DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICES OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

9 December 2005

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICES OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

9/12/2005
Spokesman's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICES OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, and Pragati Pascale, Spokesperson for the General Assembly President.

Spokesman for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon.  If I could remind you all, please, turn off your cell phones.

** Noon Guest

Our guest today at noon will be Anwarul Chowdhury, the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing States and Small Island Developing States.  He will be here to discuss the impact of current trade rules on the world’s poorest countries and the main challenges they face in advance of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Summit that takes place in Hong Kong next week.

**Ethiopia/Eritrea

As we mentioned to you yesterday, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno, accompanied by the UN’s Military Advisor, Gen. Kumar Mehta, will be travelling to Ethiopia and Eritrea, following Eritrea's most recent decision affecting the UN Mission in that country.  We are expecting them to arrive in Addis Ababa very early Sunday morning, and then travel on to Asmara on Tuesday.  They will be hearing directly from the UN military staff on the ground to better assess the situation, and they have also requested meetings with the political leadership both in Eritrea and in Ethiopia.

**Security Council

Turning to the Security Council, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, today told the Security Council that we need to assess how effective we have been in our efforts to shield civilians from the horrors of armed conflict when States have been unwilling or unable to do so.  Speaking at a public meeting of the Security Council on the protection of civilians and armed conflict, Egeland said that we must make the World Summit’s commitment to peacemaking and mediation an early reality, and we must prioritize peacemaking efforts where there are serious humanitarian consequences.

Egeland said that the broad international support to southern Sudan’s peace process has, at long last, allowed refugees and displaced persons to return home.  He asked how much longer the world can tolerate the inadequate resources given to solve the conflict in northern Uganda.  We have copies of his remarks available upstairs, and Egeland also said he would speak to you at the stake-out after this morning’s meeting.

Jacques Foster, the Vice President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also spoke.  In addition, at least 35 Member States, including all the Security Council members, are inscribed on the speaker’s list.

** C ôte d’Ivoire

Prior to the public meeting today, the Council adopted a Presidential Statement welcoming the appointment of Charles Konan Banny as Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire.  The Council also endorsed the final communiqué of the International Working Group, recalling that an earlier communiqué states that the Prime Minister has full authority over the Cabinet he will establish.  And the Council also urges the establishment, without delay, of the Government.

** Iran

Just as a reminder, yesterday we did put out a statement expressing the Secretary-General’s shock at remarks in which the President of Iran reportedly cast doubt on the truth of the Holocaust and suggested that the State of Israel should be moved from the Middle East to Europe.  The Secretary-General urged all Members to combat the denial of the Holocaust, and to educate their populations about the well established historical facts of the Holocaust, in which one third of the Jewish people were murdered, along with countless members of other minorities.  And the full text of that statement was made available upstairs yesterday.

** Iraq

Turning to Iraq, with the adoption of a new constitution, Iraq is now moving towards the scheduled completion of its current political transition process, the Secretary-General so informs the Security Council in his latest report on the UN Mission in Iraq.  Despite meeting benchmarks, however, Iraq today remains beset with formidable security, political and economic challenges.

The report describes the UN’s ongoing electoral support to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, with a 25-member UN electoral team in Baghdad fully engaged in assisting in preparations for the 15 December elections.  Also, Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, is working closely with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa, to prepare for a conference on “Iraqi national accord”, which is planned for early 2006.

**Kosovo

Regarding Kosovo, 10 members of the National Police of Timor-Leste are en route to Kosovo to serve in the UN Police detachment there.  The officers were trained by the UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL).  The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Timor-Leste said the selection of the team for Kosovo showed the “remarkable progress and professionalism” of the Timor-Leste police force.

**Reports

We also have reports out on the rack to the Security Council from the Secretary-General on Liberia, the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights and the United Nations Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau.  And those reports, as I said, are all available no the racks.

** Democratic Republic of the Congo

Turning now to the situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Food Programme (WFP) is mobilizing food aid for tens of thousands of people who are fleeing their homes in the Katanga region because of new militia attacks.  It urgently needs an additional $20 million to keep working there, especially since its stocks of maize and meal are running low.  WFP has already airlifted food aid to some 7,000 displaced persons in the hard-to-reach town of Mpiana, and food destined for the town of Dubie is currently being loaded onto WFP trucks in Lubumbashi.  And we have more information from WFP upstairs.

