Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

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

THURSDAY, 2 MAY 2013

 

MARKING WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED FOR SAFETY FOR JOURNALISTS

  • The Secretary-General spoke this morning at an event organized by the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to commemorate World Press Freedom Day.
  • He said that all journalists, across all media, need to be able to do their jobs, adding that when it is safe to speak, the whole world benefits.
  • The Secretary-General noted that journalists face many challenges while carrying out their vital work. In addition to those killed, hundreds of journalists have been detained.
  • He said that this highlights the relevance of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. This plan aims to promote collaboration among Governments, regional human rights organizations, non-governmental organizations, media organizations and the United Nations.
  • The Secretary-General urged all involved to do their utmost to translate the words of the Plan into actions on the ground that will create a safer environment for the press. 
  • Also to mark the Day, the Secretary-General and Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, have issued a joint message.
  • In that message, they underscore how the freedom of expression – enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – is essential for empowering individuals and building free and democratic societies.
  • This afternoon, a film, entitled “Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington,” will be screened in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber.
  • On World Press Freedom Day, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is calling on all political stakeholders in the country to secure freedom of the press and the right of expression.
  • Although Afghanistan has made remarkable achievements in the field of media, the Mission says that Afghan journalists are still facing daily threats, intimidation and arrests that undermine their ability to operate professionally.

SECRETARY-GENERAL, SECURITY COUNCIL’S PERMANENT MEMBERS DISCUSS SYRIA

  • The Secretary-General invited the five permanent members of the Security Council (P5) to an informal meeting for discussions on Syria. They discussed possible diplomatic moves to end the crisis.
  • He briefed them on the latest developments relating to the chemical weapons investigation mission.  They also discussed the ever-worsening humanitarian situation inside Syria and the neighbouring countries, and international efforts to alleviate it.
  • Asked about the reasons for the meeting, the Spokesperson pointed to the continuing problems in Syria and the need to discuss ways to deal with that crisis.
  • Asked about the kidnapping of two clerics in Syria, the Spokesperson noted that the United Nations has called for their immediate release.

SECURITY COUNCIL VOTES TO ESTABLISH NEW U.N. MISSION IN SOMALIA

  • The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution this morning in which it established the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) for an initial period of twelve months. The Mission will be set up by 3 June
  • Among other things, it will provide UN “good offices” functions and support the Federal Government of Somalia and the African Union Mission (AMISOM) as appropriate. It will monitor and report to the Security Council on any abuses or violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including abuses committed against women and children.
  • Asked about the tasks of the UN Mission, the Spokesperson said it is an integrated mission that will work with other entities already on the ground, including agencies, funds and programmes.

SOMALIA: U.N.-BACKED STUDY FINDS THAT NEARLY 260,000 PEOPLE DIED DUE TO FAMINE

  • Nearly 260,000 people – half of them children under the age of five – died in Somalia between October 2010 and April 2012 due to famine and severe food insecurity.
  • The figures are in a new study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which is backed by the US Agency for International Development.
  • The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, said that the magnitude of the mortality figures is unsettling. He said that the report confirms that more should have been done before the famine was declared in July of 2011.
  • He said that the study contributes to our understanding of the crisis and that our aim is to ensure that Somalia never goes through another famine again.

U.N. MISSION SAYS APRIL DEADLIEST MONTH FOR IRAQ SINCE JUNE 2008

  • The UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has released casualty figures that show that the month of April was the deadliest in Iraq since June 2008. A total of 712 people were killed and another 1,633 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence.
  • The death toll for April includes nearly 600 civilian and more than 100 members of the Iraqi Security Forces. Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate.
  • Also today, Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, delivered a personal message to the Kurdistan Region President, Masud Barzani, in which he welcomed the resumption of participation by Kurdistan Region ministers in Cabinet sessions. He encouraged dialogue and full participation in government institutions as the way to overcome the critical phase the country is going through.

U.N. GREAT LAKES ENVOY VISITS UGANDA

  • Mary Robinson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, was in Uganda today.
  • She held talks in Entebbe with President Yoweri Museveni, Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga, and representatives of civil society organizations. The discussions focused on implementation of the Peace Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region. 
  • Mrs. Robinson departed Uganda for Burundi, for talks today and Friday. She will conclude the regional tour in South Africa this weekend.

U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF VOICES CONCERN OVER CRACKDOWN IN INDONESIA’S PAPUA

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights today expressed her serious concern over the crackdown on mass demonstrations across Papua in Indonesia since 30 April.
  • Navi Pillay said that these latest incidents are unfortunate examples of the suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force.
  • She urges the Government of Indonesia to allow peaceful protest and hold those accountable for abuses.

MYANMAR: U.N. OFFICIAL WELCOMES RAKHINE REPORT, URGES UNIMPEDED ACCESS FOR AID WORKERS

  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for Myanmar, Bertrand Bainvel, welcomed the release of the Report of the Rakhine State Conflict Investigation Commission to the Government of Myanmar.
  • He acknowledges the emphasis placed on the urgent need to provide assistance to internally displaced people and to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable ahead of the monsoon season.
  • He urges the Government to take adequate measures to guarantee humanitarian workers unimpeded access to provide assistance to help all affected people, as well as to take action against all forms of incitement.
  • Nesirky added that the UN is currently reviewing the full text of the report and its recommendations.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Asked about restrictions on press freedoms in South Sudan, the Spokesperson said that journalists around the world should be able to go about their work without interference.
  • Asked about a web site that claimed to sell a UN internship, the Spokesperson said that internships at the United Nations are not for sale and cannot be put up for auction. The United Nations is trying to establish the details of this case and have contacted the web site in question.