|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.
**Press Conferences Today
Our guests at the noon briefing today are Ambassador Panayiotis Goumas, Special Coordinator for Human Security Network from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, and Hilde Johnson, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, on the impact of climate change on children.
At 3 p.m., Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, will hold a press conference to present the Crown Prince of Qatar, Sheik Tamin Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the UNODC Certificate of Honour.
** Algeria Attack
The Secretary-General this morning spoke by video link to the General Assembly to express his shock and outrage at yesterday’s attack on the UN offices in Algiers, which he called a despicable strike against individuals serving humanity's highest ideals under the UN banner.
He said that we are still counting the dead, tending to the wounded, and looking for the missing, and added, “My heart goes out to the victims. Their sacrifice cannot and shall not be forgotten.”
The Secretary-General called on the General Assembly to stand united, and he asserted, “We must all condemn this deed, just as we must work together to bring its vile perpetrators to justice.” We have his remarks upstairs.
The General Assembly also paid a moment of silence in honour of those who died and were injured in the attack.
Yesterday, we provided preliminary casualty figures, and we have available now upstairs a list of nine UN staff who are confirmed to have died in yesterday’s car bomb attack and whose families have been notified. These include staff from the International Labour Organization, the UN Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme, the UN Development Programme, the UN Population Fund and the Department of Safety and Security.
Rescue efforts yesterday helped to remove two UN staff alive from the rubble, and both are now receiving medical treatment. At this point, hopes for finding any more survivors in the rubble have dimmed, and the local authorities have started to use heavy machinery to clear the site.
The Secretary-General had noted that UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis will arrive in Algeria today to determine how best to aid those injured in the attack and the families of the victims. In a statement issued by UNDP, Dervis said that he hopes that, beyond the words of condemnation, the international community will appreciate the importance of concrete actions to support the United Nations and development and humanitarian workers.
Also, two stress counsellors are arriving in the country this afternoon to assist those who have been traumatized by the bombing.
The Security Council, in a presidential statement adopted yesterday evening, stressed its deep concern at the repeated postponements of the presidential election in Lebanon.
The Council reiterated its call for the holding, without delay, of a free and fair presidential election in conformity with Lebanese constitutional rules, without any foreign interference or influence, and with full respect for democratic institutions. It called upon all Lebanese political parties to continue to exercise restraint and to show responsibility with a view to preventing, through dialogue, further deterioration of the situation in Lebanon.
This afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on Lebanon, to hear from the Secretary-General’s Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Geir Pedersen, and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet. They will brief Council members on the implementation of resolution 1701, concerning Lebanon; the Secretary-General’s most recent report on that subject came out at the end of last month.
Mr. Pedersen says he will speak to you at the Council stakeout following those consultations.
We are expecting a statement from the Secretary-General this afternoon regarding the assassination of General Francois el-Hajj.
**Secretary-General/ Bali Climate Change Conference
Turning to the climate change conference in Bali, the Secretary-General addressed the high-level segment, which began today. He told the six heads of state and 144 Government representatives gathered there that climate change is “the moral challenge of our generation”, and that “the eyes of the world are upon us” to do something about it.
The Secretary-General said he was encouraged by progress in the negotiations so far, including agreements on adaptation, deforestation and technology, and called for the adoption of an agenda, with a road map and timeline, for reaching a deal by 2009.
Answering questions from the media later, the Secretary-General said that it might be too ambitious to expect delegations to reach an agreement on emissions targets while at Bali, but he stressed the importance of launching an urgent negotiating process.
Meanwhile, the UN Environment Programme has announced that the greenhouse gas emissions linked with travel to and from the event by all UN staffers, including the Secretary-General and his team, will be offset through investment in the Kyoto Protocol’s soon to be operational adaptation fund. The fund will help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change. There’s more information on that in a press release upstairs.
This morning, the Security Council is holding consultations on Guinea-Bissau, on which it heard briefings from Shola Omoregie, the head of the UN Office in that country, and from Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, who discussed recent developments there.
Costa provided evidence to the Council of the threat that cocaine trafficking is posing to stability and development in West Africa, and he warned that the 33 tonnes of cocaine seized in West Africa since 2005 may only be the tip of the iceberg. There’s a press release from his office with more details, and I believe he is at the stakeout to talk to you about that as well.
