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

7 July 2011

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

7 July 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, everyone.

**Secretary-General in Geneva

The Secretary-General held his third meeting with the Cypriot leaders, Dimitris Christofias and Dervis Eroglu, today in Geneva.  He said afterward that the meeting was useful and productive.  Some of the difficulties standing in the way of reaching a comprehensive agreement were identified, and both leaders made it clear that they are aiming to reach a comprehensive solution as soon as possible.

The Secretary-General stated to Mr. Christofias and Mr. Eroglu that, while he agrees that the negotiations must be Cypriot-led and Cypriot-owned, he is prepared to offer an enhanced United Nations involvement, without prejudice to this central principle.  Both leaders have accepted his offer.

The leaders have agreed to enter into an intensive period of negotiations on the core issues when they return to the island, the Secretary-General added.  He said that he has every expectation that by October, the leaders will be able to report that they have reached convergence on all core issues, and they will meet the Secretary-General that month in New York.

The Secretary-General also launched the 2011 Millennium Development Goals Report today.  He said the report paints a mixed picture, warning that progress has been uneven, with the poorest of the poor being left behind.  And we have his remarks available in our office.

** Sudan

Haile Menkerios, the head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), spoke to the press today and said that, in two days’ time, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement Interim Period will come to a close.  Most of the key benchmarks of that Agreement have been implemented, he said, while noting the remaining problems in Abyei.

Mr. Menkerios added that a new conflict has started in early June in Southern Kordofan, with extremely worrying consequences for the civilian population.  He once more urged the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North to display the same leadership that allowed the end of the North-South war, to rapidly end this new confrontation, cease hostilities and resolve all pending disputes through dialogue.

As in the past, he said, the United Nations stands ready to assist the parties in resolving their differences and implementing new agreements.  We have his remarks available in our office.

**OCHA/Nigeria

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, discussed how to enhance the cooperation between the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Nigeria in the country’s capital yesterday.

She voiced hope that the partnership can be strengthened to ensure that Nigeria is even better prepared in case something unexpected happens.

Ms. Amos also held talks in Abuja with officials from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the humanitarian situation in the region.

**Security Council

The Security Council heard a briefing this morning on the situation in the Central African Republic by the new head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in that country, Margaret Vogt.

She noted the accomplishments of the past two years, including the establishment of key institutions and enlargement of freedom of the press, but added that the Central African Republic still faces serious challenges, including extreme poverty, weak national institutions, corruption, a high rate of violent crimes, human rights violations and impunity.  And we have her remarks in our office.

**UNHCR

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, arrived in Ethiopia this morning on a two-day visit.  He is reviewing the emergency humanitarian response to the massive displacement crisis caused by conflict and drought inside Somalia.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than 54,000 people have fled into Ethiopia and Kenya in the month of June alone.

Mr. Guterres then travels to Kenya on Saturday, where he will visit the Dadaab refugee complex, which hosts more than 380,000 Somali refugees.

Malnutrition rates are extremely high among Somali refugee children arriving in Ethiopia and Kenya.

** Somalia

And speaking of Somalia, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, today welcomed the lifting of restrictions on aid agencies by the Al-Shabaab militia group.

Last January, Al-Shabaab expelled some relief agencies working in southern Somalia, affecting millions of people.

The current situation in the area is the worst it has been in the past decade.  The humanitarian community warns that thousands of people will die if interventions do not occur immediately.

In the first half of this year, the number of people in urgent need of relief has surged by nearly 850,000 to nearly 3 million people, or one third of Somalia’s population.

Mr Bowden said:  “We stand ready to scale up assistance in southern Somalia, but need guarantees that humanitarian workers can operate safely in the area and will not be targeted or agencies taxed.”

**Questions from Yesterday

We were asked yesterday about World Food Programme (WFP) activity in Libya.  We’ve been told that the World Food Programme has the general consent of the Libyan Government to assist people in need in Libya, but it did not liaise with the Government for every movement of staff or assets within the country.  For the safety of its staff and assets, the World Food Programme liaises with authorities on the ground, as appropriate, when organizing deliveries and distributions.

