in some cases or does it say [inaudible]?

Spokesperson: It says, in all cases, the DPRK authorities were already in possession of the assets. In some cases for several years, it says. Nothing new has been given or physically transferred.

Question: So all the assets are in the possession of DPRK -- is that correct?

Spokesperson: That’s what they’re saying here, yes.

Question: Didn’t you say that the development programmes [inaudible]?

Spokesperson: I’m talking about the equipment that the United Nations Development Programme had before it was halted. I’m talking about… I’m not talking about projects. I’m talking about assets -- like computers, like equipment. These were transferred to the care of the World Food Programme.

Question: But you said that all assets are in possession of the DPRK. Is that all assets except for computers, hard drives, memory parts?

Spokesperson: If you want more information, I will get someone from the United Nations Development Programme to come and explain this to you.

Question: Can someone from the United Nations Development Programme come tomorrow to explain all of this to us?

Spokesperson: Tomorrow I’m afraid we have another guest, but I’ll try to get someone to come, not at the noon briefing but later on during the day.

Question: Just one follow-up on this -- on the record, in the briefing room, and not in the hallway. There seems to be a lot of these questions, like why they didn’t announce that they were being put out of North Korea instead of waiting for it, for the letter, to leak out?

Spokesperson: Okay, we’ll try to get a briefing for you, on the record.

Question: I just wanted to ask, one non-North Korea and one North Korea. Non-North Korea: what is the status of the Rwanda genocide exhibit that was supposed to have been reopened late last week, or early this week? When is it going to be opened?

Spokesperson: I have to say that, it is almost finalized right now. The equipment has to come from London and be brought here physically. We are hoping that it still will open by the end of the week as I had announced. If it cannot be opened on Friday, it will be on Monday.

Question: In that regard, is the Department of Public Information considering organizing any kind of exhibition on Srebrenica, since the United Nations somehow recognized its complicity and guilt in what happened in Srebrenica in 1995?

Spokesperson: I can ask that question for you, whether the exhibit... whether there’s any plans for exhibits on that issue.

[The Spokesperson later added no exhibit on Srebrenica was currently planned, but that there had been one in July 2005.]

Question: Does the Secretary-General have any reaction regarding the recent elections in Nigeria, which according to many observers were rigged, with irregularities, and were not conducted according to international norms?

Spokesperson: I stand by what I said yesterday, that the results of these elections, the people contesting the elections, have to go through the regular process -- which is the internal process -- and go through the electoral council there.

Question: With the United Nations Development Programme people being told to leave the country, who or which agency is going to be the Resident Coordinator -- that system where there’s always one agency in charge? How is that decided and which agency is it going to be?

Spokesperson: As far as I know, the World Food Programme.

Question: Also, we’ve heard that the previous Resident Coordinator, this guy Timo Pakkala, has now been sent back, sent home, essentially, on leave with full pay. He’s in Mozambique, he’s on leave. If he’s the person most knowledgeable, is he going to be involved in the audit? Why is the number one guy...?

Spokesperson: Of course he will be. Everyone who was involved with the project will be open to auditors’ questions, of course.

Question: Is Timo Pakkala on leave with pay or without pay?

Spokesperson: I can check that for you. That’s why I said, I’m going to get... I don’t have someone from the United Nations Development Programme here now with me, and I hope to have one with me tomorrow.

Question: We’ve passed the 90-day mark in which the audit should have been completed. The Secretary-General [inaudible] that a formal, official extension of the audit. Is there a timeline?

Spokesperson: The auditors are an independent body, as you know. It’s not up to the Secretary-General to dictate the terms.

Question: [inaudible] open-ended or let the audit, the board of auditors…?

Spokesperson: We’ll try to get more on the audit for you.

Question: Is there any sort of movement to get any United Nations staff at all to visit, to conduct site visits of, some of these projects to facilitate the audit?

Spokesperson: Well, the board of auditors is going there.

Question: Will North Korea let them in?

Spokesperson: Well, we are willing... We’ll find out.

