Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

19 May 2009

Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

19 May 2009
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York




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

Briefing by the Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon.

We have Enrique Yeves, the General Assembly Spokesperson and he will brief after me.

** Sri Lanka

I’ll start with Sri Lanka.  A short while ago at a press conference in Geneva, the Secretary-General announced that he would be visiting Sri Lanka later this week.

The visit on 22 and 23 May would be to respond to the urgent need to heal the wounds of a war that has alienated the communities on the island for almost three decades, he said.

He said he would travel to hardest hit areas for a first-hand assessment of conditions on the ground.  Saying that the task now facing the people of Sri Lanka is immense and requires all hands, the Secretary-General spelled out his message.

He said progress must come in three critical areas:  first, immediate humanitarian relief; second, reintegration and reconstruction; and third, a sustainable and equitable political solution.

He said: “Progress on all three of these fronts must move forward in parallel -- and it must begin now.”

We will have a transcript of this press conference shortly, and we do have the statement upstairs in the Spokesperson’s Office.

Meanwhile, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman issued a statement today saying that full and unimpeded humanitarian access must be ensured so that children and women can receive the assistance they so desperately need.

And the Human Rights Council just announced a few minutes ago it will hold a special session on Monday, 25 May, to address the human rights situation in Sri Lanka following a request submitted today by Council members to convene the meeting.  And this is from Geneva, and that press release is upstairs for you, as well.

** Haiti -- Appointment

And I have an appointment that the Secretary-General himself has made earlier today in Geneva.

The Secretary-General has appointed former United States President William J. Clinton to the position of United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti.

The appointment builds on Mr. Clinton’s extensive engagement with Haiti, both while serving in the White House, and most recently, through his “Call to Action on Haiti” at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2008.  Mr. Clinton also accompanied the Secretary-General to Haiti in March, during the Secretary-General’s visit to raise global awareness of the Caribbean nation’s needs.

As Special Envoy, Mr. Clinton will help to jump-start social and economic recovery efforts in Haiti.  He will focus attention on the importance of new partnerships and efforts among the private sector, civil society and donors, as well as strengthen local capacity and create a more stable and prosperous future for Haiti.

The Secretary-General is confident that President Clinton will bring energy, dynamism and focus to the task of sustaining world interest in Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction efforts.  Mr. Clinton has previously served as the United Nations Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.  And we have that appointment upstairs.

**Secretary-General in Geneva -- Health

Also in Geneva today, the Secretary-General addressed the World Health Assembly, which is the supreme decision-making body for the World Health Organization (WHO).

In his remarks there, he said the outbreak of the H1N1 strain of Influenza A spotlights yet again the interconnected nature of our world.  Geography does not guarantee immunity, he said.  A threat to one is a challenge to all.

Also in his remarks, the Secretary-General said that there is perhaps no single issue that ties together the security, prosperity and progress of our world than women’s health.  Today, he noted, maternal mortality is the slowest moving target of all the Millennium Development Goals -- and that is an outrage.  In the twenty-first century, he added, no woman should have to give her life to give life.  We have his full remarks upstairs.

And also in Geneva, the Secretary-General met with representatives of vaccine companies.  He stressed to them the importance of global solidarity.  And he added that our top priority must be to build up the defences of developing countries -- to ensure that they, too, have access to vaccines.

**Secretary-General -- Disarmament

In addition, the Secretary-General also addressed the Conference on Disarmament this morning in Geneva.  He said that there were a number of initiatives from nuclear and non-nuclear States that together provided a new momentum for disarmament.  He added that these signs of greater political will were an opportunity that could not be missed.

The Secretary-General also stressed the need for a fresh multilateral approach in disarmament and non-proliferation.  He said that the Conference on Disarmament, as the world’s only multilateral negotiating body on this subject, had an opportunity to build on advances already made, leave behind entrenched positions and look instead to shared aims of peace and development.

By accelerating disarmament, he said, we can liberate resources that we need to combat climate change, address food insecurity and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  And that text is available upstairs.

**Secretary-General -- Financing for Development

And finally, he had one more statement today, and he announced the creation of a regular network of consultation, coordination and mutual reinforcement among innovative financing efforts worldwide.

Opening a meeting on the innovative financing for development, he said that the economic crisis made innovative financing even more important now that the traditional forms of financing for development were under threat.

The network will be supported by a coordinating mechanism, facilitated by Philippe Douste-Blazy, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Innovative Financing for Development.

