22 October 2008


22 October 2008
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 Enrique Yeves, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon.  I would like to welcome several journalists participating in DPI’s annual training programme for Palestinian media practitioners as well as colleagues from the UN Communication Group in Islamabad to the noon briefing today.

**Stand Up against Poverty

Last week’s “Stand Up against Poverty” campaign set a Guinness World Record for the biggest mass mobilization on a single issue.  More than 116 million people, or nearly 2 per cent of the world’s population, took part in events in 131 countries from last Friday through Sunday.  Another 5 million people took part in events that weren’t submitted before the Guinness deadline.  The guest at noon today is Salil Shetty, the Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign, who can tell you much more about this.  It is quite an interesting story.


The Secretary-General will meet tomorrow with a group of eminent economists.  The session is part of his ongoing effort to evaluate the effects of the global financial crisis on the United Nations work, with a special focus on the Millennium Development Goals and climate change.  Despite the urgency of the moment, it is imperative that the world act in a spirit of global solidarity.  The world's poorest peoples are also the most vulnerable.  We cannot allow today's financial crisis to become tomorrow's prolonged human crisis.

Five economists will participate in the meeting:  Joseph Stieglitz of Columbia University; Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University; Dani Rodrik of the Kennedy School of Government; Nancy Birdsall, President of the Center for Global Development; and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

**Climate Change

The Secretary-General sent communications to leaders of the 27 members of the European Union and the head of the European Commission regarding the European Union energy and climate package, following brief talks he held with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso at last week’s Francophonie Summit in Quebec City.

In his letter, the Secretary-General emphasized the paramount importance of concluding the European Union energy and climate package within the agreed timeline of December of this year.

He highlighted that this was a much-needed positive signal to the international community and developing countries in particular -- as it negotiates a new, ambitious post-2012 agreement on climate change to be concluded in Copenhagen at the end of next year.

He commended the European Union for its years of strong leadership on climate change, including in putting forward a flagship climate and energy policy package.  While he sympathized with Union members who may find it challenging to be as ambitious in such times of economic constraint and uncertainty, he suggested that the European Union’s forward looking policy has the potential to deliver a clean economic growth, which will create millions of new jobs.  Clean industry and investment have proven again and again that they offer high quality, long-term profits and returns.  Thus, the current financial turmoil is not a justification for delaying action on climate change, but rather an opportunity to address both the financial and climate change crises that we face.

**Security Council

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Security Council on the Middle East in an open meeting this morning, telling the Council that, despite recent efforts by the Palestinian Authority to improve the security and judicial systems, the situation on the ground is not improving in the way that is required.

Israeli-Palestinian violence this past month claimed the lives of seven Palestinians, two of them children, while injuring 116 Palestinians and 34 Israelis, he said.

Mr. Pascoe said that we look forward to all regional States lending their support to Egypt’s efforts to reconcile the West Bank and Gaza.  He added that, notwithstanding the transition currently under way in Israel, we hope that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will not only continue but intensify between now and the end of the year within the Annapolis framework.  We look forward to the parties briefing the Quartet in the near future. 

Speaking on the wider region, Mr. Pascoe encouraged the continuation and intensification of indirect Israeli-Syrian talks, and said that further work is also essential to build on recent positive developments in Lebanon.

The formal meeting has been followed by consultations, also on the Middle East.

Yesterday afternoon, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement in which it expressed its grave concern at the resurgence of violence in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its potential regional implications.  It urged all parties to respect a ceasefire immediately.  It also urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwandan Governments to engage in efforts to settle their differences, including through reactivating the Joint Verification Mechanism, and called upon them to implement the Nairobi communiqué fully.

**Democratic Republic of Congo

Rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army on Sunday killed six Congolese civilians in an early morning attack on Bangadi, a village in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  That’s according to the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), which adds that the Ugandan rebel forces looted homes and communal facilities before setting them ablaze.  However, faced with stiff resistance from village residents, the rebels retreated without any further damage.  No children were kidnapped during the attack.  Meanwhile, the Congolese army has called on the estimated 6,000 members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) “to adhere to the Nairobi process without delay” or face punitive action.  FDLR combatants are Rwandan nationals whose return to Rwanda, it is believed, would help restore security and stability in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the wider Great Lakes region.  They are to be disarmed and repatriated to Rwanda, under the Nairobi process, which was agreed in November 2007 between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

** Somalia

At the request of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Netherlands is deploying a military vessel to the Somali coast to escort WFP humanitarian cargos.  The Dutch navy is taking over from its Canadian counterpart.  WFP says that NATO vessels have also arrived in the area, but have not yet begun escorting WFP cargos.  NATO and WFP officials are now putting the final touch to the logistical preparation for their collaboration.  WFP, meanwhile, says that it is about to start delivering emergency supplies of highly-nutritious peanut-based food to Somali children at risk of severe malnutrition.  The agency hopes to feed some 64,000 children over the next six months.

