HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 12 DECEMBER 2013
MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO FIGH POVERTY, EMPOWER WOMEIN IN SAHEL, SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
- This morning, the Secretary-General briefed the Security Council on his visit to Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad last month with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and the Presidents of the World Bank and the African Development Bank, as well as the European Development Commissioner.
- He said he came back from the visit with a clear sense that much more needed to be done to fight poverty, empower women, provide employment opportunities for young people and ensure that all the people of the Sahel have what they need to build a better future.
- The Secretary-General added that, during the visit, the World Bank and the European Union pledged more than $8.2 billion for the region. He also said that during a regional meeting in Mali, African ministers, as well as regional and international organizations and financial institutions, came together to improve coordination and address Sahel’s fragility. He said that the ministers would now meet twice each year to calibrate responses to the Sahel’s challenges.
- The Secretary-General said that the Sahel’s vast size and long, porous borders mean that such challenges can be addressed successfully only if the countries of the region work together.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, urged the international community not to forget the Sahel and appealed to be generous to the people of the Sahel.
INDIA: HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF DISMAYED AT RECRIMINALIZATION OF CONSENSUAL SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed her dismay at the recriminalization of consensual same-sex relationships in India.
- Navi Pillay said that yesterday’s Supreme Court decision represents a significant step backwards for India and a blow for human rights.
- She also said that this violates the rights to privacy and to non-discrimination enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified.
- Ms. Pillay voiced hope that the Supreme Court might exercise its review procedure, in effect agreeing to rehear the case before a larger panel of judges. Such a review would provide an opportunity for judges to reconsider whether the Supreme Court’s initial decision took sufficient account of all relevant arguments.
- In the broader context, she encouraged the Indian Parliament to take definitive action to decriminalise same-sex sexual conduct. She stressed the need to ensure effective protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals from violence and discrimination.
- Asked about the decision on homosexuality in India, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-General’s support of full equality for all people, regardless of sexuality.
U.N. FLAG TO BE LOWERED TO MARK FUNERAL OF FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA
- On Friday, the United Nations Flag will be lowered to half-mast at UN Headquarters as a mark of respect for the funeral ceremony of President Nelson Mandela of the Republic of South Africa.
- The funeral will be held on Sunday, 15 December.
SYRIA: FINAL REPORT ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS TO BE SUBMITTED TO SECRETARY-GENERAL
- åke Sellström will be handing his team’s final report on alleged chemical weapons incidents in Syria to the Secretary-General on Thursday afternoon.
- Asked about Security Council action on the Sellström report, the Spokesperson said it was up to the Council to determine when it would discuss the report.
- Asked about the countries that will be represented at next month’s international conference on Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will meet on December 20 with US and Russian officials and discuss that subject. For now, no list of invitees has been prepared.
- The Secretary-General remains involved in the process to move matters further. This morning, the Secretary-General spoke by phone with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to finalise arrangements for the 20 December meeting and 22 January conference.
U.N.: IRAN MUST PROVE PEACEFUL NATURE OF ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
- Asked about Iran’s nuclear programme, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has consistently said that it is up to Iran to prove the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme. He noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has started to visit Iran with a view to going to certain sites.
- Asked about comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Iran, Nesirky noted it is clear that there has been movement on the Iranian nuclear file, including through the continuing negotiations between the P5+1 group of nations and Iran.
- Asked about the credibility of the negotiations, the Spokesperson said that the assumption behind all negotiations is that they are being done in good faith.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CLEAR ON U.N. OPPOSITION TO DEATH PENALTY
- Asked about the execution of a political leader in Bangladesh, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has made his views clear on the United Nations’ opposition to the use of the death penalty.
***The guests at the Noon Briefing were Ray Chambers, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Malaria and for the Financing of the Health-related Millennium Development Goals, and Dr. Robert Newman, the Director of the Global Malaria Programme at the World Health Organization (WHO). They spoke about the latest WHO report on malaria, which was release yesterday and said that the global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have made major progress and saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000.