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

5 February 2010

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

5 February 2010
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

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

and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon, everybody.

**Press Conference Today

Just a couple of announcements about press conferences.  Jean Victor Nkolo will brief you on the work of the General Assembly, immediately following this briefing.  And at 1:15 p.m., Dr. Donatus St. Aimee, the Permanent Representative of the Mission of Saint Lucia, will moderate a press conference on the CARICOM [Caribbean Community] Initiative on Non-Communicable Diseases.

**Secretary-General’s Report

The Secretary-General has now issued his report following up on General Assembly resolution 64/10 of 4 November 2009.

His report contains inputs received from the Israeli and Palestinian sides on the efforts which they have undertaken so far to investigate allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the Gaza conflict.  It also contains a summary of the consultations conducted by the Government of Switzerland regarding the reconvening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties.

In all cases, it is clear that the processes which have been initiated are still ongoing.  As such, no determination can be made on the implementation of the resolution.  As he states in the report, the Secretary-General believes that international humanitarian law needs to be fully respected and civilians must be protected in all situations and circumstances.  It is his hope that resolution 64/10 has served to encourage investigations by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards.

**Goldstone – Clarification

And one thing I would like to point out; please note that in the document submitted by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on the Goldstone report, only the first three pages are written by the Secretary-General and the Secretariat.  The remainder of the document ‑‑ that’s the other 69 pages ‑‑ consists of annexes containing information provided, respectively, by the Government of Israel, the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland.

**Special Envoy for Haiti

President [Bill] Clinton, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Haiti, landed in Haiti just a few hours ago and has already met with UN staff, and was briefed about the current situation on the ground.  And he will also be meeting with Haitian leaders and visit the Gheiskio Clinic and a camp for internally displaced persons.

** Haiti

A little bit more on Haiti.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that shelter remains an urgent need.  The focus is on providing emergency shelter assistance closer to home or in smaller camp settings to reduce displacements and dislocation.  Sanitation is also a significant concern, especially at temporary shelter sites.  Some 7,000 latrines and 25,000 portable toilets are needed.

As of last night, 1.6 million people have received food assistance since the earthquake in and around Port-au-Prince, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).  And in the past five days, through the fixed distribution points system, a total of 620,000 people have received food assistance.

Concerning children, UNICEF says some 23 large-sized tents have been installed in Port-au-Prince to give children a place to seek refuge and play.  And as for education, families are wary of sending children to school because they fear that another earthquake could strike.  And so UNICEF is working with the Government to distribute messages to Haitians, encouraging them to send their children back to school.

And finally, a heads-up.  Next week, on 12 February, the World Food Programme will host a high-level meeting at its headquarters in Rome on agricultural development, food security and nutrition in Haiti.  And that meeting will kick off the agriculture component of the Haiti redevelopment plan.

**Côte d’Ivoire

The UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) has issued a statement in which it deplored recent violent incidents in two towns in the western part of the country.  The Mission says that the incidents in Katiola and Divo appear to be connected to tensions around the registration of voters for the much-delayed presidential election.

It has appealed to all parties and voters to exercise restraint.  This is vital, the Mission says, if we are to preserve and consolidate the achievements made so far in the electoral process.  And there are copies of the full statement in my office.


On Yemen, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says that it is facing a dramatic funding situation in Yemen and may be forced to scale down its operations there if it does not receive fresh contributions very soon.

UNHCR’s part of the 2010 UN consolidated appeal for Yemen amounts to $35.6 million, but so far it has received less than 3 per cent of the needed funds.  The funding shortfall is seriously diminishing its capacity to register and document refugees and internally displaced people, to monitor their situation and to address their needs.  The lack of funding will very soon have a direct impact on the agency’s work to protect and assist some 250,000 displaced people and more than 170,000 refugees in Yemen.

**Conduct and Discipline Unit

The Departments of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Field Support (DFS) will, from now, be issuing quarterly press releases to make public updated statistics regarding sexual exploitation and abuse cases.  This is part of efforts by the United Nations to improve transparency on the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse involving peacekeeping personnel.  And the statistics will be updated simultaneously on the Conduct and Discipline website (http://cdu.unlb.org).  There is a copy of the press release in our office, along with a fact sheet that contains additional information.

