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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-11-20

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

ARCHIVES

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, November 20, 2008

BAN KI-MOON TAKES NOTE OF INT'L CRIMINAL COURT MOVE TO ARREST DARFUR REBEL LEADERS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

takes note of the request made by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the issuance of arrest warrants against commanders of rebel groups in Darfur with respect to the war crimes committed on 29 September 2007 at the Haskanita base of the African Union Mission in Sudan.

The Secretary-General emphasizes that the United Nations respects the independence of the Court and its judicial process, and stresses the critical importance of full compliance by all parties to the actions of the Court.

The United Nations peacekeeping operations in Sudan will continue to conduct their important work in an impartial manner, cooperating in good faith with all partners to further the goal of peace and stability in the country.

The United Nations will also continue its vital humanitarian and development work there.

Earlier today, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,

presented evidence to the ICC judges against rebel commanders for their alleged responsibility for crimes committed against African Union peacekeepers in Darfur in September 2007.

The Court notes that this was the largest in a series of attacks against peacekeepers, when a thousand rebel-led soldiers surrounded and attacked the Haskanita camp in North Darfur. 12 peacekeepers were murdered and eight injured.

Such acts constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute of the ICC. I will not let such attacks go unpunished, Ocampo said in a statement, copies of which are available upstairs. We are expecting a Secretary-General statement on this subject.

WORK PLAN FOR SUDAN IS LAUNCHED IN GENEVA

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the UNs Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes in Geneva today participated in the launch of the 2009 Sudan Work Plan, which is part of this years seven billion dollar Consolidated Appeal launched yesterday.

The largest component of the 2009 Appeal, the Work Plan for Sudan is valued at $2.2 billion.

This fifth annual work plan remains the largest predominately humanitarian appeal in the world.

Almost half of the funding, or $1.05 billion, is for Darfur, where approximately 4.5 million people continue to be in need of aid after six years of conflict.

In Darfur, out of a population of more than six million, some 2.7 million people have been displaced, mostly into camps, and millions more require life-saving assistance in some form.

Elsewhere in the country also there is an urgent need for humanitarian support, not just to save lives but to shore up a peace process that remains fragile.

In some regions, more than half the people do not have access to clean water, and many less have proper sanitation.

In the east, malnutrition rates are over the emergency threshold, and in parts of Blue Nile diarrhea is still a leading cause of death.

In 2008, the United Nations and its partners managed to build and repair roads and schools; clear mines; vaccinate children; provide food, water and shelter to millions; and help thousands of Sudanese uprooted by conflict to return home Continuing violence, however, did hamper programmes, and resources were stretching by rising international commodity prices.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES SOMALIA PEACE, PIRACY

The

Security Council this morning discussed in an open meeting the latest developments in Somalia, including the Secretary-Generals most recent

report and an update on the incidents of piracy off Somalias coast.

Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios said that the agreement on political cooperation signed by the Somali parties on 25 October has given the peace process renewed impetus. But he noted the continuing tensions between the countrys president and prime minister and said that the situation in Somalia remains volatile.

Raisedon Zenenga, Director of the Africa Division in the Department for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Council that the approach pursued by Member States to combat piracy sets an example of what is required to tackle the real source of the security challenges in Somalia. He said the United Nations appeals to Member States to deploy a multinational force to stabilize Mogadishu and prepare the ground for a UN peacekeeping operation to be deployed.

Efthimios Mitropolous, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, briefed the Security Council on the more than 120 attacks of piracy and armed robbery that have been reported off the coast of Somalia this year alone. He expressed concern at both the frequency of the attacks and their ferocity.

Prior to the open meeting, the Security Council voted unanimously to freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets of individuals designated as engaging in, or providing support for, acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Somalia.

Asked whether a multinational force should be deployed in Somalia, the Spokeswoman later made clear that the Secretary-General has said that the African Union Mission in Somalia deserves international support and encouragement. The Secretary-General adds, she recalled, that it will be imperative to tie that Mission, the ongoing anti-piracy operation and an envisaged multinational force in a coordinated effort to address both the consequences and the sources of lawlessness in Somalia. As current conditions are not conducive to a UN peacekeeping operation, he appeals to Member States to pledge troops, funds and equipment for a multinational force.

