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

26 August 2010

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

26 August 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.

So, just a couple of short announcements and I’m happy to take a couple of questions.

**Security Council

As you know, the Security Council held consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo this morning and I am sure you heard the press statement read out by Ambassador Churkin at the end of that meeting.

**Secretary-General Appointment

The Secretary-General has appointed Jack Lang of France as Special Adviser on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

Mr. Lang will coordinate closely with the Office of Legal Affairs and the Department for Political Affairs.

We have more information on this in my office.

That’s it.  Questions?  Say again?  Yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure, I wanted to…I mean, at the consultations this morning about the mass rapes in the Congo, I mean, afterwards both Ambassador Churkin and Ambassador Rice of the United States said that many questions were left unanswered by…by the DPKO representative that went.  I know that some…I don’t want to ask you things that I’m…that I’m sure that you won’t answer.  But there does seem, first of all…I asked Mr. Holmes this, there seems to be…you had said, I think, on Tuesday, August 12, August 12, that’s the first that we heard.

So, I just wonder, have you…have you gone back to look that that’s the case?  ‘Cause the IMC group is now saying there’re two things.  They’re saying August 6 to OCHA and there’s also an account in today’s New York Times saying that there was an e-mail from the Department of Safety and Security dated July 30, saying the rebels were in the area and the humanitarians shouldn’t go.  So I just…it’s not a question of like, are you going to revise your statement, but what…what’s the UN’s response to these pretty, sort of disconcerting or…or…or…or…or factually different than what’s been said in this room accounts?

Spokesperson:  Well, first of all on the consultations, as you know, the Secretary-General sent Assistant Secretary-General Atul Khare immediately to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He’s on his way.  And Ms. Margot Wallström has been put in charge of looking at this overall; and also looking at, not just the response but the follow-up.  They will be reporting to the Security Council and at that point, I am sure — and I know that is the firm expectation of the Security Council — there will be answers to many of the questions that were put at the consultations, but not immediately answered.

I think Mr. Meece yesterday, during the press conference, spelled out the chronology.  And he also made it clear that they first had information on FDLR movements in the general area on 31 July.  And he said, and I’m quoting, these were somewhat vague in nature.  They are not unusual as part of our normal tracking of what is happening to the FDLR and where they are going.  There was no particular suggestion at this point of an attack, much less of the kind of events that happened and the mass rape that happened in the villages in the area.  On the specific point about the DSS e-mail, I’ve asked the same question.  I don’t have an answer yet.

Question:  [inaudible] Would you say, because I…I…I appreciate that’s I…is there is it…is it possible, for example, when you get to it, it seems like, you know, actually, one, seeing the e-mail…because there’s this idea that it’s vague and the New York Times account says that it says that humanitarians shouldn’t go.  It might really be useful if the UN would consider just releasing what the e-mail is.  And also saying how frequent such e-mails, in terms of it being sort of vague and not out of the ordinary, how often does DSS e-mail, parts of MONUSCO, and say humanitarians shouldn’t go to village X.  And maybe Mr. Starr could come…I just wanted to throw it in there.

Spokesperson:  Okay, all right.  Matthew, I don’t think we need to do, you know, an account of individual e-mails being sent out.

Question:  This one seems pretty important, but I’ll…

Spokesperson:  I think that this particular e-mail, should it exist — I have no reason to doubt that it does, but I need to have an answer from my colleagues definitively on that — should it exist, it would be for DSS to decide whether this is something that belongs in the public domain or not.  Typically, security advice is not put into the public domain in that way.  It doesn’t mean that concerns, as we heard Mr. Holmes, about threats or security risks are not made generally publicly aware, but often the details are not, and there’s a very good reason for that.  But as I say, I’ve asked the same question.  I don’t yet have the answer.

Question:  It’s just…one…can I say just one…you know just, just very…just want to explain on this one.  I mean, I would agree with that except that Mr. Meece has characterized the e-mail at issue.  You know what I mean?  It’s not like, if it’s supposed to be confidential than he shouldn’t be saying it’s vague, it’s this, that and the other thing.  The other thing is also Mr. Starr…

Spokesperson:  Wait, wait, wait.  When he said when we first got some information of FDLR movements in the general area on 31 July, he hasn’t said that was from a DSS e-mail.  He didn’t say that.

Question:  Okay, okay, well then we can find out.  Maybe Mr. Starr could finally…he hasn’t done a press conference, I think, since he’s been a USG, so it would be a…maybe it would be an introductory…

Spokesperson:  Well, I’m sure he or his colleagues will have heard the request.  Yes, other questions?  Yes?

Question:  When you gave us that timeline a couple days ago, you said that on the 24th, which was two days ago, a strategy was established by UNICEF, UNHCR and medical organizations to…for a human rights investigation.  That was supposed to be deployed yesterday.  Do you have any more details of that investigation?

Spokesperson:  I don’t at the moment.  I don’t.  The position remains the same, that it was to be deployed.  If they are now doing the work that they have been asked to do, and is their job to do, they will be carrying that work out and I won’t necessarily have any details of their findings for some time.  They will need to carry out the investigation, to investigate, to compile the report, and then to deliver those findings.  I don’t have that information at this point.  Okay.  Yes?

Question:  I’d like you to clarify something that Mr. Meece said yesterday.  He mentioned very casually that on 6 August, there was a hostage situation going on, but I’ve never heard any reports of this hostage situation, so I’d like you to maybe tell us what…

Spokesperson:  I don’t have any more.  I think that he was talking about it in North Kivu.  He said, I’ll just note in passing that August 1 was the same day that we were very much involved in North Kivu, with efforts to facilitate successfully the freeing of some hostages that had been taken in a separate event that was taking place at the same time.  I don’t have any more information.  I’m sure my colleagues in DPKO will help me to come up with that.  All right.  Thank you very much.

Question:  Just one other thing, non-Congo related.  There’s a story in The Nation of Pakistan today about a document that it accuses this UN Secretariat of burying.  It’s about the Pakistan’s compliance with non-proliferation.  And it says that, you know, S/AC/44/2007/19, says the data was supposed to be made public and that it wasn’t.  It speculates that…that…that this may be due to the Chief of Staff, Vijay Nambiar…it’s a pretty, you know this is…this is what they’re saying.  What’s the response to that?

Spokesperson:  Yeah, Matthew, I’ve seen the story and I’ve asked for information about it.  I don’t have any information but I’ve seen it and I’ve asked.  Right.  Thanks.

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