|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. Welcome to the briefing.
The Secretary-General presented his latest report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict to the Security Council, in an open meeting this morning.
The Secretary-General said that too many people are dying, in too many places. Sometimes they are caught in the crossfire; frequently they are targeted.
He detailed attacks on civilians in places ranging from Afghanistan to Somalia.
He added that, as we speak, the city of Homs and other areas in Syria are being shelled. UN observers have risked their lives to report to the world on what they have seen. They have reported armed assaults on civilians, execution-style killings and opposition forces firing from inside hospitals.
The Secretary-General urged the Security Council and Member States to consider new approaches to prevent and respond to violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and ensure that the protection of civilians receives the attention it demands. His remarks are available in my office, as are those of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.
In a statement we issued yesterday, the Secretary-General welcomed the conclusion of Egypt’s presidential election process and commended the Egyptian people for the peaceful atmosphere in which these elections were held.
He congratulates Dr. Mohamed Morsy on his election and trusts that the President-elect will spare no effort in ensuring the people of Egypt realize their aspirations for greater democracy, the promotion of human rights, and a more prosperous and stable Egypt for all of its citizens.
The Secretary-General notes that the imminent handover of power to the elected President marks the end of one important phase of Egypt’s transition to greater democracy. He stresses the need to strengthen and build strong, independent institutions and to allow civil society to flourish and to play its role fully and freely.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) released a report today on the findings of its in-depth investigation into the intercommunal violence that took place in Jonglei State in 2011 and early 2012.
The UN Mission recorded 612 fatalities in the course of the attacks on Murle settlements and 276 deaths resulting from the attacks on the Lou Nuer and Dinka communities between 23 December last year and 4 February this year. In addition, children and women were abducted, tens of thousands of people were displaced and many homes were destroyed.
The report calls for the prosecution of all those responsible for the violence. And the UN Mission calls on the South Sudanese Government to develop a comprehensive, multifaceted plan for curbing violence in Jonglei and establishing a more protective environment for local residents. We have a press release from the Mission with more details.
**Press Conferences Tomorrow
Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., here in this auditorium, there will be a press conference by Jonathan Lucas, the Director of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).
And then at 12:00 p.m., Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will be the guest at the noon briefing. He will be here to brief you on his office’s flagship World Drug Report.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Sure. Martin, just before you came in there was a press conference by the Foreign Minister of Rwanda about allegations that her Government has been supporting the mutineers in the Congo. But, asked with regard to the Secretariat and DPKO, she was quite critical of MONUSCO saying that they have supported the FDLR; that they have engaged in rape; that people have been harmed quite close to them and saying that their mandate after 13 years should be very much reconsidered. And so I am wondering, what is the response? I mean, this has been brewing for some time, I think I had asked you, she’d invited Mr. Meece to go to Kigali. I don’t know if he ever went. What is the Secretariat’s response to this pretty comprehensive critique by, by Rwanda, of MONUSCO and its performance?
Spokesperson: Well, first of all, the mandate is given to the Mission by the Security Council, and it is for the Security Council to deliberate on the mandate of that Mission or indeed any mission. I am sure that, or colleagues in Peacekeeping Operations and potentially in the Mission are aware of, the comments made just a few minutes ago by the Foreign Minister of Rwanda. I don’t have any comment on that at the moment. It may be that there is something later on; let’s see.
Question: [inaudible] she was talking about the execution, I understand, the Security Council is a separate question, she was saying even if the mandate is correct, you know, if, if it is protection of civilians, people have been harmed right next to it, may, she said, maybe they have gone too local, I just want to sort of focus its, whatever the response is that it actually engaged, she wasn’t just talking about the Security Council rethinking the mandate, she was saying even given its mandate it has been underperforming, I guess pretty radically from her view. So, we’ll see, I guess we’ll see what the response is.
Spokesperson: That’s right Matthew. Yes?
Question: [inaudible] Paraguay has got a lot of criticism from other Latin American countries with the destitution of President Lugo; is there any comment from the Secretary-General, please?
Spokesperson: Well, we are obviously aware of what has been happening in Paraguay. And we are obviously also aware of the efforts of the Foreign Ministers of UNASUR—the Union of South American Nations. I don’t have anything further at this point. I would hope to have something a little bit later. But, the key here is that the Secretary-General would obviously wish that everybody remains calm and to really engage in dialogue to overcome this impasse and to resolve their differences peacefully. But, as I say, I would anticipate that we will have something a little bit later. But I don’t have it right now. Yes, Masood and then Nizar, yes, yeah.
Question: Yes, sir. I wanted to ask you, that today there is a statement by you on the internet the Secretary-General spoke with the Turkish Foreign Minister on the downing of the Turkish jet inside the Syrian, what you call, Syrian border. Did, or, did the Secretary-General talk to the Syrians about this incident?
Spokesperson: No, he did not.
Question: Why not?
Spokesperson: The conversation was with the Foreign Minister of Turkey. I think you will have seen that the Foreign Minister of Turkey has made a number of phone calls. So, I think you should see it in that context.
Question: No, but he never, eh, made an effort to approach the Syrian authorities on the incident at all?
Spokesperson: I think there are ways for us to understand what the Syrian authorities’ view is on this. Yes, Nizar?
Spokesperson: Say again?
