HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 2012
SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMENDS ARAB LEAGUE EFFORTS, VOICES CONCERN OVER ESCALATING VIOLENCE
- In a statement issued on Sunday, the Secretary-General said that he appreciates and commends the continued efforts of the League of Arab States to stop the violence in Syria and to seek a peaceful resolution of the crisis that meets the democratic and legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.
- The statement also said that the United Nations remains in close contact with the League of Arab States, and the Secretary-General spoke today with the League’s Secretary-General, Nabil El Araby, to discuss the latest developments in Syria and the resolution adopted by the League’s Council of Ministers in Cairo. In this regard, the Secretary-General stressed that action on the specific requests of the League will be a matter for the Security Council to consider, and he will remain in close contact with Member States as they take up these requests.
- The Secretary-General also voiced his grave concern about the escalating violence, mounting loss of life and deteriorating humanitarian situation, particularly in the city of Homs, which continues to be under siege and heavy shelling of civilian areas since last Saturday. All violence must stop and the Secretary-General once again called on the Syrian government to comply with international law and immediately end the shelling and use of force against civilians.
- High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addressed the General Assembly on Monday morning, and in her address, she said that she is certain that the number of dead and injured continues to rise every day. Tens of thousands, including children, have been arrested, with more than 18,000 reportedly still arbitrarily held in detention. Thousands more are reported missing. 25,000 people are estimated to have sought refuge in neighbouring and other countries, and more than 70,000 are estimated to have been internally displaced. She said that she is particularly appalled by the onslaught on Homs. More than 300 people have reportedly been killed in the city since the start of this assault ten days ago. The majority of them were victims of the shelling.
- Ms. Pillay noted that the Fact Finding Mission, the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and she, herself, have all concluded that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed in Syria. All Member States must ensure these crimes do not go unpunished.
- Asked about the situation in Syria after the meeting of the League of Arab States, the Spokesperson said the Secretary-General was very appreciative of the continuing efforts of the League of Arab States to push for a political solution and crucially to end the violence. There has not been any decision on or mandate worked out for a joint envoy yet, and such a proposal would have to be looked at by Member States.
- Asked about the UN's humanitarian assistance to Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is extremely actively engaged in dealing with an unfolding humanitarian situation of considerable proportions. They are actively working with the full range of UN agencies, funds and programme and liaising with Member States to see what assistance can be brought to bear. However, to date, access to those requiring humanitarian assistance has been and remains difficult or impossible.
- Asked about terrorist groups which may be operating in Syria, the Spokesperson said that these reports are next to impossible to verify. The important issue is that the killing from all quarters must stop.
SECURITY COUNCIL BEGINS HAITI MISSION
- The Security Council is starting its mission to Haiti on Monday. The delegation will be arriving in Port-au-Prince on Monday afternoon and will meet with the Haitian Prime Minister.
- On Tuesday, Security Council members will travel to Miragoane and Leogane and will meet with the President of Haiti.
- The Security Council will be in Haiti until Thursday to assess the implementation of relevant resolutions concerning the UN Mission there (MINUSTAH) and to discuss the situation in the country with Government officials.
SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL KICKS OFF VISIT TO MYANMAR
- The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, is in Myanmar for a five-day visit at the invitation of the Government.
- On Monday in Naypyitaw, the Special Adviser participated in the opening of a Conference on Development Policy Options for Myanmar, jointly organized by the United Nations and the Government.
- During his visit, the Special Adviser will hold meetings with the Government of Myanmar, political parties, civil society organizations and other key interlocutors, in the implementation of the Secretary-General’s good offices mandate.
MALDIVES: ALL SIDES MUST AGREE ON FORMING GOVERNMENT – U.N. POLITICAL OFFICIAL
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, concluded his mission to Maldives and issued a statement upon his departure, in which he said that, while considerable controversy persists about the events of recent days, all actors he had spoken with agreed on the importance of preserving the democratic gains that have been made.
- All said they were committed to the constitution, which is widely held up as a model of reform. There is also a broad consensus on the need to protect human rights and strengthen the rule of law throughout the Maldives, including the performance of the judiciary.
- There is, he said, an urgent need for all sides concerned to come to an agreement on forming a government, based on the principle of inclusiveness and national unity, and reach a consensus on the way forward.
- There needs to be a credible and independent investigation by a national mechanism into the developments of the past weeks, and the events that led up to them.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ADDRESS PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE: On Monday afternoon, the Secretary-General will address the 2012 Session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.He is expected to say that he recently returned from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory and encouraged the parties to re-engage in earnest towards the resumption of permanent status negotiations. He will note that concrete steps on the ground are required to restore confidence and trust. The parties have a particular responsibility to cease provocations and create a conducive environment for direct talks.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS HELSINKI: Addressing the Helsinki Process + 10 Conference in the Finnish capital on Monday, the Deputy Secretary-General said that we are not keeping pace with changes such as the growth of the volume of international trade and flow of capital across borders. She called for the strengthening of ties among governments, civil society groups, the private sector and others.
POLICE INVESTIGATING KILLING OF PERSON WORKING FOR U.N. IN EGYPT: Asked about the reported killing of a person working for the United Nations in Egypt on Sunday morning, the Spokesperson said the person was a consultant working for UN Women. He said the evidence so far suggests this was a random criminal act, and he said that police are investigating.