Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

28 April 2011

Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

28 April 2011
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

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

and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon.

**Security Council

In consultations this morning, the Security Council received an update from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe on the situation in Libya.

Mr. Pascoe also provided the Security Council with an update on Syria in an open meeting yesterday afternoon.  He told Council members that the anti-Government demonstrations that had started in mid-March have gradually, but steadily, increased in geographic scope and participation.

The Syrian authorities, he said, have reacted with a mix of reform measures and increasingly violent repression.  The Secretary-General has condemned the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators and called for an independent, transparent and effective investigation into the killings.

The Security Council also renewed the arms sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire this morning by one year, until the end of April 2012.

** Libya

Speaking of Libya, Libya is at risk of a full-blown food security crisis within the next 45 to 60 days, warns the World Food Programme (WFP).  WFP stresses that the country’s food security system has been severely disrupted and the country is unable to import enough food, due to disruption of port activities and the lack of fuel.  It also says that immediate steps must be taken to increase the flow of commercial goods, to replenish stocks of food and inputs for local production, and to maintain social safety nets.


The United Nations strongly supports all efforts for progress towards reunification of Gaza and the West Bank within the framework of the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), on which progress is overdue.  Reunification is essential for achieving a two-State solution that should be reached through negotiations.

In this regard, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, notes with much interest the agreement recently announced between representatives of the two main Palestinian factions and the important contribution of Egypt in this regard.  He hopes that reconciliation will now take place in a manner that promotes the cause of peace, and he will continue to follow developments closely.

** Côte d’Ivoire

In Côte d’Ivoire, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that armed militias continue to attack the population in the western part of the country and insecurity is hampering the access of humanitarian workers to those in need.

The Office says that those who have chosen to remain in these areas need assistance with the water supply, health and food.  During the last two weeks, these populations have only received limited assistance in the form of medical care given through mobile clinics.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also says that the number of people at the Catholic mission in Duékoué remains a source of concern, with an estimated 28,000 people sheltered there.  It says that the opening of another site is imperative to improve the living conditions of the internally displaced.

That’s it from me.  And I believe also today, Jean Victor Nkolo, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, will be coming shortly.  Yes, Masood?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  On this Bahrain court sentencing four protesters to death today, who were accused of maybe trying to kill the policemen over there, do you have any reaction to that?  And, of course, there is an ongoing crisis, because in Bahrain the killing of the protesters is going on by the police, but now the Bahraini court has stepped in and civilians are being now being sentenced to death; that is like a double jeopardy.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, regarding that, concerning the human rights situation as a whole, we have made clear, both the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, have made clear their concerns about the human rights situation in the country.  Concerning that, the Secretary-General has also called on the Bahraini authorities to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid excessive use of force.  Regarding courts, of course, we don’t comment on the activities by countries’ court systems, but you are aware of the concerns that the United Nations has expressed as a point of principle about capital punishment in general.  Yes?

Question:  Sure, I want to ask about Darfur and also Sri Lanka.  In Darfur there are… the Justice and Equality Movement has alleged that the Government has began using land mines in North Darfur.  And they say that they have asked UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] to go and remove them or to verify them there.  It’s been out for about 36 hours, this story, and I wonder:  has UNAMID reacted to that?  Is it true?  Is it not true?  What’s UNAMID doing about this?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we don’t have any immediate reaction from UNAMID to this.  Of course, demining is one of the tasks that UN missions tend to take once we have the ability and the mandate to do so.  But I don’t have any particular reaction on…

Question:  Yeah, I’m sorry, they are saying that these are newly planted mines, that they are not old remnants of war, that, in fact, the Government is planting mines, and so I am just wondering, is that the kind of thing that UNAMID would go and check out?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, first we would have to collect information to make sure that there is… we are always aware of reports from either side about different types of conflict or militarization, and then, first we would need to check those out.  If there are mines in place, we would take action to make sure that they would be demined.  Yes?

