Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

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

Wednesday
,  December 16, 2009
 

 

COPENHAGEN: BAN KI-MOON REMAINS CONFIDENT OF DEAL ON CLIMATE CHANGE

  • With three days remaining at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the Secretary-General is confident that world leaders will be able to agree on a new deal to combat global warming.
     

  • As part of his efforts to help pave the way, he held meetings Wednesday with a wide number of leaders and representatives of groups of nations. These included the Group of 77 (G77), the African Group, the Least Developed Countries and the Association of Small Island States. He also joined the President of the Conference of Parties on the podium of the High-level segment of the Climate Change Conference.
     

  • Among the leaders he met on the sidelines of the conference were British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
     

  • The Secretary-General later attended the launch of World Food Programme's “safe stoves” initiative. The stoves require less firewood, which means preserving trees and reducing emissions, as well as protecting women and girls who often have to travel great distances to collect firewood at the risk of attacks, robbery and rape.
     

  • Today’s pilot launch is targeting women in Uganda and Sudan. The stoves will be rolled out next year to reach up to 6 million refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees across 36 countries.
     

  • This evening, the Secretary-General will take part in the “Earth Hour Copenhagen” event. All the lights of the city will be turned off for an hour and be lit instead by thousands of lanterns made by children around the world.
     

  • He is also scheduled to attend a dinner to honor U.S. Senator John Kerry, hosted by the UN Foundation.
     

  • The Secretary-General began the day with a working breakfast he hosted for the heads of UN bodies.  He said he was determined to ensure that the United Nations can “deliver as one” in its response to climate change.
     

  • Asked about comments by the Secretary-General suggesting that the rise in climate change could be capped at 2C above present levels, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has made clear that he would support capping it at a lower level, such as 1.5C above present levels, if agreement could be reached on that.
     

  • The Secretary-General, Nesirky said, has been consistent in saying that it is important to reach a deal on which all sides can agree. He has tried to be an honest broker in this process, and has also made clear his firm conviction that everyone should be able to come to the table and seal a deal.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE LINKED TO CONFLICTS, MIGRATION AND DISPLACEMENTS

  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, spoke today in Copenhagen about the links between migration, displacement and climate change. He said the traditional distinctions between refugees and migrants are becoming more and more blurred. This is because a combination of factors – climate change, food insecurity, poverty, conflict – are now more interlinked and forcing people to flee.
     

  • He also said that climate change has become the most important trigger of forced displacements, because it can help trigger conflict, especially when there is competition for resources made scarce by climate change.  

 

ECUADOR AND U.N.D.P. LAUNCH INITIATIVE TO PROTECT BIODIVERSITY

  • UNDP Administrator Helen Clark joined Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Fander Falconi today in Copenhagen to announce an initiative to protect Ecuador’s rich biodiversity and the culture of its indigenous population by leaving 850 million barrels of oil in the ground.
     

  • The oil, in Ecuador’s protected Yasuni National Park, is one of the world’s largest oil reserves, and by leaving it untouched, Ecuador will prevent 407 million tonnes of CO2 from being released.
     

  • To offset the lost revenue, Ecuador has set up a multi-donor trust fund which will be administered by UNDP.  All contributions to the Yasuni Trust Fund will be used for renewable energy projects and low carbon development in Ecuador.

 

U.N. REGRETS DELAYS AT COPENHAGEN CONFERENCE VENUE

  • Responding to media queries about the delays in accessing the Bella Center, where the UN Conference on Climate Change is being held in Copenhagen, the Spokesperson stated that the United Nations regrets the long delays for people wishing to gain access or pick up accreditation and is doing all it can to alleviate further delays.
     

  • More than 45,000 people have applied to attend the conference. An overwhelming number of those who applied arrived on Monday, causing congestion in the area outside the UN venue, which is under the control of the Danish police, and also long delays at the UN accreditation counters.
     

  • The access to the venue for NGOs will continue to be controlled by the existing quota system to allow balanced access by NGO organizations. NGO representatives are given over half of the capacity of the Bella Centre, more than ever before at a climate conference.
     

