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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2014

 

IN MEETING WITH U.N. STAFF, SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS OBLIGATION TO END EBOLA EPIDEMIC

  • The Secretary-General hosted a global Town Hall this morning to brief staff members on measures being taken to protect them from Ebola.
  • He stressed that the UN has an obligation to the affected countries to end the epidemic and, at the same time, an obligation to protect its personnel.
  • He said that with Ebola stories flooding the media, it is important that our messages are based on facts and evidence, and that we must convey a sense of urgency without inciting panic.
  • Strict protocols are in place in the affected countries to protect UN personnel and prevent further transmission, while UN clinics in the three affected countries are being upgraded.
  • The Secretary-General also stressed that the United Nations has mandatory pre-deployment travel and medical screening requirements.
  • At UN Headquarters in New York, all procedures are in line with US guidance, and the Medical Services Division is working in close coordination with the New York Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Mali announced its first case of Ebola yesterday. The World Health Organization (WHO) will send additional experts to strengthen the team in clinical management, epidemiology and contact tracing, and social mobilization.
  • In Geneva, the WHO also concluded a meeting on how to fast track testing and deployment of vaccines.
  • Results from phase 1 clinical trials of most advanced vaccines are expected to be available in December 2014 and efficacy trials in accepted countries also will begin in this timeframe.
  • Pharmaceutical companies developing the vaccines have committed to ramp up production capacity for millions of doses to be available in 2015, with 100,000 ready in the first half of the year.
  • Regulatory authorities in countries where the vaccines are manufactured and in Africa have committed supporting this goal by working under extremely short deadlines to have vaccines approved. 
  • Marie-Paule Kieny, the World Health Organization’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, said that as a group, they were accelerating in a matter of weeks a process that typically takes years.
  • On the funding front, we would like to welcome the new contributions to the UN Ebola Trust Fund over the past few days of Canada, Estonia, New Zealand and Romania.
  • These bring the cumulative commitments to 18.7 million dollars.
  • Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom have also pledged significant contributions.
  • The total commitments and pledges to the Fund now stand at $118 million.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO EMBARK ON JOINT VISIT WITH WORLD BANK CHIEF TO HORN OF AFRICA

  • The Secretary-General will be travelling to the Horn of Africa next week.
  • He will be joined on this visit by the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, as well as with officials from the Africa Union, the European Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank.
  • This is the third joint trip that the Secretary-General is undertaking with the World Bank and other regional organizations, following the ones to the Sahel and the Great Lakes region last year.
  • The delegation will first visit Ethiopia for meetings with the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister, as well as with IGAD’s Foreign Minister and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and its Commissioners.
  • In Djibouti, the delegation will meet with the President, the Prime Minister and the President of the National Assembly.
  • Members of the delegation will then travel to Kenya where they will meet with the President. While in Nairobi, the Secretary-General will also launch the Global Media Campaign to End Female Genital Mutilation while he is in Nairobi.

BAN WELCOMES EUROPEAN COMMISSION’S NEW TARGET TO CURB GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

  • In a statement issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General strongly commended the decision of the European Commission to set a new target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030. The decision demonstrates the continued global leadership of the European Union on taking bold action to address climate change. He said that EU leaders have once again placed Europe in a leading position with an ambitious emissions reduction target.
  • In adopting this target, the EU has shown that addressing global climate needs is in its own long-term interest. The decision will lead to tangible and significant contributions towards our collective effort to keep temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius this century. The decision will also set a new standard for climate ambition for all countries in support of the upcoming global negotiations.
  • The Secretary-General urges all countries to act swiftly and boldly on climate change and to make every effort to reach an ambitious climate agreement by the end of 2015.

