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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,
ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

FRIDAY, 31 JANUARY 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO MEET WITH RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER AND U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE IN MUNICH

  • The Secretary-General is in Munich, where, on Friday evening, he will have a trilateral meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
  • On Saturday, he will address the Munich Security Conference and talk to other high-level officials attending that event. And he will also attend a meeting of the Middle East Quartet at the Principals Level.
  • Earlier on Friday, he had travelled to Bonn, where he had met with the heads of 18 UN agencies present in the city and held a town hall meeting with UN staff.
  • He will return to New York over the weekend.
  • Asked about a request from a Cuban group for the Secretary-General to speak out on human rights in Cuba, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had consistently raised human rights issues in his discussions with senior officials in Cuba this week.

SYRIA: U.N. OFFICIAL SUGGESTS THAT TALKS RESUME ON 10 FEBRUARY

  • Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, wrapped up eight days of meetings in Geneva between the Syrian parties and said today that he has suggested that the talks resume, on the basis of an agreed agenda, on 10 February. He said that the opposition delegation had agreed to this date, while the Government delegation said that it needed to consult with Damascus first.
  • Mr. Brahimi said that progress during the past few days of talks has been very slow, but the sides have engaged in an acceptable manner. He said that this is a modest beginning on which we can build.
  • He noted that the sides were committed to discussing the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012. He noted some areas where the parties’ positions were converging and expressed his hope that they can start to build more common ground when they next meet.
  • Asked whether the Government would return to the talks, the Spokesperson said that Mr. Brahimi had said that the Government delegation had informed him that they intended to return but needed to check with Damascus.
  • Asked about potential military intervention, Haq reiterated the Secretary-General’s consistent belief that there can be no military solution to the crisis.

U.N. RELIEF CHIEF FRUSTRATED GENEVA II TALKS CONCLUDED WITHOUT AGREEMENT ON HUMANITARIAN ACCESS

  • Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that she was deeply frustrated and disappointed that the Geneva II talks concluded on Friday without agreement on humanitarian pauses to bring relief to hundreds of thousands of people blockaded in towns and cities in Syria.
  • She said that more than three million people in Syria are trapped in areas where heavy fighting continues or that are besieged by Government or Opposition forces. The situation is totally unacceptable. She said that the international community has clearly called for immediate action to facilitate safe and unhindered delivery of assistance across the country, but so far, this has not translated into significant progress or action on the ground.
  • Ms. Amos said that we need urgent action now. Sieges must be lifted. Ceasefire agreements must be agreed and convoys must be allowed to proceed immediately and safely. Border crossings and roads need to be opened to allow the regular flow of vital aid supplies. Those who fail to protect civilians or facilitate assistance are violating international humanitarian law.

U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF TO VISIT U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous will be visiting the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on 2 February. During his trip, Mr. Ladsous is expected to meet with senior government officials to discuss the implementation of the recently-signed ceasefire agreement between the Government and the SPLA in opposition.
  • The Under-Secretary-General will also meet with UN staff and peacekeepers to thank them for their dedication and service as they continue to help protect thousands of South Sudanese people at risk.
  • The UN Mission in South Sudan reports it is now protecting more than 85,000 civilians at eight bases across the country. This includes approximately 43,000 people seeking shelter in two sites in the capital, Juba.
  • In Malakal, in Upper Nile State, the Mission is currently protecting some 28,000 civilians. The Mission says it has treated nearly 1,000 patients at its hospital in Malakal since the last week of December. The Mission also says that, since then, 29 babies have been delivered at the Malakal protection site.
  • The Mission has conducted 241 military and 62 police patrols in Juba, Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States in the last 24 hours.
  • Asked about the situation in Homs, the Spokesperson noted that Lakhdar Brahimi had appealed for action to address the desperate humanitarian situation in Syria during the Geneva talks. Brahimi said that Homs was extensively discussed, though unfortunately there has been no breakthrough yet.

