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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 MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 17 JULY 2013


DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IS FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT

  • In remarks to the Security Council this morning, the Deputy Secretary-General said freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and it depends on independent and pluralistic media.
  • He noted that in the past decade, more than 600 journalists have been killed while exercising their critical role and service in society.  In many cases, murdered journalists are covering corruption and other illegal activities.  In most cases, journalists receive threats prior to being assassinated.
  • He noted that every journalist murdered or intimidated into silence is one less observer of efforts to uphold rights and ensure human dignity.
  • He found it shocking and unacceptable that more than 90 per cent of the assassinations of journalists go unpunished. He said that all murders of journalists must be investigated swiftly and justice served. 
  • The United Nations “Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issues of Impunity” was launched precisely to create a free and safe environment for the media in conflict and non-conflict situations. The basic rationale behind that plan is that protecting free media is a prerequisite for freedom of expression and democracy. 
  • Asked about the safety of journalists, the Spokesperson said that it is incumbent on all member states to see that journalists are protected. He noted that the the United Nations “Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issues of Impunity” was launched to create a free and safe environment for the media in conflict and non-conflict situations. He said that powerful testimony was delivered by journalists to the Security Council and everybody understands the important role they play. Nesirky noted the Secretary-General has said that all journalists across all media must be able to do their job -- when it is safe to speak the whole world benefits.

 

U.N. CULTURAL AGENCY CHIEF CONDEMNS KILLING OF EGYPTIAN PHOTOGRAPHER

  • And staying with precisely this topic, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, condemned the killing of an Egyptian photographer and urged authorities to respect the right of journalists to carry out their work in safe conditions.
  • Ahmed Assem el-Senousy was shot and killed while covering a demonstration on 8 July.
  • Irina Bokova urged all parties to respect the need of journalists to perform their professional duties safely.
  • More information is available on UNESCO’s website.

 

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. RELIEF CHIEF ALARMED BY DETERIORATING HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN JONGLEI STATE

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, on Wednesday said that she is alarmed by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Pibor County in South Sudan’s Jonglei state, where some 100,000 civilians have been cut off from life-saving aid due to clashes.
  • Ms. Amos said that the fighting is threatening the lives of ordinary people and has reduced the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide urgently needed help.
  • For the first time since the hostilities began, aid organizations were able to deliver aid to the Dorein area along the Kengen River on Wednesday. Ms. Amos said that while this is good news, the delivery of food and other basic supplies into such vast and swampy terrain requires significant resources and she asked that the international community ensure that there are enough resources to reach all those in need in Pibor.
  • Ms. Amos, who also serves as the Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that as long as the fighting continues, delivery of aid will be limited and we will not get help to those who need it.
  • She added that the UN will work with all parties to ensure people in need receive humanitarian assistance and reminded all sides to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians.
  • Also on South Sudan, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has reinforced its forces in Gumuruk and in Pibor. They are instructed to use force to protect civilians when they are under imminent threat.
  • The mission’s ability to deploy into areas of suspected fighting is severely limited due to constraints ranging from a lack of air assets to the need for secured landing sites.

 

73 MILLION PEOPLE NEED HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE THIS YEAR, SAYS U.N. RELIEF CHIEF

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, said that 73 million people around the world need humanitarian assistance this year.
  • While presenting the mid-year review of global humanitarian action, Ms. Amos said that halfway through the year donors had provided US$5.1. billion for humanitarian aid in 24 countries.
  • She also said that the deteriorating situation in Syria and neighbouring countries had added US$4.4 billion to the original amount needed to cope with the world’s major crises.

 

LEBANON: U.N. COORDINATOR MEETS WITH PRIME MINISTER-DESIGNATE AND SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT

  • The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, met separately on Wednesday with the country’s Prime Minister-designate, Tamam Salam, and with the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri.
  • Speaking to reporters, Mr. Plumbly said that in his meetings, the latest developments in Lebanon and the region were discussed.
  • He said that in both meetings, he stressed that the best way to safeguard Lebanon’s stability during this period was through reinforcing and respecting Lebanon’s state institutions.
  • Mr. Plumbly said in this context, the delay in forming a new government is a matter of concern, and encouraged all sides to engage with the Prime Minister-designate on the formation of his government.
  • The Special Coordinator also said the international community remains united in its determination to support Lebanon’s sovereignty, security and stability.
  • And his full statement is available online.

