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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-04

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, March 4, 2009

BAN KI-MOON CALLS ON SUDAN TO CONTINUE TO COOPERATE FULLY WITH ALL U.N. ENTITIES

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has today issued a warrant for the arrest of President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan, for his alleged responsibility for crimes committed in Darfur.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognizes the authority of the International Criminal Court as an independent judicial institution.

The Secretary-General trusts that the Government of Sudan will address the issues of peace and justice in a manner consistent with Security Council resolution 1593 (2005).

The United Nations will continue to conduct its vital peacekeeping, humanitarian, human rights and development operations and activities in Sudan.

The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Sudan to continue to cooperate fully with all UN entities and their implementing partners, while fulfilling its obligation to ensure the safety and security of the civilian population, UN personnel and property, and that of its implementing partners.

The Secretary-General calls on all parties to work in good faith toward a political solution to end the conflict in Darfur. He also calls on the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to recommit themselves to the full and timely implementation of the Agreement, which remains the basis for the long term peace and security in Sudan.

Asked about how todays arrest warrant would affect the Secretary-Generals contacts with President Al-Bashir, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), and the AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator will continue to deal with all parties in pursuit of their mandates. President Al-Bashir is the Head of State of Sudan, she noted, and United Nations officials will continue to deal with President Al-Bashir when they need to do so.

Asked if UN forces might be asked to help execute the arrest warrant, the Spokesperson said that the UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan, UNMIS and UNAMID, do not have a mandate to execute ICC arrest warrants. Responsibility lies with the Government of Sudan, consistent with Security Council resolution 1593 (2005), and with States parties to the Rome Statute.

Asked whether the ICC arrest warrant would harm efforts to advance the peace process in Darfur, Montas said that reaching a political solution of the crisis in Darfur will remain one of the fundamental goals of the United Nations in Sudan, regardless of the outcome of the ICC process. The AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator will continue to work with the parties to this end.

Asked about whether ICC decisions are binding, the Spokesperson said they were binding for States parties to the Rome Statute, and she noted that Sudan is not a State party. A representative from the UNs Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) supplemented the Spokespersons answer by reading out operative paragraph 2 of Security Council resolution 1593 (2005), which says, "The Security Council . . .Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations . . .Decides that the Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur, shall cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor pursuant to this resolution and, while recognizing that States not party to the Rome Statute have no obligation under the Statute, urges all States and concerned regional and other international organizations to cooperate fully. The OLA representative added that his Office was still studying the ICCs judgment, which it had only received two hours ago.

Asked if the Secretary-General would call on Sudan to surrender President Al-Bashir, she said she had nothing to add to the Secretary-Generals statement on this matter.

Asked if the Secretary-General has contacted the Sudanese authorities or vice versa in light of todays warrant, she said no.

Asked about reports that one rebel group had announced that it would not negotiate with President Al-Bashir now because of the warrant, the Spokesperson said she was not aware of those reports.

In response to a further question, the Spokesperson said that the announcement by the ICC does not affect the existing commitment and obligation of the UN to support peace in Sudan. The UN will continue to work with the Sudanese authorities to further the full implementation of UNAMID and UNMIS mandates. In particular, the UN will continue to work with all parties to ensure that assistance is provided to 4.7 million civilians requiring life-saving assistance, including more than 2.7 million internally displaced persons.

ICC ISSUES ARREST WARRANT FOR PRESIDENT OF SUDAN

According to the

ICC, the Sudanese President is suspected of being criminally responsible, as an indirect (co-)perpetrator, for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property. This is the first warrant of arrest ever issued for a sitting Head of State by the ICC.

According to the Judges, the above-mentioned crimes were allegedly committed during a five year counter-insurgency campaign by the Government of Sudan against the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and other armed groups opposing the Government of Sudan in Darfur.

According to the ICC, a core component of that campaign was the unlawful attack on that part of the civilian population of Darfur belonging largely to the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups perceived to be close to the organized armed groups opposing the Government of Sudan in Darfur.

