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

10 December 2007

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

10 December 2007
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
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 Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the General Assembly President.

Briefing by the Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon.

**Press Conference Today

Today at 1:15 p.m., or thereabouts, there will be a press conference by Carla Del Ponte, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, following her meeting with the Security Council.  This will be Ms. Del Ponte’s last press conference in New York as the Tribunal’s Prosecutor.  And this will be in room 226.

**Secretary-General on Myanmar

Today is Human Rights Day, and the Secretary-General, speaking to reporters in Bangkok, seized the occasion to urge Myanmar authorities once more to fully respect the principles and rules of the United Nations Charter by engaging with the international community, democratizing and promoting human rights.

The Secretary-General was asked about international action on Myanmar, and he said, “I know that the international community is very impatient, and our patience is running out.”  He said that he will continue with the firm commitment to promote further dialogue in Myanmar, and he called the appointment of a liaison minister who is in contact with Aung San Suu Kyi “a good beginning”.

He asserted, “The people of Myanmar have suffered from isolation for such a long time,” adding that it is high time now for the people of Myanmar to enjoy genuine democracy and freedom.  And we have the transcript of his comments upstairs.

**Human Rights Day

Also on Human Rights Day, the United Nations is marking it by launching a year-long campaign, which will lead up to the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The entire UN family will take part in the campaign to promote the Declaration's ideals and principles of justice and equality for everyone.

Marking the Day in Geneva, prior to the start of the resumed sixth session of the Human Rights Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour delivered a statement.  She said that, in today's growing divisions between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the vulnerable, the technologically advanced and the illiterate, the aggressors and the victims, the relevance of the Declaration and the universality of the enshrined rights need to be loudly reaffirmed.

A number of events are taking place here at Headquarters to mark the occasion.  Those include a panel discussion on new media and human rights at 1:15 in Conference Room 1.  Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka will moderate.  Then at 5 p.m. this evening, in the Visitors’ Lobby, a new exhibit featuring human rights cartoons will be opened.

Events are also taking place throughout the world.  In Sudan, for example, the UN Mission has organized a series of activities across that country.  Plans include workshops, campaigns and panel discussions in Darfur, as well as marches to promote human rights messages in southern Sudan.  We have more information on Human Rights Day in the Spokesperson’s Office upstairs.

**Secretary-General’s Travels

As I mentioned earlier, the Secretary-General is in Bangkok today, where he met with the Thai Prime Minister and members of his cabinet on issues of mutual interest to Thailand and the United Nations, including climate change, UN reform, global public health, the work of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the situation in Myanmar.  After that meeting, the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister spoke to the press, and the Secretary-General described the partnership between the United Nations and Thailand as “broad and deep, extending across economic and social issues, as well as peacekeeping”.

Later in the afternoon, the Secretary-General spoke to the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), telling them that the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali must become the launch pad for negotiations towards a comprehensive climate deal that all nations can embrace.  It must provide us with a clear road map for tackling climate change, he said.

The Secretary-General and his wife later visited the Royal Chitralada projects, a bio-fuel project which the Secretary-General described as one of the many examples of the King of Thailand's commitment and dedication to human development and the environment.

The Secretary-General and Mrs. Ban had an audience with the King and Queen of Thailand in the evening; they were scheduled to leave for Bali tomorrow, which is actually in a few hours in Asia.

**Climate Change

The second week of negotiations on a new climate change agreement got under way today in Bali, Indonesia, where the various contact groups have been intensifying their efforts ahead of the high-level segment that begins on Wednesday.  Today’s discussions focused on the need to strengthen existing commitments, quantified national emission objectives for industrialized countries, and technological cooperation.

UN Framework Convention Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said that technology must be “at the heart of the future response to climate change”.  He said that environmentally sound technologies and sustainable development approaches could help developing countries “leapfrog the carbon intensive stage of economic development”.

**Humanitarian Appeal 2008

As part of the UN’s Humanitarian Appeal for 2008, launched today in Geneva, the Secretary-General is calling on the international community to raise $3.8 billion to provide urgent support for 25 million people caught in humanitarian emergencies in some two dozen countries.

The Appeal consolidates the efforts of 188 organizations, including various UN agencies, and includes numerous countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Presiding over today’s launch, Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes noted the world’s poor will likely face ever more frequent climate-related disasters and called for an expansion of humanitarian aid from all sides, including new donors, such as middle-income countries.  There’s more information upstairs.

