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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-10-22

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

BAN KI-MOON TO CONSULT WITH TOP ECONOMISTS

ON IMPACT OF FINANCIAL CRISIS ON U.N. DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon plans to meet tomorrow with a group of eminent economists.

The session is part of his on-going effort to evaluate the effects of the global financial crisis on the UN's work, with a special focus on the Millennium Development Goals and climate change. Despite the urgency of the moment, it is imperative that the world act in a spirit of global solidarity. The world's poorest peoples are also the most vulnerable.

We cannot allow today's financial crisis to become tomorrow's prolonged human crisis.

Five economists will participate in the meeting: Joseph Stieglitz of Columbia University; Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University; Dani Rodrik of the Kennedy School of Government; Nancy Birdsall, President of the Center for Global Development; and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth institute at Columbia University.

Asked about the plans announced by US President George W. Bush for a financial meeting of G8 leaders to take place in Washington, D.C., on 15 November, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations has not yet received a specific invitation, but the Secretary-General would intend to go if he is invited.

The Secretary-General, she noted, has traditionally been invited to G8 summits. She added that he had earlier suggested the United Nations as a possible venue for such a meeting, given its unique multilateral status.

BAN KI-MOON URGES EUROPEAN UNION TO CONCLUDE ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE PACKAGE ON TIME

The Secretary-General has sent a letter to leaders of the 27 members of the European Union (EU) and the head of the European Commission regarding the EU energy and climate package, following brief talks he held with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso at last weeks Francophonie Summit in Quebec City.

In his letter, the Secretary-General emphasized the paramount importance of concluding the EU energy and climate package within the agreed timeline of December of this year.

He highlighted that this was a much needed positive signal to the international community and developing countries in particular - as it negotiates a new, ambitious post-2012 agreement on climate change to be concluded in Copenhagen at the end of next year.

He commended the EU for its years of strong leadership on climate change including in putting forward a flagship climate and energy policy package.

While he sympathised with EU members who may find it challenging to be as ambitious in such times of economic constraint and uncertainty, he suggested that EUs forward looking policy has the potential to deliver a clean economic growth, which will create millions of new jobs. Clean industry and investment have proven again and again that they offer high quality, long-term profits and returns. Thus, the current financial turmoil is not a justification for delaying action on climate change, but rather an opportunity to address both the financial and climate change crises that we face.

NO MAJOR SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT IN ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN SECURITY SITUATION

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the

Security Council on the

Middle East in an open meeting this morning, telling the Council that, despite recent efforts by the Palestinian Authority to improve the security and judicial systems, the situation on the ground is not improving in the way that is required.

Israeli-Palestinian violence this past month claimed the lives of seven Palestinians, two of them children, while injuring 116 Palestinians and 34 Israelis, he said.

Pascoe said that we look forward to all regional states lending their support to Egypts efforts to reconcile the West Bank and Gaza. He added that, notwithstanding the transition currently underway in Israel, we hope that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will not only continue but intensify between now and the end of the year within the Annapolis framework. We look forward to the parties briefing the Quartet in the near future.

Speaking on the wider region, Pascoe encouraged the continuation and intensification of indirect Israeli-Syrian talks, and said that further work is also essential to build on recent positive developments in Lebanon.

The formal meeting has been followed by consultations, also on the Middle East.

Asked whether the Secretary-General believes that a two-State solution can be achieved by the end of this year, the Spokeswoman said she would not make any predictions and added that the Secretary-General was working as hard as he can to make that vision a reality. Asked about the Saudi peace initiative on the Middle East, Montas said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly said that he is in favour of it.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: SECURITY COUNCIL URGES ALL PARTIES TO RESPECT CEASE-FIRE

The Security Council on Tuesday afternoon adopted a

Presidential Statement in which it expressed its grave concern at the resurgence of violence in the eastern provinces of the

Democratic Republic of the Congo and its potential regional implications. It urged all parties to respect a ceasefire immediately.

