24 January 2013
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.


Okay, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the cold room.


**Noon Briefing Guest Today


Today I am joined by Margaret Vogt, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), who will brief us on the situation in the Central African Republic.  Ms. Vogt is joining us by videolink.  I will ask her to make a presentation and then we’ll take a few questions from the audience. 


Ms. Vogt, the floor is yours.


[Press conference by Ms. Vogt is issued separately.]


Okay, I have a few more things to read, and then I’ll have time for one or two questions; we’re getting a bit late here.


**Secretary-General in Davos


This morning, the Secretary-General arrived in Davos, Switzerland, where he is taking part in the World Economic Forum.


The Secretary-General just finished delivering a special address — focusing on Syria and the Sahel — to the World Economic Forum.


On Syria, he said that it will be essential for the Security Council to overcome its deadlock and find the unity that will make meaningful action possible.  And he said that the United Nations is fully committed to helping Mali in its hour of need.  That assistance will necessarily run from security efforts to those in the humanitarian and political areas.


The Secretary-General’s first event of the day was a meeting on water resources.  He also is meeting with a number of leaders, including a meeting this morning with Ahmet Davutoğlu, the Foreign Minister of Turkey.  They exchanged views on the crisis in Syria and prospects for a political settlement.  The Secretary-General once again expressed his appreciation for Turkey’s generous hosting of Syrian refugees since the start of the crisis.


The Secretary-General also met with Otto Pérez Molina, President of Guatemala.  They discussed the important efforts being made by Guatemala to fight impunity and insecurity, as well as the renewal of the mandate of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).  We will provide readouts of his other meetings later on in the day.


**Security Council


The Security Council has been meeting on Burundi this morning, and heard from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to that country, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga.


He said that Burundi has travelled a long path out of the cycle of violence that plagued it for over four decades.  Throughout 2012, Burundi has continued to make further progress in consolidating peace and stability.


He added that, with the 2015 electoral campaign just two years away, it is now essential that both the Government and opposition play their part in ensuring a continuing consensual approach in dealing with the challenges ahead.  His remarks are available in our office.


Earlier, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) by one year, and the mandate of the UN [Peacekeeping] Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) by six months.


This afternoon at 3, the Council will have an open briefing and consultations on Darfur.


** Iraq


Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, condemned in the strongest terms today the attack against innocent civilians mourning their beloved in a mosque in Tuz Khurmato, which killed and injured dozens.


He said that such attacks aim to heighten tensions in this particularly sensitive region, and he called on all people of Iraq to resist vicious attempts to undermine their drive for peace and stability.  He urged all Iraqi leaders to work without delay on defusing such an alarming situation.  We have a press release with more details.


**Exhibitions


And the Department of Public Information would like to invite journalists to the United Nations Holocaust Memorial Ceremony, which will take place tomorrow at 11 a.m., in the General Assembly here at UN Headquarters.


The ceremony, with the theme "Rescue during the Holocaust:  The Courage to Care", will include a video message from the Secretary-General, as well as remarks by the President of the General Assembly and a keynote address delivered by Holocaust survivor Mordecai Paldiel.  Ethel Brooks, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, will speak about the Romani experience during the Holocaust.


That’s it from me.  I have time for a few questions.  Matthew?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Sure, Eduardo.  I wanted to ask you, there is a… there are reports out of Mali that the… this town called Sévaré has been closed to the media, and the human rights group FIDH [International Federation for Human Rights] said that there had been reprisal killings of… of people thought to have supported the insurgency in the north.  Ambassador [Gérard] Araud, at the stakeout the other day, said that he is calling on Ban Ki-moon to speed up the deployment of human rights monitors, et cetera.  First, what does the UN say about these… these seeming abuses by the Malian army?  And two, what is the timetable for… is it true that France is pressuring the UN to do it, and it… when is the UN actually going to have human rights monitors in Mali?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, as Martin [Nesirky] announced last week, we had… the first contingent of our office in Bamako has arrived; they arrived last weekend.  The office will include a human rights monitoring official, or more than one.  I don’t have a timetable yet for the arrival of the rest, but any violation of human rights is something we are completely against, and we will call for no impunity and full accountability on all sides to ensure that this is taken into account.


Question:  Do you have any information or… or… I mean, maybe you can check on this Sévaré thing?  It’s pretty… it’s being publicized, it’s a…


Deputy Spokesperson:  We can check on that.


Question:  Luke Vargas with Talk Radio News Service.  On Tuesday, the Secretary-General said he was hoping to see a global climate pact by 2015, and that he’d be willing to meet individually with world leaders to move towards that.  Given the fact that in D.C. today there looks to be some progress towards domestic legislation in the United States, what has, and what is, the Secretary-General prepared to do to help Member States like the US frame those reforms in a way that could be helpful for international progress going forward?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has announced his strong commitment, of course, to climate change as one of his top priorities.  It was outlined last year in his priorities, when he did his priorities for his second term in office.  I think you will remember that the Secretary-General said that he was very pleased with the outcome of the recent climate change conference and that he would be hosting a meeting of leaders in 2014 to reinforce the need for the 2015 consensus.  He would do that; that, I think, is going to be a very major step in getting an international consensus done.  And I think that will be a key event in 2014 to move the process along.  We are encouraged by any Member State where there is a forward movement on environmental issues, and I am sure that the Secretary-General will take this up with the American authorities when he meets with them.


Question:  The Jordanian elections which took place yesterday, the opposition in Jordan accused them of rigging the elections and also they boycotted the process.  How does the United Nations view the elections there?  Was it fair or was it rigged?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we’ve seen reports from all sides in the Jordan elections; I have nothing specific to comment on them, Nizar.


Question:  Were there any observers from the United Nations there?


Deputy Spokesperson:  The United Nations, to the best of my knowledge, [did] not observe the elections.  Miki?



Question:  The Government of North Korea is making it apparent that they will… they… they have the intention to do another nuclear test.  Does the Secretary-General have anything to say now?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General made a very strong statement two days ago, and he stands by that statement.  The international community has to bring pressure to bear on the North Koreans.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has to realize that only dialogue will help defuse tensions in the Korean peninsula, and that any threat of nuclearization goes counter to Security Council resolutions.  And this is something the Secretary-General is very adamant about:  that all countries must respect Security Council resolutions.  Matthew, last question?


Question:  Sure.  I wanted to ask you, the… the… the Ugandan army, the UPDF, the… the… the Chief of Defence Forces, General Aranda [Nyakairima], has said that he believes Joseph Kony is in Darfur, and that they have intelligence to that effect.  Since the UN has a more than a billion dollar peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur], what’s the UN’s response to that?  Do they… do they have any invol… uh, awareness of the LRA [Lord’s Resistance Army] in either there or in South Sudan, where they also have a mission?  And what’s the UN been doing of… of late in this search for Joseph Kony?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I’ll have to find out for you, Matthew.  We don’t comment on everything people say.  But we’ll try and find out to see if the missions have any information on the whereabouts of Joseph Kony and the LRA.


Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Warm up.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record