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

19 September 2011

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

19 September 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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Nihal Saad, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.


Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


So, good afternoon everybody, and welcome to the Noon Briefing.


**Noon Guest Today


Today, I will have as my guest Christiana Figueres, who is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  And I will ask Ms. Figueres to join me in a second.


And at the end of my briefing, Nihal Saad, who is the Spokesperson for the General Assembly, will brief you on the forthcoming activities of the President of the General Assembly.  And Nihal is already here and she will be with you at the end of this briefing.


**Abbas Meeting Readout


Before we turn to Ms. Figueres, I have a readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, on the margins of the sixty-sixth General Assembly.


The Secretary-General and President Abbas had a constructive meeting today.


President Abbas informed the Secretary-General of his intention to submit to the Secretary-General on Friday an application for membership in the United Nations.  The Secretary-General informed President Abbas of his intention to perform his duties under the UN Charter.


The Secretary-General reiterated his support for the two-State solution and stressed his desire to ensure that the international community and the two parties can find a way forward for resuming negotiations within a legitimate and balanced framework, and discussed with President Abbas the ongoing Quartet efforts in this regard.  President Abbas stressed his commitment to a negotiated solution.


That’s what I have for you.  I am happy to take any questions on that particular aspect, although to be honest, I don’t have anything further than the readout I have just given you.  But please.  Yes?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  On this application that Mr. Abbas said, did the Secretary-General and the President of Palestinian Authority also discuss this Quartet meeting?


Spokesperson:  Masood, as I just read out, the Secretary-General discussed with President Abbas the ongoing Quartet efforts in this regard, which was finding a way forward for resuming negotiations within a legitimate and balanced framework.


Question:  My question should have been, did he speak with President Abbas asking him to wait for a Quartet meeting or something before submitting the application at all?


Spokesperson:  As I say, I have what I have here.  I think it is rather clear what took place and where things… what the focus is at the moment.


Question:  Would the Secretary-General prefer, I mean that President Abbas defer the Palestinian State application before the Quartet meeting is held or after the Quartet [inaudible]?


Spokesperson:  It’s really not a question of what the Secretary-General would prefer.  This is a matter for Member States to decide.  Once — even when an application is received — and as you have just heard, President Abbas has informed the Secretary-General of his intention to submit to the Secretary-General on Friday an application for membership in the United Nations.  And then, as you well know, there is an established procedure, and it’s very much in the hands of Member States.  Further questions on this?


Question:  [inaudible]


Spokesperson:  Let’s share it around a little bit, Masood.  I’ll come back to you.  Yes?


Question:  Okay, I actually have a different, I have a question about Libya and…


Spokesperson:  No; well we are going to come to that later.  You came in a little late.  Just to remind you of what’s happening, I was just taking questions on this particular readout on President Abbas’ meeting with the Secretary-General.  Then my guest is Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Then I will have some more announcements, will take questions and after that it will be the Spokesperson for the PGA.  So, if it’s on…


Question:  It’s pretty much on this, yeah.  And it’s just… I will see if you… if you… if you’ll answer it.  There was a… there was press conference here on Friday by the… by the head of the Treaty Section.  And she seemed to be saying — and I just want you to confirm this — that based on an [Office of Legal Affairs]… its practice on filings, that it is up to the Secretary-General to decide if an applicant, for example, to join the [International Criminal Court] is a State.  That it is his determination to be made, in consultation with the GA.  And I just…


Spokesperson:  Well, I am privy to what happened at the press conference, and I know that that topic of any application in this regard was carefully sidestepped because this was not the topic of the press conference.  So, let’s try any… are there any other questions related to the readout that I’ve just given?  Yes?


Question:  Did Mr. Ban Ki-moon yesterday meet with the Quartet?  And why… if he did, what was the outcome of it?


Spokesperson:  You mean all four envoys?


Correspondent:  Yes.


Spokesperson:  Not to my knowledge, not to my knowledge, no.  Okay, anything else on this particular topic?  Okay, so we’ll ask Ms. Figueres to please come and join me.  Thank you very much.


[After the press conference, the Spokesperson continued his briefing.]


So, I just have a few more items and then I am happy to take a couple of questions before handing over to Nihal, who also would like to brief you.


**Secretary-General’s Appointments


So the Secretary-General has appointed Ian Martin of the United Kingdom as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and Georg Charpentier of Finland as his Deputy Special Representative and Resident Coordinator, ad interim.  We have more information on both appointments in my office.