**Female Genital Mutilation

Tomorrow is International Day against Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting.  The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) says that, while there’s been progress in reducing the incidence of such mutilation in several countries, there are still 3 million girls who continue to be at risk each year.

The Fund says success in reducing the incidence has come as a result of culturally sensitive engagement with local communities, but the practice persists because it’s sustained by social perceptions ‑‑ and those perceptions can, and must, change.  We have more on this in a release in my office, and you can also find more on the Population Fund’s website.

So I’m happy to take a few questions, and then we’ll move to Jean Victor, whom I recognized in the front row here.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Yes, Martin, thank you.  I was just wondering, despite the fact that the investigations are ongoing, doesn’t the SG, concerning Goldstone, doesn’t the SG have any particular evaluation of the Israeli lengthy annex that was attached to the report ‑‑ his evaluation of that investigation ‑‑ whether it meets the “credible, independent and according to international standards”?  Considering that three months have passed, as well?

Spokesperson:  As we’ve made clear, the Secretary-General was asked, through the General Assembly resolution, to report on the implementation of the resolution, and he has received submissions from the Palestinian side and from the Israeli side.  And as I mentioned, it’s clear that in both cases, these processes are still ongoing.  And in addition, the General Assembly resolution itself does not ask the Secretary-General to analyse, but to provide an overview of the implementation.  And that, as I’ve said, he has done to the extent possible.

Question:  Since they are ongoing, does the Secretary-General know when Israel and the Palestinian Authority will in fact provide conclusive reports on their investigations?

Spokesperson:  The remit was to provide within that three-month timescale a report, and this he has done.  And with regard to any future action, what comes next, it says very clearly in the resolution that, and I can read that bit out: “with a view to considering further action, if necessary, by the relevant United Nations organs and bodies”.  So what that means in plain English is that it’s for the General Assembly, and by extension, of course, the Member States, to decide what happens next.

Question:  Do you have, or can get for us, any figures on the retention rate of the Haitians who have been employed so far under the cash-for-jobs programme, and what has been spent so far?  And whether there have been any complaints regarding the $5-a-day wage?  Whether that has been considered too low to attract more Haitians to the programme?

Spokesperson:  Well, yesterday, [UNDP Assistant Administrator] Jordan Ryan gave quite an extensive briefing on this subject, answering questions pretty much along these lines.  So, I would urge you to take a look at the transcript of that session because it covered quite a lot of those details, including the fact that people are hired, if you like, for a short period, and then more people are hired.  This is not giving people a long-term job, but providing for a short period as many people as possible with some work.  But I would urge you to take a look at what it says there; and if you have more questions, I’m sure that Jordan Ryan at UNDP will be able to give you more details.

Question:  Can I just go back to Goldstone quickly, please?  Again, the Palestinian side as well presented a letter, saying that they only started their process on 25 January, which is almost a week before the deadline.  Without analysing, does the SG see this as an implementation also of the General Assembly resolution ‑‑ to form a committee one week before the deadline?

Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General’s remit was to provide the report by the deadline, and the Secretary-General asked well in advance to receive the…  I’m just trying to find the exact…

Correspondent:  December.

Spokesperson:  3 December, if I remember correctly, it was 3 December that the Secretary-General communicated that request to the Palestinian side and to the Israeli side.  It’s obvious that there was the three-month timescale there.  The Secretary-General was not asked to analyse, as you know and, therefore, it’s not for him to comment on when the submissions were made.  The submissions were made.  What’s also clear is that, and implicit, as you are saying, because this was a week prior, these investigations ‑‑ that work ‑‑ is still going on.

Question:  Martin, over the last couple of days, there have been terrorist attacks in Pakistan.  One was yesterday, and one was today, in which some terrorists were also killed.  Does the Secretary-General, have you issued a statement on this yet?

Spokesperson:  There is no formal statement that’s been issued yet.  But both in the case of Pakistan, and also what’s been happening in Iraq in the last couple of days, he is deeply concerned.  He has seen the reports; he is aware of the casualty figures and the indiscriminate nature of the killings that have taken place, and he obviously deplores them.

Question:  Another thing, is there an update by OCHA [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] on all IDPs [internally displaced persons] situation in Pakistan?  The latest update by OCHA, apparently, I believe there was an update, there is supposed to be one today, or there was one yesterday.  Is that true?

Spokesperson:  I haven’t seen it.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  Let’s find out.  [The Spokesperson later shared the latest OCHA update, which says that, as of 18 January, some 117,000 civilians had fled fighting in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.]

