Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

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, 31 OCTOBER 2011

SECRETARY-GENERAL, U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SPEAK OUT AGAINST ATTACK IN AFGHANISTAN

  • Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a UN compound in Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, on Monday morning, killing three employees of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and wounding two others.

  • The Refugee Agency is seeking a fuller understanding of the circumstances of today’s attack, and adds that the functioning of its Kandahar office has been seriously disrupted.

  • António Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement, “This is a tragedy for UNHCR and for the families of the dead and wounded.”

  • The Secretary-General on Monday morning said that this attack underscores the risks that UN and international aid workers face in Afghanistan. He emphasized, once again, that this work is purely humanitarian. Its sole purpose is to improve the daily lives of the country's people.

AS GLOBAL POPULATION HITS 7 BILLION, BAN KI-MOON URGES SOLIDARITY FOR BETTER WORLD FOR ALL

  • The Secretary-General said that the world's population reached 7 billion on Monday. He added that, together, we can be seven billion strong - by working in solidarity for a better world for all.

  • He said that he will leave on Tuesday for the G20 summit in Cannes, and his message there will be loud and clear: Think about our children. Think about the future, with vision and foresight.

  • The Secretary-General acknowledged that we face a serious economic crisis, and that, for much of the world, fiscal austerity is the new order of the day. Yet even in these difficult times, he said, we cannot afford to cut loose those who are hardest hit.

SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL ARRIVES IN MYANMAR

  • The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Myanmar, Mr. Vijay Nambiar, arrived today in Myanmar for a five-day visit at the invitation of the Government. The Special Adviser will hold meetings in Naypyitaw and Yangon with the Government of Myanmar, political parties, civil society organizations and other key interlocutors, in the implementation of the Secretary-General’s good offices mandate.  

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON PEACEBUILDING, LIBYA AND SOMALIA

  • On behalf of the Secretary-General, Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support briefed the Security Council on Monday morning to update it on the peacebuilding agenda. In her remarks, she noted progress has been made in creating more cohesive UN senior leadership teams and to respond more rapidly to leadership gaps, and this has helped minimize the loss of strategic momentum during critical periods. She concluded by noting that peacebuilding takes at least a generation to become truly sustainable but that with new tools and a culture shift in place, we can help post-conflict countries beat the odds.

  • On Monday afternoon, the Council will meet in formal sessions to discuss the situation in Libya and peace and security in Africa followed by the situation in Somalia. This will be followed by closed consultations on Somalia and other matters.

TOP U.N. PEACEKEEPING OFFICIAL VISITING SUDAN, SOUTH SUDAN

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, is currently visiting UN peacekeeping operations in Sudan and South Sudan.

  • At the weekend, he visited Darfur where the African Union-United Nations Mission, (UNAMID) operates.

  • On Monday, he visited Abyei, where the newest UN peacekeeping operation, the UN Interim Security Force (UNISFA), is operating. He will visit South Sudan and the UN Mission (UNMISS) there in the week to come, as well as Addis Ababa, where he will be holding meetings with African Union representatives as well as the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU).

U.N. HAS NO INFORMATION ABOUT POSSIBLE MOVEMENT OF MILITIA FROM DARFUR

  • Asked about the movement of "Janjaweed" militia from Darfur to the Blue Nile State on Government of Sudan flights and on the mandate of the African Union-United Nations Mission (UNAMID), the Spokesperson said that the Mission has no information related to the possible movement of former "Janjaweed" or other militia from Darfur to Blue Nile.

  • UN peacekeeping does not have a presence in Blue Nile State, Nesirky said.  From Darfur, the Mission has not witnessed the movement of such personnel by plane or other means.

  • As to the question of whether the United Nations has a mandate to monitor movement of personnel on Government of Sudan planes, UNAMID does have a monitoring mandate. If the Mission had information on such movements, the Spokesperson said, it would raise it with the Government. 

  • The Mission does not have a mandate to conduct static monitoring of the movement of personnel by the Government of Sudan, meaning that the mandate is not explicit about monitoring who boards Government of Sudan flights. Should the Mission have a reason to question the Government of Sudan on air movements, the Mission would do so.

CYPRUS MEETING ENTERS SECOND DAY

  • The Secretary-General is meeting with the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities in Greentree, Long Island, again on Monday.

  • Following the first day of talks on Sunday, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Alexander Downer, spoke to reporters.

  • He said that the Secretary-General instituted substantive discussions on four core issues: governance and power-sharing; property; territory and citizenship.

SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERN OVER ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL, GAZA

·        In a statement issued on Saturday, the Secretary-General said that he has been following with deep concern the recent escalation of violence and bloodshed in southern Israel and Gaza. He condemns rocket fire from Gaza, which has killed an Israeli civilian, and calls for its complete cessation. He urges maximum Israeli restraint following the killing of a reported ten alleged militants. He hopes that the parties will fully respect the calm as brokered by Egypt. The Office of the Special Coordinator on the ground remains actively engaged in supporting these efforts.

·        Asked about the attacks, the Spokesperson further added that the Quartet has made clear that any provocative actions need to be avoided at this time.

·        He added that the Secretary-General has reiterated that any loss of human life is regrettable.

SYRIA: BAN KI-MOON CONDEMNS REPORTED KILLING OF CIVILIANS

·        In a statement issued on Saturday, the Secretary-General said that he condemns the reported killing today of dozens of civilians in Syria’s Homs and Hama provinces, adding to an alarming death toll of well over 3,000 people since the beginning of the protests seven months ago.

·        The Secretary-General believes the calls of the Syrian people for change must be answered with far-reaching reforms, not repression and violence.

·        He appeals for military operations against civilians to stop at once, and for the release of all political prisoners and those detained in connection to their participation in the popular protests. 

·        He emphasizes that violence is unacceptable and must stop immediately.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL CONCERNED ABOUT REPRISALS IN LIBYA: Asked about violence in Libya, the Spokesperson noted that the Security Council, in a resolution last week, expressed its concerns about reprisals, arbitrary detention, wrongful imprisonment and extrajudicial executions. He noted that the Commission of Inquiry for Libya has urged the National Transitional Council and the future interim authorities to undertake independent, impartial and transparent investigations into all allegations of human rights violations.

PALESTINE NEWEST MEMBER STATE OF U.N. BODY: The General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted on Monday to admit Palestine as a Member State of the Organization. The vote was 107 votes in favour to 14 against. Admission to UNESCO for states that are not members of the United Nations requires a recommendation by the Organization’s Executive Board and a two-thirds majority vote in favour by the General Conference. Monday’s vote brings the number of UNESCO’s Member States to 195.

***The guests at the Noon Briefing today were Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. They briefed reporters on the launch of a joint plan of action between UNODC and UNHCR.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, SA-1B15

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055