**Libya


And Ian Martin has just concluded three days of discussions in Tripoli.  He is now on his way to New York to attend the High-Level Meeting on Libya, which is to be hosted by the Secretary-General tomorrow on the sidelines of the General Assembly session.


And while in Tripoli, Mr. Martin briefed Libyan officials on immediate plans to implement Security Council resolution 2009 (2011), on establishing the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).


The visit included a series of meetings with senior Libyan officials, political actors, members of civil society and the diplomatic community.  Mr. Martin’s discussions focused on the role of the United Nations in supporting the transition to democracy in Libya, notably the electoral process, establishing public security and the rule of law, transitional justice and human rights.


**Counter-Terrorism Symposium


In his remarks at the Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation, the Secretary-General has stressed that the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy recognizes that terrorism cannot be combated only through security-related or law-enforcement means.


The Secretary-General asked that all Member States chart a course that reflects the determination to defeat terrorism and build a safer, more just and peaceful world for all.


The Secretary-General also announced that the United Nations has signed an agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the creation of a United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism.  We have a readout of his meeting with the Saudi Foreign Minister as well.


The Secretary-General added that the UN is placing a growing emphasis on supporting regional and subregional efforts, and welcomed the forthcoming Global Counter-Terrorism Forum.


**General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases


The Secretary-General spoke at the General Assembly Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.  He stressed that these diseases are a threat to development, hitting the poor and vulnerable particularly hard and driving them deeper into poverty.


The Secretary-General said that addressing these diseases is not only critical for global public health, but also good for the economy, environment and for the global public good.


If we come together to tackle these diseases, we can do more than heal individuals — we can safeguard our very future.  His full remarks are available online.


**Pakistan


The United Nations is calling for $357 million to help the Government of Pakistan provide life-saving assistance to more than 5 million people left destitute by devastating monsoon rains and flooding in the south of the country.  The UN’s rapid-response plan for this year seeks to provide food, water, sanitation, health and emergency shelter for six months. 


Some 5.4 million people have been affected by flooding, and nearly 1 million homes have been destroyed, while nearly three quarters of crops have been lost in the worst-affected areas.


According to the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, the next few days will be crucial as the UN and partners help the Government to get food, safe water and shelter to the most vulnerable.  One year after the largest floods in recent history, the people of Pakistan are in desperate need again and we cannot let them down.


**Global Sustainability


The Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability is holding its fourth meeting today here in New York.


And as you know, this High-Level Panel was established by the Secretary-General in August 2010 to examine how the world can reduce poverty and advance sustainable development while protecting our planet, which is under increasing strain, not least from the effects of climate change.


During this fourth meeting, the Panel is discussing a draft of its report, which will be submitted to the Secretary-General in January 2012 and released publicly at that time.  We have more information on the Panel available on its website.


**Press Conferences


Just a couple of notes on press conferences.  Today at 5 p.m., there will be a press conference by Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.


And then tomorrow at 11 a.m., there will be a press conference with Georg Kell, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact Office, on the occasion of the 2011 UN Private Sector Forum on Sustainable Energy for All.  And then at 1 p.m., there will be a press conference on the United Nations Convention for Desertification; 1:45 p.m., a press conference with Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada; and then at 2:30 p.m., a press conference on the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.


So I can take a few questions before handing over to Nihal.  Yes, Masood?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Just a point of clarification on this Pakistan’s flood appeal thing.  I saw that item published in Pakistan on Sunday.  Was that appeal made on Sunday or [inaudible]?


Spokesperson:  I beg your pardon?


Question:  This appeal, flash appeal for Pakistan, I just want to, was it made on Sunday or yesterday?


Spokesperson:  Yesterday was Sunday, Masood.  Yeah?


Question:  So it was made Sunday?  I just wanted to… because the thing… the only print published over there, that’s the reason why I want to [inaudible].


Spokesperson:  I believe it was made on Sunday.  But in any case, irrespective of when precisely it was made, the money is urgently required.  Right, okay, other questions?  Yes?


Question:  Going back to my question, is there going to be a meeting between the Quartet members regarding Palestine’s desire for UN membership and recognition?


Spokesperson:  Well, as you know, the envoys, not the principals, but the Quartet envoys, have been meeting.  They met yesterday, they meet regularly.  That’s not an unusual occurrence.  They are meeting, they have been meeting here in New York, as I mentioned.  They met yesterday.  If there happens to be further meetings, then obviously we would let you know.  Okay, all right.  Yes, Matthew?


