24 August 2011
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 Vannina Maestracci, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


Bonjour, welcome to the noon briefing.


**Secretary-General in Denver


The Secretary-General is en route to Denver, Colorado, where later today he will deliver a keynote speech at the fourteenth annual Korbel dinner hosted by the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies.


In his remarks at the event, he is expected to underscore the importance of sustainable development, highlighting the need to lift people out of poverty, create jobs and provide a dignified life for all while preserving the planet.


Today, he is also scheduled to tour the United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.


And as we announced yesterday, the Secretary-General has truncated his programme in view of pressing developments in Libya and will, therefore, return to New York tomorrow.


** Libya


The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya, Abdel-Elah al-Khatib, and the Special Adviser dealing with post-conflict planning, Ian Martin, met with Mr. Mahmoud Jibril, Chairman of the Executive Bureau of the National Transitional Council of Libya (NTC) yesterday.  The UN officials asked for views of the NTC on its needs and priorities in the coming period, particularly on areas where the United Nations may be able to provide assistance to the Libyan people.  These areas include transitional justice and human rights, electoral assistance, socio-economic recovery and security issues.


They briefed Mr. Jibril on the Secretary-General’s contacts and his efforts to lead and coordinate the international community’s response in helping the Libyan people in the period ahead.


** Syria


And on Syria, you have seen that yesterday night Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos expressed serious concern at reports of protesters being killed and injured in the Syrian city of Homs, after a UN humanitarian mission visited the area yesterday.  She called on the Syrian authorities to ensure that people are allowed to protest peacefully and in safety.


**South Sudan


And yesterday, we issued a statement in which the Secretary-General expressed his deep concern over recent fighting between two communities in Jonglei State, South Sudan, which resulted in at least 600 deaths.  He called on the Government of South Sudan to take all steps to restore security in Jonglei, protect civilians affected by this violence and to work with both communities to reduce tensions.  The full statement is available online.


** Darfur


And in answer to a question yesterday, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur, UNAMID, has dispatched a patrol team to the Hamadiya camp for the internally displaced in West Darfur, following the killing of a local leader.  UNAMID says that he was reportedly killed on 20 August in circumstances that are still unclear.  The Mission has been in contact with local leaders, the family of the deceased and police to determine exactly what happened.


**Security Council


And this afternoon, at 3 p.m., the Security Council will hold consultations on Libya.


And that’s what I have for you.  Barbara?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Can you give us any details at all about the Secretary-General’s meeting on Friday with regards to the regional organizations?


Associate Spokesperson:  That we announced yesterday.  I mean, simply what we said yesterday:  he will be meeting with the Heads of the League of Arab States, the Organization [for Islamic Cooperation], sorry, European Union and African Union, and that will happen on Friday afternoon.  That’s all we have right now.


Question:  Is there… is it a public venue, or where will it take place?


Associate Spokesperson:  I am not sure, I think we’re still working out the modalities right now.  Yes?


Question:  Sure, I have several questions.  One is, there is a new report out by the… the Satellite Sentinel Project saying that they found more mass graves, more… it’s more detailed this time, saying that based on their report, you know, based on what they’ve heard, that the Sudanese Red Crescent put bodies into… into mass graves and lit them aflame.  So I wanted to know, one, what… what the UN’s response to that is, and two, I guess again, I want to ask why in that Human Rights/DPKO report on Kordofan all the paragraphs about the Sudanese Red Crescent were omitted from the final draft and whether that makes any sense now given this new report?


Associate Spokesperson:  We are aware of the report that the Sentinel Project says that it found two additional mass graves, which would bring to a total of eight mass graves in Southern Kordofan.  As you know, UNMIS and the UN doesn’t have a mandate anymore there.  So it’s not possible for us right now to verify these allegations.  And as you also know, the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been asking to get access to proceed with a human rights investigation in Southern Kordofan.  And her Office has not been able to get that access as of now.


Question:  There is just one thing, maybe you can get it from the… I was… it was in the… in the comparing the… the draft and final report, there were two full paragraphs mentioning activities by the Sudanese Red Crescent, I know that Farhan said, you know, ask Navi Pillay, so I did.  They said they’d… they’d answered on why these things dropped out.  But since there was a DPKO involvement I am just wondering if somebody can issue some… it doesn’t matter how short it is, some explanation of why that material was omitted.  Was it not true?  It seemed to have multiple sources [inaudible].


Associate Spokesperson:  As you know, in the process of vetting a UN document and a report of this sort, there are different standards that are applied, and I think Farhan answered you on the way this was done.  I have it up in the office, and if you want to come I can give it to you again.  But I mean, I don’t think we want to go to everything that you know, comparing.  We look at the final document.  That’s the UN report, the final document.


