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

27 February 2013

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

27 February 2013
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 Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the briefing.

**Secretary-General’s Travel

The Secretary-General has been attending the fifth Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in Vienna today.

In his remarks at the opening of the Forum, the Secretary-General said that, whenever tensions divide communities, the opportunity exists for the Alliance to build bridges and to help people move from conflict to collaboration.  He said it was particularly important for the alliance to work where the risk is greatest.  The Secretary-General also took part in a press conference, the transcript of which is out now.

The Secretary-General has held a series of bilateral meetings with visiting dignitaries in Vienna, including the Emir of Qatar, the Spanish Foreign Minister and the Turkish Prime Minister.  The Secretary-General is meeting the Iranian Foreign Minister at the moment, and we will provide some details of that as soon as we can.

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will meet the heads of UN agencies based in Vienna and UN staff, and will have further meetings with Austrian leaders before he flies to Geneva.

**Security Council

The Security Council is holding consultations on Syria, and has received an update this morning on the humanitarian situation there by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos.

You’ll recall that Ms. Amos said at the Syria Humanitarian Forum in Geneva last week that people do not feel safe or secure in Syria, and the number of people in need has quadrupled since June last year.  Ms. Amos has said she will speak to reporters at the Council stakeout once consultations have ended.

This afternoon, the Security Council has scheduled consultations on Mali.

**Democratic Republic of Congo

The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) reports that, earlier today, near its base in Kitchanga, North Kivu, heavy fighting took place between Congolese armed forces soldiers and elements of the Alliance des Patriotes pour un Congo Libre et Souverain, an armed group.  One civilian was killed and nine others were injured.

One MONUSCO peacekeeper was shot in the arm.  He is in stable condition.  The Mission is currently sheltering around 400 civilians at its base in Kitchanga.  MONUSCO reports that the situation remains tense in the area.

**Press Conference

And tomorrow, at 11 a.m., there will be a press conference here by the NGO Peace and Cooperation, to launch its annual School Award with the slogan:  “Art, the Universal Language – Creativity for Peace”.  This event is sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Spain.

That’s it from me.  Questions, please?  Matthew?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Yeah, yeah, I wanted to actually ask… I was going to ask you about this fighting in the Congo.  The… the… then what I wanted to ask was… is a… is as follows:  Its sources on the ground there have said this was the 812nd battalion of the FARDC, the Congolese army.  And I wanted to know, first of all, whether, given the human rights due diligence policy, whether to… to… to the UN’s knowledge, the 812nd was present in Minova at the time of the rapes onn November 20 to 22, and I… I guess that’s my… that’s my main question.  And also, whether they view the… the flight of the civilians into their base as in any way attributable to this FDR… to the way in which the FARDC is conducting the fighting, or whether it is entirely due to the rebel group that you named?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, as Martin has stated here and I’ve said also, the investigation into Minova is continuing and we are not going to taint anybody with any brush until the investigation is over.  And, as far as the reason why people seek the safety of a base is because there is fighting going on and they don’t want to become casualties.

Question:  But, is this an operation in which MONUSCO has provided support?  You know, the… they… there’s some… there are times where they support the FARDC to take on rebel groups.  Is this one in which the a… in which MONUSCO has provided support?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, let me read again what I said:  “One MONUSCO peacekeeper was shot in the arm.  He is in stable condition.”  I imagine that that means that the MONUSCO was there in the thick of things.

Question:  And just… I just have one… because you keep saying… I mean, not you keep saying, let me re-phrase it, that… that… that… when… when Mr. Ladsous was here, he said “we know the identity of the majority of the perpetrators of the rapes”.  This is what I am wondering, if the UN knows…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, but the investigation has not been completed yet, and we… and there is also due process.  You do not simply accuse someone; you have to go through due process, and when we have something to announce, we will announce it, Matthew.

Question:  What does… what does it mean to say “we know the identity of the perpetrators”, if that seems to…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, you’ll have to ask Mr. Ladsous…

Correspondent:  I’d like to.

Deputy Spokesperson:  …I don’t have any information, we’ll try to find out for you.

[The Deputy Spokesperson later said that the enquiry about the terrible events in Minova at the time of the campaign around Goma is actively being pursued.  MONUSCO has established that 126 acts of rape have taken place and the Mission is pushing actively for the perpetrators to be acted upon through the judiciary.  The United Nations is responding in the framework of its due diligence policy.]

Question:  Eduardo, could you… there is no information you could give us on the Secretary-General’s agenda in talks with the Iranian Foreign Minister?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, but I think you can imagine what they will be discussing and we are going to try and get a readout of that after the meeting is over.  So stay tuned, we’ll see what we can get you on that.  Anything else?  One more question, Matthew?

[The Deputy Spokesperson later added the following readout of the meeting:  The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr. Ali Akbar Salehi, Foreign Minister of Iran.  They discussed international issues of mutual concern, including Iran’s nuclear programme, the situation in Syria and regional developments.

On the Iranian nuclear programme, the Secretary-General said he was encouraged that the P5+1 and Iran had agreed in Almaty on dates and venues for further meetings soon.  He said this was in line with his repeated calls on those involved to accelerate the pace of negotiations.  He said the onus remained on Iran to gain the confidence and trust of the international community.  On Syria, the Secretary-General and the Minister discussed recent developments, including what the Secretary-General described as the very small window of opportunity represented by moves to try to start a political dialogue.  They agreed on the need for the international community to fully support the work of the Joint Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi.  They also discussed concerns about the risk of spillover from the Syrian crisis into Lebanon.]

Question:  Yeah, I mean, this is another army question.  There is a… I am sure you guys have seen it, there is a… a report out by Amnesty International about abuses by the army in Côte d'Ivoire, including in this attack on [internally displaced persons] camp that… that the U… Mr. Koenders had said that they were investigating some months ago.  Amnesty International has said, not only did the attack take place, but that the Ivorian forces took part in the attack.  So I am wondering, what… one, what is the response of the UN that it’s some-time partner, the Ivorian army, was involved, and what’s the status of the UN’s investigation into this thing that they said they were going to investigate?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I don’t have anything here, I will have to check on that and we’ll get back to you on it.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Have a good afternoon.

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