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

24 April 2008

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

24 April 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 Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

**Secretary-General in Côte d’Ivoire

The Secretary-General is continuing his meetings with all the main political actors in Côte d’Ivoire today.  In the morning, he held meetings with the Ivorian Foreign Minister, political party leaders, civil society representatives and the President of the Independent Electoral Commission, and he later went on to look at the work being done by the UN peacekeeping mission there.

The Secretary-General also presided over the signing of a Code of Good Conduct by the country’s political parties for the November elections.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General met separately with Prime Minister Guillaume Soro and President Laurent Gbagbo, and he spoke to the press following each of those meetings.

He said that he had encouraged the Prime Minister to continue with his efforts to maintain the peace process in collaboration with the President and the other political actors.  And, after his meeting with President Gbagbo, he said that he was encouraged that the Côte d'Ivoire Government has cleared all arrears with the World Bank and regained the trust and confidence of international financial institutions.

In addition, the Secretary-General signed an agreement with the Prime Minister and the donor community, in which donors pledged 27 million euros towards the next phase of the peace process.

**Security Council

The Security Council this morning heard a briefing in closed consultations from Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium, the Chair of the Sanctions Committee dealing with Al-Qaida and the Taliban, who reviewed the compliance of States with the sanctions regime.

This afternoon, at 3:45, the Council will hold consultations on the Sudan, to discuss the Secretary-General’s latest report on the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS).  That follows a briefing to troop contributing countries for the Sudan Mission.  Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno is expected to brief the Council and troop contributors.

In that report, the Secretary-General says he is pleased by the parties’ sustained commitment to work together in the Government of National Unity and to overcome differences and tensions through dialogue.

At the same time, he says, he remains concerned that tangible progress in certain key areas of implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) should underpin that partnership.

The recent clashes and tensions in the Abyei area represent a potential threat, he said, and urged the parties to summon the political will to address difficult outstanding issues, particularly the status of Abyei and the disputed 1 January 1956 border.  Further delay in resolving those issues may complicate the situation and lead to unintended conflict.

The Secretary-General says relatively minor amendments are required to enable the UN Mission in the Sudan to maximize its support to the parties and its contribution to the next phase of implementation of CPA.

Among them, he recommends that, in its renewal of the Mission’s mandate, the Council authorizes UNMIS to provide technical and logistical support to the border demarcation process, as requested by the parties, and to monitor, within existing capacity, the activities of Lord’s Resistance Army elements in southern Sudan that may have implications for the security of UNMIS and other mandated activities.

And this report came out yesterday and is being discussed this afternoon.

** Darfur

The World Food Programme (WFP) announced today the killing of a truck driver transporting vital food relief to Darfur, the second such killing in two months.

WFP truck convoys are currently delivering only half as much food to Darfur as is needed, because banditry has slowed the turnaround time for trucks.

Only 900 metric tons a day are arriving at WFP warehouses, when deliveries should be 1,800 metric tons a day.  As announced on 17 April, due to the increased banditry, WFP will be forced to cut the monthly ration in Darfur by 42 per cent of its kilocalorie value.

And you can read more about this in a press release issued by WFP today.

** Haiti

The Secretary-General has written to more than a dozen key Member States, asking for their urgent assistance in addressing the situation in Haiti, following the rapid deterioration in socio-economic circumstances there.  He noted that the rise in the prices of certain staple commodities had led to increased popular frustration, which found expression in a number of demonstrations, some violent, earlier this month.

It is the Secretary-General’s view that Haiti is making significant progress towards political, economic and social stability and that it is crucial to avoid backsliding, which could unravel the many gains achieved over the past four years.  The UN system will do everything in its capacity to assist Haiti, but real progress will also require urgent support from donors, including in-kind contributions and funds to help fill short-term needs and the requirements of ongoing programmes.

** Somalia

Turning to Somalia, Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes says there has been an increasing trend of indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against civilians by all parties to the conflict, in contravention of international humanitarian law. 

Holmes notes that “combatants appear to have little regard for the safety of civilians in Mogadishu, where residents have been traumatized by years of violence”.  He particularly noted last weekend’s violence, in which heavy artillery was used in residential areas and scores of civilians reportedly died. 

