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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 MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MONDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2012

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS MALI ISSUES CANNOT BE ADDRESSED WITHOUT LOOKING AT CHALLENGES IN SAHEL

  • The Secretary-General spoke this morning at a meeting of the Security Council on the Sahel, saying that the warning lights for this region continue to flash.
  • In his remarks, he said that political turmoil, terrorist activity, drug trafficking and arms smuggling are spilling over borders and threatening peace and security. He said that we cannot expect to address the issues in Mali effectively unless we confront the challenges affecting the broader region.
  • The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, also spoke to the Security Council. He spoke about the need to organize a worldwide platform aimed at putting in action an efficient network of humanitarian aid and a common strategy for the development of the Sahel.
  • He added that nothing can be done in this respect without restoring the unity of Mali in a peaceful Sahel, starting immediately a process that will allow transparent and free democratic elections as soon as possible.
  • Mr. Prodi also said that he shared the Secretary-General’s view that any military effort in Mali must be undertaken after careful analysis and thorough preparation and that these efforts should be part of an agreed political process that tackles the roots of the conflict.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS ON IMPORTANCE OF LAW OF THE SEA TREATY ON ITS 30TH ANNIVERSARY

  • The Secretary-General spoke at the General Assembly this morning to mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, which he said remains an important tool for sustainable development, as affirmed this year by the Rio+20 Conference.
  • He added that the oceans continue to face many challenges -- pollution, ocean acidification, over-exploitation of resources, piracy and maritime boundary disputes. Addressing these issues should compel us to strive for the full implementation of the Convention. 
  • The Secretary-General said that he is encouraged that support for the Convention has grown steadily through the years, with 164 parties to the treaty. He affirmed that we should work to bring all nations under the jurisdiction, protection and guidance of this essential treaty.

JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR SYRIA HELD CONSTRUCTIVE TALKS WITH RUSSIAN, U.S. ENVOYS

  • The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakdhar Brahimi, held talks over the weekend in Geneva, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and United States Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to discuss the crisis in Syria.
  • The meeting was a follow-up to the tripartite meeting held on 6 December 2012 in Dublin among United States Secretary of State Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Joint Special Envoy for Syria Brahimi.
  • The meeting was constructive and held in a spirit of cooperation. It explored avenues to move forward a peaceful process and mobilize greater international action in favour of a political solution to the Syrian crisis.
  • All three parties re-affirmed their common assessment that the situation in Syria was bad and getting worse. They stressed that a political process to end the crisis in Syria was necessary and still possible.
  • Asked about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the reports of planned use of such weapons are not confirmed. The Secretary-General has made clear that any stockpiles of chemical weapons should be properly secured and that any use of such weapons would be an outrageous crime with dire consequences.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS U.N. FORCE IN LEBANON

  • The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, visited the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today and met with Force Commander Major-General Paolo Serra and the Mission’s senior leadership. 
  • During his visit, the Deputy Secretary-General emphasized the need for continued coordinated operations with the Lebanese Armed Forces.
  • Mr. Eliasson lauded the UN peacekeepers’ contribution to peace and security in the area, saying that South Lebanon has witnessed a period of unprecedented calm.

D.R.CONGO: SITUATION IN NORTH KIVU REMAINS FRAGILE

  • The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) reports that the situation on the ground in North Kivu remains fragile.
  • On Sunday, talks commenced in Kampala between the Congolese Government and the M23, facilitated by Uganda in its capacity as Chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
  • The UN is providing limited technical support to the talks in response to a request from the Ugandan authorities. The United Nations is not, however, participating directly in the talks.
  • Asked about proposals for an international neutral force, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations would see what the talks in Kampala will come up with. Ultimately, he said, the decision on peacekeeping missions' mandates rests with the Security Council.

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION CALLS FOR RESTRAINT AFTER WAU CLASHES

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, has been able to confirm that nine persons were killed in Wau over the weekend in clashes between the security forces and protestors. A number of other people were wounded. The circumstances around these events are still being established.
  • The Mission is particularly concerned by the loss of civilian life. It has called on all parties to exercise restraint.  
  • UNMISS has been reaching out to both parties to help prevent further escalation and to re-establish calm.

U.N. IRAQ ENVOY VOTER REGISTRATION UPDATE AS IMPORTANT STEP TO CREDIBLE 2012 ELECTIONS

  • Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, welcomed the beginning today of the first voter registration update in three years, as part of preparations for the Governorate Council elections next April.
  • He said that the opening of 891 Voter Registration Centres is an important step towards transparent and credible elections in 2013.
  • Mr. Kobler also urged the Iraqi Parliament to pass amendments to the electoral law without delay, to guarantee that the elections take place on schedule.
  • He also expressed regret that voter registration is not taking place in Kirkuk, and called for speedy agreement on a law incorporating elections there.

PHILIPPINES: U.N. APPEALS FOR $65 MILLIONS TO ASSIST VICTIMS OF TYPHOON BOPHA

  • The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are appealing for $65 million to help those affected by Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines.
  • The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the country visited areas affected by the typhoon and said that she saw first-hand the total devastation of villages.
  • Under the new Action Plan for Recovery, the humanitarian community will provide food, water, emergency shelter, and other urgent assistance to help nearly half a million people in the worst-hit areas over the next six months.
  • Over the long term, the Plan focuses on the need to rehabilitate the agricultural sector, with crops devastated by the typhoon in Mindanao, one of the poorest areas of the country.

ON BANGLADESH VISIT, DEPUTY HEAD OF U.N. POLITICAL AFFAIRS STRESSES NEED FOR PEACEFUL PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

  • The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar-Fernandez-Taranco, concluded a four-day visit to Bangladesh on Sunday, which he undertook on behalf of the Secretary-General.
  • He met with top Government and political party leaders, as well as with national electoral officials, in order to exchange views on the political situation in the country and ongoing UN electoral assistance to Bangladesh.
  • Mr. Fernandez-Taranco stressed to all interlocutors that the next parliamentary elections should be peaceful, inclusive and credible, and he encouraged them to work together and to engage in constructive dialogue towards these ends. 
  • In this context, he regretted the violence that erupted during the road blockade on Sunday, which resulted in deaths of several people and the injury of many others.

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY UNDER THE THEME OF ‘MY VOICE COUNTS’

  • Celebrations are being held around the world to commemorate Human Rights Day today.
  • This year’s theme is “My Voice Counts,” and in his message for the Day, the Secretary-General stresses that everyone has the right to be heard and to shape the decisions that affect their community.
  • The Secretary-General will also be speaking at an event this afternoon to commemorate the Day at the Ford Foundation.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS EGYPT TENSIONS SHOULD BE RESOLVED THROUGH DIALOGUE: Asked about the recent protests in Egypt, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General continues to monitor the situation closely and believes that it should be resolved through dialogue. Any protests that take place need to be peaceful.

CHEF DE CABINET HELD TOWN HALL TO ADDRESS STAFF CONCERNS: Asked about UN staff concerns about the budget, the Spokesperson noted that Chef de Cabinet Susana Malcorra had held a global town hall by videoconference to hear staff concerns.