Question:  I mean, I was… my… the only thing… the reason I am asking on this is that if… if in fact the Sudanese Red Crescent was taken out, is there any thought about that now, given this new report?  That’s… that’s really what I am asking you.  It’s not for a generic statement of how documents are prepared, but if someone can explain that particular change, two paragraphs, Red Crescent now named as a bad actor, why did they come out?


Associate Spokesperson:  I will check with OHCHR.  Yes?


Correspondent:  Hi.


Associate Spokesperson:  Hi.


Question:  I would like to have more details about the conversations that are being held between the Libyan rebels and the UN representatives?


Associate Spokesperson:  What I told you about Mr. Al-Khatib and Mr. Ian Martin’s discussion yesterday with Mr. Jibril is what we have right now.  I believe you’ll have more information on Friday when there is — the Secretary-General as you know has convened this meeting on Libya.  So, you will have more information then on that subject.  Yes, Mr. Abbadi?


Question:  Thank you, Vannina.  On Syria, as you know, the Secretary-General has spoken to Bashar al-Assad some time ago, who assured him that violence would stop against the civilians, that his troops would no longer shoot the civilians.  And as it turned out that was not the case, and the Secretary-General said that the President has not kept his word.  Now, Valerie Amos says that shooting is continuing.  Does the Secretary-General have anything to say at this stage on the situation?


Associate Spokesperson:  In Syria, no, I mean, yes:  he is obviously, you know, he is concerned by the violence that is going on in Syria.  And you have heard Valerie Amos’s statement, obviously OCHA — the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs — is also concerned.  And you know there is a humanitarian mission there right now.  I believe yesterday they went to Lattakia and Jisr Ashagor and Dargoushbefore heading south to Aleppo.  So, they are still on the ground and they are still doing their work in assessing the humanitarian needs in Syria.  Sure.


Question:  On the Palmer report, there was another postponement of the report to be given to the Secretary-General for 10 days.  When the 10 days ends up and whether it is the last…


Associate Spokesperson:  I don’t believe there was a postponement of the report.  As Farhan said yesterday, we had never set a precise date, we’ve always said end of August and that’s where we still stand right now, the end of August.


Question:  Will this be the last postponement?


Associate Spokesperson:  As I said, I don’t believe there was a postponement, we hadn’t set a date.  There was no specific date that was set.  Yes?


Question:  Sure, some Libya questions, may… maybe… anyway, first one is that… that the NTC has announced that it would sort of in advance give amnesty to anyone that either captured or killed Muammar Qadhafi.  And I just wonder if in the UN system there is any thought of… of… of… I mean it’s one thing to offer a reward, but to offer amnesty in advance regardless of the other crime, somebody had said what if Said al-Islam, you know, Said al-Islamor Islam does it, but the question is, what does the UN think of an… of an offer of amnesty in advance without knowing who the individual to be given amnesty is?


Associate Spokesperson:  I don’t have a comment on that right now.


Question:  The other one is, and I don’t know if you will, but I… this report that… that Mr. Martin and Vandewalle prepared for the Secretary-General, a person who has read it has told me that it contained a line to the effect that you can’t count on the African Union.  And I wonder, one, if you can either confirm or deny that, and two, how that would be consistent with this invitation of the African Union to Friday’s meeting here in New York.


Associate Spokesperson:  I haven’t seen that document which I don’t believe is a UN document.  And also, as Farhan told you yesterday, we are not commenting on the work of a consultant.


Question:  How is it not a UN document [inaudible]?


Associate Spokesperson:  He explained it to you — there is a big paragraph yesterday that he… That’s the speech he gave when talking to students at Dartmouth, right?  Is that it?


Question:  [inaudible] there is an actual 30-page report, it’s actually styled as Martin to Ban Ki-moon, and from what I’ve heard that’s where the line that it has in it, so I am just asking for some…


Associate Spokesperson:  I haven’t seen it as a UN document yet.  If you want I can check if it is, yeah?


Correspondent:  Okay.


Associate Spokesperson:  Yes?


Question:  What does the Secretary-General make of this call from China to… for the UN to take more of a leading role in post-conflict Libya?


Associate Spokesperson:  Well, you know the Secretary-General has already expressed his wish to increase efforts by the international community to coordinate assistance to Libya in the post-conflict period.  And Mr. Ian Martin is in charge of that.  And, you know the UN stands ready to assist the Libyan people.


That’s it?  Thank you very much.  Have a great afternoon.


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For information media • not an official record