7 September 2007


7 September 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 Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Ashraf Kamal, Spokesman for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

**Guest at Noon

Good afternoon, all.  Our guest today is Alan Doss, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia, who will brief you on the work of the UN Mission in Liberia.

**Secretary-General Statement on Algeria

We first have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Algeria.

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the terrorist bombing that reportedly targeted the convoy of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on 6 September during a visit to the city of Batna in eastern Algeria, killing and wounding a large number of innocent civilians. 

The Secretary-General extends his solidarity and his condolences to the Government and people of Algeria and in particular to the families of the victims. He urges once again that the international community work together to reject and to combat terrorism in all of its expressions.

**Secretary-General Statement on Sierra Leone

Another statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the 8 September run-off presidential election in Sierra Leone.

The Secretary-General has been following closely the situation in Sierra Leone in the lead-up to the second round of presidential elections scheduled for 8 September.  He is deeply concerned about the recent incidents of harassment, intimidation and violence involving supporters of the two main Sierra Leone political parties and about the incidents of inflammatory rhetoric appearing in the local media.  He appeals to all Sierra Leone parties and their supporters to refrain from activities that could endanger peace and stability.

The Secretary-General applauds the recent national and regional initiatives to bring the two remaining candidates together and calls on the people of Sierra Leone to participate peacefully in tomorrow’s election.

**Secretary-General in Chad

The Secretary-General arrived in Chad today, where he met with President Idriss Deby, after which the two held a joint press encounter.  We’ll try to provide a transcript later today.

During today’s visit, the Secretary-General also is travelling to Lake Chad, which he noted has shrunk dramatically over the past forty years.  The Secretary-General told reporters the reduction of its size is a vivid result of environmental degradation and global warming.

The Secretary-General will wrap up his travels by visiting Libya tomorrow.  He is expected to meet Muammar Gadhafi during that visit.

**Security Council

The Security Council is holding consultations today about the Secretary-General’s recent report on the UN Mission in Sudan.  The new Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, briefed Council members on the report.

Mulet is also expected to brief the Council on the latest developments in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The members of the Security Council are also to consider a draft presidential Statement concerning the terrorist attack that took place yesterday in the Algerian city of Batna, which I just spoke about.

** Guatemala

Here at headquarters yesterday, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe, met with a senior Guatemalan delegation led by Vice-President Eduardo Stein to discuss next steps toward the establishment of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), following its entry into force on 4 September.

On behalf of the Secretary-General, Mr. Pascoe said that the United Nations attaches great importance to the Commission and will work expeditiously toward establishing it with both the personnel and the resources it needs to be effective as an independent entity designed to assist Guatemala in its fight against impunity.

As an immediate next step, Mr. Pascoe announced that the Department of Political Affairs will lead a mission to Guatemala later this month to begin the preparations for establishing the Commission.

**Democratic Republic of Congo

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, reports that thousands of Congolese have fled the town of Sake, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu province, due to the current intense fighting there. 

Since many of those fleeing prefer to remain close to their homes, only some 200 people have registered in the UNHCR-supported Nyakabanda reception site in Uganda.  But UNHCR, UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) have stored relief supplies in a nearby warehouse just in case.

Meanwhile, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes has visited a site for internally displaced persons east of Sake.  Yesterday in Bukavu, he visited a centre for former child soldiers.  One 17-year-old boy, who had been recruited when he was 7, told Holmes that he could actually sleep without nightmares now that he was at the centre.

We have more information on the DRC in my office.

** Central America

Turning to Nicaragua, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is preparing a Flash Appeal in the wake of Hurricane Felix.  Meanwhile, a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team is continuing its work in Honduras.

UNICEF has already sent blankets, mobile water chlorination units and other supplies to affected areas.  The agency is also coordinating with Nicaragua’s Ministry of Education to organize emergency shelters and get kids back to school.

There is more information in the Geneva briefing notes upstairs.

**Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

In its latest food security assessment following last month’s devastating floods in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said thousands of people require immediate and continued humanitarian food assistance.  The agency is providing emergency food assistance in 37 of the hardest-hit counties.

