28 November 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 briefing.


** Democratic Republic of the Congo


Under Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous and Chef de Cabinet Susana Malcorra briefed the Security Council last night on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Mr. Ladsous spoke with media at the stakeout immediately afterwards.


The MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] peacekeeping mission in the DRC reports that there are signs that the M23 [23 March Movement] are preparing to withdraw from Goma, in accordance with terms of the communiqué from the weekend meeting of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.  However, the Mission reports that there is not yet any major movement by M23 out of Goma.


The situation in Goma today is relatively calm.  MONUSCO peacekeepers are engaged in three main activities in Goma:  day and night patrols, conducting 84 patrols around the clock each day; quick reaction teams are sent to areas when the mission receives reports of incidents; and peacekeepers are monitoring and will monitor the withdrawal of M23 from Goma to the 20 kilometre neutral zone.


MONUSCO is monitoring the human rights, including reports of human rights violations by M23 and the FARDC [Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo].


DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] has sent the senior military adviser, General Babacar Gaye to the Great Lakes region today in order to assess with all the relevant stakeholders, and especially with MONUSCO, mechanisms and procedures for the successful implementation of the 20-kilometre Neutral Zone.  He will also work on the concept of the International Neutral Force with stakeholders.


**Security Council


The Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on South Sudan to the Security Council this morning.


He said that the lack of progress in solving security, economic and political problems between Sudan and South Sudan continued to have consequences on South Sudan.  He said that the slow implementation of the agreements signed in September could have a negative impact on the country’s economic stability.


Concerning inter-communal violence in Jonglei State, Mr. Ladsous said reconciliation and peacebuilding have been slow following the All Jonglei Peace Conference of last May.  He said that a comprehensive and inclusive political process led by the Government that addresses the core grievance of the disgruntled constituencies remains an urgent need.


He noted that the recent activities of militias led by David Yau Yau are a serious cause of concern.


The Council is now holding consultations on Sudan and South Sudan.  And as you will have seen, earlier this morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


At 3 p.m. this afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on Sierra Leone, as well as on Western Sahara.


** Iraq


The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, has expressed his dismay following a series of attacks against innocent victims, including worshippers, in several locations throughout Iraq.  He said that these inhuman acts only add to the senseless suffering of innocent people and their families.


Mr. Kobler also expressed his profound sympathy to the families of the victims, to whom he extends his sincere condolences. He wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded.


** Syria — Humanitarian


At the end of a three-day visit to Jordan and Lebanon, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos called on the international community to tackle the consequences of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria, and support surrounding countries in their efforts to deal with a worsening refugee crisis.


During her visit to Jordan, Ms. Amos met with His Majesty King Abdullah, Prime Minister Abdallah Ensour, senior Government officials, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.  She praised the generosity of the people of Jordan for hosting some 240,000 Syrians, and the work of the national and international relief agencies.


In Lebanon, she met Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Minister of Social Affairs, Wael Abu Faour and thanked them for the support the Lebanese people and Government are providing to more than 130,000 refugees from Syria, and for keeping the borders open.


She said the plight of the refugees, and the possibility that thousands more will follow them, underlines the need for a comprehensive, region-wide response to end the crisis.  She said that we need to redouble our efforts to support neighbouring States in absorbing the costs of addressing the daily needs of a large refugee population.


The full press release is available online.


**Women


The Secretary-General will participate this afternoon in the Official Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, here at UN Headquarters.


In his remarks at the event, the Secretary-General will say that violence against women is one of the world’s most pervasive human rights violations and that it is critical to tackle structural patterns of discrimination and to redouble our efforts to empower women.


He will also applaud the General Assembly’s Third Committee for its action this week in passing its first-ever resolution on eliminating the harmful practice of female genital mutilation.


The theme of the commemoration is “A promise is a promise”. It is a call from the United Nations to Governments and leaders to translate international promises into concrete national action.


