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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-09-26
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BANK KI-MOON
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
MYANMAR: BAN KI-MOON DISPATCHES ENVOY
In response to
deteriorating situation in Myanmar, the Secretary-General is urgently
Special Envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, to the region. He calls on the senior
leadership of the country to cooperate fully with this mission in order to
take advantage of the willingness of the United Nations to assist in the
process of national reconciliation through dialogue.
Noting reports of the use
of force and of arrests and beatings, the Secretary-General calls again on
authorities to exercise utmost restraint toward the peaceful demonstrations
taking place, as such action can only undermine the prospects for peace,
prosperity and stability in Myanmar.
Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today
urged the Myanmar authorities to allow the peaceful expression of dissent
in the country and to abide by international human rights law in their
response to the current widespread peaceful street protests.
Arbour said she was
gravely concerned about the well-being and safety of the demonstrators. She
also expressed her continuing concern for those who have been detained during
recent weeks, and for the welfare of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Asked whether the
Government of Myanmar had accepted Gambaris arrival yet, the Spokeswoman said
it had not.
She said that Gambari,
after briefing the Security Council this afternoon, would leave for the region
later today. As soon as his arrival in Myanmar is accepted, he would visit the
Asked about the purpose
of his visit, she reiterated the Secretary-General's calls on the senior
leadership of Myanmar to cooperate fully with this mission in order to take
advantage of the willingness of the United Nations to assist in the process of
national reconciliation through dialogue.
In response to a
question, she confirmed that the
Secretary-General would meet the Foreign Minister of Myanmar this afternoon.
Asked whether the United
Nations could confirm the deaths of protestors in Myanmar, Okabe said she had
no firsthand information to make any such confirmation.
The United Nations, she
said, has a resident and humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar, as well as an
office that includes staff performing humanitarian work on the ground.
COUNCIL TO BE BRIEFED ON MYANMAR BY U.N. ENVOY
Security Council has scheduled
consultations this afternoon at 3:00. During those consultations, the
Secretary-Generals Special Envoy dealing with Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, is
expected to brief the Council on the latest developments in that country.
spoke at the summit-level Security Council meeting on challenges in
Africa, saying that, although many African countries are confronted with
daunting peace and security challenges, encouraging signs are emerging.
He said that African
peacemakers, alone, cannot tackle the continent's conflicts. That is why the
UN is working to strengthen its partnerships with regional organizations, such
as the African Union. And he noted the hybrid operation for Darfur as an
unprecedented partnership between the UN and the AU that is an expression of
our collective commitment to end the tragedy of Darfur.
AND CROSS-CULTURAL TENSIONS ON THE RISE
The Group of Friends for
the Alliance of Civilizations, the
initiative first sponsored by Spain and Turkey, met at the ministerial level
this morning, and the Secretary-General
He told the Group of
Friends that intolerance and cross-cultural tensions are on the rise, with new
instances of the harmful impact of cultural misunderstandings and religious
prejudices on relations between communities appearing every day.
Facing these challenges
is the need of the hour, the Secretary-General said. It demands a collective
and broad-based approach that is at the very heart of the Alliance of
ENVOY TRAVELS TO EBOLA-STRICKEN REGION IN D.R. CONGO
William Lacy Swing, the
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of
the Congo (DRC), was in the town of Kananga in the western Kasai Occidental
province to assess
the political and security conditions and seek solutions to the problems
caused to UN staff by the Ebola epidemic in the region.
Speaking to local
officials, Swing said that although most of the Missions work was now focused
on the eastern part of the country, the Kasai region remains just as important
to the United Nations. Swing also presented the local governor with 367
mattresses to be distributed to various hospitals in the province, through the
Missions Quick Impact Projects programme.
Meanwhile, Ross Mountain,
the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for the DRC, was in
Bunia in the northeastern region in an effort to solve the impasse in the
third phase of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reinsertion programme in
the Ituri province. The Mission says that some 4,600 combatants have signed up
to disarm, but fewer than 1,400, including some 260 women, have surrendered
their weapons so far.
INCREASED OPIUM PRODUCTION A GRAVE THREAT
to the General Assembly and Security Council on
Afghanistan is available today, and it
says that the most urgent priority in the country must be an effective,
integrated civilian-military strategy and security plan.
A coordinated military
response is still needed to defeat insurgent and terrorist groups, but success
in the medium term requires the engagement of communities and the provision of
lasting security in which development can take place.
The report notes that the
continued increase in opium production poses an increasingly grave threat to
reconstruction and nation-building in Afghanistan, and says that the
Government must put a priority on interdiction and bring drug traffickers to
Today, President Hamid
Karzai and UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis are launching the Afghanistan
National Human Development Report 2007, which says that the Afghan justice
system must be rebuilt in a way that bridges modern and traditional justice
institutions, protects rights and strengthens rule of law.
NATIONS PROVIDES AID TO VIOLENCE-DISPLACED PEOPLE IN NEPAL
The World Food Programme
(WFP) and UNICEF in Nepal will
urgently needed humanitarian food aid and basic supplies to 5,000 people
displaced by recent communal violence across two districts in western Nepal.
WFP has mobilized more
than 70 metric tons of food aid following a request by the Nepalese Government
to provide emergency humanitarian food assistance to the displaced populations
gathering in two districts, while UNICEF will provide necessities including
tarpaulins, water purification equipment, and hygiene kits.
