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

31 March 2011

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

31 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 Farhan Haq, Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

**Secretary-General in Kenya

The Secretary-General is in Nairobi on the first full day of his visit to Kenya.  This morning, he launched his report on HIV/AIDS ahead of the high-level meeting on the topic at the General Assembly in June.

The Secretary-General said that, 30 years ago, AIDS had been a death sentence, but today people are living, striving and thriving with HIV.  He said we still battle discrimination, but people with HIV now find more acceptance than before.  The Secretary-General said it was now time to take a hard look at where we have succeeded and where we have failed, and why.  That is why the meeting next June is so important.

The Secretary-General later met President Mwai Kibaki and then Prime Minister Raila Odinga.  And we have provided readouts on both of those meetings.

Later, the Secretary-General and President Kibaki officially opened the new energy-efficient office complex at the UN compound in Gigiri in Nairobi.  The Secretary-General said the building was comfortable, efficient and a model of our sustainable future that could be replicated elsewhere.

The Secretary-General also had a range of meetings with senior UN officials based in Nairobi or visiting for the Chief Executives Board meeting.  That meeting, twice a year, brings together the heads of the specialized agencies, funds and programmes in the UN system.

** Côte d’Ivoire

We may have a statement on Côte d’Ivoire later this afternoon.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Choi Young-Jin, is closely following the unfolding events.  The UN mission there, UNOCI, says that he has been in contact with all the parties, in order to make sure that all civilians are not targeted and to find quick solutions to the humanitarian crisis, particularly in the west of the country.

The mission has deployed troops in Duékoué to protect some 10,000 internally displaced persons who found refuge in a church there.  The mission says that during the advance of the Forces Républicaines, we have seen several cases of human rights abuses and violations, including summary executions and arbitrary arrests.

UNOCI also says that it has recorded 32 new killings.  The total number of confirmed deaths due to post-electoral violence is now 494, according to the mission.

**Security Council

In a resolution passed yesterday afternoon, the Security Council urged all the Ivorian parties and other stakeholders to respect the will of the people and the election of Alassane Ouattara as President of Côte d’Ivoire, as recognized by ECOWAS, the African Union and the rest of the international community.

The Security Council expressed its concern at the recent escalation of violence and demanded an immediate end to the violence against civilians, including women, children and internally displaced persons.  It placed sanctions on Laurent and Simone Gbagbo and three of their associates.

Today is the last day of China’s Security Council presidency.   Colombia will assume the rotating presidency of the Council tomorrow.

**Press Conferences Today

We will have shortly with us our guest at today’s noon briefing Michael Adlerstein, the Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan (CMP).  He will be giving an update on where we are with the Capital Master Plan.  And then following this briefing, at 1 p.m., there will be a tour of the Capital Master Plan construction sites, starting right outside the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium.  That tour will take about an hour.

Also, at 1 p.m., there will be a press conference with the Chair of the Human Rights Committee, Zonke Majodina of South Africa, and Committee member Krister Thelin of Sweden on the conclusion of the Committee’s 101st session.

At 2 p.m., there will be a press conference with Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon of Pakistan, Ambassador Sirodjidin Aslov of Tajikistan and Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen, the Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the United Nations.

And then at 3 p.m., there will be a press conference to launch a new Secretary-General’s report that evaluates achievements in the global HIV response and sets out recommendations for the way forward.  And the speaker will be Dr. Mari Ortega, the Deputy Director of UNAIDS [Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS], in New York.

**Press Conferences Tomorrow

Then tomorrow, at 10 a.m., there will be a press conference with H.E. Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockman, the former President of the sixty-third session of the General Assembly and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua.

At 11 a.m., there will be a press conference with Ambassador Grigol Vashadze, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.

And then following the noon briefing, at approximately 12:30, Ambassador Néstor Osorio, Permanent Representative of Colombia and President of the Security Council for the month of April, will brief the press on the work of the Council for the month of April.

