Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

2 July 2012

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

2 July 2012
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
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 and welcome to the briefing.

**Noon Guests

Today I am joined by Juan Somavía, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and then to my far right, Dato' Azman Shah Dato' Seri Haron, President of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and to his left Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).  They are here to brief you on the International Labour Organization's call to action on the youth employment crisis.  This is obviously a major topic and I am very pleased to welcome all three of you here and to pass the floor to you in the first instance, please, Mr. Director-General.

[Press conference by Mr. Somavia, Mr. Haron and Ms. Burrow is issued separately.]

So just to continue with a couple of more items.

**Deputy Secretary-General

As many of you may have seen this morning, the swearing-in has taken place of the new Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Jan Eliasson.

The Secretary-General said Mr. Eliasson, who is from Sweden, has had a lot of experience at the United Nations serving in a number of different capacities. 

He highlighted, for example, his “instrumental” leadership as President of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly at which time key institutional reforms were under way.  Those reforms included the establishment of the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission.

Mr. Eliasson said he was deeply honoured and proud to be serving as Deputy Secretary-General and that he was committed to finding what he called “good solutions” to the many issues that face the United Nations. 

The Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Political Affairs, Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, was also sworn in by the Secretary-General this morning.

**Secretary-General speaks to Economic and Social Council

This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the high-level opening of the Economic and Social Council.

He said that the Millennium Development Goals Report 2012, which was released today, offers considerable reason for encouragement, especially as we look forward to defining a post-2015 development framework.  The Secretary-General noted that the number of people living in extreme poverty has been reduced by half and that millions of lives have been saved, but that success is uneven within countries and regions.

The Secretary-General said that among the most significant outcomes at the recent Rio+20 Conference is the agreement to launch a process to establish universal Sustainable Development Goals to build on advances under the Millennium Development Goals.

**Security Council

This morning the Security Council met in closed consultations to discuss the situation in the Middle East, including Syria.  Among those speaking at the meeting was the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.  She will speak to reporters at the Security Council stakeout position at around 1 p.m.

And then, this afternoon the Council meets in closed consultations to discuss Libya and the Middle East.

** Lebanon

The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, met today with the country’s Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansour.  Mr. Plumbly briefed the Foreign Minister on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), which highlights the calm prevailing in the south and across the Blue Line.  The report also outlines the remaining steps which need to be taken to fully implement the resolution.

The Special Coordinator said they also discussed the meeting on Syria held over the weekend in Geneva, and the importance of all parties in Syria engaging on the conclusions of that meeting and bringing an end to the violence and initiating a political process there.  There is more information available in my office.

**Press Conference

Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., there will be a press conference by Ambassador Nestor Osorio, the Permanent Representative of Colombia and the President of the Security Council for the month of July.  He will be here to brief you on the Council’s programme of work for the month.

Questions?  Yes, Matthew?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I have two questions on Syria.  One is very specific.  I know you said that the report on the killings in El-Houleh had been provided to the Secretary-General.  Some in the Council are now wondering what’s up with the report, how long it’s taking, do you have any… is there some way to get kind of an idea when it will be transferred to them?  And also there seems to be disagreement, at least between the US and Russia, as to what the final communiqué means with regards to Bashar al-Assad, with Hillary Clinton stating that, of course he can’t remain under the mutual consent clause, and Foreign Minister Lavrov saying, you know, that it doesn’t say that he has to transition out.  What is the Secretary-General’s view of the communiqué?

Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, on the reports on what happened in El-Houleh, as I’ve already mentioned, this has been provided to the relevant experts within the United Nations system.  And the… as soon as it’s ready, it will go to the Council.  It is still being looked at and I think that’s entirely normal.  I wouldn’t read anything further into it.  With regards to the meeting at the weekend of the Action Group on Syria, the Joint Special Envoy did speak at some length in, first of all, in concluding remarks, which you will have seen, and he also spoke to the media afterwards.  And I think that the Secretary-General shares the views of the Joint Special Envoy in this respect, for example, that we should not underestimate the significance of the international community coming together and endorsing the idea of a transitional governing body.  And also, what was stressed by the Joint Special Envoy is that the officials there, the leaders who were there, the countries represented, have committed to use their influence to get the parties to stop the violence and also to, to…  They’re committed to trying to get the parties to come to the table.  And this is obviously a really crucial part of those deliberations and part of the “action” in the title of the meeting, the Action Group for Syria.  

Question:  Just one fact, for follow-up.  I know you said that the Joint Special Envoy said he would brief Iran after the meeting, which took place Saturday, and then, your office said Saudi Arabia would get a similar briefing.  Have those two taken place yet in the two days since?

Spokesperson:  I have to check, I don’t know the answer to that, Matthew.  If the Joint Special Envoy has undertaken to do so, then I’m sure he will be doing that.  It may be that, given that the meeting on Saturday went on quite a long time, it may be that those briefing sessions will be taking place.  Maybe they have already taken place.  Let’s see if we can find out.  Any other questions, please?  Yes?

Question:  There have been many criticisms regarding the Geneva meeting.  Iran, for instance, stated that the meeting was not successful, and the Syrian opposition — I quote from the spokeswoman in Paris — she said that the plan was ambiguous and lacks a mechanism, a timetable for implementation, while Syrian Government does not even recognize the meeting.  And of course we have Russia… The major parties, Russia and the United States, still agree to disagree.  So, in this case, how do you respond to those who believe that the Annan plan was born dead?  And is the Secretary-General satisfied with the Geneva meeting outcomes so far?

Spokesperson:  Well, as I just said, the Joint Special Envoy made very clear that we shouldn’t, we should not underestimate the significance of the international community — permanent five foreign ministers, for example, and regional countries coming together and endorsing the idea of a transitional governing body, plus of course their final communiqué.  Really importantly, as I just mentioned just now, is the commitment by those countries to use their influence to get the parties, whether it’s the Government or the opposition or both, to stop the violence.  And they’ve also committed to really working hard to get the parties to come to the table.  So the action plan, that final communiqué of the meeting that took place on Saturday, it belongs to the parties who adopted it on Saturday, and they have the responsibility to see that it’s implemented by the parties, and the Joint Special Envoy has asked them to take actions to achieve this.  I think that’s a very important point.  Okay. Yes? 

Question:  There was a concert, or an event here, held in the GA Hall on Saturday.  Music, it sounded.  I think PGA attended and others.  But there’s been some complaints that a Norwegian chorus that sought to perform had been scheduled to perform… and they had it we were going to sing a song called [inaudible], which denounced dictators, most of them dead — Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Lenin — but also mentioned Robert Mugabe.  They were told they could not perform in the GA Hall.  I’m just wondering…  They saw a newspaper in Norway sought UN comment couldn’t receive any.  Maybe I’m missing something here, but if you haven’t heard of it, maybe you can get some… some way to know why… what the explanation of this is. 

Spokesperson:  Okay.

Question:  Okay.  And the other one is… maybe you’ll have something on this, I don’t know.  There is a… On Friday, 29th, in Sri Lanka, there was a pretty high-profile crackdown on two websites, Sri Lanka Mirror and Lanka News, in which nine employees were arrested and seven computers were seized.  I say “high-profile” because a number of the Member States that have embassies in Colombo have denounced it as a real bad step, and I just wonder, is the UN aware of it and what does the UN think about it?

Spokesperson:  We are obviously aware of those reports.  And as we’ve said in many other cases, not just with regard to this country, journalists need to be able to do their work without interference.  And that’s the general principle, and it applies in this case, too.  Okay.  Thanks very much.  Have a good afternoon.  

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