20 November 2007


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




The following is a near-verbatim transcript for today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the General Assembly President.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

**Statement on ASEAN Charter

First, I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Secretary-General wishes to congratulate the ASEAN Heads of State on the signing today of the ASEAN Charter.  In declaring their commitment to the principles of human rights and democracy, the ASEAN leaders have collectively taken a historic step towards closer integration and cooperation to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations in the region.

The United Nations looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with ASEAN to address the challenges and opportunities of our times.

** Myanmar

The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, Ibrahim Gambari, is now in Singapore, where he is meeting with various Heads of State and foreign ministers of East Asian countries.

He met today with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines and held informal consultations with six ASEAN foreign ministers.  Gambari also met with Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Myanmar and held additional bilateral consultations.  Before continuing on with his visits in the region, Gambari is scheduled to hold bilateral consultations tomorrow with various leaders, including Singapore’s Prime Minister.

**Security Council

The Secretary-General this morning addressed the Security Council’s open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, telling them it was fitting to hold such a meeting on the anniversary of the opening of the trial of the major war criminals at Nuremberg.  Sixty-two years later, he said, civilians continue to pay a dreadful toll in today’s conflicts -- in Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Secretary-General noted that, at the World Summit in 2005, all the world’s Governments agreed in principle to the responsibility to protect, adding that he will work with Member States and civil society to translate this concept from word to deed.  The Council, he also said, must act to ensure that those in need of life-saving assistance receive it, and that those who provide it do so in a secure environment.

Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes also briefed the Council, saying that targeting civilians displays contempt for international humanitarian law.  At the same time, any military response must also comply with international humanitarian law, he added.  As the nature of conflict evolves, so do the issues of protection, Holmes said.  Holmes intends to speak to the press following the meeting, and the Secretary-General will also attend the monthly luncheon with the members of the Security Council this afternoon.

** Somalia - Security Council

Following consultations yesterday on Somalia, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Marty Natalegawa of Indonesia, said in a press statement that Council members expressed strong concern about the deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation in that country.

He said the members also “underlined the need to continue to actively develop contingency plans for the possible deployment of a UN peacekeeping force as part of an enhanced UN integrated strategy in Somalia”.

** Somalia - UNHCR

The number of displaced people inside Somalia has risen sharply to 1 million people, according to estimates reported by the UN refugee agency today.

UNHCR says that 60 per cent of the population, or some 600,000 people, are believed to have fled from the lawless Somali capital, Mogadishu, since February this year -- nearly 200,000 of them in the past two weeks alone, leaving entire neighbourhoods in the volatile capital empty.

The numbers of displaced this year are in addition to some 400,000 people displaced by previous fighting.  There is more information in the UNHCR briefing notes in my Office upstairs.

**Democratic Republic of Congo

Available as a document today is the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In it, he notes that two major security crises have rocked that country, leading to serious human rights abuses.  These include the March post-electoral violence between the Government and supporters of former Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba, and the continued standoff between the Army and dissidents troops led by General Laurent Nkunda.

Even so, the Secretary-General says, democracy is taking root in the DRC, and State authority is being gradually restored throughout the country.  He notes that so far some 166,000 combatants have disarmed, with some 63,000 of them joining the Government’s Army.  Among other recommendations, the Secretary-General proposes that the Mission’s mandate be renewed for one year, and that it retain its current levels of military, police and civilian personnel.

** Bangladesh

Turning to Bangladesh, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) today allocated nearly $9 million for life-saving relief assistance following the recent cyclone.  The funds will be used by several UN agencies to provide emergency aid to the more than 3 million people affected by the storm.

So far, the World Food Programme has distributed high-energy biscuits to more than 650,000 people.  Today, it began distributions to almost half a million additional cyclone victims.  Meanwhile, UNICEF teams have been helping to repair wells, distribute jerry cans, and replenish medicine stocks.  We have more information upstairs.

** Sudan

The UN Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, is scheduled to be in New York next week to brief the Security Council and for internal consultations.  Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Sudan continues to report attacks on vehicles by armed bandits in Darfur.

