20 October 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.


So, good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to the briefing.


**Noon Guest


You will have seen the Secretary-General’s remarks just a while ago on developments in Libya.


And as the Secretary-General mentioned, he had been speaking earlier this morning to Ian Martin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya.  I am very pleased to say that Mr. Martin is joining us by video link from Tripoli.  And I do believe that Mr. Martin has a few introductory remarks, and then will be available for questions.


And at the end of that, if time allows, I will be happy to take further questions on other topics.  As you know, there is quite a schedule of press conferences lined up in the coming couple of hours.  So, without further ado, please, Mr. Martin.  Thank you for joining us and the floor is yours.


[Press conference by Mr. Martin issued separately.]


**Press Conferences


So, I am happy to take questions.  Just before that let me remind you that at 12:30 — so quite shortly — Marzuki Darusman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, will speak to you.


And there are other press conferences this afternoon that we have mentioned, and, indeed, there are some tomorrow, the details of which you will be able to see online and in my Office as appropriate.


So, questions please?  Other questions?  Matthew?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Yeah, sure.  The… there are… there is… this… NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] has essentially enforced this crackdown on the… the border posts erected by Kosovo Serbs, and I wanted to know… and the Russian Ambassador here had said that there… it should be resolved by talking and not by this type of action.  Does the UN and… and UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] have any view of what is taking place on the border?


Spokesperson:  Well, we continue to call for calm, restraint and dialogue between all sides, international and local.  It’s obvious that KFOR [Kosovo Force] should be allowed the freedom of movement it requires to fulfil its mandate, to ensure a safe and secure environment.  And I’d also mention that UNMIK continues to engage with all parties to identify a solution and calls for calm and restraint.  Okay, other questions?  Yes, Stefano?


Question:  Yes, this is about the meeting yesterday with the Nobel Peace Prize Karman, and in your readout from the Secretary-General, he finished with… he emphasized that the United Nations had a clear stance against impunity for gross human rights violations.  So, this means… I mean that, categorically, Ban Ki-moon and… is not agreement with the Security Council.  He will… they will not agree with the Security Council…?


Spokesperson:  I think that’s…


Question:  …without a GCC resolution [inaudible]?


Spokesperson:  That’s quite an extraordinary interpretation.


Question:  The report said that this will… is that give an impunity to the… to President Saleh.  Is this what this prize means?


Spokesperson:  Stefano, I think that’s quite an extraordinary interpretation for the simple reason there is no resolution yet in the Council.  That is still being discussed by Council members.  Let’s wait and see what the resolution says.  That’s the first thing.  The second thing is that, as Mr. Ian Martin just said in a different context, the UN has very clear guidelines, and it’s guided by international humanitarian law, and those guidelines state very clearly there can be no amnesty for those who have committed gross violations of human rights, and that includes war crimes and crimes against humanity.  So I think that’s the bigger picture.  The more precise nature of your questions, we need to see what the resolution says.  They haven’t passed a resolution to my knowledge.


Question:  A follow-up on that, please?


Spokesperson:  Yes, Nizar?


Question:  [inaudible] in the case of South Africa, without forgiveness and reconciliation, there wouldn’t have been peace in South Africa.  Why would the United Nations encourage, I mean, accountability more than reconciliation and making-up between factions of society?


Spokesperson:  Well, again, Nizar, there is a bedrock principle at stake here, and that is we cannot envisage impunity.  There is… the United Nations has a clear stance against impunity.  Impunity and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive.  It is entirely possible to conduct a reconciliation process and ensure that those who have… who are found guilty of gross human rights violations are held to account.  Yes?


Question:  Yeah, has there been any further action that you are aware of in response to the letters of both the United States and Iran sent regarding the alleged plot to kill a Saudi Arabian Ambassador in the United States and the bombing of the two embassies?  I know the letters were sent to the Secretary-General; he distributed them to the Security Council and General Assembly.  Has he followed up on them?  Has there been any further communications [inaudible]?


Spokesperson:  Well, they were indeed transmitted to the Council and to the General Assembly as was some correspondence that we’ve mentioned before, and the Secretary-General has mentioned before from the Saudi authorities.  That matter is in the hands of the Council.  Yes, Masood?


Question:  On the report… on the meeting between the Yemeni Nobel Prize winner and the Secretary-General, she’d asked that the Secretary-General go and call the ouster of President Saleh, and that… what is the Secretary-General going to tell the Security Council members as to what he sees the position on… were there any… will he only ask for his ouster?


Spokesperson:  I think what he emphasized was that the… he reassured Ms. Karman… and this was an extremely interesting and lively exchange between the two of them — the first time they have met.  But he certainly reassured Ms. Karman that the United Nations was doing everything possible to help the Yemeni people resolve the current political standoff and, importantly, to promote an orderly, inclusive and Yemeni-led transition process.  In other words, this is in the hands of the Yemeni people.


Question:  On this question about exchange of prisoners, Palestinian prisoners, there is a report that lists [inaudible] being compiled by Egyptians in coordination with some of the Gaza factions of Palestinians to get more Palestinian prisoners released.  Do you have any update on that as to where it stands now, and that will there be exchanged?


Spokesperson:  No, I don’t, no, I don’t.  That wouldn’t really be a matter for us in any case.  But I don’t have anything further on that.  [inaudible], I think, did you have a question?


Question:  Me?  Well, okay.  I was not intending to ask, but [inaudible] yesterday’s announcement of the Secretary-General in regard to the Kurdish terrorist attacked and ambushed either Turkish soldiers and that there were a lot of dead and everything.  All the SG was saying that Kurdish enemies…  enemy today is a very lovely word, but these people, these elements have been killing the tots, small kids, pregnant women or civilians.  Is there any reason that since the United States [inaudible]democratic countries in the world recognize PKK [Kurdish Workers Party] as a terrorist organization, for some reason did he forget about it [inaudible] ?


Spokesperson:  Well, certainly there is no intended difference or softening of the UN position in yesterday’s statement.  The Secretary-General promptly expressed his concern and said that these PKK attacks are clearly unacceptable.  He condemns the attacks and once again expresses his deepest sympathies with the Government and people of Turkey in the face of terrorist violence.


Okay, I will leave it at that point because I am very conscious that your next speaker is coming, and will be briefing you on the situation in the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].  So, thank you very much.  Good afternoon.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record