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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESS BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

 

TUESDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2013

 

[There was no noon briefing on Tuesday because of the opening of the General Assembly plenary. The regular noon briefing will resume on Wednesday, 25 September.]

 

OPENING REMARKS BY SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON AT THE 68TH PLENARY SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

  • Each year at this time, we come together – not to preserve the status quo, but to drive our world forward. 
  • This is an era of wondrous opportunity.  Ours is the first generation that can wipe poverty from the face of the earth.
  • Yet the pressures on people and the planet are building: Youth without jobs. A warming climate.  Unresolved conflicts.
  • Events are moving with 21st-century speed, often outpacing the institutions and systems designed for another age.
  • In streets and squares across the world, people are pressing those in power.  They want you, the world’s leaders, to listen.  They want to know that we are doing all it takes to secure a life of dignity for all.
  • For more than a decade, the end of the year 2015 has been our long horizon.  What once seemed a distant moment is now just around the corner.
  • 2015 is the year by which we have pledged to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
  • It is the year in which we will adopt a new development agenda.
  • And it is the year in which you have agreed to complete a global agreement on climate change.
  • 2015 is a historic opportunity. 
  • The MDGs have captured the imagination, generated remarkable gains and beat back doubts about development itself.
  • Yet on some goals, we lag badly.  Inequality is growing.  Too many people face exploitation – from fields to factory floor.
  • A new development agenda must be as inspiring as the MDGs, while going further.
  • It must be universal, with ending poverty as its top priority, sustainable development at its core, and governance as its glue. It must find expression in a single set of goals.
  • And there should be no hierarchy among the three dimensions of sustainable development – no deferring the environment or social justice for later, once economic growth is assured.
  • The empowerment and rights of women must be at the heart of everything we do.
  • The equation is simple: When girls are healthy and in school; when legal frameworks and financial access support women; when women’s lives are free of violence and discrimination, nations thrive.
  • I add my voice to those of the leaders who will gather this afternoon to adopt a strong declaration on sexual violence in conflict.
  • Let the 21st century be the century of women.
  • Success also requires more from the private sector.
  • Business needs the space to do what it does best: create jobs and innovate. But business must be carried out ethically and responsibly, with full regard for the environment.
  • At last week’s Global Compact summit, thousands of business leaders pledged to do more to align their operations with UN goals.
  • The United Nations must continue to strengthen its capacity to work not only with business and finance, but also with civil society and the philanthropic community.
  • The impacts of climate change threaten all our development gains.
  • The rising human and economic toll affects everyone.  The world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, who are being harmed first and worst, are crying out for climate justice.
  • Our planet and our scientists are sending a clear message, as we will see once again this week when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues its latest assessment. 
  • There is opportunity amid this peril – a chance to change the way we do business, plan our cities, fuel our homes and factories, and move our goods and ourselves.  A low-carbon path beckons – a path that can create jobs and improve public health while safeguarding the environment.
  • To help set us on this course, I invite all of you to a Climate Summit meeting one year from now – September next year here at the United Nations.
  • I challenge you to bring to the Summit bold pledges.  Innovate, scale-up, cooperate and deliver concrete action that will close the emissions gap and put us on track for an ambitious legal agreement through the UNFCCC process.
  • Let us seize the 2015 challenge: a final push for the MDGs, new directions on energy and climate, and an inspiring new development framework.
  • We must leave no one behind.
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,
  • Now let me turn to the biggest peace and security [challenge] in the world, the crisis in Syria.
  • Well over 100,000 people have been killed.  Well over 7 million people -- a third of the total population -- have fled their homes. 
  • Families are under siege.  Cities and towns lie in rubble. The economy is in ruins.
  • Communities once alive with a blend of traditions and faiths have been torn apart.
  • The region is being dangerously destabilized.  We have seen the worst chemical weapons attack on civilians in a quarter century.
  • A lost generation of young people now fills refugee camps.  Who among us can say that they, and their mothers and fathers, are wrong to feel abandoned by the international community?
  • We face a moment of reckoning.
  • The Syrian Government must fully and quickly honour the obligations it has assumed in acceding to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  • The international community must bring to justice the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Syria – confirmed unequivocally by the UN Investigation Mission.
  • The international community must also, with equal determination, ensure the safeguarding and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and programmes.
  • But we can hardly be satisfied with destroying chemical weapons while the wider war is still destroying all of Syria.
  • The vast majority of the killing and atrocities have been carried out with conventional weapons. 
  • I appeal to all States to stop fuelling the bloodshed and to end the arms flows to all the parties.
  • I look forward to the imminent adoption of an enforceable and binding Security Council resolution on chemical weapons.
  • This should be followed immediately by humanitarian action.
  • UN human rights monitors could play a useful role in reporting and deterring further violations.
  • I call on the Syrian Government and the opposition to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. 
  • They must lift all obstacles to humanitarian access, and end the unconscionable targetting of medical facilities and personnel.  They must release the thousands of men, women and children whose detention has no basis in international law.
