HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 14 APRIL 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ATTEND EFFECTIVE DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION MEETING IN MEXICO
- The Secretary-General is on his way to Mexico City, and he will attend the First High-level Meeting of Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation there.
- While in Mexico, he will also meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto and several of his Ministers. He will also hold bilateral meetings with leaders present at the event.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOKE TO UKRAINIAN ACTING PRESIDENT, WILL ALSO TALK TO RUSSIAN OFFICIAL
- In answer to questions, the Spokesman stressed that, since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, the Secretary-General had been calling for restraint and for a direct and constructive dialogue between Kiev and Moscow. As part of his efforts, the Secretary-General spoke early this morning to Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, to convey that message directly.
- In the phone call, he also expressed his great concern over the ongoing disturbances and notably the reports of civilians being armed and activity by armed groups on both sides. He noted that the Ukrainian authorities had been exercising restraint and said that he hoped this restraint would continue in an effort to de-escalate the situation and find a peaceful solution.
- The Secretary-General is expected to speak to a Russian official in the coming hours.
- Asked about comments attributed to the Secretary-General in the Ukrainian media, Dujarric said that the Spokesperson’s office issues the readout that express the Secretary-General’s views.
UKRAINE: SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ALL CONCERNED TO EXERCISE RESTRAINT, ADHERE TO INTERNATIONAL LAW
- The Security Council met last night to discuss the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, and Council members received an update from Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez Taranco. He said that, following close to two weeks of relative calm, starting on 6 April, armed individuals and separatist groups began to seize Government buildings and confiscate lethal weapons in the Donetsk Oblast of Ukraine, including in the cities of Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv.
- He said that the Secretary-General has continued to speak out for the exercise of maximum restraint by all concerned and strict adherence to international law. He also continues to urge all others with influence on the situation to immediately and publicly call for restraint and a return to calm. The Secretary-General further appeals for direct and constructive dialogue between the parties, and between Kiev and Moscow, to de-escalate the situation and address all differences.
- In a statement issued over the weekend, the Secretary-General said he was deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Eastern Ukraine and the growing potential for violent clashes.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CONDEMNS RAMPANT USE OF TORTURE IN DETENTION FACILITIES ACROSS SYRIA
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, condemned the rampant use of torture in detention facilities across Syria by Government forces and some armed opposition groups, as her office issued a paper today containing detailed testimony from victims and witnesses.
The paper describes a broad pattern of torture and ill-treatment against individuals in Government facilities. It also documents reports of torture by some armed groups.
- Ms. Pillay urged the Government and armed opposition groups in Syria to immediately halt the use of torture and ill-treatment, and to release all those who have been arbitrarily detained in conditions that clearly breach international human rights standards. Those detained must be treated humanely.
- She also reiterated her request to the Government to allow regular and unannounced access to all detention facilities to impartial international observers to enable them to effectively monitor the situation.
JOINT O.P.C.W.-U.N. MISSION CONCERNED THAT SYRIA MISSED 13 APRIL CHEMICAL WEAPONS DEADLINE
- In response to questions about chemical weapons in Syria, and about Syria’s pledge to remove all chemical weapons by 13 April, except those in “inaccessible areas”, the Spokesman said that the OPCW-UN Joint Mission said they were concerned that Syria has missed the 13 April timeline.
- It expects an intensification of efforts and immediate action to initiate the high pace and scale of operations for the removal of all chemical weapons materials as safely as possible by 27 April. Missing the 27 April timeline could have serious impact on the completion of the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme by 30 June.
- It is up to the Member States to discuss the progress of the operation, based on factual input from the Joint Mission. The Mission says that the current pace is of serious concern.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGES ISRAEL AND PALESTINE TO REMAIN CONSTRUCIVELY ENGAGED IN TALKS
- The Secretary-General spoke by phone on Sunday, in separate calls, with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.
- The purpose of the calls was to discuss the ongoing efforts to extend the negotiations towards a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.
- The Secretary-General strongly encouraged both sides to remain constructively engaged in the talks. He expressed his hope that both leaders will seize the current opening created by US efforts to find a way forward to achieve the two-State solution.
SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMENDS PEOPLE OF GUINEA-BISSAU FOR PEACEFUL ELECTIONS
- The Secretary-General commends the people of Guinea-Bissau for their orderly and peaceful participation in yesterday’s presidential and legislative elections. By participating in high numbers, they have clearly expressed their desire for the full return to constitutional order in their country.
- The Secretary-General commends the election management bodies for their determined efforts to ensure the timely holding of the elections. He thanks Guinea-Bissau’s international partners for providing vital technical and financial support that contributed to the successful holding of the elections.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his call to all candidates to respect the official results when announced by the Supreme Court and to follow existing legal procedures to resolve any electoral disputes.
