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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-01

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

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, December 1, 2008

ON WORLD AIDS DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL ANNOUNCES NEW HEAD OF UNAIDS

Today is World AIDS Day. To mark the occasion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the

appointment of Michel Sidibé of Mali as the next Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS. Mr. Sidibé will take up his new position on 1 January 2009.

Speaking in Doha earlier today, the Secretary-General made that announcement and

said AIDS continues to be one of the most devastating epidemics in history. He noted that people are still being infected with HIV faster than we can treat them.

He added that, as we commemorate this year the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is indeed shocking that people living with HIV are still denied entry, stay and residence rights in certain countries. The Secretary-General said he will work hard to eliminate such travel bans with the concerned national leaders.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

said that marginalization of and hostility against sexual minorities, sex workers, injecting drug users, prisoners and other vulnerable groups all combine to drive them underground and away from HIV services. Like all people, these groups are entitled to the right to health, she said.

UNAIDS, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Population Fund released a new

report today. It says that early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve the prospects for survival of newborn babies exposed to HIV. "Today, no infant should have to die of AIDS," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.

OPENING DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE, BAN KI-MOON STRESSES NEED TO BUILD LINKS BETWEEN ALL NATIONS

The Secretary-General on Saturday

opened the Conference for Financing for Development in Doha, Qatar, which he started by reaffirming international solidarity with the government and people of India, as they mourn the victims of the outrageous terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

He told the leaders gathered for the Conference that, without exaggeration, we can say that the well-being of our people and the health of our societies even the future of our planet depend on what we do in the weeks to come. To promote needed coordination, we need to build a bridge between the G-20 and the rest of the world the entire community of nations, he said.

The Secretary-General yesterday spoke at several side events held in Doha. He told a high-level

event on food that volatile food prices are a cause of suffering, but they are also a symptom that the global food system is in crisis. He urged funding for food assistance, cash transfers and safety nets.

Speaking at a

side event on education, the Secretary-General stressed that the impact of the worlds financial crisis on development gains in education made since 2000 is a major concern for all countries and all citizens. The Millennium Development Goals cannot be achieved without education, he said.

And he told a high-level event on debt that there has been good progress in providing relief to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries. Now, he added, we need to do more to relieve the debt of other States that are climbing the development ladder.

The Secretary-General held a number of bilateral meetings in Doha on financial and regional issues. Those meetings included bilateral discussions with President Idriss Deby of Chad; President Francois Bozize of the Central African Republic; Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission, and the AU-UN Joint Mediator for Darfur, Djibril Bassole.

Asked whether the Secretary-General had met in Doha with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the Spokeswoman confirmed that they had a one-on-one meeting about which they had agreed not to disclose specific details. She noted that the meeting included discussion of humanitarian and power-sharing issues, and that the Secretary-General had raised concerns expressed in his earlier statement on Zimbabwe.

She noted, in response to a further question, that the Secretary-General had not met with President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan while both were in Doha.

WORLD ECONOMIC REPORT PREDICTS STEEP DOWNTURN AND FALLING INCOMES

Today in Doha, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs released the Global Outlook chapter of its 2009 World Economic Situation and Prospects

report, which finds that world per capita income is expected to decline next year, amid a calamitous and global economic downturn that will last into 2009 and likely beyond.

If the current credit squeeze isnt addressed in the coming months, developed countries could enter into a deep recession in 2009, dragging down growth in developing countries to levels that threaten poverty reduction efforts and political stability, according to the report.

It calls for massive and better-coordinated economic stimulus packages, as well as stronger regulation of financial systems and other reforms.

LEBANON TRIBUNAL WILL BE OPERATIONAL BY MARCH

The Secretary-General yesterday met in Doha with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, and he announced afterward that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is fully on track to commence functioning on 1 March 2009.

He added that he and Prime Minister Siniora agreed that the launch of the Special Tribunal will be a significant step towards the end of impunity and hoped that the Security Council will endorse the plan.

