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

4 March 2011

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

4 March 2011
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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

So, good afternoon, everybody; and welcome to the briefing.

**Noon Guest

It is a great pleasure to welcome back Valerie Amos, who is Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.  And she is here today again as the guest at the noon briefing to brief you on Libya and importantly on other areas of humanitarian concern.  So, please, the floor is yours, Ms Amos.

[Press conference by Ms. Amos issued separately]

**Press Conference Monday

So, I just have a couple of further points for you.  I would like to welcome a group of visiting Ukrainian journalists who are here with us today.

I would like to tell you that there is a press conference on Monday, here at 1 p.m. in the Auditorium, and that will be on biosafety.

**Secretary-General’s Press Conference

And a date for your diary a little further away; the Secretary-General’s next press conference here will be at 11:30 a.m., on Friday, 18 March.

So, I am happy to take a few questions.  Yes, Margaret?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Martin, any word when the Special Envoy is going to be named for coordinating the humanitarian and political response [in Libya]?

Spokesperson:  I think the word is “soon”.

Question:  The word was “soon” when the Secretary-General said it a couple of days ago, so?

Spokesperson:  Right, well, that’s still soon.  As soon as we have something, I will let you know.  I know that the Secretary-General has made it clear that it is something that will be done shortly, and as soon as we have it, I will let you know.  As you can see from the briefing that Ms. Amos has just given, action is already under way, things are moving, efforts are being undertaken in a coordinated fashion to try to help people inside Libya and those who are leaving Libya.  So as soon as we have something, I will let you know.  Yeah?

Question:  Did Ambassador [Ali Abdussalam] Treki [of Libya] present credentials to the Secretary-General yet?

Spokesperson:  What I can tell you is that the Secretary-General has received correspondence from the Libyan authorities.  That correspondence names Dr. Treki as the person they wish to have as the Permanent Representative of their country.  So that’s what I can tell you.

Question:  Directly on that, can you describe what, since Dr. Treki was the President of the General Assembly, since that time, the Secretary-General’s contacts, if any, with Mr. Treki?

Spokesperson:  I am not aware of anything particular.  Obviously, within the context of Dr. Treki being the President of the General Assembly for the sixty-fourth session, they obviously interacted with him, he with him in that capacity.  I am not aware of any specific interaction since then.

Question:  Did he have any other UN system role since he left being the President of the General Assembly?

Spokesperson:  Not to my knowledge, but if colleagues have details, I am sure that they will correct me, but not to my knowledge.  I think it is important to point out that this was a letter from the Libyan authorities, and naming Dr. Treki as the person they wish to have as the Permanent Representative.

Question:  And what does this mean, what’s the next step in terms of the Secretariat?  Does this go to the General Assembly or do you just automatically process and begin, and give Mr. Treki a pass?

Spokesperson:  It doesn’t go to the General Assembly.  As I think you know, recognition of countries is a matter for Member States.  Libya is a recognized member of the United Nations, and it is in that context that, when any country sends a letter naming the Permanent Representative, that person is the person who will be recognized as the Permanent Representative.  But that is a question of presenting credentials; the person comes to present credentials.

Question:  One last thing on this, because I remember in the case of Côte d'Ivoire, the Secretary-General went and gave a speech; he said the General Assembly should take up the matter and take on the [Alassane] Ouattara people as opposed to the [Laurent] Gbagbo people.

Spokesperson:  That’s a very different matter; this is entirely different.  This was, as you know very well, this was a question of new Government being recognized by Member States, by the Credentials Committee; it is entirely different.  You can’t compare the two.  Yes, Margaret?

Question:  Is Dr. Treki… is he in the United States or is he in Libya?  Because the Americans have said they won’t give visas, so?

Spokesperson:  No idea, no idea about that.

Question:  You don’t know?

Spokesperson:  No.

Question:  Is there any deadline between the presentation of the letter of credentials and meeting directly to confirm that since it’s an ambassador?

Spokesperson:  No, it’s a question of the person presenting credentials.  Right.  Yes, Masood?

Question:  Martin, I just asked this question of Ms. Amos also; you still do not have any confirmed figures of casualties, people being killed today at the border?  There are conflicting versions in the press about 15, 30…

Spokesperson:  No, well, with respect, if Ms. Amos is not in a position to answer the question, then I don’t think I am.  And I know that she told you just now that we have seen the reports, but we are unable to verify them.  And there is one very good reason for that; that we do not have unimpeded access into Libya to be able to do that.  So, yes, Matthew?

Question:  Sure.  I want to ask you a couple of questions about the Secretariat and the Security Council, the Secretariat side of it.  One is that yesterday, at this meeting on Sudan, it was said that several dozens of people have been killed in Abyei, and that there is an attempt made by UNMIS [United Nations Mission in Sudan] to bring this Kadugli process back together, which is the one in which they flew Ahmed Haroun to Abyei previously, he was an ICC [International Criminal Court] indicted person.  I wanted to know, at the time it was said that he flew because this had such success in putting down violence in Abyei.  Is there any rethinking of that?  Is there any chance at all that the UN will once again provide travel support to ICC-indicted Ahmed Haroun to, for a second time, try to talk nomadic tribes out of violence?

