HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 13 DECEMBER 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO BRIEF GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS REPORT
- On Thursday, the Secretary-General received the final report of the UN Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria.
- The report was made available to all Member States, to the public and the media shortly after he received that report.
- In transmitting the final report of the Mission, the Secretary-General noted with deep concern that the team collected evidence and information substantiating several reports that chemical weapons were used on numerous occasions at multiple sites including on a small scale against both civilians and military targets.
- While it must be emphasised that the Mission was ultimately unable to independently verify every aspect of these allegations, it assessed, in addition to its previously published conclusions on the Ghouta incident, chemical weapons have probably been used in four other reported incidents.
- The Secretary-General once again condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons. He emphasises that the international community has a moral and political responsibility to hold accountable those responsible and for ensuring that chemical weapons can never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare.
- The Secretary-General will brief Member States on the report later Friday afternoon.
- Asked who will determine the responsibility for the attacks, the Spokesperson said that the mandate for the investigation was to determine whether chemical weapons were used, not by whom. He added that the report was a compelling document that showed a high degree of professional expertise.
- Asked about accountability, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General once more made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a grave violation of international law and an affront to our shared humanity. He said that we need to remain vigilant to ensure that these awful weapons are eliminated, not only in Syria, but everywhere.
- The international community has a moral and political responsibility to hold accountable those responsible and for ensuring that chemical weapons can never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare.
HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF ALARMED BY RISE IN ABDUCTIONS AND DISAPPEARANCES IN SYRIA
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said today that Syrians continue to fall victim to a callous indifference to human life and disregard for safety, exemplified by the increasing trend of abductions and enforced disappearances,
- She said that in recent months, there has been a significant and deeply alarming rise in abductions of human rights defenders, activists, journalists, religious figures and others by armed opposition groups, as well as the continuing arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances of individuals by Government forces in Syria.
- Ms. Pillay urges all parties to the Syrian conflict to stop terrorising civilians through abduction, hostage-taking, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, in clear violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.
- The High Commissioner also expressed concern over the apparent abduction of 12 nuns from Maaloula and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR END TO BLOODSHED IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, STRESSES ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ATROCITIES
- The Secretary-General has recorded a radio message in French and in English to the people of the Central African Republic.
- In the message, he says that the bloodshed must stop and he appeals to everyone to follow the path of peace. He also says that he has a clear message to all who would commit atrocities and crimes against humanity: “the world is watching. You will be held to account.”
- The Secretary-General says that the United Nations is committed to helping the country recover from this crisis.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the Humanitarian Country Team has continued to respond to the deteriorating situation, delivering relief supplies and services. It also said that while the agencies are rapidly scaling up their aid operations, much more needs to be done.
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that in the capital Bangui the fighting and sectarian violence of the past week has displaced an estimated 159,000 people, with 450 killings reported there and 160 in other parts of the country. And the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that a humanitarian cargo flight arrived in Bangui today carrying 77 metric tons of emergency supplies for immediate distribution to up to 37,500 people.
- Asked about comments attributed to the group Médecins Sans Frontières, the Spokesperson said that Médecins Sans Frontières and other key NGOs have maintained a strong presence in the Central African Republic throughout the emergency. The United Nations is working closely with them.
- He said that the Emergency Directors visited the Central African Republic in October to take stock of the challenges and to discuss how to strengthen humanitarian operations. The Humanitarian Country Team has continued to respond since then to the deteriorating situation and to deliver relief supplies and services.
- Nesirky said that UN agencies, funds and programmes have been deploying to the field as security conditions permitted, sending mobile teams to locations including Bossangoa. UN agencies and the UN Mission, BINUCA, have 84 staff deployed in six locations outside Bangui: in Bouar, Paoua, Bossangoa, Kaga-Bandoro, Mbaiki and Zemio.
- As this crisis worsens, he added, it is important that all efforts and resources are focused on delivering aid to people in desperate need. There will be a time for evaluation of the humanitarian response, but now is the time for action.
- The Spokesperson added that the Humanitarian Country Team has continued to respond to the deteriorating situation, delivering relief supplies and services: Medical care and supplies are being delivered to hospitals and dispensaries at IDP site. Food is reaching thousands of displaced people in Bangui and Bossangoa. UN agencies and NGOs are providing tents and mattresses and establishing access to safe water for the displaced. Soap and jerricans have been distributed to improve hygiene and reduce the risk of disease spreading.
- Nesirky said that, while the agencies are rapidly scaling up their aid operations, much more needs to be done. He said that the United Nations continues to call for civilians to be protected and free access for aid workers to those in need.
BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES CONCLUSION OF KAMPALA TALKS, CALLS ON OTHER ARMED GROUPS TO LAY DOWN ARMS
- The Secretary-General welcomed the conclusion on Thursday of the Kampala Dialogue between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the M23. He said this constitutes a positive step towards ending cycles of deadly conflicts that have caused immense suffering to the Congolese people.
