18 February 2010
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

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

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


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


Good afternoon.


**Guest


We’re connected with MINUSTAH [the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] in Port-au-Prince, with Major General [Floriano] Peixoto [Vieira Neto].  Can you hear us sir?


MINUSTAH Force Commander Peixoto:  Yes, I can.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Good afternoon, and thank you very much for taking time out of your very busy schedule to join us here in New York.  I’m going to hand over the floor to you and then we can take some questions from you afterwards.


[Briefing on Haiti, issued separately.]


**Stakeout this Afternoon


I just have a couple of announcements for you in connection with Haiti.  There has been a time change in the consolidated appeal launch this afternoon.  So now at approximately 4:45 p.m., following the revised consolidated appeal for Haiti, the Secretary-General will speak to you at the stakeout on the second floor of the Temporary North Lawn Building.


Joining the Secretary-General will be John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator; Bill Clinton, former President of the United States and United Nations Envoy for Haiti; and Leo Mérorès, the Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations.


So this is after the consolidated appeal launch, which is now scheduled for 4 p.m., with the stakeout at 4:45 p.m.


**Security Council


And at Headquarters today, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, briefed the Security Council on the Middle East.  He said that the United Nations remains deeply concerned at the current stalemate.  He added that we call for the resumption of talks on final-status issues, implementation of Road Map commitments, continued efforts to improve economic and security conditions, and a different and more positive approach to Gaza.


Pascoe noted that the Israeli Government’s partial restraint on settlement construction in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, remains in effect, and has led to a slowdown of construction activity.  Nevertheless, he said, settlements are illegal -- and continued settlement activity violates Israel’s Road Map obligations.  He added that the Israeli closure of Gaza remains in place, a policy he called “counterproductive”.


Pascoe said that the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to meet its Road Map obligations to combat terrorism have continued in the West Bank, with some impressive achievements.  It is important, he added, that the Palestinian Authority leadership continues to speak out against violence and incitement.  And of course, we have that statement upstairs.


And at 3 this afternoon, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on Western Sahara.  Council members will hear a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Christopher Ross, who met with the parties in informal talks last week in Armonk, New York.  We’ve already been told that Mr. Ross does not intend to speak to reporters at the stakeout afterwards.


So, that’s what I have for you.  Yes?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Dimitra Nochmka, Inter-Channel Ukrainian Television.  Ma’am, it was announced today that the United Nations has decided to ask Ukraine to participate in peacekeeping operations in Haiti.  Could you give any details, and could you tell about the possible terms of the beginning of this mission of the Ukrainian troops?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have an update on that.  But I’m sure that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations can come back to us on this.  And if they’re listening now, I hope we can hear back and get you an update on that.  Okay, thank you.


Question:  Nepal, and then something on staffing.  It’s reported that the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and Ms. [Karin] Landgren, the Government asked for information about discharged, disqualified Maoist combatants, and that UNMIN refused to provide that information to the Government, questioning how it would be used.  It’s often said that the peacekeeping missions, these missions are there only at the request of the Government, can you explain how a UN mission declining to provide information to a Government is consistent with…?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I am not familiar with what you are saying, so I’ll have to look into it after the briefing.


Question:  And I wanted to ask, there was, abortive, but a Staff Union meeting this morning in the North Lawn Building about the issue of Franz Baumann of DGACM [Department for General Assembly and Conference Management] imposing a swipe-in and swipe-out system.  Some staff members at the meeting said this would involve swiping out to use the bathroom.  They called it degrading, humiliating and [inaudible].  Although a vote wasn’t taken, the sense seems to be that this was, they were very much against it.  I asked Martin before, but what is the rationale for this system, and does the Secretary-General support what some are calling factorization of the UN?  Factorization.


Deputy Spokesperson:  My understanding, there was an initiative or is an initiative under way in that Department.  So what I suggest is that you contact the Department, the press [focal] point in that Department directly, because this is not something that is the Secretary-General’s policy.


Question:  Who covers the DGACM?


Deputy Spokesperson:  We can give you the name of the person to contact afterwards, okay?  So, if there is nothing for me…


Question:  Just one question.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes?


Question:  Marie, can we ask the Secretary-General today about some other issues or it’s strictly about Haiti?


Deputy Spokesperson:  This is about the Haiti appeal.  Obviously it’s a very important launch of the revised appeal, and we have, as I mentioned to you, not just the Secretary-General, but we have Bill Clinton, John Holmes and the Permanent Representative of Haiti.  So this is an opportunity to flag the Haiti appeal.


Question:  But we’re not bound to that?  You’re not saying… you’re just suggesting to…


Deputy Spokesperson:  No, the time is very limited.  So yes, it will be limited to Haiti.


All right, thank you very much, and have a good afternoon.  We’ll see you later.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record