WFP also said it received extensive access and cooperation to assess the disaster’s impact on food security from the DPRK Government, immediately following the floods.

**UNMOVIC Investigation Panel

We can today announce the members of the fact-finding panel that will be tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a substance at UNMOVIC premises two weeks ago.

The panel will have three members.  They are Dr. Stefan Mogl, who is the head of Chemistry at Switzerland’s SPIEZ national laboratory.  He previously headed the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ laboratory.

Dr. Susan Brown is the Director of the High Performance Computing Outreach Centre at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.  She’s a chemical engineering and energy technology expert who served in Iraq with the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) in the 1990s.

Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security David Veness will also serve on the panel.

The panel, which will act under the direction of Mr. Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, is expected to meet for the first time next week.  It will be tasked with ascertaining the circumstances under which the substances in question were brought to UN Headquarters, the reasons why the items were discovered only recently, and safety procedures in place and the extent to which they were followed. 

The panel will be requested to deliver a report to the Secretary-General by the end of October.


The Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification has endorsed the proposal made by the Secretary-General to appoint Mr. Luc Gnacadja as the new Executive Secretary of the Convention.

The endorsement was made by the Bureau at its meeting in Madrid, Spain, on 3 September.

Mr. Gnacadja is the former Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development in Benin, and he won the Green Award 2002 from the World Bank in recognition of his contribution to the improvement of the world environment.  He will succeed Hama Arba Diallo of Burkina Faso.

** Côte d’Ivoire

On Côte d’Ivoire, out on the racks today is the Secretary-General’s latest report on children and armed conflict in Côte d’Ivoire.  In it, he says he remains deeply concerned by the prevailing culture of impunity for violations against children.

Also concerned by the prevalence of sexual violence against girls, he urges the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to prepare a national action plan to address the issue.


Since you asked yesterday, the Secretary-General is concerned about reported violations of Syrian airspace by Israeli aircrafts.  We are seeking clarification of the incident from the parties.

**Press Conferences

There are a couple of press conferences scheduled for Monday.

At 11 a.m., in commemoration of World Suicide Prevention Day, there will be a press conference by Dr. Jorge Rodriguez of the Pan American Health Organization, and Dr. Brian Mishara, President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

And our guest at the noon briefing will be Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, who will brief you on her recent trip to Côte d’Ivoire.

Before we invite SRSG Alan Doss to speak about Liberia, I will briefly answer your questions and we’ll have Ashraf Kamal who will be briefing you on the General Assembly.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Before Mr. Ban’s trip to Sudan, the head of the International Criminal Court had met with him and said that he wanted him to raise the issue of the two indicted individuals by the ICC.  It’s been reported today that Ahmed Haroun is one of the individuals who’s now been named by Sudan to investigate human rights violations, even though he himself has been indicted by the ICC.  Did Mr. Ban raise it with President El-Bashir?  And what is his response to Mr. Haroun being given this human rights post? 

Spokesperson:  Well, I’ll ask for you whether this was raised, and at this point no reaction.  I don’t have a reaction yet.

Question:  Two questions.  One, we’re getting reports out of Sudan that the rebels in Darfur, some of them are not happy with Ban in that he didn’t press hard enough with the Khartoum government some of the concerns that they have and that this puts in jeopardy clinching a peace deal there.  If you could comment on that.

And then secondly, in follow-up to the UNDP whistle-blower story, there is a lot of energy now down in Washington, even talk of pushing along some sort of bill that would stop funding of UNDP until this whistle-blower matter is resolved in a way in which the Ethics Office has control of UN-wide issues such as these two issues that have come up.  Can you comment on that?

And do we have a response to Congresswoman’s Ros-Lehtinen’s letter to Ban yet?

Spokesperson:  Your first question was about --

Correspondent:  On Darfur --

Spokesperson:  On the comments.  Well, I don’t know.  I’m not aware of these comments.  I don’t know what was said.  I don’t have a report -- an independent report -- on what those rebel leaders said.  So at this point, I cannot comment on this.

