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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-11-26
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
[The United Nations will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, 27 November.
News highlights from across the UN system will be posted here on Friday, 28 November.
The noon briefing will resume on Monday, 1 December.]
SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE UP KOSOVO & LEBANON
This afternoon, starting at 3:00, the
Security Council will hold an open debate on
Following that meeting, the Security Council will hold consultations to discuss the Secretary-Generals recent
report on the implementation of resolution 1701, concerning Lebanon. Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, will brief the Council.
Security Council mission currently visiting Afghanistan today flew to the city of Herat, in the west of the country. The Council ambassadors met with the Governor and local leaders, civil society representatives and
UN Mission staff. There are more meetings scheduled for the Security Council in Kabul tomorrow.
Asked whether the Secretary-Generals latest
report on Kosovo represents a shift away from his support for Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaaris recommendations, the Spokeswoman declined to interpret the report that way. The evolving situation on the ground, she said, had made it necessary to adapt to the new circumstances.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals next report on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Spokeswoman said it was expected to go to the Security Council shortly.
SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP CRISIS IN NORTH KIVU, DR OF CONGO
The Security Council this morning heard in an open meeting from Alan Doss, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Doss gave the details of the Secretary-Generals latest
report on the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), which is available today. In that report, the Secretary-General says that the crisis in North Kivu has entered a critical phase, with an immense humanitarian toll on the civilian population.
Doss noted that diplomatic activity at the highest level has been initiated to help end the military confrontation and revive the peace process.
But he added that it is also necessary to establish a solid defensive posture to discourage new military action, in order to give the peace talks under the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy, Olusegun Obasanjo, a chance to progress.
He asserted that the reinforcement of MONUC should not lead towards charging the mission with unrealistic tasks and responsibilities. MONUC, Doss said, should remain a peacekeeping and not a peace enforcement mission.
The Secretary-Generals report recommends that the Council renew MONUCs mandate for an additional twelve months, until the end of 2009. He firmly believes that the Security Council should review the UN Missions structure and its objectives over the coming year.
Earlier this morning, Doss also spoke to troop contributing countries about MONUCs needs, a week after the Security Council authorized some 3,000 additional personnel.
U.N. MISSION CONDEMNS MILITARY ACTION BY CONGOLESE REBELS
The Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has condemned so-called police and pacification operations by rebels loyal to General Laurent Nkunda. The operations amount to full-fledged military actions in violation of the ceasefire. They also add a new layer of danger to ongoing humanitarian work, in addition to worsening the security climate, the Mission said.
UN peacekeepers also report that fighting took place yesterday afternoon between Nkundas rebels and ethnic Mai-Mai militias east of Kiwanja. The fighting, whose toll remains unclear, caused the local population to flee toward the Ugandan border.
Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is
launching a 16-day campaign to improve awareness of gender based violence and promote strategies to fight it back. The campaign will last until December 10 and will consist of various countrywide events and sensitization drive.
The Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says it has just
completed a training workshop for Congolese lawyers in Kinshasa. The event focused on international cooperation against terrorism and was requested by the Congolese Government.
Asked about reports that a letter from the Congolese Government to the Secretary-General asked for no further Indian troops to be deployed in MONUC, the Spokeswoman confirmed receipt of a letter but noted that the letter does not single out a particular country. Montas said that the United Nations will, as its standard practice, take into account the concerns of the host country. She added that the Indian contingent has been on the front line in the Kivus and has played a vital role in the last few weeks, at a particularly crucial time and under difficult circumstances.
SOMALIA: U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES PROGRESS IN RECONCILIATION TALKS
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has
welcomed the latest progress in the reconciliation talks between the Transitional Federal Government and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia. The parties are reported to have agreed on matters of power-sharing in government, justice administration and security.
Ould-Abdallah said todays agreement is very encouraging because it advances the commitment made by both sides to form an inclusive parliament and unity Government.
The deal creates 75 additional seats in parliament and promotes the inclusion of civil society, including women, business leaders and Somalis abroad, in the reconciliation process.
SUDAN: BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION DECREE
On Sudan, the Secretary-General welcomes the decree signed yesterday by Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir appointing the National Electoral Commission.
The appointment of the Commission, a key requirement for organizing free and fair elections next year, constitutes major progress towards implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
The United Nations, in line with Security Council
resolution 1590 (2005), stands ready to support the electoral process.
EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR SPENDS SECOND DAY IN DARFUR
John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, on his second day
visiting Darfur, visited Hamadiya camp -- home for up to 40,000 displaced persons.
