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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-13

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 NOON

BRIEFING

BY FARHAN HAQ

ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, March 13, 2009

SRI LANKA: HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF IS ALARMED AT MOUNTING CIVILIAN CASUALTIES

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today

expressed growing alarm at the increasing number of civilians reported killed and injured in the conflict in northern Sri Lanka, and at the apparent ruthless disregard being shown for their safety.

She said, Certain actions being undertaken by the Sri Lankan military and by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) may constitute violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. She described the situation as absolutely desperate.

The Human Rights

Office said a range of credible sources have indicated that more than 2,800 civilians may have been killed and more than 7,000 injured since 20 January, many of them inside the no-fire zones. The casualties are believed to include hundreds of children killed.

Pillay said the brutal and inhuman treatment of civilians by the LTTE is utterly reprehensible, and should be examined to see if it constitutes war crimes.

The High Commissioner called on both the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE to immediately suspend hostilities in order to allow the evacuation of the entire civilian population by land or sea.

She also urged the Sri Lankan Government to grant full access to United Nations and other independent agencies to allow an accurate assessment of the human rights and humanitarian conditions in the conflict zone.

DARFUR: HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES FOCUS ON BRIDGING IMMEDIATE GAPS AFTER EXPULSION OF NGOs

The United Nations is continuing to press for the reversal of the decision of the Sudanese Government to expel 13 non-governmental organizations. At the same time, the United Nations is focusing on mitigating immediate risks that could create a crisis, such as in areas of water or food.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that the results of the ongoing joint UN/Sudanese Government assessment mission to Darfur would be made public next week after it competes its work on Wednesday, 18 March.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said that the planned distribution of two months rations to the 1.1 million people who were in the area that had been served by the expelled WFP partner non-governmental organizations would begin in the coming days, probably from Sunday onwards.

UNICEF, which is concerned by the impact on the quality and the distribution of water, said it was working with the Government and its other UN partners to face the immediate needs. The immediate responses were designed to ensure that the most urgent needs of the affected populations could be met, potentially, for up to three months.

The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern over the fact that many of the NGOs had been doing important work of surveillance and detection, on a daily and weekly basis, of outbreaks of diseases, water-born and vector-born, malnutrition and reproductive health issues. The fact that they were no longer operating in this complex emergency area made it difficult to know what the diseases circulating or appearing in that region were.

WHO was very much concerned about the meningitis outbreak in the Kalma Camp in southern Darfur. They were aware of 54 cases, including four deaths. WHO was now in discussion with the Government of Sudan to find an alternative to start an immunization campaign. Meningitis was very dangerous, especially in crowded areas. If they would not immunize people rapidly, more cases would arise in this camp, it warned.

Asked whether the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) was aware that NGOs were providing the International Criminal Court (ICC) with information, the Spokesperson said that it is not for OCHA or any other UN entity to comment in any way on questions relating to any aspect of the relationship between NGOs and the ICC. NGOs, he said, are entirely free to decide independently of the UN whether, and if so, in what way to cooperate with the ICC.

Asked whether any such cooperation is a violation of the code of conduct for NGOs working with the UN in humanitarian crises, which requires strict neutrality on the part of humanitarian aid workers, Haq noted that the United Nations does not comment on questions concerning the relationship between NGOs and the ICC.

In response to whether the United Nations itself has provided any information to the ICC, the Spokesperson recalled that, by resolution 58/318 of 13 September 2004, the General Assembly approved by consensus the Relationship Agreement between the United Nations and the International Criminal Court which subsequently entered into force upon its signature by the Secretary-General and the President of the Court. The UN Secretariat and its units, such as OCHA, are bound by this Agreement, he said. The Relationship Agreement provides for cooperation between the UN and the ICC subject to the principle that, for the United Nations, cooperation can only occur with due regard to the responsibilities and competence under the UN Charter and subject to its rules. Due to confidentiality imperatives, Haq added, the United Nations cannot comment on specific instances of cooperation.

In response to further questions, he said that he was not aware of any recent communications between the Secretary-General and senior Sudanese officials on the ICC issue.

MADAGASCAR: ONLY SOLUTION IS RESUMPTION OF DIALOGUE

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been following with concern the escalating tensions in Madagascar. n a statement issued Thursday afternoon, he reiterated that the only solution to the current crisis is the resumption of dialogue and called on both parties to fulfill their commitment to resolve their differences within the framework of an inclusive National Conference

While there is concern over divisions within the armed forces, the Secretary-General welcomes the decision by the armed forces to continue to respect Constitutional order.

The UN Senior Adviser, Mr. Tiébilé Dramé, remains engaged to help facilitate the talks and provide full UN support to the much needed national reconciliation process.