** Sudan

At the request of the United Nations Mine Action Office in the Sudan, the Swedish Rescue Services Agency has sent a four-person explosive ordnance disposal team to conduct a series of unexploded ordnance spot tasks at Abyei.

The team will remain in the area until the end of 2008, in support of humanitarian activities for the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons affected by the recent fighting.

While the rainy season is officially over, some areas are still wet and the grass is too tall for clearance operations to resume in parts of Abyei.

** Afghanistan

Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, today strongly condemned a series of recent attacks in that country that he said were intended to stoke fear among the wider population.

These include yesterday’s killing of five children in Kunduz, the reported beheadings of people who had been riding on a bus in Kandahar and the killing of a foreign aid worker in Kabul.  Eide said that his thoughts are with the families and the friends of those who have been killed and those whose loved ones remain missing.

** Cyprus

The Cypriot leaders met today in Nicosia, under United Nations auspices, starting with a one-and-a-half hour tête-à-tête.  Then, continuing their discussions on the federal executive, they heard from their two representatives on the follow-up meeting that they held on 16 October to help explain and clarify positions on the issue.  The leaders then took up the issue themselves, and had what was described by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, as a constructive exchange of views.  They then directed their representatives to carry on these discussions next Thursday.

Following that, the leaders had a preliminary discussion on the legislature; these discussions will continue when the two leaders meet again on 3 November.  Zerihoun told reporters afterwards, “This is a process that will continue.  And I think it’s going well.”


Religious leaders and representatives from around the world have formed a Global Interfaith Network to strengthen cooperation in the fight against maternal death, AIDS and poverty.

The announcement came at the end of a two-day forum in Istanbul, convened by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  We have more information in a press release upstairs.

**United Nations-European Commission Partnership

Earlier today in Strasbourg, France, the Director of the United Nations Office in Brussels, Antonio Vigilante, presented a report on the partnership between the United Nations and the European Commission to the President of the European Parliament.

In a foreword to the report, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro notes that, in 2007, the United Nations and the European Commission worked together in over 100 countries in all regions of the world.  She also wholeheartedly commends the European Commission for its extensive support to the United Nations family, which helps make the Organization’s vision a reality.

The report notes that the United Nations-European Commission partnership has helped to provide food aid to 48 million people, to register 80 million voters, to clear landmines from 50 million square metres of land, to administer oral polio vaccines to 400 million children, and to purchase 150,000 tons of food aid on local markets in 21 countries.  The report is available at www.unbrussels.org.


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), along with several leading economists, today launched the Green Economy Initiative.  It’s aimed at promoting environmentally-focused investment that will combat climate change and trigger an employment boom in “green” jobs.

In other news, ahead of next week’s General Assembly meeting on transboundary aquifers, UNESCO is publishing the first-ever world map of these underground water sources.  Almost 96 per cent of the planet’s fresh water is found in aquifers; most of them straddle international boundaries.  There’s more information on both of these items upstairs.

**World Food Day

World Food Day, which was marked last week in Rome, will be observed tomorrow here at United Nations Headquarters.  The Secretary-General will take part in the event, along with the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization.  Former United States President Bill Clinton will give the keynote address.  That event takes place at 1 p.m. tomorrow in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.

**Press Conference Today

Later today, at 6 p.m., there will be a press conference by Martin Scheinin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.

**Press Conference Tomorrow

At 10 a.m., Donville Inniss, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Business of Barbados, and Luis Fernando Andrade Falla, Secretary-General of the Association of Caribbean States, will brief on the work of the Association to designate the Caribbean Sea as a Special Area in the context of sustainable development.

Our guest at the noon briefing tomorrow will be the United Nations Environment Programme’s Executive Director, Achim Steiner, who will brief on Paint for the Planet, an exhibit organized by UNEP involving young artists from around the world, whose work will be auctioned to raise funds for UNICEF.  Following his brief briefing, Mr. Steiner will head to the United Nations Visitors’ Lobby to open the exhibit.