Question: On the whole mobility thing, it might be helpful to have management come just to talk about this. I’m just interested in one issue. For example, moving people around as a United Nations servant is different to moving people around in a national administration, because of the constant issue of United States visas. Once you leave this country you don’t have the visa any more. So what happens to your wife, your children and so forth? I’m wondering, since the United Nations wants to create this new system, are there any talks between the United Nations and the United States immigration authorities about how they might coordinate with people going in and out of the country on a more permanent basis?

There are lots of questions, so it would be helpful to have more of a sense of what’s going on in all of this.

Spokesperson: Okay, sure.

Question: On this Rwanda exhibit lag, it seems to me this whole thing blew up a week or 10 days ago, and there is some question, as I understand it, that some photographs may be added or removed, and some captions may be changed. Meanwhile, the thing is still sitting... All the packages are sitting in London in some custom house or Heathrow Airport or something like that. Why was it not shipped into New York some days ago?

Spokesperson: Because the text has been changed in the meantime.

Question: I understand that. But why can’t they bring the things here? And they’ve got to change some of the texts or add or remove photographs, fine. But, this way, it’s still 3,500 miles away.

Spokesperson: Well, technically it had to be done there because the panels were done there, printed there.

I’m going to invite our guest to come to the podium.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/spbrief.asp?DateD=2/1/2007

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2007/db070425.doc.htm
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 26 2007, 10:11 PM


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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon all. Our guest at the briefing today is Mr. David Morrison, Communications Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). He will brief journalists on the Programme's operations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

** Alliance of Civilizations

Following consultations with the Heads of Government of Spain and Turkey, the co-sponsors of the Alliance of Civilizations, the Secretary-General has designated Jorge Sampaio, the former President of Portugal, as High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.

The High Representative will provide the vision and leadership required, especially to promote the Alliance of Civilizations as a credible and viable attempt to diminish the dangerous tensions between diverse societies and their threat to international stability. We have Mr. Sampaio’s biodata upstairs.

**Deputy Secretary-General

The Deputy Secretary-General today met with the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, in Brazzaville, before departing for Kinshasa en route back to New York.

While in Brazzaville, the Deputy Secretary-General had met with the Congolese Prime Minister and addressed an annual UN Development Programme meeting of its African Regional Management team, as well as chaired a panel on the Millennium Development Goals at a conference on African development priorities.

** Darfur

On Darfur, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has visited thousands of Chadian refugees who fled to strife-torn Darfur. He then met with African Union officials in West Darfur and stressed that security was a key component for humanitarian workers trying to help the displaced.

He acknowledged the vital importance of water for everybody living in the region, and promised the refugee community that UNHCR and its partners would try to find the best solution for all.

Today, Guterres was to travel to Kassala State in eastern Sudan and visit two refugee camps hosting Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees. The camps were established almost four decades ago.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, is in North Darfur, where she visited a camp for displaced people, during which she met women residents and distributed hand mills for grinding cereals. WFP fed more than 2 million displaced people in Darfur last month.

The UN Mission in Sudan reports a number of security incidents in today’s bulletin, including an attempted rape of a female staff member of a compound housing a non-governmental organization in Nyala, South Darfur.

** Somalia

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes briefed journalists in Geneva today on the dangerous humanitarian situation in Somalia. He told them that international humanitarian law is being flouted by all sides in Mogadishu.

Mr. Holmes noted that the recent fighting in Mogadishu is the worst the city has seen in the last 15 years, with even hospitals being shelled. He also pointed out that roughly 350,000 people, or a third of the city’s population, are now displaced, making this the largest displacement of people in the world this year. Since you had the opportunity to listen to Mr. Holmes two days ago here and in Geneva, I won’t give any more details.

**Security Council

Here at Headquarters there are no scheduled Security Council meetings or consultations.

But the Council’s mission to the Balkans is still continuing its work. Today the mission was in Belgrade, where it met with Serbian President Boris Tadić and Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica.

This evening, the mission will head to Pristina in Kosovo.

**UNCTAD

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) announced that its Deputy Secretary-General, Dirk Jan Bruinsma, passed away in The Hague on Sunday, following a brief illness. He was 56 years old.

