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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-05

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:









Friday, December 5, 2008

[There will be no noon briefing on Monday, 8 December.

UN Headquarters will be closed for Eid al-Adha.]


This afternoon, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene and chair a meeting of the Group of Friends on Myanmar to discuss current developments in the country and ongoing efforts in the context of his good offices mandate.

The meeting is closed; however, the Secretary-General will address the press at the stakeout outside Conference Room 7 after the meeting at 5:30pm.


The Secretary-General

welcomes the adoption of the Declaration of the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Great Lakes Region on the Burundi Peace Process, convened by the Chairperson of the Regional Initiative, His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni in Bujumbura on 4 December 2008.

The Secretary-General is very encouraged by the outcome of the summit. He calls on the Government of Burundi and the Palipehutu-FNL to implement their agreements and the steps outlined in the summit declaration in good faith, in full and with a sense of urgency and determination, so as to bring this last phase of the peace process to a successful conclusion.

The Secretary-General expresses his gratitude to the leaders of the Regional Initiative for the Burundi Peace Process, the South African Facilitation and the African Union for their tireless efforts to help the Burundian people in their quest for durable peace, and encourages them to remain actively engaged in support of the full implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement.

The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to continue its support for the peace process, in full coordination with regional and international partners, and to work with these partners in support of Burundis peace and development agenda.


In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, the Secretary-General warmly welcomed the conclusion of the signing conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, held in Oslo from 3 to 4 December. The conference brought out 94 signatures and 4 ratifications. He hails the Convention as a step forward in international efforts to protect civilians and control the spread of deadly weapons.

The Secretary-General paid tribute to the broad-based coalition of States, international organizations and civil society groups that has made this Convention a reality, further strengthening international humanitarian law.

The Secretary-General applauds the signatory countries and urges others to sign and ratify the Convention. He looks forward to the Conventions early entry into force. The United Nations will provide its support to, and will implement its responsibilities under, this Convention.


The Secretary-Generals Special Envoy on the Great Lakes Region, former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, is scheduled to be in Nairobi on Monday along with his co-facilitator from the African Union and the International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR), former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, to launch a dialogue between the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP).

The agreement to launch a dialogue follows President Obasanjo's and President Mkapa's recent consultations with regional Heads of State, the Government of the DRC, the CNDP, and other armed groups in which they strongly urged a dialogue as well as respect for the ceasefire to help address the dire humanitarian crisis.

The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) has welcomed the outcome, including the decision to normalize bilateral diplomatic relations and regional economic cooperation. It takes note that the Congolese Government announced it would meet with the CNDP on 8 December.

On the operational plan to disarm the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), this was a document produced bilaterally between the Rwandan and DRC Governments. MONUC will have to review this before passing any further comment.


The UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says that it is working to secure a durable ceasefire between North Kivus warring parties and re-energize peace talks between them.

It also reports that the deployment of peacekeepers and reinforcement of their positions continues in North Kivu. Additional French-speaking troops have been sent to Goma to beef up the numbers of those assigned to the protection of civilians. Mission combat helicopters in the region remain on alert and have orders to respond swiftly to any attack against civilians. And UN special forces are monitoring the Congolese-Rwandan border and other sensitive areas.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

says that it has been unable to account for some 90,000 internally displaced civilians in the Rutshuru area. The internally displaced persons had originally found shelter at three makeshift sites and at a UN-run camp, all of which were later forcibly shut down, leaving them to fend for themselves. It is believed that many of them have returned to their original towns and villages as the general security situation is improving all across North Kivu.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) now estimates that repeated raids by the Lords Resistance Army since September have led to the displacement of some 83,000 people in Province Orientale. With the raids showing no signs of abating, OCHA says aid workers are now returning to the area to help care for the displaced.


Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Special Representative for

Somalia, has appealed for the freeing of hostages being held in Somalia without delay or conditions, on the eve of the Eid holiday.

He added that many of those being held captive came to the region to assist the Somali people or to explain their situation to the rest of the world. Their disappearance has caused untold anguish to their friends and families and has unnecessarily hurt the reputation of the Somali people.

Ould-Abdallah appealed in particular for the release of the two Catholic nuns who were abducted last month from a town on the border between Kenya and Somalia, saying, I do not see any excuse for holding them for any longer.


The UNs Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, has welcomed the evacuation by Israeli security forces of approximately 200 settlers from a house in Hebron yesterday.

But he condemned the ensuing violence and attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians and the destruction and desecration of Palestinian property, mosques and graves.

Serry reminded Israel that, as the occupying power, it is obligated to protect Palestinian civilians, property and holy sites. At the same time, he also noted and deplored settler attacks on the Israeli security forces themselves.

Serry expressed concern about the potential for a further escalation of the tense situation. In that context, he called for an immediate end to settler attacks and restraint and calm from all parties.

He also urged vigilance from the Israeli authorities to ensure that the events of yesterday are not repeated.

Serry stressed that actions of extremists continue to pose a threat to the peace process, and further underline the need for action to fulfill Roadmap commitments.

Meanwhile, Serrys office in Jerusalem, known as

UNSCO, reports that all Gaza goods crossings are closed today after a partial opening yesterday. Once again, no humanitarian supplies, fuel or commercial commodities are being allowed in. But the limited fuel that did get in yesterday has led to fewer power cuts in Gaza City.

UN agencies, meanwhile, held cultural events in both the West Bank and Gaza yesterday to stress the importance of fighting violence against women. The three messages of the events were that: killing a woman has nothing to do with honor; we must break the conspiracy of silence surrounding domestic violence; and youth, especially young men, can play a positive and driving role in combating violence against women.


