|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.
Today, I have as my guest, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. She will brief you on her recent mission to South Sudan. Dr. Coomaraswamy, the floor is yours.
[Press conference by Radhika Coomaraswamy issued separately]
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen once again.
The Secretary-General arrived in South Korea over the weekend and is taking part in the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit today and tomorrow. He attended a working dinner with other leaders attending the Summit today. While in Seoul, the Secretary-General has been having a range of bilateral meetings with world leaders. On Saturday, he met South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and, yesterday, he had discussions with the Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra.
In his meeting with the South Korean President, the Secretary-General again urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to reconsider its declared plans to launch a satellite. He called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully comply with Security Council resolutions, notably the one that prohibits any launch using ballistic missile technology.
Today, the Secretary-General met the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, and the new President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, as well as the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. We've issued readouts on those meetings, and we'll continue to do so for the Secretary-General's other meetings with leaders attending the Nuclear Security Summit.
The Secretary-General will speak at tomorrow's working lunch and plenary session at the Summit. As with the statements by other leaders at the Summit, neither set of remarks will be open to the media, but we'll aim to provide the text of his remarks as quickly as possible after he has spoken.
This morning, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, told the Security Council that building peace means helping national institutions reach a point where they are able to maintain a sufficient level of stability and security, in particular, through respect for the rule of law and human rights. Building confidence between the host Government, key national stakeholders and the international community and clearly articulating the facts of a transition through continued dialogue and communication strategies is critical to a successful drawdown planning, he said.
The Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Susana Malcorra, described the impact of procurement for peacekeeping operations on local markets, and for propelling people into long-term economic viability and out of poverty.
As well, the Security Council issued a presidential statement on the situation in the Sahel. The Security Council encourages the international community to provide support to resolve the crisis in Mali and the Sahel region based on an integrated strategy for immediate and long-term needs, encompassing security, development and humanitarian issues.
Mr. Said Djinnit, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, participated in a joint mission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and the United Nations, which was dispatched to Bamako on Friday, 23 March, under the leadership of ECOWAS. The members of the mission met a delegation of the junta led by Captain Adama Diarra and spoke on the phone with Captain Amadou Sanogo whom they could not meet personally for security reasons.
They reiterated the appeal launched by ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations for an immediate return to the constitutional order. They also urged the junta leaders to guarantee the physical security of President Amadou Toumani Touré, as well as that of the other persons detained. The delegation reaffirmed the attachment of ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations to Mali’s territorial integrity. Mr. Djinnit has been invited and will attend the ECOWAS Summit to be held tomorrow, 27 March, in Abidjan during which the ECOWAS Heads of State will examine the prevailing situation in Mali.
A United Nations convoy carrying essential items has reached some of the displaced population in the areas affected by the conflict in Kachin state in Myanmar. The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator has voiced hope that this will now lead to a sustained delivery of aid by the UN and its humanitarian partners to internally displaced persons.
The UN has continuously made the case for independent humanitarian access in accordance with humanitarian principles with both the Government and the Kachin Independence Organization. It looks to all of its humanitarian partners to join in the effort to provide humanitarian support to all displaced people in Kachin.
**Global Human Development Forum
Last Friday, delegates at the first Global Human Development Forum unanimously adopted the Istanbul Declaration, which calls on the world community to take bold action against global social inequities and environmental deterioration at the Rio+20 Conference this June.
The Declaration stresses the need for global and national development strategies to put strong emphasis on social inclusion, social protection, and equity, in recognition of the fact that economic development has too often gone hand in hand with environmental degradation and increased inequality.
It endorses the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability and the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2011 Human Development Report. The Declaration also stresses the need to maintain progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, while building a consensus for a new post-2015 global framework.
I have a statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Joint Special Envoy for Syria. The Syrian Government has formally responded to the Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan's 6-point plan, as endorsed by the UN Security Council. Mr. Annan is studying it and will respond very shortly.
