HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 11 APRIL 2012
THE MIDDLE EAST QUARTET MEETS IN WASHINGTON DC
- On Wednesday, the Middle East Quartet (United Nations, Russian Federation, United States and European Union) issued a statement after meeting in Washington DC.
- The Quartet — United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton were joined by Quartet Representative Tony Blair and by Foreign Minister of Jordan Nasser Judeh, who briefed the Quartet on Jordan’s engagement. The Quartet underscored its support for the positive efforts by King Abdullah of Jordan and Foreign Minister Judeh.
- Following its consultation in New York on 12 March 2012, the Quartet reaffirmed its commitment to all elements of its statement of 23 September 2011 and renewed its call on the parties to meet those objectives. The Quartet welcomed plans for dialogue between the parties, and discussed ways to support these efforts.
- The Quartet took particular note of the 21 March 2012 Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting in Brussels, and underscored the need for continued international support for the Palestinian Authority’s important institution-building efforts. The Quartet encouraged the Palestinian Authority to continue working toward this end. In this regard, the Quartet called on the international community to ensure the contribution of $1.1 billion dollars in assistance to meet the Palestinian Authority’s 2012 recurrent financing requirements. The Quartet welcomed the efforts by the parties to resolve outstanding issues related to tax and customs revenue collection and urged their conclusion as soon as possible.
- The Quartet noted with concern the increasing fragility of developments on the ground and called on the parties to work constructively together to take concrete steps to address the Palestinian Authority’s fiscal challenges, preserve and build on the Palestinian Authority’s institutional gains, and expand economic opportunities for the Palestinian people.
- In this respect, the Quartet reaffirmed its commitment, as expressed in its 23 September 2011 statement, to examine possible mechanisms it can actively support going forward, individually and together, to advance peace efforts and strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s ability to meet the full range of civil and security needs of the Palestinian people both now and in a future state. The Quartet encouraged the parties, in this context, to cooperate to facilitate the social and economic development of Area C, which is of critical importance for the viability of a future Palestinian state as well as for its Palestinian inhabitants to be enabled to lead a normal life. The Quartet asked Quartet Representative Blair to continue his intensive work with the parties toward this end.
- Noting the significant progress on security achieved by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, the Quartet calls on the Palestinian Authority to continue to make every effort to improve law and order, to fight violent extremism, and to end incitement. The Quartet emphasized the need to continue assisting the Palestinian Authority in building its law enforcement capacity. The Quartet also expressed its concern over ongoing settler violence and incitement in the West Bank and calls on Israel to take effective measures, including bringing the perpetrators of such acts to justice.
- The Quartet condemned rocket attacks from Gaza and stressed the need for calm and security for both peoples. The Quartet underscored the importance of continued steps to address the needs of Gaza’s residents, and welcomed the Israeli Government’s approval at the AHLC meeting of UN priority infrastructure projects in Gaza. Reaffirming its previous positions, the Quartet considers that the situation in and around Gaza remains fragile and unsustainable as long as the West Bank and Gaza are not reunited under the legitimate Palestinian Authority adhering to the PLO commitments.
- Reminding both parties of their obligations under the roadmap, the Quartet reiterated its call for them to avoid actions that undermine trust and to focus on positive efforts that can strengthen and improve the climate for a resumption of direct negotiations on the basis of the Quartet’s September 23 statement.
- The Quartet expressed concern about unilateral and provocative actions by either party, including continued settlement activity, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations, the only way to a just and durable solution to the conflict.
- The Quartet underscored its commitment to remain actively engaged in the coming period.
- On Wednesday, the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan received a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic, informing him of the decision of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic “to cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6 a.m. (Damascus time) tomorrow, Thursday, 12 April 2012, while reserving the right to respond proportionately to any attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups against civilians, Government forces or public and private property.”
- The Joint Special Envoy says he will continue to work with the Syrian Government and the opposition to ensure the comprehensive implementation of the six-point plan, including full compliance with Item 2 of the plan.
The Joint Special Envoy looks forward to the continued support of relevant countries in this regard.
- On Wednesday, the President of the Security Council issued a Presidential Statement noting the steady progress made in Sierra Leone on national reconciliation and gender equality.
- The Council called on all parties to engage in a process of national cohesion, and foster an environment conducive to the holding of free and fair elections.
- The Council underscored the need for authorities in Sierra Leone to ensure security forces uphold international law.
- Also, the statement commended the contribution of the UN country team to the peace-building and development priorities of Sierra Leone, and the important role played by regional organisations in supporting Sierra Leone to achieve its peace-building, security, and long-term development goals.
- On Wednesday, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, briefed the Security Council in consultations on Abyei and tensions between Sudan and South Sudan.
- Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General had a call with H.E. Mr. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan, and they discussed the recent escalation of conflict between Sudan and South Sudan.
- The Secretary-General advised that before undertaking a discussion on the causes of the escalation, the immediate priority is to de-escalate the situation to avoid any further blood shed.
- The Secretary-General urged to consider holding a presidential summit immediately to build confidence and assure the peoples of South Sudan and Sudan that peace and dialogue is the only option before both sides.
- The Secretary-General also spoke to the Sudanese Permanent Representative in New York yesterday evening and strongly urged Khartoum to exercise maximum restraint and avoid further military action.
- While in Washington, the Secretary-General also discussed the tensions between Sudan and South Sudan with Secretary of State Clinton.
- The Secretary-General has spoken to the Ethiopian Prime Minister and he is likely to speak to other regional leaders on his return to New York.
- Asked about the role of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the Spokesperson said that the Mission did not have a presence on the other side of the border, in Sudan.
- Nesirky also noted that this went beyond the mandate given to the Mission, as it involved two countries.
- He said that the Secretary-General had been reaching out to both parties as well as to regional leaders and the focus was to de-escalate the situation.
- Asked about an attack on a United Nations convoy in Libya, the Spokesperson said that while on the way to visit Benghazi, the Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) had what appeared to be an explosive device thrown at his convoy. No one was injured, he added.
- The Spokesperson said that the authorities were investigating and that the UN hoped the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s reaction to this attack, Nesirky said that the United Nations strongly condemns these types of incidents. He underlined that the Mission was there to help the Libyan people as they were making their transition.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that an 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province early Wednesday morning.
OCHA has been in contact with several partners on the ground who have reported no major damage and casualties so far. People are reported to be moving to higher ground. No tsunami has occurred at present.
The Office has not received any report of significant increase in sea levels.
- The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Labor Organization (ILO) along with other humanitarian partners have staff on the ground now in Banda Aceh and are closely monitoring the situation.
- The Office has also communicated to the Government of Indonesia that the UN stands ready to assist if needed.
- On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO), together with the Alzheimer Disease International launched a joint report on dementia in Geneva, the first time this largely-ignored mental disease was researched as a single issue.
- The report says that nearly 36 million people worldwide live with dementia. This number is expected to more than triple by 2050.
- It also points out that dementia affects people in all countries, with more than half living in low- and middle-income countries. By 2050, this is likely to rise to more than 70%.
- The World Health Organization says lack of diagnosis, information and understanding about dementia is a major problem worldwide.