** Pakistan

Turning to Pakistan, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reports that the number of people displaced by fighting in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province has surpassed 1.45 million. 

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, who has just concluded a three-day visit to Pakistan, continues to call for urgent and massive international help from Governments and donors for those left homeless by fighting.

Guterres stressed that humanitarian workers were struggling to keep up with the size and speed of the displacement.  He has warned of the consequences if the uprooted people -- and tens of thousands of host families trying to care for them -- don't get help fast.

**Security Council Mission

The Security Council delegation that is on a trip to Africa has just concluded its visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), after a day of high-level talks in the capital, Kinshasa.  The delegation held discussions with senior political leaders, including President Joseph Kabila and some of his key ministers.  The discussions focused on the security situation in the DRC, security sector reform, the rapprochement between the DRC and Rwanda, as well as the next phase of the mandate of the UN Mission in that country, MONUC.

In a separate meeting with DRC parliamentarians, the Council members discussed issues of human rights, the need to strengthen state authority in all parts of the country and the internal political process, including electoral rules.

The delegation is now on its way to Liberia, where the Council members will be holding discussions with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and members of her government as well as senior officials of the United Nations in Liberia. 

** Darfur

And on Darfur, the African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative, Rodolphe Adada, met today with the Senior Assistant to the Sudanese President, Minni Minawi.  They discussed the latest developments in Darfur, particularly the recent fighting between the Minawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA/MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).  They also discussed rising tensions between Chad and Sudan.  You’ll recall that we issued a statement by the Secretary-General yesterday afternoon on that subject.

Meanwhile, during the past 24 hours, the military component of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has conducted 72 confidence-building patrols, escorts, night patrols and investigative patrols in and around villages and camps for internally displaced persons.  And you can read more about that in the daily update that comes from our mission there.

**World Food Programme

And the World Food Programme (WFP) has for the first time bought food from small-scale farmers in Kenya under a new “Purchase for Progress” (P4P) initiative aimed at boosting agriculture by connecting farmers to markets.  The initiative means that WFP now has a committed policy to buy from low-income farmers, allowing them to invest profits to boost production and increase food security.  And there is more on that in a press release upstairs.

** Geneva Discussions

And two other items.  The fifth round of the Geneva Discussions took place yesterday and today.  Despite initial difficulties, all participants met in two parallel working groups to discuss security and stability in the region and humanitarian matters.  The discussions took place in a constructive spirit.

The participants recommitted themselves to the implementation of the joint incident prevention and response mechanisms they had agreed on at the last round of Geneva Discussions in February.  A number of humanitarian issues were also raised.

Noteworthy was the decision by the Georgian and South Ossetian sides to nominate experts to take part in an joint needs assessment mission led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -- to ensure that water supply systems be repaired for the benefit of the local populations.  The participants agreed to meet again on 1 July.

** Nepal

And we have one final press release to flag.  The representative for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal, met the newly appointed Chief Justice of Nepal’s Supreme Court.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights Office welcomed the various judicial reforms which the Chief Justice initiated and noted that they will aid the Supreme Court in protecting human rights and the rule of law.  And the Office reiterated its commitment to supporting the judiciary’s independence and their new initiatives.  And there is a press release on that.

And Enrique is here, and that’s all I have for you.  Mr. Abbadi.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you, Marie.  Regarding the appointment of former President Clinton as Special Envoy to Haiti, no one doubts the qualifications of the former President.  But how was the selection made?  Was there a short list?  And number two, is this an honorary function or is it a paid position?

Deputy Spokesperson:  First of all, I’d like to refer you, Mr. Abbadi, to the Secretary-General’s remarks on the appointment that he made in Geneva.  That transcript is not quite ready yet, but it gives the Secretary-General’s personal analysis of the appointment, which I’d like you to see. As you know, Mr. Clinton, was already a Special Envoy, he worked extensively on that tsunami effort which I mentioned to you.  And, as in that tsunami relief effort, personal financial gain is not an issue for Mr. Clinton.  I think, without getting into too much detail, I think the position here is very similar to what he did in that role, in that is it is not a full-time job, and that he will work as needed.  But I really would like to refer you to the announcement and the press release that is upstairs and the Secretary-General’s remarks on that appointment.  Yes.

Question:  Marie, there were some reports that some Lebanese crossed the border through UNIFIL lines in South Lebanon into Israel.  What is the situation?  Do you have anything regarding…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I haven’t gotten an update on the situation from UNIFIL today, but I’m sure we can look into it and if there is anything we’ll get back to you.  Edie.

