HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 22 MARCH 2013
SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS MOSQUE ATTACK
- In a statement, the Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in the Iman mosque in Damascus yesterday, which resulted in numerous deaths and injuries. He expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes those injured a speedy recovery. The Secretary-General believes that this latest atrocity, along with the others prior to it, should be promptly and fully investigated and perpetrators brought to justice.
- The Secretary-General renews his call on all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law. Deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian objects, including places of worship, constitutes a war crime. These heinous acts must stop immediately.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his firm conviction that resorting to violence and military means will only lead to more suffering and destruction. A political solution is the only way out of this conflict.
- The President of the Security Council also read a statement on Friday morning in which the members of the Council condemned the attack in the strongest terms.
In a note issued Thursday evening, the Secretary-General has received a joint letter yesterday from France and the United Kingdom, in which they requested an investigation into several incidents of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Secretary-General has provided a reply letter to both of those missions. Also, the Secretary-General replied to the letter he received on Wednesday from the Syrian Government to inform them he had decided to establish a United Nations investigation on the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The World Food Programme (WFP) says that it reached 1.7 million people inside Syria in its most recent round of monthly distributions and is increasing its food assistance to reach 2.5 million in the country in April. Of those reached inside Syria, some 500,000 were in opposition-controlled areas. However, many people in acute need are beyond the Food Programme’s reach, in zones of conflict or opposition locations to which it has limited or no access. WFP is gravely concerned about the situation of these people.
- Asked about the request by France and the United Kingdom, the Spokesperson noted that any Member State has the right to request an investigation. The Secretary-General stated that while the investigation mission will look at the specific incident brought to his attention by the Syrian Government, we must take seriously other allegations that chemical weapons were used elsewhere in the country.
- He has stated that the investigation mission will look at the specific incident brought to his attention by the Syrian Government. At the same time, we must also remain mindful of other allegations that chemical weapons were used elsewhere in the country.
- The Secretary-General has requested France and the UK to provide additional information pertaining to the alleged incidents.
- He requested the Syrian Government to provide additional information pertaining to the alleged incident. He also said the mission would require full cooperation from all relevant Syrian authorities and that he counted on the Syrian Government's full support, particularly through unfettered access.
- Asked about the possibility that the European Union might drop the arms embargo on the Syrian opposition, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Secretary-General has warned against arming any of the parties to the conflict.
- Asked about unfettered access in Syria, Nesirky said that the United Nations would expect cooperation by all parties.
- Asked about the composition of a technical mission, the Spokesperson said that different kinds of experts would be needed to accomplish the task, adding that the team would be made up of international civil servants. He said that the mandate was derived from a General Assembly resolution, which was reaffirmed by a Security Council resolution.
BAN KI-MOON URGES STEPPED UP COOPERATION ON CLEAN WATER
- The Secretary-General spoke on Friday morning at a high-level meeting on water cooperation on the occasion of World Water Day, saying that we cannot prosper without clean, plentiful freshwater and calling for heightened cooperation on the matter.
- In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that by the year 2030 nearly half the global population could be facing water scarcity, with demand outstripping supply by 40 per cent. He said that one area where we need cooperation and innovation is agriculture, which is by far the largest user of freshwater. He said that climate change also presents a growing threat to productivity and food security.
- The Secretary-General said that no discussion of water is complete without mentioning sanitation and that investment in sanitation is a down payment on a sustainable future.
AT SECURITY COUNCIL, U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES HIGH-LEVEL TALKS ON KOSOVO
- On Friday morning, the Security Council held an open meeting on Kosovo.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Farid Zarif, said that there have been some important positive developments, pointing to the high-level political dialogue facilitated by European Union.
- Mr. Zarif said that these meetings have marked an essential new chapter in the collective effort to overcome the legacy of the past conflict. He added that the leaders involved have demonstrated political courage as well as foresight by their participation.
- This afternoon, the Council will hold consultations on the Central African Republic.
PAKISTAN: U.N. AGENCY ‘APPALLED’ BY ATTACK ON CAMP FOR UPROOTED, HUMANITARIAN SERVICES SUSPENDED
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said it is appalled by the bomb attack that took place on Thursday in a camp for internally displaced people in northern Pakistan. The attack was in the Jalozai camp near Peshawar. Ten people are known to have been killed, and several dozen others were wounded.
- The Agency and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan both expressed deep condolences and sympathy with the families of all those who lost their lives or were injured in the attack. The Agency urged Pakistan to further improve security arrangements around the camp and to make sure that internally displaced people and humanitarian workers are safe and not targeted.
- As of Friday, all humanitarian services at Jalozai camp have been suspended while UN agencies assess the security situation.
U.N. TO MARK EARTH HOUR TO SPOTLIGHT NEED TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE
- On Saturday, the United Nations will participate in Earth Hour by turning off the lights at its offices around the world for one hour.
- Joining the millions of people around the world who observe Earth Hour, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations will participate with a determination to take action on climate change. He said that governments, business and civil society all have a role to play in coming up with common sense answers for a cleaner, greener world.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
23 – 29 MARCH 2013
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 23 March
Today is World Meteorological Day.
Sunday, 24 March
Today is World Tuberculosis Day.
Today is the International Day for the Right for the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims.
Monday, 25 March
Today is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Today is the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members.
This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the Middle East, followed by consultations on the same topic. In the afternoon, the Council will hear a briefing on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), followed by consultations on the same topic.
At 10:15 a.m., in Conference Room 4 of the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be a briefing by the Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations on “Raising and empowering youth to break the cycle of violence against women and children”.
At 11:00 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Mexico, entitled “The Final UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty”.
At 3:00 p.m., in the General Assembly Hall, there will be a commemorative meeting of the General Assembly on the occasion of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
At 3:00 p.m., at the Danny Kaye Visitors Centre, UNICEF House, there will be a high-level meeting on “The prevention of violence against children and its place in the post-2015 agenda”. It will be co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Canada and Liberia.
At 4:00 p.m., in Conference Room C (NLB), there will be a round table on “Promotion and protection of human rights and the harmonization of the national legal framework with international obligations and standards”. It will be co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Mexico, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO).
Tuesday, 26 March
This morning, the Security Council will adopt a resolution on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). Then, it will hold consultations on Yemen. In the afternoon, the Council will hold consultations on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
At 11:00 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Finland, entitled “Parliamentarians Demand a Strong Arms Trade Treaty”.
At 5:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Hector Timerman, Foreign Minister of Argentina.
In Geneva, the 23rd round of the Geneva International Discussions will begin. It will end on 27 March.
Wednesday, 27 March
This afternoon, the Security Council will hear a briefing on Mali, followed by consultations on the same topic.
At 1:15 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference on the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, "Shaping tomorrow’s innovators: Leveraging science, technology, innovation and culture for today’s youth”. The speakers will be: Néstor Osorio, President of ECOSOC; Ahmad Alhendawi, Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth; Stacy Martinet, Chief Marketing Officer, Mashable.com; and Wael Ghonim, Internet activist and computer engineer.
Thursday, 28 March
At 12:30 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of March.
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room E (NLB), there will be the screening of the film “This is my Child” on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day (2 April). It will be organized by the Permanent Mission of Israel.
In Geneva, the first part of the Conference on Disarmament will end.
In Geneva, the 107th session of the Human Rights Committee will end.
Friday, 29 March
Today is an official holiday at United Nations Headquarters in New York.