PLANNING FOR NEXT MEETING OF SOMALIAS NATIONAL RECONCILIATION PROCESS UNDERWAY

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, says that planning is underway for the next meeting of Somalias national reconciliation process. Somali government and opposition officials will very soon be discussing political cooperation and justice, among other issues. A meeting of the parties joint security committee is also expected to take place.

Ould-Abdallah says he is encouraged by this and other steps towards peace and stability in Somalia. He noted that a number of lawmakers, who had earlier fled violence in Mogadishu, have now returned and resumed work.

The international community, Ould-Abdallah said, must now do its part to fully support the new Somali government.

He plans to brief the Security

Council on Somalia next Friday.

ELECTORAL IDENTIFICATION PROCESS SLOWING DOWN IN CÔTE DIVOIRE

The United Nations Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (ONUCI) says that the electoral identification process, which was begun in September, appears to be slowing down with its goals still out of reach. Some 860 of the 10,000 registration sites across the country have not yet opened.

Additionally, a lack of work material at some sites is slowing down the effort while recurrent labor strikes by electoral workers have disrupted operations in some regions.

The Mission calls on all parties to redouble their recruitment efforts and to find solutions to the various problems now facing the initiative.

BAN KI-MOON URGES PAKISTAN'S LEADERS TO SOLVER THEIR DIFFERENCES THROUGH HONEST DIALOGUE

Asked about recent signs of unrest in Pakistan, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is concerned about the current political and security situation in Pakistan.

Pakistan's leaders, whether in power or in the opposition, have the responsibility first and foremost to ensure the safety and security of the Pakistani people. Any action that they undertake should bear this in mind, Haq said.

The Secretary-General calls upon Pakistan's leaders to solve all their differences through an honest dialogue to be able to deal with the multitude of challenges the country and the region face, he added.

BAN KI-MOON: AFGHANISTAN FACES A CRITICAL TEST IN 2009

In his latest report on Afghanistan, the Secretary-General says that the Government and people of that country face a critical test in 2009, as it prepares to hold credible elections over the coming months.

The Secretary-General says that preparations for the 20 August elections will likely take place during a period of intensified fighting, and he said that the elections must be held in as secure an environment as possible, where the freedoms of expression, media and assembly that democracy requires are guaranteed as much as possible.

While there are reasons to believe that security in Afghanistan may worsen, there are also some reasons for optimism, adding that a judicious deployment of additional international troops to provide security for the Afghan people would be a welcome development, he says. The report also notes some progress in strengthening Afghanistans own security services and in lowering poppy production.

The report also details the UN Mission in Afghanistans work over the past year, and the Secretary-General recommends that its mandate be extended for a further 12 months.

Also today, the UN Refugee Agency and the Government of Pakistan signed a letter of intent to allow registered Afghans to extend their stay in Pakistan until the end of 2012.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WILL REVIEW REPORT OF INQUIRY INTO DAMAGES AT U.N. FACILITIES IN GAZA

Asked about the UN inquiry into the casualties and damages at UN facilities during the recent conflict in Gaza, the Spokesperson recalled that the Board of Inquiry will report to the Secretary-General upon completion of its investigation, hopefully within a month of when it began its work. The Secretary-General will review the report, and decide, at that point, what further steps to take.

He noted, in response to a further question, that the Secretary-General and UN officials on the ground continue to contact Israeli officials to obtain an opening to humanitarian aid of all the crossing points into Gaza. He said that the amount of aid going into Gaza had improved over the past week, although it remained below what the United Nations believes is needed.

BAN KI-MOON STRESSES NEED FOR STRONGER COHERENCE AT UNITED NATIONS

The Secretary-General this morning spoke at the Informal Consultations of the General Assembly on United Nations System-wide Coherence, and he told them that stronger coherence is essential.

The United Nations, he said, needs to be more efficient and more effective. In that regard, he said that advancing gender equality and empowering women is one of his top priorities. At the moment, however, the UN gender architecture lacks a recognized driver, and the Secretary-General pointed to several options to consolidate the UNs work on gender.

On strengthening the governance of operational activities for development, he said we need to focus on five areas: transparency, policy coherence, coordination, funding and accountability.

The Secretary-General added that strengthening the funding system should be underpinned by a number of objectives, including: a strong commitment to core resources; predictability, stability and adequacy of voluntary funding flows; a simplification of the funding architecture; and more equitable burden-sharing.

DEPUTY-SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCLUDES HER TRIP TO TANZANIA

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro has wrapped up a visit to Tanzania by giving a press conference.

