|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, everyone. Welcome to the briefing.
**General Assembly on Group of 20
The Secretary-General told the General Assembly this morning ahead of the G‑20 meeting in Mexico this month that the world economy is in a precarious position. In Los Cabos, he said that he will ask leaders to once again look, not just at their national concerns, but at the common good, which is inextricably linked to their own interests.
The Secretary-General said that we need a powerful, coordinated solution to the worldwide job crisis and decisive action to avoid a new global recession. We need inclusive green growth that can drive sustainable development. He said that beyond the current global anxiety there is opportunity, and that is the forthcoming Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development. That event will define steps towards a better future for all — more equitable, more prosperous, and more respectful of the planet’s finite resources.
The Security Council heard a briefing this morning from Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, on his cases involving Sudan. He discussed ways of executing the arrest warrants related to the situation in Darfur. And this afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on Guinea-Bissau.
**Press Conference Today
And just to add that, today at 1 p.m., Mr. Moreno-Ocampo will be here to brief on Darfur.
UN agencies, Member States and others took part in the third Syria Humanitarian Forum, which took place in Geneva this morning. The Forum welcomed the agreement secured by the United Nations with the Government of Syria regarding the scale and scope of the humanitarian response.
John Ging, the Director of Operations for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that this is very significant progress, but whether it constitutes a breakthrough or not will only become clear in the coming days and weeks through action on the ground. The focus of the humanitarian community is now on the implementation of a rapid and robust response to expand the delivery of food, medicine and other vital supplies to 1 million people in need in Syria.
The Office says that additional donor support will be critical for the scale-up, noting that the humanitarian response plan for Syria is currently only 20 per cent funded and that the regional refugee response plan is only 36 per cent funded.
**Press Conferences Tomorrow
Tomorrow at 10:30 a.m., in this auditorium, there will be a press conference by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to launch their Global Environment Outlook report.
And then at 11:15 a.m., there will be a press conference by the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser.
And then at noon, the Secretary-General will be here to hold a press conference on the forthcoming Rio+20 Conference. There will be no noon briefing tomorrow.
And following that, at 12:30 p.m., the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, will hold a press conference to discuss the report of the Secretary-General on the Situation of Children and Armed Conflict affected by the Lord's Resistance Army.
That’s what I have. Questions, please? Yes, Karim, then Ali. Did I see your hand as well, Sylviane? Okay, right. Yes, Karim?
**Questions and Answers
Question: On Syria, after what John Ging said in Geneva, do you have any more details on what the UN is going to do as far as humanitarian action is concerned on Syria?
Spokesperson: Well, I think he has spoken and given some more details, for example on where there is likely to be a presence, subject to visas being available for the humanitarian staff. But I would urge you to contact the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and they may well have a few more details beyond those I have been able to give you now. Yes, Ali?
Question: In the same issue of the refugees, has the Secretary-General discussed this issue with the Lebanon Prime Minister, and how is the United Nations going to help the Lebanese Government within the… this problem in Lebanon? And my other question is whether the Secretary-General has submitted already the report on the Houleh massacre to… I… I heard that the Secretary is preparing a report on the massacre in Houleh; is that the case?
Spokesperson: Well, there already was a letter to the [Security] Council that was published already some time ago. There was an initial letter to the Council; then there was an updated letter to the Security Council that provided some details on what the observers had been able to establish so far. As you know, the Human Rights Council did vote last Friday, and in that decision, it was set out that the existing Commission of Inquiry on Syria should look into this matter in more detail. I do not know at this point whether there will be more details at the Council or in the General Assembly on Thursday.
Question: [inaudible] Syrian committee has found out regarding this massacre?
Spokesperson: I think that when establishing facts, you look at every piece of evidence or information that is out there. But it is the Commission of Inquiry that has been looking into this matter now for quite a few months. And as you know, it has put out periodic updates. It carries this out in a very impartial manner, seeking to the extent possible, given that it doesn’t have access to Syria itself, to pull together information from sources that can be corroborated. Okay?
Question: And my question on refugees in Lebanon?