**UNESCO


UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] Director-General, Irina Bokova, has designated Archbishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa as laureate of the 2012 UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights.


Archbishop Tutu was selected by an International Jury in recognition of his exceptional contribution to building a universal culture of human rights at the national, regional and international levels.


Ms. Bokova will award the Prize at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters on 10 December, Human Rights Day.


**Secretary-General Appointments


We have two appointments to announce today:


The Secretary-General has appointed Mr. Abdullah al Matouq of Kuwait as his Humanitarian Envoy for Kuwait.  He looks forward to Mr. Al Matouq working closely with the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs to build stronger partnerships in Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council region.


The Secretary-General has also appointed Major General Leonard Muriuki Ngondi of Kenya as the Force Commander for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).


Major General Ngondi succeeds Major General Muhammad Khalid of Pakistan, who completed his assignment on 9 November this year.


We have more information on both appointments and their backgrounds in our office.


**Press Conference Today


And following this briefing today, there will be a press conference by Ambassador Cesare Maria Ragaglini, the Permanent Representative of Italy, along with Mr. Wilfried Lemke, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, and members of the Italian Inter Campus Soccer Team.


**Press Conferences Tomorrow


And tomorrow, my guest will be Moustapha Soumaré, the Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  He will be briefing from Kinshasa via video link.


And then at 12:30 p.m., here in the auditorium, there will be a briefing by Bertil Lindblad, the Director of the New York Office of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and Michael Schreiber, the Managing Director and Co-President of GBC Health to mark World AIDS Day, which will be observed on 1 December.


**Climate


And the last note I have, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released today its provisional annual statement on the state of the global climate, where it says that the years 2001–2011 were all among the warmest on record.


The UN Agency says also that the first 10 months indicate that 2012 will most likely be no exception despite the cooling influence of La Niña early in the year.


The World Meteorological Organization also highlighted the unprecedented melt of the Arctic sea ice and multiple weather and climate extremes which affected many parts of the world.


The statement was released today to inform negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference which started in Doha, Qatar, on Monday.


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


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Yes, sir.  In view of such incredible impasse in Syria, Security Council is unable to do anything, nobody else seems to be making movement of the people all over the place; does the Secretary-General or the Secretariat have any new ideas to move this process forward to somehow, I mean, that, that, to somehow mitigate the situation in Syria?  It is getting totally out of hand.  I mean, it has been… [inaudible]


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, Joint Special Representative Brahimi has been visiting the region, has been speaking with leaders, has been calling on both sides in the Syrian conflict to look for a political solution; the Secretary-General himself has said that a military solution is not feasible.  Mr. Brahimi is going to be briefing the Security Council and the General Assembly this week, and hopefully, he will meet with the media.  At that point, he will probably be able to discuss with media what can be said.


Question:  The question is, I mean, I know Mr. Brahimi is also working, but nothing is moving forward.  Are there… are the Secretariat and the Secretary-General discussing anything new, because it seems that everything that is, is, has, failing at this point in time.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General met with Mr. Brahimi this morning, and I am sure that Mr. Brahimi, when he meets with the media, will be able to discuss what, how he sees developments in the region.  I have nothing more to add to that right now.  Yes?


Question:  I have some questions [inaudible] will there be any other events in observance of the World AIDS Day except the press conference you talked about?  Secondly, will, is, has the Secretary-General take to position of the so-called “kill the gays” law in Uganda, uh…


Deputy Spokesperson:  The so-called what?


Question:  The “kill the gays” law in Uganda, which members of Parliament are trying again to pass.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, in terms of World AIDS Day, I will have to look at the calendar to see what else is on it; I don’t have that information with me.  With respect to the stigmatization of gay people, the Secretary-General has been very strong in his condemnation of any attempt to stigmatize gays, lesbians, trans-gender — his… that was one of the main themes of his speech to the African Union last February, if you will recall.  And, he has made that statement time and time again.  He firmly believes that violence and discrimination on sexual basis is totally unacceptable in the modern world and incompatible with UN values.  Edie?