SOUTH SUDAN: SOME 740,000 PEOPLE INTERNALLY DISPLACED, SAYS U.N. RELIEF OFFICE

  • Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that an estimated 740,000 people have been internally displaced by the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
  • It adds that despite insecurity and limited access, UN agencies and humanitarian partners have provided assistance to nearly 300,000 people since mid-December. Some 200,000 people across the country have received food assistance, and around 25,000 children, pregnant women and new mothers have been screened for malnutrition and have received therapeutic food in Jonglei. Thousands of children have also been vaccinated for measles and polio in Jonglei and Juba.
  • Over 200,000 people have received water, sanitation and hygiene support.
  • The Office also reports that more than 123,000 people have fled the conflict in South Sudan to neighbouring countries since mid-December. Humanitarian organizations estimate that more than 22,000 people, including some from nomadic groups, have arrived in Sudan.
  • The Sudanese Red Crescent Society is working with UN agencies and humanitarian partners to register new arrivals and provide aid, including food, water, shelter and health care, in parts of Sudan.  
  • UN agencies are preparing to establish more relocation sites in White Nile State, which borders South Sudan, to accommodate the growing influx of people.

SOMALIA: U.N. REPRESENTATIVE CONCERNED OVER ESCALATION OF TENSIONS IN BAIDOA

  • The Secretary-General’s Special representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, on Friday expressed his concern over the escalation of tensions in Baidoa surrounding a federal state-building conference.
  • He said it was important that all parties remain calm and committed to dialogue, and support reconciliation efforts. He also called on traditional leaders, politicians and all stakeholders to play a constructive and reconciliatory role. 
  • He said the UN Mission in Somalia, UNSOM, was working closely with local partners, the Federal Government, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and others in order to reinvigorate peaceful talks and reconciliation efforts.

GREAT LAKES: U.N. ENVOY URGES SIGNATORIES OF PEACE FRAMEWORK TO GIVE MOMENTUM FOR IMPLEMENTATION

  • The Regional Oversight Mechanism (ROM) of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region held its third meeting on the margins of the 22nd Summit of the African Union, in Addis Ababa.
  • This meeting, convened nearly a year after the signing of the Framework, expanded the signatories of the Framework to include Kenya and Sudan.
  • An Action Plan and key priorities for 2014 were also approved at the meeting.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Mary Robinson, urged the signatories of the Framework to give a renewed impetus to the concrete implementation of all their commitments.
  • She said that much was still to be accomplished, including consolidating gains made in North Kivu following the end of the M23 rebellion, restoring state authority, implementing the outcome of the Kampala Dialogue, addressing the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons, and promoting sustainable dialogue among the signatories.

EGYPT: U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF CONCERNED ABOUT CLAMPDOWN AND ATTACKS ON MEDIA

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed its concerns on Friday about the increasingly severe clampdown and physical attacks on media in Egypt, which is hampering their ability to operate freely.
  • The Office said that, in recent months, there have been numerous reports of harassment, detention and prosecution of national and international journalists as well as violent attacks, including several that led to injuries to reporters trying to cover last weekend’s third anniversary of the Egyptian revolution.
  • The Human Rights Office urges the Egyptian authorities to promptly release all journalists imprisoned for carrying out their legitimate news reporting activities in exercise of their fundamental human rights. All reports of violence against journalists, including the attacks on 25 January, must be independently and transparently investigated.

UKRAINE: U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS FOR INCLUSIVE DIALOGUE BETWEEN PRESIDENT AND OPPOSITION

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has welcomed the beginning of the dialogue between the President and the opposition of Ukraine. The Office has called for the dialogue to be sustainable, inclusive and grounded on full respect of the international human rights treaties ratified by Ukraine, as well as the political commitments made through the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in March last year.
  • The Office has also welcomed the abolition by the Ukrainian Parliament earlier in the week of the laws passed on 16 January, which had unnecessarily restricted the exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly, association and speech, as well as the operation of non-governmental organizations. The Office has called upon the President of Ukraine to sign the new law abolishing the legislative package of 16 January.
  • The Office has reiterated its call to the Government and protesters to exercise restraint and create conditions for dialogue and reconciliation.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS MICHAEL BLOOMBERG SPECIAL ENVOY FOR CITIES AND CLIMATE CHANGE

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Michael Bloomberg of the United States as his Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change.
  • Mr. Bloomberg will assist the Secretary-General in his consultations with mayors and related key stakeholders to raise political will and mobilize action among cities as part of his long-term strategy to advance efforts on climate change. This includes bringing concrete solutions to the 2014 Climate Summit that the Secretary-General will host in New York on 23 September 2014.
  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson noted that Mr. Bloomberg also currently serves as the President of the Board of the C40 Climate Leadership Group, a network of large cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR OLYMPIC TRUCE AROUND THE WORLD