On the second question, you have – I will not make speculations on what the US Congress intends to do.  What I can say is that the jurisdiction of the Ethics Office is a matter for the General Assembly and for the Member States.  The US is a Member State like other Member States in the General Assembly.  The question of jurisdiction was not clearly established.  If there is to be a clear establishment – further clarification – it has to come from the General Assembly.

Question:  And a response to Ros-Lehtinen’s letter?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have an answer on that yet.

Question:  When do you expect to receive the clarifications from the concerned [inaudible] regarding Israel violating Syria’s airspace?

Spokesperson:  Well, we cannot speculate on what they will say.  We have to wait on what they will say - what clarification they will give.  I cannot possibly tell you in advance what they will say.

Question:  No, I mean, when do you expect to receive this clarification?

Spokesperson:  We don’t know.  We have asked.

Question:  Human Rights Watch yesterday reported [on] the death of almost 900 civilians during the war between Israel and Hezbollah.  And in this report, Human Rights Watch called on the Secretary-General to establish a [inaudible] commission of inquiry to investigative reports of violation of the laws of war by all parties, including possible war crimes.  Any reaction or comment on this?

Spokesperson:  Well, I have to say that the UN has commented extensively on military actions against civilians while the fighting was going on last year, last summer.  I don’t really have anything to add on this because we have made all the comments we had to make.

I will point out that the UN continues to clear the mines that have been left over from the conflict and continue to pose an immediate threat to the civilian population.  During the hostilities last summer, on a number of occasions, there were incidents of firing from the vicinity of UN positions by Hezbollah, as well as firing at locations close to UN positions by the Israeli Defence Forces.

At the time, UNIFIL reported all these incidents and strongly protested to the Israeli and Lebanese authorities respectively.

And that’s all I can say at this point.

Question:  Do you have a comment?

Spokesperson:  We cannot comment on that at this point.  Yes, you have a follow up?

Correspondent:  No, it’s not a follow-up.

Spokesperson:  Okay.  I’ll take someone else.

Question:  On the panel that’s going to be looking at the substance at UNMOVIC’s office, are they going to be looking at the rest of the files that haven’t been – I know the office is in the process of closing down – are they going to be looking at the rest of the files in the office that haven’t been gone through to see what else could be in?  Or has this already been done?

Spokesperson:  This has already been done.  As far as I know, they have gone through it and they have determined there were no other substances filed in those archives.

Question:  And where does the process stand on the office closing down?

Spokesperson:  Well, you have the panel investigating.  Of course it probably will go on until the panel is through.

Question:  Is there any response to Serbia’s threat of using force to prevent western countries from recognizing Kosovo as an independent State?  The Secretary – Minister of State for Kosovo announced yesterday that his country is ready to use force for this?

Spokesperson:  You do know that we do not comment on threats.

Question:  But it seems that they are for using any other means to prevent the idea of having Kosovo independent or to make the report of Mr. Ahtisaari come true.  I mean --

Spokesperson:  I can only take note of this.  I have no comment on it.

Question:  In the past you commented regarding Mr. Ahmadinejad’s remarks about Israel.  And here you say you don’t comment on threats, but in the past you commented regarding Mr. Ahmadinejad’s remarks on Israel.

Spokesperson:  Well, there was, at that time, a position taken by the Security Council, and we did comment, yes, because it was about a State.  It was a public statement that was made.

Question:  [Inaudible]

Spokesperson:  We are talking about reports in the press – we are talking here about a public statement.  Those were two different things.

Question:  [Inaudible] statement, too.  It’s not just a press report.

Spokesperson:  Well at this moment I don’t have any comments on that.

Question:  On this Ethics Office, just to understand.  There was a letter from Vijay Nambiar to Congresswomen Ros-Lethinen in July.  She had asked about the whistle-blower.  Mr. Nambiar wrote back and said, for the whistleblower policy to work, the Ethics Office must be allowed to conduct its work.  He basically told her to wait on the finding of the Ethics Office.  So Vijay Nambiar didn’t write to her and say there’s no jurisdiction.  So what happened between the two?