Mr. Bruinsma had served as Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD since January 2006, after a long and distinguished career working for the Dutch Government.

Here at Headquarters, the Secretary-General was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Mr. Bruinsma. He extends his condolences to Mr. Bruinsma’s family, friends and colleagues.

** Haiti

Brazilian peacekeepers with the UN Mission in Haiti have handed over to the local authorities a school that was seized from drug gangs earlier this year.

The École Nationale de Cité Soleil will now be rehabilitated with funds from the International Organization for Migration.

Also yesterday, elected officials returned to the bullet-scarred Town Hall of Cité Soleil, which is now, once again, operational.

**Press Encounters

As you may know, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Mr. Adel al-Jubair, is meeting the Secretary-General today, at 3 p.m. He has agreed to speak to you after the meeting, at the Security Council stakeout.

And, at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow, there will be a press conference with the President of the European Commission, H.E. José Manuel Barroso. He will be briefing you on topics such as EU-UN relations, climate change, the Middle East and Africa, including Darfur.

Thank you.

**Questions and Answers

Question: Before the former Portuguese President was chosen as the High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, were there other candidates? Was there a short list? And second, where would he operate from? From Portugal? From New York? Or somewhere else?

Spokesperson: How was he selected? Well, there was a list, of course, of candidates. And they consulted with the two co-sponsoring countries of the Alliance of Civilizations, Spain and Turkey. So there were consultations before on several names.

Question: Where will he operate from?

Spokesperson: I do not know at this point. I will find out for you.

[The correspondent was later informed that Mr. Sampaio would not have a permanent base, given that he would be contracted on a “when-actually-employed” basis. He would, however, occasionally work in New York, where the Alliance has a small secretariat.]

Question: On the Iraq report, what is the difficulty in getting the figures from the Iraqi Government? And have you still been able to secure the figures and to convey whatever sentiments the United Nations has about the constant killing over there?

Spokesperson: Well, this was expressed, including the regret that we could not have the numbers available every year for the report, because we could not get them from Government ministries.

Question: Did you get any ballpark figure or anything like that? 100,000? 200,000?

Spokesperson: No. We did not. We always based our reports on what we get from the different ministries on the ground.

Question: You must have some idea?

Spokesperson: It’s not for me to say.

Question: An OIOS-related question. It was about three months ago I think that Ms. Ahlenius said that she would talk to the new Secretary-General at the time about the case of the WMO auditor who reported on wrongdoing, the $3 million scandal within that department. Has the Secretary-General in fact spoken with the auditor? And, if not, when will he be speaking with the auditor? And where are we with that whole investigation?

Spokesperson: I don’t have that information at this point.

Question: Will you please get it?

Spokesperson: We will try to find it.

Question: Today, Russia, together with six other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, expressed deep concern over the plans of the Government of Estonia to remove the bronze soldier monument in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. This monument commemorates Soviet Union soldiers fallen in battle during the liberation of the city from the Nazi occupation during the Second World War. These countries regard this decision as an attempt to rewrite the history during the Second World War. As the head of the Organization that emerged as a result of this victory over Nazism, doesn’t the Secretary-General think that this decision by the Estonian Government contradicts not only the principles of humanism, but also relevant resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, including the one on the denial of the Holocaust?

Spokesperson: I don’t have anything on that at this point. We discussed it. I’m aware of the situation.

Question: To follow up Masood’s question, the Iraqi numbers were collected from a variety of sources by the UN. Can you check if they will try doing it anyway through another means, and what the US position is on that? Is the US going to help, or are they behind this Iraqi decision?

Spokesperson: I don’t have the position. I cannot give you the position of the US. All I can say is that the UN…

Question: Did the US try to help? Let’s put it that way. Did the US help persuade the Iraqis?

Spokesperson: I can try to get you more on that. But I can tell you that this time around they went over to the same ministries that were giving them the numbers before. And this time around they did not get the numbers. That’s all I can say at this point. Was there a process initiated to get numbers from other sources? That was the most reliable source they could find.

Question: NGO, doctors, nothing? Because that was the one official thing that everyone relied on that the UN was doing. And, unfortunately, the Secretary-General avoided all answers to questions on that.

