HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 8 MAY 2013
RUSSIA-U.S. STATEMENTS MARK SIGNIFICANT FIRST STEP, SAYS SYRIA ENVOY
- Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, has warmly welcomed the statements made on Tuesday in Moscow by Russia's Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State about Syria. He said that this is the first hopeful news concerning that unhappy country in a very long time.
- Mr. Brahimi said that the statements made in Moscow constitute a very significant first step forward, but are nevertheless only a first step. He once more called on all Security Council members to work together and with the Secretary-General to carry the process forward.
- He added that all Syrians will occupy pride of place in the process that should be launched as early as possible. It is equally important that the entire region mobilises in the support of the peace process.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s reaction, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General welcomes the statements made by the United States and Russia on Tuesday and shares Mr. Brahimi’s assessment of the situation. The Secretary-General and Mr. Brahimi have been pushing for the peace process to begin for some time.
EFFORTS UNDER WAY TO SECURE RELEASE OF FOUR BLUE HELMETS IN GOLAN HEIGHTS
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the four peacekeepers from the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) are still being detained, and are believed to be held in the vicinity of Jamlah. UNDOF has had indications that they have not been harmed. Efforts are still under way to secure their release.
- Asked about relocation from a post in Golan, the Spokesperson said that UNDOF continues to do its outmost to ensure the implementation of its mandate while mitigating risk to its personnel. In light of the evolving security situation, peacekeepers from Position 86 have been relocated.
- He added that UNDOF is constantly reviewing and adjusting its security arrangements to address the dynamic and rapidly evolving situation in its area of operations.
- Asked about the vacating of Position 86, the Spokesperson said that, if the security situation warrants it, peacekeepers can be relocated, but he added that they would return to their posts when conditions allow.
- He noted that there is a fluid situation in UNDOF’s area of operations.
D.R. CONGO: SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTED DURING 2012 CLASHES, SAYS U.N.
- The United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo says that serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law were committed in November of last year during fighting between government forces and rebels of the M23 in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- The Office issued a report today which details victim and witness accounts of mass rape, killings and arbitrary executions, and violations resulting from widespread looting. It noted that particularly systematic and violent abuse was committed by some parts of the Congolese Armed Forces as they retreated from the towns of Goma and Sake in North Kivu province and regrouped in and around the town of Minova in South Kivu.
- The UN investigation documented 135 cases of sexual violence perpetrated by Congolese armed forces (FARDC) individuals in and around the town of Minova as units retreated from the front lines. The victims included 33 girls aged between 6 and 17.
- During the period of their occupation of Goma and Sake, M23 combatants also perpetrated serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights violations. Rebel combatants of the M23 were responsible for at least 59 cases of sexual violence.
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that those responsible for such crimes must know that they will be prosecuted. She noted that recent efforts made by the authorities in Democratic Republic of the Congo to investigate these violations in North and South Kivu were an important step towards accountability but that much more needs to be done.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Roger Meece, added that the UN continues to offer its support to both the investigation and the Congolese armed forces
- However, he stressed that for this support to be continued, the investigation should be pursued in an independent and credible fashion, and justice should be delivered to the victims.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that elements of the 41st and 391st battalions of the FARDC are suspected of involvement in the violations. Two of the 11 soldiers arrested in relation to the Minova incidents have been charged with rape.
- He added that 12 senior officers have also been suspended in relation to the Minova incidents while the investigation by Congolese justice authorities is ongoing, in what he called a positive development. He added that that includes the commanders and deputy commanders of these battalions.
- Nesirky said that the UN Mission (MONUSCO) continues to support the judicial system and is continuing to seek the completion of investigations so that those responsible of human rights violations will be brought to justice.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPALLED BY DEADLY ATTACK ON U.N. CONVOY IN D.R. CONGO
- On Tuesday night, a statement was issued in which the Secretary-General said he was appalled by the attack on a United Nations Mission military convoy by unidentified assailants in South Kivu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. He condemned in the strongest terms the killing of a Pakistani peacekeeper in this attack.
- The Secretary-General recalled that the killing of peacekeepers is a war crime.
- The Secretary-General offered his sincerest condolences and sympathy to the family of the victim, and to the Government of Pakistan.
- He called on the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. The Mission has launched an investigation into the attack.
- Asked whether the attack was related to the formation of an Intervention Brigade, the Spokesperson noted that an investigation into the incident was immediately launched.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT, D.R. CONGO
- The Security Council received a briefing this morning from Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. She discussed the work her office was doing concerning the situation in Libya and the court proceedings already taking place in that country.
- The Security Council is also discussing the Democratic Republic of the Congo in consultations. This afternoon, the Council will hold consultations on resolution 1559, concerning Lebanon.
U.N., SOMALI GOVERNMENT SIGN AGREEMENT TO PREVENT SEXUAL VIOLENCE
- The United Nations and the Government of Somalia signed a joint communiqué on Tuesday in London on the prevention of sexual violence.
- The Deputy Secretary-General, who signed the agreement on behalf of the United Nations, said that conflict-related sexual violence must be addressed as part of Somalia’s peacebuilding and state-building process.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, has welcomed the new agreement, which lists commitments, including ensuring the protection of survivors, witnesses and journalists who report on sexual violence.
HUMAN SECURITY APPROACH CAN HELP TO ADDRESS GLOBAL PROBLEMS, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL
- The Secretary-General will speak at an event on human security this afternoon.
- In his remarks, he is expected to say that he welcomes growing calls by citizens around the world for justice, dignity and true democracy. He is also expected to say that the human security approach can help frame efforts to address the world’s interlinked global problems that need comprehensive solutions.
U.N. INVESTIGATING ABYEI ATTACK: Asked about the weekend attack in Abyei, the Spokesperson said that the UN Interim Security Force (UNISFA) was investigating the matter.
INTERNSHIP UP FOR AUCTION NOT WITH THE U.N.: Asked about an advertisement concerning internships, the Spokesperson reiterated that the advertisement was not for a UN internship.