Such violence has hindered the delivery of relief aid, both to those who remain in the city and the hundreds of thousands who have sought refuge elsewhere, he noted.  He’s calling on all parties to protect civilians and respect international law.

And there is more information on this upstairs.

**International Labour Organization (ILO)

According to a new report by the International Labour Organization, 2.2 million people throughout the world die annually from work-related accidents and diseases.  In addition, work-related deaths appear to be on the rise.

Moreover, each year an estimated 270 million people suffer non-fatal, work-related accidents resulting in at least three days’ absence from work.  An additional 160 million people suffer from some work-related illness.

You can read more about this upstairs in a press release by ILO.

**United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

UNICEF has expressed concern that world food price increases are having negative social and economic impacts, especially in poorer countries.

For its part, the agency is closely monitoring the nutrition situation and the impact of the price increases on children and women.

According to UNICEF, the most urgent priority is to help children who are already malnourished and prevent the nutrition situation of affected populations from worsening.

And there is more information upstairs from UNICEF on this.

**Staff Day

Tomorrow is Staff Day, and it will begin with a brief ceremony to remember our colleagues who died in the service of the UN since the last Staff Day.

The ceremony will be held tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. at the UN Flagpole on the Visitors' Plaza, or in the General Assembly Visitors' Lobby in case of rain.  The Deputy Secretary-General will make brief remarks, and the names of all the civilian and military personnel who have fallen in the service of the Organization since the last Staff Day will be read out –- 293, at last count.

**Guests at Noon Tomorrow

The guests tomorrow will be Ray Chambers, newly-appointed UN Special Envoy for Malaria, and Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).  Tomorrow is World Malaria Day, and to mark the occasion, they will be speaking about a bold but achievable vision for universal coverage of essential malaria control measures in Africa by 31 December 2010.

And that is what I have for you.  Janos is here.  Anything for me?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I know I have asked earlier whether or not the Secretary-General received a letter from the Iranian Foreign Minister, and I just wanted to follow up.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I had answered your question.  No.

Question:  Simply you didn’t mention at all, which is ongoing UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] operations in Lebanon.  I got a report two days ago, Tuesday, a reprint from an article in an Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, from a day or two before, which reported an incident that had taken place a week or two earlier between UNIFIL and a Hizbullah truck filled with arms, which was stopped by UNIFIL and the driver or the escorts of this truck pulled their weapons on the UNIFIL personnel and the UNIFIL personnel thereafter simply retired and did not in any way further oppose this shipment.  Do you have, or can you get information on this report, or shall I deal directly with the UNIFIL press office?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I believe we have something on this.  In rushing down, I didn’t bring all my back-up material.  Maybe, if my Office is listening, we can bring it down and I can read it to you.

Question:  On Somalia, there is this report talking about killing of people while praying in a mosque in Somalia.  Over 21 were killed yesterday, and Ethiopia denied this report.  I was wondering if there was any action here regarding this report or not.  And also, you mentioned that John Holmes had called for all parties to protect civilians.  Can you say which parties he is calling on -– the Ethiopian troops, or the Transitional Government, or…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have anything on that.  On John Holmes’ remarks, we have what he said upstairs, but I think that, when he refers to all parties, that is what he refers to:  all parties.

Question:  Regarding the food shipments from humanitarian agencies to Gaza being completely halted or partly delivered, and future deliveries being cancelled:  what is being done to get fuel –- I guess the problem is to get fuel for delivery trucks –- is there anything being done?

Deputy Spokesperson:  As you know, when the Secretariat briefed the Security Council yesterday, Angela Kane, as the senior political UN official, did brief the Security Council on the impact of these shortages on the ground, and I refer you to the remarks that she made.  As for reports that you are reading about activities today, I’d like you to be in touch with UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] directly.  I tried to talk to them immediately before I came here, and I was still trying to find out exactly what was going on.  So, I’d rather you go directly to them, because they are the ones who are working around the clock trying to get desperately needed food aid to some 650,000Palestinian refugees on the ground.

