HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 19 MARCH 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS U.N. SHOULD CONTINUE PROVIDING GOOD OFFICES IN AFGHANISTAN
- The Secretary-General spoke at the Security Council’s open debate on Afghanistan on Tuesday morning, and he discussed the role the United Nations will play during the political transition there.
- He said that the United Nations should continue providing good offices, including support for elections. He added that the United Nations should also maintain its work for reconciliation and regional cooperation, stand firm for human rights and advance development.
- The Secretary-General said that Afghanistan’s political climate is dominated by the 2014 elections. Broad participation and a credible process are essential to reaching the goal of a widely accepted leadership transition.
- The Secretary-General expressed his concern about the 20 per cent increase in civilian casualties among women and girls in 2012. He noted two statements from the Taliban perhaps indicating a willingness to engage and he encouraged a meaningful dialogue to reduce the intolerable, continuing death toll and to protect civilians.
- The Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission in Afghanistan by one year.
U.N. ENVOY FOR IRAQ CONDEMNS CAR BOMB ATTACKS AND SHOOTINGS IN BAGHDAD
- Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, condemned in the strongest terms the spate of coordinated car bomb attacks and shootings that have once again killed and injured dozens of innocent people in several areas of the capital, Baghdad.
- Mr. Kobler said that nothing can justify such heinous crimes.
- The Secretary-General met Martin Kobler on Tuesday.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS THERE IS STILL TIME TO PREVENT SYRIA’S COMPLETE DESTRUCTION
- In a statement issued on Monday evening, the Secretary-General called on all parties in Syria and in the international community to seriously reflect on these past two years. We all need to inject urgency towards reaching a political solution while there is still time to prevent Syria's complete destruction.
- The end goal is clear to all – there must be an end to violence, a clean break with the past and a transition to a new Syria in which the rights of all communities are protected and the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians for freedom, dignity and justice, are met. The sooner a military solution is abandoned the better. There is no need for more people to die, flee or grieve in Syria.
- The Secretary-General calls on the region and the international community, in particular the Security Council, to find unity and lend its full support to the efforts of Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi to help the Syrian people reach a political solution to the conflict.
U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO WELCOMES SURRENDER OF CONGOLESE REBEL NTAGANDA
- The UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has welcomed on Tuesday the surrender of the Congolese rebel Bosco Ntaganda and the decision by the United States to transfer him to The Hague where he is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Ituri between 2001 and 2003.
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Roger Meece, said that the surrender of Mr. Ntaganda and his early transfer to the International Criminal Court will help advance the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- He said that it will also send a strong signal to human rights offenders anywhere that they are not beyond justice.
U.N. ENVOYS PARTICIPATE IN MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON MARITIME SECURITY IN THE GULF OF GUINEA
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representatives for West Africa, Said Djinnit, and for Central Africa, Abou Moussa, are in Cotonou, Benin, on Tuesday to participate in a Ministerial conference on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea.
- In his statement on behalf of the United Nations, Mr. Djinnit said that the rise of narco-terrorism in the Sahel, drug trafficking, organized crime and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea constitute major threats to peace, stability and economic development of the region.
- The Conference is expected to adopt key documents which will be endorsed by Head of States and Governments of 25 countries during a Summit in Yaounde, Cameroon, in May.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF WELCOMES TRIAL OF FORMER HEAD OF STATE OF GUATEMALA FOR GENOCIDE
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has welcomed the trial of Guatemala’s former head of State Efrain Rios Montt, and former head of intelligence José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, due to begin on Tuesday, for genocide and crimes against humanity.
- Ms. Pillay said that this trial will signal the arrival of long-awaited justice for thousands of victims of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed during the murderous 36-year conflict in Guatemala. She said that this is the first time, anywhere in the world, that a former head of State is being put on trial for genocide by a national tribunal
- The High Commissioner called on the authorities to uphold their responsibility to guarantee a fair and independent trial. She also urged them to take all necessary measures to ensure that judges, prosecutors, lawyers and others involved are protected from intimidation and reprisals.
SECRETARY-GENERAL’S VIEWS ON ILLEGALITY OF SETTLEMENTS IN EAST JERUSALEM ARE WELL KNOWN: Asked about activity in East Jerusalem, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General’s views on the illegality of settlements are well known.
U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN REPORTS VIOLENCE IN PIBOR, JONGLEI STATE: Asked about fighting in South Sudan, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission there (UNMISS) reported that last night in Pibor, Jonglei State, an SPLA camp came under fire from unknown armed groups using rocket propelled grenade launchers. The SPLA returned fire, and some 200 civilians sought protection at nearby UNMISS premises while another 300 gathered at other UNMISS bases. The Mission reported that all civilians left by daylight.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS ANY USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS WOULD BE A GRAVE VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW: Asked about reports concerning the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was aware of the reports but could not confirm them. He said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly made clear that any use of chemical weapons would be a grave violation of international humanitarian law and an outrageous escalation of an already bloody conflict.
AS A RULE, U.N. DOES NOT INSPECT STAFF MEMBERS OFFICES: Asked about an inspection of a journalist’s UN office, the Spokesperson said that, as a rule, Department of Public Information staff do not enter staff members’ offices unless the circumstances justify that, nor does the staff have keys to reporters’ rooms. He detailed the specific circumstances of an incident that took place on Monday.
ALL MEMBER STATES CONTRIBUTED TO RENOVATION OF U.N. HEADQUARTERS: Asked about the renovation of the UN Headquarters building, the Spokesperson noted that all Member States have contributed to the renovation of the Headquarters, which was intended to make the building a more efficient place to work so that the UN can better deliver to the people it serves.
PROCESS TO FIND NEW HEAD OF U.N. WOMEN WILL BEGIN SOON: Asked about a replacement for Michelle Bachelet as head of UN Women, the Spokesperson said that a process to find a replacement will begin fairly soon.
***The Guest at the Noon Briefing was Ahmad Alhendawi, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. He briefed reporters by video-link from Dakar, Senegal, where he is on his first overseas mission and where he attended the Global Meeting on Education in the Post 2015 Development Agenda.