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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

 

WEDNESDAY, 2 APRIL 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY TO RESPOND TO SITUATION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • The Secretary-General attended a special high-level meeting on the Central African Republic in Brussels today, and he told the participants the world had a collective responsibility to respond to the grave security, humanitarian and human rights situation in the country.  He warned that genocide was avoided in large measure because of the mass exodus of minorities to areas where they felt they were safe with their own people.
  • He stressed that reinforcements were needed for the current African Union and French forces on the ground and that the transitional government needs help in restoring government authority.  And he added that an inclusive political process is needed.  The Secretary-General said that the people of the Central African Republic must see that accountability applies to all – that the rule of law matters no matter who they are or what they believe, from leaders to individual combatants.
  • He also spoke at the opening of the fourth EU-Africa Summit, noting the need to advance on peace and security and to accelerate progress on development, while crafting a new sustainable, inclusive agenda for the years ahead. 
  • After a working breakfast this morning with European Union Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the Secretary-General spoke briefly to the press and said that he and President Barroso had discussed the situation in Central Africa, the Sahel and other issues, including climate change. 
  • After that, the Secretary-General met with Mr. Andris Piebalgs, the European Union Commissioner for Development, and Mr. Janez Potocnik, the European Union Commissioner for Environment. They discussed climate change and the post-2015 development agenda. 
  • Before attending the EU-Africa Summit, the Secretary-General had a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.
  • Asked about the treatment of journalists in Egypt, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General had raised his concerns about the detentions of all journalists.

U.N. ENVOY RECEIVES 13 LETTERS OF ACCSSION TO INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND TREATIES FROM PALESTINIANS

  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson confirmed that Robert Serry, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the PLO and the PA has received 13 letters for accession to international conventions and treaties. Once the letters are received at UN Headquarters, they will be reviewed before a consideration of the appropriate next steps.
  • The treaties and conventions are:
  • 1- The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
    2- The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
    3- The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed conflict
    4- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
    5- The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    6- The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
    7- The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
    8- The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
    9- The United Nations Convention against Corruption
    10- The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
    11- The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid
    12- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    13- The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • Also, accession letters for the following conventions were submitted to the Swiss and Dutch Representatives to the PA, respectively:
    1- The Four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the First Additional Protocol
  • 2- The Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land
  • Asked about the impact of the move by the Palestinians, the Spokesperson noted that the Palestinian leadership, including President Mahmoud Abbas upon signing the accession letters on Monday night, has repeatedly emphasized that it wants to continue the negotiations with Israel that started in July 2013 under US auspices.
  • Haq expressed the hope that a way can be found to see negotiations through until the scheduled end of the nine-month timeframe set to expire on 29 April. The goal remains to arrive at a substantive basis for negotiations towards a comprehensive peace agreement on all final status issues.
  • Asked about UN and Quartet contacts, the Spokesperson said that they were in contact with the sides to emphasize the need to manage current developments responsibly and act with restraint.
  • He said that UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry met with the Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyad Malki, this morning. He also met with Israeli negotiator and Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni. A constructive approach from all sides is extremely important to preserve the prospects to arrive at a peace agreement and salvage the two-state solution.
  • Haq added that the Quartet Envoys have also spoken today by telephone.
  • He noted that Mr. Serry would see the Secretary-General in Brussels on Wednesday.
  • Asked about steps to release Palestinian prisoners, the Spokesperson said that it is important that the parties apply their best efforts, in the period ahead, to creating a climate of trust and an environment as conducive as possible to the continuation of negotiations.

ON FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF ARMS TRADE TREATY, BAN KI-MOON URGES ALL MEMBER STATES TO SIGN ONTO PACT

  • In a statement on the first anniversary of the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, the Secretary-General notes that one year ago today, the General Assembly adopted the landmark Arms Trade Treaty, which for the first time sets global standards for the transfer of weapons and efforts to prevent their diversion.
  • The Secretary-General is heartened that 118 States have signed the Treaty.  He welcomes the joint deposit today of instruments of ratification by 18 Member States, which brings the number of deposited ratifications to 31.  This will generate further momentum towards the 50 ratifications needed for the Treaty’s entry into force.  The Secretary-General calls on all States that have not yet done so to sign and/or ratify the Arms Trade Treaty without delay.
  • As we mark today’s milestone, the Secretary-General is deeply concerned that civilians continue to be killed or maimed in targeted or indiscriminate attacks with weapons that should not have reached the hands of the perpetrators. 
  • The Secretary-General calls on States, civil society, and international and regional organizations to continue working together to ensure that the Arms Trade Treaty can play its full role in helping to reduce needless human suffering and build a safer world for all.

