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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 SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 13 DECEMBER 2011

***The Secretary-General will give his end-of-year press conference on Wednesday, 14 December, at 11 a.m. There will be no Noon Briefing that day.

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED TO SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES IN SOMALIA

  • The Secretary-General briefed the Security Council on Tuesday morning on his visit last week to Somalia in an open meeting. He told Council members that we finally face a moment of fresh opportunities in Somalia, and we must seize it.

  • All city districts are now effectively under the control of the Transitional Federal Government, with the support of the African Union Mission (AMISOM). The Secretary-General said that we must secure gains and extend them beyond Mogadishu.

  • He said that the Somali leadership has heeded the Security Council’s call to work together. Nonetheless, despite some progress, important deadlines have been missed. He said that he had asked the leadership to intensify efforts to implement the Roadmap, and made clear the transition must end in August of 2012. The Council followed its open meeting with consultations, also on Somalia.

  • On Monday afternoon, Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, briefed the Security Council in consultations. She said afterward that more than 5,000 people have died in Syria in recent months, including at least 300 children.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TOP PRIORITY FOR BAN KI-MOON’S SECOND TERM

  • The Secretary-General met with his panel on global sustainability on Tuesday morning.

  • He told them that sustainable development is an overriding priority for his second term. He said that the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20 – is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that we cannot afford to waste.

  • The Secretary-General pointed to the challenges the world faces on sustainability, with policymakers worried about the debt crisis in Europe and the United States, volatile markets, and widespread public dissatisfaction with politics as usual – from protesters on Wall Street to demonstrators in Tahrir Square and beyond.  He said that we will not achieve sustainable development without addressing inequality.

  • The panel will present its report to the Secretary-General next month.

U.N. CONGO MISSION HAS REDEPLOYED TROOPS TO CAPITAL, OTHER POTENTIAL ELECTORAL HOT SPOTS

  • Asked about the tensions following the elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission in that country (MONUSCO) emphasizes the need for the parties to settle all election disputes by peaceful means through established institutions, including the National Mediation Committee, and underscores the importance of thorough and transparent handling by the Supreme Court of Justice of all formal challenges.

  • Nesirky said that MONUSCO urges the state security and law enforcement agencies to exercise restraint and comply with international human rights law in dealing with public demonstrations, and to respect the rights of all citizens, including supporters of political parties and candidates to life, physical integrity and freedom of expression.

  • The Spokesperson, in response to questions, noted that the Mission is more than 90% deployed in the eastern part of the country. However, he added, MONUSCO has redeployed some troops and police to potential electoral “hot-spots”, including Kinshasa.

  • MONUSCO currently has approximately 1,400 forces deployed in Kinshasa including some 500 police personnel and 900 troops conducting active patrols. The Spokesperson stressed that the Mission has limited capacity to provide protection to the local population in Kinshasa in the event of a significant deterioration in the security situation.

  • In accordance with its mandate, MONUSCO will do what it can within existing capabilities and the Mission’s areas of deployment, to protect civilians under imminent threat of violence.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPARTS FOR UGANDA

  • The Deputy Secretary-General departs New York today for Kampala, Uganda.  She will represent the Secretary-General at a summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, which will include a special session on gender-based sexual violence.

  • The Deputy Secretary-General will hold bilateral meetings and meet with United Nations officials based in Uganda.  While in the country, she will also visit a project focusing on community-based youth education.

  • The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York this weekend.

THIRD FOOD CRISIS IN TEN YEARS LOOMING OVER SAHEL REGION –WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) says that drought has returned to the Sahel region where people are facing their third food crisis in the past decade.
     
  • It is particularly concerned about the situation in Niger. The country is seeing unusually high food prices, although it is in post-harvest period, a time when cereals are available and prices usually drop.

  • The Programme has been increasing its assistance after the Government’s announcement that at least 750,000 people are severely food insecure, and that number that is expected to increase to one million by January.

  • In Mauritania, a recent assessment has shown that this year’s harvest is more than one-third below the five-year average.

FOOTBALL STARS SCORE GOALS AGAINST POVERTY

  • Football superstars Zinédine Zidane, Ronaldo and Didier Drogba will be joining other past and present players in a match organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Hamburg, Germany.

  • The game seeks to raise funds for the crisis in the Horn of Africa and to boost awareness of the crisis.

  • In a message to the event, the Secretary-General said that he is delighted to see that athletes, the UN family and the world of sport are working together to build a better world.

U.N. RELIEF CHIEF TO LAUNCH 2012 APPEAL

  • On Wedensday in Geneva, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, will launch the consolidated humanitarian appeal for 2012.

  • She will be joined by Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

  • The funding is needed to help more than 50 million people in places such as Somalia, Yemen, Haiti and the occupied Palestinian territories.

  • The United Nations and its partners called already today for $1.5 billion to make sure that they can continue their life-saving work in Somalia.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

LEGAL CLAIMS ON CHOLERA IN HAITI BEING STUDIED: Asked about the legal claims being studied concerning cholera in Haiti, the Spokesperson said that such claims continue to be studied at UN Headquarters by the relevant offices, including those dealing with legal affairs and peacekeeping.

SECRETARY-GENERAL INTENDS TO INTERACT MORE FREQUENTLY WITH U.N. STAFF REPRESENTATIVES: Asked about concerns expressed by the UN Staff Council and the Staff Union about the elimination of lower-level UN posts, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has recently had productive meetings with the bodies and intends to continue interacting more frequently with staff representatives.

***Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership; Robert Newman, Director of the Global Malaria Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO); and Ray Chambers, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria were the guests at the Noon Briefing. They spoke to reporters on the launch of the 2011 WHO World Malaria Report.

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