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

5 November 2012

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

5 November 2012
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, everybody.  Welcome to the briefing.

**Noon Briefing Guest

I’m pleased to have here as my guest today John Ging, Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  And he is here to brief you on the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following his recent visit there.  And I am sure he will be able to update you on other matters, too.  So, first of all, to you, John, for any remarks you may have, and then questions.  Thank you.

[Press conference by Mr. Ging is issued separately.]

Okay, I have a couple of other items here, and then can take some questions.


The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met last night in Cairo with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil ElAraby.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Brahimi said that there was no military solution to the Syrian crisis.  He said that the only possibility was a political solution, with a political process agreed upon by everyone.  Mr. Brahimi also said that the Geneva Communiqué should be turned into a Security Council resolution, and he encouraged Council members to continue talks to reach such a resolution.

And also on Syria, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, will be in Lebanon and Jordan starting tomorrow and until the end of the week, to meet Syrian refugees and to see the increasing humanitarian needs firsthand.  Ms. Cousin will meet senior Government officials in both countries and visit World Food Programme food distributions in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon and in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.  And Ms. Cousin will hold one press conference each in both Lebanon and Jordan.

**Western Sahara

The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, is in Nouakchott, Mauritania, today, as part of his trip to North Africa and Europe.  Over the weekend, the Personal Envoy was in Tindouf, Algeria, where he visited refugee camps.  He began his visit to North Africa and Europe on 27 October in Rabat.  And he later went to Laayoune.

In a press statement issued yesterday, Mr. Ross said he has come to the region to join in assessing the past five years of direct negotiations, to solicit ideas on the best way to make real progress in the negotiating process, and to review the impact of recent developments in the region on the Western Sahara dossier.

He said the dispute over the final status of Western Sahara has gone on long enough, and people of good will, wherever they may be, must rally urgently around a solution that is honourable for all.  And we have a full statement available in my office on that.

**Press Conference

At 1:15 p.m., there will be a press conference here by Mutuma Ruteere, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

That’s what I have.  Questions, please, of a tolerant nature?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Did the Special Representative, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, have a reaction on the Chinese proposal for the solution of the Syrian crisis?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have anything specific on that.  I will come back to you further on that.  Obviously, we are aware of it.  As you know, Mr. Brahimi was there in China, in Beijing, at that point.  But, I don’t have a specific readout right now.  I will make efforts to get that.

Question:  I thought he would, because it is very similar to the proposal he himself has been advocating…

Spokesperson:  As we’ve said, that, generally speaking, there are different strands; the key is for them to be coordinated through Mr. Brahimi, and that’s why he was in China, that’s why he went to Moscow, that’s why they followed up with Mr. Lavrov and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, and why Brahimi was in Cairo over the weekend, with the aim of trying to pull together these strands and then to move in the right direction, which is towards a political solution.  Hence, Mr. Brahimi’s call to take the Geneva declaration, that communiqué from the meeting at the end of June, and shape that or use it as the foundation for a resolution in the Security Council.  And that’s certainly what he is pushing for at the moment in the hope that the Council will indeed take this up.

[The Spokesperson later added that the positions which have been conveyed publicly by China were also conveyed to Mr. Brahimi in his meetings in Beijing.  The Joint Special Representative expressed his view that China can contribute to the solution in Syria.  He is listening to all ideas and proposals that can help to shape a peaceful solution.]

Correspondent:  Thank you.

Spokesperson:  Okay, other questions, please?  Tim, and then Masood?

Question:  Has the Secretary-General been in contact with the South Sudanese Government about their expulsion of the human rights officer?

Spokesperson:  He has not personally.  But certainly, as you will have seen, Hilde Johnson, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, did make a statement on that topic over the weekend.  I know that the Deputy Secretary-General has also been in touch with the South Sudanese Mission here in New York on that topic.  Okay, Masood?

Question:  Yes, sir.  Over the last two-three days, the situation in Bahrain is becoming worse, and thereby people being killed and so forth.  The Secretary-General has called upon the Bahraini authorities to allow protests, but that has not happened.

