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

2 November 2007

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

2 November 2007
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

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

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

Good afternoon, all.

**Secretary-General in Turkey

The Secretary-General arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, this morning, where he met at the airport with his Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, who reported to the Secretary-General on his meetings with regional leaders in Asia.  The Secretary-General gave Gambari instructions for his visit to Myanmar, which begins tomorrow; Gambari is now travelling to Singapore.

And in this regard, we have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Myanmar.  The Secretary-General is disappointed by the message from the Government of Myanmar stating that it would not want the Resident Coordinator, Charles Petrie, to continue to serve in Myanmar.

The Secretary-General has full confidence in the United Nations country team and its leadership and appreciates their contribution to the improvement of the socio-economic and humanitarian conditions for the people of Myanmar.

The Secretary-General has instructed the Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, to convey his views directly to the authorities when he visits the country beginning tomorrow, 3 November.

The Secretary-General and his Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, travelled this morning to Ankara, where they met and had a working lunch with Turkish President Abdullah Gul.  They discussed the ministerial meeting on Iraq that the Secretary-General will attend in Istanbul tomorrow; the issue of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK); Cyprus; and the Alliance for Civilizations.

The Secretary-General then returned to Istanbul, where he is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with League of Arab States Secretary-General Amre Moussa and with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.  He will address the foreign ministers gathered for the Iraq conference tomorrow before returning over the weekend to New York.

**Secretary-General Statement on Haiti

We also have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Haiti.  The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has received allegations of incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse by members of MINUSTAH’s Sri Lankan Battalion -– SriBat –- stationed in a number of locations in Haiti.  MINUSTAH requested an immediate investigation by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and Sri Lanka dispatched a high-level national investigative team from Colombo, including a female investigative officer.  Following receipt of the preliminary OIOS report, and with the cooperation of the Sri Lankan authorities, all accused SriBat members will be repatriated on disciplinary grounds on Saturday, 3 November.  Issues of command accountability within the contingent will be addressed by the Mission in cooperation with the Sri Lankan authorities.

The United Nations has been in close consultation with Sri Lankan authorities at high levels and will continue to provide all possible assistance to the Government of Sri Lanka.

The United Nations and Sri Lanka take this matter very seriously and reiterate their shared commitment both to the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to best practices in peacekeeping.  The United Nations and the Sri Lankan Government deeply regret any sexual exploitation and abuse that has occurred, despite their efforts to ensure the highest standards of conduct and discipline.  Sri Lanka is a long-standing and important troop-contributing country with a history of dedicated service with UN peacekeeping missions, particularly in Haiti.

**Secretary-General Trip

As you know, the Secretary-General is leaving next week for Argentina, Chile, Antarctica, Brazil and Spain, and we now have more details about his itinerary.  In Argentina, he will have a joint meeting with President Nestor Kirchner, and the President-Elect, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

In Chile, in addition to attending the Ibero-American Summit, he will unveil a commemorative plaque –- together with Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet –- in honour of a Spanish UN staff member who was murdered in 1976 in Chile.

After leaving Chile’s capital, he will head to Punta Arenas, in southern Chile, and Antarctica –- for a trip that will allow him to learn more about one of his priority issues:  climate change.

In Brazil, he will see first hand the Government’s efforts to confront climate change.  By visiting an ethanol plant near Sao Paulo, he hopes to see how the use of biofuels has allowed Brazil to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

With his visit to Brazil’s Amazon region, including the Tapajós National Forest, he will take stock of Brazil’s recent achievements in fighting deforestation and promoting sustainable forest management.

While in Brazil, he will also meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. 

** Sudan

On Sudan, the UN and African Union mediators dealing with Darfur -– respectively, Tayé Brook Zerihoun and Sam Ibok -– are in Sirte, Libya, today, where they continue to work with the parties on discussing the key substantive issues.  This phase of consultations is expected to last several weeks, and may include talks in Sirte and in Sudan as they progress; the plan for now is to have direct negotiations between the Sudanese Government and the Darfur rebels in December.

Before leaving Libya, Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, yesterday met with Sudanese presidential adviser Nafie Ali Nafie in Sirte, where they reviewed the progress of the Sirte process so far.  Eliasson also held consultations in Sirte with the representatives of the Darfur movements and with international observers and regional partners, who pledged support to the African Union-United Nations team in its mediation efforts ahead.