The Secretary-General added that there will now be a build-up in momentum, with a coordinated transition starting on 1 January 2009, during which the staff of the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) in Beirut will gradually transfer to The Hague. This will be carried out in a manner that ensures that there is no interruption to the Commissions investigation.

In his

third report on the preparations for the Special Tribunal, the Secretary-General says that all practical arrangements will be in place for the Prosecutor to arrive on 1 March.

MUMBAI ATTACKS: BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR FULL COOPERATION WITH INVESTIGATION

Asked whether the Secretary-General would seek to intervene to prevent any deterioration between India and Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General was among the first to express his strong condemnation of these attacks, as well as his sympathy and solidarity with the Government and people of India.

That solidarity extends also to other nations who lost citizens in these heinous attacks, she said.

The Secretary-General, Okabe said, reiterates his strong condemnation today.

He also joins in the call by Indian authorities for full cooperation by all concerned, both inside and outside the country, with their investigation.

U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS GET UNDERWAY IN POLAND

The latest round of UN-backed climate change negotiations got

underway in Poznan, Poland, today.

During the two-week session, negotiators are discussing the first draft of a document that could serve as the basis for a new global climate change deal, to be reached by the end of next year.

At todays opening session, U.N. Framework Convention Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said the current meeting also needs to achieve progress on issues which are important in the short run, such as adaptation, finance, technology and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chairman Rajendra Pachauri

told the Conference that he sensed that climate change was still seen as distant and undefined. He stressed that there was a wealth of scientific information to serve as a basis for action. He said emissions must start declining by 2015 if the world is to embark on a course that will limit climate change.

The Secretary-General will be attending the negotiations next week.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN AGENCY SUSPENDS CASH DISTRIBUTIONS IN GAZA

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reports that it is still unable to get shekel bank notes into Gazas banks.

As a result, the Agencys distributions of cash to some 94,000 of the poorest people in Gaza remain suspended.

UNRWA adds that its school feeding program for 200,000 children requires 200,000 shekels per day. Schools are currently operating on credit with vendors, but are sounding the alarm bells that they will be forced to stop shortly if they do not receive the cash.

ENVOYS COMPLETE SECOND ROUND OF TALKS IN REGION TO END CRISIS IN D.R. CONGO

The Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo Olusegun Obasanjo and Co-Facilitator former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa have completed their second round of consultations in the region beginning late last week.

On Thursday, the Mr. Obasanjo met with President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo

.

On Friday, the Co-Facilitators consulted with President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as with the Foreign Minister of that country.

On Saturday they met with the Head of the National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP), Laurent Nkunda.

The Special Envoy intends to remain closely engaged with the principals and other actors in the region.

He looks forward to the holding of a second regional summit of Heads of State, tentatively scheduled for mid-December 2008.

DRC: HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL EXPRESSES CONCERN AT DETERIORATING HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION

The Human Rights Councils eighth special session, which focused on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),

wrapped up today in Geneva. In its resolution, which it adopted by consensus, it expressed serious concern at the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in North Kivu, and it called for the immediate end to all human rights violations there.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Councils Universal Periodic Review Working Group began its third session this morning in Geneva. The Universal Periodic Review was created by the General Assembly in 2006. It involves evaluating the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years.

This morning, the Working Group reviewed the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Botswana. In the afternoon, it took up the Bahamas.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF STRESSES NEED FOR PROTECTION OF SUDANESE CIVILIANS

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes has

concluded his six-day visit to Sudan by reiterating the importance of the protection of civilians and urging improved cooperation with the Government of Sudan in facilitating humanitarian assistance in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan.

Holmes said: What we need above all in Darfur is a comprehensive ceasefire, followed by a rapid peace settlement. But as long as we dont have peace so that people can return home, the humanitarian response will be needed.

He added, The key issue remains protection on all levels; protection of civilians, particularly women and children, safety and security for aid workers and respect for the fundamental principles of humanitarianism to enable us to continue assisting those affected by conflict and natural disaster.

