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

26 April 2006

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

26 April 2006
Spokesman's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

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

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.  First, I’d like to welcome our visiting guests.  Welcome to the United Nations.  It is a pleasure to have you here.

**Security Council - Sudan

Starting off with the Security Council –- The Security Council is currently hearing a briefing from Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on two points for a possible transfer of responsibilities in Darfur from the current African Union Mission to an agile, capable and highly mobile UN peacekeeping force.  He also told the Council members about the UN’s planning efforts for Darfur, including his own travels to Addis Ababa and Sudan.

The Secretary-General and Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, also attended this closed meeting of the Security Council.

And, we do expect Jean-Marie Guéhenno to stop at the stakeout outside the Council Chamber after the discussion on Sudan, to brief you in more detail about the planning options we’ve offered the Security Council.

** Sudan - Jan Pronk

Meanwhile, also on Sudan, Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, is in El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, where he met with the head of the African Union Mission to discuss means of cooperation and support for that mission.  He is also scheduled to meet with leaders of the Sudan Liberation Army.

**Security Council - Other Matters

Also, following the consultations on Sudan, the Security Council expects to hear from Terje Roed-Larsen, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the implementation of resolution 1559, on the Secretary-General’s latest report on that topic.  Roed-Larsen will brief the Council on developments in Lebanon, pertinent to that resolution, and he also intends to speak to the press at the stakeout after his presentation to the Council.

Then, under other matters, Council members expect to hear a briefing by the Department of Political Affairs on the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, as well as the surrounding region.

**Security Council, Yesterday

Yesterday, the Council adopted a resolution deciding that targeted sanctions measures, specified in resolution 1591, shall apply to four individuals in Sudan. That resolution was adopted by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with Russia, China and Qatar abstaining.

The Council also adopted two presidential statements on Sudan, one urging the parties in Darfur to reach a peace accord by the end of this month; and another voicing concern at the instability along the border between Sudan and Chad.  The Council also took a number of other actions, more information on which is available upstairs and on the web.

**SG Message to UN Seminar

Angela Kane, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, today delivered a message on the Secretary-General’s behalf at a UN seminar on assistance to the Palestinian people that was held in Cairo, Egypt.

In that message, the Secretary-General expresses concern at the prospect for a further deterioration in Palestinian living conditions and urges the international donor community to find effective ways for continuing and intensifying support for the Palestinian people.

He also expresses the hope that the new Palestinian Authority Cabinet will address the Palestinian people’s aspirations for peace and statehood, as articulated by President Mahmoud Abbas.  For that reason, the Secretary-General calls upon the Palestinian Authority to reaffirm Palestinian commitment to the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel’s right to exist and the acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map.

**SG Appointments

I have two appointments to announce today.  The Secretary-General has appointed Legwaila Joseph Legwaila of Botswana as his Special Adviser on Africa, effective 1 May 2006.  He succeeds Ibrahim Gambari, who, as you know, is now Under-Secretary-General of Political Affairs.

And, you will recall, of course, that Mr. Legwaila most recently served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), and has also been Botswana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  And, a search is now under way to replace Mr. Legwaila as the head of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

And, we have a biography of him available upstairs, as well.

Also, today, the Secretary-General appointed Yohannes Mengesha of Ethiopia as his Assistant Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management.  He succeeds Angela Kane, who, as I mentioned earlier, is the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

Mr. Mengesha currently serves as Director in the Office of the Deputy Secretary-General, and he has been with that Office since its inception.  And, we have a biography of him available upstairs.

**Humanitarian Situation/Eritrea

Kjell Magne Bondevik, the Secretary-General’s Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa, is in Asmara, Eritrea today.  He met with the Eritrean President Isais Afwerki and senior Government officials to discuss the overall humanitarian situation in Eritrea.  Earlier this morning, he met with members of the donor community in Asmara, as well as UN officials there.

** Chernobyl

Upstairs, we have a statement marking the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.  In it, the Secretary-General says the best way for the international community to pay homage to those who suffered from Chernobyl is to provide generous support to programmes designed to help traumatized communities regain self-sufficiency, and affected families to return to normal, healthy lives.  He also pays tribute to the heroism of the emergency workers who responded to the accident 20 years ago today.

**OPCW

And tomorrow, in The Hague, the UN is sponsoring its first day of remembrance for all victims of chemical warfare.  The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says representatives from all over the world will attend the ceremonies, led by the Dutch Prime Minister.

The Secretary-General has already sent his message to mark that day.  In it, he calls upon all members who are not members of the Chemical Weapons Prevention Convention to join it without delay.  In the message, he says let us honour the victims of chemical warfare by pledging to consign these dreadful weapons to the pages of history.  And, we have copies of the message upstairs.

**SG Opens Stock Exchange

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will open the New York Stock Exchange at 9:30 a.m., as part of the launch of the Principles for Responsible Investment.  This is an initiative developed by the Global Compact and the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

The Principles provide institutional investors with a common framework for integrating environmental and social issues into investment decision-making.

The Secretary-General will be joined by the heads of a group of international funds who will sign these Principles.  And, you can watch the launch on the webcast of the New York Stock Exchange.  And, I do believe the Secretary-General will be the first one to ring the opening bell at the stock exchange downtown.

**Press Conference

Tomorrow at 11, Dr. Cutberto Garza, Director of the UN University Food and Nutrition Programme, will hold a press conference here on the revised world Child Growth Standards, which has been prepared in cooperation with the World Health Organization.  That’s at 11 a.m.

**Temple of Understanding

Just in response to a question that was raised yesterday about an event with the Department of Public Information and an NGO called the Temple of Understanding. I am told that DPI’s civil society section facilitated the event, which is the 2006 Gandhi-King Season for Non-violence youth event, by providing a venue for the conference.  Opening remarks were made by Mr. Ramu Damodaran, the Chief of the DPI civil society section, for this annual event.

And, for those of you who don’t know, and I include myself in that, the Temple of Understanding is a DPI-associated NGO, which also has consultative status with ECOSOC. And, the Temple of Understanding was created in 1960, and its mission is, among others, to promote coexistence among individuals and communities through interfaith dialogue. 

We all learned something today.  That is it for me.  Any questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I just wanted to ask you about the 11:30 meeting with the Saudi Arabian Ambassador Shobokshi with the Secretary-General.  I wanted to get a readout on that, and also to find out if it’s about the alternative to the Turkish-Saudi forum to solve problems in the Middle East, or if he’s going to talk specifically about the Quartet?

Spokesman:  What I do know is that the meeting took place at the Ambassador’s request and, as soon as we leave this room, we’ll try to see if we can get you a little bit more on that. Yes sir?

Question:  When is the audit of the stamp auction going to be released?

Spokesman:  The audit, as I understand it, is currently ongoing.  And, if this audit is to be treated like all others, it will be made available to Member States upon request.  And, this audit may also lead… depending on the conclusions of the audit… it may lead to an investigation.  Yes?

Question:  Do you have any details of the options that were discussed today at the consultations on Sudan?

Spokesman:  There were two options and, as I said, you may have missed that part -– Jean-Marie Guéhenno will be at the stakeout shortly, and he will answer those in more detail.  Yes sir?

Question:  Is there any consultation going on in the UN, in case the new Government of Palestine continues its policy of not recognizing Israel, the State of Israel?

Spokesman:  I’m sure that will be one of the issues discussed by the Quartet when they meet here on May 9th.  Thank you very much.

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