Question:  Sure, I want to ask you on this… on the… the Libyan Mission, UNSMIL.  Two things, one is to… is to confirm that the number three official, as people in DPA are saying, is Hans Strohmeyer.  And also to respond to, I guess, criticisms by at least some within DPA and the Africa Division that none of the officials being assigned to this Mission are in fact African; and they are UK, Finland, and they say the number three is a German.  And what the… what… what… what people should read into that line-up?


Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, as you will have heard, I just read out the appointments of two, and that clearly wasn’t enough for you; you would like number three.  Let’s see what we can find out.  And as to the nationalities of people in posts, remember, these are international civil servants, each of them with considerable track record in different parts of the world.  And they bring expertise to bear in a country that is in transition.


Question:  Just one… just sort of strategic… what they are saying is that Libya used to be part of the sort of Africa Division of DPA and that since it became high profile it was taken out and all the posts are going to Europeans.  And that’s [inaudible].


Spokesperson:  As I say, as I say, the United Nations is, as you know, an international organization with civil servants, international civil servants from many different countries.


Question:  Also, there is… on the ground there is an event… there is developments in Sudan, it’s said that there has been heavy fighting between Khartoum and the SPLM, the outlawed SPLM, in Tolodi, and Vice-President Taha has said they will crush the enemy and cut off any hand that seeks to divide Sudan.  I am wondering, does the UN have any response to this seeming deterioration of the situation there?


Spokesperson:  Well, we’re certainly aware of those reports, as we are of reports coming out of Southern Kordofan.  And clearly we do not have a presence on the ground in Sudan itself as we used to have with a mandate to be able to patrol and report.  And so we don’t have any further details.  But the Secretary-General has said before that with regard to the tensions that there are, that these matters need to be sorted out through dialogue and that the fighting needs to stop.


Question:  And just one… one more, because I have tried this through DPKO, but I couldn’t get an answer.  Maybe either you have one, or you can.  The new… the incoming head of peacekeeping, Hervé Ladsous, was that he will be sworn in in early October.  So I asked them, is he still working for the French department of Foreign Affairs, i.e. is he still… as you know, he was the Chief of Staff to Alain Juppé.  When did that… when did his employment with the… the Foreign Ministry of France or… or has it ended, or when did it end?


Spokesperson:  Well, that’s not even a question for DPKO any more than it is a question for me.  Why don’t you ask the French Foreign Ministry?


Question:  You’ve named him, I would assume that if the… if the Secretary-General named him…


Spokesperson:  Well, listen…


Question:  …he would know that, right?


Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, we have said, I have said, I think even sitting here, if I am not mistaken, that the new head of DPKO, the new Under-Secretary-General, is designate until sworn in, and that that swearing in is anticipated to take place in early October.  That’s correct.  As for any further details on what the position is right now, I am sure you could check with the French Foreign Ministry.  Okay, other questions?  Any other questions?


Question:  One more about the readout.  If I just, and I don’t know if you will… I just want to ask you about this one, maybe…


Spokesperson:  Which one?


Question:  The readout of the… the… his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia.  It said that they discussed Yemen, and I don’t… you know, not to name… I just wonder whether the topic of Bahrain, which is on the mind of many and there is supposedly an uptick in… in violence there and I know that they have… I believe that the Secretary-General has had communications with Saudi Arabia in the past about Bahrain.  Was Bahrain a word that arose in this meeting?


Spokesperson:  I’d have to check.  What it says here is they exchanged views on a number of important issues in the region, including Yemen.  So it is not excluding others, but they have not been explicitly spelled out here.  I’ll see if I can find out.


All right, okay.  Thanks very much.  And with that, Nihal, the floor is yours.  Okay, thank you very much.


Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President


Good afternoon, everybody.


First, I would like to brief you on the President of the General Assembly’s activities today and tomorrow.


**General Assembly Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases


As you may well know, this morning, the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, opened the High-level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases.  And the President believes that this is a highly important issue emanating from his belief that the poor face problems beyond those targeted by the Millennium Development Goals, but which could derail the Goals.


As you know, also, there has been a political decision that, or the Political Declaration rather, that has been adopted by the General Assembly this morning reflects the impact non-communicable diseases have on development and world economies, and it also galvanizes collective action for years to come.


