30 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.


**Statement on Post-2015 Development Agenda


I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the report of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.


The Secretary-General received today the report of his High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.  The report was delivered at a ceremony attended by Panel Co-Chair, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, on behalf of his fellow Co-Chairs, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom.  The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to the Co-Chairs for their leadership and to the Panel members for their diligence and commitment.


The Secretary-General praised the Panel for its inclusive approach and extensive consultations over the past year.  He welcomed the Panel’s recognition that the post-2015 development agenda should be universal, applying to North and South alike, and be infused with a spirit of partnership based on equity, cooperation and mutual accountability.


He commended the transformative shifts identified by the Report, specifically the call to put sustainability at the centre of the post-2015 development agenda.  He emphasized that sustainability is not just an environmental matter, but an approach that would integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development, as agreed at the Rio+20 Conference.


The Secretary-General welcomed the attention to youth, as well as to inclusive growth and employment creation.  The Secretary-General also welcomed the Report’s recognition that peace, human rights, rule of law and good governance are core foundations for development.


The Secretary-General stated that the Report is an important milestone and provides a substantial contribution to the post-2015 debate as Member States continue their deliberations on a new development agenda.


The Secretary-General transmitted a copy of the Report to the President of the General Assembly for circulation to all Member States.  The Report will also be made public later today.


Following this briefing, at about 12:30 p.m., there will be a press conference on the report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.  Speakers will include Amina Mohammed, the Special Adviser on the Post-2015 Development Framework and ex officio Panel member, along with John Podesta, Betty Maina of Kenya and Ambassador Patricia Espinosa of Mexico, who are all members of the Panel.  And the report will be posted online on the Secretary-General’s website at 3 p.m.  The press conference will be on the record, but embargoed until 3 p.m. because of the posting of the report at 3 p.m. on the website.


** Iraq


Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, expressed his dismay at the horrific toll of lives lost following the new wave of attacks against innocent civilians, particularly targeting Baghdad.  Mr. Kobler also condemned the car bomb attack against the Anbar Governor’s convoy, which led to the injury of four of his escorts.  He warned that systemic violence is ready to explode at any moment if all Iraqi leaders do not engage immediately to pull the country out of this mayhem.


** Afghanistan


The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) strongly condemns the attack that took place on an office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the city of Jalalabad yesterday.  The Mission was informed that two International Red Cross staff members — one national and one international — were injured in the attack, while one national security guard was killed.


The Mission notes that the International Committee of the Red Cross plays a critical and impartial humanitarian role in Afghanistan.  It stresses that attacks on humanitarian and medical personnel are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law.  It emphasizes that all medical and humanitarian personnel in the country must be respected and protected at all times.


**Democratic People’s Republic of Korea/Lao People’s Democratic Republic


The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, today expressed his grave concern over the safety and security of nine North Koreans who were reported to be deported from Laos to China.  The UN refugee agency is concerned that the nine North Koreans — including five children — did not have a chance to have their asylum claims assessed.  Mr. Guterres called on States to adhere to the principle of non-refoulement and to refrain from any future measures that could directly or indirectly lead to the return of a person to a country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened.


**South Sudan


The UN refugee agency says that more than 19,000 people have fled so far this year from South Sudan’s Jonglei State into neighbouring countries due to violence and insecurity.  From 7 to 24 May, UNHCR registered about 6,000 displaced people, including 4,000 in Ethiopia alone.  Some 12,000 of them have fled to Ethiopia, while the rest have sought refuge in Kenya and Uganda.


An inter-agency assessment mission has found that over 13,000 people were affected by a cattle raid in Upper Nile State on 18 May.  The UN agencies and humanitarian partners are mobilizing support to deliver assistance, particularly to meet the urgent food needs of the displaced communities.


Humanitarian organizations concluded a mass immunization campaign against a meningitis outbreak in Upper Nile State which was declared on 30 April.  More than 123,000 people were vaccinated in May.


**Democratic Republic of Congo


The Deputy Humanitarian Chief, Kyung-wha Kang, concluded her four-day mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo today, following a visit to Mulamba Village in South Kivu Province.  The village is now home to many people who have fled conflict in other parts of the eastern DRC.


Ms. Kang met with displaced and host communities who expressed the urgent need for emergency aid, as well as longer-term assistance to help rebuild their lives.  She also visited a WFP [World Food Programme] food distribution site and saw other ways in which UN agencies and humanitarian partners are trying to reach people with lifesaving aid.  Yesterday, Ms. Kang visited the Panzi Hospital, which specializes in health and psychological treatment for women who have been raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence.


**Security Council


The Security Council held a private meeting this morning to wrap up its work during Togo’s May presidency of the Council.  It also held consultations on Cyprus.


**Children


In its annual “State of the World’s Children” report released today, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot.


The report says that more efforts to support integration of children with disabilities would help tackle the discrimination that pushes them further into the margins of society.  The report urges Governments to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to support families so that they can meet the higher costs of caring for children with disabilities.  It also calls for measures to fight discrimination among the general public, decision makers and providers of such essential services as schooling and health care.  There are more details on UNICEF’s website.


And we have time for a few questions before the next press conference.  Masood?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Yes.  Yesterday, because you were in such a hurry, you weren’t able to answer one question about Myanmar that I was going to ask.  That there had been reports that there is a systematic ethnic cleansing sort of thing going on over there and the mosque was attacked and also destroyed.  My question is:  Will Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar be going to Rohingya and those areas which are affected by this situation as it is in Myanmar?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, what I can tell you is that we have come across reports that local authorities in Myanmar have decided to enact a two-child policy in two townships of Rakhine State, which are predominantly Muslim.  If enacted, this policy would be considered discriminatory and would infringe upon the fundamental human rights of the Muslim and/or Rohingya communities in those places.  UN human rights mechanisms have previously addressed this issue and have called upon the authorities to remove such policies or practices.  That is what I have.


