25 April 2012
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 Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the noon briefing.


**Bahrain


I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Bahrain:


The Secretary-General remains concerned about the situation in Bahrain, particularly with regard to the continuing clashes between security forces and protesters which have resulted in more casualties.  He reiterates his appeal to all sides for utmost restraint and an immediate end to the violence. 


The Secretary-General also calls on the Bahraini authorities to fully respect the fundamental human rights of the Bahraini people, including due process concerning all detainees. 


In this regard, he is concerned about the situation of Mr. Abdulhadi Al‑Khawaja, who remains on a hunger strike in detention.  The Secretary-General once again urges the Bahraini authorities to resolve Mr. Al-Khawaja’s case based on due process and humanitarian considerations without any further delay. 


**Security Council


In his remarks to the Security Council on “Threats to International Peace and Security” this morning, the Secretary-General said insecure borders enable the trafficking of drugs, weapons, contraband, terrorist funding, materials related to weapons of mass destruction, conflict minerals, wildlife and people.


The illicit flows that pose the gravest threat are of course those related to the possible terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction.


Fragile and vulnerable countries, some of them devastated by war, others struggling to transform themselves, often lack the capacity to overcome the conditions that allow these crimes to flourish.


Regional cooperation is a key to addressing both illicit flows and human trafficking.  So are legal tools. 


He urged Member States to ratify and implement the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols, as well as the UN Convention against Corruption and the legal instruments against terrorism.


** Pakistan


John Ging, Director of Operations of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), visited the Jalozai camp in Pakistan earlier today and commended the effectiveness of the partnership between aid agencies and the Government of Pakistan in addressing the ongoing needs of some 7.2 million people affected by flooding and insecurity.


Mr. Ging said that he’s truly impressed at the speed and standard of the response.  Now our preoccupation is with funding, as many agencies will run out of money by the end of May.


The Government, donors, UN agencies and their implementing partners have given hundreds of millions of dollars to save lives and support recovery in Pakistan.  The UN estimates that a further $840 million is needed to help families to recover from the effects of flooding and insecurity.


**Secretary-General Appointments


Today, the Secretary-General has appointed the following three senior officials:


Mr. Yukio Takasu of Japan has been selected as Under-Secretary-General for Management, replacing Ms. Angela Kane.  Mr. Takasu is currently serving as the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Human Security.


Ms. Ameerah Haq of Bangladesh has been selected as Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support, replacing Ms. Susana Malcorra.  Ms. Haq is currently serving as Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Timor-Leste and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).


Mr. David Muchoki Kanja of Kenya has been selected for the newly created position of Assistant Secretary-General for the Office of Internal Oversight Services.  Mr. Kanja is currently serving as the Director of the UNICEF Office of Internal Audit.


There is more information available on all three appointments in my Office.


We will continue to make additional announcements in the coming weeks on other senior positions as the relevant selection processes are completed.


**Press Conference


Tomorrow at 11 a.m., there will be a press conference with ocean experts, who will be here to brief you on the sustainable management of oceans and fisheries and the upcoming Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.


That’s it from me.  Questions, please.  Matthew?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Sure, I’d like…  I have two questions on Syria.  One is, just as a sample country, many countries are now saying that they stand ready to contribute observers.  Finland, for example, has said it has 10 that it could send as early as Saturday if the UN requests it from them.  And they say they are training them themselves.  So I wanted you… if you could… what is the process, since a lot of the criticism yesterday in the Council was the slow deployment of observers, what is the process for DPKO to ask countries to contribute these already trained observers to go to Syria?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, what I can tell you is that DPKO and DFS are working rapidly and efficiently to ensure deployment by the quickest possible means.  I am sure they are taking these offers into consideration and will act accordingly.


Question:  What about… I mean the… these 10 Finns, I just, I’ve just given you an example, they said it publicly.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I am not going to get into a conversation about individual countries.  DPKO and DFS are very experienced in this and they are dealing with contributing countries as we speak.


Question:  And I wanted to ask you also, General Mood was present yesterday in the consultations.  He walked in, he sat in and I wanted to know since I have now asked you a couple of days in a row, what is his status with the UN, I mean, there are specific rules about… in consultations, I wanted to know, this would seem to imply that he already works for DPKO, that he is a representative of the Secretariat.


Deputy Spokesperson:  I have nothing for you yet; perhaps later on we will have something, I am not sure.


Question:  I, I have a couple of other things, but I am sorry that I got… there is no one else here… what’s… what were the personnel announcements that you made.  I don’t need the whole bio, but just the names of the posts, I would really appreciate that.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Mr. Yukio Takasu has been selected as Under-Secretary-General for Management; Ms. Ameerah Haq has been selected as Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support; and Mr. David Muchoki Kanja as Assistant Secretary-General for the Office of Internal Oversight Services.


Question:  Okay.  So, I… back to this… on his trip to, to, to India by the Secretary-General, there was a… he obviously you know gave, so, I get, apparently an interview before he left.  And in it he said that, that Security Council reform is important, I mean I want to get… I’m just checking this because I want to get the quote exactly right, Security Council reform is important, and that he hopes it goes quickly, uh, either, eh, eh, to… to take into account the concerns or the… the interests and desires of countries like India.  So, I wanted, for some who have looked at this and they’ve said, what is, what exactly is, is the Secretary-General’s role in Security Council reform?  In… in other things he says that Member States… it’s totally up to Member States who advise him on… on peacekeeping like the Sri Lankan General but in this case did he … are the quotes that you’ve… that… that have been published, are these accurate quotes that he gave before his trip to India?


Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I wasn’t at the interview, so I can’t say whether they were accurate quotes or not.  What I can tell you the Secretary-General has consistently said it is a matter for Member States to decide on the reform of the Security Council.  He obviously would like to see some reform of the Security Council, as many other people would, but that is a Member State decision and he fully respects the right of Member States to decide when and if and how they are going to do it.


Question:  Okay, because he says he hopes, I… this is a direct quote: I hope such progress will be accelerated to meet the expectations of many Member States including India.  Is that… seem to mean...


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I think that falls into...


Question:  …is consistent?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I think that is consistent with what I have just said; he is expressing his own personal hope, but he recognizes that it is a question for Member States to decide, and he leaves it to the Member States to decide if, when and how they are going to do it.


Question:  Right, okay.  No, that makes sense.  I… I don’t want to… I have a kind of a factual question for you here, it’s… it’s… there has been a… a… and this is, you know, for some reason some people find this as strange, a strange number, but the… the… I wanted to ask you about compensation, and once again, the… the… it turns back to money, and the question is this, is… it’s been… it’s been, you know, published and stated that the… the compensation for such officials as Rebecca Greenspan, a deputy or, I guess a USG in the UN Department, uh, UNDP comes to $393,000 a year, where Helen Clark comes to $450,000 a year.  And this is all… this is… this is putting together some, post adjustment and all of the things, so, some people think this number is pretty high for, for an anti-poverty agency.  But I wanted to know, is there a way to get those numbers, and does...?


Deputy Spokesperson:  No, Matthew, I am not going to comment on people’s compensation.  I am sorry.


Question:  Why not?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Because I am not going to comment on people’s compensation; that’s all I have to say about that.


Question:  How about whether the five-year rule as enunciated by Ban Ki—moon, does it apply to, you know, people, the… the… the Assistant Administrators of UNDP?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I will have to check on that. Okay, thank you very much.  Have a good afternoon.


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For information media • not an official record