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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-12-10

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 NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, December 10, 2007

BAN KI-MOON URGES MYANMAR AUTHORITIES TO PROMOTE HUMAN RIGHTS

Today is Human Rights Day, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking to reporters in Bangkok, Thailand, seized the occasion to urge Myanmar authorities once more to fully respect the principles and rules of the UN Charter by engaging with the international community, democratizing and promoting human rights.

The Secretary-General was asked about international action on Myanmar, and he said, I know that the international community is very impatient, and our patience is running out.

He said that he will continue with the firm commitment to promote further dialogue in Myanmar, and he called the appointment of a liaison minister who is in contact with Aung San Suu Kyi a good beginning.

The people of Myanmar have suffered from isolation for such a long time, he said, adding that it is high time now for the people of Myanmar to enjoy genuine democracy and freedom.

Asked whether the Secretary-General plans to visit Myanmar on his current trip to Asia, the Spokeswoman said she was not aware of any such plans.

UNITED NATIONS LAUNCHES YEARLONG CAMPAIGN TO MARK 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF HUMAN RIGHTS DECLARATION

The United Nations is marking Human Rights Day by launching a year-long campaign, which will lead up to the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The entire UN family will take part in the campaign to promote the Declaration's ideals and principles of justice and equality for everyone.

Marking the day in Geneva, prior to the start of the resumed sixth session of the Human Rights Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour delivered a statement. She said that, in today's growing divisions between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the vulnerable, the technologically advanced and the illiterate, the aggressors and the victims, the relevance of the Declaration and the universality of the enshrined rights need to be loudly reaffirmed.

BAN KI-MOON TO TRAVEL TO BALI FOR CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE

The Secretary-General is in Bangkok today, where he met with Thai Prime Minister Surayudh Chulanont and members of his cabinet on issues of mutual interest to Thailand and the United Nations, including climate change, UN reform, global public health, the work of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the situation in Myanmar.

After that meeting, the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister spoke to the press, and the Secretary-General described the partnership between the United Nations and Thailand as broad and deep, extending across economic and social issues, as well as peacekeeping.

Later in the afternoon, the Secretary-General spoke to the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), telling them that the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali must become the launch pad for negotiations towards a comprehensive climate deal that all nations can embrace. It must provide us with a clear road map for tackling climate change, he said.

Also in Bangkok today, the Secretary-General's wife, Ban Soon-taek, visited the Children of HIV/AIDS Care Clinic at the Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health, where she met with staff, children with HIV/AIDS and their primary caretakers.

She commended the work of the hospital, and urged the need for the expansion of such facilities in the region and the world over to help children afflicted with the deadly disease. She was also briefed on Thailand's care model of HIV/AIDS in children for developing countries. Mrs. Ban joined the children in their art activities and presented them with toys.

The Secretary-General and his wife later visited the Royal Chitralada projects, a bio-fuel project which the Secretary-General described as one of the many examples of the King of Thailand's commitment and dedication to human development and the environment.

The Secretary-General and Mrs. Ban had an audience with the King and Queen of Thailand in the evening; they were scheduled to leave for Bali tomorrow.

CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS ENTER SECOND WEEK

The second week of negotiations on a new climate change agreement got underway today in Bali, Indonesia, where the various contact groups have been intensifying their efforts ahead of the high-level segment that begins on Wednesday.

Todays discussions focused on the need to strengthen existing commitments, quantify national emission objectives for industrialized countries, and technological cooperation.

UN Framework Convention Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said that technology must be at the heart of the future response to climate change. He said that environmentally sound technologies and sustainable development approaches could help developing countries leapfrog the carbon intensive stage of economic development.

UNITED NATIONS LAUNCHES HUMANITARIAN APPEAL 2008

As part of the U.N.s Humanitarian Appeal for 2008, launched today in Geneva, the Secretary-General is calling on the international community to raise $3.8 billion to provide urgent support for 25 million people caught in humanitarian emergencies in some two dozen countries.

The appeal consolidates the efforts of 188 organizations, including various U.N. agencies, and includes numerous countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the occupied Palestinian Territory.

Presiding over todays launch, Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, noted the worlds poor will likely face ever more frequent climate-related disasters and called for an expansion of humanitarian aid from all sides, including new donors, such as middle income countries.

U.N. OFFICIALS DISCUSS DARFUR FORCE WITH SUDANESE COUNTERPARTS

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet and Deputy Chief of Staff, Kim Won-Soo, met with Sudanese officials on the sidelines of the European Union-African Union summit in Lisbon over the weekend.

