12 September 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 Vannina Maestracci, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


Bonjour, and welcome to the noon briefing.


** Libya


This morning, the Security Council was meeting on — heard a briefing, I’m sorry — on Libya by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.


On the attack on the US diplomatic presence in Benghazi yesterday, Mr. Feltman said that the United Nations rejects defamation of religion in all its forms, but that there is no justification for such violence.  He added that the United Nations condemns in the strongest terms this attack on a diplomatic facility and that we extend our condolences to the families – Libyan and American – of those killed.


The UN is committed to doing its best to support Libya’s ongoing transition and to help the Libyan people achieve their aspirations for a secure, democratic, united, and prosperous Libya.


Also on Libya, the Secretary-General has appointed Tarik Mitri of Lebanon to replace Ian Martin as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya. And we have his full biography in our office.


And also this morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) until 31 March 2013.


On Libya also, we expect a statement a little bit later for you.


[The following statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General was later issued:


The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by yesterday’s attack against the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in the deaths of four US diplomats, including Ambassador John Christopher Stevens, as well as Libyan employees of the Consulate.  The Secretary-General condemns this attack in the strongest terms.  The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the United States Government and to the bereaved Libyan and American families.


The United Nations rejects defamation of religion in all forms.  At the same time, nothing justifies the brutal violence which occurred in Benghazi yesterday. The Secretary-General reminds the Libyan authorities of their obligations to protect diplomatic facilities and personnel.  He welcomes statements by Libyan authorities that they will bring the perpetrators to justice. 


The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to continue working with the Government and the people of Libya as they strive to bring stability to their country.]


** Syria


On Syria, the Joint Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, is continuing his meetings in Cairo.  Today he had a joint meeting with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby, and the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Qatar.


Mr. Brahimi was also invited by the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States to brief a meeting of permanent representatives of the League.  He thanked them for their confidence in him and said he was approaching the crisis in Syria with his eyes open and the full knowledge that it was an extremely difficult task.  This afternoon, Mr. Brahimi is meeting with representatives of the Syrian opposition.


** Somalia


On Somalia, earlier today, while he was still in Geneva, the Secretary-General spoke by telephone with Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the new President of Somalia, to congratulate him on his selection.


The Secretary-General noted that Somalis still face great challenges and assured the new President and the Somali people of the United Nations’ support in building a new and peaceful country.


The Secretary-General also said that he hopes the new President will attend the forthcoming General Assembly, when he plans to chair a meeting with world leaders supporting Somalia.  He said this would be an important opportunity for the new President to set out his immediate priorities and launch a new partnership with the international community.


On the attacks that happened earlier this morning in Mogadishu, we expect to have something for you a little bit later today.


[The following statement was later issued by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia:


“The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Dr. Augustine P. Mahiga, strongly condemns today’s attack on the Jazeera Hotel in which President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was giving a press conference.  The incident came as President Hassan Sheikh was meeting with the Kenyan Foreign Minister, Professor Samuel Ongeri in the presence of international media.


Initial reports indicate that three suicide bombers dressed in Somali uniform attempted to enter the Jazeera Hotel, near Kilometer 4 in Mogadishu.  The insurgents were intercepted by security forces and were killed before they were able to enter the hotel. A number of Somali security personnel were injured in the attack and we understand that one AMISOM soldier was killed and three more wounded.


“This atrocious attack comes only two days after a milestone vote where the Somali Parliament overwhelmingly and transparently elected Mr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President, giving to Somalia a renewed hope for a better future”, said SRSG Mahiga.  “I am relieved that the President and the Kenyan Foreign Minister are unharmed and deeply saddened by the deplorable loss of life.”


SRSG Mahiga sends his condolences to the families of the victims and pays tribute to AMISOM and Somali security forces for their constant courage and determination in safeguarding the political process.


Somalia has achieved tremendous progress over the last few months.  Such attempts to push the country back into chaos and violence will not deter the Somali people’s determination to move forward.


This incident reinforces our collective resolve to safeguard the achievements of the Roadmap and to advance the Somali peace process to new heights.]


** Venezuela


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has strongly urged Venezuela to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the American Convention on Human Rights.  Ms. Pillay warned that this decision could be a serious setback for human rights protection in Venezuela and the region as a whole.


She added that Venezuela’s move runs directly counter to the resolutions recently adopted by the UN Human Rights Council aiming at the enhancement of cooperation and dialogue between international and regional human rights mechanisms.  The High Commissioner called on all States in the Americas region to continue to cooperate with regional and international human rights mechanisms and to refrain from taking any steps to weaken one of the oldest and most effective regional human rights protection mechanisms.


**Human Security


And you will have seen that last night we issued a statement by the Secretary-General in which he said that the General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution on human security marks an important milestone in a common understanding of human security at the United Nations.


The Secretary-General noted that human security brings together the three pillars of the Organization and seeks to promote greater coherence in our response to various challenges facing people worldwide.  And the full statement is available upstairs.


