Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, 23 February 2012
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the noon briefing.
The Secretary-General attended the London Conference on Somalia today and held a range of bilateral meetings. The Secretary-General told the conference that the meeting was taking place at a critical time. He called on the international community to take steps to improve security, advance the political process and step up assistance for recovery, reconstruction and development in Somalia. His full remarks are available online.
The Secretary-General has been meeting several leaders on the sidelines of the Conference, including the Presidents of Somalia and Uganda, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden and the Foreign Ministers of France, Spain and Italy. He is also meeting leaders from the European Union, League of Arab States and Organization of Islamic Cooperation. We are providing readouts of these meetings.
From London the Secretary-General will be heading for Zambia overnight. He is due there tomorrow afternoon.
I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the upcoming election in Senegal.
As Senegal prepares to hold its presidential election scheduled for Sunday, 26 February 2012, the Secretary-General reiterates his calls for a peaceful, credible and transparent process in line with Senegal’s longstanding democratic tradition and the aspirations of its people. He deplores recent violent incidents that have led to the loss of lives in the run-up to the elections and emphasizes the need to respect the right for peaceful and orderly assembly. He calls on political actors to refrain from using or inciting violence during the electoral period and appeals once again for all electoral disputes to be resolved through legal and peaceful means.
The Secretary-General expresses support for initiatives contributing to the conduct of an orderly and transparent poll.
This morning, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission in Timor-Leste until 31 December 2012, and endorsed the plan of its phased drawdown.
As well this morning, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, briefed the Security Council.
In her presentation, Ms. Wallström said conflict-related sexual violence is a global risk, age-old and universal. She said preventative mechanisms have been established by building a broad coalition and circle of stakeholders — peacekeepers, peacemakers, war-crimes prosecutors and the full range of protection actors.
Listing mechanisms — naming and shaming those who carry out such violence — have yielded tangible results, since those who condone violence can no longer hide beneath a mantle of impunity. She noted that the Security Council has changed how we think about rape — sexual violence is now seen as a threat to security.
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous also briefed the Council, noting that DPKO has worked closely with Ms. Wallström’s office and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to develop terms of reference for Women’s Protection Advisers to maximise existing capacities on the ground and promote coordination. He concluded by noting that the empowerment of women in fragile States is fundamental to eradicate discrimination, inequality, and gender-based violence. Their full statements are available in our office.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, has condemned in the strongest possible terms today’s attacks, which have claimed the lives of dozens of Iraqis and maimed many more across the country. He said that the continuing violent attacks on Iraqis were unacceptable and had to stop. He called on the Iraqi authorities to fully investigate these acts of violence and bring the perpetrators to justice. Mr. Kobler also urged Iraqis to come together in a spirit of fraternity and mutual respect to consider peaceful alternatives to violence.
**Guest at Noon Briefing
And tomorrow, my guest at the noon briefing will be the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, who will speak about his recent visit there.
That’s all from me, over to you. Margaret?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Eduardo, the hallways are rife with word that Kofi Annan is going to be the new Syria envoy. I know the SG met with Nabil Elaraby yesterday in London, and is he meeting with Kofi this evening, London time?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, to the best of my knowledge, we have no information on that at all.
Question: Is he meeting any other candidates or any potential candidates in the next coming days?
Deputy Spokesperson: I can’t say, I don’t know who he is meeting. Right now from what I understand, he is meeting Foreign Ministers, he is meeting Heads of Governments, and when we have something to announce, we will announce it.
Question: How soon does he want to appoint an envoy?
Deputy Spokesperson: The moment he makes up his mind and lets us know, we will let you know.
Question: Just one follow-up on that; one of the “Perm Reps” on the Security Council says that, at the luncheon that was held right before he left, the Secretary-General said he already has a shortlist on that. Can you confirm that and the size of the shortlist?
Deputy Spokesperson: I have no information on that at all, I’m sorry.
Question: Can I ask another question?
Deputy Spokesperson: One more.
Question: Okay. The question is, it’s a two… it’s one question, but has two parts.
Deputy Spokesperson: Normally they do from you, yes.
