HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ,
ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 5 JULY 2013
U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF URGES ALL PARTIES TO RESTORE CALM, CONCERNED BY REPORTS OF WIDESPREAD DETENTIONS IN EGYPT
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has urged all parties in Egypt to make a concerted effort to restore calm by ensuring that the human rights of all citizens are respected and protected during this delicate period, and are subsequently entrenched in sound laws and institutions. Ms. Pillay expressed support for all Egyptians striving for a state that would safeguard their human rights and freedoms, and guarantee respect for rule of law.
- Ms. Pillay also said that she is concerned by reports of widespread detention of leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood. She said that there should be no more violence, no arbitrary detention, and no illegal acts of retribution.
- In a telephone conversation yesterday between the Secretary-General and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamal Amr, the Secretary-General expressed deep concern about military intervention into civilian and constitutional affairs. He reminded the Foreign Minister of the need for the Egyptian authorities to protect the fundamental human rights of all Egyptians, including freedom of speech and assembly. He also called for an end to all violence, especially sexual violence against women.
- The Secretary-General called for a peaceful dialogue that includes all parts of Egypt's political spectrum to find a way forward. He stressed the need for a quick return to civilian rule in Egypt based on a clear roadmap for elections.
- Asked about recent violence in Egypt, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was aware of reports of recent violence, and noted that, in his statement on Wednesday, the Secretary-General had appealed for calm, non-violence, dialogue and restraint. He had made clear that the preservation of fundamental rights, including freedom of speech and assembly, remain of vital importance.
- Asked whether the events in Egypt constituted a coup and whether the Secretary-General would ask for a return to civilian rule, Haq noted that the statement on Wednesday had acknowledged that, in their protests, many Egyptians have voiced deep frustrations and legitimate concerns. At the same time, military interference in the affairs of any state is of concern. Therefore, it will be crucial to quickly reinforce civilian rule in accordance with principles of democracy.
SYRIA: U.N. RIGHTS OFFICE VOICES CONCERN OVER IMPACT OF HOMS OFFENSIVE
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says it is extremely concerned about the human rights and humanitarian impact of a major offensive launched on June 28 by the Syrian Government forces and affiliated militias to retake several opposition-controlled districts in Homs. According to information just received, the Al-Khaldiya neighbourhood has been experiencing heavy shelling since the early hours of this morning. These attacks are now affecting all of old Homs district.
- Also, Syria’s food security situation has significantly deteriorated over the past year and domestic agricultural production will further decline over the next 12 months if the conflict continues, according to a new report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
- Working with partner organisations in Syria, the World Food Programme reached 2.5 million people with food assistance in June and is planning to feed 3 million people in July. The agency is increasing its logistics and operational capacity to feed 4 million people by October. In addition, the World Food Programme is providing food assistance to nearly one million refugees sheltering in neighbouring countries.
- Asked about the possibility of evacuating civilians from the fighting in Homs, the Spokesperson said that the UN role in such situations is to advocate for an environment conducive for civilians to leave safely, and for safe access to provide people with humanitarian assistance, while the International Committee of the Red Cross is specifically mandated to undertake evacuation.
- He added that UN humanitarian agencies and partners continue to do their best to provide humanitarian aid to people in need in Syria, whoever and wherever they are.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP DENMARK VISIT
- The Secretary-General wrapped up his visit to Denmark today.
- Yesterday, while in Copenhagen, he inaugurated UN City with Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that UN City is an example of how modern, energy-efficient offices can play their part in building the future we want.
- Once complete, UN City will house around 1,200 personnel from eight UN organizations providing support to humanitarian, peacebuilding and development operations around the world.
- The Secretary-General also met with senior Government officials, including the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Development Cooperation.
U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES MALI AGREEMENT
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Mali, Bert Koenders, is welcoming progress made in implementing the Ougadougou Preliminary Agreement, signed in June.
- He noted that representatives of the parties which signed the Agreement have agreed on the return to their barracks of armed groups as well as on the return of the first elements of defense and security forces and administration in Kidal. Mr. Koenders stressed that this represents a significant development in the process of normalising the situation in Kidal.
U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF VISITS SUDAN, SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ATTACK ON BLUE HELMETS IN DARFUR
- The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, wrapped up a visit to Sudan today.
- During the three-day visit, Mr. Ladsous travelled to El Daein in East Darfur State, where he met with the Governor and other members of local government, leaders of Native Administration and civil society, and internally displaced people at the Neem camp.
- In Khartoum, Mr. Ladsous met with President Omar Al-Bashir and other senior officials.
- Speaking to the press in Khartoum yesterday, Mr. Ladsous expressed concern over the recent intensification of conflict in Darfur and its impact on the civilian population.
- Also on Sudan, the joint African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) says that yesterday, a patrol of peacekeepers was ambushed by unidentified armed assailants near Labado in Eastern Darfur. Three peacekeepers were injured in the exchange of fire. One assailant was killed, and the body was handed over to Government authorities.
- This morning, Mr. Ladsous visited the injured peacekeepers at a Mission hospital in Nyala, Southern Darfur.
- In meetings with senior Government officials, Mr. Ladsous condemned the attack on UNAMID peacekeepers. Speaking to the press, he said that attacks on peacekeepers are a crime and stressed that the perpetrators must be apprehended and prosecuted.
- Asked about Mr. Ladsous’s meeting with President Bashir, given the latter’s indictment by the International Criminal Court, the Spokesperson said that, in the matter of UN representatives meeting persons indicted by international criminal jurisdictions, the overriding test is whether contact with such a person is strictly necessary for carrying out UN mandated activities.
