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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-11-28
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
ANNAN ALARMED BY RECENT VIOLENCE IN TONGA
Secretary-General Kofi Annan is alarmed by the recent violence in the Kingdom of Tonga. He urges the parties to persevere with inclusive national consultations to support the democratic reform process, and to overcome their disagreements through dialogue.
The Secretary-General stands ready to support national and regional efforts aimed at facilitating a broad political consensus.
ANNAN CONGRATULATES NEW CONGOLESE PRESIDENT
The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement by the Supreme Court of Justice, on 27 November, of the formal results of the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He congratulates President Joseph Kabila on his election and salutes the Congolese people, whose determination enabled the first democratic elections to be held in the country in more than 40 years.
The Secretary-General also expresses appreciation to the international community for the significant electoral and other support it provided for this process, and calls on donors to generously assist the newly-elected authorities.
The Secretary-General calls on all opposition leaders and their supporters to peacefully accept the final results. Neither the people of the DRC nor the international community, will tolerate the actions of those who may try to undermine the process.
The Secretary-General emphasizes the key role that a political opposition can and must play in any democracy, and encourages the people and parties of the DRC to pursue an inclusive political process in addressing the many reconstruction and security challenges facing the country.
The Secretary-General notes that the electoral process has not yet been completed, and calls on the new Government to take all necessary action to ensure that the Congolese people can elect their local representatives in as short a time as possible.
In related news, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has welcomed the announcement by the Supreme Court of Justice of the formal results of the presidential vote and congratulated incumbent Joseph Kabila on his election and defeated candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba for his role in the good conduct of this historic transition to democratic rule.The Mission also recalled the October 29th Declaration of Intent by the candidates, and calls on them and their supporters to abide by that agreement inn which they clearly to respect the electoral results and not resort to violence.
Asked about how the Vice President of Congo would be determined, the Spokesman later said that the position was not an elected one. It would be up to the incoming President to decide how to fill that position.
Asked about fighting in the eastern Congo, the Spokesman said that the latest information he had was that the Congolese Armed Forces, with the help of the UN Mission, were now in control of Sake.
He said that MONUC was working to ensure that hostilities could cease as quickly as possible, and that the United Nations was also trying to provide humanitarian aid in the country.
SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT
The Security Council this morning began an open debate on the protection of children and armed conflict, chaired by the Foreign Minister of Peru, José Antonio García Belaunde.
The Secretary-General said that the past decade has seen important gains in the elaboration of international legal standards for the protection of children. And yet, he warned, we have only begun to scratch the surface. He expressed his hope that the Security Council will consolidate the gains that have been made, and will move forward to cover all situations of concern and all grave violations.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, told the Council that there had been a number of successes on that front since last year. She noted that the UN system in countries situations of concern has increased the flow of timely accurate, objective and reliable information to the Security Council.
The Council debate is continuing, with 42 speakers inscribed, and the Council also expects to adopt a Presidential Statement on the protection of children at the end of todays meeting.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE ACTION ON IRAQ RESOLUTION
The Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting this afternoon 3 p.m. to take action on a draft resolution on Iraq.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CALLS FOR END TO VIOLATIONS IN DARFUR
The Human Rights Council, in Geneva, adopted a decision on Darfur calling on all parties to put an end to the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
The decision gives special attention to the vulnerable groups to the conflict, including women and children and internally displaced persons, and calls on all parties to ensure unfettered access by UN human rights monitors and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need in Darfur.
Tomorrow, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour will address the opening of the Councils third session, updating the body on her recent activities, including her trip to Gaza. The High Commissioner will also deliver a message on behalf of the Secretary-General.
ANNAN EXPECTING LETTER FROM SUDANESE PRESIDENT
TOMORROW ON WAY AHEAD IN DARFUR
Just before the briefing, the Secretary-General this morning spoke about Darfur to the press. He said he is expecting tomorrow morning from the Sudanese President a response on outstanding issues on the way ahead.