** Democratic Republic of the Congo
William Lacy Swing, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, confirmed in a statement today that the town of Sake in the North Kivu province remains under the control of UN Peacekeepers. Swing said that the 4,500 UN Peacekeepers deployed in the region will do everything within their powers to prevent rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda from advancing on the towns of Goma and Sake in the eastern DRC. He added that UN Peacekeepers will continue to support the Congolese Army and protect civilians, whom he advised to stay calm.
Meanwhile, the UN Mission says that peacekeepers have conducted 33 reconnaissance missions, airlifted 25 tonnes of provisions for the Congolese Army, and evacuated more than 150 wounded soldiers. In the light of the rebel advance, the Mission also expressed grave concern about the safety of women and young girls in North Kivu, noting that some 2,700 cases of rape have been recorded between January and October 2007 in North Kivu alone.
[A statement attributable to the Spokesperson on the Democratic Republic of the Congo was issued after the briefing.]
**DRC – Humanitarian
According to the 2008 Humanitarian Action Plan for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was launched yesterday by the United Nations, nearly 30 per cent of the requested $575 million is needed just for North Kivu. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says it is concerned about reports of displacement there. This week alone, an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are reported to be on the move again, this time fleeing from camps toward the provincial capital Goma.
Currently, all humanitarian movements outside of Goma are proceeding only under the UN Mission’s escort. OCHA reports that several humanitarian organizations have temporarily withdrawn their staff from areas close to clashes, and that most aid convoy activities have had to be postponed.
Protection of civilians is of particular concern at this time. This week, a UN inter-agency mission went to the area and is currently preparing recommendations on how best to ensure the immediate protection of IDPs and local populations. For its part, UNICEF deposited several thousand basic supply kits in zones that might soon become inaccessible due to the fighting. And, the World Food Programme is distributing food to 3,000 IDP families in the Kibumba camp; a further 10,000 IDP families will be helped this week, it says.
The Special Envoy for the Darfur peace process, Jan Eliasson, has told a press conference in Khartoum that he hopes to try to speed up the momentum of the talks in the weeks to come. He noted that the Security Council, the regional countries, the Government of Sudan and the Movements all have to pull in the same direction.
Eliasson added that we have now an improved climate in the Security Council, as well as the growing cooperation of the regional countries. Now the big question mark is how the Government of Sudan and the Movements will move in the same direction with the talks.
“That is the crucial issue,” he said. “We will do our very best to bring that about, but the environment in some regards is not conducive, and I hope that the Government of Sudan and the Movements will take the responsibility to prepare for the talks to begin as soon as possible in the New Year,” Eliasson told reporters yesterday in Khartoum. That transcript is available in the Spokesperson’s office.
The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Lord’s Resistance Army-affected areas, former President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, is arriving in Kampala today to begin a week of consultations intended to facilitate the peace process for Northern Uganda as it heads into a critical stage.
Mr. Chissano intends to meet with heads of state in Kampala, Kinshasa and Kigali before travelling to Juba for consultations with the mediation team of the Government of Southern Sudan, and then on to meetings with the LRA leadership and civil society representatives. He is expected to be in the region until 18 December.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that it has exceeded its target of 20,000 Iraqi refugee resettlement referrals for 2007. Specifically, it says it has transferred the files of more than 20,000 of the most vulnerable Iraqi refugees for consideration by 16 resettlement countries.
Nevertheless, UNHCR says it is extremely concerned about the low rate of actual departures. So far, only 22 per cent of the total referred cases have actually left for resettlement countries. There’s more on that upstairs.
The International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today sentenced Dragomir Milošević, a former Bosnian Serb Army general, to 33 years in prison. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and violation of the laws or customs of war, in addition to crimes against civilians committed in the final months of the 1992 to 1995 siege of Sarajevo.
This morning, the Peacebuilding Commission approved the “Sierra Leone Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework”. This landmark, three-year compact –- between the Commission and Sierra Leone’s Government –- outlines peacebuilding priorities and commitments, such as good governance, security and justice sector reform, youth employment, and energy sector development.
