31 March 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

and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon, everybody.  We have with us also today Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, and he will speak to you after this part of the briefing.

**Press Conferences

The closing press conference at the end of the Haiti Donors’ Conference will be at approximately 5:30 p.m. and it will take place in Conference Room 1, here in the Secretariat Building.

Participants will include the Secretary-General, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, [Haitian] President René Préval, and the co-chairs of the Conference.

**Secretary-General on Haiti

And on that topic, the Secretary-General opened the Donors’ Conference on Haiti this morning.  He is co-hosting the event with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  The Secretary-General highlighted the recovery and reconstruction plan being presented by the Haitian Government, which would establish a new Interim Haiti Recovery Commission to channel $3.9 billion into specific programmes and projects during the next 18 months. Over the next 10 years, he said, Haiti’s reconstruction needs will total an estimated $11.5 billion, which must be well invested and well coordinated.  And we have his full speech in my office.

** Haiti -- Appointment

The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Edmond Mulet of Guatemala as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Mr. Mulet succeeds Hédi Annabi of Tunisia, who tragically perished in the 12 January 2010 earthquake.  In the weeks following the earthquake, Mr. Mulet demonstrated his remarkable leadership abilities as he assumed the role of Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSTAH.  We have more information on this appointment in my office.

**United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Since the closing of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December last year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has received submissions of national pledges to cut or limit emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 from 75 parties ‑‑ which together account for more than 80 per cent of global emissions from energy use.

This data and other information can be found in the official reports on the results of the conference, released by the UN Climate Change Secretariat today.  And you can find more information on the website of the UNFCCC.  We also have a press release on that.

**High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing

And while on the topic of climate change, the Secretary-General’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing met today for the first time in London.

Today’s meeting focused on establishing priorities and a plan of action for the Group’s work, which will feed into the UNFCCC process.  The Group is expected to issue initial outputs before the UNFCCC negotiating session to be held at the end of May and early June, and the final report will be submitted to the Secretary-General and to the current and next presidents ‑‑ Denmark and Mexico, respectively ‑‑ of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, by November.

**Security Council

Today is the last day of Gabon’s presidency of the Security Council.  Tomorrow, Ambassador Yukio Takasu of Japan will assume the Council’s rotating presidency for the month of April.

We have been informed that Council members today are also discussing the text of a press statement on Iraq.  We’ll inform you later whether they have reached agreement on that statement.

**Autism Day

World Autism Awareness Day will be observed globally ‑‑ only for the third time ‑‑ this coming Friday, 2 April.

In a written message for the Day, the Secretary-General says that, by combining research and awareness-raising efforts, we can provide adults and children with disabilities such as autism the protection, support and full membership of an inclusive society.

We have copies of that message in my Office, together with a list of events taking place related to the Day.

So, I am happy to take a few questions and then to hand over to Jean Victor.  Yes, Masood, let me guess what you want to ask about.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  [laughs]  Yes.  You guessed right.  The thing is, yesterday, a spokesman to the Pakistani President said that two Heads of State who had given some information to the assassinated leader, Benazir Bhutto, were not interviewed by the UN Commission.  Some reports are that the United Nations has said that the information should have been given to them earlier.  Now, my question in that perspective is, in that case, will the UN Commission led by Mr. [Heraldo] Muñoz reopen its findings and add something to it?  In that case, if that happens, will its mandate be extended by the Secretariat?

Spokesperson:  Well, that is several questions wrapped up in there.  That is good.  First of all, the Commissioners have informed us that the report is complete.  That is what I told you yesterday already.  They believe they have finished their work and that there is no need to include any further information.  It is for them to consider whether they need to change their report.

On the question of what we heard yesterday and overnight from the Government of Pakistan, the Government of Pakistan is, of course, free to provide any further information it believes is worthy of consideration.  But on the basis of what the Commissioners have informed us, so far, they believe that their work is done.

And on the mandate, you asked about the mandate.  The Commissioners have informed us that their work is complete; they have finished their work.  Any extensions to take into account the delay in presenting the report, which as you know is now 15 April instead of yesterday, would be purely technical.  Purely technical.

Question:  I understand, but what I am asking is:  will they be in a position to examine or talk to any more witnesses or the Heads of State that the Pakistani Government has said?  And then include their interviews also in the report?  This is the main thing.

Spokesperson:  Well, I understand the reason for the question.  The Commissioners have seen a considerable amount of relevant information, including what has been in the news media in recent days and, after conferring in light of the latest information, they continue to say to us that they have completed their work.  But that does not preclude, as I also just said to you, that the Government of Pakistan is free to provide any further information that it believes is worthy of consideration.

Question:  Is the UN ready to take into consideration whatever the Pakistani Government is going to provide?

