HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESS BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS ON DEVELOPMENT, YEMEN AND EDUCATION AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEETINGS
- The Secretary-General began his morning with an event on raising the visibility of the 2014 Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States. He said that more attention needs to be brought to the problems that these countries, many of which are isolated, face. The Secretary-General added that all small island development states are exposed to high risks from environmental threats, especially climate change.
- And then the Secretary-General addressed Member States on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and defining the next development agenda. In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that the Millennium Development Goals have galvanized unprecedented national commitment and international support. But despite the substantial progress achieved, prospects for achieving the goals differ sharply across and within countries and regions.
- The Secretary-General also spoke at a ministerial meeting of the Friends of Yemen, where he called on all Yemenis to live up to their responsibilities under the transition agreement and contribute to a successful conclusion to the National Dialogue Conference. He said that he is well aware that the transition process is fragile, but that he is confident that the people of Yemen will persevere on a peaceful and constructive path.
- At noon, the Secretary-General spoke at the Global Education First Initiative event, which showcased the movement’s achievements over the past year.
- The Deputy Secretary-General also spoke at a number of events, including on maternal and child health and on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts and other situations of violence.
- The Deputy Secretary-General also attended a ministerial event focused on the humanitarian situation in Syria.
- The Secretary-General later met with the Foreign Ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES SIGNINGS OF ARMS TRADE TREATY
- On Wednesday, a number of countries signed the Arms Trade Treaty, pushing the total number of signatures to more than half of all Member States.
- The Secretary-General, as the depository of the Treaty, welcomes every signature to this important treaty. At the same time, it is of particular significance that the largest arms exporting country in the world, the United States, is now also among those countries who have committed themselves to a global regulation of the arms trade. He believes this will contribute to efforts to reduce insecurity and suffering for people on all continents. He calls upon other countries to follow suit.
- Asked about the implications of the Treaty, the Spokesperson noted that the Treaty regulates the international arms trade but does not deal with domestic weapons regulations.
SYRIA: U.N. CHEMICAL WEAPONS TEAM RETURNS TO SYRIA FOR FURTHER FACT-FINDING ACTIVITIES
- The United Nations Mission under Åke Sellström looking into allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria has returned to the Syrian Arab Republic to complete its fact-finding activities for all pending credible allegations.
- These include the 19 March incident at Khan al-Asal, as well as two other incidents previously identified by the Mission as warranting an investigation. The Mission will also discuss with the Government information that it may possess regarding allegations it reported on the use of chemical weapons pertaining to the incidents of 22, 24 and 25 August.
- The Mission can only finalize its work programme once it has been able to assess the conditions of the alleged sites, and this assessment will clearly have to take into account the passage of time, which may limit the availability of samples. It should also be recalled that the aim of the Mission is to collect evidence based on multiple sources in order to substantiate whether or not an alleged incident has taken place.
- Asked about the diplomatic process for Syria, the Spokesperson said that the focus remains on convening the Geneva II conference as soon as possible. To that end, the Secretary-General and Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi will meet with the US Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Minister on Friday.
- Asked who would attend that meeting, he said the matter is still under discussion.
D.R. CONGO: U.N. MISSION CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS; U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE PRESENTS REPORT
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has strongly condemned attacks on schools and hospitals committed by parties to the conflict, in particular by the armed group known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), in Beni territory.
- The Head of the UN Mission, Martin Kobler, said this group and all other parties involved in such acts must immediately stop committing these deplorable violations of the rights of the child, which have deprived more than 7,000 children of their education and affected the provision of health services for thousands more.
- Following a joint investigation mission by the Mission and local authorities to Kamango area in Beni territory, it was revealed that ADF elements ransacked eleven primary schools and five health centres in July of this year.
- Also, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) presented its latest report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Human Rights Council. It covers the period from November of last year to May this year.
- The report welcomes the progress made in promulgating a law establishing a national human rights commission, as well as proceedings against state agents accused of human rights violations. But it also draws attention to the need for the authorities to continue their efforts in the fight against impunity and to strengthen the independence of the judiciary.
- The report also deplores the significant deterioration of the human rights situation in the east of the country, despite the Government’s efforts.
U.N. RELIEF CHIEF CALLS FOR URGENT INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, together with the European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, and the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, has called for urgent international support for the Central African Republic. That was at a joint event they co-hosted this morning.
- Ms. Amos said that some 1.6 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in the country.
- She underlined the need to invest in stability and recovery now. She added that failure to act would prolong and worsen the appalling conditions people are enduring and create another threat to peace and security in an already fragile region.
DARFUR: JOINT AFRICAN UNION-U.N. ENVOY URGES PROGRESS TO ENSURE SUCCESS OF PEACE AGREEMENT
- The African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, attended the sixth meeting of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) Implementation Follow-up Commission (IFC) which took place in Doha, Qatar, on 23 September.
- In his remarks to the meeting, Mr. Chambas, who also serves as Joint Chief Mediator, said that achieving substantial progress on the ground was critically important to the success of the peace process as the document had raised expectations.
- He also warned that the deteriorating security situation, increasingly marked by localized inter-tribal fighting in many parts of Darfur, could undermine the document’s implementation and stall development programmes.
LIBYA: U.N. MISSION WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT ON CONSTITUTION DRAFTING PROCESS
- The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has welcomed the announcement by the High National Elections Commission that the process for the Constitution-Drafting Assembly elections has begun. Tarek Mitri, the head of the UN Mission, said that the constitutional drafting process presents an opportunity for the Libyan people to forge a new social contract that will govern a new Libya.
- UN support in the forthcoming electoral process will include: outreach to potential women candidates; promotion of electoral awareness and knowledge, particularly on matters pertaining to voter registration; media training in electoral systems; and support to security planning for the election itself.
PAKISTAN: NUMBER OF PEOPLE KILLED IN EARTHQUAKE CONTINUES TO RISE, SAYS U.N. RELIEF OFFICE
- According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of people killed in the Tuesday earthquake in Pakistan’s Balochistan province continues to rise.
- According to latest Government estimates, more than 270 people have died and nearly 450 people have been injured.
- The UN and its humanitarian partners are in close contact with the National Disaster Management Authority and stand ready to provide assistance and mobilize more support from the international community, if requested.
- In the meantime, the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided emergency health kits and a trauma kit to help thousands of people. Other humanitarian partners have agreed to provide emergency relief supplies to local authorities.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO MEET IRANIAN PRESIDENT
- Asked about Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s comments on the Holocaust, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General would meet with the Iranian President this week and had spoken out clearly and repeatedly on the Holocaust, including during a visit to Tehran last year.