18 October 2007
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


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 Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the General Assembly President.


Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


Good afternoon, all.


**Guests at Noon Today


Our guests at the noon briefing today are Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Public Information; and Mandy Kibel, Deputy Director of Communications for the UN Millennium Campaign, who will brief you on the recent Stand Up Against Poverty 2007 campaign.


At 2 p.m., Firmino Mucavele, Chief Executive of the Secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), will brief you on the recent development and peace initiatives in Africa. 


Copies of the media advisory are available upstairs.


**Secretary-General’s Appointments


The Secretary-General has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint three Special Representatives:  Ellen Margrethe Loj of Denmark for Liberia; Alan Doss of the United Kingdom for the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Choi Young-Jin of the Republic of Korea for Côte d’Ivoire.


A response from the Security Council is expected shortly.


Ms. Loj, who most recently served as Denmark’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will replace Alan Doss.


Mr. Doss, currently the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Liberia, will replace William Lacy Swing of the United States.


Mr. Choi, who most recently served as Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, will replace Pierre Schori of Sweden.


In addition, the Secretary-General has appointed two Deputy Special Representatives:  Bintou Keita of Guinea for Burundi, and Bacre Waly Ndiaye of Senegal for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 


We have more information on all five, with their bios, upstairs.


The Secretary-General has also appointed Jan Beagle of New Zealand as Deputy Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG), as part of his effort to strengthen the overall management capacity and coordination among the organizations of the Secretariat in Geneva.


Ms. Beagle currently serves as Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management.


** Myanmar


The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, in Jakarta today held talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.  They discussed strategies on how to ensure quick results to find a long-term solution on Myanmar by encouraging ASEAN [Association of South-East Asian Nations] countries to play an important role.


In his remarks to the press following the meetings, Mr. Gambari stressed the three aspects of his mission, adding that the UN and ASEAN share a common objective for a stable, peaceful, prosperous and democratic Myanmar, with full respect for human rights.


Gambari highlighted that the seven steps and the road map to democracy need to be followed completely, effectively and to deliver tangible results.


**Myanmar-Humanitarian Aid


Still on Myanmar, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today that humanitarian assistance presently provided to Myanmar is short of meeting the needs of the people, and the local Government must undertake immediate critical reforms for the benefit of the country's desperately poor and needy.


Following last week’s visit to Myanmar, the WFP Regional Director for Asia, Tony Banbury, said that, while at least 5 million vulnerable persons in Myanmar are short of food and far too many people suffer needlessly from diseases and poverty, WFP can presently only provide food to about 10 per cent of them.


Banbury added that humanitarian organizations are faced with insufficient funding.  Only 30 per cent of the current WFP operation in Myanmar is funded, but it plans to reach a total of 1.6 million vulnerable people at a total cost of U.S. $51.7 million in three years time.


**NEPAD/Malaria


The Secretary-General today delivered remarks to the General Assembly plenary debate on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the causes of conflict and promotion of peace and development in Africa, and the Decade to Roll Back Malaria.


The Secretary-General said we must now help consolidate positive changes in Africa through stronger, more coherent UN support, including in the areas of governance and institutional capacity-building.


On malaria, he noted that we now have the tools and increased resources to control the sickness.  But every minute we wait, another two children die needlessly, he said. 


We have his full remarks upstairs.


**DSG on Women’s Health and Women’s Rights


Speaking at a conference on women’s health and women’s rights in London, the Deputy Secretary-General says that it is time for the world to deliver for women by increasing investment in women’s health and well-being.  Unless this is done, entire nations will not be able to lift themselves out of poverty, she warns. 


We have her speech upstairs.


**Democratic Republic of Congo


The International Criminal Court says that it has taken custody earlier today of Germain Katanga, a former senior commander of the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Katanga, who is 29 years old, is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity and is now being held at the ICC’s detention centre in The Hague.


In sealed documents filed in June 2007, the ICC Prosecutor introduced evidence against Katanga, charging him with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes.  Deputy-Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement today that Katanga’s name will forever be associated with the village of Bogoro, where, in February 2003, Katanga’s fighters slaughtered some 200 people and forced local women into sexual slavery, among other crimes.


Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the DRC says that 363 former Congolese soldiers who fought alongside renegade General Laurent Nkunda have left his ranks and joined the so-called brassage process, which will lead to their reinsertion into the Government army.


** Rwanda


We can also now confirm that French authorities earlier this week arrested Rwandan national Dominique Ntawukuriryayo, who has been on the run from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  He was detained by French police in the town of Carcassone, in southern France, and is expected to be transferred to Paris and then on to the ICTR [International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda] in Arusha, Tanzania, in the next few days.


The suspect was a sub-prefect of Gisagara, in the southern Rwandan province of Butare, during the genocide.  The charge sheet against him, submitted by ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Jallow in 2005, accuses him of genocide, complicity in genocide and inciting the public to commit genocide.


**UNHCR/Syria Warehouse Fire


The UN refugee agency says that a fire that broke out this morning at its compound in Damascus, Syria, will set back operations there for some time.


The fire lasted for about six hours, destroying one warehouse completely, along with thousands of tents and blankets.  Other buildings in the compound were flooded with water and remain full of smoke.  Several hundred refugees, along with about 40 staff members, were evacuated.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


More than 80,000 Iraqi refugees have been registered at the centre this year.  In his most recent report on Iraq, the Secretary-General expressed concern about the number of Iraqi refugees and displaced persons.  He noted that the capacities of neighbouring host countries, particularly Syria and Jordan, are strained to extreme levels.  He called on the Iraqi Government and the international community to step up assistance for those in need, and also called for political dialogue aimed at improving the security situation inside Iraq, in order to create the conditions for the safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons.


** Indonesia


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the UN Office in Indonesia is closely monitoring the situation in East Java, after Government experts said the eruption of the Mount Kelud volcano is imminent.


UN agencies are taking part in assessment missions, and the World Health Organization is already mobilizing emergency medical supplies and health staff.


**Migrants


Migrants working in industrialized countries sent more than $300 billion to developing nations in 2006.  That’s according to a study released today in Washington, D.C., by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Inter-American Development Bank.


In other words, according to IFAD, the seemingly small sums sent home by migrant workers, when added together, actually dwarf official development assistance.


The study says that, in 2006, India was the top destination for remittances, having received nearly $25 billion.  It was followed by Mexico, China, the Philippines and Russia. 


We have a press release with more information on that upstairs.


**UNFPA


The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has received a pledge from the United Kingdom of 100 million pounds over five years, to achieve universal access to reproductive health. 


The announcement in London came on the first day of the Women Deliver conference, where leaders have gathered to discuss ways to reduce maternal deaths. 


We have more information upstairs.


**Interpreter


Just to note, there was a technical error in a press release that was issued on Tuesday about the work of the First Committee, which incorrectly cited a Syrian representative as mentioning a “nuclear facility” in that country.  In fact, the representative had simply mentioned “what happened on 6 September 2007 against my country”, and had not used the word “nuclear” at all in that phrase.


The mistake was due to an interpretation error, and a corrected press release has since been issued.  We regret the error, and the department that deals with General Assembly affairs is looking further into the incident.


**Press Conferences Tomorrow


Tomorrow at 10:30 a.m., Eric Laroche, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, will brief you on the situation in Somalia.


And our guests at the noon briefing will be Dr. Arata Kochi, Director of the World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Programme; Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister of Health of Ethiopia; and Raymond Chambers, Executive Director of “Malaria No More”, who will brief you on the latest developments in malaria control and the role of the Roll Back Malaria partnership. 


This is all I have for you. Thank you. Yes?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  On the Arab interpretation.  How did you establish that it was an interpretation error, not… Because how can someone invent a word, or coin a word, when it was not uttered at all?


Spokesperson:  Well it was established simply by comparing the two… the interpretation in English and the actual transcript of what he said in Arabic. 


Question:  Did you hear, I mean did the voice…


Spokesperson:  Yes, of course, of course.  Of course.  It was thoroughly done yesterday.  Okay.  Yes.


[The Spokesperson later added that that action will be taken against the interpreter to the fullest extent of United Nations Rules and Regulations.]


