|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. Welcome to the noon briefing. Happy Columbus Day to all.
**Secretary-General’s Statement on Egypt
I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the 9 October incident in Cairo, Egypt.
The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the loss of life in Cairo last night. He appeals to all Egyptians to remain united and to preserve the spirit of the historic changes of early 2011. He calls on the transitional authorities to guarantee the protection of human rights and civil liberties for Egyptians of all faiths.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call for a transparent, orderly and peaceful transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people and includes free, fair and credible elections leading to the establishment of civilian rule.
The Secretary-General arrived this morning in Oslo, where he delivered the keynote address at the “Energy for All: Financing Access for the Poor” conference. He said energy is at the centre of the sustainable development agenda and called for universal access by 2030.
The Secretary-General then participated in a high-level debate on “Energy and the Road towards Rio+20”, together with Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga of Kenya, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. He later attended a working lunch on Rio+20 with those leaders, as well as the Deputy Prime Minister for Energy of Iraq.
The Secretary-General also held bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Stoltenberg before the two addressed the press at the launch of Norwegian Government initiative “Energy +”. Speaking to reporters, the Secretary-General thanked Norway for helping to bring energy for all to the top of the political agenda.
In press remarks following other meetings with senior Norwegian officials, the Secretary-General praised the Government's commitment to multilateralism and lauded the entire country for safeguarding its open society after the attacks of 22 July.
The Secretary-General then paid a solemn visit to the Oslo site of the 22 July bomb attack, where he expressed condolences and solidarity. The Secretary-General later went to the Norwegian Parliament where he addressed members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs.
In the early evening, he is scheduled to attend a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Fridtjof Nansen, in the presence of their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja, as well as other top Government officials. He is expected to praise Nansen as a great explorer who “helped map the way to a better world” and urge all to continue along this journey. In the evening, the Secretary-General will attend a dinner at the Oslo City Hall for participants at the “Energy for All” conference.
The Deputy Secretary-General is in the Republic of Korea, where she spoke at an event on promoting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through tourism, culture and sports. She stressed that the potential of tourism has yet to be fully realized, noting that it can help to create jobs, eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, and empower women.
The Deputy Secretary-General urged Governments and the tourism industry to work as partners and to engage with local communities to develop tourism that is pro-poor, community-oriented and sustainable.
Food prices are likely to remain high and volatile, making poor farmers, consumers and countries more vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity. That’s according to an annual report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) issued today. The heads of the three bodies said that crises, including the one in the Horn of Africa, are challenging the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the proportion of people who suffer from hunger in half by 2015.
Today, at 1:15 p.m. in this room, there will be a press conference with speakers Silvia Pimentel, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and Rashid Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences. DPI’s Margaret Novicki will moderate at that event.
And tomorrow, my guest at noon will be Angela Kane, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Management.
That’s all from me. A few questions from the floor? Matthew?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Sure, one thing. There is this, in Cambodia… the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, this Judge, Mr. Blunk who Human Rights Watch and others have been calling on to resign because of… he’s been subject to Government pressure — has in fact resigned after a statement by the Government that only they can decide who to arrest. What’s the UN’s comment — given the UN’s involvement in that Court — on the resignation and on the Government statement?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I have a few things on that. The Secretary-General has received the resignation of Judge Siegfried Blunk as the international co-investigating Judge at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), and has thanked him for his service. The United Nations is working urgently to ensure that the reserve co-investigating Judge, Mr. Laurent Kasper-Ansermet of Switzerland, is available as soon as possible to replace Judge Blunk so that the important work of the ECCC is not disrupted. The Secretary-General has stated his strong support for the work of the ECCC on a number of occasions. The United Nations has constantly emphasised that the ECCC must be permitted to proceed with its work without interference from any entity, including the Royal Government of Cambodia, donor States or civil society.
The United Nations has noted the reason stated by Judge Blunk for his resignation. As we have consistently emphasised, the ECCC must be permitted to proceed with its work without interference from any entity, including the royal Government of Cambodia, donor States or civil society. We will continue to monitor the situation at the ECCC closely, including in consultation with the Royal Government.
That’s what I have on that, Matthew.
Question: By consultations, does that mean…? I mean, it was the Foreign Minister who said that the Government is in charge of who… who should be arrested despite the mandate of the court.
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, it’s as I said, in consultations with the Government.
Correspondent: All right.
Deputy Spokesperson: More questions?
Question: Did you announce… did you announce this… this, I guess, second or maybe same trip by the Secretary-General to Switzerland? Has that been announced?
Deputy Spokesperson: No.
Question: In Switzerland, they say he will be there on 16 and 17 October in Bern. So I was unclear whether he is coming back and then leaving immediately, or is he just going to stay over there?
Deputy Spokesperson: He will be coming back, as announced, on Wednesday, and then he will probably be leaving here. We will have an announcement later on in the week. Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later said the Secretary-General will travel to Switzerland from 16 to 18 October. His first destination in Switzerland will be Bern where he will attend the inaugural ceremony of the 125th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). While in Bern, the Secretary-General will also meet with Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Swiss Confederation, as well as with the Swiss Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee and senior representatives of the Swiss Federal Administration. From Bern, the Secretary-General will travel to Geneva, where he will participate in the Executive Committee Meeting of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). While in Geneva, he will also visit the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.]
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