|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, and welcome to the briefing.
**Noon Briefing Guest
I am joined today by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Mr. Hervé Ladsous. Welcome back again, Mr. Ladsous. He is here to brief you, of course, on a range of peacekeeping matters and to take your questions. I think we have about half an hour with Mr. Ladsous, and then after that, I have a couple more items and would be happy to take a couple of questions at that point. But, first of all, Mr. Ladsous, the floor is yours. Welcome again.
[Press conference by Mr. Ladsous is issued separately.]
So, just a couple more items, and I would be prepared to take a couple of questions, if there are any.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned today’s assassination of Chokri Belaid, who campaigned against political violence in Tunisia. Navi Pillay said she was extremely saddened to hear the news of Mr. Belaid’s murder, calling him a prominent defender of human rights and democratic values and a firm opponent of political violence.
The High Commissioner said that today’s crime was committed in an environment of increasing political violence. Such acts, she said, threaten to seriously undermine the democratic transition in post-revolution Tunisia. There is more information available on the website of the Office of the Human Rights High Commissioner.
The Secretary-General's Special Representative for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, was in Paris today, and he met with the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius. They discussed the situation in Mali and how it relates to the Sahel region more generally. And, Mr. Prodi also met with members of the French Senate's Commission on Foreign Affairs. As Mr. Ladsous mentioned, the Security Council this morning began consultations on Mali.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) welcomed the decision of the General National Congress today on the formation of a constituent assembly to draft the new Libyan constitution.
Tarek Mitri, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, called the decision an important milestone that will pave the way for continued progress towards a Constitution that reflects the needs, priorities, and aspirations of the Libyan people. The UN Mission stands ready to assist the Libyan authorities throughout the electoral process, at their request.
**Guest at Noon on Friday
This Friday — the day after tomorrow — the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, will be the guest at the noon briefing. He will speak to you following his return to New York from a trip to Africa, during which he attended international meetings on Mali and the African Union Summit, and also visited Somalia, Kenya and Burundi.
** General Assembly Building Renovation
And just briefly, yesterday, I was asked about the renovation of the General Assembly Building. The renovation will begin around mid- to end of May, and it will end by the start of the sixty-ninth General Assembly in September of 2014; so next year.
Questions, please? Yes, Erol?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Martin, the Speaker of [the former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia Parliament met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and they touched on the issue of the name dispute between… between Macedonia and Greece. Can you give us a bit more input? And also, on… I know it is early, but it is sort of important, on 10 April, there is going to be discussed… debate actually, in the General Assembly on the role of the Hague tribunal, whether the Secretary-General will be attending that debate.
Spokesperson: On the second part, Erol, I’d need to check and let you know. I am not sure if it is necessarily too early to find out, so let me just check on that. On the name issue, yes, there was a meeting. I don’t have any full details on that, but I think it is… it would be understandable that that topic might have come up, but I don’t have any further details at this point, okay?
Question: Do you have a readout, for instance?
Spokesperson: I don’t think that there will be one. I’ll check. Yes, Masood?
Question: Yes, sir. I have two questions which will probably… I just want to be clear on… as to how many drones have been given to the UN peacekeeping force, and which country gave the UN peacekeeping force drones, and how much has it cost? And the other question that I had, that he talked about Syrian… contingency plans for a Syrian peacekeeping force. Is that plan… I mean, at this point in time, the peacekeeping force considering this?
Spokesperson: Look, I think you just need to listen back to what Mr. Ladsous said; I am not going to parse what Mr. Ladsous said sitting next to me.
Question: But, I wanted to ask him, so I am saying whether the United Nations can come up with an answer as to this contingency plan on a Syrian peacekeeping force, and about this, because he did not talk about numbers and so forth.
Spokesperson: Well, I’ve just said on the latter part of your question about Syria, I am not going to parse what Mr. Ladsous said. I would simply note that he spoke about scenarios and contingency planning. I am not going to go beyond that. You could check further with [the Department of] Peacekeeping Operations if you wish. On the first, again, Mr. Ladsous made clear that this is a very specific decision relating to operations in that particular mission. I don’t think we are yet at that stage of having unmanned aerial vehicles in the sky in the immediate future. That still needs to be worked through. So, I think that the kind of details you are looking for we don’t yet have, but I’ll certainly check to see if there is anything that we can provide.
