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

29 May 2013

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

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.

I can still say good morning, ladies and gentlemen; we have about 30 seconds left in the morning.  Welcome to the noon briefing.

**Peacekeepers Day — Guests

Today, as you know, is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.  In a message to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General noted that 111 peacekeeping personnel died last year, and more than 3,100 have lost their lives during the UN’s 65-year history of peacekeeping.  We salute their bravery and mourn their passing, which was commemorated during a wreath-laying ceremony this morning.

And today we have as our guests at the noon briefing Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Ameerah Haq, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, and they will talk to you about the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, after which they will probably take a few questions.  Monsieur Ladsous?

[Press conference by Mr. Ladsous and Ms. Haq is issued separately.]

Okay, ladies and gentlemen.

** Syria

In a message delivered to the Consultative Meeting on Syria taking place in Tehran, the Secretary-General says that Syria is disintegrating before our eyes.  The chaos is creating fertile ground for radicalism and increasingly threatens regional stability.

In the message, delivered by the UN Resident Coordinator in Iran, the Secretary-General notes the efforts by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and United States Secretary of State John Kerry to bring the Syrian parties to the negotiating table.  He says that these talks are the best opportunity we have had in a year for a negotiated solution and that we cannot afford to miss this opportunity.

The Secretary-General adds that he is deeply concerned by the reports of countries sending arms to either side in Syria, and by admissions of outside groups that they are participating in the fighting inside Syria.  This heightens the dangers for Syrians and their neighbours, and he urges all parties to use their influence to help stop the arms flows and persuade outside groups to withdraw fighters from Syria.  That message is available in our office.

**Security Council

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa, Abou Moussa, briefed the Security Council this morning on the report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa and on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)-affected areas.

In his remarks, Mr. Moussa said that the situation in the Central African Republic continues to have a negative impact on the neighbouring countries, particularly in terms of refugee flows and cross-border movements of ex-combatants.  Regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Special Representative said the implementation plan to support the UN Regional Strategy to address the LRA threat has been finalized.  He said that the next priority is to mobilize resources in support of its implementation.  The full remarks are available in our office.

And earlier this morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending until 30 November the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA).

** Libya

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), in a press release today, says that the representation and meaningful participation of women in the Constitution-Drafting Assembly and in the process of drafting the Constitution will contribute to the building of the new Libya.

The Mission says that promoting women’s rights is a priority and that it will continue in its efforts to offer assistance and support to pertinent national bodies for broader participation by women in the political process.  The UN Mission will also continue to call for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, with a view to achieving equality with men in enjoying political rights and freedoms.

**Press Encounter

This afternoon, at approximately 5:00 p.m., the Secretary-General is expected to address the press at the Security Council Stakeout, following his briefing to Council members on his recent trip.

**Press Conferences

Tomorrow, at 11:00 a.m., there will be a press conference here by Ivan Šimonović, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, to brief on his recent mission to Central Asia.

And then at 12:30 p.m., there will be a background briefing for press on the report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

We have time for one or two questions.  Masood?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  On this situation in Syria, where Secretary-General says it’s disintegrating, what is the Secretary-General’s representative, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, doing?  He is just sitting on the sidelines, doing nothing?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Masood, you asked me that same questions yesterday and I gave you an answer, I’m sorry.

Correspondent:  Yes, sir, but the thing is, it has become important.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Yeah?

Question:  My question just simply is:  Who will be attending the background press conference at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, do you know?  I don’t recall you mentioning the name.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have the name.  We’ll have to check on that for you.

Correspondent:  What I am saying is, it has become important because both the EU [European Union] lifting the arms embargo and the threat is very serious…

Deputy Spokesperson:  Masood, I read a statement on Syria, I told you what Mr. Brahimi is doing; there is no further information.  He is busy dealing with leaders in the region, trying to get the parties to the table and trying to monitor the situation and report back to the Security Council, to the General Assembly, to the Secretary-General.  That is his mandate, and that is what he is doing.

Correspondent:  Because he isn’t doing anything…

Deputy Spokesperson:  Now, he cannot force people to the table; people have to be wanting to come to the table, but he is working very hard to try and get the countries and the entities that have influence on the parties to try and get them to bring these people to the table.  Erol?

Question:  Yeah, just to follow up on Masood’s question, because I also think it is very important to put it in the context.  So here is my question:  Whether the Secretary-General, and how much, and how concerned about those concerns, saying that after possible disintegration of Syria, we will have so many terrorist groups that are going to be danger, not only for the region, but worldwide.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General is working very closely with Mr. Brahimi, with the League of Arab States, with the Russian Foreign Minister and the American Secretary of State, to convene this conference, which has been dubbed by the media as “Geneva II”, to bring the parties to the table and try to avoid precisely that type of situation.  That is what everyone is working towards.  So, you know, we are not going to start thinking what is going to happen the day after tomorrow; we are thinking of what we can do today to make sure that tomorrow is better.  Matthew?

Question:  Sure, Eduardo, I want to ask you about… there is a… you know, the… the Secretary-General announced this big plan for… to… on Haiti for cholera… Haiti and San… and… and the Dominican Republic.  And recently, Médecins Sans Frontières, a pretty respected medical group, has said that the programme has had absolutely no effect on the ground, they have been very critical of it, they have said, a guy called Mr. MacLean, on the record, has said he has gone back and forth and has seen absolutely zero follow-through from the UN.  So — I’m… I am assuming you’ve seen the stories by Mark Doyle of BBC — what’s the UN’s response that… that its response which… which fell short of responding to their legal claims of the people that got cholera, that the… the… the other programme that was announced has had no effect?  And, I also wanted to ask you, you just witnessed Mr. Ladsous refusing to answer on the Minova rape follow-up.  I wanted to know, is this acceptable to the Secretary-General?  Does he…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, we’re not going to get involved in your particular problem with Ladsous.

Correspondent:  It’s not a particular problem; he works for Ban Ki-moon.

Deputy Spokesperson:  With respect to Haiti… with respect to Haiti, MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] is doing yeoman’s work in trying to bring fresh water, in trying to bring new latrines and trying to bring water purification systems and bringing cholera vaccinations to people.  I have seen the reports; we don’t believe the reports.  We believe our people.  And we know that Nigel Fisher in Haiti has been briefing the media, and that the media who have been briefed by Nigel Fisher seem to think that we are doing quite a bit.

Question:  MSF is just wrong on this?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Sorry?

Question:  They, MSF, Médecins Sans Frontières, is wrong?  They are just…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I’m not going to comment on what Médecins Sans Frontières has; everyone has their own point of view, and our point of view, we’re doing an awful lot to mitigate the effects of cholera in Haiti.

Question:  Will the Secretary-General…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  One more question.

Question:  Would Secretary-General accept Mr. Ladsous not answering any questions about Haiti?  Just for example, I’m asking you.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, have a good afternoon, thank you.

* *** *

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