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

27 October 2006

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

27 October 2006
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 SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

 


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General and Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte, the Spokeswoman for the President of the General Assembly.


**Statement on Jan Pronk


“The Secretary-General has now confirmed that Jan Pronk will continue to serve as his Special Representative in the Sudan until the end of the year, when his contract is set to expire.


“Following ongoing consultations with the Sudanese authorities, it is expected that Mr. Pronk will return to Khartoum during November to organize an orderly handover to the Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Mission, before returning to New York for debriefings and the completion of his mission.


“As you will recall, on Sunday, 22 October, the Secretary-General received a letter from the Sudanese Foreign Minister, which stated that the Government of National Unity considered Pronk’s mission as “terminated”, and requested Mr. Pronk to leave the Sudan within 72 hours.  The Secretary-General subsequently requested his Special Representative to travel to New York for consultations.


“The Secretary-General has protested the decision with President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir of the Sudan, and has reiterated his full confidence in Jan Pronk.


“The Secretary-General has made it clear that he alone can decide on the tenure of his Special Representatives.  However, he also realizes that, at a critical time in the Darfur negotiations, it is important that we preserve a good working relationship with the Government of the Sudan and he is certain the Officer-in-Charge, Taye Zerihoun, will be able to provide this.”


** Democratic Republic of the Congo Statement


And now, I have a statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).


“The Secretary-General welcomes the progress that has been made in the technical preparations for the second round of the presidential election and the provincial assembly elections, to be held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 29 October.


“However, the Secretary-General is very concerned about the increasing level of violence as election day approaches.  The overwhelming majority of the Congolese people are determined to exercise their democratic right to freely elect their leaders through participation in the polling.  And the successful holding of peaceful and credible elections is vital for future peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


“The Secretary-General urges the Congolese people, and in particular the presidential candidates, to take all possible steps to ensure that the elections are conducted in an atmosphere of calm and that the process is transparent and free.”


** Democratic Republic of the Congo


And, also, as an added note on the DRC, the United Nations Mission in the DRC says that it has reinforced security and placed military observers in strategic points across Kinshasa and the rest of the country, ahead of Sunday’s run-off presidential election.


And, the Mission says that election results are expected on 19 November.


**Meeting of Heads of the Principal Organs of the United Nations


We also have upstairs a statement, following the meeting of the Heads of the six Principal Organs of the United Nations (General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice and, of course, the Secretariat).  Their eighth annual meeting in New York on 26 October 2006 was followed by a luncheon hosted by the Secretary-General.  This annual process was initiated by the Secretary-General in 1998, in order to exchange views, facilitate coordination and improve efficiency in the workings of the Organization.


The Secretary-General and the five Presidents discussed recent, important developments in their respective areas, including the situation in Lebanon and the expansion of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), reform of the Security Council, progress of the Human Rights Council and the newly established Peacebuilding Commission, as well as measures to expedite and enhance the workings of the International Court of Justice.


The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, briefed the meeting on the United Nations response to humanitarian crises.  Changes in the nature and magnitude of humanitarian challenges required more strategic resourcing, improved capacity to respond to multiple emergencies, closer coordination with non-UN actors and strengthened ability to operationalize resolutions adopted by Member States, through activities on the ground.  Egeland also talked about the Central Emergency Response Fund, a key reform proposal of the Secretary-General, which was a significant development, allowing the Organization to deploy staff, goods and services immediately, where needed, while also devoting much needed attention to forgotten crises.


That statement is upstairs.


**Security Council


This afternoon, at 3:30 p.m., the Security Council will hear briefings on the situation in Sudan from Mr. Pronk and from Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno.


Both Mr. Pronk and Mr. Guéhenno will speak to you jointly at the Council stakeout microphone, following those consultations.


This morning, the Council began its work with a private meeting to hear from the President of the International Court of Justice, Rosalyn Higgins.  And, after that, Council members went into consultations on Timor-Leste, to receive an update on that country from Mr. Hédi Annabi, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.


