|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
**Secretary-General in Spain
In Seville, Spain, this morning, the Secretary-General today accepted the first Seville Node between Cultures Award, conferred by the Seville Noda Foundation to recognize an individual’s contribution to cross-cultural understanding among Christians, Jews and Muslims.
In accepting the award, the Secretary-General said, “there is a need to unlearn our collective prejudices” and promote dialogue based on the premise that diversity is a precious gift, and not a threat.
He received a 30,000-euro prize, which he said would be directed by the Foundation at his request to the UN Population Fund, to support a project combating sexual violence against women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That shelter project was visited by Mrs. Annan during a recent trip to Kisangani, when she was there with the Secretary-General last month.
And we have copies of the Secretary-General’s statement upstairs.
The Security Council met this morning to adopt two resolutions. With the first, it decided to extend the term of a temporary judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
And with the second, it authorized the transfer of an infantry battalion, as well as military observers and a military hospital, from the UN Mission in Burundi to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that until 1 July 2006. And the Secretary-General had requested that transfer to deal with the elections in June in DRC.
The Council then held consultations on Sierra Leone and other matters.
And I think the President of the Council, the Ambassador of China, briefed you a short while ago.
** Middle East
Yesterday, we did issue a statement on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
In the statement, the Secretary-General expressed his extreme concern about the continuation and intensification of violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza, a suicide bombing last week, and major Israeli reprisal operations.
The Secretary-General calls on the Palestinian Authority to take a clear public stand against violence and to take firm measures against the perpetrators of rocket attacks and suicide bombings.
The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Israel to ensure that its responses are proportionate and do not endanger the civilian population.
He asks both sides to act in conformity with international law, and to refrain from taking any steps which further escalate the violence.
Jan Egeland, the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, today gave the keynote address at the third annual Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference.
He encouraged the Governments and non-governmental organizations from the Middle East to work with the United Nations to develop stronger partnerships in the region and to make their joint humanitarian work more effective.
He also recognized the prominent role of the region in charitable and humanitarian work and said there should be greater recognition for it. The humanitarian community continues to be perceived as too UN- and too Western-centric, he said.
**WFP -- Somalia
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) today is investigating a shooting incident near one of its food convoys in Somalia on Monday, in which there was loss of life and several persons were also wounded.
This convoy was en route to Baidoa, some 250 kilometres west of Mogadishu, when the incident occurred, according to the agency.
The 70-truck convoy was subcontracted to a local vendor and there were no WFP personnel involved.
The World Food Programme said it regrets the loss of life.
Today, the Secretary-General informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Major-General Mohammad Taisir Masadeh of Jordan as the new Force Commander for the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). He replaces Major-General Rajender Singh of India who will have completed his two-year assignment.
**Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
And in a message to the annual meeting of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the Secretary-General urged the delegates meeting in Jakarta to sustain the momentum generated by last September’s World Summit.
And his message was delivered by the Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission, Kim Hak-Su.
And a budget note, Botswana today sent us a cheque -- last Friday rather –- sent us a cheque, which brings to 74 the number of Member States fully paid up for the current budget.
And Botswana sent us a check of about $205,000.
One correction from a note we read out on Friday concerning the World Food Programme’s activities in the DRC. The World Food Programme reports that the airdrop of food into the Katanga area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was just that -- a low-level airdrop, and not a parachute food drop, as we had reported.
WFP says it finds the low-level airdrops much more accurate and safer. And we do apologize for our mistake.
And at 11 a.m. tomorrow morning, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, José Antonio Ocampo, and the Head of Division for Sustainable Development, JoAnne DiSano, will launch a new report called “Trends in Sustainable Development” that calls for an integrated approach to tackling energy issues, poverty eradication, air pollution and climate change.
And the report is being launched in advance of next month’s Commission on Sustainable Development.
And that is it for me. Any questions? Yes.
**Questions and Answers
Question: I wanted to ask you –- the Security Council President went to the stakeout today and said that the Secretary-General is trying to have voluntary contributions to have a solid foundation for the Charles Taylor trial, for the ICC. And I know that he’s done that -– he’s made certain calls for people to contribute money. Is he doing anything specific right now for that?
Spokesman: Yes, he sent out a letter last week to all Member States appealing for funds for the Special Court.
Question: Any comeback on that?
Spokesman: Not that I’m aware of yet. James.
Question: I have a question about the financial disclosure forms that were meant to be completed by the end of March. Has everyone completed the financial disclosure forms now?
Spokesman: I don’t know. I can see what I can find out on that.
Question: It was announced previously in this room that the Secretary-General was going to be the first person to sign the financial disclosure form. Has he done so?
Spokesman: I can see what I can find out on the financial disclosure form issues.
Question: Just another question [inaudible] find out. Can you see how he handled the Zayed Prize on that?
Spokesman: The Zayed Prize -– we’ve said publicly that the Zayed Prize would go towards a foundation the Secretary-General intends to start after he leaves office, and that foundation is being set up and will focus on girls’ education and agricultural development in Africa.
Question: One more question --
Spokesman: Why don’t you give me all your questions?
