HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 15 MARCH 2013
TWO YEARS AFTER START OF CONFLICT, SYRIAN CIVILIANS’ SUFFERING CONTINUES TO GROW – U.N.
- The UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria crisis, Radhouane Nouicer, said today that the suffering of Syrian civilians keeps growing, two years after the start of the crisis there. He added that protection obligations under international humanitarian law continue to be ignored by the parties to the conflict, and the challenges confronting the humanitarian community continue to mount.
- Mr. Nouicer said that shelter, water, food, basic supplies and health care are all precarious, and there is almost no place in Syria deemed to be safe.
- As this crisis enters its third year, the UN and its partners are undertaking one of the largest humanitarian aid efforts, in monetary terms, in the history of the United Nations. However, without increased funding, some activities will not get off the ground or will simply stop.
SECURITY COUNCIL GRAVELY CONCERNED BY VIOLATIONS ACROSS LEBANON-SYRIA BORDER
- In a press statement issued yesterday afternoon, the members of the Security Council members underscored their grave concern over repeated incidents of cross-border fire which caused death and injury among the Lebanese population, as well as incursions, abductions and arms trafficking across the Lebanese-Syrian border, and other border violations. They underlined the importance of full respect for Lebanon's sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and the authority of the Lebanese State, in accordance with Security Council resolutions.
- Security Council members also expressed their deep concern at the impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon’s stability. They appealed to all Lebanese people to preserve national unity in the face of attempts to undermine the country’s stability. The full statement is available online.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-General’s position that the further militarization of the conflict in Syria is unhelpful and that there needs to be a negotiated solution to the crisis.
U.N. ENVOY TO TRAVEL TO WESTERN SAHARA
- Christopher Ross, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, will travel to North Africa from 20 March to 3 April.
- The current conflict in Mali and the heightened risks of instability and insecurity in the Sahel and beyond make a solution to the Western Sahara conflict more urgent than ever.
- Within the framework of his mandate and successive resolutions of the Security Council, the purpose of Mr. Ross’s trip is to prepare for the next phase in the negotiating process and a possible resumption of direct talks to achieve “a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”
- To this end, Mr. Ross will hold discussions with the parties to the Western Sahara negotiations, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, and visit Western Sahara. He will also hold consultations with the neighbouring states, Algeria and Mauritania.
U.N. BODIES CONCERNED BY REPORTS OF SHOOTING OF ROHINGYA BOAT PEOPLE
- Both the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) today expressed concern over reports of shootings last month in Thailand of Rohingya who are fleeing unrest in Myanmar.
- The Refugee Agency has asked the Thai Government to verify these reports of shots having been fired as a Rohingya boat was pulled out of Thai waters. The Agency is gravely concerned that people fleeing unrest could have been turned away and exposed to further distress in their search for safety.
- The Human Rights Office noted that the Thai Prime Minister has said that the Government is investigating the incident. The Office is urging the Government to ensure that the investigation of the allegations is full, prompt and impartial, and that anyone who has committed a crime is brought to justice.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY WORRIED ABOUT SOUTH-EASTERN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is increasingly worried by the situation in south-eastern Central African Republic (CAR) where attacks this week are posing additional risks to the civilian population, including Congolese refugees.
- On Monday, Seleka rebels attacked and took over the town of Bangassou. The rebels have been advancing eastwards towards the town of Zemio, where 3,300 refugees have come from Province Orientale in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- As well as presenting a security risk, the Seleka advance is further compromising the Refugee Agency’s access to refugees and internally displaced populations. UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies have been forced to temporarily relocate some staff to Bangui, the capital, resulting in a reduction of some services to refugees.
- The UN Refugee Agency reiterates its call to the Government and Seleka rebels to ensure the protection of civilians and to facilitate access to people in need.
U.N. CONCERNED BY CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT IN HUNGARY, CONGRATULATES KENYA ON ELECTIONS
- The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) today voiced concern over the swift adoption of the most recent amendment to the constitution by the Hungarian Parliament earlier this week.
- It said that the amendment raises serious concerns in several areas, including possible threats to the independence of the judiciary, the authority and the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court and, by extension, to the rule of law in general.
- The Office also congratulated the government and people of Kenya for the broadly successful conduct of their recent national elections, and expressed hope that Kenya will continue on the path of reform and social justice.
- A team deployed by the High Commissioner reported that the elections were peaceful and characterized by an absence of any systematic violations of human rights. But the team noted some challenges, including long queues, which resulted in some vulnerable people – including pregnant women – not voting because they could not endure a long wait.
USE OF DRONES SUBJECT TO INTERNATIONAL LAW – U.N.
- Asked about the use of drones, the Spokesperson said that the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), like any other weapon, is subject to long-standing rules of international law, including international humanitarian law in situations of armed conflict.
- There is a need for greater confidence in the international community – both amongst States and the wider public – that the use of these weapons is within the bounds of international law.
