HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
TUESDAY, 15 JANUARY 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENTS ON CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Secretary-General welcomes the agreements signed in Libreville on 11 January 2013: the declaration of principle, the ceasefire agreement and the political agreement on the resolution of the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR). He urges the Government of CAR, politico-military groups, the Séléka coalition and opposition parties to fully implement these agreements.
- The Secretary-General commends the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and regional leaders for their prompt mobilization in response to the crisis in the Central African Republic. He calls on the country’s partners to enhance their support to ongoing efforts to bring stability and lasting peace to the country.
- The Secretary-General reiterates the readiness of the United Nations, through his Special Representative and the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic, to support peacebuilding efforts and the full implementation of the Libreville peace accords.
CLASHES IN MALI RESULT IN NEW POPULATION DISPLACEMENT, SAYS U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday that clashes over the weekend in northern and central Mali have resulted in new population displacement – both within Mali and into neighbouring countries.
- In Niger, teams from UNHCR are reporting that 450 refugees arrived on Friday and Saturday in the west of the country.
In Burkina Faso, 309 people have arrived in camps in the north and north-east.
And in Mauritania, 471 Malian refugees have reportedly arrived at the Fassala reception centre near the Malian border. The UN Refugee Agency said that these refugees will be transported further away from the border to the Mbera camp, which is already hosting some 54,000 Malian refugees who were displaced last year.
- The UN Refugee Agency said that it has updated its contingency planning in case of new major potential influxes to neighbouring countries and new displacements in Mali, and that it is ready to respond with assistance as needed.
- Asked whether the Secretary-General was concerned about the possibility of expansion of terrorism into Mali’s neighbours, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General, in a statement issued on Monday, had welcomed the response by bilateral partners, at the request and with the consent of the Government of Mali, to its call for assistance to counter the troubling push southward by armed and terrorist groups.
- Nesirky said that the Secretary-General hoped these actions will help to arrest the latest offensive while efforts continue to fully implement Security Council Resolution 2085 (2012) aimed at the full restoration of Mali's constitutional order and territorial integrity.
- These latest events underscore the urgency of implementing all aspects of the resolution, including support to mediation efforts by the Economic Community of West African States, the development of a consensual roadmap for the transition and provision of support to AFISMA, the African Mission for Mali, and the Malian defence forces. The Spokesperson noted the UN’s concern that all actions being taken in Mali are done with consideration for the protection of civilians.
U.N. CULTURAL AGENCY CHIEF URGES MILITARY FORCES TO PROTECT CULTURAL SITES IN MALI
- The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) urged on Tuesday military forces to protect cultural sites in Mali during air raids and ground interventions.
- Irina Bokova sent a letter to Malian and French authorities urging them to respect the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict and its two Protocols.
Ms. Bokova said that the protection of cultural heritage is an essential part of all sustainable efforts to build peace and respect for human rights. Mali has four sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
- The Secretary-General will travel to San Francisco on Thursday. He will speak at Stanford University on the theme “The United Nations and a World in Transition”.
- After the lecture, the Secretary-General will have working dinner with faculty leadership and local dignitaries, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Secretary of Defense William Perry.
- On Friday, he will speak at the Monterey Institute of International Studies on the theme “Advancing the Disarmament and Nonproliferation Agenda: Seeking Peace in an Over-armed World”.
- The Secretary-General will return to New York over the weekend.
SECURITY COUNCILS HOLDS DEBATE ON COUNTER-TERRORISM
- The Security Council held a debate on Tuesday on counter-terrorism. The Secretary-General spoke at that debate and highlighted three critical priorities in the fight against terrorism: the critical links between development and security; the importance of dialogue and understanding; and dealing with the increasing use of information technology to spread hate.
As governments work to eliminate terrorism, the Secretary-General urged humanitarian, security and political actors to ensure that efforts to prevent acts of terrorism do not ever impede the timely and principled delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians.
U.N. FOOD AGENCY CHIEF MEETS SYRIAN REFUGEES IN CAMP ON TURKISH-SYRIAN BORDER
- The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, has concluded a visit to Turkey this week by meeting Syrian refugees in Kilis camp on the Turkish-Syrian border.
- Before this visit, Ms. Cousin had two days of high-level meetings with Turkish officials in Ankara and Istanbul.
The World Food Programme began providing food assistance in partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent in October of last year. It plans to expand the project to assist 100,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey by June.
U.N. CONDEMNS KILLING OF A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT IN IRAQ
- Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, condemned in the strongest terms possible the killing of a member of Parliament for Anbar, ‘Ifan Al-Issawi, in a terrorist attack in the middle of a demonstration in Fallujah. That attack also caused the death and injury of a number of other people.
- Mr. Kobler said that it is vital to be able to demonstrate peacefully, as well as to protect protestors from infiltration by terrorists.
AT LEAST 26 U.N. PERSONNEL LOST THEIR LIVES IN LINE OF DUTY IN 2012
- At least 26 UN personnel -- 9 civilians and 17 peacekeepers – lost their lives in the line of duty in 2012, the United Nations Staff Union said today. One consultant and four helicopter crew members working for the Organization were also killed.
- The Staff Union adds that many more peacekeepers were wounded, along with civilian staff, and several staff members were kidnapped, some of them for a long time.
- By comparison, in 2011, at least 35 United Nations personnel were killed in the line of duty, according to the Staff Union: 25 civilians, nine peacekeepers and a military adviser. Four security guards working for the Organization were also killed that year.
REFERING SYRIA TO INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT IS A MATTER FOR SECURITY COUNCIL TO DETERMINE: Asked about a referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, the Spokesperson said that would be a matter for the Security Council to determine.
U.N. DOES NOT COMMENT ON AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION: Asked about the recently downed helicopter in South Sudan, the Spokesperson noted that, as a matter of policy, the United Nations and its Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) will not comment on an ongoing investigation.