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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 8, 2009

 

BAN KI-MOON STRONGLY CONDEMNS BOMB ATTACKS IN IRAQ

  • Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was asked this morning about the bomb attacks that struck Baghdad. He said that he was very shocked, and he condemned the bombings in the strongest terms possible. He also said that this was an “unacceptable, horrendous terrorist bombing against civilians”.
     

  • In a statement issued later, the Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the bomb attacks in Baghdad today that have left over 120 people dead and scores more injured. No cause can justify these attacks on civilians. The attacks appear to be aimed at undermining the election process, including the political progress in Iraq. The Secretary-General extends his heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed and wishes for the full and speedy recovery of those who were wounded by these criminal acts.
     

  • The Secretary-General appeals to the people of Iraq to remain steadfast in the face of these attacks and to continue their determined efforts to achieve national reconciliation. The United Nations remains committed to supporting them.

 

BAN KI-MOON EXPECTS ROBUST AGREEMENT, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, FROM COPENHAGEN

  • This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at UN headquarters about the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.
     

  • He said he’s expecting a robust agreement that will be effective immediately and include specific recommendations on mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology. He said this agreement should have an immediate operational effect as soon as it is agreed.
     

  • The Secretary-General says he is encouraged and optimistic. He said that never have so many different nations of all sizes and economic status made so many firm pledges together.
     

  • The Secretary-General was also asked about the recent email hacking incident. He’s very clear on this. He said that nothing that has come out in public has cast doubt on the basic scientific message on climate change. That message is quite clear; climate change is happening much faster than we realized and we human beings are the primary cause.
     

  • Asked whether the Secretary-General supports the creation of a World Environmental Organization, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is aware of the proposals and may convene a high-level panel following the Copenhagen conference to see how UN bodies can move forward in dealing with climate change. There are many UN bodies dealing with environmental issues which may need to adapt their roles to deal with changing demands, he noted.

 

THIS YEAR IN TOP 10 WARMEST YEARS SINCE 1850

  • Today at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), reported that 2009 was likely to rank in the top 10 warmest years since 1850. He added that since 1980 every decade has been warmer than the previous one. He also stressed that greenhouse concentrations were highest now than at any time over the last 800,000 years.
     

  • Negotiations are underway in Copenhagen. The aim is to get as much work done as possible before the second stage of the conference when Ministers will arrive to resolve outstanding political issues. These ministerial negotiations will officially start on Tuesday.
     

  • Ministers will then have two days before the final stage when Heads of State and Government will be in Copenhagen to engage in further negotiations to maximize the level of ambition regarding emission targets and the level of support for action in developing countries.

 

DANISH GOVERNMENT OFFSETTING CARBON EMISSIONS FROM COPENHAGEN CONFERENCE

  • In response to a question asked yesterday about the carbon emissions generated by the participation in the Copenhagen Conference, the Spokesperson said the conference is expected to cause around 40,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, mostly caused by travel to Copenhagen. He added that the Danish Government says it is offsetting the emissions through a project in Bangladesh that reduces emissions in a brick manufacturing plant. The offset more than covers all the travel and emissions related to the Conference.
     

  • Also according to the Danish Government, the Conference is promoting organic vegetables, the use of public transport and of less paper. In the lead up to the Conference, the conference center where delegations are gathering reduced its CO2 emissions by 20%, and more than 50% of hotels in Copenhagen and nearby Sweden have become environmentally certified. The carbon emissions were calculated by the Danish Government. More information on this can be found at www.sustainability.cop15.dk

 

NEW PROGRAMME PROMOTES LOW-EMISSION AGRICULTURE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

  • And finally, also on climate change, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has launched a programme to support climate change mitigation in developing countries.
     

  • This is a multi-donor programme which aims to promote sustainable low-emission agriculture in developing countries over the coming five years. FAO says that agriculture is a key source of global greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 14%. But the sector also has a high potential to reduce greenhouse gases.

 

DRUG TRAFFICKING COULD REVERSE GAINS IN AFGHANISTAN, HAITI, AMONG OTHERS

  • The Security Council held an open debate this morning to discuss drug trafficking as a threat to peace and security.
     

