Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

9 July 2010

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

9 July 2010
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

** Secretary-General’s Appointment — UNODC

Bear with me, I have quite a few appointments to give, one after another.  So let’s get started.

The Secretary-General has appointed Yuri Fedotov of the Russian Federation as the new Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), replacing Antonio Maria Costa of Italy.  He will also serve as the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV).  The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. Costa for the services he has rendered to the Organization and for his commitment in leading UNODC since 2002.

Mr. Fedotov will bring a wealth of senior-level experience to his new function.  He is well informed on the issues of the international community and on those that are on the agenda of UNODC:  the rule of law; policy and trend analysis; prevention; treatment and reintegration; and alternative development.

Mr. Fedotov is currently the Ambassador of Russia to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Previously, he served as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.

**Secretary-General’s Appointment — OCHA

The Secretary-General has appointed Valerie Amos of the United Kingdom as Under-Secretary-General for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  She succeeds John Holmes, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated service to the Organization and commitment to alleviating the conditions of the many peoples affected by emergency situations. 

Ms. Amos brings to this position extensive background and experience coupled with well-honed leadership skills and the ability to forge consensus, coordinate delivery of results and work with diverse stakeholders.  Ms. Amos is currently UK High Commissioner to Australia.

John Holmes said that he was delighted by the appointment of Valerie Amos as his successor.  He said that she will bring to the job a lifetime of commitment to issues of economic and social justice, and huge political experience, not least in Africa, where so many of our operations are.  Holmes has no doubt that she will be able to make a great contribution to the future development of the humanitarian system.

** Secretary-General’s Appointment — ONUCI

The Secretary-General has appointed Ndolamb Ngokwey of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as his Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), where he will also serve as United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator.

He will replace Georg Charpentier, who was appointed Deputy Special Representative, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan.

Ngokwey has served with the United Nations since 1986, and most recently as the United Nations Resident Coordinator/United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative in Mozambique.  And we have more information on Mr. Ngokwey in the Spokesperson’s Office.

** Secretary-General’s Appointment — Timor Leste

The Secretary-General has appointed Shigeru Mochida of Japan as his Deputy Special Representative for Security Sector Support and Rule of Law of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).  Mr. Mochida succeeds the late Takahisa Kawakami of Japan, who passed away on 15 March 2010. 

Mr. Mochida has served the United Nations with commitment over the past 30 years in various capacities, most recently as the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok.

And we have more information on Mr. Mochida in the Spokesperson’s Office.

** Secretary-General’s Appointment — MONUSCO

And last of the five appointments, but not least, the Secretary-General has appointed Lieutenant-General Chander Prakash, a national of India, as the Force Commander for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or MONUSCO.

Lieutenant-General Prakash, who is currently in charge of India’s United Nations peacekeeping operations at the Ministry of Defence, will succeed Lieutenant-General Babacar Gaye of Senegal.  And we have more information on him in the Spokesperson’s Office.

**Security Council

The Security Council this morning adopted a presidential statement in which it deplored the 26 March attack which led to the sinking of the Republic of Korea’s naval ship the Cheonan, resulting in the tragic loss of 46 lives.  The Council calls for appropriate and peaceful measures to be taken against those responsible for the incident, aimed at the peaceful settlement of the issue in accordance with the UN Charter and all other relevant provisions of international law.

The Security Council members will hold their monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General this afternoon.  And then, at 4:30 p.m., the Council will hold consultations on the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), to discuss the recent incidents in south Lebanon.

**Lebanon

Also, speaking of that Force, Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, met today with Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali Shami, with whom he discussed the recent incidents in south Lebanon involving the UN Interim Force, UNIFIL.  He expressed his hope that the situation has now calmed down and that there will be no recurrence of such incidents.  And he welcomed the announcement made by the Council of Ministers yesterday evening that it is reinforcing the presence of the Lebanese Armed Forces in south Lebanon.

