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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-11-20

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:






Monday, November 20, 2006


The Secretary-General is in Geneva today where he inaugurated the new UNAIDS/World Health Organization (WHO) building. He also had an opportunity to meet with WHOs new Director-General-elect, Margaret Chan.

Then he delivered a statement at the opening of the Sixth Review Conference of the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention.

He said that the Convention can no longer be viewed in isolation, as simply a treaty prohibiting States from obtaining biological weapons. Rather, we must look at it as part of an interlinked array of tools, designed to deal with an interlinked array of problems. While we must deal with disarmament and non-proliferation in the traditional sense, the Secretary-General told the delegates, we must also address terrorism and crime at the non-state and individual levels. And that means stitching these strands into a coherent strategy.

In recent months, the Secretary-General has raised the idea of a forum that would bring together the various stakeholders -- industry, science, public health, governments, and the public writ large -- in an effort to ensure that biotechnology's advances continue to be used for the benefit of humanity while the risks are managed.

Before bidding farewell to Geneva staff, he met with His Excellency Mehmet Ali Talat, the leader of the Turkish Cypriots.

This evening, he is scheduled to receive the 2006 Prize of the Fondation pour Genève.

Tuesday morning, he will hold his farewell press conference at the UN headquarters in Geneva. He is expected back at UN Headquarters on Wednesday.

On Saturday, the Secretary-General, accompanied by Mrs. Annan, travelled to St. Gallen, Switzerland where he delivered a speech on biotechnology and human security when accepting the Max Schmidheiny Freedom Prize. He told the audience that he would like to explore a potential initiative which would focus in greater depth on two main questions: first, how to expand the benefits of biotechnology and life science research to build better lives for people around the world; and second, how to develop a global framework to mitigate potential risks.

He has directed the $100,000 prize to be given directly to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

After returning to Geneva on Saturday event met on Sunday with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.


The Security Council this morning held consultations on Lebanon, with Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel briefing on the Secretary-Generals recent report on a tribunal dealing with the assassination of that country's former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

The report discusses the structure of a special tribunal, which will include a pre-trial judge, a trial chamber, an appeals chamber, a prosecutor, a registry and a defence office. Attached to the report is an annex detailing an agreement reached on the establishment of a tribunal between the UN and the Lebanese authorities.

It is now up to the Security Council to consider the instruments that have been negotiated.


A statement was issued on Saturday about the Secretary-Generals telephone conversations with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and President Basher Al-Assad of Syria about developments in Lebanon and the need for countries in the region in particular and the international community as a whole to promote the stability and the unity of Lebanon. The Secretary-General urged them to counsel the parties concerned to exercise patience and resolve their differences through dialogue.

Meanwhile, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) says that UN peacekeepers on Friday discovered 7 missiles, 3 rocket launchers and significant quantity of different ammunition in the general area of Bourhoz. UNIFIL says that since the beginning of September, there have been seven discoveries of unauthorized arms or related material, the most significant of which took place around Rachaiya El-Foukhar when 17 Katyushas and some improvised explosive devices were found.

UNIFIL says that in all instances the Lebanese Army was informed and took prompt action to either confiscate or destroy the arms and the ammunition.

Asked to describe the circumstances surrounding Fridays discovery of weapons cache by UNIFIL, the Spokesman said that UNIFIL reported the discovery in a press statement on Saturday and would be in a position to give further details on request.

Asked if this was the first time that the UN publicized then discovery of a weapons cache discovered by UN peacekeepers, the Spokesman recalled that he has in recent briefings alluded to such finds. He added that todays formal announcement follows the detailed press release issued by UNIFIL this weekend on Fridays weapons cache discovery.

Asked if this implied a change in UNIFILs mode of operation, the Spokesman said that that was part of UNIFILs regular mandate to assist the Lebanese Army in the implementation of aspects of

resolution 1701.

Asked to elaborate on this weekends phone calls between the Secretary-General and the leaders of Iran and Syria, Dujarric said that Kofi Annan renewed his call to the both leaders that they counsel the Lebanese parties to resolve their differences through dialogue.

Asked if the Secretary-General is concerned by Hezbollahs plans to hold large demonstrations against the Government of Lebanon, the Spokesman said that the situation was extremely volatile and the Secretary-General urged all parties in Lebanon to exercise patience and resolve their differences peacefully.


