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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-09-10

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 SECRETARY-GENERAL'S PRESS ENCOUNTER

U.N.

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, September 10, 2007

[Since the Secretary-General held a press encounter in New York today, there was no noon briefing. Below is a full unofficial transcript of the encounter. Following that is a summary of today's news from throughout the UN system.]

SG: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Im glad to see you all again. I returned yesterday night and I would like to briefly tell you. My visit to the region, to Sudan Chad and Libya was very useful and constructive in generating a momentum to bring an early resolution of the situation in Darfur. As you are already aware, we have announced the political negotiation meeting to be held on October 27 in Tripoli, Libya. And I was assured the full support from all the leaders in the region, including Presidents of Sudan, Chad and [Libyan] leader [Muammar] Qaddafi and [other] leaders in the region Egypt and Eritrea and all other countries. I am encouraged. We must build upon this progress to bring peace and security and prosperity to these people.

In that regard I am going to, again, closely work, particularly during the forthcoming September 21st high-level meeting to be chaired between myself and Chairman [Alpha Oumar] Konaré of the African Union. This political negotiation will be led by the African Union and the United Nations, in close cooperation and support from the countries concerned. We have agreed - all the leaders in the region have agreed that we should make this negotiation as a final phase for final settlement of this issue. I was so struck when I met all these people in the IDP [internally displaced people] camp, with their aspirations to see peace and security in their country. And I also encouraged leaders of South and North Sudan to faithfully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which is the core in this issue. I again expect that they will faithfully implement [it]. At the same time, the leaders in the region, particularly Sudan, should make their utmost efforts, to make this political process move smoothly, keeping the cessation of hostilities and helping the humanitarian assistance flow smoothly, without any hindrance.

I visited again the future site of the hybrid operation, UNAMID [UN Assistance Mission in Darfur]. Initial preparations are going on well on track. Again, President [Omar El] Bashir of Sudan has assured me of his Governments full support logistical, administrative areas, including some additional land which may be required for operations. We must build upon this momentum. The Chadian Government is going to hold a preparatory meeting with all the representatives of movements, in about two weeks time. I have asked my Special Representative, Mr. Jan Eliasson and African Union Special Envoy, Mr. [Salim A.] Salim, to fully utilize this opportunity to engage in talks with the leaders of rebel groups. They will have to engage in shuttle diplomacy before this formal meeting takes place, to see that [there is] the smooth process of this meeting. I am going to be continuously engaged in this and you will have my full commitment to it. I am grateful to all the leaders for their political flexibility and cooperation.

Now Im ready to answer your questions.

Q: Secretary-General, two questions. The peacekeeping force the deadline for troop contributors has been delayed to what date - is it October 10, October 13? And secondly, did you mention the ICC [International Criminal Court] and did you deal at all with the head of the humanitarian operation in Sudan, whos indicted by them?

SG: About force composition: We are encouraged to have received full cooperation - we even have more contributions than we may actually need. But, still we are lacking in the specialized areas, like air transportation, experts in finance and some other areas. I am looking forward and we would like to have contributions from non-African Union country, particularly European countries. I have discussed with some of the European leaders [on] that and I have received encouraging responses from them. On the humanitarian issue I have met, wherever I traveled - I had a meeting with the humanitarian workers, NGO representatives and UN country teams. And I have urged the Sudanese Government to facilitate the smooth flow of humanitarian assistance without any hindrance, without any threat. I got that assurance, but their commitment will have to be tested. We will always be very vigilant on that.

Q: Sir, just to follow up on that point. You met with all the humanitarian ministers and experts and NGOs when you were out there, but only the Sudanese Humanitarian Minister for Darfur is the one that has been indicted by the ICC. Did you meet with him and did you bring up this message of impunity that you talk about here so often?

SG: I have not met him personally. Even so, I am not in a position to disclose all that I have discussed. You may remember that I met Mr. [Luis Moreno-] Ocampo, Prosecutor of ICC, before my departure and I am fully aware of the importance and significance of this issue. That is on my agenda which I will try to discuss

Q: Mr. Secretary-General. The one thing unclear is the role of Colonel Qaddafi. Is he going to issue the invitations for all the leaders of Africa to take part in those peace talks on October 27? You know that Libya had been on the list of terrorist organizations by the [US] State Department not too long ago. Now he has emerged as peacemaker, can you give us a little bit of background on how you go to Libya to hold that role?

