HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2013
ADDRESSING SECURITY COUNCIL, U.N. ENVOYS URGE STEPPED UP ACTION IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO, GREAT LAKES REGION
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Martin Kobler, and the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Mary Robinson, briefed the Security Council by videoconference this morning.
- Mary Robinson gave an overview of the Kampala Dialogue negotiations. She said the parties reached consensus on eight out of the 12 articles of the draft agreement under discussion. However, they found it difficult to agree on certain contentious and difficult issues that had remained problematic throughout the talks, namely the amnesty, disarmament and integration of M23.
- She added that the parties had agreed to convene soon in order to overcome their differences and she said it was critical that they remain committed to a swift conclusion of the Kampala process.
- Martin Kobler also urged the M23, in particular, to use the dynamics of the last days to move constructively and without delay to sort out the remaining issues to restore peace in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- He said that the situation on the ground remained volatile and of great concern. He noted that the UN Mission had observed in recent days a considerable military build-up on both sides of the frontline. He also noted that M23 had fired twice at unarmed UN helicopters and has strengthened offensive positions threatening UN peacekeepers.
D.R. CONGO: U.N. MISSION DEPLORES LACK OF PROGRESS IN PROSECUTING PERPETRATORS OF RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has deplored the lack of progress in prosecuting the perpetrators of gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including mass rape, committed in November of last year in Minova, in South Kivu province, and in neighboring villages by the troops of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).
- The Mission says that despite the support it lent, along with other partners, to the investigations conducted by military justice and in spite of the Congolese authorities’ commitment to prosecute the perpetrators, none of the presumed perpetrators of these human rights violations has been brought to justice -- almost a year after these incidents.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Martin Kobler, said that Congolese officials should fulfill their obligations in compliance with international as well as Congolese law, especially towards the victims of such atrocious acts and their families to whom justice must be rendered.
- Asked about UN assistance to Congolese Armed Forces units, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission, MONUSCO, is adhering to the UN’s human rights due diligence policy. He noted that it is for the DRC authorities, not the UN Mission, to prosecute those suspected of crimes.
AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM HAS DEEPENED DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL CULTURE – BAN KI-MOON
- This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at a panel discussion on Africa’s innovation in governance through ten years of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
- He said that the mechanism has deepened a democratic political culture among African governments.
- He added that it has fostered more principled leadership and constructive national dialogue, as well as having opened up greater space for citizens to participate in the decisions affecting them.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO DEPART FOR DENMARK
- The Secretary-General will leave New York on Monday evening for Denmark.
- On Tuesday, the Secretary-General will address the Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen. He will then meet with the Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament and Chairperson of the Foreign Policy Committee. He will also attend a meeting with institutional investors, hosted by the Minister of Finance.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TRAVELING TO KENYA
- The Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Nairobi on Tuesday to meet with Kenyan Government representatives and to visit the UN Headquarters in Africa: the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON). He will meet with senior management and staff of the UN Office, as well as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). He will also meet the Heads of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes for Kenya and UN Regional Offices.
- The Deputy Secretary-General will also represent the Secretary-General and speak at the opening of the Global South-South Development Expo.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION SPEAKS OUT AGAINST DEADLY CIVILIAN ATTACKS
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has strongly condemned the deadly attacks against civilians on Sunday in Twic East County, in Jonglei State. The attacks resulted in high numbers of killed and wounded.
- The Mission reports that as soon as the fighting stopped Sunday, the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flew health partners to the areas.
- By the end of the day, the Air Service had evacuated a total of 31 seriously wounded civilians to Bor and Juba. They also reported more wounded civilians remaining in the area and, this morning, the Air Service dispatched a helicopter to continue the medical evacuations.
- In addition, the Mission carried out an aerial reconnaissance to determine the scale of the attacks and check on the movement of the attackers. Today, the Mission flew in a team of UN investigators along with South Sudanese counterparts to investigate the attacks. This Mission will also work closely with the South Sudanese authorities to have the perpetrators held to account.
SYRIA ENVOY VISITS IRAQ, KUWAIT
- The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, visited Iraq today as part of his continuing efforts to see how leaders in the region can contribute to make a Geneva II conference with the Syrian parties a success. He has now left Iraq for Kuwait, where he will meet with Government officials on Tuesday.
- Over the weekend, the Joint Special Representative was in Cairo, where he met with the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.
- Asked about the UN’s assessment about the holding of a Geneva II conference, the Spokesperson reiterated that the conference is to be convened by the UN Secretary-General, and it is for him to announce the date of the conference when it is appropriate.
- Asked about comments from the League of Arab States Secretary-General that the Geneva II conference would be held on 23 November, the Spokesperson said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would announce dates once he is ready to do so.
- Asked about the release over the weekend of nine hostages held near the Syria-Turkey border, Nesirky said that it is to everyone’s relief that the hostages have been released. He added that clerics who have been detained should also be released as soon as possible.
SYRA: U.N. RELIEF CHIEF CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE PAUSE IN HOSTILITIES IN MOADAMIYEH
- The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, has called on all parties in Syria to agree an immediate pause in hostilities in Moadamiyeh, outside Damascus, to allow humanitarian agencies unhindered access to evacuate the remaining civilians and deliver life-saving treatment and supplies in areas where fighting and shelling continues.
- She said that humanitarian workers have been denied access to Moadamiyeh in Rural Damascus for months. Although the evacuation of more than 3,000 people took place a week ago, the same number or more remain trapped.
- She said that it is vital that all parties to the conflict respect their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian laws to protect civilians and to allow neutral, impartial humanitarian organizations safe access to all people in need, wherever they are in Syria.
NO FORMAL WITHDRAWAL FROM SECURITY COUNCIL RECEIVED FROM SAUDI ARABIA – U.N.
- Asked about reports that Saudi Arabia would withdraw from the Security Council, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations has not received formal notification from Saudi Arabia on the matter.
- In response to further questions, the Spokesperson said a formal notification would need to go to the Secretary-General, not to individual Member States, adding that the Secretary-General has received nothing so far. He added that the President of General Assembly also has not received anything, nor has the Security Council Affairs Division of the UN Secretariat.