HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 22 AUGUST 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO PARTICIPATE IN NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT SUMMIT IN TEHRAN
- The Secretary-General will visit Tehran from 29 to 31 August to participate in the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
- The Secretary-General looks forward to the Summit as an opportunity to work with the participating Heads of State and Government, including the host country, towards solutions on issues that are central to the global agenda including follow-up to the Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development, disarmament, conflict prevention, and support for countries in transition.
- The Secretary-General also takes seriously his responsibility and that of the United Nations to pursue diplomatic engagement with all of its member states in the interest of peacefully addressing vital matters of peace and security.
- With respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Secretary-General will use the opportunity to convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community on the issues for which cooperation and progress are urgent for both regional stability and the welfare of the Iranian people. These include Iran’s nuclear programme, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria.
- Asked about the trip to Iran, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is fully aware of the sensitivities of his visit and has heard the views of some who have suggested he should not go. However, the Secretary-General would be remiss not to use this opportunity to engage at the highest levels and press for steps that genuinely respond to the expectations of the international community. It is a clear imperative for the Secretary-General to remind Iran in unambiguous terms of its undertaking as a Member State of the United Nations to refrain from the threat or use of force against any another State.
- Asked why the Secretary-General is going at this time, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General has responsibilities he is determined to carry out, both to the Non-Aligned Movement and in relation to Iran – precisely because of the level of international concern about issues such as the country’s nuclear programme, human rights, and the situation in Syria. He went on to note that the visit is timely and important because of, not despite, these major concerns that are shared by the United Nations.
- Nesirky said the Secretary-General can speak on behalf of the entire international community, to make clear directly to the Iranian leadership what the world expects from Tehran and to encourage positive and constructive responses. Not to do so would be a missed opportunity.
- Asked if the visit would not dilute his critical messages of recent days, the Spokesperson said that the visit of the Secretary-General makes the extent of international concern all that much clearer.
- Asked about anti-Semitic statements made by senior Iranian leaders, the Spokesperson reminded all that the Secretary-General has also repeatedly called on Iran’s officials to refrain from anti-Semitic remarks or Holocaust denial.
- He noted the Secretary-General has consistently condemned such remarks. Any escalation of tensions is of utmost concern to the United Nations and the international community. Nesirky concluded by saying that provocative, inflammatory remarks, speculation of threats should be avoided by all means.
- Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States have a clear obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any other State. In the current regional context, specifically, every country has a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint and to refrain from any hostile behaviour that could exacerbate tensions and further complicate the search for peace through solutions to pressing concerns.
TWO-STATE SOLUTION MOST REALISTIC OPTION FOR ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS, U.N. OFFICIAL SAYS TO SECURITY COUNCIL
- The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, briefed the Security Council on Wednesday on the situation in the Middle East and he reported that, despite the current stagnation in the negotiating process and the obstacles to be overcome, it is clear that the two-state solution remains the best available and most realistic option for the Israelis and Palestinians.
- And the United Nations remains committed to work for a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions.
- With respect to the situation in Syria, he said that the Syrian people are suffering grievously from the appalling further militarization of this conflict, and the Secretary-General has repeatedly expressed his concern about the arms flows to the two parties in Syria.
- He also noted that, as the crisis in Syria continues to deteriorate, the situation in Lebanon has become more precarious and the need for continued international support to the Government and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) increasingly important.
- He reminded Member States that the Secretary-General has been clear that all leaders in the region should use their voices at this time to lower, rather than escalate, tensions.
U.N. MAKES EVERY EFFORT TO ENSURE THAT LOVED ONES OF DECEASED COLLEAGUES ARE INFORMED OF MEMORIAL EVENTS
- Asked on Tuesday about the memorial event held last Friday, the Spokesperson said that several memorial events are hosted at the UN throughout the year, which include the World Humanitarian Day, the International Day for UN Peacekeepers and the memorial event held last week for the remembrance of those colleagues we lost in the Iraq Canal Hotel bombing.
- Nesirky said that while we make every effort to ensure that loved ones and friends of our deceased colleagues are informed of these memorials, we are also guided by official records that our fallen colleagues maintained with the Organization to disseminate formal invitations.
- He pointed out that on the annual memorial ceremony that was instituted last year by the Secretary-General, this year’s annual memorial ceremony is being planned at the moment and is tentatively scheduled to take place in November.
SIX-POINT PLAN AND ACTION GROUP COMMUNIQUE ON SYRIA PROVIDE BUILDING BLOCKS TO DISCUSS THE WAY FORWARD: Asked about Joint Special Representative Brahimi’s plans to tackle the Syria crisis, the Spokesperson said that the six-point plan and the Action Group communique provide building blocks. The intention is for the Joint Special Representative to discuss with the Secretary-General and senior officials the way forward.
U.N. SAYS THAT CAMP HURRIYA IN IRAQ MEETS BASIC HUMANITARIAN STANDARDS: Asked about a newspaper report on a former official's view on the situation in Camp Ahraf in Iraq, the Spokesperson said it is regrettable that such a distorted picture is being presented of the efforts of the United Nations in Iraq to resolve peacefully the situation of Camp Ashraf. In fact, the UN mission under the leadership of Special Representative Martin Kobler has worked diligently and impartially to facilitate a peaceful solution that respects the rights and concerns of both the residents and the Government of Iraq. These efforts are one of the main reasons why this very tense situation has not already spilled over into further violence.
He went on to note that, with respect to the conditions in Camp Hurriya, the camp meets basic humanitarian standards and is ready and equipped to receive the remaining residents of Camp Ashraf. There has been continuous progress in the work to further improve the living conditions in Camp Hurriya.
He said that the UN has welcomed the announcement on 18 August that the next group of 400 residents are willing to commence the move from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya immediately after the Eid holiday.
***The guest at the Noon Briefing was Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who briefed the media on her trip to Syria.