SG: First of all, the invitations will be sent in the joint names of myself, as Secretary-General, and African Union Chairperson, Mr. Konaré. He is not going to send out invitations. The background behind why we chose Tripoli as the venue -- we have discussed with various players countries. In fact, several countries have offered their countries as the future venue. We discussed all the countries concerned and we agreed, finally, that Libya, Tripoli, would be the most convenient and acceptable to all the parties. And before we agreed, and announced this, I and my Special Envoy, Mr. Eliasson, have been engaged in very close consultation with the countries concerned and Tripoli was chosen, with [their] full understanding and support. And they had initiated a very important mediating role since 2006, starting from the Tripoli Agreement which was agreed February 2006 a mediating role between Sudan and Chad - and this year, in April and July, they had hosted two important political negotiation meetings which have good groundwork. They have experience and they have know-how, and there are quite a number of leaders of movements and groups residing in Libya. So that was one of the factors.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, as you are aware, today is a big day on Iraq, regarding Iraq, in Washington. Since the Security Council adopted the resolution which really basically called for the expansion of the UN role, what have you, sir, yourself been doing to make sure that the Secretariat is involved and are you willing to godfather a conversation among the five permanent members regarding Iraq? And secondly, where e do you stand on this problem between Mr. [Mohamed] ElBaradei and some member states vis-ŕ-vis Iran and the IAEA an assessment of Mr. Baradei - are you with him or are you with Member States?

SG: Now, on the Iraqi situation - it is again high on my agenda. As you are aware, Im going to convene, together with Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki, a high-level meeting on the Iraqi situation on September 22. In that meeting, we are going to discuss the smooth implementation of Security Council Resolution 1770 and the follow-up of the International Compact and other related measures.

On the Iranian case, I know that there was an agreement between the IAEA and Iran on the future work plans on this. I know that there are some different understandings or expectations. What is important at this time is that, in addition to what IAEA has been negotiating and discussing with the Iranian Government, the Iranian Government should fully comply with the Security Council Resolutions - that is the core and most important part in addressing this issue.

Q: A couple of questions. One - there is higher tensions between Syria and Israel after Syria alleged that an Israeli plane violated its airspace. Do you have any comment on that? And, secondly, there is a lot of criticism of Libyas own human rights record and its leading this effort for Durban II which deals with racism and xenophobia. Did you talk to Qaddafi at all on his own record, especially on xenophobia, and harassing African workers?

SG: I am also deeply concerned about this ongoing situation which happened a few days ago between Syria and Israel. In this area, we have been experiencing so much uncertainty and violence. I only hope that all the countries in the region should fully cooperate with implementing the resolutions of the Security Council and engage in peaceful dialogue to address all these issues.

For individual countries human rights record, there may be many different understandings or, again, interpretations, but at this time particularly, while I urge, in my capacity as Secretary-General, to uphold the Charter provisions to promote and protect human rights gain, for political negotiations, I only appreciate Libyas flexibility and kind gesture to hold this meeting.

Q: Secretary-General, is it enough to send "concern" to Israel for them to refrain from future violations of Syrian airspace and Lebanese airspace which has been going on since last year and even further before that is "concern" enough as a message for Israel?

SG: Yes, I would urge Israeli authorities, and all other authorities in the region, to exercise maximum restraint in managing this already very fragile uncertain security situation in that region. That is absolutely necessary - to exercise maximum restraint.

Q: After 24 years, the UN General Assembly is going to vote this week on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Im curious - do you support this Declaration and, if so, why?

SG: The basic human rights, and the rights of everybody in the world, should be fully protected and respected. In that regard, I support the Declaration of these indigenous peoples rights.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, do you have any remarks or thoughts that you could share about the latest Osama Bin Laden tape?

SG: That is something which, I think, intelligence authorities have been closely analyzing. As we are going to observe tomorrow the sixth anniversary of September 11 terrorist attacks, that message only reminds us and strengthens our resolve to fight against international terrorism. The whole international community must solidify our efforts to fight against international terrorism.

Q: On Myanmar. Can you say how you responded to Laura Bushs phone call to you to become personally involved in resolving the dispute in Myanmar. And are you going to call on the Security Council to put [forth] a resolution on this?

