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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-10-02
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BANK KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, October 2, 2008
BAN KI-MOON MARKS DAY OF NON-VIOLENCE;
ADDRESSES SPECIAL NEEDS OF WORLD'S LANDLOCKED COUNTRIES
Today is the International Day of Non-Violence, an occasion that coincides with the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Addressing the General Assembly this morning, next to a bust of Gandhi, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
said that the rights of too many people around the world are still violated. That is why the Mahatmas legacy is more important than ever.
The Secretary-General also
addressed a meeting on the needs of landlocked developing countries this morning. He said it is vital that landlocked developing countries increase their volume of exports in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals. He called on the international community to show the same generosity in helping the worlds 31 landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) overcome their trade-hobbling isolation as it did last week when it pledged significant new funding to help poor States in general achieve development goals
HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF HIGHLIGHTS NEW INITIATIVE FOR DETAINEES
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay held her first press conference in Geneva today. She began by highlighting a new project by her office, called the Dignity and Justice for Detainees Initiative.
The Initiatives purpose is to draw attention to the rights of people who are deprived of their liberty and who are being held in prisons and other places of detention. Another goal is to ensure that conditions in prisons and other places of detention are brought in line with minimum international standards.
Pillay stressed that her office is not against prisons and detention centers per se but they should be reserved for those who really deserve to be there according to the extensive, detailed and fundamentally sound international standards governing criminal justice.
Fielding several questions on Guantanamo, Pillay said that detainees there have the right to a prompt review of the reasons for their detention. They also have an unequivocal right not to be sent to places where there is a risk of torture, she added.
In response to a question about Myanmar, Pillay said that the Governments release of seven political prisoners last week was a beginning, but still a long way off when one considers that there are 2,000 activists in detention.
UNITED NATIONS IS CONCERNED ABOUT IRAQS NEW ELECTIONS LAW;
CONDEMNS RECENT BOMBINGS
Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, today
said that the United Nations is concerned at the extraction of an article dealing with minority rights from the provincial election law that was passed last week.
He said he was surprised and disappointed that the provision, Article 50, was not included in the provincial elections law, and he called for it to be reinstated into the legislation as soon as possible, so minorities can participate in the upcoming elections. Those elections are to be held sometime before 31 January 2009.
De Mistura emphasized that protecting the human rights of minorities is fundamental to a democratic Iraq. He calls on all political blocs to reintroduce Article 50 into the law, no later than 15 October, when the Independent High Electoral Commission opens the process to nominate candidates.
De Mistura also strongly condemned the series of criminal bombings in Baghdad and other cities in the last few days, which killed dozens of innocent civilians and wounded scores more. He described these recent attacks as particularly abhorrent, targeting men women and children as they prepared to break their fast and celebrate the Eid holiday or traveled on their way for pilgrimage.
SECRETARY-GENERAL IS CONCERNED ABOUT SECURITY AND DRUG TRAFFICKING IN GUINEA-BISSAU
In his latest
report on Guinea-Bissau, the Secretary-General says he remains concerned over the volatile security and political situation there, especially when the country is preparing for crucial elections.
He also expresses concern that drug trafficking the volume of which is much greater than previously thought and organized crimes are threatening to undermine peacebuilding efforts. He notes that the country is reportedly becoming not just a transit hub but also a major marketplace for the drug trade.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call to the Security Council to consider establishing a panel of experts to investigate drug trafficking and organized crime in Guinea-Bissau, with the possibility of taking measures, including punitive, targeted sanctions to reverse the growth in drug trafficking.
PEACEBUILDING MISSION IS SET UP IN SIERRA LEONE
The U.N. Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone, or UNIPSIL, was
established yesterday in Freetown. It replaces UNIOSIL, which completed its mandate on September 30th.
Authorized by Security Council Resolution 1829 two months ago, UNIPSIL will coordinate the work of all UN agencies, funds and programmes, as well as regional and international partners, to ensure the countrys long-term peace, security and development. It will also work closely with the Peacebuilding Commission.
UNIPSIL has approximately 70 staff and is led by Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, Michael von der Schulenburg.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE EXPECTED TO WORSEN
According to the UNs
Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating and will continue to worsen through 2008 and into 2009.
It is estimated that up to 3.8 million people would be food insecure between now and the end of the year. During the peak of the hunger season in January-March 2009, nearly half of the population of 12 million would require food assistance, meaning over five million people. People affected by the fast-track land reform programmes, eviction campaigns and violence are among the most vulnerable population.
John Holmes says there is a very large resource gap and aid is needed now, and that although almost half of a year of humanitarian service delivery was lost, there is still time to avert increased human suffering.
Challenges include critical shortages of food , clean water, health services , education, and trained professionals. The crisis affects both rural and urban areas.
Critical needs exist for aid to emergency agriculture and emergency education. The window of opportunity for the first planting season is very narrow an estimated five to six weeks. All pledges must urgently be turned into actual contributions.
