HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 30 OCTOBER 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPLORES ISRAELI SETTLEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT
The Secretary-General understands that Israel took a difficult step in continuing to release Palestinian pre-Oslo prisoners in the face of deep domestic opposition, and appreciates this gesture. In keeping with the statement by the Quartet on 27 September, the Secretary-General expects the parties to take every possible step to promote conditions conducive to the success of the negotiating process and to refrain from actions that undermine trust.
- The Secretary-General deplores the announcements today of further Israeli settlement plans in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Settlement activity is contrary to international law and constitutes an obstacle to peace. Any measures that prejudge final status issues will not be recognised by the international community.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON RECENT SOMALIA VISIT
- The Deputy Secretary-General briefed the Security Council this morning on his visit during the past weekend to Mogadishu. He said that he saw a remarkable change since he had previously visited the country in 1992, adding that he saw signs of hope and determination and the beginning of a new Somalia.
- The Deputy Secretary-General recounted his extensive meetings with Somalia’s President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament, Foreign Minister and other members of the Government. He said that, during the meetings, his interlocutors highlighted the need to establish a culture of dialogue and a new approach on regional engagement.
- He also described the findings of a recent African Union-United Nations mission on security, saying that, after 18 months of successful operations that uprooted Al Shabaab from major cities, the campaign by the African Union Mission, AMISOM, and Somali forces has in recent months ground to a halt.
- He urged the Security Council to find ways to adequately provide support for AMISOM, as recommended in the Secretary-General’s recent report.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY SOMALIA ENVOY
- The Secretary-General has appointed Fatiha Serour of Algeria as his Deputy Special Representative for Somalia. Ms. Serour succeeds Peter De Clercq of the Netherlands.
- Ms. Serour is currently Director of “Serour Associates for Inclusion and Equity,” an association focusing on supporting inclusive approaches to economic development.
- Until last year, she was Regional Director for Europe, North Africa and the Middle East at the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE MEETS PRESIDENT OF SYRIA
- In Damascus today, Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, met with President Bashar al-Assad. On Tuesday, Mr. Brahimi met with the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moallem.
- He is also continuing his meetings in Syria with representatives of different opposition groups, women’s groups and civil society.
- After his visit to Syria, Mr. Brahimi will travel to Beirut where he will meet with Lebanon’s President, Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament.
- Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator of the joint mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations, will meet the OPCW Director-General and other senior officials in The Hague on Thursday.
- She will then travel to Moscow for meetings with Russian officials on Friday. Ms. Kaag will be in New York to brief the Security Council next week. Her briefing to the OPCW’s Executive Council will take place at a later date.
- Asked about participation in the Geneva II conference, the Spokesperson recalled that, on 5 November, Mr. Brahimi will meet with Russian and US officials to take stock of how the preparations for the Geneva II conference stand. He added that the United Nations continues to work towards the holding of Geneva II and has nothing new to say about dates for that conference.
UNITED STATES HAS GIVEN ASSURANCES THAT UN COMMUNICATIONS ARE NOT AND WILL NOT BE MONITORED
- Asked about reports of past intelligence gathering activities by the US National Security Agency, the Spokesperson said that in August, when these reports first surfaced, the United Nations had said it would be in touch with the relevant authorities. The Secretariat was indeed in touch with the US authorities.
- The Spokesperson said he understood that the US authorities have given assurances that United Nations communications are not and will not be monitored.
- Nesirky added that the inviolability of diplomatic missions, including the United Nations, has been well established in international law. Therefore all Member States are expected to act accordingly.
U.N. CONGO MISSION SAYS BUNAGANA IS IN FULL CONTROL OF CONGOLESE ARMY
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, reports that the town of Bunagana, in North Kivu, is now fully controlled by the Congolese army.
- Also in North Kivu, the Mission reports that hundreds of internally displaced people in Kanyaruchinya are leaving the area to return to the Kibumba area, north of Goma. They had fled during last week's fighting. The Mission is conducting regular patrols between the two areas in order to protect civilians.
- The Mission also says that during the month of October, a high number of M23 combatants surrendered to the UN Mission.
- On Tuesday, 33 M23 combatants surrendered -- bringing the total number of M23 surrenders to 80 for the month of October.
HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CONCERNED ABOUT DRIFT IN DEMOCRATIC PROCESS IN MALDIVES
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights today expressed deep concern over what she calls the dangerous drift in the democratic process in the Maldives.
- Navi Pillay attributed this largely to the repeated interventions by the country’s Supreme Court in the presidential election process, noting that it is subverting the democratic process and violating the right of Maldivians to freely elect their representatives.
- Earlier this month, the Secretary-General, in a statement, voiced deep concern over the delay of the re-run of the first round presidential election annulled by the Supreme Court. He said that the aspirations and the will of the Maldivian people were expressed in the 88 per cent participation of eligible voters in the election on 7 September.
- The Secretary-General said that he believes that the legitimate will of the people should not be denied.
- Asked about reports that Saudi Arabia would withdraw from the Security Council, the Spokesperson reiterated that this is a matter for Member States. He noted that there remains considerable time before the new Security Council members take up their seats at the start of January.
- Asked about reports that Uruguayan troops may withdraw from Haiti, the Spokesperson said that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has not received official confirmation from the Uruguayan authorities about the withdrawal of their troops from Haiti.
- The Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, will brief the Security Council about his latest visit to the region this afternoon.
***The guest at the noon briefing was Kate Gilmore, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), who briefed the press on a new report entitled “Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy.”