Correspondent: Yeah. Another question that I want to ask…
Spokesperson: But, first of all, I am going to share it around a little bit. Lou, and then Matthew? But, first of all, I will come to Ivan, who has been very patient, then I am coming to you, Lou, okay? Yes?
Question: Do you have anything today about the North Korean clip on the Internet? We asked you about it yesterday; do you have anything today?
Spokesperson: Look, I think you, more than anyone, if I am given your extensive knowledge of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], will know that…
Correspondent: I want to know the UN position.
Spokesperson: Well, in which case, don’t interrupt me.
Spokesperson: You, more than anyone, with your knowledge of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will understand that such films and other forms of rhetoric are not unprecedented, and I don’t really think I will go beyond what I said yesterday; which is, of course, that tensions are high on the Korean peninsula, and any form of rhetoric that turns up the temperature rather than reducing the temperature is not really desirable. Yes, Lou, sorry?
Question: Oh, yeah, okay. Could you enlighten us a little bit about the Secretary-General’s travel plans? We were discussing with Mr. Ladsous about the… you know, what may be an imminent return to this peace deal in the region. Does the Secretary-General have any plans to go back to the region should a signing take place in the near future?
Spokesperson: I think we’d have to check on that. Certainly, he is taking a very keen interest in this entire process and has been speaking to regional leaders over the weekend, and indeed today, as well, as part of that process. But, I think we’d need to have you stay tuned for a little while, please.
Question: Could you give me a little more specific about which regional leaders?
Spokesperson: No, I couldn’t, no. Matthew?
Question: Sure. I want to ask two… two questions about Somalia. One has to do with the… there is this really kind of high… high profile case, in which a… a woman that reported rape by the security forces and he [sic] gave an interview to a journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur [Ibrahim]. Both have been charged and convicted and… and many, numerous countries have said… have spoken on it, and I wonder, given the UN’s role through AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] and other, not just [African Union Mission in Somalia] and the political office there, is there any UN response to that? And also, can you…
Spokesperson: Well, let’s just answer that one straight away. You surprise me, Matthew. We put out a quite strongly worded statement yesterday. Next question?
Correspondent: I am sorry, I missed… I… I… I… it’s a new era, I am just… my… my mind is reeling from this…
Spokesperson: It’s because you are sitting in a different seat.
Correspondent: No, the answer from Mr. Ladsous has created a new era here.
Spokesperson: It’s thrown you, it’s thrown you.
Question: Yeah. No, no, thanks a lot, I’ll just read that. But, I wanted… this may be a bit more nitty-gritty, is that Kenya… Kenya has complained that they are not getting reimbursed for [African Union Mission in Somalia], that there are some… there are some… that the UN has somehow questioned the… the bill they put in for the fighting that they engaged in, to the tune of $200 million. And it’s somehow, at least within their own budget, causing some implications for the March elections. So, I just wanted… I mean, maybe you will have it or you can… I don’t know which unit, maybe it’s DFS [Department of Field Support] that’s in charge of that, but is it true? Also,why would… you know, what are… what are the issues that the UN sees there… is this sort of in coordination with DPA [Department of Political Affairs], which I am sure would like to see, you know, money spent on elections and monitors?
Spokesperson: I’ll check on that for you, Matthew.
Correspondent: Okay, thanks.
Spokesperson: Yes, Masood? We’ll make this the last question, by the way.
Question: One question that has remained unanswered for a very long time, and I keep on being told that we are still waiting for a report on Kashmir. That the report of United Nations mission in India and Pakistan, I have been told that they are still preparing it. How long does it take for them to prepare it? It’s been like almost two months.
Spokesperson: As long as it takes, Masood, okay?
Question: No, but the thing is, you know, we can’t wait forever. Or do… do you expect that this what the…
Spokesperson: The reports are not prepared for you, Masood, and they will take as long as is necessary to prepare. Okay, thank you very much. Have a good afternoon. Thank you.
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