Spokesperson:  Yes, there was a statement issued last week, and yes, we have seen the media reports of explosions earlier today in Bahrain.  I would simply recall that the Secretary-General has expressed his concern about, one, about restrictions on public demonstrations, but he has also called on protesters to ensure that any demonstrations are peaceful and that the recent violence there has been unacceptable.  If I have anything further on these most recent explosions that have been reported in Bahrain, then I will let you know.  But, for now, those elements of the statement that was issued last week still stand.  Okay?

Question:  There are press reports saying that the violence comes from the Government side.

Spokesperson:  That’s why I am saying that there are media reports to that effect, but the baseline is that demonstrations need to be allowed, but that those demonstrations should be of a peaceful nature.  Okay, yes, Matthew?

Question:  Sure, Martin.  I want to ask about Uganda and then two issues in the Fifth Committee.  Uganda has said, you know, they’re contesting this DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] sanctions report, but it’s been reported in the media there that… that, they said, a delegation is coming to New York and specifically going to meet with the Secretary-General.  I wanted to know, I don’t see it on his schedule yet, but is there… is there such a plan for such a meeting and what are the Secretary-General’s kind of thoughts of Uganda saying that it would pull its peacekeepers from Somalia, CAR [Central African Republic] and I believe one other country in response to the report?

Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, I am not aware of any meeting scheduled today of that nature.  And we’ve obviously seen the media reports; there have been varying and various media reports — we’ve seen all of them.  What I can confirm at this point is that the United Nations has had no official communication from the Government of Uganda in relation to this matter.  Other questions, please?

Question:  First, one on the Fifth Committee…

Spokesperson:  Last one, yeah.

Correspondent:  I have two about the Fifth.

Spokesperson:  Well, if they are two related to the Fifth Committee, then that will work.

Question:  Great, beautiful.  So, the first one is… is there’s… there was a briefing and Q-and-A session this morning on… which you may have been following, about the response to Hurricane Sandy and I… I understand that some of the answers will come maybe Friday from… from Ms. [Susana] Malcorra, but some of the questions were just straight factual ones and one was Brazil, for example, asked whether there was going to be any external review of the UN’s… there seems to be a big disagreement between the presentation by the Secretariat and some Member States feeling that things didn’t go as well in terms of communications to them; some were talking about cars, but mostly communications.  Is there going to be some… what they ask… I guess I am just asking you, is there any plan for an external review and also is there any plan for an external inspection in terms of the safety of areas that people are going back and working in 3B?

Spokesperson:  I think you will have heard from Mr. [Gregory] Starr, Mr. [Yukio] Takasu and Ms. Malcorra at the end of last week what steps are being taken internally with regard to the, obviously, the key concerns about the safety of the areas that were affected.  And secondly, looking at how things can be done better in the future, that’s being looked at internally at this point.  I don’t have anything further on that matter.  If that should change, I will let you know.

Question:  Okay.  And the other one is… it has to do with this Senior Advisory Group on peacekeeping operations which is reporting to the Fifth Committee on how to pay peacekeepers.  It’s a… people seem to be… there is a pent-up demand for this report, and I wanted to know, can you, I guess, characterize where in the process is the… is the process among the members of the [Senior Advisory Group] finished?  What… is it going to be done in this… in this session of the Fifth Committee?  And also, it’s now been announced that one of the members, Shavendra Silva, is leaving… is… will depart New York to be a diplomat elsewhere, and so I want to repeat this questions to you, to know before he goes, is he going to be on the report, is there any move afoot at either at the Secretariat or to your knowledge at the [Senior Advisory Group] to actually list other members and not him, given the controversy around his inclusion on the panel?

Spokesperson:  On that latter point, I do not know at this stage.  And I will check on the overall status of the report.  I will let you know.  Okay, thank you very much.  Have a good afternoon.  Say again?

Question:  The last question:  Is the UN ready for the nor’easter, the new storm that is coming on Wednesday?

Spokesperson:  I am sure that the appropriate measures are being taken.  Thanks very much, thank you.

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