Spokesperson: On this issue, there is no doubt that the human rights report was a very strong one, as you can tell. And what was missing were those numbers. And you had their regrets that they could not get them. And there was no way that they can force the Iraqis to give the numbers.


Question: Two quick questions. One, it’s reported that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights either was barred from entering Uzbekistan or that the officials there would not meet with her during this trip that you announced that she’s making. Is that the case, and does the United Nations system or the Secretary-General have any comment on a Member State refusing to meet with the Human Rights Commissioner?

Spokesperson: What she said is not that she was barred from getting into the country. What she said was that essentially, from what I heard from them, that they were not ready to receive her at the time. That’s the official answer that she got.

Question: Yesterday, the Staff Council passed a resolution calling on Mr. Ban to immediately suspend his plan for mandatory mobility of staff. I’m wondering, is the Secretary-General aware of that? Does he have a response? It was a pretty overwhelming vote.

Spokesperson: He’s aware of it. As you know, mobility was decided by the General Assembly in 2002. And it will be implemented gradually and comprehensively. I understand that there is a town hall meeting tomorrow with the staff, specifically on the issue of mobility. So I’m sure that this issue is not over now. It is continuing. And the Secretary-General’s view, he has expressed it, is that management mobility is a necessity for a strong and efficient UN. The programme, as far as I know, is starting next month, with about a little more than 130 staff members: 60 at the P-3 level and some 90 staff at the G-7 level. These staff have been in their posts for a minimum of five years. So, that’s what I understand is happening. But I will be happy to get more for you from someone in management, after of course, they have met the staff here. But you have had some very mixed reactions about this. There’s the staff in New York and Geneva expressing reservations. And you have staff from other duty stations, the most difficult ones, actually welcoming the mobility measures. So you have different points of view.

Question: Just one follow-up. One thing that was said in the meeting yesterday was that, why did the mobility start at the relatively lower levels and not at the top? That was something that people said. It got a lot of laughter, but is there some thought of D-1, D-2 [inaudible]?

Spokesperson: The process is going to go up to the D-2 level. This is what is envisioned, yes.

Question: Secretary-General Ban mentioned that he will be meeting Khalilzad on Monday. Is that going to be just to receive credentials, or is there going to be also a substantial discussion, do you think? Is time being allotted for that?

Spokesperson: As far as I know, he’s just going to receive credentials.

Question: So, it’s not like an hour allotted in his schedule or something like that.

Spokesperson: At this point, no, not really. And maybe we’ll find out more. Maybe there will be more.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/spbrief.asp?DateD=2/1/2007
http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2007/db070426.doc.htm
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 29 2007, 02:48 AM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

**Secretary-General Meets with European Commission President

The Secretary-General just met with the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, with whom he discussed the UN reform process, climate change, Darfur and Kosovo.

The two of them then had a press appearance, which is available to you on our live webcast, from the UN News Centre web page.

During that briefing, the Secretary-General was asked about his meeting earlier today with former US Vice-President Al Gore, and he said that he was encouraged by Gore’s firm commitment and strong support regarding climate change efforts. We’ll have the transcript of the press briefing for you shortly.

**Secretary-General Travels

The Secretary-General will travel next week to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where he will co-chair, on the 3rd of May, the launching of the International Compact with Iraq.

The Secretary-General will also attend a meeting of the foreign ministers of expanded Iraq neighbours, representatives of the permanent members of the Security Council and members of the G-8 countries.

** Iraq

Ibrahim Gambari, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Compact and Other Political Issues, continued his meetings in various capitals to widen support for the International Compact with Iraq and discuss commitments of Member States before the launch event next week in Sharm el-Sheikh.

He met in Brussels today with Javier Solana, the European Union’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, who confirmed his attendance at the launch event, as well as that of several ministers of the European Union.

Earlier in the week, Gambari, who is travelling with Dr. Sinan Mohammed Rida al-Shabibi, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, held high-level meetings in London, Kuwait City and Sofia, Bulgaria.

