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, 21 NOVEMBER 2011

SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES RESTRAINT AND CALM BY ALL PARTIES IN EGYPT

  • The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the violence in Egypt during the last few days, particularly in Cairo.  He deplores the loss of life and the many injuries.

  • The Secretary-General calls on the transitional authorities to guarantee the protection of human rights and civil liberties for all Egyptians, including the right to peaceful protest.  He urges restraint and calm by all parties to enable a peaceful and inclusive electoral process as part of Egypt’s transition to democracy and the early establishment of civilian rule.

  • Asked about the violence in Egypt, the Spokesperson said it is incumbent on the authorities to guarantee and respect the human and civil rights of all.  Transition is complex, and the electoral process under way requires restraint on all sides. The Secretary-General's call for respect of the right to peaceful protest is fundamental to this process.

SECRETARY-GENERAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO FALLEN STAFF, CALLS TO CONTINUE THEIR LIFE-SAVING WORK

  • The Secretary-General spoke at a memorial this morning for fallen UN staff members, saying that we are beginning a new tradition today, in which, each year, we will have a memorial ceremony for all staff who die while serving the United Nations.

  • He paid tribute today to 197 recently-fallen staff, including 195 men and women who have perished since March of last year.

  • The Secretary-General said that we continue modernizing our security operations and strengthening what we do for families in the aftermath of death and disaster. And we are pressing Governments to uphold their responsibility not only to provide security but to prosecute those who target UN staff for violence.

  • He added that the best tribute to fallen staff, beyond today's memorial, is to continue the life-saving and life-enhancing work for which they gave their lives.

U.N. MIDDLE EAST COORDINATOR URGES DE-ESCALATION, UNFREEZING OF FUNDS

  • Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Security Council this morning on the latest developments in the region. He said that the Israelis and Palestinians have worked with the Quartet recently, but warned that provocations continue to damage consultations. He pointed to the need for an environment conducive to direct engagement.

  • Mr. Serry noted that Israel had withheld some $100 million of Palestinian funds following the Palestinian membership in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He urged a de-escalation of the current climate and the unfreezing of the withheld funds. And he appealed to the parties to refrain from provocations, enter direct negotiations and come forward with concrete and negotiable proposals.

HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF WELCOMES ARRESTS OF QADHAFI’S SON AND INTELLIGENCE CHIEF

  • Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed the capture in Libya of Saif Al Islam Qadhafi and former chief of intelligence Abdullah Al Senussi, both of whom are subject to International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants.

  • Ms. Pillay warmly welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister that Saif Al Islam Qadhafi will be treated humanely and tried fairly in line with international standards. She said that Libyans have the right to see that justice is done, and added that the Libyan authorities should ensure that the suspects are detained in humane conditions.

  • The High Commissioner urged the Libyan authorities to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1970, with a view to ensuring that those responsible for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are held accountable.

CAMBODIA: HUMAN RIGHST CHIEF STRESSES NEED TO RESPECT RIGHTS OF VICTIMS IN PROCEEDINGS

  • Navi Pillay welcomed the opening today of a landmark trial of three top Khmer Rouge leaders in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). She emphasized the need for vigilance to ensure the rights of victims in cases before the tribunal are respected.

  • Despite the progress marked by the start of this second trial, the High Commissioner noted the tribunal continues to face challenges, particularly with regard to the need to safeguard the integrity of its proceedings. In an important series of recent decisions, the minority judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber have found serious deficiencies in the application of international standards in the cases still before the Court's investigating judges.

  • Ms. Pillay said that it is essential that these concerns are squarely addressed as the Court moves forward. Allegations of interference mar the credibility of any Court in the eyes of the public.

MORE THAN ONE MILLION PEOPLE IN ZIMBABWE WON’T BE ABLE TO MEET THEIR FOOD NEEDS

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) says that more than one million people in Zimbabwe will be unable to meet their food needs during the lean season between now and March, in spite of improvements in the food security situation in recent years.

  • Most of the vulnerable households are in the southern and western regions, where agricultural production was once again poor this season.

  • In response to this situation, WFP and its partners have started providing seasonal targeted assistance.  This initiative is designed to bridge the gap during the lean season through in-kind food distributions, cash transfers and food vouchers. WFP has secured funds to launch the response, but additional funds are needed to keep it going.

CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT ENVOY VISITS CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, is in the Central African Republic.

  • Today, she witnessed the signing of an action plan for the release of child soldiers with the CJP, an armed rebel group.

  • During her visit, the Special Representative also met with child victims and local authorities in the area of Obo, where the Lord’s Resistance Army has been active.

  • She will brief reporters in New York next week upon her return.

 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO REVIEW PROGRESS OF CAMEROON-NIGERIA MIXED COMMISSION: On Tuesday, the Secretary-General will host a meeting at UN Headquarters with high-level delegations of Cameroon and Nigeria to review the progress of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC). The Commission was established in November 2002 by the United Nations (UN) at the request of Cameroon and Nigeria to facilitate the implementation of the decision of the International Court of Justice (10 October 2002) on the delimitation of the border between the two countries.

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE CALLS FOR PREVENTION OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN SIERRA LEONE: Margot Wallström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, is in Sierra Leone, where she said she was meeting with UN staff, Government officials and others to gather a better understanding of how sexual violence during the war has influenced the society after the guns have fallen silent. She said that preventing sexual violence is particularly important as Sierra Leone is drawing closer to elections, and she called on all people in positions of influence in Sierra Leone to speak up against the use of sexual violence as a tool of political intimidation.

THIS IS A LANDMARK YEAR FOR AIDS REPONSE, SAYS REPORT: A new report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) found that there was unprecedented progress in science, political leadership and results for the AIDS response in 2011. It also showed that new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic. Nearly half of the world’s 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low- and middle-income countries were accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2010, an increase of 1.35 million since the year before.

POLITICAL PRISONERS IN MYANMAR: Asked about political prisoners in Myanmar, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-General's call for the release of all political prisoners sooner rather than later.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, SA-1B15

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162