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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 EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS WASHINGTON, DISCUSSES COOPERATION WITH ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES

  • The Secretary-General arrived in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning and visited the headquarters of the Organization of American States.
  • The Secretary-General addressed the Permanent Council of the organization. In his speech, he said the global influence of the Americas as a whole was on the rise. He also said that the four pillars of the Organization of American States - democracy, human rights, security and development - aligned with his own action agenda for his second term.
  • In the afternoon, the Secretary-General was due to have separate meetings with members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • On Thursday, the Secretary-General will meet with the new US Secretary of State, John Kerry, before returning to New York later in the day.
  • Asked about the message the Secretary-General is bringing to Washington, the Spokesperson said that it will be a message of the importance of the United States to the United Nations and vice versa. He is also visiting the Organization of American States and pointing to the importance of Latin America and the Caribbean and the coincidence of values between both organizations.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ATTACK AT THE BORDER BETWEEN TURKEY AND SYRIA

  • In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the attack at the Cilvegozu border crossing between Turkey and Syria which has led to the death of both Turkish and Syrian nationals.  He reiterated his deep concern over the spillover of the Syrian crisis into neighbouring countries. 
  • He renewed his call for all parties to refrain from using violence, exercise restraint and move toward a political solution.  The Secretary-General reminds all parties of their obligations under the international humanitarian law. The full statement is available online.
  • On Wednesday, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) completed its second aid delivery into north-west Syria, where thousands of internally displaced people are in acute need of humanitarian help. The operation was carried out in collaboration with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the local community.
  • The latest convoy, involving seven trucks carrying 1,000 tents and 15,000 blankets, travelled from Latakia and Damascus to the Bab al-Hawa area near the Syrian-Turkish border where the aid was delivered.
  • The Spokesperson added, in response to a question, that the United Nations could respond better to humanitarian situations if it had more funds, and he noted once more the need to turn the pledges that had been made last month into actual funding.

U.N. CONCERNED ABOUT PALESTINIAN DETAINEES IN ISRAELI CUSTODY

  • On Wednesday, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, James Rawley, met with Palestinian Minister of Prisoner and Detainee Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, in Ramallah and expressed the United Nations’ continued concern about Palestinian detainees in Israeli custody.
  • They discussed the situation of four Palestinian detainees currently on hunger strike and, in particular, the critical health condition of one Palestinian detainee, Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for more than 200 days.
  • The Humanitarian Coordinator reiterated the Secretary-General’s position that those detained should be charged and should face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or else should be released without delay.

ENVOYS FOR THE SAHEL AND WEST AFRICA START JOINT VISIT TO THE SUB-REGION

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, began a three-day joint visit to the sub-region.
  • They will meet with the Heads of States of Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger, as well as with representatives of civil society to discuss the challenges facing the Sahel region, including the situation in Mali, and ways to address them.
  • This mission follows their first joint visit to the region in mid-December last year and is part of efforts to develop a regional strategy for the Sahel.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF U.N. OFFICE IN BURUNDI

  • On Wednesday, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB) by one year, until 15 February 2014.
  • Afterward, the Council began a meeting on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations, to discuss relations with the European Union.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO CALL FOR GLOBAL ACTION TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

  • On Thursday, the Deputy Secretary-General will participate in an event calling for firm global action to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
  • The event is sponsored by UN Women and the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign.
  • The event will also draw attention to the upcoming session of the Commission on the Status of Women from 4 -15 March 2013. This meeting has the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls as a priority theme.
  • The gathering at the UN Headquarters on 14 February is coinciding with the events around the world by One Billion Rising, a civil society campaign focusing on ending gender-based violence.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO SIGN SENIOR MANAGERS’ COMPACTS FOR IMPROVED PERFORMANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY

  • The Secretary-General will sign his senior managers’ compacts for the year 2013 at a signing ceremony on Friday, 15 February. Senior managers at Headquarters will be physically present, while those away from Headquarters will participate via videoconference. 
  • It will be recalled that the Compacts set specific programme objectives and managerial targets for a given year. But they also help set the tone at the top for improving performance and accountability across the entire Organization. Their collective signing in public reinforces the commitment of the Secretary-General and his senior leadership team to a culture of results, transparency and accountability.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL SUPPORTS FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: In response to a question, the Spokesperson underscored the Secretary-General’s support for freedom of expression everywhere in the world. He has also regularly called on leaders to listen to the demands of their people. 

INVESTIGATION INTO SHOOTING DOWN OF HELICOPTER IN SOUTH SUDAN CONTINUES: Asked about the shooting down last year of a helicopter in South Sudan, the Spokesperson said that the investigation into the incident is continuing. 

***The guest at the noon briefing was Ambassador Néstor Osorio, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations. He briefed journalists on the Economic and Social Council’s programme of work for the year.