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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-09-24
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SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI MOON'S
JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS AT THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
[The following substitutes for the noon briefing today. There briefing resumes Thursday]
CLIMATE CHANGE: BAN KI-MOON PLEDGES TO DO ALL HE CAN TO FACILITATE GLOBAL DEAL
"Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media.
It is a great pleasure for me to join together with H.E. President Kaczynski of Poland, H.E. Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark and H.E. Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Dr. Hassan Wirajuda. They are the current and future presidencies of the Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In view of this coming Poznan Climate Change conference, we have established an informal consultation group, together with the three leaders of the three countries. We first had a video conference on September 12th, and today we had a meeting together with the leaders of these very important countries, and I am very pleased to have this press conference on the most daunting challenges facing the international community.
I have reiterated on numerous occasions that climate change is a defining issue of our time. The impacts of climate change are increasingly apparent in various parts of the world. Science is clear and we need to take action now. The world is waiting.
Climate change must be considered in the context of sustainable development. It is closely linked to other global issues such as food security, energy, trade, finance and health.
I have identified climate change as one of my top priorities and I am personally committed to help the international community meet the daunting challenges of fighting climate change.
The Bali Roadmap was a significant breakthrough. The new UNFCCC negotiations process launched by the Bali Action Plan last December created increased political momentum and renewed hope that an effective multilateral response to the climate crises is possible and attainable if we rise to the challenge of our time, act in good faith and responsibly, and if national Leaders are able to rise above their immediate national concerns, and look after the global good.
I will do all I can to facilitate a global deal by the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.
It is now clear that in order to achieve the needed outcomethat is an inclusive, comprehensive and ratifiable treaty by Copenhagenthe negotiations need to be elevated to the highest political levels.
I have established, as I said, an informal process with the Leaders of the presiding countries of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC over the negotiations period to strengthen political leadership, continuity and consistency in conducting the negotiations. This will be an important vehicle through which we can enlist additional leaders to participate in the process at the highest level.
We held the first such meeting through video-conference on 12th September. I was very much encouraged by the strong commitment demonstrated by all the three Leaders of Indonesia, Poland and Denmark for moving the UNFCCC process forward and expediting the ongoing negotiations. I am very grateful to them.
We jointly organized this press conference to share with you our political expectations, and about the challenges ahead.
We all agreed that the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan or COP-14 is a crucial bridge to Copenhagen. The importance of the political leadership of Poland in hosting COP-14 was underlined by all of us. There was a consensus that we need to make real progress in key areas in Poznan so that we can:
- Rebuild momentum by agreeing to a clearly-defined 2009 work programme for the negotiations that will deliver a result in Copenhagen;
- Second, come to a common understanding of a shared vision for a long-term cooperative actionincluding on the institutional architecture that is adequate for the challenge posed by climate change;
- Thirdly, ensure that Adaptation Fund is ready to receive and finance projects without further delay, including by encouraging generous voluntary contributions;
- And fourthly, it is imperative that developed countries send a clear signal that they are ready to discharge their responsibilities with regards to emissions reductions and financing to support developing countries own actions on climate change.
Furthermore, the Leaders of the COP Presidency and I as the Secretary-General will use all public events, including those on Finance and Trade to promote those common positions.
It was also agreed that this informal high-level political effort engaging the Leaders of the COP Presidents must be expanded at a later stage to include more leaders from interested and pro-active countries to provide political guidance, not only to their negotiators in the UNFCCC process, but also to their various Ministers in charge of environment, trade, energy, agriculture and finance to lay the foundations for an enabling domestic environment, and to empower negotiators on all aspects.
During the next few months I will consider facilitating some informal and also formal gatherings in the course of 2009 to help maintain and increase the political momentum, and to consider the broad political-economic context which should guide the climate change negotiations for success.
I will continue to consult with Leaders and Ministers to discuss options for such initiatives. I will also continue my consultations with Leaders of COP Presidency in preparations for Poznan conference and we will collectively continue to promote our common position which I just highlighted.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Question: Here is a question for the Secretary-General. The United Nations is involved with so many issues. Yet today in the American newspapers there is a lot of reaction to President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejads speech here yesterday. How would you tell people who criticize the fact that he was here, and that sometimes drowns out the other issues that the United Nations deals with?