Meanwhile, the Security Council yesterday referred the situation in Guinea-Bissau to the Peacebuilding Commission. Guinea-Bissau is the third country to be placed on the Commission’s agenda, following Sierra Leone and Burundi. There’s more information on that upstairs.
In response to a question yesterday here in the briefing room about budget discussions underway in the Fifth Committee, I just wanted to let you know that approval of the Organization’s budget is the prerogative of Member States. It is a result of a negotiation process, where different Member States come with different proposals, and the general practice is to approve the budget by consensus.
The Secretary-General has put forward a budget in line with the guidance provided by Member States in the budget outline approved last year, but is also submitting a number of reports in response to requests, notably from earlier reform/outcome summit decisions. The Fifth Committee is currently seized with these proposals. The Secretariat will continue to assist Member States in their deliberations and in servicing decisions from other legislative bodies and committees and the Security Council.
**Guest at Noon Tomorrow
Tomorrow at 10 a.m., the General Assembly will hold a High-Level Event on the Central Emergency Response Fund. Following that, as the guest at the noon briefing, John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, will update you on that fund.
**Questions and Answers
Let’s start with Al Jazeera.
Question: Yes, Marie, please just to go through again the numbers. Now it’s nine confirmed dead and two were pulled from the rubble. There are no more missing victims of the attack?
Deputy Spokesperson: There are a number of missing, as I mentioned to you yesterday. But, again, yesterday we provided very preliminary information. As of today, we were able to provide now the confirmed information, and the next of kin have been notified. As for further numbers, we’ll have to wait for further notification on that.
Question: So there are -- remains to be missing, or there are no more -– you’ve accounted for people --
Deputy Spokesperson: There are a number of people who remain missing.
Question: Marie, did you receive any requests from the Lebanese Government to add this crime to the list of those to be investigated by the IIIC?
Deputy Spokesperson: I have no information on that as of now. Yes?
Question: I’m sorry. I’m still confused about the numbers. Are you saying that you still believe that 11 people have been killed, but you have only identified nine of them because the families have been notified? Or are you saying --
Deputy Spokesperson: I mentioned to you yesterday various numbers that were preliminary. And as soon as we can confirm and next of kin were notified, I said that we would start identifying them. So that is what we’re doing. As of now, the only confirmed victims of UN staff in the Algiers bombing -– as we have it now, we can confirm nine. And that list is upstairs. And we will update that list as next of kin and more confirmations continue.
Question: Just to follow up on my question --
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes?
Question: There’s no contacts between you and the Lebanese Government after this assassination happened at all?
Deputy Spokesperson: I did not say that. I just said I didn’t have a confirmation of your request.
Question: Did the Secretary-General or anybody else here contact them regarding that?
Deputy Spokesperson: I have no information about the Secretary-General. As you know, the Secretary-General [is in Bali]–- it’s midnight in Bali.
Deputy Spokesperson: We are expecting a statement on this, as I mentioned. So if you can wait for that, that will be good. Yes?
Question: Just to try again, the numbers issue, because it can be confusing. Now we’re talking about numbers versus identities. You tell us the identities after the kin, but what about the numbers? Because -– there are more numbers, but you’re not telling us because they haven’t been identified?
Deputy Spokesperson: What I’m saying is that yesterday –- and it still remains so, the situation on the ground is very fluid. The situation is still quite confusing. There are people still in the rubble. As I mentioned, there is a search and rescue operation going on now. Yesterday, what I mentioned to you were the initial, preliminary numbers that were not [100% confirmed], as I mentioned to you: I didn’t have names. I didn’t have affiliations. I didn’t have nationalities.
As you know, our security office was, was one of the offices that was destroyed during the bombing. The Secretary-General decided to send his top aides from security, and I mentioned to you that Mr. Dervis is also on his way. Our security, therefore, has now been reinforced. He is looking into assessing the situation on the ground. And based on the information that we’ve gathered as of now, we can confirm to you that there have been nine confirmed deaths whose next of kin have been notified. And as we continue that process, we will update that list for you.
Question: How many missing –- no figure?
Deputy Spokesperson: A number are still missing. Yes?
Question: As for the talks between...
Deputy Spokesperson: Just let me –- I’m sorry Masood, I just wanted to clarify –- there is an incredible effort going on on the ground and I’d like to wait for absolute confirmation before we release these figures. Yes?