Question:  They have cancelled the shipments…

Deputy Spokesperson:  I understand, from talking to them right before I came down, that as of this evening, they had to stop deliveries because of the lack of fuel.

Question:  Since 1993, when the United States withdrew its peacekeeping force from Somalia, the United Nations has not gotten involved in any sort of thing, despite the fact that Somalia is being totally undermined and is being overrun by all kinds of warlords and so do you think it is time that the Secretary-General should take it upon himself to ask the Security Council to re-think and send a mission to Somalia in order to somehow stabilize this country, in which [inaudible]?

Deputy Spokesperson:  If the Security Council wants to send a mission to Somalia, that is up to the Security Council.  As for the Secretary-General’s views on Somalia, I refer you to his most recent report, which outlines a number of areas in which he makes recommendations on how to bring about progress in Somalia.  The UN, as you know, is active on the political front and on the humanitarian front.  It is the peacekeeping front that you are talking about, and that is something that is being actively debated right now in the Security Council.

Question:  Whatever the Secretary-General wants, he can ask the Security Council to look at this and reach a decision more urgently than ever before.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I recommend that you read his last report.  I think that outlines very clearly the urgent needs that Somalia has.

Question:  Is Mr. Holmes going to come here to speak about Somalia?

Deputy Spokesperson:  We can ask him.

Question:  There is a report that a Slovak diplomat, Miroslav Jenca, is going to head the Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Turkmenistan.  Can you confirm that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, I can’t confirm an appointment.  I saw the reports just like you did.  But the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) did announce late last year that the office had been set up.

Question:  And in that process, was the procedure sort of a short-list…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  We have nothing to announce on this.  All I can say is that we have an office there.

Question:  There has been a ruling by a court in the United Kingdom that the Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions can’t be or won’t be enforced in the United Kingdom, because they don’t allow due process to the people charged under them.  That is an issue that even the European Court of Justice has criticized these sanctions.  What does the UN say about these sanctions that can’t actually be implemented?

Deputy Spokesperson:  You should probably talk to the members of the Sanctions Committee.  All 15 members of this Sanctions Committee met this morning precisely on the subject of the sanctions against Al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Question:  I wanted to ask a follow-up question about something that happened earlier in the week, where this Committee on Relations with the Host Government, there was a blockage from attending.  There was actually an employee of the Office of Legal Affairs of the Secretariat who maintained that it was a closed meeting.  I want to get to the bottom of this, because I have now been told that it was an open meeting.  What is the Secretariat’s position…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I am going to stop you, because Janos is going to give you the whole story on that for you.

Question:  I just wanted to be sure to ask you, because there is an OLA piece of it.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Let Janos answer this question.

On the question about Lebanon:

On the night of 30 and 31 March, a UNIFIL patrol observed a suspicious pickup truck that was towing a trailer in the western sector of our area of operation.  When the patrol started following the pickup truck it was blocked by two other vehicles with five armed persons.  The patrol challenged the armed elements, who left the area after some three minutes before a positive identification could be made.  The Lebanese Army was notified and immediately responded to the location, but efforts to locate the perpetrators were unsuccessful.

Whereas the circumstances of the incident are under investigation, the presence of armed elements in the area of operations constitutes a flagrant violation of Security Council resolution 1701 and the infringement of UNIFIL’s freedom of movement.

UNIFIL has asked the Lebanese authorities to take expedited action to identify the perpetrators of this violation and ensure that this does not happen again, as it is incumbent on them to ensure security for the area.

With the prevention of such incidents in mind, UNIFIL has intensified the coordinated operations with the Lebanese Army and augmented security control at crossing points along the Litani River.

Sorry, I did not have that earlier.

Question:  First, is it possible to get a copy of that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Sure.

Question:  This is a totally unrelated question.  With reference to these trucks in Gaza that can’t get fuel.  Let me try to understand this correctly.  There are trucks that are supposed to come from Israel across the border through one of the crossing points into Gaza, and these trucks can’t get fuel or gas to put in their tanks to drive across the border?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t know the exact logistics.  I think I will refer you to UNRWA, because they are the ones who logistically operate these trucks.

