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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-09-29
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BANK KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, September 29, 2008
Please note that the United Nations will be closed on September 30, 2008, for Eid ul-Fitr.
The noon briefing will be resumed on Wednesday, October 1, 2008.
BAN KI-MOON STRONGLY CONDEMNS TODAYS DEADLY ATTACK IN LEBANON
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly
condemns the terrorist attack that took place today in the city of Tripoli, killing at least four people including three members of the Lebanese Armed Forces.
He conveys his condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the Government and Armed Forces of Lebanon.
He hopes that the perpetrators of this act will be brought to justice.
The Secretary-General remains encouraged by the measures taken in recent weeks by the Lebanese to resume the national dialogue and calls upon them not to be deterred by this new attack.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF U.N. LIBERIA MISSION
AND TERMS OF JUDGES ON TRIBUNAL FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
The Security Council this morning voted unanimously to
extend the mandate of the
UN Mission in Liberia by one year, until the end of September 2009. It also voted to
extend the terms of the judges on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia until the end of 2009.
On Saturday, the Security Council, in a unanimous vote,
called on Iran to comply fully and immediately with all of its previous resolutions regarding non-proliferation and Iran. It also called on Iran once more to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and reaffirmed its commitment to an early negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
Today is the last working day for the month under Burkina Fasos Security Council Presidency. On Wednesday, China will assume the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for the month of October.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY CONDEMNS RECENT BOMBINGS IN INDIA AND SYRIA
Over the weekend, the Secretary-General issued statements strongly condemning the recent bombings in India and Syria.
On Syria, he
called for the perpetrators of the Saturday bombing on the outskirts of Damascus to be brought to justice.
On India, the Secretary-General
expressed his concern about the string of bombings in a number of cities in India in recent weeks, which have targeted places of high civilian concentration, and reiterated his consistent position that no cause or grievance can justify the resort to terrorism.
DETERIORATING SECURITY SITUATION HAMPERS WORK OF U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN
In a new
report to the General Assembly and Security Council, the Secretary-General says that the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated markedly in recent months, with a sharp rise in insurgent attacks and civilian casualties. The number of security incidents in August rose to 983, the highest since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
The Secretary-General says that there has been a greater focus by insurgent groups on areas that had been stable until now, and an increase in asymmetric attacks. The deterioration of the security situation has hampered the
UN Mission in Afghanistan in implementing its mandate, with 90 of the countrys 400 districts identified as areas of extreme risk.
He says that a change of pace and direction is required, in which, among other things, every party to the Paris Conference that took place earlier this year must do its utmost to implement the commitments made there as early as possible. He adds that the Paris Conference must be seen as more than just an event, and must be used to reverse negative trends and inspire the Afghan public.
In a separate note, the UN Mission in Kabul notes that, regrettably, 190,000 children could not be reached during last weeks polio immunization campaign because of obstruction or fighting.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, meanwhile,
says that some 20,000 people have fled fighting in north-western Pakistan in recent months and sought refuge in eastern Afghanistan.
BAN KI-MOON HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF FIRST HIGH-LEVEL MEETING OF MYANMAR GROUP
The Secretary-General on Saturday
convened the first high-level meeting of the Group of Friends on Myanmar, where he welcomed the participation of the various Ministers, as well as the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the High Representative of the European Union.
The Secretary-General highlighted that such high-level participation is a clear signal of the importance that the international community attaches to the situation in
Members of the Group unanimously expressed their support for the Secretary-Generals good offices and for its implementation through his Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, and noted Myanmars recent actions to release several prisoners.
Members further encouraged the Government of Myanmar to work more closely with and respond more positively to the U.N. good offices in addressing key issues of concern, especially the release of political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the initiation of an all-inclusive dialogue between the Government and the opposition.
The Secretary-General encouraged all parties in Myanmar to seize the opportunity of his good offices, and stressed the Governments responsibility to demonstrate its stated commitment to cooperation through further tangible results.
ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY HEAD WARNS OF INCREASING OBSTACLE TO AGENCYS WORK
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began a General Conference of its 145 Member States in Vienna today, and Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei warned the delegates at the meetings start that all is not well with the IAEA. He said that there is a disconnect between what the Member States are asking the Agency to do and the legal authority and resources available to it.
On Iran, he said he regrets that the IAEA is still not in a position to make progress regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities there. He once more urged Iran to implement all the transparency measures required to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme at the earliest possible date.
ElBaradei also noted the removal of IAEA seals and surveillance equipment last week from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Koreas facility at Yongbyon, but added that he still hopes that conditions can be created for the DPRK to return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty at the earliest possible date and for the resumption by the Agency of comprehensive safeguards.
message to the five-day conference, the Secretary-General called upon all States that have not done so to observe and abide by the Agencys nuclear safety standards as soon as possible.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONFIRMS DEATHS OF AT LEAST 52 SOMALIS DURING GULF OF ADEN CROSSING
The UN Refugee Agency has
confirmed that at least 52 Somalis died last week after they were abandoned by smugglers in the Gulf of Aden. The would-be refugees were adrift for more than two weeks, an ordeal that only 71 of them survived. They were rescued after their severely damaged boat washed up ashore in Yemen.