Correspondent: -- question was how he handled the Zayed Prize on the financial disclosure form.
Spokesman: As I said, I’ll see what information I can get you on the financial disclosure forms.
Question: I have some other ones about financial disclosure forms.
Spokesman: Can we –-
Correspondent: Well, if you want [inaudible] --
Spokesman: Go ahead, James.
Question: I also have a question about subsidized rental housing among senior members of the Secretariat. I understand a number of senior members of the Secretariat get subsidized rental housing. Can we have a list of the people who get subsidized rental housing and who subsidizes it?
Spokesman: Do you have any other question? I mean, I will find out answers to your –- see what I can find out on your questions.
Correspondent: I wanted to know whether Mark Malloch Brown on his financial disclosure form declared his housing as subsidized rental housing.
Spokesman: I think Mr. Malloch Brown was very clear in answering those questions, I think directly to you, and in a number of other forms, that he pays fair market rate for his house.
Question: Just a question -- follow-up on that. Given that the previous occupant appeared to pay two and a half thousand dollars a month more than he did, I’d like to know if that’s also the opinion of the Ethics Office. And to that end, whether we could perhaps have a briefing from the new person in charge of the Ethics Office, Nancy Hurtz-Soyka, whether she could perhaps come down and brief us on the financial disclosure forms and some of these ethical issues that have come up.
Spokesman: We’ll see if we can get somebody down from the Ethics Office, but I would reiterate my answer on Mr. Malloch Brown.
Question: On Wednesday, this Wednesday, the Secretary-General, together with the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Eliasson, will visit the [International] Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. What is the message that the Secretary-General will deliver to those in Court?
Spokesman: Well, I think the intent of his trip to The Hague is for the anniversary of the International Court of Justice. That is the focus of his trip.
He will also take the opportunity while in The Hague to visit the ICC and the ICTY. The Secretary-General has underscored a number of times the importance the ICTY is doing, but more importantly, noted that a number of people are missing from the dock in the ICTY and need to be brought to justice and that is Mr. Mladic and Mr. Karadzic. Yes?
Question: I wanted to know about this reported raid on the UN Office in Iraq. Is it true that that happened and that Mr. Qazi’s office itself was raided? There are some reports.
Spokesman: As I’ve said, I think here on Thursday or Friday, first of all, I want to reiterate the Secretary-General’s full confidence in the work that Mr. Qazi is doing under very difficult circumstances in Iraq, and that whenever allegations are made, those are routinely looked into. But that’s all I have to say on that specific issue.
Question: There was no raid?
Spokesman: I have no further details to offer you on that.
Question: I wanted to ask you about this other one -– on the Palestinian-Israeli situation which is going out of control again. The way it looks right now that Israeli authorities are just going to starve off the Palestinians and draw their unilateral border, the way it is going on. Because they’ve stopped their own aid, Palestinian money, and no money coming from either the United States or the EU. Where does this situation go? And the World Health Organization warning that the situation is going to be bad to worse. What is it that the Secretary-General can do?
Spokesman: The situation as a whole is of extreme concern to the Secretary-General. And as I think we’ve said, he’s been working the phones, talking to a number of his Quartet colleagues, but there are political decisions that need to be made. And meanwhile the humanitarian work of the UN goes on, mostly obviously with UNRWA.
Question: Speaking of the Zayed Prize and the one that the Secretary-General is being awarded today, did you ever disclose what the Secretary-General doing with his half of the Nobel Prize a couple years ago?
Spokesman: Yes, if I’m not mistaken, it went to a foundation for the children of fallen peacekeepers. And that information, I think, was made public when it was taken.
Question: The one today is what?
Spokesman: The one today was given to him by the Noda Foundation in Seville. It’s 30,000 euros, and he’s asked the Foundation to give that money to UNFPA directly so it can go to a shelter that Mrs. Annan visited in Kisangani in the DRC which treats mostly young women who have been the victims of rape in the area.
Question: Why is he dealing with that money differently from the money from the Zayed Prize? Why doesn’t –-
Spokesman: It’s his decision. I think the visit to the centre by Mrs. Annan had a great impact on her and on him, and he feels that it’s a very, very good use of this money.
Question: Why the delay given the obvious need for this foundation he’s going to set up? Why the delay in setting it up? Why doesn’t he set it up now?
Spokesman: Well the foundation is in the process of being set up.
Question: What does that mean?
Spokesman: That means a legal framework and see exactly where this –-
Question: [Inaudible] why doesn’t set up before he leaves?
Spokesman: Well, it’s in the process of being set up. You may be able to set up a foundation in 24 hours, but most people, it takes a bit of time.
Question: It takes [inaudible] months to set up –-
Spokesman: You want to do it properly.
Question: Where is the money now?
Spokesman: The money is being held in an account -– in an escrow account.
Question: Who controls the escrow account?
Spokesman: The gift was to the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General has made it clear that all the money will go to the foundation, and as you well know, the Volcker report also made clear that every penny he’s received of prizes has gone to charitable purposes.
* *** *For information media • not an official record