HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 22 MAY 2014
FOLLOWING VETO ON SYRIA, SECRETARY-GENERAL EMPHASIZES URGENT NEED FOR ACCOUNTABILITY
- The Security Council failed to adopt a resolution on a referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court earlier this morning. The draft resolution received 13 votes in favour and negative votes from two permanent members of the Security Council.
- The Deputy Secretary-General spoke before the Security Council vote and delivered a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General. He said that the recent attacks against humanitarian convoys and personnel, which may constitute war crimes, add to the urgent need to see action now on accountability in Syria.
- He said that the Security Council has an inescapable responsibility in this regard. States that are members of both the Security Council and the Human Rights Council have a particular duty to end the bloodshed and ensure justice for the victims of unspeakable crimes.
- The Deputy Secretary-General said that, for more than three years, the Security Council has been unable to agree on measures that could bring an end to this extraordinarily brutal war.
- The Secretary-General calls on the Council and pleads with their Members to set aside their differences and finally work together on a joint approach that can bring to an end this long nightmare for the Syrian people.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s views on today’s vote, the Spokesman noted the remarks made by the Deputy Secretary-General on the Secretary-General’s behalf.
- He reiterated that the Secretary-General is disappointed when the Council does not speak with one voice, especially on an issue as important as this one. If members of the Council continue to be unable to agree even on a measure that could provide some accountability for the ongoing crimes, the credibility of this body and of the entire Organization will continue to suffer, not to mention the suffering of the Syrian people and the stability of the region.
- In response to further questions about whether the Secretary-General has shown sufficient leadership, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has shown leadership in his work on Syria. The Secretary-General will continue to work with Council members to set aside their differences so that a joint approach can be found to end the long nightmare for the Syrian people.
- Asked whether Member States could take up the issue under “United for Peace”, the Spokesman said that would be for the Member States to consider.
- The Security Council then heard an update on the situation in Somalia from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country, Nicholas Kay.
SYRIA: HUMANITARIAN CONVOY OPENS THE WAY TO FURTHER AID ACROSS ALEPPO GOVERNORATE
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the inter-agency convoy that travelled on 8-9 May to the besieged locations of Nubul and Zahra and other villages in Syria helped open the way for humanitarian organizations to plan further aid for people in need across Aleppo governorate.
- The United Nations and its partners are now working with all parties to assist over 500,000 people throughout the Governorate, including in opposition-held areas, pending approvals from the central Syrian authorities.
- Asked about help for refugees, the Spokesman said that the United Nations would continue to work to help refugees but added that there is no alternative to a political solution for Syria.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPEALS FOR PROMPT RETURN TO DEMOCRATIC RULE IN THAILAND
- The Secretary-General is seriously concerned by the military takeover in Thailand today. He appeals for a prompt return to constitutional, civilian, democratic rule and an all-inclusive dialogue that will pave the way for long-term peace and prosperity in Thailand.
- The Secretary-General urges all parties to work together constructively, refrain from violence and respect human rights.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ATTACK ON CIVILIANS IN CHINA
- The Secretary-General condemns the attack today on civilians at an open market in Xinjiang, China. He expresses his condolences to the bereaved families and to the people and Government of China and wishes those wounded a quick recovery.
- The Secretary-General stresses that there is no justification for the killing of civilians and hopes that those responsible will be brought to justice.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP VISIT TO CHINA WITH CALL TO ADVANCE HUMAN RIGHTS
- The Secretary-General wrapped up his visit to China today.
- He began his morning by speaking at Shanghai's Fudan University, exhorting students to play a greater part in addressing global challenges. He added that he expects China and its government to continually improve human dignity. He told the students, “Let us work together to advance human rights – the foundation of global harmony and stability.”
- The Secretary-General then visited the Zhou Bin Calligraphy Culture Institute. As you may know, he is a keen student of calligraphy.
- His last appointments before departing China were the opening of the Shanghai Centre for Maternal and Child Health and a lunch event for his "Every Woman Every Child" initiative.
- The Secretary-General is scheduled to arrive in New York later this evening.
U.N. MISSION IN MALI WORKING AT FORMALISING CEASEFIRE AFTER FIGHTING IN KIDAL
- The UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, is working in coordination with key international partners including ECOWAS, the African Union and members of the Security Council, to develop a potential series of measures to formalise the ceasefire in the country and encourage the parties to bring about a return to the political process.
