30 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.


**Secretary-General Travel


The Secretary-General is in Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar, today, having arrived in the country yesterday.  This morning, he attended an event confirming the United Nations’ assistance to the Government of Myanmar in carrying out the country’s first population census in more than 30 years.  The Secretary-General then held talks with President Thein Sein and the speakers of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament.


He also addressed the Joint Houses of Parliament, being the first outside guest to speak at the assembly.  The Secretary-General said that the dramatic changes sweeping Myanmar have inspired the world.  He said that he had no doubt that Myanmar has within it a vast potential to become a 21st century model for peace, democracy and prosperity.


The Secretary-General urged the country to stay on that path and called on the international community’s support.


His full remarks are available online.


The Secretary-General also took a helicopter to visit a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) alternative development project for opium poppy farmers in Shan State.


**Under-Secretary-General Ladsous


The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Hervé Ladsous, will hold a Press Conference, tomorrow, at 11.30 a.m., here in this room, to brief on the status of deployment of the UN Observers in Syria.


**AIDS


The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has issued his first report on HIV to the UN General Assembly since the 2011 High Level Meeting on AIDS.  In his report, he highlights the urgent need to achieve immediate, tangible results and for the AIDS response to be smarter, more strategic, more efficient, and grounded in human rights.


According to the report, “United to End AIDS:  Achieving the Targets of the 2011 Political Declaration”, substantial gains have been achieved over the past decade and ground-breaking scientific advances have encouraged leaders to talk about the end of AIDS.


However, punitive laws, gender inequality and violence against women and other human rights violations continue to undermine national AIDS responses and declines in funding have the potential to jeopardize the capacity to expand access to HIV services and sustain progress over the coming years.


In his recommendations, the Secretary-General urges countries to undertake immediate, comprehensive reviews of national, legal and policy frameworks to remove obstacles to effective and rights-based responses.  He also calls for new partnerships and a new approach for HIV investment to mobilize necessary resources.


**ILO


Despite signs that economic growth has resumed in some regions, the global employment situation is alarming and shows no signs of recovery in the near future, says the International Labour Organization (ILO).


In its annual World of Work Report 2012:  Better Jobs for a Better Economy, ILO says that around 50 million jobs are still missing compared to the situation that existed before the crisis, and a new and more problematic phase of the global jobs crisis is emerging.


The report points out that many Governments, especially in advanced economies, have shifted their priority to a combination of fiscal austerity and tough labour market reforms.  Such measures are having devastating consequences on labour markets in general and job creation in particular. The ILO says job recovery, especially in Europe, is not expected before the end of 2016 — unless there is a dramatic shift in policy direction.


The full report is available online.


**Press Conference Tomorrow


And at noon tomorrow, I’ll be joined by Nobel Laureate Sir. John Sulston and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.  They will be here to talk about the links between population and the environment.


Questions, please.  Matthew?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Sure, I want to ask first a couple of questions about Sudan.  One, there is this report of UN demining workers or contractors being arrested and detained by Sudan and taken to Khartoum.  Are these in, I mean, one, can you confirm it?  And, two, how many of the four are, in fact, UN officials and what was the others, individuals’ relationship to the UN?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I can confirm that four individuals have been taken.  I will not get into any further details at this time; as you will understand, we don’t discuss these types of operations in public.


Question:  Sure, I only say it because the Government is saying that they work with the UN, so, I am just… I am not asking what the negotiations are to get them released.  I am just… were they are with the UN or not?  That seems kind of… basic.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, of course, they were with the UN, yes.


Question:  Okay, all right, great.  And I, in all, if you don’t mind, just then I’ll… the, there is this other issue where Sudan is ordering some 12,000, I believe, South Sudanese.  They are in a port, they have been waiting for barges; there is a deadline coming and they have now said they all have to leave within a week.  So, I am wondering, given the UN’s involvement on the South, certainly on the South Sudan side, is there any… does the UN think that is reasonable, what is going to be done for these people?  It seems like a pretty bleak situation.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the UN has repeatedly, the Secretary-General has repeatedly called on the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to sit down and negotiate their differences in a way that benefits the populations of both countries.  That is basically what the Secretary-General has been calling for; he has been calling for the leaders to show a political will to do so; and to resolve their differences peacefully.


