HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS TERRORIST BOMBINGS IN DAMASCUS
- In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the string of coordinated terrorist bombings in Damascus on Monday night that resulted in numerous deaths and injuries.
- The Secretary-General is also concerned about the fate of detainees reportedly held at the facility where the bombings occurred. The Secretary-General reiterates that no cause can justify terrorist attacks, wherever, whenever and by whomever they are committed.
- And the Secretary-General in that statement also said that he is extremely concerned that the spiral of violence in Syria is creating a fertile ground for terrorism and criminal actions of all kinds and all violence must stop.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his firm conviction that resorting to violence and military means will only lead to more suffering and destruction, and that the only way out is through a political solution. The Secretary-General urges all sides to move toward a political transition and dialogue in Syria and to work closely with the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi.
- A note to correspondents was also issued, expressing concern at reports of the use of medical facilities and vehicles to carry out violence related to the conflict in Syria. The Spokesperson said that all parties involved in the conflict must respect international humanitarian law and ensure that civilians are not targeted.
U.N. CONDEMNS TARGETED ATTACK BY TALIBAN GUNMEN ON SCHOOLGIRLS IN PAKISTAN
- Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, has condemned in the harshest terms the targeted attack yesterday by Taliban gunmen on Pakistani schoolgirls in the Swat Valley, northwest of Islamabad.
- She said that education is a fundamental right for all children, and that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which claimed responsibility for the attack, must respect the right to education of all children, including girls, to go to school and live in peace.
- And the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, also condemned the shooting and called on all parties to respect all children’s rights, including education in a safe and protective environment. With 20 million children already out of school in Pakistan, it is critical that quality education reaches all children, particularly the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, says UNICEF.
- The Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General, like so many other people in Pakistan and around the world, is truly outraged by this attack. Nesirky added that, to show his support, the Secretary-General is writing to the family of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old who was seriously wounded in the attack that targeted her specifically for her campaigning for education.
U.N. PROVIDES ASSISTANCE IN STRENGTHENING RULE OF LAW IN MORE 150 MEMBER STATES, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS
- The Deputy Secretary-General spoke to the General Assembly’s Sixth Committee on the rule of law on Wednesday, and he said that he and the Secretary-General had been impressed by the strong participation and engagement by Member States at very high levels at last month’s meeting on the subject, as well as by the comprehensive, yet concise, Declaration that was adopted by consensus.
- The Deputy Secretary-General voiced confidence that we now have a process in place for application of the rule of law in all three pillars of the United Nations: peace and security; development; and human rights.
- The Deputy Secretary-General said that the United Nations is providing assistance in strengthening the rule of law in more than 150 Member States. UN assistance helped Somalia’s constitution-making process, which culminated in the presentation of a draft constitution to the National Constituent Assembly in July. And in Timor-Leste, the United Nations supported the establishment of the first land registry system.
HEAD OF PEACEKEEPING VISITS U.N. MISSION IN WESTERN SAHARA
- The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, arrived in Laayoune on Wednesday to visit the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, known as MINURSO.
- He will be reviewing operations and meeting with Mission’s leadership. He plans to travel to two team sites, as well as to Tindouf and Rabat, where he will meet with officials from both parties.
U.N. PEACEKEEPERS HAVE NO MANDATE TO CONDUCT OPERATIONS IN SOUTHERN KORDOFAN
- In response to earlier questions about fighting in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan State, the Spokesperson said that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has no mandate to conduct peacekeeping operations in the Kadugli or wider southern Kordofan area. This would be a decision for the Security Council.
- The UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) is mandated to conduct peacekeeping operations only in the Abyei area.
- Nesirky said that the airstrip out of Kadugli is not in that mandated area of operations. It is a logistical base from which to re-supply and support the mission.
- It is normal practice for peacekeeping missions to maintain logistics bases near the area of operations, to enable efficient logistical support to operations. However, the UNISFA mission has no mandate to undertake peacekeeping activities within this logistics base. These activities are only mandated within the Abyei area of operations, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.
U.N. OFFICIAL ATTENDS EVENT ON MANAGING DISASTER RISK IN JAPAN: The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, has been in Japan this week to attend the Sendai Dialogue, a special event on managing disaster risk co-hosted by the Government of Japan and the World Bank. In Tokyo on Wednesday, Ms Wahlström was due to meet with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which Japan has offered to host in 2015.
SECURITY COUNCIL WILL DISCUSS DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: On Wednesday afternoon, the Security Council was due to meet in closed consultations to discuss the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
U.N. AID WORKERS ARE PROVIDING ASSISTANCE IN JORDAN: Asked whether UN humanitarian agencies are working with US trainers in refugee camps in Jordan, the Spokesperson said that aid workers stick to their mandated tasks of providing humanitarian assistance.
CHEF DE CABINET DISCUSSES BUDGET GUIDELINES WITH UNION REPRESENTATIVES: Asked about reports of proposed cuts in future UN budgets, the Spokesperson noted that the Chef de Cabinet, Susana Malcorra, held a global video-conference with all staff union representatives today, mainly to discuss the guidelines for the 2014-2015 budget. The Spokesperson declined to prejudge what the outcome of discussions on the budget would be.
*** The Guest at the Noon briefing was Ivan Šimonovic, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and the Head of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. He briefed the press on his recent trip to Mali.