Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

23 December 2009

Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

23 December 2009
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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon.  Welcome to the noon briefing.

I see that Jean Victor is here, and we look forward to his update on the General Assembly’s activities at the end of this briefing.

**Security Council

This morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution imposing sanctions on Eritrea.  The text bans weapons sales to and from the country and imposes travel restrictions on the country’s political and military leadership.  It also freezes their assets.

The Security Council also adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) until 31 May 2010.  The text also requests the Secretary-General to conduct a strategic review of the situation in the country and of the Mission’s progress towards achieving its mandate.  Council members are now holding consultations on Guinea.

**Appointment of Deputy Special Representative for MONUC

The Secretary-General today announced the appointment of Fidele Sarassoro of Côte d’Ivoire as his Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He will also serve as United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator.  He succeeds Ross Mountain of New Zealand.  The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. Mountain for his excellent leadership and dedicated humanitarian service, and for his contribution to improved coordination of the United Nations system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Since 2006, Mr. Sarassoro has served as United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative in Ethiopia, where he spearheaded the establishment of a high-level coordination mechanism to address access and humanitarian delivery issues.

**Appointment of Deputy Special Representative for UNAMI

Also today, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Jerzy Skuratowicz of Poland as his Deputy Special Representative for Iraq.  Mr. Skuratowicz will head the political, electoral and constitutional support component of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).   He will replace Andrew Gilmour, who has taken up a new appointment as the Head of the Office in Belgrade.  The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. Gilmour for his dedicated service and commitment to assisting the people of Iraq.

And Mr. Skuratowicz currently serves as the Deputy Regional Director ad interim for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Africa Subregional Office for Western and Central Africa.  And again, we have more information on both of these appointments available in my office.

**Secretary-General’s Vacation -- Follow-Up

Just a quick follow-up to come back to the question about the Secretary-General’s holiday plans.  I checked with him this morning, and my hunch was right.  He will be taking some rest over this coming long weekend.  He’ll be at home here in New York with some of his family, and he’ll be back at work on Monday.

So that’s what I have for you.  What do you have for me?  Questions, please.  Matthew.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure, I have a question about the Congo.  It involves… There was an incident in 2008, when the Security Council visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which a UN security officer fired his gun inside the plane and made a hole in it and the ambassadors ended up going by bus to Kigali.  I guess I’d like you to, you know, confirm that in fact the security officer who fired the gun was in fact given, since he has been promoted and is now chief of office for SRSG Alan Doss.  Some are saying it’s sort of a lack of follow-through.  His [inaudible] name is Jerry Bacelli, and this is something that we’d like you to either confirm or say that it’s not the case.

Spokesperson:  Not right here and now, but we’ll find out.  Do you have other questions?  Anybody else?

Question:  Can you say… There was a press release put out of your office about UNOCI in [ Côte d’Ivoire], saying that they had discovered some form of sexual abuse and exploitation and took it most seriously.  Is it… I wasn’t… It’s unclear to me, it’s sort of… It’s a press release without… Very abstract.  What did they find and what steps are they taking?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have the full details on that.  I’d refer you back to what we’ve already said and I’ll see if I can get some more on that for you.  I don’t have that with me right now.  Sorry about that.  Yes, try again.

Correspondent:  Okay.

Spokesperson:  I think you have another question, I’m pretty sure you do.

Question:  Okay, I do.  No, actually, then I will if I get your drift.  It’s… I wanted to… I guess, and it’s something that maybe you’ll have an answer on later today, but some are saying that in yesterday’s reception at the Secretary-General’s residence that there was an unauthorized attendee, and that the personal secretary to the Secretary-General, you know, was aware of this and for some reason it was waived.  I wanted to know both what the procedures are, given, in light of the event at the White House at the State dinner for India, what are the relevant procedures at the UN for such things, and is it in fact the case that an unauthorized attendee attended, and what will be done about it?

Spokesperson:  Yes, you mentioned this as we were passing in the corridor just now.  I don’t have an immediate answer for you on this specific incident.  And also, in more general terms, I would not wish to go into details about security arrangements.  That’s clearly not appropriate, but I can just assure you that the security detail for the Secretary-General is extremely rigorous and they work extremely hard for the Secretary-General’s safety.  That’s put in a general context, and the more specific question you’ve raised, I’ll see what I can find out.  It’s not something that I was aware of.

[The Spokesperson later confirmed that there was no security breach at the Secretary-General’s residence.]

Okay, I think that sounds like it’s it.  So, Jean Victor?

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Thank you, Martin.  Good afternoon.

As stated yesterday by President Treki, the General Assembly is close to completing its programme of work for the first quarter.  The plenary schedule has been completed.  Out of six Main Committees, only the Fifth (Administrative and Budgetary) continues to work on one outstanding issue.  Indeed, all issues related to the budget have been finalized.  The major outstanding issue is the scale of assessments for the apportionment of expenses on which there are different positions.

President Treki has been engaged since yesterday with the Committee Chair.  President Treki is in contact with all sides.  Negotiations are still ongoing.  President Treki is engaged with all the stakeholders to facilitate an agreement.  This is a top priority for the President of the General Assembly.  He would like to make sure that a budget is approved.

Some among you have requested a briefing on these matters.  We will organize such a briefing tomorrow morning.  Arrangements will be communicated to you in due course.  Questions?  Yes, Matthew.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Because there seems to be two different scales of assessments.  There is the general one and then the peacekeeping one.  Are you saying that both of them are still in play?

Spokesperson:  Indeed, both.

Question:  And can you, I guess, confirm or comment on the peacekeeping one?  The issue seems to be the request by two countries, Bahrain and Bermuda, to be removed from category B to C, in which they pay less.  If so, what is the, given the President’s involvement, does he think that that’s a reasonable request?  How would he like to see that resolved?

Spokesperson:  As we speak, negotiations are ongoing.  This is a very sensitive moment, so I wouldn’t like to go into these details.  Let us allow all the stakeholders to remain engaged in the process, and President Treki really wants to make sure that by the end of the day, hopefully, we have a budget secured.  So maybe we should just leave it there for the time being.

Question:  Not to pick one more out of it, but by saying that those are the only two outstanding items, are you saying that the special political missions, including in Afghanistan, and the security budget requests by the Secretariat, those have all being agreed to?

Spokesperson:  I would just like to put all that under one main umbrella of outstanding item, which is the question of the scale of assessments comprising both apportionment to the United Nations and peacekeeping.

Correspondent:  Okay.

Spokesperson:  Thank you.  Bye bye.

* *** *

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