|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 Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the noon briefing.
**International Women’s Day
The Secretary-General spoke at an event this morning marking International Women’s Day. He said that there is a long way to go before women and girls can be said to enjoy the fundamental freedoms, rights and dignity that are their birthright. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the world’s rural areas, he said.
Rural women and girls — for whom this year’s International Women’s Day is devoted — make up one quarter of the global population, yet routinely figure at the bottom of every economic, social and political indicator, from income and education and health to participation in decision-making.
The Secretary-General urged Governments, civil society and the private sector to commit to gender equality and the empowerment of women, as the energy, talent and strength of women and girls represent humankind’s most valuable untapped natural resource. The full text of the Secretary-General’s remarks is available online.
This morning the Security Council held consultations on Yemen. This afternoon, Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, Mr. Ian Martin, will brief the Council.
**Sexual Orientation and Human Rights
In a video message to a Human Rights Council meeting on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the Secretary-General said that, like many of his generation, he did not grow up talking about these issues. But he learned to speak out because lives are at stake and because it is our duty under the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect the rights of everyone, everywhere. The Secretary-General pointed out that a historic shift is under way and that more States are seeing the gravity of the problem.
For her part, the High Commissioner for Human Rights presented a new report and said that it is time to acknowledge that terrible violence and discrimination have been perpetrated against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. There is more information available online.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says it has deployed a four-member United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team to the Republic of Congo. It will support the authorities and the UN team there, after explosions at an ammunition depot near Brazzaville killed at least 200 people and injured some 1,500 more on 4 March. The team, composed of experienced humanitarian and environmental emergency responders, plans to undertake a comprehensive site assessment, which will include sampling and analysis to determine possible exposure.
Tomorrow at 11 a.m. there will be a press conference to take stock of the global progress made on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the recent milestones achieved on poverty and water, and to chart the way forward focusing on remaining challenges and actions to be taken to accelerate progress in the run-up to 2015. Speakers will include the Secretary-General, Assistant Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan, and Special Adviser on the MDGs, Professor Jeffrey Sachs.
And then at 12:30 p.m., there will be a press conference on the role of business in empowering women, and a new Citi/Calvert microfinance initiative will be announced. The event will be moderated by Roland Rich, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP).
That’s all from me. Questions? Matthew?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Yeah, sure, I wanted to… there are… a couple of things, there are reports that a UN worker has been kidnapped in Darfur, in Nyala. This is reported in Sudan Tribune and I am wondering, is that the case and what does UNAMID have to say about it?
Deputy Spokesperson: We are aware of the situation and we are looking into it.
Question: Okay. I also wanted to… it is reported the leaders in Iraq have said that the Secretary-General will be attending the Arab League meeting there later this month. President Bashir of Sudan is also already slated to attend and I am wondering, one, since it has now been announced by the leaders in Iraq, can you confirm that he is going; and two, how does U… how does UN rules concerning engaging with indictees of the International Criminal Court… how will that apply to his visiting time in Baghdad?
Deputy Spokesperson: When we have something to announce on the SG’s future travels, we will announce it, Matthew. We have nothing to announce now.
Question: Sure, actually, I mean, does… I guess I want to know, because there is a still pending GA resolution about not undermining the Court’s work. Can you… Would Ban Ki-moon meet with President Bashir?
Deputy Spokesperson: That question has been answered on a number of occasions by Martin, when he has said that, you know, when it is essential for the work we do, we have the minimum amount of contact necessary with the individual involved. Okay?
Correspondent: Yeah, go ahead, Masood.
Deputy Spokesperson: Masood?
Question: I just, I want to know, does the Secretary-General support these talks now going on between the international community and Iran, and does he have any comment on it? Does he have anything to say? Does he have anything to say on it, at all?
Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General has always called for a peaceful resolution of that situation, and for dialogue to prevail. So, dialogue is welcome, and we are looking forward to seeing if the Iranian authorities can prove to the international community that their nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
Question: There is a lot of discussion today of a campaign around Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. So, I wonder — I haven’t actually heard much from MONUSCO about this problem in some time and people are reporting that there were attacks near Dungu in February — can you say what is, given the increased global interest in the apprehension of Mr. Kony, who is indicted by the ICC, what has the UN been doing and what’s the status of the coordination of UN peacekeeping missions and what’s their role in… in what’s described as the hunt for Joseph Kony?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I have to check into that and get back to you on it, I don’t have any details with me right now.
Question: Okay, just finally, I sent you these questions, I wanted to know, is, for example, on the Kofi Annan envoy team, how many people are on the team? Is the UN paying all of them? How many of them work with… used to work at…?
Deputy Spokesperson: Matthew, as we have said, these administrative details are being worked out, and when we have something to announce, we will announce it.
Question: But he is going to Syria, so, I mean…
Deputy Spokesperson: When we have something to say, we will say it. We are still working out the details of who is covering the costs and how they are being covered.
Question: And do you have an answer; I had asked you a question about a particular individual that [inaudible] has brought, been brought in as a consultant on Rio+20. Do you have any answer on that?
Deputy Spokesperson: Not yet, no. We checked into it and we are looking into it for you. Thank you so much. Have a good afternoon.
* *** *For information media • not an official record