|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICEs OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
And the spokesperson for the General Assembly president
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the General Assembly President.
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
**High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development
Addressing the General Assembly’s High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development this morning, the Secretary-General noted that progress toward the Millennium Development Goals was mixed, with sub-Saharan Africa clearly not on track.
Official development assistance, which had been rising since 2002, has fallen off since last year. The Secretary-General called for further debt relief for low-income countries, as well as increased participation for those countries in international financial institutions. He added that much more must be done to increase stable capital flows to low-income countries and enhance their development impact, and called for a hastened conclusion to the Doha trade negotiations.
The Secretary-General noted the progress made in recent years in including women in peace efforts, but he added that there is much left to do, in comments he made to the Security Council’s open meeting on women, peace and security.
He said that, more and more, women participate in mediating and negotiating peace, in searching for justice and in fostering reconciliation, while the Security Council ensures that peace processes empower women and advance gender equality.
The Secretary-General added that violence against women has reached hideous and pandemic proportions in some societies attempting to recover from conflict. He reiterated his call to the Security Council to establish a mechanism dedicated to monitoring violence against women and girls. We have his speech upstairs.
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno and Special Adviser on Gender Issues Rachel Mayanja also addressed the Council. There are 59 speakers inscribed.
The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, expects to visit Myanmar in the first week of November, as the Myanmar Government agreed to bring forward his standing invitation to the country. While the exact travel dates have yet to be arranged, Mr. Gambari would be going to Myanmar directly from the region, continuing his consultations with key regional countries in the interim.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gambari has now completed his consultations in New Delhi and is on his way to Beijing, where he is scheduled to meet with senior officials before going on to Tokyo for consultations with Japanese counterparts. Mr. Gambari met today in New Delhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to whom he delivered a personal message from the Secretary-General. He had detailed and substantive discussions with his interlocutors on the UN’s efforts in Myanmar and India’s support in this regard.
Mr. Gambari has been urging India and other regional countries to actively encourage the Government of Myanmar to continue to cooperate with the Secretary-General’s good offices efforts, including by addressing continuing human rights concerns and by encouraging Myanmar to receive Mr. Gambari as early as possible in order to kick-start a dialogue with the opposition.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, has arrived in Khartoum to assume his functions as head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).
Mr. Qazi is expected to meet over the next few days with Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, First Vice-President and President of the Government of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir, and senior officials of the Government of National Unity and the government of southern Sudan.
His activities during the coming days include a series of internal meetings with UN officials. He will also represent the United Nations during the celebration of the United Nations Day to be held tomorrow.
On Somalia, the World Food Programme has welcomed the release from Government custody of Idris Osman, the agency’s officer-in-charge for Mogadishu, who was detained without charge for close to a week. He was arrested by State security agents in a raid on the UN compound, which was condemned by the Secretary-General as a violation of the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunity.
In a telephone conversation last Friday with President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed of Somalia, the Secretary-General had expressed his strong objections to the arrest and detention of Idris Osman. He called for his immediate and unconditional release and registered his protest over the forceful and illegal entry of armed men into the UN compound last Wednesday. The President of Somalia had agreed on a joint investigation into the incident.
**Democratic Republic of Congo
The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has confirmed the surrender of a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group that also roams the north-eastern region of the countrt. Patrick Opiyo Makasi, who is believed to be the LRA’s operations and logistics commander, and his wife gave themselves up, along with their weapons and ammunitions, to Congolese border police and were transferred to Kinshasa on 14 October.
The LRA rebel, against whom no known criminal charges are pending, is expected to be handed over to UN peacekeepers for his integration into the disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion programme and a possible repatriation to Uganda.
Meanwhile, UN humanitarian agencies continue to provide assistance to civilians displaced by the latest upsurge of violence in North Kivu. WFP is feeding some 4,500 displaced families, while UNICEF has distributed relief supplies to an additional 200 families. OCHA, for its part, is completing an assessment of the region around Mweso, which had earlier been inaccessible due to widespread insecurity.
And yesterday in The Hague, suspected Congolese war criminal Germain Katanga appeared before the judges of the International Criminal Court to hear the charges against him. The Court now plans to confirm the charges against Katanga at a hearing in February next year.
