HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESS BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS ATROCITIES CONTINUE IN SYRIA DESPITE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT
- The Secretary-General spoke at an informal meeting of the General Assembly on the Responsibility to Protect on Wednesday, saying that, despite that doctrine, atrocities continue to be committed and we continue to face challenges in our efforts to protect people from them.
- He said that the crisis in Syria is a case in point. The Secretary-General said that our collective failure to prevent atrocity crimes in Syria over the past two and a half years will remain a heavy burden on the standing of the United Nations and its Member States.
- He expressed his hope that the current discussions related to safeguarding Syria's chemical weapon stocks will lead to the Security Council playing an effective role in promoting an end to the Syrian tragedy.
- The Secretary-General added that prevention is at the core of the responsibility to protect, and we must all look into our own capacity to prevent. This is where responsibility starts.
- The Deputy Secretary-General also made remarks on the same subject.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES DISCUSSIONS THAT COULD LEAD TO AGREEMENT ON SYRIA’S CHEMICAL WEAPONS
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General strongly welcomes the emergence of serious international discussions that could lead to an agreement in the Security Council to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons so as to prevent their use.
- The Secretary-General welcomes, therefore, President Obama’s decision to take time to further explore this diplomatic opportunity to achieve this crucially important objective.
- He also welcomes the efforts by the Russian Federation to advance a possible agreement. He hopes the US-Russian meetings later this week will be productive in moving toward a process for addressing the Syrian chemical weapons threat to which all parties will be committed.
- Haq added that the confirmed use of chemical weapons would be an outrageous crime for which there must be accountability and determined efforts to prevent any recurrence.
- Asked about the talks between the US Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister in Geneva later this week, he said that Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, would be in Geneva and would be available for potential meetings with those officials.
- Asked about the work of the chemical weapons investigation team, the Spokesperson declined to provide a timeline for when that work would be completed.
- He noted that, as of 4 September, all samples have arrived at the designated laboratories. In order to handle the large number of the samples in a timely manner, the analyses will take place in four labs.
- Asked about any future role for the United Nations in removing Syria’s chemical weapons, Haq said that the United Nations had not yet been tasked with that objective. He said that Security Council discussions on Syria were continuing.
- Asked about contingency plans for peacekeeping in Syria, he said that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has engaged in contingency planning for a range of scenarios so that peacekeeping is ready to play a role in Syria if the Security Council calls on it.
SYRIA: CIVILIANS CONTINUE TO SUFFER, SAYS COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
- The Commission of Inquiry dealing with human rights violations issued its latest report today, and the Commission said that civilians continue to pay the price for the failure to negotiate an end to this conflict. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost and more than six million Syrians have fled their homes, the Commission said.
- The report details massacres and other unlawful killings, which the Commission says are perpetrated with impunity. It adds that an untold number of men, children and women have disappeared.
- The Commission says that there is an urgent need for a cessation of hostilities and a return to negotiations, leading to a political settlement.
REPORT SAYS 232 MILLION PEOPLE LIVE ABROAD WORLDWIDE
- New UN statistics have revealed that 232 million people, or 3.2 per cent of the world’s population, are living abroad worldwide, with the United States being the most popular destination.
- The data also show that migration from a developing country to another developing country is as common as from a developing country to a developed one.
- Wu Hongbo, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, has said that migration can make a very important contribution to social and economic development both in the countries of origin and in the countries of destination.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ATTEND SCREENING OF “PLANET OCEAN”
- On Wednesday evening, the Secretary-General is expected to attend the screening of “Planet Ocean”, produced by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Environment Progarmme (UNEP) as well as a filmmaker and environmentalist.
- The Secretary-General is expected to say that he hopes this film can help generate political momentum to safeguard our oceans as we work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.