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

11 May 2012

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

11 May 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

Good afternoon, everybody; welcome to the briefing.

** Syria

The UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) continues to step up its deployment on the ground.  Today, the Mission has 145 observers and 56 civilian staff deployed in Syria.  The Mission is also carrying out patrols, one day after the attacks that took place in Damascus.

Yesterday afternoon, in a press statement, the members of the Security Council condemned those attacks in the strongest terms and expressed their deep sympathy and sincere condolences to the victims and their families.  The members of the Security Council called upon all parties in Syria immediately and comprehensively to implement all elements of the Joint Special Envoy’s six-point proposal, and in particular to cease all armed violence in all its forms.

And as you know, the Secretary-General and Joint Special Envoy also strongly condemned yesterday’s attacks.

**Security Council

The Security Council is holding consultations on the work of the UN Office in West Africa (UNOWA) today.

Yesterday afternoon, Council members received an update on voter registration for the elections of a National Congress in Libya from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the country, Ian Martin.

Mr. Martin also expressed concern that thousands of people remain in conflict-related detention, while cases of mistreatment and torture of detainees continue.  The UN Stabilization Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) recently expressed deep concern regarding the deaths of three people at a detention centre in Misrata, which, according to credible information given to the Mission, were the result directly of torture.

**Abyei

The UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) reports that yesterday, South Sudan’s Inspector General [for Police] officially ordered the withdrawal of the South Sudan Police Service (SSPS) from the Abyei area.

Following the announcement, some 700 South Sudan police, with the UN Mission’s logistical support, relocated to South Sudan.  The Inspector General also ordered the police officers to refrain from visiting their families in the Abyei area in uniform and with guns.  The UN Mission is in the process of verifying that all South Sudan police elements have withdrawn from the Abyei area.

** Afghanistan

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, reconfirmed the commitment of the humanitarian community to the people of Afghanistan at the end of her four-day visit to the country today.  She said that much has been achieved over the past decade, but Afghanistan remains near the bottom ranking of all human development indicators.  There is still much more to do.  We have a press release with more details on that.

**FAO

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) under the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) endorsed a set of far-reaching global guidelines today aimed at helping Governments safeguard the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries.

The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, José Graziano da Silva, said that giving poor and vulnerable people secure and equitable rights to gain access to land and other natural resources is a key condition in the fight against hunger and poverty.  He said it is a breakthrough countries have agreed on these first-ever global land tenure guidelines.

** Congo Refugees

A repatriation programme by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, for refugees who want to return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from neighbouring Republic of the Congo has begun.  Forty-nine thousand refugees are due to return by boat across the Oubangui River, which forms the border between the two countries.  UNHCR has described the return as a major logistical challenge.  Most of the refugees from the DRC fled inter-ethnic clashes in late 2009 that were caused by fishing and farming disputes.  An additional 32,000 refugees will be repatriated next year.

**Refugees

And the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, in coordination with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), is holding an international ministerial conference on “Refugees in the Muslim World” today and tomorrow in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.

The main themes of the conference are:  the role of the Refugee Agency in enhancing refugee protection in the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; multilateral cooperation, including burden- and responsibility-sharing to protect and assist refugees; and also voluntary repatriation as the most preferred durable solution for any refugee situation.

** Republic of Moldova

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has urged the Government of the Republic of Moldova to act on its commitment to adopt long-overdue anti-discrimination legislation, in conformity with obligations under international human rights law.

The Office said the law was one of the key elements raised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, during her visit to the country in November last year and featured strongly in the report of the Universal Periodic Review of Moldova, adopted in March this year.

**Press Conferences Today

Immediately following my briefing today, Nihal Saad, the General Assembly President’s Spokesperson, will be briefing you.  She will join me at that point first to read out a joint statement by the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General.

And then at 1 p.m. today, the Executive Coordinator of Rio+20, Brice Lalonde, will brief you at the North Lawn stakeout on the launch of an event entitled “Sustainable Development Dialogues”.

**Press Conferences on Monday

We have three press conferences scheduled for Monday:

Two are related to the meetings of the Indigenous People’s Forum; one at 10 a.m. and then another at 11 a.m.

The third press conference, at 12:30 p.m., will be a briefing by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo.

