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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

MONDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2012

SYRIA ENVOY HOLDS TALKS IN CAIRO; HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS DIALOGUE ON SYRIA

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-League of Arab States Joint Special Representative for Syria, is in Cairo on Monday. On Monday evening, he will meet with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who are attending the meeting of those countries being organized in Cairo.

Mr. Brahimi met over the weekend with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and he told reporters afterward that the crisis in Syria is becoming worse by the day. He added that he will soon travel to New York to meet with the Security Council and others to discuss the crisis.

On Monday morning in Geneva, the Human Rights Council held an interactive dialogue with Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. 
Mr. Pinheiro, introducing the Commission’s report, said that gross violations of human rights in Syria had grown in number, pace and scale. The Commission recommended that the Human Rights Council forwards its report to the Security Council.

Asked about efforts by different personalities to draw attention to the question of Syrian refugees, the Spokesperson noted that there is already a funding shortfall to deal with the humanitarian needs of refugees and displaced people. Any attention to the needs of those groups is welcome.

TWO-STATE MIDDLE EAST SOLUTION AT RISK, U.N. OFFICIAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council on Monday morning that the lack of progress between Israelis and Palestinians on the political track and the continuing conflict and occupation put at risk the viability of the two-state solution. He said that the financial and economic crisis currently affecting the Palestinian Authority is a sobering manifestation of that risk.

He added that the Secretary-General sincerely hopes that the Quartet partners, in consultation with the parties, will chart a credible political way ahead in the coming months.

Discussing Syria, Mr. Serry warned that the month of August registered the highest number of casualties thus far, and the toll is growing. He noted the dangerous implications for Syria’s neighbours as conditions deteriorate.

The Security Council also extended the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia by one year, until the end of September 2013, in a vote earlier on Monday morning.

Asked whether the Secretary-General still believes the Road Map devised by the Quartet to be credible, the Spokesperson said that the Road Map had been agreed to by all parties. He added that Mr. Serry was drawing attention to the obvious lack of progress on the political track, coupled with the recent disturbances in the region.

U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES LAST RELOCATION OF IRAQ CAMP RESIDENTS

Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, has welcomed the arrival of the last major relocation convoy of residents from Camp Ashraf at Camp Hurriya, which took place this weekend.

Mr. Kobler called the move an important step as we near the end of the relocation process. He thanked the residents for their cooperation and also thanked the Government of Iraq for paving the way for the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf.

In total, 680 residents moved in the convoy on Sunday. Of the 3,280 residents originally in Camp Ashraf, only a small group now remains temporarily to arrange details concerning the closure of the camp. UN monitors will continue to oversee the process, including the relocation of the remaining residents to Camp Hurriya.

Mr. Kobler also urged the international community to speed up its efforts to accept residents in third countries.

U.N. OFFICIAL CONGRATULATES INAUGURATION OF NEW SOMALI PRESIDENT

Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, has congratulated Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on his inauguration as President of Somalia on Sunday.

He said that this marks the end of the transitional period and the beginning of a new era for Somalia.

As the process moves forward, the UN Political Office for Somalia will continue to stand with the President in addressing key immediate tasks, including stabilization of newly recovered areas, the integration and stability of the security services, the delivery of basic services to the Somali people and the construction of a viable judiciary system.

Asked about the recent fighting in Kismayo, the Spokesperson said that Mark Bowden had earlier drawn attention to the need to minimise the impact of conflict on civilians. That remains the relevant principle today.

U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ABUSES IN NORTHERN MALI

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned on Monday the human rights violations committed by the various armed groups occupying northern Mali, including cruel punishments such as amputations.

In a report to the Human Rights Council, Ms Pillay outlined a host of human rights abuses and alleged violations of international humanitarian law in this region and called for urgent national and international action to bring an end to the political instability that has been fuelling the violence.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE: The Secretary-General will hold a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday, 19 September. He will discuss the forthcoming session of the General Assembly, among other topics.

NEW GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT IMPARTIAL IN HIS WORK: Asked about recent remarks attributed to incoming General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, the Spokesperson noted that the election of the President of the General Assembly is determined by Member States. He added that the Secretary-General has said that he is convinced that the incoming General Assembly President will work impartially to serve the interests of all 193 Member States.