  • Addressing the Council members, the Secretary-General said that drug trafficking does not respect borders. He said:  “It is a menace to societies and individuals alike and it is associated with the horrific abuse of women in particular.” States must share intelligence, carry out joint operations, build capacity and provide mutual legal assistance to deal with drug trafficking, he said. He also urged the international community to focus on reducing demand for drugs and the harm done by them.
     

  • The Secretary-General also told the Security Council that drug trafficking now threatened to reverse advances in peacebuilding efforts in Afghanistan, Haiti, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and elsewhere.
     

  • Afterward, the members of the Security Council will have their monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General.
     

  • At 3:00 this afternoon, the Security Council expects to hold a formal meeting to consider a Presidential Statement on Côte d’Ivoire.

 

UNITED NATIONS CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON PEACEKEEPERS IN DARFUR

  • The Secretary-General placed on record his strong condemnation of the 5 December attack the second in two days, on troops from the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). 
     

  • The second attack took place at Shangil Tobaya in North Darfur, where the UNAMID troops were providing water to local civilians.  Two UNAMID military personnel from Rwanda were killed and another peacekeeper was wounded as a result of the ambush. 
     

  • The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the AU-UN mission to carry out its important work in Darfur.  He notes the Government of Sudan’s rapid action to apprehend the alleged perpetrators and renews his call that those guilty of these cowardly attacks should be brought to justice immediately.
     

  • The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the families of the peacekeepers who lost their lives and to the Government of Rwanda and reiterates his appreciation for their service and commitment to the search for peace in Darfur.
     

  • Yesterday, the Security Council members, in a press statement, condemned in the strongest terms the recent attacks on those peacekeepers that had resulted in the death of five Rwandan soldiers. They took note of the action taken already by the Government of Sudan and encouraged it to ensure that all the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice.
     

  • Asked about the UNAMID staff that has been held hostage, the Spokesperson recalled that the Secretary-General on Sunday made a phone call to President Omar al-Bashir to raise his humanitarian concern about their situation. The peacekeepers have been held for more than 100 days, and one of them is seriously ill. Nesirky said that the Secretary-General wants to ensure that as much is done as possible to secure their release.

 

U.N. WILL ENGAGE WITH D.R .CONGO ON FUTURE DIRECTION OF MISSION

  • The Secretary-General’s most recent report on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is out on the racks today.
     

  • The Secretary-General notes that the DRC is now largely at peace, with the exception of the Kivus and pockets in Orientale province, and is ready to embark on the reconstruction and rebuilding phase. In recognition of these realities, he says, the United Nations will engage with the DRC in detailed discussions on the future direction and configuration of the UN mission, and that recommendations will be presented to the Security Council in April 2010.
     

  • In the meantime, he recommends a six-month mandate extension.
     

  • The Security Council will take up the report next Wednesday.

 

PAKISTAN: NO RESTRICTIONS ON BHUTTO COMMISSION’S ACCESS

  • Asked about complaints from the Pakistani People’s Party that the fact-finding commission dealing with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto had faced restrictions on its access, the Spokesperson said that, according to the Bhutto Commission, there were no restrictions on the team’s access. The team says that they are pleased with the cooperation by the Pakistani authorities.
     

  • Asked whether the Commission will need more time in light of security challenges, Nesirky responded that the security situation in Pakistan is complex. Some additional time may be needed to evaluate the situation and put in place more comprehensive security measures.

 

U.N. IS TRYING TO HAND OVER POLICING RESPONSIBILITIES IN TIMOR-LESTE

  • Asked about an International Crisis Group report on policing in Timor-Leste, the Spokesperson said that the report was preaching to the converted, since the United Nations has for some time been trying to hand over policing responsibilities to the Timorese.
     

  • Regarding the hand-over process, he said that the Government of Timor-Leste and the UN Mission (UNMIT) agreed on specific criteria for the hand-over of primary policing responsibilities from the UN police to the national police. Since May of this year, four districts and the Police Training Centre have been handed over to the national police in accordance with those criteria.
     

  • Nesirky said that the United Nations strongly desires to hand over all security responsibilities to the national police in the shortest possible timeframe. At the same time, it will also take into account the need to not jeopardize the foundations laid towards sustainable police development through the ongoing training and mentoring process.
     