Question:  Marie, I notice that the announcement did not have any statement from the former President himself. Did he…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  There is a press release upstairs with, I believe, contacts for the Clinton people.

Question:  Well, I’ve already made contact and I’ve gotten nothing.  So perhaps you could spur them to putting out some kind of…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  There is a press release and I was just told as I was coming down that there’s a Clinton contact name and number on that press release.

Question:  As I said, I’ve talked to…

Deputy Spokesperson:  You’ve tried, Okay.

Question:  …the Clinton people already and so far…

Deputy Spokesperson:  Okay, well, if anybody is listening, who is dealing with this, please make sure that they call back the AP, thanks.  Yes, I’ll start in the back.

Question:  Thank you.  What’s Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s position to the announcement made in Israel yesterday about expanding settlements in the West Bank, and [inaudible] there?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have an immediate comment on the specific report that you talk about, but I think his position on the settlement issue is the same, it hasn’t changed.  Yes, Masood.

Question:  Maybe you’ve talked about it earlier.  I just want to tell you that I just heard Secretary Clinton; she applauded Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s appointment of her husband today, in a press conference.  I just want to ask you, did you say at the top of the briefing anything about Pakistan’s demand…? Pakistan says that it needs at least $700 million to meet the demands of the IDPs.  In the flash appeal that the United Nations is going to issue, are you going to take that into consideration?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I’m sure that that will be taken into consideration.  John Holmes, who was here yesterday, he, I think, did not have a date and an amount of the appeal yet, but I am sure as soon as that is set, he will let us know.  What I did read today was the latest from UNHCR, which has been at the forefront of that effort and again very, very strong appeals from the High Commissioner for Refugees for a massive humanitarian effort, because they’re saying that the scale of displacement and the pace of displacement is one of the largest that it has had to deal with recently.

Question:  [inaudible] so when the UN makes that flash appeal they will keep this in mind, Pakistan’s?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I’m sure that they take into account the needs by the country, by the agencies and most importantly the needs of the people.  Yes.

Question:  On Sri Lanka, can you say whether the UN or the ICRC has gotten access into what had been called the conflict zone?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have that degree of detail today.  OCHA has that information, but the latest that we had from OCHA, that John Holmes had told to you, is that they had not.  But I don’t have any immediate humanitarian update from the field today.

Question:  Also, I guess I just wanted to ask you about the activities of Mr. Nambiar.  Did he attend the President’s, what’s called a victory speech?  What’s he been doing there now [inaudible]?

Deputy Spokesperson:  The latest I had heard about Mr. Nambiar, of course, is that obviously he’s on the ground now, and as the Secretary-General is visiting shortly, he is preparing the ground work for that, as well.  But my understanding is that he went to, he had a field visit to the displaced area today, and I haven’t heard anything since then.  But again, Matthew, I’d refer you also to the Secretary-General’s remarks in Geneva that he made a short while ago.  The transcript will be ready.  He took a few questions on Sri Lanka and added a little bit more to what and why he’s visiting the places he will be going to.

Question:  I just want to ask one more on this.  There is a comment in the press by the Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka saying that the UN spokesman Gordon Weiss who was the one that said there was bloodbath and that… He sort of became the spokesman later in the process, that his visa will not be renewed because is it “not the role of the UN official to say anything publicly to embarrass the host Government”.  Does the Secretariat agree with that description of what UN officials could and shouldn’t do and do they have any response to the delayed or un-delayed expulsion of their spokesman from Sri Lanka?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I have not heard anything about the expulsion of the spokesman.  In fact, I think he just gave an interview with UN Radio.  So I…

Question:  Did he say they won’t renew his visa because of what he said?

Deputy Spokesperson:  As I said, I haven’t gotten any word of any expulsion, so I don’t have any immediate comment on that.

Question:  Can I ask a non-Sri Lanka question?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Sure.

Question:  I know that the Secretary-General met with Zalmay Khalilzad, last week on Friday, was it?  Anyway, now it’s reported by the New York Times that Mr. Khalilzad may become something of a partner to Hamid Karzai, have some role in the Afghan Government if he wins the election.  I wanted to know, we never got a readout of that meeting, but you were calling it a courtesy call, but did Ban Ki-moon discuss this new role with Mr. Khalilzad when he met with him?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, I think it was a courtesy call and I’m sure Afghanistan must have come up.  But in terms of Mr. Khalilzad’s future plans, you should probably talk to Mr. Khalilzad.

