Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
|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 everybody. Welcome to the noon briefing. And Jean Victor will brief after me, on the General Assembly.
**Secretary-General’s Statement on Budget
I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the adoption of the programme budget for the biennium of 2010-2011:
The Secretary-General would like to express his appreciation to Member States for the approval of the programme budget of $5,156 million for the biennium 2010-2011.
The Secretary-General would like to thank Ambassador Peter Maurer, Chairman of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), for steering the discussions. He also expresses his thanks to the Vice-Chairmen, the Bureau members, the Rapporteur, the Coordinators and the Fifth Committee delegates for their hard and dedicated work during this session. This demonstrates the commitment of Member States to the financial well-being of the Organization.
The Secretary-General also wishes to state his commitment to utilize the resources made available to the Organization in the most effective and efficient way. He wishes to work with all Member States in full partnership and through a transparent process during the upcoming biennium with a view to jointly realizing the important goals of this Organization.
The Secretary-General is gratified to note that the scales of assessment for both the regular budget and peacekeeping operations for 2010-2012 have been decided.
[The Spokesperson later added that the Secretary-General would like to thank H.E. Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, President of the General Assembly, for his leadership during this session of the General Assembly.]
The Secretary-General is pleased that Israel has responded to UN requests to allow glass into Gaza for the repair of homes damaged during last year’s hostilities. He hopes that it will be followed by further imports of needed material for reconstruction. And I would add that there will be a statement from the Secretary-General on 27 December, on the anniversary of Cast Lead.
The Secretary-General has appointed Mr. Georg Charpentier of Finland as his Deputy Special Representative for Sudan and the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan. Mr. Charpentier will replace Ms. Ameerah Haq, who has been appointed the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste. The Secretary-General is grateful to Ms. Haq for her dedicated service during her tenure with the United Nations Mission in Sudan.
Mr. Charpentier has served with the United Nations since 1984 and his latest post was as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Côte d’Ivoire.
And also today, the Secretary-General appointed Jasbir Lidder of India as his Deputy Special Representative for Sudan. Mr. Lidder is a retired Lieutenant General who most recently served as the Commandant of an elite infantry school. And prior to this, he served for more than two years as the Force Commander to the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS). We have more information on both these appointments if you need them.
**Democratic Republic of Congo
The UN’s humanitarian chief, John Holmes, is calling for stronger measures to protect civilians vulnerable to attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Lord’s Resistance Army massacred hundreds of civilians in the DRC on Christmas Day last year.
Earlier this week, we flagged the report by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, which said that, between September 2008 and June 2009, the Lord’s Resistance Army fighters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo killed at least 1,200 civilians. And the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, just last week alone, 47 people died in three unconfirmed attacks.
Holmes said that the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army was increasingly a regional one and required efforts by the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring countries, and by the international community to be resolved once and for all.
** Thailand -- Hmong Refugees
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has appealed to the Government of Thailand to halt plans for the involuntary return of some 4,000 Lao Hmong to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Thailand has said it intends to expel the Lao Hmong before the end of 2009, under a bilateral agreement with Laos.
Guterres said that Thailand’s plans would not only endanger the protection of the refugees, but set a very grave international example. The return of any recognized refugees or other persons in need of international protection to their country of origin should be strictly voluntary. Guterres said that it’s the Thailand Government’s responsibility to ensure that this is respected. And we have more details in a press release in my Office.
Yesterday, the Secretary-General issued a statement in which he said that it was with great regret that he learned that Ann M. Veneman does not plan to pursue a second term as the Executive Director of UNICEF.
He said that she has fulfilled her mandate with immense dedication, and he had been impressed by her extraordinary energy and determination to improve children’s health, education and well-being around the world. Under her leadership, UNICEF has become a catalyst for global action to help children reach their full potential, promoting collaborations that deliver the best possible results for children based on expert knowledge, sound evidence and data.
She has been a champion of UN coherence and a strong voice for children, as well as implementation of Millennium Development Goals. Her legacy is an organization that is financially and intellectually strong and well equipped to meet the challenges children face in the twenty-first century.
On behalf of the United Nations, and personally too, the Secretary-General thanked her for her outstanding service and wished her all the best in her future endeavours.
**Conduct and Discipline Website Launch
The Department of Field Support is making publicly available the UN's aggregated data on misconduct in peacekeeping operations and special political missions, from 2007 to 2009.