** Western Sahara
On Western Sahara, the Secretary-General’s latest report on Western Sahara is out as a document. In it, he expresses satisfaction with the talks held here in New York in June and August, but notes that they can hardly be characterized as “negotiations”, since each side mainly rejected the views of the other. He notes that a mutually acceptable date for resuming talks has not been chosen, adding that further guidance from the Security Council is needed before the parties can undertake substantive negotiations. He notes that the proposals by both Morocco and the Frente Polisario are on the agenda and must be discussed.
The Secretary-General recommends that the Council extend the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for another six months.
Inside Iraq, the UN Refugee Agency is closely watching developments at the Iraq-Turkey border. At the end of September, the shelling of Iraqi towns on the Iranian border displaced at least 340 families, and UNHCR is worried about ongoing instability that could lead to further displacement.
Meanwhile, the Agency says, Iraqi refugees continue to arrive in Syria, although in much smaller numbers than before. UNHCR field officers who visited the Syria-Iraq border on Monday estimated that around 300 people were able to enter. The majority of them had applied for their visas in Baghdad.
More than 2.3 million Iraqis are presently displaced inside the country, while more than 2.4 million Iraqis have fled to neighbouring countries.
We have more details in today’s UNHCR briefing notes.
Out today is the Secretary-General’s latest report to the Security Council on the request of Nepal for United Nations assistance in support of its peace process.
In the report, the Secretary-General highlighted that Nepal’s peace process now stands at a crossroads and significant strides have been made by the political parties, but at the same time, it is facing serious difficulties.
He added that the second postponement of the Constituent Assembly election has been a major disappointment for the Nepalese people and the international community.
He urges the seven political parties to set aside their differences and maintain their unity in the interest of the common national agenda.
Still on Nepal, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal welcomes the decision taken in last week’s cabinet meeting to institute quotas for recruiting women and members of marginalized groups to fill vacant posts in their local police and armed police forces.
OHCHR has long urged the police forces and other Government institutions to take steps to make their work forces more inclusive. It suggests that the quotas be applied across the ranks of the police forces, ensuring representation of women and marginalized groups in the officer ranks.
A UN observer team arrived yesterday in Tokelau, a set of islands in the Pacific Ocean, to monitor the holding of its second referendum on self-government in free association with New Zealand.
That referendum continued today on the first of the country’s three atolls, following voting by 195 people yesterday. Voting at two out of four polling stations is now complete. Voting in Tokelau will conclude tomorrow, and the referendum result is expected to be announced later that evening.
**Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says several UN agencies are providing assistance, in cooperation with the Government, to people affected by flooding in August and September.
The World Health Organization is providing emergency kits; the UN Population Fund is delivering reproductive health kits; the World Food Programme is distributing nearly 5,000 tons of cereals; and the Food and Agriculture Organization is procuring seeds, fertilizer and plastic sheeting. Disbursements from the Central Emergency Response Fund have been instrumental in all of these projects.
We have more information upstairs.
**World Health Organization
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year, 6 billion injections are given globally with non-sterilized syringes or needles, causing some 1.3 million deaths around the world.
Therefore, in an effort to improve injection safety across the globe, WHO began a three-day meeting in Geneva today, bringing together UN agencies, experts and donors, to examine how best to promote the use of safer needles. It will also explore ways to encourage manufacturers to lower the price of such products.
In fact, since 1999, with the launching of the Safe Injection Global Network (SIGN), WHO has been urging its Member States to use needles with safety features. However, these cost five times as much as ordinary needles, which are widely used in poorer countries.
On Timor-Leste, a United Nations police officer in Timor-Leste will testify today at the Dili District Court trial, concerning the shooting deaths of 8 Timorese police officers on 25 May of last year.
The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) remains committed to strengthening the rule of law in Timor-Leste. The granting of the waiver of immunity, which allows the testimony, is yet another expression of this commitment.
At the United Nations Headquarters, a very special exhibit, dubbed “Water”, opens today, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
The photographic exhibition will display the sobering reality of our planet’s water supplies and the effect it has on the world’s stability.
In his congratulatory message, the Secretary-General is expected to commend the American Museum of Natural History for its initiative to educate the public on the importance of water through this exhibition.
