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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-11-27

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, November 27, 2006

ANNAN WELCOMES CEASEFIRE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE

Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomes the reported agreement between President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to establish a mutual ceasefire in Gaza.

He is, however, deeply concerned that Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets against civilian targets inside Israel. Such attacks underscore the destructive power that militants have to derail the crucial efforts underway to de-escalate tensions.

The Secretary-General calls upon both parties to adhere strictly to their commitment, and avoid hasty action which could jeopardize progress towards a sustained period of calm. He also encourages them to endeavour to extend the ceasefire to the West Bank.

ANNAN SAYS IRAQ FIGHTING NEARS A CIVIL WAR

The Secretary-General spoke to reporters this morning and was asked whether Iraq is in a civil war right now. He responded that, unless something is done urgently to arrest the deteriorating situation we could be there. In fact, we are almost there.

He was also asked about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and said that he had urged both President Laurent Kabila and opposition leader Jean Pierre Bemba to play by the rules and accept the results of that countrys elections.

ANNAN MEETS U.S. GOVERNMENTS IRAQ STUDY GROUP

AS SECTARIAN VIOLENCE SOARS

The Secretary-General will this afternoon be speaking to the Iraq Study Group, led by former U.S. Secretary-General of State James Baker and the former Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee Lee Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, over the weekend expressed his concern and condemnation of the increasingly vicious cycle of sectarian revenge killings that is tearing apart the very political and social fabric of Iraq. No country could tolerate such a cancer in its body politic, he said.

Accordingly, Qazi called on the government, the political leadership and the people of Iraq to realize that they had no choice but to immediately demonstrate their urgent and sincere determination to save their country. He said this could only be done through a genuine national dialogue aimed at resolving key political issues and developing a national consensus in support of policies and measures to prevent extremists from destroying Iraq.

He also called on the international community, especially the neighbours of Iraq, to concert their efforts to enable the government and people of Iraq to successfully address the dire challenges of violence, mistrust and division that currently threaten to overwhelm them.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals meeting with the Iraq Study Group, the Spokesman said it would take place this afternoon by teleconference. He described the meeting as a conversation, and not as testimony before the Group.

Asked who had requested the meeting, the Spokesman said the Group had asked for it. They had sought a meeting with the Secretary-General since September, and the United Nations had tried to find a time to schedule it.

Dujarric noted that the Iraq Study Group had also spoken with Qazi and with Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown.

Asked whether the United Nations intended to play a greater role in providing security to Iraq, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was not in the lead in security matters and there were no discussions on putting it in the lead on security. The UN mandate in Iraq, he said, is clearly defined by the Security Council, and the Council would have to determine any changes to that mandate.

Dujarric said that the United Nations was doing a wide range of work in Iraq, in areas where it could bring to the table skills that other parties could not. Among other things, he noted the UNs work on the International Compact for Iraq, among other efforts to bring Iraqs neighbours into efforts to stabilize the country, and its work on development, constitutionality and human rights.

Asked about doubts concerning the casualty figures mentioned by the UN Mission for Iraqs human rights reports, the Spokesman noted that the information for those figures came from Iraqs Ministry of Health and the Medico-Legal Institute of Baghdad. The United Nations, he added, was confident in those numbers.

ANNAN TO DELIVER ADDRESS ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Tomorrow afternoon, the Secretary-General will travel to Princeton University, where he will deliver an address at the Woodrow Wilson School concerning the need for a common strategy to deal with the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. He is to argue that we need to tackle both non-proliferation and disarmament with the urgency that they demand.

While in Princeton, the Secretary-General will also receive the Crystal Tiger award, which is conferred by Princetons undergraduates on public figures whom they regard as agents of progress.

U.N. DE-MINERS WOUNDED ARE IN SOUTHERN LEBANON

The Mine Action Service reports that several de-miners have been injured over the past few days in southern Lebanon. Investigations into those incidents are ongoing.

The United Nations condemns the use of all anti-personnel mines, and calls upon any party that laid such mines during the recent conflict to provide information as to where they have been laid to prevent similar tragic incidents occurring in the future.

In response to a reporter who claimed that Israel had laid the mines, the Spokesman noted that the United Nations does not definitively know who had laid the mines, but was checking to find out.