Question:  Good morning.  Thank you.  Speaking of Libya, you spoke about the food situation there getting beyond dire.  My last understanding is that ships were getting in and out of Misrata with relative ease, relative to the situation there, I suppose.  Has that changed at all?  Can you elaborate on any of the things that you said about the Libyan food problems right now?  Are they having tougher problems docking ships, getting food to the places it needs to be?  I know that’s been a problem all along, but how can you elaborate on that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, food aid has been coming in, and as you can see from what I just said, the food crisis is not an immediate problem.  What we are talking about is, in a few weeks from now, possibly even in two months from now, you could have a problem in providing food assistance.  So we are trying, in other words, to get ahead of the curve, alert people to the needs to get more food in and be able to get it to the people right now so that you don’t have a crisis further down the line.  At present, people are being fed and we’ve been able to get food in.  But of course the problem is the amounts that are able to come in, whether it would be enough to sustain people several weeks or months down the line.  Yes?

Question:  Just a follow-up on Libya.  In Libya, the situation as it goes on, the Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister has said that whenever they declare a ceasefire, the other, the rebels attack them.  How does one monitor, as the Secretary-General can monitor that the ceasefire resolution, it had two parts, both sides, how do you do that?  That’s where the whole thing… each side is blaming each other for violating the ceasefire.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, well, we, of course, are doing what we can to keep the Security Council informed.  In fact, even as we speak right now, Mr. Pascoe is in the process of briefing the Security Council about the situation on the ground in Libya.  And, of course, it is up to the Security Council Sanctions Committee on Libya to determine how the sanctions resolutions are implemented and to make sure that it’s being abided with.  Yes, Matthew?

Question:  Yes, sure, I wanted to ask on Sri Lanka, then just a couple of things.  One is that since the publication of the Panel of Experts report there has been… the Lanka e-News, an opposition or non-Government-controlled media there has been ordered shut.  There are also these calls for protests on 1 May by Minister [Wimal] Weerawansa and others.  What’s the UN… what do they have to say about the seeming crackdown on media and what steps…?  What would you have to say to Sri Lankan Government ministers planning protests at UN premises on 1 May?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, regarding these reports, we would need to check on that.  But, of course, we want to make sure that all media are able to exercise, to go about their work freely, as in all countries.  Secondly, regarding the 1 May demonstrations, in light of the demonstrations that took place in July, it would be unacceptable if the authorities failed to prevent any disruption of the normal functioning of the UN offices in Sri Lanka as a result of unruly protests.  As the host country, the Government has responsibilities towards UN personnel and assets, so as to ensure the continuation of the vital work of the Organization without any hindrance or threats to the security of its personnel or facilities.  And we have reminded the Government of its responsibility and trust that this will be done.  Mr. Abbadi? 

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  Yesterday, in his address to the Information Committee, Under-Secretary-General Kiyo Akasaka called on the countries that host United Nations Information Centres to provide those centres with free rent premises or subsidized rents.  Do any countries involved at the present time provide such assistance?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I am not aware of what the assistance is on a country-by-county level.  What we could do is try and see whether you could talk to someone in Mr. Akasaka’s Office who could provide you with further information on that.  Kristen?

Question:  There have been some reports from various news agencies quoting the Director of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] saying, confirming essentially that a target hit in Syria back in 2007, I think it was, was a nuclear facility or preparing to have nuclear facilities.  Is there anything that the Secretary-General knows about this you can say or confirm?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No, I’d refer you over to Mr. [Yukiya] Amano, he did… the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency has been talking, has been giving some interviews, and so we would refer you to the text of the interviews.  But you can be in touch with the IAEA directly about his remarks.

Question:  Do they have any impact, however, on the situation there now and does it raise the level of concern by the international community and that the Secretary-General has to…?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly briefed its Board of Governors about the situation in Syria as it tries to accumulate more information about what type of programme was there on the ground.  So, we would leave that discussion to go on between the IAEA and the Board of Governors and see what they can resolve.  Yes?

Question:  Thanks.  I understand that Under-Secretary-General Pascoe is briefing the Security Council on Libya now.  I would imagine that the Secretary-General would be privy to that brief.  Has he reacted to this ongoing briefing yet in any way, and do you know what news Under-Secretary-General Pascoe might be delivering to the Security Council on Libya?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the news that Mr. Pascoe is delivering is on behalf of the Secretary-General, so, yes, it’s a briefing by Mr. Pascoe, but it is the information that the Secretary-General would want to convey on our side to the Security Council.  Yes?

