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Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

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

and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President


The following is a near‑verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary‑General, and Nihal Saad, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary‑General

So, good afternoon, and welcome to the briefing.

**Guest at Noon

Today, as you know, my guest is Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and she is here to brief you obviously in connection with Human Rights Day.

**Secretary‑General's Statement on Democratic Republic of the Congo

But just before I hand the floor to Ms. Pillay, I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary‑General on the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

The Secretary‑General takes note of the announcement of the provisional results of the presidential elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, which indicate that President Joseph Kabila garnered the most votes.  The Secretary-General calls for any differences regarding the provisional results of the polls to be resolved peacefully through available legal and mediation mechanisms, including the National Mediation Committee.

The Secretary‑General continues to follow the situation closely and strongly condemns any acts of violence in connection with the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He reiterates his call for calm and urges all candidates and their supporters to exercise restraint and refrain from any acts of violence, provocation and incitement to violence.

That’s a statement attributable to Spokesperson, it’s also available in French.  And I will carry on with the rest of my briefing after Ms. Pillay has briefed you herself. 

So, please welcome, and the floor is yours.

[Press conference by Ms. Pillay is issued separately.]

**Secretary‑General's Statement on Lebanon

So, I have a few more items, including a statement on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary‑General.

The Secretary‑General strongly condemns this morning’s attack against a UNIFIL vehicle near the town of Tyre, inside UNIFIL’s area of operations.  The attack injured five UNIFIL military personnel.  UNIFIL and Lebanese authorities are cooperating closely in the ongoing investigation, which aims to ascertain the facts.  The Secretary‑General expects that the perpetrators will be swiftly identified and brought to justice.  This attack on UNIFIL, the third since May 2011, is deeply disturbing. The security and safety of all United Nations personnel in Lebanon is of paramount importance.

**Secretary‑General in Mogadishu and Dadaab

As you will have seen, the Secretary‑General visited the Somali capital Mogadishu, and Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya with the President of the General Assembly today.

In Mogadishu, the Secretary‑General met with the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament, and with African Union peacekeepers and UN staff working in Somalia.  He was the first Secretary‑General to visit Mogadishu since Boutros Boutros‑Ghali in October 1993.

The Secretary‑General announced that the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) would relocate to Mogadishu from Nairobi next month.  He told reporters he was visiting to show the strong solidarity of the United Nations and the broader international community.  He said being in Mogadishu was the most visible way to send a clear message to the people of Somalia that they are not alone.

And on his way back to Nairobi from Mogadishu, the Secretary‑General visited the Dadaab refugee complex, which hosts the largest number of Somali refugees.  He met with refugees and elders in the camp.  And he also met UN staff working in Dadaab, and was briefed on the work that UN agencies, and in particular the UN refugee agency, do to assist refugees there.  The Secretary‑General is now on his way to Doha to attend a meeting of the UN Alliance of Civilizations Initiative.

And, Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, has welcomed an announcement by Sweden of an additional $10 million contribution to the Horn of Africa crisis.  Ms. Amos has just completed a two‑day visit to Sweden.

**Security Council

This morning the Security Council met in consultations to discuss Cyprus and Liberia.

** Pakistan Flooding

In Pakistan, the Government and humanitarian agencies have distributed shelter and other relief supplies to help 450,000 families in flood‑affected areas in Sindh and Balochistan.

However, more than 40 per cent of families have not yet received help.  The focus at the moment is on distributing blankets, bedding and kitchen sets to help people cope with the cold, as temperatures drop.  Many areas of Sindh remain under water.  Humanitarian organizations are monitoring temporary settlements to confirm the locations of all those displaced by the floods.  And you can get more details on this from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

**Secretary‑General’s Appointment

The Secretary‑General has appointed György Busztin of Hungary as his Deputy Special Representative for Iraq.  Mr. Busztin will head the political, electoral and constitutional support component of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).  He will replace Jerzy Skuratowicz of Poland who has served in Iraq for the past two years.  And we have more on that appointment in my office.

**International Anti‑Corruption Day

And as the world marks International Anti‑Corruption Day today, the Secretary‑General has called on all individuals to act against the cancer of corruption.  The United Nations is helping countries to combat corruption as part of a broader, system‑wide campaign to help bolster democracy and good governance.  The United Nations Convention against Corruption is a powerful tool in furthering those efforts.  And copies of his message are available on line and in my office.

**Press Conferences

On Monday at 12:30 p.m., there will be a press conference by Fatou Bensouda, the new Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that the Secretary‑General would hold a press conference next week.  Just to give you the date and time, it’ll be on Wednesday, that’s 14 December, at 11 a.m. right here in this auditorium.

And after I have taken a couple of questions from you, Nihal Saad, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, would like to brief you too.

