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

1 December 2010

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

1 December 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, Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon.


**Guest Today


My guest today will be Mike Smith, the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), who will brief on the issue of “Bringing Terrorists to Justice”, and a special event taking place at UNHQ from 1 to 3 December around this theme.


Mr. Smith, I have been told, is a little bit delayed, so I will read a few things first, and then we’ll stop once he gets here.


**Secretary-General’s Statement on Côte d'Ivoire


I do have the following statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire:


The Secretary-General has taken note of the preliminary findings by the international observer missions that the second round of the Ivorian presidential election on 28 November was conducted in an overall satisfactory and credible manner.  The Secretary-General also recalls that his Special Representative has found the elections to have been conducted in a democratic climate, despite some regrettable incidents, some of which were violent, in different parts of the country.


The Secretary-General urges the Independent Electoral Commission to announce the provisional results of the second round of the presidential election without delay, today, 1 December 2010.  He calls upon all stakeholders to allow the Independent Electoral Commission to complete its work without interference in order to ensure the integrity of the results of the election.  The Secretary-General emphasizes that any disruption in the electoral process would not be in the interest of the people of Côte d’Ivoire or the future stability of the country.


The Special Representative of the Secretary-General will continue, in the context of his certification mandate, all his efforts to safeguard the electoral process so that the will of the Ivorian people, as expressed in the election, will be respected.  The United Nations will continue provide its full support to the completion of the electoral operations and to the Ivorian peace process as a whole.


And that statement is available in our office.


**Secretary-General in Kazakhstan


The Secretary-General is flying back from Kazakhstan today, after he participated this morning in the first Summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in more than a decade.


He told the leaders gathered for the Summit that the events in Kyrgyzstan this year showed what the United Nations and OSCE can do together, as they joined forces with other regional groups to provide timely and coherent support to the people of Kyrgyzstan at a critical moment.  In Afghanistan, the Secretary-General said, we face another test.  We will need to collaborate closely to ensure that the transition process is sustainable and irreversible.  This will mean making a long-term commitment to capacity- and institution-building.  And we have his statement in our office and online.


** Afghanistan


The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, has strongly welcomed today's announcement by Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission of the completion of the final certification of the results of the 18 September Wolesi Jirga elections.  He said he looked forward to the prompt inauguration of the Wolesi Jirga as an important further step in Afghanistan’s strengthening of its democratic governance.  And we have his statement upstairs.


** Darfur


The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has confirmed that at least one person was killed and several wounded today in Zalingei, West Darfur, when gunfire broke out during a demonstration.  The incident took place at Zalingei University on the final leg of a four-day visit to Darfur by the Doha peace negotiation team.  UNAMID is trying to obtain further information.


**Security Council


The United States has replaced the United Kingdom as the Security Council President for the month of December.  We expect Ambassador Susan Rice of the United States to brief you on the Council’s programme of work for the coming month in this room, tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.  [The time of that briefing was later changed to 1 p.m.]


** Democratic Republic of the Congo


The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has launched Operation “Rudia Umbrella” ahead of the end-of-year holiday season, which it says has in the past been a period of increased activities by illegal armed groups.


The latest military effort will see a preventive deployment of peacekeepers across some sensitive areas, an increased number of patrols and a stronger deterrent posture against groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army.


The Mission, meanwhile, says that an earlier United Nations effort, Operation Protective Shield, concluded successfully yesterday in South Kivu.  A small number of FDLR [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda] elements surrendered to the peacekeepers and some weapons were recovered, the Mission says.


**World AIDS Day


Three decades into the AIDS crisis, the world must step up its efforts to achieve the “three zeroes” — zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths, the Secretary-General says in his message for World AIDS Day.


While AIDS has caused untold suffering and death in the past 30 years, the global community has united through the years to take action and save lives.  These efforts are making a real difference around the world, he stresses.


Our common goal, the Secretary-General says, is clear:  universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.  We must also work to make the AIDS response sustainable.


For his part, Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), notes that the number of new HIV infections and deaths have dropped by nearly 20 per cent.  But our successes have not come without sacrifice, he points out, with some 30 million people having lost their lives to AIDS, and some 10 million waiting for treatment.


**Press Conferences Tomorrow


Like I said, we do expect to have with us shortly Mike Smith, the Executive Director of the Counter-terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), as the guest at today’s briefing.


Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. there will be a press conference by the Simon Fraser University Human Security Report Project to launch their new report.


And at 11:30 a.m., as I just mentioned, the President of the Security Council, United States Ambassador Susan Rice, will hold a press conference on the Council’s programme of work for the month of December.  [The time of that briefing was later changed to 1 p.m.]


Are there any questions for me while we wait for Mr. Smith?  Yes, James?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Thanks, Farhan.  The SG, while in Central Asia, did he have a meeting with Mrs. [Hillary Rodham] Clinton, one-to-one?  And was WikiLeaks discussed, and did Mrs. Clinton apologize?


Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, he did meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; that was just before they left to return to the US.  I am waiting to hear from Martin Nesirky, the Spokesperson travelling with the Secretary-General, to get readouts.  But it may take some time.  We may have to wait for them to have a stopover before I can get some details about those meetings.


Question:  Sure, just a couple of questions.  One is just factually on Haiti, there are reports of post-election protests and clashes with UN peacekeepers, and so I am just wondering what’s MINUSTAH’s [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] count of not deaths, but injuries caused?  And what have been its terms of engagement; what descriptions can you give of these clashes with UN peacekeepers?


Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  As you know, MINUSTAH tries to avoid any sort of violence.  It’s been trying its best to maintain the peace following the elections.  I am aware that there have been some disturbances and some injuries; we don’t have a count from MINUSTAH about the number of injuries caused.  And in terms of our response to the recent disturbances, as you know, the Secretary-General did come out with a statement in which he urged for calm while we continue with the post-electoral process.


Question:  Thanks. While he was in Kazakhstan for OSCE, did the Secretary-General — two reports from South Korea said that he was going to meet with the South Korean Foreign Minister, and from Ukraine said that he would meet with Mr. [Yevgeny] Yanukovych.  Did these meetings — can we get a list of the meetings that he did and specifically on those two, did they take place and if so, what was said?


Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Which was the first one you asked?


Question:  The Foreign Minister of South Korea; that was from the South Korean press, they said that…


Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, yes; again, as with Hillary Clinton’s, the meeting with Hillary Clinton, I don’t have a readout; but yes, that meeting did take place earlier today.


Question:  Do you think that has to do with the fighting? You don’t have a full readout, but…


Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have any readout, so I don’t have any details.


Question:  [inaudible] They said that’s what it was going to be about, so I am just, if you can maybe get confirmation or… [inaudible]?


Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I can confirm the meeting, but we would need to wait for the readouts.  Once the readouts are there, we will post them.


Question:  Okay.  I wanted to ask one, this sort of follows up, on Monday you’d said that, I think that you’d said that UN officials return their frequent flyer miles to the Organization.  Did I understand that correctly?


Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No. No, you didn’t understand it correctly.  I said that it’s the Organization who pays for the tickets, so, it’s the Organization’s miles, but I was going to check with the Ethics Office; which I did.  And I believe I e-mailed it to you, and I have also — we announced to people what the Ethics Office says about the policy, which is that people do keep their miles.


Question:  Also, I wanted to ask, there is, I have looked into it, and there is a JIU [Joint Inspection Unit] report on travel within the UN system, and it recommends, it says that UNOPS [United Nations Office for Project Services] has a policy in which individuals who keep their miles are asked to apply those miles to future official travel.  One, I wanted to know whether the Secretariat, not UNOPS, but the Secretariat, has ever considered that policy, which is recommended by the JIU.  And number two, just factually since this issue has arisen in other Governments, it ends up being additional compensation.  Can you just state for say, two USGs [Under-Secretaries-General] and the SG:  [Alain] Le Roy, [B. Lynn] Pascoe and Secretary-General Ban, how many frequent flyer miles they racked up in 2010?


Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I wouldn’t have the frequent flyer miles calculated for you.  What I can say, I gave you the information about what the policy is in the UN Secretariat; that’s what the Ethics Office has defined and what I’ve shared with you.  For UNOPS’s policy I would recommend that you ask UNOPS.


Question:  The JIU says it is UNOPS’ policy and recommends that that’s the best practice…


Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, well, and you can talk to my colleague at UNOPS, Nicholas George, about any further details about how they handle it.


And now, I am very pleased to have with us our guest, Mike Smith, the Executive Director of the Counter-terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, who will brief on the issue of “Bringing Terrorists to Justice”.  Mr. Smith.


[Press Conference by Mr. Smith issued separately.]


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