**Register of Damages


And a couple of things to flag for you.  A report from the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on the establishment of a register of damages related to Israel’s construction of a barrier in the West Bank is out as a document today.


The report presents the institutional framework required for the register, in compliance with the request of the General Assembly for such a register.  The resolution was adopted in August 2004, some of you may recall.


In it, the Secretary-General proposes to establish an office of the Register of Damages in Vienna.  That office would include a Board comprised of three independent members, as well as a small secretariat.  Of course, as I said, that report is upstairs.


**Youth Summit


Today is Friday, and we do have the week ahead and a couple of things I wanted to let you know about.  First of all, this Sunday, the Secretary-General will open the United Nations Global Youth Leadership Summit at 9:30 a.m. in the General Assembly Hall.


The Summit will focus on engaging young people in decisions about the future of their communities, their regions and the emerging global society.


**Secretary-General’s Trip


And, the Secretary-General will be in Washington on Monday, where, in the afternoon, he will deliver the annual Oliver Tambo lecture at Georgetown University.


In his remarks, he is expected to say that Africa is in a defining struggle for its destiny.  With an unprecedented vigour and resolve, its people are addressing the gravest challenges confronting their continent.  Today, they need the international community to work with them, invest in them and to ensure the better future that can and must be Africa’s.


The following morning, on Tuesday, he will deliver remarks at the start of a two-day conference, which will assess his legacy in Africa, as Secretary-General.  The conference is being organized by the African Studies Programme at Georgetown University, which brings together academics and Africa specialists.  And, we do expect the Secretary-General back in New York on Tuesday afternoon.


**Security Council -- Monday


I know you’ve been asking about Terje Roed-Larsen, and his report on 1559, which went to the Security Council last week.  Mr. Larsen will present the report on Monday to the Council, and he has told us that he will be able to speak to you at the stakeout after he briefs the Council.


**Press Conference


On Monday at 10:30 a.m. in this very room, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, international tennis player Serena Williams, and others will be here to brief you on the three-day Global Youth Leadership Summit, which I just, as I mentioned, opens this Sunday, the 29th.  And that is it for me.  I will take some of your questions.


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Stéphane, there are media reports that the Israeli Air Force may bomb tunnels.  And I just wanted to get an idea of what, if you can give me an update of anything that is going on in terms of the Quartet, or if the Secretary-General is making any phone calls because right now there is the prisoner swap that is being negotiated, and something like this could possibly jeopardize this, and I just wanted to see if the United Nations is involved in this?


Spokesman:  The Secretary-General, through his Special Representative, Alvaro de Soto, in his briefing to the Council, recently expressed his concern at the violence in Gaza and called for restraint in any of these eventual military operations.  And, as you said, at this point, there are just press reports, but the situation in Gaza has been a concern to the Secretary-General.


Question:  Has he done anything in the past few days regarding this?


Spokesman:  He’s kept himself informed of the situation on the ground.


Question:  Stéphane, could you articulate to us, or explain to us, your policies, or guidelines, on information obtained by people working for the United Nations in their capacity as officials, or whatever, and then sharing them with the public?  Do you have a guideline on that?


Spokesman:  General policy is that we expect people to use good and sound judgement.  There are specific guidelines for officials in speaking to the media, which are publicly available, which we can share with you, which calls on officials to speak to the media on the areas of competency, and there are guidelines in terms of getting permission from the Secretariat regarding publications and articles.


Question:  On Mr. Pronk (inaudible) does the United Nations think he acted properly in the information he obtained…?


Spokesman:  On Mr. Pronk, as I said earlier, his blog is his.  We consider it to be his personal view.


Question:  (inaudible)


Spokesman:  And there’ve been discussions with him on that.  On the situation regarding the Sudan and Mr. Pronk, we think we clearly articulated that he continues to serve as the Special Representative with the confidence of the Secretary-General.


Question:  My question was when did you know about his blog?  Did you approve it?  And if you have discussions with him, did you advise him against publicizing information that he obtained through his work as an official…?


