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2 August 2016

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 Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

All right, good afternoon.  Pardon the delay.  I want to welcome our friends from the Jerusalem Peacebuilders, an interfaith organization that brings together Israeli, Palestinian and American youth, for peacebuilding and leadership and they are here, lucky enough to witness one of these briefings.

**Children and Armed Conflict

The Secretary-General this morning addressed the Security Council meeting on children and armed conflict, telling Council members that in places such as Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, children suffer through a living hell, and in many cases, it is getting even worse.  He said that even wars have rules.  Hospitals and schools should be protected.  Civilians should be spared.  Children should not be used to fight.

Discussing his annual report, the Secretary-General said that, once again this year, objections to the report forced him to make difficult decisions.  After very careful consideration, the Saudi Arabian-led coalition was removed from the annexes, pending the conclusion of the review.  The Secretary-General has since received information on measures taken by the coalition to prevent and end grave violations against children.  The forward-looking review continues — and the situation on the ground will be closely monitored.  The Secretary-General promised to continue engagement to ensure that concrete measures to protect children are implemented.  And he repeated that all the content of the report stands.  The Secretary-General said to all Member States and parties:  “If you want to protect your image, protect your children.”

And Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, also addressed the Council and she is scheduled to speak to you a bit later, probably after 1 p.m.  But we will give you some notice ahead of time.

**Secretary-General Travels

The Secretary-General will leave New York tomorrow evening to begin a series of travels to Brazil, Argentina, the West Coast of the United States and Canada.

He will first go to Rio de Janeiro, where he will take part in the opening of the thirty-first Olympic Games.  He will participate on Friday in the relay in which the Olympic Torch is handed over.  And that evening, the Secretary-General will attend a meeting for Heads of State hosted by the acting President of Brazil.  While in Rio, the Secretary-General will also visit the Olympic Village and meet with the Refugee Olympic Team, among others.

Over the weekend, he will travel to Buenos Aires, where he will meet on Monday, 8 August, with Argentinian President [Mauricio] Macri and Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra.  The Secretary-General and Foreign Minister Malcorra will also speak to the press following their meeting.  On Tuesday, he will meet with the Mayor of Buenos Aires, as well as with youth and civil society leaders.

And on Wednesday, the Secretary-General will travel to Los Angeles, in California, where he is scheduled to meet with leaders in the creative community to discuss ways in which they can help to support the goals of the United Nations.  He will also meet with the Chairman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Representative Ed Royce.  And while in Los Angeles, he will also participate in a refugee resettlement event hosted by the International Rescue Committee and the Annenberg Foundation.

The following day, he will go to San Francisco, where he will meet with Libba Patterson, who hosted him for a number of days in 1962 during his first visit to the United States.  And the Secretary-General will also be meeting with California Governor Jerry Brown as well in California, to thank him for his steadfast support in the fight against climate change.

And on Friday, the Secretary-General will travel to Calgary, where he is to deliver a lecture at the University of Calgary that evening.

**Syria

And on Syria, the Secretary-General is deeply disturbed by the ongoing destruction of civilian infrastructure, particularly medical facilities, across the country.  Over recent days, the UN has received reports of five hospitals hit by air strikes, including three in Aleppo governorate and one each in Dara’a and Idleb.  Dozens of casualties and injuries resulting from these strikes have been reported, including to pregnant women and children.

Prior to the reported strikes, these medical facilities provided life-saving health care to tens of thousands of people:  many of the facilities are no longer functioning.

Further attacks on civilian infrastructure, including those on 31 July and 1 August, reportedly damaged Aleppo’s electricity and water distribution infrastructure.  This has resulted in an electricity blackout throughout the city and left residents throughout Aleppo with no access to water through the public water network.

The UN continues to call on all the parties to the conflict to end the destruction of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure that is essential for the civilian population, and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

**Sudan

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that it has intensified its patrols in and around the protection of civilians sites, as well as in the wider Juba city area, following reports of sexual violence, including rape.

It also reports that [as] an enhanced protection measure, it is working with community leaders and partners to coordinate the peacekeepers escorts of women and young girls leaving protection sites to collect water and other items at scheduled times of the day.

The Mission said it takes very seriously recent allegations that peacekeepers may not have rendered aid to civilians in distress, and it is looking into the specific allegations, in line with established protocols.