Question:  On this cost-cutting measures which are being stipulated by the Secretary-General, to the tune of $155 million, which the Group of 77 nations have protested, which also includes their [inaudible] deduction in… printing costs and personnel over there and so forth… but the G-77 says that those measures, some of the measures that have been introduced were not… they were not consulted at any way by the Secretary-General and his staff.  So, is that the case and the $155 million is a target, or is it going to be more than that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No, the discussions with the Member States will continue, including with the Group of 77, and we want to continue a dialogue with all the Member States about how the budget will be developed.  But we are trying… the Secretary-General is trying to see what we can do to live within our means, to do more with less, because we are aware that the Governments on whom we depend are themselves going through a period of austerity.  And so, we want to be understanding of the sort of problems that they face.  But having said that, of course, the way we’ll go about that will be through a dialogue with the Member States as a whole.  And I believe Jean Victor can tell you a bit more about that after I am done.  Yes?

Question:  I just want to know, is the figure $155 million or is it going to be more or less, because that’s the figure that is being used as what the G-77 says so far.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I don’t want us to get locked in a figure until the dialogue has been completed, but the Secretary-General’s intention was within his own operations to see whether we could achieve savings of three per cent across the board from the workings of the UN programmes.  Yes?

Question:  I have two quick questions.  One related to… maybe related or not, but you’ve confirmed the receipt of this letter from the New York State AFL-CIO about the elimination of union positions in the Broadcast Engineering Department; I just wonder, it was said at the time that the letter was being studied.  It’s been in there more than a month.  Has… Is the UN going to write back to this…?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t think it has been more than a month.  I think it’s a couple of weeks ago.

Question:  Well, it’s dated at least in March.  It’s dated… it’s a March letter, and I just… all I wanted to… I just want to make sure, I don’t want to say like the “studied” means it’s not going to be responded to or is it… it has 2.5 million members, it’s a major New York State union, is it going to be answered?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Certainly, and when we have a response to give, I’ll let you know.

Question:  And I wanted to ask about Ivory Coast, does it… can the UN confirm the reported death of [Ibrahim] Coulibaly, who was a major rebel leader, he’s supposed to be in charge of the “Invisible Commandos”, and if so, what was the UN, UNOCI [United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire], doing during this fighting and does UNOCI believe it still has a mandate to stop the use of heavy weapons even now with [Laurent] Gbagbo out of the picture?  Is it willing to stop Coulibaly or any other fighters’ use of heavy weapons in Abidjan?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yeah, the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire has made every effort to bring the parties to the negotiating table in an effort to facilitate reconciliation between the Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire and Ibrahim Coulibaly's “Invisible Commandos” group.  A meeting was held on Tuesday, 26 April, attended by Generals of the impartial forces and a representative of Mr. Coulibaly's forces.  Yesterday, UNOCI, at Mr. Coulibaly's own request, sent a patrol to Abobo to escort him to Sebroko for negotiations with the Republican Forces of Cote d’Ivoire.  However, upon arrival, Mr. Coulibaly changed his mind and refused to come with the patrol.  Fighting subsequently ensued between the Republican Forces and Mr. Coulibaly's forces, after the UNOCI patrol had left the area.  UNOCI was not involved in the ensuing military operation.  Yes?

Question:  Well, what’s its role on the fighting?  I don’t understand.  Why did they leave when they were already fighting?  I just, I am sorry, I want to follow up exactly what you read; if in fact the Republican Forces were fighting with this other warlord there, isn’t that exactly what UNOCI is there to do?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No, the fighting happened after UNOCI had left.  They left the area after Mr. Coulibaly changed his mind and refused to come with the patrol.

Question:  But wasn’t it foreseeable that these two forces would fight?  I just want to understand…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  “Foreseeable”?

Question:  Foreseeable, they’re obviously combating each other, so it just seems like a very strange…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  So, you are blaming them for not predicting what happened down there?

Question:  No, no, I am saying, isn’t… does it…what I want to know is, what’s UNOCI’s protection of civilians and putting down the violence role going forward?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, we are not talking about civilians, first of all.  Second of all, they were doing what they could to have the parties resolve the situation through negotiations and through peaceful means.  The fighting did break out after UNOCI had left the area.  Yes?