Question: Marie, yesterday Israelis -– there was an incursion by Israelis into the Gaza Strip. Six Palestinians were killed. This is on the eve of the talks that were about to begin. And then, of course, we also have the Palestinians also firing rockets. But that -– it started off with an Israeli incursion. Has the Secretary-General noted that? And has any statement been issued on this, coming out on that issue?
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, the Secretary-General had noted that and I do have something on this. But it’s not a statement. Let me get it to you immediately after the briefing. Or somebody upstairs can bring it down to me if they’re listening. Thank you.
Question: And the other question I wanted to ask, the -– a UN General Assembly Committee voted to provide funds to accelerate the construction of the new United Nations building. Or, I mean, the renovation of the building. It approved also the Secretary-General’s plan that it should be completed by 2013 rather than 2016. Now the question is, one, when is it going to begin and is there going to be a briefing on this soon –- what’s going to happen -– because everybody’s going to leave at the same time --
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, we announced to you, Masood, that Mr. [Michael] Adlerstein, the head of the Capital Master Plan project will be the noon briefing guest on Monday.
Question: Ok. But the thing is, there is no date just yet?
Deputy Spokesperson: He will give you all the information on that on Monday. And we issued a statement yesterday welcoming this.
Question: Yes, that’s the --
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, and if there are any details that you need, you can always call the Capital Master Plan. They have an excellent public information officer. Yes?
Question: Today, the Moroccan Ambassador addressed the letter to the Secretary-General protesting against the duration of the ceasefire agreements as the POLISARIO decided to hold its congress in the buffer zone. Is there any reaction to this letter?
Deputy Spokesperson: I cannot confirm receipt of this letter. I’ll look into that as soon as I get upstairs. Raghida?
Question: Has this letter been transmitted to the Security Council? Or you don’t know?
Deputy Spokesperson: This is -– I don’t have confirmation of the letter, so let me get that for you. Yes?
[The Spokesperson later confirmed that the letter had been received and would be forwarded to the Security Council.]
Question: I have an administrative complaint, which I’ve raised before. Yesterday around 8:00, the Spokesman’s office issued an email as an attachment about the Security Council programme, and a lot of us have Blackberrys and smart phones and when you send, like, information on weekends and late at night, as an attachment, it just becomes a garble of text when you try to open it. In the future -– and I know a lot of other UN agencies watch the briefing –- is it possible if everyone could just send simple text emails, especially after hours and at night? Like it may be fancy if you have your letterhead and everything on it, but for most of us, it’s like useless to get those emails.
Deputy Spokesperson: Okay, I think we got your point. Thank you. By the way, last night, it was not an attachment. It was the programme, because I sent it myself. Benny?
I’m sorry. Raghida?
Question: It’s 12:30 and it’s been quite a number of hours since the assassination happened in Lebanon. Does the Secretary-General not feel compelled to make a statement? Is it an unimportant story to him? That -- it is like over six or seven hours later and there is no statement on this assassination of the second man in charge in the Lebanese army. Given the fact that Brammertz had said -– had warned –- his [inaudible] report of the investigation –- has warned of operational capabilities, in a way, insinuating that he was afraid of yet other assassination. Can you explain why Ban Ki-moon’s position is not put out yet?
Deputy Spokesperson: Raghida, we will have a statement shortly. As you know the Secretary-General, is very closely following events in Lebanon, and he takes this opportunity again to renew his call to Lebanese political leaders to exert every possible effort to resolve their differences and to arrive at a solution for an immediate presidential election in respect of the Constitution.
Question: I’d like to follow up. Is this the Secretary-General’s position? This is what he has to say in commenting about the assassination of the second man in charge of the army?
Deputy Spokesperson: Raghida, I said that we will have a statement on the assassination shortly.
Question: What is the explanation for such a long delay? Is it inefficiency or is it a political position by the Secretary-General?
Deputy Spokesperson: All I have to say is, we’ll have a statement shortly.
Question: I’d like to make one more point, please.
Deputy Spokesperson: Is it a question?