**WHO and UNICEF

Ten million lives could be saved through child and maternal immunization between 2006 and 2015 at an average annual cost of $1 billion, according to a new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  We have a press release on that upstairs.

**Human Rights Day

Tomorrow is Human Rights Day, and as I mentioned here yesterday, we have the Secretary-General’s statement to mark the occasion.  We also have copies of that message upstairs, as well as a message from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Kemal Derviş.  In that message, Mr. Derviş says that human rights aren’t only an objective in themselves but also an important development tool.  Rights can be used to work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to prevent discrimination or exclusion from the development process on the ground, of race, religion or gender, he says in his message.

**Book Launch

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) wanted us to flag for you this afternoon 1:15, which will take place in the Express Bar.  It is a book launch.  The first book is called Broken bodies - broken dreams:  violence against women exposed, and the second is called, Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Situations:  Focusing on Sexual Violence in Emergencies.  Among the speakers will be Jan Egeland, as well as the former Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Elisabeth Rehn, and also Gilbert Laurin, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada.

**Other Announcements

Today is Friday and we have the Week Ahead.  Also, I just wanted to say goodbye to this year’s fellows of the Dag Hammarskjold scholars, who’ve been with us for about four months.  We’ve enjoyed having you here.  We’ve also sometimes enjoyed your questions.  So I hope you’ve taken something out of your stay here, and good luck to all of you.  Any questions?

**Questions and Answers

Spokesman:  Okay, go ahead and get a question in before you leave.

Question:  When will the Council consider the Mehlis report?

Spokesman:  The Mehlis report will be officially discussed in the Security Council on Tuesday, 13 December.  The Presidency of the Council has told us they expect to receive copies of the report Monday morning to give them about a day to study it before Mr. Mehlis officially presents it.  And we do expect Mr. Mehlis to be here for a press briefing after his presentation to the Security Council.

Question:  Do you have a schedule?

Spokesman:  I have nothing on his official schedule yet.  But we should have something this afternoon.

Question:  What is the status of finding a replacement for Mr. Mehlis?

Spokesman:  The search for a replacement for Mr. Mehlis, should the Security Council decide to extend the mission, is continuing and ongoing actively.

Question:  Is the person in the post of the High Commissioner for Human Rights subject to the Charter rule referring to the conduct of high United Nations officials?

Spokesman:  I think our view, the Secretary-General’s view, on Ms. Arbour and the right to express herself was made fairly clear yesterday, and I have nothing to add.

Question:  The question is whether article 101 applies to a high official such as the High Commissioner.

Spokesman:  I do not want to venture answering that question without checking first, but I will give you an answer.  Thank you very much.  Pragati.

Spokesperson for the Assembly President

Good afternoon.  In the General Assembly this morning, informal consultations of the plenary on Secretariat and management reform are being held to continue consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on an ethics office, independent evaluation of the oversight system, and an independent audit advisory committee.  The aim is to reach agreement on these three issues before the end of the year.  Also today, informal consultations are being held on the Human Rights Council, continuing negotiations based on the compilation text.

The Second Committee is taking action this afternoon on a number of draft resolutions on various development issues, and is expected to wrap up its work next week.  And the Fifth Committee is continuing informal consultations on the proposed biennial budget for 2006-2007.  The Chair said earlier this week that he fully expected their work to go through 23 December.

And we will have a message from the President for Human Rights Day later this afternoon, which we’ll make available upstairs.  Any questions?

**Question and Answers

Question:  Will there then be a special General Assembly, going longer as usual, because of the budget question?  How long do you think this will continue?

Spokesperson:  It’s too early to say on that one.

Question:  Is there any progress on reform of the Security Council?

Spokesperson:  The President has been mandated to issue a progress report by the end of the year.  He’s been holding consultations, and I believe the report will be out around 20 December.  He’ll also be giving an end of the year press briefing around that time as well, so he can tell you about it himself.

Question:  Has the Secretary-General set up a date for his press conference?

Spokesman:  Yes.  It was announced a couple of days ago.  It’s on 21 December at 10:30.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.