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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-07-30

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 MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N.

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, July 30, 2007

AFTER FOOTBALL VICTORY, U.N. ENVOY URGES IRAQIS TO REALIZE

THEIR POTENTIAL IN ALL ASPECTS OF NATIONS LIFE

Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, joined in the national jubilation on Sunday afternoon, congratulating the Iraqi football team on its well-deserved victory that gained Iraq the Asian Cup.

Qazi

said that the determination and ability that Iraqis brought to the game were a reminder that Iraq possesses so much potential, and he urged Iraqis to come together to realize it in other aspects of the nation's life.

Qazi also offered his reaction in another statement to the execution earlier this month of Awraz Abdul-Aziz Mahmoud Said, who had been convicted on a number of terror-related offences, including the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003.

Qazi noted his previous statements on capital punishment in Iraq and stressed the importance of fair trial principles that must be applied during criminal proceedings in the context of the fight against impunity, and in accordance with human rights treaties to which Iraq is a signatory. He reiterated his hope that the Government of Iraq would abolish the death penalty and prevent further executions.

Asked whether the United Nations plans to get more involved in Iraq, the Spokeswoman noted the role of UN humanitarian agencies on the ground. In that regard, she noted that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the UN is currently working on a new humanitarian operational plan involving both UN agencies and NGO partners. OCHA notes that the overall needs are believed to be much larger and more complex than currently understood, owing to the difficulties in access and availability of information.

Meanwhile, the United Nations continues to provide humanitarian assistance to Iraqis. The World Food Programme (WFP) is providing assistance through a three-year, $60 million emergency operation targeting the most vulnerable groups. UNICEF helped conduct a campaign against measles, mumps and rubella earlier this year and has also distributed essential learning materials to primary schoolchildren.

And last week UNICEF and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have issued a nearly $130 million joint appeal aimed at getting tens of thousands of uprooted Iraqi children back in school.

Asked how many refugees have been affected by the situation in Iraq, the Spokeswoman noted that the UN Refugee Agency had been referring to two million Iraqi refugees. In response to another question, she said that children make up approximately half of any refugee population.

FLAME OF PEACE CEREMONY MARKS LAUNCH

OF DISARMAMENT PROCESS IN CÔTE DIVOIRE

The UN Operation in Côte dIvoire (UNOCI) welcomed the success of the Flame of Peace ceremony, held today in Bouaké which marked the official launch of the disarmament process in the country.

During this ceremony, President Laurent Gbagbo, and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro set fire to weapons handed over by the rebels in a symbolic act of reconciliation.

Burkina Fasos President Blaise Compaoré the facilitator of the Côte dIvoire peace process-- attended the ceremony, as did the presidents of South Africa, Togo, Benin and Guinea-Bissau.

UNOCI stressed the symbolic nature of the event, saying it marked the determination of the Ivorian authorities to reunify their country. The UN mission also reiterated its availability to support Côte dIvoire, in accordance with its Security Council mandate, in order to accelerate a definitive return to peace.

AFGHANISTAN: INSECURITY AND THREATS DISRUPT EDUCATION

UNICEF says that security incidents in schools and threats against students and teachers have continued to disrupt education in Afghanistan this year.

Over thirty attacks have taken place in schools during the first six months of the year, while deliberate attacks on girls and female teachers have resulted in at least four deaths and six injuries so far this year.

SENTENCES HANDED OUT TO CONGOLESE SOLDIERS

CONVICTED OF KILLING CIVILIANS

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) earlier today welcomed the sentences imposed by a Congolese court on nine government soldiers convicted of killing 31 unarmed civilians a year ago. Most of the victims were persons displaced by the armed conflict that has plagued the DR Congo in recent years.

The court in Bunia, the capital of the northeastern Ituri province, found the nine defendants guilty of war crimes, rape, arson, pillage and murder. They were given lengthy sentences including life in prison for the leader of the murderous assault near Bavi, in Ituri, on 11 August 2006.