Question: I would like to make a point -– a question and a point. If this is inefficiency, it is also a double-whammy because, you know, we have London deadlines and the, the United Nations, if they really cared about all of us representing the media here, they should start to think a bit of our deadlines. If it is a political position, then we will take it as such. That six hours after an assassination there is no condemnation, even from the Secretary-General’s office.
Deputy Spokesperson: Thank you for your comment. Benny?
Question: Question to follow up on Masood’s question. Oh, not exactly follow up. But several weeks ago, there was a statement by the Secretary-General that he asked UNRWA to investigate the shooting from an UNRWA position into Israel. Where is that investigation?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have anything new on that. Let me look into that. But, as for the Gaza incursion that Masood did ask about, the office of the UN Special Coordinator for the UN peace process says it is concerned by the escalation in the violence, the potential for the further loss of life and the worsening of an already worrying situation in Gaza and Southern Lebanon.
Question: No SG statement?
Deputy Spokesperson: No. We have no SG statement.
Question: So you will look into the investigation?
Deputy Spokesperson: I will look into what you just asked immediately after the briefing. Yes? Bill?
[The Spokesperson told the reporter that the result of the investigation which had been announced at an earlier briefing, was as follows: “The inquiry found that the (UNRWA) school had been evacuated at the time of the incident to ensure the safety of the staff and children during an Israeli military incursion. While the school was empty, militants entered the compound and fired rockets at Israel. The Secretary-General condemns this abuse of United Nations facilities, which is a serious violation of the UN's privileges and immunities. He calls on all involved in this conflict to avoid actions that endanger the lives of civilians, especially children, and that put at risk UNRWA's ability to carry out its humanitarian mission.”
Question: Late yesterday, the announcement was made that the UN believed that 11 people had died in the Algiers bombing. Now you’re saying, of course, nine confirmed. Were the other two found, or is that they just haven’t been confirmed or is that just preliminary information that was, you know, determined to be no longer operative?
Deputy Spokesperson: That was preliminary information that we had at the time, and as I mentioned earlier, now that we have a strengthened security presence on the ground, I think it is in everybody’s best interest –- including those families of the deceased -– that we give very accurate figures and only mention those who have been obviously identified, affiliations made, nationalities identified and their next of kin notified.
Question: Does that mean that two people who were believed dead were later located?
Deputy Spokesperson: I didn’t say that, Bill.
Question: I know, I’m asking that question.
Deputy Spokesperson: We will keep updating the figures [as we get updates]. As I mentioned to you, there are still a number of people missing, and I can’t get into those figures because then we have to keep adjusting them. And, as you know, that’s very confusing for everybody. So what we’re doing now is making sure that everybody has the exact same information. So we have made available the list of nine confirmed dead with their next of kin notified. And we will continue to do so as soon as that’s been done.
Question: So you can’t really say why the 11 people who were believed dead, whether two people who were believed dead were later found or are still --
Deputy Spokesperson: I am not saying only nine people have been confirmed dead. I am saying that we have now a list of nine people confirmed dead.
Question: The Secretary-General’s speech today said that, you know, that he called Mr. Bouteflika to provide more security for the UN personnel. Is this an indication that Algeria has not been doing enough to protect the UN people there?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, absolutely not. In his statement he made clear that he spoke to the President and, obviously, this is in relation to cooperation with them in the aftermath of this process and for the insurance of the security of the remaining personnel there, as you know, who are still on the ground and doing work.
As for security in general, as I mentioned, the Secretary-General dispatched not only his top official from the UN Development Programme, whose building was the one that was the hardest hit. He dispatched his top security people also to look into the situation so that they could review the security situation in Algiers, see what lessons can be drawn, and then we will work together with the heads of agencies in the UN system and with the Member State to implement whatever recommendations come out. Yes?
Question: Is he going to be visiting Algiers soon?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, right now, as you know, he’s monitoring the situation very, very closely. He just addressed the General Assembly on this and he sent his top officials to the area, and one of them is there already. Yes?
Question: I want to go back to --
Deputy Spokesperson: I was actually giving the floor to, to, to --
Question: To me!
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes.