Meanwhile, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, is on his way to attend the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council Summit meeting on Darfur tomorrow in Abuja, Nigeria, where he plans to deliver a statement on the Secretary-Generals behalf. Among other items on the Summit agenda are the conclusions of the Addis Ababa High level Consultation on Darfur, held on 16 November, which was co-chaired by the Secretary-General.
The officer-in-charge of the UN Mission in Sudan, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, also is on his way to attend the AU Summit.
In the context of the follow-up to the Conclusions of the Addis Ababa meeting, specifically the one on the need to re-energize the political process, Zerihoun met yesterday with Salim Ahmed Salim, the Special Envoy of President Alpha Omar Konaré, Chairperson of the AU Commission. The two officials discussed and agreed on steps to be taken to prepare for a meeting with Darfur Peace Agreement signatories and non-signatories.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals comments on Sudan, the Spokesman noted that President Bashir, during his lengthy press conference, had given some positive and some less positive signals. The United Nations now awaited the Sudanese Presidents letter, in the hope that it would give a positive response.
LEBANON: LANDMINE INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY
In response to questions yesterday about Lebanon and landmines, the Spokesman said that the area where the recent mine incidents took place in Deir Mimas has yet to be subjected to full scale mine clearance. Once this is completed, the exact scope of the minefield will be known.
During the operation to extract the casualties from the minefield, one No 4 Anti-personnel mine, which is manufactured in Israel, was located by the clearance team. From the condition of the mine and the earth surrounding the mine, it is clear that the mine was laid recently. Prior to the conflict, the area in question had been actively used by local villagers.
Once the results of the clearance activity are completed, as well as ongoing cooperative efforts with Israel to confirm details regarding the mine, further information will be provided.
Asked whether Israel provided maps of the landmines it had laid, the Spokesman said that there had been several meetings with the Israelis on the matter since Israels almost-complete withdrawal from Lebanon. Israel has provided some maps already, Dujarric noted. Some further meetings between the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Israeli Defence Force would take place today, he added.
He said that, although it was clear that the mines in question had been manufactured in Israel, that does not indicate clearly who may have laid the mines. There is no confirmation at present of who did that, Dujarric said.
Asked about the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, the Spokesman noted that the United Nations was providing technical assistance to the Lebanese Government on the investigation of that assassination, adding that it was up to the Lebanese authorities to comment on the investigation.
ANNAN SENDS SENIOR ELECTORAL OFFICIAL TO BANGLADESH
According to a statement issued Monday evening, the Secretary-General has been following with concern developments in Bangladesh ahead of the January 2007 elections. He wishes to underscore the importance of a peaceful and transparent environment so that these important elections can enjoy the full confidence of the people of Bangladesh.
To offer continued UN support to the process, a senior United Nations official, Craig Jeness, Director of the Electoral Assistance Division, will be visiting Bangladesh between 29 November and 1 December on behalf of the Secretary-General.
He will meet with the Head of the Caretaker Government and other senior officials, election authorities, representatives of the country's political parties and non-governmental organizations.
Asked about the UNs activity in Bangladesh, the Spokesman said that Jeness was there to help the Bangladeshi Government in any way that he can, and will see how best the United Nations can help.
Asked whether Bangladesh had been consulted, the Spokesman said that Jenesss trip was being done with the cooperation of the Bangladeshi Government and noted that the United Nations does not provide electoral assistance without such cooperation.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY MUST DECIDE ON FUNDING MECHANISM
FOR U.N. HEADQUARTERS RENOVATION
In the Secretary-Generals report to the General Assembly on the implementation of the Capital Master Plan, for the renovation of the UN Headquarters building, he says it is now critical for the General Assembly to decide on the funding mechanism for the renovation.
Noting that the plan is important for the safety of all UN Headquarters occupants, he recommends that the General Assembly approve the plan to be completed during the period 2006 to 2014 at a budget not to exceed $1.876 billion. A decision by the General Assembly on the financing of the plan is required to ensure continuity of activities and completion of the project in 2014.
Meanwhile, also out is the report on the plan by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), which recommends approval of the $1.876 billion budget.
