HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 10 JUNE 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL GRAVELY CONCERNED BY DETERIORATION OF SECURITY SITUATION IN IRAQ
- The Secretary-General is gravely concerned by the serious deterioration of the security situation in Mosul, where thousands of civilians have been displaced in the recent violence. He strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala, Ninewa, and Salah al-Din provinces that have killed and wounded scores of civilians over the past several days. The Secretary-General extends his profound condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Iraq.
- The Secretary-General urges all political leaders to show national unity against the threats facing Iraq, which can only be addressed on the basis of the Constitution and within the democratic political process. He encourages the Government of Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government to cooperate in restoring security to Ninewa Province and in delivering urgently needed humanitarian aid. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) stands ready to support these efforts.
- The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned about the situation in Anbar. He welcomes the convening of an Anbar reconciliation conference and strongly encourages all local tribal, political and religious leaders to participate constructively in order to put an end to the fighting.
- The Secretary-General recalls that all Member States have an obligation to implement and enforce the targeted financial sanctions, arms embargo and travel ban imposed on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) under the sanctions regime pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1989.
- The United Nations, including UNAMI, will continue to support the Government and people of Iraq in building a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country.
- Asked about UN actions in Iraq, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-general’s Special Representative, Nickolay Mladenov, met on Monday with Prime Minister al-Maliki to discuss UN assistance to Iraq. The United Nations has been supporting dialogue among the various parties in the country.
NAVI PILLAY DELIVERS LAST ADDRESS TO HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL AS U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, delivered her final opening address to a session of the Human Rights Council today in Geneva. She highlighted human rights problems around the world, including in Syria, where she said that Aleppo has been bombed to rubble, with widespread loss of life and extensive damage to fundamental infrastructure
- She reiterated her disappointment that the Security Council has been unable to reach agreement on action to ensure accountability for crimes committed in Syria.
- On Sri Lanka, she said her office has put in place a staff team that will be supported by several experts and Special Procedures mandate holders, to conduct the comprehensive investigation mandated by the Human Rights Council to advance accountability and reconciliation.
- Among other topics, she said that she was disturbed by the military coup in Thailand, including suspension of constitutional guarantees of human rights and detention of former government members and political activists.
- Ms. Pillay said she has engaged the Government of Venezuela concerning the recent deaths of 42 individuals since February and has emphasized the importance of dialogue and engagement.
- The High Commissioner added that she was disturbed by the recent increase across the political spectrum in several States in Western Europe of a discourse rooted in anti-immigrant and racist sentiment and religious intolerance.
- Asked about General Assembly consideration of the nomination for Ms. Pillay’s successor, the Spokesman said that should happen in the next few days. Dujarric added that the post had been advertised on the UN web site and a number of people had been interviewed before a nominee was decided.
U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO ELECT NEW PRESIDENT ON WEDNESDAY
- On Wednesday, the General Assembly will hold a plenary meeting to elect the President of its 69th session. General Assembly President-designate, Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, is expected at the media stakeout outside the General Assembly following the elections.
- Asked about the candidate for the General Assembly Presidency, the Spokesman said that the matter is decided by the UN Member States.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s views on gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) rights, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly spoken out in favour of universal rights for all people and has discussed the matter with leaders around the world.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION CHIEF CALLS FOR FURTHER IMPROVEMENTS TO ELECTORAL PROCESS
- The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan issued a press statement today calling for continued improvements to the national electoral process, ahead of the second round of presidential elections scheduled for 14 June.
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Jan Kubiš, who met with the Commissioners of the Independent Election Commission on Monday, said that the electoral institutions must help to improve transparency and communication in the management of results. Further improvements to the electoral process will build trust and reassure the Afghan people that their votes count.
- On 5 April, some 7 million people voted during the first round of presidential elections which UNAMA says was a higher than expected participation.
- UNAMA also welcomed the release of a new report by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
- The report documents views from over 4,600 Afghans on prospects for peace in the country.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGED BY ORDERLY CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS IN KOSOVO
- The Secretary-General welcomes the successful conduct of elections for the Assembly of Kosovo on 8 June 2014.
- He is encouraged by the preliminary positive reports from local and international observers as well as the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) of the smooth and orderly conduct of the elections and broad public participation throughout Kosovo. He commends Kosovo’s authorities and population for this achievement.
- The Secretary-General calls on the Kosovo authorities to remain committed to strengthening democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights of all in Kosovo. He looks forward to a renewed high-level engagement by Belgrade and Pristina in the European Union-facilitated dialogue, once the new leadership is in place in Pristina.
- The United Nations and UNMIK will continue to support this important engagement.
D.R. CONGO: FIRST WAVE OF VOLUNTARY DISARMAMENT IN SOUTH KIVU
- In South Kivu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, a group of 83 combatants of the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) formally disarmed. It is the first operation of voluntary disarmament of FDLR combatants in the South Kivu province.
- They were accompanied by 234 dependents.
- The voluntary disarmament of FDLR combatants continues to be the priority but the UN Mission in the country warns that the military option is still on the table if the process is abandoned or unsuccessful.
SOUTH SUDAN: VIOLENCE AHEAD OF NEW ROUND OF NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is observing the talks at the extraordinary session of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Assembly of Heads of State and Government which opened in Addis Ababa today. The next round of negotiations between the Government and the Opposition is scheduled to begin on Thursday.
