20 May 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.


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


**Secretary-General in Mozambique


The Secretary-General arrived in Mozambique earlier today from Russia.  The Secretary-General has just taken part in an event on sustainable development and how to plan for what follows the Millennium Development Goals.  He has also had meetings in Maputo with the leadership of the National Assembly, which is Mozambique's parliament, and the UN country team.


Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will meet the President of Mozambique.  He will also visit a school to highlight a campaign to end violence against women and deliver a lecture at the Institute of International Relations.


Over the weekend, the Secretary-General was in Moscow, where he met the UN Country Team, and visited the headquarters of the RIA Novosti news agency and a police academy, where officers from around the world are trained to tackle terrorism, extremism, drugs trafficking and other cross-border criminal activities.


**Secretary-General’s Travels


After concluding his visit to Mozambique on 22 May, the Secretary-General will travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which will be the first leg of a three-day joint visit with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim to the Great Lakes region of Africa.


The aim of the joint visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda is to support the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, following the signing of the Framework in Addis Ababa on 24 February, by these three countries and eight others.  The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, will be part of the joint visit.


During their stay in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, the Secretary-General and the World Bank President will meet with Congolese Government officials, including President Joseph Kabila and Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo.  They will then travel to Kigali, Rwanda, where they will meet with Rwandan Government officials, including President Paul Kagame.


On Friday, 24 May, the Secretary-General and World Bank Group President will travel to Entebbe, Uganda, where they will meet with Ugandan Government officials, including President Yoweri Museveni.  The joint visit to the Great Lakes region of Africa will conclude on 24 May.


Subsequently, the Secretary-General will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he will participate in an African Union Summit to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).  He will also hold meetings on the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region.  The Secretary-General will depart Addis Ababa to New York on 26 May.


** Democratic Republic of the Congo


The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) informs that early this Monday morning, fighting broke out in the localities of Kibati and Rusayo, some 12 kilometres from Goma, between combatants of the M23 [23 March Movement] armed groups and soldiers of the Congolese armed forces.  The Mission reports that initial incidents escalated to the use of heavy calibre weapons, mortars and rocket launchers.  MONUSCO also adds that, according to reports, the Congolese army used attack helicopters in one of their operations.  MONUSCO has expressed its concerns about this incident and the Mission is actively pursuing a diplomatic and political solution to contain and end the clashes.


** Afghanistan


The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UN-Women [United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women] have urged Afghan authorities to step up their efforts to ensure the full implementation of the law on the Elimination of Violence against Women, in line with their international commitments.


Jan Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said that progress in implementing the law to eliminate violence against women would help deter harmful practices and protect women from violence in their daily lives.


He added that the law is critical, not just for women and girls, but for all of Afghan society.  The international community also has firm expectations of the Government on increasing respect for women’s rights, which can affect the assistance that Afghanistan receives.  We have a press release with more details.


**World Health Assembly


In a message sent to the opening of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, the Secretary-General notes that, with less than 1,000 days of action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, Governments are gathering to make key decisions to reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases.


In his message, the Secretary-General says that the MDGs have undoubtedly been good for global health.  As we shape plans for the post-2015 era, we must draw lessons from where we have succeeded and ensure that benefits are shared equitably.  And he adds that we must keep moving towards universal health-care coverage, so all people can have access to the health services they need without suffering financial hardships.  At the same time, Governments must address other pressing health challenges, such as non-communicable diseases.  The full message is online.


**Indigenous People


The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has opened its twelfth session this morning.  In a message to the opening of the Forum, the Secretary-General said that we must have a better understanding of the views and values of indigenous peoples by engaging them in decision-making and providing a platform for issues affecting their lives and livelihoods.


**Press Conferences


And there will be two press conferences later today related to the twelfth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.


The first, at 1:30 p.m., will be on the opening of the Forum and the speakers will be Paul Kanyinke Sena, chairperson of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Andres Landry, Canadian Youth Representative; and Setareki Macanawai, Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Disability Forum in Fiji.


The second, at 3 p.m., will be on the introduction of a new Polynesian currency, and you will be briefed by the Ali’I Nui of Polynesia, Aleka Aipoalani.


Questions, please?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Yesterday, the Secretary-General expressed his concerns regarding [inaudible] North Korea.  Can you tell us, are the… are these tests a violation of any Security Council resolutions or any international laws?  And the second question is concerning the press conference at 3 p.m. by… as you said, as I understand he is a king of the so-called [inaudible] kingdom in Hawaiian Islands.  You said that this kingdom is recognized by the United Nations; can you make it clear what relations are between the United Nations and this kingdom, and why they are making this presentation in this building?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I’ll have to find out for you on the second question.  On the first question, I believe that the launching of missiles goes against Security Council resolutions, as the Secretary-General referred to them in his statement.


Question:  [inaudible]?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Sorry?  Resolutions.


