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

3 April 2013

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

3 April 2013
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 briefing.

**Secretary-General’s Travel

The Secretary-General arrived in Monaco today after his visit to Andorra.  He has just delivered an address to the Constitutional Bodies of Monaco, in which he focused on sustainable development and environment and on the importance of green growth.  The full remarks will be available online shortly.

Earlier, the Secretary-General had an audience with Prince Albert, during which they discussed developments in Syria and Mali.  They also discussed sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals.

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will have further meeting with Government officials in Monaco, and intends to speak to reporters before leaving for Madrid.  He will also visit a laboratory run by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Monaco.

The Secretary-General will have meetings with Spanish officials in Madrid, including the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister, and he will attend the Chief Executives Board meeting, which brings together the senior leadership of the wider UN system.

**Security Council

Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Security Council this morning on Mali, and he told the Council that strengthening the capacity and legitimacy of the State and the political system at all levels remains a key priority for the UN and for political leaders in Mali.

Mr. Feltman said that the Secretary-General, in a recent report, has proposed two options for UN engagement in Mali.  Under either option, the UN would maintain a strong focus on the political aspects linked to the creation of suitable conditions for elections and reconciliation.

Under option 1, a UN multidimensional integrated political presence would operate alongside the African Union Mission, AFISMA.  The UN would continue its political and human rights activities under a strengthened political mission.  The second option involves the establishment of a UN multidimensional integrated stabilization mission under a Chapter VII mandate, alongside a parallel force.  Under this second option, the bulk of AFISMA would be re-hatted under this UN stabilization mission.  We have the text of Mr. Feltman’s full briefing in our office.

** Middle East

Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, is worried about the volatile situation on the ground, including renewed firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel yesterday and this morning, and continued tensions over unresolved prisoner issues.  He said that it is of paramount importance to refrain from violence in this tense atmosphere and for parties to work constructively in addressing the underlying issues.

The renewed violations of the ceasefire risk undermining the understanding reached between Israel and Gaza on 21 November, and unravelling the gradual but tangible improvements achieved since then in the easing of the closure and the security situation in Gaza and southern Israel.  The United Nations condemns the indiscriminate firing of rockets into civilian areas, and calls on Israel to act with restraint.  We will continue to support Egyptian efforts to restore the calm and fully implement the ceasefire understanding as the only viable way to address the unsustainable situation in Gaza.

** Somalia

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict is currently on her first visit to Somalia.

Zainab Hawa Bangura’s trip seeks to raise awareness and discuss ways of addressing sexual violence in the country.

She praised Somali journalists covering the subject, adding that they play an important role in raising awareness.  There is more information on her visit online.

** Haiti

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said today that some 1.5 million people continue to have severe food insecurity in Haiti, mostly as a result of drought and the impact of Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy.

Malnutrition rates in some areas have risen since October last year and food shortages are affecting 7 of the 10 departments in the country.  Nearly 82,000 children under 5 are malnourished.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that UN agencies and humanitarian organizations are working with the Government to reach hundreds of thousands of people with food assistance.

**Personnel Appointment

The Secretary-General announces today the appointment of Stephen Cutts of the United Kingdom as Assistant Secretary-General in the Office of Central Support Services of the Department of Management.

He will replace Warren Sach, to whom the Secretary-General and the Under-Secretary-General for Management are grateful for his commitment and dedicated service to the Organization.

Since May 2010, Mr. Cutts has served as the Assistant Secretary-General for Corporate Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat.  We have a full biographical note available in my office.

**Noon Guests Tomorrow

And tomorrow, my guests will discuss the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.  They will include:  Ambassador Saleumxay Kommasith, the Permanent Representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, along with Ambassador Miguel Berger, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany, and Assistant-Secretary-General Dmitry Titov of the Office of the Rule of Law, along with his colleague Paul Heslop.

Questions, please?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thanks, Eduardo.  Per Mr. Feltman’s statement this morning, if option 2 were the viable option, how would the peacekeeping force be mainstreamed into that?  I was reading up on the… on the need to have over 11,000 peacekeepers in Mali; so how, with that, would be the next steps in terms of getting peacekeepers in order if there were an option?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, we don’t answer “if” questions.  We have to see what the Security Council decides upon, and once the Security Council has taken a decision, the Secretariat would then propose a plan of action, but not until then.

Question:  Eduardo, a follow-up to the e-mail I sent to your Office yesterday regarding, if at all, the UN’s involvement in South Africa deploying troops to the Central African Republic.  What can you say about that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have any information on that; we received your e-mail and we are in the process of checking it out.

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.