The Deputy Secretary-General said that she had discussed with President Jakaya Kikwete the importance to keep pushing to attain the Millennium Development Goals, even at this time of a global financial crisis. She added that with the UNs Delivering as One initiative in progress in the country, Tanzania had a unique opportunity to attain the Goals.

She added that she had discussed the killings of people with albinism with the President, who assured the United Nations that the Government was determined to stop the killings.

ACHIEVING UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO HIV PREVENTION AND TREATMENT IS PRIORITY

UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibé spoke to the press in Geneva today to outline his vision for the work of his agency. He said that his number one priority for

UNAIDS is to help countries achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

He also noted that, in this global economic crisis, economic adjustments should be made with a human face in mind. In that regard, he said that resources for AIDS responses are investments, not expenditures. He also stressed that a mother should not have to choose between continuing HIV treatment and feeding her children.

Sidibé added that investing in the fight against AIDS now will help avert nearly 3 million new HIV infections and more than 1 million deaths over the next two years.

UNESCO MEETING OUTLINES ROLE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE IN ARCTIC

At a meeting

hosted by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Monaco, participants have concluded that to confront climate change in the Arctic, it is necessary to draw on the knowledge of indigenous people and to acknowledge the value of maintaining their traditional cultures.

Participants also noted that the rapidly changing climate in the Arctic is putting pressure on hundreds of thousands of indigenous people, while science, development and conservation efforts are often driven by interests outside the Arctic.

Asked why the Secretary-General seemed confident that a deal on climate change could be reached later this year in Copenhagen, the Spokesperson said that was because the Secretary-General believed that the Member States were more aware of the challenge posed by climate change and determined to act in response. He noted that the Secretary-General, in his Thursday

press conference, had pointed to climate change as a threat to our existence.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS[1]

14 20 March 2009

Sunday, 15 March

At midnight, the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) will take over the military and security responsibilities of the European Union Force (EUFOR). The event will be marked by a ceremony in Abéché which will be attended by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy.

Monday, 16 March

Today, the Security Council will hold consultations on the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT).

The guests at the noon briefing will be John Holmes, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, to give an update on the humanitarian situation in Sudan.

The Fifth World Water Forum opens today in Istanbul and runs through March 20, under the theme "Bridging Divides for Water". Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, will represent the Secretary-General. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Director General Jacques Diouf will also be present.

From today until Friday, the 19th session of the FAO Committee on Forestry and the first World Forest Week will be held at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy.This years themes are sustainable forest management and climate change and institutional change in a dynamic world.

Tuesday, 17 March

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat meet today under UN auspices in Nicosia. They plan to discuss matters concerning the European Union.

At 11 a.m. in Room-S226, General Assembly President Miguel dEscoto Brockmann briefs the press on his recent trip to Syria, Finland, China, Bahrain, Switzerland and Iran as well as on current General Assembly issues.

Tonight at 7 p.m., in the ECOSOC Chamber, the UN Department of Public Information and Sci Fi Network host a special event in connection with the release of the final episode of Battlestar Galactica. Moderated by Whoopi Goldberg, Battlestar Galactica: A retrospective will examine themes of importance to both the United Nations and this TV show: human rights, children and armed conflict, terrorism and reconciliation among civilizations and faiths. Panelists included actors and creators of the show; Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Craig Mokhiber, Deputy Director, New York Office, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy, Planning, Executive Office of the Secretary-General.

Wednesday, 18 March

The Security Council will hold an open debate on the African Union- United Nations Panel report.

Today, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Trusteeship Council chamber, the President of the General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, chairs a thematic and interactive debate on the right to 'Education in Emergencies' such as conflicts or humanitarian disasters. Other participants include Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned of Qatar and President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi.

Following the noon briefing, Nicholas Burnett, Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO and Vernor Muñoz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, will be joined by other speakers brief on General Assemblys thematic debate.

From 3 to 6 p.m, in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) will launch a report and hold a discussion on Ways forward for supporting victims of terrorism.

Thursday, 19 March

This morning, the Security Council mission to Haiti will brief on its trip. The Council will then hold consultations on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). In the afternoon, the Security Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Friday, 20 March

Today, the Security Council will hold a debate on Somalia.

A conference entitled UNESCO Against Racism: Lessons from the past, current challenges and future perspectives will be held on 20 March at UNESCO in Paris to coincide with International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March).

Starting today and through 22 March, the Food and Agriculture Organization and European professional football leagues are organizing a Europe-wide football week-end against hunger.

[1]This document is for planning purposes only and is current as of DATE \@ "HH:mm" 13:57 DATE \@ "dddd, dd MMMM, yyyy" Friday, 13 March, 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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