This is the second time in the history of the United Nations that the General Assembly is meeting at the level of Heads of State and Government to discuss an emerging health issue as such, with a major socio-economic impact.  The first, of course, as you may well all know, was in 2000.


So, also the President of the General Assembly, in his remarks today, was stressing the importance of taking coordinated steps and a coherent effective UN response to scale-up technical support for developing countries under the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO).  He also emphasized the role of civil society, and NGOs in particular in those efforts.


In a relevant side event, the President of the General Assembly is going to be taking part in a luncheon discussion on the same event that is hosted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  He is going to basically pay tribute in his remarks to the efforts undertaken by CARICOM, a leading role as we may well know, over the past 18 months in order to bring to the forefront of global attention this particular issue of non-communicable diseases.


**Symposium on Counter-Terrorism Cooperation


The President of the General Assembly has taken part also in the Secretary-General’s Symposium on Counter-Terrorism Cooperation.


**South-South Development


And he will later in the evening on an issue related to non-communicable diseases take part and make remarks in the South-South event entitled “Digital Health for Digital Development”.  The South-South Network will basically be giving an award to one of the entities that have been in the forefront when it comes to the digital health for digital development.


**Bilateral Meetings


The President also had a number of bilateral meetings today.  In the afternoon he met with Franco Frattini, the Foreign Minister of Italy, and they discussed a range of issues, including Security Council reform and the Middle East peace process.  There will be a readout of the meeting later in the day.


As we speak, the President of the General Assembly is meeting with Nickolay Mladenov, the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, and he will later be meeting with the Foreign Minister of Egypt, with Danilo Türk, the President of Slovenia, and afterwards with Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS [Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS] Executive Director.


**General Assembly President Activities on Tuesday


Let me tell you what he is going to do tomorrow, just very briefly and quickly.  He will take part in the High-level Meeting on Desertification.  He will be giving remarks in the closing plenary on non-communicable diseases, and he will take part in the Secretary General’s High-Level Meeting on Nutrition.  And he will take part also and give remarks at the Secretary-General’s High-level Meeting on Every Woman, Every Child.  And he will take part also in the Secretary-General’s event on sustainable energy.


As far as bilaterals are concerned, tomorrow he has bilaterals with the Foreign Minister of Romania, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, the Prime Minister of Montenegro and the President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).


That’s as far as the activities of the President of the General Assembly has so far.  Any questions?  Yes, Matthew?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Hi, thanks a lot.  I wanted to know, this is sort of looking forward to the actual general debate beginning, but there are two situations I wanted to ask you about.  One has to do with Madagascar.  There has been a lot of controversy around since the… what was described as a coup there.  Who is… whether they are going to speak, who is going to speak?  Has he had any discussions about… about that, and where does he stand?


Spokesperson:  Not that I know of.  I don’t have any information, but I can definitely look for information and get back to you regarding that.  But I am not aware that there has been any discussion concerning Madagascar.


Question:  Okay.  And the other one was, at… at a stake… at a Security Council stakeout last week, Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin sort of complained in advance.  He said that previously, the delegation of Kosovo had attended the general debate at… at… at the invitation of one delegation, but then remained in the Hall, and he wanted, you know, to point out that, he says, according to the rules they can only stay in during the speech of the delegation that invites them.  And I just wanted to know, are you… are you aware of that?  Do you see… what… what’s your… is that an accurate statement of how… how things will be run during this general debate?


Spokesperson:  No, regarding that particular issue, no I don’t have.  Yes, Masood?


Question:  Yeah, I just want to, kind of… has any scheduled meeting between the President of the General Assembly and the President of Palestinian Authority?


Spokesperson:  Which President?


Correspondent:  Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.


Spokesperson:  Not yet.


Question:  Not yet, where… when, and is it scheduled… is it [inaudible]?


Spokesperson:  Not that I am aware of so far as we speak today.  But I can definitely get back to you as soon as this appointment is scheduled.


Question:  So… so it is expected, but it is not scheduled as yet, is what you are saying?


Spokesperson:  As yet, as we speak, we have no information about it as yet, but we are getting requests every day for scheduling bilateral meetings.  And as soon as this is going to be scheduled, I am going to let you know.


Any more questions?  Okay, thank you, and I’ll get back to you with answers regarding those two issues. 


Thank you very much.  Have a good day.


* *** *

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