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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

WEDNESDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2013

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS SIGRID KAAG AS SPECIAL COORDINATOR OF O.P.C.W-U.N. JOINT MISSION IN SYRIA

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Sigrid Kaag of the Netherlands as Special Coordinator of the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Mission to eliminate the chemical weapons programme of the Syrian Arab Republic. The appointment has been made in close consultation with OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü.
  • Ms. Kaag has been serving as Assistant Secretary-General of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 2010, and she brings with her a wealth of experience in international organizations and the diplomatic service combined with country experience, notably in the Middle East region.
  • Asked whether the timeline on Syria is proceeding on schedule, the Spokesperson said that the cooperation with the Syrian Government has been good and he noted the progress that the advance team has made. At the same time, he said, the deadlines are very challenging.
  • The Security Council has moved quickly and there has also been clear movement with the work of the advance team, to be followed now by the Joint Mission.
  • Asked about the Geneva II conference, the Spokesperson noted the importance the Secretary-General attached to having a single opposition delegation present at those talks. He pointed to the role played by the Deputy Joint Special Representative, Nasser al-Kidwa, in talking to relevant parties.
  • He said that ultimately, it is up to the Syrian people to decide upon the format of the opposition participation, but added that Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi had been working to ensure that both the Government and the opposition would show up, each with a single delegation.
  • Asked whether the issue of Iran would arise at meetings concerning a Geneva II conference, Nesirky said that the conference scheduled for Geneva is to take place without preconditions. The Secretary-General and Mr. Brahimi had made clear their views on the attendance by other relevant countries at the conference.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS TO PRESS ABOUT APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR JOINT MISSION IN SYRIA

  • At noon today, the Secretary-General said the following to the press:
  • “As my spokesperson Martin Nesirky just said, I have appointed Ms. Sigrid Kaag as the Special Coordinator for the Joint Mission of the United Nations and OPCW on eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons programme.
  • “I thought it was important that I introduce Ms. Kaag to you in person as soon as possible, so I decided to drop by briefly.
  • “I am pleased that the Security Council quickly confirmed her appointment, once again demonstrating its unity on this important matter.
  • “Ms. Kaag brings to the job a wealth of UN and other experience – including service with the UNDP, UNICEF, UNRWA and other offices around the world, with a particular focus on the Middle East and North Africa.  She speaks fluent Arabic language.
  • “As Special Coordinator, she will be responsible for overseeing all activities on the ground undertaken by the OPCW and United Nations personnel.  She will work directly for me and the Director General of the OPCW, and will be located in [Damascus].
  • “Her role includes ensuring access and security for the OPCW inspectors, as well as logistical, communications, medical, administrative and policy support – areas where the United Nations is uniquely capable of contributing.
  • “Ms. Kaag will also have to coordinate the provision of international assistance to complete the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme in accordance with the decisions of the Security Council and OPCW Executive Council.
  • “We have no illusions over the challenges ahead.  The situation in Syria remains dangerous and unpredictable. The cooperation of all parties in Syria is required.
  • “The humanitarian situation is worsening.  The statement issued by the President of the Security Council two weeks ago called on all parties to end the violence and stop targeting civilians. It is vital to turn those strong words into action.
  • “UN and non-UN humanitarian organizations are continuing to do their best to deliver life-saving medicines, food for children, and chlorination tablets for clean water. Humanitarian workers need full and sustained access to reach every person in need.
  • “While mobilizing to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, the United Nations has not lost sight for one moment of the wider tragedy that is still destroying Syria.  We are equally focused on reaching a political solution that will stop the appalling violence and suffering being inflicted on the Syrian people.
  • “The Security Council has called for the convening, as soon as possible, of an international conference on Syria to implement the Geneva Communiqué.  We are intensifying efforts to hold the Geneva II conference in mid-November.
  • “As you may know, I had a brief trilateral encounter meeting with Secretary [John] Kerry of the United States and Minister [Sergey] Lavrov of Russia, while staying in Brunei for the occasions of ASEAN summit meeting.  And as you are already aware, Lakhdar Brahimi had a meeting with Secretary Kerry in London, together with Jeff Feltman there.
  • “In the coming days, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi will depart to the region for consultations with the key parties related to the conference.  The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, is in Moscow today for talks. Deputy Joint Special Representative Al Kidwa will travel to Turkey for discussions with the opposition.
  • “We are working this at all levels.
  • “We are calling on all who truly wish to work for peace and a new, democratic Syria to focus not on military actions but rather on ensuring the success of this conference.
  • “I thank you for your attention.”

O.P.C.W.-U.N. JOINT MISSION IN SYRIA OFFICIALLY ESTABLISHED

  • In a joint press release, the OPCW and the United Nations say that their joint mission in Syria has been established on Wednesday, and this follows close consultations between the Director-General of the OPCW and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It also conforms with the provisions of the decision taken by the OPCW Executive Council on 27 September 2013 which was followed by the adoption by the UN Security Council of its resolution 2118 (2013).
  • The Joint Mission has been established in order to achieve the timely elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme in the safest and most secure manner possible.  It will continue the work undertaken by the OPCW and the UN in Syria since the beginning of this month.
  • The OPCW and the UN have established separate but complementary Trust Funds which have been launched today at the Headquarters of the respective organizations.
  • The establishment of the Joint Mission, the appointment of the Special Coordinator and the arrangements related to the Trust Funds are based on the recommendations made by the UN Secretary-General, with the advice and support of the OPCW Director General, in accordance with the letter by the Secretary-General to the Presidency of the Security Council dated 7 October of this year.
  • The joint team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations has now conducted verification activities at a total of 11 sites that are identified in Syria’s disclosure.
  • Activities have also included overseeing the destruction of critical equipment at six sites, as well as some destruction of so-called Category 3 weapons; in other words, unloaded chemical weapons munitions.