- The Secretary-General also called on all other armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to lay down their weapons and pursue their objectives through peaceful political means.
- He hopes that the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours will build on the latest positive developments by working together to address the root causes of instability in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo through the full implementation of their commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, and his Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Martin Kobler joined the Envoys for the United States, the African Union and the European Union in welcoming the declarations signed on Thursday.
- The Envoys encouraged the parties to promptly implement their commitments and urge the Congolese government to ensure that all of those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity are held accountable.
U.N. OPPOSES IMPOSITION OF DEATH PENALTY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is aware of the report on the execution of Jang Song Thaek in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This is an internal matter, and the Secretary-General has no specific comment on it.
- Nonetheless, Nesirky said, the position of the United Nations and the Secretary-General on the question of the death penalty is clear: the United Nations opposes the imposition of the death penalty under any circumstances, even for the most serious international crimes.
- He also encourages the growing trend towards a phasing out of the death penalty.
BANGLADESH: SECRETARY-GENERAL REGRETS EXECUTION OF ABDUL QUADER MOLLA
- Asked about the execution of Abdul Quader Molla in Bangladesh, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General regrets that this execution took place. He had discouraged this action, both given its potential to incite violence, particularly in this sensitive time prior to the elections, as well as the United Nations’ firm position, which is to oppose the imposition of the death penalty under any circumstances, even for the most serious international crimes.
- The Secretary-General also encourages the growing trend towards a phasing out of the death penalty.
- Nesirky added that the Secretary-General calls on all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR PLEDGES FOR CENTRAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND
- The Secretary-General opened the Central Emergency Response Fund High-level Conference, at UN Headquarters on Friday..
- He said the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has grown to become one of the largest and most reliable sources of humanitarian funding.
- Since 2006, it has disbursed more than $3.2 billion dollars to emergencies in 88 countries.
- The Secretary-General added that this year alone, CERF funds have kick-started urgent humanitarian operations in Syria, Mali and the Philippines and that it has also been fulfilling its mandate by providing critical funding for less visible emergencies.
- He called on Member States to give as much as possible to this Fund. He said that in 2013, the CERF received $435 million dollars – close to its target of $450 million.
- He called to match and exceed this figure in 2014.
U.N. ENVOY IN HAITI WELCOMES PUBLICATION OF NEW ELECTORAL LAW
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti, Sandra Honoré, welcomed the publication this week of the electoral law in Haiti’s official Journal of the Republic.
- In a joint press statement, along with other members of the international community in the country, Ms. Honoré said that it constitutes an important step toward the organization of the elections.
- The Special Representative also said that the holding of the elections is a necessary condition for the strengthening of the democratic process and the rule of law.
***The guest at the Noon Briefing was Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
14 DECEMBER – 20 DECEMBER 2013
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 14 December
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Sunday, 15 December
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Monday, 16 December
In the morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on the Middle East (Syria).
In the afternoon, the Security Council will be briefed on the Middle East, followed by consultations on the Middle East and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
At 10:00 a.m., in the Economic and Social Council in the Conference Building (CB), there will be a special meeting on “Response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines”, organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
At 11:00 a.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a year-end press conference by the Secretary-General.
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 7 in the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be a panel discussion and launch of the report entitled “Women and Natural Resources: Unlocking the Peacebuilding Potential”, co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Finland, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In Geneva, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will hold the Human Rights Council Organizational Session.
In Geneva, OHCHR will hold the 20th session of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries. The session will end on 20 December.
In Geneva, at 11:45 a.m., there will be a press conference on the humanitarian strategies and requirements for 2014 by OCHA.
Tuesday, 17 December
In the morning, the Security Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
In the afternoon, the Security Council will vote on a resolution concerning the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTED). Then the Security Council will be briefed on the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), followed by consultations.
In Geneva, at 11:00 a.m., the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) will hold a commemoration in honour of Nelson Mandela with messages by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Permanent Representative of South Africa and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
In Geneva, at 11:30 a.m., there will be a press conference on the humanitarian situation in Haiti and Response Plan 2014, organized by OCHA.
Wednesday, 18 December
Today is International Migrants Day.
In the morning, the Security Council will vote on resolutions on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and UNDOF. Then the Security Council will be briefed on “Peace and Security in Africa: Drug trafficking in Sahel and West Africa”.
At 11:00 a.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) to preview the UN World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014 (WESP). The WESP includes new information and forecasts for different global economic data, as well as updates to the economic outlooks for all regions of the world.
In Geneva, there will be a series of press conferences on the 26th round of the Geneva International Discussions.
Thursday, 19 December
At 12:30 p.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a round-up press conference by Ambassador Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of December.
Friday, 20 December
Today is International Human Solidarity Day.