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

27 November 2012

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

27 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 Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the noon briefing.

**Welcome to Journalists

I would like to mention that we have a group of young Palestinian journalists joining us today.  They are here in New York as part of a special information programme of the United Nations Department of Public Information.  Welcome to you all.

**Security Council — Middle East

Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Security Council this morning and discussed what he called the dangerous escalation that took place in the region last week.

He told the Security Council that Egypt and the parties have commenced intensive discussions following up on the ceasefire agreed to last week, while the calm has largely held on the ground.  The devastating violence last week, he said, was a stark reminder that the status quo is unsustainable.

Mr. Serry said that he had visited Gaza on Sunday and witnessed the destruction that resulted from the hostilities, adding that virtually all families have now returned home.  On the same day, he visited Rishon Lezion, a suburb of Tel Aviv where large parts of an apartment building were destroyed by a rocket from Gaza.

He also discussed the stated Palestinian intention to table a resolution at the General Assembly on the status of Palestine later this week.  Mr. Serry reiterated the Secretary-General’s hope that all concerned look responsibly at the consequences of any decision they make.

**Security Council

This afternoon at 3:00 p.m., the Security Council will have an open meeting on Kosovo to discuss the Secretary-General’s recent report on the work of the UN Mission there.

In that report, the Secretary-General notes recent positive developments in the efforts to implement the agreements reached in the European Union-facilitated dialogue.  He welcomes the assurances received both in Belgrade and Pristina regarding their readiness and commitment to resume substantive engagement within the dialogue, to resolve contentious issues through peaceful means and to maintain their common European perspective.

Following the meeting on Kosovo, the Security Council will hold consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Council members will hear from Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and from Chef de Cabinet Susana Malcorra, who travelled to Kampala last weekend as a Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General.

** Democratic Republic of the Congo

And today in Kinshasa, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Roger Meece, held a press conference and welcomed the follow-up to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Summit in Kampala, Uganda.  He said that the UN Deputy Force Commander in the country is in Kampala to support the military chiefs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda concerning implementation of the agreement.

According to the UN Mission, MONUSCO, the situation in Goma is calm but tense.  The UN Mission has conducted 84 patrols in the past 24 hours in the city.  Some fighting has been reported in the area of Minova between the Congolese Armed Forces and the M23.

**Chemical Weapons

The Secretary-General and the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Üzümcü, have addressed a joint communication to the Heads of State or Government of each of the eight States that are not Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  In the letters, they strongly urge those eight States to join the Convention “without delay”.

The Convention currently has 188 States Parties, leaving only Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria as the States that remain outside the treaty.  We have a press release with more details.

**Secretary-General’s Appointment

The Secretary-General has appointed Aeneas Chapinga Chuma of Zimbabwe as his Deputy Special Representative for Recovery and Governance of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  Mr. Chuma will also serve as the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative.  He will replace Moustapha Soumaré of Mali, who now serves as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  We have more on this appointment in our office.

**Press Conference

And tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., here in the Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Ambassador Cesare Maria Ragaglini, the Permanent Representative of Italy, along with Mr. Wilfried Lemke, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, and members of the Italian Inter Campus Soccer Team.

That’s it from me.  Questions?  Masood?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Eduardo, can you tell us in… in purely in financial terms, moneywise, has UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] or anybody else at… at the ground in Gaza did any assessment as to how much financial, I mean indications are of the destruction wreaked on Gaza and since the first Israeli attack there?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have any information on that with me.  You may want to consult Mr. Serry’s presentation, which is available in our office to see if there is something in there.

Question:  But he has not made any assessments as far as we know?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Okay, in that case, you might want to call UNRWA up and find out directly from them if they have an assessment.

Question:  What about any other agency, United Nations agency?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, UNRWA would probably be the agency that would be most likely to have that information, so I would suggest you contact them.

Correspondent:  Correct.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Sir?

Question:  Yeah, a Palestinian representative this morning alluded to what he called festivities in the morning, Thursday, to celebrate the passage of… the anticipated passage of the resolution that afternoon.  He said the media… he invited the media.  I’m just wondering whether you can get us any information on what sort of logistics are… where…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, you’d have to ask the Palestinian delegation.

Question:  Well, and then he talked about the media being invited and…

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, if they are inviting the media to an event, then you should contact them for information.

Question:  Well, well, presumably the secretary… the… just the people in charge of reserving halls, rooms, whatever in the Secretariat would be able to tell us …

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, did he say it was being held at the Secretariat?

Question:  He said at the United Nations, I believe, so…

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t know.  I have no information on that.  We’ll try and find out for you, and if we find anything, I will put it in the transcript.

Correspondent:  Okay, I would appreciate it, would appreciate that.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Do you have a question, Matthew?

Question:  I do, sure.  I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes?