U.N. ENVOY TO MEET REPRESENTATIVES OF GREECE AND FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA LATER THIS MONTH

  • The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will meet with the Representatives of the two countries later this month.
  • Matthew Nimetz will meet with the two Representatives separate and then jointly with the purpose of continuing the UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the “name” issue.

U.N. ENVOY TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL OF OVERALL IMPROVEMENT IN MALI

  • The Security Council heard a briefing on Wednesday morning by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Mali, Bert Koenders.
  • He said that despite security challenges, there was an overall improvement of the situation in Mali, which had opened new prospects for the recovery and long-term perspectives of the country.
  • Mr. Koenders added that Mali had faced recurrent crises in the last decades and that the root causes of these challenges needed to be addressed.
  • He said he remains concerned about the fragile security situation, notably in the North. Mr. Koenders urged all actors and parties to formulate a transparent and agreed roadmap for inclusive talks as a matter of priority.
  • He also said that the UN Mission in the country, MINUSMA, was facing severe challenges and lacked the means, such as helicopters, to facilitate rapid deployment and access to remote areas.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO DENMARK TO ATTEND A CLIMATE FINANCE MEETING

  • The Secretary-General will depart New York on Monday, 21 October, for Denmark.
  • On Tuesday, the Secretary-General will address the Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen. He will then meet with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Speaker of Parliament Mogens Lykkekoft and Chairperson of the Foreign Policy Committee Mette Gjerskov of Denmark. He will also attend a meeting hosted by Minister of Finance Bjarne Corydon of Denmark, with institutional investors.
  • On Wednesday, the Secretary-General will deliver the keynote speech at the Copenhagen Climate Finance Meeting. He will also meet with Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal and Minister of Climate, Energy and Building Martin Lidegaard of Denmark.
  • The Secretary-General will then participate in the launch of the Efficient Energy Hub, which aims to serve as the centre of global efforts to double energy efficiency by 2013, under the umbrella of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
  • The Secretary-General will also take part in a town hall meeting, where he will interact with a large group of youth, before returning to New York on Wednesday, 23 October.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TRUSTS THAT AFRICAN UNION WILL CONTINUE TO ENGAGE WITH I.C.C. IN CONSTRUCTIVE MANNER

  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has been following the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on "Africa's relationship with the International Criminal Court" very closely. 
  • The Secretary-General trusts that the African Union and its Member States will continue to engage with the International Criminal Court in a constructive manner.  He urges States Parties to the Rome Statute to continue to honour their obligations, in particular when implementing the decisions of the Summit.
  • Asked about proposed changes to the Court’s Statute, the Spokesperson said that it is not for the Secretary-General to interpret the provisions of the Rome Statute.      
  • He added that the question of the Security Council using its Chapter VII powers to decide on a deferral as contemplated by Article 16 of the Rome Statute is a matter which is for the Council and its Members.

U.N. AND NGO EMERGENCY DIRECTORS TO VISIT CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that the Emergency Directors for several United Nations Agencies and non-governmental organizations will visit the Central African Republic from tomorrow up to Saturday.
  • The delegation is expected to discuss ways of enhancing support for the humanitarian response in the country.
  • On Friday, the delegation will travel to the northern towns of Bossangoa and Kaga Bandoro to see the humanitarian impact of the crisis and the relief efforts.

U.N. PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR NEEDS ASSESSMENT FOLLOWING EARTHQUAKE IN ISLAND OF BOHOL IN PHILIPPINES

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the central Philippine island of Bohol yesterday. The Government says that 99 people are confirmed dead and 276 injured.
  • More than 2 million people are affected as the earthquake triggered landslides.
  • A joint Government and OCHA team has completed a preliminary assessment at the epicenter, where it is reported that there is an urgent need for medical supplies and clean drinking water. Half of the homes in the epicenter have been destroyed or damaged.
  • The Government and the Philippine Red Cross have mobilized emergency response teams and ambulances, while humanitarian agencies – including UN agencies – are arriving in Bohol to support needs assessments, camp coordination and management, basic relief supplies and logistics.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • The Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, was in Moscow on Wednesday where he held talks on Syria with Deputy Foreign Ministers Gatilov and Bogdanov. He emphasized the importance of building momentum towards Geneva II, and the need for all sides in Syria and the region to understand that there is no military solution and that implementing the Geneva Communique is the best option there is for a political process and solving the crisis.
  • Asked about the E3+3 talks with Iran this week, the Spokesperson reiterated that the United Nations would be following those talks but is not present at them.
  • Asked about fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson noted the efforts by the UN Mission, which has been recently enhanced, and the diplomatic work by Mary Robinson, the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region.