Question:  Yes, but those short-range missiles, is it a violation of a resolution of the Security Council and what exactly, what resolution does it violate?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, you would have to take a look at the Security Council resolutions.


Question:  Yes, the situation in Syria, I mean, I know the Secretary-General has been to Moscow and… and there have been talks between the United States and… and Russia and all that, but so far, it doesn’t seem anything is happening.  How does the Secretary-General now see the situation unfolding?  And has anybody paid any attention to Israel’s constant interference by attacking convoys inside Syria without any [inaudible]?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, on the first question, the Secretary-General has had extensive conversations with a wide variety of people over the past few weeks on the hope for a conference coming up, and we are working with all sides to ensure that the conference takes place.  On the second question, of course, any type of interference is unhelpful at this stage when everybody is trying to get the conversations towards peacemaking re-engaged again between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  So, any type of unhelpful rhetoric is certainly not conducive to helping this take place.  Joe?


Question:  All right, yeah, you… you had just read out a statement concerning women’s rights in Afghanistan and the Secretary-General’s urging of further progress in that area.  I am wondering whether the Secretary-General has any comment to make on the recent spate of car bombings and other attacks that have cost the lives of civilians and members of the international force in Afghanistan and have taken place over the last number of days.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, you know full well the Secretary-General is against any form of violence in that sense and has said that no objective justifies the use of violence, and especially violence that results in deaths to… to…


Correspondent:  In all media and other situation when they have occurred in Africa and so forth, he has put out specific statements, condemning those specific [inaudible].


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, statements are put out when the Secretary-General feels it is necessary.  Also, Jan Kubiš, the Special Representative for the Secretary-General, is constantly making statements on Afghanistan and is constantly alerting us to what is happening there and alerting the Afghan authorities and people as to what our views are in terms of violence.  Matthew?


Question:  Sure, Eduardo, I want to ask, there… there has been all this fighting in South Sudan, not only in Pibor, but in Boma, and it was… it was said that this town was taken over and a… a… a hospital was closed.  What’s the status and what has the UN peacekeeping Mission been doing in terms of either assisting the… the… the South Sudan army to retake the town or protecting civilians from either of the two sides fighting?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, there have been contradictory reports on the situation in Boma.  The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is closely following the situation.  As soon as conditions allow, the Mission will send an assessment mission which will determine the needs regarding the protection of civilians.


Question:  And could I also… it was… it said that a… a… a… a peacekeeper from Nepal died last weekend in… in UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon], in Lebanon.  Is that true and what’s the… what was the cause… what’s this…?


Deputy Spokesperson:  A peacekeeper from Nepal?  I’ll have to find out, I haven’t heard.


Correspondent:  It’s in the Nepalese press, that’s why I am wondering why it’s not [inaudible].


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we’ll have to find out for you.


Correspondent:  Okay.


Deputy SpokespersonMasood?


Question:  Yes, sir.  I just want to know, has it been determined that the convoys that Israel have been attacking, it is actually… were, in fact, carrying weapons which were threatening Israeli security?  Has that been determined?  Have they also said that that is, in fact, the case?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, Masood, as you know, we have no way of determining what is happening in Syria.  We don’t have a mission there tasked with observing what is happening there.


Question:  So basically, there, we have to take their word for it?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we analyse information from all sectors, from all protagonists and we take a look at the information that is available to us and we come to our conclusions then.  Joe?


Question:  Has any progress been made in the last number of days in the negotiations with Syria to permit the team of experts the Secretary-General appointed to investigate the allegations of use of chemical weapons, has anything…?


Deputy Spokesperson:  The negotiations continue, Joe.  When we have something to else to announce, we will.  Matthew?


Question:  Sure, I wanted to ask, the… the… the… it is said that the President, new President of Cyprus has written to the Secretary-General complaining about Alexander Downer having either mis-described or mis-set up a dinner with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Derviş Eroğlu.  Are you aware of this letter being received?  It is reported in the Cyprus press and it says that they are… they may both pull out of the dinner and out of talks.  So, it seems serious.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, Matthew, as Martin has said on a number of occasions here, we… the Secretary-General gets many letters throughout the day and we are not privy often at the first moment that these letters are received.  We will check to see and we will get back to you.


Question:  Can I ask…?


Deputy Spokesperson:  One more question.


Question:  Yeah, on… on… okay, then I’ll… I’ll… I was going to ask something else, but I need to ask this one.  This meeting that is taking place this morning on… on… on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, it was on UNTV at the beginning and then mid-way through the speech by Saeb Erakat, it cut off and said the meeting is closed, and then disappeared from the… the UNTV sort of online website.  So, it wasn’t closed; I ended up running there and it was open.  But, in terms of people around the world that were interested in this topic, I am wondering, can we get a UN statement of why the TV was cut off in the middle of this important speech?


Deputy Spokesperson: We’ll check with UNTV and find out what had happened.


Correspondent:  Okay.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen.  Have a good afternoon.



For information media • not an official record