Regarding the Secretary-General’s phone conversations with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, the last phone call they had was on 4 May.

And we were asked whether the Secretary-General discussed the report of the Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka in his meeting on Tuesday with Ranil Wikremesinghe.  I can confirm that that was one of the topics they discussed.

**Press Conference Today

As for press conferences; following this briefing, at 12:30 p.m., there will be a press conference on the occasion of the signing of a Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP) and the Permanent Memorial Committee on Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

**Press Conference Tomorrow

Then, tomorrow at 11 a.m., the Chair of the UN Working Group on Mercenaries, Mr. José Luis Gomez del Prado, will hold a press conference here.  He will brief on the group’s activities over the past few months, including its recent mission to Iraq to examine the activities of private military and security contractors and their accountability for human rights violations.

And at tomorrow’s briefing, we will have as our guest Said Djinnit, the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA).

That’s it from me.  Yes, please?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Hi, thank you.  I have a couple of questions:  one, the first one is, just generally, do you have any update on when the report, the [Geoffrey] Palmer report on the Gaza flotilla from 2010, will be released?  Does the Secretary-General have it right now?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No, he does not.  We do expect that the Panel of Experts that are dealing with this report will give him the report in the coming days.  That remains unchanged.

Question:  All right.  And then a follow-up to that question:  This morning I think a lot of people received two very contradictory e-mails in a very short period of time from the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, saying that he firmly opposes the findings of the report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla; and then just a couple of hours later retracting that statement.  Do you know if the Secretary-General and, I think his name is Mr. De Schutter, have had any…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Olivier De Schutter.

Question:  …Have had any communication with each other today?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t believe they have done.  I do know that we have had communication with his office, and they did inform us that the Special Rapporteur, Mr. De Schutter, would like to clarify that, contrary to an erroneous report by one media outlet, he has not made any public statement on a draft of a report under preparation by the UN Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident of 31 May 2010. And he will make his views known in due course.  Yes?

Question:  But he issued a statement; he is quoted at great length by AFP, by Netherlands Radio, saying that the report, he’s received the draft of the report; that the report finds Israel’s actions legal and that he disagrees.  So was that, was it somehow a forgery?  Was he hacked or… what was the statement that he put out?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  As I said, they have informed us that that was an erroneous report and that Mr. De Schutter would make his views known in due course.  Yes, please?  Yes, you.

Question:  Farhan, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister yesterday said that Russia will submit a claim to the United Nations to expand its Arctic borders.  It would be, as Mr. [Sergei] Ivanov said, there will be a scientific claim about expanding the borders to our Arctic shelf.  Do you think the UN would have any response to this statement?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, we wouldn’t respond to the statement made to the media.  If and when we receive any actual claims, we will look at it at that point.  But that remains to be something in the future.  Yes, please, in the back?

Question:  Good morning, Farhan.  Thank you.  Has the Secretary-General responded to Iranian requests to open up an investigation into the disappearance of four diplomats back in 1982?  The Iranian Foreign Minister has even recently said that they are alive in Israeli jails.  Have you gotten any response from the Secretary-General about that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yeah, I know you have asked a number of us over the last few days about this.  We are looking into this and when we have a response we will give it back over to you.

Question:  Do you have any idea when that might be?  Again, as you said, this is the third day.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Whenever we have it, we’ll let you know.  Yes?

Question:  The situation in Libya, which there are contradictory reports that the Libyan, the Government of Mr. [Muammar al-]Qadhafi is accusing the rebels of being armed by the French, as you already know, which the French said that they’ve already informed the Security Council they’re doing it.  Now, legally, is that allowed by France, to arm the rebels under resolution 1973 (2011)?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  You’ve asked this question before, and our response remains the same:  that the implementation of the sanctions under resolution 1970 (2011) is a matter for the Sanctions Committee, so I would refer you back to the Sanctions Committee set up by resolution 1970.  Yes?