Spokesman:  The discussions taking place between Mr. Pronk and the Secretariat, I think, are internal discussions that take place like in any organization.  On Friday, I made our point of view clear on his blog, that conversations had been had with him, and that those views expressed in his blog were his personal views.


Question:  My question, when did you know?


Spokesman:  I am not going to go into the details of internal discussions between the Secretariat and its officials.


Question:  So we understand you advised him against it and he did not follow that advice?


Spokesman:  You could draw your own conclusions.  As I said, I am not going to comment on internal human resources discussions.


Question:  Just to follow up on the Pronk issue, has this compromise been accepted by the Sudanese Government, that he is going to return in November to hand over, especially that the Sudanese representative said to us Pronk is history?


Spokesman:  The dates would obviously be worked out, but we do not expect any problems with the scenario we laid out for you.


Question:  So they said okay?


Spokesman:  We do not expect any problems with the scenario that’s been laid out.


Question:  On the Pronk issue, does the Secretary-General still believe, now that he has been removed by the Sudanese Government, that Mr. Pronk, if he is allowed to go back, would be as effective as he has been in the past, and how much of a confidence does he have, and what else does Mr. Pronk require from the Member States?  Because as (inaudible) to embolden his hands to carry out his mission, and if he is unable to carry out his mission, is he?


Spokesman:  With due respect, I think those questions were answered in the statement. The Secretary-General is the only person who can decide on the tenure of his Special Representatives.  Mr. Pronk will return to Khartoum during November to organize an orderly handover to the Officer-in-Charge of the Mission before returning to New York for debriefings and the completion of his mission, but he will remain the Special Representative until the end of the year.  And, we realize that the critical time at which we all are in the discussions on Darfur, and we value having a good working relationship with the Government of Sudan and we are very much certain that Mr. Zerihoun will be able to provide this.


Question:  Is Khartoum agreeable for his return?


Spokesman:  As I said, we do not expect any issue.  The dates are still being worked out for his return to Khartoum at some point in November.  But we do not expect any problem with the scenario we’ve laid out.


Question:  Is Mr. Pronk going to continue blogging?  Is his blog going to come down?


Spokesman:  It is his personal activities.  As I said, discussions have been had on this.  I can’t answer that question for him; you may want to pose that question to him.


Question:  You say the blog is his personal… but the information he is publishing, he obtained it because you gave him the authority to represent the Secretary-General in Sudan.  He wouldn’t have gotten most of the information he is putting in his blog.  Many people consider his website an authority to what is happening in Sudan.  Are you saying that you’d allow in the future, other officials to use their blogs, or whatever…?


Spokesman:  I think on Mr. Pronk we’ve made our views...


Question:  (inaudible)


Spokesman:  In the future, we are working in adapting the staff guidelines on publications and speeches to the twenty-first century, which, hopefully, these guidelines would include the specific word “blog”, which they currently do not.  The fact that they do not include the word “blog” does not mean that we do not expect our senior officials to use proper judgement.  The Secretary-General had put in place what is clearly a fairly liberal policy, allowing contacts with the media within certain boundaries, and the publication of articles in people’s personal capacities.  Those people, who do conduct such activities, follow the guidelines, and we would expect in the future that all these people would.


Question:  One last question, did he practice proper judgement in your opinion?


Spokesman:  You know I will not go into a post-game analysis on Mr. Pronk. I think we’ve laid out, with the statement, the road map ahead for us in Sudan.


Question:  What I consider is that we are beating around the bushes with this conversation in question and answer.  I think the Secretary-General said that, since the Sudanese don’t want you to come here and function, so go over there, pick up your things and then come back, instead of giving another extension to him at the end of the year, or something —- he said go and come back, and that’s a compromise, isn’t it?


Spokesman:  Look, there are two points we are trying to make here.  One is that only the Secretary-General has the authority to change the tenure of one of his personal Special Representatives.  But obviously, at a critical time in the situation in the Sudan, we need to preserve a good working relationship with the Government of Sudan, and we expect Mr. Zerihoun to provide this.  So you can all run your own analysis, but I think our statement is fairly clear.