U.N. AGENCY SURVEY FINDS SYRIA CONFLICT “OVERWHELMING,” “TRAUMATIC”

  • An unprecedented survey by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) of its Microfinance Programmes in Syria has found the impact of the conflict to be “overwhelming and traumatic”, with the vast majority of its clients displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance.
  • The survey was conducted in what the report calls “an economic catastrophe” from which it says the Syrian economy will take 30 years to recover to 2010 levels.
  • However, displacement, physical destruction and looting has taken place on such a massive scale that only 13 per cent of businesses supported by the Relief and Works Agency were able to survive.
  • Asked about insecurity near the port of Latakia, the Spokesperson said that the OPCW-UN Joint Mission had noted the need for security conditions to allow the transport of chemical weapons materiel to Latakia. At the same time, the Mission had emphasized the need for Syria to maintain the steady pace of delivery of such materials to Latakia for its onward shipment.

U.N. ENVOY URGES AFGHAN WOMEN TO CONTINUE EFFORTS FOR PEACE

  • Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, has urged the country’s women to maintain and build on the momentum behind a recent petition – signed by more than 250,000 women and girls – calling for peace and a cease-fire.
  • In early March, the women’s committee of the High Peace Council, an Afghan body leading the country’s peace efforts, submitted the petition to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for onward transmission to the Secretary-General, who received it on 21 March.
  • The Secretary-General welcomed the peace campaign, noting that it was in the spirit of the Security Council’s Resolution 1325, and was another indication of the strong demands of the Afghan people for peace in their country.
  • Mr. Kubiš urged the leaders of Afghanistan and the leaders of the anti-Government elements to listen to the message in this petition from Afghan women and girls. The United Nations stands ready to support them in these efforts in any way it can.

MYANMAR AUTHORITIES ASSURE U.N. OF SECURITY OF RELIEF WORKERS IN RAKHINE STATE

  • Humanitarian operations in Myanmar’s Rakhine State have been interrupted following attacks on United Nations and non-governmental organizations’ premises in Sittwe last week, which led to the relocation of nearly 200 staff.
  • A United Nations delegation returned from Sittwe today after visiting camps for the displaced and meeting with authorities.
  • The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar, Renata Dessallien, said that what happened in Sittwe was not just an attack on international organizations, but also an attack on the entire relief response in Rakhine.
  • She said that the United Nations had constructive discussions with authorities, who assured the world body that their international obligations to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian staff will be met.

FIVE PEOPLE KILLED IN CHILE EARTHQUAKE – U.N. RELIEF WING

  • In Chile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been informed by the Government that five people have died so far following the 8.2 magnitude earthquake which struck off the coast of northern Chile yesterday.
  • There have been no reports of major damage so far, and the tsunami warning issued for Chile, Peru and Ecuador has been lifted.
  • The Government, which declared a State of Emergency in northern Chile, evacuated some 900,000 people along the coastline to safe zones yesterday. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is monitoring the situation with the authorities but no request for international assistance has been made so far. 

U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME APPOINTS U.S. ACTRESS CONNIE BRITTON AS GOODWILL AMBASSADOR FOR POVERTY, WOMEN

  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today appointed American actress Connie Britton as its new Goodwill Ambassador, with a special focus on poverty eradication and women’s empowerment.
  • In her new role as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, she will use her popularity to raise awareness about UNDP’s worldwide efforts to empower people and fight exclusion.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Asked about Ukraine, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Secretary-General continues to push for all sides to de-escalate the situation and for Moscow and Kyiv to have direct dialogue.
  • Asked about the treatment of journalists in Bahrain, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General supports freedom of the media and freedom of expression throughout the world.
  • This morning, the Security Council held its first consultations for the month, under Nigeria’s Presidency. Council members agreed on a programme of work for the month.
  • Today is World Autism Awareness Day. The Department of Public Information is hosting a special panel discussion this afternoon called “Opening the Doors to Inclusive Education” which will include the Secretary-General’s video message to mark the occasion, along with a keynote address by Ron Suskind, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author.