Question:  Do you have any information about these activists arriving in Tel Aviv for the so-called air flotilla, which Israeli newspapers are reporting that, there are at least 500 people, are expected from France and that they will be arrested?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No, we don’t have any response to that.  You are aware of our response to the issue of the flotillas in general and our preference that established aid routes be used.  But we wouldn’t have any comment on other forms of protest.  Yes?

Question:  Okay, Farhan, I am sorry to double this question; I just want to make absolutely sure that I have this clear.  This e-mail that I received that says that Ban Ki-moon will release a statement according to the legality of Israeli intervention and that the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has received a draft of this report and firmly opposes its conclusion:  This e-mail is to be disregarded; everything about it is erroneous?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Like I said, what they have informed us is that this report is erroneous and that Mr. De. Schutter will make his own views known in due course.  That is the sum total of the information that we have from them.  Certainly what you’ve said about what this report says — it’s not quite accurate.  The report has not been completed; we have not put out a report.  So it wouldn’t be for me to comment about those particular assertions.

Question:  And to clarify it again; I am sorry, it’s redundant, but the Secretary-General does not have a copy of the report yet?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No, he does not.  Yes?

Question:  Sure, I want to ask about South Kordofan.  The President, [Omer al-]Bashir, of Sudan has said that… he’s broke his, he’s sort of disavowed what was signed at Addis [Ababa] and said he didn’t sign it, said that all future negotiations will take place within Sudan itself and that the military campaign continues in South Kordofan.  I wanted to know, one, if there is any kind of UN response to that, given that the Secretary-General praised the agreement about South Kordofan.  And two, logistically, what is going to happen with the UN peacekeepers in South Kordofan? A re they as of January, as of 9 July actually, pulling out?  There are reports of bombing near Kadugli; is it a situation which they are going to be leaving in the face of military action in South Kordofan?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I don’t want to predict the future.  We are certainly hopeful that there will be some formula that would allow us to continue to protect civilians in that area.  What I would point out, as we made clear two days ago in our statement on this issue, is that the Secretary-General was disappointed that the parties to the conflict in South Kordofan State have not yet agreed to a cessation of the hostilities. 

He did call on the parties to immediately cease hostilities, ensure the protection of civilians and provide all support necessary for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.

And in line with what I just said a second ago, the Secretary-General did offer the continued support of the United Nations to the Government of Sudan and all stakeholders towards resolving the conflict, implementing a ceasefire and facilitating the provision on humanitarian assistance to those in need.

Beyond that, I would refer you to what Mr. Menkerios said, which is available on our counter.  Yes?  Today it will be a phone-free day, right?

Question:  I hope so!

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Cool!

Question:  On the report, from what I understood, there was supposed to be a… last time, the issuing of the report was postponed; there was a deadline for today.  Do you expect, does the Secretary-General expect another extension, or how does it work?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No, regarding that, the Secretary-General expects to receive the panel’s report in the coming days.  The panel has indicated that it intends to submit the report soon.  We don’t have a specific date at this stage, but in any case we are expecting this within the coming days.

Question:  And once he gets the report, does the Secretary-General expect, does he have to issue it, publicly, or can he sit on it, or can he just…?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I think we made it clear that the Secretary-General will decide on what the next steps are once he has received the report.  Yes?

Question:  Which means that he could actually in the end neglect to issue this report?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I wouldn’t speculate on what course of action he will take.  Ultimately, as he has done with other cases in the past, first, he will look at the report and then he will decide on the next steps.  Yes?

Question:  I want to ask about, on Libya, I think it was last week I asked if this Dirk Vandewalle, author and professor, had been hired by the UN as a Special Adviser to Ian Martin.  You said it wasn’t clear.  I mean, I have asked again over there…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  That’s not what I said.