Question: Yeah. The first part is, as I am sure you know, yesterday, Louise Fréchette, the head of the Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations issued a statement saying that Shavendra Silva in Ban Ki-moon’s report of head of a division accused of war crimes is not, will not participate, cannot participate and his participation would be inappropriate. I wanted to know now, after all of this, does either the Secretary-General, or I asked Mr. Ladsous, apparently he had no comment, what is the response of the UN Secretariat to the advice that Navi Pillay gave to Ban being implemented by another person and do they stand behind that decision?
Deputy Spokesperson: The advice continues to be, it is a Member State decision. The Secretary-General has taken note of Ms. Fréchette’s statement yesterday, but it is a Member State decision.
Question: And the second part of it is, I went to cover the meeting in which Mr. Silva attended but wasn’t permitted to speak. And it was in 380 Madison, which is, at least to my understanding, is a UN-paid rented building meant to replace space that is here. This was not a UN staff meeting; it was the kind of meeting that is normally held in the North Lawn. I stood outside to cover it, and yet the Sri Lankan Mission got UN Security to have me removed from the building. And I wanted to know what is the… what is the protocol for the press being able to cover meetings such as the Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping, and why would you let the Mission of one country remove a journalist from a UN structure?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I will have to check on that, Matthew, I don’t have the information. We’ll check on that for you.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later said that buildings such as Madison, DC1, DC2, etcetera, are not open to the press. Unless a member of the press has an appointment (for an interview, for example) he/she does not have access to these areas.]
Correspondent: Please do. Okay, thank you.
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes?
Question: Yes, is there any position that the Secretary-General took on the situation between India and Italy for those fishermen that were killed by Italians in the Indian Ocean; they were thinking they were pirates? And because the Italians are saying at the moment that India is not respecting the international law on this and the UN also… the position of the UN on piracy, because they… practically the ship has been taken in an Indian port and some Italians have been arrested. So, there is any position the UN has on this accident?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, right now it would seem to be a matter between Italy and India, and we hope they resolve it peacefully and to their mutual satisfaction. That’s it?
Question: There are some reports that Ms. Pillay in Geneva received a list of perpetrators from Syria, can we confirm that? Do we have any date, details about that?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, but you may want to check with Rupert Colville, her spokesperson.
Question: I want to ask two things. I wanted to — I think you may have “if asked” on this — there was, described as looting or a riot of an UNRWA facility in Taya, which was accused of not providing a letter of referral to a Lebanese woman. This took place in the last two days. Pretty big protest of a UN facility in Lebanon, I am wondering what is the U… what does UNRWA say of the allegation that they didn’t perform their job in terms of medical treatment for [inaudible]?
Deputy Spokesperson: I’ll have to check on that for you, Matthew, I don’t have anything on that.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later reported UNRWA’s comments on the incident:
The death of Nisreen Krayyem is very regrettable. The death was caused by the lack of available respirators in Tyre and Saida areas when the patient’s case deteriorated. The only available respirator was secured in Beirut after several contacts were made by UNRWA’s doctors, the hospitals and the patient’s family. The patient was then transported by ambulance from the Italian hospital in Tyre, where she was given first-aid treatment, to Rassoul Aazam hospital in Beirut, but shortly after her arrival, she passed away. Rassoul Aazam is still investigating the case to establish the cause of the death. As a Lebanese married to a Palestinian, Nisreen Krayyem did not need a hospital referral from UNRWA to enter the hospital, but since this category of persons falls under the joint responsibility of UNRWA and the Ministry of Public Health, the Agency did its best to assist her in finding a respirator in hospital.
UNRWA assists Lebanese married to Palestinians, or Palestinians who are naturalized Lebanese, with free-of-charge primary health care, partial coverage in secondary health care where the Agency pays the difference of the Ministry of Public Health rate, whilst in tertiary health care, the Ministry of Public Health rate is more advantageous than UNRWA’s coverage.”]
Correspondent: Yeah, okay. I want, just a check…
Deputy Spokesperson: Yeah. Okay, thank you. Have a nice afternoon.
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