Question:  Two questions about Darfur and the Pension Fund.  In Darfur there are reports that infighting among rebels of the SLA [Sudanese Liberation Army] has displaced some 10,000 people around Jebal Mara.  I’m wondering, what’s UNAMID [the United Nations-African Union Operation in Darfur] doing in this case to protect civilians from this infighting among these two factions of the SLA?

Spokesperson:  Let me find out.

Question:  The other is, there is a copy of a decision overturning a decision by the Pensions Fund, in which Kofi Annan was denied ‑‑ the previous Secretary-General was denied ‑‑ getting two pensions, as Secretary-General and for his service as a staff member of the UN, which was pretty much the Pensions Fund decision was rejected in full and the UN has been ordered by this appeal to pay out both pensions and 8 per cent interest.  I wanted to know, one, if the Secretariat has a response to that; and two, whether it has been calculated, since this decision was in late December, how much that actually is?

Spokesperson:  This sounds like something for the Pension Fund to answer, not me.

Correspondent:  I think it’s an interpretation of the Staff Rules.  I’ve never seen the Pension Fund; when you actually try to speak with them, they say they are not covered by the UN, they are not officially a part of the UN system; the press is not allowed into their building.  So I’m asking you because there doesn’t seem to be any way…

Spokesperson:  You have just answered your own question.  It’s not part of the UN system.  Right.

Question:  The Pension Fund is not part of the UN system?  I guess I’m asking you that.

Spokesperson:  I don’t think that’s a question that I need to answer here.

Question:  I do apologise, I’m late.  So I know you may have addressed this already.  Can you tell us what the next step is for the Secretary-General on Goldstone, what more responsibility he has?

Spokesperson:  The next step is not really with the Secretary-General, but with the General Assembly and the Member States.  He has submitted the report he was asked to submit.  He’s done that on time and, in the resolution – and I’ll read it out again ‑‑ it says:  “with a view to considering further action, if necessary, by the relevant United Nations organs and bodies”.  And so this is, if you like, the language that’s covering what’s next.  And the “what next” clearly means that it would be, it would fall to, the General Assembly and by extension the Member States to decide how to handle things from now on.

Question:  So he considers his responsibility done?

Spokesperson:  Well, yes, he has carried out his work as he was asked to do under the General Assembly.  But I don’t think that he considers this a question of drawing a line because he remains still very much personally involved in, and is personally moved by, the plight of civilians who were harmed during the Gaza conflict, both in Gaza and in Israel.  And as you know, he was at the forefront of the efforts to stop the fighting in Gaza.  He was the first international leader to visit after the fighting, and he has expressed his solidarity with the victims on both sides.  And he continues to call for credible domestic investigations, and he did so again in this report.  So I don’t see it as drawing a line.  He is firmly committed to ensuring that the civilian infrastructure which was badly damaged in Gaza can be rebuilt.

Question:  Do you know the status of UN property in Gaza, now that the settlement money has come in?  Is the UN able to rebuild?  Have they been able to rebuild and get UNRWA [the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] back up to speed?

Spokesperson:  I’d have to find out from my colleagues at UNRWA.  But it is still relatively early days since that payment was received.

Question:  Amnesty International announced today that Mr. Ban missed the opportunity to advance accountability for the Gaza conflict…[interrupted]…

Spokesperson:  I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.  Could you be a little bit closer to the microphone perhaps?  Thank you.

Question:  Okay.  I said Amnesty International announced today that Mr. Ban missed the opportunity to advance accountability for Gaza conflict and his report was disappointing.  So what is your reaction, your position on that?

Spokesperson:  You have the report and I think it speaks for itself.

Question:  Amnesty’s latest statement just came out.  They said that they believe that the information that Mr. Ban Ki-moon received was sufficient to show that the steps taken by both sides have been inadequate.  So he did receive a lot of information, and obviously human rights groups are not happy with the job that he has done.  Why do you think he was not able to assess what both sides have given him?

Spokesperson:  It’s the right ‑‑ and I guess you could say obligation ‑‑ of human rights groups to look carefully and to scrutinize and to criticize.  That’s what they do.  And they work very hard to ensure that people are held to account.  That’s right and proper.  What I would say is that the report, as I have mentioned already, speaks very clearly for itself, and the key, the bottom line here in the three-page report from the Secretary-General, is the bottom line, which simply says:  “As such, no determination can be made on the implementation of the resolution by the parties concerned.”  And the point being that the work is still continuing, both in the case of Israel and the Palestinian side, and also relating to the Government of Switzerland.

