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

28 March 2008

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

28 March 2008
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 Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon, all.

**Statement on the Film “Fitna”

We first have a statement attributable to the Secretary-General.

I condemn, in the strongest terms, the airing of Geert Wilders’ offensively anti-Islamic film.  There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence.  The right of free expression is not at stake here.  I acknowledge the efforts of the Government of the Netherlands to stop the broadcast of this film, and appeal for calm to those understandably offended by it.  Freedom must always be accompanied by social responsibility.

The United Nations is the centre of the world’s efforts to advance mutual respect, understanding and dialogue.  We must also recognize that the real fault line is not between Muslim and Western societies, as some would have us believe, but between small minorities of extremists on different sides with a vested interest in stirring hostility and conflict.

** Alliance of Civilizations

Also, Jorge Sampãio, the High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, condemned the Fitna film, saying that it seems to be a deliberate incitement to discrimination, violence and hatred on grounds of religion, aimed at provoking and prompting social unrest and encouraging extremist groups within European societies whose agenda is to discriminate and marginalize Muslim immigrants.  He warned that misrepresentation fuels extremism, and extremism appears to validate misrepresentation.  That is the vicious circle we have to firmly oppose and avoid.  We have more on that statement upstairs.

**Security Council

Yesterday afternoon, the President of the Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, read out a press statement concerning the Special Tribunal on Lebanon, encouraging the Secretary-General to continue undertaking the steps and measures necessary to establish the Tribunal in a timely manner.  Today, the members of the Security Council received the latest report by the International Independent Investigation Commission looking into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.  The Secretary-General, in a letter to the Security Council, said that the Commission reports that it has evidence that a network of individuals acted in concert to carry out Hariri’s assassination and that this criminal network, or parts of it, are linked to some of the other cases within the Commission’s mandate.

Also yesterday afternoon, the Council President read out statements to the press in which Council members welcomed the progress towards Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal and reaffirmed their support for efforts to consolidate peace in Guinea-Bissau.

** Afghanistan

Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative for Afghanistan, arrived in Kabul today and pledged to step up support for the Afghan Government.  Eide said that, while in the past there has been considerable focus on the security situation, this needs to be balanced with the political dimension of the UN’s work to deliver much needed peace, stability and visible progress for all of Afghanistan’s peoples.  He will meet with President Hamid Karzai and other key Government ministers in the coming days before he joins the Secretary-General in attending the NATO summit meeting on Afghanistan in Bucharest, Romania, next week.

** Iraq

On Iraq, in response to the current situation in Basra and the expectation that the local population may need special assistance, the UN humanitarian agencies stand ready to provide immediate relief assistance to the area.  UNICEF is standing by with water, sanitation and health support for 70,000 families, the World Health Organization (WHO) is ready to provide 1,600 blood bags and trauma kits to treat injuries and the World Food Programme (WFP) has 200 tons of food positioned outside Basra.  Also, the UN Refugee Agency can supply non-food items, such as blankets, cooking stoves and water containers for up to 8,000 families.

** Sudan

Turning to Sudan, UNICEF is expressing relief at the release of four drivers from the State Water Corporation in North Darfur.  They were abducted more than a week ago and have now been reunited with their families.  However, valuable drilling equipment, which was part of a project to provide clean water for tens of thousands of people in North Darfur, has not been recovered.  Meanwhile, the World Food Programme says its Humanitarian Air Service in Sudan has received enough donations to continue operating for another month.  The Service carries humanitarian workers and crucial supplies to remote areas across Sudan.  It was set to run out of funds by the end of this month, but will now keep flying through the end of April.

** Somalia

On Somalia, in a statement today, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, welcomed the announcement by Somalia’s Transitional Government that it is ready to talk to, and is nominating a team to lead discussions with, the opposition.  Ould-Abdallah said that the opposition has also informed him of its readiness to meet with Government representatives and resume the long stalled reconciliation talks.  He said the parties’ expression of goodwill is a welcome, positive first step towards effective reconciliation.

**Refugees

Rising numbers of Somali refugees are now seeking asylum in neighbouring countries to escape the increasingly volatile situation in many parts of their homeland, particularly in Mogadishu.  This is according to the UN Refugee Agency, which says that, since the beginning of the year, some 15,000 Somalis have sought asylum in Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and, even further a field, in eastern Sudan.  These numbers are in addition to the tens of thousands who have fled internally.