In one incident, reported today, which took place on 15 November, the Mission says three armed men stopped a UN vehicle with two UN staff members on board at gunpoint near the UN office in Nyala.  The attackers dropped off the staff members after a drive of about 10 minutes and took off with the vehicle.  The staff were slightly injured, as they were beaten by the attackers, and their personal belongings were looted.  The vehicle remains missing.

The Chief Mediators for the Darfur peace process, Taye-Brook Zerihoun for the United Nations and Sam Ibok of the African Union, will travel to Darfur tomorrow for a two-day visit, during which they will hold meetings with other rebel movements that did not attend last month’s first round of peace talks in Sirte, Libya.

** Afghanistan

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour just wrapped up a mission to Afghanistan.  In a statement issued today, she says there have been positive achievements since her last visit to the country in 2005.  Nevertheless, she says she is disappointed by the lack of progress in implementing commitments made under the Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice in Afghanistan.  She adds that she’s struck by the degree to which progress on women’s rights has stalled.

Arbour also says the deepening sense of insecurity and preoccupation with criminality has led to some regressive steps in Afghanistan, particularly the recent resumption of executions.  She adds that civilian casualties resulting from international military operations reached alarming levels in the course of this year.  These not only breach international law, but are eroding support among the Afghan community for the Government and an international military presence, she stresses.  We have a full statement upstairs.

** Cambodia

Today in Phnom Penh, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia held a bail hearing for Kang Kek Ieuv, or Duch, the former head of the Tuol Sleng prison.  Prosecutor Robert Petit said that he hoped today’s proceedings showed the intentions of the Court to proceed in an open and transparent manner.

Yesterday, the Co-Investigating Judges of the Extraordinary Chambers charged the former Cambodian Head of State, Khieu Samphan, with crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Following an adversarial hearing held later that same day, the Judges decided to order his provisional detention.


Today is Universal Children’s Day, which marks the 18th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

To mark the occasion, UNICEF has appointed Ishmael Beah as UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War.  Beah is a former child soldier, youth activist, and the author of international bestseller A Long Way Gone.

Later this afternoon, in UNICEF’s Labouisse Hall, there will be a round-table discussion on “Protecting the World’s Children:  Impact of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Diverse Legal Systems”.

Also today, we have a message from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, reiterating the UN’s commitment to the well-being of Iraqi children.  We have more on that upstairs.

**Inter-Parliamentary Union

The Secretary-General this morning addressed the Annual Parliamentary Hearing with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which this year has been jointly organized by the United Nations and that organization.

He discussed the work the United Nations has been doing to uphold the rule of law, and also briefed the parliamentarians on his recent travels, particularly highlighting climate change concerns and the situation in Lebanon.  His remarks are available upstairs.

**Climate Change

Total greenhouse gas emissions of 40 industrialized countries rose to an all-time high in 2005, according to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The increases were a result both of continued growth in highly industrialized countries and revived economic growth in former East bloc nations, the Framework Convention says.  It notes that the highest increases in emissions were in the transportation sector.  There is more information on the group’s website.  We also have a press release upstairs.


Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, this morning in Geneva addressed the Intergovernmental Meeting on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness.  She said that, while pandemics have always taken the world by surprise in the past, for the first time in history, we have been given an advance warning.  As an international community, we have an obligation to use this opportunity wisely.

She added that we must never lose sight of what a pandemic can mean under the unique conditions of the twenty-first century -- in an era when airlines carry more than 2 billion passengers each year, and global interdependence is stronger than ever.  She concluded that the stakes are high and the responsibility resting on our shoulders is great.  We have her full remarks upstairs.

**UN Mine Action Report

The United Nations Mine Action Service, UNICEF and UNDP have released their annual Portfolio of Mine Action Projects today. The report shows that $404 million is required for mine action projects in 30 countries and three territories in 2008.  A press release and copies of the portfolio are available in this room, right on that table on the right.