We are told the exhibit will be moving to the museum from here.
**Upcoming Press Conferences
We are arranging for Jan Eliasson, the UN Special Envoy for Darfur to brief you by video tomorrow as the noon briefing guest. We’ll let you know, we’ll give you more details tomorrow.
Tomorrow at 5:30 p.m., there will be a press conference by Sergio Pinheiro, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar.
On Thursday at 11 a.m., Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, will hold a press conference to launch the UN Environment Programme’s Global Environment Outlook Report for 2007.
Later that day, following the Secretary-General’s briefing to the Fifth Committee on the budget, shortly after 1 p.m., there will be a press conference by Warren Sach, UN Controller, and Alicia Bárcena, Under-Secretary General for Management.
And our guest at the noon briefing this Friday will be Michael Adlerstein, Executive Director of the capital master plan. And at 2 p.m. [Thursday], there will be press conference by Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.
This is all I have for you, thank you. Yes?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Michèle, what kind of indications is the Secretary-General seeking from the Security Council on Western Sahara since the Council has called on the two parties to continue to discuss, to negotiate in good faith?
Spokesperson: Well, you have his recommendations in his report and the report is out so you can have the information there. Yes?
Question: On Somalia, was there any indication as to why there was this takeover and why they held the United Nations representative?
Spokesperson: As far as we know he has been freed, he’s back at the UN, the WFP headquarters, but no charges, no formal charges have been really given so far. So he’s supposed to be out according to the people in charge. Yes Benny?
[The Spokeswoman later said that Osman was now back at work at the United Nations office in Mogadishu upon a decision by the President, with no charges laid against him. The World Food Programme (WFP) and the Transitional Federal Government will shortly launch a joint fact-finding mission looking into the circumstances of his detention.]
Question: You mentioned the North Korean satisfaction with dealing with the UN agencies. Has there been any further attempt to try to get the UNDP investigators into North Korea?
Spokesperson: I don’t have any further information on this since you had that briefing by the head of UNDP. As soon as I get something more, I’ll let you know, Benny. Yes, Masood?
Question: Michèle, any update on Iraq, Kurdistan border and Turkey, the situation with Turkey and Iraq?
Spokesperson: It’s only what I gave you. I don’t have any other update on that. Yes?
Question: Some reports indicated that the recruitment of children as soldiers is continuing in eastern Congo and there has been some criticism of the UN on this matter and the indications are that the UN has been slowly responding to this question. What is the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict doing?
Spokesperson: Well, she was with you two days ago, so you did get a chance to talk to her, but we can of course get an update for you. But I think there has been some progress in that regard and we’ll give you the additional information later.
Question: What kind of activities are planned for tomorrow on the occasion of the 24th of October, UN Day?
Spokesperson: There are several activities all throughout, not only the UN Headquarters here but we have activities all throughout the UN system throughout the world. Tomorrow, we’ll give you more about what is happening. It’s going to be in the Journal about what is happening at Headquarters and you’ll have more, I’m sure, from Janos a little later. Yes, Evelyn?
Question: Yes, this is a reminder that the Dag Hammarskjöld Annual Lunch for the Scholarship Fund is on Thursday, the 25th, at 1 p.m. and we can’t take any reservations past today, which would include paying for the ticket, even for journalists. It goes to a good cause and reservations will be taken by Betsy Pisik in room S-354 or if she is not there, come to my office in C-316.
Spokesperson: Thank you, Evelyn, so you get the note. Yes, your question?
Question: Well, first I wanted just to follow up on Somalia and the release of the WFP guy. It had been reported that one of the reasons behind it was the Government’s unhappiness that WFP was distributing food through mosques, so I’d like to know if we can get an answer to whether WFP intends to continue distributing food through mosques or is, in fact, stopping that.
Spokesperson: As far as I know, the distribution through mosques has been continuing.
[The Spokesperson later added that food distributions had been interrupted after Somali National Security Service officers entered the United Nations compound in Mogadishu on 17 October. They will resume in Mogadishu as soon as possible, with the agreement of the Transitional Federal Government. The World Food Programme (WFP) had announced that they would distribute food in the most effective way to reach the people in need, including through the mosques.]