** Sudan

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet and Deputy Chief of Staff Kim Won-soo met with Sudanese officials on the sidelines of the European Union-African Union summit in Lisbon over the weekend.

A statement issued afterwards said they discussed priority actions required to accelerate the deployment of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and recognized that UNAMID would play a critical role in bringing peace and stability to Darfur.

They agreed on the importance of addressing and resolving these issues transparently, expeditiously and in the appropriate forum, as part of their collaboration regarding the deployment.

The two delegations also took note, with serious concern, that there were critical gaps in the force capabilities, particularly military aviation, and called upon the international community to provide those capabilities.

The Government of Sudan and the United Nations emphasized their commitment to the ongoing intensive technical effort which would be required for the timely deployment of UNAMID.

Progress was being made on outstanding technical issues, and that progress will be built upon during meetings of the Tripartite Mechanism in Khartoum this week.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Secretary-General, in her remarks as the head of the UN delegation to the summit in Lisbon, noted the most urgent requirement of helicopters.  In the past weeks and months, she noted, the Secretary-General has contacted personally every possible contributor of helicopters -- in the Americas, in Europe, in Asia -- and yet not one helicopter has been made available, she said.

In Europe alone, there are thousands of military helicopters of different types.  Large numbers of helicopters also exist in the key Asian powers, and in the Americas.  Any assistance the Governments in these regions can offer would be profoundly appreciated, not least by the people of Darfur, she noted.  That speech is available in the Spokesperson’s Office.

The Security Council is expected to be briefed by the UN delegation that went to Lisbon later this week, I believe on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Darfur peace process, Jan Eliasson, is wrapping up his visit to Darfur and is travelling to Juba in southern Sudan to meet with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement Task Force of the Darfur political process, as well as with the Darfurian movements present in Juba.

From Juba, the Special Envoy will head back to Khartoum, where he is scheduled to hold meetings later today and tomorrow with senior officials of the Government of National Unity.  Tomorrow, he will hold a press conference in Khartoum.

**Deputy Secretary-General

While in Lisbon, the Deputy Secretary-General held bilateral meetings with the Presidents of Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau, as well as the new Prime Minister of Somalia.

In her meeting with President [Laurent] Gbagbo of Côte d’Ivoire, she stressed the Secretary-General’s desire to see the electoral process in that country undertaken as planned, in order to rebuild the democratic institutions of the country.  President Gbagbo assured her that he is doing everything possible to live up to that expectation.  He called for enhanced support both for the electoral process and the implementation of the Ouagadougou peace process.

During the meeting with President Vieira of Guinea-Bissau, the Deputy Secretary-General expressed concern about the growing role of Guinea-Bissau as a transit point for drug trafficking.  She appealed for greater Government intervention, as well as regional cooperation.  She assured the President of the support of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  She also called on the President to ensure that the elections due next year are held as planned, in order to avert a constitutional crisis.  The President noted that the greatest challenges the Electoral Commission face is lack of resources to update the voter register.

** Guinea-Bissau

There is a report out by the Secretary-General, as well, and, in it, he says that the past months have been marked by an increasing feeling of social malaise, aggravated by widespread perception that State institutions were adrift.  He also says that the Government’s effort to combat drug trafficking are showing encouraging results.

Noting that the Government has made significant strides in preparations for the legislative elections, the Secretary-General proposes that the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau be extended by another year, until December 2008.

**Kosovo

Just on Kosovo, to confirm, Security Council members have now received from the Secretary-General advance copies of the Troika’s report, which was given to the Secretary-General by the Contact Group.

Regarding next steps on Kosovo, the Security Council is planning to hold consultations on the matter on 19 December.  The Secretary-General is planning to attend those consultations, as he wants to listen to the Council’s deliberations.

**Security Council

The Security Council today began its work by approving a resolution that extends the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate by three months.

The Council then heard briefings on the work of the two international Tribunals, dealing with the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, by the Presidents and Prosecutors of the Tribunals.

Carla Del Ponte, the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, made her final appearance to the Council in that capacity and told them that, unfortunately, Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic and two other accused remain at large, with her optimism that they will be brought to justice having waned considerably.  Carla Del Ponte will brief you, as I mentioned, in this room shortly.

Also, the Security Council intends to hold consultations on Lebanon following the adjournment of its meeting on the Tribunals.