This information, which is being provided through a new section on the UN's Conduct and Discipline Unit website, is in accordance with a General Assembly resolution. That resolution requests “the implementation of an effective outreach programme to explain the policy of the United Nations against sexual exploitation and abuse and to inform the public on the outcome of all such cases involving peacekeeping personnel, including cases where allegations are ultimately found to be legally unproven”.
This information can be accessed through the website of the Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU): http://cdu.unlb.org/ under “Statistics”. Please note that this is a first stage and a work in progress. The Department of Field Support says it will continue to work on improving the content of the page and welcomes any feedback.
The African Union–United Nations mission in Darfur, in collaboration with UNICEF, has extended its support to the organization of Sudan’s twenty-first National School Competition. This is a nationwide event that provides an opportunity for young people from all over Sudan to meet across ethnic groups, make friends, engage in dialogue and break stereotypes.
This is a two-week competition that begins on 31 December in the North Darfur capital, El Fasher, under the theme of “Peacebuilding and Reconciliation”. More than 7,000 secondary school students from all of Sudan’s 25 states will compete in a range of competitions being organized by Sudan’s Ministry of Education.
The mission has already loaned heavy machinery and engineers towards the construction of three roads and an accommodation camp for some of the students.
So, a little bit of housekeeping. This is the last scheduled briefing for this year, for 2009. There will be no noon briefing during the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and so the first scheduled briefing in 2010 will be 4 January. But, of course, my Office will be staffed every day and we will be putting out highlights of developments in the UN system at noon each day.
We don’t have a week ahead for you, as we usually do, but I can tell those of you who will be here where you can eat. As you know, there are some changes to the eating arrangements here, and we have all the details you can possibly hope to find in a note in our Office.
So that’s what I have for you. Do you have any questions? Yes, first question.
**Questions and Answers
Question: I have two questions. One is, a few weeks ago Ms. Veneman was supposed to attend a reception by the Chinese news agency before the cafeteria, and she did not show up, and someone told me that she had an accident. Can you confirm that? And second, the Secretary-General has been saying that the Copenhagen outcome on climate change was a success. Several news agencies, several NGOs are pretending the opposite, that it has been a failure. What is the UN doing specifically to convey the work of success, the message of success, to the world?
Spokesperson: On the first one, I think the best thing is if you speak to UNICEF about whether there was some kind of accident. I’m not aware of that. But on the second question, on climate change and the outcome of the Copenhagen agreement, you’ve heard the Secretary-General himself explain why he believes the Copenhagen meeting had a successful outcome, that the Copenhagen Accord was a first important step forward. You’ve heard him say that, you’ve heard Bob Orr, his Strategic Planning chief, give much more detail on that. I don’t think I need to elaborate much further, except to say that the United Nations remains fully engaged and will continue to be extremely active [the Secretary-General himself], to ensure that that beginning that the Secretary-General talked about, that very important beginning, is built upon going into the next year.
Question: That’s not the question I asked. We know that the Secretary-General has made a statement, that Mr. Orr gave the press conference. What’s DPI and other organizations doing to spread the message of success of the Conference?
Spokesperson: Well, the answer to the question is precisely what I’ve said: that the Secretary-General has been out there publicly talking, other officials have been out there publicly talking, and I think you will have seen a number of reports that mention those comments. In addition, the Department of Public Information has been working and has put out information that’s related to what happened in Copenhagen. I don’t think that that’s too difficult to envisage that they would be doing that. And going into next year in a very concrete fashion, I know that, in addition to the other priorities that are there, this will remain something that’s in the spotlight, the Secretary-General and others will be working on, will be talking about a lot. And just to wrap up on that particular topic, I think, as I mentioned, the Secretary-General is taking a couple of days’ rest. The next couple of days he will be back at work and then into the new year, in the second week of January, I think you can expect that he will be available to answer your questions. Yes.
Question: Martin, thank you. Just to refer to the statement you read about Israel allowing glass into Gaza, there was a statement issued a couple of days ago by 16 major human rights groups, including Oxfam and Amnesty, in which they basically said that the international community has not been doing enough to lift the siege on Gaza. I mean, I was wondering if the SG has any particular reaction to this charge by these human rights groups that you only get statements from international organizations and no action. And is the glass enough while there is no cement, no other building materials allowed by Israel?
