6 July 2007


6 July 2007
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

**Global Compact Leaders Summit

The Secretary-General today brought the Global Compact Leaders Summit in Geneva to a close, saying that he was heartened to see leaders from business, Government, civil society, labour and academia display such a deep and broad commitment to the Compact’s principles.

As the summit closed, business leaders from developed and developing countries pledged to comply with labour, human rights, environmental and anti-corruption standards.  They agreed on the text of the Geneva Declaration, which expresses the belief that “globalization, if rooted in universal principles, has the power to improve our world fundamentally -- delivering economic and social benefits to people, communities and markets everywhere”.  The Declaration spells out actions to be taken by the now roughly 4,000 companies participating in the Global Compact.

The Secretary-General said that the summit’s more than 1,000 participants clearly emphasized the links between market leadership and development.  This relationship, he said, “will help us build the supportive measures needed to create more sustainable markets.  And it will ultimately help to improve the lives of many people around the world.”

The Secretary-General called on business leaders to “ensure that the Global Compact is implemented more fully with their organizations and through their suppliers and partners”.  He also urged civil society and labour leaders “to remain vigilant and engaged, and to continue to hold business accountable to their commitments”.

He said that the participants at the summit would plan to meet again in three years, and urged them all to do their part in giving practical meaning to the Declaration.

And we have copies of the speech and the Declaration upstairs in the Spokesman’s Office.

**International Telecommunications Union

Earlier today, the Secretary-General visited the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union.  It was the first visit of a Secretary-General to the oldest UN agency, and he emphasized the unique role that it plays in connecting the populations of the world and helping developing countries bridge the technology gap.

And there are more details of his visit to Geneva.  The Secretary-General is planning to leave Geneva this weekend for an official visit to Portugal.

** Cyprus

Sunday marks the anniversary of the agreement signed between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, which provides the framework for a political process aimed at the resumption of full-fledged negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

In commenting on this anniversary, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Michael Møller, said it was time to fulfil the expectations raised when the two communities signed the agreement.  He stressed the need for a renewal of confidence and mutual trust to resolve the Cyprus problem once and for all and added that it was essential for Cypriots to feel their voices were heard in helping to shape a solution.

** Sudan

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, is in Khartoum today, and he is meeting with the African Mission Force Commander General Agwai, as well as Rodolphe Adada, the Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur.

He is also meeting with the Ambassadors of the countries and organizations that were invited to the Tripoli meeting, which I mentioned to you yesterday –- the Tripoli meeting on the 15th and 16th on the Darfur Peace Process –- as well as NGOs, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank on developmental issues, and Minni Minawi, who is the Senior Assistant to the President of Sudan.

Tomorrow, he is scheduled to meet with Government officials, including Foreign Minister, civil society groups and tribal leaders.  The AU Special Envoy for Darfur, Salim Ahmed Salim, is arriving tomorrow afternoon and will be joining Mr. Eliasson.

**Iraqi Refugees

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today warned that Syria and Jordan, the two countries caring for the biggest proportion of Iraqi refugees, have still received next to nothing in bilateral help from the world community.

Both countries, UNHCR says, are struggling to cope.   Syria continues to receive about 2,000 Iraqis each day, with about 30,000 of them staying in Syria each month.

UNHCR strongly urges Governments to step forward now to help the host countries for the Iraqis, and it reiterated its call for international solidarity and burden-sharing.

We have more in today’s briefing notes from UNHCR and in the Geneva briefing notes.

** Côte d’Ivoire

The Officer in charge of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire(ONUCI) met yesterday with the facilitator of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement –- President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso.  In their consultations, they discussed the latest developments in the peace process, one week after the attack on the Prime Minister’s plane in Bouaké.

The UN Mission says that the meeting is part of the Operation’s ongoing efforts to keep the peace process on track and to ensure that the Bouaké events do not slow down the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement.


I have two appointments to announce today:

The Secretary-General has appointed Mr. Cheikh Sidi Diarra of Mali as High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.  We have his bio upstairs.