  • On the eve of the Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games in Sochi, the Secretary-General is sending a message joining the International Olympic Committee in calling on all those engaged in armed hostilities around the world to lay down their weapons and observe the Olympic Truce.
  • In calling for this year’s Truce, the Secretary-General said that his thoughts are with the people of Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and all others suffering from senseless violence, including the families who lost loved ones in the recent bombings that took place in Volgograd, not far from Sochi.
  • He calls on all combatants everywhere to respect the Olympic Truce, and he said that overcoming conflict is a constant struggle – but we must persist in doing our utmost to win adherence to it.  We have the full message in our office.

C.A.R.: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICERS IN CONTACT WITH PARTIES INVOLVED IN KILLINGS IN BANGUI

  • The Spokesperson was asked on Thursday about reports of alleged killings involving French troops in Bangui. The UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic, known as BINUCA, is aware of these alleged reports.
  • BINUCA’s Human Rights Officers are in contact with the parties allegedly involved in this specific incident. At this stage and as mandated, the first objective is to establish the facts. In line with established procedures, the UN Peacebuilding Office will report on its conclusions in due course.
  • Last month, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights dispatched a team in Bangui to establish the facts concerning a number of violations of human rights in the Central African Republic. On many occasions, High Commissioner Navi Pillay has also publicly expressed her concern and has condemned these violations.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
1 – 7 FEBRUARY 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

 

Saturday, 1 February

Today, Lithuania will assume the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for February.  
Sunday, 2 February

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Monday, 3 February

At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 3 in the Conference Building (CB), there will be a briefing on “World Health Organization (WHO) financing dialogue – Best practices and lessons learned”, co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Sweden and WHO.

In Geneva, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will hold the 84th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Tuesday, 4 February

Today is World Cancer Day.

At 4:00 p.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (CB), there will be a UN Roundtable discussion entitled “Healthy Oceans and Seas: a Way Forward”. Among the speakers are H.E. T. Remengesau, President of Palau, H.E. A. Orlando, Minister of Environment of Italy, H.E. R. Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General, Environmental Agency (UAE) and Dr. C. Hermans, Head, Environmental Stewardship Track, Clinton Global Initiative. The event is being co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Italy and the Permanent Mission of Palau the United Nations, in collaboration with the Global Partnership Forum and the Sustainable Oceans Alliance with the support of the Department of Public Information.

In Geneva, OHCHR will hold the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women – Working Group Communications. It will end on 7 February.

In Geneva, there will be a press conference on the humanitarian situation in Yemen by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Wednesday, 5 February

At 12:00 p.m., in the Press Briefing Room, Mr. Amin Awad, Director for the Middle East and North Africa Bureau and Regional Refugee Coordinator for Syria, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to be the guest at the Noon Briefing.

At 12:45 p.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by H.E. Ms. Raimonda Murmokaite, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Lithuania and President of the Security Council for the month of February.

At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 2 (CB), there will be a special event on “Engaging Religions in the Prevention of Atrocity Crimes” on the occasion of the World

Interfaith Harmony Week, co-organized by the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, the United Religions Initiative, the Partnership for Global Justice and the Department of Public Information (DPI).

In Geneva, there will be a press conference on the observations on the Republic of Congo, Yemen, Holy See, Portugal, Russian Federation, Germany by OHCHR Committee on the Right of the Child.

Thursday, 6 February

Today is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

At 12:30 p.m., in the Press Briefing Room, there will be a briefing by Ms. Afaf Konja, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly to announce the President of the General Assembly's Special Interactive Briefing with Civil Society.

At 12:45 p.m., in the Press Briefing Room, there will be a press conference following the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa.

At 1:15 p.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (CB), there will be an interactive briefing between the President of the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly and civil society, organized by the Office of the President of the General Assembly, in collaboration with the NGO Branch, Office of ECOSOC Support and Coordination (OESC), Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) and NGO Relations, Department of Public Information (DPI).

In Geneva, there will be a press conference on the humanitarian situation in Mali by OCHA.

Friday, 7 February

At 3:00 p.m., in Conference Room 2 (CB), there will be a briefing on the Report of the Secretary-General entitled “Follow-up to General Assembly resolution 66/290 on human security”, organized by the Office of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Human Security.