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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

 UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday
,  December 15, 2009
 

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS COPENHAGEN OFFERS CHANCE TO CHANGE HISTORY’S COURSE

  • The Secretary-General addressed the opening of the plenary session of high-level segment of the climate change conference in Copenhagen, urging delegates to write a different future.  He said that we have a real chance to change the course of history, and that the time for maximalist negotiating positions is over. He added that the time for consensus had arrived. If we work together and get a deal, everyone will get what they need, he said.
     

  • Since his arrival in Copenhagen, the Secretary-General has been meeting with key officials on climate change while an estimated 130 heads of state and government prepare to converge in the Danish capital for the high-level session of the climate change conference. As he said on Monday, he has made Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai a Messenger of Peace dealing with climate change issues.
     

  • After the plenary, the Secretary-General and Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, gave a joint press conference.
     

  • Asked about problems in letting people enter the conference centre in Copenhagen, the Spokesperson said that a system was put in place to rotate the number of people getting into the building because it was over capacity in terms of the number of delegates, NGO representatives and journalists who were accredited to attend. The large presence of people attending the conference, Nesirky added, was a testament to the level of interest in the event.

 

UNITED NATIONS TAKES FIRST STEP IN REDUCING ITS EMISSIONS FOOTPRINT

  • Also in Copenhagen today, the United Nations system has announced its greenhouse gas footprint -- as part of a first step to reduce these emissions.
     

  • In response to the Secretary-General’s determination to make the UN a climate-friendly body, the UN’s Environment Management Group (EMG) has covered emissions arising from the various UN agencies and its headquarters, as well as field operations and peacekeeping missions.
     

  • The UN emits the equivalent of 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, of which approximately 1 million tonnes comes from peacekeeping operations.
     

  • This inventory is a first step in cutting back emissions. The United Nations will now work towards a common approach on emission reductions and also towards emission reduction strategies for each UN institution.

 

D.R. CONGO: MORE CONGOLESE CIVILIANS FLEE EQUATEUR PROVINCE

  • In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) more and more civilians are fleeing Equateur province in the northwest of the country, according to the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
     

  • These civilians continue to cross into the neighbouring Republic of Congo. It is estimated that 84,000 refugees arrived since early November when inter-ethnic violence broke out in the Equateur province.
     

  • UNHCR is trying to cope with the influx of refugees but says that aid reserves are running low. It adds that humanitarian agencies are facing considerable logistical obstacles, as the entire refugee population is scattered along a 500km stretch.
     

  • UNHCR also says that the refugees live in overcrowded conditions and that health risks are high. The agency has helped put in place nine health centres near main refugee concentration areas. It is also running mobile clinics for the more remote areas.

 

MEDIATION, FINANCIAL SUPPORT NEEDED FOR LASTING PEACE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, U.N. ENVOY TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

  • The Security Council this morning heard a briefing on the Central African Republic from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for that country, Sahle-Work Zewde. In her first briefing to the Council, she said that the peace process has reached a critical stage, with national elections planned before the end of April 2010 and the need to complete the disarmament process before that date.
     

  • She said that the overall situation in the Central African Republic remains fragile and challenging. A combination of good offices, mediation and financial support will be needed to bring about lasting peace.
     

  • The Security Council followed its open meeting on the Central African Republic with consultations on that same subject.
     

  • It also heard briefings in consultations about the work of the sanctions committees dealing with Liberia and Sudan.

 

WEST BANK: PLANNING REGIME EFFECTIVELY PROHIBITS MUCH PALESTINIAN CONSTRUCTION

  • In a report today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) describes the planning and zoning regime applied by the Israeli authorities in what is known as Area C of the West Bank. Under this regime, it says, Palestinian construction is effectively prohibited in some 70 percent of Area C. Meanwhile, in the remaining 30 percent, a range of restrictions virtually eliminate the possibility of obtaining a building permit.
     

  • As a result of this restrictive planning regime, tens of thousands of Palestinians wishing to build in most parts of Area C are left with no choice other than to carry out unauthorized construction on their land to meet their housing needs. As a consequence, they risk demolition of their structures and subsequent displacement.

