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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 20 MARCH 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS AGAINST SERIOUS CROSS-BORDER INCIDENTS BETWEEN SYRIA AND LEBANON

  • The reported Syrian helicopter strikes on 18 March in the Lebanese region of Arsal, in violation of Lebanon's sovereignty, are a grave source of concern. In his latest report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General warned against the serious and repeated cross-border incidents between Syria and Lebanon.
  • He called upon the Syrian Government to cease all violations of the border and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701.
  • Last week, the Security Council unanimously underscored its grave concern about such incidents.

SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS CHIEF SHARE CONCERN OVER ALLEGED USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS

  • On Tuesday, the Secretary-General spoke by telephone with Ahmet Üzümcü, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). They shared deep concern about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Secretary-General remains convinced that the use of chemical weapons by any party under any circumstances would constitute an outrageous crime.
  • The Secretary-General discussed the prospects for peace in Syria by telephone on Wednesday with the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.
  • Asked about the possibility of a neutral technical mission to look into chemical weapons use in Syria, the Spokesperson said that he had informed the Secretary-General of the recent remarks by Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations concerning that matter.
  • No formal request has been received on that issue so far, he added.
  • Nesirky said that the Secretary-General and the Director-General of the OPCW will remain in close contact as events unfold.
  • In response to further questions, he said that the safety and security of any chemical weapons stockpiles that there may be in the country is the responsibility of the Government of Syria.

U.N. ENVOY FOR WESTERN SAHARA BEGINS VISIT TO REGION

  • Christopher Ross, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, is in Rabat, Morocco. He is meeting with Government officials and parliamentarians. It is the first leg of his trip to North Africa, which will continue until 3 April.
  • The Envoy will also visit Western Sahara and will hold consultations with the neighbouring states, Algeria and Mauritania.
  • The purpose of Ross’s trip is to prepare for the next phase in the negotiating process and a possible resumption of direct talks to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution.

U.N. REPRESENTATIVE FOR HAITI SAYS STABILIZATION PROCESS FACES CHALLENGES

  • The Special Representative Ad interim of the Secretary-General for Haiti, Nigel Fisher, briefed the Security Council on Wednesday on the situation in Haiti, saying that the stabilization process has faced many challenges in recent months, with a political impasse and an economic growth rate below forecast levels.
  • In his remarks to the Security Council, Fisher said he remains convinced that the country can make great strides in overcoming political divisions, engaging important and necessary reforms and meeting the urgent social and economic needs of the Haitian people.
  • Fisher said that the outcome of the political impasse is crucial for the consolidation of democracy in Haiti and that the United Nations Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) stands ready to assist the country to take increasing responsibility for national security and the security of its citizens.
  • Regarding the cholera epidemic, the Special Representative said that the United Nations family is committed to continue support for the national plan and to redouble efforts to mobilise the significant additional resources needed to fight cholera, to improve water and sanitation and to strengthen the national health care network.

IRAQ: U.N. REPRESENTATIVE CONCERNED OVER POSTPONEMENT OF COUNCIL ELECTIONS

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, expressed his deep concern on Wednesday about the decision to postpone the Governorate Council elections in the provinces of Anbar and Ninewa.
  • He said that there is no democracy without elections. The citizens of these provinces are looking forward to these elections with great hope. They should not be disappointed.
  • The United Nations calls upon the Iraqi Government and electoral commission to ensure elections can take place as scheduled in a peaceful and secure environment.
  • Asked whether there would be prosecutions for war crimes in relation to the war in Iraq, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations does not prosecute individuals. The International Criminal Court, he noted, is an independent body separate from the United Nations.

NEPAL: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF REGRETS PASSING OF ORDINANCE

  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Wednesday that she deeply regrets that an ordinance was passed, establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Nepal with the power to recommend amnesties for serious human rights violations.
  • Navi Pillay said that such amnesties would not only violate core principles under international law, but would also weaken the foundation for a genuine and lasting peace.
  • She said that an amnesty for those who committed serious human rights violations will deny the right of thousands of Nepalese to truth and justice.