  • Full accountability for serious international crimes is also vital -- either through referral to the International Criminal Court or by other means consistent with international law.
  • The response to the heinous use of chemical weapons has created diplomatic momentum – the first signs of unity in far too long. 
  • Now we must build on it to get the parties to the negotiating table. 
  • I have been consistently saying that military victory is an illusion. The only answer is a political settlement.
  • I appeal to the Government of Syria and the opposition – and, Excellencies, I appeal to all those in this hall with influence over them – to make the Geneva II conference happen as soon as possible.
  • It is time to end the killing, and to reach the peace the Syrian people need and deserve.
  • Lifting our sights from Syria, we can see tremendous stress and upheaval across the region. 
  • Historic transitions have stumbled or slowed.  Springs of inspiration are giving way to winters of disillusionment.
  • The challenges are immense: building democracy and pluralistic dialogue; dousing the flames of sectarianism; filling the security vacuum after the iron grip of dictators is gone.
  • But this story is still being written.  We must do our utmost to help these reforms succeed.  We must seize potential openings and respond to declarations of good will.
  • Each nation will chart its own course.  We cannot be complacent where there is backsliding, but rather insist on respect for universal values: human rights, tolerance and political inclusion. These are the foundations of peace and prosperity.
  • I welcome the re-engagement of Israelis and Palestinians in direct negotiations, and the bold diplomacy that made this possible.  If we are serious about achieving a two-state solution, then we must recognize that the window is closing fast.
  • I urge the parties to show leadership – and a sense of the long-term interests of their peoples and the region. I am going to convene the Quartet principals meeting later this week here in New York to lend our strong support to this ongoing Middle East peace process.
  • Looking beyond the Middle East and North Africa, I see Africans writing a new narrative of dynamism, democracy and sustained, impressive economic growth.
  • Political progress in Somalia, credible elections in Mali, more robust peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a new framework of hope for the Great Lakes region -- these are gains to build on.
  • At the same time, the misery and volatility in the Sahel continues.  There has been a breakdown in law and order in the Central African Republic.  Millions of people are cut off from assistance and face abuse.  Yet like the humanitarian appeal for Syria, our call for help for the C.A.R. is woefully underfunded.
  • And in the past week alone, in appalling attacks in Kenya, Iraq and Pakistan, we have been given grim reminders about the ability of terrorists to cause havoc and harm.
  • Throughout the world, we see again the centrality of human rights and the rule of law as foundations of stability and coexistence.
  • It is time to reinforce our commitment to the cause of international law, and to the International Criminal Court. 
  • I would like to make a special appeal on behalf of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.  The Court has achieved important successes but there is a deep and chronic funding shortage and now its very survival is in question.
  • Financial failure would be a tragedy for the people of Cambodia, who have waited so long for justice.  I call on the international community to come forward with the financing to see all the cases through to their conclusion.
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,
  • The inability of Member States and the United Nations to prevent and put a stop to large-scale human rights violations has had disastrous consequences.
  • An internal review of UN action at the end of the war in Sri Lanka identified a systemic failure: Member States did not provide the United Nations system with support to meet the tasks they themselves had set; and the system itself unfortunately did not adapt properly or deliver fully.
  • In this 20th anniversary year of the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, we should renew our commitment to the UN’s founding principles.  I intend to do more to help Member States reach early consensus to prevent large-scale violations, and I am implementing recommendations to ensure that the UN system upholds its responsibilities under the Charter.
  • There will be little peace or enjoyment of human rights unless we confront a world awash in deadly weapons.  The past year saw the promising adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, finally regulating the international transfer of conventional weapons.
  • But nuclear disarmament is languishing.  Deadly weapons are proliferating.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is still not in force.  And small arms continue to kill and maim.
  • Meanwhile, at a time of pressing human need, spending on weapons remains absurdly high.  Let us get our priorities right and invest in people instead of wasting billions of dollars on deadly weapons.
  • You the leaders are here to serve we the peoples.
  • We can be the ones who preside over an end to poverty, give voice to the will of the people and usher in an era of sustainable development and lasting peace. 
  • You can tackle the toughest problems today – and make your foresight a gift to future generations.
  • I urge you to embrace the global logic of our times.  With our fates ever more entwined, our future must be one of ever deeper cooperation.
  • In this transformed global landscape, let us find new ways of governing, partnering and problem-solving.
  • Let us empower the United Nations to be more than a first responder or a last resort.
  • Change is inevitable, but progress is not.  Leadership makes the difference.
  • Let us take our cue from Nelson Mandela – frail today, but forever in our awareness as a towering model of integrity and principled action in the pursuit of human dignity.
  • You in your home countries, and we here together, are at a privileged pinnacle. 
  • We must prove ourselves fit for purpose.  We must listen to the just demands of the world’s peoples and hear the call of history.
  • We speak often of hope.  Our duty is to turn hope into action, through hard work, commitment, skill and integrity.
  • With passion but most of all with compassion, we can build the future your people want – and that our world needs.
  • I thank you for your leadership and strong commitment.  Let us build our world better for all. Let us shape our future where everybody can live harmoniously with peace and dignity.
  • Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup.