Question:  What did you say?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  That’s not what I said.  I said I don’t have a confirmation to give on that.  I didn’t say it wasn’t clear.

Question:  Okay.  Do you still, don’t have a confirmation, because it’s been confirmed to me over there…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  We don’t publicly announce each and every appointment at each and every level of this Organization.  For senior level appointments, as you know, we do make those announcements.

Question:  In this case, I guess the reason I would like to ask you is that some have wondered, if Ian Martin is the Special Adviser, why does he need a special advisor?  And the question is:  how was the guy recruited?  Is, how is he being paid, does he, can the UN just hire anyone that comes in and makes a brown bag lunch presentation, just hand him, I mean, I think it’s…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I think, much like what you said about my views, that’s a little inaccurate.  The basic point is that Mr. Martin will have a team of people working with him, as he is entitled to do, and they would be paid.

Question:  Is Mr. Vandewalle being paid by the UN [inaudible]?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I’ll see whether we have anything to say about that, but like I said, we don’t announce each and every hiring of each and every person.  But yes, Mr. Martin is entitled to have a team working with him.

Question:  Related question:  can you, can you, I guess confirm or deny that Jeffrey Sachs, whatever his UN role is, is now also provide, uh, an adviser to Ban Ki-moon on the Middle East?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No.  No, no, no.  We’ve discussed what his position is:  He is an adviser dealing with a number of topics concerning the Millennium Development Goals.  I believe we have his official title on our website, but that’s…

Question:  And there is no, despite DPA [Department for Political Affairs] statements to the contrary, there is no Middle East role for Mr. Sachs?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  He has a role in different regions.  You know, the Millennium Development Goals is not restricted to this region or that region.  But he is not a Special Adviser on the Middle East.  His functions are as per the title that we have announced.  Yes, please?

Question:  Will the Secretary-General send a UN panel report on Sri Lanka officially to the Human Rights Council?  And if so, when?  If not, on what basis?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  We’ve already, as you know, made the report public.  Regarding any onward transmission to other bodies, the Secretary-General is considering next steps, and if and when we have further course of action to announce, we will announce it at that point.  But the report is already public and, as you can see, it is on our website.  Yes?

Question:  Riots have erupted in the Egyptian city of Suez after a court released some policemen accused of killing 17 people during the Arab Spring, protesters.  And the fact is that some activists have called tomorrow for a million-strong demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square with the support of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Is there some official position from the Secretary-General about this situation in Egypt?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No.  You’re aware of the Secretary-General’s position.  He, in fact, did visit Egypt a few months ago and discussed how encouraged he was by the developments there.  And as far as that goes, the Secretary-General clearly has spoken out in favour of freedom of expression, particularly during the Arab Spring; and has repeatedly underscored the right of people to peaceful protests, and he continues to do so.  Yes?

Question:  One more question about the report.  When the Secretary-General established the Palmer commission, one of the things he said that it would help Turkey and Israel overcome their disagreements… does he still think that it’s working this way?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, let’s see how it works.  This is a process that is continuing.  The Secretary-General certainly does hope that the panel will continue its work in a constructive manner until its activities are completed.  And we’ll see from there what the results of their report are, once their work is done.  Yes?

Question:  I just wanted to clarify, the Secretary-General has in the past spoken out against — I might be a little strong, but against the current flotilla; the current flotilla headed towards Gaza, the ships, saying that…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: No, not against the… It is not that he is against the flotilla.  Not in the least that he is against that.  What he has talked about is the need to avoid raising tensions in the region, and along those lines, he has made it also very clear that he believes that, if you really want to get aid into Gaza, there are established aid routes and we can work with the parties to make sure that aid gets there through the established routes.

