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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

THURSDAY, 6 SEPTEMBER 2012

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS SENIOR OFFICIALS IN MIDDLE EAST, D.R. CONGO

  • The Secretary-General has appointed James W. Rawley of the United States as Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, at the level of Assistant Secretary-General.  Mr. Rawley will also serve as United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory.
  • The new Deputy Special Coordinator succeeds Maxwell Gaylard of Australia, who completed his assignment on 31 August.
  • The Secretary-General has also appointed Moustapha Soumaré of Mali as his Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), where he will also serve as the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator, and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 
  • He will succeed Mr. Fidèle Sarassoro of Côte d’Ivoire, who will complete his assignment on 30 September 2012.

BAHRAIN: BAN, U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF CONCERNED BY SENTENCES UPHELD AGAINST POLITICAL ACTIVISTS

  • In a statement issued on Wednesday evening, the Secretary-General said that he is concerned by the harsh sentences, including life imprisonment, upheld by a Bahrain appeals court against twenty Bahraini political activists.  
  • He urges the Bahraini authorities to allow all defendants to exercise their right to appeal and to ensure that due process is observed. 
  • The Secretary-General reiterates his appeal to the Bahraini authorities to ensure the application of international human rights norms, including the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. 
  • The Secretary-General takes this opportunity to again call on the Bahraini Government to complete the full implementation of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations.  
  • He reaffirms his belief that there needs to be an all-inclusive and meaningful national dialogue that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis, as this is the only way to promote peace, stability and justice in the country.
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has also spoken out about the sentences, saying that it was extremely disappointing that the convictions and sentences had been upheld in appeals proceedings that often took place behind closed doors.
  • Navi Pillay said that none of the courts so far had adequately addressed the defendants’ allegations that they were tortured in detention and forced to make confessions under duress.
  • She reiterated her call on the Bahraini authorities to release all those detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.

U.N. AGENCIES SCREEN CRISIS-AFFECTED SYRIAN CHILDREN TO STAVE OFF MALNUTRITION

  • Thousands of Syrian children are being screened to prevent malnutrition as part of a regional response to meet the growing health and nutrition needs of children both inside Syria and in surrounding countries affected by the crisis.
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Jordanian Ministry of Health are working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and partner agencies to launch a large-scale polio and measles vaccination campaign, targeting more than 100,000 children in Za’atari Camp in Jordan, nearby transit centres, and communities hosting refugees in the northern part of the country.
  • In Lebanon and Iraq, immunizations are also being provided and the nutritional status of children aged 5 years and under is being monitored closely.
  • UNICEF is appealing to the international community for increased funding of its programmes for emergency water, sanitation, education, health and nutrition, which are reaching tens of thousands of Syrian children and their families in Syria and neighbouring countries.
  • Asked how the UN is handling the situation of Syrian refugees on the Mediterranean Sea, the Spokesperson said that the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has been working hard with countries surrounding Syria to help ensure the accommodation of refugees in neighbouring countries.
  • He said that a recent incident in which refugees had reportedly died on the high seas, Nesirky said that the situation was troubling, while adding that further information was needed.

LIBYA: U.N. URGES ACCOUNTABILITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CRIMES

  • Asked about the Libyan proposal to try former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi, the Spokesperson said that accountability for major human rights crimes must be ensured and there should be no impunity for such crimes.
  • Due process and international standards of fair trial should be ensured.  Meeting such standards in the trials of past senior regime figures is an important component of ensuring the success of transitional justice and building the rule of law in Libya, he said.
  • Nesirky added that we encourage the Libyan authorities to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions.
  • He said that it will be for the ICC to consider Libya's likely submission that it is able and willing to try Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.

SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERN OVER CASE OF AZERI MAN

  • In response to questions about Ramil Safarov, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is concerned about the developments surrounding the case of Mr. Safarov since his 31 August 2012 transfer to Azerbaijan and subsequent pardon by Azerbaijani authorities.
  • Nesirky said that the UN underscores the responsibility of Member States to adhere to international standards and principles of rule of law in criminal cases in order to ensure accountability and fight impunity
  • As highlighted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Co-Chairs in their recent statement, he added, we hope that this issue will not damage the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and trust between the sides. There is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

U.N. COMMITTED TO LOOKING INTO SALARY CONCERNS OF DARFUR STAFF

  • Asked about a staff strike in Darfur, the Spokesperson said that the national staff of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) held a strike on Wednesday over the result of a salary survey that was conducted in March 2012. Following the survey results, an increase was granted. The national staff said that they consider the increase as insufficient and demand to be either paid in US dollars or to have their salaries recalculated according to the June 2012 exchange rate.
  • The Acting Joint Special Representative, Aichatou Mindaoudou, told the staff that she understood their concerns and was committed to work hard with the UN Headquarters to look into these issues.
  • Nesirky added that all decisions on salaries and conditions of service in the United Nations are regulated by the Office of the Human Resources Management.

            U.N. SUPPORTS WORK OF INTERNATIONAL BODY FIGHTING IMPUNITY IN GUATEMALA

  • The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), accompanied by a delegation of high-level officials of the Government of Guatemala, presented its road map at UN headquarters on Thursday to representatives of different countries who have an interest in supporting Guatemala and its justice system.
  • Addressing the meeting, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, said that the United Nations Secretariat values immensely the work of the International Commission and believes the Commission's efforts deserve the strong support of the international community.
  • Mr. Fernandez-Taranco added that the UN Secretariat appreciates the contributions that many countries have made to assist the Commission and hopes that the Commission will continue to enjoy their firm support.
  • The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala was created in 2006 as an independent, international body designed to support Guatemalan institutions in the investigation of crimes committed by members of illegal security forces and clandestine security organizations and to help to disband such organizations.

DESPITE STEADY FOOD PRICES, WORLD MUST REMAIN VIGILANT, SAYS SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL

  • The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that current food prices do not justify talk of a world food crisis although the international community should remain vigilant.
  • José Graziano da Silva made the comments as the United Nations agency released its Food Price Index for August which stayed unchanged from July.
    Mr. Graziano da Silva said that the August Index is reassuring but the international community can and should move to calm markets further.
  • The Food Price Index showed international prices of cereals and oils and fats changed little in August but sugar prices fell sharply, compensating for rising meat and dairy prices. 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES SUDAN, SOUTH SUDAN: The Security Council held consultations on Thursday on the situation between Sudan and South Sudan.

BAN URGES DIALOGUE TO RESOLVE ISSUES REGARDING IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME: Asked whether the Secretary-General is concerned about Israel’s reported nuclear programme, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has made his concerns known about the need to tone down the rhetoric on all sides and for questions about Iran’s nuclear programme to be handled peacefully and through dialogue.