HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 16 APRIL 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES ARRIVAL OF U.N. MONITORS IN SYRIA
- The first group of six United Nations unarmed monitors arrived in Damascus on Sunday night and began working on Monday morning. The monitors early tasks include liaising with Syrian government authorities and security forces as well as the opposition to ensure that all sides understand the role and work of the team. The rest of the 30 advance monitoring team will arrive in the coming days.
- The support of the Italian government, which is airlifting United Nations vehicles from our logistics base in Brindisi and other locations so that the monitors are able to be mobile quickly and travel to all locations in Syria, was critical.
- On Monday morning in Brussels, the Secretary-General welcomed the arrival of the advance monitoring team and said he will present his concrete proposals for an enlarged official monitoring team for over 250 people by Thursday 18 April.
- The situation in Syria is very fluid, he said, noting that he is very concerned about the renewed shelling of the city of Homs that has taken place over the last two days.
- He once again urged the Syrian government, in the strongest terms, to end the violence.
- At the same time, the Secretary-General expects that as a next step the political dialogue will continue. A political solution needs to be found which respects and reflects the aspirations of the Syrian people. This solution should be Syrian-led.
- He noted the Syrian Humanitarian Forum will be held in Geneva on Friday, April 20, and he expects support from the international community.
- This morning, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria welcomed the arrival in Damascus last night of an advance team of observers. The Commission hopes that the ceasefire will contribute to putting an end to the gross human rights violations that it has been reporting on over the past six months.
- The Commission recalls the need to ensure accountability for those violations.
- Asked about the nationalities of the members of the monitoring team, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the United Nations would not comment on this. Asked about the requests made by the Syrian authorities regarding the observers, he said that the United Nations would govern itself according to the relevant resolution of the Security Council on these monitors.
- Asked about the technical team which was in Syria last week, del Buey said that Major-General Mood discussed the modalities of deploying the full force. He added that Mr. Jean-Marie Guehenno was in New York this week working on the report which will be submitted to the Security Council by Thursday and based upon which the Security Council will adopt a resolution authorizing the deployment of the full mission.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST COORDINATED ATTACKS IN AFGHANISTAN
- In a statement, the Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms the coordinated attacks that were carried out yesterday and today against state institutions and international organisations, including foreign diplomatic missions, in Kabul and in other parts of Afghanistan.
- The Secretary-General notes the efforts of the Afghan National Security Forces in responding to these events.
- It is ordinary Afghans who ultimately bear the brunt of such attacks. The Secretary-General calls on the parties to the conflict to take all possible measures for the protection of civilians.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN LUXEMBOURG
- The Secretary-General has arrived in Luxembourg, the last stop on his three-country European trip.
- On Monday morning, in Brussels, the Secretary-General met European Union development ministers and attended the opening of the EU Summit on Sustainable Energy for All.
- He told the Summit that energy poverty is a threat to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
- He said that sustainable energy needs to be brought to all people starting with those who need it most, what he called the bottom three billion.
- The Secretary-General also held bilateral meetings with the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso; the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton; as well as the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF TIMOR-LESTE FOR SUCCESSFUL SECOND-ROUND PRESIDENTIAL POLLS
- In a statement, the Secretary-General congratulates the people of Timor-Leste for the successful conduct of the second round of the presidential election on 16 April.
- The peaceful and orderly manner in which the people of Timor-Leste exercised their right to vote, reflects once again their commitment to stability, democracy and national unity.
- The Secretary-General reiterates the continued commitment of the United Nations to supporting the forthcoming parliamentary election in July.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION REPORTS AIR STRIKES IN UNITY STATE
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported three separate incidents of air strikes this weekend in Unity state.
- Two were in Bentiu and another in Mayom, where UNMISS premises withstood material damage after being hit by two bombs.
- All UN staff members are reported safe.
- The Mission is of course following up.
SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS LAUNCH BY D.P.R. KOREA
- This morning the Security Council issued a Presidential Statement on the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK), strongly condemning the 13 April launch by the DPRK.
- The Security Council demanded that the DPRK immediately comply fully with its obligations under Security Council resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), including that it abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner; immediately cease all related activities; and not conduct any further launches that use ballistic missile technology, nuclear tests or any further provocation.
- The Security Council expresses its determination to take action accordingly in the event of a further DPRK launch or nuclear test.
HEAD OF U.N. BODY CONCERNED OVER SAFETY OF CULTURAL HERITAGE IN MALIAN CITY
- Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has voiced deep concern over the safety in Mali of Timbuktu’s invaluable cultural heritage, following reports that rebels have over-run and looted centers containing thousands of ancient books and documents that bear testimony to the city’s extraordinary history.
- The Director-General appealed to all relevant authorities, including Mali’s warring factions, neighboring governments, Interpol, customs organizations, the art market and collectors, to be on the alert against any attempt to traffic items stolen from these centers.
HEAD OF U.N. DISASTER RISK REDUCTION BODY VISITS VIET NAM
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, began a five-day mission to Viet Nam today to call for stepped-up disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation measures.
- She visited the Mekong Delta Ben Tree province, which is particularly at risk of sea level rise, with 90 per cent of its land mass is just one metre above sea level. She also visited a number of climate change adaptation projects put in place by Oxfam and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
- While in Viet Nam, Ms. Wahlström is also expected to meet with the Foreign Minister and other senior officials.
U.N. RECOGNIZES RIGHT TO PEACEFUL PROTEST: Asked about protesters not being able to enter Israel over the weekend, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the United Nations recognized the right to peacefully protest, adding that every country also had the right to determine who is allowed onto its territory.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED OVER USE OF FORCE AGAINST PROTESTORS IN BAHRAIN: Asked about Bahrain, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had expressed his concern over the excessive use of force against protestors and had noted the need to respect the right of people to peaceful protest. Asked about a jailed protestor on hunger strike, he said the man, who is also a Danish citizen, should be transferred to Denmark if that is his choice.
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