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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-12

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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









Friday, December 12, 2008


The Secretary-General marked the 60th anniversary of the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights in Geneva today,

saying that the Declaration embodies groundbreaking principles: the universality of human rights, and their indivisibility.

We have come a long way since the Declarations adoption, the Secretary-General said. But the reality is that we have not lived up to its vision at least not yet. Abject poverty, shameful discrimination and horrific violence continue to plague millions of people. As we mark this milestone, he asserted, we must also acknowledge the savage inhumanity that too many people in our world must endure. There is no time to rest.

The Secretary-General also spoke to press in Geneva, and in response to a question, he said that it is necessary and desirable that the United States takes part as a member of the Human Rights Council. He said that he would expect and hope that the next US Administration will seriously and positively consider his call on this matter. He also noted his recent conversations with President-elect Barack Obama and other US officials, saying that he expects the new US Administration to be much more actively engaged with the United Nations on climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, and many other major United Nations issues.

The Secretary-General was also asked about his recent meeting in Doha, Qatar, with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

He responded that he had urged Mugabe to honour his commitment to leave his legacy in a positive way. The Secretary-General stressed that President Mugabe should look to the future of his country and his own people, who have been suffering from political turmoil and very serious humanitarian tragedies.


The Secretary-General, in a

press conference in Poznan, Poland, yesterday afternoon, said that there has been progress made at the

climate change talks in Poznan, but much more needs to be done. And there must be no backsliding on previous commitments.

He emphasized the need for deep cuts in emissions to stabilize our climate, assistance for developing countries in dealing with mitigation and adaptation, a dramatic increase of the financial and technological resources that can help make this happen, and institutions that can support these efforts. All this must be done and must begin today and not in 2012, he said.

The Secretary-General said he was heartened to see the United States re-engage actively in global climate discussions, and he looks forward to their leadership on the road to Copenhagen. At the same time, he hopes that the European Union will also take a leadership role, and that, at their current summit meeting, they will be able to agree on a climate and energy package which will have a positive impact as we look ahead to the Copenhagen conference.

Asked whether he would convene another meeting of Heads of State on climate change, the Secretary-General said that he is considering convening a summit-level meeting focused on climate change at the time of the General Assembly in September.


Regarding the Six-Party Talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, held in Beijing from 8 to 11 December, the Secretary-General

notes that despite serious discussions, differences remained unresolved, including on terms of verification of the nuclear activities by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The Secretary-General strongly supports the goal of verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner. In this regard, he appreciates that the Parties have reaffirmed this goal and unanimously agreed to advance the Six-Party Talks.

The Secretary-General hopes that the parties will overcome their remaining differences and complete the implementation of the second-phase actions in the near future. The Secretary-General stands ready to assist in any way possible to help toward this end.


The Secretary-General strongly

condemns yesterdays heinous bomb attack in Kirkuk which took the lives of so many civilians, including children. No cause can justify such inhumane and indiscriminate violence.

This terrorist attack was particularly troubling because it targeted a meeting to promote dialogue and reconciliation between different communities in the region. The Secretary-General calls on the Iraq people and their leaders not to be deterred by such acts of provocation and to continue to work together in a spirit of national reconciliation in order to ensure a peaceful atmosphere for the holding of next months provincial elections.

Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Iraq, also condemned the Kirkuk attack and expressed great concern that it seemed to be deliberately designed to provoke revenge attacks and further inflame ethnic tensions. He called on the leaders of all the communities of Kirkuk to demonstrate responsible leadership and to urge restraint by their followers at this difficult time.

At moments such as these, peace-loving people from all groups in Kirkuk should unite against the forces of cold-blooded mass murder, he said.


An investigation into the events at Kiwanja is being conducted by the Human Rights Division of the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and is expected to be completed in a few weeks. Forensic analyses have not been possible due to security considerations. The MONUC Human Rights Division is carefully compiling and cross-checking evidence and has collected testimony from hundreds of individuals. The investigations cover reported violations by the CNDP (National Congress in Defense of the People), as well as by Mai Mai and FDLR militia.