SENIOR U.N. OFFICIALS BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON NEED FOR PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF UKRAINE CRISIS

  • This morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution on the Somalia-Eritrea sanctions as well as renewed the African Union Mission’s authorisation until the end of November 2015.
  • It then held an open meeting on Ukraine, in which it was briefed by Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.
  • Mr. Fernandez-Taranco said that the results of efforts to end the conflict remain mixed, and that despite recent important agreements, much more work needs to be done to ensure that lasting and durable peace prevails in Ukraine.
  • He underscored the importance that the legislative and local elections – scheduled for 26 October and 7 December, respectively – can take place peacefully throughout Ukraine and serve as important milestones in the efforts to help stabilise the country and refocus national energies on achieving reform, rebuilding and reconciliation for all Ukrainians.
  • Mr. Fernandez-Taranco also noted that the Secretary-General remains committed to using his Good Offices to help resolve this violent conflict.
  • For his part, Mr. Simonovic said that the implementation of the 5 September ceasefire agreement remains fragile, and that human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law continue to be committed.
  • He said that there is a clear threat that we may be facing yet another protracted low-intensity conflict.
  • Nonetheless, Mr. Simonovic said, the ceasefire agreement still presents the most significant opportunity for a peaceful solution to the situation in the east.

U.N. OFFICIALS VISIT SITES OF REBEL ATTACKS IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO

  • From the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Head of the UN Mission in the country (MONUSCO), Martin Kobler; the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Said Djinnit; and the Special Representative of the African Union for Burundi and the Great Lakes, Boubacar Diarra, visited the town of Beni yesterday, in the North Kivu province.
  • The area has recently suffered several attacks believed to have been perpetrated by members of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
  • The Envoys stressed that authorities, the leadership of the Congolese Army, the UN Mission in the country, MONUSCO, and the population needed to be united against those engaging in acts of terror.

WRAPPING UP IRAQ VISIT, U.N. OFFICIALS CALL FOR RESOURCES TO ADDRESS HUMANITARIAN NEEDS

  • Rashid Khalikov, Director of the Geneva Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and Hesham Youssef, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), concluded a three-day mission in Iraq today.
  • They called for more resources to urgently address the needs of 5.2 million people across Iraq.
  • Mr. Khalikov said that winter is just weeks away, and that it is imperative that we step up our efforts. Approximately 800,000 people urgently need emergency shelter assistance and 1.26 million people need some form of assistance to cope with the winter.

MEXICO: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE REITERATES CONCERN OVER DISAPPEARANCE OF DOZENS OF STUDENTS

  • From Geneva, the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reiterated today its concern about the continued disappearance of 43 students in the town of Iguala in Mexico. They were last seen on 26 September being taken by the municipal police.
  • The Office regretted that the mechanisms activated by the Mexican authorities to search for them have not yet been successful and urged authorities to step up their efforts.
  • It also urged them to conduct effective, prompt and impartial investigations so as to identify those who were buried in mass graves and bring those responsible to justice.
  • The Office asked the Mexican Government to recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive communications from victims.

U.N. VOICES CONCERN OVER THREATS AGAINST LIBYAN HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern today over reports of threats and intimidation directed against the National Council for Civil Liberties and Human Rights.
    A number of worrying incidents had occurred on last week, including threatening phone calls and visits. The Office has called on all parties to immediately refrain from such intimidation and threats, and to allow the Council to carry out its activities in an independent manner free of harassment or other hostile action. 

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CALLS ON KYRGYZSTAN NOT TO PASS DISCRIMINATORY LAW AGAINST L.G.B.T. PEOPLE

  • The Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today called on the Parliament and authorities in Kyrgyzstan to refrain from passing draft legislation embedding into law discrimination against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
  • The Office said that the proposed law would also violate fundamental human rights, including the rights to liberty, security and physical integrity, as well as the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
  • These rights are protected by human rights treaties ratified by Kyrgyzstan.
  • The Office stressed that everyone is entitled to equality before the law, without any discrimination, and it is the State’s responsibility to protect all individuals from discrimination. It urged authorities not to pass this law.

MARKING U.N. DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ALL TO WORK TOGETHER IN COMMON CAUSE FOR GLOBAL COMMON GOOD

  • In his message on UN Day, the Secretary-General calls on Governments and individuals to work together in common cause for global common good. He stresses that the UN is needed more than ever at this time of multiple crises.
  • Performers will include UN Messenger of Peace Lang Lang, Sting, and a youth orchestra conducted by Manuel López-Gómez.