The Court says that his status as a sitting head of state does not grant him immunity against prosecution. If arrested, he will be tried on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes. He has not been indicted on charges of genocide, the Pre-Trial Chamber said.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said at the press conference in The Hague a few hours ago that he has "strong evidence" to prove that President Bashir, has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

BAN KI-MOON VOICES CONCERN AS NGOs SEE THEIR REGISTRATION REVOKED IN SUDAN

The security situation in Darfur today was reported as relatively calm.

The Government of Sudan this morning conducted a ground and aerial show of force in El Fasher, North Darfur and Nyala, South Darfur.

Peaceful demonstrations took place in El Fasher, Nyala and El Geneina, West Darfur, following the ICC announcement that it has issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese President. More demonstrations have been scheduled tomorrow.

The African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that UNAMID police and peacekeepers continue to carry out their normal patrolling activities and are closely monitoring developments throughout the region, particularly in and around the IDP camps.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that of 12 NGOs summoned by the Sudan Government Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), six have already confirmed that their legal registrations have been revoked, a list of assets must be produced for seizure, and that they must leave North Sudan with immediate effect.

In response to a question at the noon briefing about the reported expulsion of NGOs by Sudan, the Spokeswoman later said the Secretary-General is concerned to hear that between six and ten humanitarian NGOs have had their registrations revoked, and some of their assets seized. He notes that this represents a serious setback to lifesaving operations in Darfur, and urges the Government of Sudan to act urgently to restore these NGOs to their full operational status.

NGOs affected include Oxfam, Solidarités, and Mercy Corps. They were informed today by the Sudan Government Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) that their legal registrations have been revoked, a list of assets must be produced for seizure, and that they must leave North Sudan with immediate effect. The United Nations was notified that officials from the Sudan Government HAC have insisted on accompanying some INGO staff members into their offices and taking lists of assets and staff.

Affected NGOs are the main providers of life-saving humanitarian services, such as water, food, health and sanitation. Their departure will have an immediate and serious IMPACT on the humanitarian and security situation in North Sudan, especially in Darfur.

NEW STABILIZATION AND RECONSTRUCTION PLAN PUT IN PLACE FOR EASTERN CONGO

The Secretary-General's Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Alan Doss, has welcomed a new stabilization and reconstruction plan for the eastern DRC, which was agreed upon by local and international stakeholders under the auspices of the Congolese Prime Minister. Doss specifically pledged to support the plan in the areas of security and the restoration of State authority.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the DRC, known as

MONUC, reports that a total of 880 children, including 41 girls, were rescued from the ranks of armed groups in North Kivu in February. The vast majority of these children were Congolese but there were also smaller groups of Rwandans, Burundians and Ugandans. All of them were registered by MONUCs child protection unit are now in the care of humanitarian agencies. They will soon be reunited with their families, MONUC says.

In related news, in the DRCs Katanga province, in the area of Ankoro, a joint mission led by

UNICEF arrived today to address the issue of malnutrition.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that between September 2008 and now, there have been nearly 1,200 cases of children suffering from acute malnutrition in Ankoro. That malnutrition is being compounded by population increases as well as malaria, OCHA adds.

Also in Katanga, the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting local efforts to treat a cholera epidemic.

AFGHANISTAN: U.N. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE WELCOMES 20 AUGUST ELECTION DATE

Kai Eide, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, today

welcomed the statement by the Independent Election Commission reaffirming that the presidential and provincial council elections will be held on 20 August. That date, he said, would provide the time for the necessary preparations, campaigning and the provision of security.

Eide emphasized the need for broad consensus so that the election process can move forward in a way that ensures the political stability of the country and the legitimacy of its institutions. He said that the United Nations will do its utmost to contribute to the effort to ensure that the elections are transparent and credible.

MYANMAR: MANDATE OF POST-CYCLONE RECOVERY EFFORTS IS EXTENDED

After 10 months of a successful joint humanitarian response, the mandate of the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) for post-Cyclone Nargis recovery efforts in Myanmar has been

extended for another year.