Question:  Just as a follow-up to that, people looking at this story might have a lot of questions.  One of them is, the UN prides itself on having very accurate interpretation and translation.  What went wrong here is the first question.  And the second question is that people looking at this might also think that maybe he actually said “nuclear” and you guys are covering it up because they’re upset about this and you want to sort of cover up a bit of a diplomatic embarrassment on the Syrians’ part.  What would you say to people who feel that way?


Spokesperson:  Well, I would invite you, you are a reporter here -– a correspondent here -– I would invite you to go downstairs, get a recording and listen to it.  And get your own Arabic interpreter and you will see that those words were not used. 


Question:  So you’re absolutely certain he did not mention the word “nuclear”?


Spokesperson:  “Nuclear” was not mentioned.  Yes, Benny?


Question:  First of all, where’s Nicole Kidman?  Secondly, there is a record today that Andrew Toh would be demoted to a D2.  Do you have anything on that?


Spokesperson:  Yes.  What I have for you is that after considering… carefully considering the case, on the basis of the Report of the Joint Disciplinary Committee, the Secretary-General reached a decision involving the imposition of disciplinary measures.  The decision has been conveyed to the staff member.  The Secretary-General stressed the importance he attaches to the accountability of UN staff members -– he said so himself during his press stakeout two days ago –- and to that of senior managers in particular.  Disciplinary measures imposed reflect the seriousness with which he views the matter.  This is an internal, confidential matter between the Organization and a staff member and we cannot give any further comment on this.  This is all I have.


Question:  Let me ask it in another way.


Spokesperson:  You’re going to get the same answer.


Question:  Are all USGs and ASGs required to fill out, the financial disclosure form?  Did Andrew Toh fill out his financial disclosure form?


Spokesperson:  I cannot comment any further on the case.  Yes?


Question:  Michèle, there is currently a flurry of diplomatic activities trying to head off an explosion on the Iraqi-Turkish border.  Is the Secretary-General involved in any of these activities in the framework of his Article 99 Preventive Diplomacy?


Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General is very much aware of the decision that was taken by the Turkish Parliament on that account.  This would enable, as you know, the Turkish Armed Forces to take cross-border military action in Iraq.  He believes that any escalation of tension would further complicate the efforts of the international community, including those by the United Nations to bring stability to this whole entire region.  He also strongly encourages the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to take decisive measures to ensure that Iraq’s territory is not used by the PKK to mount cross-border attacks against Turkey.  Yes?


Question:  Yes, thank you.  My question is related to that.  Is this his statement that he published, or did he… the one that you just explained to us…


Spokesperson:  It is an answer to a question.


Question:  Does he have any plans to publish a statement about this Kurdistan matter?


Spokesperson:  Not at this point.  Yes?


Question:  Gambari is going to India next week.  What kind of cooperation do you expect from India when its officials and ministers in Rangoon at the time were cracking down on the monks and dissident supporters?


Spokesperson:  Well, actually, as you know, Mr. Gambari is meeting different regional actors to establish the conditions for better mission to really achieve his mission to Myanmar.  So right now he’s meeting regional leaders, regional Heads-of-State or Heads of Government to achieve that diplomatic effort.


Question:  The question is what are his expectations from India?


Spokesperson:  Well, at this point, I would rather wait for him to go there and then we will tell you what he has achieved.  We will not talk about expectations. 


Question:  This appointment today of the former Permanent Representative of South Korea to become… Is it the SRSG for Côte d’Ivoire?  Is that correct?  I think a couple of weeks ago the President of the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, said in a press conference that he had spoken directly with Mr. Ban and together they had agreed on who the SRSG would be.  This is, this is the person they discussed? 


Spokesperson:  Yes.


Question:  And, okay, and, and also you put out… the press release from UNMIK quoting Steven Schook the Deputy SRSG, as lifting tariffs on wheat and maize.  He previously said publicly there that he’s under investigation by OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services].  For some reason he announced this publicly.  So I’m wondering, has there been… Can any more be said about that?  He himself said it, so I think he’s kind of waived… I mean, I’m not sure why he said it, but he did say that. 


Spokesperson:  Well, I cannot comment personally on this.  I cannot comment on this.