Question:  Is the Secretary-General aware of allegations that the border in the Eastern Congo is currently very open and a lot of people are coming in from there who are reportedly being put together to work for the incumbent President?  Last week, there was a civil society group here protesting and demanding that the peacekeeping mission lock that particular area, where you are having a lot of influx of people.


Spokesman:  I can’t answer on that specific question.  We will check with the Mission if they are aware.  This is obviously an extremely tense time in the Congo and the United Nations.  I think the international community would expect all those who are in leadership positions to act responsibly, to ensure that these elections go ahead in a free and fair manner.


Question:  How will Mr. Pronk operate until the moment he will return to Khartoum?


Spokesman:  He will be here in New York.  He remains a Special Representative, and the Officer in Charge on the ground is Mr. Zerihoun, and Mr. Pronk will continue to work, as you will see this afternoon when he will be briefing the Security Council.


Question:  Two separate questions.  First, I didn’t quite catch who is it that is coming, are coming, to the stakeout after the Security Council meeting, and what time is the meeting?


Spokesman:  Today?


Question:  Yes.


Spokesman:  3:30 p.m. is the meeting. It will be Mr. Pronk and Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who will be briefing the Security Council; and then you can expect them out at the stakeout whenever the meeting concludes…


Question:  4 p.m.?


Spokesman:  You are being very optimistic my friend.  I would pencil in 5:30 p.m. on your diary.


Question:  Second, with reference to the six organs, do I understand correctly that there is still a Trusteeship Council in being, and it even has a president?  That this person has a salary?  Does he do anything else besides?


Spokesman:  The Presidency of the Trusteeship Council is assumed by a Member State, like the Presidency of the Security Council and so forth.  I would have to check for you who exactly is the President of the Trusteeship Council.  In fact, that I don’t know in itself is probably a statement.  But, it is someone who serves in their capacity as a representative of their country, so there is no supplemental cost to the Secretariat.


Question:  In other words, the Trusteeship Council has, I would hope…


Spokesman:  Until the Member States change, if they so choose to change, the Charter of the United Nations, through which the Trusteeship Council was created, it remains as it is.


Question:  A United Nations report that the Associated Press obtained and has published, says that there are between 6,000 and 8,000 Ethiopian troops in Somalia and 2,000 Eritrean troops.  It is a report that has some length, and I was wondering if you can now, after all these months of the United Nations saying it had no idea of what was going on, can you confirm those numbers and what is the United Nations, what does the Secretary-General say given the arms embargo on Somalia?


Spokesman:  No, I cannot confirm those; I am sorry, as a matter of policy, I was about to say, we do not comment on leaked or reportedly leaked documents, which we can’t authenticate.  We do, however, receive second-hand reports from the parties and the press, and as we’ve said repeatedly, we are not in a position to verify these reports or comment on any presence of foreign troops in Somalia.  The Secretary-General stresses that the solution in Somalia is political and not military, he urges the Somali parties to settle their differences through dialogue and he calls on the international community, especially Somalia’s neighbours, to avoid any action that could further aggravate the situation.


Question:  I guess I want to…


Spokesman:  The issue is that it is not in the mandate of -- the current mandate of the United Nations is given to it by, as it stands now, with this political office, to verify these numbers.  The message to all the neighbours is to avoid any action that would further aggravate the solution. And, obviously, furthermore, I would add, the message is also for all countries to respect and abide by the embargo currently in place.


Question:  There is a United Nations group of four experts who are supposed to report…


Spokesman:  Those experts, I am talking about the political mission led by Mr. Fall, the experts work and report for the Security Council.  They come out with the regular reports.  You may want to see if you can get in touch with them, to see if they have anything to say.


Question:  On the situation on Niger, and the reports that they are going to be expelling thousands of…?


Spokesman:  This is obviously of concern to our colleagues at OCHA and UNHCR, who last I understand have dispatched teams to the area to try to clarify the situation.


Question:  From the office in Benin?


