HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESS BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR PEACEFUL RESOLUTION TO SYRIAN CONFLICT AT PEACE BELL CEREMONY
- On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the Peace Bell Ceremony to mark the International Day of Peace.
- He said the International Day is a time for reflection, a day when we reiterate our belief in non-violence and call for a global ceasefire.
- The Secretary-General said that perhaps nowhere in the world is this more desperately needed than in Syria, where the death and suffering has gone on for too long.
- He repeated his call to all parties and their supporters to work for a peaceful resolution to the conflict through negotiation.
- Following that event, the Secretary-General addressed a student conference commemorating the International Day of Peace, and the theme there this year is “Education for Peace.”
SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL AFFIRMS CONFIDENCE IN CHEMICAL WEAPONS TEAM, REPORT
- Asked about information that Russia says it has received about the 21 August attack in Ghouta, Syria, the Spokesperson noted that the chemical weapons investigation team has put out a report on the 21 August incident.
- He said that the United Nations is checking with the Russian Permanent Mission to find out precisely what Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said in Damascus.
- On the face of it, Nesirky said, these reported remarks are an attempt to call into question the Secretary-General's investigation team led by Professor Ake Sellström and the credibility of its thoroughly objective report.
- The Spokesperson emphasized that the Secretary-General has said repeatedly, including on Tuesday to all 193 Member States in the General Assembly, that the investigators are going to return to Syria as soon as practical to complete their work on Khan al Assal and all other pending credible allegations before completing the team's report.
- An overall report would be completed at the end of that work, Nesirky added, including on the 21 August incident.
- He said that the Secretary-General has the fullest confidence in the professionalism of his team and their work and findings. They worked impartially and to the highest scientific standards despite the exceptionally difficult conditions of the war in Syria. They will continue to do so.
- Nesirky added that the team worked with bravery to conduct its onsite work and it will continue its work.
- The Spokesperson said that the work of the Mission has been prepared to withstand independent scientific scrutiny. It adhered to the most stringent protocols available for such an investigation.
- The chain of custody for all samples has been meticulously documented and retained.
- He added that the analytical results and factual findings in the report are based solely on the information obtained on the ground by the Mission. That information has come from multiple sources of evidence, including samples from remnants of munitions, environmental and biomedical samples, information provided by survivors, patients, health workers and first responders.
- Nesirky said that the mission confirmed unequivocally and objectively that chemical weapons have been used in Syria. It detailed the types and trajectories of the rockets used to deliver their lethal pay-load that led to the deaths of so many civilians. The environmental and biomedical samples demonstrated the widespread nature of the attack. The terrible facts, he said, speak for themselves.
- Asked about the team’s findings, the Spokesperson reiterated that the team’s mandate was to find whether chemical weapons were used and not by whom.
- He added that the team’s work was done strictly according to its mandate.
- Asked about the role of the Security Council, the Spokesperson said that the Council has not been able to find a unified voice on Syria. The Secretary-General has called on the Security Council to uphold its political and moral responsibilities. Meanwhile, the United Nations system has continued its work in providing humanitarian aid and monitoring human rights in the country.
- The Spokesperson said that people in Syria continue to be slaughtered by conventional weapons, which is why a political solution is still needed for the country.
D.P.R.KOREA: INITIAL FINDINGS OF COMMISSION OF INQUIRY REPORT POINT TO SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
- Asked about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Spokesperson said that the Commission of Inquiry presented its oral update to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday.
- Those initial findings, particularly the ones gathered at the recent public hearings in Seoul and Tokyo, point to wide-spread and serious human rights violations in the DPRK.
- The Secretary-General has confirmed his support to the work of the Commission. He has repeatedly urged the DPRK authorities to work towards improving the life of its people and to abide by global norms including on human rights.
- The Secretary-General hopes that the DPRK will cooperate fully with the work of the Commission and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the country, and implement the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review.
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN
- In its consultations on Wednesday morning, the Security Council heard a briefing from Haile Menkerios, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, on the situation between the two countries.
- Then on Wednesday afternoon, the Security Council will hold a meeting to consider a draft resolution on the UN Mission in Liberia. Council members will also receive a briefing by Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, the Secretary-General’s Executive Representative for Sierra Leone.
SECRETARY-GENERAL PUBLISHES FIRST REPORT ON U.N. SPECIAL POLITICAL MISSIONS
- The Secretary-General has published the first overall report on the UN’s Special Political Missions.
- The report traces the history and evolution of political missions. In it, the Secretary-General says that the civilian missions are an “indispensable instrument for the maintenance of international peace and security.” The missions, he says, have been able to defuse tensions, help countries to step back from the brink of conflict, and support national efforts to build a sustainable peace.
- He urges strong Member State support to ensure their effectiveness, and the report (A/68/223) is available online.