Question:  Today, in the Fifth Committee, the ACABQ made a presentation about these management reports -- I mean the consolidated, annual report of the UN.  In their recommendation, they said it’s unclear if it’s written for a general audience, or for Member States, that it’s sort of a waste of money, that it shouldn’t be sold in the bookstore and that it should be discontinued –- that’s what it recommended.  So I’m wondering what Department of Management or the Secretariat, what’s the response to this pretty scathing critique of this work product?


Spokesperson:  Don’t you think it’s something… a matter for first, the Spokesperson for the General Assembly to address?


Question:  Not really.  ACABQ made this criticism, so I’m wondering…


Spokesperson:  Well, it hasn’t been officially notified to the Secretariat yet… That they think this product is useless.  Hasn’t been the case.  Nothing has been actually conveyed to the Secretariat about this.


Question:  Could we… The request to have Ms. [Alicia] Barcena, who I guess is ultimately responsible for this product, come and do a briefing.  When could we have her do it?  Not on the Capital Master Plan, but just on this slew…


Spokesperson:  Yeah, well the problem was a scheduling problem.  As you can see, we have a number of press conferences scheduled.  She has said yes; it is just a question of finding the time for her to come.  Okay?  Yes?


Question:  What is the level of the flood of refugees from Iraq at the moment?  Is it decreasing or increasing?  How is it…


Spokesperson:  Well, the latest report we had was that it was increasing.


Question:  Increasing?


Spokesperson:  Yes.


Question:  Yesterday the Secretary-General showed some optimism that the fighting has abated and there’s some more security that he’s encouraged to send more UN staff to Iraq.  How can we explain that the refugees are coming out more?


Spokesperson:  Refugee flows are not an immediate… you do not have an immediate reaction.  People decide to leave and go from country to country until they arrive to the camps, you know?  This is not directly related in the matter of days or weeks. 


Question:  The situation in Iraq is so dire for the Iraqis to stay in their houses.  How would it be safe for the UN staff to go there?


Spokesperson:  I already told you that the question of safety for UN staff is examined on a regular basis. 


Question:  Many sources say otherwise, although the fighting has abated in some areas.  But the security situation is getting worse and worse and they cite as evidence the flow of refugees, which is increasing.


Spokesperson:  Well, I’ll get the exact numbers for you, whether it’s a significant increase or what it is.  I’ll get more information on the flow of refugees for you.  This is all I really can say at this point.


Question:  What are you going to do about them in this situation in Syria since, I mean after this, fire and the setback with regard to humanitarian relief and aid?


Spokesperson:  Well, at this point UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] is first evaluating how much was lost in that fire and they are deciding what to do next -– getting more supplies, where to get those supplies, and all this.


Question:  Some of these refugees, many of them in fact, are of Palestinian origin.  Are you in discussion with Israel to repatriate them after 59 years of Diaspora?


Spokesperson:  But you know that this is a matter for a larger political discussion.  Larger political discussions are taking place.


Question:  Roaming the area for 59 years…


Spokesperson:  I realize that… Ah, yes?


Question:  Two questions:  A) Do you know, is there any determination as to the cause of the fire? 


Spokesperson:  No, we don’t have that yet.  We asked this morning and we got a description of what happened, but we don’t have a cause for the fire yet.


Question:  Do you know whether this was deliberately set or arson?


Spokesperson:  No, we don’t know.  We don’t know really at this point.


Question:  Okay.  The second question has to do with the Sudan contract.  Has Sudan asked for any investigation of it?


Spokesperson:  No, they have not.  No, they have not.  We were not informed here at the Secretariat of any…


Question:  Have they agreed to it?  Have they signed off on it?


Spokesperson:  Yes, they have agreed to it.


Question:  They have agreed to it?


Spokesperson:  Yes.  Yes?


Question:  Michèle, about the statement on this Kurdish matter, this Turkish Parliament.  I vaguely expected that there would be announced, a printed press release from the SG when the Parliament voted it.  When it is like a press conference answer from the Spokesman, does it have a difference of weight?  In terms of the strength of the words?


Spokesperson:  It does.


Question:  It does?


Spokesperson:  It does.  It’s an “if asked”…  Because it was a decision taken by Parliament, there has been no action taken about this and diplomatic efforts are continuing to avoid really any confrontation, further problems at the border, in the border area.  So at this point, you know, I think diplomatic efforts should be deployed and be used to alleviate the situation.