Spokesperson: Well, to answer the second question first, plainly it is not enough and that’s why the Secretary-General has said that he is hoping that there will be further imports of the other materials that you need, along the lines of the materials that you’ve mentioned. The Secretary-General is aware of the reports that you’ve mentioned of different humanitarian organizations, NGOs that have criticized the international community for not doing enough. The Secretary-General has consistently called for the reconstruction efforts to begin and to be allowed to begin, and the Secretary-General has also been extremely active, and this most recent development, which is a step, an initial step, is an indication that he actually is working to try to make a difference.
Question: This glass shipment came through UN mediation; is this what you’re trying to tell me?
Spokesperson: Well, it’s a direct response to UN requests.
Question: And the fact that there’s only been 49 trucks, according to these human rights groups, throughout an entire year, only 49 trucks of cement were allowed into Gaza, I mean, what is the SG’s reaction to that?
Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General has been consistent throughout the year in calling for reconstruction efforts to be allowed to get under way properly. Yes.
Question: That’s a question I had asked earlier also [inaudible] I think… [inaudible] from the Secretary-General’s office about this harvesting of the organs of the young Palestinians on which lots of human rights groups have now expressed outrage and have asked for some, for the Israeli Government to look into it. Has the Secretary-General spoken to anybody yet at all about it as yet?
Spokesperson: These are media reports, and we’re aware of them, but there is no comment on that at the moment, okay?
Question: I mean, besides the media report, its Israeli Knesset members who have also pointed this out…
Spokesperson: As I said, we don’t have any comment on that at the moment. Please.
Question: Thank you. A private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater has had several cases, criminal cases allegedly, for allegedly killing Iraqi civilians. I’m wondering, does the UN have any involvement in these cases? And if not, what’s the latest on developments for… to security and, of course, helping the civilian population in Iraq?
Spokesperson: Well, that’s a very wide-ranging question. On the Blackwater part of it, I don’t have any information on that. I need to look into it. In the far broader question about the work of the UN in Iraq, as you know, the UN remains extremely active and is on the ground, is present. And perhaps what we need to do as soon as we can is to have someone from that Mission to brief you here. And I think that would be far more useful as a way to give you some insights into what’s happening on the ground. I’m going over this way first. Yes, Matthew.
Question: I wanted to ask, it’s just been announced that China has sentenced to death five additional Uighurs for involvement in a protest there in the summer. This comes on top of the returnees from Cambodia and there is also the trial of Liu Xiaobo. I’m just wondering, you know, I guess I asked the returnees, Amnesty International says that they should be, you know, charged or released, the trial should meet international standards and under no circumstances should the death penalty be imposed. I wonder if the Secretary-General agrees with that and whether he has anything to say about these increasing developments.
Spokesperson: You heard what I had to say already about the return of the Uighur [would-be] refugees. I don’t have anything to add to that at the moment. On the other parts of the question that you raise, I’ll see if I can get something for you. I don’t have anything now.
Question: I also wanted to ask you about… In Nepal, I previously asked you about this return of Colonel Basnet who was charged with torture. The army has now said that he will not be turned over to a civilian court, that he won’t be put on trial at all. They have also named Major General Singh who was charged by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with torture, as the number two in the army, leading me to ask, either has the Secretary-General any comment on this or whether the UN will continue… at what point does the UN, in terms of using peacekeepers, I understand that their position seems to be as long as they return somebody everything is fine, but if the army from which they’re receiving peacekeeping troops names a UN-accused torturer as the number two in the army, does that have any impact on the use of troops or does, do things continue unabated?
Spokesperson: There are a lot of questions packed in there and so I’ll try to unpack it if I can. The major you mentioned was repatriated from the UN Mission. He was sent back as soon as it became clear that there were these allegations or accusations or charges. He’s now back in Nepal. And as I’ve said here before, and others have also said, once the person has returned, it is a matter for the national Government, for, in this case, the Government of Nepal to handle. It is for them to deal with. On the question of the other appointee, that is not something that I can get into here.
Question: I’m sorry, and thanks for indulging me, I guess my question becomes, I mean, in Nepal there is a national commission on human rights which has said that he should be, this Major Basnet, should be put on trial. I mean, is the UN saying basically that it is an internal matter to countries and no matter how a military is run. I guess I’m just wondering, is there a point at which a military thumbing its nose not only at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but its own National Human Rights Commission, what are the standards for DPKO? Will they accept soldiers from any military in the world or what standards do they apply? Or is it purely an internal matter how a military runs itself?