And finally, press conferences: at 11 a.m., tomorrow, there will be a press conference in this room. Civil society organizations will discuss negotiations for Rio+20. Participants’ names will be provided later.
And at 12:30 p.m., there will be a press conference by members of the Steering Committee for the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
That’s it from me. Questions, please?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Sure, I mean, first just on the… on the statement you just have from the Spokesman for the Joint Special Envoy, just, I mean, and without obviously getting into what the response of Syria is… it says he’s gotten it and he is going to respond to it. Before he responds to it, does he check with the Secretary-General and with Nabil Elaraby of the League of Arab States, or is his response to it entirely up to him?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, our Secretary-General is in regular and constant contact with Mr. Annan, so I would imagine that Mr. Annan will be discussing this with the Secretary-General and will be raising his observations and what he may plan to say.
Question: Sure, what I am asking is whether, before, because it says he will respond shortly. Is he… is the process for Kofi Annan to check with the two Secretary-Generals and then respond, or does he respond and then tell them how he responded?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well he has been appointed by both Secretaries-General, and he is in constant communication with them, so I imagine the conversation is ongoing. Please?
Question: Do you have some more information about the meeting of Secretary-General with Turkish Prime Minister? It says in the readout that on… the Cyprus and Syrian issues were taken up, and that’s all.
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, what we have is what is in the readout. That’s all we comment on for the conversation between the Turkish Prime Minister and the Secretary-General.
Question: Just a follow-up on that?
Deputy Spokesperson: Yeah.
Question: I just… to understand it, some of the readouts that have come out are much more detailed, true the Turkey one mentioned the two issues, it didn’t mention Palestine, anything else; the North Korea, the South Korea one was extensive, you know, many more sentences. Are these… is this a matter of… is the difference the amount of time that they spend on the meeting or do they check with the other? Does the Secretary-General check with the other party what should the readout look like, because they are very different readouts, and so we left kind of…
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, normally…
Deputy Spokesperson: Normally, readouts are issued — as you know, these conversations are private, there is no media there. They enable both parties to have a frank and fruitful discussion, and they decide what they want to share with the media and what they want to keep private. As you know, some things are open to megaphone diplomacy, other things are open to telephone diplomacy, and we have certain things we want to keep private for the simple fact that they are sensitive.
Question: Right, I mean, but this… I just want to understand you correctly, this means that they… they decide together what the readout should contain?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General is in conversation with the leader and then the readout is issued. That’s all, that’s as far as I plan to go into the process.
Correspondent: Okay, fine.
Deputy Spokesperson: Okay?
Question: Can I ask about Myanmar? You’d mentioned this… this which is all to the good that is aid getting to Kachin state, I wanted to ask you this: it’s been announced by the Government of Myanmar that at least three constituencies in Kachin state will not vote in this upcoming election that the UN is, you know, and many have praised them for holding, but so certain parts of the country will not be allowed to vote. Is there any comment on that and can you say anything more about the Secretary-General’s public statement that he may go to Myanmar next month? What are the considerations just as other scheduling or is it in some way contingent on… I don’t know, what does it mean?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, as you know, we usually issue statements to the media on the Secretary-General’s travel closer to the travel. We don’t have any dates selected yet. We’ll see what happens with the travel plans and we’ll make an announcement when we have something to announce.
Question: Sure, I know, I think it is said publicly I think in one of his statements…
Deputy Spokesperson: No, no, we understand he said it publicly, but as far as we are going to go is to say what he said publicly, and any details will be left for further discussion.
Question: What about this idea, does he think it would be good if everybody in Myanmar can vote in this upcoming election, and what does he think of this suspension of voting rights in parts of Kachin state?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I think it all depends on the nature of the suspension. If the suspension is for security reasons, obviously, if you can’t hold elections because of security reasons, you may have to wait until the security situation is such that election authorities can go into the region, can distribute the ballots, can set up the voting stations, can enumerate the voters, etcetera, etcetera. So, I don’t have any specific comment on it, but that would be my general reaction.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much. Have a good afternoon.
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