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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-20

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

.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BRIEFING

BY MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, February 20, 2009

HUMANITARIAN CHIEF VISITS SITES FOR DISPLACED SRI LANKANS

Under-Secretary-General for

Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes today traveled to Vavuniya in northern Sri Lanka on the second day of his visit to that country. He was accompanied by Basil Rajapakse, Senior Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka.

In Vavuniya, Holmes met local authorities, visited two sites for internally displaced persons and met with humanitarian agencies working on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said the protection of civilians, especially children, must be the first priority in the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka and both sides must act accordingly.

Reiterating that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) must release civilians to safety, especially the children, Coomaraswamy urged the Government to be more circumspect with regard to artillery fire and aerial bombardment to avoid civilian casualties.

She stressed that the international community has a duty to work with the Sri Lankan Government to ensure that the treatment of internally displaced children meets international standards.

Asked about the latest reports of violence in Sri Lanka, the Spokeswoman said that Holmes is continuing to monitor the situation on the ground and is expected to return this weekend to New York before traveling onward next week to Colombia.

Asked about protests by Sri Lankans at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, the Spokeswoman confirmed that some protests had taken place today and that UN staff had been released early. She noted the right to conduct peaceful protest.

U.N. ENVOY ENCOURAGES MYANMAR TO RELEASE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS

The

Security Council this morning held consultations on

Myanmar. Council members received a briefing from the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, on his recent trip to Myanmar, as well as to other key countries.

Gambari spoke to reporters after those consultations, saying that he had told the Council that his programme on his latest visit was more balanced than on his previous one. He said that, so far, he has not seen tangible outcomes from his visit. He noted that all his interlocutors, including the Government of Myanmar and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, appreciated the Secretary-Generals continued good offices role.

Asked about the UN reaction to the reported amnesty being offered in Myanmar, the Spokeswoman said that Gambari was informed today that the Government of Myanmar has granted amnesty to more than 6,000 prisoners, although it remains unclear whether and how many political prisoners this may include.

This is a positive step, Montas said, adding, We encourage the Government of Myanmar to release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Asked whether the Secretary-General will travel to Myanmar, the Spokeswoman said no decision has been made for such a trip so far.

FINANCIAL CRISIS HURTING MOST VULNERABLE GROUPS, HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF SAYS

In Geneva this morning, the Human Rights Council

opened its tenth Special Session. The focus of todays Special Session is the impact of the global economic and financial crises on human rights.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

said that the economic and financial crises are having a disproportionate impact on the livelihoods of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.

She also stressed that States are not relieved of their human rights obligations in times of crisis. In fact, States must ensure that domestic policy adjustments, particularly those in fiscal spending, are not taken at the expense of the poor, through cutbacks in basic services and social protection mechanisms.

The Human Rights Council Special Session will resume on Monday, 23 February, at which time the Council will take action on a draft resolution.

DELEGATIONS AGREE ON PORTIONS OF OUTCOME DOCUMENT FOR DURBAN REVIEW CONFERENCE

The

Durban Review Conference, which is a follow-up to the 2001 World Conference against Racism, will be held this April in Geneva. In the meantime, negotiations are continuing on the Review Conferences outcome document.

The latest round of informal consultations by the working group that is negotiating that outcome document wrapped up yesterday in Geneva. The working groups meetings were held under the chairmanship of the Russian Federation. For the first time, the United States and Australia actively participated in the discussions.

So far, 35 paragraphs out of a total of 250 have been fully agreed upon and adopted by the working group. Further sessions of the informal consultations will take place next week in Geneva.

Asked about the discussions on the outcome document, the Spokeswoman said that it is standard practice at international conferences to negotiate outcome documents months in advance of the holding of the conference.

BELGIUM TAKES SENEGAL TO COURT OVER STATUS OF FORMER CHADIAN PRESIDENT

The

International Court of Justice says that Belgium instituted proceedings yesterday against Senegal at the Court, concerning what Belgium described as a dispute between those two countries regarding Senegals compliance with the obligation to prosecute, or otherwise extradite, the former President of Chad, Hissène Habré.