Question:  Okay.  This is, I mean, just to, maybe, maybe there will be something later today.  It’s in the port of Kosti and I think that, that the threat that they have to all leave within a week, and it’s 12,000, and it has just been made, if something, you know, if somehow the UN has something specif..., because they, it looks like the talks between Presidents Kiir and Bashir may take more than a week to revive, but…


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we’ll have to look into it, Matthew.


Question:  Okay, great, thank you.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Sylvian?


Question:  Eduardo, this is not directly an academic question, but I have to say it here.  The, those of us who rely on the UN Wi-Fi on the third floor to write our stories have been hit this week by extremely slow response.  And MALU has notified OICT several times and, as of this morning, nothing has been done and they need to come and look at it, and quickly, because it is very hard to work in this place if that’s your main source of an outside line.  I know your department it’s not directly involved, but anything you can do to use your considerable clout…


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we will talk to MALU, but it is MALU that’s working on it.


Question:  Yeah, MALU has done what it can; they [Inaudible]…


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, then it is up to the technical people to do what they must do; so we’ll check into it.


Question:  Thank you.


Deputy Spokesperson:  One more?


Question:  Sure, I, I mean, it seems like there is time, so I have a couple.  I have one, one UN-related and one, in Mali.  ECOWAS has announced it is going to send, it wants to send 3,000 soldiers to Mali.  And so they have, apparently 1,000 of them will be from Côte d'Ivoire.  I know that the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner and others in the UN System, including the Mission there, had all said that there will be an investigation of what was called the massacre in Duékoué, it was largely attributed to the… to the forces supportive of Alassane Ouattara, who are now part of the army.  So, I was just, wonder… is that, one, is there any update on an investigation?  And, two, is there any idea of, until the matter is investigated, safeguarding that these same soldiers aren’t, in fact, sent to other countries as, even if it is as ECOWAS peacekeepers?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Let me see if I have anything on Côte d'Ivoire.


Question:  Good. [Inaudible] or on Mali, I mean, [Inaudible]...


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has always said that he is very concerned about the continued reports of serious human rights violations by armed elements, including the Forces Républicaines de la Côte d'Ivoire (FANCI).  These violations are unacceptable and perpetrators from all sides need to be brought to justice.  He has welcomed the steps taken by the Government to prosecute serious violations of human rights and international law committed during the violent post-election crisis, and he has also reiterated his call on the Government to apply justice in an even-handed manner, irrespective of the political affiliations of the perpetrators, and stressed the importance of reforming the security and rule of law institutions, which includes the development of a national programme for disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration of former combatants.  That’s what I have.


Question:  Sure.  And is the, I mean, not to be guessing, but is there any response by the UN to this idea of a deployment in Mali by ECOWAS?


Deputy Spokesperson: No, we’ll have to check on that.


Question:  Okay.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Sylvian?


Question:  [inaudible] on the armament intercepted in Lebanon, any reaction from the SG…?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General…


Question:  …reaction from the Secretary-General, and also, is it a violation of 1701 or 1551?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has always said that the militarization of the situation in Syria is completely undesirable.  He has said that, and Mr. Kofi Annan, the Joint Special Envoy, has said that.  And that situation stands.  We are against any arms shipments to Syria that would further inflame the situation.


Question:  [inaudible] what they call the, eh, the Syrian liberation?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has been very clear; the violence on both sides has to stop and the militarization, the further militarization of the situation is not helpful.  It is completely to be, it is to be condemned.


Question:  What about UNIFIL; UNIFIL [inaudible]?


Deputy Spokesperson: I’m sorry?