  • From Thursday, only non-governmental organizations that have the secondary badges issued will be able to enter the Bella Centre. The Danish Government and Danish NGO Network are organizing an alternative venue for NGOs who cannot get in the Bella Center over the next two days.

 

U.N. ENVOY TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL THAT OPERATION IN EASTERN CONGO WILL WRAP UP THIS MONTH

  • Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, told the Security Council that Congolese Government forces have retaken the town of Dongo, in the province of Equateur.
     

  • Meanwhile, he said, Operation Kimia II in eastern Congo is to be completed at the end of this month. That operation has largely completed its objectives, although Doss recognized its serious humanitarian consequences.
     

  • He warned that the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), which had been entrenched in the Kivu provinces for more than a decade, remains a potent threat. Under a Congolese directive approved today, Doss said, the UN Mission (MONUC) and the Congolese Armed Forces will concentrate on holding ground recovered from the FDLR and preventing attacks on civilians in areas of vulnerability.
     

  • Doss outlined the challenges the UN Mission faces in protection of civilians, the integration of forces and the treatment of displaced persons and refugees.

 

SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON GOLAN HEIGHTS AND TWO TRIBUNALS

  • Earlier this morning, the Security Council adopted three resolutions, by unanimous votes.
     

  • The Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights by six months, until the end of June 2010.
     

  • In two separate resolutions, the Council made decisions allowing for the two International Tribunals – for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda – to handle their remaining caseloads. With both tribunals, the Council expressed its intention by next June to extend the terms of all trial judges until the end of December 2012.

 

NEPAL:  U.N., GOVERNMENT AND MAOISTS AGREE TO PLAN TO DISCHARGE MINORS

  • The United Nations, the Government of Nepal and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) signed today an Action Plan for the discharge of Maoist army personnel disqualified in the United Nations-led verification process in 2007.
     

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, attended the event and she said the minors who have spent the last three years in Maoist army cantonments with their lives on hold will finally be able to take the next step towards a more positive future.
     

  • The U.N. and the Government will assist the orderly rehabilitation of the disqualified once they have been officially discharged. The individuals will have access to a range of rehabilitation options developed by the UN agencies.
     

  • The Action Plan will be monitored by a U.N.-led team to ensure that those disqualified are given the choice to partake in programmes to assist their return to a civilian environment, and that they are not exposed to recruitment by groups who engage in violence or criminal activities.

 

BAN KI-MOON STRESSES NEED FOR PROGRESS ON WESTERN SAHARA EFFORTS

  • Asked about the work being done by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, to resolve the situation of Saharawi activist Aminatou Haidar, the Spokesperson said that Ross works deals with the broader context of the talks concerning Western Sahara. The Secretary-General has pointed to the importance of making progress in that broader effort.
     

  • As for Haidar’s situation, Nesirky said, the Secretary-General and his team have been fully engaged – including through contacts with senior officials in Spain and Morocco – to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.

 

ACCUSED NEPALESE SOLDIER REPATRIATED FROM U.N. MISSION

  • Asked about the case of Major Basnet, a Nepalese soldier who had been serving in the UN Mission in Chad and the Central African Republic (MINURCAT) and was accused of murder, the Spokesperson made clear that Major Basnet has been repatriated and was accompanied during his repatriation by a serving officer of his contingent in MINURCAT in accordance with standard procedures.
     

  • He no longer serves with the United Nations and is now the responsibility of the Government of Nepal, which ultimately has responsibility for the good conduct, order and discipline of their forces serving on UN operations.
     

  • Nesirky added that it is the responsibility of all troop contributing countries to follow up on any allegations of violations of human rights by their personnel.

 

DATA FROM CAMERAS AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS ONLY USED FOR LEGITIMATE SECURITY REASONS

  • In response to questions about the security cameras that are being relocated at the media swing space on the second floor of the library, the Spokesperson said that, in accordance with General Assembly rulings, there are very strict guidelines about the use of the data taken from the cameras. They are only used for legitimate security reasons; on rare occasions, the Office for Internal Oversight Services may request some of the data for its work. The information is stored for less than 30 days.
     

  • Nesirky reiterated that the cameras are being relocated at the media area, with one being removed entirely, and are only focused on the doors.