Question:  This is a follow-up from yesterday.  The number of the international staff that are flying to Baghdad has increased from 65 to 85.  How tough was this decision for the SG to make?


Spokesperson:  Well, it was certainly one he would not have taken if he felt that their lives would be in danger.  It’s because he had some guarantees.  It is not a huge increase; it’s a small increase.  And the SG is, of course, very mindful of the security of the staff.


Question:  Following Secretary of State Rice’s visit to Egypt, the Foreign Minister of Egypt said that he was encouraged about what he has heard regarding the substance of the Annapolis meeting.  Is the Secretary-General optimistic about the preparations for this meeting?


Spokesperson:  Well, he is still observing and listening and speaking to different actors in the region.  No, we really don’t have time.  Mr. Akasaka is waiting.


Question:  The letter of Mr. Fouad Siniora, we heard about it almost a week now and you still…  We have not seen a copy of it.  Will it be made available?


Spokesperson:  If it is circulated to the Security Council it will be made available.  Yes.


Question:  The SG has gotten…


Spokesperson:  Well, I can check for you what is the status of the letter at this point.  Okay?  Janos?


Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President


Good afternoon, I’ll try to keep it short – concentrate on a few things from the activities of the President of the Assembly and the Assembly itself.


**General Assembly Plenary


So, let me begin with the plenary session this morning. The General Assembly President opened this morning a plenary meeting focusing on development and conflict resolution issues in Africa –- in the framework of looking at progress in implementation and international support for NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development; as well as at the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa. The plenary is also reviewing progress in rolling back malaria in developing countries, especially in Africa.


The plenary discussion is guided by the respective reports of the Secretary-General on all those issues.


The President, in his opening statement, stressed that there was still a long road ahead in implementing NEPAD and noted that, while African ownership and leadership were critical, and must continue to guide responses to the challenges that lie ahead, there was a need for strong international involvement and partnership.


The President welcomed the fact that there were fewer conflicts in Africa today than a decade ago, but stressed that one fifth of the population on the continent still lived in areas affected by conflict.  He noted that the effectiveness and readiness of the international community, including African countries, to respond to conflict on the continent was a major factor in the improvement of security.  He added that the continued support of the UN system in assisting Africa was critical and agreed with the Secretary-General that more action was needed, both to strengthen and support Africa’s own efforts to bring peace to the continent, and to tackle the wider global sources of armed conflict.  In this regard he welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to revamp efforts for UN support to Africa, including deepening the engagement in support of the African Union through capacity-building.


On rolling back malaria, the President called on the General Assembly and the UN system to continue to work together to combat this disease, stressing that it was unacceptable that an entirely preventable disease claimed over a million lives every year, mostly children.


The President concluded by saying that there was a need for Member States to recommit themselves to implementing the Millennium Development Goals and added that he looked forward to the continued support of the General Assembly for his plan to convene a Leader’s Meeting on the MDGs during the current session of the Assembly. 


And if you remember, the MDGs is one of the five priorities that the session has apart from climate change, financing for development, countering terrorism and management reform.


**Main Committees


I don’t want to go into the details as regards the Main Committees because they’re pretty well detailed in the Journal, but as you probably know, all Committees are active.  Some of them are continuing thematic debates, some of them are looking already at draft resolutions.  Tomorrow in the morning –- we already talked about this –- there is going to be a meeting of the General Committee, which will look at four specific items that could be included for the Assembly’s consideration.  That’s where I’ll stop, just to give a little bit of time for questions and also for our noon guest.  Matthew.


**Questions and Answers


Question:  I wanted to ask you about this ACABQ report to the Fifth Committee.  It’s document A62/352.  In it, they are reviewing these consolidated reports by the Department of Management and they recommend that they be discontinued and actually, as regards DPI, maybe this is for Mr. Akasaka.  It says the Advisory Committee questions why a report on the activities of the UN Secretary could not be prepared in-house, given the role of the Department of Public Information.  So, what’s the status?  Once the ACABQ makes this type of a criticism, who then decides whether these keep being produced, or, or they also said it shouldn’t be sold in the bookstore anymore.  I’m not really sure…  This is the first one was…  And they’re saying that that’s not appropriate.  Can you say…  What can you say about this?