CHEMICAL WEAPONS TEAM SET TO RETURN TO SYRIA

  • In response to recent questions, the Spokesperson said that the Mission led by Professor Ake Sellström will return to Syria on Wednesday to complete its investigation of pending credible allegations, including the 19 March incident at Khan al-Asal.
  • As for information about Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has not shared such information with the UN Mission.
  • The responsibility of verifying the inventory and elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles belongs with the OPCW. This task is beyond the scope of the UN Mission’s mandate, which is to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED AS VIOLENCE DISPLACES MORE IRAQIS

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expressed its concern as recent waves of sectarian violence threaten to spark a new internal displacement of Iraqis fleeing the recent horrific bombings and other attacks.
  • Since the beginning of the year, bombings and rising sectarian tensions have displaced some 5,000 Iraqis.
  • UNHCR and its partners have conducted needs assessments of the newly displaced people and called on the Government of Iraq for their registration. In coordination with the Government, UNHCR and its partners ensure that food, core relief items, education and adequate accommodation are provided and that relevant identity and residency cards are also supplied.
  • This recent displacement adds to the over 1.13 million internally displaced people inside Iraq that fled their homes during the 2006-2008 sectarian violence, mostly residing in Baghdad, Diyala and Ninewa governorates.

HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT KIDNAPPING ALLEGATIONS REGARDING CAMP ASHRAF

  • The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that it is gravely concerned about allegations that seven former residents of Iraq’s Camp Ashraf, six of whom are reported to be women, were kidnapped during the events of 1 September 2013. If they have indeed been kidnapped, all efforts should be made to secure their release unharmed.
  • As three weeks have now passed, the Office reiterated its call on the Government to do its utmost to shed light on exactly what happened on 1 September and to identify the perpetrators of the killings at Camp Ashraf.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO OPEN FIRST MEETING OF U.N. FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

  • The first meeting of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development will be held on Tuesday at the UN Headquarters. The establishment of the Forum was one critical outcome of Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development last year.
  • In his remarks to the inaugural meeting, the Secretary-General is expected to say that this is a significant step towards realizing the vision adopted at Rio+20, and towards engaging the full range of sustainable development actors.

THE WEEK AHEAD AND ACTIVITIES AT THE UNITED NATIONS
24 SEPTEMBER – 1 OCTOBER 2013

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

 

Wednesday, 25 September

At 8:00 a.m., in Conference Room A (NLB), there will be an event entitled “The Power of Numbers – MDG Lessons for Post-2015”.

At 8:00 a.m., in Conference Room 7 (NLB), there will be an event entitled “Looking to 2015 and Beyond: The role of anti-corruption and governance”.

At 9:00 a.m., in the Trusteeship Council in the Conference Building (CB), there will be a Special Event of the President of the General Assembly to follow up on efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

At 9:00 a.m., in Conference Room B (NLB), there will be an event entitled “Connectivity and mobility – driving forces of Post-2015 Development Agenda”.

At 9:30 a.m., at the European Union (EU) Mission, there will be a Ministerial-level meeting on the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic, co-chaired by Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, and Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France.

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 9 (CB), there will be a launch of the Resource Guide on Nuclear Disarmament for Religious Leaders and Communities by the President of the Republic of Costa Rica, organized by the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica, in collaboration with Religions for Peace.

At 11:00 a.m., in the ECOSOC Chamber (CB), there will be a special event on “Delivering on the global education promise” (on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative

(GEFI), co-organized by the Global Education First Initiative’s Secretariat and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

At 11:30 a.m., in Conference Room 3 (CB), there will be an event entitled “Women’s and Children’s Health – The Unfinished Agenda of the MDGs” in support of Every Woman Every Child initiative.

At 12:00 p.m., in ECOSOC Chamber (CB), there will be an anniversary event of the Global Education First Initiative.

At 1:15 p.m., in the ECOSOC Chamber, there will be a high-level side event on “Vienna+20: Human rights achievements, shortcomings, and the way forward”, with the Secretary-General, the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and two former High Commissioners for Human Rights (Mary Robinson and Louise Arbour).

At 1:15 p.m., in S-1522 in the Secretariat Building, there will be an event entitled “Effectiveness and Accountability in the Post-2015 Development Agenda – Lessons from the MDG Experience”.