Question: Thank you, Marie. On a totally different subject –- and I know how possibly it could be difficult for you to turn from there to there. But anyhow, we talked regarding that with Mr. Manfred Nowak a long time ago, but I wonder if you can remind us what would be the official UN position on the question of torture in the light of media focus these days. So if you can tell us a little bit about that?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, if Mr. Manfred Nowak is in New York, I would be happy to ask him to come to the briefing.
Question: Can you also tell us something, remind us what is the official position of UN -– or any other recent, fresh comments on what’s going on?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I think what -- the best thing would be to get Mr. Novak to talk to you. Or you can even talk to him on the telephone.
Question: Yeah, when you read the statement in answering the question regarding the assassination, you spoke of “the Secretary-General calling on all parties to cooperate”, and you spoke of the presidential elections. Are you saying that you consider this assassination connected directly with the presidential elections that have not taken place in Lebanon yet?
Deputy Spokesperson: Raghida, I have nothing further to say until the statement comes out.
Question: But you did mention presidential elections in the process of answering the question about an assassination. What did you mean by that?
Deputy Spokesperson: I simply talked about the Secretary-General’s renewed call for the situation in Lebanon, of which he has been repeatedly mentioning, and as this concerns Lebanon I repeated that call, as did the Security Council last night. I will have nothing further to say on Lebanon until we get the Secretary-General’s statement.
Question: I have a question on what -– Mr. Brammertz’s warning that there were “operational capabilities” ongoing in Lebanon. What is that -– how did the United Nations upper echelon here read that to mean? When he said --- expressing in a report to the Secretary-General that the Secretary-General gave to the Security Council -- speaking of “operational capabilities”, was there any discussion or any fear about further assassinations? Or was this taken as just a sentence in a report?
Deputy Spokesperson: Let’s talk to Mr. Brammertz about that and we’ll get back to you.
Question: Not directly related to the assassination, could you explain to us how does the mechanism of making such a statement work? Who on Lebanon is following this? How does it work that it finally gets into a statement?
Deputy Spokesperson: Benny, we’re going to have the statement soon. I really don’t think we need to get into inner mechanisms of how statements are made. The Secretary-General has senior advisers, political advisers who advise him on the statements that go out, and this is no different than other statements.
Question: Who is following it currently in Lebanon on behalf of the Secretary-General?
Deputy Spokesperson: It meaning?
Question: The statement… the situation on the ground.
Deputy Spokesperson: The statement is going to come out shortly. Okay. We have --
Question: It is being followed by?
Deputy Spokesperson: We have –- well, we have, as I mentioned to you, actually, a briefing on Lebanon today in the Security Council this afternoon. Mr. Geir Pedersen, who is following the situation very closely, is going to brief the Security Council and you.
Question: Since this official explanation -– why is it six or seven hours later that you don’t have to have a position --
Deputy Spokesperson: No, there is no official explanation, Raghida. We just don’t have the statement –- we just don’t have it for you right now. I’m sorry.
Question: Two quick questions. One, you said that Mr. Chissano is gonna meet with -– going to the region, is going to meet with the Lord’s Resistance Army. Can you say whether he intends to meet with Joseph Kony, who is indicted by the International Criminal Court? Is that, is that among the people he’s going to meet with?
Deputy Spokesperson: You heard what we said. If there is further information, we’ll try to find out for you.
Question: Who in the LRA is he going to meet with -– I guess it seems like a big topic, given that the prosecutor of the ICC --
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have that list here.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later told the reporter that Mr. Chissano plans to meet with Mr. Kony during his tour of the region.]
Question: The Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has said that, in regard toward possible moves toward a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, has said that the Secretary-General, UN Secretary-General should make clear that Resolution 1244 does not allow UNMIK to hand over its mandate. Is the Secretary-General –- Secretariat aware of the comment? And what is their response whether UNMIK can hand over its mandate without any new Security Council action?
Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General has transmitted the report by the Contact Group. The Security Council is scheduled to take up the issue next week, and I think the Secretary-General will be back and will attend those consultations or meeting. And he will, as he said to you, he wants to listen to what the Security Council has to say on this matter. So we have no immediate comment on the press reports that you mention.
Question: Just on the Secretary-General’s schedule. I mean he’s meant to fly back halfway around the world to go to this concert in Carnegie Hall on Sunday, and then fly all the way back to Paris. Wouldn’t his time be better spent going to meet the families of the injured and dead UN officials in Algiers, rather than flying back to New York to go to half a concert?