**Event Tomorrow

Tomorrow, at 11 a.m., in Delegates Dining Room 6, the Secretary-General will launch the International Year of Sanitation.  He will be joined by His Royal Highness Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Chairman of the Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation; Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Sha Zukang; UNICEF Executive Director, Ms. Ann Veneman; and others.  Special guest will be UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and singer, Ms. Angelique Kidjo.

The event is organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with the UN-Water Task Force on Sanitation.  It’s open to the media.  We have more information available upstairs.

**Press Conference Tomorrow

Our guest at the noon briefing tomorrow will be Fatou Bensouda, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who will provide updates on the Court’s current trials and investigations.

This is all I have for you.  Thank you, and that was a lot.  Yes, Benny.

**Questions and Answers

Question: On Gambari, is there any explanation as to why he was first invited to brief ASEAN?  Was he then disinvited to brief?

Spokesperson:  Prior to his departure from New York, Mr. Gambari and the Secretary-General were made aware of various positions of the countries attending the summit.  Nonetheless, Mr. Gambari travelled to the region, as you know, and he has been there since yesterday, to Singapore, and it was at the invitation of the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Chairman of ASEAN and with the concurrence of the Secretary-General.  So, at this point, what explanation there is, I think that explanation should be given by the members of ASEAN and by the Chairman of ASEAN himself.  I think he has provided information to the press on that count, how they came to that decision.  But I have to say that Mr. Gambari is using his time to meet a number of people who are interested in the topic and want to discuss it.

Question:  Is the Secretary-General or Mr. Gambari, are they discouraged because of the lack of ... I mean, of that about-face, you know what I’m saying?

Spokesperson:  Mr. Gambari said that he was disappointed, and I think the Secretary-General already said what he felt yesterday during your press stakeout.  However, I don’t think the word “discouraged” is the word to be used.  The ASEAN leaders recognized that the recent visit to Myanmar has resulted in several positive steps, in the right direction, and that the UN has been playing a vital role in the process of national reconciliation in Myanmar, so, that is something that has been recognized by the ASEAN leaders.

Question:  Where did they say that, or did he say that privately to Mr. Gambari?

Spokesperson:  Speaking to Mr. Gambari.  They also encouraged the leaders of Myanmar to continue to work with the UN in several concrete ways.  This is what we have gotten from there this morning.  We have ongoing discussions, as you know, with the Government of Myanmar and the leaders of the region, and I announced who Mr. Gambari was meeting when I spoke earlier.

Question:  One more question.  Is he going to visit Burma again any time soon?

Spokesperson:  He’s going to visit Myanmar again, but not right now.  Now he’s going to go, after Singapore, to Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia as part of his ongoing consultation, and he intends to go back to Myanmar before the end of the year.  We don’t have a precise date yet for when he returns to Myanmar.

Question:  Why is he going to all those countries when they’re all in Singapore right now and he can talk to ... I think it’s very high-level ASEAN leadership there.  Why does he have to go to all those countries afterwards?  They’re all there.

Spokesperson:  Because he feels that more consultation is needed and more discussions are needed.

Question:  Sorry for disturbing you, but the news on my TV station is on air now.  The presidential election in Lebanon is postponed until Friday, the day of the legal election.  How would the Secretary-General comment on this issue?

Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General has already expressed, yesterday, the way he felt about it, the contacts he has had.  He’s not going to, of course, dictate to the Lebanese actors, the way they should behave.  I think they have to make the decisions themselves and I don’t think he will interfere in anything of that sort.

Question:  Did he say anything today about ...

Spokesperson:  Nothing special.  Nothing more than what we have already said.

Question:  Michèle, could you tell us a little bit more about the arrest last week of the very high-level Cambodian leader, Ieng Sary, and his wife, and then this week Khieu Samphan?  Why is it occurring now?

Spokesperson:  I think it shows that the Courts are really moving right now.  I don’t think it means anything else besides the fact that the Courts have decided to start moving on it and the Prosecutor is ready to go through the process.  That’s why it’s going on.

Question:  So they expect there will be an indictment?

Spokesperson:  I cannot second guess the Court.  Yes?

