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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-09-07
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THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, September 7, 2007
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ALGERIA TERRORIST BOMBING
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemns the terrorist bombing that reportedly targeted the convoy of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on 6 September during a visit to the city of Batna in eastern Algeria, killing and wounding a large number of innocent civilians.
The Secretary-General extends his solidarity and his condolences to the Government and people of Algeria and in particular to the families of the victims. He urges once again that the international community work together to reject and to combat terrorism in all of its expressions.
CHAD: SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS PRESIDENT, VISITS SHRINKING LAKE
The Secretary-General arrived in Ndjamena from Khartoum on his first official visit to Chad.
He began his day with a briefing on the humanitarian situation, in particular in eastern Chad, which is home to displaced persons as well as refugees fleeing the crisis in
The focus of the Secretary-Generals visit to Chad is to move forward with the Government on plans for an international military and police presence which would protect refugees and internally displaced persons in eastern Chad; to seek direct support of the government since it is an important regional player in ensuring that all parties participate in the Darfur peace talks to be held in Libya; and to call attention to the problem of desertification through a visit to Lake Chad, which measured 26,000 square kilometres in the 1960s and which has shrunk to only some 1,500 square kilometres.
The Secretary-General met with President Idriss Déby and together they had a joint press encounter.
After a lunch with the President, the Secretary-General visited Lake Chad by helicopter to see it for himself.
Upon return he was scheduled to hold a press conference with Foreign Minister Ahmad Allam-Mi, and then have an informal meeting with opposition leaders.
BAN KI-MOON APPEALS FOR CALM AHEAD OF SIERRA LEONE ELECTIONS
The Secretary-General has been following closely the situation in Sierra Leone in the lead-up to the second round of presidential elections scheduled for 8 September. He is deeply concerned about the recent incidents of harassment, intimidation and violence involving supporters of the two main Sierra Leone political parties and about the incidents of inflammatory rhetoric appearing in the local media.
He appeals to all Sierra Leone parties and their supporters to refrain from activities that could endanger peace and stability. The Secretary-General applauds the recent national and regional initiatives to bring the two remaining candidates together and calls on the people of Sierra Leone to participate peacefully in tomorrows elections.
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON U.N. SUDAN MISSION
The Security Council held consultations today about the Secretary-Generals recent report on the UN Mission in Sudan. The new Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, briefed Council members on the report.
Mulet also briefed the Council on the latest developments in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The members of the Security Council also adopted a Presidential Statement condemning in the strongest terms the terrorist attack that took place on Thursday in the Algerian city of Batna.
DR CONGO: THOUSANDS FLEE FIGHTING IN NORTH KIVU
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that thousands of Congolese have fled the town of Sake, in the Democratic Republic of the Congos North Kivu province, due to the current intense fighting there.
Since many of those fleeing prefer to remain close to their homes, only some 200 people have registered in the UNHCR-supported Nyakabanda reception site in Uganda. But UNHCR, UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) have stored relief supplies in a nearby warehouse just in case.
Meanwhile, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes has visited a site for internally displaced persons east of Sake. On Thursday in Bukavu, he visited a centre for former child soldiers. One 17-year-old boy, who had been recruited when he was 7, told Holmes that he could actually sleep without nightmares now that he was at the centre.
U.N. MISSION TO HELP GUATEMALA ESTABLISH IMPUNITY COMMISSION
On Thursday, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe, met in New York with a senior Guatemalan delegation led by Vice-President Eduardo Stein to discuss next steps toward the establishment of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), following its entry into force on 4 September.
On behalf of the Secretary-General, Pascoe said that the United Nations attaches great importance to the Commission and will work expeditiously toward establishing it with both the personnel and the resources it needs to be effective as an independent entity designed to assist Guatemala in its fight against impunity. As an immediate next step, Pascoe announced that the Department of Political Affairs will lead a mission to Guatemala later this month to begin the preparations for establishing the Commission.
NICARAGUA: HUMANITARIAN APPEAL FOR RELIEF EFFORTS BEING PREPARED
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is preparing a Flash Appeal in the wake of Hurricane Felix. Meanwhile, a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team is continuing its work in Honduras.