High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour is in Gaza today, at the start of her five-day visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.

Arbour went to Beit Hanoun this morning, where she saw sites that had been hit by Israeli artillery earlier this month, killing 19 civilians.

She said, "The call for protection has to be answered. We cannot continue to see civilians, who are not the authors of their own misfortune, suffer to the extent of what I see here." She later added that the full extent of the profound sense of deprivation in Gaza became truly evident when one came to the territory.

Arbour also held talks in Gaza with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as with a range of civil society representatives, including human rights defenders. Her meetings included briefings by the UN team in Gaza.

Tomorrow, among other activities, Arbour will travel to the Israeli town of Sderot, the target of rocket attacks from militants in Gaza, and visit the separation barrier in the West Bank.

Asked if the current fact-finding mission by High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour was mandated by the recent resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on Israel, the Spokesman said that it was not. Her visit is part of Arbours regular work as UN rights chief and that her current mission was taking place in full cooperation with both Israel and Palestinian Authority.


Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland returned to New York yesterday after cutting short his visit to Sudan in reaction to Government restrictions on his movements. At a press conference in Khartoum on Saturday, Egeland said that the number of people in need of assistance has surged to four million since his last visit to the region. He said, Never would I have thought that the fear, the angst among the civilian population of Darfur would remain the same after 3 long years.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Sudan reports several instances of forcible seizure and looting of UN and internal NGO vehicles and equipment. In north Darfur, the Mission says the town of Birmaza was attacked on November 15th and 16th by Sudanese soldiers and Janjaweed militia.

The violence caused some 3000 people to flee the area as the attackers looted the premises of a UN agency and burned the offices of an international NGO. And on Saturday, rebels retaliated against government forces near El Fasher in an incident that left some 100 fighters dead.

Asked to explain the agreement in principle reached between the UN, the African Union and the Government of Sudan, Dujarric said that a communiqué had been agreed to at the end of the Addis Ababa meeting of last week. He said that, as part of the agreement, the Government of Sudan will provide some answers on outstanding issues to the African Union by November 24th, and the Secretary-General, Dujarric added, is expected to brief the Security Council on Wednesday on Sudan.

In response to a related question, the Spokesman said the outstanding issues include the process by which the Special Representatives and Force Commander are named.


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that it has released an emergency cash grant of $52,500 for flood-hit Kenya and is sending a UN disaster assessment and coordination team to Nairobi.

Meanwhile, the UNs Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, has approved an allocation of nearly $12 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund for the flood response in Kenya, as well as an additional $3 million to help flood survivors in Somalia.

For its part, the World Food Programme today launched a regional air operation to transport aid workers and humanitarian assistance to the region. UNICEF and the UN refugee agency are also providing aid.


Asked whether Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari would speak to the press about his recent mission to Myanmar, Dujarric said that Gambari was expected to brief the Secretary-General and may also brief the Security Council. Afterwards, he would be available to speak to members of the press.

Dujarric said that, while in Myanmar, Gambari was able to meet with opposition Aung San Suu Kyi and Government officials and that the meetings are part of an ongoing consultative process, a mandate for which was given to the Secretariat by the General Assembly.


U.N. HONORS CHILDREN & AFRICAN INDUSTRIALIZATION: Today the UN is observing Universal Children's Day. For its part, the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict wishes to highlight the terrible toll that war takes on the lives of children living in situations of armed conflict. Today is also Africa Industrialization Day. In a message to mark the day, the Secretary-General says that prospects for significant improvements in the continents social and economic conditions are becoming brighter. However, much more needs to be done.

UP TO SOMALIA SANCTIONS COMMITTEE TO TALK TO PRESS: Asked if members of the experts from the Security Councils Sanctions Committees Monitoring Group on Somalia would brief the press, the Spokesman said the Monitoring Group was expected to brief the Sanctions Committee tomorrow afternoon and that it was up to the Committee to decide whether to make the experts available to speak to the press.

MEDIA OFFICIAL TO FIELD PRESS INQUIRIES ON BAN KI-MOON: Asked for an update on the transition to new UN administration, Dujarric said that Secretary-General-designate Ban Ki-moon has arrived in New York and is working toward the official date of transfer of authority. He added that the team includes Ban Ki-moons spokesperson for the transition period who will be located in the Office of the Spokesman and will field media queries on the transition on Mr. Bans behalf.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

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