UNITED NATIONS FOOD CONVOY CROSSES CONFRONTATION LINE IN SRI LANKA
In Sri Lanka, a
United Nations convoy carrying 650 metric tonnes of food crossed the Omanthai border his morning, en route to 200,000 civilians displaced behind the lines of confrontation in the Vanni.
The convoy will transport and distribute food to four locations to the east of Kilinochchi, where the majority of displaced civilians are concentrated.
The convoy is accompanied by seven UN international staff who will monitor the initial distribution. The convoy was reduced from 60 trucks to 51 after explosives and other illicit items were discovered on government-provided trucks that were due to join the convoy.
The United Nations reiterates that humanitarian convoys are protected under international humanitarian law, and condemns the attempt by persons unknown to disrupt the aid effort. Another UN humanitarian convoy is planned to be dispatched next week.
FLOODS ONCE AGAIN DEVASTATE NEPAL
Just a month after floods devastated a huge swathe of Nepals eastern region, floods have once again ravaged the Himalayan republic, this time in the west.
The latest spate of flooding hit eight districts in the Mid- and Far-West. The United Nations World Food Programme is
responding by mobilizing urgently-needed food resources to feed up to 170,000 people displaced by the floods.
Those affected in both the east and the west come from some of the countrys poorest, most marginalized communities. WFP is providing them with mixed-commodity relief supplies including rice, lentils, vegetable oil and salt. Daily cooked fortified food is also being given to vulnerable adults and children.
HURRICANE RELIEF CONTINUES IN HAITI
As part of its hurricane relief efforts in Haiti, the World Food Programme (WFP) has so far
supplied food for 536,000 people since the launch of the operation.
About two thirds of those receiving rations are in Gonaives, the city worst hit by flooding. Flood waters there have receded, leaving behind just mud in most parts of the city. WFP is now able to reach Gonaives by road from Port-au-Prince, and is currently delivering 90 tonnes of food a day.
In all, WFP has distributed nearly 2,800 metric tonnes of rice, beans, cooking oil, fresh water and other supplies.
A SERBIAN ACCUSED OF WAR CRIMES TEMPORARILY RELEASED
A Serb accused of crimes committed in Kosovo in 1999, Nikola ainović, was
granted temporary provisional release to Serbia on compassionate grounds by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. That provisional release will last until 17 October, and is subject to a number of specific conditions, including 24-hour surveillance by Serbian authorities.
ainović, along with five other people, has been charged with deportation, forcible transfer, murder and persecutions of thousands of Kosovo Albanians and other non-Serbs. Closing arguments in his trial concluded on 27 August 2008.
TWO MILLION PEOPLE DIE OF ALCOHOL-RELATED CAUSES
Each year, more than two million people die from alcohol-related causes. Thats why the World Health Organization (WHO) was asked by its Member States at the World Health Assembly last May to
develop a global strategy to combat the harmful use of alcohol.
All parties with an interest in this topic are now invited to share their views in a public hearing being organized by WHO. The one-month, web-based hearing will start tomorrow and run through the end of the month.
A number of the submissions received will form part of the documentation to be considered and discussed at future meetings on the harmful use of alcohol, including one next month with economic operators from the alcohol industry.
IN CAMPAIGN TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN,
RETAILER TO DONATE DOLLAR FOR EVERY SHOE PURCHASED
The U.S. retailer Marshalls is partnering with the U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on its Say No to Violence against Women campaign.
Over the next two weeks, Marshalls will help UNIFEM add at least 150,000 signatures to the online Say No campaign.
The retailer will also donate one dollar for every shoe purchased, for up to $150,000.
UNITED NATIONS TAKES PRECAUTIONARY SECURITY MEASURES IN PAKISTAN
Asked about UN security policy in Pakistan, the Spokeswoman noted that, as part of standard United Nations procedure, regular security assessments take place at every duty station around the world.
Due to recent events in Pakistan, Montas said, the United Nations has determined that it is appropriate, purely as a precautionary measure, to raise the security level in several specific parts of the country, so that the family members of staff can be relocated temporarily to other sites. All essential staff will remain on duty, and all UN work will proceed as normal.
WORLD BANK RELEASES HUMAN OPPORTUNITY INDEX: According to a new report, made public by the World Bank today, between one fourth and one half of income inequality in Caribbean and Latin American adults is due to childhood circumstances beyond their control. These include race, gender, birthplace or the parent's education or social status. The report marks the first time the World Bank has used the Human Opportunity Index. The index shows the role personal circumstances play in gaining or preventing access to those services needed for a productive life.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGES DIALOGUE BETWEEN CAMBODIA AND THAILAND: Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on the border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, the Spokeswoman noted that he had encouraged the two countries to resolve their concerns through bilateral talks.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE ON 7 OCTOBER: The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, said that the Secretary-Generals next press conference would be held next Tuesday, 7 October, and that he would try, whenever possible, to arrange press conferences on the first Tuesday of each month.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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