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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

WEDNESDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2011

ON THAILAND VISIT, THE SECRETARY-GENERAL SEES IMPACT OF FLOODING IN BANGKOK

  • The Secretary-General visited the Thai capital, Bangkok, today. His first appointment of the day was a meeting with the Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra. The Secretary-General said that the United Nations stands ready to do everything possible to help Thailand respond to and recover from the heavy floods which hit the country.

  • The Secretary-General then met with staff at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) which is based in Bangkok. He expressed his sympathies for UN staff members who have been affected by the heavy flooding.

  • He then spoke at a roundtable on universal health coverage and visited an exhibition on Thailand's healthcare system.

  • The Secretary-General saw first-hand the impact of the flooding from a helicopter and met with people who were evacuated from inundated areas. Speaking to reporters afterwards, he said that he was deeply saddened and humbled by what he saw.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MARKS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF TOLERANCE, CALLS FOR DIALOGUE AND POSITIVE ENGAGEMENT

  • Asked about the marking of the International Day of Tolerance, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General, in a message, says that this is a period in which the old world is slowly but irreversibly changing and the contours of a new one are just beginning to take shape. Traditional institutions are being challenged. Budgets are being squeezed. Families are being stressed. All of this flux and churning creates enormous anxiety.

  • At times of change, the Secretary-General says, we must stay true to the ideals and principles that are at the heart of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Among those core values is tolerance. Our practice of tolerance must mean more than peaceful coexistence, crucial as that is. It must be an active understanding fostered through dialogue and positive engagement with others.

  • The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) plays a special role in fostering active tolerance by promoting quality education for all girls and boys; advancing a free and pluralistic media, including on the Internet; and protecting cultural heritage and nurturing respect for cultural diversity.

  • As we face the complex and global challenges of our times, the Secretary-General says, the United Nations will continue to work for mutual understanding among peoples and countries, a bedrock need in an interconnected world. As we mark this international day, let us remember that active tolerance begins with each of us, every day.

  • The Secretary-General referred to the flux in the social fabric and in the financial markets when he spoke at the Group of 20 in Cannes, the Spokesperson added.

NO INDICATIONS THAT U.N. WAS TARGETED IN LEBANON EXPLOSIONS

  • Asked about two explosions reported in Tyr early this morning, the Spokesperson noted that the Lebanese authorities are in charge of the investigation and security of the area.

  • An investigation is under way, he added, and the United Nations is waiting for information from the relevant Lebanese authorities. The authorities indicated that there were no injuries but that several vehicles were also damaged.

  • Among them there were two UN vehicles that were parked on the street, but there are no indications whatsoever that the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was targeted by the explosions.

CYPRIOT LEADERS AGREE TO MEETING SCHEDULE THROUGH NEXT JANUARY

  • The Cypriot leaders met for one hour today in Nicosia, and they agreed on a schedule for their meetings until January.  The next meeting of the Leaders will take place on Monday, 28 November.

  • After that, the leaders agreed that they will meet roughly once each week with each other until January, according to Lisa Buttenheim, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

G.A. RESOLUTION BEING CONSIDERED BY MEMBER STATES: Asked about a resolution being proposed by Saudi Arabia for the General Assembly, the Spokesperson said the matter was in the hands of the Member States and the Secretary-General would not comment while they were considering it.

SECURITY COUNCIL AUTHORIZES CONTINUED E.U., N.A.T.O. PRESENCE IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: The Security Council this morning unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the continued presence of European Union and NATO forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After that meeting, the Security Council began consultations to receive updates on the work of two of its sanctions committees: those dealing, respectively, with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and with Somalia and Eritrea.

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