Question:  So, does that view also extend to the so-called air flotilla, which is mostly, as far as I can tell, just sort of a symbolic gesture of solidarity, or does the Secretary-General have anything at all to say about that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  We don’t have any specific comment on that.  You have to bear in mind two things:  One is the Secretary-General does speak out in favour of the right of all people towards peaceful protest.  At the same time, we’ve made clear our concerns about the tensions that could be caused by another flotilla going into the high seas.  And we’ve talked about the need for established aid routes to be used.  And so, those are all part of the package of what we want to see in the region.  And as you can see, from our own efforts on the ground, we, the Secretary-General and our people in the region, have tried their best to make sure that access into Gaza can continue to improve and that aid can continue to go there in a more expedited fashion.  Yes, please?

Question:  Following up on the panel’s report, the Turkish officials now are in Washington, D.C., talking to the United States State Department officials and I want to ask, since it has been delayed, the release of the report or the submitting of the report, and there are clear differences between the Israelis and Turks, does the Secretary-General, do you think the Secretary-General, even if he gets the report, will hold on to it until both sides make some concessions and agree on it, or will he go ahead and publish it?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I wouldn’t want to make any speculative comments at this stage.  Right now, we are waiting to receive the report; once the Secretary-General has received the report, he can look at it and then decide on next steps.

Question:  Is it normal for it to take it so long?  It was expected to be, to be submitted earlier this month… [inaudible]

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  In all honesty, every time we come towards the end of a process by which a report is written, we get similar comments about any number of our panels who write these.  And this case, like I said, the Secretary-General does trust the panel will continue its work in a constructive manner and will complete its tasks.

Question:  When do you expect him to come back, the Secretary-General; when is he back?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Like I said, right now we are just allowing the panel to have the time it needs to complete its work and then from there, we hope they will give the report to the Secretary-General in the coming days.  And then he can look at it and evaluate what to do next.

Question:  Farhan, in response to other questions:  there is no tentative date that you expect the report to be presented to the Secretary-General?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have any particular date to announce.

Question:  And there is no new deadline from the date that was, which was today, that it was supposed to be handed over?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  He is giving them the time that he believes that they need and we do expect it in the coming days.  Yes?

Question:  Farhan, and what is the position of the UN on the Israeli blockade?  Is it a legitimate act by the Israelis or not?  What is the position of the UN?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I think you’ve seen what our humanitarian agencies on the ground have to say about the overall blockade, and I would refer you to that.  But beyond that, I don’t want to prejudge the conclusions of this particular panel, which, of course, is completing its own report.  Yes?

Question:  On Myanmar, Reporters without Borders and some other groups have asked the UN to pressure the Government of Myanmar to release imprisoned journalists.  So I wonder since this is, I understand often the Secretary-General will say, oh, you know, ask UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] or whatever.  Since this is specifically directed at the UN and he has an adviser, a Good Offices adviser on Myanmar, does Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar or Ban Ki-moon have any response to this request that they do more to… that journalists are freed in Myanmar?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, as you know, the Secretary-General and his Good Offices mission have repeatedly made clear the need to release all political prisoners in Myanmar, and as part and parcel of that, we would hope that all those who are working to promote freedom of expression would be treated fairly.

Question:  Does Mr. Nambiar have any comment on this apparently continued fighting in the Kachin region?  And also, was he present at this meeting with Ranil?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Those are two separate questions and two separate countries.  We don’t have to give lists of all the senior officials who were present at different meetings.  That’s not what we do.  On your first question, we’ll see what kind of response we have, what overall response we have about the situation on the ground in Myanmar.  Yes?

Question:  On this Israeli blockade, I mean, I know it has been asked again and again.  I just want to know:  Israel has blocked all the routes and controls all the routes.  So once the Secretary-General says the flotilla should not go and so forth, isn’t he tacitly in fact legitimizing Israel’s blockade?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  No, he is not.  We are trying to get aid into Gaza.  We have been doing so.  You will see what the Secretary-General has said about the need to ensure that you can have passage in and out of Gaza of commercial goods.  You have seen what the Quartet has also said about access to Gaza.  We stand by all those statements.  That’s separate and apart from the other concern.  But as I said, the Secretary-General believes that Gaza does need aid.  He just believes that it needs to go through the established routes, and that all measures need to be taken to avoid inflaming a tense situation.  Yes, please?