UNMISS has reinforced the message to all peacekeepers that if these incidents of abuse are committed in areas for which they have responsibility, they have the individual and joint duty to act, to prevent harm to innocent civilians.

The UN condemns unequivocally these actions, and reminds all combatants and parties to the conflict, their commanders, and responsible leaders, that these acts of sexual violence constitute grave violations of international human rights law and may be regarded as war crimes, as well as crimes against humanity.

Details are available in a press release.

And the UNHCR says that with new fighting erupting in Juba, the situation in South Sudan as a whole has been getting increasingly tense.

Refugee flows from South Sudan into Uganda have doubled in the past 10 days, according to UNHCR.

It is helping some 52,000 people who have fled to Uganda, including an increasing number of severely malnourished children.

The refugees say armed groups on roads to Uganda were preventing more people from fleeing South Sudan in anticipation of a renewed conflict between rebel and Government forces.  The armed groups were looting villages, murdering civilians and forcibly recruiting young men and boys into their ranks.

The WHO (World Health Organization) said that inside South Sudan an outbreak of cholera had caused 21 deaths by the end of July.  Some 586 cases have been reported, with an average of 35 new hospital admissions per day.

Stephen O’Brien, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, is in South Sudan today, to visit some of the affected people and renew his call for funding.

The humanitarian response plan inside South Sudan has asked for almost $1.3 billion, but it is only 40 per cent funded.

There are 1.61 million internally displaced people inside the country and another 4.8 million people there are food insecure.  Mr. O’Brien is scheduled to give a press briefing in Juba tomorrow.

**Darfur Internal Dialogue and Consultations (DIDC)

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the African Union-United Nations [Hybrid] Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) report today that the EU has contributed €800,000 to help the ongoing internal dialogue process in Darfur.

The Sudanese Government also has contributed the equivalent of about $1 million to support the Darfur Internal Dialogue and Consultations (DIDC) process.

**Lake Chad Basin

The World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up its assistance to reach more than 1.5 million people in desperate need in the Lake Chad Basin.  A brutal insurgency by Boko Haram has increased humanitarian needs in what is already a deeply vulnerable region.

WFP had earlier been assisting 1 million people in the area, but it is increasing its work, both because the needs are larger as more people are pushed into displacement and because it can do more as further areas become accessible inside Nigeria.

Across the Lake Chad Basin, the UN estimates that over 9 million people need humanitarian assistance.  In the areas affected by Boko Haram violence, nearly 5 million face hunger.  Unless life-saving assistance is provided fast, hunger will only deepen during the current lean and rainy season, which lasts until September.

WFP needs urgent support to continue to provide food and nutritional assistance to displaced people and host communities alike, with $122 million required until the end of the year.

And, I know there was an exchange of questions regarding the situation in Kashmir, and I just wanted to clarify something, which is that UNMOGIP [United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan], the UN observer presence there, its mandate is to report on the ceasefire between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control.  The UN Mission there does not have a mandate there beyond the Line of Control.

**Questions and Answers

Spokesman:  Masood.

Question:  When does the Secretary General’s briefing to the Security Council on children in armed conflict… I mean, the Human Rights Watch has called that the Saudi coalition continues to bomb and maim the children, civilian children, in Yemen and should be put back on the list of shame until and unless it stops this bombing.

Spokesman:  Well, you know, I think the Secretary General’s words are… are very clear.  He said that he’s received information on measures taken by the coalition to end what he calls, and what are, grave violations against children.  But he still has some very strong concerns about the protection of Yemeni children.  As he said, the forward looking review is… continues.  Again, every word that is included in the report issued a few weeks ago stands.  It does not change, and we stand behind every… every word of it.  And the review continues.  I think the Secretary General was fairly clear in what he… what he was saying.

Question:  So what you’re saying is [inaudible] further review.

Spokesman:  This forward looking… this forward looking review continues.  We invited the Saudi Arabian… the Saudi Arabian led coalition to provide information which they’ve begun to do, and they’re offering to provide more information.  We look forward to that.  Carol.

Question:  Stéphane, on this, I’m wondering is… is the plan now to send a UN delegation to Riyadh to discuss further?  And in terms of concrete measures, can you be a bit more specific about what the Secretary General had in mind.