At 1:30 p.m., there is a press conference by Tomas Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

And at 2:30 p.m., Vitit Muntarb-horn, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, will be briefing, as well.  So you have quite a full day tomorrow.

Reminder that the press tickets for the United Nations day concert will be available on a first come first serve basis from the MALU Office (S-250) starting at 2 p.m. today.  This year’s concert features The Silk Road Ensemble under the artistic direction of Yo-Yo Ma.

And this is all I have for you.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I’m sure you heard about the report coming from the Sudan [inaudible] in the press there, the newspaper called [inaudible] is publishing [inaudible] document exchange between [extended inaudible] and the ICC [inaudible] and the accusation is the United Nations is giving so-called intelligence information to ICC to help them with their case against Bashir and others.  I understand that you have an agreement signed in October of 2004 between, [inaudible] about the exchange of information with ICC.  How worried are you about the perception that your offices and agencies around the world acting as information offices for ICC because of such an agreement between the UN and ICC?

Spokesperson:  You know there are two issues here -– information and intelligence.  We don’t have any intelligence set-up as you know.  United Nations Peacekeeping Operations do not conduct investigations for ICC or gather intelligence.  That one should be clear.  On the other hand, the specific reporting for ICC, they are mandated to provide detailed and comprehensive reports to the Security Council regarding the situation in the Mission area.  Existing reports generated by the Mission during the regular conduct of the Security Council-mandated duties may, at a later date, be provided to ICC at the Court’s request.  So this is a clarification of that series of letters that was published.  Cooperation between the United Nations and ICC is based on the relationship agreement which you mentioned between the International Criminal Court and the United Nations which was approved, by the way, by the General Assembly by consensus in 2004 in resolution number 58/318.  And in regard to the situation in Darfur, United Nations Security Council resolution 15/93 urges all States, regional and intergovernmental organizations to cooperate fully with ICC.  The United Nations cooperation in the case of Darfur is conducted further to the General Assembly resolution, the concluded agreement and the Security Council resolution.

Question:  You’re not worried, the UN is not worried about the repercussions … I understand your [inaudible] because of your agreement, but it can be [inaudible -- perceived/seen -- inaudible] in other countries like in Africa that you’re acting as information collection offices for ICC.  It would hinder your work and endanger, actually, your workers.

Spokesperson:  Actually, the cooperation that exists right now is fully consistent with the General Assembly resolution included agreement and the Security Council resolution, so it is quite clear …

Question:  … about the repercussions?

Spokesperson:  We can only clarify what our position is.  That is general information that is given.  We are not gathering intelligence and giving intelligence to ICC.

Question:  A follow-up?

Spokesperson:  Yes, certainly.  Sure.

Question:  So you are confirming that Mr. Guéhenno [inaudible] provided information to ICC …

Spokesperson:  That was general information, as I said, concerning the General Assembly resolution and the Security Council resolution.  There was no specific information that was given to ICC. 

Question:  That relates to the Luanga case in the Congo, the same issue arose.  There [inaudible] shared information with ICC and said don’t show it to the defendant.  So it was pretty specific information.  Does the information that was provided as to the Sudan or Darfur, does it also have a confidentiality requirement that it could be shared with, say, President Bashir if he were put on trial or with [inaudible]?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have that information.  I don’t know what was actually given to ICC, and Mr. Ocampo is the only one who has that information at this point.  What I can tell you is what I found out from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and from the Mission itself is, what they have been doing, is giving general information and general information in line with the existing agreements and resolutions.

Question:  Could we get Patricia O’Brien of the Office of Legal Affairs, because I know that they are very involved with the Luanga case, trying to figure out how the information in that case could be shared with the defence?  I am assuming that probably they have to deal with the same issues …

Spokesperson:  They cannot discuss either case as they are ongoing cases.  I don’t think they can discuss them publicly in terms of giving you details.

Question:  No, no, not the information, but what their thinking is in terms of how, if information is given to the Prosecutor can’t be shown to the Defence, it’s already resulted in the Luanga case being suspended.  I understand what you are saying.  Maybe there’s some way to get them to speak generically about the issues that are being raised by Peacekeeping and ICC?

Spokesperson:  I will address that to them, but I doubt that you will have an answer on those cases.  Yes?

Question:  In [inaudible] of Mr. Pascoe’s briefing on the Middle East, he didn’t express any optimism as to the Middle East peace process and Mr. Bush’s vision of a two-State solution before he leaves office seems to be fading, does the Secretary-General think that, by the end of this year, they’ll be able to achieve their objective of two States or it’s an impossible dream?

