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

11 April 2011

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

11 April 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.

Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to the briefing.

**Guest at Noon

My guest today is Ivan Šimonović, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights in New York, and he will be here to brief you on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire, following his mission there.  He will join me here shortly.

And then immediately following the briefing, there will be a press conference with Philippe Lazzarini, the Deputy Director of the Coordination and Response Division for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), on the situation in Libya.

** Côte d’Ivoire

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, briefed the Security Council on today’s developments in Côte d’Ivoire, in closed consultations this morning.

He told reporters afterwards that he could confirm that former President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife are in the Golf Hotel, in the custody of President Alassane Ouattara’s forces.  The UN mission (UNOCI) is providing protection and security, in accordance with its Security Council mandate.

Mr. Le Roy said the United Nations had repelled an attack on Saturday by the pro-Gbagbo forces against the residence of President Ouattara.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General had said that the continued use of heavy weapons against the civilian population and UN peacekeepers, as well as the attack against the headquarters of the legitimate Government, had compelled him, once again, to instruct the mission to use all necessary means to prevent the use of these weapons, pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1975 (2011) and 1962 (2010).

** Syria

In a telephone conversation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday, the Secretary-General said he was greatly disturbed by the latest reports of violence against protesters and concerned about the reports of the number of people killed and injured on Friday.

He said the killing of peaceful demonstrators was unacceptable and should be investigated.  He took note of the President’s intention to investigate and encouraged early action in this regard.  The Secretary-General underlined that violence from any side was deplorable.

The Secretary-General urged the release of detained demonstrators as soon as possible.  He took note of President Assad’s announced reforms and said he was convinced that there was no alternative to an immediate and inclusive dialogue on comprehensive reforms.

That’s what I have.  I am happy to take a couple questions before Mr. Šimonović joins me here.  Yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  There have been some reports over the weekend that the Arab League is considering requesting the Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza.  My question is whether any officials of the Arab League have communicated with the Secretary-General in the last few days to seek his views or to discuss this proposal for a no-fly zone over Gaza.

Spokesperson:  Not to my knowledge, no.  I don’t believe that’s the case, and it would indeed be a topic for the Security Council to take up.  Yes, Masood?

Question:  This agreement that the African Union announced with Colonel [Muammar al-]Qadhafi that there has been some sort of agreement, it’s going to be a way forward — do you have any elements of that agreement that you can share with us, and did they share that with the Secretary-General as to what happened?

Spokesperson:  No, I don’t have any details on that.  I am sure the African Union would be able to help you with that.  However, what I can tell you is, as I announced on Friday, I believe, that the Secretary-General will be chairing a conference on Libya this coming Thursday.  And that, as you know, will include the heads of the League of Arab States, which is hosting the event at its headquarters, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the European Union and the African Union.  So, there will be a chance, I am sure, at the very latest there for some kind of exchange on precisely what this entails.  The Secretary-General supports efforts and initiatives that help achieve key objectives of Security Council resolutions; and, namely, those objects are an end to hostilities, full access for humanitarian assistance and a political process to address fully the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Libyan people.

Question:  So far, what you are telling us is that the African Union has not shared anything, any agreement that Colonel Qadhafi, as yet, with the Secretary-General?

Spokesperson:  I am not aware of any details that may have been shared.  But that doesn’t mean that there haven't been discussions at other levels elsewhere that I am not aware of.  But clearly, as I have said, the very latest, come Thursday in Cairo, there will be an opportunity for the African Union to update the other organizations on how that has been going.  Yes, Mr. Abbadi, and then Erol?

Question:  Thank you, Martin.  When the UNOCI in Côte d'Ivoire use all necessary means, including force, to dislodge Mr. Gbagbo with the help of the French…

Spokesperson:  No, let’s stop you right there.  “All necessary means” applies to stopping the use of heavy weapons.  It’s not to do with Mr. Gbagbo, but his forces’ use of heavy weapons, which had to stop.

Question:  And the UN took action following that?  Were there any casualties?

Spokesperson:  I know that our mission has sustained casualties in recent days as a result of coming under fire from forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo.  In the latest operation that took place in the last 24 hours or so, I am not aware of any casualties.  If I get an update from the mission, I would let you know.  Erol?

Question:  Thank you.  A follow on Masood’s question:  Once the Secretary-General will have an opportunity to share the results of that negotiation in Tripoli, would he react, number one, with some kind of his, sharing his consideration of that?  And number two, as you have said before, does the Secretary-General prefer a particular political solution in the conflict in Libya?

Spokesperson:  Ultimately, there must be a political solution, of course.  There must a political process; there needs to be a halt, an end to the fighting for that to be able to take place with any durability.  So that’s really what this is about.  And obviously there is a need to closely coordinate what is happening amongst the regional organizations and international organizations and other partners.  That’s what is happening, that’s what the meeting in Cairo is about, that’s what the meeting in Doha the day before is also about — the Libya Contact Group that flowed out of the London conference recently.

Question:  Is it fair to say that the Secretary-General now is waiting to see what really has happened in that African Union meeting with Colonel Qadhafi, then to react?

Spokesperson:  I don’t think he has to wait.  I am sure he will be briefed on this; after all, he has a Special Envoy dealing with this topic, and I know that the UN continues to be in touch with the relevant Libyan sides through the Special Envoy’s contacts.  The Special Envoy will also, I am sure, be reaching out to the African Union and others.  As I say, the Secretary-General supports efforts and initiatives that help to achieve the key objectives of the Security Council resolutions.  Matthew?

Question:  Sure.  There are reports over the weekend of some pretty serious fighting in Darfur between the Government and now-united rebel front of [Minni] Minawi, Khalil [Ibrahim], Abdul Waheed.  And so they… the rebels claim they shot a helicopter down, there’s reports of tanks in the area, and I am just wondering, what’s UNAMID’s [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] response to this?  Can they confirm that?  Are they monitoring it or are they protecting civilians?  Why have we heard nothing about this?

Spokesperson:  Let me find out.  I am sure that my colleagues in UNAMID and DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] will give me an update as soon as they have one.  I do not have one here right now.

Question:  There is also, there is a report from Myanmar of 146 Rohingya now being in Government custody.  So, I was wondering whether the UN, whether through the good offices of Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar or otherwise, is aware of that and what will be done.  And maybe related, I wanted to know if Joseph Verner Reed still has a role with the UN, and whether this includes any role regarding Myanmar?

Spokesperson:  Let me find out on both of those.  And with that, I’d like to invite Mr. Šimonović to come and join me to brief you on his visit to Côte d'Ivoire. 

[Press conference by Mr. Šimonović issued separately]

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