Spokesperson:  Well, at that point, the matter was in front of the Ethics Office.  As you know, a month later, the Ethics Office came out with that letter where the Ethics Office recognized that it did not have formal jurisdiction over UNDP.  So you’re talking about a month apart between two letters.  I think for you to infer that there was a lie, as I read in your column, I think is going a bit far.

Question:  That’s a quote from somebody there, because Congress asked about this --

Spokesperson:  Somebody who is hiding under anonymity?

Question:  Their sense is that – they inquired, the Secretariat’s office wrote and said, don’t worry, the Ethics Office is looking into it.  And then when the finding was adverse to the UN System, now he said there was no jurisdiction.  That’s the sense [talk over].

Spokesperson:  This is a matter that Mr. Benson himself said in his letter.  Go back to Mr. Benson’s letter, you will see that he asked for jurisdiction, but he said that he did not have jurisdiction.  To me it was clear.

Question:  He said that Mr. Dervis had said that there was no jurisdiction and he asked to be allowed to continue with the investigation.  So it’s not --

Spokesperson:  The letter was addressed to Mr. Dervis.

Question:  Correct.  I guess – I just want to understand the position.  Secretary Ban’s position that there is no jurisdiction is based entirely on Benson’s letter.  It wasn’t his position in July.  In July he thought --

Spokesperson:  In July, he left it to the Ethics Office to see it through.  The Ethics Office said themselves, we don’t have jurisdiction.  However, we are asking UNDP to have jurisdiction.  UNDP’s Board, which is made up of Member States, made a decision which the Secretary-General approved, of creating a review panel.

Question:  But if Benson had said that he has jurisdiction, then Ban would have agreed?

Spokesperson:  You’re talking about speculations here.

Question:  No, no, I guess, I’m saying that Vijay Nambiar in the middle of July – the letter absolutely implies that there is jurisdiction.  He tells Congress --

Spokesperson:  He did not rule on that.  All he said is that this whole case was taken up by the Ethics Office.  Then a month later –- so, you know, you cannot put the two things side by side -- a month later --

Question:  The jurisdiction, the actual law of the General Assembly was absolutely the same in July as in August.

Spokesperson:  It is.

Question:  So that’s why it looks strange, because the --

Spokesperson:  Because the Ethics Office had to determine – the Ethics Office is a new office, and the Ethics Office is right now functioning under the resolution of the General Assembly, which does not have the clarity on every single aspect covered by the jurisdiction.  The jurisdiction is the Secretariat.  This is what is written.  If it is to be extended, either the Secretary-General would have seek either the General Assembly’s approval or seek approval of the different boards, made up of Member States of each one of the agencies.

Question:  Just one last thing.  Did Mr. Ban only come to that understanding of jurisdiction after Mr. Benson’s memo, i.e., he didn’t have that position until Mr. Benson basically shot the Ethics Office in the foot by saying he didn’t have any jurisdiction.  If he had just proceeded, it looks like it would have just proceeded.

Spokesperson:  Well, I don’t know how far it could have gotten, because he does recognize legally it could not go beyond.  He is the one that wrote that a month later.

Question:  So he decides his own jurisdiction?

Spokesperson:  No.  He actually – just go to the funds and programmes, what are the regulations of the funds and programmes.  You can do the research, Matthew.  It’s there.  And it is a General Assembly decision.

Question:  Then why didn’t Mr. Nambiar know that in July?  That’s all I’m asking.

Spokesperson:  He knew that the matter was with the Ethics Office.  He left it to the Ethics Office.  The Ethics Office came and said, okay, we don’t have jurisdiction on that one.  However, we recommend this.  But we don’t have jurisdiction.  Okay?  The Ethics Office said it.

Question:  But if they hadn’t –

Question:  Michèle, just to rephrase the question I guess, at the centre of this is whether Mr. Nambiar in that letter misled intentionally or perhaps he himself wasn’t aware or Ban wasn’t aware that there was a jurisdiction issue here.  So at the centre of the question, is this an intentional misleading or is this misleading just on the basis of their lack of understanding about the jurisdiction issue here?

