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

5 December 2011

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

5 December 2011
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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon everybody.  Welcome to the briefing.

**Secretary-General Travels

The Secretary-General is in Bonn, Germany, today, where he addressed the conference on Afghanistan.  He told participants that the international community re-affirms its commitment to support the country in its efforts for a better, peaceful and prosperous life for all its people — women and men alike.

The Secretary-General acknowledged that the challenges ahead are large, but stressed that we will not be deterred.  He said that the United Nations will be there for Afghanistan.  It was there well before 2001 and will be there far beyond 2014.  And his full remarks are available online.

The Secretary-General, who arrived in Bonn yesterday, has held a wide range of bilateral meetings, including with the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai.  We have issued readouts on those meetings already and they’re available online.  And as we have already announced, the Secretary-General will travel from Germany to South Africa to attend the climate change talks in Durban.

**Security Council

The Security Council is discussing sanctions on Eritrea today.  Their meeting will resume this afternoon at 3 p.m., at which point it is anticipated that they will pass a resolution.

**Secretary-General Appointment

The Secretary-General has appointed Louis Aucoin of the United States as his Deputy Special Representative on Rule of Law for Liberia.  He will replace Henrietta Joy Abena Nyarko Mensa-Bonsu of Ghana, who completed her assignment on 31 October.  We have more information on this appointment in my Office.

**International Court of Justice

Today’s decision by the International Court of Justice pertaining to Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia deserves careful study by the two Governments, according to Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy on the talks between the countries.  He said that he has urged both Governments to view this event as an opportunity and to think constructively about their mutual relationship.  Mr. Nimetz said that at this juncture, a forward-looking attitude that emphasizes solutions rather than differences would help make a lasting solution possible.

** Cyprus

The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities continued their discussions on external relations and property today.  They will hold talks again next Monday, 12 December.

**Population Award

The committee for the 2012 United Nations Population Award is seeking nominations.  The awards were first given out in 1983 and recognize outstanding contributions to increasing the awareness about population questions and efforts to solve them.  Nominations for the 2012 award will be accepted until 31 December.  There is more information available on the website of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Questions, please?  Yes, Sylviane?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you, Martin.  I have a question regarding the future trip, January, Ban Ki-moon’s trip to Lebanon.  Do you have any information on that?

Spokesperson:  No information on trips beyond the ones that we have announced, no.

Question:  It’s scheduled for January?

Spokesperson:  As I say, we don’t have any information about trips beyond the ones that we have announced, and then if and when there are future trips they will be announced.  Next question, please?  Yes?

Question:  Yes, sure, Sudan and Congo.  In Sudan, or South Sudan, where there is the UNMISS mission, it is reported that the Sudanese Armed Forces crossed the border, took over a town called Jaw, and that this Yida refugee camp, which was previously bombed according to the UN, is now also under threat, and I wonder what does Representative Hilde Johnson or UNMISS, what can… can they confirm this as it has been reported all weekend long?

Spokesperson:  We’re aware of the reports, and I think we’ll probably have something a little later, more likely on the humanitarian side.  But let me check further.

Question:  And on the Congo elections, there is… there seems to be a lot of kind of mounting tension as the results trickle out.  And one thing that has been reported I think is that the Government intends to cut off SMS text service when the results are released.  And so, I mean, overall, if you have some kind of statement on the… on what seems to be a… what preparations is the UN making for the result… the release of the results tomorrow and does it have any comment on the propriety of blocking communications in this way?

Spokesperson:  Well, as the Special Representative, Mr. [Roger] Meece, said last week we would certainly encourage political leaders and the people of the DRC to maintain a calm and peaceful environment and exercise restraint and await the results that will be declared in accordance with the national constitutional procedures.  And this is along the lines of what the Special Representative said last week on 1 December.

Question:  Sure, just on this specific question of whether… of the… of a Government you know, blocking social media or other means of communications, is that legitimate?  And a search for calm, or is that something that MONUSCO or the UN would have some concern about?

Spokesperson:  Well, I mean, I think I would emphasize what I just said, which is to exercise restraint.  I mean, political leaders and the people need to maintain a calm and peaceful environment.  Okay, other questions?  Yes?