  • A Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) Police Division team is currently visiting Timor-Leste to review the resumption process and future downsizing of the UNMIT police component, the Spokesperson said. The upcoming technical assessment mission to UNMIT in January will, jointly with UNMIT and in consultation with the Timorese authorities, look at how the UN can best support Timor-Leste in strengthening the capacity and institutional development of its national police and ensuring sustained assistance through bilateral and other means.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL PRESENTS SUGGESTIONS ON DISARMAMENT

  • The Secretary-General this morning attended a breakfast meeting in support of his Five-Point Action Plan on Nuclear Disarmament and Nuclear Non-Proliferation.
     

  • He presented specific suggestions as the next steps of developing his action plan to promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in general, and to facilitate the success of the upcoming 2010 NPT Review Conference.
     

  • He also encouraged Member States to seriously consider the proposal by Costa Rica and Malaysia for a nuclear weapon convention.

 

LEBANON: U.N. FORCE COMMANDER MEETS WITH PARTIES

  • The Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Claudio Graziano, met with senior officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces today at the UN Position at the border crossing at Ras Al Naqoura.
     

  • They discussed the implementation of resolution 1701, especially the recent incidents and violations, with a view to preventing the recurrence of such events. They also discussed the marking of the Blue Line.
     

  • There was also discussion of the village of Ghajar. Graziano said afterward, “We are hopeful that we will soon reach an understanding on the UNIFIL proposal that will facilitate Israel’s withdrawal from the northern part of the village of Ghajar.”

 

ETHIOPIA: 4.8 MILLION PEOPLE STILL REQUIRE EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE

  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA), reports that, an estimated 4.8 million people would still require emergency food assistance throughout the first half of next year.
     

  • This assessment is based on the findings of Ethiopia’s Multi-Sectoral Contingency Plan for January to June 2010, which was launched in Addis Ababa on Monday.  The plan took into account the observed rainfall performance and its impact on crop production and the overall food security situation.
     

  • Financially, this would require about US$270 million for the total net projected emergency food and non-food needs.

 

SOME 36 MILLION CURED OF TUBERCULOSIS OVER THE LAST 15 YEARS

  • Some 36 million people have been cured of tuberculosis (TB) over the past 15 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) which says that this is the result of the rigorous approach to treatment it has endorsed.
     

  • But WHO also says that millions of people are still unable to access high quality care. TB remains second only to HIV/AIDS in terms of the number of people it kills.

 

REBECA GRYNSPAN OF COSTA RICA APPOINTED U.N.D.P. ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Ms. Rebeca Grynspan of Costa Rica as Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
     

  • Ms. Grynspan will replace Mr. Ad Melkert, who has been appointed as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq.
     

  • Since March 2006, Ms. Grynspan has served as the Assistant Administrator and Regional Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, where she has been a strong advocate for the Millennium Development Goals, for system-wide coherence and an organization more responsive to developing countries needs.  She has also served in the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and, prior to that, in several ministerial level positions with her government, culminating in her appointment as Vice President of Costa Rica.

 

 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

UNITED NATIONS IS DOING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TO RESOLVE SAHARAWI ACTIVIST’S SITUATION: Asked about the situation of Saharawi activist Aminatou Haidar, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General and the United Nations are doing as much as possible to resolve matters. He noted that High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had spoken on the issue.

 

CORRUPTION IN AFGHANISTAN MUST BE DEALT WITH: Asked about the fight against corruption in Afghanistan, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has made clear that corruption must be dealt with and a strong Afghan Government must be put in place.

 

QUARTET MEMBERS HAVE HAD WORKING LEVEL DISCUSSIONS ON SETTLEMENTS: Regarding the question on the Quartet, there has been no Quartet statement on Israeli settlement activity. There have been some working-level discussions among Quartet members in recent weeks.

 

REACTION TO REPORT BY D.R.CONGO PANEL WILL COME FROM SECURITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE: Answering a question from yesterday regarding the UN Panel of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson said that the Panel was a subsidiary organ of the Security Council. It will be up to the Council’s sanctions committee on the DRC to respond to the report, he added.

 

 

 

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