HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 16 FEBRUARY 2012
IN VIENNA, SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES AFGHANISTAN CONFERENCE, HOLDS BILATERAL MEETINGS
- The Secretary-General was in Vienna on Thursday, and had a wide range of engagements.
- On Thursday morning, he addressed the opening of the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact Partners on Combating the Afghan Illicit Opiate Trade.
- The Secretary-General said the drug trade was a threat to the well-being and development of Afghanistan and its neighbours. He said the fight against that trade went to the heart of UN efforts in Afghanistan and our work on reducing poverty.
- He later delivered a lecture on the theme of Empowering People in a Changing World. The focus of the speech was on the role of women and youth in those changes.
- The Secretary-General said we can apply the lessons we learn from women's empowerment to the task of empowering young people. He said that addressing the needs and hopes of the world's women and young people was an act of necessity rather than simply an act of solidarity.
- The Secretary-General has had a range of bilateral meetings with the Austrian President and Foreign Minister, and the Foreign Ministers of France, Russia and Kyrgyzstan. He also met the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
- On Thursday evening, the Secretary-General will be the guest of the President at the Annual Opera Ball at the State Opera House.
- The Secretary-General will also attend a ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) before he returns to New York.
BAHRAIN: SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERNS ABOUT VIOLENCE
- The Secretary-General is concerned about reports of clashes in Bahrain between security forces and demonstrators over the past few days. He calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and expects the Bahraini authorities to act in accordance with their international human rights obligations.
- The Secretary-General strongly believes that a genuine, all-inclusive and meaningful dialogue that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis is the way to promote peace and stability in the country.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his call on the Bahraini authorities to do everything possible to expedite the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, especially its provisions aimed at effective confidence-building measures.
RELOCATION PROCESS SHOULD BEGIN WITHOUT DELAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS ON CAMP ASHRAF
- The Secretary-General continues to follow the situation in Camp Ashraf. Over the past few months, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), under the leadership of his Special Representative, Martin Kobler, has been working tirelessly as an impartial facilitator to promote a peaceful resolution of this issue, within the framework of UNAMI’s humanitarian mandate. At the request of the Secretary-General, the Government of Iraq extended its deadline to close Camp Ashraf from 31 December 2011 to 30 April 2012. The Secretary-General acknowledges the efforts of the Government of Iraq to prepare the temporary transit location to host the residents and allow UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to undertake refugee status determination.
- The Secretary-General believes that the time has come to start the relocation process without further delay. He urges the Iraqi authorities and the residents of Camp Ashraf to continue to cooperate and complete the process in a peaceful manner. The Secretary-General reiterates that the Government of Iraq bears the primary responsibility for the security and the welfare of the residents of Camp Ashraf. At the same time, the residents of Camp Ashraf also bear a responsibility to abide by the laws of Iraq. Any provocation or violence must be avoided and would be unacceptable.
SECURITY COUNCIL WRAPS UP HAITI MISSION
- The Security Council is wrapping up its mission to Haiti on Thursday.
- In the morning, they visited a police academy where the instructors of the Haitian National Police have been trained by UN Police.
- Security Council members also met with internally displaced people at the Carradeux camp in Port-au-Prince and saw the living conditions there, as well as the work done by peacekeepers and humanitarians. They were then briefed on the response to the cholera epidemic at a cholera treatment centre.
U.N. HAS NO ROLE IN KOSOVO REFERENDUM: Asked about the referendum in northern Kosovo, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is not monitoring the referendum and does not have any role. He also noted that the Secretary-General said in December that he welcomes the resumption of the European Union-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. He calls on all parties to honour the agreements reached in the framework of the dialogue, to refrain from unilateral action, and to actively support the de-escalation of tensions on the ground.
SECRETARY-GENERAL, SECURITY COUNCIL STRESS NEED FOR RELIEF IN SUDAN: Asked about the humanitarian situation in Sudan, the Deputy Spokesperson noted that both the Secretary-General and Security Council have underlined the need for humanitarian assistance be allowed into affected areas.
SECRETARY-GENERAL’S GOOD OFFICES READY TO ASSIST ON FALKLAND ISLANDS (MALVINAS): Asked about the situation concerning the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the Deputy Spokesperson said that during his recent meeting with the Foreign Minister of Argentina, the Secretary-General reiterated that his good offices to resolve this dispute remain available if both countries request it.
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