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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 MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 14 OCTOBER 2011

FINLAND DESIGNATED AS HOST OF CONFERENCE ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS FREE ZONE IN MIDDLE EAST

  • In accordance with the practical steps endorsed by the Parties to the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Secretary-General and the Governments of the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, as co-sponsors of the 1995 NPT Resolution on the Middle East and depositary States of the Treaty, in consultation with the States of the region, are pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Jaakko Laajava, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, as facilitator and the designation of Finland as the host Government for the 2012 Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.

SYRIA: HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE MEASURES TO PROTECT POPULATION

  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights today expressed her deep dismay at the worsening human rights situation in Syria, calling on the international community to take immediate measures to protect the country’s people.

  • Navi Pillay noted that there has been a devastatingly remorseless toll of human lives, with the number of people killed since March now having exceeded 3,000. That figure includes at least 187 children.

  • The High Commissioner said the Government of Syria has manifestly failed to protect its population, Furthermore, it has ignored the international community’s calls to cooperate with international investigations.

  • Ms. Pillay said as more members of the military refuse to attack civilians and change sides, the crisis is already showing worrying signs of descending into an armed struggle.

  • Asked about the number of deaths in Syria as reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Spokesperson underscored the Secretary-General's view that violence and bloodshed from any quarter should be stopped, but we have to be absolutely clear that the Government of Syria bears a heavy responsibility to ensure that that bloodshed stops. It is incumbent on the Government of Syria to rein in its security forces and to stop the bloodshed right now.

U.N. LEGAL COUNCIL TO TRAVEL TO CAMBODIA

  • The Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, the Legal Counsel, Patricia O'Brien, will be travelling to Phnom Penh next week for meetings with the Royal Government of Cambodia and others concerning the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). 

  • Ms. O'Brien's visit follows the resignation on 9 October of international Co-Investigating Judge Siegfried Blunk.  In his letter of resignation, Judge Blunk stated that statements by senior officials of the Cambodian Government opposing the progress of Cases 003 and 004 before the ECCC could be used to call into question his ability to withstand pressure by Government officials and to perform his duties independently, and that this would call into doubt the integrity of the whole proceedings in Cases 003 and 004.

  • The United Nations has consistently called upon all persons to refrain from interfering with the work of the ECCC.   Immediately following the resignation of Judge Blunk, the Deputy Spokesperson stated that the ECCC must be permitted to proceed with its work without interference from any entity, including the Royal Government of Cambodia.  He also reiterated that the United Nations would continue to monitor the situation closely, including in consultation with the Royal Government of Cambodia.  The decision that the Legal Counsel would visit Phnom Penh was taken at that time.

  • In addition to concerns with respect to the issue of government interference in the work of the ECCC, there have also been concerns raised with respect to other aspects of the Court's work.  It is important that the United Nations talks to senior officials in the ECCC and others to gain the best possible understanding of these concerns.  These matters will also be addressed during the Legal Counsel's visit.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME BOOSTING ASSISTANCE IN PAKISTAN

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) has so far provided life-saving assistance to more than one million people in Pakistan’s flood-affected Sindh province.

  • Together with its partners, the Programme is boosting its efforts in Sindh, working double shifts to ensure that the food is being delivered to 2.5 million people in the coming weeks.

  • While the Programme’s funding will allow it to continue its activities until the end of November, it is calling for additional resources to ensure that it can carry on its work beyond then.

CYPRUS LEADERS DISCUSS PROPERTY, TERRITORY AND POWER-SHARING

  • The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities today held a lengthy discussion on the property issue, territory and power-sharing.

  • Alexander Downer, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, told reporters afterwards that the leaders’ meeting was very fruitful.

  • Their next meeting will be on Wednesday, 19 October.

CHIEF OF DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME HEADS TO FRANCE, CHINA AND MONGOLIA

  • United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark is in Paris today to participate in the G20 Finance Ministers meeting on behalf of the Secretary-General. 

