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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

MONDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2011

POLITICAL CHIEF URGES MIDDLE EAST PARTIES TO APPROACH QUARTET MEETINGS IN SPIRIT OF NEGOTIATION

  • Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, opened today’s Security Council open debate on the Middle East. He said that the exchange of prisoners between the Israelis and Palestinians was welcomed by the Secretary-General as a significant humanitarian breakthrough. He called for the same determination to be displayed by the parties in the search for a lasting peace, noting the timeline set in the statement issued last month by the Quartet.

  • Mr. Pascoe said that the parties must refrain from provocations and should stand ready to offer serious proposals on borders and security for negotiation.  He urged them to approach their meetings with the Quartet envoys later this week in this spirit. Otherwise, he warned, the impasse will only deepen, and with it, the level of confrontation and the scale of the mistrust.

  • Earlier, the Security Council adopted a resolution concerning piracy in Somalia, which, among other things, asks Member States to report by the end of the year on the steps they have taken to criminalize piracy in their domestic laws.

  • Asked about the Secretary-General's views of the Palestinian initiative to join the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Spokesperson said the Secretary-General was concerned on two levels: funding and procedure. He noted that Mr. Pascoe had made clear the Secretary-General's position at the Security Council, and that the Secretary-General has been in touch with officials both in Washington and in the Palestinian Authority.

  • Asked about the Secretary-General's role in the Palestinian request for membership, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General undertook a technical evaluation of the application in line with procedure and then submitted it to the Security Council.

TUNISIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS LANDMARK ELECTION IS KEY STEP IN TRANSITION

  • Earlier this year, the people of Tunisia inspired the region and the world when they stood up courageously to demand democracy, freedom and dignity.  On Sunday, they took another important step.

  • The Secretary-General congratulates the people and interim authorities of Tunisia for holding a historic Constituent Assembly election on 23 October in a peaceful and orderly manner. He commends the Independent High Authority for the Elections (Instance Supérieure Indépendante pour les élections- ISIE) for its role in ensuring a transparent electoral process.

  • This landmark election constitutes a key step in the democratic transition of the country and a significant development in the overall democratic transformation in North Africa and the Middle East. The Secretary-General encourages all stakeholders to remain committed to the principles of inclusiveness and transparency throughout the remaining parts of the transition process.

  • The participation of women and youth in the transition process is of key importance for its success.

  • The Secretary-General is pleased that the United Nations was able, at the request of the Tunisian authorities, to provide technical electoral assistance to support the elections organized and managed by Tunisia. The Secretary-General stresses that Tunisia's people and authorities will always find the United Nations ready to offer its full support as they move towards a better and democratic future for themselves and for the generations to come.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES LIBYA ON DECLARATION OF LIBERATION

  • On Sunday, the Secretary-General congratulated the people of Libya, noting that the declaration of liberation marked an occasion for Libyans to celebrate, to look forward to a future of liberties and opportunities, from the right to express an opinion freely to the right to elect their own government.

  • He said that the Libyan people will be in full charge of their future - a future that their new leaders have declared will be based on justice and national reconciliation.

  • He welcomed the fact that their commitment is to building accountable democratic institutions, guided by respect for human rights and the rule of law, and to the transparent management of Libya's resources to the benefit of all Libyans.

  • He noted that the end of the war is only the beginning of what Libyan fighters, youth and women have struggled for: their determination now is to build a truly new Libya, overcoming the grim legacy of human rights abuse and corruption, and now so many killed or disabled during the conflict.

  • He concluded by saying that, on this momentous day, the United Nations restates it commitment, through the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, to support the Libyan people and their authorities as they work to build this brighter future.

  • Asked if there should be an international inquiry into the killing of Muammar Qadhafi, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General supported High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay's call for an investigation. The Spokesperson noted that there is an independent commission of inquiry on Libya already set up by the Human Rights Council and that Ms. Pillay's spokesperson had said that the commission was very likely to look into the matter.

  • Asked about the prosecution of human rights violations in Libya and Yemen, the Spokesperson noted accountability is first and foremost a matter for national authorities. There is also the International Criminal Court, which could decide what action if any could be taken, in consultation with the countries concerned.

BAN KI-MOON EXPRESSES HIS SADNESS AFTER TURKEY EARTHQUAKE

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General expressed his sadness at learning of the loss of life and destruction in Sunday’s earthquake in eastern Turkey.  He expressed his heartfelt sympathies to the Government and people of Turkey at this time of loss and suffering.

  • He commended the Turkish authorities for their rapid response to the situation. The United Nations is in contact with the relevant authorities and stands ready to offer any assistance if requested.

CENTRAL AMERICA: U.N.D.P. PROVIDES ASSISTANCE AFTER TORRENTIAL RAINS

  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is providing technical assistance to those hit by torrential rains that have devastated five Central American countries and Mexico, affected nearly 570,000 people and left more than 80 dead.

  • The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in El Salvador, Roberto Valent, called the situation a catastrophe, estimating the destruction costs in the country at more than US$1billion. Valent also called on the international community to assist Central America in order to rebuild the flood-affected countries in a more resilient manner, adding that climate change-related disasters are likely to hit the region again.

  • El Salvador and Guatemala are the worst affected countries: at least 310,000 people were affected and nearly 70 died. Nicaragua, Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica were also heavily affected.

HEAD OF DRUGS AND CRIME OFFICE SAYS ARAB SPRING WAS REJECTION OF CORRUPTION

  • Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said today the Arab Spring was “an emphatic rejection of corruption and a cry for integrity”. 

  • The Executive Director also said that corruption was a serious impediment to reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

  • Fedotov also spoke of the importance of recognizing the connections between corruption, transnational organized crime and drug trafficking. 

  • Fedotov was speaking at the Fourth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

  • The meeting is taking place in Morocco this week to review the implementation of the Convention and assess worldwide efforts to combat corruption.  

ON U.N. DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR UNITY IN THE NAME OF COMMON GOOD

  • Today is United Nations Day, and in his message to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General says that, days from now, the human family will welcome its seven billionth member. And he says we should unite, seven billion strong, in the name of the global common good.

  • The Secretary-General adds that global problems demand global solutions. On this special day, he says, let us recognize that never has the United Nations been so needed.

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