**Iraq-Kuwait

The Secretary-General’s latest report on missing Kuwaiti and third-country persons and property in Iraq is out as a document, and in it, the Secretary-General says that he is hopeful that the security conditions in Iraq will permit Kuwait to field technical teams and resume search and exhumation activities at Iraqi burial sites next year.  He adds that it is a matter of growing concern that the Kuwaiti national archives have not been found.

That report is expected to be discussed in Security Council consultations tomorrow.  Also on Iraq, we have upstairs an information note with an update on recent activities by the UN Mission and the Special Representative in that country.

** Turkmenistan

We also have copies of a message delivered by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, today, where he spoke at an international conference organized to inaugurate the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.

The new Centre will be headed by a representative of the Secretary-General and managed from Headquarters by the Department of Political Affairs.  It will work closely with all five Central Asian countries, as well as with regional organizations, to help them peacefully and cooperatively manage common threats and challenges -- from terrorism and drug trafficking to the environment and natural resources.

“Preventive diplomacy is not an option -– it is a necessity,” the Secretary-General said in that statement, which I mentioned we have upstairs.

**UNICEF

UNICEF today launched its report on “Progress for Children”, which provides comprehensive data on improvements in child health, including those that could reduce mortality rates in children under five in the coming years.

The report shows numerous improvements, including greater access to safe drinking water, higher rates of early and exclusive breastfeeding, more widespread use of insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria, and greater access to anti-retrovirals to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to infants.

But the report also found continued widespread malnutrition and a slow expansion of treatment coverage for major childhood diseases.  It also notes that more than half a million women die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth.  We have more information on this report upstairs.

**Press Conference Tomorrow

The guests at the noon briefing tomorrow will be Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly, and Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, who will discuss the upcoming World Fit for Children plus 5 Event, which starts tomorrow, and the latest Progress for Children report, which was released today.

That’s what I have for you.  We have Janos here to brief on the General Assembly.  And then we’ll have Carla Del Ponte.  Masood?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Marie, I’ve been asking this question again and again on Iraq – today there is a report that in Iraq, the Secretary-General’s representative, Mr. Steffan [de Mistura], has made a statement that the United Nations is getting ready to get involved back into Iraq and the plans are being drawn.  I mean, we have not been told of those plans.  Will there be an occasion where he will come and brief us?  Do you have anything on that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I’m sure that when he does come to New York and briefs the Security Council, he will be more than happy to brief you.  I just mentioned, I don’t know if you heard, there is a [fact sheet] on recent activities of the Special Representative, Steffan de Mistura, and his mission upstairs for you.  It outlines the number of meetings he has had with Iraqi officials about the current presence of the UN there, about the humanitarian situation, as well as the human rights situation and the work that is going on with the electoral team and electoral commission.  So there are a number of fronts in which the new Special Representative is being very active.

As for plans of expansion, as you noted in previous interventions by the Special Representative, he is keen to expand activities if and when the security situation permits him to do so.

Question:  No, but specifically, Marie, he just said that -- he said that in [inaudible] -- he said that plans are being drawn up.  He was very specific about the United Nations getting back involved in it because the security situation is improving.

Deputy Spokesperson:  That’s correct.  And, as you know, there is a Security Council resolution that was passed in the summer that is the basis on which he is drawing up those plans.  And I believe you are referring to numbers that he has cited in interviews.  But I think over the next months and the year ahead, I think he is hoping to increase the presence on the ground by UN civilian, international staff.

Question:  On this situation in Darfur, which you were just talking about, that lack of helicopters, the whole international community was up in arms that no action was being taken and now suddenly nobody is willing to give you helicopters?  It is very shameful.  Will there be –- at any point, the Secretary-General has specifically asked any countries for these helicopters and they’ve denied them?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Exactly.  I just read to you that the Secretary-General has approached virtually every [potential helicopter-contributing] country.  His representatives have approached countries.  Even this weekend, his two senior advisers, the Deputy Secretary-General also in her speech, which I would like you to refer to, referred to the fact that all potential troop contributors have been approached and we simply haven’t been able to get a single helicopter.  This is the utmost priority for getting an effective force on the ground.

Question:  Do you have an explanation for this?

Deputy Spokesperson:  You’ll have to ask the troop contributors.

Mr. Abbadi and then Benny.

