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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 EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

THURSDAY, 31 JANUARY 2013

JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR SYRIA TAKES NOTE OF OPPOSITION LEADER’S WILLINGNESS TO TALK TO GOVERNMENT

  • Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, gave an interview to the UN News Centre in which he responded to reports that a Syrian opposition leader, Mouaz Alkhatib, had said that he was willing to talk to representatives of the Syrian Government.
  • Mr Brahimi said that the offer was worthy of note, and he added, “Let’s see how the Government is going to respond. And let’s see how the colleagues of Mouaz Alkhatib are going to react.”
  • Mr. Brahimi acknowledged that, so far, the efforts to start negotiations have not been very successful. But he added that military campaigns have not been successful in resolving the conflict, either. He said, “Nobody has said it’s going to be easy. But perhaps negotiating is better than killing each other.”
  • Asked whether Syria had protested to the United Nations about a strike by Israel, the Spokesperson said that Syrian authorities protested to the UNDOF (UN Disengagement Observer Force) Force Commander that Israeli planes had flown over the area of separation.
  • UNDOF did not observe any planes flying over the area of separation and therefore was not able to confirm the incident. UNDOF also reported bad weather conditions.
  • The Spokesperson said that UNDOF remains committed to the implementation of its mandate to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria and to supervise the areas of separation and limitation, as prescribed by the Disengagement Agreement.

FACT-FINDING MISSION CALLS FOR A HALT TO ALL ISRAELI SETTLEMENT ACTIVITY

  • The International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory published on Thursday its report, which calls for a halt to all Israeli settlement activity.
  • The Mission says that, in compliance with Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel must cease all settlement activities without preconditions.
  • The report says that settlements are established and developed for the exclusive benefit of Israeli Jews, and that they are maintained and advanced through a system of total segregation between the settlers and the rest of the population living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The report states that Israel is committing serious breaches of its obligations under the right to self-determination and under humanitarian law.
  • The full report will be formally presented to the Human Rights Council on 18 March.
  • The Spokesperson noted, in response to questions, that the Secretary-General has also spoken against continued settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

U.N. MISSION IN DARFUR URGES ALL PARTIES TO ALLOW FULL ACCESS TO AFFECTED POPULATIONS

  • The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that access to many parts of the Jebel Marra area remains blocked due to sporadic clashes between Government forces and armed movements.
  • UNAMID continues to urge all parties to allow full access to affected populations everywhere in Darfur, by the Mission, UN agencies and humanitarian partners.
  • While remaining strongly committed to help protect civilians in Darfur as mandated by the Security Council, the Mission underscores that the Government of Sudan is primarily responsible for the protection of civilians and the maintenance of peace and security in the country.
  • UNAMID also reiterates its call to all parties to cease fighting, and it remains engaged in facilitating reconciliation efforts.

U.N. WOMEN CHIEF EXPRESSES DEEP CONCERN OVER ESCALATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN EGYPT

  • The Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, expressed deep concern on Thursday over the escalating violence against women in Egypt.
  • The UN agency said it is deeply disturbed by the gravity of recent attacks against women, including the reports of sexual assault, many of which occurred in the same Tahrir Square in which women rallied to contribute to a better future for their country.
  • UN Women calls upon the Government and people of Egypt to take a firm stand against all forms of violence against women and girls, and to promote human rights for all, including the rights of women to live free of violence and discrimination and to participate fully in social, economic and political life.

U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO SUPPORTS EFFORTS TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN MINOVA

  • Asked on Wednesday about reports of rapes in the eastern Congo, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) informs us that, together with its partners, it continues to support efforts by the Congolese judicial authorities to investigate the allegations of grave human rights violations committed in Minova and surrounding areas in November 2012.
  • The next phase of the investigation is the deployment of a mission by Congolese military judicial authorities. This mission is planned to take place in the course of the first two weeks of February, and is supported by MONUSCO and other national and international partners.
  • The UN Mission’s investigators have been deployed to the area in recent weeks. The mission is also collaborating with other UN and NGO partners to ensure the protection of witnesses and victims of human rights violations in the Minova area.
  • The UN Mission continues to meet with Congolese authorities at the highest level and continues to receive assurances from top military authorities that the necessary actions are being taken to ensure that the alleged perpetrators of the grave human rights violations committed in Minova will be brought to justice and held accountable.

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS A MEETING TO WRAP UP ITS WORK FOR JANUARY

  • The Security Council held on Thursday a closed meeting to wrap up its work for this month.
  • Afterward, Masood Khan, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan and President of the Security Council for the month of January, briefed reporters about the Council’s work during the past month.
  • On Friday, the Republic of Korea will assume the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for the month of February. 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANYONE RESPONSIBLE FOR VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN MALI SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE: Asked about UN human rights experts in Mali, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations does have human rights experts in Bamako who would look into any reports of human rights violations. Anyone responsible for such violations should be held accountable, he added.

INVESTIGATIONS INTO LATEST INCIDENTS BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN ARE ONGOING: Asked about disturbances at the border between India and Pakistan, the Spokesperson said that the investigations into the latest incidents are ongoing. A final report will be submitted to the Secretariat as soon as investigations are concluded.