Question:  Two questions on Somalia and Darfur.  I want to understand something that the Secretary-General said yesterday at the stakeout.  His report on Somalia had said that it’s too ... he thought it’s too dangerous to send UN peacekeepers and the, he had ... a technical assessment team, even, hadn’t been sent due to danger.  And then yesterday at the stakeout he said I’m working on sending an assessment team.  So, is that still ... the report doesn’t ... it imply that he’s not going to send an assessment team?

Spokesperson:  No.  He is going to send an assessment team.  Remember, he talked about the two tracks, the way it should be addressed.  His recommendation is still that the peacekeeping operation right now is not an option, but he said, at this time, if you remember correctly how he said it ...

Question:  But he said the two tracks -– just to nail this one down -- he said the two tracks is the Transitional Federal Government should work … should reach out and that the international community should support AMISOM.  Whereas, it seems like yesterday the Security Council members were saying an assessment team should be sent to consider a UN peacekeeping ... the South African ambassador said there shouldn’t be two-tier peacekeeping … AMISOM ...  In this case, many of his members seem to want UN peacekeepers.  I couldn’t figure out from his ... then there was a follow-up question to him saying are you sending a team or not and he said, “Oh, I’m sending a team.”  Is he sending a team with an eye to helping AMISOM, or with an eye to sending a UN peacekeeping ...?

Spokesperson:  He’s sending a team to follow what the Security Council decided on yesterday, of course.

Question:  Right, okay, alright, okay.  And then on ... I just wanted to ... on the UNAMID, and particularly what you’d said earlier, about that ... on the contract with PAE.  Has the ... I like to, if you could, get a statement of ... it’s a $250 million contract.  Was all that money paid at once?  Is it paid in instalments?  Is there ... Mr. Guéhenno said ... I don’t know if it’ll happen or not, but he said that there’s some danger of not actually doing the deployment if the helicopters are not given and a variety of things happen.  In that case, would all of the money still be paid?  And are they in fact already building the camps?  It’s just that there are ...  It seems that ...

Spokesperson:  They are already building the camps, yes.

Question:  And how much of the $250 million has been already transferred to them?  Can we find that out?

Spokesperson:  Okay, I don’t have that number, but I can ask DPKO or the Controller’s Office to find out for you what has been dispersed so far.

Question:  And do we know if, as Mr. Guéhenno, at least, raised the possibility, if a decision is made for whatever reason either to delay or to not deploy, is the UN legally responsible to still pay the full $250 million or is there some ... I mean, I think that earlier I’d said could the contract be disclosed, but can this, at least, provision of the contract be explained?  Whether the UN is on the hook for the full amount or not the full amount?

Spokesperson:  I’ll try to get the information for you.  Yes, Tinatin?

Question:  On the ice bridge that’s being built outside the UN which will be unveiled in December, is it being funded by the UN, by the Secretariat, by one of the agencies, and also will the Secretary-General attend the actual event which will be hosted by the Mission of Norway?

Spokesperson:  I have to check on that for you.  I don’t know at this point.  Yes.

Question:  Two on UN reforms.  One was the question with Janos, where Mr. Benson, today, at this event said that he ... that his understanding ... I know he was talking about the CEB thing before, but he thinks that it’s formalized, that each funded programme is going to appoint its own ethics officer; UNDP has already done so, but that he … he said that very soon … he said that this administrative instruction, or whatever the written statement is, do you when this is ... when it’s actually going to come out?

Spokesperson:  There was a statement that came out of the CEB, specifically there were two paragraphs on ethics.  I think I would refer you to those paragraphs.

Question:  But he seemed to say that the actual specifics weren’t ... he started explaining and then he said that he had to stop because the Secretariat is supposed to put out an administrative instruction that will actually explain whether whistle-blowers can appeal to his office, when they could go there.  I just was wondering what the status of that…

Spokesperson:  Yes, I will let you know when it’s ready to come out.  Thank you very much.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

**President of General Assembly

First, on the activities of the President of the General Assembly.  The President of the Assembly met yesterday afternoon with the Secretary-General who briefed him on his most recent travels.  Please note that the Secretary-General will brief Member States tomorrow at 10 in an informal plenary.  That will be mostly on climate change, but also on other issues and other developments.