Question:  We announced on Friday that the two parties in the Western Sahara conflict will resume negotiations between 7 and 9 January in Manhasset.  What does the Personal Envoy have that makes him feel that there is going to be some progress this time, in view of the fact that last June and August meetings were not successful.  And is he concerned about the fact that one party to the conflict is threatening to resume violence in the event that there is no progress this time?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I think, as you know, Mr. Abbadi, the reason why we have these talks is precisely to overcome differences and the fact that these talks are ongoing is an indication in and of itself.  Let’s let the talks happen and we’ll try to get you a briefing on it afterwards.  Yes, Benny.  Then Matthew.

Question:  First of all, about the statement that all countries have been approached, I assume that countries like the United States and Britain, which have been ruled out by Sudan as possible contributors of helicopters, have not been approached.  But if I’m wrong, let me know.

Deputy Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General has contacted personally every possible contributor of helicopters in the Americas, in Europe, in Asia, and yet not one helicopter has been made available.  The Secretary-General and Mr. Guéhenno, I think, have both mentioned this to you at their various press encounters, and -- unless something happens between now and Thursday -– I think the Security Council will get another briefing on where things stand.

Question:  Secondly, I understand that one country that was mentioned as a strong candidate for contributing helicopters was South Korea.  Has the Secretary-General contacted South Korea trying to convince them with his special contacts?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I think I just read to you the answer to that question.  Matthew?

Question:  In this report that while the Secretary-General was in Thailand, the democracy confederation sought to give him a letter calling him to get involved to restore democracy in Thailand, is he aware of that attempt?  They were restrained by authorities.  Is he aware of that attempt and what is his response to the call?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I have not seen anything on that.  Let me contact our delegation and follow up on that.

Question:  Also, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it seems like the MONUC has advised civilians to leave areas in advance of attacks or movements by the Congolese army.  Who is the UN implying would target civilians -- the Congolese army or the forces of General Nkunda?

Deputy Spokesperson:  This is the first I have heard of this warning, so, again, I would have to check with MONUC for you.  But if, in any position, the UN is aware of any potential harm to civilians, I’m sure that is part of their mandate to warn them against it.

Question:  If they’re the ones carrying, like, you know, ammunition and soldiers for the Congolese army and then giving warnings to civilians, I guess my question is, does this imply that they are acknowledging and accepting that civilians might either be targeted or might… if you can get to the bottom of what -- are they giving, given their role --

Deputy Spokesperson:  The United Nations, in no matter what circumstances, will not be in a position to advocate the targeting of civilians in any conflict.  So if they have any knowledge that there is any harm coming to any people, no matter if it’s in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or anywhere, it’s their duty to warn them.  Yes?

Question:  On Kosovo, will you tell us about the response or the reaction by Mr. Ban Ki-moon for the report he submitted to the Security Council on the -- I mean the Troika report.  Does he still believe in Kosovo to be an independent State?

Also, it was announced that the negotiators in Kosovo have already started consultations with the international partners.  Did they contact the UN?  Did they contact, whoever here in the UN about that -– about the next step to be taken?

Deputy Spokesperson:  The next step, as I mentioned to you earlier, there is the meeting or consultations scheduled for the 19th by the Security Council.

As far as the Secretary-General is concerned, I’m afraid I’m not going to have too much more for you other than what the Secretary-General has said already, which is that his position has not changed.  He still feels that any delay in the status process should be avoided since prolonging it would not be good for the region.   And he still hopes that the Security Council will be able to reach an agreement on this issue.  Yes?

Question:  What about Lebanon, are they discussing in the Security Council?

Deputy Spokesperson:  You’d have to ask them.  They just called consultations.  I understand it may be on a statement of some sort.  But you should ask them.  Yes?

Question:  This is just a follow-up.  Is there a stipulation that the Sudanese Government, if the United States gives helicopters, they will not accept it?  That’s what the [inaudible] are suggesting now.  Is there any such a stipulation?

Deputy Spokesperson:  As you know, there are a number of issues that are still being discussed between the UN and the Sudanese Government on the way ahead on the UNAMID force.  But as far as the helicopters are concerned, I don’t think there are any geographical restrictions on that.  Yes?

Correspondent:  The Sudanese ambassador told us that they wouldn’t accept it.  I don’t know, maybe he’s not speaking for anyone, but that’s what he told us.

Question:  I just wanted to -- you had said that the Deputy Chef de Cabinet and Mr. Mulet met with “Sudanese officials”.  Who did they –- at what level?  What Sudanese officials?

