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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

MONDAY, 3 DECEMBER 2012

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED, DISAPPOINTED BY NEW SETTLEMENTS IN EAST JERUSALEM AND WEST BANK

  • In a statement issued on Sunday, the Secretary-General said that it was with grave concern and disappointment that he learned of Israel’s announcement of 3,000 new settlement units in East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank. This would include reported planning in the so-called E-1 envelope, which risks completely cutting off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.
  • Settlements are illegal under international law and, should the E-1 settlement be constructed, it would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution.
  • The Secretary-General repeats his call on all concerned to resume negotiations and intensify efforts towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace and urges the parties to refrain from provocative actions. In the interests of peace, any plans for E-1 must be rescinded.
  • Asked if the Secretary-General had been in contact with Israel to convey his view, the Spokesperson said that the statement conveyed his thoughts clearly.
  • He added that the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Robert Serry, was on the ground in Jerusalem and had frequent contact with Israeli authorities.

U.N. CONFIRMS IT WILL PULL OUT NON-ESSENTIAL INTERNATIONAL PERSONNEL FROM SYRIA

  • Asked about UN staff in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Department for Safety and Security had confirmed that the UN in Syria would pull out non-essential international personnel with immediate effect. He added that as the situation changes, the UN system assesses its programmes of activities accordingly and identifies those personnel needed to carry out those activities.
  • He also said that the UN would suspend its movements within the country until further notice.
  • Nesirky noted that as underlined by the Secretary-General and the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, just last week, the situation in Damascus and across the country was becoming more precarious and that the violence was escalating.
  • He also said the United Nations needed to strike a balance between the work that needs to be done for the people of Syria, who have been suffering for such a long time, and the safety of the people who are trying to provide that assistance.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTINUES TO CALL ON D.P.R.K. TO WORK TOWARDS BUILDING CONFIDENCE

  • Asked about the announcement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that it will launch a rocket later this month, the Spokesperson recalled the statement by the Secretary-General from last April, at the time of the launch of a satellite.
  • Nesirky said that the Secretary-General had then said that the launch, which had failed, was deplorable because it defied the firm and unanimous stance of the international community. He had also said that the launch was in direct violation of Security Council Resolution 1874 and a threat to regional stability.
  • In that statement, the Secretary-General had also urged the DPRK not to undertake any further provocative actions that would heighten tension in the region.
  • Nesirky said that the Secretary-General's views had not change on that matter.
  • He also noted that at the time the Secretary-General had called on the DPRK authorities to work towards building confidence with neighbouring countries and improving the life of its people.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ATTENDS U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE IN DOHA

  • The Secretary-General arrived in Doha on Monday to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
  • On Tuesday, he will address the opening of the high level part of the Conference and then he will give a press conference with the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres. He will also meet with officials from different countries and regional groups attending the talks, as well as with business and finance leaders.
  • The Conference of the Parties started on 26 November. Ms Figueres has called for governments to work hard so that the meeting can constitute another step forward in the global response to climate change.
  • The Conference is attended by government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations, research institutions and the media. More than 100 Ministers are scheduled to attend the high-level part of the meeting, which ends on 7 December.

U.N. MISSION IN D.R.CONGO CONTINUES TO MONITOR THE M23 REBEL GROUP’S WITHDRAWAL FROM GOMA

  • The UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) is continuing to monitor the withdrawal of the M23 rebel group from the wider Goma area in accordance with agreements reached by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) on 24 November.
  • The situation in Goma is relatively calm. Congolese police elements have returned and are patrolling the city. Some advance Congolese army elements have also arrived, with more expected in the coming days.
  • The Mission MONUSCO remains fully deployed and active in carrying out its mandated activities and support of the implementation of the agreements reached by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
  • Asked about alleged rapes in Eastern DRC, the Spokesperson said that reporting on human rights violations was part of mandate of the UN Mission there and that it had a component for such activities.
  • He also said that the Mission had not been able to gain the access it needed because of the security situation. As soon as they are able to do so, they will conduct the investigation that is necessary, he added.
  • Asked about the UN’s due diligence policy in peacekeeping operations, Nesirky noted that the policy will be adhered to, as stated by the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF AMOS VISITS BANGLADESH FOR THE FIRST TIME

  • On Monday, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, was in Bangladesh, one of the world’s most disaster prone countries.
  • It was her first official visit to the country in her role as UN Humanitarian chief.
  • During her visit, Ms. Amos met representatives of the Government, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and the donor community. She discussed challenges in humanitarian access, and how to build resilience in local communities and households so they are better able to cope when disaster strikes.
  • Ms. Amos noted that the Government is investing in its local communities and that other countries can learn from Bangladesh. She said that Bangladesh has trained 50,000 community volunteers to be the first line of response after a storm or flood and this is both cost effective and it saves lives.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

THE U.N. SECRETARIAT STANDS BY HIS REPORT ON MALI: Asked about the reaction by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to the Secretary-General’s report on Mali, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations Secretariat stood by this report. He added that the report was now in the hands of the Security Council and that it was for its members to consider.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES DESERVE EQUALITY OF ACCESS: In a message on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Secretary-General says that the challenge is to provide all people with the equality of access they need and deserve. He says that we must strive to achieve the goals of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: to eliminate discrimination and exclusion, and to create societies that value diversity and inclusion. The United Nations General Assembly will hold a High-Level meeting on disability and development next year.

*** The Guest at the Noon Briefing was Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. She briefed reporters on her recent visit to Yemen.