Question:  One is, yesterday, the… the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights explained a little bit more, at least the… about how this human rights due diligence process works and it all seems to hinge on identifying which units of the army, in this case the FARDC, Congolese army, are engaged in violations.  So, I heard you say this thing, there is reference to Minova, and I have been asking about it for a few days, but the key, it seems to me, that there is now fighting, but the reports were that the army went in, retreated from Sake, burned houses, raped women and looted.  And so, the… my question really which unit of the Congolese army is there and is the… is the UN going to state this… is the unit that did these things and that is why we are not working with them…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well…

Question:  …or is it all somehow caught in vagueness?

Deputy Spokesperson:  What I have for you, the General Reference Hospital in Minova has reported 21 cases of rape and UNICEF is delivering 200 doses of post-exposure treatment to the hospital.  UNICEF and partners’ response to the response to sexual and gender-based violence includes medical, psychosocial, legal and socio-economic support.  Care International has conducted sexual and gender-based violence evaluations in IDP [internally displaced persons] camps and spontaneous sites.  That’s all I have for you on that.

Correspondent:  Sure.

Deputy Spokesperson:  If we get anything else, we’ll let you know.

Question:  And is there… I guess I just… I just want to put this in with you, is it possible to know which unit?  You see what I mean, because it… it… without saying that then…

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I don’t know if it is possible, if we get it, we will let you know.

Question:  Okay.  And can I ask one other thing on this… on this topic, which is drones?  I just wanted to know, there was some… Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General, proposed it in March to the Committee of 34, didn’t get any approval and there was some push back.  Now, it is said again that it is something that… that DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] is thinking of doing.  I just wanted to know, is it their understanding that they would need General Assembly or… or… for, you know, through the Forth Committee or otherwise approval, or could they begin, in their understanding, using drones tomorrow despite some opposition voiced by even some Security Council members?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we have addressed that situation here before and our comments haven’t changed.

Question:  Meaning what?  I don’t underst… because the more recent comments said that the… that… that… that MONUSCO was considering using them.  So, I just wanted to know, do you need approval?  That seems like a key question that wasn’t asked or at least wasn’t answered.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I have to find out whether we need approval or not; I don’t have that information with me.  We’ll find out for you.  Yes?

Question:  I would like to ask about whose purposes and benefits of Robert Serry’s visit to Gaza and southern Israel, and how will the information that he collected be used?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, his report to the Security Council is available in our offices, so I am sure that if you read it you will find out what the goals were.  Obviously, the goals were to find out what had happened in Gaza after the hostilities came to an end and to report that to the Security Council, which he did this morning.  The information obviously is very valuable to the Security Council in basing future decisions on the role of the United Nations in the occupied territories, and I am sure that relevant international UN agencies and others will find it useful in terms of planning their own work.  Masood?

Question:  Sir, there was a report yesterday that the United Nations in Geneva is about to establish a cell which will assess the ramifications both in… as far as international laws and so on and so forth, about drone attacks being conducted by United States so far in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but that other international… I mean, other countries now also will be doing the similar thing.  Is there… do you have any information on those cells that are about to be established or… as yet?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I have… this is the first time I am hearing of it.  I have no information at all on what you are saying, but if we hear anything we will let you know.

Question:  Okay, yeah, because the… the… this is a report from The New York Times, which is… I mean… I’m… I’m sure it is quite clearly valid.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, it can have appeared in The New York Times or in any other newspaper, but right now, as far as I know, we have nothing in the works.  If I find out anything, we will let you know.

Correspondent:  Okay.  Thank you.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Okay.  Matthew?

Question:  Sure, something… a question about Darfur and one about the budget.  On… in… in Darfur, there are now reports there was a lot of… with some hoopla, in 2010 it was said that… that UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] had gotten five attack helicopters, tactical helicopters fro… from Ethiopia that would be used in order to patrol this area where there has been an indictment for war crimes and genocide, etcetera.  Now it has sort of quietly leaked out that the helicopters have gone home and that UNAMID no longer has any… has… has this capacity.  Is… is… can you either… do you know or can you state, is that the case and… and if it is the case, why didn’t UNAMID… if… if there is some restriction by the Government of Sudan on using the helicopters, or otherwise why wasn’t more made of it, given the attacks on peacekeepers and civilians? 

Deputy Spokesperson:  I’ll have to find out for you, Matthew.  Okay, thank…

Question:  Can I ask a budget question?  Yeah, I just want… maybe you’ll… maybe you’ll have something or maybe you can get something.  There was a… there was a letter by the Secretary-General yesterday to the Chairman of the bud… the Fifth Committee, Budget Committee, Miguel Berger, in which he… he openly… well, you know, he said that the recommendations of ACABQ, the Advisory Committee, should be disregarded and that the mobility plan should… should go forward, despite the recommendation.  What I wanted to know is what… what is the Secretary-General or the Secretariat’s view of the role of the ACABQ?  Are they… are they the experts on… on budgetary matters, and if they say more… more questions have to be answered or is it what is the basis on saying ACABQ should be ignored in this one case?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I haven’t seen that letter, but we will check into it and get back to you on it.

Correspondent:  Okay.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Have a good afternoon.

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