A statement issued afterwards said they discussed priority actions required to accelerate the deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and recognized that UNAMID would play a critical role in bringing peace and stability to Darfur.

They agreed on the importance of addressing and resolving these issues transparently, expeditiously and in the appropriate forum, as part of their collaboration regarding the deployment.

The two delegations also took note, with serious concern that there were critical gaps in the force capabilities, particularly military aviation and called upon the international community to provide those capabilities.

The Government of Sudan and the United Nations emphasized their commitment to the ongoing intensive technical effort which would be required for the timely deployment of UNAMID.

Progress was being made on outstanding technical issues, and that progress will be built upon during meetings of the Tripartite Mechanism in Khartoum this week.

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, in her remarks as the head of the UN delegation to the summit in Lisbon, noted the most urgent requirement of helicopters. In the past weeks and months, the Secretary-General has contacted, personally, every possible contributor of helicopters -- in the Americas, in Europe, in Asia, and yet not one helicopter has been made available, she said.

In Europe alone there are thousands of military helicopters of different types. Large numbers of helicopters also exist in the key Asian powers, and in the Americas. Any assistance the Governments in these regions can offer would be profoundly appreciated, not least by the people of Darfur, she noted.

The Security Council is expected to be briefed by the UN delegation that went to Lisbon later this week.

Asked whether the Secretary-General has really approached all major countries for helicopters for Darfur and been denied, the Spokeswoman said that it was certainly the case that the Secretary-General and his representatives had approached every possible contributor of helicopters, including those in the Americas and Europe. The Secretary-General, she noted, had personally communicated with key potential contributors.

Yet, although all potential troop contributors have been approached, Okabe said, the United Nations has not received a single commitment for the helicopters.

The Security Council would receive a new briefing from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on where matters stand, including whether progress is made on this issue.

Asked whether Sudan would exclude some countries from providing helicopters, the Spokeswoman said that she was not aware of any geographical restrictions placed.

Asked about the level of the meetings on Sudan conducted by Mulet and Kim, Okabe said that they had met with the entire Sudanese delegation present in Lisbon, including with President Omar al-Bashir on several occasions. She said that the UN team had held discussions with the Sudanese delegation on UNAMID, on which they had made some progress, and also had talked with European and African delegations on the helicopter issue.

U.N. ENVOY ON DARFUR PEACE PROCESS HEADS TO SOUTHERN SUDAN

The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the

Darfur peace process, Jan Eliasson is wrapping up his visit to Darfur and is traveling to Juba in southern Sudan to meet with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement Task Force of the Darfur political process, as well as with Darfurian movements present in Juba.

From Juba, the Special Envoy will head back to Khartoum, where is scheduled to hold meetings later today and tomorrow with senior officials of the Government of National Unity. Tomorrow he will hold a press conference in Khartoum.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH AFRICAN LEADERS

While in Lisbon, the Deputy Secretary-General had bilateral meetings with the Presidents of Côte dIvoire and Guinea-Bissau, as well as the new Prime Minister of Somalia.

In her meeting with President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte dIvoire, she stressed the Secretary-Generals desire to see the electoral process in that country undertaken as planned in order to rebuild the democratic institutions of the country. President Gbagbo assured her that he is doing everything possible to live up to that expectation. He called for enhanced support both for the electoral process and the implementation of the Ouagadougou peace process.

During the meeting with President João Vieira of Guinea-Bissau, the Deputy Secretary-General expressed concern about the growing role of Guinea-Bissau as a transit point for drug trafficking. She appealed for greater government intervention, as well as regional cooperation. She assured the President of the support of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). She also called on the president to ensure that the elections due next year are held as planned in order to avert a constitutional crisis. The President noted that the greatest challenges the Electoral Commission face is lack of resources to update the voter register.

SECRETARY-GENERAL NOTES WIDESPREAD MALAISE IN GUINEA-BISSAU

In his latest report on Guinea-Bissau, the Secretary-General says that the past months have been marked by an increasing feeling of social malaise, aggravated by widespread perception that state institutions were adrift. He also says that the Governments efforts to combat drug trafficking are showing encouraging results.

Noting that the Government has made significant strides in preparations for the legislative elections, the Secretary-General proposes that the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau be extended by another year, until December 2008.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS KOSOVO REPORT ON THE 19TH

Security Council members have now received from the Secretary-General advance copies of the European Union/United States/Russian Federation Troika report on Kosovo, which was given to the Secretary-General by the Contact Group.

