HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 20 NOVEMBER 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES NEPAL FOR SUCCESSFUL CONDUCT OF CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY ELECTION
- The Secretary-General congratulates the people of Nepal for the peaceful and successful conduct of the Constituent Assembly election. The turnout shows their determination to take the peace process forward.
- The new Constituent Assembly will have the historic responsibility to complete a new constitution, building upon the impressive gains in the peace process so far, and thereby promoting national dialogue and genuine reconciliation.
- The United Nations remains committed to supporting Nepal in its transition towards a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future.
WHILE IN WARSAW, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS PROGRESS ON CLIMATE FINANCE IS CRUCIAL
- The Secretary-General was in Warsaw on Wednesday, where he had a range of meetings with groups and countries, mainly focused on climate change, and he spoke at an event devoted to climate finance.
- In his remarks at that event, the Secretary-General said that progress on climate finance is crucial for fuelling confidence in the negotiations on an ambitious global climate agreement. He said that climate change was a threat to economies large and small and to the stability of the global financial system. More public and private finance is needed, along with stable investment policies and helpful regulatory frameworks.
- The Secretary-General also met with the Polish Prime Minister at the Prime Minister's office and spoke to reporters there.
- On Thursday, the Secretary-General has a number of further meetings at the climate change conference before flying back to New York.
- Asked about divisions among States attending the Conference of Parties in Warsaw, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General, in his meetings, has been pushing the delegations to unite and come to agreement on building a more sustainable future.
- He noted that the Secretary-General had said today, “I agree that we are all in this together. We need to work together. We need to be united and we need to have solidarity among all the people around the world. No single country, no single organization, can address the problem on its own. Yet every single country can benefit from climate action at the global level.”
- Asked about the need for businesses to do more to combat climate change, Haq added that the Secretary-General, in remarks today, said that economists are highlighting the huge cost of inaction, and businesspeople want the signals from governments that will create the right incentives to build a low-carbon future.
PHILIPPINES: U.N. SAYS ACCESS AND LOGISTICS CONTINUE TO IMPROVE IN AREAS HIT BY TYPHOON
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that according to the Government of the Philippines, some 4.4 million people are displaced and more than 1 million homes have been damaged.
- Access and logistics continue to improve, but debris clearing operations continue in some areas while there are still power outages in others.
- The relief operation has been scaled up substantially, especially in Tacloban. All residents now have access to clean drinking water and hygiene kits are being distributed to help prevent outbreaks of water-borne disease.
- While much of the international focus has been on Tacloban, many other islands and remote villages also need to be reached, particularly in the Western Visayas region.
- UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos on Wednesday visited Roxas, an area badly affected by the typhoon and severe winds, where she met with people living in evacuation centres. She said that the top priorities are helping them build adequate shelters and getting their livelihoods back up and running.
- Ms. Amos also met the Governor and members of the humanitarian relief teams working in Roxas and praised the coordination among the authorities, humanitarian agencies and militaries who are providing aid.
U.N. ENVOY IN CENTRAL AFRICA EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT GROWING INSTABILITY IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The Security Council was briefed on Wednesday morning by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa, Abou Moussa, on the situation in the region.
- In his remarks, Mr. Moussa expressed concern about the growing instability in the Central African Republic and the proliferation of armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
- The Special Representative said that in the Central African Republic, the recent increase in sectarian violence is particularly alarming and that there is a pressing need to address this crisis before it spirals out of control.
- Mr. Moussa said that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, although the defeat of the M23 rebel group is a victory, a peace agreement has not been signed and several other rebel groups continue to threaten local communities.
- Regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army, Mr. Moussa said that military operations have degraded the LRA and limited it to pursuing survival tactics. However, the group remains a serious and unpredictable threat.
- The briefing was followed by Security Council consultations on Sudan sanctions.
DESTRUCTION AT SEA IS ONE OPTION OF MANY FOR SYRIA’S CHEMICAL WEAPONS
- Asked about reports that Syria’s chemical weapons might be destroyed at sea, the Spokesperson said that option was one of a range of options that is being considered. However, no decision has been made on specific options so far.
- Haq added that, whatever option is decided for the work of the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations in verifying the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, that destruction is to be performed in accordance with the highest international standards.
- Asked about the diplomatic process, Haq said that the Secretary-General and the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, continue to work on arrangements for an international conference for Syria, with the aim of holding one in Geneva by mid-December. Mr. Brahimi will meet n 25 November with US and Russian officials to take stock of the situation.
- Asked whether the Secretary-General believes a Geneva II conference can be held soon, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General will announce a date for that conference when he is ready to do so.
DARFUR: U.N. ATTENDS SIGNING CEREMONY OF SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND REBEL GROUP
- The African Union- United Nations Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator (JSR/JCM) for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, attended the signing ceremony of the final security arrangements between the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in Khartoum on Wednesday.
- He said he hoped the signing of these arrangements, stipulated under the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), would constitute a significant step towards that document’s implementation.
- He also said that this signing marked the beginning of new chapter for the Liberation and Justice Movement with the start of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of their forces.
WHILE IN SOUTH SUDAN, U.N. HUMANITARIAN DEPUTY CHIEF STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF DISASTER RISK REDUCTION
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kyung-Wha Kang, wrapped up a three-day visit to South Sudan on Wednesday where she visited displaced communities in Jonglei State as well as Government officials, local authorities and humanitarian organizations.
- She stressed the need to promote resilience and said that it was important for humanitarian workers to be able to support the Government in developing disaster risk reduction and preparedness strategies, and in helping to improve the resilience of local communities, including enabling women to fully participate in decision-making processes.
- She said that although the overall humanitarian situation had improved in several areas of South Sudan in the past year, millions of people are still in dire need of help.
U.N. MISSION IN COTE D’IVOIRE CONDEMNS RECENT ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST JOURNALISTS
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte d'Ivoire, Ms. Aïchatou Mindaoudou, condemned on Wednesday the recent acts of violence against journalists, including the attack on a journalist working for Tomorrow Magazine on 14 November, after which he died.
- The United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) urges the authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that those responsible are identified and brought to justice.
- The Mission also calls on all stakeholders to support freedom of information and expression and the citizens’ right to be informed through a free and pluralistic press.
NEW COMMISSIONER-GENERAL OF U.N. AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES APPOINTED
- Following consultations with the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Secretary-General has appointed Pierre Krähenbühl of Switzerland as the Agency’s new Commissioner-General. He will replace Filippo Grandi.
- Mr. Krähenbühl currently holds the position of Director of Operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
UNITED NATIONS NOT FORMALLY NOTIFIED SO FAR ABOUT CHANGE TO URUGUAYAN DEPLOYMENT IN HAITI
- Asked about reports that Uruguay may withdraw its peacekeeping forces from Haiti, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was aware of the press reports and shared the concerns expressed regarding the long-delayed elections in Haiti.
- He said that preliminary and informal discussions have taken place with the Uruguayan representatives in New York regarding the planned withdrawal of a part of their troops, as part of the peacekeeping mission's consolidation. However, no formal notification has as yet been exchanged.
U.N. MARKS UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY
- As the world marks Universal Children’s Day – the anniversary of the UN Convention of the Rights of the child – UNICEF is urging a much stronger light be shone on millions of children in every country and at every level of society who are victims of violence and abuse.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES STEPS TAKEN TOWARDS NEXT YEAR’S POLLS
- The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomed the timely completion of the adjudication of complaints by the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) and the announcement of the final list of candidates for next year’s presidential and provincial council polls.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the country, Ján Kubiš, said that the completion of the candidate nomination period marks another important step for the Afghan people in the process of electing the country's next leader and Provincial Councils.