Question:  I’m sorry, Martin, don’t you think this is a kind of a cop-out?  The whole debate in Israel is whether or not Israel is conducting independent investigations, independent and credible investigations, and whether or not the form of these military commissions ‑‑ that these are military investigations that are independent and credible.  So, regardless of those investigations, the question is:  can the military investigate itself?  What does Ban feel about that?

Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General had a job to do.  He was asked very clearly to look at the implementation of the resolution, and that is what he has done.  He was not asked specifically, as you know, he was not asked to analyse; and he was not asked to express his views on the responses that were received.

Question:  But he was asked to check on the progress of implementing credible and independent investigations?

Spokesperson:  Correct.  And as I said, what he has so far is submissions from the Palestinian side and from the Government of Israel.  And in both those cases, and indeed in the case of the Swiss Government, those processes are not completed.  And so he can’t really say, he cannot say how the resolution has been implemented.  He cannot do that.

Question:  So, but the Israelis have 50 pages, 50 pages carried by, Kristin said, by the Israeli military, and the SG, despite not being asked to analyse, but is this credible?  Does this investigation, 50 pages, represent “credible, independent and according to international standards”, as the GA resolution asks for?

Spokesperson:  As I said, the Secretary-General was not asked to analyse and he was not asked to express his views on the responses that were received.  His role was to ensure that the submissions were received and that those submissions could then be given to the General Assembly, the membership, to the 192 countries, Member States, and for him to be able to assess, to be able to say, to what extent the resolution had been implemented.  And that’s what he has done.

Question:  So it is not requested at all to say whether this is credible, independent?  It is.  The resolution says:  present a report on whether the sides have carried out independent, credible and according to international standards.  So there is an assessment element in it.  Not just delivering the report from the two sides to the GA.  That’s not what that resolution says.

Spokesperson: No.  The resolution calls on the Government of Israel and on the Palestinian side, that’s right, within a three-month period, it says here to show, in line with the recommendation of the fact-finding mission, that there are investigations that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards.

And what the Secretary-General says is:  “I believe that, as a matter of principle, international humanitarian law needs to be fully respected and civilians must be protected in all situations and circumstances.  Accordingly, on several occasions, I have called upon all of the parties to carry out credible domestic investigations into the conduct of the Gaza conflict.  And I hope that such steps will be taken wherever there are credible allegations of human rights abuses.”

And then he goes on to say:  “It is my sincere hope that General Assembly resolution 64/10 has served to encourage investigations by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards.”

But, however, what he also adds is:  “I note from the materials received that the processes initiated by the Government of Israel and the Government of Switzerland are ongoing, and that the Palestinian side initiated its process on 25 January 2010.”

And so I’m repeating:  “As such, no determination can be made on the implementation of the resolution by the parties concerned.”  That’s where we are.

Question:  Can you ask if, in principle, he thinks a military, the Israeli military, is capable of an independent and credible investigation of itself?

Spokesperson:  I can certainly ask him.  It’s clear he was not asked to express his views on the responses.  His job was to pull together the information he received, which he has done, and to transmit it to the General Assembly, which he has done, and to provide an overview of where things stand.

Question:  But isn’t that the essential question, as to whether or not Israel is complying with this mandate; whether or not… you have to decide one way or another on that issue in order to…?

Spokesperson:  There was a deadline set by the General Assembly.  That deadline has now passed.  The submissions were received on time, in the state that they were received, and they have been transmitted to the General Assembly.  It’s up to the Member States to take the next step if they wish to do so; if they wish to take it further.

Question:  Thanks.  You read out this paragraph 9 saying that, in principle, he believes that civilians should be protected in all circumstances and things should be investigated.  It’s a related follow-up.  I’m wondering how this relates to steps he has taken or not taken in the case of Sri Lanka, given that [Independent Expert Philip] Alston himself had called for Ban Ki-moon to conduct an investigation or called for one.  When I read the paragraph, I couldn’t help wondering, since he says in all circumstances, does he find what Sri Lanka has done a credible investigation or is he calling for an investigation, or is that all finished?