He also visited the town Zalingei in West Darfur for the first time, where he met with Government and civic leaders and also called attention to the devastating effect the conflict is having on the environment. Earlier in the day, Holmes met with local governmental officials.
He also visited Taiba, the only Arab internally displaced camp in Darfur, and met with families and the elderly who told him about the daily challenges they face including food and particularly the need for secondary school education for their children.
On Thursday, the Emergency Relief Coordinator will depart Darfur for a two-day visit to South Sudan which will include Agok, Abyei and Juba.
GAZA: SUPPLIES GET IN BUT POWER CUTS CONTINUE
The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that the Kerem Shalom crossing, the Karni conveyor belt, and the Nahal Oz fuel pipelines were all open today.
As a result, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was able to get 12 trucks into Gaza. Five of those trucks contained oil and rice. The remaining seven contained medicines and food, which were donated by Jordan. But despite fuel coming through for the power plant, UNSCO says spare parts are still needed meaning that Gaza City will still be experiencing rotating power cuts of several hours.
Meanwhile, a humanitarian appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory, which was launched last week in Geneva, was
launched locally in Jerusalem today. Speaking at the launch, the UNs Humanitarian Coordinator for the territory, Maxwell Gaylard, said the situation there was an assault on human dignity.
He added that many people, especially in the Gaza Strip, are paying a heavy price, struggling daily to have enough food and water to feed and wash their children.
LEGAL FRAMEWORK NEEDED TO PROTECT IRAQI WOMEN
Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, marked yesterdays International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women by
calling for the urgent establishment of a national legal framework guaranteeing the protection of women in Iraq.
He warned that the situation of women in some parts of the country after years of conflict is very unsatisfactory, with women and girls paying a disproportionate price for violence.
The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, he said, urges all law enforcing agencies to help redress the current climate of impunity by prioritizing the resolution of cases of violence against women and bringing those responsible to justice.
U.N. AGENCIES HELP FIGHT CHOLERA IN ZIMBABWE
In an update on the response to the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that UN agencies and non-governmental organizations are supporting cholera treatment centers in 26 districts where cholera was reported.
A comprehensive cholera response operation plan has been drawn up by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO is in the process of procuring emergency stocks to run cholera treatment centers for one month.
Around the country, humanitarian agencies have constructed emergency latrines, and clean drinking water is being trucked in to affected areas. Boreholes are being rehabilitated.
Hygiene promotion activities are being conducted, and mobile clinics and support units are being set up.
Uncontrolled sewage, lack of sanitation in congested areas, and general lack of hygiene practiced by vendors, food outlets and transient populations are challenges in several areas. Accessing sufficient water in Harare is also difficult. Solid waste and refuse removal is a major cause of the continued increase of infections.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals views of U.S. and European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe, the Spokeswoman noted that the UN Secretariat has no role to play in dealing with bilateral sanctions. UN sanctions regimes, she added, were the responsibility of the Security Council. The Spokeswoman later added that the situation in Zimbabwe is a result of poor governance and the countrys political situation, as well as agricultural problems, climate change, land degradation, HIV/AIDS. It is not realistic to single out any one factor.
Asked whether the United Nations would try to get a black market exchange rate rather than relying on the Zimbabwe Governments exchange rates, the Spokeswoman noted that the United Nations only works through legal exchange mechanisms. The United Nations, she said, always tries to obtain the best exchange rates in negotiations with the Governments in the countries where it operates.
Montas noted that the Secretary-General has repeatedly made clear his concerns about the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe, while the UN system is working to deal with that situation.
She later added that there is a complex political process that is ongoing, and which the Secretary-General monitors on a daily basis. The Secretary-General has repeatedly stated that he is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation and has urged that a solution be found to the political impasse. But while that political solution is being determined, the humanitarian community is concerned that the utmost be done to help Zimbabweans survive through this extremely difficult time. Zimbabweans tell the United Nations that what they need is food, water, sanitation, and those are the supplies the United Nations is getting to them now.
MILLIONS OF WORKERS TO FACE WAGE CUTS NEXT YEAR
In its annual Global Wage Report, released today, the International Labour Office
finds that millions of workers will likely face wage cuts next year, as a result of the global financial crisis. This comes after a decade in which wages failed to keep pace with both economic growth and inflation.
Since 1995, inequality between the highest and lowest wages has increased in more than two-thirds of the countries surveyed, often reaching socially unsustainable levels, the ILO says.