The UN Mission said that while the ruling sends a strong signal against impunity in the DR Congo, much more remains to be achieved. It called on the authorities to vigorously pursue other similar cases.

U.N. AND ITS PARTNERS CALL ALL PARTIES TO PROMOTE PEACEFUL CAMPAIGN IN SIERRA LEONE

The United Nations and representatives of the international community in Sierra Leone have welcomed the positive steps taken so far by the government of that country ahead of elections planned for 11 August.

In a joint statement, the UN and its international partners noted that the National Electoral Commission has conducted a very successful voter registration. Other preparations for the poll, ballot-counting and subsequent disclosure of final results are well on track. The UN and its partners, however, expressed concern over increasing cases of intimidation and violence. They view this development with utmost concern, and call all political parties to promote a peaceful campaign.

And last week, in Freetown, the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General for Sierra Leone, Victor Angelo, was the keynote speaker at the opening the National Youth Dialogue. He said in his speech that the youth will have an enormous impact on the outcome of the August elections because 40% of the registered 2.6 million are under age of 27.

U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR URGES INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO FUND LESOTHO APPEAL

UN Emergency Relief

Coordinator John Holmes is urging the international community to fully fund a nearly $19 million dollar flash appeal. Earlier this month, the Government declared a state of emergency in the wake of the countrys worst drought in 30 years.

With this years maize and sorghum harvest nearly destroyed, maize prices are soaring, and there are fears that up to one third of the population will require humanitarian assistance between now and the next harvest in May.

Last week, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated nearly four million dollars to jump start emergency programs, including therapeutic feeding centers, agricultural inputs and emergency food assistance.

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR WILL ATTEND HIGH LEVEL DIALOGUE

ON CLIMATE CHANGE AT UNITED NATIONS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday ended his official visit to San Francisco, California, with a joint press conference with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. At that event, he invited the Governor to address the High-level Informal Dialogue on climate change, which is planned for 24 September. The Governor agreed to attend.

Earlier that day, the Secretary-General and the Governor toured a local company that is developing new energy-saving technologies to combat climate change.

The Secretary-General was in San Francisco to mark the 62nd anniversary of the founding in that city of the United Nations and discuss climate change with California leaders.

NOELEEN HEYZER OF SINGAPORE APPOINTED AS HEAD OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

The Secretary-General has appointed Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore as Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Ms. Heyzer is the first executive director from the South to head the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the leading operational agency within the United Nations to promote womens empowerment and gender equality. Since joining UNIFEM, Dr. Heyzer has worked on strengthening womens economic security and rights; promoting womens leadership in conflict resolution, peace-building and governance; ending violence against women; and combating HIV/AIDS from a gender perspective.

She played a critical role in the Security Councils adoption of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and undertook extensive missions to conflict-affected countries worldwide to ensure its implementation to make a difference in womens lives on the ground.

Through her leadership, UNIFEM has assisted countries to formulate and implement legislation and policies to realize womens security and rights. This has led, for example, to changes in inheritance laws for women, better working conditions for migrant workers, the inclusion of women as full citizens in the constitution of Afghanistan and as full participants in several peace negotiations and electoral processes. Organizationally, UNIFEM has undergone a comprehensive restructuring to maximize performance, build knowledge and partnerships to deliver results. It has also increased its resources five-fold, strengthened its ground presence and successfully advocated to put issues affecting women high on the agenda of the UN system.

Before joining UNIFEM, Dr. Heyzer worked as a researcher for the World Employment Programme of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and was a Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. She served in the Economic and Social Commission of the Asia and Pacific Region where she focused on youth employment and the preparation for the Third World Conference on Women. She was also Director of the Gender Programme of the Asia and Pacific Development Center. In this role, Dr. Heyzer was a policy adviser to several Asian governments on gender issues, playing a key role in the formulation of national development policies, strategies and programmes from a gender perspective.

She has done extensive work at the community level with women migrant workers, women in the informal sector and in plantations, young women in prostitution, female workers in free trade zones, rural and indigenous communities affected by environmental degradation.