Spokesman:  No.  These are staff members from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


Question:  With regard to the Eritrean troops on the buffer zone, near the Ethiopian border, the Ambassador has said that he does not consider this a major breach, and that these troops are there for development work.  Does the Secretary-General have a comment on that recent (inaudible)?


Spokesman:  As we said before, our ability to properly monitor the zone on the Eritrean zone is hampered by the fact that the Eritreans still do not allow us to fly our helicopters and limit our movements on the ground.  In his last statement, which still stands, the Secretary-General asks for those troops to be removed.


Question:  I wondered if you can report anything about the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs’ trip to China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, and if there are efforts to talk with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) regarding the situation?


Spokesman:  We’ve been reporting on that trip. It is one of the regular trips Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari undertakes in his capacity as head of the Political Affairs Department for consultations with various countries.  On North Korea, the Secretary-General’s main focus has been in supporting the six-party talks.  I am not aware of any direct contacts Mr. Gambari would have had with any North Koreans.


Question:  Ban Ki-moon is in China in discussions with the Government there. What’s the formal (inaudible)?  Does he update the United Nations since he is in transition?


Spokesman:  I have expressed my difficulties in speaking for two Secretaries-General at once.  Mr. Ban Ki-moon remains currently the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea.  He is also the Secretary-General-designate.  My understanding, and I hope I am not wrong, is that this trip is undertaken as Foreign Minister of Korea.


Question:  In the aftermath of this blog affair, which has put the Mission in (inaudible) not to blog anymore?


Spokesman:  I think that is a question I answered Talal.  We expect, not only our SRSGs, but all our staff members to follow the guidelines regarding publications in their private time, and an overwhelming number of them do that; and to exercise proper judgement.


Question:  Has there been an initial response by the Sudanese Government to the decision to keep Pronk in place?


Spokesman:  We do expect that the scenario that I laid out to go off smoothly.


Question:  Speaking of Under-Secretaries, is Mr. Annan expected to appoint a replacement for Mr. Christopher Burnham [Under-Secretary-General for Management]?


Spokesman:  Mr. Warren Sach, who is currently the Comptroller, is being named as the Acting Head of the Department of Management.  The Secretary-General will not make a permanent appointment for that Department until the end of the year.  Mr. Sach is the long-time Comptroller and an extremely effective administrator, and the Department is in very good hands.


Question:  Is it something that Mr. Annan is going to do before his leaves, or leave it for…?


Spokesman:  Obviously, he will leave it for his successor.


Question:  Mr. Burnham has been in forefront of this (inaudible)…


Spokesman:  Mr. Burnham, and I think I can in fact speak for him, will devote quite a lot of his remaining time here on the issue of the Capital Master Plan.  If I am not mistaken there will be vote in the -— I don’t want to speak for too many people today —- but there will be a vote on the funding coming up soon, and if we can, we will try to bring someone here to talk to you about the Capital Master Plan.  But it will go ahead after his departure.  There is a Capital Master Plan Office, and they are continuing to work hard on the project.


Question:  But, can he be asked to come and stay on as some official on the Board of Governors?


Spokesman:  At this point, I am not aware of any plan.  He is returning to private service.  If he gets called back, he may get called back, but I am not aware of any plan at this point.


Question:   Morocco has blocked journalists from Norway from visiting Western Sahara.  Norway has raised it and said this is a bad thing.  I wonder whether UNESCO or the United Nations has any comments.


Spokesman:  We can check with UNESCO. I am not aware of these reports.  We can look into them.


Question:  In part of the Congo report in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, two journalists, BBC and Reuters’ Television, were arrested and locked up for filming this jail riot. I don’t know if MONUC gets down to this level, but that seems to be a problem in the run-off to the elections.


Spokesman:  We will check with the Mission.


Question:  On the Cyprus issue, on whether UNDP’s Andrew Russell will testify in front of the Cyprus legislature, who’s going to answer the question?  UNDP or yourself?