So, I am happy to take a couple of questions.  Please?  Yes, Matthew and then Masood? 

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure, I wanted first to ask about Somalia.  Various Members of Parliament there say that they are petitioning Ban Ki‑moon about problems they have had with Mr. Mahiga and UNPOS, saying that he has violated the Transitional Federal Charter by engaging selectively with parties, and that they don’t consider him an honest broker.  I wanted to know whether the Secretary‑General, in his visit, received such a petition and also when he met, whether or not he has, what he makes of this criticism by parliamentarians in Somalia?

Spokesperson:  Well, I do not know whether such a petition was handed to the delegation or not.  I am sure that we will be able to find that out.  Mr. Mahiga obviously enjoys the full confidence of the Secretary‑General in the work that he does in very difficult circumstances.  As you have just heard me say, the Office will be moving to Mogadishu from Nairobi.  That’s precisely because there are changes that are under way, and that momentum needs to be continued.

Question:  And just on…

Spokesperson:  Masood, and then I will come back to you.

Question: …one follow‑up on Somalia still?

Question:  Yes, this is one of the follow‑up questions and so forth.  I mean this… about the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, obviously there has been exchange of prisoners between Israelis and Palestinians in [inaudible].  I will, I mean, at least there are still reports of 8,000 Palestinians still being in jail for years in Israeli jails.  Has the Secretary‑General again talked to the Israeli authorities about this?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have anything fresh beyond what I have said before.  It’s the kind of topic that is raised in exchanges with Israeli leaders, and I am sure that will continue to be the case.  Yes, Matthew?

Question:  Sure, I just wanted, on Somalia again, the… in both his visits to Kenya and in Somalia I wanted to know if issues of civilians being injured, you know, in the fight against Al‑Shabaab by Kenyan forces that reportedly bo… you know, either maybe erroneously bombed an IDP camp and also there have been various complaints about AMISOM shooting into crowds and the TFG as well.  Was… is there anything said by Ban Ki‑moon about how this fight against Al‑Shabaab should proceed in terms of impacting Somali civilians?

Spokesperson:  Take a look at the readout we issued.  It mentions that.  Yes, right at the back?

Question:  Thank you.  My name is Joan Davis, I am a Gray Panther, an NGO.  I…

Spokesperson:  I am sorry, this is…

Question:  Can I…?

Spokesperson:  I can’t take questions from NGOs, I am afraid.

Question:  [inaudible], newsletter, [inaudible]?

Giampaolo Pioli, President, United Nations Correspondents Association:  We have rules, we have rules.

Spokesperson:  I am not aware that you are not a journalist, I’m afraid I can only take questions from journalists here.  So, yes, Masood?

Question:  On this update you just gave on Pakistan, I would like to know, I mean, whether you have that or not, what is now in Pakistan the exact figure of IDPs now?  I mean, I know the old [inaudible].  Do they have one now?

Spokesperson:  I think I would, as I mentioned, I’d refer you to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, they may have more details.  It may be that the UN refugee agency has some information along those lines.  I do not have a figure here with me now.  No, I do not have that.  Other questions, please.

Question:  [inaudible]?

Spokesperson:  I beg your pardon?

Correspondent:  No, I’m sorry, if there is anybody else, I wanted to [inaudible].

Spokesperson:  Well, that’s what I am trying to do.  I am trying to share it around a bit, Matthew.  But I will come back to you, do not fear.  Yes?

Question:  Just one thing more on UNIFIL, what happened today, do you know first of all, the… you know, what is the situation in the field at this moment?  What are… what the UN is doing to protect its forces there if something has to be changed from today on.  What’s happening?

Spokesperson:  Well, what I can tell you is that the Force Commander has issued a separate statement with more details on what is known so far.  And I would ask you to contact the UNIFIL press office.  They have more details on this.  But certainly, as you have heard me say, the Secretary‑General believes that it is of paramount importance to protect; for those peacekeepers to be protected and be able to do their job.  Matthew, I am going to make this the last question.  Nihal has been extremely patient, and I think that you will agree that there have been quite a few questions.

Question:  Sure, sure, sure, I have a Sudan question, but I guess it will wait.  I want to ask you the budget question I wanted to ask you yesterday.  In the Fifth Committee, the Budget Committee, there was a request, I understand, to hear about the Umoja information technology project of which there has been quite a bit of controversy and criticism and according to Fifth Committee sources, there was not really anyone able to give this briefing.  Ms. Migiro was gone — she is the head of the Umoja right now — they asked for some other senior officials of the Ban Ki‑moon administration; no one was available.  And so, they were… there was some surprise there, and I wanted to know, who was actually in charge of the UN yesterday and why couldn’t they appear in the Fifth Committee to talk about this important project?