The full mobilization and coordination of the UN System in support of the least developed, landlocked and small island developing countries is a high priority for the Secretary-General and reflects his commitment to the developmental objectives of this Organization. 

In order to make the United Nations more effective in serving the special needs of these countries, it is essential to consolidate the limited resources of the Organization and ensure reliable linkages with all key actors in the UN system and beyond.  These includes advocacy, in favour of the requirements of these countries with donor Governments and organizations, with civil society, media, academia and other institutions.  It also includes the crucial role of mobilizing international support and resources in real terms.  In order to achieve these goals, the Secretary-General has been looking for ways and means to strengthen the Office of the High Representative and to build on its existing functions and resources. 

As part of this initiative, it is timely to strengthen the Organization’s focus on Africa.  After consultations with African leaders, and with a view to complementing the reconfiguration of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA), the Secretary-General intends to designate the new High Representative to serve as the focal point at UN Headquarters for African economic and social issues, including the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). 

And you can get the full text of this announcement upstairs in the Spokesman’s Office, along with the bio.

And the other appointment is for the Chief Information Technology Officer at the Assistant Secretary-General level.  The Secretary-General appointed Choi Soon-hong of the Republic of Korea as Chief Information Technology Officer.  In this position, Mr. Choi will be responsible for all substantive and operational needs on information and communication technologies of the United Nations.  This will involve developing, maintaining and monitoring the implementation of effective tools and strategies to modernize the Organization. 

One of the immediate tasks for him is to oversee the introduction of the new Enterprise Resource Planning system across the Organization.  He will be responsible for providing leadership and coordination in the area of IT, to strengthen the ability of the United Nations to deliver the change management needed. 

As you recall, the General Assembly approved the position of the Chief Technology and Information Officer in July 2006 as part of the reform proposals put forth last year by the Secretary-General.

Mr. Choi has 30 years of technical and management experience in the public and private sectors.  He has a PhD from George Washington University.  He joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1981 and has served as its head of Information Technology since 2004.  He also has experience in the private sector, and he has lectured and researched in the fields of public policy, strategic management and innovation.  He will join the United Nations as of 1 September.

And we have, again, his full bio available upstairs and the announcement.

**Week Ahead

I see that David Morrison is here to join the briefing afterwards as our guest

Just to flag to you, that we do have, as usual, the “Week Ahead at the United Nations” for your planning purposes.  Just a couple of things to flag:

On Monday, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

On Tuesday, the Global Forum on Migration and Development, organized by the Government of Belgium, takes place in Brussels.  That is Tuesday, 10 and 11 July.  And the Secretary-General is expected to make an opening statement there.

And then Wednesday, here in New York, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a private meeting with troop-contributing countries of the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire, followed by consultations on Côte d’Ivoire and Western Sahara.

And on Thursday, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a debate on the report of its recent mission to Africa.

Of course, all of these Security Council programmes, as you know, are updated daily, so this is just what we have as of now.

I thought I was going to turn over to David, but he is gone, and, instead, I have two statements.

** Gaza

One is attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the violence in Gaza:

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the violence reported in Gaza in the context of the recent Israeli incursion.  Reports indicate that, during heavy exchanges of fire, including the use of tank fire in populated areas, a number of Palestinian civilians were injured and at least one was killed.  The Secretary-General calls on all parties to do their utmost to protect civilians and uphold international law.  In addition, Palestinian rocket fire into Israel must stop.  Calm must be restored in order to focus all energies on finding a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

** Cyprus

And then on Cyprus, you know I just read you a statement from the Special Representative, but we have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, on his behalf and regarding the communiqué I just mentioned, the anniversary of which is on the eighth:

Although the two sides continue to be engaged through regular discussions under the auspices of the United Nations -- and both leaders express their commitment to a solution leading to a bizonal, bicommunal federation -- it is regrettable that one year has passed without any start to the agreed process.

The Secretary-General takes this opportunity, therefore, to urge the two leaders to build on the progress achieved to date, by showing the necessary imagination and political courage to move from talks about procedures to real engagement on substance.  While emphasizing once again that the responsibility for the solution to the Cypriot problem lies with the Cypriots themselves, he also reiterates that the United Nations stands ready to continue assisting the two communities in their search for a solution to this protracted problem.

