HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 2013
SITUATION IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO CONTINUES TO DETERIORATE - U.N. ENVOY
- Roger Meece, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, briefed the Security Council on Friday morning on recent developments there, and he noted the continuing deterioration in the eastern Congo, as well as worrying developments in North Katanga.
- He said that there has been a general pause in M23 offensive operations, but at the same time the rebel group has tried to consolidate its own administrative structures in the portion of North Kivu that it occupies, with widespread reports of violence and threats against those who attempt to resist the M23’s authority.
- Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the country, MONUSCO, has continued to see a general increase in Congolese militia activity throughout North Kivu.
- The Security Council also adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Office in Guinea-Bissau by three months.
SPECIAL ENVOY TO BE APPOINTED SOON TO SUPPORT IMPLEMENTATION OF PEACE FRAMEWORK FOR D.R. CONGO
- Asked about the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Region to be signed on Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Spokesperson said that the agreement’s four co-guarantors are: the United Nations; the African Union; the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, with Uganda signing on its behalf; and the South African Development Community, with Mozambique signing on its behalf.
- The other countries set to sign on to the framework are: the DRC, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
- The Spokesperson noted that the agreement builds on the efforts undertaken by regional organizations and the United Nations in recent years. It includes oversight mechanisms – at the national, regional and international levels – to support and oversee the implementation of the commitments made. The commitments by the DRC will be supported by the United Nations, the African Union, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, and other bilateral or multilateral partners of the DRC.
- Nesirky added that a Special Envoy will soon be appointed to support the implementation of the Framework, including through the establishment of benchmarks and its review mechanism to measure and ensure progress at the national and regional levels.
U.N. FOOD AGENCY OPENS NEW LAND ROUTE TO TRANSPORT AID FROM NIGER TO NORTHERN MALI
- The World Food Programme (WFP) has opened a new land route on Friday for transporting vital food assistance from Niamey, in Niger, to northern Mali, where the volatile security situation and economic disruption is affecting food supplies.
- The first trucks delivered 200 tons of food to the town of Menaka, in the Gao region, and more convoys are on the way. In the coming days, this assistance will be distributed to 24,000 people.
- The UN Agency says it expects the volume of its humanitarian assistance in northern Mali to increase in the coming weeks, with the gradual reopening of more land routes.
- In the last two weeks, the United Nations Mine Action Service has started an assessment of the situation in Northern Mali to identify the threat from mines and unexploded ordinance. Once this assessment is completed and safe access can be assured, teams will be deployed to undertake humanitarian tasks including disposal of explosives.
- The UN Children’s Fund said on Friday that, with its technical and financial support, education authorities and partners in Mali have agreed to accelerate the return of children to school, especially in the North of the country.
- The Operations Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, John Ging, was in Bamako on Friday. Mr. Ging will be the guest at the Noon briefing on Tuesday at UN Headquarters in New York.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS BOMBINGS IN SYRIAN CAPITAL
- In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the Secretary-General condemned the series of bombings in populated areas that took place in the Syrian capital Damascus, which resulted in numerous deaths and injuries.
- He sends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes those injured a speedy recovery.
- The Secretary-General reiterated in the statement his firm conviction that resorting to violence and military means will only lead to more suffering and destruction, and that a political solution is the only way out.
- The Secretary-General renews his call on all parties to end the violence and respect international humanitarian law.
- Asked about a potential reaction by the Security Council to the bombings, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has said on numerous occasions that the Council is at its strongest and most effective when it speaks with a unified voice.
U.N.: ANY FORM OF DIALOGUE ON IRAN NUCLEAR PROGRAMME HELPFUL
- Asked about reported possible talks between the United States and Iran on the latter’s nuclear programme, the Spokesperson said that it is up to the two countries to determine bilaterally whether they wished to engage in such dialogue. He added that any form of dialogue regarding the issue is likely to be helpful.
- Nesirky also noted that there will be so-called “P5+1” – the five permanent members of the Security Council, as well as Germany – talks next week in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He added that ahead of these talks, the Secretary-General spoke recently with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton and that he favours acceleration of this track, although not to the exclusion of other possibilities of dialogue.