Spokesperson:  Well, as you know, we have said that the Mission is mandated to provide good offices to the Compressive Peace Agreement parties.  And the UN Mission in Sudan has been working with those parties, including the local authorities.  And that is with an attempt to contain any potential violence which might escalate, as it has just in the past few days.  And indeed, following the most recent clashes, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement parties met today in the premises of the UN Mission in Sudan, in Abyei itself. 

And that was to address the immediate security situation in Abyei, and at that meeting, specific steps were adopted to try to ensure the implementation of the Kadugli Agreements of 13 and 17 January.  And that included, for example, setting up a standing committee consisting of representatives from the two parties, and the two armies, the two police forces and security services, as well as the command of the Joint Integrated Units.

Question:  Was Mr. Haroun there, do you know?

Spokesperson:  I’d need to check.

Question:  Okay.  Can you find that out?

Spokesperson:  Yeah.  I’d need to check…

Question:  Just whether he was transported by the UN, and all these things.

Spokesperson:  I see that there were a number of senior officials from the Government of Sudan and from Southern Kordofan.  I need to check on whom precisely.

[The Spokesperson later said that Ahmed Haroun had been present at the talks today at the United Nations premises in Abyei and had been transported there by the United Nations.]

Question:  While you are waiting for the credentials of Mr. Treki, who is representing Libya at the United Nations?  Still Mr. [Mohamed] Shalgham and [Ibrahim] Dabbashi or is there a void?

Spokesperson:  It’s a good question, and it is something that people are looking at here.  As I have said, the other letter, the letter that said that the Permanent Representative and the Deputy Permanent Representative up to now are no longer in the eyes of the Libyan authorities, and that letter, as I told you, is being studied.  That’s the position.  And the other letter which has been received is naming a new Permanent Representative.  As you know, this is a complicated, rather unusual set of circumstances, and my colleagues who deal with this kind of matter specifically are looking at precisely the implications.  The fact remains that any country has the right to revoke and recall, and the right to name.  And that is something that any country that is a Member State of the United Nations can do.

Question:  But in the past, like after the revolution in Iran, or at the end of the Soviet Union, did you have such situations, similar to this?  The history of the UN speaks to this or not?

Spokesperson:  The history of the UN is long and equally complicated, and I am sure that there are examples and precedents for just about everything, but I do not have total recall of them, I am afraid.  Yes?

Question:  So, that means the number three of Libya, who didn’t disagree against the Government, is the actual representative of Libya today at the UN?

Spokesperson:  That is one way of looking at it. 

Question:  Martin?  I was just going to ask that are you, so do you not treat… the UN in general does not treat Ambassador Shalgham as the representative of Libya as the…?

Spokesperson:  As I said, the letter to that effect was received, and it is being studied.  Yes, Margaret?

Question:  So, then, can we say the UN still considers Shalgham and Dabbashi the legitimate representatives until this matter is resolved?

Spokesperson:  No, not necessarily.  You said…

Question:  So you are in limbo?

Spokesperson:  We are studying it, we are studying it.  I have just said it is complicated.  If I can provide further clarity…

Question:  But the decision has been made.  If no decision, if it’s being studied and no decision has been taken, then wouldn’t the two who are here still be recognized?

Spokesperson:  It’s complicated.  I’ll see if I can find out what precisely the position is.  But I can tell you that, as I say, one letter has been received; now, a second letter has been received.  It is not a normal set of circumstances by any means — I am not saying it is unprecedented — but it’s certainly very unusual.  And therefore we need to look at the ramifications.  But the bottom line is that a sovereign State that is a Member State of the United Nations has the right both to name and to revoke their Permanent Representative or Deputy Permanent Representative.  And that is a fact.

Question:  Do you know who signed the letter from the Libyan authorities?

Spokesperson:  No, I don’t, no.  Last question, Matthew, yeah?

Question:  Sure, I wanted, this was also on the Secretariat and the Security Council.  There is a process in which the… Mr. [Atul] Khare of DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] was asking the Council for a letter for the Georgia… not, it’s actually… he says it’s not Georgia, it’s the incident prevention mechanism concerning Abkhazia and this… this representative of Ban Ki-moon, Antti Turunen, who works in Geneva on this issue, that somehow they need a letter from the Security Council in order to get budgeted money for this.  But some members were complaining that nothing seems to have happened on this matter since the Secretary-General made a proposal about a year ago.  So, I wanted to know if you can describe what actually is happening.  Is Mr. Antti Turunen being paid?  What’s the UN’s role in this, and why has it come about so late and what has been the problem in actually implementing it?

Spokesperson:  I am not sure that this is something that has come about late.  As you just said yourself, this is something that has been going on for some time, and the Geneva discussions continue.  And in fact, there was a further round today.  And so, the machinery is in place, those discussions continue.  The fifteenth round was held today.  I will see if I can find out more on precisely what is happening there.  But I think you can rest assured that the Secretary-General believes that Mr. Turunen’s role is an important one and the Geneva discussions are both useful and important.  And so, there is obviously a need for that to continue.  How that continues financially is something that is obviously under discussion, and if I can find out more, I’ll be happy to let you know.

Question:  I just am looking for a description of what Mr. Khare is seeking from the Council and how it… and if there is some blockage there?

Spokesperson:  As I said, if I can find out more I’d be happy to let you know.  All right, thank you.  Have a great weekend, thank you.

* *** *

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