So far this year, at least 21,000 Somalis and some 10,000 Ethiopians have risked their lives for the relative safety of Yemen. It is believed that some 500 of them may have perished in the waters of Gulf of Aden.
HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CALLS FOR FULL INVESTIGATION OF KILLINGS IN COLOMBIA
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia is
calling on the Colombian Government to fully investigate a series of alleged extrajudicial executions.
Recently, 23 bodies, mostly of young people, were discovered in northern Santander Province. This follows previous, similar reports of the disappearance and death of young men in other parts of the country.
Reportedly, some of the victims were offered work that involved leaving home and traveling to another city. One or two days later, they were reported by the Army to have died in combat.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME CHIEF SAYS MISERY INDEX IN HAITI RISING DAILY
World Food Programme Executive (WFP) Director Josette Sheeran has wrapped up a mission to Haiti. After visiting the flooded city of Gonaives, Sheeran on Saturday
appealed to donor nations to fund assistance to Haitis hungry and help rebuild the islands infrastructure.
Haitis misery index, she said, is rising daily, and a massive effort to stave off hunger and save lives is urgently required.
Since early September, WFP has distributed food to some 285,000 people in more than 55 shelters across Gonaives. The agency, meanwhile, is asking for $54 million for food, logistics and emergency telecommunications to help the hungry in Haiti.
SEVERAL TREATIES TO BE SIGNED AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS
Office of Legal Affairs reports that the Deputy Prime Minister of Laos and the Foreign Minister of Tanzania will be signing the Convention on Enforced Disappearances for their respective countries.
Tanzania will also sign the Optional Protocol to the Disabilities Convention while Laos is expected to ratify the Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods.
Laos will also become the 166th country to ratify the Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism.
Also today, Switzerland will ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, while Zambia will sign it.
The Republic of Congo will also sign the latter convention along with the Optional Protocol to the Torture Convention and the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers.
Zambia will also sign both the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Disabilities Convention.
The Philippines will sign the International Tropical Timber Agreement and Belarus will ratify the Protocol to the Conventional Weapons Convention in relation to explosive remnants of war.
Finally, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran is scheduled to ratify the UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property later this afternoon.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO CALL FOR IMPROVED DISASTER RISK REDUCTION
In an address to a ministerial meeting, taking place later this afternoon on reducing disaster risks in a changing climate, the Secretary-General was expected to say that better disaster risk reduction would also help the world adapt to climate change.
The Secretary-General planned to say that, without concerted action, there could be natural catastrophes on an unprecedented scale, which could even become threats to international security and inter-state relations.
INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY INTO CRASH OF U.N. CONTRACTED HELICOPTER IN DARFUR
In response to a question, the Spokeswoman confirmed that a helicopter contracted by the United Nations crashed near the Kalma camp for internally displaced persons after takeoff from Nyala, in Darfur.
Okabe said that the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) had said that it had discovered two of the four bodies of the crew on that helicopter and had confirmed that the other two crew members were also dead. She added that there is an investigation underway.
CANADA TO CONTINUE ESCORTS OF WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME SHIPS FOR ONE MONTH: Asked about the Canadian naval escort that has tried to protect World Food Programme ships from pirates off the coast of Somalia, the Spokeswoman noted that WFP last week had
said that the Canadian escorts have been extended for one month.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP BUSY WEEK OF DIPLOMACY: During the period of this years General Assembly high-level debate, the Secretary-General has so far had 125 bilateral meetings. He has also attended 31 official conferences or events, including several working lunches and dinners.
UNDP CLARIFIES 2004 PROGRAMME IN GEORGIA: Following questions asked about reports that UNDP is paying for the salary of President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia, the Spokesperson later added that in 2004 UNDP launched a Governance Reform Programme in Georgia. This was done as a two-pronged approach to enable the government to recruit the staff it needed and also to help remove incentives for corruption. UNDP created a Salary Supplement Fund, funded initially by $1 million from the Open Society Institute (OSI) and $500,000 from UNDP, and later supplemented by another $1 million from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). This fund was designed to provide leading public servants with a wage that, though modest by international standards, was sufficient for Georgia. At the same time, the government was required to make a credible commitment to increase tax revenues in order to cover this rise in expenditure. The government was so successful in improving tax collection that the salary supplement program for top officials was fully taken over by the state budget after just a single year (rather than the planned three).
General Debate, special events and the Secretary-General's meetings during the past week.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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