SG: I had a good telephone call with Mrs. Laura Bush a couple of weeks ago and I told her that I am fully committed to working towards the full democratization of Myanmar. And Im going to soon dispatch my Special [Adviser], Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari, to Myanmar. He has been consulting with many countries in the region, as well as influential countries. On the basis of what he has been discussing with those countries, I am going to dispatch him soon to Myanmar. Let us hope that the Myanmar Government will fully democratize their country, respecting and upholding the aspirations and wishes of the whole international community, particularly the release of Madame Aung San Suu Kyi.

Q: On Darfur. Can you give us an update on the status of Abdel Wahid Noor attending the October 27 talks. And also, on this issue of the Ethics Office jurisdiction, an issue has arisen about your visit to Congress on July 17, where you said that the Ethics Office had jurisdiction over this case of UNDP. Now it appears not to be. Have you updated the Congress, and how do you want to see that case play out?

SG: On this ethics issue - I have discussed recently with our senior advisers during our Torino retreat that was very useful and Im going to discuss this matter during the forthcoming Chief Executives Board [CEB] meeting in October. My position is that, as far as accountability and ethical standards are concerned, the whole United Nations should stand at the highest level of ethical standards. This is what I have emphasized and Im now discussing with heads of all Funds and Programmes how we can have uniform one standard - in having our staff work at the highest level of ethical standards. I am in the process of discussing very closely I will make a decision at the time of the CEB in October.

[On Noor] Now, there are many leaders of movements. There is some tendency of mushrooming of these factions. I urge that all the leaders of the movements should participate in the forthcoming political negotiation. It is necessary to participate and [express] their views, rather than complaining or protesting outside of the dialogue forum. It is the same with the case of Mr. Abdel Wahid Noor. I know that he is staying in France, but he should participate in this, if he really thinks about the future of Sudan and if he thinks he is one of the leaders. At the same time, I would like to point out, that, as a matter of principle, everybody should be given equal opportunity and equal attention. Giving any prominent attention to any particular person is not desirable. Therefore, when I met all the IDP representatives, the womens groups and political leaders, including opposition leaders, I said that it is important to express their views at the negotiating table, rather than outside this framework.

Q: Something you said on the Syria/Israel situation. Before the weekend, the Spokespersons Office said they were seeking clarification of the incident from the parties. Did you get such clarifications? Did you get any official complaint by the Syrian Government? Were you asked to do anything you or the Security Council? Could you kindly just shed some light on what clarifications you have and how you see the situation what happened actually?

SG: It has already been known by the Syrian Government, but I have not yet got full clarifications. When I am in that position, I will let you know.

Q: On the Staff Union resolution on the whistleblower are you concerned that the staff made a worldwide staff resolution, calling on you to act on it?

SG: We are working on nominating - not me, the Executive Board of UNDP, led by Danish Ambassador as Chairman of the UNDP Board - to designate an internationally recognized independent person to investigate, wholly review this case, including the official whistleblower protection case. I sincerely hope that, through this independent review this time, we will be able to clear all the allegations or suspicions or mistrust. I am open-minded and I am very straightforward and there will soon be an announcement by the Executive Board Chairman on this matter. So, I am looking forward and waiting for such results to be announced.

Thank you very much.

[Below is a summary of today's news from across the UN system.]

BAN KI-MOON GETS ENDORSEMENT FOR UPCOMING DARFUR TALKS

The Secretary-General returned to New York close to midnight last night from his visit to

Sudan, Chad and Libya, during which he received strong endorsement of the African Union-United Nations-led upcoming political negotiations on Darfur. A statement issued over the weekend referred to those Darfur talks, which are to resume on 27 October in Libya.

In preparation for the talks, the Secretary-General urges all parties to declare their serious commitment to achieve a political solution to the Darfur crisis; to create a security environment in Darfur conducive to negotiations; to participate in and commit to the outcome of the negotiation effort; and to cease all hostilities immediately.

There must be an end to violence and insecurity, a strengthened ceasefire supported by the incoming UNAMID-Hybrid Operation, as well as an improvement in the humanitarian situation and better prospects for development and recovery for the people of Darfur.

The Secretary-General flew directly to Sirte, Libya, from the Chadian capital, NDjamena, on Saturday and met with Libyan leader Col. Muammar Al-Qadhafi in a tent in his hometown on the sea. Following a one-hour meeting, the two leaders had a one-on-one meeting that lasted about 30 minutes.

Following their meeting, the Secretary-General gave a press encounter and described their talks as constructive and useful. He reported that the Libyan leader would do all he can to bring all the leaders of movements to participate in the upcoming Darfur peace negotiations scheduled to begin next month in Libya.

