HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2013
SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL ANNOUNCES GENEVA CONFERENCE TO TAKE PLACE ON 22 JANUARY
- In a statement and press encounter on Monday morning, the Secretary-General announced that the Geneva conference on Syria will take place on Wednesday, 22 January 2014. He said that all parties can and must begin now to take the steps to help the Geneva conference succeed, including steps toward the cessation of violence, humanitarian access, the release of detainees and the return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced to their homes.
- Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, spoke to reporters in Geneva a short while ago. That was following a meeting with senior US and Russian officials. He said that the Geneva II conference is a huge opportunity for peace that shouldn’t be wasted. And he appealed to the Syrian parties to take measures to build confidence prior to and during the conference.
- Also, Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations, returned to Damascus on Monday. She will meet with Syrian officials in the coming days on the work of the Joint Mission.
- Asked whether the Secretary-General has received assurances from the Syrian Government and opposition about the Geneva Communiqué from last year, the Spokesperson noted the Security Council's endorsement of the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué. He said that the Secretary-General expects all regional and international partners to demonstrate their meaningful support for constructive negotiations.
- The Secretary-General said that the goal of the conference is the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, including the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities.
- Asked about invitations to Iran and Saudi Arabia, Nesirky said that Mr. Brahimi made clear that Iran and Saudi Arabia were certainly among the list of possible participants. But he said that a list has not been established yet, and discussions on participants are continuing. The list of invitees remains under discussion.
- Asked who will announce the opposition delegation, the Spokesperson said that Mr. Brahimi said that the Syrian National Coalition will play an important role. The United Nations has repeatedly affirmed the need for a credible and representative opposition delegation.
- Mr. Brahimi made clear that this is not an event but a process, and he has called for all concerned to be involved in the process.
- Asked about the significance of announcing a date, Nesirky said that 22 January will be the first time since the start of the conflict that the Syrian Government and opposition will be seated at the negotiating table. The Secretary-General has characterised this as a moment of hope, while being aware of the complications that may still arise.
- Asked further about the date, he said that the 22 January date was settled on following discussions among key parties in recent days.
- Asked whether the Secretary-General would attend the meeting, the Spokesperson said that could be safely assumed.
SYRIA CONFLICT ADDS REGIONAL DIMENSION TO SECTARIAN TENSIONS IN IRAQ, SAYS U.N. REPRESENTATIVE
- Nickolay Mladenov, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, briefed the Security Council this morning on the work of the UN Mission in the country. He said that the conflict in Syria has added a regional dimension to sectarian tensions in Iraq.
- Mr. Mladenov called for an environment in which Iraq’s ethnic and religious communities can find a balance without undue outside influence.
- Earlier on Monday, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) until the end of May of next year. And in a Presidential Statement, the Council welcomed the recent progress made with regard to ending war crimes and crimes against humanity in Central Africa by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). It reiterated its resolve to maintain the current momentum until a permanent end to the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army has been achieved.
- This afternoon, the Deputy Secretary-General will brief the Security Council on the Central African Republic, and he is expected to say that a country in the heart of Africa is descending into complete chaos before our eyes. The Deputy Secretary-General intends to speak at the Security Council stakeout after that briefing to the Council.
U.N. ENVOY FOR GREAT LAKES VISITS THE REGION
- The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Mary Robinson, has begun a week-long mission to help shore up peace efforts in the region.
- She started her tour in Tanzania and will then visit Rwanda, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
- The Special Envoy will focus on both the immediate priority of reaching an agreed outcome to the Kampala dialogue and on encouraging progress in implementing the broader commitments of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region.
- At the outset of her mission, Mrs. Robinson said that developments over the past month have brought renewed hope to the people in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo but that further efforts are needed to ensure that the country is rid of all negative forces and security is re-established sustainably.
DARFUR: SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY CONDEMNS ATTACK ON U.N. MISSION CONVOY
- On Sunday, the Secretary-General condemned in the strongest terms the attack by unidentified armed assailants on a convoy of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in which one Rwandan peacekeeper was killed.
- The Secretary-General said he expects the Government of Sudan to take swift action to bring the perpetrators of this and previous attacks on UNAMID to justice.