It also urged the DRC and Rwandan Governments to engage in efforts to settle their differences, including through reactivating the Joint Verification Mechanism, and called upon them to implement the Nairobi communiqué fully.

Meanwhile,

according to the UN Mission in the DR Congo (MONUC), rebels from the Lords Resistance Army on Sunday killed 6 Congolese civilians in an early morning attack on Bangadi, a village in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. MONUC also adds that the Ugandan rebel forces looted homes and communal facilities before setting them ablaze.

However, faced with stiff resistance from village residents, the rebels retreated without any further damage. No children were kidnapped during the attack.

The Congolese army has

called on the estimated 6,000 members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to adhere to the Nairobi process without delay or face punitive action. FDLR combatants are Rwandan nationals whose return to Rwanda, it is believed, would help restore security and stability in eastern DRC and in the wider Great Lakes region. They are to be disarmed and repatriated to Rwanda, under the Nairobi process, which was agreed in November 2007 between the DRC and Rwanda.

SOMALIA: DUTCH NAVY TO ESCORT HUMANITARIAN CARGOS

At the request of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Netherlands is deploying a military vessel to the Somali coast to escort WFP humanitarian cargos.

The Dutch navy is taking over from its Canadian counterpart.

WFP says that NATO vessels have also arrived in the area but not have yet begun escorting WFP cargos. NATO and WFP officials are now putting the final touch to the logistical preparation for their collaboration.

WFP, meanwhile, says that it is about to start

delivering emergency supplies of highly-nutritious peanut-based food to Somali children at risk of severe malnutrition. The agency hopes to feed some 64,000 children over the next six months.

SUDAN: SWEDISH TEAM TO DEMINE AREA IN ABYEI

At the request of the

UN Mine Action Office in Sudan, the Swedish Rescue Services Agency has sent a four-person Explosive Ordnance Disposal team to conduct a series of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) spot tasks at Abyei.

The team will remain in the area until the end of 2008, in support of humanitarian activities for the return and reintegration of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by the recent fighting.

While the rainy season is officially over, some areas are still wet and the grass is too tall for clearance operations to resume in parts of Abyei.

The Swedish team will start by clearing UXOs that have been reported at the UNICEF and UNDP compounds. They will also work in various NGOs and government compounds, as well as Abyeis secondary schools and the Return, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration centres for IDPs.

The second largest mine action programme in the world, the Mine Action Offices achievements have included: opening of more than 28,000 kilometers of roads, clearance of almost 43 million square meters of land, destruction of more than 800,000 mines and UXO and the education of 2.3 million people about mine awareness issues.

Asked about reports that information was provided by UN peacekeeping missions to the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding the investigations on Darfur, the Spokeswoman clarified that no specific information was generated by the missions for use in ICC investigations.

UN peacekeeping operations do not conduct investigations for the ICC or gather intelligence, Montas said. Nor do they undertake specific reporting for the ICC. They are mandated to provide detailed and comprehensive reports to the Security Council regarding the situation in the mission area. The reports generated by the missions during the regular conduct of their Security Council-mandated duties may, at a later date, be provided to the ICC at the Courts request.

Cooperation between the United Nations and the ICC is based on the Relationship Agreement between the International Criminal Court and the United Nations, which was approved by the General Assembly by consensus in 2004 (GA Resolution 58/318), the Spokeswoman added.

With regard to the situation in Darfur, UN Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005) urges all states, regional and intergovernmental organisations to cooperate fully with the ICC. Such cooperation is fully consonant with the General Assembly resolution, the Concluded Agreement and the Security Council resolution, she said.

U.N. ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN CONDEMNS SPATE OF DEADLY ATTACKS

Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Afghanistan, today strongly condemned a series of recent attacks in that country that he said were intended to stoke fear among the wider population.

These include yesterdays killing of five children in Kunduz, the reported beheadings of people who had been riding on a bus in Kandahar and the killing of a foreign aid worker in Kabul. Eide said that his thoughts are with the families and the friends of those who have been killed and those whose loved ones remain missing.