According to UNICEF, Hurricane Felix damaged more than 8,000 homes and affected more than 34,000 people in Nicaragua. It notes that those numbers are likely to rise, as rescue brigades reach communities that have been cut off by flooding.
UNICEF has already sent blankets, mobile water chlorination units and other supplies to affected areas. The agency is also coordinating with Nicaraguas Ministry of Education to organize emergency shelters and get children back to school.
FOOD INSECURITY THREATENS THOUSANDS IN DPRK
In its latest food security assessment following last months devastating floods in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the World Food Programme said thousands of people require immediate and continued humanitarian food assistance.
The agency is providing emergency food assistance in 37 of the hardest-hit counties.
WFP also said it received extensive access and cooperation to assess the disasters impact on food security from the DPRK Government, immediately following the floods.
The DPRK Government has agreed to a three-month period of WFP emergency food distributions, for 215,000 people in 37 of the 149 flood-affected counties across the country.
The emergency flood response alone will cost US$5-6 million, according to preliminary estimates.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER URGES MYANMAR TO RELEASE DEMONSTRATORS
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today expressed her growing concern over the detention of peaceful demonstrators by the Myanmar authorities and called for their immediate release.
The High Commissioner noted that more than 150 people have reportedly been arrested since 19 August 2007, when citizens began protesting against a sharp increase in fuel prices. The High Commissioner expressed dismay at the violence used against some protestors, including monks, by agents of the State.
U.N. HAS COMMENTED EXTENSIVELY ON MILITARY ACTIONS AGAINST CIVILIANS IN LEBANON WAR
Asked about the recent Human Rights Watch report criticizing the Israeli actions against civilians during Lebanon war, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations had commented extensively on military actions against civilians while the fighting went on last summer as well as after and has nothing to add.
She added that the United Nations continues to clear the mines that have been left over from the conflict and continue to pose an immediate threat to the civilian population.
During the hostilities last summer, Montas said, on a number of occasions, there were incidents of firing from the vicinity of UN positions by the Hezbollah, as well as firing at locations close to UN positions by the Israeli Defence Forces. At the time, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reported all these incidents and strongly protested to the Israeli and Lebanese authorities, respectively.
PANEL TO INVESTIGATE DISCOVERY OF SUBSTANCE AT UNMOVIC
The three members of the fact-finding panel that will be tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a substance at the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) premises two weeks ago have been announced.
The panel includes Dr. Stefan Mogl, who is the head of Chemistry at Switzerlands SPIEZ national laboratory; he previously headed the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons laboratory.
Dr. Susan Brown is the Director of the High Performance Computing Outreach Center at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Shes a chemical engineering and energy technology expert who served in Iraq with the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) in the 1990s.
Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security David Veness will also serve on the panel.
The panel, which will act under the direction of Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-Generals Chef de Cabinet, is expected to meet for the first time next week. It will be tasked with ascertaining the circumstances under which the substances in question were brought to UN Headquarters, the reasons why the items were discovered only recently, and safety procedures in place and the extent to which they were followed.
The panel will be requested to deliver a report to the Secretary-General by the end of October.
Asked whether there had been any other substances found in the UNMOVIC offices, the Spokeswoman said that none had been found.
PARTIES TO U.N. DESERTIFICATION CONVENTION ENDORSE PROPOSED EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
The Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has endorsed the proposal made by the Secretary-General to appoint Luc Gnacadja as the new Executive Secretary of the Convention.
The endorsement was made by the Bureau at its meeting in Madrid, Spain, on 3 September.
Gnacadja is the former Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development in Benin, and he won the Green Award 2002 from the World Bank in recognition of his contribution to the improvement of the world environment. He will succeed Hama Arba Diallo of Burkina Faso.
ETHICS OFFICE JURISDICTION A MATTER FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO DECIDE
Asked about a letter from US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen about the jurisdiction of the UN Ethics Office over the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Spokeswoman noted that the jurisdiction of the Ethics Office is a matter to be decided and clarified by the General Assembly and its Member States.
Asked about a letter that Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar had sent to Ros-Lehtinen in June, Montas said that the letter had noted that the Ethics Office was looking into the UNDP issue, as it had been doing at the time. In August, she said, the Ethics Office concluded that it did not have legal jurisdiction over UNDP, although the Offices head, Robert Benson, asked UNDP for jurisdiction.
