13 September 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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon everybody, and welcome to the briefing.


**Press Conferences


Immediately following this briefing, in about 10 minutes from now, the Secretary-General will participate in a press conference on the Roll Back Malaria Partnership’s report entitled A Decade of Partnership and Results.  More on that shortly.


[Press conference on the Roll Back Malaria Partnership’s report issued separately.]


And then at 3:30 today, here in the auditorium, there will be a background briefing for correspondents.


**Security Council


The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia (UNMIL) briefed the Security Council earlier today.


Ellen Margrethe Løj said the country should be proud of the eight years of unbroken peace it is seeing, the longest such period in three decades.  She added the country also continues to recover economically.


Ms. Løj said the forthcoming presidential and legislative elections come at a critical time for the subregion, as they follow the Ivorian crisis, which has caused humanitarian and security concerns along Liberia’s borders.  She added that the elections will also provide Liberia an opportunity to consolidate peace.  And you can find a copy of her remarks in our office.


** Sudan


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) continues in Blue Nile and South Kordofan States.


The Sudanese Red Crescent Society has reported that in the days following the outbreak of fighting in Blue Nile State, some 115,000 people fled their homes, while 20,000 more people were displaced in the west of the state.


Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) has received official requests for food assistance.  However, due to Government-imposed restrictions on pre‑positioning of food stocks in Blue Nile State, the World Food Programme has limited stocks of pre-positioned food to feed 20,000 people for about two weeks.  Eight thousand newly displaced people in the eastern areas of Southern Kordofan have also been provided with essential non-food items.


** Tunisia


Two hundred and forty thousand Tunisians are expected to benefit from various cash-for-work projects being launched by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Tunisian Government, along with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).  The projects will unfold over the next two years and will focus mainly on water and soil conservation, and will involve training schemes for farmers in the central-western areas of Tunisia.  And I can tell you this also marks the re-establishment of WFP’s presence in the country.


** Yemen


A United Nations human rights assessment mission which visited Yemen over the summer has called for immediate action to protect civilians, respect the right to peaceful demonstration and to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country.  During the visit, between 28 June and 6 July, the delegation visited Aden, Sana’a and Ta’izz.


In a report published today, the mission says it observed an overall situation where many Yemenis peacefully calling for greater freedoms, an end to corruption and respect for rule of law were met with excessive and disproportionate use of lethal force by the State.  It adds that hundreds have been killed and thousands injured.  There is more information available on the website of the UN Human Rights Office.


** Haiti


The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is concerned following the recent evictions of individuals from camp sites set up after last January’s earthquake in Haiti in 2010.  These evictions — some involving the use of force — violate the right to adequate housing.


Since the earthquake, nearly 70,000 people have been affected by evictions, and in the past year, the number of camps under threat has quadrupled.  The humanitarian community in Haiti reiterates its opposition to forced evictions, which only exacerbate existing vulnerabilities of camp populations.  The full statement can be found online.


**International Day of Peace


On Wednesday evening, the Secretary-General will open a symposium entitled “Give Peace Another Chance”, and this is in observance of the annual International Day of Peace.  This year’s observance of the International Day of Peace is significant since it is the thirtieth anniversary of its inception.


**Noon Guest Tomorrow


And also tomorrow, I will have as my guest Elhadj As Sy, the Regional Director for East and Southern Africa from UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), to brief on the situation in the Horn of Africa.


I have a couple minutes before the Secretary-General and the other guests arrive, so if you have any questions, please.  Yes, Masood?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  In the aftermath of the report, the UN report on the flotilla incident that the Secretary-General has finally received… I mean, what is the Secretary-General proposing and how does he…?  I mean, you said that he is making this appeal, “Give Peace Another Chance”.  In what context does he want the peace another chance?  Not peace another chance, what happened, has… we missed the train?


Spokesperson:  Obviously the event that we are referring to is of a global nature, and doesn’t point at any one particular part of the world, but your point is understood, Masood.  The Secretary-General in fact has just been taking part — and that’s where he will be coming from — in an event through Facebook also, a global conversation that is being followed by many people on Twitter.  In the course of that conversation, which was webcast as well, the Secretary-General was asked about, precisely about, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he reiterated his involvement in the Quartet, his desire to see negotiations start as soon as possible, and he also reiterated his commitment to the two-State solution that envisages Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security.  So he has just literally in the last hour reiterated his commitment to that and his desire to see negotiations, direct talks, take place.  Yes?


Question:  Martin, did the Secretary-General ask approval of the Israeli [inaudible] after he set up the format of the Palmer [inaudible]?


Spokesperson:  Approval of the what?


Question:  [inaudible] that I am choosing this guy from Colombia, this guy from Australia, is it okay with you?  [inaudible]


Spokesperson:  Well, let’s remember this was the Secretary-General’s panel.  But, plainly, there was a great deal of conversation that went on in the run up and then during the course of this panel’s work.  Other questions?  Yes?


Question:  Follow-up?


Question:  Martin?


Spokesperson:  I’ll come to you in a minute, Erol.


Question:  Does the Secretary-General support the Palestinian debate this month at the UN General Assembly?


Spokesperson:  This is a matter for Member States, I think, as you know.  As I just mentioned, the Secretary-General has made his views clear repeatedly on the vision, and on the understanding and sympathizing with the dream of many Palestinians for their own State.  He has said this is something that is for Member States to decide here within the context of the United Nations.  And he has also said that there really should be direct talks as soon as possible.


Question:  Which means… which would mean that [inaudible]?


Spokesperson:  Between the Palestinians and the Israelis…about the whole range of topics that there are out there that everybody knows about.


Question:  [inaudible]


Spokesperson:  I am coming to Erol, who had a follow-up question.  Then I will come to you.  Yeah?


Question:  Martin, regarding that escalation between Israel and Turkey, although the Secretary-General clearly recognized the potential of the… and dangerous situation in this and he reacted somehow, does he think that he, recognizing this potential implication, should, or would he do something bolder than just expressing, I would say, routine statement and calling for two sides to abstain in further escalation?


Spokesperson:  Well, it may be routine to you, Erol, but it certainly isn’t for the Secretary-General.  When he says something he means it.  And in this particular instance these are two very important countries regionally with traditionally good relations.  He has said that he hopes through dialogue those relations can be improved as soon as possible.  That’s important not just for the bilateral relationship, but for the region in general.


Question:  But does he think now, today, in comparison to when he issued that statement, is he more optimistic or pessimistic?


Spokesperson:  There is a need for an improvement in relations, and the Secretary-General continues to believe that the best way to do that is through dialogue. 


And the man I am speaking about has now entered the room, and so we shall start. 


So, again, good afternoon everybody.  And I’d like to welcome here the Secretary-General of the United Nations.  And, as you can also see, to my far left is Geeta Rao Gupta, who is the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF.  Welcome.  And to my immediate left, Professor Awa-Marie Coll-Seck, who is Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.  And this is precisely why we are here, for the launch of a report by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and this is entitled

A Decade of Partnership and Results


I’d like to pass the floor, first of all, to the Secretary-General.


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For information media • not an official record