Syria: Today, the SG issued a statement “strongly condemning” the terrorist attacks in Damascus that occurred on Monday, reiterating that no cause can justify terrorist attacks, wherever, whenever and by whomever they are committed. The SG has also urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to immediately declare a unilateral ceasefire, which he announced at a news conference in France yesterday.

Rule of Law: The DSG spoke to the Sixth Committee on the rule of law this morning,  voicing his confidence that we now have a process in place for application of the rule of law in all three pillars of the UN: peace and security; development; and human rights. He also said that the UN is providing assistance in strengthening the rule of law in more than 150 Member States, including Somalia and Timor-Leste.

Mali: Ivan Šimonovic, the ASG for Human Rights and the Head of the New York Office of the OHCHR, briefed the press on his recent trip to Mali today. He reported that over one third – 1.5 million people – of the Northern population has fled the region both across borders and within the country. The pattern of human rights violations is changing, he noted; violations due to rebel violence has become more systemic throughout the Northern region of the country.

Peacekeeping: The USG for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, arrived in Laayoune on Wednesday to visit the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara to review operations and meeting with Mission’s leadership. In response to inquiries, the Spokesperson also said that DPKO has no mandate to conduct peacekeeping operations in the Kadugli or wider southern Kordofan area, and that this would be a decision for the Security Council.

Mental Health: In honor of World Mental Health Day today, the SG termed depression – afflicting 350 million people worldwide – an “under-appreciated global health crisis.” In his message, he called for an international effort to increase access to a wide variety of effective and affordable treatments and remove the social stigma attached to the illness.

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