And more information on these will be posted online later.

So, as I say, I’ll take a few questions from you, and then after that Nihal will join me for a joint statement and then she will brief you.  So, further questions, please?  Yes, Evelyn?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Could you review again, if you have at your fingertips, the civilian component of the Syrian monitors, or how many eventually will be there and what exactly are they doing?  I know it is human rights and humanitarian, but I don’t have the full list, and I…

Spokesperson:  I don’t have the full details of what each of those civilian staff members will do who are being deployed.  As I mentioned, 56 civilians are there already, alongside…

Question:  There are 100, or…?

Spokesperson:  Yes, around that, yes.  Alongside the 145 observers who are there already, and as you know, the observer contingent is scheduled to be 300, yes.

Question:  I just wasn’t sure what the civilians were doing, except human rights.

Spokesperson:  Well, that’s certainly a part of the picture, and obviously the observers need support staff for the operations that they carry out.  If I have any more details, then I’ll let you know.

Question:  Fine.  Also, can I ask one more thing?  Can you not use your considerable influence to persuade Rio+20 press conference, that he comes here rather than we go there with the briefings, you know, running into each other, plus the stakeout at the Security Council?  It’s a 10-minute walk, you know.

Spokesperson:  Well, my considerable influence doesn’t run that far when I am sitting here, but let’s see.  Yes, Sylviane?

Question:  And thank you, for DPI [Department for Public Information] for putting in a word on the WiFi, which is still ridiculous and preventing us from doing a lot of work.  And it seems to be totally ignored by the powers that be.  Not by DPI.

Spokesperson:  Well, I am not sure that it is ignored.  Certainly efforts are under way, and as I mentioned earlier this week, we certainly do appreciate that it is extremely difficult for you to work.

Question:  No, I appreciate what you are doing, but I am just… I wanted to echo through your place.

Spokesperson:  The words are reverberating around the UN as we speak.  Sylviane?

Question:  Following that, Evelyn’s question, how many journalists are in there?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know the answer to that.  We may be able to find out.  I don’t wish to be cute, but it may be that the Syrian authorities would tell you that.  I don’t have the answer sitting here right now.  Yes, Ali?

[He later added that the Office of the Joint Special Envoy has been informed by the Syrian authorities that 114 international journalists have received visas.  The Office has no way of verifying this and, of course, does not register journalists who enter the country.  However, the Office has noticed an increase in the number of foreign media reports coming out of Syria.]

Correspondent:  And another…

Spokesperson:  Sylviane, yes, please; and then we’ll come to Ali.

Question:  With the violence going on constantly in Syria, do you believe that [Kofi] Annan plans, or the Secretary-General believes, that Annan’s plans are still going and still stand?

Spokesperson:  Absolutely.  This is a plan that has the full support of the international community.  As you well know, the crisis in Syria long predates the arrival of the Mission, which has the aim to help to end that crisis.  It is incumbent on those on the ground, meaning the opposition and Government forces, to adhere to what they have actually agreed to, which is the six-point plan, and to do so immediately.  No one is saying that this is an easy task.  We have seen this week what the Mission observers and civilian staff are up against, in the same way that the Syrian civilian population has been up against this kind of attacks for months and months now.  Yes?

Question:  The Lebanese authorities seized the shipment, arms shipment, it was destined to Syria, as per claims and the reports.  Has the Lebanese Government or authorities shared any information with the United Nations?  Should they do that?  And I have another question, on a completely different issue that the UN Dispute Tribunal issued few months ago a verdict against Mr. [Muhammad] Shaaban and asking the Secretary-General to take punitive measures against Mr. Shaaban.  My question is:  Has the Secretary-General acted in conformity with his own calls for accountability, with his own calls for the rule of law inside the United Nations, as outside the United Nations?  Thank you.

Spokesperson:  Well, on the second point, Ali, I will need to look into this.  I don’t have any details on that particular ruling from the Dispute Tribunal.