With the extension, the TCG - comprising high-level representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, the United Nations, and the Government of the Myanmar - will continue its joint work until July 2010.

Foreign Ministers participating in their 14th ASEAN meeting agreed to extend the mandate of the group, highlighting its confidence that the TCGs mechanism is efficiently facilitating distribution and utilization of assistance from the international community, to support Myanmars relief and recovery efforts.

Members of the TCG reiterated its pledge to continue supporting Myanmar in its recovery and put in place coordination and funding mechanisms for the Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan and work, together with the international community.

The medium-term recovery needs identified in the plan amounts to $691 million over the next three years.

Challenges remain and the affected population will need continued support as outlined in the three-year recovery plan. With the extension of the TCG, the UN in Myanmar appeals to the international donor community to continue supporting the affected people

UNITED NATIONS HAS UP-TO-DATE INVENTORY OF GIFTED ART WORK AT HEADQUARTERS

In response to questions about the accuracy of a news story on reported missing art works at the United Nations, the Spokeswoman said the United Nations has an up-to-date inventory of the art work gifted by Member States to the Organization in New York.

The electronic records were first established in the early 90s from paper records. They are now being digitalized to create a central digital record of the art at the UNHQ premises.

At any given moment, the art on the walls of the United Nations are a mix of member states gifts to the organization, gifts to individuals and loans by friends of the Organization and museums. About 240 works of art are normally on display.

The Organizations records regarding the two pieces of artwork mentioned in the Financial Times article indicate that neither item was an official gift to the Organization from a Member State.

The only information available on the Rivera sculpture relates to a press release dated October 1961. On the oil painting Evening only a note exists dating back to March 1991 on its relocation from storage. The search for these two pieces of art, the whereabouts of which have been unknown since early 1990s, has not yielded results.

The items from China that were mentioned in the FT article were not official gifts, and therefore never included in the official record of gifts from member states to the Organization. The UN is not aware of any missing gift from Mexico.

Two books have been printed that document the art in the United Nations. Neither book was an official UN publication, and therefore the UN does not consider these art books a reliable source for establishing ownership. They only establish that certain art was on the walls that year.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL'S NEXT PRESS CONFERENCE IS LIKELY TO BE NEXT THURSDAY: Asked when the Secretary-General would hold his next monthly press conference, the Spokesperson said it would probably be next Thursday, a week from tomorrow, after his trip to Haiti.

SRI LANKA: UNITED NATIONS INSISTS THAT CIVILIANS BE PROTECTED: Asked about what the UN was doing about reports by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) that displaced persons in Sri Lanka were unable to leave their camps, the Spokesperson said the UN had been insisting that civilians be protected and had called for as much protection as possible to be present at the camps.

LETTER ABOUT JOURNALIST DETAINED IN IRAN HAS NOT BEEN RECEIVED: Asked about a letter supposedly sent by a U.S. Senator to the Secretary-General about Roxana Saberi, a journalist reportedly detained in Iran, the Spokesperson said the letter had not been received, but that the Secretary-General was aware of the story.

EMPOWERING WOMEN THROUGH BUSINESS: Tomorrow, the UN Global

Compact and

UNIFEM will convene a joint event at Headquarters to commemorate International Women's Day, observed on 8 March. Called Advancing Women in the Global Marketplace, the event will bring together representatives of business, civil society, academia, labor, Governments and the UN to identify what business can and is doing to empower and advance women around the world and how these efforts relate to corporate responsibility. Participants will also discuss whether a set of Women's Principles, a new business code of conduct designed to promote gender equality, might be useful to stimulate further progress.

UNESCO AND LOREAL SALUTE WOMEN IN SCIENCE: The UNESCO-LOREAL International Fellowships for Women in Science will be

presented today, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The two-year fellowships worth up to $40,000 each support 15 young post-doctoral students helping them to pursue research outside their country of origin tomorrow, the lOREAL-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science will

recognize five laureates one from each of the five continents. The 100,000 US dollar awards are presented each year since 1998 to five outstanding women researchers for their work in physical science.

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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