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

12 May 2011

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

12 May 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, welcome to the briefing.

**Guest and Press Conferences Today

My guest today is Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  And she will be joining me shortly.

And then at 1:30 p.m., there will be a press conference to launch a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report entitled Decoupling Natural Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth.  The speakers will include Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

And then at 2:30 p.m., there will be a press conference to launch a new UN‑Habitat global report on human settlements.  And speakers will include Joan Clos, the Executive Director of UN‑Habitat.

**Guest Tomorrow

And there is also another press conference tomorrow — rather, my guest at the Noon Briefing — that will be Angela Kane, the Under-Secretary-General for Management.

** Libya

Fighting is blocking access to the western mountains area of Libya, where the World Food Programme, or WFP, believes food needs could be immense.  The World Food Programme Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, has appealed to all parties for safe access and for an immediate ceasefire so that the World Food Programme can deliver food assistance.

Although WFP has moved food through a supply route from the Tunisian border into western Libya to reach areas heavily affected by clashes, it has not yet been able to reach Yefrin and Zintan in the western mountains.  The supply route is now facing serious challenges due to insecurity in many of the areas, in addition to severe fuel shortages.  WFP chartered two ships to carry food and other relief items to Misrata, but shelling of the port is now making it more difficult to send aid.

** Haiti

The Secretary-General spoke by telephone yesterday with the Haitian President-elect Michel Martelly and congratulated him ahead of his inauguration Saturday.  The Secretary-General said he would be dispatching a high-level UN delegation to represent him at the inauguration.  The delegation will be headed by the Deputy Secretary-General [Asha-Rose Migiro] and will also include the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, and UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] Associate Administrator Rebecca Grynspan.

**Road Safety

The Secretary-General is taking part in an event on road safety with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; that is beginning about now.  The Secretary-General is to say that many of the 1.3 million deaths in traffic crashes every year are avoidable.  The Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety provides a road map, and our goal is to save 5 million lives between now and the year 2020.

**Global Model United Nations

Later this afternoon, the Secretary-General will address students attending the International High School Model United Nations Conference.  He is expected to tell the students that their leadership begins today.  He will express hope that they will be truly global citizens and the next generation of global leaders.

**Security Council

Susana Malcorra, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, participated in the Security Council’s open debate today concerning civilian capacity in peacebuilding.  Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Chair of the Senior Advisory Group that provided a report to the Security Council on civilian capacity, briefed the Council on that report’s recommendations, and Ms. Malcorra said that the Secretary-General welcomed the report’s direction.  The Secretary-General, she said, has stressed that the report’s emphasis on the need to do more within existing resources and to make better use of the systems already in place is in line with his own drive to build a more accountable, efficient and effective United Nations.  We have her remarks in my office.

** Cyprus

The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities today discussed police matters and their upcoming meeting with the Secretary-General.  The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Alexander Downer, said today’s talks were held in a very constructive environment.  The leaders’ next meeting will be held next Friday, 20 May.

That’s what I have.  I am happy to take questions until Ms. Figueres arrives to brief you.  So, please, questions?  Yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure, Martin, I want to ask you about Vijay Nambiar’s current trip to Myanmar.  It was said a couple of days ago that his itinerary would be more clear.  Has he met… been able to meet with ethnic minority groups, which was something that was requested last time he was there?  And also, will he be holding a press conference in the country, and if so, will all media be able to attend it, or will he hold one when he comes back here?  And what does the UN think of Myanmar seeking to lead ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations]?  Does Mr. Nambiar think that… does he have any view on that?  Does he think that’s a… that the time is right?

Spokesperson:  Well, on the question of whether there will be some kind of a press conference there or after Mr. Nambiar leaves Myanmar, we’re trying to find that out.  I think it is something that has not yet been decided.  But we’ll let you know.  As for the itinerary, that also is something where we need to find out a little bit more, because there are some details that needed to be put in place once they are on the ground.  As we’ve repeatedly said, the Secretary-General and his Special Adviser, Mr. Nambiar, have continuously worked to urge Myanmar to release all political prisoners, and will continue to raise this.  And the opportunity for the new Government to address this will again be stressed during the course of this visit, which is taking place right now.  As for the last question on ASEAN, we’ll leave that to ASEAN for now.