Question:  Farhan, I’m sure you’ve heard the reports about the death sentences passed today in Bahrain against four people?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, your colleague just asked about that and I have already made my comments on that.  Yes, Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  This morning, an explosion took place in Marrakesh in the centre of town, a violent act which led to the death of 14 people and more than 20 injured, including tourists.  Does the Secretary-General condemn this violent act?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Right now, first we’re looking at the details behind the reports.  We’ve sent the media reports and we’re trying to get some further information.  Yes?

Question:  Farhan, since it has been confirmed now that the letter from the authorities of Serbia was received regarding the request for the investigation, with the mandate of the Security Council, for the illicit trade of organs in Kosovo, can you tell us anything, when any action is expected?  And did anybody from Belgrade, Belgrade authorities call the Secretary-General or talk to him recently?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: I am not aware of any recent calls by the authorities in Belgrade with the Secretary-General.  Regarding the letter…

Question:  But with somebody else?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  The calls that we are aware of were the calls that are to, or from the Secretary-General.  I don’t know about the system as a whole.  Regarding the response to the letter, however, what I can tell you is that the UN Mission in Kosovo [UNMIK] has provided whatever relevant information it has to EULEX [European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo] so that EULEX can follow up on that.

Question:  And what is the relevant information that they have?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  They accumulated some information a few years back and whatever information they have, it’s now in the hands of EULEX to evaluate.  And with that — Jean Victor?

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Bon après-midi, and good afternoon.  Good to see you again.

**President Deiss official visit to Austria

We’ll start with the official visit to Austria by President Deiss.

Mr. Joseph Deiss, the President of the General Assembly, concluded today a two-day official visit to Austria.  President Deiss met with Heinz Fischer, Federal President of the Republic of Austria, and Michael Spindelegger, Vice-Chancellor and Minister for European and International Affairs, as well as with Barbara Prammer, President of the National Council of Austria and the spokesperson of the parties represented in the Austrian Parliament.

Topics discussed included United Nations reform in general and Security Council reform in particular, the situation in Libya and Syria, the concept of the responsibility to protect, the priorities of the President for the sixty-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly, Austria's candidature for the Human Rights Council, disarmament as well as cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

President Deiss thanked the Austrian authorities for their country's strong support to the United Nations in general and to the General Assembly in particular, highlighting, for instance, Austria's contribution to the recent informal thematic debate of the Assembly on the rule of law.

President Deiss also visited the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV).  He met with the Director-General of UNOV and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mr. Yuri Fedotov, with whom he discussed the various activities of UNODC, including those related to the rule of law.  With the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella, the President discussed the green economy and UNIDO's activities in that area.  He also met with senior officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

President Deiss also delivered a speech on global governance at the Foreign Policy and United Nations Association of Austria.

That’s what I have for you today.  Questions?  Yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Welcome back, Jean Victor.  I actually wanted to ask you that before, I was just waiting to see on the scene.  Did the President of the General Assembly recently or at any stage talk to his predecessor Mr. Abdussalam Treki?  Does he know where is he?  Did he ask him, as his predecessor, does he need something or this or that since they were performing the same duty as colleagues?

Spokesperson:  The President of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly has not spoken or tried to speak to his predecessor.  In the line of what is done in this house, he will rather aim to speak to his successor when the transition phase starts.  So there has not been a communication.

Question:  A follow-up on that?  Under a clearly human basis; wouldn’t he talk to him at all?  Are you saying because of the situation or it’s not a principle of how they communicate?

Spokesperson:  No, I think that the communication has not been initiated; it has not happened.  I cannot second-guess why on a human or other basis, but what I can tell you is that, generally speaking, a sitting President of the General Assembly intends and envisages to speak and interact with the successor, usually.  Not necessarily with the predecessor.  Not usually. 

Question:  But if they predecessor or any of the President of the General Assembly would like to see the current President, wouldn’t he talk to any of the [inaudible]?

Spokesperson:  Oh, there is indeed a structure for that.  There is…

Question:  For example, if the President of the General Assembly Mr. Brockman would like to talk to him and ask him something to exchange the views and say would he talk to him?