Belgium, the Court says, has requested provisional measures, citing its concerns that Habré could leave Senegal and avoid any prosecution.

PAKISTAN: U.N. APPEALS ONCE MORE FOR RELEASE OF KIDNAPPED U.N. OFFICIAL

A press release issued today in Islamabad reiterated the UNs appeal to those holding John Solecki, representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Quetta, to release him immediately without harm. The UN is aware of the message received Wednesday evening through the media, and takes it seriously. The UN is again grateful for the support of the leaders of Balochistan for the safe release of John, and acknowledges the concerns of the Balochistan community.

The United Nations is working on appropriate ways to address the concerns, including sharing information with the relevant authorities such as the newly established Federal Ministry of Human Rights. The United Nations signed an agreement earlier this year with the Ministry of Human Rights, in support of strengthening the promotion of human rights throughout Pakistan.

STABILIZING HAITI CAN MAKE BROADER REGION MORE SECURE

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Haiti, Hédi Annabi, on Thursday addressed a ministerial conference in the Dominican Republic dealing with drug trafficking, transnational organized crime and terrorism. He warned that those cross-border threats can have a devastating impact on a state such as Haiti, which is still emerging toward stability.

Annabi stressed the main elements in the current multi-faceted strategy to stabilize Haiti, including: the provision of operational support for Haitis security, institution-building and socio-economic development. He emphasized that using such a strategy to make Haiti more stable can feed back into security in the broader region, by helping Haiti to avoid becoming a base for such threats.

NEW GUIDELINES SIGNED ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN NEPAL

In Nepal today, the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Nepal and Nepals National Human Rights Commission

signed Guidelines for Cooperation, recognizing that the strengthening of human rights in Nepal benefits greatly from the complementary relationship between the two organizations.

Key areas of collaboration will

include the promotion of human rights through the dissemination of information and educational materials and the organization of joint training for law enforcement officials and representatives of the Government and civil society.

ZIMBABWE CHOLERA CASES PASS 80,000 MARK

The World Health Organization (WHO)

reports today that the latest number of suspected cholera cases in Zimbabwe has surpassed 80,000, including 3,759 deaths. All 10 provinces of the country are affected.

High numbers of cases have also been reported in neighbouring countries, especially South Africa. But the relative strength of the health care system there has enabled the Case Fatality Rate to remain below one percent.

Other countries where cholera has been reported include Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, but it has to be noted that cholera is endemic in these countries, according to WHO.

The World Health Organization, together with its partners, has set up a Cholera Command and Control Centre in the capital, Harare. The role of the Centre is to coordinate the response to the cholera outbreak and provide technical coordination for partners in the areas of epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, case management, social mobilization, logistics and infection control of water and sanitation in treatment centres.

U.N. BODY TO START TALKS ON MERCURY POLLUTION TREATY

The UN Environment Programmes Governing Council wrapped up today in Nairobi, with more than 140 countries unanimously agreeing to

launch negotiations on an international treaty covering mercury pollution.

While the treaty is being finalized, governments agreed to step up action on a voluntary Global Mercury Partnership. Such a partnership would pursue several measures, including boosting storage capacity for stockpiled mercury and reducing mercury in thermometers and other products.

Also at this weeks session, environment ministers backed a decision requesting UNEP to spearhead an environmental assessment mission to Gaza to assess the impacts of recent hostilities. In addition, they agreed to establish a special group of ministers to improve the way the worlds environmental architecture is run, and also decided to hold an international meeting on biodiversity loss later this year.

TRADE & DEVELOPMENT AGENCY GETS NEW DEPUTY CHIEF

The Secretary-General, in consultation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has decided to appoint Petko Draganov of Bulgaria as Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD. Draganov is expected to assume his functions in May 2009. He will replace the late Dirk J.Bruinsma.

