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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-11-08
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
ANNAN IS SHOCKED BY ISRAELS KILLING OF PALESTINIANS
Kofi Annan was shocked to learn about the Israeli military operation carried out early today in a residential area in Beit Hanoun, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 18 Palestinians, including eight children and seven women. He extends his condolences to the bereaved families of the victims.
Only last Friday, the Secretary-General expressed his deep concern about the rising death toll caused by the Israeli military operation in northern Gaza, given that such operations inevitably cause civilian casualties. The Secretary-General reminds both sides of their obligations under international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call to the Israeli government to cease its military operations in Gaza without delay and calls on the Palestinian side to also halt attacks against Israeli targets.
He further takes note of the reported announcement by the Israeli Government of a full investigation into this latest incident and looks forward to its early results.
Asked whether the Secretary-General had spoken with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, following todays attack, the Spokesman said he has not directly spoken either with the Prime Minister or with the Palestinian President, but affirmed the continued concerns that the Secretary-General had expressed on the need for the protection of civilians to Olmert over the weekend.
U.N. MIDDLE EAST OFFICIALS CONDEMN ISRAELI OPERATION IN BEIT HANOUN
The U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Alvaro de Soto, today condemned the Israeli Defense Forces military action in Beit Hanoun, saying that he was appalled by it and calling on the Israeli government to call off these and other military operations without delay. The Palestinian side should cease attacks against Israeli targets, he added. We also have his statement upstairs.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Karen AbuZayd, expressed shock and dismay at the killing of yet more Palestine refugees in Beit Hanoun. "This morning's tragedy is yet more evidence, if any were needed, of the necessity to end this futile and provocative cycle of violence," she said.
AbuZayd visited the centre of Beit Hanoun yesterday, shortly after the Israeli forces left the area. According to an UNRWA press release, which we have upstairs, she witnessed first hand the despair of people trying to come to terms with death and destruction on a scale not seen in Gaza for many years.
ANNAN WELCOMES PEACE AGREEMENT IN NEPAL
The Secretary-General heartily welcomes the agreement reached yesterday between the Seven-Party Alliance and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). This agreement offers the people of Nepal a historic opportunity to end the armed conflict in their country, and to build sustainable peace within an inclusive and democratic state.
The United Nations has been asked to help in key areas of the peace process. The Secretary-General intends to respond promptly, while emphasizing that both sides must maintain the momentum of the peace process by fully carrying out the commitments they have made.
UNITED NATIONS IS CONCERNED AT MILITARY BUILDUP IN DARFUR
The Officer-in-Charge of the U.N. Mission in Sudan, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General Tayé Zerihoun, met today with the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, Said Djinnit. They discussed cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union on Darfur and the U.N. support package to the African Union Mission in Darfur.
Zerihoun will also travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Monday to a meeting of the (UN) Security Council, Government of Sudan and the African Union to discuss the A.U. to U.N. transition on Darfur.
Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reiterates its concerns about the deployment of additional government troops in Darfur.
The U.N. mission in Sudan says reports were received on a deployment of at least 30 military vehicles full of government soldiers in North Darfur.
And in West Darfur, the mission reports a new build up of armed militia was reported by several sources in the Jebel Moon area.
Asked about the meeting in Addis Ababa, the Spokesman said it would take place on Monday and was expected to include representation from the Security Council. Asked whether the Secretary-General would be in Addis, the Spokesman said he had nothing to announce officially about travels at this time.
Asked about a replacement for Jan Pronk, the Spokesman said that Pronk continues to serve as the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan until the end of this year, and is expected to go back to Khartoum for a short period. Any decision on Pronks replacement will be up to
Secretary-General-designate Ban Ki-moon.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA, MIDDLE EAST
The Security Council this morning began an open meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which it heard a briefing from the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement in that country, Christian Schwarz-Schilling. Adnan Terzic, who chairs Bosnias Council of Ministers, also addressed the meeting.
Then, immediately following the end of the Bosnia meeting, the Council members held consultations on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
Council members will also have their monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General today.
Asked whether the Secretary-General supports the holding of a special Council session on the Middle East, the Spokesman said the matter was up to the Security Council, not the Secretary-General.
D.R. CONGO CANDIDATES SAY WILL ACCEPT ELECTIONS RESULTS
The U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says that the electoral teams of President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba, the two contenders in the run-off presidential election, released a joint statement yesterday, in which they reaffirmed their commitment not to extrapolate the results of the vote. The two sides also acknowledged the Independent Electoral Commission as the sole authority empowered to announce the results.
The Mission says that the Congolese High Authority on Media will impose sanctions on local media outlets which might deliberate misrepresent or otherwise disrupt the proper announcement of the election results. Meanwhile, the Mission says that 85% of all valid ballots have now been delivered to Kinshasa for final certification.
Also, in a press release today, the Mission confirmed that voter turnout in South Kivu has set a new record for the DRC as 90% of the 1.6 million registered voters effectively cast their ballots in the 29 October election.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT TO HOLD
HEARING IN CASE AGAINST CONGOLESE WARLORD
The International Criminal Court (ICC) says that a public hearing to confirm charges against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a Congelese warlord accused of recruiting child soldiers, will begin tomorrow in The Hague and last until 28 November.
At the hearing, ICC judges will consider and then rule whether or not to confirm the charges brought by the ICC Prosecutor against Lubanga and to commit him to trial. Legal representatives of the victims in this case will also participate in the proceedings.