Regarding next steps on Kosovo, the Security Council is planning to hold consultations on the matter on 19 December.

The Secretary-General is planning to attend those consultations, as he wants to listen to the Councils deliberations.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals response to the Kosovo report from the Contact Group, the Spokeswoman said that his position on Kosovo has not changed. She said that he continues to believe that any delay in the final status process would not be good for the region.

SECURITY COUNCIL RENEWS COUNTER-TERRORISM DIRECTORATE;

HEARS BRIEFING ON TWO UN TRIBUNALS

The Security Council this morning began its work by approving a resolution that extends the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate by three months.

The Council then heard briefings on the work of the two international tribunals, dealing with the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, by the Presidents and prosecutors of the tribunals.

Carla Del Ponte, the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, made her final appearance to the Council in that capacity and told them that, unfortunately, Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic and two other accused remain at large, with her optimism that they will be brought to justice having waned considerably.

Also, the Security Council planned to hold consultations on Lebanon in the afternoon.

SECRETARY-GENERAL HOPES INVESTIGATORS CAN RESUME SEARCHES AT BURIAL SITES IN IRAQ FOR MISSING KUWAITIS

In his latest report on missing Kuwaiti and third-country persons and property in Iraq, the Secretary-General says that he is hopeful that the security conditions in Iraq will permit Kuwait to field technical teams and resume search and exhumation activities at Iraqi burial sites next year. He adds that it is a matter of growing concern that the Kuwaiti national archives have not been found.

That report is expected to be discussed in Security Council consultations tomorrow.

Asked about comments made by Special Representative Staffan de Mistura concerning efforts to increase UN presence in Iraq, the Spokeswoman said that the Special Representative is keen to expand the activities of the UN Mission in Iraq as the security situation permits. Such an expansion, she said, is in line with Security Council

resolution 1770, and de Mistura has said he intends to expand staff as much as possible in the coming months.

She noted that the UN Mission had provided an update on its work, including recent meetings by the Special Representative, as well as in the humanitarian, human rights and electoral assistance areas.

U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF OPENS NEW OFFICE IN TURKMENISTAN

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, is in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, where he spoke today at an international conference organized to inaugurate the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.

The new Centre will be headed by a Representative of the Secretary-General and managed from headquarters by the Department of Political Affairs.

It will work closely with all five Central Asian countries, as well as with regional organizations to help them peacefully and cooperatively manage common threats and challenges -- from terrorism and drug trafficking to the environment and natural resources.

Preventive diplomacy is not an option it is a necessity, the Secretary-General said in that statement, adding that the Centre will provide a valuable forum for deepening our collaboration, for the benefit of the people of Central Asia and peace and stability throughout the region.

UNICEF RELEASES PROGRESS FOR CHILDREN REPORT

UNICEF today launched its report on Progress for Children, which provides comprehensive data on improvements in child health, including those that could reduce mortality rates in children under five in the coming years.

The report shows numerous improvements, including greater access to safe drinking water, higher rates of early and exclusive breastfeeding, more widespread use of insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria, and greater access to anti-retrovirals to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to infants.

But the report also found continued widespread malnutrition and a slow expansion of treatment coverage for major childhood diseases. It also notes that more than half a million women die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

U.N. MARITIME CONVENTION MARKS 25TH ANNIVERSARY

Twenty-five years ago today, the UN

Convention on the Law of the Sea became formally available for signature by Member States in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

With 155 Parties to date, the Convention enjoys near-universal respect, as it is widely applied even by countries that have not formally signed it.

Speaking earlier today at the General Assemblys annual debate on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said that, through the Convention, the UN has helped develop global governance for the oceans and seas.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

WESTERN SAHARA NEGOTIATION PROCESS ONGOING: Asked about the prospects for accomplishing goals regarding Western Sahara when talks on that issue resume next month, the Spokeswoman said that the purpose of the talks is to overcome differences, and she noted that the process involving the Sahara talks is ongoing..

GOURMET RAFFLE TO BENEFIT RURAL AFRICAN FARMERS: An online fundraising campaign being launched today will allow those who love fine dining to help the U.N. provide assistance to farmers in rural Africa. Menu for Hope is an online raffle on the food blog, Chez Pim. Those who purchase tickets can win items like personal cooking lessons with famous chefs and meals in top international restaurants. The money raised will benefit rural farmers in Lesotho, where the World Food Programme is purchasing surplus grain and using it for school lunches and other programmes.

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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