This wage gap has been most pronounced in countries like Germany, Poland, the U.S., Argentina, China and Thailand. France, Spain, Brazil and Indonesia, on the other hand, have succeeded in reducing wage inequality.
The pay gap between genders remains high and is closing only very slowly. In most countries, women are paid between 70 and 90 per cent of what men receive, and much less than that in some places, particularly in Asia.
The report encourages governments to protect the purchasing power of workers through minimum wages and other income support measures.
VOLUNTARY TESTING & IMMEDIATE TREATMENT CAN CUT NEW H.I.V. CASES BY 95% IN 10 YEARS
The World Health Organization (WHO) today
said that universal and annual voluntary testing, followed by immediate antiretroviral therapy treatment, can reduce new HIV cases by 95% within 10 years.
WHO says that strategy could also have additional public health benefits, including reducing the incidence of tuberculosis and the transmission of HIV from mother to child.
HAITI: U.N. MISSION FUNDS ROAD CONSTRUCTION: The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is
funding the construction of two roads in the Central Plateau region to the tune of $250,000. The project will add 7 fresh kilometers of paved road in the town of Marmont and pave 600 meters of road in the town of Hinche. The Mission says the project will create temporary employment for some 2,500 people.
WORLD BANK PARTICIPATION WILL BE CRUCIAL IN DOHA: Asked about the non-attendance by World Bank President Robert Zoellick at the Doha conference this week, the Spokeswoman said that Zoellick could not attend because of unforeseen circumstances. She added that the Secretary-General was encouraged that the World Bank was sending a 25-member delegation to Doha, with Justin Lin, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, representing Zoellick at the conference. She added that it is important to get results in Doha, and the participation of the World Bank will be crucial.
U.N. MONITORING DEVELOPMENTS IN THAILAND: Asked about recent political developments in Thailand, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations was monitoring the situation closely.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SUPPORTS COURT DEALING WITH FORMER YUGOSLAVIA: Asked whether the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will continue until the remaining suspects are apprehended and tried, the Spokeswoman said that the Tribunal would determine how it deals with its remaining cases. The Secretary-General supports the Tribunals work, she added.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Thursday, November 27
U.N. Headquarters is closed for an official holiday (U.S. Thanksgiving).
Today and tomorrow, the International Atomic Energy Agencys Board of Governors meets in Vienna.
In London, U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa launches the final Afghan Opium Survey 2008.
Friday, November 28
In Doha, Qatar, the Secretary-General and the Emir of Qatar jointly convene a high-level retreat on the global financial crisis.
In Geneva, the Human Rights Council holds a special session on the situation of human rights in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Saturday, November 29
From today through Tuesday, the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus takes place in Doha, Qatar.
Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Sunday, November 30
Today is the last day of Costa Ricas Security Council presidency.
Monday, December 1
Today is the first day of Croatias Security Council Presidency.
At 10.30 a.m. in Room S-226, Jimmy Kolker, Chief of the HIV and AIDS section at UNICEF; Bertil Lindbladt, Deputy Director of the UNAIDS Office in New York; Andrey Pirogov, Executive Director of the World Health Organization office in New York; a representative from the U.N. Population Fund; and Joan Laporta, President of the Futbol Club Barcelona, present the Third Stocktaking Report on children and mothers affected by HIV and AIDS.
From today through 12 December, the latest round of U.N.-backed climate change talks takes place in Poznań, Poland.
In Doha, Qatar, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs is scheduled to launch its World Economic Situation and Prospects 2009 report.
From today through 15 December in Geneva, the Human Rights Council holds its 3rd Universal Periodic Review session.
From today through Friday in Rome, Italy, the 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals takes place.
Today is World AIDS Day.
Tuesday, December 2
This morning, the General Assembly is scheduled to take up the reports of its First Committee.
At 12.30 p.m. in Room S-226, Ambassador Neven Jurica, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia and President of the Security Council for December, briefs on the Councils programme of work for the month.
Wednesday, December 3
Today is the International Day of Disabled Persons. Numerous activities are scheduled at Headquarters, with an opening event at 9:30 a.m. in Conference Room 4.
At 1.30 p.m. in Room S-226, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will be joined by other speakers to brief on the Courts report on the situation in Darfur.
Thursday, December 4
In Geneva, the World Health Organization and UNICEF launch the World report on child injury prevention.
Friday, December 5
The guest at the noon briefing is John Holmes, who will brief on the Central Emergency Response Fund.
Today is the International Volunteer Day for Economic & Social Development.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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