The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
**Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
The Secretary-General today released his report, Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: A New Approach, for consideration by the General Assembly. The report outlines a victim-centred strategy rooted in transparency, accountability and ensuring justice. It focuses on four main areas: putting the rights and dignity of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse at the forefront of our efforts; establishing greater transparency on reporting and investigations in an effort to end impunity for those guilty of sexual exploitation and abuse; building a truly multi-stakeholder network to support the UN effort to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse; and raising awareness and sharing best practices to end this scourge.
In addition, the Secretary-General is convinced that increasing the number of women throughout UN activities, including service as uniformed peacekeepers, would help advance the UN efforts to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse. And the Secretary-General’s new approach to combat sexual exploitation and abuse also seeks to build a strong partnership with Member States, and stamping out this scourge will require all relevant actors to find strength in unity. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to deliver on these goals together.
In a video message today, the Secretary-General says: “Let us declare in one voice: We will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse. We will not let anyone cover up these crimes with the UN flag. Every victim deserves justice and our full support. Together, let us deliver on that promise.”
And today to discuss this report further, we will have right after this briefing, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet, together with Nancee Bright from the office of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Christian Saunders, Director of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Management; and Lisa Buttenheim, Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support, and they will help present the report to you.
In order to get to them quickly, I’m only going to read out a couple of notes right now and many others can be found on our web highlights. And then I’ll take a few of your questions that are not related to the report, before we turn it over to our guests.
First off, in the Security Council, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, delivered remarks this morning as the Security Council held a briefing on its recent mission to the Lake Chad region. Council members spent nearly a week earlier this month visiting the Lake Chad area, including stops in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
The Deputy Secretary-General told the Council: “The Lake Chad crisis provides a powerful illustration of the complex, multidimensional challenges that are facing our modern world. A successful response requires mobilizing our assets holistically”.
And the Security Council was also briefed this morning by Under-Secretary-General Jamal Benomar on the situation in Burundi.
And I have a senior personnel appointment to announce: Today, the Secretary-General is announcing the appointment of Louise Arbour of Canada as his Special Representative for International Migration.
The Special Representative will lead the follow-up to the migration-related aspects of the 19 September 2016 high-level summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants. Ms. Arbour will work with Member States, in partnership with other stakeholders, as they develop a first-ever global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration. She will lead the United Nations advocacy efforts on international migration, provide policy advice and coordinate the engagement of United Nations entities on migration issues, particularly in implementing the migration-related components of the New York Declaration.
Ms. Arbour has a long and distinguished career in international affairs. Among other things, she previously served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and as a Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
The Secretary-General would like to thank for their dedicated service and effective leadership Peter Sutherland of Ireland, who served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration for over 11 years from January 2006; Karen AbuZayd of the United States, who served as Special Adviser on the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants; and Izumi Nakamitsu of Japan, who has been serving as Special Adviser ad interim on the follow-up to the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants since November 2016.
And I will leave it at that and take any questions, not on the report, before we turn over to our guests. Yes, Masood?
**Questions and Answers
Spokesman: Farhan, does the Secretary‑General have any… does he agree with the statement given by his Human Rights High Commissioner in Geneva that Donald Trump's statements against journalists, judges and lawyers, and that he has decried what he said and he is also… also decried the ban on five Muslim countries? Does the Secretary‑General agree with that statement?
Spokesman: Well, the way I’d put it is that the Secretary‑General supports the work of his High Commissioner. Clearly, the views of the High Commissioner are related to important aspects of his mandate and we certainly also believe that it's important for all leaders, not just here but everywhere, to respect the freedom of the media. Yes?
Question: Sure. I want to ask about Burundi and Cameroon, but first, just on this announcement of Louise Arbour, I'd asked you before, I guess, whether she would get the job, and it was said that he had… the Secretary‑General had to go… first go to ACABQ [Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions] and there was no description of how many posts are in this job. Can you now… now that you've made the announcement, how big is the office? Has… did… I guess… has ACABQ itself signed off on it? Has the Fifth Committee? And what more can you say about what… the… the… this… this entity is going to be?
Spokesman: Well, I think we're going to have more details once she's in place and can get her office together. We did get approval just recently from the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, and so they have approved her position, and that's why we were able to go ahead with this right now.
Question: Is that report public? Is the ACABQ… have they issued a report on the proposal?
Spokesman: You'd have to ask the ACABQ. The Committee itself agreed, I believe, just yesterday on this proposal.
Question: Right, but can you make… can you can make public what you submitted to them, i.e., what the proposal is? It seems like it's a pretty straightforward question.
Spokesman: We've made it available to the Member States, so they already have it. Yes?
Question: Yes, Farhan. What is the position of the United Nations regarding extrajudicial killing?
Spokesman: We're against extrajudicial killings. You're well aware of that, and it's a part of the mandate of our human rights mechanisms.
Question: Okay. So Basil al‑Araj was in his home Monday… Monday. He was attacked by an Israeli unit. They killed him in his home without coordinating with the Palestinian Authority. They have an agreement. However, this extrajudicial killing was not criticized by anybody. He's an intellectual, he's a writer, he's a researcher and he's a blogger. And he speaks against occupation, which Israel calls incitement. Anybody who speaks against occupation is an incitement. Why there was no reference to this kind of killing?