Question:  And one last thing, in-house.  There is, in this story of the UN Medical Service and the allegedly unlicensed doctors that the OIOS is investigating.  A person that I guess the Department of Management thinks is the source of the story received a letter saying to turn in their grounds pass and to not access UN premises any more.  This was done on Friday.  I wanted to know how… Doesn’t the UN have a policy of protection of whistleblowers?  And if so, why doesn’t it apply to a person that they think blew the whistle on what they acknowledge is wrongful conduct?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, I am not familiar with the case that you have, the development that you just mentioned.  So I’d have to look into that for you.  Yes.

Question:  If I may ask just one question.  Mr. Netanyahu spoke clearly that he is not for a two-State solution.  What’s the position of the Secretary-General…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  You know the position of the Secretary-General on this subject.  I would refer you to all his past statements.

Question:  Is there any development regarding the Board of Inquiry?  Is there any follow up on the Inquiry itself?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Nothing beyond what we have been telling you up to now.  Yes.

Question:  What, the Security Council has just dropped it or left it to the Secretary-General?  Is the Secretary-General doing anything regarding the [inaudible]?

Deputy Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General has made it very clear what he was doing in a letter spelled in the Board of Inquiry report that went to the Security Council and he is following up in accordance with what he said he would do.  Mr. Abbadi.

Question:  Marie, will Mr. John Holmes be accompanying the Secretary-General on his trip to Sri Lanka?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have a delegation list yet, so I wouldn’t know.  But, obviously, as he pointed out, the immediate needs that he wants to deal with are humanitarian.  So, he would obviously have a strong humanitarian component to his visit.  Thank you very much.  Enrique.  Have a good afternoon.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon.  Good to see you all after a while.

As you know, the President of the General Assembly Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann was travelling last week.  He was in Madrid where he met Primer Minister Zapatero and Foreign Minister Moratinos and some other officials.  From there he went to Geneva where he met with the UN specialized agencies, funds and programmes and with the NGO community. And he also met with some ambassadors, always informing them about the work of the General Assembly and the upcoming summit in June.

And from Geneva, he went to Tripoli where he also met senior officials, informing them about the work of the General Assembly,

Let me start today by providing you an update on some of the main issues of that we’re dealing with at the General Assembly right now.

Last night, President of the General Assembly distributed two important documents, one on the upcoming Global Economic Summit which should take place, as you know on 1,2,3 June, and the other on the Security Council reform.

Both documents should be available later today on the Web, but I have some copies here in case you need them right now.

Let me start with the June Summit.

The document, now agreed upon by the President of the General Assembly and the two co-facilitators, sets the basis for negotiations of the outcome document. As you know, the outcome document is basically the document that is going to be negotiated among the different countries to be the final outcome of the meeting. It recognizes now that the collective response to the crisis represents a transformative moment in international cooperation, coordination and reform.

Among several lines of action, it requests the President of the General Assembly to keep the Conference open and to name seven ministerial and technical level working groups on; and I am going to mention the seven of them:

1.    Global Stimulus for Restructuring and Survival

2.    Finance for Restructuring and Survival

3.    Emergency Trade Stimulation and Debt Relief

4.    Global and Regional Reserve Systems

5.    Regulation and Coordination of Global Economy

6.    Restructuring International Institutions

7.    Role of the United Nations

According to the letter sent last night, the President of the General Assembly is calling for the intergovernmental negotiation process to start on Wednesday 20 May, that is tomorrow, at 10.00 AM in the Economic and Social Council Chamber.

The President of the General Assembly believes that extraordinary efforts should be made in extraordinary times. And he believes, and I am going to quote, “that the truest measure of our success shall be told in our ability to work together to build a better world that affords to all members or our global society equal opportunities to live in conditions of far greater economic opportunity, prosperity, security and justice”.

Let me then now move on another front, the Security Council reform. Last night, Ambassador Tanin of Afghanistan, as you know, he is the Chair on behalf of the President of the General Assembly of the Security Council reform negotiations, distributed his so-called overview of the first round to Member States. It will be on our website later today, as I mentioned to you.

Apart from basic data on the first round, it sets out the principal options for reform based on what Member States said, and lays down the structure of the second round of negotiations.

This overview is not a new basis for the negotiations, let me make it very clear. All the positions and proposals of Member States are still on the table. Ambassador Tanin’s document, written under the auspices of the President of the General Assembly, is merely a facilitation tool to help Member States to make progress in the second round of negotiations.