On the first point, about the apparent efforts to smuggle unauthorized weapons into Lebanon from the sea, there were two attempts in the last two weeks in violation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).  And as you know, UNIFIL, the UN mission in Lebanon, has a maritime component and that has the mandate to assist the Lebanese Navy in preventing the unauthorized entry of arms or related materiel by sea into Lebanon, and that’s at the request of the Lebanese authorities.  But UNIFIL’s role is limited to monitoring traffic, maritime traffic, ships, and hailing vessels that are within the area of maritime operations; and then what happens after that is that if any suspicious vessel is identified, then it is referred to the Lebanese Navy for further action.

So, UNIFIL, the mission itself, does not have the authority to board or inspect any vessel, or indeed to investigate such cases.  That’s really with the Lebanese authorities.  I think there are some details available, I can give them to you afterwards about the vessels involved.  I’m coming over here, and then to Erol.  Yeah?

Question:  Sure, I wanted to ask about two things in the Secretary-General’s speech to the General Assembly.  One is about the… a big topic in the Security Council today is Guinea-Bissau, and at least it seems that the Secretary-General, you know, he called for an immediate return to constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau and then this morning it is announced by ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] that neither the… the former Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes, nor the interim President, Mr.  Pereira, they are not expected to come back to the country whatsoever; they’re essentially putting in place a 12-month transition without a return of the elected people.  So I wonder:  Is this inconsistent with what the Secretary-General called for?  Does he… can… does he… does he… does he… does this seem to him like a restoration of constitutional order without the return of Gomes or Pereira?

Spokesperson:  Well, we are aware of the reports that you refer to about ECOWAS and Guinea-Bissau, and I would anticipate having something further to say a little later, but not right now.

[The Spokesperson later added that it should be recalled that, following consultations on Guinea-Bissau on 7 May, the Security Council issued a press statement on 8 May in which it demanded the reinstatement of the legitimate Government of Guinea-Bissau and the resumption of the electoral process interrupted by the 12 April 2012 military coup.  The Security Council also called on the Economic Community of West African States, in coordination with the United Nations, the African Union and the Community of Portuguese-speaking countries, to pursue its efforts to implement its “zero tolerance” policy against the unconstitutional seizure of power in Guinea-Bissau, and to enable the restoration of constitutional order.  The Council called on the Secretary-General to engage actively to meet this objective.  He will continue to work with key regional and other international leaders towards the restoration of constitutional order as called for by the Security Council.]

Question:  Can I ask about Myanmar?

Spokesperson:  Erol, and then I’ll come back to you.  Yes?

Question:  Thank you, Martin.  As you… as we all know, Secretary-General expressed his concern over the continuation of dialogue in Kosovo between Pristina and Belgrade.  But I would like to ask you about two neighbouring countries, whether the Secretary-General is concerned on what is going on in Macedonia right now.  There are huge protests and many of the European countries, including the United States, et cetera, already expressed their concerns and appealed to the Government and to those who are protesting to calm down.  So whether he is aware of that, does he have to say anything on that?  And also, regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is a controversial law on Srebrenica, which now does not allow those who were expelled from Srebrenica, because of the known events, to vote in Srebrenica, in the municipal elections.  Does the Secretary-General have anything to say on that?  Thank you.

Spokesperson:  Thanks for both of those questions, and if I have anything, I will let you know, I don’t have anything now.  Yes, Matthew?

Question:  Also in, in his speech to the G… to the General Assembly, he said the… the… that the good offices on Myanmar, that the Sec… the General Assembly might want to somehow reconsider; it wasn’t clear to me and I… I… I guess I am asking you, you know, you are… what did he mean?  Did he mean to… the elimination of the position?  That’s how some people interpreted it, so I wanted to… to… I heard what he said, but it didn’t… it didn’t speak for itself in this case, in terms of what he would like to see them do with it.

Spokesperson:  Well, I beg to differ, actually, Matthew, but “reconsider” means what it says and it would be for the Member States then to consider what they view as the role of the good offices mandate in future.  And it is up to them to decide.

Question:  I mean, I understand, but he… he came back from a high-profile trip, he praised the country, many people interpreted his statement as meaning that it may be time to remove this type of scrutiny of the country.  I read… is that what he is saying or not what he is saying?

