HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2013
HAITI: U.N. SAYS CHOLERA CLAIM NOT RECEIVABLE, SECRETARY-GENERAL REITERATES SYMPATHY FOR SUFFERING
- In November 2011, a claim for compensation was brought against the United Nations on behalf of victims of the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Today, the United Nations advised the claimants’ representatives that the claims are not receivable pursuant to Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. The Secretary-General telephoned Haitian President Michel Martelly to inform him of the decision, and to reiterate the commitment of the United Nations to the elimination of cholera in Haiti.
- Since the outbreak began in 2010, the United Nations and its partners have worked closely with the people and Government of Haiti to provide treatment, improve water and sanitation facilities, and strengthen prevention and early warning. In December 2012, the Secretary-General launched an initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti, which aims to strengthen Haiti’s own National Cholera Elimination Plan through significant investments and the use of an oral cholera vaccine.
- The Secretary-General again expresses his profound sympathy for the terrible suffering caused by the cholera epidemic, and calls on all partners in Haiti and the international community to work together to ensure better health and a better future for the people of Haiti.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said, “I can confirm that we have informed counsel for the claimants that the claims are not receivable. Consideration of the claims would necessarily involve a review of political and policy matters. Accordingly, the claims are not receivable pursuant to Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, adopted by the General Assembly on 13 February 1946.”
- The Spokesperson added that he was not in a position to provide any further details. It is not the United Nations’ practice to discuss in public the details of, and the response to, claims filed against the Organization.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON SUDAN, SOUTH SUDAN
- The Security Council held consultations on Sudan and South Sudan, and received an update on the situation between the two countries from Haile Menkerios, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy.
- The Council discussed the work of the 1718 Sanctions Committee, which deals with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
ERADICATION OF COLONIALISM A COMMON ENDEAVOUR – SECRETARY-GENERAL
- This morning, the Secretary-General opened the 2013 session of the Special Committee on Decolonization.
- The international community is more convinced than ever that colonialism has no place in the modern world, and he said that the eradication of colonialism – in keeping with the principles of the UN Charter and relevant UN resolutions – is our common endeavour.
- The Secretary-General said that concrete action and tangible results are essential, adding that it is time for a new kind of fully inclusive dialogue about decolonization.
BAN KI-MOON TO TRAVEL TO ETHIOPIA, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND
- The Secretary-General will depart New York tomorrow for Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates, Austria, and Switzerland.
- On Sunday, 24 February, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Secretary-General will attend the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region. He will also have a number of bilateral meetings with regional leaders.
- He will visit the United Arab Emirates on Monday and have meetings with Government and other leaders.
- On Tuesday, the Secretary-General will arrive in Vienna, Austria, and meet with the Federal President of the Republic of Austria.
- He will attend the official opening of the 5th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations on Wednesday. He will hold bilateral meetings with a range of leaders.
- On Thursday, he will hold discussions with the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria
- The Secretary-General will attend a High-level Panel Discussion on Human Rights Mainstreaming at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday. Then he will deliver the Annual Sergio Vieira de Mello Lecture.
- On Saturday, he will attend the 9th Seminar of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland, before returning to New York the next day.
- Asked about the signing ceremony in Addis Ababa, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is one of co-guarantors who will be present. All eleven of the region’s Presidents have been invited and have all either confirmed attendance or designated someone who will sign the agreement on their behalf.
- Asked about the Alliance of Civilizations, the Spokesperson noted the initiative’s work at promoting tolerance and understanding among different cultures and religions. Recent months have underscored the importance of such tolerance, he added.
SYRIA: APPALLING ATTACK UNDERSCORES NEED FOR END TO BLOODSHED – U.N.
- Asked about the bombing in Damascus, Syria, today, the Spokesperson said it was an appalling attack and underscores the need for an end to the bloodshed and a political resolution of the conflict.
- In response to a question, the Spokesperson confirmed that the contract of the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has been extended through the end of this year. The contracts for his deputy, Nasser al-Kidwa, and the head of his Damascus office, Mokhtar Lamani, have been extended for a similar length of time.
U.N. SAHEL ENVOY VISITS MOSCOW
- The Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, is in Moscow today.
- He met earlier with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, as well as with the Russian Special Envoy for Africa, Mikhail Margelov. They discussed the need to look at the sub-region in its entirety and to address, in a comprehensive manner, the root causes of the challenges in the Sahel.
- This visit to Russia is part of Mr. Prodi’s efforts to mobilize international attention and resources for the needs of the Sahel region.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. OFFICIAL URGES END TO VIOLENCE IN JONGLEI
- Hilde Johnson, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan, travelled to Jonglei this week on a two-day visit to areas hardest hit by the recent instability and cattle raiding. She called on authorities and communities in Jonglei to end the cycle of violence.
- While in Walgak in Akobo County, Ms. Johnson met with community leaders, and visited a clinic with survivors from a cattle-raiding attack on 8 February.
- A UN team was deployed to the attack scene in Walgak and marched for two days to reach the destination, 55 kilometers from Walgak.
- The preliminary findings of the investigation team are based on firsthand observation of grave sites and bodies.
- Clearly, this was a very serious attack; the human rights investigations report will be made public when completed.