Deputy Spokesperson:  They met with the entire Sudanese delegation in Lisbon.

Question:  And was -- including President Bashir?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, they met with President Bashir on a number of occasions.  They were there for the whole weekend and they held consultations with the senior delegation there on, as I mentioned, on the way ahead on UNAMID, in which they were able to make progress.  And that will be followed up in Khartoum [as well as] the meetings they had with the Europeans, again on helicopters.

Yes, Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  On the message on the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, the Secretary-General says too often Governments lack a political will to implement international norms they have willingly accepted.  And he said this anniversary year is an occasion to build that will.  How does he propose to do that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I think I just read to you an entire note on the year ahead as we go into the 60th anniversary. The Secretary-General –- his message is there for you.  And, I think as a concrete example, he referred to the action needed to be taken by the authorities in Myanmar.  On this note –- yes, Benny?

Question:  Since he’s in the region, does the Secretary-General have any plan to visit Burma?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Not that I know of.

We have Janos for you and don’t forget Carla Del Ponte at around 1:15.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon.  A couple of things on the activities of the Assembly and the President of the Assembly.

**General Assembly President’s Human Rights Day Message

The President of the General Assembly has also issued a message for Human Rights Day in which he reminds the General Assembly that it was the Assembly that adopted on this day in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  And he, therefore, calls on Member States to seize the moment and work together to uphold the Declaration through the work in the General Assembly.

He notes that the rights and values contained in this Declaration stand as a truly binding force in today’s globalized world.  Calling for a new culture of international relations, based on full respect of human rights, human security, the responsibility to protect and sustainable development, the President wishes to emphasize that we must not and cannot forget those who are denied their human rights, and it is incumbent upon us to champion their cause.

**United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia

The President of the Assembly has also sent a message on the occasion of the inauguration of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.

The President of the Assembly, in that message, notes that the establishment of the Centre is an excellent example of how a group of Member States from a particular region can pool their resources together and work with each other through the United Nations to address regional challenges.

He adds that we have often been quite vocal in promoting the merits of conflict resolution, quoting old proverbs such as, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” -- but quite often our work in this regard remained on the level of paying lip service to preventive diplomacy.  In Central Asia, we are taking a concrete step now.  He also underlines that the work of the Centre may serve as a further boost and example for other Member States to take collective action on a regional, as well as a global, level in preventive diplomacy.

Both messages are available in full upstairs and they are also on the website of the President.

**Address to Carnegie Council

The President this morning addressed the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Relations.  The theme of his address was:  “Towards a New Culture of International Relations:  Rights and Responsibilities of the Individual in Multilateral Decision-making”.

The President centred his talk around the idea of an evolving new culture of international relations that was based on full respect of human rights, human security, the responsibility to protect and sustainable development.  He noted that these issues were intertwined, interrelated and, thus, should be the principles driving the work of the UN.

The President highlighted that, at the heart of this new culture, was the interaction of two major shifts that we were witnessing in international relations.  The first was the shift from a State-centred approach to a human-centred approach, where the individual was more the focus of attention.  The other shift was that of a gradual move from a stress on rights to the acceptance of responsibilities -- both for States and for individuals.  These two shifts were interdependent, and, through them, we witness the emergence of a new culture of international relations, one where human transformation and collective consciousness are the key to bridging the gap between policy and implementation.

And as regards the role of the United Nations:  the President believes that the United Nations is both the playing field, as well as the catalyst, for these changes and for the new culture of international relations.

**General Assembly Plenary

The Assembly is meeting in plenary today.  This morning, it is having a joint debate on two related items on its agenda:  oceans and law of the sea and sustainable fisheries.  For both, the Assembly has before it a report from the Secretary-General, and on both items there is a draft resolution to be introduced and acted on.

In the afternoon, the Assembly is scheduled to deal with draft resolutions.  There is a set that is related to the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East -– those two items were taken up by the Assembly in a debate two weeks ago.

Also this afternoon, there is expected to be action on a resolution passed in the Second Committee on climate change and development –- and finally -– and this is something you have all been waiting for -- the Assembly is also expected to take action on the report of the Fifth Committee containing the text of a recommended resolution on the capital master plan, which was adopted in the Fifth Committee last Thursday.

**Commemorative Plenary on Children

And just to flag something for tomorrow, although Marie has already mentioned it, there is the commemorative meeting on children.  And that’s going to be tomorrow and Wednesday in the Assembly, and that’s called the high-level commemorative plenary meeting devoted to the follow-up to the outcome of the special session on children, which was five years ago in 2002.

