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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESS BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

 

WEDNESDAY, 2 OCTOBER 2013

 

SECURITY COUNCIL URGES ALL IN SYRIA TO IMMEDIATELY CEASE VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW

  • The Security Council, in a Presidential Statement on Wednesday morning, urged all parties in Syria to immediately cease and desist from all violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights. It called on all parties to fully respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and to take all appropriate steps to protect civilians.
  • The Security Council stressed that the magnitude of the humanitarian tragedy caused by the conflict in Syria requires immediate action for the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance in the whole country, including in areas and districts where humanitarian needs are especially urgent. It urged the Syrian authorities to take immediate steps so that humanitarian relief operations can be expanded, and to lift bureaucratic impediments and other obstacles.
  • Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, welcomed the Presidential Statement and said that the task now is to turn the Council’s strong words into meaningful action for the children, women and men who are the continuing victims of the brutal violence. She said if the Council’s statement is implemented, humanitarian workers would be able to reach some 2 million people who have been unreached for months.
  • She also said that ultimately, the international community must find a lasting political solution to end the suffering of ordinary Syrians.
  • The Secretary-General strongly welcomes this Presidential Statement, which was adopted and circulated this morning. Also in line with what Valerie Amos said about the need for a lasting political solution, the Secretary-General and the Joint Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, are working in a determined fashion to ensure that the target of having the international conference in Geneva take place in mid-November will be realized.
  • The Spokesperson noted, in response to further questions, that the humanitarian crisis has been worsening by the day and that the Secretary-General had consistently called for improved humanitarian access. For that reason, among others, he welcomes the Presidential Statement.
  • Asked about the Secretary-General’s actions, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has met with a large number of world leaders and foreign ministers in recent days to push for progress in the Syrian peace process. Lakhdar Brahimi also continues with his work in trying to arrange an International Conference for Syria.
  • Asked whether that conference could take place by mid-November, Nesirky said that the Secretary-General was working to that end.
  • Asked about the guidelines by which the previous team of chemical weapons investigators did their work, the Spokesperson referred to the guidelines in the Secretary-General’s mechanism established following a General Assembly resolution in 1987. The mandate for the team was to determine whether chemical weapons were used and not by whom.
  • That team left Syria on Monday and is working to compile its final report, which it intends to deliver by the end of this month.
  • Asked about a meeting with Syrian opposition leaders, the Spokesperson noted that the Saturday evening meeting at the Secretary-General’s residence had been arranged on short notice.
  • Asked about opposition representation at the Geneva II conference, Nesirky recalled that the 2012 Geneva Conference had made clear that there need to be two parties for an international conference on Syria: one from the Government and one from the opposition.

SYRIA: CHEMICAL WEAPONS TEAM BEGINS SECURING SITES FOR OPERATION

  • Chemical weapons inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations, they have completed their first working day in an operation that aims to rid Syria of its chemical weapons programme by the middle of next year.
  • Joint work with the Syrian authorities has begun on securing the sites where the team will operate, especially in outlying areas.  The team has also been considering the health and environmental hazards which they may have to confront.  In addition, planning continues for one of the team's immediate tasks, disabling Syria's chemical weapons production facilities, which should begin soon.  Meanwhile, discussions on the size of Syria's stockpiles are also under way, as well as long-term planning, so that deadlines unanimously imposed by the Executive Council of the OPCW and the UN Security Council are met.  There is a press release with more details on this.
  • The advance team of OPCW and UN staff arrived in Damascus on Tuesday, just four days after the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed the plan to send them to Syria to begin the process of overseeing the destruction of the country’s chemical weapons programme.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS DURABLE PEACE CANNOT BE WON THROUGH FORCE OF ARMS

  • The Secretary-General spoke on Wednesday at an event commemorating the International Day of Non-Violence, which marks Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.
  • The Secretary-General said that some of history’s greatest leaders rejected the battleground for the negotiating table.
  • He said that durable peace cannot be won through force of arms, and that is why he had insisted throughout the war in Syria that all concerned must work for a political solution.

D.R.CONGO: U.N. MISSION SAYS SITUATION REMAINS TENSE AND VOLATILE IN ITURI DISTRICT

  • The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, says that the situation remains tense and volatile in the Ituri district, in the Oriental province of the country.
  • The Mission says it is concerned about the fighting between the Congolese army and the Front de Résistance Patriotique de l’Ituri, FRPI, which has displaced many civilians south of Irumu territory.
  • The Mission has also expressed its concern over the situation in Pinga, North Kivu, where a Mission patrol was fired upon on Tuesday.
  • The Mission says that 70 Mayi-Mayi combatants surrendered near Beni, and the Mission also helped to free six civilians detained by other Mayi-Mayi combatants near Pinga.
  • There is more information on all of in the weekly press conference from the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

GUINEA: U.N. REPRESENTATIVE WELCOMES CIVIC BEHAVIOR OF VOTERS ON ELECTION DAY

  • The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, who is the international facilitator for dialogue in Guinea, welcomed on Wednesday the civic behavior of Guinean voters on elections day and the calm that accompanied the voting despite some problems reported by voters and other stakeholders.
  • In a statement, Said Djinnit also encouraged the Independent National Electoral Commission to make every effort to publish the provisional results of the legislative elections as soon as possible.
  • The Special Representative called on political parties to respect the verdict of the ballot box and use the appropriate legal channels to resolve any disputes arising from the elections.

U.N. MISSION IN DARFUR ORGANIZES CONFERENCE WITH TRIBAL LEADERS ON CAUSES OF CONFLICTS

  • The joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) organized a conference this week, bringing together more than 100 tribal leaders to discuss the root causes of tribal conflicts in the area and to propose solutions for sustainable peaceful coexistence.
  • At the start of the two-day event, Retta Reddy, who is the head of the mission’s Civil Affairs Section, said that, to resolve the root causes of the conflict in an inclusive manner, Darfur needed to manage its resources soundly to ensure that all people of the region benefit in an equitable manner.
  • During the conference, which ended on Tuesday, participants recommended setting up clear rules on the management of land and natural resources, as well as the full implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.
  • And there is more available on the mission’s website on that.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO DECIDE ON OPTIONS FOR LONG-TERM U.N. ACCOMMODATION NEEDS

  • Asked about the potential use of the Robert Moses playground, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has been asked by the General Assembly to explore different options for the long-term accommodation needs of the Organization.
  • A report will be submitted to the General Assembly during its First Resumed 68th session, as requested by the General Assembly in the 67th session.
  • Nesirky said that the new report will include comprehensive information on all viable options, as requested by the General Assembly. One of the many options being studied is the proposal from the UN Development Corporation to construct a new building known as the UN Consolidation Building.
  • The decision on one of the options will need to be made by the Member States.