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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 13 MAY 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANNOUNCES DEPARTURE OF LAKHDAR BRAHIMI

  • Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the following announcement at the noon briefing on the departure of the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi:
  • “I have an announcement to make and because of its nature I wanted to make it in person.
  • “It is with great regret that, following consultations with the Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El Araby, I have decided to accept the request of Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi to relinquish his duties as Joint Special Representative of the Secretary-General and League of Arab States, effective 31 May 2014.
  • “For nearly two years, Joint Special Representative Brahimi has sought an end to the brutal and still worsening civil war in Syria.
  • “He has faced almost impossible odds, with a Syrian nation, Middle Eastern region and wider international community that have been hopelessly divided in their approaches to ending the conflict.
  • “He has persevered, with great patience and skill, because he knows that without efforts towards a new Syria, the Syrian people will be condemned to further suffering.
  • “I greatly appreciate Mr. Brahimi's diplomacy in organizing the Geneva Conference on Syria and for facilitating the intra-Syria talks earlier this year. I regret that the parties, and especially the Government, have proven so reluctant to take advantage of that opportunity to end the country's profound misery. I renew my appeal to them to show the wisdom and sense of responsibility that could allow a way out of this nightmare. I also reiterate my strong view that there must be accountability for the terrible crimes that have been - and are being - committed.  Such crimes include the deliberate starvation of communities by preventing humanitarian access. 
  • “Mr. Brahimi has long been recognized as one of the world's most brilliant diplomats, as well as an outstanding proponent of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. That the objective to which he applied his extraordinary talents has proven elusive is a tragedy for the Syrian people.   That his efforts have not received effective support from the United Nations body that is charged with upholding peace and security, and from countries with influence on the Syria situation, is a failure of all of us.
  • “Lakhdar Brahimi knows that I will continue to count on his wisdom, advice and unique experience on other issues of concern to the United Nations.
    “But that is for tomorrow; he now deserves some rest. Today, I urge all involved, including those states with influence over the parties, to reflect deeply on what we should do at this moment to generate hope of a better future for the people of Syria.”
  • Asked about the relinquishing of Mr. Brahimi’s post, the Spokesman reiterated that it would be at the end of the month. He added that Mr. Brahimi had felt that this was the right time to relinquish his post.
  • Asked whether the next representative would be a UN official rather than a joint representative, the Spokesman said the matter would be discussed in discussions with the UN’s partners. He noted the Secretary-General’s continuing discussions with the League of Arab States, including its Secretary General, Nabil Elaraby, whom the Secretary-General spoke to this morning.
  • He said that the UN is committed to working on the Syrian political file, and that the Office of the Joint Special Representative will continue its work while discussions continue on the format of the UN’s role following Mr. Brahimi’s departure. Dujarric asserted the UN’s commitment to finding the best possible person for the job.
  • The United Nations will now prioritize its discussions on evaluating what the focus and approach of the UN’s future political engagement should be.  The Secretary-General hopes that a similar soul-searching is taking place among those States who can influence the situation in Syria.
  • Asked about the Geneva process, the Spokesman said that the principles of the Geneva process would continue to guide the way forward. He said that the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 has established extremely important and valuable principles and points of agreement between the US and Russia, along with all the participants of Geneva 2.  The Security Council has endorsed it, Dujarric added.
  • Asked about an article criticising UN interaction with non-governmental organizations on humanitarian aid to Syria, the Spokesman said that the United Nations works closely with its humanitarian partners in Syria, including NGOs, to assess humanitarian needs and bring life-saving assistance people in need, wherever they are located, despite ongoing fighting and insecurity. On the case mentioned in the media, he added, a detailed distribution report has been shared with all relevant partners.

SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPARTS FOR SWEDEN

  • In other developments, the Secretary-General is leaving on Tuesday afternoon for Sweden to attend the Global Forum for Migration and Development.
  • He will speak at the opening session of the Forum tomorrow and will be received in audience by the King and Queen at the Royal Palace.
  • He will also meet with the Crown Princess in connection with the conference, and hold discussions with the country’s Prime Minister.
  • The Secretary-General is expected back in New York on Thursday afternoon.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS SYRIA THIS AFTERNOON

  • This morning, the Security Council held an open meeting on Libya and received a briefing from Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, on the status of the Court’s work in Libya.
  • And this afternoon, the Security Council will have a meeting to discuss Syria in closed consultations. Lakhdar Brahimi will brief the Council members.

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REPRESENTATIVE BEGINS WORK IN NIGERIA

  • Said Djinnit, the Secretary-General’s high-level representative to Nigeria and Special Representative for West Africa, met with UN officials and members of the diplomatic community yesterday upon his arrival in Abuja, Nigeria.  Discussions focused on ways in which the United Nations can support the authorities' efforts to safely return the kidnapped girls to their families and facilitate their reintegration.  Over the coming days, Mr. Djinnit is scheduled to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan and senior government officials.
  • The Secretary-General, in his press remarks on Monday afternoon, said that the threat posed by Boko Haram is not an isolated issue.  It requires us to strengthen counter-terrorism and our efforts against piracy, human trafficking and the illicit drug trade.  In a region with porous borders, it demands strengthened regional cooperation. 
  • He added that, as we focus on rescuing the girls, we must help those who managed to escape.   With counselling, we can supplement the support of their families and communities.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CALLS FOR ALTERNATIVES TO RISKY SEA CROSSINGS FOLLOWING LAMPEDUSA SHIPWRECK

  • Following a new shipwreck in the Mediterranean, off the Italian island of Lampedusa, the UN Refugee Agency urged governments around the world to provide legal alternatives to dangerous sea crossings.
  • These alternatives could include resettlement, humanitarian admission, and facilitated access to family reunification.   Governments have also been asked to resist punitive or deterrent measures such as detention for people seeking safety.
  • UNHCR estimates that more than 170 people died at sea trying to reach Europe so far in 2014, including in waters off Greece, Libya, Italy and international waters.
  • Asked about the problems with the treatment of migrants, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had brought that issue up with the Government of Italy during his recent visit there and had also discussed the issue with other countries in the region.

UNITED NATIONS STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF POLITICAL SOLUTION IN CYPRUS

  • In response to an earlier question, the Spokesperson declined comment on the judgment issued by the European Court of Human Rights concerning Cyprus.
  • He added that the United Nations has long stressed the importance of finding a political solution to the Cyprus issue through comprehensive settlement negotiations. The Secretary-General has repeatedly expressed his personal commitment to support the talks and he hopes that the new phase begun this month will bear fruit.

UNITED NATIONS URGES BROAD DIALOGUE AMONG SRI LANKANS

  • In response to a question, the Spokesman noted that in the 2009 Joint Statement by the Secretary-General and the President of Sri Lanka, addressing the aspirations and grievances of all communities is of fundamental importance for the overall development in Sri Lanka.
  • Dujarric said that the UN urges a broad dialogue among all Sri Lankans to bring about lasting reconciliation, peace and development in the country.