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

13 May 2010

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

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

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

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

Good afternoon.

**Guest and Press Conferences Today

Our guest today will be Said Djinnit, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Office for West Africa, and he will join us shortly.

And then at 12:45 p.m., the United Nations Environment Programme will hold a press conference to launch a new report on “Metals Recycling Rates”.

Following that at 1:30 p.m., the Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago, Ambassador Marina Valère, will hold a press conference about prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

**Security Council

A Security Council mission has left today for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which the Council members will visit on Friday and Saturday.

Over the next two days, the Council members will meet with President Joseph Kabila and his key ministers, and with the senior officials of the UN Mission in the country — the Mission, of course, known as MONUC.  Meetings with a range of parliamentarians and members of civil society have also been scheduled.  The mission is expected to be back in New York over the weekend.

** Lebanon

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is investigating the circumstances surrounding an accidental explosion that took place yesterday during routine activity at one of the Force’s positions in south Lebanon. According to preliminary reports, the cause of the explosion was an accidental detonation of munitions.

Several UNIFIL troops were injured.  And one soldier sustained serious injuries and was evacuated for medical treatment.  His condition is stable.

**Press Conferences Tomorrow

And tomorrow at 12:45 p.m., Rear Admiral Peter Hudson of EU Naval Force Operation Atalanta [will brief the press].  And this press conference will be to update correspondents on the operation to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.

And then at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow, officials from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations Security Sector Reform Unit and the African Union will hold a press conference on security sector reform.

So, questions, please.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you, Martin.  Is there a specific objective or specific objectives for the mission of the Security Council to the DRC?

Spokesperson:  Well, obviously the Security Council members themselves can tell you in more detail what this is about.  But clearly, as you well know, Security Council missions are regular.  They take place periodically, and clearly this is at an important time because of the Mission and what shape and form it will take in future.

Question:  Can you tell us what ambassador-level representatives from at least the Permanent Representatives from the Security Council are on that trip?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have the list with me right now, but I am very happy to give it to you afterwards.  Okay.  I don’t know exactly how many P-5 ambassadors are on the trip, but it’s being headed by one of them; the French Permanent Representative, Ambassador [Gérard] Araud.  Okay.  Yes, other questions?

Question:  Sure, Martin.  I wonder, it’s been brewing for a while, but I am sure you have seen this recent breakdown of the number of orders of the UN’s internal justice system that the Secretary-General has simply just not complied with.  The outgoing Judge, [Michael] Adams, called it a kind of wilful disregard.  Some people say:  how can the UN be talking about rule of law in various countries when it seems like it’s disobeying orders of its own internal justice system?  How do you explain, what would you say to those who say it’s totally contradictory to being a rule-of-law Organization?

Spokesperson:  I’d say that’s absolutely not the case.  By filing appeals, the Secretary-General is exercising his rights under the administration of justice system; and that is with full respect for that system.  Until appeals have been determined by the appeals tribunal, then the judicial process is not complete.

Question:  For example, in the case of Shabaan Shabaan, where Judge Adams, of a pretty extensive record, said that even he should perhaps personally have to pay a fine for his conduct.  Even if the Secretary-General is appealing, does that mean that he endorses the conduct that Judge Adams described?  Is there going to be…  And separate and apart from the appeal, it appears to some to indicate a lack of following through on this whole accountability concept that he also speaks about.

Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General is fully committed to upholding the system of administration of justice as it is prescribed by the General Assembly, and particularly to enable, and indeed to facilitate, the Dispute Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal to carry out all their functions.  And it’s in accordance with this system.  In those cases where the Organization has genuine questions about the Dispute Tribunal’s decisions, the Organization has been appealing such decisions to the Appeals Tribunal.  And this is to ensure compliance with the human resources framework, as established by the General Assembly.  And very specifically, where a case has been appealed, I am sure you understand that we would not comment on it — on specific cases.  I’m talking about the general concept on this administrative justice system.

Question:  Martin, just to put on the record, there is actually a manifestation that is going to be going on in Srebrenica to mark the, this year, fifteenth anniversary of genocide in Srebrenica.  And there is a gentleman, his name is Hassan Muhanovic, he used to be an interpreter for the United Nations in Srebrenica and he also tried to sue the United Nations.  But, as he said, there is no court in the world that would pursue that case because the United Nations, as we know now from the cases, does have some kind of immunity.  But he also says that every single year, he sends a letter to the Secretary-General asking him to mark the anniversary of Srebrenica; the sad anniversary of Srebrenica.  And besides other things he wanted the flag of the United Nations, at 11 July, to go to half mast.  So, any comment?  Do you know anything about that at all?

Spokesperson:  I’m not aware of a letter having been sent…

Question:  He said he was writing a letter every single year to the Secretary-General, so I assume that he wrote…

Spokesperson:  Yes, Erol, that may well be the case.  I said I am not aware, and I am very happy to find out whether letters have been received, and then what was the follow-up.

Question:  Thank you.  We haven’t heard much recently about the recent work of the Alliance of Civilizations.  I wonder if the person in charge can give us a briefing on their recent work.

Spokesperson:  Sure.  We’ll look into how that can be done.  Certainly, it’s an important topic.  Not least because there is going to be a major gathering of the Alliance of Civilization countries in Rio de Janeiro, and that’s an important event to which the Secretary-General attaches some significance.  Thank you very much, it’s a good idea.  We’ll look into that.

I see that our guest has arrived; and I’m happy to welcome Mr. Djinnit.  Please, if you would like to come and join me up here, I’ll move so you can take centre stage.  Good to see you.

[Briefing by Mr. Djinnit issued separately.]

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