** Lebanon

On Lebanon, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) received a report yesterday that an Israeli foot patrol allegedly crossed the Blue Line into Lebanese territory, in the general area of Kafar Chouba.

UNIFIL immediately deployed peacekeepers, followed by reinforcements, to the area, to ensure that there was no violation of the Blue Line, and technical experts were also sent to the area. The team established that the Israeli foot patrol did not violate the Blue Line and did not cross into Lebanese territory.

Today, UNIFIL peacekeepers continued to patrol and monitor the area, and the situation on the ground has been generally calm.

We also have a press release from UNIFIL saying that its full strength has risen to 13,308 peacekeepers.

**Security Council

At 3 this afternoon, the Security Council has scheduled a formal meeting to consider a resolution concerning the lifting of diamond sanctions on Liberia.

Afterwards, Council members expect to attend an informal meeting with the Foreign Minister of Ethiopia in Conference Room 8.

The Secretary-General informed the Security Council in a letter this week that he intends to extend the mandate of his Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonseny Fall, by a year, until 8 May 2008.

** Nepal

The Secretary-General, in his report to the Security Council, released today, said Nepal has advanced considerably in a very short period of time, and congratulates all the parties to the peace process for their hard work to achieve consensus on difficult issues.

The Secretary-General, however, added that much remains to be done in terms of the monitoring of arms and armed personnel which has been entrusted to the United Nations.

** Fiji

On Fiji, the UN inter-agency fact-finding mission to Fiji wrapped up its work today. The mission held a wide range of discussions with various Fijian interlocutors on elections, human rights, the rule of law and related issues pertaining to the restoration of democracy, peace and stability.

The mission will submit its confidential recommendations to the Secretary-General upon its return. That report will form the basis of continued consultations between the UN and Fiji. We have more information on that in my office.

** Sri Lanka

On Sri Lanka, UNICEF today said that one of Sri Lanka’s warring groups, the so-called Karuna faction, is not taking seriously its commitment to the UN to end the recruitment of child soldiers. The statement followed a UN mission undertaken last week to one of Sri Lanka’s conflict zones.

UNICEF is part of a Security Council-established task force that was charged with monitoring the serious violations of children’s rights in Sri Lanka. We have a press release on that upstairs.

** Sudan

The Group of Experts on Darfur, which was established last year by the Human Rights Council, today announced that it will meet with high-level representatives of the Sudanese Government in May to identify practical steps to improve the human rights situation in Darfur.

The Group of Experts on Darfur is to report at the Human Rights Council’s fifth session, which takes place this June. The Group is chaired by Sima Samar, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Sudan. We have a press release in my office with more information.

**Chemical Weapons Convention

This Sunday will be the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention. And I have a message to mark the occasion.

The Secretary-General calls upon all States that have chemical weapons to destroy their stockpiles according to the agreed deadlines. He also urges all Governments that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Convention without delay.

The Secretary-General says we should redouble our efforts to ensure that no one’s life will ever be lost again through the use of chemical weapons. We have the full statement in my office.

** Estonia Statement

I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the events in Tallinn, Estonia.

The Secretary-General regrets the violence and the loss of life in Tallinn, Estonia. He appeals to all concerned to deal with the issues at hand in a spirit of respect and conciliation.

** Rwanda Exhibit

The previously postponed exhibit entitled “Lessons from the Rwanda Genocide” is scheduled to open here at Headquarters on Monday.

The Secretary-General will open the exhibit at 6 p.m. in the South Gallery of the Visitors’ Lobby. It will be on display here for three weeks.

We have copies of a note to correspondents on this upstairs in my office.

**Week Ahead

And then we have, of course, other events in “The Week Ahead” available in my office.

**Press Conference

At 11 a.m. on Monday, 30 April, there will be a press conference by the Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar, H.E. Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, on the opening of the fifteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

This is all I have for you. Questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question: On Darfur, the Secretary-General said yesterday that he talked with Americans about having more time for diplomatic solutions for the problem. How much time was given by the Americans? And where do we stand now on the heavy [support] package agreement?