- As the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Mr. Ladsous has the responsibility of ensuring that UNAMID is able to carry out its mandate and it is for this reason that the meeting with President Bashir was necessary.
GUINEA: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENT CHARTING WAY FOR FREE, FAIR POLLS
- In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomes the signing, on 3 July in Conakry, of the agreement between the presidential coalition and the opposition parties at the end of the inter-Guinean political dialogue launched on 28 March.
- The Secretary-General is encouraged by this breakthrough which charts the way for free, fair, transparent and peaceful legislative elections. The Secretary-General commends the sense of compromise of the Guinean political leadership in overcoming the political impasse. He urges them to adhere strictly to the new electoral timeline, so as to establish democratic institutions and allow the country to achieve national cohesion and social and economic development.
- The Secretary-General calls on the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), with the support of international bilateral and multilateral partners, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and the United Nations, to do its utmost to implement the electoral timeline. The United Nations is fully committed to extend the required assistance for holding these important elections.
- The Secretary-General commends President Alpha Condé for initiating a political dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues pertaining to the electoral process. He also commends all other political leaders for choosing the path of dialogue to address their differences.
- The Secretary-General also thanks the College of Facilitators, including his Special Representative for West Africa, Mr. Said Djinnit, for their contribution towards this milestone agreement for the consolidation of democracy and stability in Guinea.
STEPPED UP FIGHTING IN SOMALIA’S KISMAYO HAS HUMANITARIAN CONSEQUENCES – U.N.
- The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, has expressed his concern about the humanitarian situation in Kismayo following heavy fighting that took place in June. At least 71 civilians were killed and 300 injured over the course of the month.
- In addition to the killing and wounding of civilians, fighting in Kismayo has had serious humanitarian consequences. A polio vaccination campaign targeting 24,000 people of all ages has been temporarily suspended. That’s a grave concern in light of a wild polio virus outbreak that has resulted in 41 confirmed cases in southern and central regions of Somalia in May and June.
SECRETARY-GENERAL BELIEVES STRONGLY IN AND DEFENDS FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
- Asked about comments attributed to the Secretary-General during his visit to Iceland, the Spokesperson declined to confirm any specific remarks made during a private meeting.
- The Spokesperson went on to clarify the UN position with respect to freedom of expression, saying that the Secretary-General believes strongly in and defends freedom of expression.
- Freedom of expression is a cornerstone and pillar of any society, and the United Nations stands strongly behind this fundamental human right. Restrictions to freedom of expression are permissible only insofar as they comply with international human rights law.
- Freedom of expression is necessary to ensure transparency and accountability. International human rights law also protects privacy. Without it, freedom of expression cannot exist.
- Haq added that whistleblowers can play an important role in bringing problems and issues of concern or wrongdoing to light. There are protections within many organizations for whistleblowers, including the United Nations.
· The UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR) said today it is extremely concerned for more than 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and over 20,000 refugees who have been affected by recent insecurity in the Central African Republic (CAR). The Agency says that there remains a serious absence of security, and lawlessness is widespread.
- Asked whether the United Nations had received a letter from members of the US Congress concerning cholera in Haiti, the Spokesperson said that the letter has been received, and a response will be sent back to the members of Congress.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
6 – 12 JULY 2013
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 6 July
Today is International Day of Cooperatives.
Sunday, 7 July
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Monday, 8 July
In the morning, the Security Council will be briefed on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), followed by consultations.
At 10:00 a.m., in the Trusteeship Council Chamber in the Conference Building (CB), the General Assembly will hold a thematic debate on “Inequality”.
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 7 in the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be a special event on the occasion of the International Day of Cooperatives on the theme “Cooperative enterprises remain strong in times of crisis”, organized by the Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Mongolia.
Tuesday, 9 July
In the afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on Lebanon and Israel (1701 report).
At 11:00 a.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (CB), there will be a panel discussion on “Human Rights Council elections: A discussion of candidates’ aspirations and vision for membership”, co-organized by Amnesty International and the International Service for Human Rights and sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Argentina and Germany.
At 12:00 p.m., in the Press briefing room, Mr. Muhannad Hadi, World Food Programme (WFP) Emergency Coordinator for Syria, will be the guest at the Noon Briefing.
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 6 (NLB), there will be a special event on “Men, peace and security: Engaging men and boys to promote gender equality and eliminate gender-based violence”, co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein, the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-determination and PeaceWomen.
At 3:30 p.m., in Conference Room A (CB), there will be a dialogue on “Reflections on five years as the Legal Counsel: A talk by the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, the Legal Counsel, Ms. Patricia O’Brien”, organized by the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO).
At 4:00 p.m., in Economic and Social Council Chamber (CB), there will be a presentation on “Solar Impulse –– The first plane solely powered by solar energy”, organized by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland. The Secretary-General will make opening remarks.
Wednesday, 10 July
In the morning, the Security Council will be briefed on the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), followed by consultations.
Thursday, 11 July
Today is World Population Day.
In the morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on Sudan and South Sudan.
In the afternoon, the Security Council will adopt a resolution on UNMISS, followed by consultations on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
Friday, 12 July
At 9:30 a.m., in the Trusteeship Council (CB), there will be a special event on “Making a Wish for Action on Global Education”, attended by the Secretary-General and Ms. Malala Yousafzai.