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

2 December 2011

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

2 December 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, and welcome to the briefing.

**Press Conference

First of all, I would like to welcome the group of journalism students from Lehigh University who are sitting in on the briefing today.  Welcome.

Secondly, please note that at 12:30 p.m., Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation and President of the Security Council for the month of December, will brief you in this room on the Council’s monthly Programme of Work.

**Noon Briefing Guest

As you can see, today’s guest at the briefing is Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator.  She is here to brief you on Yemen and the Philippines following her recent travels.  So, welcome back, Ms. Bragg, and the floor is yours.

[Briefing by Ms. Bragg issued separately]

**Secretary-General Statement on Right to Development

So, I have a couple more items and then I am happy to take questions, bearing in mind also that Ambassador Churkin will be here at 12:30 p.m., so…

The Secretary-General has just issued a statement to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development.

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development, he says, is an occasion to celebrate its visionary promise of people-centred development and to recommit to making this a reality.

Today we are at a decisive moment in history.  As calls for change echo across the world, we cannot take refuge in silence.  Leaders must respond to the demands of people who seek to build their own future.  They should especially work to help women and youth enjoy lives of dignity, equality and opportunity.

Global challenges and crises are interconnected.  Economic, social and environmental concerns are inseparable.  And human rights are integral to them all.  That is why we are placing sustainable development at the top of the international agenda.  Next year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, will offer a critical opportunity to chart a course to the future we want.

So, that’s the statement that has just been issued.

**Security Council

This morning, the Security Council met to discuss its programme of work for December.  Ambassador [Vitaly] Churkin will brief you on that shortly.  This afternoon, the Security Council will discuss the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, which will be delivered by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, Mr. Ian Martin.  And there will also be consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

**Human Rights Council on Syria

Speaking at a special session of the Human Rights Council today, the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the Syrian authorities’ ruthless repression — if not stopped now — could drive the country into a full-fledged civil war.  In light of the manifest failure of the Syrian authorities to protect their citizens, Navi Pillay said, the international community needs to take urgent and effective measures to protect the Syrian people.

As you’ll recall, the recent report issued by the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Human Rights Council concluded that Syrian forces have committed crimes against humanity against civilians.  That report, Ms. Pillay said, reinforces the need for international accountability.  Her full remarks are available online.

And the Human Rights Council has passed a resolution urging the Syrian Government to meet its responsibility to protect its populations and calling for an immediate end to all violence in the country.

Questions, please.  Yes, Masood?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  [Inaudible], questions, because I know you are in a hurry.  My number one question is that yesterday I saw it on TV because I wasn’t here, that Mr. Nambiar came and he announced that the Secretary-General is going to make these changes because his new term in office begins in January.  But he didn’t take any questions, nor did the spokesman who was there.  He was aware that Mr. Nambiar is coming, and he didn’t know what this [Inaudible] was all about.  So, what was the reason for this, was exercise in futility, have you see? I mean journalists were quite amazed.  Why he didn’t take any questions?  Why didn’t the spokesman have any idea as to why the questions were not answered?  That’s number one.

Spokesperson:  Well, let’s roll back a bit.  Mr. Nambiar read out an announcement, and he said at the end the Secretary-General will provide further information as the time comes.  And that’s the case.  The Secretary-General will indeed provide further information.  And so, at this point, what has been provided is where we are, and more will be coming.

Question:  [Inaudible], there will be a press conference by the Secretary-General?

Spokesperson:  Say again?

Question:  [Inaudible] be a press conference by the Secretary-General about this whole thing?

Spokesperson:  There will be a press conference — a general press conference, not specifically on appointments, if you like it’s a year-end press conference, and indeed it’s a chance to review the entire first term.  And I would anticipate that that press conference would take place in the week of 12 December; so the week after next.

Question:  Okay.

Spokesperson:  And we will tell you the exact date shortly.

Question:  Follow up on that?

Spokesperson:  Wait a minute, Matthew. Yeah?

Question:  The other question I wanted to ask was about this Palestinian prisoner exchange that took place when Israel agreed to hand over 1,000 Palestinians out of 10,000 or more that they have, in exchange for Gilad Shalit.  I believe there are only 400 that they have transferred so far, or 200, and there are still 400 left in the whole deal, 400, 600 still to be transferred.  Do you have any idea at all about the deal whether these prisoners are being transferred?

Spokesperson:  Well, as you know, that was an arrangement that was reached between the two parties, and I think you’d have to ask them about the details of how it has actually been carried out.

Question:  The reason why I ask is the United Nations has been involved and Palestinian prisoners being there and it has been asking the Netanyahu Government to release the prisoners.

Spokesperson:  Well, that’s right, we have consistently called for release of prisoners, but the actual mechanism of this particular arrangement is obviously for the two sides.  Yes, Matthew?

Question:  Sure, I have a question on Sudan, but just a quick follow-up to that question so that his end of the year or end of first term press conference doesn’t get caught up in factual questions, does the five-year rule apply to Mr. Nambiar?

Spokesperson:  All questions should be factual, Matthew!

Question:  Sure, I mean, I mean, I am saying they should be able to be answered in the sense of does the five-year rule apply to Mr. Nambiar or, and DSG [Asha-Rose] Migiro?

Spokesperson:  Well, as we’ve said, the Secretary-General will provide further information as the time comes.  And as you also heard what Mr. Nambiar said yesterday was that there will be the right mix of change and continuity, and that the five-year rule will be applied across the board.  So, the Secretary-General will be able to tell you more in due course.

Question:  On Sudan, I just wanted to ask quickly the…

Spokesperson:  And not necessarily just linked to that press conference.  And I was asked about a press conference; there will be a press conference.  Announcements do not have to be tied to a press conference.  They may come before or after, before and after.

Question:  Okay.

Spokesperson:  Yes, Matthew?

Question:  Sure, on Sudan, the International Criminal Court has indicted the Defence Minister of Sudan, Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein.  And I wonder, since the UN has two peacekeeping missions in and one on the border of Sudan, what’s the plan by DPKO to deal with this now indicted officials who I assume they have to deal with, you know, there was a lot of criticism of the flying of Ahmed Haroun even this week by ICC Assembly of States parties presidents and others, can we get a statement from DPKO how this changes the ways in which they will interface with the Sudanese armed forces?

Spokesperson:  Certainly, I can ask for that, yeah.  Okay, I need to hand over now to Ambassador Churkin, who will be briefing you on the programme of work for December in the Security Council.

Thank you very much.

* *** *

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