Question:  The panel, as far as I know, is not designed to determine individual criminals, criminal responsibilities.  And then what will happen there when the Secretary-General receives the report of the panel?  What is the next step?  And if, if there is…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  As I have said a few times, the Secretary-General will look at the report first and then he will decide on the next steps.

Question:  Why was the panel established if that the people, the Secretary-General and then his inner circle, sees it and put on the shelf or what?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Let’s not pre-judge what the Secretary-General will do.  He will look at the report and then he will decide upon that.  Yes?

Question:  On the widely-leaked Michael Williams report on the incident between Israel and Lebanon…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  First of all, before we go any further, I have seen it referred to as “Michael Williams’ report”.  We’re talking about the Secretary-General’s report.

Question:  Right.  But in what capacity?  Is this a regular [resolution] 1701 report and when is it going to be issued?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  It is in fact a regular report having to do with implementation of resolution 1701 (2006).  And as with all such reports by the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the implementation of resolution 1701, it will be issued as a document.

Question:  When?  Is there a… if I remember correctly, the Secretary-General was supposed to report every, what, three months, one month?  What’s the…?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Yeah, the report will come out as a document, presumably fairly shortly, as with all previous reports.

Question:  And it’s a report to the Security Council?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, yes it is.  And the report of the Secretary-General and its conclusions concerning events on the Blue Line on 15 May are based on the investigation carried out by UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and discussed with the Israeli Defense Forces and the Lebanese Armed Forces in recent tripartite meetings.  And the Secretary-General stands by his conclusions and observations.

Question:  And does he expect any action by the Security Council?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  As with all reports, it will be discussed some time later in this month.  I believe that the Security Council expects to hold consultations on this topic around 20 or 21 of July.

Question:  Farhan, on a different subject, about Cyprus talks, the Secretary-General is meeting with the sides, both sides in Geneva today.  And is there going to be any deadline for finalizing the talks between both sides?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General made comments to the press after the meeting.  I’d refer you to his comments, where he did feel optimistic about the prospects for a meeting that he would have with the Cypriot leaders in October.

Question:  Is there any plans how to proceed from…?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  There is quite a bit of detail in what the Secretary-General said to press.  So, that’s on the website and it is available in our Office.

Question:  When is the Secretary-General due to return to New York?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  He will be back next week.  Yes?

Question:  I want to ask about something much further north.  Canada and [the Russian Federation] this summer are both sending large numbers of troops up to the Arctic regions.  I know that in 2012 every Arctic country — there are five major ones — will be submitting territorial claims and resource claims to a UN panel.  Do you know what that panel is; who the appropriate person would be to talk to about it?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Your colleague asked about [the Russian Federation’s] views on the Arctic Circle just a while ago.  Of course, we would act depending on formal submissions.  But as you know, we do have experts that deal with the treaty of the Law of the Sea, and we would see what kind of submissions the various countries turn in about this topic as they come in down the line.  Yes, please?

Question:  Have the Israelis told the Secretary-General or sent a message to [the] Secretary-General explaining the reasoning, the reason of the delay of the report?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  At this stage, like I said, the parties — I don’t want to speculate about this, but the parties working in… the panel is working in an independent manner, and we’ll see what conclusions they can come to.  Yes?

Question:  When is the Secretary-General expected to announce a replacement for [Alain] Le Roy and what is the situation there as far as the short list; is there a short list; are we ready?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I don’t have anything…

Question:  …Is it supposed to be a French person?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have anything further to say beyond what I have already said about this; which is that we did announce that we would be seeking a replacement for Mr. Le Roy when his term ends towards the end of August.  We would expect interested Member States to submit any suggestions about candidacies and we will take all the suggestions into consideration.  And with that…

Question:  There is no short list of candidates?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Nothing to tell you on that.  Good afternoon, all.

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