Spokesperson: Ah, yes, I beg your pardon, yes. Well, the Secretary-General did meet the Lebanese Prime Minister while they were both in Istanbul, and we did issue a readout on that meeting. They obviously did discuss developments in Syria, and indeed developments in Lebanon that are linked to what has been happening in Syria. As for the question of helping refugees, that would fall obviously to the High Commissioner’s Office and I would see if there are any more details from them on that. It is a growing problem, it has been a growing problem; there has been an extremely magnanimous response to the countries around Syria to those who cross the borders and that’s something that the Secretary-General made clear in his meetings with the relevant leaders, including those of Turkey while he was in Istanbul. Yes, Sylviane? Yes, and then I am coming down the line. Yes, Sylviane?
Question: Just a follow-up to Ali’s question on the refugees; can you confirm the reports that refugees, Syrian refugees have been sent out from Lebanon and from… they were… have been denied entry in Jordan?
Spokesperson: I would need to check, I don’t have anything on that, Sylviane. I’d need to check. Yes, Stefano, and then Masood?
Question: About the meeting of the Secretary-General with the King of Saudi Arabia, I… you know, you said that they discussed security and that they discussed about Syria, because I would like to know, there was some specifics on the accusation in the discussion, the accusation that the Syria Government and the Ambassador here, the Syria Ambassador did specifically speak against Saudi Arabia, saying that Saudi Arabia is undermining the peace process of the Kofi Annan plan. So, because this was… this of… those accusations are by the Syrian Ambassador, he brought also the Security Council, I don’t know if they show also the same documents to the Secretary-General, but he has been saying that if Syria has been…
Spokesperson: What’s your question, Stefano?
Question: The question is if the Secretary-General and… with the King of Saudi Arabia, they discussed the thing if the King…
Spokesperson: What thing?
Question: This… those accusations that Syria has against Saudi Arabia that, for Syria, is undermining the Kofi Annan plan…
Spokesperson: All right, very short answer, I was in the room: no. Yes, Matthew, and then Masood?
Question: Okay, yeah, I wanted to ask you, fir… I guess about Yemen first. There has been this announcement that the… that the Houthi rebels in… in a change of position will take place… take part in the quote, “national dialogue” scheduled to be held in Cairo in August, and I wanted to know, it seemed like a major development, what’s either the… the Special Envoy’s role in this? Is the UN… can it be part of these talks that are described as being sponsored by Saudi Arabia and the… and the United States and… and do you have any comment on the Houthi rebels joining this process?
Spokesperson: I’d have to check into that, I don’t have anything at this point; I’d have to check into it, Matthew. I am going to go to Masood, I shamelessly skipped over him to come to you, and I’ll come back to you. Yes, Masood?
Question: That’s all right. Yesterday, I asked Eduardo this question about Pakistan’s human rights… I mean, she is also United Nations human rights defender, rather the… the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Asma Jahangir, that there were death threats on her by the terror group probably suspected of Taliban or Al-Qaida. Does the Secretary-General have anything, any reaction to that? That is the same group which had threatened Benazir Bhutto and then finally killed her.
Spokesperson: Well, I think you can take it as read that we would be against death threats issued against anyone who is carrying out work of this nature, or indeed death threats against anybody. I think that stands to reason. Yes?
Question: I want to ask you, I know that, and the Pak… and human rights… what do you call, Ms. Navi Pillay is there in Pakistan now; will the Secretary-General be able to talk to Pakistan’s leaders to do something on this?
Spokesperson: Well, national security is obviously for the Pakistani authorities, and law and order in their own country is for the Pakistani authorities. I think it’s obvious that there is disquiet about any death threats against any individual and, in this particular case, someone who handles human rights matters. Yeah. Yes, Matthew?
Question: Sure, I want to ask you about security and then peacekeeping. There was a… there has been a decision by the UN Dispute Tribunal to find sort of… they say that the existence of… of an actual restructuring plan of security is doubtful, and they basically suspended… that a suspension of… of action on… on… on an exam process that they found to be… I am going to say, you know, less than credible. And so I’m wondering what… I am… I am… I am… what’s the UN’s response to… to… to this criticism by its own Dispute Tribunal of its human resources management?
