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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-10

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 MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

U.N. MARKS 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 16: Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.

These are articles from the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights, whose 60th anniversary is being celebrating today. And today, of course, is also Human Rights Day.

In a

message to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General says the Declaration reflects humanitys aspirations for a future of prosperity, dignity and peaceful coexistence. It is and always will be a core part of the UNs identity. The international community has drawn enduring inspiration from the Declaration to build a great foundation of laws that now protect countless people around the world, he adds.

We have come a long way, the Secretary-General says. But the reality is that we have not lived up to the Declarations vision at least not yet. In that regard, the Secretary-General says he has been very humbled and saddened at having seen so many people whose human rights are being abused and not properly protected.

The Secretary-General has also prepared a Human Rights Day video message that will be shown this afternoon to the General Assembly.

In a separate

statement today, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay explains the significance of the Declaration. She says that, when it was signed, for the first time, all human rights were recognized as belonging inherently to all people, rather than being gifts bestowed upon them by ruling regimes.

Also today, nearly 250 chief executive officers from the UN Global Compact issued a

statement renewing their commitment to respect and support human rights within their spheres of influence, and calling on Governments to meet their human rights obligations. The signed statement was published in the Financial Times today.

Meanwhile, the UN Information Centres around the world report that events are being organized to mark Human Rights Day.

In Paris, France, for example, a collection of short films on human rights is being screened at the Palais de Chaillot, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted 60 years ago.

In India last Sunday, 2,500 students marked the anniversary by running on New Delhis most prominent avenue.

In South Africa, the UN Information Centre helped launch a ten-day banner campaign in major cities across the country.

At UN Headquarters, next Monday at 7 p.m. in the General Assembly Hall, there will be a Human Rights Day Concert featuring UN Messenger of Peace Maestro Daniel Barenboim and members of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. The event, which is being sponsored by the Spanish Mission, will include statements by the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly and the Vice President of the Government of Spain.

Asked about a petition from a group calling for the rights of the unborn child, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has not yet received that petition and had no reaction to it at this time.

Asked whether the Secretary-General has a position on a declaration on homosexuality that has been proposed for the General Assembly, Montas said that the declaration has not been submitted to the Assembly yet. The Secretary-General had yet to see the text, she said.

Asked whether Pillay has spoken enough on economic rights, the Spokeswoman noted that Pillay had mentioned the importance of economic rights at her press briefing on Tuesday. She said that economic rights are what the

Millennium Development Goals are about and these are high on the agenda of the Secretary-General and his High Commissioner for Human Rights.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN POLAND TO ATTEND CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS

The Secretary-General has arrived in Poznan, Poland, to attend the UN conference on climate change. He will address the conference tomorrow and will appeal to the gathered leaders to not allow the various crises confronting them to be used as an excuse to defer action on climate change.

Upon arrival in Poznan, he was briefed by Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He then proceeded to a working luncheon with his Climate Change envoys -- Ricardo Lagos, Festus Mogae, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Srgjan Kerim.

On the eve of the high-level segment of the conference, the Secretary-General is holding a series of bilateral meetings with officials attending the conference. He is scheduled to attend an official dinner tonight hosted by the Government of Poland.

WORLD BANK ISSUES PESSIMISTIC ECONOMIC OUTLOOK FOR 2009

In its newly-released Global Economic Prospects

report for 2009, the World Bank finds that a significant slowdown is taking place everywhere, including in previously resilient developing countries.

Global GDP is predicted to fall from 2.5 percent this year to 0.9 per cent next year, with rich countries likely seeing negative growth. The report also predicts that world trade will contract by more than two percent next year. Thats the first such decline in more than a quarter century.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has just

announced the creation of a US$2 billion fast-track facility. Its designed to speed up grants and long-term, interest-free loans to help the worlds poorest countries cope with the global financial crisis.

In other news, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, in its latest

report, finds that the percentage of the regions people living in poverty dropped slightly last year, to just less than one-third of the population. Extreme poverty, however, rose slightly to just shy of 13 per cent. There continue to be significant inequalities in income distribution.

