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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 MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 24 APRIL 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PROGRESS TOWARD RESUMING POLITICAL DIALOGUE IN GUINEA

  • The Secretary-General welcomes the progress made toward the resumption of the political dialogue in Guinea.  He is particularly encouraged by the signing, on 23 April, of a joint declaration between the Government, the opposition and the Presidential camp.  The joint declaration calls on all political parties to refrain from any violent demonstrations and confirms their determination to resolve outstanding issues through peaceful and negotiated solutions. The Secretary-General also welcomes the statement made by President Alpha Condé, on 24 April, in which he expressed his readiness to implement all necessary measures with a view to guarantee the transparency and the credibility of the electoral process, with the involvement of international partners.
  • The Secretary-General encourages, once again, the Government and the opposition leaders to constructively discuss and overcome the current challenges in the electoral process to preserve the peace and stability in the country. He welcomes the important role played by the team of facilitators of the inclusive dialogue, in particular by his Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit. 
  • The Secretary-General reiterates the determination of the United Nations to continue to support the efforts of the Guinean stakeholders, in coordination with other international partners of Guinea. He remains hopeful that this political dialogue will lay the foundations for sustainable peace and stability in Guinea and guarantee the holding of legislative elections as soon as feasible.

U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF CALLS FOR QUICK AND CONCERTED ACTION FOR HUMANITARIAN SITUATION INSIDE AND OUTSIDE SYRIA

  • Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, spoke at the Security Council’s open meeting on the Middle East on Wednesday morning, and he said that it is a moment of increased risk and instability across the region, with a need for quick and concerted action to address the humanitarian situation, both inside and outside Syria.
  • Mr. Feltman said that the United Nations is still in discussions with the Government of Syria on the scope and modalities of the technical mission to investigate alleged uses of chemical weapons in Syria. The Secretary-General’s position is that, at this time, the mission should investigate the allegations pertaining to incidents in Aleppo and Homs. While awaiting access to the Syrian territory, the experts of the mission are studying the information on the alleged incidents of the use of chemical weapons provided to them by Member States.
  • He also noted that, in an encouraging development, Israel and Palestine reached an important agreement yesterday at the executive board of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, which allows for an experts mission to the Old City of Jerusalem in mid-May. Mr. Feltman added that the moment of opportunity for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process must not be lost.
  • Asked about reports of chemical weapons use by Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General said that, while awaiting consent from the Syrian Government, the mission will carry out its fact-finding activities, including receiving information from Member States.
  • He noted that the Governments of Syria, France and the United Kingdom have already provided information to the Secretary-General concerning this matter.

U.N. TO SEND EXPERT MISSION TO JERUSALEM TO EXAMINE CONSERVATION OF HERITAGE SITES

  • UNESCO said on Wednesday that the expert mission will examine the state of conservation of Jerusalem’s Old City and its Walls, which is a World Heritage site.
  • The last monitoring mission to there took place in 2004, and the next one will take place following requests by the World Heritage Committee in 2010, 2011 and last year.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT DEMANDS INNOVATION

  • The Secretary-General spoke on Wednesday morning at a meeting on innovative solutions for sustainable development at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that sustainable development demands innovation from within the United Nations and beyond its walls.
  • He also noted that the creation of a UN Partnership Facility will support partnership work across all entities for sustainable development.
  • The Secretary-General also spoke at a New Energy Finance event on Wednesday morning, and said that private investment is essential to meet the growing demand for energy, climate resilience and low-emissions strategies in the developing world. He also encouraged public and private sectors to work together to overcome barriers to climate investments.

U.N. ENVOY TO VISIT GREAT LAKES REGION, MEET WITH REGIONAL LEADERS

  • Mary Robinson, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, will make her first visit to the region in this new capacity from 29 April to 5 May.
  • She will visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South Africa, before concluding her mission at the African Union in Addis Ababa.
  • The Special Envoy will initiate discussions with leaders from key countries that recently signed the “Framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region” on how to translate the agreement into tangible actions and cooperation to end the recurrent cycles of crisis and suffering in the eastern D.R.C.
  • She will meet with regional and sub-regional organizations and envoys working on topics related to the Great Lakes. She will also meet representatives of non-governmental organizations, including women’s groups, as well as UN and international partners.
  • Asked whether her visit is connected to the deployment of the Intervention Brigade, the Spokesperson said that it was not.