The Refugee Agency also reports today that more than 100,000 refugees from Southern Sudan have returned home to restart their lives since UNHCR began its organized repatriation programme since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 that ended 21 years of civil war between the north and the south of the country.  Some 260,000 Sudanese refugees remain outside Sudan’s borders.

** Central African Republic

On the Central African Republic, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Chad and the Central African Republic, Victor Angelo, has been on an official visit to Bangui, where he met yesterday with President François Bozizé and his Prime Minister.  Angelo said the purpose of his visit was to explain the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT).  To this effect, he said MINURCAT and the European Union Force deployed in eastern Chad are “twin sisters that are intimately linked by the nature of their work and are, in fact, complementary”. While the EU Force provides a security umbrella, the UN Mission trains those tasked with protecting refugees and the internally displaced inside UN-run camps.

** Nepal

Over in Nepal, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ian Martin, visited the Election Commission today and ensured effective monitoring through the Joint Monitoring and Coordination Committee, which has the responsibility of monitoring cantonments.  The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has made clear to the leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) that it is a breach of the Agreement on the Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies for personnel and/or weapons from Maoist army cantonments to be present at meetings outside the cantonments, including for the purpose of providing leadership security.  UNMIN recognizes the importance of adequate security arrangements for leaders and candidates of all parties.  Special security arrangements for the Maoist leadership were agreed upon in a signed understanding negotiated between the Government and the Maoists.

Also in Nepal, 21 Tibetan young people aged between 15 and 18 climbed into the UN compound this morning at around 10 a.m. local time.  They were met by security and UN staff, to whom they peacefully presented a banner with slogans along the lines of “Free Tibet”.  They apologized for coming inside the compound.  They were given lunch and will be taken home later in the day.  The UN has asked authorities that no action be taken against the children.

**United Nations Democracy Fund

The Secretary-General this morning addressed the Advisory Board of the UN Democracy Fund.  He said this is an exciting time for advocates of democracy, as democracy is on the rise in every region on every continent.  At the same time, he stressed that democratization is a process, not an event.  It needs to be nurtured and entrenched through awareness, participation, norms and institutions.  The Secretary-General added that, wherever and whenever people take up the challenge of democratization, the UN has a solemn duty to support their efforts.  We have his full remarks upstairs and you will recall that the UN Democracy Fund was established in 2005 to support democratization throughout the world.

**Human Rights Council

The seventh session of the Human Rights Council, which was opened by the Secretary-General on 3 March, ends today in Geneva.  Among other things this week, the Council elected the 18 members of its Advisory Committee, which will hold its first session from 4 to 15 August.  The Committee’s experts will function as a think tank for the Human Rights Council and work at its direction.  The Human Rights Council’s eighth session will take place from 2 to 13 June, during which the Council will examine the first report of its working group on the Universal Periodic Review.

** Cambodia

On Cambodia, information and input from victims and civil society organizations has led the Co-Prosecutors of the Extraordinary Chambers dealing with Cambodia to file a submission calling for new investigations into more Khmer Rouge crimes.  The Co-Prosecutors requested that the Co-Investigating Judges investigate allegations of crimes committed at a security centre where many Cambodians were unlawfully detained, subjected to inhumane conditions and forced labour, tortured and executed between 1975 and 1979.

“These factual allegations, if founded, could constitute crimes against humanity,” Co-Prosecutor Robert Petit said.  The Co-Prosecutors further requested that five suspects who are currently in the custody of the Extraordinary Chambers be investigated for their involvement in these crimes.

**Climate Change

The latest round of UN-sponsored climate change negotiations will get under way in Bangkok on Monday and last all week.  Some 1,000 representatives from Government, business, environmental and research organizations are expected to discuss the “Bali road map” and lay out a work plan for negotiations leading up to an agreement in Copenhagen next year.  Also on the agenda will be discussions on possible further emission reductions by industrialized countries.  We have more information upstairs.

