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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

MONDAY, 22 NOVEMBER 2010

 

 

HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TO VISIT HAITI; APPEAL IS INSUFFICIENTLY FUNDED FOR ADEQUATE CHOLERA RESPONSE

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, will visit Haiti on Tuesday and Wednesday to review the humanitarian response to the cholera outbreak. She is expected to meet with representatives of the Haitian Government, the UN and NGO partners involved, and to review operations in camps for the internally displaced (IDPs) and other affected areas.
     

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the response to the UN-led appeal for $164 million dollars to fight cholera in Haiti is less than 10% supported, which is insufficient for an adequate response to the epidemic.
     

  • Nigel Fisher, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti said that critical supplies and skills, such as doctors, nurses, water purification systems, chlorine tablets, soap, oral rehydration salts, and tents for cholera treatment centres, are urgently needed. Fisher added that without medical help, the mortality rate will increase dramatically.
     

  • So far 36 Cholera Treament Centres (CTC) have already been set up nationwide, along with 61 smaller cholera treatment units, and more are being built.
     

  • Also, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have now been able to restart their operations in Cap Haitien – where the situation is now calm.
     

  • Asked about the origins of the cholera outbreak, the Spokesperson reiterated that the United Nations has been meeting with experts to determine how the outbreak started but has not received conclusive information on that matter. He noted that repeated tests concerning the UN Mission’s Nepalese battalion had all been negative.
     

  • Haq added that the focus of the UN system is on dealing with the cholera epidemic, through operating cholera treatment clinics, providing medicines and improved sanitation and educating the public on how to deal with the disease.
     

  • Asked about bureaucratic delays in getting supplies into Haiti, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is personally engaged in efforts to ensure that the necessary equipment and medicines can enter Haiti quickly, given the needs on the ground.

 

UNITED NATIONS FULLY SUPPORTS THE WORK OF SPECIAL TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON

  • Asked about leaked documents pertaining to the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), the Spokesperson declined to confirm the authenticity of the documents, but added that the United Nations continues fully to support the work of the Tribunal and its independence.
     

  • Asked about the leak, he said that documents of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) are United Nations documents enjoying inviolability under Article II of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. Inviolability entails that United Nations documents cannot be disclosed to a third party, copied or used without the consent of the United Nations, which had not been given.
     

  • Haq added that it was a matter of concern that leaks of documents concerning the Tribunal could impede the Tribunal’s work.

 

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT

  • Alain Le Roy, the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, and Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs addressed the Security Council this morning, as it addressed the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
     

  • In his remarks, Le Roy said that UN peacekeeping missions must exert every effort to protect civilians, using all their available capacities. Yet we must also recognize that peacekeeping operations cannot be regarded as a substitute for state authority and cannot protect all civilians at all times, especially in very vast areas, amidst ongoing conflict.
     

  • Valerie Amos, meanwhile, told the Council that any positive developments in protecting civilians are heavily outweighed by frequent failures of parties to conflict to abide by their international legal obligations to protect civilians. She appealed for greater sustained effort to address challenges that inhibit more effective protection for civilians.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED FOR FLEXIBILITY IN AFGHAN TRANSITION

  • The Secretary-General was in Lisbon over the weekend, where he attended the NATO Summit Meeting on Afghanistan on Saturday. He stressed the need to be flexible as we move ahead with the transition in Afghanistan, saying, “We must be guided by realities, not schedules.”
     

  • He added that the United Nations supports the Afghan Government's search for peace through a political solution. We all recognize that there can be no purely military solution. This process must be Afghan-led, he said, and it must respect the constitution and the rights of all Afghans.
     

  • The Secretary-General told reporters later that the NATO meeting had defined a clear path for transition. Afghan institutions have demonstrated that they can take on increasing leadership and responsibility. The United Nations, he said, will do its part to support the civilian aspects of this transition.
     

  • The Secretary-General added that there are no short-cuts to peace. The United Nations is committed to supporting the Afghans over the long term.
     

  • He also met over the weekend with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other senior officials.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ADDRESS SETON HALL UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

  • The Secretary-General will address students at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, later this afternoon. This is part of the university’s World Leaders’ Forum, organized by its school of diplomacy and international relations.
     

  • The Secretary-General is expected to speak about the challenges facing the United Nations, and the contradictory demands and expectations from the international community.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REFERENDA PANEL WRAPS UP SECOND TRIP TO SUDAN

  • Benjamin Mkapa, the Chairman of the Secretary-General’s Panel on the referenda in the Sudan, today told a press conference in Khartoum that the panel has wrapped up its second visit to Sudan, which took place at a critical time – the start of voter registration for the referendum on the future of Southern Sudan.
     

  • President Mkapa said while the visit has been an encouraging one for the Panel, the voter registration process has highlighted some issues of concern, particularly in the North, where turnout remains extremely low. He said many Southern Sudanese appear uninterested or unwilling to register.
     

  • President Mkapa said there seems to be multiple reasons for this, including lack of public information about the process, the long distances to travel to registration centres, a campaign by some Southern leaders to encourage people not to register and vote outside Southern Sudan and uncertainty about the Southerners’ future status in the North.

 

SOMALIA: U.N. ENVOY CALLS ON PARLIAMENT TO EXERCISE SPIRIT OF COMPROMISE IN THEIR DELIBERATIONS

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, has called on the Transitional Federal parliament to exercise the spirit of compromise and judiciously deliberate on the new Cabinet.
     

  • He noted that, with less than nine months remaining before the end of the transition, Somalis and the international community eagerly awaited the formation of a functional government to prepare a roadmap for the transitional tasks.
     

  • Special Representative Mahiga expressed confidence that the members of Parliament “will employ the same sense of responsibility and unity which prevailed during the process of confirmation of the Prime Minister.”

 

U.N.A.I.D.S. WELCOMES POPE’S STATEMENT ON CONDOM USE

  • The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has welcomed the statement reportedly made by Pope Benedict XVI, in which he said that the use of condoms is justified to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
     

  • UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé called this a “significant and positive step forward taken by the Vatican,” adding that the move recognizes that responsible sexual behaviour and the use of condoms can play a key role in preventing HIV.
     

  • According to the agency, the male latex condom is the single most efficient and available technology to curb the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections.

 

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS CALLS ON GOVERNMENTS TO STRENGTHEN HEALTH FINANCING

  • In its annual World Health Report, the World Health Organization (WHO) urges governments to bolster health financing so that more people can have access to health care.
     

  • Health costs are soaring in the face of ageing populations, increasing numbers of people suffering chronic diseases and the emergence of new and more expensive treatments. The new report shows how all countries – rich and poor – can adjust their health financing mechanisms so that more people can get the care they need.
     

  • It also encourages the international community to support low- and middle-income countries’ efforts to increase health coverage.
     

  • “No one in need of health care should have to risk financial ruin as a result,” said WHO Director General Margaret Chan.

 

ERROR CONCERNING LANGUAGE DESIGNATION HAS BEEN CORRECTED

  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that Matthew Nimetz, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, issued a statement in which he made clear that, due to a technical-level error, there was a change in the UN Secretariat's Bulletin of Terminology relating to the language designation of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This error occurred without political intent and was not due to the intervention of any Government.
     

  • The matter was rectified by returning to the previous wording, Haq said. The Secretariat remains impartial in its efforts to help the parties resolve their differences relating to the name issue, and hopes for speedy progress toward a mutually agreed solution.

 

*** The guest at the noon briefing today was Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, who briefed on the forthcoming Sixteenth Conference of Parties (COP-16) in Cancun, Mexico.

  

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