Spokesperson:  I think your interpretation of what Mr. Pascoe said is not quite what he said.  Your interpretation is that he’s pessimistic.  I don’t think that was the case.  Of course, it is a difficult subject as you know and I think …

Question:  … the Secretary-General is optimistic that there will be a Middle East that is two States in the Middle East by the end of this year?

Spokesperson:  He is doing as much as he can for this to happen.

Question:  But he’s not …

Spokesperson:  I cannot say that he is optimistic or not.  Let’s just say that he is doing, he is calling as many people as he possibly can, getting in touch with many ongoing initiatives, people leading as many ongoing initiativesthat exist to really make this a reality.

Question:  But the backdrop of his meeting in Montreal with the Francophonie, he had invited world leaders to the United Nations.  But it seems that President Bush has pre-empted it, calling the summit meeting in Washington on 15 November.  Does the Secretary-General intend to go and attend that meeting?

Spokesperson:  The information came out today and so we don’t have anything in terms of specific information, an invitation for the Secretary-General.  The Secretary-General has traditionally attended the G-8 meetings as part of the outreach group of the G-8.  We don’t have any details yet on what the meeting will be, how many people will be included.  We don’t have that information yet.

Question:  There’s a possibility he may attend that meeting…

Spokesperson:  If he’s invited, yes he will attend that meeting.  [She later confirmed that the Secretary-General had been invited and would attend the 15 November meeting.]

Question:  Does that mean that the one in New York was cancelled?

Spokesperson:  There never was one in New York.  The G-8 had suggested the United Nations as a venue because the United Nations, as the only fully multilateral organization, as a venue would be ideal.  It was just a place.  It was not for him to lead that meeting, which you know has to be, of course, called by a member of the G-8.

Question:  On the Middle East, does the Secretary-General have anything specific to say on Israeli [inaudible – adverse] to the Saudi peace proposal?

Spokesperson:  As you know, he is very much in favour of the Saudi peace proposal.  He has talked about it over and over again, so that’s all I can really say at this point.  Yes?

Question:  It has been reported that India and Pakistan have decided [inaudible] to open the controlled line in the disputed area of Kashmir for cross-border trade and family reunions.  Does the Secretary-General welcomes these important steps as a confidence-building measure?

Spokesperson:  Of course.

Question:  The Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Zimbabwe, Haile Menkerios, left, I believe, yesterday, for Africa.  Do you know if he’s been given a visa by the Zimbabwe authorities to go to Zimbabwe?

Spokesperson:  I can check for you, but I don’t think there is any problem for him to go there.  I can check for you, of course.  Yes?

Question:  Michèle, the Secretary-General met with the Moroccan Foreign Minister, I think, in Canada yesterday, and also Mr. Pascoe went to Morocco.  So shall we expect any announcements soon on the appointment of the Special Envoy or the resumption of the talks?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have any information for you today, but I can confirm that they did meet on that, and Mr. Pascoe did go to Morocco.

Question:  Can we have a readout of what Mr. Pascoe did in Morocco?  That was like, a week ago.

Spokesperson:  Of course, we can get that for you.

Question:  There were these reports that -– you mentioned the Lord’s Resistance Army in your readout –- but of the children they have abducted over the years, many of them have been sold to rebel groups in Darfur, that was a statement by a Ugandan Government official.  I’m wondering, one, if the United Nations, because it’s got peacekeeping missions both in Darfur and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Kony is indicted by the International Criminal Court, has any information in that regard or any comment on the possible selling of children abducted, to Darfur rebel groups?

Spokesperson:  As you know, we have a high official who actually handles all issues over children on armed conflict, and I could ask Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy to come and talk to you about this.  If you want more specific information, I don’t have anything more, in terms of a reaction.  This is a reality we know about.  Of course, we’re aware of it.  And I think she has talked about it at her last briefing here. 

Question:  …that they’d sort of disappear and been sold in another country is something new, that’s why… but, if you can, that would be great.  There’s this -– I’d asked, I think, about this on Monday, there’s this EULEX, the idea that the EULEX person in Kosovo is now going to incorporate the United States, the United States now has a formal party … there’s an article saying that there’s some 80 American nationals that were working for UNMIK that are now going to sign contracts with EULEX.  Is there some way -– is that true? 

Spokesperson:  You have to check with EULEX to find out.

Question:  But they’ve, since they work for UNMIK, is it a fair question to say, how many Americans work for UNMIK?  Not the names, just the number.

Spokesperson:  You can ask UNMIK.

