HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL AFFIRMS FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AS BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s recent press remarks on freedom of speech, the Spokesperson said that, as the Secretary-General has made clear in his recent remarks, freedom of speech and freedom of expression are basic human rights. These rights are in no way questioned when the Secretary-General expresses his dismay at provocations and subsequent blind violence, which feed a vicious circle of hatred in an already tense international climate.
- The Secretary-General strongly urges all to act responsibly, peacefully and in a manner not injurious to anyone's beliefs and faith.
- The Spokesperson added that the Secretary-General said on Wednesday that the opening of the new General Assembly session takes place against a backdrop of widespread violence linked to intolerance.
- He said, “I once again condemn those who deliberately provoke others with hatred and bigotry. I also join with others in speaking out against those who, in response to such provocations, fan those flames further still. It is time for calm, restraint and responsible political and community leadership.”
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES FURTHER PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
- This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the launch of the 2012 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Gap Task Force Report.
- He said that several important global targets – such as on poverty, water, slums and on parity between girls and boys in primary education – have been met but that on the global partnership, progress is weaker.
- It is clear that we need a stronger global partnership to achieve the MDGs by the 2015 deadline, he stressed.
- The Secretary-General also said that everyone gains from improved standards of living in poorer countries.
- “What we have achieved so far shows that we can succeed,” he added, noting the importance of heeding the lessons from the new report by the Task Force and pressing for progress.
FOOD SECURITY TASK FORCE STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF PREVENTING RISING PRICES
- The UN system High Level Task Force on Food Security, chaired by the Secretary-General with the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as the Vice Chair, met today.
- The Task Force discussed food prices in the context of the current of the world food security situation. The High Level Task Force concluded that Governments and the international community have the opportunity to prevent rising food prices creating additional hardship.
- The Task Force said governments will need to do three things:
- Increase investment in safety nets to protect the poorest people and improve nutrition, especially in countries dependent on food imports;
- Avoid imposing restrictions on trade in food, because they reduce people's ability to access the food they need;
- And ramp up investments in sustainable agriculture - particularly for smallholder farmers - to increase productivity and enable them to withstand the increasingly frequent shocks that are now the new norm.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON IRAN AND SUDAN SANCTIONS
- The Security Council received a briefing this morning concerning sanctions on Iran, delivered by the chairman of the Council’s relevant sanctions committee, Ambassador Nestor Osorio of Colombia.
- Council members then moved into consultations to discuss the work of the Sudan sanctions committee and the situation between Sudan and South Sudan.
- This afternoon at 3:00 p.m., the Security Council will hold a formal meeting on Afghanistan.
PAKISTAN: U.N. AGENCIES PROVIDE FOOD, MEDICINE TO FLOOD VICTIMS
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that it has received information from the Government of Pakistan that floods have affected nearly 4.5 million people there, causing 370 deaths and injuring some 1,200 people.
- Priority needs are food, emergency shelter, drinking water and health services.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) is set to distribute food to 10,000 households in the province of Balochistan and 10,000 households in Sindh.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has also provided essential medicines to nearly 300,000 people.
RECOGNITION OF STATES IS MATTER FOR MEMBER STATES: Asked about recognition of states, the Spokesperson said that recognition is a matter for Member States. Credentials are dealt with by the UN Credentials Committee.
UN-A.U. DARFUR MISSION HAS EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP: Asked about a replacement for the Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari, the Spokesperson said that there continues to be effective leadership of the UN-AU Mission, UNAMID, while a full-time replacement is sought. High-level talks will take place next week on a wide range of issues involving Sudan and the wider region, he said.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STANDS BY REPORT ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT: In response to questions about the designation of countries in the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General stands by the report that he gave to the Security Council. Nesirky added, about the Wednesday Security Council vote on that subject, that, although it is the first time that the Council was unable to reach consensus on the issue of children and armed conflict, there was no vote against the resolutions and it was co-sponsored by 26 Member States and enjoys wide support.