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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 FARHAN HAQ,

ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 9 AUGUST 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES CONFLICT IN SYRIA WITH RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

  • The Secretary-General met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday night for a working dinner to discuss the conflict in Syria, including the escalating humanitarian crisis and the disconcerting rise in sectarian violence.
  • The Secretary-General underscored the need to find a political solution to the conflict and to urgently renew momentum behind the Geneva Conference on Syria.
  • The Secretary-General said that he was encouraged by the resumption of direct negotiations in the Middle East Peace Process and that the United Nations would do its utmost to support it. The Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister also discussed the situations in Lebanon and Afghanistan, as well as the situation in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Asked about the work of the chemical weapons team dealing with Syria, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Head of the Mission, Professor Åke Sellström, and his team are in The Hague, where they are now completing their preparations prior to their departure to Syria.
  • At the same time, UN Headquarters is working to finalize the legal and logistical modalities for the investigations on the basis of the agreement reached last month with Syria.

U.N. MISSION IN MALI WILL ASSIST ELECTORAL AUTHORITIES FOR SECOND ROUND OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

  • The United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) will assist the Malian electoral authorities in deploying sensitive materials to Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal and Mopti for the second round of presidential elections, which will be held this Sunday.
  • As it did in the first round, the Mission is providing support to the Malian Defence and Security Forces in implementing the security plan for the elections.
  • Also, as part of its efforts to increase the number of refugees who are able to vote, the UN Mission organized a flight to Néma, Mauritania, to ensure the delivery of voter cards belonging to Malians living in camps in that country.

U.N. FORCE IN LEBANON SAYS INVESTIGATION TEAM WORKING TO DETERMINE ALL THE FACTS ABOUT INCIDENT NEAR LABOUNEH

  • The Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra, provided an update on the UN peacekeeper’s investigation into the reported incident near Labouneh during the night of 6-7 August.
  • He said that, even as the investigation proceeds, it is clear that the presence of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon in violation of the Blue Line constitutes a serious breach of the terms of UN Security Council resolution 1701. General Serra said that UNIFIL has strongly protested the violation to the Israeli Defense Force and called for its full cooperation with the investigations into the incident.
  • He added that a UNIFIL investigation team has already been to the location and continues to work in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces on the ground to determine all the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICE SAYS FUNDING REMAINS LOW FOR CRITICAL PROJECTS IN YEMEN

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that funding remains low for critical humanitarian projects in Yemen, particularly for water and sanitation, health, education, protection and early recovery.
  • Humanitarian organizations have received less than half of the $702 million they had requested for 2013. The World Food Programme (WFP) faces an $80 million funding gap for the rest of the year for Yemen.
  • Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, urged international and regional donors to provide funding for these critical activities, which will have the immediate impact of saving the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable Yemenis.

U.N. RIGHTS OFFICE DISMAYED BY RESUMPTION OF DEATH PENALTY IN VIETNAM

  • The Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights said today that it is dismayed by the resumption of the death penalty in Viet Nam.
  • A 27-year-old man was executed by lethal injection on 6 August, some 18 months after the last execution was reported to have taken place in the country.
  • The Office said that this resumption represents a major setback in Viet Nam’s human rights record. It is also deeply concerned that more than 100 death row prisoners who have exhausted their appeals are now facing imminent execution.
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, wrote to the Prime Minister of Viet Nam last month, noting that the country still retains the death penalty for several offenses that do not meet the threshold of most serious crimes.
  • The Office urged the Government not to carry out further executions and to join the growing number of Member States that have established a moratorium on the death penalty or abolished this practice altogether.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGES AUTHORITIES IN CAMBODIA TO ADJUDICATE ELECTORAL COMPLAINTS FAIRLY: Asked about reports of irregularities in elections in Cambodia, the Spokesperson noted that, in a recent statement, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations encourages the competent authorities to adjudicate complaints fairly and transparently.

U.N. LOOKING INTO ALLEGATIONS REGARDING CONDUCT OF STAFF MEMBER IN SOMALIA: Asked about a staff member for the UN in Somalia who was the subject of an anonymously filed complaint regarding conduct, the Spokesperson recalled that the contracting office, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), is looking into the allegations. He declined further comment while that proceeds.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ALL ACTS OF TERRORISM: Asked about a bombing in Pakistan, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations condemns all acts of terrorism, wherever they occur.

U.N. FOCUSING ON COMBATING CHOLERA EPIDEMIC IN HAITI: Asked about cholera in Haiti, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations system was focusing on combating the spread of the cholera epidemic in the country.

U.N. ANNOUNCES WITH SADNESS PASSING OF MEMBER OF U.N. PRESS CORPS, GRAHAM USHER: The Spokesperson expressed great sadness in announcing the passing of a member of the U.N. press corps. Graham Usher, who wrote for Al Ahram weekly and several other publications, passed away peacefully at home on Thursday after an illness. His wife, BBC correspondent Barbara Plett, was by his side. Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course. 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
10 - 16 AUGUST 2013

(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

 

Saturday, 10 August

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Sunday, 11 August

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Monday, 12 August

Today is International Youth Day.

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 1 in the Conference Building, there will be a commemoration of the International Youth Day on the theme “Youth migration: Moving development forward”, co-organized by the Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and the International Labour Organization (ILO), with the support of the MDG Achievement Fund.

In Geneva, the Human Rights Council’s Advisory committee will begin its 11th session. The session will end on 16 August.

In Geneva, the Biological Weapons Convention will begin the Meeting of Experts. The meeting will end on 16 August.

In Geneva, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will begin its 83rd session. The session will end on 30 August.

Tuesday, 13 August

In Geneva, the World Health Organization will launch the 2013 World Health Report Research for universal health coverage, under embargo. The embargo will lift at 10:30 a.m. Beijing time (02:30 GMT) on 15 August 2013. 

Wednesday, 14 August

In the morning, the Security Council will be briefed on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), followed by consultations.

In the afternoon, the Security Council will hold a troop-contributing countries (TCC) meeting.

Thursday, 15 August

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Friday, 16 August

At 3:00 p.m., in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, the Trusteeship Council will hold its 1714th meeting to elect the President and the Vice-President of the Council.