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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

MONDAY, 13 MAY 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO RUSSIA

  • The Secretary-General will depart New York on Wednesday, 15 May, for Russia.
  • During his stay in Russia, he will visit Moscow and Sochi. On Friday, 17 May, the Secretary-General will hold talks with Russian leaders. On Saturday, he will visit a local school in Sochi. He will conclude his visit to Russia on 19 May.
  • Asked about the planning for the visit and whether Syria will be discussed, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General will meet with Russian leaders to discuss a number of issues of common concern, including Syria.
  • He added that the Secretary-General is visiting the Russian Federation to Russia’s leadership to advance the United Nations’ critical objectives, including his five-year action agenda, which he outlined at the beginning of his second term.

BAN KI-MOON URGES GLOBAL EFFORT TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING

  • The Secretary-General spoke this morning at the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on improving the coordination of efforts against human trafficking.
  • He said that human trafficking devastates individuals and undermines national economies.
  • Billions of dollars are generated through exploitation and abuse, and in turn, these funds support illegal drugs, corruption and other crimes.
  • The Secretary-General said that the United Nations is bringing partners together to protect the victims, prosecute the traffickers and end this trade in humans.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL THAT TERRORISM THREATENS AFRICAN PEACE, SECURITY

  • The Secretary-General also spoke at the Security Council meeting this morning on terrorism in Africa.
  • He said that terrorism is a threat to Africa's peace, security and development. From Al-Shabaab in the east to Boko Haram in the west to Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in the north, several parts of the continent face a rise in the presence of extremist groups and terrorist entities.
  • The Secretary-General added that our joint efforts against terrorism must be carried out in accordance with the UN Charter and international law, and with due respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

DARFUR MEDIATOR SPEAKS OUT AGAINST DEADLY ATTACK ON REBEL GROUP

  • The Joint Special Representative/Joint Chief Mediator of the African Union and United Nations in Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, has strongly condemned Sunday’s attack, which resulted in the death of a leader of the Justice and Equality Movement-Sudan and a number of his colleagues.
  • The Joint Special Representative noted that this group had clearly wanted a peaceful resolution to the Darfur conflict when it signed the Doha Document for Peace in Doha on 6 April.
  • He urged all sides involved in the fighting in Darfur – and especially the non-signatory armed movements – to cease hostilities, respect international humanitarian law and engage fully in the peaceful settlement of the conflict.

U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF VISITS ISRAEL, TOURS BLUE LINE IN LEBANON

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, visited Israel and met with Government officials there today. He toured the Line of Withdrawal (Blue Line) in southern Lebanon on Sunday. He was accompanied by the Force Commander and other senior officials of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
  • After the tour, Mr. Ladsous said that he was encouraged to see that the situation along the Blue Line is generally calm. He commended the parties for their continued commitment to the cessation of hostilities and the implementation of resolution 1701.
  • Asked about the alleged use of Lebanon’s airspace by Israel, the Spokesperson said that UNIFIL had taken up the matter with the Israeli side.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES RELEASE OF BLUE HELMETS IN GOLAN

  • The Secretary-General welcomed the release of the four United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers who had been detained on 7 May in the vicinity of Al Jamlah in the area of limitation. He appreciated the assistance of Qatar and of others involved in securing their safe release.
  • The Secretary-General again emphasizes to all parties the impartiality of United Nations peacekeepers. UNDOF is on the ground to monitor the Disengagement of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to respect UNDOF’s freedom of movement and the safety and security of its personnel.
  • In response to further questions, the Spokesperson said that the four peacekeepers have undergone medical checks and seem to be in good health.

BANGLADESH: U.N. OFFICIAL URGES DIALOGUE AHEAD OF ELECTIONS

  • The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, ended a visit to Bangladesh today.
  • While in the country, he met with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and other officials, as well as with representatives of civil society and media.
  • Addressing the press today, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco stressed the urgent need for more meaningful and constructive political dialogue to create conditions conducive for the successful holding of elections.
  • He said that leaders need to display political will and arrive at a solution that will create an environment conducive for free, fair, credible, inclusive and non-violent elections.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICE WARNS TROPICAL CYCLONE THREATNES MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN BANGLADESH, MYANMAR

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that a “red storm” alert remains in effect for Tropical Cyclone Mahasen, which is moving towards India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is expected to make landfall on Thursday.
  • The Office says that, depending on the cyclone’s final trajectory, it could threaten the lives of millions of people in northeast India, Bangladesh and Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
  • In Bangladesh, the Government has initiated preparations, while humanitarian agencies have started prepositioning supplies in the most vulnerable areas.
  • In Myanmar, the Rakhine State Government has activated its disaster reduction plan, which includes relocation and evacuation. Those who are internally displaced within the State have been informed of the storm alert.

GUATEMALA: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF WELCOMES GENOCIDE CONVICTION OF FORMER LEADER

  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights today welcomed last week’s conviction of Guatemala’s former de facto head of State, José Efraín Ríos Montt, for genocide and crimes against humanity.
  • Navi Pillay said that Guatemala has made history by becoming the first country in the world to convict a former head of State for genocide in its own national court.
  • She paid tribute to the victims, relatives and survivors whose courage and perseverance made this possible, as well as the lawyers, prosecutors and judges who carried out their duties under difficult circumstances in the face of serious threats and intimidation.

GLOBAL CONCENTRATION OF CARBON DIOXIDE AT ALL-TIME HIGH, WARNS U.N.

  • The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said today that the global concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at its highest ever. That concentration has passed the 400 parts per million mark. The Executive Secretary of UNFCCC Christiana Figueres called for a greatly stepped-up response to climate change by all parts of society and said we have entered a new danger zone.
  • Governments will be meeting 3 - 14 June in Bonn for the next round of
    climate change talks. A central focus of the talks will be negotiations to build a new global climate agreement and to push for greater immediate climate action.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Asked about the death toll in Syria, the Spokesperson said the United Nations is aware of reports citing figures from other groups that are in excess of 80,000 deaths.
  • Asked about the work of the chemical weapons team in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the team is continuing its work and is trying to obtain information about the use of chemical weapons in Syria while awaiting agreement that would allow it to conduct on-site inspections.
  • Asked about the Conference on Disarmament, the Spokesperson said that the leadership of that body is by rotation among member states. He noted the Secretary-General’s criticisms in the past about the lack of progress in the Conference’s work.