Secretary-General's press encounter to introduce Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro (unofficial transcript)
New York, 5 February 2007SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I'm glad to see you again. I'm very happy to be back at Headquarters.
As you know, I have traveled to Africa and European countries, and returned last Friday, after attending the first Quartet meeting in my capacity as Secretary-General.
Before I tell you something about my own trip and my reform proposal presentation, I would like to introduce to all of you the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro.
I am very happy to have Dr. Migiro as my Deputy. In fact, a few minutes ago, I presided over a brief ceremony of [her] taking the Oath of Office. I am quite confident that with her extensive knowledge and experience as a former Foreign Minister and Development Minister of Tanzania, she will bring leadership qualities to this Organization. I would like to introduce her, for her to make brief remarks to you. Thank you.
DSG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. Mr. Secretary-General, I would like to thank you very much for those kind words.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to see you all today in my first encounter as Deputy Secretary-General. I hope to meet with you often again in future, and to have opportunity to speak to you in greater depth.
I believe the media is crucial to the success of the United Nations mission. You help connect our work to people around the globe. I feel deeply honoured and privileged that the Secretary-General has placed his trust in me. As he has just mentioned, I have come from a short swearing-in ceremony presided over by him. I signed, as all staff do upon joining the Organization, a Declaration pledging to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience, the functions entrusted to me with the interest of the United Nations only in view. As Deputy Secretary-General, I am wholly dedicated to advancing the work of the United Nations and the ideals enshrined in the Charter. I am also fully committed to supporting the priorities set by the Secretary-General, priorities you have heard him define in his previous encounters with you, which are: strengthening the work of the United Nations, enhancing trust between Member States and the Secretariat, bolstering the working culture of the Organization to ensure it is equipped to meet the mandates our membership has given us. In particular I will support the Secretary-General in managing and reforming the Secretariat, and work with the broader UN family on economic and social issues.
In all I do I will strive to bring about a more integrated United Nations, which delivers as one. I have had a hectic but very interesting beginning indeed. On my first two days in office, last Thursday and Friday, I met with representatives of several Member States, as well as a wide range of senior United Nations officials and staff from numerous departments and from Funds and Programmes. I will have many more such meetings in the weeks ahead. I look forward to the task ahead with excitement and enthusiasm, but equally with profound humility, and above all I look forward to working with the Secretary-General to implement his vision.
I anticipate an open and constructive dialogue with all of you, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, as I discharge my duties. I will now be happy to answer a few questions, if you have any. Thank you very much for your kind attention.
Q: Dr. Migiro. As you probably know there has been an enormous emphasis here on overhauling the management of the United Nations. The Secretary-General has said you will be the person in charge of that. Some people have said you don't have enough experience in management to be the person to conduct that as forcefully as it will have to be conducted. Can you respond to that criticism, please?
DSG: In the first place I should say that I do have the managerial capability in my work experience. First as an academic, I have had responsibility that involved management. But I have also successfully managed two important ministries of my country – first, the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children, and secondly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So I believe I have enough capability to do the managerial work that the SG envisages, and maybe I should emphasize that, yes, the United Nations is a big organization, but management does not always have to do with the size of the Organization. What matters is whether one has the experience, the skills, the dedication and the commitment to work as a team. My experience in the last week has shown that there is a lot of expertise, there are a lot of skills within the United Nations, and I am ready to tap these skills, combined with my own, so really I believe that I have the relevant managerial capability to meet the challenges that the SG will entrust upon me.
Q: Had you met the Secretary-General before you were offered this job?
DSG: Several times. First, I met him when he visited my country. At that time I was Minister for Community Development, and he was the guest of our Government, so I met him. But I also met him when I became Minister for Foreign Affairs. I met him before he was a candidate. I met him at the time he was candidate, and then I met him when he was SG-designate. So I have met him several times, including here in New York.
Q: I have a development question. Under your predecessor, Mark Malloch Brown, there was this proposal of one UN – to consolidate development programmes. In light of recent developments at UNDP, and the call for an urgent audit by the Secretary-General, do you think it still makes sense to put all development in every country under UNDP, and if so, why?
