12 June 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.


**Noon Briefing Guest Today


Today, I am joined by Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.  Ms. Zerrougui is here to present the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.  Ms. Zerrougui will brief you, and afterwards, we will have time for some questions.


[Press conference by Ms. Zerrougui issued separately.]


**Trip Announcement


The Secretary-General will depart New York on Monday, 17 June, for China, where he is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, 18 June.


He will hold meetings with President Xi Jinping, Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and State Councillor Yang Jiechi, among other officials, to discuss issues of common interest.


The Secretary-General will visit a peacekeeping training centre at the Ministry of National Defence in Beijing, as well as attend a workshop on clean energy held by China’s Industrial Energy Conservation and Clean Production Association and hold talks with Xie Zhenhua, Vice-Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.


The Secretary-General will also meet with business leaders who are participating in the Global Compact Network in China.


The Secretary-General will return to New York on Friday, 21 June.


**Security Council


The Security Council held an open meeting this morning on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.


The Council was briefed by Theodor Meron, the President, and Serge Brammertz, the Prosecutor, of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal.


From the Rwanda Tribunal, the Council heard from Vagn Joensen, its President, and Hassan Bubacar Jallow, its Prosecutor.


**Culture and Sustainable Development


The Secretary-General spoke to the General Assembly this morning on culture and sustainable development.  He said that development programmes need to take cultural settings into account and mobilize people by embracing their culture.


He also said culture is at the top of the sustainable development agenda as emerging countries are looking for ways to sustain and accelerate their growth and write the next chapter of their development.


His full remarks are available in my office and online.


** Nigeria


Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos will travel to Nigeria from tomorrow until Saturday.


During her stay in the capital, Abuja, Ms. Amos is scheduled to meet senior Government officials, including the Vice-President of Nigeria, as well as senior representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Nigerian business community and the UN country team to discuss disaster preparedness.


Ms. Amos also plans to visit four states that were severely affected by the floods of last year and are now preparing for this year’s rainy season.


**International Labour Organization


The International Labour Organization (ILO) says in a new report issued today that an estimated 10.5 million children worldwide are serving as domestic workers in people’s homes, in hazardous and sometimes slave-like conditions.


According to this report, 6.5 million of these child labourers are aged between 5 and 14 years old, and more than 71 per cent are girls.


The report, launched to mark the World Day against Child Labour, calls for concerted and joint action at the national and international levels to eliminate child labour in domestic work.


The full report is available online.


**Hunger


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) confirmed today that 38 countries have met internationally established targets in the fight against hunger, chalking up successes ahead of a deadline set for 2015.


FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva has said that these countries are proof that with strong political will and cooperation, it is possible to eliminate hunger rapidly.


Mr. Graziano da Silva also urged countries to keep up the momentum, aiming for the complete eradication of hunger, in keeping with the Zero Hunger Challenge launched in 2012 by the Secretary-General.  He added that, although hunger has declined over the past decade, 870 million people are still malnourished.


**Secretary-General’s Appointment


I have an appointment to announce.


The Secretary-General has appointed Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye of Senegal as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office for the Central African Republic (BINUCA), based in Bangui, Central African Republic.  Lieutenant General Gaye succeeds Margaret Vogt of Nigeria.


Lieutenant General Gaye is currently serving as Assistant Secretary-General and Military Adviser for Peacekeeping Operations.


We have more information on this appointment in our office.


**Press Conferences Tomorrow


Tomorrow, at 11 a.m., there will be a press conference on the presentation of the new United Nations report titled, “World Population Prospects:  The 2012 Revision”, which includes new projections on population, fertility, life expectancy and more.


We have time for a few questions. Mr. Abbadi?


Question:  Thank you, Eduardo.  You indicated the Secretary-General would soon visit Beijing and talk to Chinese officials, and they will discuss issues of common concern.  Any type of issues?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the agenda is quite broad and we’ll have to see when we get there how the conversations go.  Right now, I can’t really get into more specifics than what I’ve given you.


Question:  Twenty-seven July is the anniversary — sixtieth anniversary — of the Korean War armistice, and I’m wondering if the UN has anything in mind to do to mark that special occasion?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I’ll have to check on that for you.  I don’t have any information with me right now.


[The Deputy Spokesperson later said that there's nothing planned for the occasion at the UN.]


Correspondent:  Okay, and I have a second question.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes?


Question:  That is that, traditionally, the General Assembly on the fourth floor balcony has a whole longrowfor press to sit and to, to observe, and I’m wondering if anything is being done so there can be seats for the press in the room?


Deputy Spokesperson:  All I can say is check with [Department of Public Information] on that again.  I don’t have that information.  Stefano?


