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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-11-22
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
[Please note that the United Nations will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving, and there will be no noon briefing on Friday. However, United Nations highlights will be posted on this site on Friday afternoon.]
ANNAN TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON DARFUR
The Secretary-General is back in New York and will brief the Security Council this afternoon in closed consultations on the Addis Ababa meeting last week with the African Union and the Government of Sudan.
ANNAN WELCOMES NEPAL PEACE AGREEMENT
The Secretary-General congratulates the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) on the signing yesterday of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Through ending the armed conflict, the people of Nepal now have the opportunity to build lasting peace in an inclusive democracy.
This agreement places great trust and responsibility on the United Nations as it asks that we assist Nepal in various aspects of the peace process, including as an immediate step the monitoring of arms and armed personnel and providing electoral assistance. Through his Personal Representative in Nepal, the Secretary-General is working closely with the parties to ensure that United Nations assistance can arrive as promptly as possible.
NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR CONFRONTATION IN LEBANON
Today in Beirut, the Secretary-General's Personal Representative for Lebanon, Geir Pedersen, met with and paid condolences to former President Amine Gemayel and other family members of the slain Minister of Industry, Pierre Gemayel. He also met with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and leaders from a range of parties in Lebanon.
His message to all has been clear: this is not the time for confrontation; it is the time to look for solutions to the very difficult situation the country is now facing. Moreover, we must not allow the perpetrators of this crime to achieve their goal of creating disunity and civil strife in Lebanon.
LEBANON ASKS HARIRI INVESTIGATORS TO ASSIST IN GEMAYEL PROBE
Late yesterday, the Secretary-General sent a letter to the President of the Security Council informing him that he had received a request from Prime Minister of Lebanon Fouad Siniora to have the so-called Brammertz Commission, which is
investigating the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, give technical assistance to the Lebanese authorities as they investigate the assassination of Pierre Gemayel.
Since Brammertz and his team report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General is transmitting this request to the Council for appropriate action.
On a related note, yesterday, the Security Council President informed the Secretary-General by letter that the members are satisfied with the agreement negotiated with Lebanon in regards to creation of a Special Tribunal. The President asked the Secretary-General to proceed, together with the Government of Lebanon, in conformity with its constitution, with the final steps to conclude an agreement on the tribunal.
Yesterday afternoon the Security Council adopted a presidential statement in which it unequivocally condemned the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, Lebanons industry minister.
Through the statement, the members of the Security Council also expressed their grave concern by the possible impact of the assassination on the government of Lebanons ongoing efforts to solidify democracy and expand its authority throughout its territory.
Asked if Serge Brammertz, the head of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), will include yesterdays assassination of Pierre Gemayel in the case under his investigation by his team, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General has raised precisely that question in a letter sent today to the Security Council since the mandate of the Brammertz Commission is meant to cover last years killing Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others and the provision of technical assistance to Lebanese investigators for 14 other killings that have occurred since October 2004.
Dujarric said that the Secretary-Generals letter was prompted by a request by the Government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora for technical assistance to the Lebanese authority investigating Gemayels murder. This would obviously be an important addition to the work of the Commission, Dujarric said, adding that it was up to the Security Council, to which the Commission reports, to decide how to proceed on this matter.
AFGHANISTAN STILL IN NEED OF INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT
This morning the Security Council held a meeting on the recent Council mission to Afghanistan, with Japanese Amabassador Kenzo Oshima briefing.
Oshima cited worrying developments in Afghanistan, including a rise in the Taliban-led insurgency, an upsurge in illegal drug production and trafficking, and the weakness and fragility of state and provincial institutions.
He added that it was abundantly clear that Afghanistan needed additional and sustained support from the international community.
DARFUR WILL SPIRAL OUT OF CONTROL IF HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS FALTER
Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, this morning briefed the Security Council on his latest mission to Uganda and Sudan.
Speaking about the security situation in Darfur, Egeland warned against an escalation toward a regional conflict, as large-scale killings and displacement of civilians are fueled by cross-border raids, by groups who receive arms and safe havens on both sides of the Chad-Sudan border. Let us be clear, Egeland told the Council, these acts are crimes of the most despicable kind. They are an affront to humanity.
The rapidly deteriorating security situation has already taken a severe toll on the delivery capacity of the humanitarian community, which increasingly faces bureaucratic hurdles imposed by the Sudanese government. If this trend continues and the worlds largest humanitarian operation falters, Egeland warned, the lifeline of millions of civilians collapses; the situation in Darfur will spiral out of control.
Egeland also briefed on his meetings with Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony and Ugandan Government officials, which were aimed at addressing the humanitarian implications of the ceasefire agreement between those parties.
Meanwhile on the ground in Sudan, the UN Mission there says that fighting occurred on 20 November in Haskanita in North Darfur between the Mini Minawi-led SLA faction and Arab militia, an incident which claimed 20 rebel and 10 civilian lives.
