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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 FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

THURSDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2010

 

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES ADMIRATION FOR AUNG SAN SUU KYI’S COURAGE, URGES RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

  • The Secretary-General called Daw Aung San Suu Kyi this morning to personally greet her following her long-awaited release from detention. The Secretary-General and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had a warm and cordial conversation.
     

  • The Secretary-General expressed his admiration for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s courage and dignity as a source of inspiration for millions of people around the world.
     

  • The Secretary-General and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi both stressed the need for the Myanmar authorities to release all remaining political prisoners as a matter of priority so that all citizens of Myanmar are free to contribute to advancing the prospects of national reconciliation and democratic transition in Myanmar.
     

  • The Secretary-General told Daw Aung San Suu Kyi that he was encouraged by the spirit of reconciliation emanating from her statements and appeals for dialogue and compromise following her release. He stressed that he would continue to encourage all parties to seize the opportunity to work together in the national interest through dialogue.
     

  • Daw Aung San Suu Kyi expressed her appreciation for the role of the United Nations in Myanmar and emphasized the continued importance of such a role at the present juncture. She recalled the Secretary-General's visit to Yangon in July 2009 and his desire to meet her, and expressed her appreciation for the continuous efforts he has made on her behalf.
     

  • Daw Aung San Suu Kyi expressed her support for an early visit by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Myanmar to Yangon and her desire to engage with him for pushing ahead in addressing the challenges facing the people of Myanmar. Meanwhile, she also suggested an early meeting with the head of the UN Office in Yangon.
     

  • The Secretary-General reiterated his own commitment and that of the United Nations to continue to uphold the cause of human rights and support all efforts by the Government, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other stakeholders to build a united, peaceful, democratic and modern future for their country.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES ISRAELI DECISION TO ACCEPT U.N. PROPOSAL FOR WITHDRAWAL FROM NORTHERN GHAJAR

  • In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Secretary-General welcomed the Government of Israel’s decision to accept, in principle, the United Nations proposal for a withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from the northern part of Ghajar and its redeployment south of the Blue Line.
     

  • The IDF’s withdrawal from northern Ghajar would be an important step towards the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701. The United Nations intends to continue to work closely with all parties in the coming period in a process to resolve the permanent status of Ghajar.
     

  • The Secretary-General commends all sides for their continued commitment to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and stresses his determination and commitment to advance the full implementation of this and other relevant resolutions.
     

  • Also Wednesday, the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, received a phone call from the Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informing him that the Israeli Security Cabinet has accepted in principle the UNIFIL proposal to facilitate the withdrawal of IDF from northern Ghajar. UNIFIL is awaiting formal notification in order to get more details. It is also important to have the date for the IDF withdrawal from the area.

 

U.N. ENVOY TO LEBANON BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL

  • Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, briefed Security Council members in closed consultations this morning on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the implementation of resolution 1701.
     

  • The Security Council also discussed the latest developments in Myanmar. The Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, briefed the Council on the situation there and the work of the good offices.
     

  • This afternoon, the Security Council intends to hold a formal meeting to vote on a resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina. After that, the Council has scheduled consultations to receive an update on the situation in Guinea.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETING WITH CYPRIOT LEADERS

  • The Secretary-General is meeting with the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities today. They will have lunch together, followed by a meeting at 3pm.
     

  • The Secretary-General would speak to the press following the conclusion of the afternoon meeting.

 

U.N. MISSION IN HAITI IS WILLING TO PARTICIPATE IN FURTHER INVESTIGATION INTO CHOLERA OUTBREAK

  • In response to questions about whether the Nepalese contingent of the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was linked to the recent cholera outbreak, the Spokesperson said that, from a medical point of view, there has been no direct connection established between cholera and this contingent of soldiers.
     

  • Haq said that MINUSTAH has publicly stated its willingness to participate in any further investigation into the source of the infection, in particular as a joint effort with the Haitian authorities.
     

  • Asked about comments from a Swedish diplomat linking the Nepalese battalion to the cholera outbreak, Haq said that the United Nations was not in possession of any information linking the two. Although the Centres for Disease Control had established that the cholera strain in Haiti was the South Asian strain, that strain has travelled around the world and is not confined to South Asia.
     