**Disabilities

More than 20 UN departments, agencies, programmes and funds have issued a joint declaration pledging their support for implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The Convention was opened for signature one year ago Sunday.  It is now just three ratifications short of the 20 needed to enter into force and become an international legally binding document.  We have more information upstairs.

**Francophonie

And as I announced yesterday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will meet at 3 p.m. today with the Secretary-General of the International Organization of the Francophonie (IOF), the former Senegalese President, Mr. Abdou Diouf.  The United Nations has strengthened its cooperation with IOF over the past years in the areas of prevention and resolution of conflict, electoral observation and peacekeeping.

In the course of their meeting this afternoon, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon and IOF Secretary-General Abdou Diouf will discuss ways of further strengthening cooperation between their two organizations in those areas.  In that regard, they are expected to discuss a number of concrete conflict cases, including Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti.  Other issues, including multilingualism, the convening by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the MDGs high-level event on 25 September and climate change are also expected to be discussed by the Secretaries-General.

**Press Conferences

This afternoon, Mr. Diouf will be here at 4 o’clock for a press conference, here in this room.

And tomorrow again, after a meeting with the Secretary-General, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia will meet with reporters at the stakeout position on the 2nd floor.  We expect that to be about 4:45 in the afternoon tomorrow.

**Week Ahead

The Week Ahead, it’s upstairs, you can find it upstairs.  I’ll just flag that the Security Council on Monday is scheduled to adopt a resolution on the Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions.  Monday would be the last day of Russia’s Security Council presidency.

That’s all I have for you. 

**Questions and Answers

Question:  In your report on the humanitarian situation in Iraq, do you have any information on what’s being done to help out with the electricity shortages in local hospitals?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know at this point.  I can find out for you whether there has been any UN intervention on that count.

Question:  President [Ramos-]Horta of East Timor, now that he’s recuperating in Australia, has again raised this issue that he believes that the UN police didn’t come to his aid and obstructed those who tried to help him.  He said it on Australian television.  So the UN at the time said it was looking into it.  What has the UN concluded about its actions on the day of the attack?

Spokesperson:  Let me first say that we don’t respond to statements made by leaders of Timor-Leste, whom we respect greatly.  The comments attributed to President Ramos-Horta are taken seriously and would be investigated in the context of an internal review exercise of dealing with the incident.  However, we would state also that trilateral coordination forum that brings together ISF, UN and Timor-Leste, under the leadership of Timor-Leste, is the mechanism that coordinates responses in such cases.  An immediate meeting of that triangular coordination forum was held under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister within a few hours of the attacks, and appropriate decisions were taken and implemented at that time.  That’s all I can say, really, at this point.

Question:  I just have one follow up to that.  By saying it’s an internal review, does that mean that whenever the conclusions are reached they will be announced publicly?

Spokesperson:  It’s going to be an internal review within UNMIT.

Question:  Right, but then there’ll be an external result, they’ll say, here’s what we found, we found that we did the right thing or we found we didn’t?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know at this point, I cannot tell you at this point.  It was to be done in coordination with the Timor-Leste Government, of course.

Question:  Michèle, there is a story about an inquiry in Italy about the UNIDO official who had participated in a recent national campaign, and my question is, is there a rule that international civil servants, including officials of the UN, are not permitted to take a part in national politics?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know exactly what case you’re referring to.

Question:  The case is that a UNIDO official participated in a national political campaign in Italy, which is in a report by [inaudible].  Is that a rule that they’re not permitted?

Spokesperson:  As far as I know, a UN civil servant is not allowed to [run for national elections] unless they have resigned from their post at the UN.

Question:  Are you aware of this inquiry?

Spokesperson:  No, I’m not, but I will try to get more information on it, but I can tell you that’s the general rule.  So I don’t know if the person in question had resigned before running for elections.

Question:  The Secretary-General is going to Romania next week for the NATO summit.  What theme will be on his agenda when he goes and meets the NATO leaders on Afghanistan?

Spokesperson:  As you know, there’s going to be a special session on Afghanistan and the Secretary-General is going to be co-chairing that meeting with President Karzai and the Secretary-General of NATO.  So this is what is being planned.  I will give you, certainly, on Monday, a more detailed programme for the Secretary-General and, of course, we’ll be keeping you abreast of what happens during the meeting.  One of our colleagues is going to be there.

