|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 Vannina Maestracci, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Bonjour, welcome to the noon briefing.
This morning, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUSCO, by one year, until 30 June 2012.
After that, Council members received a briefing on Guinea-Bissau by the Secretary-General’s representative for that country, Joseph Mutaboba. He said that several encouraging developments have taken place recently in the country, particularly regarding the reform of the security sector and regional efforts to stabilize State institutions.
However, Mr. Mutaboba added, the increased stability and more positive political climate in the country remain fragile. He said that there remain serious concerns about the lack of commitment by the national authorities to address impunity, drug trafficking and organized crime. We have his remarks to the Council in the Spokesperson’s Office.
**Alain Le Roy
And as we informed you yesterday afternoon, Alain Le Roy, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, has informed the Secretary-General that he will not seek a further extension of his appointment, which will expire on 23 August of this year.
The Secretary-General deeply regrets that Mr. Le Roy is not able to continue to serve the United Nations in this position, but he fully understands the family reasons behind Mr. Le Roy’s decision. And he thanked Mr. Le Roy for his outstanding service over the past three years.
The Secretary-General will review possible replacements for Mr. Le Roy. And that statement is online.
In Libya, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that it has received reports of significant displacement in the Nafusa Mountains, which has been the scene of intense fighting between Government forces and opposition groups since mid-March. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that, since the start of the conflict, more than 64,000 Libyans have been displaced from the Nafusa Mountains and other parts of western Libya into Tunisia, where they are largely hosted by local communities.
As of Sunday, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been able to deliver, through partners, a total of 546 metric tons of food for more than 100,000 people in the mountains.
However, so far, UN agencies have been unable to gain access to the Nafusa Mountains to undertake assessments and monitor the delivery of assistance. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that an inter-agency mission into the Mountains remains a priority to accurately and impartially determine humanitarian needs.
The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kang Kyung-wha, has wrapped up her mission to Sudan, where she said she learned of the hopes and aspirations of all Sudanese people for a better future. Her visit took her to Khartoum, South Sudan, the North-South border area and Darfur.
In Abyei, Ms. Kang said she saw utter devastation, which is a chilling warning of what might become of the border area. She stressed the urgent need for the protection of civilians across the border area. And she urged the Governments of the North and South to facilitate access for humanitarian workers to help people in need and for human rights officers to speak with victims. There’s a press release with more details on that in our Office.
And the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the Horn of Africa is facing the most severe food crisis in the world.
More than 10 million people in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda are severely affected, with no likelihood of improvement until next year.
The situation continues to deteriorate, and the number of people in need is expected to increase, the Office says.
Child malnutrition rates in the worst-affected areas of the region are expected to rise, while food prices have also risen substantially.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has appealed for global support for the United Nations fund for torture victims.
The voluntary fund finally supports 300 projects in dozens of countries around the world, and also helps tens of thousands of victims every year.
Following an all-time high of nearly $12 million in 2008, contributions to the Fund, which held its thirtieth anniversary this year, have dropped for two years in a row now.
And a conference and briefing this afternoon, just a reminder that today, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations will be giving a background briefing on South Sudan’s independence. That’s at 3 p.m. in the Situation Centre Conference Room on the 9th floor of DC1. And if you have any questions or need more information, please call our colleague, Michel Bonnardeaux. I am sure you all have his phone number.
And today at 3 p.m., there will be a press conference on the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. Speakers will include: Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC; that is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
And then tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., there will be a press conference by Mark Bowden, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, who will brief you on the situation in that country.
And that’s what I have for you. Mr. Abbadi.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Thank you, Vannina.
Associate Spokesperson: Sure.
Question: As you know, the Secretary-General gave an interview to a French radio a few days ago; and the interviewer reminded him of the criticism, strong criticism directed at him because of the, he allegedly was not taking stronger action or make strong pronouncements regarding human rights issues. The Secretary-General answered that this was a misimpression and misperception of his words; and this is very serious, as the Secretary-General is the spokesperson of the world there shouldn’t be any misperception of his words. So, my question is…?
Associate Spokesperson: Mr. Abbadi… Yes.
Question: Is the Secretary-General ready to take the necessary measures of an internal or external nature to remedy the situation?
Associate Spokesperson: Well, he is answering questions to the press on this specifically; this is the Radio France Internationale interview. I think the question wasn’t exactly that; it was a little bit larger in the sense that Karim, the reporter, also asked the Secretary-General, you know, a kind of a summary of his first mandate and the fact that some people had criticized the Secretary-General for perhaps being too shy and not speaking out enough on certain issues. And the Secretary-General explained that he had been very actually outspoken on many human rights issues and that he also believed in quiet diplomacy and that sometimes he felt that it was more important to keep a dialogue open with certain countries, and that did involve quiet diplomacy. But it did not mean — I think what the Secretary-General’s point was that — it did not mean he was a quiet man or quiet Secretary-General.
Question: I quote him, “it seems that there is a misperception of my action”. And there is a misperception. So, my question is, how does he deal with this misperception?
Associate Spokesperson: By correcting it with the press when he is asked the question — very simply. You just picked up on it; so we are correcting it, I think, and he is correcting it every time he talks. Yeah, another question? Erol.