- The Government declared a ceasefire yesterday evening after an assault on the town of Kidal by the Malian Defence and Security Forces (MDSF) which led to heavy fighting with the Mouvement national de libération de l’Azawad – otherwise known as MNLA -- and other armed groups.
- The northern towns of Kidal and Menaka are now under the control of the MNLA, and MNLA movements in Anefis, Aguelhok and other locations have been reported.
- The UN Mission on the ground continues to engage with the government and armed groups to achieve an end to hostilities, to protect civilians and to revive the political process.
- The Secretary-General called for the immediate cessation of fighting in Mali and reminded all parties of their obligation to protect civilians.
HUMANITARIANS: 3,400 KIDAL RESIDENTS HAVE FLED TO RURAL AREAS, INCLUDING IN ALGERIA
- On the humanitarian front, an estimated 3,400 residents of Kidal have fled to rural areas, Algeria and Gao since fighting erupted. Some 450 people have already arrived in Gao.
- Humanitarian agencies are sending relief items to Gao as Kidal is inaccessible to humanitarian workers from other cities.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN’s Children Fund (UNICEF) are sending medical and water and sanitation kits from Bamako.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: U.N. ENVOY CALLS ANTI-BALAKA TO LAY DOWN ARMS
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the Central African Republic, Babacar Gaye, called on the anti-Balaka to lay down their arms and on the ex-Seleka to stand ready to enter the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.
- Speaking at a press conference in Bangui, he said that the support that the international community is trying to mobilize for the country will be in vain if the parties do not act responsibly for the long term stability of the country.
- The Special Representative also expressed the United Nations support to the implementation of a national reconciliation strategy – which was presented on Wednesday by the Government to the international community.
NIGERIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS SERIES OF ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS
- On Wednesday, the Secretary-General condemned in the strongest terms the recent series of attacks on civilians in Nigeria, which have left hundreds dead and injured. There is absolutely no justification for such attacks.
- The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and expresses his solidarity with the people and Government of Nigeria. He wishes a rapid recovery to those injured in the attacks.
- The Secretary-General is closely monitoring the security situation in Nigeria. From 12 to 15 May, he sent his high-level representative for Nigeria, Mr. Said Djinnit, to Abuja to consult with the Government on how the United Nations could support ongoing efforts to secure the safe release of about 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram, as well as wider efforts to address the humanitarian and human rights consequences of the violence.
- The UN Country Team in Nigeria is preparing a support package for the girls, as well as for the affected families and their communities.
GREAT LAKES: U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY SAYS DEMOBILIZATION OF EX-REBELS SHOULD BE ACCELERATED
- From the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes, Mary Robinson, was in Goma on Wednesday. She said true progress had been made, especially on the military front, but one of the priorities was to accelerate the Demobilization and Reintegration process of former rebels, especially those who fled to Uganda or Rwanda.
- Asked about a potential amnesty for these fighters to accelerate their repatriation to the DRC, she reiterated that the agreement between all countries in the region was that no amnesty should be granted in cases of crimes against humanity or other serious crimes.
IN KATANGA PROVINCE, SOUTHERN DRC, THOUSANDS MORE DISPLACED BY FIGHTING
- In Katanga, South-East DRC, a new report from humanitarian agencies issued today draws attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the need for stronger civilian protection measures.
- Since 2011, displacement figures have increased ten-fold from 50,000 to 500,000 people.
- Fighting between the Congolese army and armed groups has displaced thousands of people since the beginning of this year.
IN THE BALKANS, U.N. AGENCIES DEPLOY SUPPLIES AND EXPERTS TO SUPPORT GOVERNMENTS AFTER DEADLY FLOODS
- Waters have started to recede in Bosnia and Herzegovina but in downstream Serbia the risk of further flooding remains high.
- UN Agencies are providing direct support with 3 flights of relief supplies with a total value of almost a million dollars to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to Serbia.
- They also mobilized volunteers and experts, including in sanitation and shelter to support Governments’ efforts.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS ISLAND BIODIVERSITY BEING LOST AT UNPRECEDENTED RATE
- Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity, under the theme of “Island Diversity”.
- In a message, the Secretary-General said that island biodiversity was being lost at an unprecedented rate in the face of growing risks, and that many species were facing the prospect of extinction.
- He called on all countries around the world to scale up best practices to protect fragile ecosystems for the benefit of all the islanders -- and people everywhere who depend on them.
- Asked about reported shooting in the Korean peninsula, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has consistently appealed for calm there.
- Asked about arrests in the occupied Palestinian territory, the Spokesman noted the importance of respect for international norms, including regarding the arrest of minors.