At 3:30 p.m., in Conference Room 3 (CB), there will be a special event on “Too Young to Wed: Empowering Girls as Leaders of Tomorrow”, co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Canada, Ghana and the Netherlands, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with Plan International.

At 6:30 p.m., in the Danny Kaye Visitors Centre in the UNICEF House, there will be the “My World Partner Recognition Event and Award Ceremony”, organized by the United Nations Millennium Campaign and partners.

Thursday, 26 September

Today is World Maritime Day.

In the afternoon, the Security Council will be briefed (High-level Meeting) on small arms.

At 8:15 a.m., in the Delegates Dining Room, there will be an event entitled “Innovations in Labour Migration: Governance and Development Outcomes” organized by Sweden and the International Labour Organization.

At 9:00 a.m., in the General Assembly Hall (NLB), there will be a High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament.

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 2 (CB), there will be a High Level Meeting on the Sahel.

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 8 (NLB), there will be an event entitled “Engineering a Development Data Revolution: Post-2015 and the Global Partnership for Development Data”.

At 10:30 a.m., in Conference Room A (CB), there will be an event entitled “Tackling Inequalities Beyond 2015 through Social Protection”.

At 11:30 a.m., in Conference Room 1 (CB), there will be a High-level Meeting on Women’s economic empowerment for peacebuilding, hosted by the Peacebuilding Commission.

At 11:30 a.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by President of Cyprus, H.E. Mr. Nicos Anastasiades.

At 12:30 p.m., in room S-2727, there will be a Ministerial-level meeting on combating violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons worldwide, with the Foreign Ministers of Argentina, the Netherlands and Norway, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, the Minister of Development Cooperation of France, high-level representatives of Brazil, Croatia, the European Union, Japan and New Zealand, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and executive directors of Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. This is a closed meeting, but photographers will be given access for the first few minutes.

At 12:30 p.m., in the Danny Kaye Visitors Centre in the UNICEF House, there will be an event entitled “Children’s Voices in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, organized by the United Nations Millennium Campaign and the Child Fund Alliance.

At 1:15 p.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (CB), there will be a High-level event on “The World Humanitarian Summit: Partnerships in the changing humanitarian landscape”, organized by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 7 (NLB), there will be an event entitled “Ensure Peaceful, Just and Resilient Societies in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”.

At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 8 (NLB), there will be a panel discussion on “Sustainable development goals: Nature at the heart of sustainable socio economic development” (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of France and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (ICUN).

At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 1 (CB), there will be a High-level event on “Poaching and Illicit Wildlife Trafficking”, co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Gabon and Germany.

At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 9 (CB), there will be a thematic presentation on “Lessons learned from Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Working towards nuclear-weapons-free regions across the globe”, organized by the Permanent Mission of El Salvador, in collaboration with Peace Boat.

At 3:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a panel discussion on “Enhancing accountability for sexual violence in conflict”, organized by the Permanent Mission of Estonia.

At 5:45 p.m., at the Conference Building Stakeout, there will be a media stakeout by Mr. Filippo Grandi, Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and Mr. Nabil El Araby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.

Friday, 27 September

Today is World Tourism Day.

In the afternoon, the Security Council will be briefed on the Middle East (Yemen).

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 3 (NLB), there will be the 8th Conference on facilitating entry into force of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 1 (CB), there will be a meeting of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Group of Friends (ministerial level).

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 3 (CB), there will be the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (Article XIV).

At 11:00 a.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Article XIV Conference.

At 12:00 p.m., in the Press briefing room, Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, Under-Secretary-General for Least Developed Countries (LDC), Landlocked and Small Island Developing States and H.E. Mr. Boni Yayi, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Benin, will be the guests at the Spokesperson’s Noon Briefing. They will discuss the launch of the LDC Flagship report.

At 3:00 p.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (CB), there will be High-level panel discussion on “A call to ratify the Kampala amendments on the crime of aggression” with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Botswana, Estonia and Liechtenstein.

At 8:00 p.m., at the Conference Building Stakeout, there will be a media stakeout by Mr. Frans Timmerman, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands.

Saturday, 28 September

Today is World Rabies Day.

Today is World Heart Day.

At 6:00 p.m., at the Great Lawn in Central Park, there will be a Global Citizen Festival, organized by the Global Citizen and the United Nations.

Sunday, 29 September

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Monday, 30 September

At 10:00 a.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (CB), there will be a meeting of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries (Twelfth Annual Ministerial Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs).

Tuesday, 1 October

The General Debate of the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly will end.

At 9:30 a.m., in the ECOSOC Chamber (CB), there will be a briefing on “Building the resilience and capacity of African countries, regional and sub-regional institutions to pre-empt, and respond to humanitarian crises and disasters” (by the African regional economic communities, co-organized by the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union, the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).