Question: And also on your report on the Lord’s Resistance Army, the commander who, I think he turned himself in in October, much earlier in the month. I’m not sure when, but my question, you said he’s now going to be part of some reintegration process, but reintegration into what? Into the Congolese army? Into the Ugandan army?
Spokesperson: At this point, the discussions are still going on on what will be done. But they were in the Congo, he’s with MONUC but they are planning to send him back to Uganda.
Question: Given that the International Criminal Court has indicted the top leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army, before turning him over, is there any process to check with the International Criminal Court to check if in fact he’s a person that they’re interested in?
Spokesperson: Well, it has already been checked and he’s not. He’s not on their list.
Question: Okay. And just one, I don’t know if it’s true, but yesterday in the Security Council, the Representative of Ivory Coast, Côte d’Ivoire, made a point of saying why is France the one to draft resolutions concerning Ivory Coast. I understand to the degree that the Secretariat has some role in at least the beginning of the process with Council members and briefing them, is there any way to know how it’s chosen, what Council members are given the role of being lead drafters on particular countries, not just Ivory Coast but just generally?
Spokesperson: Only the Security Council, the President of the Security Council, can answer your question, I cannot.
Question: I tried to ask him. Is there any kind of ongoing staffing of that or is it just the President himself?
Spokesperson: Just the President himself. Yes, Rhonda?
Question: Yes Michèle, yesterday there was a very interesting presentation by Nicholas Negroponte about the One Laptop per Child initiative, but I wondered, is someone coordinating those kinds of efforts at the UN? Is there some place because I know what was mentioned was that there are other people like Intel that are doing some kind of programme, I just wondered if there was some way to get an overview of what’s being done with regard to the UN with regard to such programmes?
Spokesperson: You can get the contact point with my office, okay. Yes?
Question: So at this point is the Secretary-General almost conceding that it may be impossible to meet MDGs within sub-Saharan Africa or is this more of a challenge?
Spokesperson: We still consider it a challenge and efforts are being really deployed right now to try to still meet that deadline.
Thank you very much. Janos?
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
Pleasure to see you all again. A couple of things, although Michèle already flagged a number of things to do with the activities of the Assembly and the Assembly President.
**High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development
The General Assembly’s two-day High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development opened this morning, and the theme as I have flagged it so many times is: “The Monterrey Consensus: status of implementation and tasks ahead”.
The two-day high-level event is a key element of the preparatory work mapped out by the Assembly to hold the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus in the second part of 2008 in Doha. That Review Conference is supposed to assess progress made on the key elements of the Monterrey consensus, which, as you may remember, was adopted in 2002. The idea there is to reaffirm goals and commitments made and share lessons learned. So that may answer a question that the gentleman had about the possibility of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. That’s the idea also of the FfD process: to make sure that you reaffirm the goals and you reaffirm the commitments.
The two-day Dialogue that we have here now is to provide impetus to preparations for the Review Conference and also to provide some substantive elements as to what that Review Conference is going to look like.
The format of the two day high-level meeting that we have here is the following: today it’s a full day of plenary meetings. We have close to a hundred speakers inscribed. Tomorrow there’s going to be a dialogue in round-table discussion format -- six round tables altogether. They actually mirror the six themes of the Monterrey Consensus. This will be in the morning, three round tables followed by another three round tables simultaneously, and the six areas are: mobilizing domestic financial resources for development; mobilizing international resources for development -- foreign direct investment and other private flows; international trade as an engine for development; also increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development; external debt; and addressing systemic issues -- enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems in support of development. These are the key areas. And tomorrow afternoon, the meeting will continue in the form of an interactive hearing. Both the round tables and the hearings are designed for multi-stakeholder participation -- that means Member States, observers, civil society and business sector representatives. And it will all conclude with a short plenary segment.
Now, as regards the level of representation, so far we have about 30 ministers and vice-ministers attending.
Today’s plenary was opened by the President of the Assembly and, in his speech, he stressed a couple of things which I’ll just highlight for you here.
He said that, since its adoption in 2002, the Monterrey Consensus had remained at the heart of the United Nations development debate. In 2005, it was reaffirmed by leaders at the World Summit. He added that, while there had been some successes, many of the development finance objectives set in 2002 had not yet been met. He also stressed that the focus now had to be squarely on implementation.