Spokesperson:  It is for the Member States to reconsider the mandate that exists.  The Secretary-General, in addition to praising, as you noted, was also quite clear — and you have neglected to mention that part — that there is still a lot of work to do, and the focus does need to remain on what is happening in Myanmar.  I don’t think he has simply turned in one direction.  He is focused, and that’s why Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar is very much involved in this.  The focus is in ensuring that the momentum that there is continues.

Question:  And… and does he think that that would be true with the… with the good offices continuing?  I guess that’s… I just want to… it seems…

Spokesperson:  Well, Matthew, we are going round in circles here.  It’s for the Member States to decide.  So you might want to ask the Member States that are members of the Group of Friends of Myanmar.

[The Spokesperson later noted that the Secretary-General had said in his remarks to the General Assembly that, notwithstanding the important strides the country has made, the process remains fragile and much more needs to be done to enable the transition to succeed.  The Spokesperson noted the Secretary-General said:  “While recognizing the fragility of the situation, the General Assembly may wish at some stage to acknowledge the progress made in Myanmar and consider how best the good offices can continue to support this process.”]

Technical question?  Please?

Question:  Okay, did the Secretary-General meet with… met with his new appointees, and not saying only one or more of them here in New York or somewhere else, did he talk about with his new cabinet, actually regarding the new position and new appointees?

Spokesperson:  Well, there are regular meetings with his senior advisers, with the Senior Management Group that is composed of the team that is based in New York and those senior management team members who are located elsewhere.  That’s obviously done by video conferencing.  He has regular meetings in that format.  And as you know, there have been appointments over a period of time and they will continue.  So as the new people arrive, so they will be folded into those meetings that I just mentioned, yeah.

Question:  What about this Afghanistan?  There is a… there is a report that… something called the monitoring and evaluation committee, which oversee… is part of the Afghan Government, and the international donors have said that the UN system’s role in funding the Afghan national police may involve false receipts, and I am sure you have seen that story, and I wonder what is the UN system’s response?  Does it believe that there are problems with the programme or that everything is running well?

Spokesperson:  Seen the story; speak to UNDP [United Nations Development Programme].  Thanks very much.  Nihal, come and join me, yeah.  Thank you very much.

Joint Announcement

Spokesperson:  So, very pleased to welcome Nihal.

GA Spokesperson:  Thank you.

Spokesperson:  And this is getting to be a little bit of a habit.  We have a joint statement!

GA Spokesperson:  I like it!  [Laughter].  Good afternoon, everyone.  And, let me start by reading out a joint press statement by the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General on the High-Level Thematic Debate on the State of the World Economy and Finance in 2012.

The President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General are jointly convening a High-Level Thematic Debate on the State of the World Economy and Finance in 2012, on 17 and 18 May, to explore ways of improving the overall global economic and financial situation and to discuss its impact on development efforts and social processes.

This High-Level Thematic Debate is an important contribution to the consultations mandated by General Assembly resolution 65/313.  At the request of the President of the General Assembly, the consultations have been co-chaired by Ambassador Daniele Bodini, Permanent Representative of San Marino, and Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, Permanent Representative of Turkey.

Heads of State and Government, Ministers in charge of financial, economic and Foreign Affairs, as well as senior officials of the relevant international agencies will participate in the High-Level Thematic Debate.  Top officials of Regional Development Banks will also be attending.  Distinguished experts have been invited to provide their technical advice.

The event will consist of four round-table discussions focusing on:  combating unemployment, creating jobs, addressing poverty and social protection; debt sustainability and managing inflation/deflation; creating an environment for increasing production, trade and investment; and increasing stability, predictability and transparency in the global financial system.

This debate will be organized in an informal setting to facilitate an exchange of views among leading policymakers on the state of the world economy.  This should contribute to ongoing international efforts to achieve a sustained, inclusive and equitable recovery of the world economy.  Particular focus will be given to sustainable development, thereby addressing specifically the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

The President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General believe that the United Nations has an important role to play in the deliberations on the world economy.  They envision that this High-Level Thematic Debate will also contribute towards the success of many related United Nations processes and events, including most notably the upcoming UNCSD (Rio+20), as well as the discussions taking place in informal forums, such as the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.

And we will be circulating the statement and posting it on our website shortly after this briefing.

That was the joint press statement by the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General.  While Martin is here, and before he leaves, we are ready to take your questions on that particular subject.  And then I will be taking… I will be continuing with my briefing.

