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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-02
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, March 2, 2009
GUINEA-BISSAU: BAN KI-MOON STRONGLY CONDEMNS ASSASSINATIONS OF PRESIDENT & CHIEF OF STAFF
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is deeply
saddened and dismayed by the assassinations of President Joćo Bernardo Vieira and the Chief of General Staff, General Batista Tagme Na Waie.
The Secretary-General strongly condemns these violent acts, which have occurred soon after successful legislative elections which paved the way for enhanced UN support to the countrys peacebuilding efforts. The Secretary-General calls urgently for calm and restraint, and urges the national authorities of Guinea-Bissau to fully investigate these assassinations and bring to justice those responsible for them.
The Secretary-General sends his condolences to the families of the late President and the Chief of General Staff, as well as to the people of Guinea-Bissau.
He calls on the national authorities of Guinea-Bissau to maintain constitutional order and respect for the rule of law at this critical moment. He remains in close contact with his Representative for Guinea Bissau, Joseph Mutaboba, who along with others in the international community is working to promote peace, political stability and development in the country.
BAN KI-MOON: GAZA BORDER CROSSINGS SITUATION INTOLERABLE
The Secretary-General is currently in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where, earlier today, he addressed the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza.
speech, the Secretary-General told the assembled world leaders that, when it comes to rebuilding Gaza, the foundation must be a durable ceasefire. And that, in turn, requires us to face a number of political realities and to deal with them squarely.
Regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the Secretary-General called the situation at the border crossings intolerable. But while stressing that our first and indispensable goal must be to open the crossings, he also emphasized that it is essential to ensure that illegal weapons do not enter Gaza. He also underlined the need for Palestinian reconciliation.
In concluding, the Secretary-General said that the aftermath of the recent fighting in Gaza presents the international community with an opportunity to change the status quo in the region. "This is our moment," he said.
In terms of bilateral meetings, the Secretary-General met today with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. They discussed the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, Haiti, climate change and food security, among other subjects.
The Secretary-General also held bilaterals with Quartet Representative Tony Blair, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the UKs Foreign Minister, David Miliband, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, and the European Unions Javier Solana, and as well as other participants at the Conference.
The topics of his discussions with these leaders ranged from the situation in the Middle East, including Gaza and Lebanon, to the Darfur peace process, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, climate change and food security. An informal meeting of the Middle East Quartet was also held today in Sharm el-Sheikh.
BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF RELATIONS BETWEEN RWANDA & D.R. CONGO
Over the weekend, the Secretary-General traveled first to the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and later to Rwanda.
At a meeting on Saturday with President Joseph Kabila in Kisangani, the Secretary-General noted that an opportunity has emerged in the wake of the recent DRC/Rwanda joint military operation against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). This opportunity could also improve UN humanitarian access to those in need.
Later that day, the Secretary-General visited a clinic in Goma for victims of sexual crimes,
telling reporters afterward, I am so sad and I am angry. Sexual violence is prevalent throughout the DRC and must stop.
In that press encounter, the Secretary-General said that he welcomed the rapprochement between President Kabila and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. He said he asked the President to continue to solidify this rapprochement.
The following day, the Secretary-General visited the Kibati camp for internally displaced people,
saying that he saw some signs of hope, with the improved security situation following the joint operations against the FDLR providing more space for humanitarian activities.
Yesterday, the Secretary-General also traveled to Kigali, where he met with President Paul Kagame and again welcomed the rapprochement between the DRC and Rwanda. The Secretary-General also
asked that the joint military operation in the eastern Congo does not worsen an already difficult humanitarian situation and impede aid workers access to people in need of assistance.
SPECIAL TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON STARTS WORK IN THE HAGUE
statement issued from Goma yesterday, the Secretary-General announced the start of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague, a little more than four years after the killing of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others in a terrorist attack in central Beirut.
The commencement of the Tribunal's work marks a decisive milestone in the tireless efforts by all Lebanese and the international community to uncover the truth, bring those responsible for this assassination and related crimes to justice and end impunity.
The Secretary-General reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of the United Nations to the Tribunal's mission and called upon all Members States to fully support and cooperate with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as it embarks on its work.
