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

24 September 2012

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

24 September 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.

So, good afternoon.  Welcome to the briefing.

**Noon Guest

I am joined today by Tibor Toth, who is the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and he is here to brief you on the status of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as it marks its sixteenth anniversary.  Of course, Ambassador Toth is well known to most of you, I think, and he’s been Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission since 2005; and of course this is the Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, an organization that is tasked with promoting and monitoring compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear explosions.

**Security Council

So before I hand over to Ambassador Toth, I just quickly wanted to mention that the Security Council has been holding consultations this morning on Syria, as you know.  Council members received a briefing from Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations-League of Arab States Joint Special Representative for Syria.  Mr. Brahimi intends to speak to reporters at the stakeout following those consultations in the Security Council.

But for now, I shall pass the floor to you.  Welcome again, Mr. Toth.

So, I have a couple other items, and I am happy to take questions.

**Rule of Law

The Secretary-General addressed dozens of world leaders at the General Assembly’s high-level meeting this morning on the rule of law.  He said that when we reinforce the rule of law, we support the three pillars of the United Nations:  peace, development and human rights.

The Secretary-General called on all States to commit to the equal application of the law at both national and international levels.  He asked leaders to uphold the highest standards of the rule of law in their decision-making at all times and to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.  And he urged States to sign on to today’s declaration, on what he said is a truly historic occasion.

The Deputy Secretary-General recently spoke to reporters about today’s events, calling the declaration that is being discussed a breakthrough and noting that States have made some 200 pledges today to support the rule of law.

**High-level Events

The Secretary-General will also be speaking shortly at a high-level lunch event on access to justice for women, where he will ask Member States to make concrete commitments in this area.

Later, he will speak at the opening of a high-level event on his Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  In his remarks, the Secretary-General is expected to announce a number of elements to strengthen his initiative.  He is expected to stress the need for bold policies, greater investments and innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors.

And after that, the Secretary-General will speak at the opening session of the special ministerial meeting of the Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC, on sustainable development.  In his remarks, he will remind Member States that at the Rio+20 Conference earlier this year, world leaders acknowledged the need for a more effective multilateral system for sustainable development.  He will say that now is the time to follow up and to get down to work, and that there is no time to waste.

And, of course, the Secretary-General has many meetings with visiting world leaders today, and we’ll continue to provide details on those meetings.

** Sudan

The Director of Operations for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, arrived in Sudan yesterday.  During his mission, Mr. Ging is scheduled to visit the Abou Shouk camp for internally displaced persons in Darfur, and to meet with authorities, donors and the humanitarian community in Khartoum, including on the question of humanitarian access to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States.

And then on Wednesday, Mr. Ging plans to travel to South Sudan, where he is expected to visit Maban refugee camp, which hosts some 100,000 refugees from Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States, and he’ll also meet with authorities and the humanitarian community.

**Press Conferences

This afternoon at 4:30 p.m., here in the Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Augustine Mahiga.  He’s the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia.

And there are a number of forthcoming press conferences and stakeouts, and I would urge you to check our website or to check with my office for further information on that.

So, questions, please?  Yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  My name is [inaudible], and I write for the Nation Media Group in Kenya.  I know the UN has spoken about the situation in Kismayo previously, urging that the AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia), Kenya specifically, take precautions to safeguard civilian lives.  There is a report the Kenyan Defence Forces have now confirmed that a Kenyan soldier assigned to AMISOM opened fire and killed six civilians in a town about 40 kilometres from Kismayo.  The Somali spokespeople are saying that it was a deliberate act killing civilians.  I wonder if the UN has any further comment about Kenya’s role in Somalia?

Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, as I just mentioned, Mr. Mahiga will be speaking to reporters this afternoon, and I am sure that that’s something that you could also address to him.  But just to reiterate that, in military operations anywhere, and in particular at the moment in Somalia in this push around Kismayo, it is really absolutely vital that the military forces engaged take the maximum possible efforts that they can and exercise the maximum restraint to ensure that there are minimum civilian casualties — in fact, none.  And that’s obviously a key question now being raised.  It’s obvious that there have been incidents; we have seen the reports.  We would simply urge all those concerned once again to really exercise maximum restraint to try to ensure that civilians do not get caught up in the military operations that are clearly under way.  But again, as I say, I would urge you to also address this to Mr. Mahiga this afternoon when he gives his press conference.  Okay?  Yes, Matthew?