Asked about Israeli overflights of Lebanon, he said that the United Nations had criticized those flights and would continue to do so if they continued to occur.

Asked about Lebanons consideration of the proposal for a tribunal of an international character, the Spokesman said that the Lebanese Government has to follow its own constitutional process in dealing with that matter, and it is not up to the United Nations to dictate how that process will go. He noted that at some point, there would need to be a signature on the proposal before proceeding further.

Asked about rumours on whether the death of Pierre Gemayel had been an intra-Christian dispute, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was offering technical assistance to the Lebanese Government regarding that assassination, and would nor prejudge the conclusions of that investigation.

He noted, in response to a question on recent events in Lebanon, that the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Geir Pedersen, kept UN Headquarters regularly informed about developments on the ground.

ANNAN CONDEMNS ONGOING FIGHTING IN CHAD

The Secretary-General issued a statement on Chad over the weekend condemning of any attempt to seize power by force.

And today, the UN refugee agency and the World Food Programme appealed for the rapid restoration of order in volatile eastern Chad following weekend unrest in which mobs looted warehouses storing vital aid supplies for hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur along with Chadians in need.

Both agencies reported that their main warehouses in the eastern Chad town of Abeche, the hub for relief efforts for more than 200,000 refugees from neighboring Darfur and some 90,000 internally displaced Chadians, had been pillaged during the turmoil on Saturday and Sunday.

U.N. TEAM COMPLETES MISSION TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

A UN delegation comprising political, military, police, humanitarian and civilian experts, has just completed the first segment of a technical assessment mission to the Central African Republic and Chad.

In the Central African Republic, the UN team gathered information to develop options for the possible establishment of a UN presence there and in Chad. The team met with the Prime Minister and other Cabinet members, with commanders of the army and police forces, human rights group and civil society leaders, members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Bangui and UN agencies working there.

The UN team is now about to proceed to Chad where similar meetings are planned, after which they will submit a comprehensive report to the Secretary- General who will present the results of the mission to the Security Council.

Asked when the UN mission would return, the Spokesman said that would be in a few days.

Asked about reports that Sudan and other countries were providing weapons to rebels in Chad, the Spokesman said he had no information to confirm or deny such reports.

UNITED NATIONS SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH AFRICAN UNION

ON DARFUR MISSION

On Saturday, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the United Nations and the African Union signed a Memorandum of Understanding setting out the terms of UN support to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) with regard to command and control for the UN personnel as well as accountability issues for the UN material support which is being provided to AMIS.

The light support includes night vision and communications equipment, as well as staff support in the areas of public information, civil affairs, administration and finance, humanitarian coordination, mine action, as well as military staff officers and police advisers.

This support has received the full endorsement of the Government of Sudan, and its deployment is under way, representing the first phase in a three-phase process of enhancing the capacity of the African Union Mission in Darfur, Sudan to conduct effective peacekeeping.

Measures to increase the UN role in Darfur in accordance with the 16 November agreement reached in Addis Ababa between the United Nations, the African Union, and the Government of Sudan, will be discussed at the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting on 29 November in Addis Ababa.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Sudan reports that the security situation in Darfur continues to be marked by serious security incidents, the latest of which is an attack yesterday in South Darfur by rebels groups that are non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement. In North and South Darfur, the UN mission also reports incidents involving Arab militia, including damage to humanitarian structure such as the looting of a NGO-run clinic.

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON MYANMAR, SUDAN

The Security Council held consultations on Myanmar this morning, in which Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari briefed on his recent visit to that country.

Also this morning, the Security Council heard a briefing on the sanctions on Sudan by the chairman of the Councils Sanctions Committee for that country, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece.

Tomorrow, the Security Council has scheduled an open debate on children and armed conflict, which will be chaired by the Foreign Minister of Peru, José Antonio García Belaunde.

NEPAL SEEKS UNITED NATIONS PEACE MONITORING ASSISTANCE

The Secretary-General has written a letter to the Security Council President with regard to the peace process in Nepal and the request for UN assistance in that process.

He notes that the United Nations has been requested to monitor the arrangements of arms and armed personnel by providing qualified monitors supported by appropriate technical capacity. Assistance is also being sought, he writes, in a variety of areas in the peace process with a view to creating an atmosphere conducive to free and fair elections for the Constituent Assembly.

