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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-08-22

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:







Friday, August 22, 2008


Next week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to begin a week-long visit to Europe that will take him to Turin in Italy, Geneva, and the Spanish cities of Zaragoza and Madrid.

He will begin his travels by hosting senior managers of the UN system for a two-day retreat in Turin, which is home to the UN Staff College. He will share his vision for 2008 and formulate a plan of action for the year ahead.

The meeting is also a chance to introduce the new members of the UN team, many of whom will take their oaths of office next week. Among them are: Alain Le Roy, the new head of Peacekeeping Operations; Navanethem Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Patricia O'Brien, the head of Legal Affairs and her deputy, Peter Taskoe-Jensen; and Jun Yamazaki, our new Controller.

After that, the Secretary-General will travel to Geneva, where, on 31 August, he will address the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as it opens its 29th session, during what will also be the Panels twentieth anniversary.

The following day, 1 September, the Secretary-General will meet with the families of victims and with survivors of the August 2003 Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad, attending a memorial ceremony and a wreath laying for the fallen staff.

Before attending the ceremony, the Secretary-General will witness signing of a memorandum of understanding between UNCTAD and the Iraqi Government covering cooperation in the areas of science and technology.

He will then travel onward to Zaragoza, where he will attend Exposition Zaragoza 2008, whose theme is Water and Sustainable Development, and he will speak about the importance of water for social, economic and political security. While there, he will also meet with the Spanish Foreign Minister.

The Secretary-General will also meet in Madrid with Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero and will speak to the press afterward, before returning to New York.


UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres today concluded a four-day mission to Georgia and the Russian Federation that included visits with people uprooted by the Current crisis in the region.

Following discussions with high-ranking Georgian authorities on Tuesday, Guterres met in Moscow on Wednesday with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. They focused on humanitarian cooperation between UNHCR and the Russian Federation in a number of areas, including strengthening joint emergency response mechanisms. Much of the discussion focused on humanitarian concerns linked to the South Ossetia situation as well as broader protection-related issues for affected civilian populations.

Today, Guterres is visiting South Ossetia on a mission aimed at evaluating the humanitarian situation as well as the possibilities for humanitarian access and seeing first-hand the conditions for the return of those uprooted by the crisis. He is the first senior international official to travel to South Ossetia since the conflict erupted in early August.

Noting that under the current circumstances the only way to enter South Ossetia was from North Ossetia, Guterres expressed his appreciation to Foreign Minister Lavrov and Russian authorities for facilitating his humanitarian mission.

The Security Council met yesterday afternoon to hold previously unscheduled consultations on Georgia. Council members heard briefings on the latest developments on the ground from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet. They also discussed possible draft resolutions on Georgia.


On 9 September, the Secretary-General will host a full-day symposium on supporting victims of terrorism at United Nations Headquarters. The Symposiums aim is to provide a forum which will assist Member States in their commitment under the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy to strive to promote international solidarity in support of victims and foster the involvement of civil society in a global campaign against terrorism and for its condemnation.

The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (A/RES/60/288), adopted by the General Assembly, emphasizes the importance of victims of terrorism. Among the measures to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, Member States called for putting in place national systems of assistance that would promote the needs of victims of terrorism and their families and facilitate the normalisation of their lives. The strategy also encourages Member States to promote international solidarity in support of victims as well as to foster the involvement of civil society.

The Secretary-General is organising the 9 September event to advance all of these goals identified in the Strategy passed two years ago. This will be the first Symposium of its kind in UN history. The focus here is not on politics the Strategy is clear that terrorism is unacceptable. The focus of this event is solely on the victims and how states, international organizations and civil society can better address their needs.

As Member States themselves point out in the General Assembly resolution, one of the instruments to put an end to terrorism is to highlight and give support to victims. This is precisely what the Secretary-General is trying to facilitate.

Invitees to the event will include all Member States, victims, representatives of civil society and the media, and regional and sub-regional organizations. Participants will come from all regions, cultures and religions, representing a diversity of terror-victim experiences and have a record of constructive engagement with governments and civil society in support of victims. Invitations were made in consultation with victims organizations, civil society and Member States.

Asked about the funding for the event, the Spokeswoman said that all 192 Member States have been repeatedly briefed on the activities of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and its working groups, including on the voluntary funding needed to support the activities of the Task Force and the working groups. All activities of the Task Force and its working groups, including the working group on Supporting and Highlighting Victims of Terrorism, are posted online.

Okabe said that contributions to this and other activities are welcome from any UN Member State. Three countries have thus far come forward to support the Symposium on Supporting Victims of Terrorism. Any additional contributions from other Member States to support this and other UN efforts in the fight against terrorism would be most welcome.

Asked about the criteria for selecting participants, she said that the governing guidance is drawn from the 13 universal anti-terrorism conventions and three protocols that identify acts of terrorism. Invitees are expected to have had a record of constructive engagement with governments and civil society in support of victims and with acknowledged contributions in this area.

Invitations will be made following consultations with victims organizations, civil society, and the Member States, Okabe said. Efforts are being taken to ensure that participants come from all regions, cultures and religions, and represent a diversity of terror-victim experience.


The Secretary-General, in a letter to the President of the Security Council that is out on the racks today, notes that the Prime Minister of Lebanon had written to him to request a one-year extension of the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The Secretary-General recommends that the Council extend UNIFILs mandate by twelve months, until the end of August 2009.