[The Spokesperson later added that, in a meeting today with the President of Kenya, the Secretary-General thanked the President for Kenya’s critical contribution to AMISOM, and underlined the importance of AMISOM forces continuing to pay attention to international human rights and humanitarian law.]

Question:  I have a couple… just one follow-up on that, and I am sure Mr. Mahiga will be asked, but, and maybe since the UN is providing, you know, you know, logistical support to AMISOM, to the Mission in which the Kenyan army is making this assault, is there some kind of minimum standard that the UN has for… for… for either accountability… like, what should happen in this case if the facts as described are true?  Since the UN is in a sense providing support, it’s not just a fight that’s out there, but it’s one in which the UN is… is… is either take… is on a side and is supporting.  What kind of guidance does the UN give for what should take place now?

Spokesperson:  I think I just gave that guidance, Matthew.  What’s your next question?

Question:  I’m not sure you did.  Okay, I… I want… the Secretary-General met with Federico Franco of Paraguay and that they previous… CELAC, the group, the Latin American group, actually suspended their meeting due to a dispute about whether he is the President or Mr. [Fernando] Lugo is the President.  Is… what’s the Secretary-General have to say?  I mean, obviously he met with him, but is this… does this… is this a rebuffing of the concerns of MERCOSUR and other Latin American groups, or is there some…?  I saw the readout and it was… it was, you know, nicely written, but can you say a little bit more to those who would say this is… is sort of conferring legitimacy on something that a regional group has not yet done?

Spokesperson:  Matthew, all of the readouts are nicely written.  And this one, in particular, I think the answer is in the meeting that took place and it is as simple as that, okay?

Question:  One other thing about… I just… you don’t have a readout yet on this, but on Guinea-Bissau, which I asked I guess last week, is there… do you yet… yet know if there is a plan to meet with the Interim President or any others of the interim leaders of the post-coup Government?

Spokesperson:  Well, I checked a little while before coming here, and so far, we don’t have any clarity yet on who, if anyone, will be meeting the Secretary-General or indeed will be in town to hold meetings with other people here, including other leaders.  So if and when I have something, I will let you know.  But no clarity at the moment, okay.  But I did check.  Any other questions?  Yes, Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you, Martin.  As you know, the Secretary-General this morning in his statement to the Assembly also said, on the rule of law, said that there should be no selectivity in applying resolutions.  I wonder if the Secretary-General has any ideas, specific ideas, on how to bring States to apply all the resolutions of the Security Council, which are, as you know, mandatory?

Spokesperson:  Well, I think I could come back to something that Mr. Toth just said in a different context; that it is about leadership and it is about political will.  Plainly, what the Secretary-General believes and many others — and there were many interventions and speeches, there are more to come at this high-level meeting on the rule of law — is that there really cannot be a distinction between the requirements of rule of law at the national and international level.  And where there are international undertakings which Member States have entered into, then there is obviously a requirement to ensure that they are fully implemented.  And that’s very often down to political leadership and political will.  And it is partly also through addressing this in a public forum in the way that the Secretary-General did — very directly, appealing directly to Heads of State and Government in the room and beyond, that this… that you can hope to get some traction.  And the Secretary-General will continue to push in that direction.  He believes fundamentally that everything you work on, whether it is development, whether it is peace and security, whether it is human rights — it all comes back to having an underpinning of rule of law.  And that’s why today’s event was so important, and he will continue to push on that.  Yes?

Question:  Just on this, over the weekend in… in Darfur, in Zalengei, central Darfur, there was reports of… of clashes killing up to 60… up to 60 people.  And I am wondering, does UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] have any… do they have any role in trying to stop this or can they confirm that and what steps are they taking?

Spokesperson:  Let me check. I’ll check with our colleagues from Peacekeeping Operations.  And it may be also that, on a different track, that Mr. Ging has something to report on that, too.

Okay, thank you very much.  Have a good afternoon.  Thank you.

* *** *

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