Spokesperson:  This not about the UN; this is about the Commissioners and the Commission of Inquiry.  And, as I have just said to you, the Commissioners have informed us that their report is complete.  They believe they have finished their work.  But what I have also said to you is that the Government of Pakistan is free to provide any further information if it believes it is worthy of consideration.

And then, as I also said to you, the Commissioners have seen a considerable amount of relevant information, including what has surfaced in the media in recent days.  And based on that, and having conferred on that, they continue to say that they have completed their work.

Question:  Why do you say that the Pakistan Government is free to provide any information that they have?  The thing is, if they provide that information and that information does not really matter because the Commission will not open its report again to improve it, or whatever, then what is the use of the Pakistani Government providing that information to the UN?  Will it matter? Could it quite possibly reopen the Commission’s findings?

Spokesperson:  I do not really want to get into the realm of the hypothetical, but what I can say is what I’ve said already.  They believe that they have finished their work and that there is no need to include any further information.  But it is for the Commissioners ‑‑ an independent group of three Commissioners on this Commission of Inquiry ‑‑ it is for them to consider whether they need to change their report.  What they have informed us is that the report is complete.  In light of the latest information, they continue to say that they have completed their work.

Question:  Was there any question before that the Commission’s work was not being done, and their mandate has been extended?

Spokesperson:  I know I was asked about that yesterday.  I do not have a clear answer on that.

Question:  Martin, back to the UN.  Yesterday, if I am not wrong, the Parliament of Serbia adopted a resolution condemning “atrocities”, as they said.  So they clearly avoided the word “genocide” in Srebrenica.  Now, bearing in mind that the two fugitives that are left for the International Criminal [Tribunal] for the Former Yugoslavia are believed to be still hiding in Serbia, what does the Secretary-General have to say regarding this resolution and regarding the presumption that they are still in Serbia?

Spokesperson:  I do not really have anything to say on the fugitives.  The UN’s position on that is very clear.

Question:  What is it?

Spokesperson:  I do not need to repeat that here; it is very clear.  What I would want to add is that any steps towards reconciliation in what has previously been an extremely troubled part of the world are to be welcomed.

Question:  Sure, Martin ‑‑ on Congo and climate change.  On this massacre, allegedly by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Congo, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has now come and said that, at most, 25 were killed, really calling into question the Human Rights Watch’s number of 321.  Given that, if I understand you correctly, MONUC [the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] has been aware of this or looking into it since earlier in the year, what is MONUC’s position on both how many people were killed, more or less, and who is responsible?

Spokesperson:  First of all, when we discussed this, on Monday I believe, what I said was, if I remember correctly, that MONUC was not able to confirm the figures that Human Rights Watch has quoted.  The chronology of this is also important.  As I mentioned to you, MONUC went public on 27 January at a press conference, announcing at that time that more than 100 people were suspected to have been killed by the LRA.  So I think that answers your question.

Question:  And that is the current UN number, since that time until now?

Spokesperson:  What I have also said, what I can tell you again is that the investigations have been going on.  Indeed, the first investigation team from MONUC was dispatched on 29 December 2009, and subsequently on 7 January 2010 and 20 January 2010.  These investigations have been done in collaboration with civil society and the local authorities and with the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of the Congo.  And the MONUC investigations continue.

Question:  Is today the deadline for countries to submit names to replace Yvo De Boer at the UNFCCC?  And, if so, is it possible to say how many applicants there are and for what countries?  I know Costa Rica held a press conference here, saying “here is their candidate”.  Other countries have said things publicly, but is it possible, in the same way that you are reporting on countries signing up to the Copenhagen accord, to say how many?  Has Indonesia put forward a candidate?  I will start with that one.

Spokesperson:  The deadline is today, the end of today.  So I am not in a position now to say how many applications or nominations have been received.  The closing date is today, and there are still a few hours left of today.  That is the first thing.  The second thing is, even if we were to give a figure or number of nominations, we would not ‑‑ and that is standard procedure ‑‑ give names or countries because it is a selection process.  So we would not get into that.  The deadline is the end of today.

Question:  Do you know if Kim Bolduc is still performing her function as country coordinator in Haiti?

Spokesperson:  Pass, don’t know.

Any other questions?  If not, the floor is yours, Jean Victor.  Thank you.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon.

International Donors’ Conference for Haiti

On the occasion of the International Donors’ Conference towards a New Future for Haiti, held in New York on 31 March 2010, the President of the General Assembly, Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, urges representatives of participating Member States, financial institutions, private sector and civil society organizations to further support reconstruction efforts.

Encouraged by the commitment of participants, including that of the President and the Prime Minister of Haiti, Dr. Treki hopes that pledges and contributions by the international community would be commensurate with the needs of the people and Government of Haiti and firmly pave the way to a brighter future.

That is what I have for you today.  Questions?

No questions.  Have a good afternoon.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record