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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-09-17
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OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, September 17, 2007
BAN KI-MOON TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE TOMORROW
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow.
There will be no noon briefing, which will resume on Wednesday.
BAN KI-MOON IS ALARMED BY REPORTED ATTACKS IN DARFUR
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the recent upsurge in fighting in Darfur.
The timing of the violence is particularly troubling as it could create conditions that are not conducive to the success of the upcoming political negotiations due to begin in Libya on 27 October.
The most recent fighting took place in Hashkanita, Northern Darfur, on 10 and 11 September when, according to reports of the African Union Mission in Sudan, aerial bombardments involving helicopter gunships and ground military clashes apparently caused the deaths of a number of civilians.
The Secretary-General reiterates his concern that attacks by any of the parties, including the ones that occurred in Adilla, Southern Darfur, and Wad Banda, Kordofan, last month, endanger the peace process.
The Secretary-General is alarmed by the fact that the reported attacks took place in spite of the signing of a Joint Communiqué on 6 September, during the Secretary-Generals visit to Sudan, in which the Government of Sudan committed to a full cessation of hostilities in Darfur in the lead-up to the political negotiations, under the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations.
The Secretary-General strongly urges all parties to show restraint and cease all military action in order to create a positive atmosphere for the envisaged political negotiations.
Asked whom the Secretary-General holds responsible for the surge in violence, the Spokeswoman said he had not held any one side responsible, but was asking for calm, and for the cease-fire to be a reality, before peace talks resume.
SUDAN: AID VEHICLES COME UNDER ATTACK
The UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports that a vehicle belonging to a Non-Governmental Organization was carjacked by two armed men in North Darfur over weekend. The armed men forced the driver and 10 other staff members off the vehicle.
Also yesterday, in South Darfur, two unknown men stopped a three-vehicle UN/NGO convoy and looted Thuraya (satellite) phones, mobile phones and money from the passengers of the first vehicle, while the other two vehicles managed to turn around and escape. The first vehicle was later released with all passengers unharmed.
Following a shooting of an NGO vehicle by armed men, Sudanese authorities, at the request of NGOs, assisted in escorting them to Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.
And in Southern Sudan, government officials and aid agency representatives held a donor conference on security challenges and focused their discussion on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.
BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES SIERRA LEONE ELECTION RESULTS
The Secretary-General welcomes this mornings announcement by Sierra Leones National Electoral Commission of the official results from the second round of the presidential elections, which took place on 8 September.
The results show that Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma of the All Peoples Congress Party received 54.6% of the vote and Vice-President Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party obtained 45.4% of the total valid votes cast.
The Secretary-General extends his warm congratulations to Mr. Koroma and commends all Sierra Leonean parties and their supporters for exercising patience and restraint during the tallying of the votes. He also commends the National Electoral Commission and Sierra Leone security agencies for the professional and efficient manner in which they performed their duties during this period.
The Secretary-General wishes to assure the newly-elected government of Sierra Leone of the continued support of the United Nations as the country continues to move towards durable political stability and sustainable economic development.
DR CONGO SOLDIERS RESPONSIBLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has released its report on human rights in the country for the month of July.
The report finds that Congolese government soldiers remain the main rights abusers in the country and are responsible for at least ten documented cases of arbitrary executions. Police officers were also involved in violations of the rights to life, physical integrity and liberty, while members of the various armed groups opposed to the government continue to perpetrate serious human rights abuses in the Kivus.
The report also finds continued weaknesses and systemic failures in the administration of justice. Prison detainees, including at least one pregnant woman, continue to suffer various forms of abuse.
This months report includes some of the findings of Yakin Erturk, the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, who visited the country in July. The Mission also cites data from a July report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Bas-Congo incidents of January-February 2007.
QUARTET PRINCIPALS TO MEET ON 23 SEPTEMBER
In response to a question, the Spokeswoman noted the meetings convened by the Middle East Quartet at UN Headquarters on 23 September. That includes a meeting of the Quartet principals from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., followed by a press conference featuring the principals and Quartet envoy Tony Blair. Then the Quartet would meet with its Arab partners.
Asked what the Secretary-General would do to facilitate a meeting of Middle East leaders in Washington, D.C., Montas said that the United Nations was not organizing the Washington meeting. The Secretary-Generals attention, she said, is focused on next weeks Quartet meeting.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN NEPAL
In Nepal, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the Sunday killings of a local leader and a member of the Armed Police Force.
The High Commissioner is also urging the Nepalese people to show tolerance and refrain from further violence, adding that violence undermines the genuine efforts to bring about durable peace during this transition period.
Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) is monitoring the situation and has dispatched officers to the area, along with OHCHR-Nepal, which is conducting its own human rights investigations.
UN teams are on the ground to do investigation and monitoring, as well as information gathering. They are also in contact with and encouraging local authorities to restore security, as law and order is the responsibility of the State and the UN mandate in Nepal is limited to monitoring and advising.
U.N. ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY OPENS GENERAL CONFERENCE
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is holding the 51st session of its General Conference in Vienna today, and its Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, informed the Conference that Iran and the Agencys Secretariat agreed last month on a work plan for resolving all outstanding verification issues.
These verification issues, ElBaradei said, are at the core of the lack of confidence about the nature of Irans programme, and are what prompted actions by the Security Council. He called Irans agreement on a work plan, with a defined timeline, an important step in the right direction, but he added that it is regrettable that Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities and is continuing with its construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak.
ElBaradei also welcomed the return of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the verification process and the active cooperation that the Agency team has received from the DPRK.