UNITED NATIONS FINDS ISRAEL DID NOT USE DEPLETED URANIUM IN LEBANON WAR
The U.N. Environment Programme has wrapped up its post-conflict environmental assessment of Lebanon. It
found no evidence of depleted uranium or other radioactive material being used during the recent conflict. But it did confirm that the Israeli Defense Forces had used artillery and mortar ammunition containing white phosphorous.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals meeting with Serge Brammertz on Tuesday, the Spokesman called it a routine briefing, adding that he was not aware of any calls made by the Secretary-General to Lebanese and Syrian officials afterward.
Asked about an international tribunal for Lebanon, the Spokesman said that Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel continues to lead the work on a tribunal and continues to brief Security Council members and other states on his progress.
When the Secretary-General feels that a solid proposal that has the best chances of support from all parties has been developed, he will present it to the Lebanese Government, Dujarric said.
Asked about Lebanese denials of weapons smuggling in that country, contrary to statements made by the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, the Spokesman said that Roed-Larsens report on resolution 1559 stands and speaks for itself. The Secretary-General, he added, continues to have full confidence in Roed-Larsen.
ANNAN EXPECTS KOSOVO ENVOY TO REMAIN IN POST
Asked about the Serbian Governments call for Martti Ahtisaari, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the Final Status Talks in Kosovo, to step down, the Spokesman said that it is up to the Secretary-General to decide on Ahtisaaris term. He said the Secretary-General expects Ahtisaari to lead the process until its conclusion.
Asked about the status of the process, Dujarric said that Ahtisaari was in charge of the process but noted the Secretary-Generals recent comments that it may slip beyond the end of this year.
U.N. DEVELOPMENT AGENCY TO PROPOSE GLOBAL ACTION PLAN
ON CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION
Tomorrow in Cape Town, South Africa, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) will launch its 2006 Human Development Report, in which the agency is expected to call for a Global Action Plan to meet the worlds clean water and sanitation needs. UNDP is expected to propose models of cooperation to resolve cross-border tensions in water management.
UNDP says that the will also debunk the myth that the global water crisis is the result of scarcity and argue that poverty, power and inequality are the root causes of the problem.
TRANSITION TO NEW U.N. ADMINISTRATION UNDERWAY
Asked about the transition to a new Secretary-General, the Spokesman said it was already underway, with a transition team comprising representatives of the current Secretary-General and his successor being formed.
Dujarric said that Ban Ki-moon was expected to take the oath of office around the second half of December, but added that his term would begin next January 1.
Asked whether Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno would be replaced, the Spokesman said that it is up to the Secretary-General-designate to decide, adding that the majority of Under-Secretaries-General had their contracts expire by next February.
Asked about a letter that the Chef-de-Cabinet had reportedly sent to all Under Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General asking them to resign after January 1st, the Spokesman later said there was no such letter.
SPOKESMAN CLARIFIES HOUSING SUBSIDIES ISSUES FOR TOP OFFICIALS
Asked how many UN officials receive housing subsidies, the Spokesman said he had nothing to add to his earlier statement that the United Nations knows of only one senior official who has declared receiving such a subsidy.
He noted, in response to further questions, that the United Nations is continuing with its correspondence with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations on this issue.
The Spokesman said that it is clear that no UN official is receiving housing subsidies from any non-governmental sources.
He added, regarding the policy on such subsidies, that all staff are expected to declare any subsidies and to abide by Article 100 of staff regulations.
ANNAN DID NOT CONSULT WITH U.S. PRESIDENT IN HIRING OF W.F.P. DIRECTOR: Asked about reports concerning a phone call from U.S. President George W. Bush to the FAO Director-General about the nomination of the head of the World Food Programme, the Spokesman said he was unaware of such a call and added that such questions should be directed to the White House or the FAO. He added that the Secretary-General has not recently spoken to U.S. President Bush.
UNITED NATIONS IS CRAFTING POST-EMPLOYMENT POLICY FOR SENIOR OFFICIALS: Asked about Under-Secretary-General for Management Christopher Burnhams employment once he departs from the United Nations, the Spokesman said there is no policy for senior officials post-employment work, although one is currently being developed. Asked how this would apply to the Secretary-General, he said that the Secretary-General is not a staff member but has already spoken about his post-employment plans, which include a focus on agricultural development in Africa and girl's education. The Spokesman added after he leaves office the Secretary-General will continue to uphold the high personal standards he held while at the United Nations.
U.N. AGENCY AIMS TO HELP PLANT A BILLION TREES NEXT YEAR: A new initiative, called the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign, was
launched today at the annual U.N. Climate Change Convention Conference taking place in Nairobi. Coordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the campaign aims to plant a minimum of one billion trees in 2007 throughout the world. The campaigns co-patrons are Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai and Prince Albert of Monaco.
NEW LEADER NOMINATED FOR WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Dr. Margaret Chan of China was
nominated today for the post of Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) by the WHOs Executive Board. The nomination will now be submitted to the World Health Assembly, which will meet tomorrow to make the formal appointment. The procedures for the current nomination and election process were decided following the sudden death last May of the former Director-General, Dr. Lee Jong-wook.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY TAKES ON U.S. EMBARGO ON CUBA: The General Assembly plenary is considering this morning the item Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba, and is expected to vote on a draft resolution on the subject.
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