Question:  Michèle, yesterday, Nicolas Michel said it was up to the Secretary-General to decide when the Lebanon Tribunal starts.  Has he given any indication of when that might be?

Spokesperson:  He’s waiting to get all the elements in sight.  As you know, today, the Security Council got the report, so he’s not going to take that decision just by himself.  Of course it is in collaboration with his senior adviser on the issue of the Tribunal.  And I will let you know when it is done.

Question:  There’s a report of 55 children being abducted in the Central African Republic and it seems that some local UN team has validated this.  Seems pretty serious?

Spokesperson:  Has validated it?

Question:  It says here that a team of UN investigators visited the remote area around Obo in the country’s south-east region and concluded that the Obo officials were powerless to protect these people.  It said that it was the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Central African Republic abducting 50 children.

Spokesperson:  What do you mean by validating it?  Confirming that there was an abduction, yes. 

Correspondent:  And they’re still abducted.

Spokesperson:  As far as we know, yes.

Question:  And what’s the UN’s next step?

Spokesperson:  They’re working on it.  That’s all I can say.

Question:  Will the Secretary-General be making a remark regarding the North Korean short-range missiles fired?

Spokesperson:  No, I do not think so.  This is something for the North Korean Ministry to do.

Okay.  Janos?

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon, good to see you, as always.  I’ll give you a little bit of an update on a couple of things about the General Assembly and the President himself, what he’s involved with.

**General Assembly President

Let me start with the President.  General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim has wrapped up his official visit to Finland this afternoon.  Today he had talks with President Tarja Halonen and Speaker of Parliament Sauli Niinistö.  Yesterday evening he met with Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen.  Let me give you a little background, or an inside, as to what the discussions focused on. 

The meeting with President Halonen focused on the priority topics of the sixty-second session of the Assembly, especially climate change, sustainable development and the MDGs.  The gender aspects of those issues were highlighted, with President Halonen stressing the importance of the role of women in sustainable development and climate change.  She also expressed support on behalf of Finland for the work of the Assembly in the priority areas and for the efforts of the President.

Climate change, development related issues and UN reform were the key topics during the discussion with Prime Minister Vanhanen and Minister Vayrynen.  They agreed that there was a need for a reform of the United Nations to reflect the changes in the international system and the new global challenges.  Prime Minister Vanhanen also accepted an invitation to address the MDG high-level debate that’s going to be next week, as reflected in the background materials you’ve been provided with on that event.

During the meeting with the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, an in-depth exchange of views took place with a group of MPs from all major constituencies as well as members of civil society, and this focused on the main priority issues of the sixty-second session of the General Assembly, especially climate change, sustainable development, MDGs and financing for development.  They also discussed the role of parliaments and civil society, with participants welcoming the President’s efforts aimed at an increased involvement and role of civil society in the work of the General Assembly.

While in Finland, today President Kerim also delivered a speech entitled “The UN in the era of globalization” at a seminar held at the Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre in Espoo.  That’s a little bit outside of Helsinki.  The seminar was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre, the UN Association of Finland and the UN Association of Sweden.  The President’s speech was the keynote address of a panel discussion that was on “Can the UN Secure and Build Peace?”  Panellists included former General Assembly presidents Jan Eliasson and Harri Holkeri.

Let me just flag a few things from the President’s speech as they are quite interesting.  In his keynote address, the President stressed that our globalized world had outgrown the rigid parameters of existing institutional frameworks.  The solutions to current global problems such as climate change, terrorism and sustainable development could no longer be realized in an international system that put the interests of States above all others.  He noted that we were witnessing two major interdependent shifts in world affairs that offer the prospect of achieving a new culture of international relations.  The first shift was the move away from State-centred policies towards human-centred approaches that emphasize the individual as the primary subject and agent of policy.

The second major shift was a gradual move from a stress and preoccupation on rights to the accentuation and acceptance of responsibilities that go along with these rights, both for the State as well as for the individual.  The President stressed that we needed to encourage all Member States of the United Nations to live up to their responsibilities by emphasizing the interdependence of all nations, by recognizing that crucial issues on the Assembly’s agenda were not about numbers but about people, and by involving a multitude of external actors in the Assembly’s work, not only to assert their rights, but also to be willing to engage in efforts to make the exercise of these rights sustainable and universal.  As regards the reform of the United Nations system, according to President Kerim, as indeed all attempts at international institutional reforms, these had to rest on the fundamental aim of creating more flexible, dynamic forums, capable of acting on the basis of an equilibrium of interests rather than on an outdated principle of maintaining a balance of power.