The President of the Assembly marked today’s Africa Industrialization Day with a video message to a seminar here this morning organized by the Africa Group, the African Union and UNIDO.  The theme of the meeting was “Technology and Innovation for Industry:  Investing in people is investing in the future.”

In his message the President called for a renewal of the commitment to sustainable economic growth and development in Africa through industrial and technological development, technology-transfer, trade and investment, so that the continent might be able to attain the MDGs by 2015.

He also noted that the priorities of the 62nd session -- namely, the attainment of the MDGs, Financing for Development and Climate Change -- were priorities that were central to Africa’s development aspirations and underscored the need for continued international support and cooperation to address the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment, adding that those issues were inextricably interconnected and demanded a collective international response.

The President this morning participated in the annual IPU event here at Headquarters -- the Inter-Parliamentary Union hearing.  This is a two-day event which brings together parliamentarians to interact with UN system entities and receive a series of briefings on UN activities.  The focus of this year’s meeting is:  “Reinforcing the rule of law in international relations:  The key role of Parliamentarians”.  As you may recall, the President has on a number of occasions stressed his intention to reach out beyond Member States and involve civil society, private sector representatives and others -- so it is in this context that he was especially pleased to address this meeting.

He noted in his statement that parliamentarians were powerful opinion formers; and, were increasingly shaping international decisions adding that their support was essential to promote more effective international relations based on the rule of law.

The President stressed that enhancing United Nations cooperation with legislators was crucial to strengthening international policy and ensuring better compliance and implementation of international commitments.  He also stressed that it was his intention to invite parliamentarians to participate in important General Assembly debates on climate change and Millennium Development Goals.  Both statements of the President are available for you in full, in hard copy, upstairs in the Spokesman’s Office and also are available on the President’s website.

**General Assembly

As regards the activity of the Assembly, it continued this morning the joint debate that it started yesterday on “Strengthening of coordination of humanitarian and disaster-relief assistance of the United Nations, and also assistance to survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  It heard a couple more speakers and then wrapped up its work.

It also took action on one draft resolution that it had before it and that it took without a vote, and that was a draft resolution on strengthening of international cooperation and coordination of efforts to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.

**Main Committees

And very quickly on the Committees.  Let me start with the Sixth Committee first simply because it wrapped up its work yesterday.  It basically took action without a vote on a number of outstanding draft texts that it had before itself, including on the three key topics that it had on its agenda.  These were the criminal accountability of UN officials and experts on mission; administration of justice at the United Nations; and measures to eliminate international terrorism.

The First Committee, as you know, has already finished its work.  Fourth Committee is due to wrap up tomorrow.

Today, the Third and the Fifth Committees were in action.

The Third Committee is, at the moment, in session and continuing its discussion with taking action on a number of draft texts, and at the moment it is discussing the ones that most of you are interested in.  These are the ones relating to human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs.  These include the draft texts on human rights situations in the DPRK, Myanmar, Iran and Belarus.  Just this moment, I think, action is being taken on the DPRK draft.

Fifth Committee is continuing its general discussion it began yesterday on the financing of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur.  And before that, it had taken up the Report of the activities of OIOS in relation to the work of the Procurement Task Force.

That’s all I have and I’m ready for those torturous questions.  Benny?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  No torture, but just about that last item, the two last items you mentioned, the one about the Sudan force.  First of all, is the question of the PAE raised there?  Was it raised by anybody?  Is it part of the discussion, the PAE contract, the Lockheed Company contract, was it raised by anyone as part of the discussion?

Spokesperson:  Yes, it was ... I think I’ve mentioned already, yesterday, that in the ACABQ report relating to the financing of UNAMID it was already discussed at length, several paragraphs dealt with it.  As far as I know, and I think some of you were in the debate yesterday, almost all Member States discussed this issue and expressed their opinion on the sole source contract.  I’m sure that it will come up in the future consultations.