The report notes that the regions prospects for next year are bleak. Employment is expected to stagnate, and the most seriously affected countries will be those that depend on migrant remittances or have direct links with the United States market.

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP GOLAN HEIGHTS, U.N. REGIONAL PREVENTIVE DIPLOMACY CENTRE AND OTHER MATTERS

The

Security Council held consultations this morning on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, following a meeting with the countries contributing troops for that Force. Its current mandate expires at the end of this month.

After that, the Council discussed the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, which is based in Turkmenistan. Then it intends to hold a formal meeting on non-proliferation.

This afternoon, at 3:00, the Security Council has scheduled consultations on missing Kuwaiti persons and property in Iraq, and on the sanctions committee for Sudan.

The Council wrapped up its debate on terrorism yesterday with a

Presidential Statement calling on all Member States to redouble efforts to tackle global terrorism.

AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES NOW RUNNING ON EMPTY

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reports that it managed to get 13 trucks into Gaza today containing medicine and cooking oil but the Agency still maintains that this is not enough.

Meanwhile, Filippo Grandi, UNRWAs Deputy Commissioner General, today warned that, unless the Agencys financial outlook improves significantly in the coming months, UNRWA faces the very real prospect of having to make cuts in basic education and health services.

UNRWAs cash reserves have plummeted from just over US$60 million at the beginning of 2006 to just US$1 million this month. Effectively we are now running on empty, Grandi warned. He was addressing the annual pledging conference for UNRWA here at Headquarters.

FACILITATORS OF D.R. CONGO TALKS SATISFIED WITH PROGRESS

The facilitators of the Nairobi dialogue between the Congolese Government and the Congrés national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP) of Laurent Nkunda have expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved after two days of talks.

Both Olusegun Obasanjo, the Secretary-Generals special envoy for the Great Lakes region, and Benjamin Mkapa, his African Union counterpart, said they are optimistic that the substantive discussions between the parties will begin before the end of the month. "We are building the foundation that should take us to substantive talks. We are satisfied that we are making progress," Obasanjo said.

U.N. DARFUR MISSION HELPS SUDANESE POLICE DEPLOY NEAR NYALA

The African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has handed over basic utensils and equipment to Sudanese police, to support their deployment at two new posts near UNAMIDs Headquarters in Nyala, South Darfur. The decision to install those posts came in the aftermath of an increase in carjacking of UN and international non-governmental organization vehicles.

The new posts will deal with the deteriorating security situation and serve as permanent checkpoints to support the night patrols carried out by Sudanese personnel around the UNAMID compound.

Meanwhile, the UNAMID Joint Special Representative, Rodolphe Adada, met with the Joint Chief Mediator, Djibril Bassolé, in Khartoum today, to discuss the recent consultations that took place in Doha with different stakeholders.

They also talked about ways to reach a comprehensive ceasefire and to create an environment conducive to the revival of the peace process.

Asked about the status of UNAMID Deputy Force Commander Karenzi Karake, the Spokeswoman said that he continued to have a contract in that position.

U.N. SOMALIA ENVOY WELCOMES LEADERS RETURN TO MOGADISHU

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has welcomed the return to Mogadishu of Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the chairman of the Alliance of the Re-liberation of Somalia. Sheik Sharif, who was involved in the Alliances reconciliation talks with the transitional government, is back home after 2 years abroad. Ould-Abdallah said that Sheik Sharifs return to Mogadishu marks a welcome development for that process.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION TO ESTABLISH CHOLERA CONTROL AND COMMAND CENTRE IN ZIMBABWE

In response to the widespread cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working with partners to establish a cholera control and command centre -- to coordinate efforts to fight the sickness. In that regard, the agency is seeking donor support for a US$6 million cholera response plan proposal.

WHO warns that there are serious regional implications behind the outbreak, with cholera cases crossing into South Africa and Botswana.