Spokesperson:  Okay, any questions on this particular point?

Question:  Yes, do you have a list of how many Heads of State that you will get in this high-level debate?  And do you have some names for us?  And then, can we also have details of the people that will be speaking at the round tables?

GA Spokesperson:  Want to take this?

Spokesperson:  If you have the answer…

GA Spokesperson:  Yes.

Spokesperson:  Looks like you have the answer.

GA Spokesperson:  Well, we have been receiving a considerable number of high-level participations in the event so far.  I don’t have the names on me now, but we will be circulating the official agenda with the participation of… who are going to be participating in the meeting; but so far, we have guest keynote speakers like José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission; we have Ali Babacan, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey; Paul Volcker, the former head of the United States Federal Reserve; and Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University.  We have received confirmations from at least six Heads of State and Government.  And we have around 13 ministers, finance ministers and foreign ministers.  And as I said, once we finalize the agenda, we will be able to circulate the co-chairs of the round tables, four round tables and more details about the event itself.  Yes?

Question:  I don’t see the names of the Heads of State.  Do you have them?

GA Spokesperson:  I have the Heads of State that we have invited, but I don’t have it on me now.  I don’t have the confirmed list of the names of the Heads of State that we have received so far.

Question:  So when you say six Heads of State, do you mean those who have been invited or those…?

GA Spokesperson:  No, no.  We have invited a large number of Heads of State and Government, but so far we have confirmations from six.  Yeah.

Spokesperson:  Yes?

Question:  Another question, almost the same.  Do you know how many representatives from here?

GA Spokesperson:  I don’t have it on me now.  I’m sorry, but I can check this for you.  And as I said, we will be releasing the agenda and participation list; as soon as this is available, I will be able to share it with you.

Question:  Do you know if the issue of sanctions and the repercussion on the civilians in Syria and Iran will be discussed during this meeting?

Spokesperson:  That seems a little unlikely to me.  This is… As the name suggests, it’s a high-level debate on the world economy and finance.  So I think this is looking at the global picture of the economic and financial system, the difficulties that it has been going through, and as you’ve heard, there are key areas where there will be a focus on unemployment, job creation and debt sustainability and so on.  So, that’s, I think, the focus.  Evelyn and then Matthew.

Question:  With so many of these problems stalemated around the world, are you going to come to any conclusions?  Is it possible to come out with a paper at the end or some conclusion?  Or just something vague?

Spokesperson:  This is… Nihal may have something to add.  But this is a debate.  It’s a part, the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly believe that there is an important role that the United Nations can play in these deliberations that are also taking place, obviously, in other areas, too, not least in the run-up to the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development and also the G-20 summit that precedes it.  So this is about being a part of a process that is representing the entire membership.

GA Spokesperson:  If I may just add to what Martin has just mentioned.  There will be a comprehensive summary document that will be prepared, and at the end of the meeting, it will be also circulated to the wider membership.

Spokesperson:  Okay, Matthew, related to this?

Question:  Yes it is.  I wanted to know whether there is any involvement by, by private industry, particularly banks.  Given, I mean, it seems like the downturn was largely created by financial institutions unregulated and flaming out.  I noticed that, I mean, like the chairman of the Bank of America is on another panel of the UN on sustainable energy.  But is, either, are they invited to participate?  Or is there, is there any thought of sort of weaving in these private entities that otherwise engage with the UN on the issue of regulation, subprime lending and things that actually caused the crisis?

GA Spokesperson:  Well, as I mentioned in the statement, top officials of regional development banks are going to be, are invited to attend.  So that answers your question.

Question:  But those are sort of a governmental type.

Spokesperson:  It is governmental rather than commercial.

Question:  But I guess, this may be for Martin.  Given that the Secretary-General appointed the chairman of the Bank of America, one of the world’s largest banks, that took an enormous bailout in this…  Is there any idea of a sort of engaging; I mean, it’s all fine and good to talk about Rio+20 and sustainable development, but actual… like, regulation of the financial system, is that on the agenda?  Is the UN going to use its entree with banks to raise them?

