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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-07-09
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, July 9, 2007
BAN KI-MOON ENDS OFFICIAL VISIT TO PORTUGAL;
TRAVELS TO BRUSSELS FOR GLOBAL FORUM ON MIGRATION
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon started the day in Lisbon, where he met with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, with whom he discussed the Middle East, Darfur, Timor-Leste, the Alliance of Civilizations, the Millennium Development Goals, and climate change.
Earlier, he had met with former President Jorge Sampaio, who is his High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.
Later, the Secretary-General met with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Filipe Marques Amado. In comments to reporters afterward, the Secretary-General said he was especially concerned about Darfur. He noted that the meeting of the International Contact Group in Paris on 25 June appears to have generated a new momentum, and consolidated international support.
The Secretary-General added that the Middle East remains a source of deep concern. One immediate priority is securing a permanent and reliable reopening of Gaza crossings, to allow in commercial and humanitarian imports.
The Secretary-General was also to with Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates. Also today, he held separate meetings with the countrys Defence Minister and Interior Minister and the President of the Parliament.
This evening, he is leaving for Brussels, where tomorrow he is expected to make an opening statement at the Global Forum on Migration and Development, organized by the Government of Belgium, which will mark the start of a new global process designed to enhance the positive impact of migration on development.
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON KOSOVO
The Security Council held consultations this morning on Kosovo. Joachim Rücker, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative there, briefed Council members on the Secretary-Generals recent report on the work of the UN Mission in Kosovo.
In that report, which we flagged for you last week, the Secretary-General says that, while Kosovos overall progress is encouraging, there is a real risk that the progress that has been achieved can begin to unravel if its future status remains undefined.
Later, in a formal meeting, the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement, condemning last week's terrorist attacks in Yemen.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals position on Kosovos status, the Spokeswoman said that his positions are articulated in his latest report. The question of Kosovos status, she said, is now in the hands of the Security Council.
Asked whether the Secretary-General continues to support Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaaris report on the final status of Kosovo, Okabe said that the Secretary-Generals position has not changed.
BAN KI-MOON STRONGLY CONDEMNS BOMBING
WHICH KILLED SOME 130 PEOPLE IN NORTHERN IRAQ
The Secretary-General, in a statement issued over the weekend, expressed condemnation in the strongest terms of the bomb attack on a busy marketplace in Amirli, in northern Iraq, which left some 130 people killed and over 240 wounded, many of them seriously.
The Secretary-General once again urges all Iraqi leaders to work together to bring the violence to a halt and engage in a real political dialogue in the hopes of building a peaceful and stable Iraq.
There is also a
statement upstairs from the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, who described the bombing as a vicious crime that shows the inhumane nature of the perpetrators who will stop at nothing in their quest to further foment the flames of sectarianism.
Asked whether the Secretary-General feels that the United Nations should become involved in a peacekeeping force for Iraq, the Spokeswoman said that matter was not currently being discussed. At the same time, she said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly expressed his desire for the United Nations to do whatever it can to help the Iraqi people.
The United Nations, Okabe said, has helped with Iraqs political process, constitutional review and humanitarian assistance and hopes to help with reconstruction work. But its presence on the ground, she added, is affected by the security situation.
LEBANESE AND ISRAELI FORCES OFFICIALS MEET
WITH U.N. FORCE COMMANDER
The Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Claudio Graziano, met with senior officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces today at the UN Position at the border crossing at Ras Al Naqoura.
The main focus of the meeting was the implementation of resolution 1701 and the recent incidents in UNIFILs area of operations, namely, the launching of rockets from Lebanese territory into Israel on 17 June and the terrorist attack on a UNIFIL convoy on 24 June.
Regarding the latter, the Israeli and Lebanese representatives conveyed their condolences on the tragic loss of six UNIFIL peacekeepers and expressed their full support and readiness to work together with UNIFIL to prevent a repeat of such incidents. The Force Commander thanked the representatives, and added that the UN Missions peacekeepers were not deterred by the terrorist attack.
U.N. HALTS GAZA BUILDING PROJECTS DUE TO SUPPLY SHORTAGE
The UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, has announced that construction has come to a halt on all of its building projects in Gaza because of the lack of basic building supplies.
Some $93 million worth of projects are on hold, because cement and other building supplies have run out, according to John Ging, UNRWAs Director in Gaza.
Ging said that it is imperative that the crossings into Gaza resume full operations, not just for food aid and medicine, but for all commodities and supplies. Otherwise Gaza faces the prospect of a humanitarian and public health crisis.
He warned that the closure of the borders means a loss of over a million days of employment, placing an even larger burden on the UN humanitarian aid programme.
Asked whether the Secretary-General has raised the UNs concerns about the passage of the supplies with Israel, the Spokeswoman said that, in recent weeks, he has been in constant touch with the parties, and the issue of opening the crossings has been a major concern.
I.A.E.A. INSPECTORS TO RESUME WORK IN D.P.R.K.
The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today
agreed in Vienna that the Agencys inspectors should resume work in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The Board heard a briefing from IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei about the visit by an Agency team to the DPRK during the last week of June, where the IAEA discussed modalities for its verification and monitoring of the shutdown and sealing of the Yongbyon nuclear facility.
ElBaradei said he welcomed the return of the DPRK to the verification process, adding, I am particularly pleased with the active cooperation of the DPRK that the IAEA team received during the visit.