Williams asserted that UNIFIL’s freedom of movement is a critical element for it to discharge its mandate and it must be fully respected.  This means coordination and information sharing, he clarified, though not necessarily that activities can only be carried out jointly.  His full remarks are in the Spokesperson’s Office.

** Cyprus

On Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders met in Nicosia today for around three hours and concentrated on the issue of property.  Their representatives will continue the property discussions next week and the leaders will meet again during the following week, on 22 July.

The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Cyprus, Alexander Downer, outlined the meeting schedule for July and some of August to the press following today’s meeting.  He also said he’s glad to see the leaders meeting in August.

You can get more details on the meeting scheduled from the transcript of Mr. Downer’s remarks, and we have copies of it available for you in the Spokesperson’s Office.

**Press Conference Today

Immediately after this, at about 12:30 p.m., in this room, there will be a press conference with Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritan of Argentina, the Chairman of the First Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty.  And he will brief you on the forthcoming Arms Trade Treaty meeting, which will take place on 12-23 July in New York.  And that briefing will be moderated by Ewen Buchanan of the Office for Disarmament Affairs.

**Guest at Noon on Monday

And next Monday, the guest at the noon briefing will be Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.  And she will talk to you on Monday on the 2010-2011 World Disaster Reduction Campaign, called “Making Cities Resilient”.

**The Week Ahead at the United Nations

In addition, we do have upstairs “The Week Ahead”, which, among other things, mentions that on Sunday, 11 July, you will have World Population Day.

On Monday, at 1 p.m., the Secretary-General will attend a commemorative event marking the fifteenth Anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, at the Delegates’ Entrance of UN Headquarters.

On Tuesday, 13 July, at 2:30 p.m., the Secretary-General will hold a joint stakeout, on the 2nd floor of the North Lawn Building, with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, who are the co-Chairs of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.

And on Friday, the Security Council will hold an open debate on conflict prevention and the settlement of disputes.

That’s it from me.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Is Michael Williams going to give his condolences for the family of Hassan Fadlallah, the cleric in Lebanon who passed away recently?

Associate Spokesperson:  In terms of that, I only have the comments that he made in his remarks to the press, which we have available today.  Mr Williams will also, by the way, be here next week to brief the Security Council, and you can talk to him then.

Question:  Yeah, but is there any restriction for him going and giving condolences on such an occasion, for such a big figure like Mr. Fadlallah?

Associate Spokesperson:  Well, at this stage, the basic point is that Mr. Williams will be travelling — he will be travelling shortly to New York.  So, I don’t know about the timing of that event.

Question:  Is he planning to meet with Hezbollah leaders, Mr. Williams, in order to talk about the incidents?

Associate Spokesperson:  If you look at the press release that we put out yesterday, Mr. Williams met with a leader of Hezbollah just yesterday, and we put out the transcript of his remarks to the press after that.

Question:  And during that he did not express any issue about Mr. Fadlallah?

Associate Spokesperson:  I would just refer you to the text of the remarks.  He did talk to the press right after that and he made some remarks then.

Question:  Farhan, do you have any reaction to 62 people dying in north-west Pakistan and the jirga meeting?  Any reaction at all?

Associate Spokesperson:  On that, I don’t have a statement by the Secretary-General, but what I can say is he is certainly aware of this horrific attack, and as always, we condemn all terrorist violence committed against innocent civilians.

Question:  But he has not personally given any remarks, is it?

Associate Spokesperson:  There is no specific statement about this.  But this is in line with the previous statements that we’ve had about this.

Question:  Farhan, it’s now about 40 days since the Israelis hijacked the flotilla, and the ships are still stranded, I believe, in Israel.  What are the recent efforts by Mr. [Robert] Serry to release these ships, because, of course, they are supposed to be returned, according to the presidential statement passed on 30 June?