**Press Conference


And today at 12:30 p.m., here in this auditorium, there will be a press briefing on the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  That’s in 20 minutes.


And I will take a few questions in the meantime.  No questions?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  I would like to ask my question in French.  Est-ce que le Secrétaire général a reçu officiellement la lettre du Président malien? Quel est le contenu et [inaudible].


Associate SpokespersonAlors, oui en effet, le Secrétaire général a reçu la lettre du Président du Mali.  Sur le contenu, je ne peux malheureusement pas vous en donner les détails.  En revanche, ce que je peux vous dire c’est que la situation au Mali est d’importance pour le Secrétaire général. C’est une situation complexe et déjà très urgente, et comme vous le savez peut-être, il va réunir en marge de l’Assemblée générale, dans quelques jours — il va réunir une réunion de haut niveau sur le Sahel, et cela inclut bien évidemment le Mali.


Question: [inaudible]


Associate SpokespersonJe ne pense pas mais je vais vérifier pour vous Yes, Mr. AbbadiMasood first, Mr. Abbadi. Fight it out.  Masood?


Correspondent:  Mr. Abbadi.


Associate Spokesperson:  Mr. Abbadi?


Question:  Thank you, Vannina.  Apart from his visit to Cairo and Syria, do you know if the Joint Special Envoy is going to visit other capitals of countries in the region?


Associate Spokesperson:  What I know so far is that he is in Cairo and that he said that within the next few days he would go to Syria, but I am not aware of further legs to those travels.  Masood?


Question:  Okay.  Yeah, I just wanted… just before the Secretary-General issued a statement on Libya saying that Libya has too many prisoners in the jails and that some of them should be released and human rights violations are… have been considerable there.  So what I am asking you is this, will the Secretary-General have an assessment of the situation in Libya as to what precipitated this attack on the Americans over there?  And also, in Egypt…


Associate Spokesperson:  An assessment as to what the American, sorry?


Question:  What?


Associate Spokesperson:  An assessment of the Secretary-General…?


Question:  I mean United Nations assessment the situation over there, UN presence there.


Associate Spokesperson:  I would just refer you to Mr. Feltman’s briefing this morning, as well as the report of the Secretary-General on Libya that just came out and that most certainly has a part on human rights and detainees and all of that.  Yeah?


Question:  What I am asking you is this, do you… does the Secretary-General believe that this attack or the consequence of the… I mean so many Libyan dissidents in jail and so on and so forth and if there is a reaction to that.  And similarly in Egypt, will he have an assessment of all these things together?  Will he have an assessment of these things?


Associate Spokesperson:  We’re going to have a statement for you very shortly.  So I am going to ask you to wait for that on Libya and the attacks this morning – yesterday, sorry.  Yes?


Question:  Yes, mine is also on Libya and specifically if there is any… about the news that this… this attack was… was… the reason was for a… for that video… for the film.  But there are other information [inaudible] September 11 attack, the attack happened September 11 and the… there are stories coming out that the militia that were around the camp and around the consulate that there were… this is called Ansar al-Sharia and they… they… there is somebody that said that they were attacking because the death of number two of al-Qaida, Abu al-Libi.  So what do you… do you have any statement about that, that there is a possibility that this was a retaliation attack on September 11 and not for, and not related with, with the video that, about house attack in…?


Associate Spokesperson:  …and not related with the video – not that I know of, but we’ll check.  I am sure we will get more details on this as the mission informs us.  Anything else?  Yes?


Correspondent:  Hi.


Associate Spokesperson:  Hi.


Question:  You said earlier that Brahimi is meeting with the representative from the Syrian opposition.  Do you know who it is?


Associate Spokesperson:  It’s representatives of the Syrian opposition, and no, I don’t have specific names for you.  If that’s it, have a great afternoon everybody.  Oh no, wait.


Question:  [inaudible] more information later on about the attack in Benghazi?


Associate Spokesperson:   Libya and then Mogadishu — there was an attack this morning, so Mogadishu…


Question:  Is there a way for us to know them as soon as you get them?  Is there a way for [inaudible]?


Associate Spokesperson:  Yes, yes, you can call the office, but we usually also issue the information.  So if you are on our e-mail list you will get them.  Yes?


Correspondent:  Yes, okay.  All right.


Associate Spokesperson:  Okay, thank you very… no?  Mr. Abbadi?


QuestionVannina, who is the spokesperson for the Joint Special Envoy; what’s his name or her name?


Associate Spokesperson:  You mean the Joint Special Representative?


Correspondent:  Special Envoy.


Associate Spokesperson:  Wait, are we talking about…?


Question:  Is he Special Envoy or Special Representative – Mr. Brahimi?


Associate Spokesperson:  Mr. Brahimi is the Joint Special Representative.  Mr. Annan was the Joint Special Envoy.  And Mr. Fawzi is Mr. Brahimi’s spokesperson.  Okay, thank you very much.  Have a good afternoon.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record