He also emphasized the challenging security environment which Darfur poses for aid workers trying to deliver vital assistance for 4.7 million conflict affected people.

So far this year, there have been 11 killed; 261 vehicles hijacked; 172 assaults on premises; 35 ambushes/lootings of convoys; 189 staff abducted; 28 wounded; and 25 relocations.

During his visit, Holmes was also updated on the enormous challenges facing the south. He urged donors to continue their funding to confront critical humanitarian and recovery issues, particularly in the health sector, and encouraged the Government of Southern Sudan to step up efforts to provide basic services and develop key sectors such as `agriculture.

The UN Mine Action Office, meanwhile, reports that it has successfully completed a series of workshops to jointly develop a transition framework and a plan to transfer the ownership of the Sudan Mine Action Programme to the National Mine Action Centre based in Khartoum, and the South Sudan Demining Commission (SSDC) based in Juba.

ATTACKS ON WORKERS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN CONDEMNED

On Saturday morning, a rocket hit near a UN compound in the International Zone in the

Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Two people were killed and 15 others were injured among staff of a catering company supporting the UN facilities. In a

statement, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the attack and expressed his condolences to the families of victims and his hopes for a speedy recovery to the injured catering staff.

Meanwhile, in

Afghanistan, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Kai Eide, yesterday said that an Afghan woman who worked on a contract for the UN Refugee Agency was shot dead in the eastern province of Nangarhar last week; he condemned her murder and called for a thorough investigation.

U.N. ENVOY VISITS NEPAL TO ASSESS IMPACT OF CONFLICT ON CHILDREN

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, is visiting Nepal from today until 6 December to assess firsthand the impact of the conflict on children.

During the six-day visit, the Special Representative will pay particular attention to the issue of the release and the reintegration of former child soldiers as well as the current use of children by armed groups and their participation in political violence.

In line with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, she will advocate for the immediate release of the 2,973 Maoist Army elements disqualified as minors remaining in Maoist cantonments.

Also during the visit, Coomaraswamy is set to meet with the Government and other relevant stakeholders as well as meet with the UN country team, members of civil society and children affected by conflict in an effort to ensure greater protection for children.

The Special Representative will follow-up on the recommendations of the Security Council on the situation of children in Nepal.

BAN KI-MOON LOOKS FORWARD TO WORKING WITH NEW U.S. ADMINISTRATION

Asked about the Secretary-Generals reaction to the announcement of the incoming US foreign policy team by President-elect Barack Obama, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General had already spoken with the President-elect on 19 November and said that he looks forward to working with the new U.S. administration.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

CROATIA ASSUMES SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY: With the start of a new month, Croatia has taken over the rotating Presidency of the

Security Council. Ambassador Neven Jurica of Croatia is holding bilateral talks with other Council members today on the programme of work for December, and the Council is expected to hold consultations on that programme tomorrow.

U.N. LAUNCHES HUMANITARIAN APPEAL FOR KYRGYZSTAN: The United Nations, in consultation with the Government of Kyrgyzstan and other humanitarian partners, has

issued a Humanitarian Flash Appeal for $20 million in response to significant energy shortages at the start of Kyrgyzstans tough winter season. The appeal will ensure energy and power for critical facilities and meet the basic needs of the 800,000 most vulnerable people in the country. If fully funded, the appeal will support 580,000 food insecure people in their nutritional needs; 210,000 people in their basic shelter needs; provide backup power systems to 336 priority healthcare institutions and; ensure that 2 million residents of the three largest cities have uninterrupted water supply over the winter.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO TURIN: The

Deputy Secretary-General will travel tomorrow to Turin, Italy, to chair the Ninth Session of the United Nations System Staff College Board of Governors on 4 December. While in Turin, she will meet with the Mayor on 3 December. During that meeting, she will emphasize the UN's gratitude for the support the city has given to the Staff College. She will return to New York on 5 December.

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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