10 June 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 Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


Good morning.  Good afternoon, rather.


**Guest at the Noon Briefing


We’ll get started fairly quickly because we will have soon with us a guest at the noon briefing.  That will be Ann-Marie Orler, the United Nations Police Adviser, and she will come here to brief you on police peacekeeping activities in Sudan, Haiti and Guinea-Bissau, and on the global effort to recruit more women police.  So, that will take place fairly shortly.  And before that, I’ll get through a few items for the day.


**Secretary-General in Cameroon


The Secretary-General arrived in Yaoundé, Cameroon, around midnight from Burundi, and he has another full programme today on the latest leg of his second Africa trip this month.


He has already held talks with President Paul Biya and he is scheduled to visit a project site at Mbalmayo outside Yaoundé.  This is a chance for the Secretary-General to see for himself the UN's practical work with the local authorities on a range of projects connected to the Millennium Development Goals, including water, income generation and gender empowerment.


The Secretary-General has also held meetings with the local UN country team and UN staff.  He returns to Johannesburg overnight to attend tomorrow's FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony and opening match.


**Security Council on Cyprus


The Security Council held consultations on Cyprus this morning, at which it heard from the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer.  Mr. Downer briefed on the current state of talks between the two parties since the election of Dervis Eroglu as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.  He also flagged the Secretary-General’s latest report on the good offices mission for Cyprus, which says that considerable progress was made in the UN-sponsored peace talks in Cyprus during the reporting period from late November last year to the end of April this year.


And also, Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, the President of the Security Council for June, will also be at the stakeout shortly to speak with reporters.


**Secretary-General on Iran


And the Secretary-General came out with a statement yesterday, following the Security Council’s adoption of its fourth sanctions resolution on Iran’s nuclear programme.  We put that out in the Spokesperson's Office and also have that online.


** Afghanistan


Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said today that he was shocked and deeply saddened at the loss of life and large numbers of those injured last night in an attack on a wedding party in the village of Nagahan, in the southern province of Kandahar.


De Mistura condemned the attack, saying:  “To specifically target people who were gathering at a moment of happiness to celebrate a wedding shows a total disregard for civilian life.”  He expressed the sympathies of the UN system to the families who have lost loved ones and the hope for a speedy recovery of those who were injured.


** Gaza


The annual report of the International Labour Office (ILO) on the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories shows some improvement in the economic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  However, it remains precarious, particularly in Gaza.


The report says that the Occupied Palestinian Territory has shown an accelerated growth rate and a slightly higher rate of employment which is, however, still very low by international standards.  Meanwhile, as a consequence of the nearly complete Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip, growth has not been evenly distributed between Gaza and the West Bank, the report says.  “The longer the closure continues, the more it undermines future prospects of workers and their families, in particular of the young generation,” the report adds.


**Appointments


Just after the briefing yesterday, we announced two appointments by the Secretary-General.


The Secretary-General has appointed Roger A. Meece of the United States as his Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of Congo and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO).  Mr. Meece will succeed Alan Doss of the United Kingdom, and he recently served as the United States ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


The Secretary-General also announced the appointment of Augustine P. Mahiga, who has been Tanzania’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations, as his Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS).  Mr. Mahiga replaces Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah of Mauritania.


**Former Yugoslavia


Last, seven former Bosnian Serb military and police officials were convicted this morning of a range of crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.  The sentences against them range from 5 years to life in prison and relate to crimes committed in 1995 during the fall of Srebrenica and Žepa, in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina.  And this was the largest trial to date held before the Tribunal.  Others were sentenced to shorter terms in prison.  And you can read more about it on the Tribunal’s press release online.


**Press Conferences This Afternoon


We have in the room right now, Ann-Marie Orler, the UN Police Adviser, who will be the guest at the noon briefing today.  She is here to brief you on police peacekeeping activities in Sudan, Haiti and Guinea-Bissau, and on the global effort to recruit more women police.


Immediately following today’s noon briefing, there will be a press conference held by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs about the 2010 Global Peace Index.


At 2 p.m., the Chairman of the sixth plenary of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Ambassador Franciscos Verros of Greece, will hold a press conference about the work of the contact group.


And at 3 p.m., Ambassador Pablo Macedo of Mexico, Chairperson-designate of the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States on Small Arms and Light Weapons, will be here to brief you on the upcoming meeting, to be held from 14-18 June in New York, and on various aspects of the small arms issue.


**Press Conferences Tomorrow


Last, press conferences tomorrow — at 11 a.m., Ayaka Suzuki, Chief of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reinsertion Section of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, will hold a press conference to launch a new report entitled “Second Generation Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Practices in Peace Operations”. 


And at 3 p.m., Ambassador Abdalhaleem Mohamad, the Permanent Representative of Sudan, will hold a press conference.


Are there any questions before we turn to our guests?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Farhan, thank you.  You just indicated that the Secretary-General has replaced Ould-Abdallah.  What is Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah going to do now?


Associate Spokesperson:  He’s left his office.  I am not aware that he is taking any other UN position.  So, I believe that simply is the end of his time working for the UN Political Office in Somalia, and as I said, Ambassador Mahiga will be his replacement.  Yes?


Question:  Can you give us some information about recent contacts of Secretary-General regarding the flotilla investigation search?  Is there anything concrete these days?


Associate Spokesperson:  I don’t have anything new to say about this.  Certainly, his contacts continue.  He and his senior officials, including Mr. [B. Lynn] Pascoe, working here at Headquarters, are in touch with a range of actors, and they’ve continued discussions with a number of people.  I do know that Mr. Pascoe in recent days spoke, among others, with the Foreign Minister of Israel, Mr. [Avigdor] Liberman.  And as far as that goes, the Secretary-General’s stance on the investigative process remains where it was and he does continue to stress the importance of credible international involvement in that process.


Question:  When is he coming back, do you know?  When is he coming back…?


Associate Spokesperson:  Well, he has a number of trips.  Tomorrow he will be in South Africa.  He will come back here to Headquarters next week.  He should be back, I believe around the 16th.


Question:  Thank you.  When would the Secretary-General appoint a group of experts in conformity with the resolution adopted yesterday on sanctions?


Associate Spokesperson:  Well, as you yourself just noted, the resolution was simply adopted yesterday.  He is beginning work on the process of appointing experts.  There is nothing to announce on that just yet.


And with that, I would like to introduce Ann-Marie Orler to the podium.  Thanks very much.


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For information media • not an official record