Spokesperson: Well, first of all it’s clearly, it’s… a national Government is responsible for national armed forces. DPKO has extremely stringent requirements for receiving troops, as you know, and there have been answers to questions that you and others have put to Under-Secretary-General [Alain] Le Roy and others about the way that the troops are brought into peacekeeping operations. I think I would refer you to DPKO for a more detailed answer on that. I cannot give that to you here.
Question: Just one related question: I’m sorry, they’re all kind of interconnected. It has to do with, because it goes to this matter of vetting. It’s just been announced that Sri Lanka is sending 700 more peacekeepers to MINUSTAH in Haiti, and given that the UN itself has raised credible, or said that there is credible reason to believe that there were war crimes committed in the recent conflict in Sri Lanka, what vetting would DPKO do of the 700 soldiers that are sent? Would it ask where they served and what they did? Or is there no connection between these two [inaudible]? It’s also been said in Sri Lanka that the former military head, [Sarath] Fonseka,may be prosecuted for having said that those seeking to surrender were shot, and I’m wondering whether the Secretary-General, who said he is concerned about political openness, has any, is monitoring that and has any comment on the number two presidential candidate being threatened with legal prosecution.
Spokesperson: Well, it would really help me if you gave me short, clear questions that I can answer, because this was rather long and it’s difficult for me to unravel exactly what your point is.
Question: [inaudible] peacekeepers and Fonseka. The question is, is DPKO going to vet the 700 new peacekeepers who are coming for participation in war crimes? And does the SG have any comment on the number two presidential candidate being threatened with legal prosecution?
Spokesperson: Okay, so, on the first one, again I would need to find out more details from DPKO because I do not know that. And on the second one, that’s not something that we can comment on. Okay. Just trying to see if there’s any people who haven’t asked questions who would like to ask a question. But that’s not the case, so, Masood, you again.
Question: On Afghanistan, I want to [inaudible] that [President Hamid] Karzai has got his new Cabinet [inaudible] going, [inaudible] whether Mr. Kai Eide and the United Nations asked [inaudible] in view of the fact that those charges of corruption are still there [inaudible] at this point in time to impress upon Mr. Karzai to be more transparent about asking his cabinet to be, I mean, at least to be less conspicuous in being corrupt?
Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General has said before that it’s important that there should be an effective Government in place, and that corruption at any level needs to be countered. On what the United Nations can do on the ground, Kai Eide remains in his post, and he and his team are working extremely actively, engaging with President Karzai’s administration, in particular, preparing for the conference that will take place in January, at the end of January, in London. And that is a clear focus, very deliberate focus, and they’re working hard on that. Yes.
Question: Has the search for Kai Eide’s successor begun?
Spokesperson: This we have already said. The answer is yes, and this has already been said.
Question: [inaudible] that there will be a shortlist or…?
Spokesperson: There is a normal procedure for how this works, and once the Secretary-General is in a position to announce the successor, then that will be done. I don’t think that there is anything unusual in that.
Question: Still on climate change, the next summit on climate change is supposed to take place in Mexico City. Has there been dates set for that meeting, and are there any preparatory meetings in the interval envisaged towards that summit?
Spokesperson: The specific dates, I am not aware of the specific date, maybe it’s out there and I’m not aware of it for the meeting in Mexico. There are bound to be interim meetings of some kind. I believe that there is some meeting planned in Bonn, which, as you know, is the headquarters for the UNFCCC, and that is, if you like, going to be a part of the road to Mexico.
[The Spokesperson later added that the dates for COP-16 in Mexico are 29 November to 10 December 2010. COP-17 will be in South Africa in 2011.]
Question: And finally, is the document, the Copenhagen Accord, ready and available in all the languages at this stage?
Spokesperson: I don’t know whether it’s available in… when you said all the languages you mean the six UN languages?
Spokesperson: The languages of all the 192 countries that were there or what?
Question: The working language.
Spokesperson: Working languages? English and French? I do not know whether it’s in English and French, let’s… in French, as well as English, let me check.
Question: Is it available at all now, today?
Spokesperson: Let me check.
[The Spokesperson later informed that the Accord could be accessed at www.unfccc.int.]
Question: I just wonder if you have any reaction to the reports that Egypt is [inaudible] some sort of a war reinforcements on the border with Gaza. It’s been causing a lot of controversy back in the region and I wondered whether the UN was following this subject at all?
Spokesperson: We’re following it; I don’t have anything for you at the moment. We did ask for guidance on this question -- I don’t have it now. Let’s see If I can get it for you, okay? Are there any further questions? Yes, Matthew.
