HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
MONDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2012
IN VIENNA, SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS LEADERS, ATTENDS OPENING OF INTERRELIGIOUS CENTRE
- The Secretary-General is in Vienna today, where he met with Austrian leaders, including the President and Foreign Minister.
- The meetings focussed on developments in the Middle East, Africa and South-eastern Europe.
- Tonight, the Secretary-General will attend the inauguration ceremony for the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue.
- He is to say that he welcomes the Centre’s commitment to opening its doors to all the world’s religions and that he fully supports its vision of religion as an enabler of respect and reconciliation. He will encourage the Centre to cooperate closely with the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
- The Secretary-General visited the UN Office in Vienna, where he met Yury Fedotov, the Director General of the Office and head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. He held a town hall meeting with UN staff based in Vienna and met staff from UNCITRAL, the main UN body dealing with international trade law.
- He also met with the outgoing and incoming Executive Secretaries of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization.
- He is scheduled to be back in New York on Tuesday afternoon.
D.R.CONGO: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES JOINT COMMUNIQUE, OUTCOME OF GREAT LAKES REGION SUMMIT
- In a statement issued on Sunday, the Secretary-General welcomed the joint communiqué and subsequent outcome of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Summit held in Kampala on 24 November.
- The Secretary-General calls on the M23 to immediately lay down their arms in accordance with the agreements reached in Kampala, and comply with the immediate withdrawal of their forces from Goma. The Secretary-General encourages the parties to build on the dialogue among the leaders of the Great Lakes region to address the fundamental causes of conflict.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his personal commitment to support these efforts. He is also determined to ensure that the United Nations presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo be adjusted to respond to the evolving challenges, in line with relevant Security Council resolutions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) began distributing vital food assistance late last week to roughly 81,000 displaced people who have taken refuge in and around Goma, amid the ongoing unrest. The agency’s food rations are being distributed to families in 12 sites where families have sought shelter in and near the city after clashes in North Kivu last week.
- Asked who had attended the Kampala meeting from the United Nations, the Spokesperson said that Susana Malcorra, the Chef de Cabinet, had attended as the Secretary-General’s personal envoy.
- Asked about actions taken by the UN peacekeepers, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission cannot substitute for the efforts of national security forces, including the Congolese Armed Forces.
- The Deputy Spokesperson noted that the use of force by UN peacekeepers is principally to protect civilians, not to engage in armed confrontation for broader military purposes.
U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE HEAD WARNS OF URGENT NEED TO ACT AS CONFERENCE STARTS IN DOHA
- The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha began today with calls for governments to work hard so that the meeting can constitute another step forward in the global response to climate change.
- The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, said that reports all point to the urgency to act to keep global average temperatures from rising beyond an internationally agreed level of 2 degrees Celsius. Beyond that level, climate impacts become extremely serious.
- Ms. Figueres said that the door is closing fast because the pace and scale of action is simply not yet enough. She added that Doha must deliver its part in the longer-term solution.
- The Conference is attended by government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations, research institutions and the media. More than 100 Ministers are scheduled to attend the high-level segment of the meeting, which begins on 4 December and ends with a decision-making plenary on 7 December.
HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TO VISIT JORDAN, LEBANON TO ASSESS SITUATION OF SYRIAN REFUGEES
- UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is scheduled to travel to Jordan and Lebanon from Monday until Wednesday, to assess the situation of the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the violence in Syria and the humanitarian assistance being provided to them in neighbouring countries.
- She will also meet high level Government officials in both capitals to see how the United Nations and other humanitarian partners can best support the national efforts in addressing the needs of Syrian refugees and discuss the deteriorating humanitarian situation inside Syria and its impact on the region.
- Asked about Syria, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Secretary-General has stressed that the violence on both sides must end and that there must be a negotiated solution. He added that those deemed responsible for human rights violations must be held accountable.
ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS TAKE UP LARGE PART OF FUNDS SENT HOME BY MIGRANTS: A large proportion of funds sent back home by migrant workers from Least Developing Countries is being taken up by administrative costs, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The report notes that the cost of sending money to Africa from abroad is three times higher than the global average.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTINUES TO MONITOR SITUATION IN GAZA: Asked about the agreement on Gaza, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General had been in the region last week and talked with the leaders there and continued to monitor the situation. He said that the United Nations was cautiously optimistic that the cease-fire was holding.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT RAMIFICATIONS OF EGYPTIAN DECREES: Asked about recent decrees in Egypt, the Spokesperson noted that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was very concerned about the possible huge ramifications of the declaration made recently by the President of Egypt for human rights and the rule of law. The Office also feared this may lead to a very volatile situation over the next few days.