He also noted that, if implemented, existing commitments to finance development were enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, even in Africa. But each side of the partnership had to deliver, and this was the spirit of the Monterrey Consensus, meaning that developing countries adopt comprehensive national strategies, then donors must deliver on commitments to provide additional assistance to enable them to succeed.
He also noted that, in order to establish greater trust and renew confidence in the multilateral system, it was critical that we all lived up to our promises and commitments, adding that, in doing so, we needed to move beyond the simplistic division of the world into North and South which reflected more the past than today’s world. “We live in a far more complex and integrated global age, with new emerging economic powers and donors, as well as private philanthropy in all regions of the world.”
He concluded by saying that if this -- the greatest anti-poverty partnership in history -- was insufficient to break from “business as usual”, many developing countries and campaigners around the world would be left without hope. Global trust would be irredeemably undermined.
The President, at the end, also thanked those countries that had sent their representatives at the highest possible level, but, at the same time, unfortunately, he had to express his disappointment that the relevant international institutions were not represented at the highest level, given the high importance attached to the issue of financing for development.
Let me also flag something that happened yesterday in the afternoon. The General Assembly met in a very short session, and it adopted its second report of the General Committee, which basically meant that four additional items were placed on the agenda of the sixty-second session. Most of this is known, but I’ll just quickly give the rundown.
These are agenda items 164, 165, 166, 167 and these are: financing of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad; Observer Status for the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia; Observer Status for the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf; and finally, something that has been asked many times, agenda item 167, which is peace, security and reunification of the Korean peninsula.
Very quickly on the Committees.
The First Committee is meeting to continue its thematic debate on outer space from a disarmament perspective and on conventional weapons.
The Second Committee will only meet on Thursday to consider international trade and development issues.
Third Committee has begun its discussion on human rights issues, and tomorrow you will have Louise Arbour addressing the Committee and also, since Michele mentioned that Mr. (Paolo Sergio) Pinheiro, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, is going to address the Third Committee tomorrow afternoon.
Fourth Committee is considering outer space from this afternoon onwards, but from a different perspective, from the perspective of peaceful uses and in the relations of international cooperation.
Fifth Committee, something that you probably all know about, has begun discussion on the programme budget for the biennium of 2008-2009. Today was the Capital Master Plan, and on Thursday you will have the broader aspects of the budget with the Secretary-General there.
**Capital Master Plan
Concerning the Capital Master Plan, let me say that not only did the Committee and all of you have the Secretary-General’s fifth progress report on the Capital Master Plan, but also the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) reflecting its views on that (the Secretary-General’s) report.
Let me just very quickly quote from the last portion of the ACABQ report on the progress of the Capital Master Plan. It says the following:
“Although there are uncertainties and risks in the process of implementation, the Advisory Committee sees merit in the accelerated strategy IV of the capital master plan, after taking into account the information and assurances provided in the Secretary-General’s report in relation to the reduction of the time frame for completion of the project and to the maintaining of its cost within the budget approved by the General Assembly in its resolution 61/251.”
And that’s where I will stop and I’ll be ready to answer questions. Yes?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Yes, you indicated that the international financial institutions are not present at the meeting…
Spokesperson: No, no, no, I didn’t say that they were not present at the meeting. The President expressed his disappointment that they were not present at a high-enough level.
Question: And is there any reason for that?
Spokesperson: Not that we know of. Obviously, what the President’s disappointment reflects is the fact that he was expecting them, probably based on assurances, to be here at a high level. In fact, if you may remember the whole process of scheduling this particular high-level debate or dialogue, the original date was 22nd and 23rd of October. Then, because of the meetings in Washington of the World Bank and the IMF, this had shifted to 23-24 in order to allow for those meetings to conclude and to have finance and development ministers, central bankers here, and also high-level representation from the international, financial and other relevant institutions. We’re not talking about the financial institutions only but, for example, World Trade Organization, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), etc., the ones that are relevant for FfD. So, in that context, yes there was expectation for something higher, thus the expressed disappointment. Yes, Benny?
Question: Is there any, I don’t know, assessment, guess, bets on how fast this capital master plan new ideas will pass in the Fifth Committee? I mean, what’s the time frame here?