Spokesman: First of all, as with all such cases, we need to get details about the incident as it happened on the ground. What we're hoping for is that the local authorities will first and foremost take the lead in investigating this, and we want to see what the results of that investigation will be. Yes?
Question: Wanted to ask you, the… the Vice-President of Burundi… I know that the Council's meeting on it, but publicly and as published in the Government-friendly press in Burundi, he's asked that all UN staff currently in Burundi be switched over, saying that they all have the wrong impression of the country. So I wanted to know, one, do you have a response, and two, can you say how many UN staff there are? I know there've been some problems of getting visas and getting people in, but how many UN staff are currently there? And what's your response to the first Vice-President of the country saying they should all be changed?
Spokesman: Well, first of all, we believe that our staff needs to be able to go about their work without hindrance. And this has been an important thing to underline, our staff does impartial work and they are supposed to go about it without hindrance. We are aware the staff from UN agencies have sometimes experienced delays in receiving their visas and that's interrupted their work, and some of them… there are some cases that have been pending for months at a time. And we, once more, urge the Burundian authorities to facilitate the granting of visas for staff and to allow all staff to go about their work.
Question: And I wanted to ask you, on Cameroon, thanks for the answer you sent about Mr. [Francois] Louncény Fall saying that he would raise issues to the authorities. Can you say whether the issue of the internet being off in two provinces for 52 days has been raised? And, secondarily, I wanted to ask you this. You announced from this podium that Najat Rochdi is going to CA… Central African Republic as Resident Coordinator. What's the process to appoint a new Resident Coordinator for the UN system in Cameroon? And is it… is it… is it… can it be public in any way? It seems many people have complained that, while she was there, she never raised the Anglophone issue. And, in fact, I found that she blocks Inner City Press on Twitter, so I'm unable to ask her why… why this issue has not been raised. But what's the process to replace… and you can smirk, but should a UN official in their official account…?
Spokesman: That's an unrelated thing. I mean, obviously, all people… all individuals, not even just all UN officials, are free to block whoever they want on Twitter. That's within their rights.
Question: Including missions? So you think a peacekeeping mission should pick and choose which media can follow it?
Spokesman: Organizations will respond… are supposed to respond to press requests. Individuals can do whatever they like with their Twitter accounts.
Question: What's the process of replacing the Resident Coordinator in Cameroon?
Spokesman: It's the same as in any other place. There's a process that goes… that you go through, and the Resident Coordinator's selection process is supervised by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Yes, Dulcie?
Question: Yeah, the other day, the Deputy for UN-Women [United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women] was here promoting the CSW [Commission on the Status of Women] and questions came up about CSW participants unable to attend because of Trump's immigration ban. And she basically said she knew of no problems related to that. And if there were, they should go to the US Mission. The US Mission knows nothing about this, so they were sort of surprised to find out that they were being referred to for visa problems for the CSW. Thanks. So… so…
Spokesman: So the question is?
Question: … do you have any… sorry. [laughter] Do you have any new information about CSW participants from the six countries not being…?
Spokesman: No, we're not aware of any complaints of anyone who is trying to attend those… the Commission, who has not been able to. As far as we know, everyone who has…
Question: But one of the Commission members is from Iran, so do you know specifically if that person is unable to attend?
Spokesman: Like I said, we've received no complaints from anyone. So, as of right now, it seems that everyone is on track. Yes?
Question: Yeah. Thank you, Farhan. On this situation in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, it is an ongoing situation where violence continues every day. People are being killed every day. And when I asked the question earlier when the Secretary‑General had just taken over, Stéphane [Dujarric] had said that the Secretary‑General is going to put his hands on the situation — he'll be hands on. Has he been able to understand the dispute and will he be talking to the Prime Minister of India, in particular, to start dialogue with Pakistan?
Spokesman: He will talk to different officials if it helps move the process along. That's something that he is looking into. Beyond that, I have nothing new to say about the issue.
Question: Can we have a timeline as to when that will happen at all?
Spokesman: No, I mean, as with any number of long‑running situations, there is a lot of complex issues that need to be examined, and he will look into the issue, and certainly, he will try to see what can be done to improve the situation on the ground.
Correspondent: Thank you.
Spokesman: All right. One more from you, one more for you, and then we'll go to our guests.
Question: Sure, I have others, but actually, I… I wanted to know, yesterday, I asked you about the situation in the UNMISS [United Nations Mission in South Sudan] camp in Juba and the school… the exams for secondary school against South Sudan and the Government saying that people have to leave the camp. Have you been able to get the answer of UNMISS on that?
Spokesman: No, I've asked for an answer from UNMISS. I don't have anything just yet. This is about different exams, and we'll have to see whether there's any effort being made to pursue an alternative that would be more convenient for the students themselves.
Question: Right. What they're saying is it's an ethnic problem, that most of the children in the camp are afraid of the largely Dinka forces and there's why… it seems like the UN… basically, the time to take the exam is expiring. That's why I'm asking you again today.
Spokesman: Well, we'll see what efforts are being made on the ground to help resolve that. Yes?
Question: Yes. Just three hours ago, Samira Halayka, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, has been kidnapped from her home in Hebron. Any news? Do you have… did you receive any report? Would you pr… would you check on that story as we… as it is developing now?
Spokesman: No, again, as with your previous question, this is also a question for the local authorities on the ground to deal with, and we hope that they will be on top of that.
Correspondent: Thank you.
Spokesman: All right. Let me get to our guests.