Question:  UNIFIL with the, uh, maritime water of monitoring the area, the water.  What happened, why the UNIFIL did not do anything about it?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I’ll have to check on that for you, I am not familiar with what UNIFIL has done over the past few days.  One more question?


Question:  Yes, this is the one I wanted to ask you.  Yesterday, the Secretary-General’s current trip in Myanmar.  It seems like, I mean, in trying to cover the trip from here, and obviously, it was a limited number of journalists that could go and accompany him.  But, there has been a total fall off in readouts, transcripts of Q and A or everything.  When they were in India, we were getting like probably a dozen readouts and then, since he’s been in Myanmar, which is going on, you know, two going on three days.  So what’s the problem with that?


Deputy Spokesperson:  The major problem is that, in India, you have a technical infrastructure that is much more sophisticated than the one in Myanmar, and we have been working very hard to try and get the electronic correspondence going between Myanmar and here.  So, whatever readouts are available should be available soon.


Question:  But, I’ve seen so… I have seen some of the media, I guess, organizations that are travelling with him, having quotes from him at a dinner, just different things.  So, obviously, they can get it out.  And, I just wonder if you really want coverage of it.  Was there some, it seems strange, like normally if he sits down with a preselected limited group of journalists, you send it [inaudible]…


Deputy Spokesperson:  We will post, we will post these things when we can, Matthew.


Question:  Okay, so, it is purely technical?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Thank you very much.  Yes, Erol; one question?


Question:  Thank you, Eduardo.  First, I have a question and I have a follow-up of Matthew.  First, let me follow up.  Probably, I missed that I didn’t go to the briefing on Friday.  Matthew asked about who is financing, what is the amount, etcetera about the Office of the Special Representative of the UN on Syria and the Arab League.  Can you please repeat that?


Deputy Spokesperson:  To the best of my knowledge, the UN is financing it.


Question:  What is the amount of the…?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have any figures for you, I am sorry.


Question:  And how many people are working in the…


Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have those figures for you; we will announce them when we have something to say.


Question:  Okay, who is financing?  Who is helping?  So, the UN is financing…?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I believe the money is coming from the UN, yes.


Question:  Okay.  Bulk of money, some, it means that some other money is…


Deputy Spokesperson:  No, I believe the money is coming from the UN.


Question:  You believe or you know?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I believe.  We will find out for certain, but I believe it is coming from the UN.


Question:  And an additional question, if I may, on Kosovo.  The former President of Serbia, Boris Tadić, who is heavily in campaign running for the second, third term actually, he said that he is expecting troubled times ahead in Kosovo, and as you know, there is, there are elections on 6 May.  Is the Secretary-General aware of that statement?  Is he concerned about it?  Did he talk to anybody on that?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General I don’t think has spoken to anybody in the past few days on that.  The statement was made; we’ll have to find out what exactly he means by that.  Obviously, the situation on the ground has been troubling.  We have UNMIK that is there in Kosovo, and they are working very hard to make sure that they promote fully representative, democratic local Governments in Kosovo.  That’s what I have for you.  Thank you.  Sylvian, one last question?


Question:  [inaudible] about Mr. Mood.  When would Mr. Mood be expected to come, to, to New York, to come back to New York from Syria?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Oh, I really don’t know.  He has just arrived in Syria and that is where his important work is, so I don’t have any idea when he may be coming to New York.


Question:  How, long is he staying in Syria?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I really don’t know.  He is there with a mission.  So, I imagine that the mission will be there and he is in command of the mission.  So, he is organizing it and getting it set up.


Question:  Yeah, but I don’t know is not an answer.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Sorry?


Question:  I don’t know is not an answer.


Deputy Spokesperson:  I am not saying I don’t know because I don’t know.  What I am saying is that he is the head of a mission that is beginning its operation in Syria, and I imagine he will be spending the bulk of his time in Syria.  If and when he comes to New York, of course, you will be advised.


Question:  One follow-up on that?


Deputy Spokesperson: No, I’m sorry, that’s it.  Thank you.  Have a good afternoon.


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For information media • not an official record