Born in Singapore, she received a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Singapore and a doctorate in social sciences from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. She has received several awards for leadership including the UNA-Harvard Leadership Award, the Woman of Distinction Award from the UN-NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NCRW Women Who Make a Difference Award in 2005 and the Dag Hammarskjöld medal in 2004 given to a person who has promoted, in action and spirit, the values that inspired Dag Hammarskjöld as Secretary-General of the United Nations and generally in his life: compassion, humanism and commitment to international solidarity and cooperation.

BADER AL DAFA OF QATAR IS APPOINTED EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR WESTERN ASIA

The Secretary General has appointed Bader Al-Dafa of Qatar as Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

Mr. Al-Dafa has recently served as Ambassador of Qatar to the United States and Permanent Observer to the Organization of American States (OAS). In this capacity, he played a special role in promoting access to education and the arts in the Arab-American community and among other minority populations in the United States.

Mr. Al-Dafa has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in foreign affairs and non-governmental services, which has included representing Qatar as Ambassador to the Russian Federation, France, Egypt, and Spain. He has also served as the non-resident Ambassador to Finland, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Switzerland, and Mexico. Mr. Al Dafa has also served as Director of the European and American Affairs Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Highlights of Mr. Al-Dafas service with international NGOs include supervision of programs for building housing for families with limited income in Africa and participation in land mine removal programs in the Balkans. In addition, he has actively participated in fund- raising programs with various childrens hospitals that support the social needs of children in Asia and in North America and helped to raise funds and support for the empowerment of women in North Africa and Central Asia. He has also been involved in organizing conferences on democracy and free trade and inter-religious dialogue.

Wherever he has served, Mr. Al-Dafa has focused on international arts and culture as a means to build better understanding between the Arab world and the international community. To this end, he has hosted many international art exhibitions and cultural events.

At the local level, Mr. Al-Dafa has championed education through the Qatar Foundation by helping prominent U.S. universities establish themselves in Dohas "Education City". He is also instrumental in supporting religious freedom in Qatar by coordinating with various religious communities.

Mr. Al-Dafa received his Masters in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University and his Bachelors Degree in Political Science and Economics from Western Michigan University in the United States. He has been awarded the Order Du Mérite from the Republic of France.

Mr. Al-Dafa is married to Awatef Al-Dafa and has one son and two daughters. He is fluent in Arabic, English, and Spanish and speaks nascent French.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

NO ANNOUNCEMENT CONCERNING U.N. MIDDLE EAST COORDINATOR: Asked whether UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Michael Williams is leaving, the Spokeswoman said she could not confirm that and had nothing official to announce. She added that the Secretary-General would respect Williamss decision.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF U.N. MISSION IN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA: The Security Council this morning voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) by another six months, until the end of January 2008.

U.N. FORCE IN LEBANON CARRIES OUT FIRE TRAINING EXERCISE: The Field Artillery Group, part of the Quick Reaction Force of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), today carried out a major live fire training exercise near UNIFIL headquarters at Naqoura in southern Lebanon. The aim of the exercise was to hone the skills and expertise of the battle group. In that six-hour period, the battle group fired 76 rounds of artillery at targets located off the coastline.

SPOKESWOMAN REITERATES SECRETARY-GENERALS POSITION ON HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: The Spokeswoman, in response to a question concerning remarks attributed to one delegation concerning the Secretary-Generals comments on the Human Rights Council, reiterated the Secretary-Generals position on the Council, expressed most recently last June.

CRITERIA FOR MEDIA ACCREDITATION HAVE NOT CHANGED: Asked about a review by UN bodies of credentials to new media, the Spokeswoman said that the UNs Department of Public Information has made it clear that the criteria for media accreditation have not changed. She said that there had been a meeting of the UN Communications Group in Madrid, which brings together public information officials throughout the UN system to exchange ideas. That meeting had dealt with how to serve new media as well as traditional media, and media accreditation at UN Headquarters had been a small part of that discussion.

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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