Draganov is currently serving a second term as the Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

BAN KI-MOON MARKS WORLD DAY OF SOCIAL JUSTICE: Today is the first World Day of Social Justice. In his

message, the Secretary-General stresses that global stability and prosperity depends on equal opportunities for people. He adds that justice is still an elusive dream for many people who suffer from extreme poverty, hunger, discrimination and the denial of human rights. The global financial crisis threatens to make the situation even worse. He calls for a renewed commitment to the principles of social justice and the vigorous pursuit of strategies and policies that will achieve it.

UNICEF OPENS 200TH SCHOOL IN TSUNAMI-HIT INDONESIAN REGION: UNICEF

reports that it has opened its two hundredth school in Indonesias Aceh-Nias region since the 2004 tsunami. The school has 22 classrooms and will house more than a thousand students. UNICEF and its partners are planning to open nearly 150 more such schools in Indonesia by September.

IRAN, SYRIA REPORTS TO BE PRESENTED TO IAEA BOARD: Asked about recent reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran and Syria, the Spokeswoman said no comment would be made on those reports until they are presented to the IAEA Board of Governors, which is scheduled for 2 March.

SEARCH FOR NEW SECURITY CHIEF STILL GOING ON: Asked about the effort to find a replacement for Under-Secretary-General for Security and Safety David Veness, the Spokeswoman said that process is ongoing.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS[1]

21 February 27 February

Saturday, 21 February

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes is scheduled to wrap up his visit to Sri Lanka (visit began 19 February).

Through 25 February, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg is on an official visit to Zimbabwe.

Today is International Mother Language Day.

Monday, 23 February

At 12.45 p.m. in Room S-226, there will be a press conference on the occasion of the Economic and Social Councils (ECOSOC) special meeting on advancing progress in maternal and girls health and neglected tropical diseases. That meeting takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. in the ECOSOC and Trusteeship Council Chambers. The Secretary-General and former U.S. President Bill Clinton are among the expected attendees.

Through 20 March, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations holds its 2009 substantive session. Todays opening meeting is at 10 a.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.

All this week in Conference Room 4, the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting for the seventeenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development takes place.

In Geneva, the Human Rights Council is schedule to resume its tenth special session, on the global economic and financial crisis, at which time the Council will take action on a draft resolution.

All this week in Geneva, the World Trade Organizations Trade Facilitation Negotiating Group takes place.

All this week in Geneva, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities holds its first session.

From today through Wednesday, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes is on his first official visit to Colombia, to assess the humanitarian situation there.

Tuesday, 24 February

From today through Friday, the 40th session of the Statistical Commission takes place in Conference Room 3.

From 1 to 2.30 p.m. in Conference Room 6, there will be a presentation and panel discussion on Self-determination: International law and politics.

Wednesday, 25 February

The Secretary-General is in South Africa, where he is scheduled to meet with President Motlanthe and the Ministers for Finance and Environment.

In Geneva, the World Meteorological Organization and the International Council for Science release the State of Polar Research report, which contains preliminary findings of the International Polar Year.

There will be a meeting today in the U.N. Protected Area in Nicosia between Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

In Freetown, the Special Court for Sierra Leone is scheduled to give its trial judgment in the case of The Prosecutor vs. Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao (the Revolutionary United Front trial).

Thursday, 26 February

The Secretary-General is in Tanzania, where he is scheduled to hold discussions with President Kikwete and address the diplomatic and academic community in Dar es Salaam.

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution on the U.N. Mission in Timor-Leste, then hold a debate on the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq.

At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, the U.N. Global Compact Office briefs on current anti-corruption efforts by its corporate participants.

Friday, 27 February

The Secretary-General is scheduled to inaugurate the One UN Office in Zanzibar. He is also due to fly over the receding ice cap of Mount Kilimanjaro on his way to Arusha to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hear a briefing from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europes Chairperson-in-Office.

In The Hague, The Special Court for Sierra Leone is scheduled to hold a status conference in the trial of The Prosecutor vs. Charles Taylor.

[1]This document is for planning purposes only and is current as of 1 p.m. on DATE \@ "dddd, dd MMMM, yyyy" \* MERGEFORMAT Friday, 20 February, 2009.

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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