Question:  Okay.  Can I ask you another question about Syria?  That now the reports are out, there in Syria the divisions are between separate… I mean, between various rebel groups who are supporters of Al-Qaida and al-Shura, and so on and so forth.  And then, there are reports that some… the… the… the parties, which have been invited to attend the peace conference organized by United States and Russia, have said that they may not.  What is it that the United Nations envoy over there can do to move this process forward?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the United Nations envoy and the Secretary-General are working with States who have influence on all sides of the conflict to get them to motivate people to take a positive approach to the conference that is scheduled some time in the near future in Geneva, and to move towards achieving a peace in Syria, so that you can have a political solution to the problem.  The Secretary-General has always said he does not see a military solution to the problems in Syria; he sees a political solution.  He sees that the killing must stop and the violence must come to an end.  For this, there has to be a dialogue; and for this dialogue to occur, of course, the States who have contacts with people who are funding and in contact with different factions fighting in Syria must come together and must convince them to come to the negotiating table.  Mr. Abbadi?


Question:  Thank you, Eduardo.  I know we are going to have a press briefing at 12:30 p.m. on the report of the High-level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda, but do you know if the report contains a list of specific recommendations?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, Mr. Abbadi, I have a sense of the dramatic, and I am not going to detract from the impact that my guests at 12:30 p.m. will make, so, let’s leave it for them to answer.


Correspondent:  Just a bit of housekeeping.  Having four press conferences in one day is a bit much; they don’t write themselves, and I wonder if your office can, not prevent them, but just point out to people that that’s happening when they register.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, you know, we do the noon briefing, press conferences are held on the occasions that people want to hold them, Evelyn, and there is not too much we can do about it.


Correspondent:  Well, you have to tell them.  I would think you should tell them that there are three other people the same day, and if they still want to do it, fine, if they want to be totally talking to the trees.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, they are aware of what the calendar is, and they decide to do it.  There is not too much we can do.  Margaret, you had a question?  No?  I’m sorry.  Matthew?


Question:  Yeah, sure, Eduardo.  I just want to ask you a couple of questions on Syria.  One is that Syrian Permanent Representative [Bashar] Ja’afari said he wrote to the Secretary-General to complain about Robert Serry’s briefing, that it didn’t mention sufficiently from his view the Golan Heights and the kidnapping of peacekeepers.  Can you confirm the receipt of that letter?  And also, he said he was… he had been summoned to meet with Susana Malcorra, and I’d like to know, one, if it’s true, and two, what the purpose of the meeting was.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, Matthew, I don’t have any information on the receipt of a letter that you refer to, and secondly, we don’t have any information on any meeting that may have taken place.  As Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous said yesterday, the meeting between United Nations officials and members of the diplomatic corps of the Permanent Missions, we don’t usually report on them.


Question:  I want to ask you something that… that Mr. Ma… Mr. Ladsous didn’t answer yesterday and there is actually new information on it.  In… in Minova, the UN’s own Radio Okapi is… is reporting on 88 newly discovered rapes.  It is a little unclear whether, somewhere in this time frame of November, or at least eight of them are… are quite recent.  So, I wanted to know, is the 135 figure for the mass rapes in Minova in November, is that the UN’s current figure?  And as he didn’t answer yesterday, what update, if any, is there on bringing to account those, if from the 391st and forty-first battalion, who were guilt… were… were involved and in the town and involved in the rapes in November?


Deputy Spokesperson:  We’ll have to find out for you, Matthew, I don’t have that information on hand right now.  Next question?


Question:  What happened with the question yesterday?  They didn’t start looking into it?  And I am just wondering, like he didn’t answer it, but I would assume, like, somehow the wheels would start turning on that.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the wheels are turning, but I don’t have the information yet.  Okay?  Okay, thank you very much.  One more question, that’s it.


Question:  Okay.  I… I wanted to ask you, it’s a… it’s a… either… they’re related questions on spending.  One has to do with Romano Prodi.  It’s approached by people in the… in the budget system of the UN, saying there is some surprise that not only is Mr. Prodi based in Rome, but he is not actually based in Rome, he is based in Bologna and he’s been charging the UN, I am told, $1,200 for each vi… for each round trip between Bologna and Rome.  And I wanted to know, is that… it’s one thing to be based not in the region of the Sahel, but is this an acc… can you look into that and find out if it’s an accurate figure and if Ban Ki-moon thinks that’s a good use of funds?  And also, the Publishing Section has, they say, written to… to the Secretary-General with a proposal to avoid the loss of 59 jobs that… that has been proposed, 59 posts to be eliminated.  They’ve… have a counter-proposal, very detailed, and I wanted to know, has he received it and does… is the… is the management of the UN open to dialoguing with those who actually stand to lose jobs while high officials are travelling for $1,200 between Bologna and Rome?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, one does not have to do with the other.  One is a Special Representative on the Sahel; as you know, he is based in Italy, in Rome, you have the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization — two organizations that are playing a very key role in the Sahel.  So, it makes sense and that’s the United Nations office there, so it makes sense for him to be there.  Secondly, with respect to the 59 people who have sent a letter to the [Secretary-General], we will have to check on it. 


Thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen.  We’ll see you later on for the 12:30 p.m. briefing.


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For information media • not an official record