The meeting is to evaluate progress made in the implementation of the Declaration and the Plan of Action contained in the document entitled “A world fit for children”, which was adopted in 2002 at the special session (A/RES/S-27/2).

The commemorative high-level meeting will comprise of plenary meetings, and there are two thematic interactive round tables to be held in the Trusteeship Council Chamber:  the first is on “Promoting healthy lives and combating HIV/AIDS” –- that’s tomorrow afternoon.  Then there is a second one, which is Wednesday morning, on:  “Providing universal quality education as key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and as the first line of protection against abuse, exploitation and violence against children”.

Marie has mentioned already the noon guest for tomorrow’s briefing and that is where you will get more details on this, as the noon guest will be the President of the Assembly and the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The two-day meeting looks to be pretty packed, and it looks like there will be two evening sessions, as well, as, at the moment, we already have close to 140 speakers.  Just to get through that, we will probably have to include evening sessions.

**Main Committees

Two Main Committees are still working -- the Second and the Fifth.

Let me quickly tell you a few words about the Second Committee.  It took action on 14 draft texts on Friday.  Altogether, now it has taken action on 33 draft texts.  There are two more remaining, and they’re going to be taken up this week, tomorrow, Tuesday and then Friday.  And, hopefully, with that, the Committee is expected to wrap up its work.

As regards one thing that was adopted Friday, I want to flag that to you because I think it’s important -– I have mentioned it already in a preliminary context Friday -– and that relates to financing for development, which, as you know, is one of the five priorities for the 62nd session, definitely for the President.  That resolution adopted by the Second Committee is on the procedural aspects of the follow-up international conference on financing for development to review the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus.

According to the adopted resolution, this will be held in Doha, Qatar, from 29 November to 2 December 2008, and it will be at the highest possible political level, including participation of Heads of State or Government, ministers, special representatives, etc.  It will include plenary meetings and six interactive multi-stakeholder round tables on the themes based on the six major thematic areas of the Monterrey Consensus.  And it should result in an intergovernmentally agreed outcome.

One final thing, the Fifth Committee is continuing its work this week and next week.  And it is continuing in informal consultations today and, as I said, throughout this week.  The issues it is focusing on, amongst others, include various elements of the proposed programme budget for 2008-2009, the budget for UNAMID, and administration of justice in the UN.

**Changing Votes

One very quick thing that came up Friday that was something that Matthew asked about, the possibility of reversal of votes and re-voting in the Assembly, etc.  The answer is very simple:  no.  Once the votes have been taken, once the voting machine has been locked in, that’s it.  Even if a delegate says that he or she made a mistake.

If, you know, individual Governments –- because this is what your question related to -– had a problem with how their representative voted, that’s an internal issue.

That’s all I have.  Any questions?  Mr. Abbadi, yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  The President seems to have a rather restricted definition for the new culture of international relations, limited to the human rights field and sustainable development, while the culture for international relations should be much broader than that.  Has he consulted any political scientists before advancing this notion?

Spokesperson:  Throughout his past work, he himself, I think, could be easily considered as both a theoretician and a practitioner of political science, with also a stress on economic development.

And I think you may have misunderstood the narrowness of this approach, because one of the key aspects of what the President is advocating in this new culture of international relations is the centrality of human security interpreted in its broadest sense.

But let me advise you, Mr. Abbadi, that the President is going to be here not only tomorrow -- tomorrow’s press conference is going to be concentrated more on the high-level plenary on children -- but on the 19th of December, he’s going to give a press conference wrapping up the work of the Assembly, where things stand, what he is planning next year.  That would be a good occasion to get his reaction to this and basically ask directly from him as regards his interpretation on this.

Question:  Where does he put the notions of spiritual values as worked by the Alliance of Civilizations, for example, in this definition?

Spokesperson:  Although we have not included (this) when we said all those various different things about human security, sustainable development, human rights, but within that context he very much advocates the idea of the Alliance of Civilizations, tolerance, intercultural dialogue.  That is very much a part of his thinking and his approach to international relations and this new culture of international relations, definitely.  I think he has, on a number of occasions in the past, also advocated this particular notion that you refer to -- also in connection with the high-level interreligious dialogue, which was organized in October here.

If no more questions, then thank you very much, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

* *** *

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