  • He noted the tests that the Mission has already undertaken, saying that tests of water samples from the Nepalese military camp in Mirebalais and waters adjacent to the base were conducted on Friday, 22 October, and Tuesday, 26 October, by civilians from the MINUSTAH Water and Sanitation Unit, which falls under the Mission’s Engineering Section. These water samples were analyzed at the MINUSTAH laboratory in Port-au-Prince. Both sets of tests proved negative for the presence of cholera.
     

  • On Friday, 22 October, the Government of Haiti also took water samples from the river adjacent to the Nepalese base. These samples were analyzed at the National Laboratory and the results, which were released on Monday, 25 October, also proved negative.
     

  • These findings were confirmed at a meeting of the Epidemiology Committee, held in the National Laboratory on 26 October.
     

  • The Spokesperson said that additional tests on water samples from the Nepalese military base were conducted on Wednesday, 27 October, by the Force Medical Officer at the request of the Force Commander. The water samples were analyzed at the microbiology department of CEDIMAT, a private laboratory in the Dominican Republic, and also came back negative.
     

  • Asked about further work, Haq noted that the Centres for Disease Control has also announced that additional laboratory testing, including whole genome DNA sequencing, would be conducted in the coming weeks. It is important to stress, however, that such testing may never fully explain how cholera was introduced into Haiti.
     

  • According to recent reports, epidemiologists are currently focusing on collecting and analysing data in order to contain the spread of the disease.
     

  • Asked about recent violence against UN peacekeepers in Haiti, the Spokesperson said that one person had died earlier this week when some demonstrators fired on UN troops and the United Nations fired in self-defense.
     

  • He added that the United Nations system is focused on dealing with the cholera outbreak, including by helping to provide better sanitation, starting education campaigns and setting up cholera treatment centres, of which there are now 18.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL UNDERLINES IMPORTANCE OF U.N.-ACADEMIA PARTNERSHIP

  • At today’s launch of the UN Academic Impact, the Secretary-General said that by formalizing the relationship today with academia, we can magnify the already great impact the academic community is having.
     

  • He said the academic world has supported the UN’s work since the founding of the UN, noting that without research scientists, we never could have eradicated smallpox.

 

U.N. PANEL ON REFERENDA VISITS SOUTHERN SUDAN

  • Today, the Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in Sudan visited the town of Wau, the capital of western Bahr el- Ghazal State in Southern Sudan. They visited three voter registration centres and spoke with officials at the centres as well as southern Sudanese lining up to register to vote. They saw large queues and enthusiastic people at each centre.
     

  • While in Wau, they also met with the deputy governor and with officials helping to run the referendum that State. They also received a briefing from UN officials.
     

  • On Friday, they will travel to Abyei.

 

AFRICAN NATIONS MAKING BREAKTHROUGH IN ENDING FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION, SAYS UNICEF REPORT

  • A new UNICEF report showcases how communities across Africa are ending the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting in the face of strong countervailing social pressures.
     

  • Millions of girls around the world are cut or mutilated every year, and the practice – a serious violation of their human rights – can cause severe, lifelong health problems.
     

  • Examining what conditions are necessary for a consensus to abandon the practice, the report underlines that changing social norms, which may have endured for centuries, is a complex progress that takes time.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

W.H.O. CALLS ON COUNTRIES TO MONITOR EFFECTIVENESS OF ANTI-MALARIA DRUGS: In a new report, the World Health Organization (WHO) calls on countries to step up their vigilance in monitoring the effectiveness of anti-malaria drugs to prevent resistance to artemisinin-based therapy. It also found that only one-third of malaria-endemic countries are complying with WHO’s recommendations to routinely monitor the efficacy of first- and second-line anti-malarial medicines.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL MET WITH HEAD OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE: In response to a question, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General and Thorbjorn Jagland met on Monday and discussed follow-up matters linked to the Secretary-General's visit to Strasbourg in October, namely human rights issues around the world, including in Europe, cooperation between the Council of Europe and the United Nations, as well as the latest developments in Myanmar.

 

  

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