HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 7 MARCH 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL: CHILDREN SHOULD BE ARMED WITH TEXTBOOKS, NOT GUNS
- The Secretary-General spoke at the Security Council meeting this morning on children and armed conflict, just one day after returning from Sierra Leone, and he discussed how the country has been transformed after years of successful UN engagement.
- He said that, not long ago, Sierra Leone was engulfed in war and synonymous with the tragic plight of children in armed conflict. But he noted the improvements he saw on his trip and the signs that, given a chance, former child soldiers can rebuild their lives and help to build peace in their countries.
- The Secretary-General also emphasized the importance of education, saying that children should be armed with pens and textbooks, not guns and grenades.
- And the Council also heard from a Sierra Leonean, Al Hadji Babas Sawaneh, the first former child soldier to address the Security Council, who returned to address Council members today.
UKRAINE: ROBERT SERRY CONTINUING CONSULTATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY STARTS VISIT
- In response to questions about Robert Serry’s travels, the Spokesperson confirmed that Mr. Serry is continuing his consultations with Ukrainian and diplomatic interlocutors in Kyiv today. He will leave Kyiv on Saturday. He will then return to Jerusalem next week where he is based as the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. At this stage, it is not yet known when he will return to Ukraine. But he will continue to assist the Secretary-General, as required, in his good offices to promote urgently needed de-escalation and a peaceful political resolution of the country's current crisis.
- Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson briefed the Security Council Thursday afternoon by video from Kyiv and said that in all of his meetings in Ukraine, he had underlined the urgent need for de-escalation and for a political solution to the country's current crisis.
- He also informed the Security Council that Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic, had arrived in Kyiv on Thursday. During his eight-day visit, Mr. Šimonovic plans to meet authorities and State officials in Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Simferopol, as well as the Ombudsman, and civil society organisations at central and regional levels. Mr Šimonovic will also liaise with regional organizations active in Ukraine.
- Asked about developments in Crimea, the Spokesperson said that the recent announcement by the authorities in Crimea that they intend to hold a referendum is a worrying and serious development. In this regard, the Secretary-General urges the authorities in Ukraine, including in Crimea, to treat this matter with calm.
- Nesirky said that all concerned should think about the implications of any hasty actions or decisions taken in the heat of the moment. The Secretary-General cannot emphasize enough the need for peace and stability in the region.
- Asked how the crisis in Ukraine could affect diplomacy on Syria, the Spokesperson said that the two issues were entirely separate. He noted the cooperation of the US and Russian Governments in pushing for the International Conference for Syria.
- Asked about Mr. Šimonovic’s travels, Nesirky said that he would lead a fact-finding mission that would look into all pressing human rights issues, including the killings at Maidan Square. He expressed the hope that the team would have the access it needs to look into all relevant matters.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO MONTENEGRO, SLOVENIA AND AUSTRIA
- Following his mission to Ukraine, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Podgorica, Montenegro, on Sunday to inaugurate the UN Eco Building, alongside the President of Montenegro. During his time in Podgorica, the Deputy Secretary-General will meet with the President, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration, as well as other senior Government Officials of Montenegro.
- Then on Monday, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Brdo, Slovenia to attend a seminar convened by the ‘Initiative on Mediation in the Mediterranean Region’ on "Promoting a Culture of Mediation and Prevention in the Mediterranean". The Deputy Secretary-General will address delegates during the opening session of the seminar. While in Slovenia, he will meet with the President, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, as well as other senior Government Officials of the Republic of Slovenia and senior officials of other delegations attending the seminar.
- On Tuesday, 11 March, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Vienna to address the ceremonial opening of the 57th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. He will also address participants of a High Level Briefing organised by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs. During his visit, he will meet with senior Government Officials of the Republic of Austria as well as senior officials of other delegations attending the CND’s 57th Session.
- The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York on 14 March.
HUMANITARIAN CHIEF WARNS OF LOOMING FOOD CRISIS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, spoke to the press in Geneva today and said that the situation in the Central African Republic is extremely grave and that urgent action is required by everyone to prevent further bloodshed. She said that the violence has led to a total breakdown of the state.
- She said that there is a looming food crisis and, with the forthcoming rainy season, millions of people will be at risk of communicable diseases. Financial support is urgently needed to provide seeds and tools so that people can plant, so that stocks can be pre-positioned, and conditions improved in sites for internally displaced people.
- The Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has asked for $551 million, but that appeal is only 16 per cent funded. Ms. Amos said that a lot of pledges had been received in Brussels in January, but those pledges need to be turned into cash.