**System-Wide Coherence

On meetings today, you may have noticed from the Journal that Member States this morning were holding an informal consultation on system-wide coherence.  If you have been following this issue, you will know that this is the second time during the sixty-second session that this issue was discussed in consultations among Member States.  The first was on 7 February.  This consultative process is lead by two Co-Chairs.  They’re the Permanent Representatives of Tanzania and Ireland.  They were the ones who convened this consultation to brief on the observations they had as regards their most recent visit to four of the eight pilot countries.  These four were Cape Verde, Tanzania, Viet Nam and Mozambique.  Also, the Co-Chairs recently took part in a UNIDO [United Nations Industrial Development Organization] meeting in Vienna on the subject of UN system-wide coherence and also briefed Member States on that meeting.  Background on all of this is available for you in the form of a letter written by the two Co-Chairs, dated 24 March.  That letter, referred to in the Journal as well, is available on the President’s website.  And just for the record, the eight pilot countries involved in system-wide coherence are Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uruguay and Viet Nam. 

**Fifth Committee

I know that most of you are following this as well.  The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) is to conclude its work for the first part of its resumed session this afternoon in a formal meeting in Conference Room 3.  That starts at 3 o’clock and it is expected to take action on a number of draft resolutions.  These are listed in the Journal.  One of them is already available on the racks, L.28, and that’s on the Joint Inspection Unit.  There are four others listed.  As far as I know, they relate to revised estimates for the Human Rights Council, financial implications of field visits by the Peacebuilding Commission, strengthening of investigation and deferred questions.

Please note that the Committee will meet again for the second part of its resumed session in May, also for four weeks.  At that time, the primary focus will be the budgetary and administrative questions related to peacekeeping missions.

**Upcoming Event on Road Safety

Upcoming events.  Two things next week.  On Monday, 31 March, 10 o’clock in the morning, General Assembly Hall, the General Assembly will hold a plenary meeting on an item called global road safety.  The Member States will have before them a report of the Secretary-General on this topic (document A/62/257).  It’s entitled “Improving global road safety”, and also a draft resolution on the same topic, and Member States are expected to take action on that issue.  If you’re wondering as to the background of this item, this was introduced for the first time to the General Assembly agenda with the fifty-seventh session.  At that time, Member States decided this should be something for the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) and it should be discussed every other year.  During the sixtieth session, there was a decision to take this up in a plenary format during the sixty-second session.  So, that’s how we get to Monday’s meeting.

**Upcoming Event on Millennium Development Goals

And finally the big event for next week.  We have materials on this and that’s the so-called MDG thematic debate.  The United Nations General Assembly will hold a special two-day debate on 1-2 April on, and this is the title, “Recognizing the achievements, addressing the challenges and getting back on track to achieve the MDGs by 2015”.  The debate will concentrate on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating malaria and other diseases.

As General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim notes, “The poverty, education and health Goals are the areas where progress is most urgently required and where experience suggests that positive results have a catalytic effect on the other Goals”.  So, that’s why those three areas are singled out.

Please note that on 1 April following the keynote speeches and introductory statements, three panel discussions will take place on the three areas and then the next day, from 2 April onwards, the format will be the classic UN General Assembly meeting of Member States making statements on those issues.  As regards participation, let me note that so far we have close to 100 Member States inscribed on the speakers’ list.  We have 11 ministers and nine vice-ministers amongst them.  I will have a list of speakers probably for you by Monday.

Two things related to the MDG event.  One is that, on Tuesday, at 12:30, the noon guest for the noon briefing will be the President of the General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim, with entrepreneur Ted Turner.  Mr. Turner is also the keynote speaker at the luncheon on that day’s MDG event.  So 12:30, 1 April, it’s President Kerim and Ted Turner.  We have background information available for you.  As far as we know, it is expected that Mr. Turner will announce a new initiative to help eliminate malaria deaths in the next generations.