Spokesman:  Well, I think what we have in mind is an end to the suffering of the children in Yemen.  That will be done through, obviously, the political discussions.  But all the… all the parties involved in the conflict in Yemen have a responsibility to do their utmost.  In the discussions we had with the Saudi coalition, it had to do with issues of targeting and others, that they had to be extremely, extremely careful to avoid any sort of civilian casualty.

Those discussions are… those are continuing.  The coalition had also offered to share the conclusions of 10 investigations they had into the air strikes.  We would welcome information on that.  And, of course, the issue of accountability for any mistakes made is very important.

I’ll come back to you.

Question:  Merci.  Thank you.  Actually, I would like to start with how would I start my article, and now what on Syria since the obviously the Geneva process collapsed, what the Secretary General will do.  Will he really continue to depend on the skills and the engagement of Mr. De Mistura?  Now what?

Spokesman:  Well, you know, first of all, I guess you are responsible for writing your own article, but I don’t agree with the premise of the collapse.  I don’t agree with your premise of the collapse of the talks.  You know, obviously, I think it’s clear… we’re clear-eyed about the situation.

It’s clear that the developments on the ground have not allowed us to start where we’d hoped to start by 1 August which is to start transition institutions.  That’s clearly not… not happened.

Nevertheless, the objective remains the same which is to start those transitional institutions as soon as… as possible.  Mr. De Mistura is poised to resume the talks by the end of August.  So, again, I don’t see… I don’t interpret the current situation as a collapse of the Geneva process.  The Secretary General has full confidence in Mr. De Mistura and his efforts to get the talks reconvened by the end of… by the end of August.  And I think what is critical is that all the international community itself and all the players and all the countries that have an influence use that influence positively to get those talks also reconvened.

Question:  Is the Secretary General somehow concerned or even afraid that he’s leaving behind himself as a legacy probably the longest conflict in continuation up to the World War II?

Spokesman:  I think the lack of… to pin the lack of political progress in the talks on the Secretary General I think is… is unfair and misguided.  Throughout his tenure and the crisis that’s gone on, he has appointed some of the best diplomats we have around whether it’s Kofi Annan or Lakhdar Brahimi or Staffan De Mistura who have tried and continued to try and made progress on the talks.  But it is obviously up to those who have their fingers on the trigger to stop shooting.  It is for those who have the power to set the tone to do so.  We have seen progress with the international support group on Syria.  Despite the lack of political progress, I think the UN, the direction the Secretary General and his humanitarian arm have put in place massive, massive humanitarian operation in very difficult circumstances.  And we continue to do that, and we will continue to do that as long as that is needed.  Mr. Lee.

Question:  Sure.  I have some other questions.  But you’d said that what the Secretary General said was very clear, but as I’m sure you’ve seen, there are many people that heard it and read it don’t find it clear.  So what I wanted to ask you, it says that… that after careful consideration, Saudi Arabia was removed pending conclusion of a review.  So this implies that it’s still an open question whether they will be… just yes or no… is it still an open question that they will be put back on the annex?

Spokesman:  The review continues.  That’s what the Secretary General said.  The review continues.  He has gotten some… some information on measures taken by the coalition, but he continues to be very concerned on the situation.  The discussions are continuing.  If you look at the list, the physical list, it lists the Saudi led coalition with an asterisk saying that there is a pending review.  That continues.

Question:  But I guess… I mean, because saying it’s a forward looking review implies that it’s… which, as you know, which is perfectly the thing to do, to look at future actions.  But the question is the people that are listed on the list are all based on past actions.  So has Saudi Arabia essentially by threatening to withdraw funds gotten a different treatment that everyone else who is on the list?  How would you respond?

Spokesman:  I think that what is clear is that discussions around Yemen and who is listed has forced the world to focus on the situation in Yemen which it didn’t really before.  And I think in the discussions that we’ve had with the coalition whether it’s the Deputy Crown Prince, whether it’s the Foreign Minister, I think we’ve seen willingness on the part of the coalition to improve the way it has been operating, in a sense, militarily.  And we continue to work with them on that.

Question:  Are you saying that Ban Ki moon has gotten more change by putting them on the list and then taking them off than by leaving them on the list?

Spokesman:  I think that’s an analysis for others to make.  I have nothing to add.