He writes that UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces continue their efforts to ensure that that the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River is free of any unauthorized personnel, assets and weapons. He added his hope that the recent formation of a new government will contribute to an improvement of the overall security environment that would permit, in the near future, the return to southern Lebanon of units of the Armed Forces that have been redeployed to maintain security in other parts of the country.


Afterwards, the Council held a formal meeting to adopt a Presidential Statement in which it condemned in the strongest terms the twin suicide terrorist attacks that occurred in Wah Cantonment, in Pakistan, earlier yesterday.

No Council meetings or consultations are scheduled at present for today.


Some 3.2 million Somalis, including internally displaced people and residents of urban areas, will remain at risk of serious food shortage until the end of the year. Thats according to Food and Agriculture Organization in its latest food security assessment for Somalia. Those in need represent 43 percent of the countrys total population.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the crisis is caused by the combined effects of drought and decreased cereal production. Overall insecurity, rising cost of living, including food prices, and the devaluation of the Somali currency have also contributed to this emergency. The current situation is unprecedented as nearly the whole country is in crisis. In southern Somalia, some 70 percent the rural population and 50 percent of urban residents are at risk.

The World Food Programme, meanwhile, handed out some 34,000 tons of food to 1.7 million people this past month. And some 54,000 displaced children under the age of 5 received supplementary rations from UNICEF.


On Monday, at 9:00 in the Secretary-Generals Conference Room, five new senior officials in the Secretariat will take their oaths of office, formally starting their work at the United Nations.

The officials are: Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Patricia OBrien; Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy; Assistant Secretary-General for Central Support Services Warren Sach; Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support Jane Holl Lute; and Controller Jun Yamazaki.


UN ENVOY TO MYANMAR EXTENDS HIS VISIT: Asked about the visit by the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, to Myanmar, the Spokeswoman said that Gambaris visit to Myanmar his being extended and his programme is being developed accordingly. Asked whether he would meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, she added that Gambari expects to meet with her, as he did on all his previous visits.

THOUSANDS DISPLACED IN SOUTHERN COLOMBIA: The UN refugee agency says it is becoming increasingly concerned about the humanitarian situation along southern Colombia's Pacific coast, where thousands of people have been displaced or caught in fighting. You can read more about this situation in the briefing notes from UNHCR. The agency has been present in Colombia for 10 years, supporting national efforts to assist and protect a large population of internally displaced people, and cooperating with other UNHCR bureaux in neighbouring countries hosting Colombian refugees, including Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama.

UNICEF DRAWS ATTENTION TO RECENT MEASLES OUTBREAKS IN UNITED STATES: UNICEF says measles, a highly contagious viral disease, can result in serious complications and death. As a result of a successful vaccination program, measles was eliminated in the Americas in 2002. However, from January through July 2008, 131 cases have been reported in the United States. This is more cases than have been reported through July in any year since 1996. Nearly all of the cases (89 per cent) were imported or associated with the importation of measles from other countries. As international travel continues to surge, the threat to children within the U.S. and other developed countries remains high..


study commissioned by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the humanitarian relief agency CARE International has identified a number of countries as being particularly vulnerable to climate change. The study looks at the most likely humanitarian consequences of climate change over the next 20 to 30 years. It also maps specific hazards associated with floods, cyclones and droughts. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia are among those identified as hotspots. The study notes that countries in the Horn and Sahel regions of Africa and in South East Asia are already facing enormous political, social, demographic, economic and security challenges brought about by climate.

UNDP TO ASSESS PROGRESS IN HAITI: The Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme, Ad Melkert, will travel to Haiti next week for an official visit to assess the progress made in UNDPs projects in the country, especially those meant to increase Haitis capacity to respond to natural disasters. Mr. Melkert is expected to meet with President René Préval and other senior government officials, as well as the leadership of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti.


23 August 2008 29 August 2008

Saturday, August 23

Today is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition.

Sunday, August 24

U.N. General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim begins a three-day official visit to the Republic of Korea.

Monday, August 25

At 9:00 a.m. in the Secretary-Generals Conference Room, five new senior officials in the Secretariat take their oaths of office, formally starting their work at the U.N.

This afternoon, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a private meeting with Troop Contributing Countries to the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.

Today and tomorrow, Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and Heads of U.N. Peacekeeping Missions in West Africa meet in Guinea-Bissau to review the overall situation in the region.

From today through 29 August in Dhaka, Bangladesh, several U.N. agencies co-sponsor an International Symposium on Climate Change and Food Security in South Asia.

From today through Wednesday, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo visits Bogota, at the invitation of the Government of Colombia.

Tuesday, August 26

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a debate on Burundi, followed by consultations on Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions. In the afternoon, consultations on Somalia are scheduled.

From today through Friday in Libreville, Gabon, the First Inter-Ministerial Conference on Health and Environment in Africa takes place

Wednesday, August 27

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution on the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, followed by an open debate on document S/2006/507 (on the Councils working methods).

In Santiago, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean launches the Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Secretary-General begins a visit to Torino, Italy, where he will host a two-day retreat for senior UN managers. From there, he will travel next week to Geneva and to Zaragoza and Madrid in Spain.

Thursday, August 28

No major events are scheduled.

Friday, August 29

No major events are scheduled.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

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