SOUTH SUDAN: REFUGEE AGENCY CALLS FOR FOOD TO BE URGENTLY DELIVERED AHEAD OF RAINY SEASON
- The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that it is deeply concerned about the risk to people in South Sudan, including refugees in Upper Nile State, if conditions don’t allow food to be delivered to them soon.
- The Agency, the World Food Programme (WFP) and other partners normally preposition food and other relief items during the first quarter of the year in preparation for the rainy season. The violent clashes in Malakal and other strategic river and road transport towns this year have made pre-positioning impossible. The Refugee Agency says that unless food is delivered immediately, the health and nutrition status of refugees will become severely compromised.
- Meanwhile, a team from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) patrolling Juba yesterday observed that civilians had generally resumed their daily activities, although some shops remained closed. The Mission also reported Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) presence in the capital, with access to some areas and roads still restricted. The Mission continues to protect an estimated 39,000 displaced persons at its two sites in Juba.
- The Mission is also reporting a growing number of violations of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), including restrictions of movement, making it difficult for the Mission to implement its mandate, and dangerous for UN staff working in South Sudan.
- Asked about a recent incident in which ammunition being transported in a UN convoy in Rumbek had been mislabeled, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission has a mandate to protect civilians, which is why the force has been augmented by UN peacekeepers redeployed from other UN peacekeeping operations. The UN Mission is investigating the error.
HEAD OF U.N. D.R.CONGO MISSION WELCOMES VERDICT OF FORMER MILITIA LEADER
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Martin Kobler, has expressed his strong appreciation following the verdict rendered earlier today by the International Criminal Court which found former militia leader Germain Katanga guilty as an accessory to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- He said that this was yet another warning to armed groups to immediately cease attacks against civilians and lay down their arms. He also said that combatting impunity is fundamental to stabilizing the Democratic Republic of the Congo and establishing a durable peace.
BURUNDI: HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CONCERNED OVER INCREASING RESTRICTIONS ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed concern today at the increasing restrictions on civil and political rights in Burundi. She said that restrictions have increasingly been imposed on freedom of assembly and on the press over the past few months in Burundi.
- She also described recent attacks by the ruling party’s youth wing, including the reported killing of an opposition youth leader on 19 February, as hugely worrying, especially in the lead up to the 2015 elections. At least 19 violent incidents involving members of the youth wing have been documented since the beginning of the year.
- Ms. Pillay called on the Government to publicly condemn these violent acts to ensure that those responsible for acts of violence are held accountable. This is essential if the rising political tensions in the country are to be defused.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
10 – 14 March 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 8 March
Today is International Women’s Day.
Sunday, 9 March
Today, the Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson will be in Podgorica, Montenegro.
Monday, 10 March
The Deputy Secretary-General will be in Brdo, Slovenia.
This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and on Libya sanctions, followed by consultations on the same topics.
Still in New York, the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women will open in the General Assembly Hall. The session will run through 21 March.
At 12:30 p.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by Lassina Zerbo, Executive Director of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
In Geneva, the OHCHR / International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic will hold a press conference at 10 a.m., with Bernard Acho Muna (Cameroon), Jorge Castañeda (Mexico) and Fatimata M'Baye (Mauritania).
Still in Geneva, at 12.30 p.m., there will be an interactive dialogue with the Human Rights Council, with Adama Dieng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.
Tuesday, 11 March
Today, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Vienna to address the ceremonial opening of the 57th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). It will then hold consultations on the same subject, as well as on the Somalia/Eritrea 751/1907 Committee.
At 10:15 a.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by Najat Vallaud Belkacem, Minister of Women’s Rights and Spokesperson for the Government of France.
At 11:00 a.m., in the Press Briefing room, there will be a press conference on the launch of the Inter-Parliamentary Union- UN Women ‘Global Map of Women in Politics’. The speakers will be Anders B. Johnsson, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and John Hendra, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women.
Wednesday, 12 March
This morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on Sudan/South Sudan, as well as on the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). This afternoon, it will hold consultations on the African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
At 11:00 a.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference on ‘Indigenous Women in the Post-2015 Development Agenda’. The speakers will be Lucy Mulenkei, (Kenya), Executive Director of the Indigenous Information Network, Otilia Lux de Coti (Guatemala), Executive Director of the International Indigenous Women’s Forum, and Miriam Labanue (Papua New Guinea).
Thursday, 13 March
This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing, followed by consultations, on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the Great lakes region. This afternoon, the Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the UN Support Mission in Libya and to hold consultations on the situation in Syria.
Friday, 14 March
There are no major events scheduled for today.