Meanwhile, mobile multidisciplinary teams from the UN Mission including human rights, civil affairs and child protection officers have been in place in Kiwanja for most of the past four weeks. These teams are co-located with UN peacekeepers and have been facilitating relations between the MONUC military personnel and the civilian population.

In Nairobi, the Mediators for the talks between the Congolese Government and the CNDP, in consultation with the parties, have decided to adjourn and resume the direct talks on 17 December; thats because of Kenyas Independence Day celebrations.

Before the talks adjourned, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Olusegun Obasanjo, said that he was pleased to note that they are making steady progress towards agreement on the ground rules for substantive discussions.

The two Mediators also dispatched a high-level delegation yesterday to meet with CNDP Chairman Laurent Nkunda in North Kivu, in order to clarify some of the outstanding issues that had slowed progress to date. The team has reported positive reaction.

Asked whether a proposed bridging force for the eastern Congo had been rejected by the European Union, the Spokesman recalled that no formal reply had been received from the EU.

Meanwhile, copies of the final report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be made available on the website of the 1533 Committee ( in all languages.



Security Council is currently

hearing from the Presidents and Prosecutors of the two UN tribunals, dealing with the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, about the tribunals efforts to complete their caseloads. Prosecutors Serge Brammertz, of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and Hassan Jallow, of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, will be the guests at todays briefing. If theyre delayed in the Council, theyll still come to speak to you in this room as soon as they can, so please stick around for that.

Earlier today, the Council adopted several resolutions. It

renewed the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights by six months, until the end of June 2009. It

extended the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) by six months, until 15 June 2009. And it decided that the Secretary-General may appoint, within existing resources, additional ad litem or short-term judges upon the request of the President of the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in order to complete existing or additional trials.

This afternoon, at 3:00, the Council will hold an open meeting, followed by consultations, to consider the Secretary-Generals latest report on the UN Mission in Chad and the Central African Republic (MINURCAT).


The Secretary-Generals latest

report on the Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad is out as a document today. It includes an update on the Department of Peacekeeping Operations efforts to garner support among potential troop- and police-contributing countries for the Missions initial concept of operations and for the Security Council-mandated deployment. To date, 16 countries have indicated a willingness to contribute to the force. At least one country says its willing to meet the Missions helicopter needs.

The Secretary-General says that it is crucial that there be no security vacuum when the European Force (EUFOR) withdraws in March next year. He also lists a number of benchmarks for an eventual withdrawal of the Mission itself. These include the voluntary return and resettlement in secure conditions of a critical mass of internally displaced persons (IDPs), the demilitarization of refugee and IDP camps, the ability of local authorities to provide security and enforce the law.


Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Sudan, deplored a violent incident that took place today in Abyei, in southern Sudan, which led to one death and several injuries among members of Sudans Joint Integrated Unit and Joint Integrated Police Unit.

Qazi called on all parties and Abyei residents to remain calm. He strongly urged the parties to take all necessary measures to avoid any further outbreaks of violence and to ensure that todays unfortunate incident does not impede the peaceful implementation of the Abyei road map.


Real progress has been made in identifying the population and registering voters in Cote dIvoire, said Edmund Mulet, the Assistant Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations. Mulet, who is wrapping up a working visit to the country, listed among the signs of tangible progress the disappearance of the zone of confidence. He also noted that the two former warring forces are now working together on security issues along with the UN and Licorne forces. Even so, much remains to be done.

Mulet also encouraged donors to continue to provide support to the peace process and to streamline their efforts in the maintenance of peace in Cote dIvoire.


As Zimbabwe battles with a raging cholera outbreak and the effects of collapsing social services, UNICEF has

appealed for $17.5 million to boost its 120-day emergency response in that country.