One of its main conclusions is that there is membership-wide political will to make decisive progress this year. The first round saw interactive and active participation by Member States, with more than three quarters engaging - much more than previously in the Open-Ended Working Group.

After separate meetings on the 5 different aspects of reform in the first round, the second round of negotiations will allow Member States by their own request to take a more comprehensive look at reform and will consist of three meetings.  I am going to give you the agenda of the next upcoming three meetings.

On May 22 (this Friday), a meeting on the concept of review or challenge. As you know, Member States agree that any reform model decided upon should after a certain amount of time be reassessed, in part or in full through some review or challenge mechanism. Since this concept also has potential repercussions for all aspects of reform, they believe it is a good point to start.

On June 11, a meeting on the size, categories of membership and regional representation.

And on June 23, a meeting on relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council, veto and working methods.

Although the overview does mention a third round, its exact timing and nature depend on what happens during the second round of negotiations. However, given the success of the first round, the President of the General Assembly and Ambassador Tanin have high hopes that we can get far very fast.

The President believes, and I am going to quote him again, that:  "This overview is an important stepping-stone towards a long overdue reform of the Security Council."

And this is basically what I have for you, unless you have questions.  Masood.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I just want to know one thing.  This document that was circulated by the Afghan ambassador, is that available, can we have a look at it? 

Spokesperson:  Yes.  As I said before, we’re going to have it online right after this meeting.  But, we have here copies available.  My assistant, my colleague Shymaa has here some copies for you in case you need them.  Mr Abbadi.

Question:  Enrique, muchos gracias.  Behind all the words you have just read, what concrete progress has been achieved in the reforms of the Security Council?  Can you point to any area where there has been specific, concrete progress?

Spokesperson:  Well, I’d advise you to have a look at the document, because this is a very interesting document and I think we’re making progress knowing where the member countries stand on some of the issues.  As you know, this is a very complex issue, but already they have made a rather -- how can I define it? -- a general agreement on some of the principles, which give us hope that they are going to go ahead with progress for the reform.

Question:  But, as I said, beyond the words, we’ve moved now from the inter-governmental negotiations to what?  What is the process remaining now?

Spokesperson:  No, we’re still in inter-governmental negotiations.  As you know, Ambassador Tanin, what he did was, after talking to the Member States, set up five themes for negotiations in this first round, which is what they have done.  They have clarified their positions; they have discussed the different options that they have, and now they are going into the second round. So we’re still into the inter-governmental negotiations.  Now, what Ambassador Tanin, on behalf of the President of the General Assembly is saying is that it is not clear yet whether they will be going to a third or not, before the actual final negotiations.

Question:  Enrique, I wanted to ask on the conference on the global financial...(Interrupted by another correspondent)...

Question:  Can I follow up on this?

Question:  Yes, go ahead

Spokesperson:  Sure.

Question:  About this deadline, September, and now this is already May, and so...

Spokesperson:  Yes, we still have several months.

Question:  ...you have some sense of... because the clock runs out and that’s happened each time...

Spokesperson:  Correct...

Question:  ...and at 12.00 o’clock the last day something, you know, some change comes up.  But, that’s a bad process.  So, is there some way you have some sense that at a certain point there would be something?

Spokesperson:  Well, right now we’re very much on the timetable set up by the President of the General Assembly.  As you remember, he made very clear deadlines, and we’re now in the negotiating process.  That is basically what I can say.  As you know, it’s up to the Member States, not to the President of the General Assembly to take the decision.  It is up to the Member States to make an agreement on the reform process.  And in the negotiations we have had this first round, and now we’re moving into the second round starting this Friday.  And the basis for that negotiation is the document that is just being circulated by Ambassador Tanin, which I would really advise you to have a look at and then we’ll have further discussions.

Question:  A follow on the follow up. You will recall the President saying to us here at his press conference that there will be, and was certain, progress this year.  Does he still expect that?

Spokesperson:  Well, I think, yes he is optimistic, as I said in his remarks, we’re moving ahead on a very complex issue that has been deadlocked for 16 years and he still believes that we can still make good process this year.

Question:  At this point, a quick follow up on the follow up follow up.  Although you said that it’s up to the Member States and I’ve heard that before, but there’s also something called leadership. And that means taking what the Member States say and somehow getting at the essence and then trying to find how to move forward. I thought that that’s really the obligation and our hope with regard to this presidency.

