HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES SYRIA, MALI WITH NEW U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE
- The Secretary-General met today with the United States’ Secretary of State, John Kerry, in Washington, DC.
- Addressing reporters, the Secretary-General said there was much to discuss, including Syria, where the tragedy continues to deepen without any prospect of a political solution. He said he and Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi were calling on the Security Council and the Syrian Government to respond positively to the offer by National Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib to open discussions.
- On Mali, he said the UN was working closely with key partners towards a political solution that restores constitutional order, addresses genuine grievances, promotes reconciliation and ensures the country’s territorial integrity.
- The Secretary-General said the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a direct challenge to the international community. He said he encouraged the Security Council to act with unity and to take appropriate measures as soon as possible.
- He said he sincerely hoped that the P5+1 meeting in Kazakhstan on the Iranian nuclear question next month would bring fruitful progress.
- The Secretary-General said he welcomed the plans of both President Barack Obama and Secretary Kerry to visit the Middle East. He said we all need to make special efforts to forge a two-state solution before the window of opportunity closes.
- He said he had been very encouraged by President Obama’s call to action on climate change and his intention to pursue reductions in nuclear arsenals.
- Yesterday, the Secretary-General had productive meetings with members of the Senate and House, including long-standing partners of the United Nations as well as new faces. The Secretary-General said U.S leadership would remain critical in the period ahead.
- The Secretary-General will be returning to New York today.
U.N. URGES GLOBAL ACTION TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, GIRLS
- The United Nations is joining people around the world on Valentine's Day in calling for global action to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
- The Deputy Secretary-General took part in an event at UN Headquarters coinciding with the manifestations around the world by One Billion Rising, a civil society campaign focusing on ending gender-based violence and created by V-day founder Eve Ensler.
- In a message issued today, the Secretary-General says that we must speak out against the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.
- He urges all governments to send a Valentine message: a concrete commitment of action to end gender-based violence. He asks governments to bring that commitment to the meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women that will take place at UN Headquarters in less than three weeks.
SYRIA ENVOY’S TEAM MEETS OPPOSITION
- A delegation from the Damascus office of the Joint Special Representative for Syria, led by the Head of Office, Mokhtar Lamani, visited the town of Yabroud in Rif Damascus yesterday. Mr. Lamani and his team met with the Commander of the Military Revolutionary Council in the Qalamoun area and representatives of the civil administration and local coordination committee of Yabroud, in addition to civil and religious community leaders.
- The purpose of the visit was to establish communication with various stakeholders from the opposition forces and to have a better understanding about the dynamics of the conflict and the reaction to the different political initiatives.
SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS SUDAN SANCTIONS RESOLUTION, BRIEFED ON SOMALIA
- This morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution on Sudan sanctions, extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts.
- The Council also met on the situation in Somalia and received a briefing from Taye-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
- He told the Council that despite several attacks by Al-Shabaab, there is now a tangible sense of security and optimism in Mogadishu. Across Somalia, AMISOM – the African Union Mission in Somalia – is now deployed at full mandate strength and has been effective in degrading Al-Shabaab’s operational capability.
- Mr. Zerihoun also noted that the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations in Somalia has been one of the success stories in the relationship between the two organisations. He said that the United Nations remains committed to working with African Union colleagues to ensure that the best support is provided to the Somali Government and people.
ON MALI, SENIOR U.N. OFFICIALS MEET MAURITANIAN LEADER
- The Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, and Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, met today with the President of Mauritania in the country’s capital, Nouakchott.
- Yesterday, they met with the country's Foreign Minister. They discussed the situation in the Sahel and the many issues of relevance to the governments of the region, including the fight against terrorism, the environment, the importance of development and the impact on the region of the situation in Mali.
- Mr. Prodi and Mr. Djinnit are currently in Ouagadougou and met with the President of Burkina Faso.
- As part of their ongoing consultations on these issues, they also exchanged with representatives of civil society about their work and main concerns regarding the Sahel.
- Also, yesterday, Mr. Prodi and Mr. Djinnit met in Dakar with the President of Senegal who is currently the head of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
U.N. AGENCY LAUNCHES EMERGENCY APPEAL FOR PALESTINIANS
- The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has launched an emergency appeal of more than $300 million for some of the most disadvantaged Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.
- That appeal includes $78 million for food assistance for some 750,000 people living in Gaza, which has faced a blockade for six years. The appeal also includes money for temporary job creation and a cash assistance programme.
LEBANON: ANNIVERSARY OF ASSASSINATION OF FORMER LEADER SPOTLIGHTS NEED TO ACHIEVE JUSTICE, SAYS U.N. ENVOY
- The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, telephoned former Prime Minister Saad Hariri today on the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Mr. Plumbly also visited the tomb of the late Rafik Hariri in Beirut to pay his respects.
- Mr. Plumbly said that the anniversary underlined the importance of achieving justice in Lebanon. The country had suffered tragically from repeated assassinations and attempted assassinations, including in the past year. The United Nations continued to underscore the need to bring those responsible to justice, and put an end once and for all to impunity in Lebanon.
U.N. OFFICIAL: HUMAN RIGHTS MUST BE ADDRESSED IN DISPUTED TERRITORIES
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today stressed the importance of addressing human rights issues in disputed territories.
- Ms. Pillay said that human rights do not have any borders. She added that it is vital to address underlying human rights issues in disputed territories, regardless of the political recognition or the legal status of a territory.
- Her remarks follow today’s publication of the first report on the human rights situation in the Transnistrian region.
- Asked about the tear-gassing of protestors in Bahrain, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has called for the Government of Bahrain to respect the right to peaceful protest.
- Asked about the proposal to cut $100 million from the UN budget, the Spokesperson noted that came at the request of the General Assembly. He said that it would be up to the General Assembly to make any change in that request.