Question:  And will ... does that mean that it will take longer for them to approve the budget?

Spokesperson:  Not necessarily. Please ...

Question:  When do you expect the budget to be approved?

Spokesperson:  On UNAMID?  No telling.  There’s still a couple more informal consultations and we’ll see.  I’m not going to venture on that.  But, Benny, let me just add that there’s also a connection between the UNAMID, and maybe also on the Procurement Task Force and some of the issues that you raised.  Please note that today, amongst the three documents that are before the Fifth Committee, there is one that is a note of the Secretary-General concerning the Procurement Task Force, and at the very beginning of that he mentions -- I think it’s paragraph three -- he talks about procurement reform and a report that he’s going to do and he’s going to submit that to this session of the General Assembly.  I don’t have a timing when, but that means that there is a larger procurement reform on the agenda.  So, in that sense, the concerns that Member States may have expressed on this sole source contract, or any other aspects of procurement, will come back in the context of that overall discussion on procurement.

Question:  Can you handicap whether the Procurement Task Force budget to continue its work will be approved?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know at the moment, because what, today, the Committee discussed was just the work of the Procurement Task Force and not necessarily the aspect of how the interim financing and how the interim suggestion that the Secretary-General had in a note is going to be taken up, because for that there is a need for an ACABQ report, which is not out yet.  As far as I know, that has actually been finished.  I think it’s just a question of just being translated and being issued, so we’re talking a couple of days.  I think when all of that is together, that is when, in fact, I think the Committee will take a harder look at everything in the form of consultations.  This is my reading of it.

Question:  I understand this is maybe a Michèle question, that the SG wants the Procurement Task Force to continue with interim financing?  Is that ...?

Spokesperson:  Sorry, in that report that the Secretary-General has on this issue and I can try to give you the numbers on that, which is ... yes here it is, the Resource Requirements for Procurement Investigations, that’s the report of the SG.  That’s A/62/250.  It pretty clearly talks about interim arrangements.  In fact, it does not talk about new money; it talks about existing money being reallocated.  Please.

Question:  Just to follow up on that, is it logical to say that if the extension of the budget is not confirmed, if we fail to come ... if the Member States fail to come up with a conclusion, will the contracts be dispended as of next month?  It has appeared in the press continuously this week.

Spokesperson: The ...  I ...

Question:  The procurement, on the budget?  The meeting between the Member States.

Spokesperson:  Yes, but I don’t quite understand which contract.

Question:  For the UN staff.  It was in the press.  Or is it completely out of the blue for you?

Spokesperson:  I’m not sure I understand the question.  Where ...  You mean if there is not agreement on a budget in general ...

Question:  On the extension, on the extension of the budget between the Member States.

Spokesperson:  Extension of which budget?

Question:  Our budget [inaudible].  It was in the press, so maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with ...

SG Spokesperson:  The budget that is being talked about, that is being discussed, is the upcoming budget.

GA Spokesperson:  You mean the UN budget.  Okay, so if there is no agreement on 2008-2009 budget, then what’s going to happen?  Whether we will shut down?  I think this is something that is always in the press every time there’s a biennium.  I have worked in the UN for the past 17 years; I have not experienced a shut down, so I am optimistic.  Please.

Question:  Speaking on the Darfur contract, when are the last consultations of the Fifth Committee about this issue, and you have some date, I don’t know, maybe I’ve missed information?

Spokesperson:  I do know that there is one definitely scheduled for next week.  I don’t know when the last one is.  I’ll try to keep you informed as much as possible.  I know that you’re interested in this.  I tended to flag it already, but I will continue to keep an eye on it.

Question:  Do you think that maybe, I don’t know, so much about that, the budget about the hybrid force, the report that you can read it about a budget that starts last July until 2008 and then I wondered, I don’t understand these dates, because the hybrid force are not yet there.  And they are [unintelligible] because they are not agreement in Sudan.  There are problems with the countries helping with forces with staff and that thing.  And then I don’t understand why the budget starts in July when we don’t have hybrid force?  I don’t understand.  I’m sorry, I don’t understand.