Question:  On this issue, you just said in response to a question about the high profile diplomats that Ban Ki moon has assigned to the Syria file.  I want to ask you about the Yemen file.  Most people are saying… although it’s constantly said from this podium that there’s still… hope remains alive even as people walk away.  Is… Would you put Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on the same level?  You just made this distinction, you listed these illustrious long-term diplomats.  Is there a consideration…

Spokesman:  I do think that, whether it is Jamal Benoma who had the file previously or Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, I think they are extremely talented diplomats and mediators, working in trying to untangle a particularly difficult situation; trying to find a political way forward while fighting is ostensibly still going on, and I think the point is that we will continue our efforts in that direction and we will not stop.  Mr. Klein.

Question:  First a follow-up question.  On Yemen, what is the source of the information coming from the Saudi led coalition?  Is it only the Saudi Government, the military itself, or other members of the coalition, the US, et cetera?  And who was primarily responsible for performing the Saudi led coalition investigations that you mentioned?  That’s my follow up question.

My main question is regarding vetting and monitoring of private donations to various UN agencies.  And I’m going to give you a very specific example and whether there’s continued forward looking review of organizations that have donated in the past.  The recently declassified 28 pages of the US Congressional report on terrorism listed the World Assembly of Muslim Youth as having connections to terror financing and support for a number of worldwide terror groups.  The same organization is listed as a, “private donor to UNHCR in 2016 for almost $100,000”.

I’d like to know whether this donation and any others from their group to UN agencies are going to be reviewed and possibly returned in light of this newly disclosed evidence of the terrorism link.

Spokesman:  It’s a valid question.  I will look into it, but I will also urge you to contact our colleagues at UNHCR here in New York who can and should speak for themselves on their… on the way they vet their donations.  But I’m sure like any other UN agency, they do the due diligence that is needed.

The problem with answering your second first is that I think I may have forgotten part of it.  The first question, yes.  I’m not aware… I don’t think we consider, according to the official documents we have, the US being part of the Saudi led coalition.  We do not consider them part of it.  We are… the Saudis are interlocutors because it is a Saudi led coalition.  We have had… the Secretary General has had discussions with the Deputy Crown Prince, with the Foreign Minister.  Discussions have also been had at other levels.  And that’s where our information comes from.  Obviously we continue to monitor the situation on the ground through the processes that is outlined in the children in armed conflict report on how the report is actually put together.

Question:  Would the UN expect that the information is coming from the Saudi Government and the pledges is to take the new steps coming from the Saudi Government [inaudible] given the history, including those pages I mentioned from the congressional report related to Saudi Arabia’s link with terrorism, would the UN want to go behind that, I mean… self-serving.

Spokesman:  Without going on the same path that you’re trying to lead me on.  [no audio] the situation between Yemen and the document released, the documents were focusing on the conflict in Yemen, the Saudi led coalition is our interlocutor on the Saudi side.  Again, if you look at the report from the Secretary General’s report compiled by the Office of Children in Armed Conflict, the methodology of where we get our information, I think, is well explained and detailed.  Ali

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Regarding what you said about UNMOGIP, why did you have to make this clarification?

Spokesman:  Because I think it needed to be said.

Question:  The Secretary General’s visit to the Rio Games, earlier last week he made an appeal for an Olympic truce.  Has any party in conflict responded to this call?

Spokesman:  Well, I think the response will be in the pudding as we say.  We hope to see a lull if not a stop in the fighting in many conflicts around the world during the Games.

Question:  Sure.  Thank you.  Are there… is there any further news on a chemical attack suspected was chlorine in Syria and Saraqeb, delivered by helicopter?  And this was not so long after a Russian helicopter was shot down in Idlib.  I’m butchering the name.

Spokesman:  We don’t… we don’t have… we’re not able to confirm the reports on our own, but obviously the Secretary General’s very much aware of these reports alleging the use of chemical weapons in the conflict in Syria.  I think as he’s repeatedly said, he’s expressed his abhorrence regarding the use of such weapons and continues to call for all those who may be responsible to be held accountable.  Syria, as you know, is a State party to the Convention on Chemical Weapons and OPCW has the lead in responding to any allegations of the use of such weapons.

Question:  I would like to ask you about Korean Peninsula.  According to the documents of American troops stationed in South Korea, the United Nations command [inaudible] to allow South Korean and US military forces to carry heavy weapons in the demilitarized zone.  It has been reported as violating the Korean armistice agreement and might increase the tension on the Korean Peninsula.  What are the Secretary General’s views on that?

