27 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 Guests


My guests today, as you can see, are Juan Somavía, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and Michelle Bachelet, who, as you know, is the Executive Director of UN Women.  And they are here to brief you on the launch of a new report on the Social Protection Floor Initiative.  This is a report that was just handed over a few minutes ago to the Secretary-General.  And I will first of all pass the floor to the Director-General, and I do believe that Ms. Bachelet has a few words to say, too.  They will be happy to take your questions.  And I will also be able to take questions after their briefing.  And I have a few other items for you.


So, please, Director-General, the floor is yours.


[Press conference by Mr. Somavía and Ms. Bachelet is issued separately.]


Okay, so I have a few other items for you, and then I am very happy to take some questions.


**Security Council


The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution this morning which ended specific measures on the no-fly zone and protection of civilians in Libya, as of one minute before midnight on the last day of October.  The Council also welcomed recent positive developments in Libya, but also expressed grave concern about continuing reports of reprisals, arbitrary detentions, wrongful imprisonment and extrajudicial executions.


Council members then held closed consultations to hear an update on Lebanon from Terje Roed-Larsen, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004).  He discussed the Secretary-General’s latest report on that resolution, which is out as a document.


In the report, the Secretary-General details a number of security incidents involving the use of weapons and explosives, which are indicative of growing security threats.  The Secretary-General appeals once again to all parties and States to immediately halt all efforts to transfer and acquire weapons and build paramilitary capacities outside the authority of the State.


The Security Council also adopted its annual report to the General Assembly today.


** Middle East Quartet


The Quartet envoys and the Quartet Representative, Tony Blair, met separately with the parties in Jerusalem yesterday to begin implementation of the Quartet statement of 23 September.


Both parties expressed their readiness to engage with the Quartet, on the basis of its statement of 23 September, to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions.  The parties agreed with the Quartet to come forward with comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months, in the context of the shared commitment to the objective of direct negotiations leading towards an agreement by the end of 2012.


The envoys reiterated the Quartet call, in that statement of 23 September, on the parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective.  And the Quartet envoys agreed with the parties to meet regularly for the next 90 days to review progress.


** Turkey Earthquake


The Government of Turkey reports that hundreds of people have died in the recent earthquake, and that more than 2,000 buildings have been damaged.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is providing shelter assistance by sending 400 winterized family tents.  The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has donated tents, blankets and bed mats.  The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has also contributed tents.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says there are concerns about freezing night-time temperatures and access to safe water and sanitation.


** Cambodia


And on Cambodia, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated $4 million this week for people affected by the floods in Cambodia.  The Resident Coordinator says that the funds would be used to provide food assistance, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, and education support to affected communities.  This is the first time Cambodia has received such funds.


**Press Conference


And at 1 p.m. today, there will be a press conference by the Permanent Mission of Mongolia, together with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), on the “2011 UN Day Concert:  Celebrating Cultural Diversity”.  And that concert will take place later this evening in the General Assembly Hall.


** Myanmar Questions


And just to follow up on a question from the other day, regarding assistance to vulnerable people in northern Myanmar, we have asked our colleagues on the ground in Myanmar, who tell us that assistance is being delivered in reachable areas.  Meanwhile, discussions continue to ensure that assistance reaches all those in need.


So, questions, please?  Matthew?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Sure.  Actually, just on that, I have some other questions, but on what you just read out, does that mean over the border or within Myanmar itself?


Spokesperson:  It says what it says, Matthew — to reach all those in need.


Question:  You said “reachable areas”, and the question was what was…?


Spokesperson:  Well, there are two parts.  It says that assistance is being delivered in reachable areas, and meanwhile discussions continue to ensure that assistance reaches all those in need.  I don’t have anything beyond what I have just read out to you; otherwise, I would have read out a little bit more.  What’s your next question?


Question:  Okay, yeah, I wanted to ask, it’s… it’s… today at the stakeout in front of the Security Council, there was a lot of discussion about countries that have now openly said that they provided weapons to the rebels in Libya or air-dropped in weapons, including now not only Qatar, France and now Sudan, has said that they armed the rebels.  So I wondered, given the Secretary-General’s role under [resolution] 1973, and I understand the Security Council has its own role, but his role as head of the UN system, some… some today at the stakeout said this might undermine the credibility of the UN to have people bragging about violating resolutions… arms embargoes.  Did he ever receive notice from any of the three countries that I have named, and does he have any thoughts on these countries now saying… particularly Sudan, this… under its own arms embargo system, saying that they provided weapons to the rebels?


Spokesperson:  I’d have to check, Matthew.  Yeah, other questions?  Yes, Nizar?


Question:  Yes, regarding 1559, is there any limit how many times a reporter on the implementation of a resolution should visit the country he is reporting about?