Spokesperson:  Correct, but as I said, this is precisely what is going on.  I mean, when the President of the General Assembly said at the beginning of his mandate that he wanted to have a very clear timetable on the Security Council reform, he made a very clear timetable and we’re respecting that timetable right now.  We had the deadline of the open-ended group; it was at the end of February, which we finished.  And then at that point he said there is no more postponements, now we enter into the inter-governmental negotiations and then they started inter-governmental negotiations. At that point, they said how do we move?  What is going to be the working method?  And they agreed that they were going to have a first round of discussions over five themes, which, you know, you are familiar with them.  And then they decided we will have a second round of themes; a second round of negotiations based either on those themes or something related to them. And this is what is going to happen on Friday.  On Friday we have the second round of negotiations and, according to Ambassador Tanin and the President of the General Assembly, progress is being made; the countries are taking decisions, and positions on the different options that they have on the different aspects of the reform.  And the President of the General Assembly has said he is happy that we’re still on the schedule, as it was planned by him.

Question:  One other question.  Is it possible to have Security Council reform if the process is closed and that it’s not open debate and discussion and the people around the world hear what’s happening and have a way to debate it as well?

Spokesperson:  It is as (inaudible) says, it is a negotiation among Member States, and the negotiations are closed, as you know. We’re trying to give you as much information as we can.  But, it is up to the Member States to decide how they want to move. Matthew.

Question:  Enrique, I want to ask on the conference on the global financial crisis.  It seems there has been a lot of push back from some Member States, particularly from the EU and the facilitator, Mr. Majoor. They’ve all said that the PGA’s document is not what they agreed to; it wasn’t what they were discussing.  Spain is quoted assaying it’s a non-transparent process.  Where does it stand?  They have asked that the facilitator’s documents or other documents be circulated. Is that something that the President is considering and how does he respond to this criticism that the project, the process was sort of hijacked?

Spokesperson:  First of all, let me say that the outcome document that you’re going to have is a draft outcome document agreed upon by the President of the General Assembly and the facilitators.  And this is going to be the basis for negotiations.  Let me give you a little bit of background of where we stand on that.  The bottom line is, as you know, in all the negotiations there are different positions and there are people who are happier than others.  They have different opinions and everybody ‑‑ this is a forum for discussions, and is a forum for negotiations ‑‑ express their different opinions on the process, as it comes.  In this particular case, as you know, the President of the General Assembly said he was going to put forward a document, his document, as President of the General Assembly as a basis for the Member States to discuss. And he named two co-facilitators.

And then, at the same time, as you know, he is getting inputs not only of the co-facilitators, he is getting inputs of the commission that he named under the chairmanship of Professor Stiglitz and 20 experts. And they have produced a very comprehensive paper for this complex issue and this complex crisis.  And there were many other inputs from either the United Nations agencies, the regional commissions.  On the very first document prepared by the facilitators, the President of the General Assembly himself thought it was a little bit conservative, because he believes, as I said before, that for extraordinary times we need extraordinary and ambitious decisions.  And, he thought it was his responsibility to put forward a much more ambitious proposal for the Member States to discuss.

And that, as I said, in any negotiation process you get some reaction from different countries and some opinions.  And now, what we have after that is a document presented by the President of the General Assembly; the President of the General Assembly sat down with the facilitators and they have agreed now with the text, which is only the basis for negotiations.  After all, as I said before in reference to the Security Council reform, the same applies to this process.  It is up to the Member countries, to the Member States to decide what is going to be the final outcome.  But, the President is happy that, with this document we have a basis now for negotiation, which will start from tomorrow.

Question:  But, are you saying, for example, that Mr. Majoor, one of the two facilitators, of the Netherlands, he now agrees with this document?

Spokesperson:  That’s correct.

Question:  ...Because he was quoted as saying it wasn’t shown to him before it was circulated.

Spokesperson:  That’s correct.  I am telling you that the document circulated last night, and available on line ‑‑ and we have here some copies ‑‑ is now agreed to.  And I started my statement saying that it was a document agreed by the President of the General Assembly and two co-facilitators.

Question:  And I also wanted to ask about, there is supposedly the small island States or Pacific small island states have a resolution to put, to make climate change a threat to international peace and security and ask the Security Council and other organs to take it up.  Has that been introduced and what’s going to be the processing of that proposed resolution.

Spokesperson:  I have to information on that particular issue.  I’ll come back to you on that one.  No more questions?  Thank you very much.

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