PHILIPPINES: U.N. REPRESENTATIVE MEETS WITH OFFICIALS TO BOLSTER RESILIENCE IN WAKE OF TYPHOON HAIYAN
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, visited the Philippines last week.
- While in the country, she attended a meeting bringing together senior officials from insurance, banking, airline, communication, tourism, hotel and other industries in Asia in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan to bolster resilience and to promote sustainable development.
- Ms. Wahlström met with the authorities and representatives of the private sector and civil society in Bantayan Island and other parts of Cebu province. She highlighted the importance of building back safer and differently.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL CONVENES MEETING OF SUPPORT GROUP FOR LEBANON
- The Deputy Secretary-General convened a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon on Monday to review progress since the inaugural meeting of the Group under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General on 25 September in the presence of Michel Sleiman, the President of the Republic of Lebanon.
- The UN Special Coordinator, Derek Plumbly, briefed those at the meeting and he provided an update on recent developments.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES SUPPORT FOR U.N. TRUST FUND TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
- The United Nations is commemorating the International Day to End Violence against Women.
- In a message for the day, the Secretary-General says that one way to make a difference is to support the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which helps respond to human rights violations. It also deals with a wide range of topics, needs from physical safety to economic security.
- While the demand for its grants has more than doubled in recent years, the amount the Fund has been able to distribute has diminished by 60 per cent.
- The Secretary-General appeals to all partners to help meet this vast unmet demand for resources to further advance efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls.
CORRUPTION IS THIEF OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, SAYS U.N. DRUGS AND CRIME CHIEF
- The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on Monday that corruption is the thief of economic and social development, stealing the opportunities of ordinary people to progress and to prosper.
- Yury Fedotov was speaking at the opening of the Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption which is under way in Panama City.
- He noted the connections between corruption and sustainable development. He said that corruption is not simply a crime, but that it instigates transnational organized crime and drug trafficking.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES GOVERNMENTS TO BUILD ON IRAN AGREEMENT
- Asked whether a Security Council resolution would be needed regarding the Iran agreement, the Spokesperson said that was a matter for Council members to determine.
- In a statement on Saturday, the Secretary-General urged the Governments concerned to do everything possible to build on this encouraging start, creating mutual confidence and allowing continued negotiations to extend the scope of this initial agreement. The Secretary-General reaffirms his unswerving commitment to strengthening nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation regime.
- The Secretary-General calls on all members of the international community to support this process which, if allowed to succeed, is likely to be to the long-term benefit of all parties.
- Asked about any links between the Iran talks in Geneva and the Syria talks there today, the Spokesperson noted that both processes had been going on in separate tracks for some time. He said that it had been a good weekend for diplomacy.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES OUTCOME OF U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE
- Asked about the climate change talks that ended over the weekend, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General welcomed the outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference that concluded in Warsaw. The decisions adopted in Warsaw serve as an important stepping stone toward a universal legal agreement in 2015.
- Nesirky noted the need for intensified action, saying that much more needs to be done over the coming two years to achieve the ambitious agreement necessary to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. He added that the Secretary-General looks forward to hosting a Climate Summit in September 2014.
YOUTH AMBASSADOR MOHAMMED ASSAF TO PERFORM AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS
- Mohammed Assaf, the Regional Youth Ambassador for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), will perform tonight at UN Headquarters in New York.
- As the first Goodwill Ambassador for the agency, Mr. Assaf, a winner of the “Arab Idol” singing competition who himself is a Palestine refugee, will mark the 35th International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
- Mr. Assaf noted that there are millions of other Palestine refugees just like him - the young men and women who are not standing here before you today.
- “When we celebrate this International Day of Solidarity, they are the ones we need to remember. We are here to show solidarity with them and support their hope for, and their right to a better, brighter future,” he said.
U.N. SPOKESPERSON CALLS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY REGARDING PERPETRATORS OF MUMBAI TERRORIST ATTACKS
- Asked about the fifth anniversary of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Spokesperson said it was a terrible crime and called for accountability regarding the perpetrators.