Question:  If I may just finish this.  If the trucks are coming from Israel loaded, are you trying to tell me that UNRWA trucks will not be served by Israeli gas stations or fuel depots or…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I didn’t say anything.  I was asked a question:  has UNRWA suspended aid?  And my answer was:  I just spoke to UNRWA and they just told me that yes, as of this evening.  For further logistic details, we’ll have to talk to UNRWA, because they are the ones who operate the fleet.

Question:  Regarding Lebanon, what you have just read does not say that the suspicious truck belongs to Hizbullah, right?

Deputy Spokesperson:  You are free to look at this update that we have.

Question:  Do you have any English version of the Secretary-General’s speech in Côte d’Ivoire, because we keep getting the French version.  The English version would be helpful.

Deputy Spokesperson:  It is a French-speaking country, and French is a working language.  If he is delivering it in French over there, unless they are translating it over there, which I can check for you, the first language it is coming in is French.

Question:  There is this letter that has become public by Vijay Nambiar, a 31 March letter, and it is not clear whom it is addressed to, telling people to henceforth put in writing, call him Secretary-General BAN with a capital B-A-N, and not call him Ki-moon.  Somehow there has been some confusion about what his name is.  This letter has now been put in New York Magazine.  Are you aware of this letter?  Is the press being asked to change any way as they refer to…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t think so.

Question:  Who is that letter sent to?  It says, “Dear colleague, I address you on a matter of some delicacy” and it has a number of paragraphs on this very issue.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I am not familiar with what you are discussing.

Question:  Hizbullah right now is denying the UNIFIL incident that you just mentioned.  Is there any reaction to that, or the fact that they are launching an attack on resolution 1559?

Deputy Spokesperson:  What I gave in response to the question is what I have here.  You are free to pick that up.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon.

**General Assembly President’s Visit to Kazakhstan

General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim is on an official visit in Kazakhstan.  This morning he met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev and also delivered one of the keynote opening statements to the Eurasian Media Forum in Almaty.

With President Nazarbayev, the discussion focused on regional issues, on UN-Kazakh relations and also on the key topics of the current General Assembly session.  In addition, the topic of inter-religious dialogue was discussed in connection with the fact that Kazakhstan was the host of the first and second Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in 2003 and 2006.  Kazakhstan is also a member of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations and a regular co-sponsor of an annual General Assembly resolution on “promotion of inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace”.

In his statement to the Eurasian Media Forum, President Kerim stressed that, in order to take full advantage of the opportunities globalization offered and to overcome the challenges we face, we had to ensure that all States work together responsibly and in solidarity with international institutions, as well as with civil society, the private sector and the media.

He added that we had to continue to promote democracy and development as the principle basis of the multilateral system while ensuring that everyone has a stake in the benefits.  He noted that the media contributed to the process of democratization -- by asking difficult questions, providing access to information and representing all views impartially, and it also had a particularly important role to strengthen the rule of law and promote institutional building.

Later in the evening, he will travel to the capital, Astana, where tomorrow he will meet with parliamentary leaders and members of the UN country team.

President Kerim travelled to Kazakhstan following his visit to Turkmenistan, which he wrapped up on Tuesday with a meeting with UN officials and a visit to the new UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia.  During a round table meeting with Turkmen officials at the Centre, the President noted that the establishment of the Centre was an excellent example of how a group of Member States from a particular region could pool their resources together and work with each other through the United Nations to address regional challenges.

He added that the establishment of the Centre is a concrete step in preventive diplomacy.  He also expressed the hope that the work of the Centre might serve as further boost and example for other Member States to take collective action on a regional as well as global level in preventive diplomacy.

The President will be back at Headquarters on Monday.

**Administration of Justice

The Ad Hoc Committee on Administration of Justice –- established by the Sixth Committee (Legal) of the General Assembly and began its session on 10 April -– is going to wrap up its work today.