Spokesperson:  Well, if the Fifth Committee has asked for a briefing on this topic, then I am sure at some point that will happen.  Quite why it couldn’t happen yesterday, I do not know.  But if a request has been made for a briefing, then I am sure it will be given.

Question:  Who is the Officer‑in‑Charge?

Spokesperson:  Matthew…

Question:  It’s the same question, I just wanted to know, who was actually in charge yesterday at the UN?

Spokesperson:  I need to check, I need to check.  But it is within the Executive Office of the Secretary‑General. I need to check precisely who that was.  But the most important point is that people do have full agendas.  And it may be that if the request came that was not immediately anticipated, they needed to prepare for that.  But if a request is made for a briefing by the Fifth Committee or any other committee, then I am sure that it will be given.

And I am going to hand over now to Nihal, who has been extremely patient.  Thank you very much, indeed.  Have a good weekend.  Thank you.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon, everyone.

As Martin has just mentioned, I would like to brief you on the joint visit by the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary‑General today to Mogadishu, Somalia.  The President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Nassir Abdulaziz al‑Nasser, has concluded a one‑day visit to Somalia with UN Secretary‑General Ban Ki‑moon.  As you may all well know, this visit represents the first‑ever visit of a President of the General Assembly and a Secretary‑General to Somalia.  In fact, it is also the first time a President of the General Assembly has ever visited Somalia.

The President, when he was addressing Somali officials and the Somali people in a joint press conference with the Secretary‑General, said that “we are here today to demonstrate that the United Nations General Assembly, the Member States and the Secretary‑General are standing with you”.

In Mogadishu, President Al‑Nasser held meetings with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and the Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government, Dr. Adiweli Mohamed Ali, and also the Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament, Sheikh Sharif Hassan Sheikh.  They discussed a wide range of issues, including the humanitarian and security situation in Somalia and the implementation of the Somali road map.

In his meeting with Somali Government officials, President Al‑Nasser reiterated that the implementation of the road map adopted last September is the way forward.  He reaffirmed that the United Nations and the international community stand ready to offer whatever assistance they can to help in its implementation.

During his meeting also with international and local aid workers on the ground, President Al‑Nasser commended their life‑saving work on the ground.  He stressed that their security and safety is a top priority.  The President of the General Assembly pledged the support and the goodwill of the General Assembly and the Member States of the United Nations for the Government and people of Somalia.

As some of you might recall, some of the statements that President Al‑Nasser has made before to members of the press, when he was talking about Somalia, he said that the situation is deplorable.  And he said that he believes that Somalia also is the forgotten Arab State.  He however, said that Somalia is a global problem and that it was essential for the international community to address it and lend real support to the authorities and to the people in Somalia.

On another note, the President of the General Assembly is on his way now to Doha, Qatar, to participate in two functions — the first one is the Alliance of Civilizations Doha Forum opening in Doha on Sunday, 11 December, and the second is the opening of the UN Regional Rule of Law and Anti‑Corruption Centre, also taking place on 11 December.

And that’s what I have.  I don’t know if you have any questions.  Yes, Masood?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I would like to [inaudible], countries like Syria and Yemen and other countries which are [inaudible], Bahrain and there are charges of various serious human rights violations [inaudible]?

Spokesperson:  I have no knowledge of trips to these specific countries as we speak.  But I will definitely be able to tell you that as soon as any of these trips are being organized, we will be issuing something official about it.  Matthew?

Question:  Sure, a question about these trips, I just wanted to… one is just a very nitty‑gritty one, which is that previous Presidents of the General Assembly have complained that the budget given to them by the UN both to hire staff and especially to travel is too low.  So I just wanted to know, just without saying there is anything right or wrong either way, who is paying for these trips of, particularly, the General Assembly President?  And separately or relatedly, I wanted to know if he has any, or your office has any comment on this criticism by Libyan diplomat Shalgham, who said that the State of Qatar is improperly interfering in Libya and supporting certain parties, and if there is any… if in fact it is Qatar that pays for any of this travel, what safeguards are in place to divide the work of the General Assembly President as President and the perception at least that as the former Permanent Representative of Qatar he may, you know, be in some communication with Qatar?

Spokesperson:  I am not in a position to comment on the logistics of the trips that the General Assembly President is undertaking.  And regarding your second questions, regarding the comments by Mr. Shalgham, I have seen those reports and we usually do not comment on news reports.

Question:  Forgetting logistics, because you could say it has to do with security, I think it is… well you may disagree, but it seems fair to ask, is UN money being used for these trips?  Yes or no?  And then separately, if not, whose money is being used?  See what I mean?  But you should… I think you should answer.

Spokesperson:  I would have to check this, because I think you directed the same question to the SG’s office.  So, I will have to check this and get back to you.  But I do not comment on logistics.  Yes, any more questions?  Thank you.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.