Question: I wanted to ask two questions on the budget that was passed last night or this morning. But I’ll ask them separately. The first is, one of the proposals that passed was the upgrade of a post of liaison of the Human Rights Commissioner from D2 to ASG. The representative of India said this was bad practice, essentially saying it was sort of unnecessary and corrupt and abuse. I wondered whether the Secretariat was behind that proposal? Whose proposal was that to upgrade this post, and no one seemed to be able to articulate what the benefits of that would be?
Spokesperson: Well, I don’t know the provenance of that proposal. There are many, many proposals in that document. I don’t know the provenance of that one. I think that the best thing that we could do on this budget – obviously, I read out the statement from the Secretary-General -- the next thing I can do is to try to ask for Angela Kane or someone else from her team to brief on that. They’re the experts.
Question: And then the other thing is -- and this may be from the Secretary-General -- two things happened on human resources: the continuing contracts was, apparently, you know, was rejected, was… the staff rules continue a year without any changes, and it’s unclear to me what happened on the Secretary-General’s proposal on mobility, but I’ve heard that in a meeting with his USGs he admonished all of them to begin mobility as quickly as possible. Is it his position that this didn’t need Budget Committee approval, and what does he say about what many describe as sort of the failure of his reform proposal on continuing contracts? [inaudible]
Spokesperson: On the second bit of your question, I don’t have anything on that. On mobility, the Secretary-General is committed to the principle of mobility because he feels that this is a way to build an even more effective and efficient Organization. He’s committed to that, and that’s pretty much where we are.
Question: In the Journal, I think you may have gotten this e-mail that I got from Mr. Baumann. Is it the case that it is going to continue to be published for delegations after 1 January, or, as seemed to be said earlier this week, is it being discontinued in hard copy form for everyone?
Spokesperson: You saw the answer from…
Spokesperson: Yes. You saw that answer, and…
Question: So it is going to continue to be published?
Spokesperson: There are two points here: one is that it’s being discontinued in-house. In other words, within the Secretariat, for Secretariat staff. If that document continued to be printed, it uses a huge amount of paper, and that obviously means not just paper, but money, and those resources can be put to far better use. That’s the first point. For the delegations, it will continue to be available in hard copy. What I have read out very clearly said it was referring to in-house, and that word was used.
Question: But how the… I mean I guess what I’m saying is that they put stacks of them in the lobby and how are they going to control who picks them up? Is there some way to… ?
Spokesperson: Matthew, I think I’ve… I can’t be expected to understand exactly how each delegation collects each copy of the Journal. I’m sure they have their ways of doing it, and I think that we can assume that that will happen in a fairly normal way.
Question: And just one last question. You said that John Holmes was calling for protection of civilians from the Lord’s Resistance Army given what they did last Christmas and they’ve threatened to do this Christmas. I had asked earlier in the week what MONUC itself is doing, not the Government of the Congo, the Government of Sudan, but what steps are MONUC and, I guess, UNMIS, what steps are they taking in preparation of what’s basically a threatened massacre by the LRA?
Spokesperson: Well, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has informed us that measures have been taken in the area to bolster security for the local population. I can’t go into the details of what those measures are, but I can assure you that measures have been taken and are being taken. Okay. Is there any further questions?
Okay, Jean Victor.
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
Thank you, Martin. Good afternoon.
This is just to recall that the General Assembly concluded the main part of its substantive session early this morning. The President of the General Assembly, H.E. Dr. Ali Treki, succeeded in fostering a consensus on all outstanding issues. President Treki conducted meetings at ambassadorial level from 3 p.m. yesterday to around midnight. This resulted in averting a crisis on the scale of assessments issue. The General Assembly adopted $5.16 billion budget for the United Nations budget for the 2010-2011 biennium and the exact figure is $5.156 billion. And the General Assembly adopted -- and this is important -- a resolution that maintains the current scale by which States are assessed dues to the Organization.
Thank you very much. We have been trying to get the experts to come and brief you on this, but, as you understand, they worked very late up to just a few hours ago. So if you have questions, please send me an e-mail and we’ll try to get a written response to you. Yes, Edie.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Just a couple of questions. How close is that figure, the $5.156 billion to what the Secretary-General requested and compared to the previous biennium?
Spokesperson: We will have to back into the backs for that, Edie, because what I have here today really is the end result of what was a very lengthy negotiation just for us to be able to compare the previous figure and the figure that we have. But the ink is now dry on this figure. But I can come back to you on that very specific query.