**Security Council

On the Security Council, the Security Council adopted its programme of work for this month, in its first consultations under Indonesia’s Council Presidency for November.  Ambassador Marty Natalegawa of Indonesia, this month’s Council President, will talk to you in this room immediately after the briefing –- after Janos -- about the Council’s work over the coming month.

Council members also held a private meeting, as they do each year, with the President of the International Court of Justice, Rosalyn Higgins.

**UNRWA

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, better known as UNRWA, says displaced families are returning to the Nahr El Bared camp in Lebanon, following hostilities last May between the Lebanese army and militants.

UNRWA has constructed 56 temporary shelters with water and electricity connections for the returnees.  It has also helped 3,000 families with rental subsidies and temporary accommodation.

On Gaza, UNRWA says it is concerned about reports that fuel deliveries via the Nahel Oz pipeline have been reduced.  If this is not reversed, it could have dire consequences, the Agency adds.

**Liberia/Helicopter Crash

The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the local Government are investigating the crash of a cargo helicopter which was under contract to the Mission, near Ganta, in Nimba County, this morning.

A search-and-rescue mission organized by UNMIL has reached the site.  It confirms that two of the three crew members on board were killed, while the other is missing.  The crew members’ names and nationalities are being withheld pending family notification. 

We have a press release upstairs on that.

**Deputy Secretary-General Travels

The Deputy Secretary-General will be travelling to Addis Ababa today.

She will be participating in the eighth regional consultative meeting between the UN, the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  It will be her first participation at a meeting of this type to emphasize the importance the UN attaches to regional cooperation and to the role played by regional commissions in promoting development.

There will be a focus on post-conflict reconstruction in countries such as Burundi and Sierra Leone, which are already included in the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission.

The meeting will provide the opportunity for the Deputy Secretary-General to consult with the Economic Commission for Africa, with African Union and NEPAD on the implementation of the newly-launched MDGs Steering Group initiative, launched by the Secretary-General on 14 September.  She is the chairperson for the working group on that initiative.

Millennium Development Goals

And talking about that initiative, I will say in response to questions we have received about World Bank President Robert Zoellick and the UN Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations would like to stress that it appreciates Mr. Zoellick’s commitment and dedication in helping UN Member States meet the MDGs.

Mr. Robert Zoellick participated in the CEB [United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination] meeting, as I said last week.  One of the focal issues at that meeting was the Secretary-General’s initiative on Africa MDGs.  And as you know, the World Bank has been an active participant in that initiative.  Mr. Zoellick came to Headquarters for the launching and he strongly expressed his commitment to fighting poverty and exclusion.

As such, recent comments on Mr. Zoellick’s commitment to the MDGs are the personal views of the Special Ambassador for the MDGs in Asia and the Pacific and do not reflect those of the UN or the Secretary-General.

**France/Djibouti

The International Court of Justice will take up the dispute between France and Djibouti over questions of mutual assistance in criminal matters related to the 1995 murder of Bernard Borrel, a French judge, in Djibouti.

The Court said this morning that the proceedings will start in January 2008.  The Court will seek to respond to a complaint filed by Djibouti in January 2006 about France’s refusal to execute an international request for the transfer to Djibouti of judicial records on the Borrel case.  Djibouti claims that the French failure to comply violates France’s international obligations, a friendship treaty and the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the two countries. 

We have more on this upstairs, including detailed background on that case.

**Water and Sanitation Board

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan to serve as Honorary President of his Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, until the end of 2010.

The Advisory Board, as you know, was established by the United Nations in 2004 with the aim of advising the Secretary-General and raising people’s awareness on water and sanitation issues, and promoting advancement of the water and sanitation agenda in the world.  It is composed of a wide range of eminent persons, technical experts, and other individuals with proven experience in inspiring people, moving the machinery of the Government, and working with the media, the private sector and with civil society.

The members serve on the Board in their individual capacity at the request of the Secretary-General.

**Event Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, some 15,000 athletes from 100 countries, dressed in their nations’ colours, will take part in the annual Continental Airlines International Friendship Run.  The 1.75-mile run will begin at 9 a.m. here at UN Headquarters, on 44th Street and First Avenue and end at 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue.  Before the run, at 8 a.m. at the UN Plaza on First Avenue between 45th and 46th Street, officials from the UN and the ING NYC Marathon will present the Abebe Bikila Award to Paul Tergat of Kenya, for his outstanding contribution to the sport of distance running.