Question:  Eduardo, a question on President Abbas’s meeting with the Secretary-General later this afternoon:  is there any chance that President Abbas might stop at the stakeout mic in the North Lawn Building?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I really don’t know; you’d have to ask the Palestinian delegation about that.  I don’t know what the President’s plans are.  Matthew?


Question:  Sure, Eduardo, I have some questions about the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes?


Question:  First is, can you confirm, and I, I guess explain, did Chef de Cabinet Susana Malcorra visit Goma and meet with Mr. Makanga of the M23 as was as some sources in the consultations said that she did, some countries apparently said, asked her what the authority for a meeting the group was.


Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have any information on that; we’ll have to find out.


[The Deputy Spokesperson later said that, given the Secretary-General’s personal commitment finding a sustainable solution to the current crisis in the Eastern DRC that ensued following renewed fighting between the Congolese armed forces and M23 rebels, he sent his Chef de Cabinet, Susana Malcorra, to the region as his personal emissary to maintain contact and dialogue with key actors.


With the agreement of the leaders of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, Ms. Malcorra met Sultani Makenga, the head of the military wing of the M23, to convey the Secretary-General’s concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation, as well as reported human rights violations.  In this capacity, she encouraged him to stop the fighting and pursue his objective through political dialogue and lay down the arms.


Ms. Malcorra’s mission was to engage regional actors and assess how the United Nations could best assist in addressing the crisis in the DRC and, in the short term, to leverage the Secretary-General’s Good Offices and his vision to contribute to a cessation of hostilities to enable the necessary political process to unfold.]


Question:  Okay, could, if you could, it’s, it’s kind of important.


Deputy Spokesperson:  We’ll have to find out.


Question:  And the other one I wanted to… you said that Mr. Ladsous had held a stakeout for the media after the meeting; he did, but, this is a question that he pointedly refused to answer, so I am gong to ask you, and the question is now that it is established, and thanks for your answer yesterday, that at least 21 rapes took place in Minova when the retreating army went there.  What was, was, did MONUSCO have a presence in Minova at that time?  What did they do while these events took place and how are they now implementing their human rights due diligence policy in light of those, uh, those acknowledged and recorded uh, sexual abuse cases?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, what I can tell you, Matthew, is that MONUSCO is monitoring the situation and will report on allegations of human rights violations — all human rights violations.  Access to many areas has been difficult in the fluid conflict situation of the past week; and the Mission is continuing to gather information on these allegations.  As you know, MONUSCO is composed of the military, but has also a human rights component.  So, together they work and investigate these things, and they will be reporting on what their findings are.


Question:  Right, including what, where they were when they took place… that seems, that’s a question that seems…


Deputy Spokesperson:  They will be reporting through the regular channels as to what their findings were.  Up there?


Question:  Hi, Eduardo.  What’s the latest opinion by the Secretary-General on the Palestinians [inaudible] non-Member Observer status?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has made it clear that his objective is to have a Palestinian State and an Israeli State living side by side in peace.  And I think you will have read Robert Serry’s report to the Security Council yesterday and that contains the Secretary-General’s views.  I’d recommend that you read that.  Matthew, last question?


Question:  Yeah, I wanted to ask you about Southern Kordofan, there are reports that it seemed pretty serious in the, in the [inaudible] area of 350 houses burned down and of bombing, uh… uh… bo… all, both in Southern Kordofan.  So, I wanted to know whether the UN, obviously the victims or the people who live in these areas, are calling for the UN to do something?  I know there, there are some, there is, there is, there is a DPKO base, but it is just a transit base, is the UN aware of these, of these reported pretty serious attacks, and also what’s the status of that tripartite agreement or any other non-tripartite way of getting humanitarian aid into Southern Kordofan in Sudan?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I have to check on that for you, Matthew, I don’t have that information right now.  Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Have a good afternoon.


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For information media • not an official record