Spokesperson:  I would strongly stress it was not intentional.

Question:  Another question about the Ethics Office.  In the last two or three days, tens of innocent peoples were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq by US strikes.  Is there any statement by Mr. Ban Ki-moon?  We are so happy on the statement of the victims of the terrorist act that happened in Algeria yesterday.  Is there any response about those who were killed by US strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Spokesperson:  We don’t have this at this point.  Thank you.

Briefing by Spokesman for General Assembly President

Hello.  I was going to say I missed you, but that would not be entirely accurate.

** Bahrain Exhibition

The President of the General Assembly will inaugurate on Monday, 10 September at 6:30 p.m., in the South Lobby of the UN, an exhibition organized by the Mission of Bahrain.

Dubbed “ Bahrain: Making policy a reality, meeting the millennium challenges,” the exhibition celebrates the UN-Habitat award presented by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Bahraini Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa in July.  It features Bahrain’s efforts to preserve the environment through responsible urban planning.

I urge you all to go and look at it.  It’s a very interesting exhibition.

**Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

On the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Assembly is scheduled to take action on the Declaration on 13 September.

**Speakers List for General Debate

And as far as the sixty-second session is concerned, as most of you know, the current session of the Assembly ends on 17 September, and the sixty-second session begins on the 18th.

You have all seen the provisional speakers list for the general debate, which will take place from 25 September through 3 October.  It so far indicates that there will be 114 Heads of State or Government who are expected to address the Assembly.  The updated list will be out by close of business today.

If you don’t have any questions, I’d like to –- yes, you do?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Just very fast, on the draft declaration on the Indigenous.  We had a briefing yesterday that emphasized -- I guess there have been changes made to what the Human Rights Council had done.  First of all, the President of the Assembly, what was her involvement in these changes?  And it says things like, nothing in the declaration should impair an independent State’s territorial integrity or political unity.  What’s the impact of the changes and who is behind it?  Can you say more about the process?

Spokesman:  No, I will not tell you who is behind it, but I will tell you this: the Declaration is co-sponsored by some 65 countries and now you have -- I’m not entirely sure of the exact number -- sixty-something -- and you have now the Africans on board, which means there are 53 more countries.  So you have about a two-thirds majority.  And that’s much more than anybody had hoped when the Africans started the negotiations about their amendments.

Now you’re talking about the sovereignty of Member States, and that is exactly what they were jealous of -- their authority to maintain that sovereignty unscathed and untouched.  And these are the changes that were introduced to make sure that the Africans were comfortable with that.  And the rest of the Member States.  Now, we’re going to have a vote, so not everyone is going to be satisfied with this.  But it’s a very far cry from where we were before we started that, and I think it’s a great development.

Question:  And just a quick second question.  Generally speaking, if the General Assembly creates a body, like the Ethics Office, who decides what its jurisdiction is?  Is it the office itself that gets to decide…?

Spokesman:  Maybe I should give you some background, guys, on this, so you will know exactly how it came about.  See I always expect these questions.

In the Summit document of 2005, paragraph 161d reads the following:  we “welcome the Secretary-General’s efforts to ensure ethical conduct, more extensive financial disclosure for United Nations officials and enhanced protection for those who reveal wrongdoing within the Organization”.

And it says the following:  “We urge the Secretary-General to scrupulously apply the existing standards of conduct and develop a system-wide code of ethics for all United Nations personnel.  In this regard, we request the Secretary-General to submit details on an ethics office with independent status, which he intends to create, to the General Assembly at its sixtieth session.”

Now step number two.  Resolution 60/254, paragraph 16a, May 2006: welcomed the establishment of the Ethics Office and urged “the Secretary-General to finalize a system-wide code of ethics for all United Nations personnel, including personnel of the funds and programmes, at an early date”.