WHO has already sent enough medical supplies to treat 50,000 people for common conditions for three months, as well as to treat 3,200 moderate cases of cholera. WHO has also sent epidemiologists, a water and sanitation expert and a logistician to Harare to strengthen response efforts on the ground.

HIGH-LEVEL U.N. DELEGATION VISITS CAMBODIA

Visiting Cambodia this week, a high-level Secretariat delegation, led by Assistant-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Mr. Peter Taksoe-Jensen, met yesterday with Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Royal Government Task Force on the Khmer Rouge Trials, H.E. Sok An.

In the meeting, the parties held constructive discussions on various issues of mutual concern with regard to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

There, both sides welcomed the significant achievements made by the Extraordinary Chambers, including progress towards the imminent start of the first trial.

They also recognized the ECCCs potential to address impunity for the crimes of the former Khmer Rouge regime and expressed the hope that the ECCC will become a model for future judicial systems.

The parties also agreed on the need to act expeditiously, and expect the results of the joint sessions to be reported to the Government Task Force and the Steering Committee by the end of January 2009.

U.N. ORGANIZES INTERNATIONAL DONOR MEETING FOR POST-NARGIS RELIEF EFFORTS IN MYANMAR

Seven months after the devastating Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, the United Nations in Yangon

organized an international donor meeting yesterday.

The participants at that meeting, including representatives of governments and non-governmental organizations, stressed that health support in the cyclone-affected areas is on top of the agenda.

The UNs Revised Appeal of US$451 million is currently two-thirds funded. Agriculture and early recovery continue to be the least funded sectors, followed by health.

SRI LANKA: WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME CONTINUES TO PROVIDE FOOD ASSISTANCE TO THOSE IN NEED

The World Food Programme (WFP) is continuing its weekly dispatch of food convoys to the Vanni area in Sri Lanka for the third month, and it reiterates that its mandate is to provide food assistance to those in need.

WFP, in cooperation with the Government of Sri Lanka and other stakeholders, has dispatched a total of 4,120 tons of mixed food commodities to meet the needs of an estimated 200,000 internally displaced persons in the Vanni region.

WFP provides food assistance to 1.1 million people composed of internally displaced persons, the economically affected, school children and other most vulnerable people in Sri Lanka.

U.N. DEMINERS RESTART OPERATIONS IN NEPAL, FOLLOWING END OF MONSOON SEASON

The Nepalese Army, assisted by the United Nations Mine Action Team, has

recommenced demining after a five-month break due to the monsoon season.

Nepalese Army engineers have been redeployed in three districts in the eastern region of Nepal at the beginning of December.

The UN Mine Action Team Programme Manager in Nepal, Stephen Robinson, said the Nepalese Army had the opportunity to make Nepal a mine impact free country within the next three years.

Five minefields have been cleared in Nepal during this year; however, there are 48 military pattern minefields remaining, as well as a number of protective fields consisting of improvised explosive devices.

U.N. OFFICIAL CALLS FOR SOLUTIONS TO PROTRACTED REFUGEE SITUATIONS

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres today

opened a two-day international dialogue on protracted refugee situations. The discussions are aimed at finding solutions for the nearly six million people who have spent years, sometimes decades, in exile with no end in sight.

Opening the conference, Mr. Guterres noted that the burden of hosting these refugees falls almost exclusively on developing countries. Once the media spotlight turns away, displacements can go on unnoticed for years, he added. Guterres urged the international community as a whole to do more to share the burden and come up with comprehensive solutions to the problem.

THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN DIE AND TENS OF MILLIONS INJURED EACH YEAR IN PREVENTABLE ACCIDENTS

According to a new report by the

World Health Organization and

UNICEF, more than two thousand children die every day from accidental injuries. And tens of millions of children are hospitalized each year with injuries that often cause lifelong disabilities. 95% of these injuries occur in developing countries. The top five causes are road crashes, drowning, burns, falls and poisoning.

The report offers several recommendations, including child-appropriate seat-belt and helmet laws; child-resistant closures on medicine bottles, lighters, and household products; and redesigning nursery furniture, toys and playground equipment.

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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