**Press Conference Today

And we have a press conference today.  At 12:45 p.m. today, as I said earlier, Marty Natalegawa of Indonesia, will brief you in his capacity as the President of the Security Council for November, on the Council’s programme of work for the month. 

**Week Ahead

We also have the Week Ahead upstairs. 

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Michèle, two questions.  First, does the United Nations consider that the letter from the Myanmar Government constitutes, basically, an expulsion order that he must leave?  Is there any way that the UN believes that Mr. Petrie can stay?  And secondly, can you tell us how many Sri Lankan peacekeepers are going to be repatriated?

Spokesperson:  Okay.  On the first question, Charles Petrie is in Yangon.  He will meet with Mr. Gambari upon his arrival.  This is all, really, we have to say on these matters at this time because this is a matter that will be raised by Mr. Gambari with the authorities.  I spoke to Mr. Gambari as he was on his way to Singapore.  He was in Dubai when he called me and he stressed that point very strongly -– that he will be raising the issue.  And, on the second question concerning the peacekeepers, there are 108 soldiers that will be repatriated.  In addition, the Sri Lankan authorities -– as I said earlier –- have taken the unilateral decision to repatriate the Battalion Second Command and two company commanders.

Question:  How many Sri Lankan troops are in Haiti?  Do we know?

Spokesperson:  It’s about 900.  Let me get the exact number for you.  It’s 950.

Question:  Michèle, I’m sometimes disappointed, as you say, by the selection of soups in the cafeteria.  So that seems like sort of a tepid response to me.  Is the Secretary-General…  Is Mr. Gambari going to be telling them to reconsider?  Is he demanding that they reverse this decision?  Where is the strength to this?

Spokesperson:  No, there is a very strong position, which we have taken and which the country team has taken and UNDP has taken.  What I’m saying is that the issue is going to be raised as soon as Mr. Gambari meets the authorities in Myanmar.

Question:  What is the strong position though?

Spokesperson:  Well, the position is that we stand behind him.

Question:  Is Mr. Gambari going to be telling the Myanmar authorities not to do this?

Spokesperson:  I cannot say this at this point.  Mr. Gambari felt extremely, as I said, upset by this and when he spoke to me, he did say that he was going to raise the issue.  He could not really say anything else at this point.  Yes?

Question:  What were these reasons the Government of Myanmar gave for kicking Mr. Petrie out?  What were their specific complaints addressed to the UN?

Spokesperson:  Well, they wrote a letter, which we received.  It was from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  It was linked to a statement made by the country team last month regarding, in particular, the question of poverty in Myanmar.  Yes?

Question:  Does the Secretary-General endorse this statement that was made by the Country Team?

Spokesperson:  He certainly does.  Yes?

Question:  On that Sri Lanka peacekeepers again.  Can you get any more details about what exactly they are accused of?  Is it similar to the case that was in Ivory Coast recently, where there seem to have been widespread… 

Spokesperson:  The issues are against members of the Sri Lankan Battalion stationed in a number of locations in Haiti.  And the allegations are of a transactional sex nature.  Yes?

Question:  A couple of things about this letter now.  Was it actually signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs?

Spokesperson:  Yes.

Question:  Okay.  Did it give a time frame for Mr. Petrie’s expected or desired exit from the country?

Spokesperson:  No, it did not.  It simply says that Mr. Petrie has been there for a long time and that he should move on.

Question:  So it said he should…  It said…  It references the period of time he had been in there, which is how long, by the way?

Spokesperson:  Actually, I do not know how long he has been there, but I can tell you that there is no such thing as a fixed term in the case of a Resident Coordinator.  So, in this case it doesn’t hold.

Question:  Also, did, did…  Beyond…  How explicit was the reference to the UN Day statement in terms of quoting from it?  It relates to the poverty, or… How specific can you be about what they cited?

Spokesperson:  I can get more information for you on this.  I don’t have the letter with me now.  But I will get the information for you.  Yes.

Question:  One hundred and eight troops is a lot of troops, so I’m just wondering, are they all directly connected to this alleged nefarious activity?