So the request was made to the Secretary-General to do this on a system-wide basis.  Now, therefore, the Secretary-General would have to work with heads of Funds and Programmes to devise a system-wide code of ethics; and subsequently the Assembly would have to approve any proposed system-wide code of ethics.

Question:  Just to go back –-

Spokesman:  So the jurisdiction is only over the Secretariat so far, but the Secretary-General has been asked to devise a system-wide code of ethics for everybody.

Question:  But it sounds, what you read, as if UNDP’s position of having their own review of this is outside of the intent of what Member States have asked for.

Spokesman:  Look.  We’re not talking about intent.  The General Assembly does norm setting, laws, legislation.  So there is no intent here.  It’s perfectly clear how this developed.  The Ethics Office was established for the Secretariat.  Therefore, if you’re asking me if UNDP’s position is right or wrong -- absolutely, from the point of law, they have every right to say that you don’t have the jurisdiction over us.

Question:  Have these whistle-blower cases and these other issues that have cropped up since this mechanism was put into motion back, when did you say, 2005? Right?

Spokesman:  2006.

Question:  When it was actually created.  Yes, 2006.  Was the intent during this upcoming session to resolve this overall issue and –-

Spokesman:  Of jurisdiction?

Question:  Yes, of the jurisdiction and everything --

Spokesman:  But I just read out to you the Outcome Document welcomed the intent.  The resolution said they were very happy with the Ethics Office being established, but they recognized that the Ethics Office that was established did not have the jurisdiction over the other agencies.  And in order for that to happen, the Secretary-General will have to talk to the heads of agencies and devise with them a system that is going to apply system-wide to the whole organization.  And then the Assembly would approve it.

Question:  Does that system exist now?

Spokesman:  No, no.

Question:  Is there a recommendation -- I know the system hasn’t been --

Spokesman:  I just read to you the resolution.

Question:  Right the resolution is there, but you’re talking about how the Ethics Office and the Secretary-General need to present to the General Assembly their strategy on how to do this --

Spokesman:  No, I didn’t say the Ethics Office.  I said the Secretary-General will have to get together with the heads of organizations, because each organization has its own law.  And they would get together and devise a system that would apply to the whole system of the UN.

Question:  My question is really, where are we in that process?

Spokesman:  I just read out to you the resolution [talk over]

Question:  No, the resolution, where is the UN in the process of getting this general understanding of jurisdiction of the Ethics Office?  Has Ban been meeting with the various…?

Spokesperson for Secretary-General:  I will answer this one.  He has been extensively meeting with people on this issue, with heads of funds and programmes.

Question:   During this General Assembly debate will he then present the final game plan for this for approval, so that this whole issue is resolved?

Spokesperson for Secretary-General:  We’ll have to see with the President of the General Assembly whether that will be part of this session.

Question:  But it’s currently not part of the agenda.

Spokesman for President of General Assembly:  Not the sixty-first.  The sixty-first has about 9 days left -- 10.

Question:  So we’re still in the process, then, Michelle.  It’s not going to be in time for this assembly.

Spokesperson for Secretary-General:  The next one you mean?  This assembly still has six more days to go.

Question:  Right.

Spokesperson for Secretary-General:  You are talking about which Assembly?  The next one?

Question:  The one --

Spokesperson for Secretary-General:  The sixty-second.

Correspondent:  It’s not going to be ready for that, is it?

Spokesperson for Secretary-General:  I can check for you whether it’s going to be on the agenda, and in fact, you’re going to have a chance to talk to the President of the General Assembly very soon.

Question:  Ashraf, just one last one.  The way you presented – it seems to me – are you saying it was equally clear in July, a month ago, you’re saying like it’s totally clear that the Ethics Office has no jurisdiction.  So I guess, why did they review it 72 days and why would the Chef de Cabinet say it is up to the Ethics Office, if it’s as clear as you stated.

Spokesman for President of General Assembly: Are you asking me?

Question:  I guess, because I asked elsewhere and I don’t understand.

Spokesman for President of General Assembly:  You’re asking me about the intent of somebody.

Correspondent:  You’re saying it’s very clear.