The Secretary-General: Are you asking this question in relationship to climate change?
Our United Nations is composed of 192 Member States. This is the venue where all the Member States can participate and exchange their views for all the agenda items of our international community. In that regard, it should be guaranteed and assured that everybody can speak their own positions freely. However, when we are addressing many global challenges, like climate change, development issues, the global food crisis and energy issues and on top of these we are experiencing very serious global financial crisis -- therefore, I hope the leaders participating in this General Assembly will focus their leadership and their wisdom and their political will in addressing those very serious global issues -- economic, or political, or whatever. Thats my real wish, as the Secretary-General: that this Organization should be the place where we can resolve all these issue with dialogue, and any other rhetoric which is not helpful in addressing these issues should better be refrained.
Question: My question is for Mr. Secretary-General. We know that about nine countries have already expressed their formal interest in receiving assistance through UN-REDD programmes. So, my question is, are you optimistic that this initiative will affect (inaudible) that climate change from deforestation?
The Secretary-General: In fact, Im going to have a press conference launching the UN-REDD programme, together with the Prime Minister of Norway and UNDP, FAO and UNEP. As you may be fully aware, greenhouse gas emissions emanating from deforestation takes almost 20 per cent exactly 17 per cent or so. So, this is third largest factor affecting this global warming phenomenon. Therefore, this initiative which will be launched very soon, soon after this, is very much an important initiative. The United Nations and all these three United Nations agencies and many donor countries will closely coordinate which countries should be assisted in their efforts in addressing deforestation issues.
BAN KI-MOON UNVEILS NEW INITIATIVE TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE
Tropical forested countries are stepping up the fight to combat climate change via a pioneering new initiative called the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD).
The Programme, to be carried out by three United Nations agencies, was unveiled by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg.
Nine countries have already expressed formal interest in receiving assistance through the UN-REDD Programme Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tanzania, Viet Nam, and Zambia.
BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES PASSAGE OF IRAQ PROVINCIAL ELECTION LAW
The Secretary-General welcomes the passage of the Iraq provincial election law today by Iraqs Council of Representatives. This is a very important step forward which should contribute to political normalization in Iraq.
The law is the result of months of intense discussions, and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) was able to support this process significantly by facilitating dialogue and offering compromise proposals.
The United Nations will continue to assist the Iraqi High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to ensure timely preparations of the provincial elections with the view of holding elections that are credible and accepted by the Iraqi people, including the nations minorities.
MYANMAR: BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS;
REITERATES THAT ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS SHOULD BE RELEASED
The Secretary-General welcomes the release yesterday by the Myanmar Government of several political prisoners as part of an amnesty procedure, including Myanmars longest-serving political prisoner, U Win Tin, and six other senior members of the National League for Democracy.
The release of political prisoners, including several of the individuals released yesterday, was one focus of discussion between the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser, Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, and the Myanmar Government during his latest visit to Myanmar.
The Secretary-General reiterates that all political prisoners should be released and that all citizens of Myanmar should be able to enjoy political freedoms, as necessary steps towards the process of national reconciliation and dialogue. He looks forward to any further action by the Myanmar Government in this regard.
BAN KI-MOON URGES EARLY ENTRY INTO FORCE OF KEY NUCLEAR TREATY
Despite its ratification by nearly 150 nations, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) still has yet to go into force, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lamented today, calling on countries to take urgent action to promote global peace and security.
The pact would outlaw all nuclear tests and move us towards the larger goals of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and preventing their proliferation, Mr. Ban said in his remarks to the fourth biennial ministerial meeting in support of the Treaty.
Foreign Ministers from about 40 countries gathered to reaffirm their commitment to promote the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the highest political level. When in force, the CTBT will ban all nuclear weapons testing on Earth.
The Foreign Ministers
issued a statement calling upon the nine countries who still have to ratify before the Treaty can enter into force to do so without delay. These countries are: China, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States.