Spokesman:  I would state as a matter of fact that, as you know, the Secretary General has no operational or any other authority over the UN Command which was established in the ’50s.  As for the rest of the report, whereas we just saw it, we’re looking into it and hope to have something for you a bit later today.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  As you know, the United Nations has before on its agenda some perennial conflict including, for example, Kashmir, Cyprus, and the Middle East conflict.  And yet, regarding Cyprus and the Middle East, we see current activities deployed for the purpose of trying to resolve this, but we don’t see that in Kashmir.  Why do you think the reason is, and why does not the Secretary General initiate some effort to settle this conflict?

Spokesman:  You know, I… I… I will leave it to you and others to… to analyse the reasoning.  I think the questions on the situation in Kashmir have come up with us today and previously.  Our answers to those questions remain the same.  Ms. Landry.

Question:  Stéphane, on South Sudan, you mentioned the intensified patrols.  So the patrols were announced last week.  What has happened for UNMISS to decide to step that up.  And are you… the figure that was given last week was 109 documented cases of sexual violence and rape.  Is that still the case?

Spokesman:  Let me see if I have the exact numbers with me.  I am not sure I do, but I will check.  I will check on that.  The fact remains that protection of civilians is the core… at the core of the mandate of UNMISS, but given the operational challenges operating in Juba currently with the increased number of civilians in our society that also need protection, their capacity to do these patrols varies.  Obviously as soon as they feel they have enough capacity to do that, they will do that.  A lot of these patrols, as I said, are focused on protecting women and young girls who traditionally have been the ones to go out of the protection of civilian sites to gather water or wood or any other items they need.  I think the mission has been shocked and horrified by the number of sexual assaults that have taken place, and we’re doing what we can to try to protect those that are most vulnerable.

Question:  In Turkey, I mean, especially the freedom of press.  I mean, at this point in time, I mean, it seems that in order to consolidate his power up to [inaudible] again the press is being strangulated.  Does Secretary General have any point of opinion on this?

Spokesman:  You know, I think Farhan may have expressed the Secretary General’s views a few days ago.  You know, I think the Secretary General’s position is unchanged.  He feels the constitutional order needs to be fully preserved in order to advance in accordance with principles of democracy, fundamental rights, including the right of the media to operate.  Mr. Lee.

Question:  On South Sudan, the Government spokesman has said that if the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission doesn’t return from Khartoum, but they’ve closed their office in Juba, that they may be expelled and have no further role in the process.  Given that they are supposed to be the ones guaranteeing the peace agreement, what is the UN’s reaction?

Spokesman:  You know, I haven’t seen those comments by the spokesman.  Obviously the Joint Verification Team plays a critical role, and we hope they’re able to operate as usefully and practically as they can.

Question:  And on what you said about the witness accounts saying that UN peacekeepers stood by as women were raped outside of the camp of UN House.  What would be the ramifications if there’s an investigation if, in fact, it’s found that peacekeepers saw, watched, and did nothing?  What happens?

Spokesman:  I think that if we find that there’s… whether it is individual or unit wide lack of, you know… if we find that it’s individuals or a whole unit that have not lived up to what is expected of them, then is up to… we can take whatever measures we need to take vis à vis the troop-contributing country in terms of whether they stay mission and so forth.  Like we would do anywhere.  Individual accountability of soldiers is, as it is in every case, up to the troop-contributing country to decide on what disciplinary action is taken.  And we would hope, as in any case, if there is… if there is grounds for disciplinary action, we hope that action is taken.

Question:  I wanted to ask on Western Sahara, I’ve seen a memo that, I guess, it’s a UN memo prepared off information from Morocco that says of the 83 expelled, they’re claiming that there are really only 70 expelled.  One was a duplicate name.  Thirteen had already left the mission.  But I’m wondering, of the 70, there’s 12 substantive, there’s various other things.  Can you say, and break it down by Las Palmas, Tindouf, of the 25 that have returned, how many are “substantive”?

Spokesman:  No, I’m not able… not from this podium.  Not right now.