Spokesman:  It is a UNDP issue, and I am sure that they will answer it. On behalf of the Secretary-General, regarding this issue what I have said stands, which is the Secretary-General is leaving this issue between the Government of Cyprus and UNDP to be dealt with by the UN Development Programme.


Question:  And, you told your counterpart at UNDP that?


Spokesman: You and I can talk off line and we can further this conversation.


Question:  There are only about nine weeks left to the current Secretary-General’s term and there are also a number of vacancies, both actual and looming.  Does he plan to make any more appointments in his remaining time, or will just things to continue and leave all the personnel decisions to his successor?


Spokesman:  The WFP appointment, which was in progress prior to the selection of Mr. Ban Ki-moon is continuing.  For any Under-Secretaries-General, people who serve directly under the authority of the Secretary-General, who may leave between now and the end of the year, I am fairly confident that the Secretary-General will not make any long-term appointments. And, that’s what I can say.


Question:  Do you have an appointment for the WFP?


Spokesman:  Next 10 days to two weeks.


Question:  Quite a while ago, when there were two contenders for a seat on the Security Council from the region and there was a way of dealing with it that one served one year and one served the next year.  Is there any possibility of that being…?


Spokesman:  I think that question is a wonderful lead in for me to tell you that Gail, who will brief you on behalf of the General Assembly, will be delighted to answer that question.  Thank you very much and have a great weekend.


Briefing by Spokeswoman for President of General Assembly


Good afternoon everyone.  There is no formal meeting of the plenary of the General Assembly today.  However, there are a number of informal consultations on various matters before the Assembly and the main Committees, including consultations on the draft resolution on the follow-up to the World Summit Outcome on strengthening of the Economic and Social Council; and a number of issues on the agenda of the Second Committee, among them the external debt crisis and development. 


In news of work in the Committees: The First Committee on Thursday adopted, by a vote of 139 in favour to 1 against and 24 abstentions, a draft on an arms trade treaty.  The draft resolution would request the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on creating a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing international standards in the trade on conventional arms under the terms of one of seven draft texts approved on Thursday on nuclear and conventional weapons.  Introduced for the first time this year, the draft resolution the General Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to establish a group of governmental experts, beginning in 2008, to examine the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for such a treaty. 


The Committee also approved a draft resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects by a vote of 172 in favour to 1 against and no abstentions.  Under the terms of the resolution the Assembly would call upon all States to implement the international tracing instrument.  It also recommends that the next review meeting for the 2001 Programme of Action should be held in New York no later than 2008.  The Committee continues today with action on all disarmament and security-related draft texts.


As the Third Committee continued its discussion on human rights issues, it approved a draft resolution without a vote, by which the General Assembly would reaffirm the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and the accompanying Programme of Action adopted in 1995.  The representative of South Africa, speaking in the Committee as the main sponsor of the text and on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said progress towards achieving the goals of the World Summit for Social Development had been slow and uneven and that there was a need to focus on accelerating the achievement of agreed targets. 


Under the terms of the draft resolution the General Assembly would urge developed countries in accordance with their earlier commitments to make concrete efforts to meet the targets of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.2 per cent of the GNP to least developed countries.  Discussions on human rights questions will continue today in the Committee.

In the Second Committee the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, noted that pro-poor mortgage financing would soon be needed in urban areas since poverty -— no longer a rural problem -- was now beginning to threaten the living standards of many in the world’s cities.


Ms. Anna Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of HABITAT, told the Committee that pro-poor mortgage financing systems were now being tested in the field as an alternative to conventional social housing solutions.  And that’s my report for today.


Questions and Answers


(In response to a question that was posed at yesterday’s noon briefing)

Spokeswoman:  The Peacebuilding Commission has only one reporting structure.  It submits an annual report to the General Assembly and the Assembly is expected to hold an annual debate to review that report.  And, that’s the only real structure.  What I think might have been a concern was the fact that the resolution which established it does, in fact, say that, on issues of relevance to the Security Council or to ECOSOC, that information should be shared.  It says, for example, that the Commission would provide advice to the Council at its request.  It’s the same for ECOSOC – the Commission would provide advice, particularly on countries in transitional recovery towards development and anything that would be of relevance to that issue.  So, it’s not that it sets up extra layers of bureaucracy, which I think was Sierra Leone’s concern. 