Spokesperson: Well, if you remember, we talked about this I think a couple of weeks ago when we were looking at scheduling and budget issues, and I know that several of you asked about this. The idea was to have this in November, early November, the introduction of the capital master plan. So it was brought forward obviously with the intention that it is an important issue and action needs to be taken. The ACABQ looked at the report, the progress report, in a very quick manner and, as I quoted, it basically gave a very positive assessment. So expectations are that, within the Fifth Committee, this should move relatively fast. I mean that’s the idea, whether it will actually happen, that’s another thing. I mean ultimately by the end of December, the budget should be approved and the capital master plan as such is part of the 2008-2009 programme budget. So you could see a couple of scenarios. You could either have this part approved pretty fast or you could see Member States going into some kind of a debate or discussion and basically the whole thing becomes part of the overall budget debate and, in that sense, it may drag out. So it could go either way. Matthew?
Question: Yesterday, it was said that, on this Conference on Financing for Development, that the Presidents of -- or one of the Presidents of -- I guess, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was coming, did that take place, because you said 30 ministers?
Spokesperson: Yes, that is correct. The Head of Government for Bosnia and Herzegovina is here. In fact, he delivered his speech close to 12 p.m. and right after that the President, maybe I should have mentioned this as part of the programme, but there were so many other things to mention, the President and him are having, or probably have by now concluded, bilateral discussions.
Question: But this expression of disappointment, it was only directed at the World Bank and IMF? It wasn’t about ... I missed exactly how you phrased it, but was there an expectation that countries, that there might be more Heads of Government or Heads of State than there were?
Spokesperson: No, this was clearly in the context, as I quoted from the end of his speech, whereby he thanked countries for sending their highest possible representation but at the same time expressing disappointment for some of the international institutions who have not sent high enough representation. It’s not that they’re not here, it’s that there was expectation for them to be here on a higher level.
Question: And I wanted to ask another thing, we had a briefing in here earlier at which there was this discussion of a proposal to have a new women’s organization within the UN system. What did they call it? The Gender Architecture. So I don’t know where that ... this was said it was part of the coherence, the panel on coherence that this was a proposal that somehow it got somewhat along in the last General Assembly and their expectation was that it would be done in this General Assembly. So I want to know, where does it stand and what’s the position of the President of the GA on this?
Spokesperson: Yes, it’s the following. Actually, what I would advise you is to go back through the website, I don’t have the URL in my head, but try to navigate into the website of the 61st General Assembly President. There you will see the various different issues that the 61st session was tackling and a number of them carried over into the sixty-second session. One of the last documents out from the President, the past-President of the 61st session, is a letter to Member States in which she takes a detailed account of all the things accomplished and the things that have to carry over and there you will see a part on system-wide coherence and there you will see that as regards system-wide coherence there is supposed to be a look during this Assembly session on the gender aspects. That is what I think this alludes to so that is on the agenda of the sixty-second session, that’s going to happen. I don’t have any more concrete developments as regards where the system-wide coherence is going at the moment. There are discussions as regards the President’s team, as regards Member States, how to carry this issue forward from the sixty-first session. There was a working group on that, there were facilitators and they actually finished their work and basically presented the President as far as I remember, the past-President, almost on the last day of the sixty-first session. And that report has been sent to Member States and now there is going to be a discussion on how to carry forward this issue of system-wide coherence in general, but in particular, there is the idea that the sixty-second session should look at and deal with the gender aspects.
Question: Does the President of the GA, just try to navigate his views on this, does he have a view, does he think it’s a good idea, or does he have no view?
Spokesperson: On system-wide coherence?
Question: No, on creating a new organization, a new women’s organization at a higher level than the existing ones.
Spokesperson: I am not aware of the President going detailed into this issue and whether he has a concrete opinion formulated on this particular aspect of system-wide coherence. As regards the whole process of system-wide coherence, yes he’s very much looking into it and he’s going to see which way to go on this as part of the overall UN reform. And I think when he was here with his first press conference he did mention some elements on that. Which reminds me also to mention that as promised, the President is going to make himself available to the press and plans are to have him brief you sometime in the middle of November. Yes?