Question:  On this climate change, the Secretary General’s favourite issue, it seems the Canadian Prime Minister just lost the election because of his support of the climate change programme.  Does the Secretary-General think that climate change has been affected by this defeat of the Canadian Prime Minister?

Spokesperson:  I don’t think so.  I think climate change is a global issue, climate change initiatives are a global issue.  He has been pushing for it and it has nothing to do with a specific election in any country, for that matter.

Question:  One last question, please, on the (inaudible) may have spoken on this yesterday, but any reaction to The New York Times story today about the contracts and allegations about corruption in purchases by the United Nations?  $25, 30 million, what is the UN doing about this?  Is there any ongoing …

Spokesperson:  This report was out on the racks for a week, and no one picked it up, and then suddenly it becomes news.  The OIOS report is on the activities of the Procurement Task Force for the period of 1 July to 31 July 2008 -- so, one year.  And it will be introduced to the Fifth Committee tomorrow.  So, you can, of course, follow the debate at the Fifth Committee on the issue.  And we do also have the Secretary-General’s comments, which are also on the racks that you can have readily.  Both are available.  And the Committee will also have the Board of Auditors report on the activities of the Procurement Task Force and the ACABQ report on this.  Of course, tomorrow, I’m sure you can get additional information from Enrique.  And about the amount you quoted –- the $20 million quoted in some article as “losses” by the Organization represents the total contracted value -- not the losses of the Organization.  So, I just wanted to add that.  But you can have the information.  It is readily available.

Question:  Is Mr. Appleton or Inga-Britt Ahlenius of OIOS that’s in charge of all that willing to give a briefing on the topic of these reports that are available but … 

Spokesperson:  Once it has gone through the Fifth Committee, probably.  We could ask them to do so.  But for the time being, it’s in the Fifth Committee and we are waiting for Member States to continue discussing the issue.  We’re not going to interfere in an interstate discussion.  And that’s really what I can say.  I can, of course, get more for you.

Question:  Is the United Nations denying any wrongdoing?

Spokesperson:  No, not at all –- go read the report.  Go read the United Nations reaction.  We are pursuing different cases, and all recommendations for referrals are fully considered by the Office of Legal Affairs for decisions by the Secretary-General.  The Procurement Task Force was set up by the Secretariat, so it’s not something that’s outside of our own initiative.  Because we wanted to really go and investigate any type of possible corruption cases.  And as far as I know, even though no losses for the Organization have been identified, specifically in the OIOS report, the Office of Legal Affairs –- this is what I got from them this morning -– they have been instructed to take action to recover actual losses in other recent cases, and they have successfully obtained awards and restitution amounting to over $932,000 in one case, and $515,000 in another case.  Those are two examples.  So, of course, we can get more briefing for you on the issue once it’s gone through the Fifth Committee.

Question:  One further question on this -– the Secretary General’s response to the report on the PTF’s [Procurement Task Force] work seems to say he doesn’t believe they should so specifically suggest action against an individual, that he retains discretion regardless of what -– how is that consistent, I guess, I just want to understand …

Spokesperson:  It is a mandate that they have.  The Task Force investigates.  Then, investigations are carried out by OIOS, and all recommendations for referrals to national authorities are considered by the Secretary-General, of course, with the Counsel of OLA.  And every time appropriate action is deemed necessary, it is taken.

Question:  It came out more that he was saying he wants the freedom to not follow recommendations to make a referral …

Spokesperson:  Because it is part of his mandate and it is part of the mandate of the Procurement Task Force.

Question:  Can’t he also make referrals even if PTF doesn’t recommend them?  Is he looking for freedom to do less than they recommend or could he do more?

Spokesperson:  As you know, the Secretary-General on that subject has been very open.  He wants as much transparency and truth as possible.  It is obvious we cannot reveal ongoing cases as they are ongoing.  But as soon as some money is recovered on a specific case, OLA is open to talk about it. 

Question:  But when the United States Mission, for example, takes these OIOS audits and puts them on its website, with the names unredacted, does the Secretary-General have any problem with that?  And if there’s not a problem, why not make those names available at the United Nations, instead of …

Spokesperson:  I will not comment on this.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly

This morning at the General Assembly, 18 new members have been elected for the ECOSOC, the Economic and Social Council.  As you probably know, there are a total of 54 members in ECOSOC, and each year 18 are selected and they serve for three years.