SECURITY COUNCIL AUTHORIZES ADDITIONAL TROOPS FOR D.R CONGO MISSION

The Security Council this morning also voted to authorize, as recommended by the Secretary-General, a temporary increase in the authorized military strength of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) by up to 2,785 military personnel, as well as an increase in the strength of the formed police unit by up to 300 personnel.

Following todays meeting on Somalia, the Council will go into consultations, during which, under other matters, it expects to receive briefings by Assistant Secretary-General Haile Menkerios on recent developments in Zimbabwe and in Western Sahara.

The Council President also expects to read a press statement on Guinea-Bissau, following consultations.

Asked when additional troops could be deployed in the DRC, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations has already started to engage with potential troop contributors, preferably to obtain troops from countries that have previous experience in the DRC. Montas said that the Security Councils adoption of the resolution was a positive move. At the same time, she said, neither 3000 nor 30000 troops can make a difference, if they dont have the resources needed and if a viable political solution is not put in place. Peacekeepers cannot make peace, she added and there is no military solution of the situation in the DRC.

TENSE PEACE TAKING HOLD IN D.R. CONGO AS REBELS PULL FROM SOME POSITIONS

The Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)

says that the security situation is calm overall today. The Mission has confirmed that rebels loyal to Laurent Nkunda have begun withdrawing from positions they identified in a declaration yesterday. Even as the calm appears to gain hold, the Mission says UN peacekeepers came under fire in Rutshuru territory from Mai Mai armed groups. There were no casualties.

UN Force Commander, General Babacar Gaye, meanwhile, has concluded a 48-hour visit to the region around Goma. Gaye said that UN peacekeepers had lived up to their mandate during the recent fighting. He was proud to note that UN peacekeepers evacuated several wounded government soldiers from the front and gave them appropriate care in UN hospitals or the state medical facilities in Goma.

Meanwhile, an apprenticeship and

training college for mothers with badly nourished children has just been opened in the village of Iyonda. Financed by the Mission under its Quick Impact Projects programme, the initiative trains these women in various trades, in particular in the hand manufacture of soap. The centre has fields of soya and other beans, which make it possible for the women to compensate for the lack of protein in their childrens diet.

And the Mission today

celebrated Universal Childrens Day by supporting a group of children who transmitted a list of demands for the improvement of the life of the Congolese child to members of Parliament in Kinshasa. Ten child representatives were at the Mission headquarters to hand a declaration to Alan Doss, the Special Representative of the Secretary General in the DRC. The document advocated for the adoption of the law on the protection of the child in the DRC.

COTE DIVOIRE: MORE REBELS COMPLETE DISARMAMENT PROGRAMME

The Mission in Cote dIvoire (ONUCI) has handed so-called reinsertion kits to some 400 newly demobilized former rebels. This was done at a ceremony in Bouake, the former rebel stronghold.

The kits are a package of work tools and some cash that the Mission hopes will ease the return of the former combatants to regular civilian life. This is the second group of former rebels to complete the UN-backed disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion programme.

Earlier this month, some 200 former rebels also completed the programme in Seguela, a town near the border with Mali.

KABUL CONFERENCE PLEDGES TO BOOST SUPPORT FOR RETURNEES IN AFGHANISTAN

The Afghan government and the UN refugee agency have

pledged to strengthen efforts for returnees and displaced people within the Afghanistan National Development Strategy.

More than five million Afghan refugees 20 percent of Afghanistan's population have returned home since 2002. The vast majority have gone back to their areas of origin, but recent returnees are facing more difficulties as the country's absorption capacity reaches its current limits.

The co-chair of the International Conference on Return and Reintegration of Afghan Refugees on Wednesday in Kabul, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, joined the Afghan government in thanking Iran and Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees in the last 30 years.

BAN KI-MOON ADDRESSES PARLIAMENTARY HEARING ON PEACEKEEPING

The Secretary-General today

addressed this years parliamentary hearing at the UN, an event organized by the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

He said parliamentarians were the UNs natural allies, since, like them, the UN is answerable to the worlds people. And the common aim of parliamentarians and the UN is building consensus in order to address the urgent issues of the day, he added.

Noting that this years parliamentary hearing at the UN is focusing on peacekeeping and conflict prevention, he stressed that the parliamentary voice must be heard as we move ahead.