Question:  Is that through a committee or is that directly to the General Assembly?


Spokeswoman:  My understanding is that it’s directly to the General Assembly.


Question:  I have a question… (inaudible) [on sharing of the Security Council seat in 2003]


Spokeswoman:  What you are talking about is the recent agreement in 2003 between Argentina and Brazil.  this was a political agreement between Argentina and Brazil.  The options are there for the Group [the Latin American and Caribbean Group] to examine, and I think this is why we’ve had a break, so they can examine all the precedents that have gone before and all the possibilities.  The important thing I think right now is if there is a compromise candidate, that the candidate is acceptable to Guatemala and to Venezuela and to the rest of the Group; because the recommendation hopefully will come from the Group.


Question:  But there is nothing making it impossible, if there was a decision to split the years and the term into one year for each of the two contending countries they can do that?


Spokeswoman:  Well it’s happened before.  It can still happen.  It’s on the table.


Question:  Do you know if that’s being discussed at all?  Is there any way to learn about that?


Spokeswoman:  I know they are holding consultations, but whether they’ve discussed this as an option I don’t know.  But, I would expect that every precedent that there is would be open for them to look at.


Question:  Do you have any sense from the GRULAC concerning where they are at in their negotiations between Guatemala and Venezuela?  I understand that their Foreign Ministers had gathered yesterday for a few hours, but didn’t really hear anything that conclusive. 


Spokeswoman:  I haven’t heard readout on what has happened with the meeting, but I do know that the Foreign Ministers were coming, and the expectation was that there were going to be consultations held, and I know that GRULAC itself is meeting.


Question:  Are they meeting today as well?


Spokeswoman:  I am not sure about today.


Question:  They will just go back to the group and the bilateral consultations on Monday, but is the expectation to go back to the Plenary on Tuesday?


Spokeswoman:  The hope is that whatever comes out of the consultations, we will see the results of that at the meetings on Tuesday.


Question:  I know this question is not directly about GA business, but about things that come out of GA business, mainly what happens in the Security Council.  Do I understand correctly that whatever countries are elected go wherever they belong in the alphabetical order, and then, therefore, if I understand correctly, South Africa would be President for January?


Spokeswoman:  You are talking about how the presidency rotates?


Question:  Yes, the presidency rotates, that’s exactly correct.


Spokeswoman:  That I will have to double check for you.


Question:  I’d appreciate that, or does it go to the bottom of the order the next time they come around the alphabet in which case it wouldn’t have the presidency well into ‘08.


Spokeswoman:  Ok, I’m going to check that for you.


Question:  There were Committee decisions yesterday on the small arms and the nuclear proliferation and so forth, and on the Fourth Committee the day before.  Is there going to be one grand General Assembly Plenary to sort of hold formal votes to ratify them? 


Spokeswoman:  What happens is that each Committee, at the end of its session, sends all of its recommendations to the Assembly for its final approval.  And then the Assembly sets meetings to take action on the resolutions of each of the Committees.  There are sometimes exceptions, where on an exceptional or urgent basis, I think you had asked me, for example, about the resolution on observer status to the General Assembly of three new organizations.  There are exceptions where perhaps Member States may ask to have a specific resolution considered a little earlier, but that is usually an exception.  Most of the time, they go as recommendations, at the conclusion of the Committees’ work to the Assembly for approval.


Question:  So the General Assembly hasn’t scheduled these meetings yet?


Spokeswoman:  There are usually tentative dates, but you will know those closer to the time, because that, of course, depends on when the Committees end their work, because traditionally there are one or two that are well known for going well beyond their scheduled time.  Anything else?


Question:  It’s about the Security Council Committee established concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  How would you ask a question about that Committee, or is there an appropriate place?


Spokeswoman:  You can probably ask Stephané about that.  Anything else?  Thank you, have a good weekend.


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