SG Spokesperson:  I think the explanation is quite simple.  Just because the hybrid force starts later, it does not mean arrangements have not been done since July concerning the establishment of the hybrid force.  You can get more details.  I can give you more details a little later.  We had a very extensive briefing by Mr. Guéhenno on this, and I’m sure you can find all the numbers you need there.

Question:  I didn’t understand.  I’m sorry.  Why the budget had to start ...

SG Spokesperson:  Because it’s not the day the troops arrive that they start having expenses.  They have to set up camps and this is the contract we are talking about, the PAE contract comes into being.  It’s setting up camps ...

Question:  So there are people there now?

SG Spokesperson:  No, I’m saying they are preparing.  They’re building and building costs money.

Question:  Oh.  They’re building.  They’re building now.

SG Spokesperson:  Yes, sure.

Question:  They’re paying for that now.

SG Spokesperson:  Yes.  Infrastructure.

GA Spokesperson:  There’s also this fact that if you look at all the budgets of the peacekeeping operations, they tend to have a different cycle.  They go from end of June to beginning of July on an annual basis.  So that might be a little bit confusing, I know.  It’s not just for you.  It’s confusing for Member States, as well, when they have to pay.

Question: [Inaudible]

Spokesperson:  That is also in there.  Matthew.

Question:  You’ve said that the GA President will have something to say about the UNAMID budget and the sole source contract after he hears what the Member States have to say.  So I guess, I’m wondering, given all the things that were said yesterday ...

Spokesperson:  I don’t know whether I’ve ever said that.  Did I say that?

Question:  I think, actually, I watched, when he himself said ... was asked the question about the contract, said either I or my spokesman will have something to say once we hear what Member States have to say.  So, I guess my question is, now that you’ve heard, yesterday, in the open session, a number of Member States speak about it, is the President of the GA ... does he have something to say now or when will he have something to say?

Spokesperson:  I’ll definitely check with him.  As I said, in that question to Benny, this might be something that I think should be looked at in the overall context of UN reform, in the overall context of procurement reform.  So, my bet is that the General Assembly and the President himself will best pronounce themselves on this once the whole issue of procurement reform comes up, because that’s when this is really, you know, supposed to be the time to talk about this, in that overall context.  I don’t have a date on that yet.  I don’t know when the Secretary-General will have his report, what he says in that note is that it will be during the 62nd session.

Question:  But I thought ... I think when he was here at his press conference I think he said ...

Spokesperson:  I’ll follow up with him; I’ll check with him if he at this time has anything to say on the UNAMID issue.  If not, then what can, of course, happen is that as he did promise that he’ll come back before the end of the session in December.  You can ask him at that time.  And by then I’m sure that we’ll have a clear picture of where things stand (with the UNAMID budget).

Question:  One of the reform questions, the issue of whether the UN ethics office covers the ... should cover the funds and programmes or not.  There was an event today by UN University at which Robert Benson of the Ethics Office seemed to indicate that what’s happening now is each funding programme is going to have its own ethics officer, that that’s the outcome of it.  And he referred back to that it was up to the GA, that if the GA wanted to have a single ethics office, that you would have to take some further steps.  So, I know we talked about this before and then it sort of went off the burner for that CEB meeting.  Is there anything afoot in the GA to follow up on its 2005 creation of the ethics office and actually have it cover funds and programmes, that you’re aware of?

Spokesperson:  I’m not aware of anything more.  I think that resolution that we have been quoting ad nauseum basically talks about the idea that as far as the General Assembly is concerned, it basically accepts the idea that there should be a system-wide code of ethics, and now it’s just a question of how that is being done.  And the last chapter on this, as far as I remember, is when the CEB had its meeting and I think what came out of that was there was supposed to be some kind of a note or something like that (bulletin) to come from the Secretary-General, right?  This is the next step.  So let’s see where that goes.  I don’t know what Mr. Benson said.  I don’t know where things stand.  Obviously, what we can try, both of us here, is to try to get Mr. Benson to do a briefing for you.  That’s also a possibility.

Thank you very much.

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