That’s it from me.  Any questions before we go on to our guest?  Yes, Nizar?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Farhan, the people of Bahrain are under collective punishment; they are denied access to their jobs; to go back, they are not paid their salaries and many of them are being kidnapped from homes and denied even hospitalization.  What are the next actions for such collective punishment of people?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  As you are aware, the Secretary-General has made several statements in recent weeks concerning the situation in Bahrain.  And he continues to monitor events, including by staying in touch with our colleagues on the ground.  One of the points I would like to reiterate is that he has repeatedly called on all sides to exercise maximum restraint.  He has called on the Government of Bahrain and the security forces from the Gulf Cooperation Council to abide by their duty to protect civilians and uphold human rights, including freedom of assembly.  Yes, please?

Question:  Thank you.  My question is about Libya.  So, let me confirm, if the Secretary-General received a letter from Mr. Qadhafi to inform that Mr. d’Escoto was nominated as the Permanent Representative to Libya.  And the second question is related to it.  Do you think the United Nations can approve Mr. d’Escoto, who doesn’t have Libyan citizenship, as a representative of Libya?  Thank you.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Regarding that, first of all, we haven’t formally received — we haven’t officially received any letter from Libya regarding any change of credentials involving Father d’Escoto.  We did receive a copy of a note verbale from Nicaragua, which was not addressed to the UN, but to all Permanent Missions in New York.  And that note verbale attached a copy of the letter from Musa Kousa to the Secretary-General concerning the appointment of Mr. d’Escoto as representative of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to the UN.  We wish to stress that the attached letter was not received officially by the UN; it was hence not logged.  Yes?

Question:  How about the announcement; the second question?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, your second question is contingent on your first.  Like I said, we haven’t formally received anything from Libya concerning a change of credentials.  Erol?

Question:  The Secretary-General, I think in the last day or so, made some comments concerning the Israeli, quote, occupation, since 1967.  And he, I think described it as immoral and unsustainable.  Is there a concern on the Secretary-General’s part that he’s essentially inserted himself into the negotiation of the boundaries?  Is he saying that he thinks those boundaries of a Palestinian State should be set at the pre-1967 lines, and is he also inserting himself into what the Security Council really has under its jurisdiction, in prior resolutions?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I think I will just refer you to the full text of what he said, which is on our website.  It is a message that was delivered to a meeting on a two-state solution that was held a few days ago in Montevideo, Uruguay.  And the full statement gives the context.

Question:  I have read the full statement, but it doesn’t address specifically, is he saying that the boundary should be pre-1967, since he referred to an immoral, unsustainable occupation since 1967?  And if so, isn’t he inserting himself into the negotiation process that is within the jurisdiction of the Security Council?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  First of all, the Secretary-General is involved in the Middle East peace process through his role in the Quartet. I would refer you to the statements of the Quartet, which do pronounce themselves on the range of issues that you are talking about.  And that’s where we stand on that.

Question:  A follow-up on that?  On this same question, are you saying…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  On his question? Sure.

Question:  I just wanted to ask this:  the press conference by Mr. d’Escoto Brockman had been scheduled today for 10 a.m. and then it came off the Media Alert.  Can you explain?  Some have said that the US complained to the Secretariat.  I’d just like to know what the steps were that led to the cancellation and the posting of security officers in front of the briefing room this morning.  Why did it get cancelled and did Susan Rice speak to the Secretariat and did the Secretariat speak to the Nicaraguan Mission and cancel it?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  First of all, it’s not cancelled.  Like I just told you, it’s rescheduled to tomorrow morning.

Question:  Why?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Secondly, as you know, a number — that’s not the only thing that we rescheduled from this morning.  There were three press briefings from the morning that have either been rescheduled to this afternoon or tomorrow.  There was a problem involving the usage of the room.  I know that as for the question of the security guards, that was resolved fairly quickly, but there was some surveying work going on in this room, which has now ended.

Question:  Did the US complain to the UN?  I am just saying, is the reason really some unscheduled construction work or just, can you disclose what the communications were between any mission and the Secretariat, and the Secretariat and the Nicaraguan Mission?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No, I don’t know.  Anyone can have their views of these Missions; anyone can have views about briefings.  However, the point is the briefing is rescheduled; it is taking place tomorrow.

