HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2013
WHILE IN BURKINA FASO, SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES COUNTRY’S ROLE FOR PEACE AND SECURITY IN THE REGION
- The Secretary-General was in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Thursday morning on the third leg of his joint trip with the heads of the African Union Commission, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the European Commissioner for Development.
- He met with President Blaise Compaoré and discussed Burkina Faso’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and particularly, the country’s achievements in fighting against poverty and accelerating growth. They also discussed the country’s role for peace and security in the region, as well as regional efforts to address security, humanitarian and development challenges.
- Earlier, the delegation met with the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet. The Secretary-General underlined three of the UN’s current priorities: accelerating efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, defining sustainable development goals for after 2015, and having a legally biding agreement on climate change.
- In the afternoon, the Secretary-General started the last leg of his Sahel trip in N'Djamena, Chad, where he was due to meet the President. He will be back in New York on Friday.
THE JOINT O.P.C.W.-U.N. MISSION HAS VERIFIED 22 OF THE 23 SITES DECLARED BY SYRIA
- The Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations has now verified 22 of the 23 sites declared by Syria.
- The additional site inspected is in the region of Aleppo and was one of the two sites that could not be visited earlier due to safety and security reasons. The verification was conducted with the support of sealed cameras used by Syrian personnel as per the inspection team’s guidance. The exact geographical location and the time of capture of the footage and images were fully authenticated. The site was confirmed as dismantled and long abandoned, with the building showing extensive battle damage.
- Also, the OPCW and the United Nations have launched a dedicated website for the Joint Mission in Syria: http://opcw.unmissions.org. The website provides background on the establishment of the Joint Mission, its mandate and its activities relating to the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons programme. Currently, it is available in English only. A version in Arabic is expected to follow at a later date.
- Asked about the Joint Mission’s verification activities, the Spokesperson underscored that it is up to the Syrian authorities to destroy specific facilities and equipment while the Mission verifies that such destruction has been done. He noted that, for the site near Aleppo, the Mission had used camera footage.
- Asked about the prospects for an International Conference on Syria, Haq said that the Secretary-General and Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi continue to work for convening such a conference in Geneva before the end of the year.
- Asked about a recent shooting incident involving peacekeepers of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), he said that the peacekeepers had been fired upon by the Syrian Arab Armed Forces and had made a protest to that body.
U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO SAYS IT IS IMPORTANT TO FIND A POLITICAL SETTLEMENT
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, has confirmed that the Congolese army now has complete control over all areas previously controlled by the M23 rebel movement.
- MONUSCO supported the actions of the Congolese armed forces, fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians and neutralize armed groups.
- Mr. Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the country, says that it is important to find a political settlement through concluding the Kampala process.
- It is now of utmost importance for the Government to establish its authority on the whole region and start its development.
- The UN Mission warned the other armed groups that they should not take advantage of the current void left by the disbanding of the M23 or face action by MONUSCO troops mandated with protecting civilians.
- In response to a question, the Spokesperson noted the UN Mission’s concerns over the years about the activities of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
- Asked about reports concerning the surrender of M23 leader Sultani Makenga, Haq said that the UN Mission did not at present have first-hand information about that.
COLOMBIA: U.N. WELCOMES PROGRESS IN PEACE TALKS
- The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Colombia, Fabrizio Hochschild, speaking on behalf of the UN system in Colombia, welcomed the discussions held in Havana for the substantial progress made in reaching agreement on the terms for political participation, the second point of the peace accords between the Government of Colombia and the FARC, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia.
- The UN system in Colombia notes the importance of continuing the dialogue to achieve an end to the armed conflict which has caused so much daily suffering and other grave humanitarian consequences for so many Colombians.
- The UN system reiterates its full readiness to continue supporting the peace process.
WHILE IN MALDIVES, U.N. SENIOR OFFICIAL EXPRESSES SERIOUS CONCERN ABOUT THE SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY
- Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco wrapped up a two-day mission to the Maldives on Thursday. His mission was closely coordinated with and supported the efforts of Sir Don McKinnon, Special Envoy of the Commonwealth Secretary-General.
- Mr. Fernandez-Taranco underscored the international community’s serious concern about the situation in the Maldives and he strongly encouraged political leaders and institutions to fulfill their responsibilities to the people and to the democratic process in the country.
- While in the Maldives, he met with senior Government officials and presidential candidates to discuss the way forward. He also reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for the country’s political leaders to participate constructively in the elections.
- Mr. Fernandez-Taranco said that this is a decisive moment for democracy in the Maldives, and that it is time to allow the people of the Maldives to express their voice and their legitimate will through the ballot box.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ALL COUNTRIES TO CEASE HOSTILITIES FOR OLYMPIC TRUCE
- The Secretary-General welcomed the adoption on Wednesday by the General Assembly of the Olympic Truce Resolution ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympics Games.
- The Secretary-General urges all countries to transform the resolution into action by pressing for an end to all hostilities during the Olympic Games and by promoting the spirit of the Truce throughout the year.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES NEXT MAYOR OF NEW YORK FOR HIS ELECTION
- The Secretary-General sent a letter to Bill de Blasio on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election as Mayor of New York City and wish him great success in upholding his responsibilities.
- The Secretary-General also gave Mr. de Blasio a standing invitation to visit United Nations Headquarters at his earliest convenience.
- Asked about the alleged bugging of UN facilities, the Spokesperson reiterated that the inviolability of diplomatic missions, including the United Nations and other international organizations has been well-established international law. Therefore, Member States are expected to act accordingly to protect the inviolability of diplomatic missions.
- Asked about the application of the death penalty in Iran, the Spokesperson noted UN concerns about the death penalty and its call on Member States to abide by the relevant General Assembly resolution concerning a moratorium its application.