CYPRUS LEADERS RESUME UNITY TALKS UNDER U.N. AUSPICES

The Cypriot Leaders met today in Nicosia, under UN auspices, starting with a one-and-a-half hour tête-à-tête. Then, continuing their discussions on the federal executive, they heard from their two representatives on the follow-up meeting that they held on 16 October to help explain and clarify positions on the issue.

The leaders then took up the issue themselves, and had what was described by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Cyprus, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, as a constructive exchange of views. They then directed their representatives to carry on these discussions next Thursday.

Following that, the leaders had a preliminary discussion on the legislature; these discussions will continue when the two leaders meet again on 3 November.

Zerihoun told reporters afterwards, This is a process that will continue. And I think its going well.

REPORT COMMENDS COOPERATION BETWEEN UNITED NATIONS AND EUROPEAN COMMISSION

Earlier today in Strasbourg, France, the Director of the UN Office in Brussels, Antonio Vigilante, presented a report on the partnership between the UN and European Commission (EC) to the President of the European Parliament.

In a foreword to the report, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro notes that, in 2007, the UN and EC worked together in over 100 countries in all regions of the world. She also wholeheartedly commends the EC for its extensive support to the UN family, which helps make the Organizations vision a reality.

The report notes that the UN-EC partnership has helped to provide food aid to 48 million people, to register 80 million voters, to clear landmines from 50 million square meters of land, to administer oral polio vaccines to 400 million children, and to purchase 150,000 tons of food aid on local markets in 21 countries. The report is available at

www.unbrussels.org.

PROCUREMENT TASK FORCE REPORT TO BE TAKEN UP THURSDAY

Asked about recent findings by the Procurement Task Force, the Spokeswoman reiterated that the Office for Internal Oversight Services report on the activities of the Procurement Task Force for the period 1 July 2007 to 31 July 2008 was issued as a document in August. That report will be introduced to the Fifth Committee on Thursday morning, along with the Secretary-Generals note on the report.

In addition, she said, the Committee will have the Board of Auditors report on the activities of the Procurement Task Force and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions report thereon.

Commenting on the reports contents, Montas added that the amount of $20 million mentioned in the report referred to the total value of contracts involved, not to losses.

Asked whether the United Nations was unwilling to have corruption cases brought to trial, the Spokeswoman denied that charge, saying that all recommendations for referrals to national authorities for criminal or civil actions are actively considered and, where accepted by the Secretary-General, appropriate action is taken.

Although no losses to the Organization have been identified in the present OIOS Report, she said, the Office of Legal Affairs has been instructed to take action to recover actual losses in other recent cases and has successfully obtained awards in restitution amounting to over $932,000 in one case and $515,000 in another.

STAND UP AGAINST POVERTY CAMPAIGN BREAKS WORLD RECORD IN MASS MOBILIZATION

Last weeks Stand Up Against Poverty campaign set a Guinness World Record for the biggest mass mobilization on a single issue. More than 116 million people, or nearly two per cent of the worlds population, took part in events in 131 countries from last Friday through Sunday. Another five million people took part in events that werent submitted before the Guinness deadline.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

NEW INTERFAITH NETWORK SEEKS TO COMBAT DISEASES: Religious leaders and representatives from around the world have formed a

Global Interfaith Network to strengthen cooperation in the fight against maternal death, AIDS and poverty. The announcement came at the end of two-day forum in Istanbul, convened by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

JOINT INITIATIVE PROMOTES GREEN JOBS AND ECONOMY: The U.N. Environment Programme, along with several leading economists, today launched the

Green Economy Initiative. Its aimed at promoting environmentally-focused investment that will combat climate change and trigger an employment boom in green jobs. In other news, ahead of next weeks General Assembly meeting on transboundary aquifers, UNESCO is publishing the first-ever world map of these underground water sources. Almost 96 per cent of the planets fresh water is found in aquifers; most of them straddle international boundaries. Theres more information on both of these items upstairs.

  • The guest at noon today is Salil Shetty, the Director of the

    U.N. Millennium Campaign, who briefed on last week's Stand Up for Poverty campaign.

    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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