And to give you an idea of what the outcome of the MDG event is -- and I’m not revealing too much of a secret, that by mentioning to you that there were 100 speakers inscribed on the list that basically means that there’s a good chance that things will not finish on 2 April but will run into the  next day --  on 3 April, which is a Thursday if my memory does not fail me, at lunchtime we will have a press conference that will try to give you an idea of what the outcome of the MDG event is.

That’s all I have.  Whatever questions you may have I’ll try to answer.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Janos, do you have an update on the draft resolution submitted by Cuba and Egypt on behalf of the African Group on racism and xenophobia?  They submitted it on 19 March. 

Spokesperson:  19 March.  We talked about it.  I tried to get some information on this.  I’m still in the process of doing that so I’ll get back to you the moment I have something.  But I have definitely not heard of any scheduled meeting in the near future, in the next couple of days, as regards taking up this issue, if in fact it will be taken up by the Assembly.  [It was later clarified that the question related to a draft text submitted by Cuba and Egypt to the Human Rights Council that was meeting in Geneva.]

Question:  On this Fifth Committee, I came across a document, it’s like a one-page thing but it does put forward this $1.1 billion figure as the proposed add-on to the budget.  Of that, $100 million is special political missions; $184 million is additions to the Capital Master Plan.  I’m wondering, how much of this $1.1 billion is going to be voted on in this first session, what’s on the agenda?  You mentioned four items and I’m trying to figure how they fit with this.

Spokesperson:  What I tried to do -- and maybe I have even gone a bit beyond my cautious mandate just to help you out -– was to look at the Journal and mention that the formal session will be at 3 and, since the Journal lists five draft resolutions and only one of them is available now -- obviously by 3 o’clock all of them will be available -- plus who knows what other materials may be ready, because the Committee has been involved in intense informal consultations -- so what I tried to do, I tried to flag, as far as I know, based on information I was able to get from colleagues, what roughly those drafts focus on.  I don’t have any details as to what numbers are being tossed in there, what is going to be decided, what not.  Let’s wait and see until actual action is taken because, even if we single out some of these drafts and they have some numbers, they are still drafts.  Let’s find out what the actual decisions are first and then we’ll have an idea of what numbers, what additional figures, or dollars and cents, are added to the budget.

Question:  One question, on the Committee’s website, they list the four items but the links don’t work.  I guess the document has a number, but it doesn’t exist yet?

Spokesperson:  That’s exactly it, that’s why I tried to help you because I looked at the electronic version of the Journal, which also has links to those five, but only one of them, the one out on the racks on the Joint Inspection Unit draft, that’s out there.  The rest I was not able to access.  That’s why I asked colleagues to give me an idea of what at least the topics are of those drafts so I could give you some directions.

Question:  Can I just ask one general question?  If, hours before they vote on these things, we don’t have the documents, do the people voting have the documents now or do they just vote on them when they get them?  How does it work?

Spokesperson:  I would assume that within the informal consultations, if we have these drafts listed, I have the feeling that probably those drafts have been worked on.  Otherwise these would not be here.  But obviously, the way things work is, once you have a formal session, then there is some text that Member States will be taking action on.  So by latest then, when the action is taken, they should have something in writing.

Question:  Janos, do you know when the General Assembly will discuss the new UN agency for women?

Spokesperson:  I am not aware of this.

Question:  According to Rachel Mayanja, the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, she said that it is on the agenda of the GA, but we don’t know yet when they are actually going to talk about the new possible agency for women.

Spokesperson:  I don’t have any information on that.  I have not heard in our discussions any dates or anything about this issue. 

Question:  Can you ask about that?

Spokesperson:  I can check, but, as I said, if it’s not yet slated for any upcoming date, then I don’t know.

Question:  So where does she get that information?  She’s an Under-Secretary-General.

Spokesperson:  Sure.  Then you should approach her and find out on what basis or where she got her information.  I will look and find out from the General Assembly perspective and from the Office of the President, whether the Office has been approached, whether General Assembly Affairs have been approached on this issue and where things stand.  No problem.  Okay.  I’ll make a note of that.

Any other questions?  If not, then have a great weekend.

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