 

U.N.R.W.A. LAUNCHES 2010 EMERGENCY APPEAL FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES

  • In Cairo on Monday, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) launched its Emergency Appeal for 2010 at a meeting of the League of Arab States. The UNRWA appeal is for more than $323 million to fund programmes on job creation, education, health and protection.
     

  • In launching the appeal, the Agency’s Commissioner General, Karen AbuZayd, made clear that the past 12 months have seen an intensification of the crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory, beginning with Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. The blockade on Gaza since then has had devastating consequences on all aspects of life for the 1.4 million people trapped in Gaza, the Agency says.

 

SUDAN: U.N. WELCOMES PEACEFUL CONCLUSION OF VOTER REGISTRATION

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, has welcomed the peaceful conclusion of the voter registration exercise in Sudan. More than 15 million voters have been registered. This represents over 75% of the estimated voting-age population of nearly 21 million.
     

  • Qazi commended the National Elections Commission (NEC) for launching the national exercise according to schedule and extending it an additional seven days in order to make the process more inclusive. He further urged the Sudanese people to help ensure the integrity of the voters’ list, by participating in the current Exhibition and Objection period which began on 10 December. During this period, registered voters have the opportunity to confirm their names on the preliminary voters’ list, request corrections if errors have been made, and object to the inclusion of any ineligible persons on the list.
     

  • Meanwhile in Darfur, the two abducted UNAMID staff members, Patrick Winful of Nigeria and Pamela Ncube of Zimbabwe, who have just become free after 107 days in captivity, are now on their way home to their respective countries.
     

  • The acting Joint Special Representative of UNAMID, Henry Anyidoho, has welcomed their freedom and expressed the relief of the UN over the happy outcome. He thanked the Government of Sudan for its efforts in bringing the abduction to an end.  He pledged UNAMID’s commitment to serve the people of Darfur.

 

HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS FOR MOMENTUM TO BE MAINTAINED ON ABOLISHING DEATH PENALTY

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, is urging the international community to maintain momentum towards the abolition of the death penalty.
     

  • In a statement marking the 20th anniversary of the Death Penalty Optional Protocol, which is commemorated today, Pillay said that she was opposed to the death penalty in all cases. She acknowledged that abolishing the death penalty is a difficult process for many societies. It can often only come about after a period of national debate, she added.
     

  • In the meantime, she urged States still employing the death penalty to place a formal moratorium on its use.

 

INCREASED FUNDING FOR MALARIA HAS ALLOWED DRAMATIC SCALE UP OF CONTROL INTERVENTIONS

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) released its 2009 World Malaria Report today.  It found that the increase in funding for malaria, in recent years, has resulted in increased activity in several countries. But WHO adds that the coverage of malaria programmes needs to be stepped up drastically in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
     

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, Ray Chambers, said that the report showed the progress achieved in the global campaign to end deaths from this disease. This month marks the 12-month countdown to the Secretary-General’s December 2010 deadline for universal access to malaria-control interventions.

 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

AFGHANISTAN WILL USE NEW POLIO VACCINE: A new vaccine against polio will be used for the first time today in polio immunization campaigns in Afghanistan, the World Health Organization says. The bivalent oral polio vaccine provides the optimal protection needed by young children against the two surviving types of polio, WHO says.

 

CAMERAS IN MEDIA SPACE ARE FOR SECURITY ONLY: Asked about security cameras that were present at the new space for media on the second floor of the Library Building, the Spokesperson noted that the cameras do not provide 360 degree footage and are only pointed to the doors in that area. He said that three cameras that were deemed to be intrusive will be removed from their current positions in order to respect the privacy of the occupants. One camera will be reinstalled in a hallway outside of the office area, he said, while two will be moved further away from work spaces.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL DID NOT SPEAK WITH IRANIAN PRESIDENT: In response to a question, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had not communicated recently with the President of Iran.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S GOOD OFFICES ON MYANMAR TO CONTINUE: Asked whether Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar would handle the good offices role on Myanmar currently being headed by Ibrahim Gambari, the Spokesperson noted that Gambari’s new post as head of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) would only begin in January. In the meantime, he said, the Secretary-General would continue to focus on Myanmar through his good offices.