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

1 September 2011

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

1 September 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 Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  My name is Eduardo del Buey, for those of you who I haven’t had a chance to meet, I am the new Deputy Spokesperson, and I want to welcome you to the noontime briefing today, on my first day.

**Noon Guest

We have a guest today, Annika Thunborg, Spokesperson for the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, who will brief you immediately after I finish with my intervention.  So, we’ll have her up as soon as we are finished with the Secretariat business.

** Libya

On Libya, as you know, the Secretary-General is in Paris today to attend the International Conference in Support of the New Libya, which is under way.

He is expected to tell participants that our most immediate challenge is on the humanitarian front, with some 860,000 people having left the country since February.  Public services are under severe strain, with sporadic fighting continuing in the country’s south.

The Secretary-General will also stress that it will be essential to work closely with the Libyan leadership to identify their needs and priorities.  Once those needs are identified, we will have to act in harmony and in a coordinated manner to ensure effective, collective action, he will tell the Conference.  Upstairs in our office, we have copies of his embargoed remarks.

Prior to the meeting, the Secretary-General met separately with Nabil el‑Arabi, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States; Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the Chairman of the Transitional National Council; and Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union Commission.

** Somalia

Moving over to Somalia.  High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres urged the international community to swiftly step up aid to uprooted Somalis during a visit to Mogadishu.  Mr. Guterres said that there is a deadly combination of conflict and drought, and that the misery is out of proportion to what is being done in the country.  During his visit, he stopped at a camp for internally displaced persons and met with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.  There is more information on the website of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

**Press Conference Tomorrow

And tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., here in the Auditorium, Ambassador Nawaf Salam, Permanent Representative of Lebanon and President of the Security Council for the month of September, will brief on the programme of work of the Council for the month of September.

I have time for a few questions before I introduce our guest.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Yes, My name is Pierre-Antoine, from Agence France-Presse.  We hear that the report, the UN report on the flotilla, may be released tomorrow.  Is that right?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we understand that the report will be submitted to the Secretary-General in the next few days.  We will seek confirmation and revert tomorrow.

Correspondent:  All right.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes?

Question:  A follow-up; my question is [inaudible]… welcome, first of all…

Deputy Spokesperson:  Thank you so much.

Question:  …on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association, we wish you all the best.  My Name is Erol Avdović, I represent a few media, mainly from Western Balkans, so you will hear questions on that topic from me, probably under the umbrella of WebPublicaPress.  A follow-up on this question; what can you say to us, why was this delay, actually, due to what?  Who is to be probably finger-pointed, or can you say something on that?  Who requested the delay or how it goes?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, I can’t say anything on that.  I am not going to speculate on what may have happened or may not have happened.  All I can tell you is that we’re expecting the report, hopefully in the next few days, and tomorrow we’ll confirm it and get back to you on it.  But we’re not going to start speculating or finger-pointing at anybody.  Matthew?

Question:  Sure, great.  I have a couple… some questions, I’ll try to do them quickly.  One is, there have been a lot of protests in Bahrain about the death of… the killing, they say by the Government, of this Ali Jawad Ahmad, including a YouTube video put up that says “Ban Ki-moon, do you see”?  So I am wondering, has Ban Ki-moon seen, and does he have any comment on what is taking place in Bahrain?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has been travelling, as you know, he is in Paris.  He was travelling to Paris last night, so I can’t confirm or deny whether he has in fact seen the video.  All I can say is that we have seen the reports; the Secretary-General has called on Bahraini authorities and security forces in Bahrain to act in accordance with the relevant international norms and standards with regard to human rights and fundamental freedoms.  That is a message he has been sending out since the beginning of the troubles there, and this is a message that still stands.

Question:  Can I ask, there is another… there has been… one of the WikiLeaks cables has come out and it has been commented on elsewhere by the UN involving the purchase of sex for food in Côte d'Ivoire by Benin, Béninoise contingent.  It seems like DPKO has said that some people were repatriated, but since this is a… it’s an allegation from 2010, I am wondering if the UN is willing to say what in fact has been done in… in this case with these peacekeepers.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we have the, as you know, the OIOS provided its report on the joint investigation findings.  A note verbale was sent in April 2011 to the Béninoise authorities requesting that they take disciplinary action against six identified individual soldiers, but also against 10 successive former commanders and senior officers for failing to maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse.  In the same note verbale, DFS [Department of Field Support] further informed the Béninoise authorities of all individuals identified, including the former commanders and senior officers, who were repatriated on disciplinary grounds and would also be barred from participating in future peacekeeping operations.

Question:  Do we… is there… is it known whether Benin actually followed through?  Can the UN say what happened…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I would have to find that out for you, I don’t have any information on it.  Short and sweet?  Okay.

Question:  One more?

Deputy Spokesperson:  One more.

Question:  It’s about this… this controversy about raises for UN staff.  It was… there is a letter that has been circulated from the new US Mission Ambassador on Management Affairs, saying that this 3 per cent post adjustment shouldn’t go into effect, that it is the wrong time, that not only the US, but many of the donor countries… of the… many of the Member States have austerity.  So I just wonder, what does the Secretary-General think of this?  Does he think it is the right time for that raise?  Does he stand behind it?  Does he…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, to the best of my knowledge, the issue of the raise does not come from the Secretariat, it comes from the International Civil Service Commission.  So in that sense, it is up to them to recommend and Member States are the people who approve what the International Civil Service Commission does.  So in that sense, I think it’s beyond the purview of the Secretary-General.

Okay, I want to introduce Annika Thunborg now please.  I am going to ask you to come to the stage.

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

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