U.N. Legal Counsel Patricia OBrien, who participated in the ceremony to mark the start of the Tribunal, will brief you on its work in this room at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.
EGYPTIAN PEACEKEEPERS BOLSTER DARFUR MISSION
The African Union-United Joint Special Representative, Rodolphe Adada, today traveled to Nyala, South Darfur, and El Geneina, West Darfur, to meet with local authorities in an effort to engage the Government at the national and local levels on issues relating to security in Darfur. During his visits, Adada met the Deputy Wali (Deputy Governor) of South Darfur, Farah Mustafa, and the Deputy Wali of El Geneina, Sanusi Bashar, to discuss the security situation in the respective areas and ways of addressing these issues.
He expressed appreciation for the good relationship between the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the State Governments and reiterated UNAMIDs commitment to fulfill its mandate of protecting civilians in Darfur. The Deputy Walis both reiterated their Governments commitment to facilitate the work of the Mission.
Similarly, UNAMID Deputy Joint Special Representative, Henry Anyidoho, yesterday met the Wali of North Darfur, Osman Mohammed Yousif Kibir, to discuss the security situation in that state. The Wali said the Government intends to take appropriate measures to address any security concerns that may arise following the International Criminal Courts scheduled announcement about the Sudanese President on 4 March.
Meanwhile, UNAMID today reported that the remainder of the Egyptian infantry battalion, consisting of 93 peacekeepers, started arriving in El Fasher, North Darfur today. The second batch, also consisting of 93 peacekeepers, is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, bringing the battalions total number to 850. The additional peacekeepers will join the rest of the battalion that arrived last November and was then deployed in Umm Kadada, North Darfur.
The principal duties of the battalion include conducting confidence-building security patrols and escorts for humanitarian convoys.
The arrival of the 186 Egyptian peacekeepers will bring the Egyptian contribution to the Mission to 1,588 and UNAMIDs military strength to 12,937.
UNAMID today received information that armed militiamen opened fire in Manawashi Market in El Fasher, North Darfur. The cause of the shooting is still unknown and UNAMID security is investigating the incident.
NUCLEAR WATCHDOG SAYS IRAN NEEDS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION AND ACCESS
Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), today
spoke to the Agencys Board of Governors and discussed its recent work in Iran and Syria.
He noted that the latest IAEA report on Iran made clear that, contrary to the request of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, or its work on heavy water related projects. Nor has Iran implemented the Additional Protocol, which is a prerequisite for the Agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. ElBaradei said that, for the Agency to be able to make progress, Iran needs to provide substantive information and access to relevant documentation, locations and individuals in connection with all of the outstanding issues.
He added that the IAEA expects Syria to provide additional information and supporting documentation about the past use and nature of the building at the Dair Alzour site, and information about procurement activities. Providing additional access to other locations alleged to be related to Dair Alzour would be a welcome sign of Syrias transparency, he said.
DISPARAGING LOBBYING CAMPAIGN AGAINST ANTI-RACISM REVIEW CONFERENCE IS UNWARRANTED
The 10th regular session of the Human Rights Council
started today in Geneva. Addressing the body, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she was fully aware that the legacy of the 2001 Durban Conference has been tainted by the anti-Semitic behaviour of some non-governmental organizations that had been at the sidelines of that gathering. And now, she noted, the upcoming Durban Review Conference has been the target of a disparaging media and lobbying campaign on the part of those who fear a repetition of that behaviour. This is unwarranted, she stressed.
The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the document that emerged from the Conference in 2001, transcended divisive and intolerant approaches, she said. And it offers the most comprehensive framework and platform to combat intolerance and racism everywhere.
Pillay added that a persuasive outcome of the Review Conference and beyond hinges upon the genuine commitment of all States to seek consensus. Narrow, parochial interests and reflexive partisanship must be cast aside in the interest of a greater common good, she said.
Failure to do so may reverberate negatively on the full spectrum of human rights work and mechanisms for years to come. She stressed that we need to prevent the acrimony of the past from encumbering the fight against intolerance, which is of urgent concern and in the best interest of everyone.
WOMEN & GIRLS LOOKING AFTER PEOPLE WITH H.I.V. NEED TO BE EMPOWERED
The 53rd session of the
Commission on the Status of Women opened this morning at UN Headquarters. Forty Ministers are registered to participate and around 2,000 non-governmental organizations are expected to attend the two-week meeting. This session will focus on the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDs. It will also take up gender perspectives on the financial crisis as an emerging issue.