Question: Other, other thing I wanted to ask you about this situation in the occupied territories; Israeli occupied territories and that now there are indications coming in that Abbas’, what you call, efforts for a peace with Israel are failing and there is a definite possibility of a third intifada… meaning that by another movement to what you call get freedom from occupation. Does the Secretary-General, eh, is he what you call, concerned about that, because now it seems that it is going to be another [?]…in the Middle East, the way things are [inaudible]
Spokesperson: The Secretary-General is not alone in having expressed many times the need for greater progress in the peace process and I think that that’s something that he would repeat in these circumstances. Yes, Nizar?
Question: Have UNSMIS observers been involved in any way in establishing what happened really when this fighter jet was shot down by the Syrian army?
Spokesperson: I would have to check; I do not know the answer to that at this point. I’d have to check. But I would just point you to what we have said in response to the Secretary-General’s telephone call with the Turkish Foreign Minister; that’s what I have at the moment. If I have anything further, I’ll let you know. Yes, Matthew?
Question: Sure. A follow-up on Syria and questions on Afghanistan and internal justice. On Syria, I wanted to go, go back to this sequence of events of June, the June 15th notification of the Security Council and then June 16th announcement by, by General Mood. I have spoken to people that were at the Damaroza Hotel, and they say that, that, that as of Friday night there was no, no word among the Mission, including at the highest levels, that there was any secession of mobile activities and in fact on Saturday morning that, that patrols did go out and three cars returned with their windows smashed. So this seems to, if true, it seems to reflect that, that the notice given to the Security Council wasn’t conveyed, much less originating from General Mood and that it originated from DPKO and Mr. Ladsous. So I would like to know, I have been as.., just, I want to get a straight confirmation or denial if I can today whether UNSMIS patrols went out on Saturday and when Mr. General Robert Mood became aware of the notice to the Security Council.
Spokesperson: Thanks for the question, Matthew, and I will ask my colleagues if they have anything further on that.
Spokesperson: I think we have spoken quite clearly so far on what the sequence of events was.
Question: Right, and Mr. Mood said that he made the statement…
Spokesperson: What’s your next question; I think we are, otherwise, we go round in circles.
Question: Okay, sure, on the, on the law and order trust fund for Afghanistan is a programme that is run by UNDP but I am asking you a question, because a letter was sent by the EU to SRSG Jan Kubis saying that the, the, the now seemingly widespread corruption in the programme, including double payment of Afghan police and other things, ga…have making them pull money back from it. So, I wanted to ask you, that the letter from the EU to Mr. Kubis says that whistleblowers should be protected and I have spoken to some of the whistle-blowers and they allege that, for example, the use of, of profligate use of Lear jets by UNDP and UNAMA, they, they allege the hiding of, of armoured, uh, vehicles so that, that, that are sitting unused in the programme and I wanted to know what’s the Secretariat’s response outside of UNDP, which has not answered any of my questions, what’s the Secretariat’s response to the growing scandal around this law and order trust fund on Afghanistan, and what steps has Mr., Mr. Kubis or DPKO or DPA taken to protect he whistle-blowers who brought it to light?
Spokesperson: On the last part, there is an established programme to allow such whistle-blowing activities and that is clear and already in place. The earlier part of your question on the details of this programme, you need to speak to UNDP. If I have anything further coming from the Mission itself, I will let you know. But on the programme itself you need to speak to UNDP, as I know you have been.
Question: Sure. Do you have any… on whistle-blowers, it was, Friday there was a big, uh, uh, award made to an UNMIK whistle-blower, but it was announced in connection with it that this was one of the sec…, only perhaps only the second case in which the Ethics Office or the Dispute Tribunal has actually vindicated the rights of whistle-blowers. In more than a hundred they have not, have not gone, given protection. So it’s a two-pronged question: is there any, what’s the comment by the Secretariat on what happened to the, to the UNMIK whistle-blower and on the verdict, and also, what, given the batting average, how can you say the whistle-blower should have protection, should have assurance that they will be protected?
Spokesperson: I am not going to get into that here, Matthew. On individual cases, I am not going to comment on individual cases, okay. If there is; I’ve already addressed the general principle, and that’s where I would leave it. Other questions, please? Yes, please, behind Masood, yes, sorry, yes.
Question: These days we are hearing about Syria everyday; United Nations is also active in this case. How is regard Mr. Simonovic just had a report about everything; also he mentioned one and a half million Palestinians are suffering from Israeli blockade in Gaza or we heard about what is going on in Bahrain, but United Nations and the Security Council are not really active on these cases as much as they are caring about Syria, which is correct, but there is, how do you justify this double standard?
Spokesperson: Look, the Security Council decides what matters it takes up and does not take up. And it is for the Security Council to answer that part of your question. The Secretary-General has been quite clear about what needs to happen with regard to the plight of Palestinians, whether in Gaza or elsewhere. And I don’t think that we need to add terribly much there; he has been extremely clear on that. So, first bit, Security Council; second part, the Secretary-General has been quite clear in his remarks on that. This is the last question, Masood.
Question: Thank you. I just want to ask you about this situation in occupied Kashmir, as reported today that there was a mosque which, which was burned, and then about, like dozens of people injured by, and the Indian, uh, the Kashmiris over there are charging that the fire brigade didn’t come in time. But, the fact remains that a mosque was set on fire and does the Secretary-General have any response to that?
Spokesperson: I’ve seen the reports, but I don’t have anything for you on that, Masood. Okay, thank you very much. Have a good afternoon. Thanks very much indeed, thank you.
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