Spokesperson:  Apparently, yes.  Yes?

Question:  The Myanmar Government says that we don’t really need this man.  Technically, can they win the case?  I mean, if they don’t accept him, we can’t impose…  The UN cannot impose a technical coordinator…

Spokesperson:  Well, I think this issue can certainly be raised.  He has not been declared persona non grata.  Yes!

Question:  Michèle, when you say that the allegations were of a transactional sex nature, are we talking about paying for prostitutes, or are we talking about sort of… favours?  Paying for prostitutes?

Spokesperson:  Yes.

Question:  Any question of underage?

Spokesperson:  There is a question of some underage girls, yes.

Question:  What would be the expectation of the UN system if they’re repatriated and sent back to Sri Lanka?  What would the UN expect to take place in Sri Lanka to them?

Spokesperson:  Well, as you know, they are back under their national jurisdiction.  So far, Sri Lanka has said –- and you heard the statement –- that they are going to be prosecuted in Sri Lanka and UN Headquarters will follow up, of course, as they usually do on the procedures that are carried out against those soldiers.  Right now, MINUSTAH, Sri Lanka and DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] are assessing the situation and they have begun discussion on ways and means to bring assistance also to the victims because that’s also one of the issues.

Question:  On Myanmar and Mr. Petrie.  If he were…  Whose decision…  I mean, is it…  The Secretary-General, I guess, will decide whether…  He’s also UNDP…  He’s the UNDP staff…

Spokesperson:  He’s the highest official of the UN team there.

Question:  Who’d…  I mean, I mean…  If he were to leave, would the UN system replace him?  Would they remove other officials?

Spokesperson:  UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] would definitely continue its work in Myanmar

Question:  I wanted to ask you about…  In Georgia, the Government has, has said that the CIS peacekeepers should leave Abkhazia.  So since you have a UN mission there…  Is there any response by the UN system?

Spokesperson:  Yes, I’m sorry, but the President of the Council is here, and I will have to relinquish this seat.  I’m sorry.  Yes.  Charles Petrie, you really need to know what his nationality would be?

Correspondent:  Uh, if you could look into it.

Spokesperson:  Okay.

[The Spokesperson later added that Mr. Petrie is French.]

[Press conference by the Security Council President for November.]

Spokesperson:  What I will do…  I will answer your other questions.  I had to stop earlier and then Janos can brief you for the Presidency of the General Assembly.  I don’t know where we were in terms of the questions, but I wanted to add something that we received from UNDP.  UNDP senior management and the entire UNDP family solely support the Resident Coordinator, who has always abided by the principles and Charter of the United Nations and UNDP said it further supports the 24 October 2007 statement by the UN country team.  So this is what I have on that additional thing on the Myanmar issue on the issue of Charles Petrie.  Yes?

Question:  Yes, Michèle, I wanted to talk to you about Gaza.  Is there anything the Secretary-General can do, or is doing, to try to keep access to Gaza open so that the dire situation doesn’t…

Spokesperson:  Well, he has been consistently insisting on the rights of the population and on access in the opening of the crossings and several times, whenever he has had a chance to speak to any country of the region, including the leaders of the countries involved, he always addresses the issue of the population in Gaza and their needs.  Okay?  Yes?

Question:  Yeah, I was asking about this thing in Georgia, where Georgia has announced that it wants an end…  I don’t know if they are PNGing it, but they’re saying the Russian and CIS peacekeepers should leave the Abkhazia…  I guess it’s the UN Mission that’s dealing with it.  So what’s the UN’s, what’s the UN’s response to that?

Spokesperson:  Well, we don’t have a formal request yet, so we are waiting for a formal request.

Question:  And this thing…  The moratorium on the death penalty…  There was a…  There were many signatures presented today and Italy has put forward its resolution for a moratorium.  Does the Secretary have any…  Does it support that moratorium?  What’s Mr. Ban’s view on this issue?

Spokesperson:  Well, right now the issue is in front of the General Assembly, as you just said.  NGOs presented a statement to the President of the General Assembly and the General Assembly will be addressing that issue and I’m sure Janos will say more about it in a few minutes.