Spokesman for President of General Assembly:  Look, if you’re going to use the information that I gave you to clarify this in order to blame Nambiar for making an unintentional error, I disagree with this.

Correspondent:  [Inaudible]

Spokesman for President of General Assembly:  Listen, listen, I’m not speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General.  He has a very able Spokesperson, that I have a lot of respect for, but let me make it perfectly clear.  There was no intent to cover up.  There was no intent to mislead.  Nothing was said or was done in order to do damage or lead people somewhere else.  It was just an honest oversight and that’s exactly where it should end.  And the buck ends here.  Now –

Question:  Just one question about where bucks end.  The Joint Appeals Board.  Do they have jurisdiction?  Because yesterday we asked this –-

Spokesman for President of General Assembly:  Do they have jurisdiction over what?

Correspondent:  Over the entire UN system.  So in the case of, for instance, the second whistle-blower whose case is before the Joint Appeals Board.  If they find reason to have an investigation into this case --

Spokesman:  Yes, they have an [inaudible], but the Joint Appeals does not investigate.  It acts more like a fact-finding body.

Question:  But do they have jurisdiction to --

Spokesman:  They do.

Question:  To get involved.  They do.  In UNDP matters, then.

Spokesman:  Well, the Joint Appeals Board does not initiate anything.  It waits for somebody to come and complain.  So if I’m a staff member and I have a problem, and I go file a complaint before the Joint Appeals Board, the Joint Appeals Board constitutes a panel that looks into that complaint, and then makes a recommendation to the Secretary-General.

Question:  But their recommendation has --

Spokesman:  It’s not binding.

Question:  Has more weight, let’s say, than the Ethics Office, which currently doesn’t have weight, jurisdiction weight, within UNDP at the moment.

Spokesman:  Of course.  Anybody from UNDP can make a complaint to the Joint Appeals Board, of course.  From anywhere -- if you’re UNICEF –-

Question:  No, but I think you’re misunderstanding my question.  When the Joint Appeals Board, let’s say in the case of this next whistle-blower [inaudible] hypothetically –

Spokesman:  [talk over].  Yes, they can ask UNDP to come and appear before them and explain why this and this and that happened.  That explains it, right?

Question:  Yes, it does. 

Spokesman:  Okay.  Are we done?

**New General Assembly Spokesperson

Okay.  Now I have the distinct pleasure -- and I really mean this, guys -- of introducing my successor.  And please be nice to him.  I’m still going to be in that building, just not in this room.  Mr. Janos Tisovszky, who is going to be the Spokesperson for the President of the sixty-second session of the General Assembly.

Janos, would you like to say a few words?  This is the ultimate honeymoon that you’re going to have.

Mr. Tisovszky:  Okay.  I’m going to enjoy it.

Thank you, Ashraf, for those kind words.  And I’m looking much forward to working with you and just a few words.

My background is in economics, international relations and journalism.  I used to be a journalist in Hungary.  I worked for the radio and for a national paper.  And I joined the UN in 1990 through the competitive recruitment exam process, which I actually did not in information, but in economics.

And since then I’ve been working with the Department of Public Information, first in Vienna and then in the last three years, here at Headquarters, in the Peace and Security Section and dealing mainly with terrorism.

And as of the 18th of this month, I’ll be officially the Spokesperson, the Spokesman for the President of the sixty-second General Assembly.  And as Michelle mentioned to you, you will have a chance to talk to the President on the 18th at 1 p.m.  He will have a press conference here for you.

The Assembly opens at 3 on that day.  There’s also a chance for you to meet him in an informal manner.  I think most of you may have received the invitation from Tuyet that he will be in the UNCA club on the 13th at 5 p.m.

And as regards agenda items, as regards his views on the upcoming session, the press kit is available for you.  I think you have seen that.  And I have also brought along a recent speech the President elect made to the UN University in Tokyo.  It’s called, “United Nations today and tomorrow”.  It is available there in hard copy form and gives you a good idea of what his priorities are, what his thinking is about the all the various different issues that will be coming up.

Thank you.

* *** *

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