Spokesperson:  This is not the prerogative of a sitting president.  There is a structure for that.  There is a grouping that includespast Presidents of the General Assembly.  They meet once in a while and it is in that grouping that they meet and exchange news and views on ongoing affairs of past or current General Assembly sessions.  So, it is within that framework.  I will check if something withinthat group may have happened, but…

Question:  And just a last question on that; since you mention that grouping.  Does that mean that any former President of the General Assembly would automatically be eligible to get a visa to come here, if they are meeting in New York?

Spokesperson:  Oh, that is a totally different matter.  You have to ask the Secretariat, because the getting of the visa has to do with the Host Country in foreseen functions, not in past capacities.  So, this is something you may want to check with both the Host Country and theSecretariat. So, I don’t think this is relevant, the question of the visa of the President of the sixty-fourth session.  Yes, Dr. Abdelkader?

Question:  Thank you, and welcome back.  Besides Austria, does the President of the General Assembly have any other plans to visit other countries in other continents?

Spokesperson:  Absolutely.  The President will soon be attending the least developed countries conference in Istanbul.  And whenever he is abroad and he is meeting foreign dignitaries when he is on an official capacity abroad, you will be informed, as we have done consistently.  We will keep you informed, indeed.  Yes, Masood?

Question:  [inaudible] I don’t know where you had gone, [inaudible] these people.  But in any case, what I am saying, and when I talked to you last time, we had asked about this briefing from Ambassador [Zahir] Tanin on the Security Council reforms.  And you had said that he would come, but obviously he is too busy, I am sure too, or the negotiations are at a stage that they cannot come and comment on it at this, on this reform process?

Spokesperson:  First, Masood, I am very grateful, I thank you for your kind words.  I love coming here, obviously, and it is always with great pleasure.  But, I also want to come here when I have some added value and some real news to share with you.  But I am always in my office, I am always a telephone call away or an e-mail away and I have continued to respond to queries systematically and quickly, as much as I can.

Question:  Thank you.  I thought that since my colleague over here was talking about the fact thatyou were away, I thought you were away.  But I didn’t think that; I thought you are still here.

Spokesperson:  I see you regularly, so you should inform our colleagues that we meet, we discuss…

Question:  [inaudible]

Spokesperson:  Absolutely.  No problem.  No, I thank you very much for that, this is great camaraderie.  But I am always on the phone or by e-mail and I only come here when it is necessary or useful.  But for Ambassador Tanin, we have put the request to him and there is a tentative agreement that he would do so.  It is a question of arranging a date.  And he will be with you.  And I will push so that this happens promptly.  But, he has no problem pursuing that.

Question:  [inaudible] one year since he announced the historic changes in that [inaudible] we met last year.

Spokesperson:  [laughter] But he briefed you only a few months ago.  So, the intergovernmental negotiations are very complex and I think credit has to be given to those who chairing these negotiations that they are, we now have reached, I think, a third stage of documental draft in what he is doing.  But he will be better placed to tell you the details of this.  These are very complex issues that have been ongoing for years.  [inaudible] substantive progress is being made, but he will tell you this, or whatever the situation is on that front.

Question:  Did you just say substantive progress is being made or has not been made?

Spokesperson:  Well, what I am saying is that this year, indeed, we have seen progress that has been fast paced more than in previous years, if you put all that into perspective, into the spectrum of time that this whole intergovernmental negotiationsstarted on Security Council reform.

Question:  Okay.

Spokesperson:  Matthew?

Question:  Okay, nice to see you here, as others have said.  I want to ask you about two votes and then something else.  But I have heard there is an upcoming vote on this request by the European Union for, I don’t know, some people call it special status for the status of the General Assembly, and I wanted to know is that true, when is it scheduled to be taken up by the General Assembly and is it your understanding that CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and other regional groups have agreed to this, or is still, is Mr. Deiss involved in any way in trying to resolve this?  Where does it stand?

Spokesperson:  First, Mr. Deiss is the guardian and implements strictly the procedures of the General Assembly.  He doesn’t go beyond that.  He does exactly what he has to do.  With regard to this special status, I think we have to leave it to where we left it, which is the vote that was passed in the General Assembly when this question was formally brought to the floor in a very official fashion.  Whatever will come next, or whatever is being discussed in the corridors, this is still a matter of speculation.  So, President Deiss is not involved in that… at this level.  We will have to wait and see if there is the formal setting up of a meeting or proceeding at the General Assembly, and it should be left to Member States to decide, as they did last time.