Question:  Thank you, Eduardo.  About the situation in Turkey, yesterday, there’s been report of, I mean, violence between police and demonstrators, but also that the press and TV, even foreign TV, were harassed or in somehow, some way, the situation is getting worse.  What does the Secretary-General think about the situation in Turkey, specific also about the way journalists at the moment… the difficulty they have to work in such circumstances?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, Martin yesterday gave an answer to the situation in Turkey and I will repeat it today.  The Secretary-General is following developments in Turkey.  He appeals for calm and stresses the importance of addressing differences through dialogue.  Protests should be peaceful and the right to assembly and freedom of expression should be respected, as these are fundamental principles of the democratic State.


As well, the Secretary-General is on record very often as saying that journalists should be able to practise their trade and their craft without fear of persecution or prosecution.


So, in that sense, that’s where we stand right now.  Matthew?


Question:  Sure, sure.  I have something on media — the thing you just said.  First, I wanted to ask you:  there was an announcement by the South Africa National Defence Force that 96 of their troops that served in the Democratic Republic of Congo with MONUSCO have been charged in some way with sexual abuse or exploitation.  And, the story says that four of them have been discharged.  And, I wonder, is, from the UN’s perspective, is that enough?  If someone is found guilty of sexual exploitation or abuse while on a UN peacekeeping mission, is it enough to discharge them from the army, or is some type of punishment expected, and how does this impact their service in the Intervention Brigade?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, Matthew, I will suggest you ask the DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations].  We’ve received the reports and DPKO is looking into this right now.  So, I suggest you ask DPKO a bit later on this afternoon.


Question:  Okay, could I also… also, Amnesty International has put out a report — now it’s more than 24 hours ago — about Blue Nile State in Sudan, and although I know that there’s no peacekeeping mission there, so that’s what I’m going to ask you, they… one of their recommendations is that the UN country team and humanitarian actors do everything possible to access the area.  So, I know I’d asked [Assistant Secretary-General] Kane when she spoke about… came to speak about [ Democratic Republic of the Congo], but is… is there humanitarian access?  Has OCHA [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] gained humanitarian access to Southern Kordofan or Blue Nile?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I will have to check.  I believe we’re still waiting for that access to come through, but I’ll have to check and get back to you on that.


[The Deputy Spokesperson later said that UN access to Government-controlled parts of Blue Nile has improved significantly since this time last year.  In late May, the World Food Programme reached 84,000 people with food assistance and the UN refugee agency delivered emergency shelter and non-food items to 5,000 people.  UN staff had meetings with the authorities and [non-governmental organization] partners in the State capital, Ad-Damazin, last week.


The UN still does not have access to areas of Blue Nile controlled by the [Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North], however.  The UN continues to call for a cessation of hostilities, so that a polio vaccination campaign can be carried out in these areas from within Sudan, and for the parties to return to the negotiating table so that all civilians affected by the conflict can be reached with humanitarian assistance.]


Question:  And then, just really quickly, to follow-up on this question of question of the GA [General Assembly], actually, to, to move it forward, I’ve asked that, and in fact, DPI has said there will not be any, any other, other than photo booths… there’s no other way to cover the GA.  So, I wanted to ask you, why isnt’ the… earlier today, something purporting to be the media access guidelines was finalized.  It says that it’s in agreement with UNCA [United Nations Correspondents Association]; it says that it can be no permanent workspace for the media in front of the Security Council, no flyers are allowed.  And I, although I spoke to one UNCA executive committee member who said he didn’t agree to it, so I wanted to know, since the UN put it out, who’s behind the rule?  Is there going to be the GA limitation?  Has this been agreed to by UNCA, as well?  And how does this square with DPI telling the Free UN Coalition for Access that they are still considering installing benches and tables?  Why was this rule finalized at this time with your name of your office on it?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, you’re going tohave to check with DPI on that.  I think we’ve gone into this on several occasions with you.  We’ve said everything we have to say from this podium.  Speak with DPI.  They are the ones that…


Correspondent:  Well, we’re having a lot of frustration.  For example, the GA, they said there was no change.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, you have to deal with that.  I know they reply to your emails.  I know they reply to your questions.  Sometimes, of course, the answers aren’t what you want to hear, but they do reply to your questions.


Correspondent:  Sometimes, the answers aren’t accurate.  That’s why I’m asking here.


Deputy Spokesperson: Well, they do reply to your questions.  Last question, in the back.


Question:  Yeah, will you make an announcement by the end of June regarding the new chief of UN-Women [United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women]?


Deputy Spokesperson:  I really don’t know.  The Secretary-General will make an announcement when we have one to make.


Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Have a good afternoon.


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For information media • not an official record