Associate Spokesperson:  Mr. Serry and Mr. [Filippo] Grandi have been working to make sure that all of the humanitarian aid that is bound for Gaza, once it’s been agreed to between the respective Governments, can be delivered then to the people of Gaza.  As you know, we’ve already succeeded in bringing some of those goods from the Turkish flotilla into Gaza, and we’re trying to do that with some of the other ships, including, for example, the one from Ireland.

Correspondent:  How about the vessels themselves?  The vessels are still stranded there — also the equipment which has been stolen from the press.  A lot of cameras worth millions.

Associate Spokesperson:  Some of that is actually a question to be resolved bilaterally between the relevant nations.  But certainly, we’re doing our part to try and resolve this matter peacefully, and that includes our efforts to free up the goods.

Question:  Farhan, I just wanted to follow up on this thing.  I wanted to find out about this Israeli — on easing the restrictions, the land route into Gaza.  Has the United Nations verified that these things are going according to the plan that Israel submitted or they have still not gone in?

Associate Spokesperson:  Yes, we’re actually in the process of verifying just that.  That what we’ve been trying to do is make sure that, in line with what they’ve said, that the goods will be coming in.  Beyond that, as you know, the details are in the statement from the Secretary-General that we issued just recently on this.

Question:  One question on the appointment.  I just want to know, is there a set formula that a particular post will go UK or US?  This is what’s been happening with Humanitarian Affairs, this USG for Humanitarian Affairs.

Associate Spokesperson:  No, Mr. Holmes’ predecessor was not from the UK.  He was Jan Eliasson.  And [some years] before that, you had Sérgio Vieira de Mello, who was from Brazil.  So it’s not the case.  Obviously there is an effort to make sure that there is a diverse range of nationalities appointed to jobs at the United Nations.  But there is no set formula, no.

Question:  Isn’t this another British envoy that is being appointed as the head of this particular department?

Associate Spokesperson:  This is the second one.  Like I said, the predecessors were not, were not from the UK.

Question:  I want to ask about Uzbekistan and then Sri Lanka.  There is the Uzbek human rights alliance, which has reported that of the refugees that left the country and went to Andijan Province, especially those who were injured, were being interrogated in hospitals and several have actually been “disappeared” by Uzbek authorities, for whatever reason that happened.  I’m wondering what either UNHCR [the United Nations refugee agency] or what sort of human rights presence the UN system has in particular that part of Uzbekistan and what follow-up was being made for those refugees?

Associate Spokesperson:  Okay, we’ll try to ask our human rights colleagues, first and foremost.

Question:  There is also a protest in front of the UN House in Bishkek of human rights groups in Kyrgyzstan, saying that the UN system should have a greater presence in southern Kyrgyzstan, saying that governmental authorities there are acting against the Uzbek minority.  Is there, again, I want to know, is there Mr [Miroslav] Jenča — what sort of follow-up after that flare up in the UN’s involvement is being made that the underlying situation of the ethnic Uzbeks is being monitored in some way or protected?

Associate Spokesperson:  We certainly do have people, particularly with UNHCR, who have been trying to see about the conditions of all the displaced people and the returnees among the Uzbek population and others who are in southern Kyrgyzstan.  And at the same time, as you know, our relief efforts in southern Kyrgyzstan continue.  So we do have a presence there.  At the same time, as you know, we’ve repeatedly asked for there to be a greater sense of security in southern Kyrgyzstan so as to help move goods and humanitarian aid into the area.

Question:  On Sri Lanka, I wanted to ask you this about yesterday’s announcement of the closure of the UNDP Regional Centre.  The Sri Lankan Defence Ministry’s website contains an article quoting UN officials that this decision had been made long before the recent protests.  And they see it as a sort of opportunism.  My question, I guess, is this:  was the decision to relocate the centre that used to be in Kathmandu, and they say is now being relocated to Bangkok where ESCAP is, was this decision made within the UN system prior to any of these protests?  And if so, why was it linked to yesterday’s announcement?  And what consultations did the Secretary-General make with UNDP that presumably runs, is the one to make that decision on that office?  Is this a Helen Clark decision?