The General Assemblys Fifth Committee is expected to take this item up on Thursday.
NEPAL: U.N. ENVOY LAUDS AGREEMENT ON U.N. ARMS MONITORING
Ian Martin, the Secretary-General's Personal Representative in Nepal for Support to the Peace Process, reports that he is very pleased to see that the negotiations between the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), with the assistance of his team, have reached an agreement on the key details required for the UN to provide effective monitoring of arms and armies.
The agreement is now being reviewed in New York, and comes at a very important time, as the Security Council considers the Secretary-Generals response to Nepals request. It sends a very positive signal about the momentum of the peace process in Nepal. Martin adds.
BILL CLINTON TO EMBARK ON FINAL VISIT TO TSUNAMI-HIT REGION
AS U.N. TSUNAMI ENVOY
This Friday and Saturday, former U.S. President Bill Clinton will make his final visit to the tsunami-hit region as the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery. He will visit locations in southern India, Thailand and Aceh, Indonesia.
During his tour, President Clinton will review recovery progress over the last two years, visiting new permanent homes and schools. He will also take stock of the programs that he has personally pushed for and coordinated, including those to promote equity, to empower communities to take charge of their own development, to restore livelihoods, and to promote disaster resilience and risk reduction.
IRAQS NEIGHBOURS HAVE POSITIVE ROLE TO PLAY IN BRINGING ABOUT STABILITY
Asked about the Secretary-Generals comments on Monday that Iraq was close to civil war, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General based his comments on his analysis of recent reports, including the one put out last week by the human rights office of the UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). The reports, he said, show strife that is costing the lives of thousands of people each month.
Asked about the role played by Iran, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has made clear for some time that the stability of Iraq is in the interest of all its neighbours, and Iran and other neighbours have a positive role to play to help bring about that stability.
ANNAN TO DELIVER SPEECH TODAY AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: At 4:30 this afternoon, the Secretary-General will deliver an address at Princeton Universitys Woodrow Wilson School concerning the need for a common strategy to deal with the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. He will also participate in a question and answer session with the audience and receive an award conferred by Princeton undergraduates.
ANTI-OPIUM EFFORTS MARRED BY CORRUPTION IN AFGHANISTAN: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank released a report today on Afghanistan, noting that efforts to combat opium production in that country have achieved only limited success, have lacked sustainability and have been marred by corruption. In fact, the drug trade is becoming more and more controlled by fewer powerful players with strong political connections, the report adds.
UNITED NATIONS MUST HELP BRING DECOLONIZATION PROCESS TO AN END: The Secretary-General has sent a message to the Pacific Regional Seminar on Decolonization, which is taking place today in Fiji. In it, he says that, given that decolonization is incomplete, and 16 non-self-governing territories remain, it is the duty of the UN and the international community to bring the process to a successful conclusion.
REFUGEE AGENCY RUSHES SUPPLIES TO FLOOD SURVIVORS IN KENYA: Regarding the floods in northeastern Kenya, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that its airlift of emergency supplies for thousands of refugees has stepped up pace, with three flights from Nairobi since Friday and two more scheduled for today and Wednesday. The flights are delivering plastic tarpaulins and medical supplies. In addition, UNHCR and other agencies working in the area have started developing a new site on higher ground that is safer for the refugees.
COMMON HUMANITY THE THEME OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY EVENT: The UNs Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Development is organizing an event called Our Common Humanity in the Information Age: Principles and Values for Development. It will take place tomorrow at UN Headquarters. Speakers will include former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, actress Julia Ormond, BBC News correspondent Katty Kay, UN Millennium Project Director Jeffrey Sachs, and Google.org Executive Director Larry Brilliant.
NO FURTHER INFORMATION ON SOMALIS IN LEBANON: Asked about a report saying that Somalis had fought in Lebanon recently, the Spokesman recalled that the report was put out by the Monitoring Group dealing with sanctions on Somalia. He noted that the members of that group had been asked to speak to the press, but left New York without doing so.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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