I have another statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, this time on the peace process in northern Uganda.  The Secretary-General is encouraged by the official visit of the delegation of the Lord’s Resistance Army to Kampala and hopes that the consultations taking place there will create momentum towards a comprehensive settlement to this conflict, which has brought great suffering to the people of northern Uganda.  He commends the Government of Uganda and the LRA leadership for their continued commitment to the peace process.  The Secretary-General calls on the international and regional actors, who have been assisting the peace process, to continue their crucial support until an acceptable solution is found for this long-standing conflict.  The Special Envoy will continue, in cooperation with the mediation of the Government of Southern Sudan, to facilitate discussions with all parties aimed at reaching lasting peace with justice for the benefit of all Ugandans. 

Any other questions before I give the floor to Janos?  Yes?

Question:  When is the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights going to Burma?

Spokesperson:  The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights?  I’ll get the exact date for you. 

[The Spokesperson later added that the dates for the Special Rapporteur’s visit have not yet been confirmed.]

And I was asked a question earlier… I didn’t get a chance to answer that question about what the Foreign Ministry of Myanmar has said concerning Charles Petrie.  They said he had acted beyond his capacity by issuing the country team a set statement on UN Day about the socio-economic situation in the country and the Government considered that inappropriate and that’s when they said that they did not want Mr. Petrie to continue.  Any other question, then we’ll just…  Yes?

Question:  Is there any sort of conflicting issues between the UN and the Government of Myanmar, and what impact is this considered to have on Mr. Gambari’s mission to Burma?

Spokesperson:  Well, Mr. Gambari will definitely continue his mission, as I said earlier.  Mr. Petrie will be waiting for him at the airport and, as head of the country team.  And everyone stands by that statement that was made by the country team in Myanmar for UN Day, if you remember.  Yes?

Question:  What in fact is this statement?

Spokesperson:  The statement?  You can have it upstairs.  It was done for UN Day and you have the full statement upstairs.  It’s called UN Day.  It was about the socio-economic situation of Myanmar.

Question:  So they’re not talking about one phrase, one word of something?  It’s not all presentation…

Spokesperson:  About the statement itself.  Yes.  Okay, thank you very much.  Janos?

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Thank you very much.  Good afternoon.  Good to see you.  The die-hard are still here.  That’s good.  A couple of things have already been a little bit mentioned, but I’ll try to put them in perspective and try to answer the questions you may have. 

**General Assembly President

First, the activities of the President.  The President of the Assembly met this morning with representatives of Sant Egidio and of the World Coalition against the Death Penalty to receive a petition to the General Assembly calling for a global moratorium on executions.  The petition has over 5 million signatures.

While the President of the Assembly is receptive to the concerns of the petitioners, he would like to emphasize at the same time that a draft resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty was introduced in the Third Committee yesterday and which is subject to deliberations among Member States.  The President is also fully aware of the fact that Member States hold divergent views on the issue.

**General Assembly

On the activities of the Assembly.  Yesterday, we didn’t have a briefing, but you may have known that the Assembly met in plenary and it heard the reports of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

Today, the Assembly is going to have its General Committee meet in the afternoon on organization of work, adoption of agenda and allocation of items.

And to be more concrete, what it means is that the Committee will be looking at the issue of allocating the report of the Human Rights Council.  You may know that that report is out.  It’s A/62/53, so that’s what’s going to be discussed in the General Committee, where to allocate this report.  And the other issue on the Committee’s agenda is acting on a request from the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) to allocate the report of PBC to the Fifth Committee.  Those of you who are a little bit more interested, the Committee’s report actually has a part -- paragraph 43 of the PBC report, which is A/62/137 for those of you who want to see the report again, it has been out for some time -- look at paragraph 43 it talks about field missions of PBC, so that has a budgetary implication.  So therefore, the idea is for the General Committee, as stated in that request from the chair of PBC, to allocate the report to the Fifth Committee so that the Committee can look at this aspect.

**Main Committees

The First Committee is wrapping up its work on all disarmament-related resolutions and decisions.  It has 52 of these -– 49 draft resolutions and 3 draft decisions and it is supposed to have acted upon all of them by the end of today.  It is expected that 24 of them will be accepted without a vote and 28 will have recorded votes.  And as you may know, these are all drafts that will then go to the plenary.