Associate Spokesperson:  This was a decision announced by the Secretary-General, as you know, as part of a statement that we issued in the Secretary-General’s name just yesterday.  Beyond that, the decision to close the UNDP Regional Centre was taken yesterday by the Secretary-General as a direct response to the situation in Colombo affecting our main UN compound, although, of course, the Regional Centre is not the same as the main UN compound.  Prior to this crisis, discussions had been taken with the Foreign Minister, and it was agreed that we would downsize the Regional Centre.  However, in light of the Secretary-General’s decision yesterday, we are now closing that Centre outright.  And that, like I said, is a direct response to the situation in Colombo and our concerns about the inability of our staff to do their work in Colombo without hindrance.

Question:  So often in this room, if a question comes up about UNDP, you’ll say, “Go ask UNDP, the Secretary-General has nothing to do with it”.  Is it really the Secretary-General’s decision?  Can he close any UNDP facility anywhere in the world on his own?

Associate Spokesperson:  He’d already been in discussions with UNDP on this.  He did this in discussions with UNDP.

Question:  Maybe I missed this, but is there any follow-up on the Goldstone Report?  Did the SG send his report to the General Assembly?

Associate Spokesperson:  No, not so far.  It’s not due yet, but later in the course of this month he will send his reply over to the General Assembly.

Correspondent:  It was due the first week of July, because like three months after the approval of the…

Associate Spokesperson:  Check with the resolution date.  If you look at the General Assembly resolution date, it’s closer to mid-, to late July.

Question:  Yes, there is a report in the New York Times this week that during United States Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton’s visit to Poland, Ukraine and the South Caucasus, that she reiterated her support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia while using the word “occupation” to describe Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Since the UN Secretary-General did appoint a UN representative for Georgia — the Finnish Ambassador, [Antti] Turunen, to work on this with the EU [European Union] and the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] — do you have any update or information on any progress made?

Associate Spokesperson:  No, I do not.

Question:  Was there any reaction, have you heard about any reaction to the UNIFIL Commander’s open letter?

Associate Spokesperson:  I do not have any further thing beyond that.  As you know, it was picked up in the media.  We do have the press remarks made by Michael Williams after the Foreign Minister today.  And this afternoon an official from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber, will participate in the consultations of the Security Council on UNIFIL.  And that will be at, I believe, 4:30 p.m.

Question:  Is there a perception that the tensions that had occurred between UNIFIL and the Lebanese civilians in the series of incidents have now been defused and the situation is sort of back to the status quo?  How would you describe where things stand?

Associate Spokesperson:  Well, what Michael Williams said — and the full transcript is available in the Spokesperson’s Office — is he’d expressed his hope that the situation has now calmed down and that there will be no recurrence of this sort of incidents.  And beyond that, like I said, the Security Council does expect to discuss this in the afternoon.

Question:  Well, has the situation calmed down?  Is there any indication that…?

Associate Spokesperson:  That’s certainly what Mr. Williams is saying, yes.

Question:  One of the UN officials has been saying, about the United Nations in Pakistan, the UN needs more money and funding, that the appeal that was issued in the beginning of the year, for funds of some $4 million, is only 42 per cent funded, which you yourself said, and it has not received any more money.  That’s the Flash Appeal we’re talking about, and he has asked for more money.  Will the Secretary-General at any point again appeal to the international community for the funding of the Pakistan Flash Appeal?

Associate Spokesperson:  We’ll see whether any new appeal is needed. Obviously our humanitarian colleagues are always in touch, trying to see whether that needs to be done.  However, at this stage, what’s needed, and what the Secretary-General would want Member States to do, is to follow up and fully fund the appeals that have already been made.

And with that, I believe, is our guest ready?  Okay, so if you’ll stay in this room, we’ll have the next briefing.  Come on down.  And we’ll have a briefing for you now on the Arms Trade Treaty.

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