HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 9 DECEMBER 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS NELSON MANDELA “A GIANT FOR JUSTICE”
- The Secretary-General arrived this morning in South Africa, where he will attend the official memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela on Tuesday.
- Earlier today, he visited the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.
- In his remarks there, the Secretary-General called Mr. Mandela a giant for justice, equality and human rights. He touched our lives deeply and taught us what is possible in Africa and across the world.
- The Secretary-General said that when he met Mr. Mandela in 2009, he was deeply moved by the way he put the well-being of others first, as well as for his humility and modesty.
- He added that that is wisdom for today, as we strive to help the vulnerable, end armed conflict, protect human rights and create the better world for which Nelson Mandela gave so much.
- The Secretary-General today also visited Mr. Mandela’s residence, where he paid his respects to the former President’s family.
DISCONTENT IN LIBYA HAS MOUNTED SIGNIFICANTLY, SAYS U.N. REPRESENTATIVE
- Tarek Mitri, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, provided an update to the Security Council this morning on the situation there, saying that discontent has mounted significantly. Over the past few weeks, he said that the UN Mission has seen expressions of popular frustration with the political process and street protests.
- Mr. Mitri said that the events of the past month have again highlighted the need for dialogue with the main armed groups. In the present juncture, he said, it is essential for all parties to engage in dialogue and create the right balance of incentives in order to stimulate a comprehensive process of reintegration and eventual disarmament.
- The Security Council also issued a Presidential Statement this morning, expressing its concern at the delay by the authorities in Guinea-Bissau in taking the necessary steps for the timely adoption and implementation of decisions towards restoring constitutional order and organising inclusive elections.
- The Council urged the Authorities in charge of the transitional period to ensure there is no further delay or postponement that could further affect the already fragile situation in Guinea-Bissau.
SYRIA: U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEFS CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON HEALTH AND OTHER CIVILIAN FACILITIES
- In a joint statement over the weekend, the heads of UN humanitarian bodies strongly condemned attacks on health and other civilian facilities in Syria and expressed deep concern for the serious implications for patients, health personnel and the provision of critical medical supplies.
- They said that health facilities must be respected and protected in all circumstances and should not be used for military purposes. Attacks against health facilities can be considered a war crime under international law.
- Asked about the timing of an international conference for Syria, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General said over the weekend that he would try to send out invitations by the end of this month for a conference that would start on 22 January 2014, as scheduled. That conference would include the Syrian Government and opposition, among other key actors.
U.N. COORDINATOR CONFIRMS ISRAEL’S DECISION TO RESUME TRANSFER OF CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS FOR PROJECTS IN GAZA
- Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, confirmed today that the Government of Israel has decided to resume the transfer of construction materials for UN projects in Gaza.
- The situation in Gaza remains a matter of concern and the United Nations is engaged with relevant parties in trying to address the most urgent issues, such as energy, water and private sector construction.
- Mr. Serry expressed the hope that a solution will be found quickly to the particularly pressing energy situation and called on the support of the international community in this regard.
PHILIPPINES: HUMANITARIAN COMMUNITY CONTINUES TO SCALE UP SUPPORT, SAYS U.N. RELIEF OFFICE
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that one month after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, the humanitarian community continues to scale up the provision of support for people affected by the storm.
- The Office says that humanitarian needs remain enormous, with nearly 15 million people affected, including some 4 million people displaced and more than one million homes destroyed or damaged.
- The UN and its partners are focusing their efforts on reaching the most vulnerable with emergency food, shelter, health and water, sanitation and hygiene assistance and protection services.
SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT SITUATION IN UKRAINE TO PRESIDENT
- The United Nations is continuing to monitor developments in Ukraine very closely.
- The Secretary-General spoke on Sunday to the President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, by telephone.
- The Secretary-General expressed his grave concern about the situation in Ukraine, emphasised that there must be no resort to violence and appealed for peaceful dialogue amongst all parties concerned.
- The Secretary-General welcomed the President’s assurances that consultations would be initiated to defuse the situation.
- He also congratulated the President on Ukraine’s successful chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) this year and on the Ministerial Meeting in Kiev last week.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH PRIME MINISTER AND OTHER POLITICAL LEADERS IN BANGLADESH
- Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Fernandez-Taranco continues his visit to Bangladesh, where he has been holding meetings with a wide range of interlocutors since Saturday.
- Mr. Fernandez-Taranco has met with the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition, party leaders, the election commission, and civil society, as well the Foreign Minister, Foreign Secretary and members of the diplomatic corps.
- He is expected to conclude his visit on Tuesday.
- He continues in his discussions to encourage dialogue and compromise to ensure an inclusive election and non-violence.
- Asked about Iran’s nuclear programme the Spokesperson noted that a process has started to resolve concerns and the Secretary-General has welcomed that process. It is a positive development, although more work needs to be done.
- Asked about Security Council reform, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has often spoken about the need for Security Council reform, including this weekend, adding that it is up to the Member States to agree on how it is to be reformed.
** The guest at today’s Noon Briefing was Mr. Joan Clos, the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat). He briefed journalists on the Seventh Session of the World Urban Forum.