|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 Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon, everyone. I’d like to start off by welcoming the Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists 2012 Journalism Fellowship recipients: Javier [Borelli], Asma [Ghiri], Shameer [Rasooldeen] and Wade [Williams]. Welcome to the UN. I hope you enjoy it here.
**Human Rights Council
The Secretary-General is in Geneva today, where he addressed the Human Rights Council this morning.
He commended the 47-member body for its quick action in responding to the crisis in Syria. The Secretary-General said that he is deeply troubled by the aerial bombardments of civilians by Government forces, by the increasing sectarian tensions, by the deteriorating humanitarian situation and by the apparent choice of both sides to pursue a solution through force rather than dialogue.
All of this, he said, complicates our efforts to facilitate a transition and promote the peace that the Syrian people deserve. He urged all involved to unite behind the diplomatic efforts of the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi, who, by the way, is in Cairo today.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also spoke at today’s session, calling the situation in Syria increasingly dire. She noted that gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law continue to take place every day. Ms. Pillay strongly urged all parties to protect civilians from the ongoing violence and to immediately cease acts of violence against civilians in violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. She also issued a call to halt the supply of ammunition to both sides. And both sets of remarks are available online.
**Secretary-General in Switzerland
After speaking at the Human Rights Council, the Secretary-General spoke at the League of Nations Library, where he applauded the mission of the Library to serve international understanding.
The Secretary-General also met with Pierre Maurer, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and senior staff of the Committee. They discussed cooperation between their respective organizations and also talked about a number of humanitarian crises, including Syria, Afghanistan, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Sahel. They agreed on the urgency of a cessation of hostilities and respect for international humanitarian law in Syria, and expressed the hope that the commitment of the international community would not falter in Afghanistan.
Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, strongly condemned the series of attacks that killed dozens and injured many more across Iraq yesterday. He expressed condolences to all those who suffered the loss of a loved one, and wished a speedy recovery to those who were wounded.
In a separate statement today, Mr. Kobler urged all political forces in the Council of Representatives to reach agreement on the selection of the new Board of Commissioners of the Independent High Electoral Commission. He said all sides should find a solution that serves the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Iraqi people.
The leadership of the UN-African Union mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID, has expressed its deep concern over a recent resumption of violence in Kutum, North Darfur, which has resulted in casualties among the local population.
The mission’s team site near Kutum reported that the security situation has deteriorated, with a rash of shootings, including an assassination attempt on a local official, since 4 September. UNAMID has evacuated wounded civilians by helicopter to El Fasher for emergency treatment.
The Acting Joint Special Representative, Aichatou Mindaoudou, said that she was saddened that the people of Kutum have again had to endure pain and suffering. UNAMID calls for a cessation in hostilities and for all parties to engage in peaceful dialogue, and we have a press release with more details.
**Democratic Republic of the Congo
Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, began a visit to the Great Lakes region and South Africa today. The purpose of his six-day visit is to discuss the situation in the eastern Democratic of the Congo with national authorities and regional bodies in advance of the high-level meeting on the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo that will be convened by the Secretary-General on 27 September. Mr. Ladsous is currently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he will also visit Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa.
**International Atomic Energy Agency
Addressing the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today, Director General Yukiya Amano said that he remains seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He reiterated his call on the country to fully comply with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions and with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and to cooperate promptly and fully with the Agency.
On Iran, Mr. Amano said that, despite the intensified dialogue between the Agency and the country since January of this year, no concrete results have been achieved so far. He said this is frustrating because, without Iran’s full engagement, the Agency will not be able to start the process to resolve all outstanding issues, including those concerning possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme. Mr. Amano’s full remarks are available on the Agency’s website.
And I have an appointment to announce today. The Secretary-General has appointed Sally Fegan-Wyles of Ireland as the Acting Head of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, known as UNITAR. Ms. Fegan-Wyles will replace Carlos Lopes, who has been appointed Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Ms. Fegan-Wyles’ most recent position was Senior Adviser on System-Wide Coherence in the Office of the Deputy Secretary-General, and we have more on this appointment in our office.
That’s it from me. Any questions? Yes, Masood?
**Questions and Answers
Question: As Iraq… in Iraq over the weekend literally became a killing field, I am sure you have a statement you are issuing on that. Did the Secretary-General take notice of this? I mean, the situation over there that particular day was worse than is happening in Syria, in Iraq. So…
Associate Spokesperson: Yes, we’ve taken note. As I mentioned just before you came in, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, strongly condemned the violence that took place in Iraq yesterday. And the Secretary-General shares the views of his Special Representative.
Question: And will there be an assessment now? Does… I mean, because I know the United Nations is reluctant to venture into Iraq since that incident of about five, six years ago in which some of the UN peacekeepers were killed.
Associate Spokesperson: The UN has a presence, and a very large presence, in Iraq under Martin Kobler. The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has been working on the ground and has been stationed in Iraq for nine years now, and it will continue with the work that it is doing. We certainly have tried our best to help support the institutions of Iraq and they have been making considerable progress in recent years, yesterday’s violence notwithstanding. But yes, we do condemn the violence that took place yesterday and we hope that the communities of Iraq will continue to pull together, as they have been doing in recent years, in forming a nation that is inclusive and that reflects the aspirations of the Iraqi people.
Question: So there is no assessment as to why this happened and whether any other outside group was involved in this particular spate of violence, I mean, on more, many citizens of Iraq?
Associate Spokesperson: Well, I think we will continue to look into what happened with the violence yesterday. The Iraqi authorities are also looking into it and we will see what they have to say. But we will continue our own work on the ground. And as you know, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq comes out periodically with its own human rights reports, including discussions of casualties in Iraq, and we will continue to look at the human rights situation throughout the country. Any further questions? Yes?
Question: So relations between President Dioncounda [Traoré] of Mali and the junta seem to be on the edge, after President Dioncounda’s request for an intervention of the [Economic] Community of West African States (ECOWAS). What is the position of the Secretary-General on this particular debate?
Associate Spokesperson: We’ve made our concerns known about the situation there. I believe that in the coming weeks, there is actually going to be a high-level meeting convened at UN Headquarters concerning Mali and the entire Sahel region. And the Secretary-General hopes that a large number of Heads of State and Government can participate in that meeting, because we have a wide number of concerns about both the political situation, as you just noted, but also the humanitarian and human rights situation in Mali. The Secretary-General, by the way, did comment on the human rights situation in Mali in the remarks that he made to the Human Rights Council, which I just mentioned earlier.
With that, I wish you all good afternoon. Thanks.
* *** *For information media • not an official record