And in West Darfur on 20 November, two international NGO vehicles were shot at by unidentified gunmen who also stole the communication equipment, money and personal belongings of NGO staff, slighting wounding one of them. And a day prior to that, an NGO compound near the Krinding camp for internally displaced persons was set on fire and completely destroyed by unknown assailants. No casualties were reported.
VIOLENCE REACHES ALARMING LEVELS IN IRAQ
In its bi-monthly human rights report, the UN Mission in Iraq expresses concern that violence reached alarming levels in many parts of the country particularly affecting, the right to life and personal integrity.
The Mission reports that 7,054 civilians were violently killed, with no less than 4,984 in Baghdad alone, most of them as a result of gunshot wounds. That is an increase from 6,599, the number killed in July and August, as previously reported by the UN.
Terrorist acts and sectarian strife, including revenge killings, fuelled by insurgent, militia and criminal activities, are the main source of violence in the country.
During the period under review, the report points out that freedom of expression continued to be undermined, minorities continued to be adversely and directly affected, womens conditions continued to deteriorate, and professionals, such as journalists, teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors and other intellectuals, political, tribal and religious leaders, were targeted.
According to the report, the deteriorating situation in the country, coupled with increasing poverty, has generated unparalleled movements of internally displaced persons in search of safety within and outside the country.
In addition, the document indicates that the total number of detainees in Iraq as of 31 October stood at 29,256 13,571 of whom are in the Multinational Forces facilities noting a decrease from 35,543 at the end of August.
Asked if, on the basis of the latest casualty figures released by the UN, one could assume that there are more people dying every day in Iraq then in Darfur, Dujarric declined to make a comparison of the two situations, noting that they were each devastating in their own right.
Asked to explain the discrepancies between UN figures and casualties report by other sources, Dujarric stressed that in compiling its bi-monthly human rights reports on Iraq, the UN relies primarily on figures provided by the Iraqi Health Ministry and morgues and has done so since the start of its mandate in that country.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF MEETS WITH ISRAELI OFFICIALS
High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour is continuing her five-day visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Today she held talks in Jerusalem with the current and former Presidents of the Israeli Supreme Court and Israels Deputy Defense Minister. She also met with a wide range of Israeli human rights defenders.
Arbour will wrap up her visit tomorrow following meetings in Tel Aviv with officials from the Internal Security Agency, or Shabak, and the acting Justice Minister, as well as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
ANNAN CONCERNED BY LACK OF SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM
Asked to clarify the Secretary-Generals recently stated proposal that the Security Council be expanded with new seats, the Spokesman noted that Kofi Annans comments have been consistent and that he is concerned that there is no movement in Security Council reform for lack of consensus among Council members.
Dujarric said that the Secretary-General, who has presented various proposals on the subject, would like Council members to try out solutions, however imperfect, which may move the reform agenda forward rather than wait for an improbable, all-round perfect arrangement, which may not come soon enough.
The Secretary-General has laid out his thoughts, Dujarric said. Its up to the Members States to move forward on this.
CYPRIOT CAPITAL NOW LANDMINE-FREE: A ceremony was held today in the UN Protected Area in Nicosia, Cyprus, to mark the occasion of the city becoming officially free of landmines. The Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Cyprus, Michael Moller, helped trigger the detonation of the last mines. Since November 2004, efforts by the UN Development Programme have led to the destruction of nearly 3,000 mines.
U.N. ENVOY CALLS ON UGANDAN REBEL LEADER TO RELEASE CHILDREN: Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, has expressed her deep concern at the fate of children still held in the ranks of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda. She reiterates the calls of the international community on the LRA leader Joseph Kony to immediately release children, women and non-combatants, in compliance with his previous commitments.
AFRICA INHOSPITABLE FOR NEWBORNS: According to a new
report by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other partners, sub-Saharan Africa remains the most dangerous region in the world for a baby to be born with more than a million babies dying each year in their first 28 days of life. But six low-income African countries, namely Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Madagascar, Malawi, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, have made significant progress in reducing deaths among newborns.
ANNAN TO MEET WITH HIS SUCCESSOR TODAY: Asked if there would be a readout of the Secretary-Generals meeting later today with Secretary-General-designate Ban Ki-moon, the Spokesman said that a readout was not expected and that this was one of the first in a series of meeting between the two officials to coordinate the transition to the new UN administration.
ANNAN SUPPORTS INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS: Asked if, on the eve of Thanksgiving, the Secretary-General had any position on the draft declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples pending in the General Assemblys Third Committee, the Spokesman said Kofi Annan has always been very supportive of the rights of indigenous peoples and has repeatedly voiced his support for the adoption by the General Assembly of the declaration.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
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New York, NY 10017
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