DSG: I think it is, and if I may take the experience that I had when I was Minister for Community Development, and the experience of Tanzania in general, there has been confusion on the part of the stakeholders in relation to the various programmes of the UN, which were scattered. And there has been a cry, at least in Tanzania, to have these under one roof, so we have one programme, we have one budget, we have one vision and one voice. For your information, Tanzania is one of those countries that have applied to be on the pilot [programme]. We think that is important. When I was Minister for Foreign Affairs, I did make this request, and it has been granted. So I think it is important for purposes of development, particularly in developing countries, to have these programmes harmonized, coordinated, even under the UNDP.
Q: Your predecessor made some speeches in his final months criticizing US and British foreign policy as damaging the world, the institution, Iraq. Do you have any thoughts like that, and will you be speaking out? And welcome to the UN. [laughter]
DSG: Thank you very much. I think that Member States do have their own priorities. They have their own set policies, and what is important for the UN is to build a concensus between what different Member States think and others, and to act as a bridge, to confront the challenges together, and to look at the issues together. So, there is diversity in membership, we have to agree on that, but we can still work together as a family - consultations, dialogue, sensitivity.
Spokesperson: I have asked on your behalf that Dr. Migiro come to 226 at some time in the next few days, but I think the Secretary-General will also answer some questions.
DSG: Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, concerning your proposal for DPKO, splitting up DPKO. The Ambassador from India has raised the issue that - India is one of the main peacekeeping contributing countries - with having two USGs there, would not set up a good chain of command. It might, in fact, endanger peacekeepers from India. He is very concerned about that. How do you respond to the criticism [that] splitting it up in that way - might cause some problems, disorganization, whatever?
SG: At ten o'clock, during the General Assembly, I am going to present my proposal more in detail. I heard that he expressed his concern, but I will make sure that there is unity of command. This is very important. I am taking this proposal to make this DPKO operation, in terms of management and procurement, more consolidated, more efficient, with the unity of command. You don't need to be concerned about that. I will make sure.
Q: You were in Paris on the Lebanon issue, and you have received a letter from the Prime Minister of Lebanon – [Fouad] Siniora - telling you that the Speaker of Parliament is refusing to tell the Parliament, although there are 70 signatures asking him to do so - about the Tribunal. Given that the Tribunal is actually the UN's baby as well, whether it is Secretariat, endorsed also by the Security Council, what is next, from your point of view? Where do we go from here on the Tribunal?
SG: First of all, before answering that, the International Donor's Conference on Lebanon was a reaffirmation of the international community's commitment to help Lebanese people and government to build a democratic and independent country. It was very encouraging. As you know there was nearly eight billion dollars pledged for that purpose.
As to your specific question of establishing a special tribunal, it is true that the Lebanese Prime Minister sent a document signed by Lebanese officials. We are now taking necessary steps. We hope that once the United Nations will sign this document, the Lebanese Government should take necessary measures to ratify this in accordance with their constitutional procedures.
Q: You mean without the consensus in Lebanon, are you supporting this document which he has sent you, irrespective of whether the people of Lebanon accept that or not?
SG: I know that there is some political process, but what is important is that the Lebanese Government should also take necessary measures in accordance with their constitutional procedures.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, one of the big issues that you confronted on your trip that is of major concern, growing concern for the world, is climate change. There have been calls in Europe for a new United Nations agency, some greater, more specific action. What specific steps are you going to be taking now to try and deal with this growing issue?
SG: An intergovernmental panel released a very important report on climate change, which reaffirmed the urgency on the part of the international community to take necessary measures beyond 2012. I am fully committed to this process. As for specific modalities, I will be discussing and consulting with member countries, but I will try my best to move this agenda ahead.
Q: Is a summit a possibility?
SG: As for specific modalities, this is yet to be discussed among countries.
Q: Regarding your Deputy Secretary-General, as you stand here with her today, and also a Spokeswoman from the developing world – two women - can you talk about what was behind these choices?
SG: My policy in appointing senior managers is based on, first of all, meritocracy, with due regard to gender balance and geographical consideration. I am going to look at this issue, particularly on gender balance, and you have already seen that I have appointed many very qualified women leaders, including the DSG today.
Q: What was the most important achievement you made in Washington, and what is the next step on the Middle East peace process?
SG: I think we had a very good, successful Quartet meeting in Washington on Friday. I understand that Secretary of State [Condoleezza] Rice is going to have a trilateral meeting some time this month, and I fully support this trilateral meeting among US, the Palestinian Authority and Israeli leaders. With the development of the situation, we hope that that will be followed up by another Quartet meeting soon.
Thank you very much. I have to go now.