Deputy Spokesperson: As you know, the Secretary-General has been extremely [involved] –- he’s been following the situation in Algiers very, very closely. He has spoken to the President. He just spoke to the General Assembly. He is constantly on the phone with his senior advisers on this issue. So he is very, very engaged. He sent his top security official. He sent the head of the UNDP Programme there. They are assessing the situation. They are working with the staff who are traumatized on the ground. And they will be looking and making recommendations into how things can be --
Question: Marie, doesn’t it look rather bad that while there are these, as you described them, “traumatized” UN officials, he’s going to a concert in New York?
Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General has, as you all know -- you went on a trip with him -- an extremely strong work ethic. As you know, he works around the clock. He also honours his commitments. My understanding is that he had a long-standing commitment to go to this concert. And without dwelling on the concert, as you know, he started this mission with an official visit to Thailand in which he discussed Myanmar. He’s in Bali. He’s having bilaterals around the clock on this. He’s going to --
Question: What about --
Deputy Spokesperson: He’s going to East Timor to visit the mission there. And on his way back, he’s making other stops. And, on a Sunday evening –- or Sunday afternoon -– he’s going to a concert to honour a commitment he made a year ago. Then he will continue on to deal with a host of meetings in the Middle East.
Question: A couple of points if I may.
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes.
Question: Going to that concert, is that considered official work for the UN Secretary-General?
Deputy Spokesperson: James, it’s a concert he’s attending on a Sunday. I think the importance here of the Secretary-General is -- going to that concert, is simply in that he has a commitment to an appointment that he had made and as he has done with all other commitments that he honours. And in terms of whether he should go to Algiers or not, I think he has, having dispatched his officials, he’s going to listen to them and make an assessment on how he proceeds next.
Question: What kind of commitment does he believe he has to this UN staff and the families of the wounded UN staff?
Deputy Spokesperson: I think his commitment to the staff was clearly demonstrated yesterday. He immediately sent a letter to the staff. It was posted on iSeek. He immediately talked to the entire General Assembly today. He immediately dispatched his senior advisers to go there to assess the situation to make recommendations. And, I’m sure that based on whatever they recommend he will do in the best interests of the United Nations, the Member States and the staff.
Question: To follow up on this, having read James’s story in the Times. It says it’s a thousand dollars a head. It’s a fundraiser. So, just, I guess, is there, is there a position on the Secretary-General or any other Secretariat officials attending events to raise funds, and if so -– or any tracking how funds are used or things like that? I was just surprised to read that. Do you have any --
Deputy Spokesperson: I have no other information on the event.
Question: Can you get us on Monday a total of the amount raised at the event that the Secretary was attending?
Deputy Spokesperson: I think that’s up to the organizers. It’s not a UN event.
Question: Oh, so it’s not a work event, then, you’re saying?
Deputy Spokesperson: It’s a commitment that he’s honouring that he had long-standing.
If there are no other questions -- Yes?
Question: In the Bali conference, the United States made it very clear that it’s not ready yet to sacrifice high growth rates for the issue of climate change, and rejected the idea of allowing or reaching firm targets for greenhouse gas emissions. So my question is why has Mr. Ban Ki-moon changed his position on this by saying, as you have just mentioned in your remarks, it’s too ambitious to reach these targets --
Deputy Spokesperson: No, you know what? I actually read those remarks to try to clarify. I think all he was trying to say in Bali is that -– what he was saying is that it might be too ambitious to expect delegations to reach an agreement on emissions targets while at Bali. But, he stressed the importance of launching this process. It’s not that he’s saying that it cannot be done. I refer you to his entire remarks that are available upstairs.
Question: Speaking of the Philharmonic, does the Secretary-General have any position on the Philharmonic’s intention to go to North Korea?
Deputy Spokesperson: No. I don’t -- we’ll have to ask him about that.
If there are no more questions, the General Assembly spokesperson is here?
GA Spokesperson: I think that things have dragged out for so long that I’m willing to forgo. Anybody who has any questions on the Assembly knows where to find me. Otherwise, I’ll brief tomorrow.
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For information media • not an official record