HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2013
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON D.R. CONGO
- The Security Council held consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Wednesday morning. They received updates from the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous; the head of the UN Mission in the country, Martin Kobler; and the Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson.
- In the afternoon, the Council was due to hold an open meeting on Sudan and South Sudan.
U.N. REPORT STRESSES IMPORTANT OF PROSECUTING THOSE RESPONSIBLE OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN D.R. CONGO
- The United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo released on Wednesday a report on human rights violations committed during the electoral period in 2011 – that’s from 1 October 2011 to 31 January 2012. The Joint Human Rights Office registered 35 violations committed during this period.
- The report stresses the importance of prosecuting those responsible for these violations before the next election cycle, in order to prevent such crimes from being repeated.
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that unfortunately, the efforts made by Congolese authorities to address the human rights violations committed during the 2011 electoral period have not yet produced results.
U.N. SENIOR OFFICIAL SAYS CRISIS IS EXACTING HEAVY TOLL IN BANGLADESH
- Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco has wrapped up his visit to Bangladesh, where he noted that the political crisis is exacting a heavy human, social and economic toll on the country.
- He told reporters that the crisis has resulted in increasing tension and seriously threatens the hard-earned economic and social progress that Bangladesh has achieved.
- While in Bangladesh, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco met with a range of interlocutors, including the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition, Foreign Minister, leaders of major political parties and civil society representatives.
- He said that he had conveyed to all he met the Secretary-General’s extreme concern about the rising levels of violence, adding that he strongly urged everybody to exercise restraint, uphold human rights and to respect the rule of law.
- Mr. Fernandez-Taranco said that the UN supports free, fair, inclusive and non-violent elections. He said that it is clear that the Bangladeshi people want and deserve this and that the credibility of the election will ultimately rest with the people of the country.
- The Assistant Secretary-General said that he strongly believes that a solution to the deadlock is still possible if there is political will, leadership and an attitude of compromise.
- The Secretary-General has also been reaching out to both the President and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh by telephone.
- Asked about a sentence of death given to a Bangladeshi politician, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations has made its views known through various channels about the death penalty and the need for due process.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES THE NEED FOR A WORLD OF FREEDOM AND EQUALITY FOR ALL
- Asked about legislation passed in India about homosexuality, the Spokesperson noted that, in his message to Human Rights Day gatherings on Tuesday, the Secretary-General re-affirmed that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
- He once again spoke out against discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people and stressed the need to recommit ourselves to building a world of freedom and equality for all.
U.N. CONCERNED OVER DEMOLITION OF PALESTINIAN-OWNED STRUCTURES IN JORDAN VALLEY BY ISRAELI AUTHORITIES
- The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, James Rawley, expressed concern over the Israeli authorities’ demolition of 30 Palestinian-owned structures in the Jordan Valley on Tuesday. The demolitions resulted in the displacement of 41 people, including 24 children.
- Mr. Rawley said that the demolitions leave families without shelter and compromise their livelihoods just as weather conditions are deteriorating. He said that the demolitions must be brought to an immediate halt.
U.N. HEALTH AGENCY SAYS GLOBAL EFFORTS AGAINST MALARIA MADE MAJOR PROGRESS
- In a report released on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have made major progress and saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000.
- According to the “World Malaria Report 2013”, the large majority of the lives saved were in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden, and among children aged less than 5 years, which is the group most affected by the disease. Over the same period, malaria mortality rates in children in Africa were reduced by an estimated 54 per cent.
- The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan said that this remarkable progress is no cause for complacency as absolute numbers of malaria cases and deaths are not going down as fast as they could.
PLAN FOR DESTRUCTION OF SYRIAN CHEMICALS OUTSIDE OF SYRIA TO BE RELEASED NEXT WEEK
- Asked on Tuesday whether Croatia would be involved in the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, the Spokesperson said that what must be eliminated are the chemicals stored or prepared by Syria for the production of chemical weapons. These chemicals are not weapons in the traditional meaning of this word; they cannot be fired as such and they are not weaponized – in other words, they have not been put into munitions.
- The plan for the destruction of all Syrian chemicals outside of Syria will be released on 17 December. For now, it would be untimely to discuss the possible contents of this document. Practicalities are currently being discussed and the final details are being worked out. What is certain is that the Plan will be carried out by the Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) with the assistance of a number of actors, including Member States of the OPCW.
- Asked about the final report by Professor Åke Sellström’s team, the Spokesperson said that the report would go to the Secretary-General, who would then present it to the Security Council.
U.N. AUDIO PROGRAMMING TO BE AVAILABLE THROUGH ‘CALL TO LISTEN’ BASIS
- Starting on Wednesday, UN audio programming, including radio and official meetings, will be available through a “call to listen” basis. This will allow people to listen in to Security Council meetings, General Assembly meetings and this briefing by dialing a US-based number. People will be able to listen in to UN Radio programmes, which are produced every day in the six official languages, as well as Portuguese and Kiswahili.
- While the service is initially being launched in the US, it will be followed in early 2014 by services in South Africa, Brazil and Switzerland, and then in selected countries in Europe, Middle East and North Africa, and the Caribbean. This service is being offered through a pro bono partnership with AudioNow.
- All the numbers can be found by going to http://www.unmultimedia.org/and then clicking on the “audio by phone” icon at the bottom of the page.
- Asked about Pope Francis, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General has been inspired by the Pope’s work and his humility.
On the deployment of guards to Libya, the Spokesperson said that discussions on that topic are continuing. The Security Council has been supportive of measures to ensure the security of UN staff in Libya.
*** The Guests at the Noon briefing were Geeta Rao Gupta, the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), along with Claudia Cappa, the author of the report entitled “Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequities and trends in birth registration”.