RWANDA SEEKS REFERRAL OF TRIBUNAL CASES

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Bubacar Jallow,

has been holding consultations with Rwandan officials on the strategy for referral of ICTR cases to Rwanda for trial. The discussions are taking place at the seat of the Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania.

While Rwanda has noted the recognition by the Tribunal of its court systems apparent impartiality, Tribunal officials continue to have reservations on referring cases to Rwanda. The ongoing consultations should help clear some of the misunderstandings and lay a clear path for further collaboration.

ICELAND, LEBANON RECEIVE EMERGENCY I.M.F. LOANS

The International Monetary Funds Executive Board has

approved a Stand-by Arrangement for Iceland. Under the Funds fast-track Emergency Financing Mechanism, $2.1 billion dollars will be disbursed over the next two years to help Iceland restore confidence and stabilize its currency, while restructuring its banking system.

Last month, Icelands three main banks all collapsed in less than a week, causing a sharp drop in the countrys currency and setting the stage for a prolonged and severe recession.

In other news, the IMF has also

approved nearly $38 million dollars in Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance for Lebanon, to support the countrys economic program for 2008-2009. The IMF provided similar assistance last year.

DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE TO BEGIN MONDAY IN SOUTH KOREA

The 7th annual Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Issues will take place in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea, from 24 to 26 November, co-organized by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Government of the Republic of Korea.

Under the theme of Nuclear Renaissance and the NPT: Reinforcing the Three Pillars of the

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty the conference will address several critical issues in the fields of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

These include revitalizing the NPT process; nuclear renaissance and multilateral assurance mechanism for nuclear fuel supply; challenges and responses to nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament; and non-proliferation challenges in North-East Asia.

Some 40 representatives of governments, international organizations, academic and research institutions, as well as civil society, will participate in the Conference, which is an important forum for dialogue and exchange of views on pressing security and disarmament-related issues facing the international community. The conference also addresses particular disarmament and non-proliferation concerns in the Asia-Pacific region.

BAN KI-MOON APPEALS FOR A STRONGER AGRI-BUSINESS ON AFRICA INDUSTRIALIZATION DAY

Today is Africa Industrialization Day.

In a

message to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General says the theme of this years observance, Processing of Raw Materials for Sustainable Growth and Development, is very timely. After all, a slowdown in the global economy will hit exporters of primary products hard.

He also notes that more than half of Africas people are employed in the agricultural sector. This makes it essential to develop the agri-business and agro-processing industries, he adds.

ENVIRONMENT AGENCIES ATTEND GLOBAL CLIMATE SUMMIT

The Deputy Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Richard Kinley,

addressed yesterdays Global Climate Summit, convened by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Beverly Hills.

Kinley stressed that a complex global problem like climate change must be addressed through an international agreement, but state and provincial governments also have a role to play. Early action on their part can show national governments that tackling climate change is possible without bankrupting an economy; they can also contribute to national governments ability to commit to ambitious targets internationally. He urged those gathered to advocate for a new climate change deal in Copenhagen by the end of 2009.

The heads of both UNFCCC and the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) also

welcomed U.S. President-elect Barack Obamas video message to the summit, in which he said his presidency will mark a new chapter in Americas leadership on climate change.

In other news, the worlds first carbon neutral airline has

joined UNEPs Climate Neutral Network. NatureAir, which is based in Costa Rica, is the first airline to join this network. The companys entire ground fleet runs on biofuels, while emissions from flight operations are offset through carbon credits and the protection of tropical forests in southern Costa Rica.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

GAZA BORDER CROSSINGS REMAIN CLOSED: Asked whether Israel had agreed to the Secretary-Generals request to ease the situation at border crossings into Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that the border crossings are still closed.

NEW ENVOY FOR WESTERN SAHARA TO BE NAMED SOON: Asked about the search for a Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, the Spokeswoman said an announcement on that appointment was expected soon.

PALAIS DES NATIONS ARTWORK PAID FOR BY SPANISH FUND: Asked about Spains contribution of artwork for a new room at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, the Spokeswoman noted that the funds for that gift came in part from a Spanish fund for development cooperation and UN affairs. She said that it was for the Spanish Government to decide how to allocate its money.

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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