|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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon, everybody.
**Secretary-General in Morocco
The Secretary-General is scheduled to arrive in Marrakesh, Morocco, today. And then tomorrow, he will address the opening session of the World Policy Conference 2010, which is organized by the French Institute of International Affairs.
The Conference will focus this year on the theme of global governance. In his remarks, the Secretary-General is expected to say that, as global interdependence deepens, some of our old systems and set-ups have not kept pace. Better ways of working together need to be found.
The Secretary-General will identify three main challenges for global governance: making sure the world economy works for all people; combating climate change; and addressing new-generation challenges, such as migration and organized crime.
Roger Meece, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, briefed the Security Council this morning on recent developments there, including the rapes and other recent violence in the east. He said the attacks in North Kivu clearly show the importance of civilian protection and compelled the UN Mission, MONUSCO, to review its procedures and take additional steps to protect people, including “Operation Shop Window” in the Walikale area. Meece said that the operation has accomplished its short-term goals. He added that the Mission has expanded its number of bases in the eastern Congo, and had also helped the Congolese authorities in arresting a rebel leader linked to the attacks, Colonel Mayele.
Yesterday, Margot Wallström told the Council members that another rebel leader, identified as Lieutenant Colonel Seraphim, should be placed on their sanctions list because of his alleged involvement in sexual attacks.
Earlier this morning, the Security Council also renewed sanctions measures in Côte d’Ivoire until 30 April 2011.
Said Djinnit, the Secetary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, visited Niamey, the capital of Niger, today as part of a joint ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States]-UN mission to reiterate the support of the international community to the transition in Niger within an agreed timeframe. General Salou Djibo reassured the delegation that recent developments in the country will not affect the transition or respect for the time frame.
Djinnit and the delegation have since travelled to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where they will meet with President Blaise Campaore, the ECOWAS Mediator for Guinea, in order to consult with him on the situation in Guinea ahead of the presidential election second round.
The Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan met yesterday in Khartoum with Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir. The Panel and their host discussed a wide range of issues in a formal meeting later followed by a tête-à-tête between the Sudanese leader and the Panel’s Chairman, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa.
The Panel Chairman later said that his team has been assured that both parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement wish for a successful conclusion to the referenda process. Mkapa, in turn, assured them of continued UN support.
The Panel’s visit concludes today with talks with donors, observer groups and more Sudanese officials. They had earlier visited Juba, where they met with Southern Sudanese officials.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, has congratulated Somalia’s new Prime Minister, Mohamed A. Mohamed, who was appointed yesterday by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
The international community expects that a new Government will be appointed soon to focus on the vital tasks that are critical to the successful completion of the transitional period in August 2011. Time will not allow for any further crises within the leadership of Somalia. We have a press release with more details.
In a written report to the General Assembly on the human rights situation in Myanmar, the Secretary-General said that, although some signs of flexibility have been shown by the Government of Myanmar, the detention of political prisoners and the continued house arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi remain of grave concern.
The Secretary-General urged Myanmar to make progress in overcoming its twin legacies of political deadlock and armed conflict. He said the parallel challenges of respect for human rights, national reconciliation and democratization remain.
On the forthcoming elections, the Secretary-General stressed that they represent a major test of the prospects for peace, democracy and prosperity in Myanmar. He said that it is all the more necessary, therefore, for Myanmar to ensure that the elections are conducted in an inclusive, credible, participatory and transparent manner.
The Secretary-General, in a message to a Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends for Pakistan, said that he continues to urge the international community to respond generously and swiftly to urgent relief and recovery needs following floods there, as well as to reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.
He said that the United Nations will also stand with Pakistan in facing the challenge of violent extremism and in furthering the democratic transformation of the country. Accountable, civilian-led democracy is critical for the stability of Pakistan, the region and the wider world.
The message was delivered to the Group of Friends Meeting in Brussels by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe.
So that’s what I have for you. I am happy to take questions.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Martin, does the Secretary-General have any reaction to the statement yesterday by Ms. Wallström in the Security Council that elements of the FARDC in eastern Congo are raping, looting and killing in the very same communities where the mass rapes occurred late July and August, apparently despite the measures the Secretary-General has outlined in terms of communications and the patrolling and so forth, subsequent to all these events?
Spokesperson: Well, what I can tell you is that MONUSCO has expressed concern to the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) command regarding the behaviour of some Congolese elements on many occasions. And the Mission has supported and continues to support the efforts of the Congolese Armed Forces command and military justice to apprehend and bring those accused of crimes to trial. Reports of individual arrests of soldiers in North Kivu by the FARDC are encouraging.
And I can add that MONUSCO has bolstered its presence in Walikale territory and is considering further adjustments to its deployments, but needs to balance its limited resources within the vast area where civilians are threatened.
And I would just add that, obviously, the Secretary-General is aware of the comments that Ms. Wallström made, not least because she is his Special Representative on this topic, and he takes this matter very seriously.
Question: Just to follow up on the second — the reports of the arrest of individual soldiers — were they the soldiers who allegedly took part in the attacks or assaults that Ms. Wallström spoke about yesterday?
Spokesperson: I’d have to ask my colleagues in DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] to provide a little bit more detail on that. Okay? Yes?
Question: Thank you, Martin. This is on the question of Sri Lanka and the NLRC [National Labor Relations Commission], and just in light of the fact that ICG [International Crisis Group], Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all refused to participate, and the fact that the External Affairs Minister last month was extremely confident that the UN wouldn’t actually probe the allegations in Sri Lanka, I just wonder if the Secretary-General has anything to say on that matter, as it is such a critical period in the post-war period right now?
Spokesperson: Well, there are a couple of things here. One is that we’re talking about a Sri Lankan commission, and that’s a matter for Sri Lanka. So I am not going to comment on whether individual or non-governmental organizations are cooperating with this commission or not. What I can tell you is that the Secretary-General has his Panel of Experts, which is there to advise him on accountability in Sri Lanka. And that derives, as you know, from the agreement that was reached between the Sri Lankan President and the Secretary-General when he last visited.
Question: Just a follow-up, because the Panel doesn’t actually have investigative powers, right? Nor does it, nor is it mandated to probe allegations, so…
Spokesperson: No, we’re making a very clear distinction. The Panel, the Secretary-General’s Panel, is to advise him. It is not linked to the national commission that you have just referred to. So whatever the national commission is doing, and whatever interplay there is between the non-governmental organizations that you are aware of, whatever that interplay is, is nothing to do with the Panel, which is set up to advise the Secretary-General. What I can say, of course, is that the Panel has made clear that its expertise is available to the Sri Lankan authorities if they request it. Their expertise is available if the Sri Lankan authorities request it. That’s what I can tell you. Okay, other questions?
All right, I wish you a good afternoon and weekend. Thank you very much.
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