Asked about the next steps following the Board of Governors approval, the Spokeswoman said that the IAEA would proceed with its activities in the DPRK and would be expected to report back to the Board of Governors.
Asked whether the Secretary-General has been involved in the process regarding the DPRK, the Spokeswoman said that he welcomes the IAEAs decision to move the process forward. He has always been a supporter of the six-party talks and will do whatever he can if his services are needed.
U.N. ENVOY BEGINS CONSULTATIONS ON MYANMAR IN ASIA
The Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, arrived Sunday in Beijing and today began consultations on Myanmar with senior Chinese Government officials. He met today with Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Binguo, Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, and Director-General Wu Hailong.
From there, he will travel to New Delhi and then to Tokyo for further meetings with Government counterparts before returning to New York over the weekend. All of Gambari's consultations are taking place within the context of the Secretary-General's good offices mandate for Myanmar.
During this trip, he will discuss Myanmar with some of the key countries in the region. Any effort to promote positive changes in Myanmar is going to require not only direct dialogue with the Government and people of the country, but also dialogue with all interested countries and all who can potentially help support our efforts. This is why Mr. Gambari is consulting broadly, having visited Washington two weeks ago and having traveled this week to the region.
Asked whether Gambari will travel to Myanmar, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has asked Gambari to continue his dialogue with the Government and people of Myanmar. He therefore intends to visit Myanmar again soon, although dates have yet been determined. He will not be going on this trip, she said.
SIERRA LEONE: U.N. URGES CANDIDATES TO LEAD PEACEFUL CAMPAIGN
Tomorrow is the start of the political campaign period for Sierra Leones upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.
And today the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, Victor Angelo, issued a statement urging all candidates to abide by the Political Parties Code of Conduct. A peaceful campaign, he said, is crucial for credible elections.
He also appealed to the local media to fully adhere to the Media Code of Conduct as Sierra Leonean journalists share a major responsibility in keeping the electoral process peaceful.
LIBERIANS JOIN POLICE FORCE AFTER U.N.-BACKED TRAINING
A new group of Liberian men and women have graduated from a UN-backed law-enforcement training programme and have joined the ranks of Liberia national police force.
This milestone was celebrated this weekend at an event in Monrovia, at which the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jordan Ryan, urged the new officers to be professional in service delivery and accountable to the communities they serve.
The event marked the graduation of some 360 new police officers, bringing the total number of new officers to 3,522, including 203 women.
The Missions mandate to help train Liberian police flows from Security Council resolution 1509, which requests the UN to monitor and support the creation of a well-trained, mobile police, committed to the protection of citizens rights.
UNITED NATIONS INTENDS TO HELP WITH GUINEA-BISSAU ELECTIONS
Available today is the latest Secretary-General report on Guinea-Bissau and the work of the UN Peacebuilding Office in that country.
In it, the Secretary-General says that recent months were marked by a deterioration of political and social tensions as well as a worsening of economic and financial circumstances for the average citizen. In terms of the security, very little was achieved in the months under review, the Secretary-General says, despite continued UN engagement of the countrys leadership on several related issues.
The Secretary-General notes that the repeated political crises besetting the government continue to prevent it from focusing on improving the economic lot of the population.
Among the reports recommendations, the Secretary-General appeals for a revitalized security sector reform and, in response to a request by Guinea-Bissau, declares the UNs intention to help organize and monitor next years parliamentary elections.
TRIAL OF BOSNIAN ARMY COMMANDER BEGINS
Today in The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is starting courtroom proceedings in the trial of Rasim Delic, the former Commander of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Delic is being tried on the basis of his command responsibility for murder, cruel treatment and rape committed by his subordinate troops while he was Commander of the Main Staff of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina between June 1993 and September 2005.
According to the Tribunal, Delic failed to punish his troops who executed captured Bosnian Croat civilians and soldiers in the villages of Maline and Bikoi in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. Delic also failed to prevent the torture, beatings, murder and decapitation of Bosnian Serb Army soldiers by his troops in the Kamenica Camp, also in central Bosnia. Additionally, he is charged failing to prevent the rape of three women in the same camp.
NEARLY 14,000 FIREARMS DESTROYED IN COLOMBIA
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will be destroying nearly 14,000 firearms in Colombia today, in a special ceremony organized with the national authorities and aimed at highlighting the danger of illegal arms proliferation.
Colombia has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Of the 17,000 homicides registered in 2005, most were connected with illegal ownership, manufacture or trade of firearms, says UNODC.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE WEDNESDAY
On Wednesday at UN headquarters, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will give a press conference on her recent trip to Africa, including her official visit to Guinea-Bissau and her attendance of the AU Summit in Ghana.
MIDDLE EAST IS PRIORITY FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL: Asked about the Arab Peace Initiative, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General has placed the Middle East as one of his top issues, and would encourage any dialogue that can help to further the cause of peace there.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED ABOUT CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN AFGHANISTAN: Asked about civilian casualties resulting from recent coalition air strikes in Afghanistan, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General is concerned about the matter and had discussed it with the authorities in Afghanistan during his recent visit to Kabul and also during a conference on the Rule of Law in Afghanistan in Rome.
UNDPS ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR VISITS KOSOVO: Ad Melkert, Under-Secretary General and Associate Administrator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), concluded a four-day visit to Macedonia and Kosovo. While in Kosovo, Mr. Melkert said that UNDP will continue to support the return of refugees and internally displaced persons there, and stressed the importance of creating employment and livelihood opportunities for them.
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