U.N. COMMEORATES VICTIMS OF SLAVERY
- The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade will be marked on 25 March.
- To highlight the significance of the Day, the United Nations will be hosting a week of activities beginning on 18 March with the arrival of an original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln and the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution. The documents will be on display in the UN Visitors’ lobby.
- On March 22nd, the Secretary-General will attend a concert Celebrating Global Emancipation and on 25 March, the International Day itself, the Secretary-General will speak at the official General Assembly commemorative event.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES CONTINUED MOMENTUM ON AGREEMENT TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, GIRLS
- As the 57th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) nears conclusion after two weeks of intensive dialogue and debate on this year’s priority theme of preventing and ending violence against women, the Secretary-General strongly encourages Member States of the Commission to maintain momentum now and express the hope for a successful conclusion with strong and meaningful agreement to end violence and discrimination against women and girls.
D.P.R. KOREA: NEARLY 3 MILLION PEOPLE NEED FOOD AID, SAYS U.N. REPORT
- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said its 2012 National Nutrition Survey found that some 2.8 million people in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) are in need of regular food assistance amidst worrying levels of chronic malnutrition and food insecurity.
- According to the Office’s Humanitarian Country Team in the country, some 16 million people are chronically deprived of food, and nearly 28 per cent of children suffer from stunting.
ITALIAN NATIONAL APPOINTED DEPUTY U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF
- The Secretary-General has appointed Flavia Pansieri of Italy as Assistant Secretary-General to serve as the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- Ms. Pansieri will replace Ms. Kyung-wha Kang, to whom the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights are grateful for her dedicated service to the United Nations human rights programme during the past six years.
- Ms. Pansieri recently served as the Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
16 – 22 MARCH 2013
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 16 March
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Sunday, 17 March
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Monday, 18 March
The Security Council will hold consultations on Mali.
The Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty will begin. It will end on 28 March 2013.
At 10:15 a.m., in Conference Room 4 of the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be a briefing on “Forever free: Celebrating emancipation” by the Department of Public Information/Non Governmental Organization, on the occasion of the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
At 11:00 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference entitled “The Final UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)”. Participants will be: Roberto Dondisch, Head Negotiator of Mexico for the ATT; Djimon Hounsou, Actor and Activist; Jeffrey Duke, Director of the South Sudan Network on Small Arms – SSANA; and Anna Macdonald, Head of Arms Control, OXFAM. This event is sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations.
At 1:14 p.m., in Conference Room B (NLB), there will be a briefing on “Arms transfers, transparency and the Arms Trade Treaty”, co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Germany and Sweden, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA).
At 6 p.m., in the General Assembly Hall, there will be the official commemorative ceremony of the International Day of Nowruz.
In Geneva, there will be a press conference on the key priorities for tackling tuberculosis, organized by the World Health Organization and the Global Fund in advance of World Tuberculosis Day (24 March)
Tuesday, 19 March
In the morning, the Security Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
At 9 a.m., in Conference Room 4 (NLB), there will be a global student videoconference on “Forever free: Celebrating emancipation”.
At 12:00 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, Ahmad Alhendawi, Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth, will be the guest at the Noon Briefing. He will brief via video-link.
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 7 (NLB), there will be a briefing on “The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s Least Development Countries Report 2012”.
In Geneva, there will be a press conference by the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on the International Patent System, International Trademark System and International Design System in 2012.
Wednesday, 20 March
Today is International Day of Happiness.
In the morning, the Security Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 3 (NLB), there will be a special event on the occasion of the International Day of Happiness entitled “Happiness and well-being: Essential for a sustainable future”, organized by the United Nations Academic Impact, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information, and the Permanent Mission of Bhutan.
In Geneva, there will be an embargoed press briefing on the release of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)'s report on ‘Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries’.
Thursday, 21 March
Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Today is World Poetry Day.
Today is International Day of Nowruz.
Today is World Down Syndrome Day.
Today is International Day of Forests and the Tree.
In the morning, the Security Council will be briefed on the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), followed by consultations. In the afternoon, the Security Council will be briefed on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), followed by consultations.
At 11:00 a.m., in the Labouisse Hall at UNICEF, there will be a briefing to member states on the findings of the global conversation with citizens, civic society, academia, private sector, and governments on the emerging priorities for the Post-2015 development agenda, by Olav Kjørven, Assistant Secretary-General and the director of policy at UNDP, and other representatives of the United Nations.
At 12:30 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson who is launching a new call to action for sanitation, with Martin Mogwanja, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Kate Norgrove, Head of Campaigns, WaterAid, and Ambassador Csaba Korosi, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the UN.
In Geneva, there will be a panel discussion entitled "Racism and Sport" on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination featuring football stars Patrick Vieira and Kevin-Prince Boateng alongside representatives of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE). High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will open the event. The discussion will be followed by a press conference.
Friday, 22 March
Today is World Water Day.
In the morning, the Security Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
At 7 p.m., in the General Assembly Hall, there will be a concert on the occasion of the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (25 March).