Question: Yes, first question, are there any events for tomorrow that you could tell us about? I thought we were told that maybe you would let us know what’s happening for the UN Day.
Spokesperson: I don’t have a rundown of the particular events, definitely not in my head, but I could definitely look them up and look into them. Newton is flagging something.
Correspondent: It’s in the press kit from yesterday.
Spokesperson: We’re not talking about Financing for Development, we’re talking about UN Day. But there is a special dedicated website on UN Day and that would have all the details, whether it’s the concert or anything else happening. That’s what I would advise you to look at.
Question: Where? Do you know the URL by chance?
Spokesperson: Not off the top of my head, but we can certainly look it up. But I’m sure that it’s probably done in a way that you could very easily navigate yourself from the central site.
Question: And then the second question is you said that there were four additional agenda items and gave us the numbers and I just wanted to verify. You had mentioned peace, security and unification on the Korean peninsula, is that 167?
Spokesperson: That’s the last one. That was the last one yes.
Question: And then, there was one other but it got lost in the context of waiting to ask. If I think of it, I’ll…
Spokesperson: On that, because that’s probably something that most of you are concerned about, when that item is actually going to be taken up by the Assembly because it has been taken to the plenary. The rules say that once the Assembly puts something on its agenda as a formal item, seven days have to pass before it takes action. So probably early next week is the earliest that you will see actual action taken on that Korean peninsula item.
Question: I found the other one, and that is what’s happening with Security Council reform and where that stands and how to follow through on that?
Spokesperson: Security Council reform -- this goes back to what Matthew asked. It’s one of those things that has been carried over from the sixty-first session. Of course it’s something that has been on the agenda of the General Assembly for a long time. In fact, since 1993, if you remember there was that working group on Council reform that is always chaired by the Assembly, the President the one holding office. If you may remember, on the very last day of the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, which was 17th of September, there was an approval orally by a resolution that talks about the adoption of the working group on Security Council reform and that talks about the idea of carrying forward this issue but with the intention of maybe even reaching some concrete results and going into the format of intergovernmental negotiations. So what we’re looking at now is the President and his team working with Member States, consulting, discussing how to take this issue forward. Security Council reform is something which is very much on the mind of the President. He has pronounced himself on this on a number of occasions and he feels that if we look for intergovernmental negotiations, we have to look at what exactly the intergovernmental framework may mean and, if we talk about negotiations as opposed to just let’s say simply consultations, then you do have to define the topic on which, or the framework on which, or the issue on which you negotiate in order to achieve success. So these are probably the parameters, the vectors that we’re looking at. It’ll be still some time before I think that we will be able to say what are the concrete next steps. But maybe when the President comes here in the middle of November, he’ll have a more concrete idea for you and a more concrete answer as to where exactly he’s going to go with this issue, what are the next steps. Mr. Abbadi?
Question: The Secretary-General, it was announced by Michèle earlier, will soon go to the Fifth Committee with…
Spokesperson: That’ll be Thursday morning yes, that’s correct.
Question: …to address budgetary questions and those questions cover reforms at the United Nations. What is he proposing exactly regarding the significant strengthening of DPA (Department of Political Affairs)? Can you give an outline on that?
Spokesperson: I think you would have to ask the Secretary-General’s Spokesperson for that. I don’t talk for the…
Question: This is the Committee now.
Spokesperson: I understand this is the Fifth Committee but your question relates not to what the Fifth Committee may say about this but what is actually being proposed.
Question: And what’s being proposed is in writing?
Spokesperson: I have not seen any proposals as regards, or I am not aware of, or I was not shown if that’s the wording you want from me. I don’t know the concrete details of the Secretary-General proposals as regards the strengthening or reorganization of the Department of Political Affairs. So you should ask Michèle and her colleagues about the details on that.
Question: I’m just asking about facts. There must have been a report going from the Advisory Committee (ACABQ) to the Fifth Committee on this question.
Spokesperson: I am not aware of it. If there is then let me advise you to look at the ACABQ website. Whatever reports they have adopted, that’s on their website. I am not aware of ACABQ pronouncing themselves on any reorganizations as regards to DPA but I will certainly look into it and see what we can find out from the ACABQ or the Fifth Committee side.
If that’s it, then thank you very much.
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