The Third Committee –- that is something that might be interesting for you.  A couple of nuggets there.  Yesterday, a new draft resolution was introduced and accepted without a vote, under the context of promotion and protection of the rights of children.  And it was about designating 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day.  So that was accepted by the Committee; it will then go to the plenary.

Also, as mentioned a couple of times…  I think it was mentioned already by Michèle and I mentioned it at the beginning.  That a draft resolution on a moratorium for the death penalty was submitted to the Secretariat of the Third Committee yesterday.  Also, I know that most of you are interested in a couple of country-related draft resolutions such as DPRK, Sudan or Myanmar.  The deadline for submitting drafts on those human-rights related issues in the Third Committee is tonight at 6 p.m.

The Fourth Committee is meeting this morning to continue its discussion on comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping.

I’ll jump the Fifth, and I’ll tell you why because I’m going to go back to it.

The Sixth Committee is continuing today its consideration of the report of the International Law Commission.

The Fifth Committee this morning acted on appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments.  These would be for the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, Committee on Contributions, the Independent Audit Advisory Committee, Investments Committee, Board of Auditors and the United Nations Administrative Tribunal.  What might be interesting for you in all of this is that the Independent Audit Advisory Committee is something new.  So that’s going to start its work on 1 January.  And let me see, one, two, three, four, five members were elected today.  One from the Russian Federation, one from India, one from Uganda, one from Jamaica, one from the U.S.  The documentation on all of that is available and I can go into more details if you’re interested.

**Next Week

For next week, I just want to flag one thing:  that on 8 November, the GA plenary is going to elect members to ECOSOC.  If you are aware, it’s a 54-member body.  Every member serves three years and every year there is a rotation of 18 members.  So that is going to happen on 8 November.

That’s the very quick rundown of what is happening.  I’m ready for your questions.  Please.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Will you have any discussion on Afghanistan next week?

GA Spokesperson:  That is correct.  Yes, yes.  There is a report out as well on the racks and it’s going to happen on 5 November.  Yes, please…

Question:  Do you know when the Security Council report to the General Assembly is going to be available and what the process of the General Assembly accepting that is?

GA Spokesperson:  As far as I know, it’s going to be discussed on the 12th.  I have not seen the report yet.  As you may remember, I think it was last week that the Council actually adopted the report and it’ll probably be out, I assume, very soon, since it has been adopted.  Matthew?

Question:  On the elections in the Fifth Committee…  Were any of them, to your knowledge, contested?  Usually, these groups just put people forward and it’s unanimous. 

GA Spokesperson:  That is correct.  Let me give you the very quick thing.  The Independent Audit Advisory Committee -– the new body that I mentioned to you -– had five vacancies and seven proposed candidates.  So, two were not voted on.  And then on ACABQ, there were, let me see…  Six persons were to be appointed and there were seven candidates. 

Question:  In the summaries of that, what countries didn’t make it?

GA Spokesperson:  I can actually give it to you.  The person, amongst the candidates not elected was from the UK as regards to the Advisory Committee on the Administrative and Budgetary Matters.  And according to the information that I have, as regards to the Independent Audit Advisory Committee, the candidate from Spain and the candidate from Switzerland was the one not elected.

Question:  Yesterday, in the Fourth Committee, they have this peacekeeping and all its aspects…

GA Spokesperson:  That is correct, yes.  It is still going on.

Question:  There was a presentation about Mr. Guehenno and then the press had to leave.  They said it was a closed meeting.  A question was raised by the Fourth Committee, something that Guehenno said now DPKO works with the World Bank and that Fourth Committee members…  How does DPKO work with the World Bank?  Has there been any response?  I wouldn’t expect you to know this off the top of your head…  Whether it’s possible to know whether some explanation was given to the Committee?

GA Spokesperson:  I can certainly look into it.  I don’t have an answer for you.

Question:  I also wasn’t sure why it turned into a closed meeting.

GA Spokesperson:  The way it works is that, when the Committee has consultations, that part is always closed.  So obviously, this is one of those cases when the beginning was a formal presentation and then the Committee went into consultation.  That’s just the scenario.  So I think there’s nothing extraordinary in that.  It’s a very usual procedure.  But, I’ll look into the World Bank issue and DPKO.

If no more questions, then thank you very much for sticking to the bitter end and have a wonderful weekend.

* *** *

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