SIGN UP TO GLOBAL TREATIES AT U.N. EVENT
The Office of Legal
Affairs says that on the first day of this years
Treaty Event, 11 Member States yesterday undertook 20 treaty actions,
consisting of 17 signatures and 3 ratifications.
This morning, five more
Member States participated in the event. And so far, the 2006 Convention on
the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has attracted the most interest with
KI-MOON TO PROPOSES WAYS TO STRENGTHEN CONFLICT PREVENTION
Asked about comments by
the Secretary-General on Tuesday that he would strengthen the Department for
Political Affairs (DPA), the
Spokeswoman said that this is a second stage of Secretary-Generals efforts to
strengthen the Secretariat in the area of peace and security, following the
changes made already to peacekeeping.
The purpose of the changes
to be proposed by the Secretary-General is to make the United Nations better
able to detect and respond to potential crises before they erupt through the
use of preventive diplomacy and the Secretary-Generals good offices, backed
by a stronger political affairs department, she said. Conflict prevention is a
core function of the United Nations, but the infrastructure to do it needs to
be made stronger.
This is a long overdue
change, Okabe added. The need to strengthen DPA has been documented in
numerous assessments and evaluations. Although the proposals are still being
developed, the core of it will be to strengthen the regional affairs desks of
the Department and to help make DPA more mobile and field-oriented.
The plans will be
submitted to Member States in the near future, the Spokeswoman added. Informal
consultations are already underway.
SOLUTION NEEDED FOR GREECE/FYROM NAME ISSUE
Asked about comments made
on Tuesday by the General Assembly President concerning The former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy for the
Greece-FYROM talks, Matthew Nimetz, has said that what happened in the General
Assembly yesterday demonstrates why a permanent solution is needed. He is
continuing his work with the parties on this issue.
For his part, Okabe said,
the Secretary-General urges both parties to redouble their efforts to resolve
their difference through the established mediation efforts.
Within the United Nations,
the Secretary-General and the Secretariat observe the practice of using the
name The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as referred to in Security
Council resolutions, the Spokeswoman said.
Asked how the General
Assembly Presidents remarks could affect negotiations, the Spokeswoman
declined to discuss hypothetical situations, emphasizing that the important
thing is that Matthew Nimetz is continuing his work.
OFFICIAL IN KOSOVO BRIEFS ON ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HIMSELF
Asked about allegations
made against the Secretary-Generals Deputy Special Representative in Kosovo,
Steven Schook, the Spokeswoman noted that Schook
spoke to the media in Pristina this morning to address allegations that
have been raised against him. His remarks were made in his personal capacity.
Okabe said that there
would be no comment on Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS)
investigations or even confirmation on whether such investigations are
underway -- until they are completed and given to the Member States. At that
point, the OIOS findings would go to Member States, upon their request.
RENOVATION PLAN WORKING TO STAY WITHIN BUDGET & ON SCHEDULE
Asked about the
Secretary-Generals recent comments on making the Capital Master Plan (CMP)
more efficient, the Spokeswoman recalled that, when Assistant
Secretary-General Michael Adlerstein briefed the press on the Plan in July,
there was discussion about the estimate of time slippage and a budget overrun
in the Report of the UN Board of Auditors on the CMP, which had been published
Adlerstein stated then
that the CMP Office was exploring ways to keep the project within budget and
The Plan, Okabe said, will
be on the agenda of the General Assemblys Fifth Committee in several weeks.
At that time the Secretary-General will present his annual progress report on
the Plan for the consideration of the Member States. The CMP Office is
preparing recommendations to keep the CMP within budget and on schedule, in
line with the Secretary-General's remarks.
After discussion with the
Member States, the Spokeswoman said, there will be a detailed briefing about
UNICEF REACHES OUT TO
FLOOD-HIT UGANDANS: UNICEF and its
partners have provided
more than 2 million vaccinations for measles and polio as well as emergency
and basic drug kits to treat up to 20,000 people for three months. In total,
almost ten metric tonnes of food and supplies have been transported to all
flood-hit regions via the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).
HEALTH AGENCY EXPANDS
TRAINING PROGRAM: The World Health
expanding its programme to train health care staff in low- and middle-income
countries in essential emergency, basic surgery and anaesthesia skills. The
programme, which already exists in 22 countries, will boost the capacity of
rural hospitals to deal with simple but essential surgery in a growing number of
UNAIDS CALLS FOR MORE
FUNDING TO FIGHT AIDS: In a new
report on estimated financial resources required for the response to AIDS,
UNAIDS is calling for a rapid scaling up of resources, in order to reach the
goal of universal access to treatment by 2010 and maintain those levels into the
next decade. UNAIDS notes that countries such as Brazil and Botswana have made
good progress towards universal access, particularly to antiretroviral
treatment, but the $10 billion available in 2007 represents a serious shortfall
in funding and is hampering many countries efforts.
REPORTERS CONCERNS ON
PRESS CONFERENCES ADDRESSED: The
Spokeswoman noted complaints by the UN Correspondents Association concerning two
press conferences that took place on Tuesday. Regarding a press conference with
the French President, she noted that the French Mission had used the briefing
room to brief its national press, in line with other briefings to national press
corps. The French Mission had apologized that the briefing was put on the public
schedule of the Spokespersons Office. She noted that the French President did
appear at the Security Council stakeout to speak to the international press.
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