Spokesperson: I’d have to look at what the ruling says, Matthew.
Question: Okay. And I want… this is the one, I wanted… it’s… I am not sure if I’d asked you or… or Eduardo, but I… I definitely want an answer to this, and I think you may have the answer. On that Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations on which the Sri Lanka General, Shavendra Silva, serves, Mr. [Jean-Marie] Guéhenno was on it, I know he is no longer on it, that he has become the Deputy to Kofi Annan, but it… it… it was unclear to me, I thought he was the Secretary-General’s appointment to the board, and then I was told that he was France’s appointment. And so I asked about a week ago just very simply, who appointed him to the board, and… and I am still waiting, I would like to know, do you know?
Spokesperson: Uh, well, you don’t need to wait much longer, and you didn’t need to wait so long either.
Correspondent: Okay, great.
Spokesperson: Because it was added to the transcript that very same day that Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno was representing France.
Question: Why didn’t you send me an e-mail?
Spokesperson: You have it.
Correspondent: Okay, and now I have it, so it’s fine.
Spokesperson: You have it, you have it.
Correspondent: Fine, good.
Spokesperson: Yeah, yes, Karim?
Question: I have a question on Rwanda. A few dozen soldiers from Rwanda are currently being hosted by MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] in Goma, I guess. And so I’d like to know if there is any UN investigation on whether they are indeed soldiers from Rwanda and what is going to happen with them? Are they going to be sent back to Rwanda, if they are indeed from Rwanda, or are they going to stay in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
Spokesperson: I think the Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has already commented on this. And I think my colleague Eduardo has also done so. If we have anything to add to what’s already been said, then I’ll let you know, but I don’t have anything further beyond what has already been said on this subject.
Question: May I ask a follow-up on that? I mean, I… I heard what you said, but it is slightly different; it’s this idea of whether SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General], Mr. Meese, Roger Meese, it was said by the Rwandan Foreign Minister that he has been invited to come to Kigali and explain what she called stirring up tensions in the Great Lakes, and so, Eduardo said he wasn’t sure if an invitation was received, so I’m wondering, is there in fact no invitation, is there going to be a discussion between MONUSCO…?
Spokesperson: Well, Matthew, I also read what Eduardo said, and he said that the information that he provided here in this briefing room, that he stood by that information, and don’t have anything to add to it. And I just mentioned that to Karim. If I have anything further…
Question: But the Foreign Minister of a major country, they disagree with the information, so the question is, what… is he going to go to Kigali, [inaudible]?
Spokesperson: Well, as I say, as I say, if I have anything further, then I’ll let you know. I don’t have anything further at the moment.
Question: Does the UN have any comment on this UN Me movie? There is a film that came out… much of… you know, it’s been reviewed in The New York Times, the Washington Post, all these places, it’s… you know, I don’t… I won’t… I won’t characterize the movie, I know that there was some controversy about how they filmed in the Security Council, but I am just wondering: is there a UN kind of rebuttal or statement or review, I guess of this film, UN Me?
Spokesperson: Not really, Matthew. First of all, the film is not new. It’s been out for quite some time, a number of years, in fact. Second thing is that there are many portrayals of the United Nations that come out in any one year in different formats — whether it is a film, whether it is an article, whether it is a blog, whether it is a book — some are more factual and factually correct than others. And that’s where I would leave it. Yes, any others? Yes, Stefano?
Question: What I said before… I want just to rephrase that, the question in a different way, because I think it is very important, because yesterday we had Chinese Ambassador that he talked about the… we had… you know, he… he expressed… said that there was… there is external forces, he didn’t specify, but he says external forces, not internal, external forces against the Annan plan. So in the discussion between the Secretary-General… conversation with the… and… and the King of Saudi Arabia, there was this talking about who could… who those forces could be? Because, of course, Saudi Arabia, it’s not Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia could probably, could know, or could help to confront those forces. So I am sure in the discussion maybe something was said.
Spokesperson: Well, why are you so sure, Stefano, were you there?
Spokesperson: Listen, I was there, and the answer is no, okay. All right, any other questions? Thank you very much; have a good afternoon. Thank you.
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