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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

FRIDAY, 1 NOVEMBER 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL, WORLD BANK PRESIDENT TO TRAVEL TO SAHEL

  • The Secretary-General and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim spoke to the press on Friday to announce their trip next week to the Sahel.
  • Asked about the trip by the Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank to the Sahel, the Spokesperson said that it would start next week, with the two first going to Mali, where they will attend a regional ministerial meeting in Bamako on 5 November.
  • Asked about other countries being visited, Nesirky said that, after Mali, they would visit Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

SYRIA ENVOY: SIDES KEEN TO CONTRIBUTE TO GENEVA II CONFERENCE

  • Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, spoke to the press in Damascus before leaving Syria this morning, and he talked about the visits that he had made to countries in the region as part of the preparations for the Geneva II conference. He said that everyone he has spoken to wants to contribute, one way or the other, to prepare for Geneva II and put an end to the crisis in Syria.
  • He said that he had met in Damascus with President Bashar Al-Assad and other Syrian officials, as well as with a large number of representatives of political parties and civil society organizations, and intellectuals concerned about events in their country.
  • Mr. Brahimi has since travelled to Beirut, where he met with Lebanon’s President, acting Prime Minister and Speaker of the Parliament.
  • Meanwhile, Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations, has travelled to Moscow. She is expected to come to New York next week for talks at UN Headquarters and to brief the Security Council.
  • Asked about the Geneva II conference, the Spokesperson reiterated that the aim is to get the parties to agree to attend a conference, and noted that on 5 November, Mr. Brahimi would take stock at the Geneva meeting with his US and Russian counterparts.
  • Asked about two sites that OPCW inspectors could not visit, the Spokesperson said that the Joint Mission had inspected 21 of the 23 sites declared by Syria, and the two remaining sites were not visited due to safety and security concerns. But the items related to chemical weapons that they contained were moved to other declared sites, which were inspected.
  • The Spokesperson said that no further inspection activities are currently planned, although the team intends to visit the two sites as conditions permit.
  • Asked about reports of an Israeli air strike in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations did not have any direct information.
    He said that the Secretary-General urges all parties to avoid any actions that could increase tensions, and to respect the sovereignty of all countries in the region.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY WARNS OF START OF ANNUAL SEASON OF PEOPLE FLEEING MYANMAR BY SEA

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that the Bay of Bengal’s annual sailing season – when thousands of desperate people flee Myanmar’s Rakhine State on rickety boats – may have begun.
  • The Agency said that it has received reports that more than 1,500 people boarded boats in northern Rakhine State last week, as well as reports that people have drowned off the coast of Rakhine.
  • The number of boat departures from the Bay of Bengal has risen dramatically since June of last year, when violence erupted in Rakhine.
  • The Refugee Agency said it is afraid that as the rainy season comes to an end and the sailing season starts in earnest, more people could feel compelled to leave by boat, subjecting themselves to exploitation by smugglers.
  • To stem this outflow, the Agency believes the Myanmar Government and international community need to step up efforts to promote reconciliation and economic development in Rakhine State, and also pursue practical measures to ensure basic human rights so that the Rohingya can lead normal lives where they are.
  • It also continues to advocate for States in the region to step up actions to prevent such tragedies, in particular by strengthening regional cooperation and ensuring that the humanitarian and protection needs of all people moving irregularly are properly met.

U.N. CONCERNED BY STEPPED UP HOSTILITIES BETWEEN ISRAEL, HAMAS

  • Asked about the killing of four Palestinians, the Spokesperson expressed concern about the recent escalation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.
  • He said that the Secretary-General calls on all to refrain from violence and exercise restraint.  All should abide by the November 2012 understanding on a ceasefire. 
  • The United Nations is also concerned about the humanitarian consequences of a deterioration of the situation.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • China has taken up the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of November, replacing Azerbaijan.
  • Asked about cholera in Haiti, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations has been working hard with the Haitian authorities to fight the epidemic.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
2 – 8 NOVEMBER 2013


(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

  

Saturday, 2 November

There are no major events scheduled for today.

 

Sunday, 3 November

There are no major events scheduled for today.

 

Monday, 4 November

The Secretary-General will arrive in Bamako, Mali, which will be the first leg of a visit to the Sahel region with senior officials of the World Bank, the European Union, the African Union, and the African Development Bank. In the following days, they will also visit Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

At 10:00 p.m., in the Economic and Social Chamber of the Conference Building (CB), there will be a special event on “Security Sector Reform”. It will be co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Slovakia and South Africa, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Development Programme.

At 12:30 p.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by Ambassador Liu Jieyi, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of November.

At 1:15 p.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by Anton Katz, Chair of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination.   

In Geneva, the 101st session of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will begin. It will end on 13 November.

In Geneva, the 5th session of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances will begin. It will end on 15 November.

In Geneva, the 51st session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will begin. It will end on 29 November.

 

Tuesday, 5 November

In Geneva, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov and United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. That meeting will be followed the same day by a meeting that includes the other three Permanent Members of the Security Council.

In Geneva, the 25th round of the Geneva International Discussions will take place on 5-6 November. After the meeting, a series of press conferences will take place at the Palais des Nations. 

 

Wednesday, 6 November

Today is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

At 1:15 p.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (CB), there will be a special event on “The promotion of peace through Olympic Truce”. It will be co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Greece and the Russian Federation, in partnership with the International Olympic Truce Centre.

In Geneva, there will be a press conference by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) about the release of its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.  Speakers will include Michel Jarraud, WMO Secretary General and Oksana Tarasova, Scientific Officer.

 

Thursday, 7 November

In Geneva, there will be a meeting of the E3/EU+3 with Iran. It will be organized by the European Union and the Swiss government. 

 

Friday, 8 November

There are no major events scheduled for today.