In the report it is to adopt on its work, the Committee is expected to recommend to the Sixth Committee to establish a working group during the sixty-third session of the General Assembly in the fall to finalize the legal issues related to the new proposed system, including the draft statutes of the two tribunals envisaged by the system, the dispute tribunal and the appeals tribunal -– bearing in mind that the General Assembly decided to set up the new system by 1 January 2009 (resolution 61/261).

The Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee is also expected to send a letter to the Chair of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) informing him of where things stand on the legal side -– because as you may remember, the Fifth Committee is dealing with the administrative and budgetary aspects of the new administration of the justice system.

**Fifth Committee

On the Fifth Committee:  let me mention that on the Committee website you can already find the tentative and provisional programme of work for the second part of the resumed session, which starts on 5 May and runs for four weeks.  Please note the programme is tentative and provisional.  It will be approved by the Member States on 5 May when they meet.

According to this tentative programme, the administration of justice is expected to come up on 21 May.  The website also has the status of documentation for the session.

Please note that the second part of the resumed session is largely devoted to budgetary and administrative issues related to peacekeeping missions.  And this is based on a resolution taken by the forty-ninth session of the Assembly, resolution 49/233, which establishes the budget cycle for peacekeeping missions to run from 1 July to 30 June.

**General Assembly Website

Let me also draw your attention to another website addition.  On the home page of the General assembly (www.un.org/ga), you will find a link to background information just posted on the elections for the membership of the Human Rights Council.  The election of the 15 members will be on 21 May, and the site gives you the current composition of the Council, the list of the outgoing countries and also the list of those Member States that have openly expressed their candidature.

**Committee on Relations with the Host Country

Finally, on something that came up on Tuesday, and actually Michèle was asked about it –- the meeting of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country.

I have a statement of clarification by the Chairman of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis, regarding attendance by the press at meetings of the Committee.

It reads as follows:

It has been the long-standing practice of the Host Country Committee, given the nature of its work where frank exchanges are had between representatives and often sensitive information is provided, that the press and members of the public are not permitted to attend.  DPI staff, who are of course members of the Secretariat, do provide a summary.  The reason why we do not indicate in the Journal that the meeting is closed is due to the varying interpretations of that word.  In this regard, it is within the authority of the Chairman under the guidance of the Committee to call a meeting closed to the public and press.

Meetings of the Host Country Committee, in addition to the members of the Committee, are also open to any other delegation of a Member State that wishes to attend as an observer.  At the beginning of the meeting, the Chairman indicates to the Committee those delegations that have signalled their wish to attend as observers and seeks the Committee's approval to admit them to the meeting.  He also seeks the Committee's approval, in the interest of efficiency, to agree to the participation of delegates of other Member States that arrive later during the meeting’s deliberations without interrupting the deliberations to individually decide on their participation.

The Committee has not received any formal requests by the press to attend.  It is, however, possible that members of the press have in the past entered the meeting room without the Committee's knowledge.  In order to avoid any doubt, at future meetings of the Committee, the Chairman will make a statement when opening the meeting that the meeting is not open to members of the press or the public.

That’s the end of the statement.

Let me once again stress, as we have said in the past so many times:  it is always up to the Member States to decide how they want to conduct their business.  And in this regard, let me also say that DPI and OLA have no substantive role:  DPI just simply provides the summary press release and OLA provides Secretariat services to the Committee by having one of its staff members function as the Secretary of the Committee, but serving under the full authority of the Chair.

That is all I have on this matter, and that is all I have for you today, and I am open to questions.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I want to ask you about what you just read out.  First, the transcript of the Tuesday briefing includes a notation that the correspondents were later told that the meeting was open.  So that is not true.  What was the basis of that?

Spokesperson:  Where, which…

Question:  On Tuesday, I asked about the exclusion and it was put into the transcript afterwards, I guess by the Spokesperson’s Office, that in fact they enquired and were told that the meeting was open.  That is what it says.

Spokesperson:  This is the clarification…

Question:  So the answer given Tuesday is no longer the case.

Spokesperson:  This is why we have the clarification.  Anything further on that, I think you should check with the Chair.