Le me give you the comprehensive list of the 18 members that have been selected.  For the African States, we have Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Morocco and Namibia; for the Asian States, we have India, Japan and Saudi Arabia; for the Eastern European States, we have Estonia; for Latin America and Caribbean States, we have Guatemala, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Venezuela; and for the Western European and Other States, five seats, France, Germany, Greece, Lichtenstein and Portugal.

And on a different front, on another front, I have an announcement to make from President d´Escoto, who has appointed a group of ambassadors as co-facilitators to prepare the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will take place here at a plenary meeting on 10 December 2008.

The Permanent Representatives are Jorge Argüello from Argentina, Thomas Matussek from Germany, Marty Natalegawa from Indonesia, Agshin Mehdiyev from Azerbaijan, and Youcef Yousfi from Algeria.

And this is all I have for you today, unless you have any particular questions.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  What is the relationship between the group of experts, economic experts, as was just announced by Michèle just a few minutes ago, and the group of experts that the President of the General Assembly has selected?

Spokesperson:  Say that again?  Sorry …

Question:  Michèle just announced there is a group of economic experts, including Jeffrey Sachs, that are going to meet at the request of the Secretary-General -- what is the relationship between that group and the President’s group?

Spokesperson:  I think the relation is the financial crisis, and everybody’s trying to get as much advice as possible, at all the different levels.  That’s basically it, I think.

Question:  Are these two independent of each other, or is there coordination since they …?

Spokesperson:  As I said, there are two different things.  President d’Escoto has called a meeting, an urgent meeting in the General Assembly, and has asked some experts to participate in a dialogue -- some names I provided to you in the last days -- and the Secretary-General, as announced by Michèle today, has asked some economists to give him some advice on the situation this week.  And some of them are the same ones, like Joseph Stiglitz, and some are different ones.

Question:  Are these two different or parallel efforts?

Spokesperson:  Well, I think they are efforts at different level to get as much information in order for the UN to be as much informed as possible on the issues.

Question:  This panel of experts the President has appointed -- are they also preparing a report to be submitted to the General Assembly, or they will just participate in this context?

Spokesperson:  Okay, let me explain to you how it works.  President d’Escoto has called this high-level meeting for 30 October and he has asked, we now have confirmation of four, but there are some others, as you were asking me yesterday, from Africa being contacted, but we have the list, the full list, in a few days.  That is an interactive panel, and they will be discussing with the Member countries solutions, evaluations, the way forward, etc.  Apart from that, President d’Escoto has asked Joseph Stiglitz to coordinate a group of experts that have not been named yet, and they will probably come out of that meeting, to prepare a document which will be the basis of discussion for a high-level meeting for the re-evaluation and reorganization, if you want to call it, of the financial institutions, especially the Bretton Woods institutions.

Question:  (inaudible) has permission to appoint (inaudible) …

Spokesperson:  No, sorry to interrupt you, Masood.  President d’Escoto has asked Joseph Stiglitz to be the coordinator of such a group and to be the principal adviser.  But whoever is in that group will be selected by the President of the General Assembly.

Question:  He just asked him to select someone and then he’s the one who makes the final selection, is that what you said?

Spokesperson:  What I’m saying is that the President of the General Assembly is the one who will be appointing who will be in that group.  But you know, the President believes it will be good, first on 30 October to have this meeting, to hear what the Member countries are saying, hear feedback on what are the main needs of the Organization, for finally putting forward the composition of that group.

Question:  Did the President name Maude Barlow of Canada as a sort of expert on water -- did I miss that?

Spokesperson:  That’s correct, that’s correct.

Question:  Was that announced …?

Spokesperson:  Well, I think it is part of the experts he has been calling to help him, and I don’t think there was a formal announcement, because he has many experts who are helping him.

Question:  Are there experts’ names who haven’t been announced here?

Spokesperson:  Sure.  I think we distributed them at the beginning of the presidency, but probably you are right -- it was not really noticed so I will prepare a full list and distribute it.

Question:  Not to be crass, but does that kind of status, does that trigger like daily subsistence allowance, (inaudible) visa, what is the purpose of that post?

Spokesperson:  There is no financial or contractual arrangements involved.  These are senior advisers for the President from different countries, different sectors, different nationalities, who are providing this service out of their own initiative, or in agreement with the President of the General Assembly, but without any formal administrative contract or arrangement, that should be clear.

Question:  If they fly around and go to meetings, who’s paying -- is the UN paying for that, or are they paying for that?

Spokesperson:  That’s a good question -- I can check that for you.  But for the time being, we have not been doing many meetings outside New York.  Any other questions?  Thank you very much.

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