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

18 January 2012

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

18 January 2012
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 everyone, welcome to the briefing.

**Security Council

This morning, the Security Council met in closed consultations to discuss the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.  The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, briefed the Council on the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  As you know, Ms. Amos just spoke at the Security Council stakeout, and that’s why we started the briefing a little later.

**Secretary-General on Responsibility to Protect

In a little while, the Secretary-General will speak to the Stanley Foundation on “responsibility to protect”.  He is expected to say that this fundamental principle of responsibility to protect is here to stay.

He’s likely to say that in 2011, history took a turn for the better.  Responsibility to protect came of age; the principle was tested as never before.  The results were uneven, but at the end of the day, tens of thousands of lives were saved.  He will note that we also learned lessons about our own limitations and that the nature of the responsibility to protect can be a minefield of nuance, political calculation and competing national interests.  And he is expected to call on the international community to not let the pendulum swing back to the past.  We will provide a transcript of his remarks a little later.

**Secretary-General’s Designation

The Secretary-General has designated David Scheffer of the United States as the Special Expert to advise on the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials.  The designation is for an initial period of six months.  And Mr. Scheffer replaces Clint Williamson, whose term of office expired on 30 September 2011.  We have more information in my office.

**South Sudan

We were asked yesterday about the redeployment of helicopters from the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations informs us that two military helicopters from the Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should arrive in the next few days.  And negotiations are still under way regarding the use of helicopters from the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei.

So that’s what I have.  I’d just like to tell you that Nihal Saad, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly is also here, and will be pleased to brief you after me.

So questions, please?  Yes, Mr. Abbadi?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you, Martin.  On Libya, the children that fled the conflict and were on the borders of Tunisia and Libya are being resettled in Norway, Sweden and Denmark would help, as you know, the UNHCR.  There are other children remaining on the borders of Tunisia and also Egypt.  What is UNICEF doing to relieve the plight of these children?

Spokesperson:  UNICEF?  I’d have to ask you to check with our colleagues at UNICEF.  I don’t have anything on that right now.  We can also check afterwards for you, Mr. Abbadi, but clearly this is something that would be dealt with both by UNHCR, the refugee agency, and the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.  So let me see if we can get something further.  But I would urge you, if it is urgent for you, then to contact UNICEF to see what they have to say.  Other questions, please?  Yes?

Question:  In December, at his year-end press conference, the SG was asked about… generally just about the use of military and espionage uses of drones, and loosely he called it an issue between the Member States, for them to sort of settle out themselves.  Yesterday, the Non-Aligned Movement, which represents about 120 Member States, issued a condemnation of the US drone spying programme over Iran stemming from the Iranians’ recovery of that US drone.  Has the SG reacted to this condemnation statement at all?  Does he have anything further to say about that particular incident or that statement issued yesterday?

Spokesperson:  I think the short answer is no, not really.  I think what the Secretary-General said in that press conference, and what we said subsequently, if you check back you will see that I have had something to say here at this briefing about that in recent weeks, and that is where we are at the moment.

Question:  Just to follow up though, is he going to be working on a particular stance or a particular position, the SG, because these questions about drones are only going to increase as his second term goes by?  It is a cheaper way to wage war, so they are going to be using that a lot more, and they are going to be in the conversation a lot.

Spokesperson:  You are absolutely right that they are in the news a lot, and it is an extremely complex subject. I think what we said so far is where we are.  And if that changes, I’ll let you know, okay?  Other questions?  Yes?

Question:  As you said, the Security Council discussed the Palestinian issue and the Middle East…

Spokesperson:  Did I? Including the Palestinian question, the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Question:  Right.  Now, you know that there was a discussion, negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians in Amman in the past few days.  According to press reports, these negotiations have not led to any results.  Is the Secretary-General disappointed?

Spokesperson:  Well, I think, as you will know, the Jordanian Foreign Minister has been designated to speak on that topic by both of the parties.  And I think that I would refer you to what the Jordanian Foreign Minister has had to say on this.  I would note also that the Jordanian King met President Obama yesterday and they both had something to say on the subject.  The Secretary-General has repeatedly said that this is an important conduit, it’s building on the September statement of the Quartet, and it is something that we need to encourage, but beyond that, I don’t have anything further to say at the moment.  Other questions?

Okay, Nihal, it’s all yours.  Thank you very much.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon, everyone.

The President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser is on an official visit to Bahrain today.  He met with His Majesty King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa.  And they discussed the situation in Bahrain and a number of regional and international issues.  They also talked about the initiative of His Majesty and the reforms that his Government intends to implement based on the recommendations of the independent committee.

President Al-Nasser said that those reforms and those steps were a step in the right direction.  He said he was encouraged by the announcement of His Majesty King Hamad to implement reforms and progressive policies that will help achieve reconciliation for all Bahrainis, and maintain the unity and stability of Bahrain.

President Al-Nasser stressed that any remaining differences or gaps between the Government and the opposition should be addressed peacefully through mediation and dialogue.

President Al-Nasser also held a number of meetings in Bahrain with the Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and his Deputy, Shaikh Mohamed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa.

He also earlier had talks with the Foreign Minister, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, after which they held a joint press conference.  On his part, the Foreign Minister, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, commended the efforts and the work done at the General Assembly in then past few months.

As you know, prior to his visit to Bahrain, the President of the General Assembly was in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, where he participated in the fifth World Future Energy Summit, and we have circulated his address and we had a readout also of his meetings in Abu Dhabi that has been sent out to you, and you can check it out again on our website.

Any questions?  Yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you.  I note that you said that President Al-Nasser was encouraged by the reforms announced by the King of Bahrain.  Is he bringing any specific message from the United Nations to the King?

Spokesperson:  No specific message as yet.  We are going to be issuing a readout and details of his meetings in Bahrain, but as I have just mentioned, they were discussing a range of international and regional issues and the situation in Bahrain as well.  And that’s what I have to say for the time being, and later in the day we will be issuing a readout.

Question:  But did he bring any proposals, any ideas and suggestions to the Government of Bahrain?

Spokesperson:  Not that I know of.  Any further questions?  Then thank you all, and have a wonderful day.

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