- Though optimistic, the Secretary-General is realistic about concerns the international community has regarding the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran needs to prove to the satisfaction of the international community that its programme is for purely peaceful purposes.
- Nesirky said that next week’s meeting in Almaty is an important step in that direction.
SECRETARY-GENERAL REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO ENSURE JOURNALISTS CAN WORK SAFELY
- On Friday, the Secretary-General issued a video message for the “Day Without News” campaign to draw attention to journalists who have been persecuted for doing their job.
- He said that in the last ten years, more than 600 journalists have been murdered, while many more suffer from intimidation, harassment and death threats.
- In a statement, the Secretary-General reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that every journalist can do her or his job safely.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED OVER RISING NUMBERS OF DEATHS IN INDIAN OCEAN, INCLUDING ROHINGYA FROM MYANMAR
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expressed its concern on Friday about a rising numbers of deaths in the Indian Ocean involving people fleeing their countries for safety and better lives elsewhere. The Agency said that these people include many Rohingya from Myanmar.
- Already in 2013, several thousand people are believed to have boarded smuggler's boats in the Bay of Bengal, among them Rohingya from Myanmar’s Rakhine State or from refugee camps and makeshift sites in Bangladesh.
U.N. WOMEN TO LAUNCH NEW SONG TO CELEBRATE WOMEN WORLDWIDE
- On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013 UN Women will launch "One Woman: A song for UN Women", a musical celebration of women worldwide, featuring more than 20 artists from across the globe.
- As of Friday, behind-the-scenes videos chronicling the song’s year-long production will be available song.unwomen.org toward the launch. On March 8, the site will feature the full song video and make the track available for download.
- The song aims to inspire people about the mission of UN Women and engages them to join in the drive for women’s empowerment and gender equality.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ATTACKS AGAINST CIVILIANS IN HYDERABAD, INDIA
- Asked on Thursday about the attacks in Hyderabad, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has strongly condemned the indiscriminate attacks against civilians which occurred on Thursday in the Indian city of Hyderabad.
- He extends his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of India.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED OVER PALESTINIAN DETAINEES HELD WITHOUT CHARGES: Asked about the situation of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has expressed his deep concern that the detainees are being held in administrative detention without charges. Those detained should be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or be promptly released. The Secretary-General also expressed his concerns to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
U.N. SAYS THAT PEOPLE IN BAHRAIN HAVE THE RIGHT TO PROTEST PEACEFULLY: Asked about protests in Bahrain, the Spokesperson stressed again that people have the right to protest peacefully without the fear of being hurt or killed in the process.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
23 FEBRUARY – 1 MARCH 2013
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 23 February
Today, the Secretary-General will arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On Sunday, he will attend the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region. Then, he will travel to the United Arab Emirates, where he will meet Government officials. Later, he will travel to Vienna, Austria, where he will attend the official opening of the 5th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. Then, he will travel to Geneva, where he will attend a High-level Panel Discussion on Human Rights Mainstreaming at the Human Rights Council.
Sunday, 24 February
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Monday, 25 February
In Geneva, the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council will start. It will end on 22nd March.
In Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will launch the report “Transnational Organized Crime in West Africa: A Threat Assessment”.
Tuesday, 26 February
In the morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the situation in the Middle East, followed by consultations on the same topic.
At 12:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, John Ging, Operations Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, will be the guest at the Noon Briefing.
In Geneva, there will be a press conference on a new publication “Global Value Chains and Development: Investment and Value Added Trade in the Global Economy” by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Wednesday, 27 February
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Thursday, 28 February
At 11:00 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by the NGO Peace and Cooperation to launch its annual School Award with the slogan: "Art, The Universal Language – Creativity for Peace”. This event is sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Spain.
Friday, 1 March
Today, the Russian Federation will assume the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for March.
In Geneva, the Secretary-General will address the press.
In Geneva, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) will give a press conference to present its observations on Angola, Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Pakistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.