And that is what I have for you.  I think I read everything else that I have. 

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Has the Secretary-General received a letter from US Congresswoman Eliana Ross about a whistleblower at UNDP, and does he have any reaction?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, you drew my attention to the story about a letter, and yes, we are in receipt of the letter.  We will be responding.  As this is in connection with a question that we had earlier this week, in terms of the Secretary-General’s reaction, I will again put on record the fact that the gentleman’s request to be considered for whistleblower protection is being reviewed by the UN Ethics Office.  And that is where we are on that.

Question:  Did anybody in the Office of the Secretary-General receive a letter from apparently 18 prosecutors of the ICTY Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, urging Mr. David Tolbert, the current Deputy to Ms. Carla Del Ponte, the Prosecutor, to replace her, instead giving him a preference instead of Mr. Brammertz?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I can’t confirm that, but I’ll look into that…

Question:  And also, can you tell us anything… just, is there any progress on who is going to be the new Prosecutor for ICTY?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, no updates on that.

Question:  According to the statement of the Secretary-General on the clashes in Gaza, he only refers to the injuries and death of one civilian, but there were also reports of some, at least 13 people killed yesterday, and before, another 10.  They were mostly, probably, Hamas militants.  So does this mean, this is kind again, you know, only referring to civilians, but if it is against Hamas militants, that means that it is as well [inaudible] that Israel’s justified.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I think the statement speaks for itself.  I have nothing further to add.

Question:  And also, yesterday, there was an attempt by the Israeli army, actually there was a shooting incident against a journalist in Gaza, who was obviously shot twice in his legs while, you know, already having been injured.  I was wondering if you have a reaction to that.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Again, I don’t have a specific reaction, no.

Question:  The appointment of this new fellow who is going to look after the IT within the Organization, does that mean a complete change of the system that is in place now?  And also, is there a bio of this fellow available?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, it is upstairs.  There is a very complete bio upstairs, and my understanding… and of course, we should probably get him to talk to you since he is the expert and I am not… once he joins the Organization on I think I mentioned on 1 September.  So we’ll try to get him to talk to you about his plans.

Question:  Two questions, one executions and audits.  In Somalia, there is a public execution by the Transitional Federal Government of people for a crime they have committed, I think three days earlier.  I am wondering if the Secretary-General, given the UN’s close relationship with the Transitional Federal Government, has any comment on public executions conducted by this Government.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I haven’t seen this report, so I’ll have to look into that for you.

Question:  And also, Inner City Press has been told that the Board of Auditors has indicated a willingness to conduct now the second stage of the audit of UNDP-North Korea –- I’m not sure if that is why Mr. Morrison is here –- but they somehow lack the necessary tools to undertake this.  Can you tell us what the status for the call for the second stage audit is, and if additional tools or access in North Korea will be provided?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I’ll look into that for you.  I haven’t heard any new developments on that as of today.

Question:  Who is actually involved in picking and choosing the new Prosecutor of the Tribunal-ICTY.

Deputy Spokesperson:  The Security Council.

Question:  But anybody in the Secretariat?  Isn’t that coming from the Office of the Secretary-General first and then goes to the Security Council…

Deputy Spokesperson:  I have nothing further on this.  As soon as I have something further to announce, we will announce it.

Question:  I am just trying my best…

Deputy Spokesperson:  I know, but I have no other information.  As soon as we have something to announce, we’ll announce it, but we are giving you all the information.

Question:  I have just a general question on this.  It is nothing new.  Who is involved in picking and choosing the Prosecutor of the Tribunal?

Deputy Spokesperson:  The Security Council has to authorize whatever appointment there is, so the answer is:  It is up to the Security Council.

Question:  Mr. Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, said today there might be a meeting of the Quartet on 16 July.  Do you have any confirmation of that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have a confirmation of that.  The next Quartet dates and place are still under review and consideration.  As soon as we have something, we will let you know.

So, if there is nothing for me… Before everybody starts their weekend, we will turn over to Mr. Morrison.

* *** *

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