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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-09-09

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





Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and I am grateful to all our distinguished friends and colleagues for joining us this afternoon. Thank you for joining me at this press briefing on the Symposium on Supporting Victims of Terrorism.

We are honoured to have with us today four victims of terrorism, whom I will introduce later. They illustrate the fact that terrorism affects people everywhere irrespective of their religion, nationality, sex, age, or their region of origin in the world. They illustrate that terrorism has many faces and can not be distilled into one image or person.

It takes great bravery to speak out against the most brutal and senseless acts of violence. Our guests today have demonstrated that courage many times. I had a good exchange of views with them, all participants, yesterday and this morning.

Almost exactly two years ago, the General Assembly took a historic step forward in adopting the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. For the first time, Member States came together and took a common stand on the issue of terrorism. And they acknowledged that terrorism cannot be defeated without the help of those who suffer most, the victims and their families. And they acknowledged that victims require our support.

While considerable progress has been made in this area, it is clear that the international community needs to further strengthen its resolve. Still too often there are gaps in addressing the needs of survivors and their families. Still too often victims are registered only as numbers and not as human beings that bear witness to stories of immense injustice. Still too often we pay more attention to the voices of terrorists than those of their victims.

The symposium today is a historic moment as it is the first time that the United Nations is bringing together governments, civil society and victims of terrorism to discuss practical and concrete solutions needed to strengthen support for victims and their families. Indeed, it is long overdue that we open the doors of the United Nations to victims of terrorism, and that we focus on their needs.

We hope that this symposium which is now going on will help achieve several important outcomes. First, we want to put a human face to the tragic consequences of the scourge of terrorism, thus addressing one of the major conditions conducive to terrorism: the de-humanization of victims. Second, we want to provide an opportunity for Member States, victims and civil society to share with one another their experiences in supporting victims and to gather best practices. And third, we want to start a dialogue among victims and experts on victims needs and optimal ways of addressing them.

I would now like to introduce you to the four victims sitting alongside me who will each say a few words before we take your questions:

Ms. Ingrid Betancourt, whom you already know too well, and I may not need to introduce, is a Colombian-French politician, former senator and activist, who was held in captivity for 2,321 days by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC. She was freed by Colombian security forces in July of this year. I met her for the first time in June when I visited Paris. I was very much moved, and when I extended my invitation to her, she immediately accepted, and thank you very much for your participation in this symposium;

Ms. Laura Dolci, whose husband Jean-Selim Kanaan, one of our best and brightest UN staff members, was brutally murdered in the 2003 bombings of UN headquarters in Baghdad. She works for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva; I also met her again last week when I was in Geneva to honour the fifth anniversary of the terrorist bombing victims in Baghdad;

Mr. Ashraf Al-Khaled, who on the day that should have been the happiest of his life, his wedding day tragically lost 27 friends and loved ones, including his father as well as father and mother-in-law. He has become an outspoken advocate for victims; and

Mr. Chris Cramer, whom you may know very well, he was the President of CNN International, who was in the Iranian Embassy in London when it was taken over by Iranian separatists. He is President of the International News Safety Institute, a global organization devoted to the ethical treatment and safety of journalists.

After my guests remarks, I invite you to ask questions either to me or to the other four participants here. Thank you.


SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER INCREASED HOSTILITIES IN SRI LANKA: The Secretary-General expresses his deep concern over the increased hostilities in northern Sri Lanka, and the grave humanitarian consequences for civilians. In light of the Government's request for the relocation of UN humanitarian staff in affected areas, he reminds all concerned of their responsibility to take active steps to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of civilians, allowing humanitarian organizations to do their work in safety, as well as to reach persons affected by the fighting who need humanitarian assistance. The Secretary-General reminds all concerned of their obligations under international humanitarian law, especially in regard to the principal of proportionality and the selection of targets. He emphasizes strongly the importance of a negotiated settlement to the political problems facing Sri Lanka.

LEBANON ASSESSMENT TEAM SEES LITTLE IMPROVEMENT AT BORDER: The Secretary-General has submitted to the Security Council the

report of the second Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team, noting that he fully supports the Teams conclusions and recommendations. The Team had been sent to Lebanon to undertake a thorough follow-up of the recommendations of an earlier Border Assessment Team a year ago, and the new Team concluded that the rate of progress and implementation of those recommendations had been insufficient. The overall situation renders Lebanons borders as penetrable as they were one year ago, the second Team says. It suggests that the Government of Lebanon instigate without delay the formulation of a strategic plan which should include its desired end stage and objectives, as well as the ways and means of achieving them.


UN Mission in Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, today said that the countrys disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme will soon enter its implementation phase, with the necessary policies now in place and funding available for initial steps. Qazi pledged the UNs full commitment to launching a pilot project before the end of this year, but he acknowledged that more needs to be done, including the provision of adequate and timely funding for reintegration.

U.N. ENVOY FOR IRAQ BEGINS VISIT TO IRAN: The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for

Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, arrived in Tehran for consultations with senior Iranian officials. De Mistura will meet the Speaker of the Majlis, Ali Larijani; the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili; and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, among other officials. The consultations will take place in the context of the regional mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and in support of the regional dialogue.


Security Council this morning held consultations on the work and the mandate of the

UN Mission in Liberia. It began the day with a meeting with the troop contributing countries for that Mission. The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Liberia, Ellen Loj, briefed.

A.I.D.S. REQUIRES OUR COLLECTIVE THINKING: The Deputy Secretary-General today

addressed the third Symposium of the United Nations University and Cornell University Africa Series. She said that the AIDS pandemic, in many parts of the continent, is eroding the developmental gains of the post-independence era. The challenges require our collective thinking, she said.

CHILDREN & ARMED CONFLICT ENVOY ADDRESSES RIGHTS COUNCIL: The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, addressed the

Human Rights Council in Geneva today. She said there are children all over the world who are deeply affected by armed conflict. They will only feed the cycle of violence unless we promise them a better tomorrow, she said. She added that we must do this without ideological blinkers.

HEALTH AGENCY APPEALS FOR NEARLY $10 MILLION TO HELP CONFLICT- & FLOOD-HIT PAKISTANIS: Some 423,000 people in Pakistan need urgent health care after being affected by recent conflict and flooding. The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners are requesting nearly $10 million to undertake life-saving health responses to this humanitarian crisis. Outbreaks of communicable diseases are of high risk due to large numbers of people forced into cramped, temporary housing, WHO says.


report on synthetic drugs, launched today in Bangkok, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that the use of such drugs, which include amphetamine, methamphetamine (meth) and ecstasy, has stabilized or declined in most developed countries but is growing in the developing world. In response, UNODC has launched the SMART (Synthetics Monitoring: Analyses, Reporting and Trends) Programme. Starting operations in Asia, the Programme is aimed at reducing the worlds information deficit about these drugs. UNODC will work with governments to improve information gathering, analysis and sharing on products, their use and trafficking routes.


warning about an outbreak of peste des petits ruminants for the first time in Morocco. The viral disease, which is very contagious, threatens to kill millions of sheep and goats and could spread to neighbouring countries, FAO says. The agency sent a rapid response team to Morocco last month, and helped establish urgent measures to control and limit the spread of the disease. FAO is also now mounting an urgent regional technical cooperation project.

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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