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

10 May 2013

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

10 May 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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.  Welcome to the briefing.

**Noon Briefing Guest

I am very pleased to welcome back as the guest at the briefing today Mr. Yukio Takasu, Under-Secretary-General for Management.  And he is here to brief you on the financial situation of the Organization.  And he will obviously be able to take questions, too.

And after that, I will have a few other items, and of course, can take questions, if any remain.  Please, welcome, Mr. Takasu.

[Press conference by Mr. Takasu issued separately.]

So, just a couple more items.

** Syria

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said today that reports of massacres allegedly carried out recently by Syrian Government forces and pro-Government militias should spur the international community to act to find a solution to the conflict and to ensure those responsible for serious human rights violations are held accountable for their crimes.

She expressed alarm at reports of a major military build-up around the western Syrian town of Qusayr, saying that she feared further atrocities if the area was overrun.  And she added that she was appalled at the apparent killing of women, children and men in the village of al-Bayda, among other locations in the Baniyas area.

Ms. Pillay added that the scope of violations by anti-Government armed groups has also increased.  Abductions and the taking of hostages by some armed groups, including Jabhat al Nusra, are reported to be increasing, the High Commissioner said.

** Sudan

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that aid agencies are mobilizing resources to help some 40,000 newly displaced people in Sudan’s South Kordofan.

For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing health and sanitation supplies to meet the needs of the displaced.

And there is more information on this available online.

** Bangladesh

The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, is in Bangladesh for a four-day visit to foster dialogue and conducive conditions for parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year.

He is meeting with representatives from the Government, opposition, parliament, civil society and the international community.

And this visit is a follow-up to his mission to Bangladesh in December of last year.

** Cyprus

The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Cyprus, Alexander Downer, will meet with the Leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities on 29 May.

Mr. Downer also said that he was encouraged by the recent meeting in New York between the Secretary-General and Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, where discussions centred on the prospects for a resumption of the negotiations.

**Security Council

The Security Council heard briefings this morning from the chairs of its subsidiary bodies dealing with counter-terrorism and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Council members received updates on the work of the relevant sanctions committees that are handling those topics.

**Economic and Social Council

On Monday, the United Nations Economic and Social Council will organize a meeting with the title, "Achieving sustainable development:  Integrating the social, economic and environmental dimensions".  The event will be held from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.; and then again from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the ECOSOC Chamber.

That’s what I have. Questions, please.  Erol?  Then Tim.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Martin, next Friday, as far as I understood, there is going to be a mega-diplomatic event partly concerning Syria in Washington with Turkish Prime Minister and President [Barack] Obama meeting.  Whether the Secretary-General is intending to attend and go there?

Spokesperson:  No, he is not.

Question:  Is there any update on the peacekeepers in the Golan?

Spokesperson:  The status remains the same; that they are still being held and that efforts continue to secure their release.  But, that’s really all I have at this point.

Question:  Do you know if there is any fighting going on in that zone?

Spokesperson:  I am not aware of anything specific that is there to further complicate those efforts.  Yes?

Question:  Yeah, I wanted to just follow up on that.  The, the, the, this announcement by the Philippines Foreign Minister that he is proposing to the President to pull out their 342 people that are in UNDOF [United Nations Disengagement Observer Force]; is there, what’s the UN, I mean, would that, would the Mission still, what’s, what’s the UN’s I guess, response to that?  He has said that publicly.

Spokesperson:  Well, we have not received any official communication from the authorities in Manila about their troop contingent.

Question:  Okay.  And could I, I wanted to ask, yesterday, at the Security Council stakeout, uh, Francis Deng, now the, the Permanent Representative of South Sudan, was speaking about the Abyei killing of the Paramount Chief and of the Peacekeeper.  And he, the one, the thing I wanted to ask you about is, he said that he’s spoken with the Force Commander of UNISFA [United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei], who says that it is not UNISFA’s job to protect civilians from other than army, i.e. the Misseriya that’s… he… it is his understanding that that’s not what UNISFA does, and Mr. Deng says that that’s not, that shouldn’t be the case, there is some misunderstanding.  So, I wanted to know, because it seems like it, it’s come up on Côte d'Ivoire, as well, so what is the, the, the understanding of DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] with its Chapter 7 mandates, can they only use force to defend civilians from the army or can they use it against, you know, armed non-State actors like the Misseriya?

Spokesperson:  Let me check, but certainly, DPKO believes that UNISFA, the force there in Abyei, responded robustly when they came under attack, that convoy came under attack.  Yes, Erol, yes?

Question:  Martin, there is new report from the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Valentin Inzko, to the Secretary-General, in which he expressed again his concern regarding the shape, political shape of Bosnia; whether, whether the Secretary-General has a comment on that, and also there is a parallel report from the smaller Bosnian entity by the President of that entity, Mr. Milorad Dodik, to the Secretary-General, and it became a practice — almost every time when the Secretary-General received High Representative’s report he receives that, whether he will, would co… or respond to that or comment on that.

Spokesperson:  I’d have to check with you on that; I don’t have anything for you.  Yes?

Question:  Do you have a list of the candidates for UN-Women’s Director position?

Spokesperson:  That’s not generally something that would be in the public domain.  I mean, obviously, we know that the post was advertised and there will, of course, be candidates; but I think that it is standard practice that you would not list all of those candidates.  At some point, of course, an announcement will be made.  But, I can’t tell you when that will be right now.  Yes?

Question:  And also on Sri Lanka, is, there is an ACABQ [Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions] report that is out and I think being now introduced into the Fifth [Committee], but it is already a public document that says, it talks about Mr. [Romano] Prodi’s… or the o, the, the office of the, the, the envoy on the Sahel and it, it basically says that it shouldn’t be based in Rome; that they don’t see a rationale for it being based in Rome, that it should be in the region and they, because of the structure, they recommend that the General Assembly recommend to the Secretary-General moving it to the region; and I wanted to know if there, is there, is there some response, I forget even that, that ACABQ wrote it, if one were to say why is the UN’s envoy to the Sahel based in Rome, what would the response by the Secretariat be?

Spokesperson:  Well, I don’t think that we should overlook a report being written by the ACABQ.  And I think that we would need to look at it; I am not familiar with it.  I’d have to check with my colleagues who do.

Correspondent:  I only, I only said it that way because I thought you, you, you might say, well, we’ll’, we’ll respond in, in time to ACABQ, so I just wanted, as long as this is going to be…

Spokesperson:  Well, that’s what I said, any way.

Correspondent:  Yeah, I know, but I, haven’t, still it sounded better, I liked it.

Spokesperson:  Okay.

Question:  But, the Sri Lanka one is a simple question that I meant to ask yesterday, which is the Deputy Secretary-General described this process and the video conference and said that, that he will get a report and then he will assess it, then he will present it to the Secretary-General.  Is any of that process going to be made public?  Has that decision been made and, and if not, why not?

Spokesperson:  I think that that is one of the questions that will be looked at as the report is put together.  Of course, there is evident interest in the outcome, and in the recommendations made.  But, I think it will be the determination of the Deputy Secretary-General and the Secretary-General what then is spelled out in detail to the media and others.  So, I think that, first of all, the work is focused on putting that report together.  I think the Deputy Secretary-General did give some considerable detail on how that is being undertaken, and then, as that report is put together and finalized, it will be possible to make a determination on what will be made public.  But, the interest and the focus of attention is well understood.

Okay, thank you very much. Have a good afternoon. Thank you.

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