Question:  Okay.  And I wanted to ask, there’s an event that Farhan answered about a couple of days… yesterday he said that the event was cancelled and, therefore, there was no need to say why UN security officers on the board with a list of the UN.  But in fact the press release that was put up said that it was postponed.  They claim that there’s such desire for this event that it’s being postponed to mid August.  And my question for you is a very simple one.  Because this is on PRN Newswire, the sponsor Jack Brewer says that he’s a UN Ambassador of Peace and Support.  Is that true?  Is that a post given by the UN to Jack Brewer?

Spokesman:  I’m not aware that it is.

Question:  Did the Secretary General provide permission for Matthew Sullivan to be on the board of the Jack Brewer foundation?

Spokesman:  Again, I think Mr. Haq has answered those questions.

Question:  That’s a yes or no question.

Spokesman:  I think, Farhan… and I… even from… unfortunately, even on vacation, I watched the briefing and some exchanges between you and Farhan, and I have nothing to add to what he said.

Question:  The Secretary General has again taken an extensive trip abroad.  Should we assume that he will not give a press conference here in this room until September if at all?

Spokesman:  Either late August or early September.

Question:  [inaudible] I’m not sure if this is a question on Kashmir.  I just wanted to ask, once again, why is there so much reluctance on the part of the Secretary-General and the United Nations to offer any comments on the situation in Kashmir.

Spokesman:  When questions arise we have offered comments.  You can look back on the transcript from yesterday, or three weeks ago when I answered a question and so I don’t agree as being reluctant.

Question:  Yes, a point of information.  The 60,000 South Sudanese that were fleeing, the refugees, have they all gone to Uganda?

Spokesman:  No, there have been some who have gone to other places, including South Sudan, if I’m not mistaken.

Question:  I have kind of hit a brick wall.  It seems that was a yes or no question.  But I’m asking you another transparency question.  The Guardian has a long story about how Australia has disclosed documents about how Australia was dropped from a list of World Heritage Sites affected by climate.  And all references of Australia have been dropped from the reports and from the documents.  They said it was at the request of UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization].  UNESCO said it does not want any documents about its correspondence released even under states FOIL laws.  So I wanted to know.  Is the UN system committed to transparency at least at the level of Member States, or is it appropriate for… does Ban Ki moon as the head of the system believe it’s appropriate for UN agencies to be requesting the redaction, deletion of information…?

Spokesman:  I have no… I have no individual… I don’t have… I have no independent confirmation of the veracity of the Guardian story.  I think it sounds like a perfect question for UNESCO.  As you know, the Secretary General… that is, you know, UNESCO is ruled by its own rules and regulations.  The head is elected by its own general assembly.  The Secretary-General, as a matter of policy, affords as much transparency as possible.  Thank you.  Mr. Klein and then we’ll go.

Question:  Some questions or concerns have been raised about when the final recommendation from the Security Council and confirmation by the General Assembly of the new Secretary General will be accomplished could even slip, some have said into October.  What I want to know is what is… what is the Secretary General’s view on the amount of preparation time, from his experience, that will be needed by the designee to be up and running by 1 January?

Spokesman:  Obviously, it’s up to the Security Council to decide and the General Assembly to decide and the Member States to decide on their calendar.  As a matter of policy, and I would dare even say common sense, it is good to have some time to prepare.  If I put my memory helmet back on, I think Ban Ki moon had about eight… quite some time.  I mean, he had more time than his predecessor had to prepare.  So, obviously any transition in time is useful.  That’s a matter of fact whether you’re becoming Secretary General or, you know, becoming the AFP bureau chief at the UN.  It’s a matter of common sense.

That being said, there is no set constitutional calendar for the election of the Secretary General.  What we do know is that Ban Ki moon’s term will end at 11:59 on 31 December.

Question:  I understand… I understand there’s no constitutional rule or charter or anything.  I’m just saying from his experience now of almost 10 years in office.

Spokesman:  From his experience, having a transition time was extremely positive.

Question:  But I’m trying… trying to get some quantification from his view is two and a half or even three months enough time given all the complex issues that remain to be resolved?

Spokesman:  You look at leadership transitions throughout the world, where there is a democratic process, it varies from a few weeks to a few months.  The time that Ban Ki moon had to prepare for an official handover was extremely useful.  We are obviously from the Secretariat standpoint, already preparing handover materials for the next Secretary General.  So whenever he or she is elected and officially designated by the General Assembly, we will be ready.  But I think for that incumbent, transition time is useful.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.