After that, UNDPs Board made a decision, which the Secretary-General approved, for an external review of matters not covered by the investigation presently led by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), concerning the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. This includes the presumed whistleblower case.
Montas noted that, at the time that the Chef de Cabinets letter was written, the jurisdiction of the Ethics Office had not been clarified or tested, and the letter by the Chef de Cabinet had stressed the need for the Ethics office to conduct its work "free from any interference from the Secretary General's office", which has been the case since the Ethics Office was created.
The Spokeswoman strongly objected to one reports characterization of the Chef de Cabinets letter as lying. She said that there certainly had been no intention to mislead and that matters were clarified between the time when the letter was sent and when the Ethics Office came out with its evaluation in August.
The Spokeswoman declined to speculate on how the US Congress would deal with the funding of UNDP.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SEEKING CLARIFICATION ON REPORTED ISRAELI VIOLATIONS OF SYRIAN AIRSPACE: The Secretary-General is concerned at reported violations of Syrian airspace by Israeli aircrafts, the Spokeswoman said in response to previous questions. He is seeking clarification of the incident from the parties.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED ABOUT VIOLATIONS AGAINST CHILDREN IN CÔTE DIVOIRE: In the Secretary-Generals latest report on children and armed conflict in Côte dIvoire, he says he remains deeply concerned by the prevailing culture of impunity for violations against children. Also concerned by the prevalence of sexual violence against girls, he urges the Government of Côte dIvoire to prepare a national action plan to address the issue.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
08 September 14 September 2007
[This document is for planning purposes only and is subject to change]
Saturday, September 8
The Secretary-General is scheduled to pay an official visit to Libya, where he will meet with President Qadhafi.
In Sierra Leone, the second round of presidential elections is scheduled to take place.
Today is International Literacy Day.
Monday, September 10
This afternoon, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on its Sudan Sanctions Committee and on the UN Mission in Timor-Leste.
From today through 28 September in Geneva, the Human Rights Council holds its sixth session.
In commemoration of World Suicide Prevention Day, at 11 a.m. in Room 226, there will be a press conference by Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, Unit Chief of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Technology and Health Service Delivery at the Pan American Health Organization; and Dr. Brian Mishara, President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
The guest at the noon briefing will be
Radhika Coomaraswamy, Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, who will brief on her recent trip to Côte dIvoire.
From 3 to 4:15 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, there will be a briefing by Ambassador Liu Guijin, Chinese Special Representative on African Affairs, on Relations between Africa and China.
From 3 to 5 p.m. in Conference Room 9, there will be an informal briefing on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit, entitled Towards a United Nations humanitarian assistance programme for disaster response and reduction: lessons learned from the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.
From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, there will be an informal meeting (open) of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission.
At 6.30 p.m. in the South Lobby of the Secretariat Building, General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa will inaugurate an exhibition on Bahrain: Making policy a reality, meeting the millennium challenges.
Tuesday, September 11
This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as well as on its Somalia Sanctions Committee.
At 11 a.m. at Room 226, there will be a press conference by Liu Guijin, Special Representative of the Government of China on Darfur.
The guest at the noon briefing will be Cheick Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, on his first official trip, in his current capacity, to attend a conference on Landlocked Developing Countries in Mongolia.
Wednesday, September 12
This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on Darfur and Haiti.
All day in Conference Room 8, there will be a UNITAR Preparatory Event for the Global Forum on Youth and ICT for Development Bringing Innovative Youth into the International ICT Policy Discussion.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Conference Room 7, there will be a briefing and panel discussion on Human Rights Constructing a world view for the twenty-first century.
At 3 p.m. in Conference Room 7, there will be a briefing by the UN Conference on Trade and Development on its 2007 Trade and Development Report.
Thursday, September 13
The General Assembly is expected to meet in plenary to take action on the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Friday, September 14
The Secretary-General is scheduled to chair the first meeting of the MDG Africa Steering Group, with an aim to refocus and better coordinate international efforts towards achieving the MDGs in Africa.
The guest at the noon briefing will be Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who will brief on the 10th anniversary of the anti-personnel mine-ban treaty, which will be observed on 18 September.
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