In her opening statement,
Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migiro
noted that most domestic and care work is done by women and girls. We must provide adequate resources to empower women and girls who are dedicating their time to looking after people living with HIV, she said.
The Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, added that equal sharing of responsibilities is absolutely critical for achieving gender equality and empowering women.
BAN KI-MOON DISTRESSED BY BANGLADESH VIOLENCE
statement issued last Friday, the Secretary-General is distressed at the mounting death toll in the violent two-day mutiny by members of the Bangladesh Rifles border guards.
He condemns such brutal acts of violence and extends his deepest sympathy to the victims, to their families and to the people and Government of Bangladesh.
The Secretary-General calls for calm and the resolution of this situation without further violence.
FISHING INDUSTRY SHOULD BE BETTER PREPARED FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
The fishing industry and national fisheries authorities must do more to understand and prepare for the impacts that climate change will have on world fisheries, says a new Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
report published today.
According to the latest edition of the UN agency's The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, fishers and fisheries authorities have to get in line with current best practices. The report also highlights that urgent efforts are needed to help fishery and aquaculture dependent communities to strengthen their resilience to climate change, noting that any decreases in the local availability of fish could pose serious problems to their livelihoods.
SINGAPORE & U.S. HAVE LOWEST COMMUNICATION COSTS
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) today
launched a new index which compares 154 countries based on their use of information and communication technologies from 2002 to 2007.
When it comes to such factors as households with a computer and the number of Internet users, the top four countries are Sweden, South Korea, Denmark and the Netherlands. Low-ranking countries are mainly from the developing world. But some developing countries have moved up considerably in the index, like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, and Vietnam.
The ITU also compares the prices of communication services among 150 countries in 2008. Singapore and the United States have the lowest costs.
BAN KI-MOON MARKS 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF LANDMINES TREATY
Marking a decade since the milestone Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction entered into force, the Secretary-General in a
statement urged all States that have not yet done so to accede to the Mine-Ban Convention as soon as possible.
While commending the dedicated efforts of States Parties to the Mine-Ban Convention and mine action practitioners to achieve the goal of a world free of anti-personnel landmines, the Secretary-General urged them to stand by their commitments.
EFFORTS CONTINUING ON REVIVE DIALOGUE WITH DEM. PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Asked about talks between the US-led forces dealing with the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) and DPRK officials, the Deputy Spokesperson said she did not have a direct comment on that but the Secretary-General closely monitors developments on the Korean peninsula and noted that the Korean peninsula was one of the subjects discussed in a bilateral meeting today between Secretary-General and the U.S. Secretary of State.
Asked whether the United Nations had tried to send Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations has been working with the DPRK mission to revive the dialogue channel with the DPRK which was suspended four years ago following Maurice Strong's resignation. This dialogue is proceeding smoothly through the Department for Political Affairs. She added that no particular programme for a visit to DPRK has been set at this point of time. Consultations are ongoing.
LIBYA ASSUMES SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY: With the start of a new month, Libya has replaced Japan in the rotating Presidency of the
Security Council. The Council expects to meet tomorrow to discuss its programme of work for the month.
UNITED NATIONS LOOKING INTO ACCURACY OF MISSING ARTWORK STORY: Asked about a Financial Times story on artwork that has gone missing at UN Headquarters, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the United Nations is looking into the accuracy of the story, noting that there has been an internal audit on the matter. Okabe clarified that the UN Secretariat has a gift registry of the art that has been donated to the Organization by Member States. At any given time, the Organization also displays art that has been donated by Member States to individuals within the UN and art that has been loaned by private collectors or museums to the UN or to individuals within the UN.
U.N. FORCE IN LEBANON TRANSFERS MARITIME COMMAND TO BELGIUM: Yesterday, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) transferred command of its Maritime Task Force to Belgium, at the end of the scheduled one-year term of the European Maritime Force at the helm of the Task Force. The Maritime Task Force has since 2006 been assisting the Lebanese Navy in securing the countrys 200 kilometres of coastline, in order to help in preventing the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon.
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