Taye-Brook Zerihoun, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Cyprus, briefed the Security Council in consultations this morning about the work of the UN peacekeeping force in that country. He also briefed troop contributing countries about the peacekeepers, whose current mandate expires on 15 December.

This afternoon at 3:00, the Council has scheduled an open debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Meanwhile, in a new

report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General said that the inactivity on the exhumation and repatriation of the remains of Kuwaiti and third-country nationals in Iraq during the last year is of serious concern. He is also concerned at the absence of progress with regard to finding the Kuwaiti archives.


Today in Kathmandu, Nepal, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy,

met with Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who agreed to move forward on the discharge of nearly 3,000 minors remaining in Maoist army cantonments.

The agreement by the Nepalese Government to discharge the children will be processed in cooperation with United Nations Mission in Nepal and the UN Country Team there to work out the modalities and to ensure that it is implemented.

The process, hoped to be finished by the end of February 2009, is in line with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and responds to Security Council recommendations within the framework of Resolution 1612 on the issue of children and armed conflict.


The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the number of suspected cases of cholera in Zimbabwe has risen to 12,700 with 575 deaths reported. The bulk of cases have been reported in Harare (6,448 cases and 179 deaths).

WHO says it has details of the situation in Harare and the two other big cities that were most affected, but does not have details about what was happening in the countryside.

Some 42 of the 62 regions of Zimbabwe are now affected by the epidemic, according to UNICEF.

WHO notes that there is a clearly ascending trend of new suspected cases since 20 November.

WHO is airlifting emergency stocks of supplies from Dubai and mobilizing additional drugs and supplies from South Africa.

UNICEF reports that Harare continued to suffer from a serious shortage of water. UNICEF had made available a one-month supply of chemicals for the treatment of water and is distributing 360,000 liters of drinking water daily.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also noted a new logistical problem, a shortage of fuel, as well as a shortage of trained staff and volunteers to help with the sanitation campaigns.


The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that international experts have established a tolerable daily intake for melamine, the implicated chemical found recently in contaminated milk products.

This was the outcome of a meeting, which was organized by WHO and held this week in Ottawa, Canada.

According to WHO, this standard could better guide authorities in protecting public health.


This afternoon, the Secretary-General will be addressing the Global Forum for Responsible Management Education, which is being hosted by the UN Global Compact.

He will welcome the fact that 178 business schools, from every continent, have signed up to an initiative that will help shape generations of business leaders by promoting sustainable and inclusive globalization.

  • ** The guest at the noon briefing today was Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes, who provided an

    update on the Central Emergency Response Fund.


    Sunday, December 7

    Today is International Civil Aviation Day.

    Monday, December 8

    U.N. Headquarters is closed for an official holiday (Eid al-Adha).

    From today through Friday, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy visits the Philippines.

    Tuesday, December 9

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold an open debate on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

    Today is the 60th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. At 10.30 a.m. in Room S-226, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, both Co-Chairs of a Task Force on Genocide, launch a report on genocide.

    At 1 p.m. in Room S-226, General Assembly President Miguel DŽEscoto Brockmann and Maude Barlow, an advisor to the General Assembly President on water issues, brief the press on issues relating to human rights and water.

    At 2 p.m. in Room S-226, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay holds a press conference to mark tomorrows 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    At 3 p.m. in Room S-226, Craig Mokhiber from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Steven Kull from, and Peggy Hicks from Human Rights Watch launch the World Public Opinion and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reports.

    At 5 p.m. in Room S-226, Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, holds a press conference to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as launch a report entitled Eleanor's Dream: How to Strengthen the U.N. Human Rights Council.

    Today is International Anti-Corruption Day.

    Wednesday, December 10

    From today through Friday, the Secretary-General is in Poznan, Poland, to attend the latest round of U.N.-backed climate change talks.

    Today is Human Rights Day, marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The General Assembly is holding two panel discussions in the morning; in the afternoon, it will hold a plenary meeting, which will include the award ceremony of the UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights. At 5 p.m. the Prize recipients will brief the press in Room S-226.

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on the U.N. Disengagement Force, followed by an open briefing on the Councils 1737 Committee and the U.N. Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia. In the afternoon, consultations on Iraq/Kuwait and the Sudan Sanctions Committee are scheduled.

    At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, the U.S. Mission sponsors an NGO press conference on Presentation of U.N. Petition for the Unborn Child.

    In Geneva, High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres opens a two-day dialogue on protection challenges for the millions of people caught in protracted refugee situations.

    Thursday, December 11

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on the Somalia Monitoring Group and the U.N. Peace-Building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau. In the afternoon, an open debate and consultations on the U.N. Integrated Office in Burundi are scheduled.

    Today is International Mountain Day.

    Friday, December 12

    The Secretary-General wraps up his trip in Poznan, Poland, and heads to Geneva, where he will participate in the Human Rights Councils commemorative session to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution on UNFICYP, followed by a debate on ICTY/ICTR. In the afternoon, an open briefing and consultations on MINURCAT are scheduled.

    At 10.30 a.m. in Room S-226, U.N. Messenger of Peace and maestro Daniel Barenboim discusses his upcoming concert commemorating Human Rights Day, to be held in the General Assembly Hall on 15 December.

    All day in Conference Room 4, the Department of Public Information and the Peacebuilding Support Office hold a one-day conference on Media and Communications in Peacebuilding.

    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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