HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL ATTENDS U.N., A.S.E.A.N. SUMMIT IN BRUNEI DARUSSALAM
- The Secretary-General arrived in Brunei Darussalam on Thursday.He attended a summit of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian nations with the United Nations and meeting regional leaders.
- At the summit, the Secretary-General highlighted four areas where the ASEAN-UN partnership can produce tangible results: regional connectivity; sustainable development; human rights; and peace and security. He said the United Nations needed ASEAN's engagement and dynamism to set new standards for equitable growth and sustainable development in the region and beyond.
- The Secretary-General also held meetings with the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, the Prime Minister of Thailand and the Prime Minister of Cambodia. And he held a press conference.
- On Friday, the Secretary-General will be meeting other leaders, including the Sultan of Brunei, before heading back to New York, where he is due in New York on Saturday.
SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, HAITI MISSION AND AFGHANISTAN FORCE
- On Thursday, the Security Council adopted unanimously a resolution on the Central African Republic.
- In the resolution, the Security Council demands the swift implementation of transitional arrangements leading to the holding of free, fair and transparent presidential and legislative elections 18 months after the beginning of the transition period which took effect on 18 August. The Council also encourages countries in the region and throughout Africa to participate in the establishment of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA).
- On Thursday, the Security Council also adopted unanimously a resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) until 15 October 2014 and a resolution extending the authorization of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan until 31 December 2014.
- The Security Council also held closed consultations on the Sudan and South Sudan. In the afternoon, it was due to hold closed consultations to discuss a Secretary-General’s letter to the Council on the joint mission of the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Syria.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ABDUCTION OF LIBYAN PRIME MINISTER
- Speaking in Brunei on Thursday, the Secretary-General said that he was shocked to hear that the Prime Minister of Libya, Ali Zeidan, was abducted on Thursday, and he condemned the abduction in the strongest possible terms. He noted the subsequent reports that the Prime Minister had been released.
- The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) also denounced the Prime Minister’s abduction and called on all parties to continue the transitional political process and affirm the legitimacy of democratically elected institutions.
- The Mission also called upon the international community to redouble its efforts in assisting Libya build a sovereign state, based on the rule of law and the promotion of human rights.
U.N. MISSION FOR IRAQ CONCERNED BY EXECUTIONS
- The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) expressed concern that, between 8 and 9 October, 42 people sentenced to death were executed, among them one woman, as confirmed by Iraq’s Ministry of Justice of Iraq on Thursday.
- The UN Mission reiterates its call on the Government of Iraq to adopt a moratorium on the implementation of all death sentences, pursuant to the relevant UN General Assembly resolutions [62/149 (2007), 63/168 (2009) and 65/205 (2010)]. It added that the Government should consider ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty.
- In his recent report to the Security Council on Iraq, the Secretary-General said that he was concerned that Iraq continues to implement the death penalty despite prevailing flaws in its criminal justice system.
- He called on the Government of Iraq to halt all executions, conduct an independent review of all death row cases and disclose information on the number and identity of death row prisoners, the charges and judicial proceedings brought against them, and the outcome of these reviews.
FOLLOWING GOLAN CLASHES, U.N. FORCE URGES RESTRAINT
- Asked on Wednesday about the fighting in Golan, the Associate Spokesperson said that heavy fighting between the Syrian Arab Armed Forces and armed members of the opposition has continued in the area of separation restricting significantly the movements of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
- In the context of these clashes on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported that Syrian artillery fire hit an Israeli Defense Forces position and that the Israeli Defense Forces were going to retaliate. The UN Disengagement Observer Force urged the Israeli Defense Forces not to take such action. The UN Disengagement Observer Force also asked Syrian authorities to urge the Syrian Armed Forces to stop firing towards the ceasefire line. Subsequently, the Israel Defense Forces fired missiles at a Syrian Armed Forces position.
- Both sides reported that two of their soldiers were wounded during this incident. The UN Disengagement Observer Force observed the impact of the Israeli Defense Forces missiles on the Syrian Armed Forces position. It was unable to observe the artillery fire. Upon inspection of the location, the UN Disengagement Observer Force observed the impact of the artillery fire, but could not confirm if it had resulted from the incident. UN peacekeepers in positions in close proximity to the firing took shelter. There was no injury to UN personnel.