ATOMIC AGENCY REMOVES SEALS, SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT FROM D.P.R.K. REPROCESSING PLANT
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that work to remove seals and surveillance from the reprocessing plant in Yongbyon, which was requested by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), was completed today. There are no more IAEA seals and surveillance equipment in place at the reprocessing facility.
The DPRK has also informed the IAEA inspectors that they plan to introduce nuclear material to the reprocessing plant in one weeks time.
They further stated that from here on, the IAEA inspectors will have no further access to the reprocessing plant.
BAN KI-MOON CALLS ON PRIVATE SECTOR TO HELP ADDRESS FOOD CRISIS
The Secretary-General today addressed the first-ever UN Private Sector Forum.
The Forum, which was held at UN Headquarters, brought together some 100 chief executives, Heads of State and Government, civil society leaders, and heads of foundations and UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, to identify and discuss action needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. A major focus of the Forum was the long-term response to the global food crisis.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that we are not on track towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, and that there is not a moment to waste. Noting that markets can flourish only in healthy societies, he stressed the need to boost the private-public alliance. He added that we need to bring knowledge, resources and innovation together in a way that links sustainability with opportunities for growth.
The Secretary-General said the high cost of food and fuel is causing millions of people to go hungry. Insecurity and even violence could easily follow, he added.
In that context, he told participants that he needed their support to address the food issue. By investing in agriculture, you can help not only tackle the present crisis but also promote better food security worldwide, he stressed.
A WORLD SHORT OF WATER WILL BE UNSTABLE
The Secretary-General today is scheduled to address an event at UN Headquarters called One World One Dream: Sanitation and Water for All.
In his remarks, he plans to say that a world short of water will be an unstable world. Yet the worst need not happen, since we know what the problems are, and what to do about them, he added.
The Secretary-General expects to say that, first, we need concrete steps to build up infrastructure, transfer technology and scale up good practices, especially in agriculture, so as to produce more food with less water.
Second, we need to improve the management of water resources, from public utilities to rural areas, in part to take account of the dynamics of climate change, he plans to say.
Third, he is expected to urge increased investment.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONVENES MEETING OF FRIENDS OF ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS
The Secretary-General this morning convened a ministerial meeting of the Group of Friends for the Alliance of Civilizations initiative, and he told them, Through political, financial and strategic support for the Alliance, you can help overcome divisions and build trust. You can provide a platform to discuss sensitive issues creatively and constructively. You can cut through polarized positions.
He said that, by working within the UN and beyond the UN to foster dialogue among religions, the Alliance is addressing the conditions that allow extremism to fester and creating the foundations for peace. He noted that the Alliance is planning for the next five years based on a clear, strategic vision for the future.
IMPORTANCE OF MEDIATION IS STRESSED IN HIGH-LEVEL SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Special Adviser Lakdhar Brahimi joined a high-level meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday afternoon which stressed the importance of mediation for the peaceful settlement of disputes.
The Secretary-General, in his statement said: "Today, I would like to call upon the Council, and indeed all Member States, to invest up front in our mediation capacity, so that we can do more of this quiet diplomacy -- and less often cross that Rubicon to where vast suffering and huge peacekeeping expenditures become inevitable."
TENS OF MILLIONS OF GREEN JOBS COULD BE CREATED IN COMING DECADES
In a landmark
study, launched today, the U.N. Environment Programme and the International Labour Organization say that efforts to combat climate change could create tens of millions of new green jobs in the coming decades.
The emerging green economy has already created many such jobs, though it warns that they can often be dirty, dangerous and difficult, according to the report, which notes that such jobs in agriculture and recycling often come with low pay, insecure employment contracts, and exposure to hazardous materials.
JOINT INITIATIVE TO HELP POOR FARMERS IN DEVELOPING WORLD INCREASE INCOME
The World Food Programme (WFP), along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, today unveiled a new initiative to transform the way WFP purchases food in developing countries. The Purchase for Progress initiative is expected to help hundreds of thousands of small farmers to sell their surplus crops at competitive prices.
