HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
Wednesday, 30 JANUARY 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS $1.5 BILLION RAISED AT KUWAIT PLEDGING CONFERENCE ON SYRIA
- The Secretary-General was in Kuwait City on Wednesday, where he convened the Pledging Conference on Syria. He told the gathered leaders that the situation in Syria is catastrophic and getting worse by the day, with at least 60,000 people killed and four million people in immediate need. He urged the parties in Syria, “In the name of humanity: Stop the violence.”
- At the conference, UN Member States and international partners pledged $1.5 billion in support of the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan and the Refugee Response Plan for the next six months.
- The Secretary-General said that, thanks to these contributions, humanitarian agencies and their partners will be able to reach more people - both inside and outside Syria - with life-saving aid.
- On the sidelines of the Conference, the Secretary-General met with the King of Jordan, the President of Lebanon, and the Crown Prince of Bahrain, among others. We’ve been putting out readouts as we get them.
- The Secretary-General will return to New York on Thursday afternoon.
- In response to questions about the biggest pledges, the Spokesperson said that the money is going to be used for humanitarian purposes. He noted that the money does not go to the Syrian Government but to organizations on the ground who can provide aid to those most in need.
- Asked about the peace process, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General believes that there needs to be a dialogue involving all sectors of Syrian society. The crisis can only be resolved through dialogue and not any military solution.
- Asked about countries funding or providing arms to the conflict, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has been very clear in speaking out against any further militarization of the conflict.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL INFORMS SECURITY COUNCIL ON U.N. WORK ON RULE OF LAW
- The Deputy Secretary-General spoke on Wednesday at Security Council meeting on the rule of law, and he discussed the recent steps taken to improve the UN’s work in that area.
- At the field level, he said, the Secretary-General has enhanced United Nations field leadership, making those leaders responsible and accountable for guiding UN rule of law strategies, addressing local challenges, and coordinating UN country support on the rule of law.
- At Headquarters, meanwhile, the Secretary-General designated the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Development Programme as the joint Global Focal Point dealing with police, justice and corrections issues in post-conflict and crisis situations. The aim is to link all relevant United Nations entities and coordinate our support to the field.
- The Deputy Secretary-General said that the United Nations plans, later this year, to assess the impact of these institutional arrangements.
U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF VISITS SOMALI CAPITAL, MEETS PRIME MINISTER
- The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, visited on Wednesday the Somali capital, Mogadishu, where he held meetings with senior Somali officials, including the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Somali Parliament. Mr. Feltman also met with members of the United Nations Country Team and United Nations staff serving in Mogadishu.
- Under Secretary-General Feltman’s visit follows the Secretary-General’s announcement at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa that he would be proposing to the Security Council the establishment of a new UN peace-building presence in Somalia, as part of the effort to strengthen the UN-African Union partnership on the ground.
- “Somalia is beginning to undergo profound transformation. The United Nations will continue to assist however possible at this critical time,” Mr. Feltman said.
UNESCO TO HELP MALI TO REBUILD CULTURAL HERITAGE
- Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), announced on Wednesday that UNESCO will do everything possible to rebuild and safeguard Mali’s extraordinary cultural heritage. She appealed to all of UNESCO’s partners to support this effort as a matter of urgency.
- Ms. Bokova said that she was deeply distressed by the wanton destruction of Mali’s heritage that the world has witnessed in recent months. UNESCO, she said, will spare no effort in working with the people of Mali to recover what is rightfully theirs, and will help them rebuild the mausoleums of Timbuktu and the tomb of Askia in Gao.
U.N. SAYS DOCUMENT ATTRIBUTED TO U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO IS A FALSIFICATION
- The Spokesperson was asked on Tuesday about a document, attributed to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), which would confirm cooperation between the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC).
- The Mission says that the document is a falsification and there is no doubt that the purpose of this venture is to discredit the Congolese Armed Forces. The UN Mission strongly denounces this attempt at misinforming the public.
U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO LAUNCHED PROCUREMENT PROCESS THIS MONTH FOR UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES
- Asked about the recent procurement process for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (or UAVs), the Spokesperson said that on 25 January 2013, the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) launched the procurement process for UAVs, issuing a request for proposals that called for interested vendors to submit their offers.
- What was issued in November 2012 was a request for expressions of interest, a common practice by the procurement division to expand its register of equipment-specific vendors. This practice helps ensure that, when the need for that particular equipment arises, the requirement is sent to the widest possible pool of vendors.
U.N. SAYS NO BOMB INCIDENT REPORTED IN U.N. MISSION AREA OF OPERATIONS IN LEBANON
- Asked about a reported bomb incident in Lebanon, the Spokesperson said that no such incident has been reported in UNIFIL’s area of operations and as such, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon is not in a position to comment on this matter.
- He said that the Force can certainly confirm that there were a high number of Israeli overflights that UNIFIL recorded on Tuesday. But that is all the information that the UN Force has, and these air violations have continued on an almost daily basis.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DECIDES TO RESCHEDULE ISRAEL UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW LATER THIS YEAR
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that, on January 29, at a meeting to assess the situation resulting from Israel’s absence today for its scheduled Universal Periodic Review, the Human Rights Council took a decision to reschedule Israel’s Universal Periodic Review to later this year.
- Among other things, the decision, which was adopted by consensus, calls on Israel to resume its cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, which has enjoyed 100 per cent participation from States since it began nearly five years ago.
- The Spokesperson added that the adopted text also calls on the President of the Council to “take all appropriate steps” to encourage Israel to resume this cooperation and requests him to report back to the Council on his efforts at it the upcoming 22nd session of February/March 2013.
SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMITTED TO WORK CLOSELY WITH STAFF AND MEMBER STATES ON BUDGET
- Asked about the resolution adopted last week by the New York Staff Union, the Spokesperson said that Yukio Takasu, the Under-Secretary-General for Management, sent a letter emphasizing that the Secretary-General and his senior management team are committed to working closely with staff and Member States to strengthen the Organization at a time of global financial pressure.
- Mr. Takasu noted that the General Assembly has imposed $100 million in unanticipated cuts, over and above the efficiencies the Secretary-General had already identified in his budget outline for the 2014-2015 biennium.
- Addressing the Assembly last week, the Secretary-General said it is unrealistic to presume that these budget reductions will have no impact.
- The United Nations cannot be immune to the prevailing global financial climate and the economic pressures facing Member States; the Secretariat itself needs to exercise greater budget discipline.
- At the same time, the Secretary-General has reiterated to Heads of Department the importance of consultations with staff as budget proposals are developed. The United Nations will do its best to achieve the reductions through the elimination of vacant posts, thereby minimizing the impact on serving staff.
*** The guest at the Noon Briefing was UN Police Adviser, Ann-Marie Orler. She gave an update on the UN Police Division’s work and accomplishments. This was Ms. Orler’s final press conference as UN Police Adviser.