Spokesperson:  Well, if you take a close look at the statement, which obviously you only heard so far, but you will see shortly, as Nihal mentioned in reading out the statement, one of the round-table discussions will focus on increasing stability, predictability and transparency in the global financial system.  And, as we’ve mentioned, this is a debate that will be a summary of deliberations, and it’s part of a process, as you know, that involves not just the United Nations but G-20 as well.  Other questions on this?  Okay.  Thanks very much!

GA Spokesperson:  Thank you, Martin.

Spokesperson:  Thanks very much.  Thanks very much, everyone.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, after attending the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, earlier this week, arrived in Vienna yesterday for an official visit at the invitation of the Austrian Government.

Today, the President of the General Assembly had a number of meetings, including a tête-à-tête meeting with the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, Michael Spindelegger.

President Al-Nasser also met with the President of the National Council, Barbara Prammer at the Austrian Parliament.

Over lunch, President Al-Nasser had interactions with Yury Fedotov, Director of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) and Yukiya Amano, Director General of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), as well as other top UN officials based in Vienna.

We will be issuing a readout of these meetings later.

Later today, President Al-Nasser will travel from Vienna to Geneva, where he will deliver remarks at the opening of the Second Part of the 2012 Session of the Conference on Disarmament.

Questions and Answers

Spokesperson:  Any questions? Yes?

Question:  Thank you, Nihal.  And welcome, first of all.  I was a little bit thrilled, asking that before.  But anyhow, my question is, do you have any information you can confirm that indeed on 8 June, as my sources are telling me, there is going to be the election of the new General Assembly President.

Spokesperson:  I can confirm that.

Question:  So, it was impossible to find out the consensus at the Eastern European Group of countries, and there are going to be two candidates?

Spokesperson:  I cannot get into the details.  I’m not aware of the details.  But you asked me a specific question about the date and this is what I can confirm now.

Question:  And we will have two candidates?

Spokesperson:  I have no idea.  I can check that for you from now until June, the 8th.  So far, we have two candidates.  I don’t know if that is going to develop into something else by June, the 8th.

Question:  All right.  I’ll call you.

Spokesperson:  Call me [laughter].  Yes, please.

Question:  I have a question on the same subject.  Today, in the UN Daily Journal, it stated that there will be the election of the President of the UN General Assembly on 8 June, which hasn’t happened since the year 1991, the same year when Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia joined, [inaudible] the UN 50 years of Soviet occupations.  Since Lithuania put in its request to run for the President of the GA in 2004, don’t you think that the candidate Lithuanian Ambassador Dalius Čekuolis should continue to seek consensus or a vote of acclamation by the 23 members of the Eastern European Group, [inaudible] is to elect the 2012 President of the GA on a rotational basis?

Spokesperson:  I’m not in a position to answer a question of such, especially if the election is going to be taking place on June the 8th.

Question:  Is Security Council trying…

Spokesperson:  I can’t hear you.  I’m sorry.

Question:  Is Security Council trying to [inaudible] some States in West Africa, [inaudible] countries, I want to know what is all about and what it intends to achieve.

Spokesperson:  I would, just, I think Martin should be answering this question.  So, probably I defer the question to Martin.  Yes, any more questions?  Matthew.

Question: Sure, I want to ask you about this, a scheduled vote on the “small 5”’ proposal for Security Council, if not reform, a change of working method.  There seems to be some disagreement about whether it will require two thirds or 50 per cent vote.  People are saying there will be a… the President of the General Assembly will make a ruling on that, that can be either overturned or not, is that the case?  Has request been made to [inaudible].  Is there yet a way to know, does he believe that this is the type of issue that requires a two-thirds majority or just a simple majority.  What’s his view of their proposed reform?

Spokesperson:  We are aware of the issue, but it’s still under discussion.  So I cannot comment on it for the time being.

Question:  But you have gotten a request to, for his ruling?

Spokesperson:  I will have to check if we have got a request for the ruling, but the issue itself, we are aware of it, and I believe it’s still under discussion.  So we can’t comment on it for the time being.  Yes…?

Question: “Small 5” [inaudible]

Spokesperson:  I think May 16th has been set as the date for that.  I believe so.  But I can double-check for you.  Any more questions?  Have a lovely day.

* *** *

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