Already UNICEF has been providing IV fluids, drips, tents and beds for cholera treatment centres. UNICEF is also trucking 470,000 litres of water per day, drilling boreholes, and distributing water purification tools to more than 3.5 million Zimbabweans.

In addition, UNICEF has brought in logisticians and borehole drilling experts, as well as emergency specialists to work in the sectors of water, sanitation, health, education, child protection and nutrition.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO)

says the current cholera outbreak is the most serious ever registered in Zimbabwe. There are now 16,700 cases of cholera in the country, with 792 deaths. To control the outbreak, WHO says it needs $6 million.

Asked about concerns regarding humanitarian access to Zimbabwe, the Spokesman noted that UN humanitarian workers had been able to enter the country.

He noted that the Secretary-General, in his press conference in Geneva today, said, With the spread of cholera in Zimbabwe and the surrounding region, I am deeply disturbed at the deteriorating humanitarian situation there for which the leadership of Zimbabwe cannot evade responsibility. I have also stressed the need for justice in the aftermath of grave breaches of international humanitarian law.


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that some 47% of Haitian families displaced by the recent natural disasters on the island remain unable to return to their homes and are still living with host families. Those in collective shelters continue to receive assistance, including some 5000 shelter kits being handed out to some 2000 families in the Gonaives area.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission (MINUSTAH) is dispatching a humanitarian fact-finding mission to the western region of Cazale where conditions are reportedly dismal.

And so far, donor countries have funded 48% of the $104.8 million requested in the September 2008 flash appeal for Haiti


The Secretary-General will be hosting a meeting of the Middle East Quartet in his conference room this Monday, 15 December, at three in the afternoon. Attending will be US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, EU High Representative Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations Bettina Ferrero-Waldner. As of now, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, on behalf of the EU Presidency, and Quartet envoy Tony Blair are scheduled to participate by video-link.

Following the meeting, at 4:00 p.m., there will be a press conference featuring the principals in Conference Room Four. And after that, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., in Conference Room Eight, the Secretary-General will meet with Quartet members and a number of Arab Foreign Ministers. There will be a stakeout set up outside that room in case any of the Foreign Ministers wish to speak to the press after the discussion.

Asked about Blairs attendance by video-link, the Spokesman noted that efforts are always made to accommodate the schedules of the principal participants, and, in this case, he would be able to participate fully through the video-link.


The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that a total of 54 truckloads of goods, including 11 containing humanitarian supplies, were allowed into Gaza today. But the fuel pipelines did not open.

Asked about the trucks that went into Gaza that did not carry humanitarian aid, the Spokesman said that trucks carrying commercial goods also entered into Gaza occasionally.

He noted, in response to a question about the closure of the fuel pipelines, that such closures had been resulting in power cuts in Gaza.


Aimed at building human rights awareness among Timor-Leste Defense Force members, a booklet on human rights was

distributed today during the Security Sector Reform and Development Seminar held at the Presidents Palace, in Dili.

At the opening of the Seminar, President Ramos Horta, in his capacity as Supreme Commander of the Defense Force, formally received the booklet.

Developed by the Ministry of Defense with the assistance of the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste, the portable guide on human rights is available in Tetun, Portuguese and English, and will be distributed the all members of the current 700-member force.

The booklet addresses such issues as the role of armed forces in a democratic state, accountability for members of the armed forces, and provides an introduction to basic human rights.


GREATER CAPACITY NEEDED TO STRENGTHEN U.N. SECURITY: Regarding security matters, the Spokesperson said the following: We were asked yesterday about how much money we are looking for to strengthen UN security worldwide. We do not want to give a dollar figure at this stage, but I would to point out that we need greater analytical capacity in the field, more security advisors in the field, a greater surge capacity to deal with crises and greater resources to promote staff safety, including an Aviation Safety Unit. Proposals are under consideration at present in the budgetary mechanism.

NEW PLAN TO STOP CHILD RECRUITMENT IN PHILIPPINES: Wrapping up her 5-day visit to the Philippines, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, today

announced that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will enter into an action plan with the United Nations to stop the recruitment and use of children and ensure that they are separated from their ranks and return to civilian life.