Also, the Secretary-General, in a message delivered by High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte, said that the IAEAs activities are more important than ever to advance safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, promote non-proliferation and disarmament and reduce the risks of nuclear tension.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals views concerning ElBaradeis efforts on Iran, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General is following the proceedings now underway, and she noted that the matter is currently in the IAEAs hands.
PRISON TERM URGED FOR RWANDAN GENERAL
Prosecutor Hassan B. Jallow of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is seeking a minimum of 12 years imprisonment for Juvenal Rugambarara, a former mayor of Bicumbi Commune who in July pleaded guilty to a single count of extermination as a crime against humanity.
The Prosecutors request was made to the Trial Chamber in Arusha during a hearing at which he and the defense for the accused presented their closing arguments.
Following his July guilty plea, ICTR judges convicted Rugambarara of extermination for failing, as Mayor, to take measures to investigate the crimes committed in the area under his jurisdiction. Tribunal judges also blamed him for failing to arrest and punish the perpetrators over whom he had effective control, as a superior official.
The Tribunal says that a date for the sentencing has yet to be chosen and will be announced later.
HEAD OF GUATEMALA IMPUNITY COMMISSION NAMED
The Secretary-General has appointed Carlos Castresana Fernández of Spain to head the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, established under an agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Guatemala that entered into force on 4 September 2007.
Castresana took up his duties immediately, and this morning he arrived in Guatemala to begin a week-long preparatory mission during which he will consult with officials in Government, judicial and security institutions, as well as representatives of political parties, civil society and the diplomatic corps.
CONFERENCE ON NUCLEAR TEST-BAN TREATY BEGINS IN VIENNA
Representatives from more than 100 States gathered in Vienna today for the fifth Conference to promote the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT).
In his congratulatory message for the opening of the Conference, the Secretary-General said the event underscores the importance of the Treaty and the need to seek agreement on steps that would facilitate its early entry into force.
The Secretary-General also said the Treatys Preparatory Commission has made significant advances in preparing for the establishment of the future CTBT Organization and the Treatys verification regime, including the International Monitoring System.
He called upon those States that have not signed or ratified the CTBT to do so as soon as possible, especially States whose ratification is needed for the Treatys entry into force. The Secretary-General also urged States to maintain their moratoria on all types of nuclear explosions and to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty.
U.N. AGENCIES APPLAUD PROGRESS IN BATTLING LAND MINES
The UN agencies, funds and programmes that jointly provide mine action services have issued a statement applauding the progress made in the struggle against the scourge of landmines since the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty was adopted 10 years ago.
The steady decline in casualty rates, the return of formerly mined areas to productive civilian use, and the destruction of tens of millions of these indiscriminate weapons are encouraging.
They said the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty is a testament to what can be achieved when the international community works collectively to tackle a grave humanitarian and development challenge.
REPORT ON STOLEN ASSET RECOVERY TO BE LAUNCHED
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World
Bank are today launching a joint Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, aimed at helping developing countries recover assets stolen by corrupt leaders, help invest those assets in effective development programmes and combat safe havens internationally.
The Secretary-General, World Bank President Robert Zoellick and UNODC head Antonio Maria Costa are all taking part in the launch.
ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS MEET TO DISCUSS SPEEDING UP OF PROTOCOL ON GASES THAT DAMAGE THE OZONE LAYER
Twenty years after the adoption of the Montreal
Protocol to reduce gases that damage the ozone layer, environment ministers from around the world are meeting this week in Montreal to discuss speeding up some of the Protocols provisions.
In a message to mark yesterdays International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, the Secretary-General hailed the success of the Montreal Protocol, saying it shows that there are global instruments that can help curb the impact of human activities on the global environment. Such success should be replicated, he said, urging continued multilateral action on the worlds many other environmental problems.
OVER 150 COUNTRIES TO ATTEND HIGH-LEVEL CLIMATE CHANGE MEETING
Heads of state and top officials from more than 150 countries have confirmed their attendance at next Mondays high-level climate change meeting at UN Headquarters.
The meeting has been convened by the Secretary-General to secure political commitment and build momentum ahead of Decembers UN Climate Change Conference in Bali.
RWANDAN GENERAL TO SERVE AS DEPUTY FORCE COMMANDER IN DARFUR: Asked about the announcement by the African Union that General Karenzi Karake of Rwanda would be appointed Deputy Force Commander of the AU force in Darfur, despite allegations of his involvement in human rights violations in Rwanda, the Spokeswoman noted that the United Nations had requested tangible information about General Karake but had not received enough information to prompt any change in his appointment. The United Nations and African Union, she said, had decided to proceed, since they did not want to change his candidacy on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. However, Montas said, if any more information were to come to light, it would be studied.
SYRIAN COMPLAINT CONCERNING ISRAEL IN HANDS OF SECURITY COUNCIL: Asked about Syrias complaints concerning a reported Israeli overflight, the Spokeswoman reiterated that the matter was in the hands of the Security Council, which had received a letter from Syria on the incident.
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS MONTHLY LUNCHEON WITH SECRETARY GENERAL: The members of the Security Council held their monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General today.
U.N. LEGAL COUNSEL TO BRIEF ON LEBANON TRIBUNAL: Asked about any future briefings of the Security Council on Lebanon, the Spokeswoman said there would be a briefing by UN Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel on preparations for the Lebanon tribunal on 19 September, and Michel had been asked to speak to reporters afterward.
GLOBAL COMPACT LAUNCHES KOREA NETWORK: The Global Compact Korea Network was officially launched in Seoul today, with more than 180 guests attending the inaugural ceremony.
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