Question:  Good morning, Martin.  Thank you.  About the IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear energy activities, a retired IAEA Director said that the materials in that report are old news, and I quote, he says he wonders why the same stuff is now being considered new information by the same reporter.  A retired US State Department official says that, quote “those who want to drum up support for a bombing attack on Iran sort of aggressively misrepresented the report”, unquote.  On Friday, the Russian Ambassador called the IAEA report a PR stunt.  I wondered if the Secretary-General is concerned about the credibility of the IAEA, because these three examples that I gave you are just a few of those who have said that there is absolutely nothing new in this IAEA report.

Spokesperson:  Well, I think you would have seen what the Secretary-General said at the time when this report was first announced.  And I see no reason to change that assessment.  He is concerned about elements within the report speaking about a potential military dimension, and he has said that publicly, and I see no reason to change that assessment.

Question:  Which particular element?

Spokesperson:  As I have mentioned to you, the Secretary-General is on record as speaking out about the concerns that there are, and he was troubled as he has said, to read the report and to understand what is in there.  So, I don’t have anything further beyond what the Secretary-General has already said on that.  He is on the record on that already.  Yes, other questions?  Yes, Matthew?

Question:  Sure, keep it to two.

Spokesperson:  Say again?

Question:  One is just, I saw the quote that the Secretary-General said that Pakistan not attending the Bonn meeting was regrettable.  And I just wondered, I mean, since their stated reason for not attending was this incident in which 24 of their soldiers were killed, they don’t feel that it has been sufficiently somehow addressed.  Is it something… what does the Secretary-General think of that incident or does it… it has obviously caused some disruption, did he discuss it with leaders?

Spokesperson:  This is…

Correspondent:  Right.

Spokesperson:  This is something that I seem to recall as being raised in this room with my Deputy already, and I am not sure that I have anything to add beyond that.  What I would say is that the Secretary-General didn’t just say that it was regrettable that they were not attending, he also said that he understood fully that Pakistan remained committed to working with the international community on this topic.  So, it was in two parts.

Question:  Sure.  No, no, I mean, I understood that he said before, I was just wondering whether… because with this statement if something would be said or if he addressed it with either… with the people that he met, including Hillary Clinton.  Do you think this arose?

Spokesperson:  Well, I think you’ve seen the readouts, they covered quite a lot of ground.  How much detail they got into and on each particular point, I couldn’t say.

Question:  And, I just wanted to know, I know that I, not only to your Deputy, but to you, I had asked you this question on Friday and I just wonder what provisions DPKO was making now that the head of the army in Sudan has been indicted for war crimes by the ICC?  How does, you know, UNAMID, UNMISS and UNISFA, how do they intend to deal with that indictment?

Spokesperson:  Well, as you know, the International Criminal Court is an independent judicial institution, and has a mandate that is distinct and separate from that of the United Nations.  Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein is Defence Minister in Sudan, where the Security Council has established peacekeeping missions to carry out tasks that are essential for the maintenance of international peace and security, and for the protection and welfare of the general population.  And so, accordingly, the United Nations will continue to work towards the full implementation of UNAMID and UNISFA mandates.  So, in other words, the missions dealing with Darfur and Abyei.

Question:  So they will… I mean, they will… will they engage with him only on a sort of as absolutely necessary basis or just as before?

Spokesperson:  What I’ve said is what I’ve said.  The UN will continue to work towards the full implementation of UNAMID and UNISFA mandates, and Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein is Defence Minister in Sudan where the Council has established these peacekeeping missions. Okay?  Any other questions?  Yes?

Question:  Just on Eritrea, what’s the [inaudible], and does the Government there give full cooperation?  I know there were problems in the past, but…

Spokesperson:  I have to check.  That there will be some kind of presence, I do not know what it is.  I would need to check and get back to you, all right.  Yes, okay.

Before I go, I am just going to check what this is. 

[Spokesperson is handed a piece of paper].  Thanks very much.  All right, this comes back to the DRC, and it is as I had already said.  The Secretary-General continues to follow electoral events in the DRC closely.  And echoing the Security Council, he encourages political leaders and the people of the DRC to maintain a calm and peaceful environment, exercise restraint and await the results that will be declared in accordance with national constitutional procedures, which is what I already told you.  And as we have also said, we are not — previously we’ve said this — we’re not in a position to comment on the process at this stage while the counting continues.  The key elements here are maintaining a peaceful environment and exercising restraint.

Okay, all right, thanks.  Have a good afternoon.

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