- The United Nations will continue to support the people and government of Guinea-Bissau as they work towards greater political stability, rule of law, state-building and socio-economic development.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION CONCERNED ABOUT FIGHTING IN
- On South Sudan, the UN Mission in the country, UNMISS, reports that fighting broke out in Unity State this morning between Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Opposition forces in Torabith in Mayom County, which is about 50 km west of Bentiu. Fighting also took place in the vicinity of an oil refinery about 5 km from the Unity oilfields.
- The Mission says that earlier today, peacekeepers extracted 10 employees of the Safinat Caspian Oil Refining Company from a location near those oilfields about 25 km NW of Bentiu. Five of the 10 employees were wounded and two of them are said to be in critical condition. All are now at the UNMISS compound in Bentiu receiving medical attention.
- UNMISS has also received reports of shooting in the northern part of Bentiu town, as well as fighting about 10 km from the Mission compound in Bentiu. Sporadic fighting is continuing in the state capital. The Mission is protecting approximately 12,000 internally displaced civilians at its protection site there.
- UNMISS is concerned about these reports of fighting in parts of Unity State. The Mission reiterates the need for parties to fully respect the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and to cooperate with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Monitoring and Verification Mechanism.
U.N. POLITICAL AFFAIRS CHIEF TO TRAVEL TO WEST AFRICA
- The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, will depart New York today for a visit to West Africa. His four-day trip from 15-18 April will include stops in Senegal, Mauritania, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea.
- Mr. Feltman will meet with senior government officials to discuss peace and security issues in West Africa, including the situation in the Sahel region and Guinea-Bissau.
- Mr. Feltman's meetings with the Chairman of the African Union, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, will serve to discuss UN-AU collaboration.
- In Dakar, Senegal, Mr. Feltman will also meet with the leadership of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and other UN officials.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION WELCOMES PARTIAL ELECTIONS RESULTS
- The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomed the announcement yesterday of the first batch of partial results in the country’s Presidential elections as a further step towards completing the electoral process. At the same time, it noted that these results represent only a small proportion of the millions of ballots cast in the poll.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, urged presidential candidates and their supporters to display patience while vote tallying is completed. Full preliminary results covering the entire country are scheduled to be announced by the Independent Election Commission on 24 April.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES FINDINGS OF NEW I.P.C.C. REPORT
- In a statement issued on Sunday, the Secretary-General welcomed the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report on the mitigation of climate change that was released in Berlin, Germany.
- The Secretary-General urges all countries to act swiftly and boldly on climate change, to bring ambitious announcements and actions to the Climate Summit on 23 September 2014, and to make every effort needed to reach a global, ambitious and legal climate agreement in 2015.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR STRENGTHENED EFFORT TO ACHIEVE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
- The Deputy Secretary-General spoke at the high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this morning, and he said that, more than five years after the world financial and economic crisis erupted, the world economic recovery is slowly under way.
- Yet he added that the crisis is not a phenomenon of the past. Severe effects of the crisis linger and serious risks still remain. Growth is insufficient and the employment situation is dire in many countries.
- The Deputy Secretary-General called for strengthened efforts to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, he said, the United Nations has started to set the direction beyond 2015 by shaping a new development agenda with poverty eradication and sustainable development at its core.
U.N. WARNS THAT PRODUCTION, EXPORT OF BANANAS THREATENED BY DISEASE
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is warning that production and export of bananas are threatened by the spread of one of the world’s most destructive banana diseases, known as Fusarium wilt.
- Bananas are the eighth most important food crop in the world, and the fourth most important food crop in the least developed countries.
- Fusarium wilt has recently spread from Asia to Africa and the Middle East and has the potential to affect countries in Latin America.
- The disease is soil-borne and the fungus can remain viable for decades. Once the disease is present in a field, it cannot be fully controlled by currently available practices and fungicides.
- The best way to fight the disease is to prevent its spread, and so today FAO is warning of the need for a concerted effort by industry stakeholders, research institutions, governments and international organizations to prevent its spread.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOKE TO MOROCCAN KING: Asked about a call between the Secretary-General and King Mohammed VI of Morocco, the Spokesperson said that the two spoke by telephone. He noted that the mandate of the UN Mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) is to be discussed this week by the Security Council.
NO LETTER RECEIVED FROM IRAN ON U.S. VISA ISSUE: Asked about a letter of complaint from Iran concerning the issue of a US visa, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was aware of recent reports but has not received any official letter from Iran so far. He added that the issue was a serious one and it is being handled step by step.