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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

WEDNESDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER 2012

 SPEAKING ON RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT, BAN URGES SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION ON SYRIA

The Secretary-General presented his fourth annual report on the Responsibility to Protect at an informal interactive dialogue of the General Assembly on Wednesday morning.

He said that “never again” is an expression often heard but he said that he is haunted by the fear that we do not live up to this call. He said that a timely and decisive response is the ultimate test of the responsibility to protect.

In the past eight months, the Secretary-General said, we have seen the immense human cost of failing to protect the population of Syria.

He commended the General Assembly for its active response to the Syrian crisis.  It has shown that, while moments of unity in the Security Council on Syria have been few and far between, the rest of the world body need not be silent. The Secretary-General said that the Council’s paralysis does the Syrian people harm, damages its own credibility and weakens a concept that was adopted with such hope and expectations.

Asked about the work of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, the Spokesperson noted that a new Special Adviser, Adama Dieng, is now in place.

Nesirky noted that the Secretary-General has spoken out clearly about the failure by the international community to ensure the protection of people in Syria.

Asked about casualty figures in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the numbers continue to climb, but also noted that the United Nations does not have the presence on the ground to verify casualty numbers firsthand. Its efforts, he said, are focused on stemming the bloodshed and getting negotiations on track.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO ITALY, SWITZERLAND

The Secretary-General is departing New York on Wednesday evening for Turin, Italy, where he will chair a retreat for the senior officials of the UN system.

Early next week, he will travel to Switzerland, which is marking its tenth year as a UN Member State. First, he will be in Geneva, where he will give a public lecture next Monday that has been organized by the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

After that, the Secretary-General will travel to Bern, where he will address the Federal Parliament and meet with the President of the Swiss Confederation and other senior officials.

He will be back in New York by the middle of next week.

IN IRAN, BAN SPOKE OUT ON SYRIA, HUMAN RIGHTS

Asked about the Secretary-General’s trip to Iran, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had conveyed clear and unambiguous messages on Syria, human rights and Iran’s nuclear programme. He also attended a major multilateral meeting of more than 120 Member States by participating in the Summit of the Non -Aligned Movement.

Asked about the rhetoric from Israel concerning Iran, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has consistently called on all sides to tone down the rhetoric. The Secretary-General believes that the only way to deal with concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme is peacefully, through dialogue.

SIERRA LEONE: MORE THAN 15,000 CHOLERA CASES SINCE START OF 2012, SAYS U.N. RELIEF ARM

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Wednesday that more than 15,000 cases of cholera have been reported across Sierra Leone since the beginning of 2012.

UN agencies and humanitarian partners say that the epidemic, which is affecting 14 out of 15 districts, has dramatically worsened during August and the number of deaths has more than doubled in recent weeks to nearly 250.

The Government is reporting that this is the worst cholera outbreak in 15 years and has declared a national public health emergency.

UN agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), are supporting Government efforts to combat cholera.

U.N. MONITORING REPORTS OF COSTA RICA EARTHQUAKE

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is following reports of the earthquake in Costa Rica and is in touch with the Resident Coordinator’s office in the country.

The Office understands that there is no major damage in the capital, San José, although it understands that the National Emergency Commission was evacuated from its building and is waiting to be let it again.

For the time being, there has been no request for assistance.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS SEPTEMBER WORK PROGRAMME: The Security Council held its first consultations for the month of September and adopted its programme of work for the month. 

U.N. CONTINUES TO REVIEW ACTIONS DURING SRI LANKA WAR: Asked about the internal report reviewing the UN’s performance during the Sri Lanka war, the Spokesperson said the report is still being worked on. 

U.N. CONCERNED OVER MALI SITUATION: Asked about a potential request concerning an international force for Mali, the Spokesperson said that would be an issue for the Security Council, which has already been looking into the situation in Mali. He underscored the serious concerns the UN system has expressed over Mali and the entire Sahel region, and noted Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos’s recent visit there.