The Secretary-General writes that it is his strong belief that the United Nations should respond positively, and outlines three immediate steps with which he intends to proceed.

UNITED NATIONS CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE IN D.R. CONGO

The U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says that it has called for an immediate end to hostilities between Congolese soldiers and fighters led by dissident Congolese Army General Laurent Nkunda. The Mission says that a high-level delegation comprising the Minister of Interior and the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General will arrive in Goma today to put in place the ceasefire.

U.N. humanitarian experts will also be included in the delegation and will assess the humanitarian needs of the several thousands of persons displaced by the fighting, which broke out Saturday when the dissident soldiers attacked the Armys 11th Brigade in the town Sake in eastern DRC. Heavy fighting ensued with small arms, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, causing the government soldiers to retreat and abandon their position.

On Sunday, UN peacekeepers returned fire with warning shots from ground forces and helicopters when they were fired upon by the dissident soldiers, a fight that brought a stop to the dissident soldiers advance towards Goma. The Congolese Armys 11th Brigade has now regained control of high-ground around Sake, as intermittent fighting continues.

Meanwhile, the Mission says that the Supreme Court will rule today on the appeal of the results of the presidential elections by Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba, who preliminary results forecasted as having lost to incumbent Joseph Kabila.

UNITED NATIONS ENCOURAGES STATES TO PURSUE OIL-FOR-FOOD PROSECUTIONS

Asked about the UNs response to the probe in Australia into dealings with Iraq under the oil-for-food programme, the Spokesman said that the United Nations has supported and encouraged national judicial authorities to conduct investigations on the basis of the reports put out by Paul Volckers Independent Inquiry Committee.

The Volcker Committee, he noted, had remained operational so that it can continue to provide relevant information for follow-up investigations. The United Nations is in discussions so that, when the panels mandate ends after 1 January, he added, the Volcker panels information can continue to be made available to those who want to conduct follow-up investigations.

Asked about nations that were not following up on the Volcker reports, the Spokesman said that it was up to Member States to decide to follow up on the reports. But he added that Volckers investigation was momentous and warranted a response. The United Nations was helping nations to respond by making sure that all the relevant information would be made available to all those who want to investigate further.

PROSPECTS FOR MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS ARE MIXED, AT BEST

The Secretary-General this morning told the General Assembly, at its thematic debate on development, that the prospects for implementing the Millennium Development Goals are mixed, at best.

It is not too late to turn the situation around, he said, but it will take focus, application and commitment, including a successful Doha Development Round. He added that development will simply not happen if the developing world doesnt get its own house in order.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL RESUMES SESSION

Today, the Human Rights Council in Geneva began its

resumed second session. It voted on a number of resolutions and decisions tabled during the session which adjourned on 6 October.

At its morning meeting, Human Rights Council members adopted three resolutions and seven decisions, including on access to water, extreme poverty, the right to health and the human rights situation in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

During its afternoon meeting, which just concluded, the Human Rights Council adopted one more resolution and four decisions, pertaining to, among other things, Nepal, Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and persons deprived of liberty in the context of counter-terrorism measures.

After taking action on the deferred draft proposals from its second session tomorrow, the Human Rights Council will begin its scheduled third session on Wednesday morning. That session will conclude on 8 December.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNITED NATIONS AND NORWAY UPDATE OSLO GUIDELINES: The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs convened today in Oslo a high-level event, launching an updated version of the so-called Oslo Guidelines. Those guidelines pertain to the use of military and civil defence assets in disaster relief. The UNs Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, co-chaired the event.

ENVIRONMENTAL WATCHDOG HOLDS MEETING ON HAZARDOUS WASTE: Representatives of some 120 Governments are meeting this week at the UN Office in Nairobi, to seek solutions to the worlds rising tide of hazardous wastes. This Thursday, the gathering will hold a high-level World Forum on E-Wastes. The Forum will confront the growing reality that, in addition to its many benefits, the global consumer goods revolution is generating massive quantities of end-of-life computers and other obsolete electronic equipment.

INTERNATIONAL COURT PURSUES CASE AGAINST UGANDA REBELS: The Spokesman declined to comment on the naming of a judge at the International Criminal Court to deal with the case of the Lords Resistance Army, but he noted the continuing validity of the comments made by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland on the search for peace and justice in Uganda.

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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