Spokesperson: Well, there is no time given. It was not a contract. What the Secretary-General had wanted was, since he had just that same week had the meeting with Chairman [Alpha Oumar] Konaré of the AU on the issue of Darfur, and that they had had a commitment by President [Omer al-]Bashir, he wanted a little more time for the political solutions to move ahead. There was no question of how much time ever discussed.

Question: On the heavy package agreement, where do we stand now? Is there an update?

Spokesperson: On the heavy package agreement, I can have an update for you later on. You can come to my office. I will have it for you.

Question: In Somalia, the Prime Minister in an interview had said that the UN aid agencies are used to running the country like it’s their own fiefdom and that they’re basically disagreeing with Mr. [John] Holmes in terms of humanitarian access. So I’m wondering if anyone in the UN system has some response to those statements or what the status is of humanitarian access in Somalia.

Spokesperson: Well, according to what I got today, the discussions were good and they were given access. And the tone was positive on the part of WFP.

Question: You said Mr. Fall has been reappointed. In this interim between talks, what is he doing?

Spokesperson: He is still continuing what he was doing.

Question: Ok, so he is based in Kenya?

Spokesperson: Yes.

Question: I wanted to ask, it’s a UN question but it follows up on yesterday’s noon briefing about UNDP. They’ve said that their guy remains the Resident Coordinator even though he’s out of the country. Since then, I’ve learned that the Resident Coordinator is also the designated officer for security. Meaning that all the UN agencies have one person, that is the security officer, and it’s always the Resident Coordinator. So how can the designated security officer for DPRK not be in the country? If there is some distinction, if in this case some other agency has been designated or some other individual, who is the UN’s designated officer for security in North Korea?

Spokesperson: Well you can ask that question to Mr. Morrison.

Question: What I’m asking here is that it’s beyond coordinator. It’s someone for all the UN agencies together. So I asked WFP about something and they said you have to ask UNDP. That was about the Resident Coordinator. This is a security thing. I heard it’s DSS. So that’s a Secretariat agency. So I’m just wondering, just to confirm that the Security Officer for North Korea is in fact not in the country. From what we’ve heard, the visas actually now have to be returned.

Spokesperson: As far as I know, Mr. Morrison told you yesterday about the people being withdrawn. And if all the UNDP operations have been suspended I guess that’s probably the issue. That’s probably why.

[The Spokesperson later said that the designated Security Officer in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is Jean-Pierre de Margerie.]

Question: (inaudible) and we’ve since learned that the visas have been withdrawn or have been requested. Anyway my question is simply, who is the designated security officer for the UN system, not for UNDP, since they’re not there anymore? It seems strange that they would answer for North Korea if they’re not there.

Spokesperson: We can find an answer for you. And about Somalia, as far as I know, and I see the information I got there, there was a meeting about the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia. The meeting was positive. WFP was given the green light to begin deliveries, which was done. And basically everything is working now between WFP and TFG. According to OCHA, the UN has some 200 national and international staff in south central Somalia whose sole aim is to assist the people of that country, including in delivering urgently needed life-saving assistance. So, the UN humanitarian agencies, which are non-political, do not aspire to enjoy power in Somalia or elsewhere, as was said in an article today.

Question: Beyond the Secretary-General following the events in Nigeria, what is his view about the opinions of the monitors of the elections in Nigeria? Most of the election monitors have been very critical. What sense can we get of the Secretary-General regarding those developments that have been documented? And secondly, will the Secretary-General be sending a congratulatory message to the President-elect anytime soon?

Spokesperson: With regard to congratulations, the UN practice is that we send a formal letter of congratulations to the Head of State at the time of the inauguration. So that’s the situation. As for the question about developments in terms of the elections in Nigeria, the Secretary-General continues to urge those with grievances to use legal and constitutional means to address their complaints. However, he has been following the situation very closely.

Question: There have been indications that the kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston might be released soon. At this stage, can you tell what concrete role the Secretary-General has been playing for his release?

Spokesperson: Well, before we have any comment, we’ll wait until Mr. Johnston is free.

Any other questions? Thank you very much.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/spbrief.asp?DateD=2/1/2007

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2007/db070427.doc.htm

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