Syria; Settlements; The SC; Egypt; Kenya

Syria: It was reported today that the leader of the major opposition coalition in Syria, Moaz Al Khatib, might be willing to talk to representatives of the Syrian Government. In reaction to the news, Lakhdar Brahimi noted that, although attempts at negotiation thus far have been unsuccessful, the report “is worthy of note. Let’s see how the Government is going to respond.” When asked about Israeli air strikes in Syria, the Spokesperson said that UNDOF remains committed to the implementation of its mandate to maintain the ceasefire between the two countries. The SG today expressed his “grave concern” over the air strikes and calls on all concerned to quell rising tensions in the region.

Settlements: The International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory published its report today, calling on Israel to stop all settlement activity. The report notes that Israel must cease all activities in compliance with Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and that the country is committing serious breaches of its obligations under the right to self-determination and under humanitarian law. The full report will be formally presented to the Human Rights Council on March 18.

The SC: The SC met to wrap up its work for January today. Masood Khan, PR of Pakistan and President of the SC this month, briefed reporters about the Council’s work under his tenure. On Friday, ROK will assume the rotating Presidency of the SC for the month of February.

Egypt: UN Women Chief, Michelle Bachelet, expressed deep concern over the escalating violence against women in Egypt today. The agency is “deeply disturbed” by reports of sexual assault and other attacks against women that have increased recently. Bachelet called upon the Government and people of Egypt to take a firm stand against all forms of violence against women and girls and to promote human rights for all.

Kenya: USG for DPA, Jeffrey Feltman, today issued a plea to Kenya to execute their upcoming March elections as peacefully and transparently as possible. The last elections in December 2007 were followed by mass post-election violence in which more than 1,100 people were killed, 3,500 injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced.