20/12/2005
Spokesman's Noon Briefing

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

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


Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujaric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon.  Our guest today, as you know, is Martti Ahtisaari, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Future Status Process for Kosovo, and he will be joining you right after I am done with you, or you are done with me.


**Peacebuilding Commission


A short while ago the General Assembly and the Security Council voted on the new Peacebuilding Commission.


Speaking in the General Assembly, the Secretary-General said he was delighted that Member States had now agreed in detail on how to implement the World Summit decision to establish a Peacebuilding Commission.  After the adoption of the revolving humanitarian fund last week, this is another important step towards revitalizing United Nations, he said.


The Peacebuilding Commission, he added, marks a turning point in our efforts to help States and societies manage the difficult transition between war and peace.  He added that this decision must only be the beginning of this historic measure, as we must ensure that the Commission functions properly, if it is truly to make a difference, not in these halls but in the countries where its help is needed.  He also said that we must also see to it that the Commission is adequately supported by a new Peacebuilding Support Office, which would be housed in the Secretariat.


** Bolivia


I have a statement on the elections in Bolivia:


“The Secretary-General has followed with great interest Bolivia’s general elections which were held on December 18th.  He is pleased to note that a peaceful climate prevailed and that the Bolivian people demonstrated a great sense of civic responsibility.


“The Secretary-General reiterates his message calling on all Bolivians to support the new Government and Parliament and to take advantage of the opportunity offered by these elections to work together to reach political and economic agreements to promote stability and progress in the country.  The period ahead will require compromise and consensus-building.  The UN system stands ready to assist the new Government and the people of Bolivia in addressing the important challenges they face.”


And that statement is available upstairs.


**Lakhdar Brahimi


I also have another statement on Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi.


“The Secretary-General has accepted, with great regret, the decision of his Special Adviser, Lakhdar Brahimi, to retire at the end of this year after long and highly valuable service to the United Nations.  The Secretary-General extends his deep and abiding gratitude to Mr. Brahimi for his courage, counsel, wisdom and dedication, and hopes to be able to continue to call on his advice.


“He wishes Mr. Brahimi an enjoyable and well-earned rest after a series of profoundly challenging assignments, during which he indisputably helped build better lives for millions of people in some of the most troubled regions of the world.”


And that statement is available upstairs.


**Security Council


After a meeting with troop-contributing countries to the UN Mission in Sierra Leone, the Security Council held consultations on a draft resolution on the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Three back-to-back formal meetings were scheduled.


In the first, on Sierra Leone, a Presidential Statement was to be read out, which will thank all troop- and police-contributing countries “who have made UNAMSIL a success” in helping Sierra Leone recover from the crisis it faced over six years ago.  The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sierra Leone, Daudi Mwakawago, began that meeting with a briefing.


The Council President suspended that meeting for a vote on two resolutions on the Peacebuilding Commission and the vote on the establishment of that Commission was adopted unanimously and the resolution regarding the members of the Commission’s Organizational Committee was 13 in favour with 2 abstentions.  Those were Argentina & Brazil.


The third formal meeting is scheduled on Liberia during which a resolution on the sanctions against that country will be voted upon.


Then, this afternoon, a formal meeting to be followed by consultations on the Middle East is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.  The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, will deliver the periodic briefing, updating Security Council members on the situation in the Middle East.


** C ôte d’Ivoire


The UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) has issued a statement condemning the desecration of the tomb of Nabintou Cissé, the mother of ex-Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, that took place on Monday.


The mission said the attempted removal of the body was a shameful act which was in contrast with the impressive show of sympathy and compassion that came from all parts of the country at the time of her death.  The UN Mission has offered its assistance in the investigation of the incident.


**Children in Darfur


A new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) details the impact of conflict on children’s lives in Darfur, almost three years after the violence began.  It noted that an estimated 1.25 million children cannot be reached because of insecurity and that their situation remains largely unknown.


Meanwhile, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees said the first groups of refugees who went home to south Sudan with UNHCR’s help over the weekend should be arriving in their home villages today -– the first of about 60,000 refugees which the agency plans to bring home over the next five months as its organized repatriation.


**Whistle-Blowing


Yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General signed a new whistle-blower protection policy, which will take effect on 1 January 2006.  We wanted to have Chris Burnham, the Under Secretary-General for Management, brief you himself on this policy, but we had to reschedule that briefing for Thursday at noon because of the vote in the General Assembly and all the other events going on this morning.


The official name of this policy is “Protection against retaliation for reporting misconduct and for cooperating with duly authorized audits or investigations.”  The full policy can be found on the UN website under the reform heading.  As its name makes it clear, this new policy provides protection from retaliation to those who report misconduct, as well as to those who cooperate in audits or investigations.


The policy represents “best practices” from many nations and international organizations.  As you know, the UN has been working on this policy for many months, consulting with staff, as well as the Government Accountability Project and a consultant recommended by the group Transparency International.


As I said, Mr. Burnham will be here on Thursday to tell you more about this.


**Press Conferences


At 1 p.m., General Assembly President Jan Eliasson will hold a press briefing in this room on the Peacebuilding Commission and the status of negotiations in the Assembly on follow-up to the outcome document from the World Summit.


A last reminder that tomorrow at 10:30 the Secretary-General will be here in this room for his annual end-of-the-year press conference.


Before we turn to our guest, any questions?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  In addition to his wishing to retire, did Ambassador Brahimi give any other specific reason for leaving his post?


Spokesman:  No, but I think if you look back on the assignments he has had throughout his career, notably in the last four, five years, I think his decision is quite understandable.


Question:  Why is Al Sharpton meeting with the Secretary-General at 4 p.m.?


Spokesman:  Mr. Sharpton had expressed an interest to meet the Secretary-General to discuss a number of issues relating to Africa.  We will give you a readout of the meeting as soon as it is done.


Question:  On the Peacebuilding Commission, how long will it take for it to be functional, because there is an issue of funding?


Spokesman:  The issue of funding is of course of concern to us.  As you know, it passed without any additional budgetary resources.  We continue to see how the peacebuilding support office can work within existing resources.  The General Assembly has asked us to come back, I think late February, early March, with a report from the Secretary-General to the Fifth Committee or the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) to see how we can do it under existing resources and, if we cannot, why not.  The structure is there.  We know what the architecture of it is.  We obviously need to go back and look at the funding issues.


Thank you.


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For information media • not an official record