Question:  I wasn’t aware until now that the DPI press releases that were put out on meetings, that they are explicitly not complete, i.e. that they have been asked that… the press release is essentially filtered information of what the UN wants to get out.  Is there some way to mark press releases as “this is an accurate and full description of the meeting” and “this is a partial, filtered version of the meeting”.  Because what you just said is:  DPI writes it up, but they don’t include any “sensitive” information.  Is that the case with all DPI press releases?  How do we know when DPI is telling the whole truth and when it is telling half the truth?

Spokesperson:  First of all, on this issue of the Committee.  What we have here is a summary press release.  You usually have two kinds of press releases, if my memory serves me correctly.  One which tends to be a more or less speaker-by-speaker run-down of a meeting.  And then you have this version, where you have a summary of the issues happened and discussed.  Both are accurate and both serve, not as an official document, but simply as an orientation, as an information tool for you.  And you and any one of you are perfectly welcome to follow up on additional information from any of the Members speaking or from us as spokespeople.  So I don’t agree that you have filtered press releases or vetted press releases or whatever.

Question:  In the statement that you read, you said that the independent press cannot attend the meeting, because it is so sensitive.  But DPI can attend the meeting and produce a press release not including the sensitive information.

Spokesperson:  DPI can attend simply to give a summary of what happened, so that it gives you an orientation of what went down.  But as I said, as regards all the details on this clarification, please follow up…

Question:  Does the Chairman review the press release before it is made public to make sure that it doesn’t include the sensitive information.  How do people know what is too sensitive for the press to see?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know whether the Chairperson reviews the press release, but this is again something you can take up with the Ambassador and see whether he does that.

Question:  Mr. Kerim, given what he said about transparency and openness at the opening of the Assembly, does he agree with the decision that meetings of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country should be -– I attended a number of them…

Spokesperson:  Yes, he has talked about openness and transparency and making it available as much as possible to the press.  But at the same time, he is under the guidance of the Member States.  If you have a Committee meeting with Member States deciding and expressing the wish –- in this case through the Chair –- that they would rather have a meeting closed, or still closed, but partial information provided through a press release, that is the way things go.  And you had that also with the President, for example, when one of the first things that in fact came up with regard to transparency –- open and closed meetings –- is when the General Committee met at the very beginning of the sixty-second session.  Again, that was one of those issues where this same question that you just asked was asked.  And that is the answer we have.  As much as possible, yes, but it is something that is ultimately decided by the Member States.  But as I have said so many times:  the ultimate decision on all of these issues are always held in an open meeting of the General Assembly plenary, when the final decisions are taken on issues, whether it is on the report of the Committee on Host Country Relations or any other committees.  There is an ultimate transparency there.

Question:  Has the budget been finalized for the “second Durban Conference” as well as the location?  Is there any information on that?

Spokesperson:  No, because as you remember, in the decision taken on the programme budget implications relating to the preparatory work of Durban II, the way it reads is that, once decisions are taken on the preparatory process, then the budgetary implications have to be decided and concrete numbers and figures have to be given.  And then that goes to the Fifth Committee and Member States will have to decide there.  And through the Fifth Committee of course the General Assembly.

Question:  As you know, there is a preparatory conference in Geneva this week for the so-called Durban II Conference [inaudible] not yet established.  Would it be reasonable to expect that venue will be established by the end of this preparatory conference?  Can we get proceedings of the preparatory conference up at the documents counter?

Spokesperson:  I’ll look into that and check with Michèle’s Office on that aspect.  And as regards the expectations, that is, you know, I have no concrete grasp on that.  I mean, that is hypothetical.

Question:  Can we get a specific… The Chairperson was referring to a long-standing did you say precedent?  Is there a specific document he is referring to?  Because this can have a chilling effect, when we find out that we have been honoured guests of these Committee meetings and then all of them [inaudible].  Can we get a specific document or precedent?

Spokesperson:  As I said, since this is a clarification from the Chairperson, I would beg you to follow up with the Chairperson himself.

Question:  Could he be a guest at noon?  Is there some formal way we could actually have an answer to these questions?

Spokesperson:  I’ll certainly convey that, and we’ll see where it goes.

Okay, thank you very much and goodbye.

* *** *

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