Question:  [inaudible] I mean, I am just saying like previous Presidents of the General Assembly have gotten involved sometimes in things that were going to come to a vote.  I’ve heard that the European Union thinks they can get this without a vote, but that CARICOM is actually going to call for a vote.  So, that’s why I am, I mean, I guess that’s why I am asking you.  But maybe we’ll just see…

Spokesperson:  What previous Presidents of the General Assembly might have done or might not have done is one thing.  But, in the current status the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Deiss, will only do what the proceedings and the rules of procedures allow him to do.

Question:  Sure.  May I ask this other… I wanted to ask…

Spokesperson:  Sure.

Question:  The report came out this week, it was issued at last by the UN on presumptive war crimes in Sri Lanka, and it said that the Secretary-General should implement an international investigative mechanism.  The Secretary-General has said he will only do that, he believes he… he’s advised he can only do that if there is a vote, either Sri Lanka agrees, which isn’t happening, or there is a vote by Member States and an intergovernmental body, one of which is the General Assembly.  So, I wanted to know, has the Secretariat made any request that you are aware of whether to Deiss or to any committee or in any way to the General Assembly for that this matter be taken up, that this 200 page war crimes report be considered in the General Assembly?

Spokesperson:  Three things:  First, I will check and come back to you if there has been such a request.  Second, you certainly do not expect me to comment on statements that the Secretary-General may or may not have made.  The first thing is that, indeed, the Human Rights Council is a subsidiary organ to the General Assembly, and we’ll have to wait that initial steps be taken at the level of Geneva before we can jump into that.

Question:  [inaudible] not to be dispute, but, like, Ban Ki-moon asked for the General Assembly to consider the credentials on Côte d'Ivoire.  That was very open, it was done immediately.  So, there is… I mean, you will… there… so, I just want to know, maybe I have missed it, has Ban Ki-moon made any similar request for General Assembly action on this matter?

Spokesperson:  We are not in disagreement, but even on the question of Côte d'Ivoire, I would like to add a caveat, that it was not that immediate as — in repeating the word that you used.  What happened is that it first had to go through the Credentials Committee, and then the Credentials Committee had to submit a report, and a resolution was thereafter submitted and adopted at the General Assembly.  So, these things always have to follow a procedure.  I know, it can be sometimes frustrating for some, but we have to abide by what is set in the procedures.

Question:  But I… the only thing… and this will be the last… I just wanted to know whether any request is, are you aware of any request to the General Assembly as Mr. Ban did in that instance, I mean, he said publicly there was a meeting on the North Lawn Building with the General Assembly, and he said “I’d like you do x”, and they did it.

Spokesperson:  On that, I said, I will check…

Question:  Okay.

Spokesperson:  …and come back to you, and if you can maybe call me this afternoon, we’ll find out.

Question:  Will do.

Spokesperson:  Yes?

Question:  As a follow up to Matthew’s question on the European Union’s [inaudible] special status, whatever we call it, do we know the dynamics, when we are expecting that.  You said everything, but still, do we have any indications when it will come up as the discussion or [inaudible]?

Spokesperson:  First, some Member States or some regional group has to take the initiative to bring the matter in a formal way and in accordance with procedures.

Question:  Are you aware of any such…?

Spokesperson:  I will double-check again.  For the time being, I am not aware of any such process being formally submitted through the office of the President.  But I will check and come back to you on that.  And I promise you that if you want to see me more often, you will, but I will do so only when I really have something.  Otherwise, you can meet me any time in this campus.

[The Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly later clarified that as Agenda item 120, the draft resolution A/65/L.64/rev.1 sponsored by Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom on “Strengthening the United Nations system” and titled “Participation of the European Union in the work of the United Nations General Assembly” will be tabled to the General Assembly on 3 May 2011.  In the absence of President Deiss, the meeting will be chaired by Ambassador Zahir Tanin, the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, in his capacity as Acting President of the General Assembly].

Question:  All right, you should not organize that coffee in front of cameras then.

Spokesperson:  No problem.  Thank you very much; you have a good afternoon.  Bye-bye.

* *** *

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