 

U.N. HOSTS LARGEST INTERNATIONAL MEETING ON DISABILITY

  • The largest international meeting on disability issues has begun at the United Nations Headquarters on Wednesday. The Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will focus on building “disability-inclusive” development by improving social protection and reducing poverty.
  • According to the United Nations, there are more than one billion people with disabilities in the world. About 80 per cent of them are of working age, and face physical, social, economic and cultural challenges to their access to education, skills development and employment.
  • The Conference will end on 19 July.

 

INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION CALLS FOR ADDITIONAL JOB CREATION POLICIES IN G20 COUNTRIES

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for additional job creation policies in the countries of the G20.
  • At a press conference in Moscow, the International Labour Organization’s Director-General, Guy Ryder, said that unemployment remains at “unacceptably high levels,” with every G20 country facing serious job challenges.
  • According to the organization’s update, unemployment is up in half of G20 countries and down only marginally in the other half.
  • Mr. Ryder a significant improvement in the employment situation was unlikely unless countries undertake more ambitious policies to address the jobs deficit. 
  • You can find more details on this on the Organization’s website.

 

SOMALILAND: U.N. HUMANITARIAN AIR SERVICE RESUMES FLIGHTS

  • In response to a question on Tuesday regarding humanitarian flights to Somaliland, Spokesperson confirmed that UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has resumed flights on Tuesday.

 

U.N. CONVOY ENTERS ALEPPO WITH HELP OF SYRIAN ARAB RED CRESCENT, SAYS U.N. RELIEF ARM

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that an inter-agency UN convoy entered Aleppo, with the support of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, on 14 July.
  • The 15-truck convoy delivered relief items – including food, medicine, surgical equipment, water and hygiene kits – for an estimated 350,000 people, including 40,000 Palestine refugees.
  • UN staff assessed the situation on the ground. They are seeking further access and they are looking for aid to be distributed in accordance with humanitarian principles.
  • They confirmed that there were major shortages of essential goods due to increased fighting. They also confirmed that the price of basic commodities, such as bread and fuel, has risen sharply, and that there has been a breakdown of basic services in large parts of the city.

 

U.N. OFFICIALS TO VISIT DAMASCUS TO CONSULT ON CONDUCTING INVESTIGATION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS USE

  • The High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and the Head of the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic will travel next week to visit Damascus, at the invitation of the Government.
  • The purpose of the visit will be to complete the consultations on the modalities of cooperation required for the proper, safe and efficient conduct of the Mission.
  • The Secretary-General hopes that the visit will result in a mutual understanding on the access for the Mission to conduct its fact-finding activities and establish the facts pertaining to the reports received by the Secretary-General concerning allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
  • Asked about the forthcoming visit to Syria by Dr. Sellstrom and the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, the Spokesperson said the purpose of the visit is to complete the consultations on the modalities of cooperation needed for the Mission to conduct its activities. 

 

                                        U.N. MISSION IN D.R.CONGO ENCOURAGES RWANDA TO WORK TOGETHER TO INVESTIGATE REPORT OF BOMBINGS

 

  • The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, is encouraging the government of Rwanda to work through the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism – of which Rwanda is a member - to further investigate the circumstances of the events of 15 July
  • MONUSCO says that while it was on high alert in view of the intense fighting triggered by M-23 attacks on positions of the Congolese army, it did not fire weapons on 15 July.

 

VESSEL WITH ARMS BOUND FOR D.P.R.K. DETAINED BY PANAMANIAN AUTHORITIES

  • Asked about the weapons found on board a ship bound for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is aware of the discovery by the Panamanian authorities of a weapons shipment on the DPRK ship sailing from Cuba. The Spokesperson said it was up to the 1718 Sanctions Committee of the Security Council to pronounce itself on the matter. He noted that Member States are obliged to implement and abide by Security Council resolutions. He said if was confirmed that the vessel was carrying arms or related materiel and that the shipment was part of a purchase or sale to or from the DPRK, then it would indeed be a breach of the UN sanctions regime relating to that country.