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

15 July 2011

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

15 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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon everybody.  Welcome to the briefing.

**Guest at Noon

Today as you can see, I have as my guest Ivan Šimonović, who is the Assistant Secretary-General of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York.

This morning, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, briefed the Security Council in consultations and expressed concern about the situation of people in South Kordofan.  And Mr. Šimonović is here available to brief you a little bit on matters in that part of the world and to take questions.

And then at the end of that part of the briefing, I will have a few other points to brief you on as well.

So, please, very happy to see you here, Mr. Šimonović.  The floor is yours.

[Press Conference by Mr. Šimonović issued separately]

Just a couple of other notes and happy to take a few questions.

** Libya

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, represented the Secretary-General in Istanbul today at a meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya.  The meeting also received briefings by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya, Abdul Ilah Al-Khatib, and his Special Adviser for Post-Conflict Planning, Ian Martin.

In his message to the meeting, the Secretary-General appealed to the international community to support the efforts of Special Envoy Al-Khatib and send a unified message to both parties, urging them to engage in direct negotiations through the Secretary-General’s good offices to break the current impasse.

As we have stressed in the past, the Secretary-General said, there is no military solution to the crisis.  There must be a political solution.

The Secretary General also expressed “serious concern” about severe shortages in food, medical supplies and fuel, as well as lack of access to water services in Libya.  He said he hoped that the international community would step in and provide urgent humanitarian aid.  He urged the Libyan parties to allow unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

**Pascoe Travels

From Istanbul, the Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe will travel to Egypt to hear from the Government and non-governmental groups, including youth groups, about the state of the democratic transition and to discuss how the UN can support further progress in that transition.  And then Mr. Pascoe will travel to Tunisia for discussions on the democratic transition there, and UN assistance, including on elections.

**Secretary-General in Finland

The Secretary-General is in Finland today, where he met with President Tarja Halonen and spoke at a forum on sustainable development.  He said that ecosystems are under strain, and the global thermostat is running high.  Climate change is a growing threat to people and economies worldwide.  Our old model of growth is not only obsolete, the Secretary-General said, it is also dangerous.

He called for a revolution in favour of sustainable development, in which we could have a green economy, driven by business, supported by Governments, and embraced by citizens.  The Secretary-General said there is no time to waste, which is why climate change has been a top priority.

**Refugees

The High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has welcomed Kenya’s decision to open the Ifo Two refugee camp near its border with Somalia.  The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says this move will ease congestion at the Dadaab Refugee Complex, where some 1,300 Somalis fleeing drought and conflict have been arriving each day.  And as of Wednesday, the total refugee population in and around Dadaab was 380,000 people.

Meanwhile, 100 tons of tents from UNHCR stockpiles in Kuwait are expected to be flown into Nairobi on Sunday.  And then over the next two weeks an additional 600 tonnes of tents will arrive in Kenya.

** Somalia

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, has congratulated Somalia’s political leadership, and in particular, the President, the Speaker, as well as the Parliament, for demonstrating their commitment to peace through the Kampala Accord and the quick parliamentary ratification of that Accord.

Mahiga said he looked forward to the nomination and endorsement of a representative, efficient and widely accepted Cabinet in the near future.  The Special Representative also highlighted the importance of the forthcoming Consultative Meeting on Ending the Transition.  And that meeting should be held in Somalia before the end of the current Transitional Period on 20 August.  And it should put forward a road map for the next year.

So, that’s what I have for you.  And questions, please?  Yes.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure, I have a couple of Sudan questions.  One is that Radio Dabanga is reporting renewed aerial bombing by the Government in Darfur.  And I just wonder, we haven't sort of been hearing, I mean, on the one hand you have media accounts that things are, I saw a UN statement about how great that the Darfur Peace Agreement was signed by LJM [Liberation and Justice Movement] in Doha, but what is, is, are these reports true that in fact the Government, you know, continues bombing within Darfur?

Spokesperson:  I’ll ask my colleagues in UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] to give us an update.

Question:  And the other one is, and this is not, I would have asked, it’s not in South Kordofan, it’s in other parts of Sudan; it seems that the Government is disbanding the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement].  It seems to be sort of like there, after the 9th, they let the South Sudan go, but the idea is that this opposition party is being essentially disbanded in, throughout the country, and I wanted to know, was that, I am not sure if this falls within Mr. [Haile] Menkerios’s sort of ongoing role there as a CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] follow-through, but does the UN system have any response to the, to this disbanding of SPLM in Northern Sudan?

Spokesperson:  I’d have to check on that very particular aspect, but I mean, I think that what we’ve been saying — what the Secretary-General has said — is that there needs to be a spirit of partnership and to continue the dialogue and that that spirit that led to the independence of South Sudan should be continued.  But if I have a direct answer, I get a direct answer on that particular point, I’ll let you know.  Yes, Joan?

Question:  I have a couple of questions about the report that Mr. Šimonović was describing, the one that covers 4June…

Spokesperson:  Right, so why didn’t you ask him?

Question:  I don’t know.  That’s a very good question.  But I think you can answer the question.  Is this report public; and if not, will it be public?

Spokesperson:  I mean, that’s obviously why Mr. Šimonović came here to brief you on that and to answer questions on that topic.  And I think that he has addressed those points.

Question:  Not on this one.

Spokesperson:  No, because you didn’t ask him.

Question:  Right, I was distracted and he left very quickly!

Spokesperson:  So, I think the point here is that, as Mr. Šimonović said, it’s in the process of being finalized; it is not yet in its final form, approved form.  And at that point it is destined to go to the Security Council.  And what happens after that we will have to see.

Question:  And is it the Secretary-General’s report or is it the High Commissioner’s report?

Spokesperson:  This is from the Mission — the UN Mission in Sudan — the now-defunct UN Mission in Sudan, and, in particular, the human rights component within that Mission.  And as Mr. Šimonović was saying, it covers the period from 4 June to the end of June.  So, it is not covering the last days up to the end of the mandate on 9 July; and indeed, obviously, what has been happening since.  It does not cover that period.

Correspondent:  Thank you.

Spokesperson:  All right, okay, no problem.  Any other questions?  Yes?

Question:  Yeah, this is kind of a legal question.  There has been a guilty plea in this case of Armor Holdings and its parent BAE — British arms manufacturer — they’ve pled guilty to the payment, one of the things they pled guilty to was the payment of bribes by Armor Holdings to a UN official who remains, remained unnamed throughout the case.  But they pled guilty to having paid the bribe, and I just, it’s the Bistrong case, so you may, I’m just wondering whether the UN system has ever, was anyone disciplined; is, if the bribe payer has acknowledged paying a bribe, the question becomes who received the bribe, and what did, did the UN…?

Spokesperson:  I think the person concerned is in prison.

[The Spokesperson later clarified that the person concerned had been sentenced to time served.]

Question:  The UN person?

Spokesperson:  Correct.

Correspondent:  Oh, okay.

Spokesperson:  Right.

Correspondent:  What’s the person’s name?  Is that…?

Spokesperson:  I think that that’s a matter of public record already.

Correspondent:  Okay.

Spokesperson:  All right, okay, thanks very much.  Have a good weekend.

* *** *

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