  • On Monday, she will be in China to celebrate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty at an event in Beijing, and launch a photo contest sponsored by Xinhua and UNDP to raise awareness about poverty, and to help improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable communities. 

  • From China she will travel to Mongolia for her first official visit to that country. In Mongolia, she will co-host an international conference with Prime Minister Sukhbaataryn Batbold on managing extractive industries for human development.  She will also host an event marking the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in Mongolia.

U.N. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC HEAD SAYS COUNTRY NEED TO FIND THEIR OWN GREEN PATH

  • Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, just concluded a high-level meeting in Poland on Sharing Green Economy Best Practices towards Rio + 20.

  • He told participants at the event that countries are at very different levels of development and that each must have enough policy space to find its own green path.

  • Mr. Sha, who also serves as Secretary-General for Rio+20 conference, will then travel to the Republic of Korea, where he will participate in several meetings related to that meeting.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF U.N. MISSION IN HAITI: The Security Council adopted a resolution this morning to renew the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for an additional year.

The Council then received its monthly briefing from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe.

FLOODS IN ASIA AFFECTING MORE THAN 8 MILLION PEOPLE: The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that more than eight million people have been affected by flooding and typhoons in Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Laos and the Philippines. So far, Thailand and Cambodia have been hit the hardest, and the Office says that the situation could worsen over the coming days since more rains are predicted for the weekend.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
15 – 21 OCTOBER 2011


(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)


Saturday, 15 October

Today is the International Day of Rural Women.

Sunday, 16 October

Today is World Food Day (Food and Agriculture Organization).

Today, the Secretary-General will begin a visit to Switzerland. His first destination will be Berne, where he will attend the inaugural ceremony of the 125th Assembly of the Inter- Parliamentary Union (IPU) and meet with Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Swiss Confederation, the Swiss Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee and senior representatives of the Swiss Federal Administration. He will also visit Geneva, where he will participate in the Executive Committee Meeting of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and stop at the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Monday, 17 October


Today is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark will celebrate the Day at an event in Beijing.

This morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

At 12:30 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference with Udo Janz, Director of the Executive Office of the United Nations Refugee Agency in New York, and John Prendergast, Co-Founder of the Enough Project.

At 1:15 p.m., there will be an event marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber of the North Lawn Building (NLB). The Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) is among the event’s co-organizers.

Tuesday, 18 October


Today, the High-Level Symposium of the United Nations Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) on “Working together to increase the development impact of aid” will begin in Luxembourg. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and ECOSOC President Lazaroud Kapambwe will speak at the event and take part in a press conference at 10.a.m. The Symposium will conclude on 19 October.

Today, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark will begin her first official visit to Mongolia, where she will co-host an international conference with Prime Minister Sukhbaataryn Batbold on managing extractive industries for human development. She will also host an event marking the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in Mongolia.

At 1:15 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference with human rights experts on the issue of torture. Speakers will include Claudio Grossman, Chair of the Committee Against Torture; Malcolm Evans, Chair of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture; and Juan Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Wednesday, 19 October


This morning, the Security Council will be briefed on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

At 1:15 p.m., there will be a panel discussion on the theme, “Women of African descent,” in observance of the International Year for People of African Descent, in Conference Room 7 (NLB). The discussion is being organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Thursday, 20 October


This morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on the Côte d’Ivoire.

At 10:30 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

At 11:15 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Tomas Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

At 12:30 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Marzuki Darusman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

At 1:15 p.m., there will be a round table on the theme, “Human Rights in Central Africa: Challenges and opportunities,” in Conference Room 7 (NLB). It is being organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

At 1:15 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Heiner Bielefeldt, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

At 2:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Friday, 21 October


Today, the Security Council will hold elections.

At 10:30 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference on the situation of religious freedom in the Middle East with His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, Maronite Patriarch. This event is sponsored by the Holy See Mission.   

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