- Later in the day, Syrian authorities informed the UN Disengagement Observer Force that Israeli helicopters had attacked the Syrian Armed Forces in the vicinity of Ufaniyah. The Israeli Defense Forces denied the report. The UN Disengagement Observer Force was unable to observe this incident.
- The UN Disengagement Observer Force Commander continues to liaise with Syrian authorities and the Israeli Defense Forces to exercise maximum restraint and prevent escalation of tension.
- The firing across the ceasefire line is a violation of the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces. The ongoing activities by any actor in the area of separation continue to have potential to escalate tensions between the parties. There should be no military forces in the area of separation other than that of the UN Disengagement Observer Force.
- Asked whether the fighting could affect the work being done by the UN-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) team in Syria, the Spokesperson reiterated the expectation that the parties would observe the Disengagement Agreement and exercise maximum restraint.
- He said that the OPCW-UN team had gone to three sites so far and had reported good cooperation from the authorities.
- Asked about Lakhdar Brahimi’s efforts, Haq said that the Joint Special Representative for Syria continued his work to arrange an International Conference on Syria by mid-November.
MYANMAR: LATEST ROUND OF KACHIN TALKS ACHIEVED SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS, SAYS U.N. ENVOY
- The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, took part as an observer in the peace talks that wrapped up on Thursday between the Government of Myanmar and the Kachin Independence Organization.
- In a statement, Mr. Nambiar said that this latest round of talks achieved significant progress on issues such as assistance and resettlement of internally displaced people. Most importantly, he said, the parties committed themselves to further de-escalation of violence and to moving the peace process forward.
- Mr. Nambiar reaffirmed his belief that a peaceful solution to the conflict in Kachin is of great importance, not only for the people of Kachin, but for the country as a whole. The United Nations will continue to assist and support the people of Myanmar as the country continues on its path towards peace and democracy.
U.N. IS REVIEWING A REPORT ON CORRUPTION BY TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL
- Asked about a report on corruption by Transparency International, the Spokesperson said that the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support are reviewing the report, which was launched on Wednesday.
- He said that we take all such observations and findings very seriously and are ready to consider how we can reinforce the integrity of our systems. Those two departments will engage with other departments and other UN partners to consider the report's findings and recommendations and determine appropriate follow up.
- Asked about whistleblower protections, Haq said that, since 2010, the UN Ethics Office has established a number of legal and procedural benchmarks that advance protection against retaliation.
- These include: Successfully using an alternative investigating mechanism when the Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) could not conduct an investigation due to conflicts of interest.
- Protecting the confidentiality of individuals who seek protection and who request ethics advice.
- Developing and implementing Protection against Retaliation Standard Operating Procedures.
- Implementing a rigorous practice of reviewing the OIOS investigation report, including the evidentiary materials and witness statements.
- Demonstrating that it will exercise its independent judgment when making the ultimate decision whether workplace retaliation occurred.
- Embarking upon an ambitious outreach and educational campaign for staff, to explain the services offered by the Ethics Office and encourage staff to speak up and make reports of concerns that they encounter in the workplace.
- In the last three years, he added, the Director of the UN Ethics Office has personally met with nearly 3000 staff members worldwide, to provide information about Ethics Office services, offer confidential advice, and promote the importance of speaking up.
- The Special Representative and Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Farid Zarif, visited northern Kosovo on Wednesday where he met with a wide range of political actors. During his visit, Mr. Zarif said that efforts must be sustained to ensure conditions for a free and fair process of local elections in northern Kosovo. He also said that no act of intimidation or coercion would be condoned or tolerated, and that any anti-democratic acts would be condemned.
- Asked about follow-up to the work of the Internal Review Panel concerning Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson noted that the Deputy Secretary-General, at a lecture on Wednesday, identified three key priorities: prevention; the protection of civilians; and the need for fast action.
*** The guest at the Noon Briefing today was the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Margareta Wahlström.