- Meanwhile, in Upper Nile State, the Mission reports heavy gunfire and mortar shelling from the direction of Jazeera Islands on Monday.
- In Unity State, the Mission says that some State officials have been using Radio Bentiu to deliver hostile messages to the local community.
- UNMISS strongly condemns the use of Radio Bentiu for this purpose which is creating more divisions and undermining efforts to stabilize the situation in South Sudan.
- Asked about rape allegations in South Sudan, the Spokesman said that the UN Mission takes the protection of civilians seriously. He said the Mission is overstretched in its efforts to protect more than 80,000 civilians in its camps.
U.N. HEALTH ORGANIZATION AND CHILDREN FUND CONCERNED BY OUTBREAKS OF MEASLES IN SOMALIA
- The World Health Organization and UNICEF have warned that outbreaks of measles in several regions of Somalia have left many children at risk of disability or death. Millions of children need to be urgently vaccinated against the highly contagious disease.
- In March and April 2014, there were over 1,350 cases – four times the number seen during the same period last year. In May alone, nearly 1,000 cases have been recorded.
- UNICEF reports that malnourished children, seen in high numbers in Somalia, are more susceptible to measles. The UN agencies have appealed for $9 million to conduct a nation-wide vaccination campaign targeting about 5 million children and youth under 15 years of age.
- UNICEF requires $12.6 million to continue services in 11 regions of South Central Somalia including primary health care services focusing on pregnant and lactating women and children under-five, immunization, treatment and services for children, and awareness raising.
- Without this funding, UNICEF agreements with 30 NGOs will be suspended affecting 620,000 children and nearly 280,000 pregnant or lactating women. UNICEF provides 70 per cent of Somalia’s health services.
NEW CASES OF AVIAN INFLUENZA IN CHINA: W.H.O CALLS FOR STRENGTHENED SURVEILLANCE
- The World Health Organization (WHO) says that it has been informed by China of four additional cases of avian influenza among people.
- WHO says there is the potential for the virus to spread through the movement of live poultry, but that at this time there is no indication that it has spread internationally.
- It also notes that there has been no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, so the risk of ongoing international spread by travelers is low.
- WHO encourages countries to continue strengthening influenza surveillance.
U.N. OFFICIALS JOIN SPECIAL ENVOY ANGELINA JOLIE IN LONDON SUMMIT AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT
- The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, organized by the Government of the United Kingdom, kicked off in London today. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and the UN Refugee Agency’s Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, are co-chairing the high-level Summit.
- UN officials, including Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura, Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos, are expected to attend the event.
- UN Women will be presenting the Secretary-General’s Guidance Note on Reparations for Conflict-related Sexual Violence during the Summit.
U.N. COUNTER-TERRORISM TASK FORCE TO LAUNCH VICTIMS SUPPORT PORTAL
- A high-level “Interactive Dialogue on Addressing Conditions Conducive to the Spread of Terrorism” will take place tomorrow from 9:30 to 11:00 in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. That event is being held under the auspices of the President of the General Assembly, and he and the Secretary-General will both speak.
- The high level event will open with the launch of the first global Victims of Terrorism Support Portal. That portal is designed by the Counter Terrorism implementation Task Force Office (CTITF).
- It is intended, among other things, to serve as a resource hub for information on issues related to victims of terrorism. It also will contribute to the rehabilitation of victims of terrorism by providing victims and their families a resource on rehabilitation.
- Two UN victims of terrorism will also speak at the event.
GUIDELINES FOR SMALL-SCALE FISHERS TO HELP BOOST THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that its Committee on Fisheries endorsed a set of wide-reaching guidelines that will boost the role of small-scale fishers in contributing to global food security, nutrition and poverty eradication.
- These Guidelines range from measures to improve fisheries governance systems and working and living conditions, to recommendations on how countries can help small-scale fishers and fish workers cut down food losses and waste.
- Small-scale fisheries account for more than 90 percent of the world's fishers and fish workers - about half of whom are women - and supply around 50 percent of all global fish catches.
- Asked about the status of Crimea, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General is guided by the recent General Assembly. The Spokesman noted Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman’s recent visit to Ukraine, where he met with Petro Peroschenko, who is now the President.
- Asked about humanitarian aid in Syria, the Spokesman said that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is trying to ensure that aid can travel to all parts of the country and get to all those who need it.
- Asked about a dispute between China and Viet Nam, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General had recently expressed his hope that all those involved in disputes in the region would resolve matters peacefully and in accordance with international law. UN good offices are available if the parties request it.
- Asked about the 23 September summit on climate change, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has invited all the leaders whom he has met to attend and participate in the summit. A high participation by civil society and the private sector is also expected.
- Asked about the World Cup, the Spokesman reiterated that the Secretary-General sees sports as a valuable way to bring people together. Asked further about the situation in Brazil, he added that the Secretary-General hopes that the World Cup can be held under peaceful conditions.
- Asked about a Commission of Inquiry report on the Central African Republic, the Spokesman said that the report is still being worked on and a final version has not been submitted.
- Asked about Nigeria, the Spokesman noted the work of the Secretary-General’s high-level representative, Said Djinnit, who has recently visited Nigeria and will also hold meetings in London concerning support for the girls who had been abducted in Chibok and their families. The United Nations has condemned the abduction of the girls.