Spokesperson:  I’m not quite sure what you mean, Nizar.  You may…


Question:  I mean, how many times did Mr. Larsen visit Lebanon in preparing these reports on Lebanon?  In the last few years?


Spokesperson:  And what’s your point, Nizar?


Question:  My point, how can someone report about a country when he rarely is seen in that country or visits that country?


Spokesperson:  I think that you will understand that a report is put together not just by one individual and it draws on a number of different sources.  So I think that the report simply speaks for itself.  It’s detailed and it speaks for itself.


Question:  But for someone who writes it, shouldn’t he be at least… have it… some kind of function…?


Spokesperson:  I am not sure you heard what I said, Nizar.  I said that a report is compiled not just by one individual, and is based on information from a variety of sources.  Next question?


Question:  Is there any particular reason why the report ignores the smuggling of weapons from Lebanon into Syria?


Spokesperson:  As I said, Nizar, the report speaks for itself.  Yeah, other questions?  Yes, please?


Question:  With regard to the report that Saif al-Islam Qadhafi is offering to turn himself in to the International Criminal Court, provided that an aeroplane would do an airlift for him from the Libyan desert to The Hague; any reaction from the Secretary-General on this?


Spokesperson:  No, not really.  We’re obviously aware of the reports and just as you are, we are aware that that particular individual is one of the indictees sought by the International Criminal Court.  No other information on that, beyond the reports that you have also seen.  Yes, Matthew?


Question:  Sure, I want to ask on… on environmental issues, the… South Africa’s top diplomat dealing with the upcoming Durban COP [Conference of Parties] meeting has said that no binding agreement should be expected, that that would be… that would be unrealistic and even counterproductive to expect it.  And I just wanted to know, what’s the Secretary-General’s expectation of the meeting?  Is he… or who is he… you know, who is… who will be attending from the UN system and what… what really is the expectation of the meeting to be held in Durban?


Spokesperson:  I think there are two key strands here.  One is important follow-up on the success of Cancún in areas such as technology transfer and helping to deal with the effects of deforestation, reforestation, and land degradation; and very importantly, following up on commitments on climate change financing to ensure that the commitments that countries have made do then turn into real hard cash that can help the countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  So that’s one strand - to follow up on those different commitments and agreements that were reached in Cancún.  The second is that there needs to be clarity on what happens after the Kyoto Protocol.  This is a key instrument, and the Secretary-General certainly believes that there needs to be clarity at that meeting.  So those are the two key strands.  It is obvious, coming out of the last preparatory meeting in Panama, that there is still not a convergence of views on a binding agreement, and that that has been given to the political leadership; in other words, those who will be meeting in Durban to address.  So I think that it would be at that point that we will be able to know more about that.  But the two key strands that the Secretary-General is looking at are the ones that I have just mentioned.  Yes, Nizar?


Question:  Martin, I asked a few days ago about the countries which continue to supply Bahrain with weapons and training.  Is there any follow-up on that?  Is there any position from the Secretary-General on these countries?  Bahrain is obviously, according to the Human Rights Council, violating all kinds of rules of the protection of civilians and others.


Spokesperson:  No, I don’t have anything for you, Nizar.  But as we’ve repeatedly said from here and the Secretary-General himself, it’s obvious that commitments that have been made with regards to reform and to adhering to human rights standards need to be followed through on in Bahrain.  And as we also mentioned the other day, that there needs to be accountability for abuses that have taken place.  But I don’t… on the specific question you have raised, I don’t have anything, Nizar.  Okay.  Right, I have time for one more question.  Yes?


Question:  This is a… this is a… it might be considered domestic.  There was a… in protests in Oakland, Occupy Oakland, a… offshoot or in support of Occupy Wall Street, there were, you know, a number of arrests, but there is also a… an individual, an… a veteran of the Iraq war who is now… you know, was shot in the head with a police projectile, skull was fractured.  Many people are… it may be different in… in number… than… than other things that are discussed in this room, but I just wondered, one, might there be… is there any comments, is anyone in the UN system aware of that… is there anyone, whether DPA [Department of Political Affairs] Americas Desk or otherwise, sort of tracking the response to protests here in the United States?


Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, I’ve seen the same reports I’m sure you have seen that also include reference to a level-one inquiry by the police into what’s happened to establish precisely what did happen.  And I don’t think anyone has drawn any firm conclusions at this point.  Obviously, anybody being hurt in a demonstration is regrettable, but I think the circumstances are still being investigated.  Is the UN system keeping an eye on what’s happening in the United States, as well as elsewhere in the world?  Yes, of course.


Okay, thanks very much.  Have a good afternoon.


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For information media • not an official record