Question:  Do you know — just one other thing on this — do you know if he is raising the issue of child-soldier recruitment by the Government?  There was a press conference here yesterday at which this was discussed, and they are sometimes named as the largest Government recruiter of child soldiers in the world.  Is that something that he raises to them?

Spokesperson:  Again, I don’t have a full list of exactly what he is going to raise, but as I have said, and as Farhan [Haq] told you already in announcing this, this is, it’s a UN-mandated engagement with the authorities in Myanmar, and I am pretty sure that all relevant matters would be raised in the course of meetings.  And we obviously would like to be able to give you more details as soon as we can.  So, other questions?  Yes, James?

Question:  Thanks.  On Haiti and Mr. Martelly’s inauguration, the President-elect has spoken a few times about the need for Haiti to stand on its own two feet and to build a Haitian army and drawdown of UN peacekeepers.  Are there any discussions scheduled between Mr. Le Roy and the President-elect about this?

Spokesperson:  I’ll ask DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations].  I am not aware of anything along those lines.  I think that this is… the focus, at least as far as I understand it, is on the inauguration at this particular point.  Whether there are other discussions going on, I am sure my colleagues in DPKO could let me know.  But there are two factors to bear in mind.  One is that it is a Security Council-mandated presence, and that two, any presence requires the host country’s consent and involvement.  And so, any discussions would need to be seen in that framework.  Yes?

Question:  Yes, I heard that the Secretary-General is going to meet tomorrow with a representative from Kosovo and also from Serbia.  And today at the Security Council there will be the report from the Envoy, [Lamberto] Zannier.  My question is: we know that Serbia is asking for an investigation, independent investigation on human trafficking, human organ trafficking that happened during the war in 1999, and is asking the UN to be involved.  Kosovo instead is in the position that just the EULEX, the Europeans that are in the country at the moment, and that they are enough, they could handle the investigation.  My question is: what is the position of the Secretary-General on this?

Spokesperson:  Well, as you will have seen in the report you are referring to, the latest report on UNMIK — the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo — he has taken note of the adoption of the resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the report on the “investigation of allegations of inhuman treatment of people and the illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo” — that’s the title of the report.  The Secretary-General says in his report to the Council that there is a need for a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into these serious allegations with a strong witness-protection programme, and with the full cooperation of all relevant stakeholders.  And he adds that UNMIK is ready to extend its full cooperation to any investigation that may be conducted.  And that’s what it says in the report.  So, I see that…

Question:  Can I ask one more question?  You were, I guess, with the Secretary-General at that LDC [Least Developed Countries Conference]?

Spokesperson:  Yes.

Question:  So, I asked yesterday if he met with [Andry] Rajoelina, the Madagascar…

Spokesperson:  You got an answer, Matthew.

Question:  I did get an answer.  Now, I am staring at a photograph which he is greeting him, shaking hands, sitting at a table with him with [Turkish President Abdullah] Gül.  So, I guess I want to know, what… I should have maybe phrased it differently… he, do you… I mean, he greeted him…  How long did they talk?  Did they exchange any… how would you characterize that?

Spokesperson:  I would characterize this as a multilateral setting.  It was a dinner with in excess of 600 people present, many of whom would have shaken hands with the Secretary-General.  Many of whom probably shook hands with Mr. Rajoelina.  That’s, by definition, multilateral diplomacy.  And I see nothing untoward in that.  There was no bilateral meeting.  As I say, it was purely… it was the [Turkish] President’s invitation to a dinner that took place at the start of this conference — which is the main, which is a major conference, a pretty important conference.  As you know, it happens once every 10 years with high-level representation from many countries, looking at how we can try to reduce the number of countries on that list.  There are 48 countries on that list of least developed countries.  Our aim is to reduce that by half.

Question:  I understand all that, I just… I guess I want to say, because there is now some controversy in Madagascar and elsewhere, including in the AU [African Union], since he is viewed as a coup leader, did the Secretary-General or his staff approve the seating at this table with him?  Is there… do you have any response to that?  Do you think it’s unfortunate?

Spokesperson:  Well, Matthew, as I said, this is… first of all, this was an invitation from the President of Turkey.  There were 600-plus people in that room, seated at various tables.  This is the essence of multilateral diplomacy.  End of story. 

Yes, we have our guest here, and I am very happy to welcome Ms. Figueres to come and join me here.

[Press conference by Ms. Figueres is issued separately.]

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