Spokesperson:  Well, you know where we are with that already; that the Secretary-General has said that he is considering setting up a commission of independent experts.  That’s where we are with that.  Okay, I’ll take one more question, if there is one; otherwise, I’m handing over to Jean Victor.

Question:  One question about Nigeria.  Thanks a lot and I appreciate that.  There is an article in the Guardian, one of the biggest papers there:  “UN to Train Ex-Militants in Niger Delta”.  So I’m wondering, it’s obvious, there’s a conflict there that the UN hasn’t had much involvement in.  If the UN is in fact going to be training ex-militants in the Niger Delta, under what mandate and who’s funding that work?

Spokesperson:  Okay, let’s back up a little, Matthew.  Who is the source for the story?

Question:  The Guardian.

Spokesperson:  No, what’s the source for the Guardian?

Question:  The Guardian quotes Government officials and it mentions UNOPS [UN Office for Project Services], which I believe is a part of the UN system.

Spokesperson:  You are absolutely right, Matthew, but does it quote anyone from UNOPS?

Question: It does, actually.  Wirba Alidu Yongye, but it doesn’t say where they are based.  So I’m asking you, since it’s a …[interrupted].

Spokesperson:  Saying what?

Question:  Saying, UNOPS Programme Coordinator stated that this is job creation and skills.  It doesn’t say anywhere whether it’s funded by the UN or its part of some good offices role by the Secretary-General or otherwise.  So, it’s a major conflict to which Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari actually went at one point to work; I’m wondering, I’m asking, whether the Secretariat has any involvement in or can state who is funding the UN’s work in the Niger Delta?

Spokesperson:  Let’s find out.  Thank you. All right, Jean Victor.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon.

Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.  In its resolution 64/10 of 5 November 2009, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to report on the follow-up to the Goldstone Report within three months.  The Secretary-General’s report, 64/651, was issued yesterday, 4 February.

Member States will consult on the further course of action.  The President of the General Assembly remains strongly committed to the cause of peace and justice in the Middle East.

Another item of news.  Yesterday, President Treki received the Honourable Gianfranco Fini, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Mr. Fini conveyed condolences on the losses suffered by the United Nations family in the earthquake in Haiti, and appreciated the important role being played by the United Nations in coordinating and mobilizing international relief and support efforts in Haiti.

Dr. Treki and Mr. Fini discussed important issues on the agenda of the General Assembly, including in particular the reform and strengthening of the United Nations to enable the world body to effectively address the global challenges of peace and development.  They also underlined the need for urgent and concerted efforts to resume the Middle East peace process for an early peaceful settlement.

That’s what I have for you today.  Yes.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I was just wondering what the President of the General Assembly’s assessment is of Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s report?  Is it a re-report or is it just telling you like a postman, “I got this and you decide”?

Spokesperson:  Well, as you are fully aware, the President of the General Assembly speaks on behalf of the 192 Member States of the General Assembly.  Consultations are ongoing.  The President of the General Assembly remains very committed to peace and justice in the Middle East.  He has, as far as I know, as we speak, no comment on a report which is a report of the Secretary-General.  So, we will have to wait and see what Member States come up with.

Question:  [inaudible]…by the SG, just that I got a letter from Israel, I got a letter from Palestine, I cannot make a decision and it’s up to you?  Is this what you expected from him?

Spokesperson:  He was not expecting anything specific from the SG besides what the resolution set up in writing by just requesting the Secretary-General to report, in line with the content of that resolution.

Question:  So you agree with Martin that he was not supposed to analyse what the Israelis and the Palestinians had?  I mean, do you agree with this kind of mandate for the SG?

Spokesperson:  Khaled, you’re not going to expect me to disagree with Martin on this podium; certainly not.  I am not going to do that.  I think you had all the opportunities to ask all the questions that you wanted to Martin.

Question:  Okay.  Does the President of the General Assembly believe that the mandate of the SG was only to transfer the reports and not to make an assessment?

Spokesperson:  I would not like to comment on the word “only”, which is part of your question.  I would just like to limit myself to what we have just said; that the resolution of the GA requested the Secretary-General to report within three months, and the Secretary-General has done so, and the President of the General Assembly has stated that the Secretary-General has done so.  And the report speaks for itself.  Yes, Matthew.