Question: Excuse me?
Associate Spokesperson: Yes.
Question: Oh, okay. The Secretary-General yesterday, the Secretary-General did attend the meeting of the Slovenian President; actually, the Slovenian Mission where the presentation of the Slovenian candidacy for the Security Council was presented. And the Secretary-General did talk about that. So, my question is: is that mean that the Secretary-General is supporting Slovenia’s bid for the members of the Security Council on behalf of the Eastern European countries since there are three more countries?
Associate Spokesperson: It is for that regional group to decide who they want to put forward and for the Member States to elect.
Question: Okay, my question was, my question was, is that means that the Secretary-General is supporting Slovenia since…?
Associate Spokesperson: I think yesterday was Slovenia’s Independence Day.
Associate Spokesperson: Yeah, and I think the Secretary-General was participating in that event to mark that occasion — nothing else.
Question: And to follow up on that, is that somehow creates an obligation for the Secretary-General to attend any other three countries, which is Hungary, uh…
Associate Spokesperson: Its Independence Day, you mean?
Question: No, no, no, no, don’t put the words in my mouth, please. So, my question is, is that creates somehow an obligation for the Secretary-General to attends any kind of these kind of gathering of presenting the case for the bidding of the Security Council membership?
Associate Spokesperson: Well, again, I think you are saying it was a bid for Security Council membership. My understanding of it was that it was a celebration for Slovenia’s independence, national day. So, as I said, he participated…
Question: But that does not create obligation to attend any other three presentations, presentation gatherings that are going to occur in near future for other three candidates or so?
Associate Spokesperson: I don’t believe so, no.
Associate Spokesperson: Yes?
Question: Sure, we were told yesterday that the Swiss Agency for Development’s Representative in North Korea, in Pyongyang, Mrs. [Katharina] Zellweger met with Kim Won-soo on the topic of North Korea. So I am trying to get some kind of, since I guess Kim Won-soo, as well as Mr. Pascoe, are the ones charged with dealing with the DPRK to get some readout of that meeting or some statement from the UN about it has done on the topic of North Korea since the last time we heard from Pascoe and Mr. Kim, which is about a year ago. Can you confirm that meeting and I guess find, you know, what the UN has… what was said at the meeting and what the UN intends to do on North Korea?
Associate Spokesperson: No, I can’t confirm the meeting. As you know, we have the schedule of the Secretary-General; not the Chef de Cabinet or the Deputy Chef de Cabinet. I’ll check if we can get you something on that.
Question: I guess a follow-up on that, because there was, the Secretary-General himself met — this is switching to another country — with Mr. [Etienne] Tshisekedi, the opposition candidate in the DRC. I just spoke to the…, the… he met last week with him. The Ambassador of DRC says he remains mystified that he wasn’t informed and still has no idea what was discussed. Is that, since it was a meeting that one with the Secretary-General himself, is there some way to know, you know, who attended and what the, what the purpose of the meeting was?
Associate Spokesperson: I am pretty sure Farhan answered you on Friday on that one. And you know, it’s part of the Secretary-General’s many meetings with civil society. There are meetings where we don’t give a readout for. He was meeting with one of the opposition leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’ll check again, Matthew.
Question: May I follow up?
Associate Spokesperson: Oui.
Question: On my previous question, actually did the Secretary-General meet with the President of Slovenia, Mr. Türk, or will he meet during the day or so? I missed the schedule.
Associate Spokesperson: I believe it is on his agenda for today.
Question: For today?
Associate Spokesperson: I believe so. Yes?
Question: Yesterday, some opposition figures met in Damascus in Syria. I wonder whether the Secretary-General has any response on that; any comment.
Associate Spokesperson: Not right now, but I’ll check if we can get you something. Anything else?
Question: Sure, on Myanmar. The, eh… this actress that’s pla… going to in a thing about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, went to Myanmar; met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, now is being ejected from the country and told never to return. So I wonder along with this issue of the fighting with the Kachin rebels, is the, the, Mr. Nambiar, the Good Offices Envoy on Myanmar, is he aware of these events? Does he have, given that you know, even you know, other countries without even an envoy to Myanmar had comments on these. What’s happening with the UN? Is there, is…? Adviser to the Secretary-General
Associate Spokesperson: I believe he is aware of that specific report that you just mentioned and, you know, as the… in his capacity he is obviously following the situation there. There are no more details than that, Matthew, on that specifically.
Question: To tie back to your answer to… I mean, can we call this quiet or extremely quiet diplomacy or…, or… what’s actually being done on either of these two things in Myanmar?
Associate Spokesperson: I’ll try to see if I can get you something more on our work in Myanmar, yes?
Question: Okay, thank you.
Associate Spokesperson: Yes?
Question: Thank you, Vannina. Will the Secretary-General attend the African Union Summit?
Associate Spokesperson: In Guinée-Équatoriale? Is that the one you’re talking about?
Question: The next one.
Associate Spokesperson: The one that’s in Equatorial Guinea, I’m sorry, I said it in French. The Deputy Secretary-General is the one that will attend that meeting.
Okay, thank you very much. Have a great afternoon. Bon après-midi.
* *** *For information media • not an official record