GA Spokesperson: Very simply, what the ACABQ is about, as I’m sure you by now know, is basically it’s an expert advisory body for the Fifth Committee.  So it looks at these various administrative and budgetary issues, makes its recommendations that go to the Fifth Committee.  Member States there review it and decide whether they accept that advice or not and then from the Fifth Committee, of course, whatever decision the Fifth Committee takes on that particular issue, regardless whether it’s corresponding to ACABQ’s advice or not, then moves on to the General Assembly for the full consideration of the Assembly plenary and then action is taken.  So there are several stages there where a review process is involved –- where decisions could be overturned, if I may use this word, or heeded, too.


Question: Procedurally, where and when does the Secretariat make its response to that?  Do they generally respond to that type of criticism and as the public or press, where do we see what the response is?


GA Spokesperson: It’s in several stages and formats in the sense that when something is discussed in the ACABQ, usually what happens is that you have somebody from the Secretariat present who can already answer there.  Sometimes Member States ask for a written response – that can be given as supplementary information.  The same happens in the Fifth Committee.  So throughout the stages, the Secretariat response is always there. 


Question: And just the last thing I have to ask -- ACABQ’s criticism is public.  I mean, it’s already a public document that came out in September.  Is the Secretariat’s response public or is it all done, is it done in a more…  Like in ACABQ it’s closed.  We can’t hear what they say.  So I guess I’m…  Is…  In, in, you said there’s various times they can respond, but is there any time in which the response to that could be a public response, in the same way the criticism is public?


GA Spokesperson: Well, the meetings of the Fifth Committee, as far as I know, the normal meetings -– if they’re not informal consultations -– they’re public.  So whatever happens there, yes.  Ultimately, I think, most of the response will become public.  So there is an ultimate level of transparency there as far as the decision is taken. Mr. Abbadi?


Question: In addition to the new items –- the two Koreas -– being considered by the General Committee, what other items are being considered by that body or adding to the agenda of the General Assembly?


GA Spokesperson: Yes.  Let me just get my cheat sheets for you.  They actually have to do with, observer status for…  Okay, we have here a request…  Yes, we have financing of the United Nations Mission in Central African Republic and Chad -- that’s one of the items.  The peace and security reunification on the Korean peninsula, that’s another one.  There is also a request for observer status for (the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia and another request for observer status for the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf).  Those are the four issues. Yes, Benny?


Question:  Do we know the name of the interpreter who sat, the name of the English interpreter who sat on the First Committee…


GA Spokesperson: I personally don’t know the name of the interpreter.  I’m sure it can be found out.  But I’m not sure whether it’s appropriate to give anybody’s name to the public…


Question: Well, this person almost started a World War III, so I mean, maybe it’s a little relevant to the world?


GA Spokesperson: I think Michèle had a pretty good statement on this, in the sense that there’s no name.  But what the statement referred to is that there is a review of the situation and the given department is looking into all aspects of what exactly happened, how it happened, so from that angle, I guess, once everything is established, then there can probably be a decision as to making that name public or not. 


Question: Do you review only the conference services and interpreters, or does it also involve the people who did the press release and the DPI?


SG Spokesperson: I’m sorry, I will answer that.  As I said, in the case of DPI, they were working from a transcript in English that came to them from the interpretation service.  Okay?


Question: Has Syria asked for an investigation?


GA Spokesperson: I am not aware of it.  Ask Syria.


SG Spokesperson: They have informally.


Question: They have…informally?


SG Spokesperson: Yes.  And they have spoken with Mr.Shaaban, who is responsible for General Assembly Services.


GA Spokesperson: Just a little bit more on this.  Back to what Matthew, you were asking, about the Fifth Committee and all of that.  I mean again, it’s one of those cases where, if Member States have concerns about interpretation and these kinds of things, the Fifth Committee -– and the Committee on Conferences -– those are the areas where they can actually voice their concern.  So there is again a mechanism for that to happen.  Whether it’s one particular case or whether out of that particular case they want to make a general observation it’s there where it can be done.  Thanks.


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