U.N. STAFFER SUSPENDED: Asked about reports that a staff member had been involved in displaying pornography, the Spokesman said that the United Nations has suspended the staff member in question without pay for an initial period of three months or until the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings whichever is earlier. He added that the grounds are strong enough in this case to warrant such action. The Office of Internal Oversight Services, he said, had looked into the case and the process of dealing with the staff member was continuing.

APPRECIATION FOR JAPANS MARITIME CONTRIBUTIONS: Asked about Japans maritime operation in the Indian Ocean, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General has in the past formally expressed his appreciation of Japans contribution.

BAN KI-MOON ENCOURAGES SUPPORT FOR SOMALIA MISSION: Asked about reports that Burundi and Somalia may pull out of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General continues to encourage international support for AMISOM. The Security Council, he noted, was scheduled to discuss Somalia next week.

  • ** The guests at the noon briefing today were Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and Hassan Jallow, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).


    13 December 19 December 2008

    Monday, December 15

    The Secretary-General will be hosting a meeting of the Middle East Quartet in his conference room at 3 p.m. Following the meeting, at 4 p.m., there will be a press conference featuring the principals in Conference Room 4. Then, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., in Conference Room 8, the Secretary-General will meet with Quartet members and a number of Arab Foreign Ministers.

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from its subsidiary bodies, followed by consultations on Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) sanctions and Liberia sanctions. In the afternoon, a private meeting on peace and security in Africa and consultations on the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) are scheduled.

    The guest at the noon briefing, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, briefs on her recent trip to Nepal and the Philippines.

    At 7 p.m. in the General Assembly Hall, a concert featuring UN Messenger of Peace Maestro Daniel Barenboim and members of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra commemorates Human Rights Day (which was 10 December).

    From today through Wednesday at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the 3rd World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace launches new initiatives to help build peace in the Middle East.

    From today through Wednesday in Sirte, Libya, the Food and Agriculture Organization co-organizes a conference of 53 African nations on Water for Agriculture and Energy in Africa: the Challenges of Climate Change.

    Tuesday, December 16

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing, followed by consultations, on the International Independent Investigation Commission for Lebanon (IIIC) report. In the afternoon, a debate on Somalia assistance against piracy at sea is scheduled.

    Following Security Council consultations in the morning, Daniel Bellemare, Commissioner of the IIIC, holds a press conference in Room-S226 at 1.30 p.m.

    A seminar organized by the UN Economic Commission for Europe on real estate and the financial crisis will be held today in Conference Room 8 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. It will be opened by the Deputy Secretary-General.

    At 11 a.m. in Room-S226, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, Permanent Representative of South Africa, holds a year-end press conference wrapping up South Africas current membership in the Security Council.

    Wednesday, December 17

    At 11 a.m. in Room-S226, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon holds a year-end press conference.

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing, followed by consultations, on the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). In the afternoon consultations on the Great Lakes Region (Lords Resistance Army) are scheduled.

    At 10 a.m. in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) hosts an event where actor and director Ben Affleck launches Gimme Shelter, an international campaign to aid those displaced by violence. Advance RSVP to UNHCR is required.

    All day today, and continuing tomorrow morning, in Conference Room 1, UNESCO and the Department of Public Information co-organize a seminar on Languages Matter! Linguistic Diversity, Globalization and Development, to celebrate the International Year of Languages (2008).

    Thursday, December 18

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold an open debate on the Middle East.

    Today is International Migrants Day. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Conference Room 8, there will be a UNITAR Migration and Development Series panel discussion on The human rights of migrants: Facilitating migrants participation in national and international affairs.

    Friday, December 19

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to adopt resolutions on the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force, the Somalia Monitoring Group, Liberia Sanctions, Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions, and the U.N. Integrated Office in Burundi.

    Today is the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation.

    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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