Question:  Just to be… it’s not about views, I am asking what the Secretariat… what it… who it heard from and what it did.  Just factually, not views.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t know about the Secretariat as a whole.  Yes?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  Actually, the second question of my colleague from NHK was whether somebody who does not have the citizenship of the country, in certain issue is the citizenship of Libya, could represent Libya?  And secondly, since Mr. Musa Kousa obviously defected, does that in any form or shape affect that letter that was as a note verbale circulated among the Missions?  How do you view on that, I mean from a legal and political point?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Those sorts of legal issues would be the sort of things to be explored if and when we receive a formal request.  However, we have not received a formal request.  So we are not looking into any of those legal issues, whether they concern the status of Mr. Musa Kousa’s signature or whether they concern questions of visa status or citizenship.  Yes?

Question:  It’s about the press conference by d’Escoto.  He was scheduled today at 10 a.m.  I called the Nicaraguan Mission, I understood they told me you said maybe you decided that, like at 6 p.m. later yesterday in the evening, to postpone, to cancel or to eliminate it if, and then today you announce…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, I think this question has been asked by your colleagues.  But for your information, the…

Question:  The Nicaraguan Mission said, at least they said there was no space, no room at 10 a.m.  But they think there was no press conference at the same time.  And then I don’t understand exactly which was the official reason to postpone…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Like I just said a few minutes ago, a number of press conferences this morning were rescheduled either for this afternoon or until tomorrow.  Technically, we were told that the room was in use in the morning time.  That has now changed, but two of the morning’s press conferences are now taking place, have been rescheduled to the afternoon, and the one with Father d’Escoto has been rescheduled for tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.

Question:  And tomorrow he is going to speak on behalf of who?  Is it Nicaragua’s Mission who organized the press conference?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  It is the Nicaraguan Mission that has organized this.  It is the Nicaraguan Mission that will moderate the press conference.

Question:  And then he is going to speak officially about Libya, or because he works with the President of Nicaragua?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  He may do so.  But this is something being organized by the Nicaraguan Mission and it is their press conference that they will moderate. And of course, he will speak in his capacity as a former Nicaraguan official.  Yes?

Question:  Yeah, I just want to know, do you have any reaction to the Human Rights Watch report issued, I think, late last night about Israel… about two laws being passed in Israel, by the Israeli Knesset, which are discriminatory towards the Palestinians and the Arabs?  Does the Secretary-General have any reaction to that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I’ll check.  We don’t have anything to say about that just yet, but I’ll check for you whether there is anything.  I believe… Okay, two last questions and then we’ll get to our guest; Mr. Adlerstein is now here.  Matthew and then Rhonda.  Yes?

Question:  I want to ask you about Sudan.  President [Omer al-] Bashir has now proposed to have a referendum.  The JEM [Justice and Equality Movement] and even the LJM [Liberation and Justice Movement] are saying that this constitutes an ending of the Doha forum or process.  And I wonder… Bashir has also said that there will be no vote in Abyei without the Misseriya nomadic tribes voting.  And I am wondering, in these two instances in Sudan where there are two UN peacekeeping missions, what’s the response of UNMIS [United Nations Mission in Sudan], on Abyei and of [Djibril] Bassolé or [Ibrahim] Gambari?  And can you confirm that Gambari has been in New York, and if so, why?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I can’t confirm Mr. Gambari’s travels.  Regarding Abyei, we’re aware of the comments and rhetoric that have come from various officials regarding the Abyei issue.  We are proceeding forward with the parties to make sure that there is agreement and that the Kadugli agreement is implemented, and also that the referendum can proceed.  Yes?

Question:  My question was about news stories have said that the reason that Father Brockman was being appointed was because former [General Assembly] President [Ali Abdussalam] Treki was not granted a visa by the US to come to represent Libya.  Is there any comment about that?  And is there a problem with the United States not granting a visa to a member nation?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No, as far as that goes, I can’t comment on visa status, that’s a question for the United States.  And with that, Mr. Adlerstein?

[The press conference by Michael Adlerstein is issued separately.]

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