Question:  This may be another… I have another question about… as President of the General Assembly.  The only thing will be, I don’t think it’s for you to disagree with Martin.  It’s a question of that the General Assembly is supposed to be, to some degree, overseeing the Secretary-General.  So it’s not about, you know, you.  I mean, I can imagine you having to disagree or to say President of the General Assembly.  So, I wanted to ask you, the GA voted last year to create, that a women’s entity should be set up; a new agency consolidating UNIFEM and other entities.  Yesterday the head of the EU, the EU representative here, the ambassador of Spain, called on the Secretary-General urgently to move forward, basically implying that things had moved too slow.  I’m wondering whether, as President of the GA and that vote that took place, whether President Treki has any view when this should be done?  Does he agree with the EU that it’s been too slow and should move forward?  What’s his involvement in this issue?

Spokesperson:  Well, that’s a good question.  I hear you.  I’ll check with the specific committee dealing with this and I’ll ask the PGA if he has a specific view on how to move forward with this important issue.  But on your question regarding the Goldstone Report, it is not that I’m trying to disagree or not to disagree with Martin.  That is not the question.  The point is, I speak for the President of the General Assembly and Martin speaks for the Secretary-General.  This happens to be a report of the Secretary-General, so I’m not going to comment on the report itself.  This is for Martin to do so.

Question:  No, I was asking, if you don’t mind, you know, he particularly said that the SG was not supposed to make any assessments.  As the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, do you agree with this, that the SG was not supposed to make any assessment of the reports presented by the two sides?

Spokesperson:  Well, I will not go beyond anything that is in writing in the resolution of 5 November.  And I will not go beyond what I have already stated on behalf of the President of the General Assembly.  The point is that this report is now with the Member States and we have to give them a bit more time to see what comes up, if anything at all.  So we just have to wait and see.

Question:  What is the timetable for the evaluation by the Member States and what’s the next step?  Will there be a written, another resolution, perhaps, or a further written request of the Secretary-General?  Are there any procedural steps that have been laid out?  Any timetables for this review by the Member States?

Spokesperson:  There is no specific timetable as such, just to say that I speak here on behalf of the President of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly, and this is obviously a matter that is part of the sixty-fourth session agenda.  But…[interrupted].

Question:  But if he has set the agenda…

Spokesperson:  Absolutely.

Question:  So wouldn’t this be something that he might initiate for vote by the Member States, but be proactive and say, “well there is a schedule for review, feedback and response back, or further enquiry to the Secretary-General”?  Is that being considered by the President?

Spokesperson:  I hear you.  This was a resolution adopted by Member States.  I think we have to leave it to Member States to come up with what they think the next steps should be, really.  The President is really above the fray, and he is a facilitator and he is very committed to a process that will hopefully lead to a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.  But really, it’s for Member States to go through this report and to come to the President and to tell him what it is that they want to see happening; what should the next steps be.  Kristen, you had a question?

Question:  I was just wondering if you had heard from anybody.  You were saying there has been no request for a follow-up meeting at this point; is there [inaudible]…?

Spokesperson:  The report is not even one day old yet.  It was issued yesterday evening, so let’s just give it a bit more time.  It’s a long report, so…

Question:  Exactly, that is what I was going to ask you.  I mean it’s a three-page report.  I mean, the Israeli report has been around for about a week, you know.  I mean, online and available for everyone.  So I was wondering, how long do Member States need to read three pages written by the SG?

Spokesperson:  Well, it is not only a matter of reading the report.  It is a matter of going through it and just checking all the possible implications.  And Member States are quite sovereign, and they will do and say what they believe is right and needs to be done.  So we really have to leave it with them.  We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves and just wait a bit.  We should give it a bit more time.

Question:  How long?

Spokesperson:  Well, there is no specific time frame.  I mean, you can go out there, Khaled, and ask every single Member State that specific question, and…[interrupted]

Question:  But I’m trying to find out through the consultations which the GA president is having what’s his impression about the time frame that people will need to read three pages written by the SG.

Spokesperson:  I think before the President can give any impression of his, he has to take stock of comments and representations that will or may not be made to him.  So even then, we have to give him time.  And these are early days, I will say.  And we will have to see if this month something happens.  It could be something very quick, it could take time.  But it will take what it takes.  We have to leave it to Member States.

That’s the nature of the General Assembly.

I thank you very much, and I wish you a good afternoon.

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