The programme will be launched in 21 pilot countries over the next five years and will place a special focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. The Government of Belgium, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation have already committed $76 million to the effort.
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT MAY HAVE PEAKED IN 2007
In its annual World Investment Report, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says that global foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows rose by 30% in 2007, to an all-time high of US$1.833 billion; however, the global financial and credit crises that began in the second half of the year are expected to result in lower FDI activity for 2008.
The United States remained both the largest recipient and largest source of such investment. Unprecedented levels of cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As), reflecting a continuing trend in consolidation of companies, contributed substantially to the global surge in FDI, though M&A activity has slowed markedly in the first half of 2008.
NEW WIPO DIRECTOR-GENERAL NAMED
The General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) yesterday
appointed by acclamation Mr. Francis Gurry of Australia as WIPOs Director-General.
Mr. Gurry, whose six-year term begins on 1 October, will replace outgoing Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris.
EVENT TO BOLSTER INTERNATIONAL LAW ENTERS SECOND DAY WITH MORE SIGNINGS
On the second day of the 2008 Treaty Event, the Office of Legal Affairs reports that Ukraine has signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol .
The Russian Federation has signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The latter optional protocol relates to the involvement of children in armed conflict, especially to the age of their possible recruitment into the armed forces and their participation in hostilities.
Another Optional Protocol relating to this Convention, which bans the sale of children, prostitution and pornography, was ratified by Monaco.
Malaysia, meanwhile, has ratified the Convention against Corruption, while Burundi ratified both the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
Australia, for its part, signed the International Tropical Timber Agreement
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE U.N. SYSTEM
HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS IN NORTHEASTERN D.R.C. ARE FORCED TO SCALE DOWN: Recent attacks on humanitarian convoys and recurrent looting of goods have forced relief organizations to scale down aid delivery in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The decision also affects the movement of relief workers, which has been drastically restricted to the few areas perceived to be safe from the fighting raging between government forces and a local armed group. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that both sides to the conflict have been looting civilian infrastructures, including health centres and houses. The Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes appealed to the warring parties to respect the neutrality of humanitarian workers and aid delivery work.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL WRAPS UP 9th SESSION: In Geneva this morning, the Human Rights Council, among other things,
adopted 19 texts on issues including missing persons, human rights and international solidarity, human rights and unilateral coercive measures, human rights of migrants, the world food crisis, human rights and indigenous peoples, effective implementation of international human rights instruments, protection of the human rights of civilians in armed conflict, human rights and transitional justice, the right to truth, human rights voluntary goals, and guidelines on alternative care for children. This afternoon, the Council
adopted five texts before concluding its ninth regular session. Those texts dealt with extending the mandates of the Special Procedures on Sudan and Burundi.
UN TRIBUNAL SENTENCES EX-RWANDAN OFFICIAL TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR GENOCIDE: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) today sentenced Simeon Nchamihigo, a former Rwandan regional prosecutor, to life in prison for genocide, extermination and other crimes against humanity. He has been proven guilty for ordering the genocidaire Interahamwme militia to seek out and kill Tutsis with the intention to exterminate the Tutsi ethnic group in April 1994. A prominent legal official in the Cyangugu Prefecture, he was also an active planner of attacks on Tutsis and other real or perceived opponents of the governments genocide programme.
MORE THAN 20 REFUGEES FEARED DEAD IN SUDAN RIVER CROSSING: According to the UN Refugee Agency. Twenty-one refugees are feared to have drowned last night when their overloaded boat capsized in the Atbara River, near the Shagarab refugee camp in eastern Sudan. The bodies have yet to be recovered.
DARFUR: SOUTH AFRICAN PEACEKEEPER DIES FROM SCORPION BITE: The body of Late Private Losedi Boitumelo Monaisa of South African Battalion was yesterday flown home after a solemn farewell ceremony organized in her honour by her colleagues of the African Union-United Nations hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Late Pte. Monaisa aged 21, was stung by a scorpion on 19 September 2008. Despite the valiant efforts of the medical team to save her life, she succumbed to the venom of the scorpion leaving behind a six year old daughter.
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