Question: It’s only two figures, and if you know if it’s -- I assume it’s probably lower than the Secretary-General asked for -- what got cut out?
Spokesperson: We’ll try to get a very accurate answer for you later today.
Correspondent: Thank you.
Spokesperson: Yes, Matthew.
Question: I know you’ve said [inaudible], but I just wanted to… you just said he was able to… Ali Treki was able to get consensus on all outstanding issues. Since there were votes called for, for example, by Israel on the Goldstone Report, and by Russia on the scale of assessments, I mean, what does consensus mean? If something, if a vote is taken, I thought consensus means like they go to the chamber and everything goes smoothly. I mean, Russia sort of denounced actually the scale of assessments… so how does…?
Spokesperson: I was referring mainly to budgetary issues…
Spokesperson: Yes, that’s really what got the General Assembly President fully engaged, mainly on the Fifth Committee work.
Question: No, no, I’m saying that last night, both in the Fifth Committee and in the General Assembly, Israel called for a vote on the use of the budget for the Goldstone Report, and Russia said that the scale of assessments are inaccurate and overcharged them, and had, you know Ukraine and Azerbaijan, I mean there were “some votes taken” that people said were unfortunate and reflected a lack of consensus. So I just wanted to know, am I missing something here or does consensus just mean that its passed… or that…?
Spokesperson: No, no you’re not missing anything. The President tried to work in such a way that the main goal here really had to be reached. We had to secure a budget on target and in time. And that was done. But there are so many other issues that were addressed, and the President certainly was not expected to bring an accord among all the participants on all issues. But the core issue of the budget really was one that brought ambassadors, permanent representatives together, and the President was very active in ensuring that we will reach a deal, and that was done.
Question: And I just have one other thing. One of the outcomes is that he’s supposed to write a letter to Bahrain and Bahamas telling them that they will be assessed less for the peacekeeping budget. Do you know, number one, was that his proposal or was it Nauru’s proposed compromise, and just factually, has he written a letter yet? When is he going to write the letter, and does he think that was a good outcome? Some complained about it and said that to choose two countries and reduce their assessment when every country has been hit by the financial crisis seems strange. What does he think about it?
Spokesperson: As I said, the ink is barely dry on this one, and everybody this morning is on their knees. And everybody is very tired. Let’s leave it a few more days and we’ll see what letter comes out from the President. These discussions were lengthy and I was not in all the discussions that took place obviously, but your question is a fair one. But we’ll find out from the President. But, clearly, we should leave it a bit more time before letters start being drafted. Thank you. Yes.
Question: Yesterday, the President said the reforms of the Security Council are very important. Is there any meeting scheduled during the rest of the Assembly next year on the question of the reforms of the Security Council? And secondly, does the President have any travel plans at this stage, visiting the regions or other countries for the rest of next year?
Spokesperson: Let me first give you a forecast for early next year in regard to your question. Generally, we will see the continuation of the Security Council reform process. Indeed, on 5 February, a report by the Secretary-General is due on the implementation of resolution 64/10 of 5 November 2009. That’s the one is on the Goldstone Report. And then in early March, the General Assembly will hold a commemorative meeting to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration on the Platform for Action on the advancement of women. There are several other issues that would be coming up next year, like the Dialogue on Financing for Development that is in mid-March. But Security Council reform is something where the President continues to remain engaged and as early as next month and in February, we really expect some movement on that.
Regarding the President’s travel, we hope to give you information very early next year, in the first few days of January 2010, a specific forecast on his travel plans.
Question: On that meeting on the Security Council in February, will that be a plenary meeting or will that be the ad hoc committee or some other restrained group?
Spokesperson: I don’t think it will be a “restrained” group. The resolution that was adopted on 5 November was adopted in a plenary, so the Secretary-General is due to implement that, that was within three months, I think. So I think it will probably take the same type of format. But this remains to be confirmed. Yes.
Question: Did the President of the General Assembly get a letter from India and others about Security Council reform, urging him to actually move towards a resolution, or move towards actually taking action on the issue rather than continuing negotiations?
Spokesperson: I am not aware of that, but a letter could have been sent. I’ll check whether such a letter had already been received, if it was sent.
Thank you very much, and thank you, Martin, for the best wishes that we received from your office. That’s very kind of you, and I would like to join you to also wish all of you all the best. A happy New Year, good health and good luck. Thank you.
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