IRAQ: U.N. REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAQ DISAPPOINTED ABOUT ELECTION DATE DECIDED BY GOVERNMENT

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, expressed his disappointment about the Government’s decision to set 4 July this year as the date for Governorate Council elections in Anbar and Ninewa.
  • However, he welcomed the Iraqi Government’s willingness to review its decision, should the security situation in both provinces improve.

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. RELIEF OFFICE SAYS HUMANITARIAN PREPARATIONS FOR RAINY SEASON ARE ON TRACK

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that humanitarian preparations for the rainy season are on track in South Sudan.
  • The pre-positioning of seeds and tools for 90,000 people in Jonglei State has been completed. Aid agencies are trying to reach farmers with supplies as early as possible so that they can plant their crops before the rainy season peaks around August.
  • However, the Office reports that the movement of aid organizations between Bor and Pibor remains suspended following the attack on the 9th of April on a peacekeeping convoy to Jonglei, hampering the delivery of relief and the carrying out of assessments.
  • John Ging, the Office’s Operations Director, arrived in South Sudan on Wednesday for a three-day visit.

SOMALI AUTHORITIES LAUNCH NEW VACCINE AGAINST POTENTIALLY-FATAL CHILDHOOD DISEASES

  • The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO), together with the GAVI Alliance, announced on Wednesday that Somali authorities have launched a new five-in-one-vaccine against several potentially fatal childhood diseases which could save thousands of young lives.
  • More than 1.3 million doses of this vaccine have been provided for the country for this year and will be used to immunize children under the age of one.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ATTEND TRIBUTE TO BRAZILIAN ARCHITECT AND U.N. BOARD OF DESIGN

  • The Secretary-General will attend a tribute in the General Assembly Hall to Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and the UN Board of Design this afternoon.
  • In his remarks, the Secretary-General will say that the 11 architects of the Board of Design were ahead of their times and that he hopes we will follow their example and stay at the vanguard when it comes to solving global problems.

MYANMAR: U.N. ADVISOR DISTRESSED BY FOOTAGE OF SECURITY FORCE MEMBERS

  • The Spokesperson was asked this week about the reaction of Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Myanmar, to video footage taken in Meiktila.
  • He says that it is deeply distressing to see footage of members of the security forces standing by passively when the angry and violent crowds were engaging in acts of inexcusable behaviour.
  • However, he does not feel that this behaviour necessarily suggests official collusion. Other reports and direct accounts from victims in Meiktila suggest that the police went out of their way to help Muslim men and women to safety in the face of threatening crowds.

SECRETARY-GENERAL REJECTS RICHARD FALK’S COMMENTS ON BOSTON MARATHON

  • The Secretary-General has seen the commentary by Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights, and he has been briefed on it.
  • The Secretary-General rejects Mr. Falk's comments.
  • The Secretary-General immediately condemned the Boston Marathon bombing and he strongly believes that nothing can justify such an attack.
  • Professor Falk is appointed by the Member States of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, not by the Secretary-General.
  • The Secretary-General is hopeful that Special Rapporteurs such as Mr. Falk understand that – while they have an independent status – their public comments can undermine the credibility and the work of the United Nations.

ASIA-PACIFIC DOMINATES WORLD MATERIAL FLOWS – U.N. ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME

  • Asia-Pacific has surpassed the rest of the world in its consumption of materials and will continue to dominate world material flows, according to a new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report released on Wednesday.
  • The region's trade balance indicates that the current rate of exploitation of its resource base is no longer sufficient to support the region's fast-growing economies and changing lifestyles. From 1970-2008, consumption of construction minerals increased 13.4 times, metal ores and industrial minerals consumption 8.6, fossil fuels 5.4, and biomass 2.7 times. 
  • The data indicates that, at this rate, the region will be increasingly dependent on imports and unable to sustain its economies and lifestyles. The current rate of consumption is also having a negative impact on the environment. 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SPOKESPERSON SAYS COOPERATION WITH SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS FOR BAHRAIN IS ENCOURAGED: Asked about the work of the Special Rapporteur for Bahrain and his entry into the country, the Spokesperson said cooperation with the work of Special Rapporteurs is encouraged.

SPOKESPERSON FOR U.N. MISSION IN DARFUR RESIGNS: In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that UNAMID, the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur, confirmed that Ms. Aicha Elbasri resigned from her position as Spokesperson, effective 22 April 2013. As with any staff member departing the United Nations, he said he could not comment on the specific details surrounding her departure.