Prior to the meeting with Libya's leader, upon arrival in Sirte, the Secretary-General visited the Great Man-Made River Project to draw attention to the importance of water. The Project takes waters from aquifers discovered during oil exploration and supplies fresh water to Tripoli, Sirte and other cities in Libya as well as for irrigation in the coastal belt.

The Secretary-General flew to Tripoli later Saturday and had a working dinner with the Foreign Minister.

BAN KI-MOON PLEASED BY PEACEFUL ELECTION ROUND IN SIERRA LEONE The Secretary-General is pleased to note that the second round of the presidential election in Sierra Leone took place on 8 September in a generally orderly and peaceful atmosphere, in spite of the tensions and violence that marred the campaign period. The Secretary-General urges the political parties and people of Sierra Leone to exercise restraint as counting of the ballots proceeds and to resolve all arising disputes through the existing legal channels.

U.N. APPEALS FOR FUNDS TO REBUILD PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CAMP IN LEBANON

The United Nations today appealed for $55 million to rebuild the Palestinian refugee camp in Narh el-Bared, Lebanon, which was damaged in fighting between Government forces and the Fatah al-Islam group.

Geir Pedersen, the Secretary-Generals Special Coordinator in Lebanon, said at a meeting for donors in Beirut that the United Nations supports the Lebanese government, the Army, the Lebanese people and the Palestinian refugees and the PLO for the courage, determination and unity with which they have faced and overcome the challenges posed by the criminal aggression of Fatah al-Islam.

He said that the United Nations counts on the continued support of the international donor community to ensure that the recovery and reconstruction phase will move forward rapidly and effectively.

LONGER-TERM SOLUTION NEEDED FOR NEPAL FLOODS

The World Food Programme, UNICEF and Save the Children Alliance, with field level support provided by the Nepal Red Cross Society, yesterday released a joint

assessment on the impact of the latest rapid floods in Nepal.

The inter-agency assessment shows that 2 weeks of incessant rains beginning in mid-July and continuing into August, resulted in heavy flooding with major impact on the Nepalese peoples livelihoods, food security, education, health and nutrition status.

The joint assessment concludes that the flooding in the Terai is a recurrent problem, but the intensity of the flood has been increasing over the last few years.

There is an urgent need for a longer-term solution to mitigate the impact of flood water in the region through river training programmes, river drainage, embankments, building of higher shelter houses and disaster preparedness programees particularly.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL OPENS NEW SESSION:

The Human Rights Council opened its sixth session in Geneva today, meeting in a formal regular session for the first time since adopting its institution-building measures in June. During the first part of this session, which will last for three weeks until 28 September, the Council will hear reports from special rapporteurs and will be implementing decisions taken in June on issues including the Universal Periodic Review, through which the Council will review the human rights obligations of all States, and the assessment of mandates of the special procedures. The second part of this session will be held from 10 to 14 December. Following a short formal meeting this morning, hearing an opening statement from the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Doru Costea of Romania, and representatives of the regional groups, the Council began a series of informal consultations to discuss procedural and organizational matters. These consultations will continue until Thursday morning when the Council will reconvene in a formal meeting.

UNICEF AND FIFA KICK OFF JOINT CAMPAIGN: UNICEF and FIFA have kicked off Goals for Girls!, a new joint campaign to harness the power of sport, particularly football, to promote education, gender equality and the rights of women and girls. The campaign is timed to coincide with the FIFA Womens World Cup China 2007, which runs through 30 September.

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP TIMOR-LESTE: The Security Council is holding a formal meeting on Timor-Leste at 3:00 this afternoon. That will be followed by consultations on Timor-Leste and the work of the Sanctions Committee dealing with Sudan.

NEW REPORT NOTES RISE IN SUICIDE ATTACKS IN AFGHANISTAN: The UN Mission in Afghanistan issued a detailed study over the weekend of suicide attackers in Afghanistan, which found that people, including children, are being coerced or duped into carrying out such attacks. The study notes a seven-fold increase in suicide attacks in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2006, and a continuing, though slower, rising trend in 2007.

WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY: For World Suicide Prevention Day this year, the focus is on suicide prevention from youth to old age. According to the World Health Organization, almost 3,000 people commit suicide every day, or roughly once every 30 seconds. The agency supports suicide prevention initiatives around the world and urges governments to defining national responses to prevent suicide among all ages.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

to the Spokesperson's Page


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