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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

 

TUESDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2013

 

HEAD OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS, SYRIA CONFERENCE EFFORTS

  • Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Security Council this morning on the situation in the Middle East and talked about the discussions taking place in the region, from the Syria catastrophe to the Middle East peace process to questions regarding nuclear proliferation. 
  • He welcomed the intensification of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians but added that there have been worrisome developments on the ground that cannot be ignored.  He reiterated the United Nations’ unequivocal call on all to refrain from violence and incitement, reinforce calm and reverse negative trends in order to preserve the tentative opening in the political process.
  • On Syria, Mr. Feltman said that the Secretary-General continues to insist that the only way to bring peace to Syria is an inclusive and Syrian-led political process.  He added that the United Nations is working hard to convene the Geneva conference in mid-November. 
  • With a political process, however difficult it may be, there is hope that a new Syria will emerge. Without it, there is little on the horizon but the further destruction of Syria and the further destabilization of the region as a result of this conflict.
  • Asked about attendance at the Geneva II conference, the Spokesperson said that the Syrian parties should attend the conference without preconditions.
  • Asked about any other preparatory meetings before the Geneva II conference, the Spokesperson said that Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi intends to convene another preparatory meeting with Russia and the U.S. and to follow up the P3 meeting that took place in September.
  • The Spokesperson added that Mr. Brahimi was in Oman today and would go to Jordan on Wednesday as part of his continuing efforts to move forward with arrangements for the Geneva II conference. Mr. Brahimi and his deputy, Nasser al-Kidwa, are reaching out to the various parties in the region to strengthen the chances of a successful conference.
  • Further to the Spokesperson's comments at the noon briefing, the Spokesperson said  that the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will convene a trilateral meeting with US and Russian officials in Geneva on 5 November. That meeting will be followed the same day by a meeting that includes the other three Permanent Members of the Security Council.

SYRIA: HEAD OF O.P.C.W.-U.N. MISSION SAYS TIMEFRAMES FOR ITS WORK ARE CHALLENGING

  • Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator for the Joint Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Mission in Syria, spoke today in Damascus, a day after arriving in Syria.
  • She said that the timeframes for the Mission’s work are challenging, given the goal of the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme in the first half of 2014.
  • To date, Ms. Kaag said, the Government of Syria has fully cooperated in supporting the work of the advance team and the OPCW-UN Joint Mission.
  • Asked about the need for cooperation from all Syrian parties for the team’s work, the Spokesperson said cooperation is needed from all parties. He noted that it is up to the Syrian Government to render its production plants inoperable by 1 November and to eliminate its chemical weapons programme entirely in the first half of 2014.
  • Nesirky added that it is up to all parties in Syria to ensure that access is provided wherever it is needed.
  • Asked about reports that the United States is donating vehicles to the Joint Mission, the Spokesperson said that it was important for the teams to be able to travel as safely as possible.

RELIEF EFFORTS STEPPED UP IN SYRIA IN PREPARATION FOR WINTER

  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says it is delivering more aid across Syria in preparation for winter.  Among other locations, last week, the Agency’s local partners brought aid to the hard-to-reach city of Raqqa to more than 10,000 people.  
  • So far in 2013, about 35 per cent of UNHCR's core relief supplies has gone to people in hard-to-reach areas of Syria.  On a weekly basis, up to 250 aid trucks are on the move inside Syria, bringing aid to some 14,000 to 15,000 households, equivalent to nearly 100,000 people weekly. 
  • Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) is saying that a possible polio outbreak is likely in Syria.  The World Health Organization is waiting for final laboratory confirmation but is treating the situation as a polio outbreak operationally.  A plan is underway for an emergency response, which would start in the immediately affected area of the Deir es Zour Province.

ON VISIT TO COPENHAGEN, SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR MORE INVESTMENTS FOR LOW-CARBON ECONOMY

  • The Secretary-General arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark this morning. He delivered a keynote speech at the Global Green Growth Forum, where he urged participants to increase investments for a low-carbon economy.
  • He said that the world is fast approaching a triple deadline: the target date for the Millennium Development Goals, establishing a new sustainable development framework and reaching an agreement on climate change. He added that we must increase action and ambition on climate change.
  • He later met with the Prime Minister of Denmark and the Speaker of the Danish Parliament. Following his meeting with the Prime Minister, the Secretary-General spoke to the media. He said that they had discussed various topics, including the urgent need for a political solution to the conflict in Syria, international support to Afghanistan beyond 2014, and sustainable development.
  • He also participated in a meeting with the International Pension Funds hosted by the Finance Minister of Denmark.

TROOP CONTRIBUTING COUNTRIES HAVE BEEN PAID AS PER NORMAL SCHEDULE

  • In answer to an earlier question about the payment of peacekeepers, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations does not pay troop salaries.
  • He said that the United Nations reimburses a standard rate to the Governments and it is their responsibility to pay their personnel. The United Nations reimburse the troop contributing countries and it is their responsibility to pay their troops.
  • Nesirky added that troop contributing countries have been paid up to date as per the normal schedule.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. CALLS ON ALL PARTIES IN MOZAMBIQUE TO REFRAIN FROM ACTS THAT THREATEN PEACE AND STABILITY: In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations is following with concern the recent developments in Mozambique. He said it calls on all parties to refrain from any act that can threaten the peace and stability that has prevailed during the past 21 years. It urges them to fully engage in an inclusive dialogue to resolve differences and to ensure that the country can continue on the path of development, democracy and growth for all.

U.N. FORMAL NOTIFICATION NOT RECEIVED FROM SAUDI ARABIA: Asked about reports that Saudi Arabia would withdraw from the Security Council, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations had not received any formal notification from Saudi Arabia about the matter.

U.N.R.W.A. FACING FUNDING SHORTAGES, NEEDS SUPPORT: Asked about funds for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the Spokesperson drew attention to the Agency’s funding shortages and urged support for its work. He noted the work being done by UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi to secure funds for the Agency.

USE OF UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES SHOULD BE IN CONFORMITY WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW: Asked about the use of drones, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has made clear that all use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) should be in conformity with international humanitarian and human rights laws. He added that all possible measures need to be made to avoid civilian casualties.