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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-20

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









Friday, March 20, 2009


The Security Council

discussed Somalia this morning in an open meeting. In his remarks, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for that country, told the Council members that Somalia appears to be back from the brink. He said thats because the Djibouti Agreement, which is the result of an integrated UN approach linking governance, security and development, is beginning to address some of the complexities of the Somali crisis. He said that while large resources remain available for Somalia, a major problem continues to be their effective and timely disbursement. He asked that this issue be addressed urgently.

This could be done through immediate support for the new authorities, immediate diplomatic and financial assistance to African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and through the transparent and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance, among other means. On the issue of piracy off the Somali coast, Ould-Abdallah said that it is an off-shore reflection of the lack of state authority on land. However, the international naval presence in the Somali waters is an encouraging show of solidarity with the country and the whole region.


The Security Council also heard a briefing on the humanitarian situation in Darfur. That briefing will be provided by Rashid Khalikov of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

OCHA reports that three joint teams comprising personnel from the Government of Sudan and the United Nations have finished their assessments in each of the three Darfur states, to ascertain the humanitarian impact of the expulsions of 16 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Darfur. The assessments concentrated on four life-saving sectors: water, sanitation, and hygiene; health and nutrition; food aid; and non-food items and shelter. The outcomes of the teams findings will be shared on 22 March.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) has started a one-off food distribution which will provide sufficient food for two months worth of rations for 1.1 million beneficiaries. Distributions were organized through existing food distribution committees in each of the three Darfur states.

By the way, once the Security Council briefing on Sudan is finished, Council members will hold a weekend retreat with the Secretary-General.


Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Afghanistan, briefed the Security Council yesterday afternoon on that country,

saying that it still needs adequate resources and political will to meet its main challenges.

Eide said he hopes the upcoming international conference on Afghanistan, to be held in The Hague on 31 March and to be attended by the Secretary-General, will be a new departure point. He said the meeting could provide a new energy and a shared readiness to implement international priorities and use resources in a flexible and coordinated way.

He told the Council, It is an occasion for us to push the doom and gloom atmosphere aside, roll up our sleeves and support the positive trends that we now see emerging in Afghanistan.

Asked about the US policy for dealing with Afghanistan, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General was closely following such policy decisions. He expected the subject to be discussed at the two international conferences he will attend later this month on Afghanistan.

Asked whether Peter Galbraith had been appointed as a Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Montas said that the process of selecting a candidate for that post has not been finalized.


The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has

reported a resumption of attacks on civilians by Rwandan rebels in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). UNHCR says these sporadic attacks may be in retaliation for a joint Rwanda/DRC offensive against the rebels, who had appeared to have been beaten back into retreat. The rebels are known by their French acronym, FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda).

Citing Congolese authorities, UNHCR says that civilians in their thousands have been displaced from the Lubero area of North Kivu in the past two weeks due to FDLR attacks. The agency says it is beefing up its presence in the region to provide emergency aid to the displaced.

Asked whether the United Nations is still trying to repatriate former FDLR combatants to Rwanda, the Spokeswoman said that was still going on, although some rogue FDLR elements continue to fight.


The Secretary-General

welcomes the entry into force of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia. Opened for signature on 8 September 2006, it has now been ratified by all five Central Asian States and will enter into force on 21 March 2009.


Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, for which the Government of Kyrgyzstan is the depositary, has five States parties: the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan. The treaty is of particular significance. This will be the first nuclear-weapon-free zone to be established in the northern hemisphere and will also encompass an area where nuclear weapons previously existed. It will also be the first nuclear-weapon-free zone that requires its parties to conclude with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and bring into force an Additional Protocol to their Safeguards Agreements with IAEA within 18 months after the entry into force of the Treaty, and to comply fully with the provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

In order to ensure the effective implementation of the Treaty, the Secretary-General would like to urge the States concerned to address any outstanding issues that may affect its operation.

As the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons approaches, the Secretary-General trusts that the entry into force of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia will reinforce efforts to strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, underline the strategic and moral value of nuclear-weapon-free zones, as well as the possibilities for greater progress on a range of issues in the pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Asked whether the Secretary-General supports a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, the Spokeswoman said that he supports the General Assemblys decisions on the matter.


Asked to respond to criticism, directed against the Secretary General and attributed to the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) on the hiring process for the position of Executive Director of the Unit , the Spokeswoman stood by what has been said before on this issue. She emphasized that, with regard to filling this post, the Secretary-General has followed all rules and procedures established in accordance with the statute of the JIU, the staff regulations and rules and relevant General Assembly resolutions.

She noted that, as the Chief Administrative Officer of the United Nations, the Secretary-General appoints the staff of the Organization in accordance with article 101 of the Charter and under the regulations established by the General Assembly.

The Joint Inspection Unit and its inspectors have operational independence and are not subject to the Staff Rules and Regulations or other administrative issuances of the Secretary-General. Nevertheless, Montas said, the Executive Secretary is a staff member of the Secretariat and his/her appointment should follow all applicable rules for senior staff appointments.

In this case, she said, the JIU had submitted its recommendation of a single candidate for the post. That recommendation was then forwarded to the Senior Review Group for its review and recommendation. Since 1994, the Senior Review Group has had a consistent and substantive role in advising the Secretary-General on the candidacy of senior staff.

Montas said that the Secretary-General wanted at least three qualified candidates to be recommended. She added that, in accordance with General Assembly rules, those candidates should include at least one qualified female, to allow the Secretary-General to positively exercise his discretion to achieve gender balance among staff at the senior level in the Organization.


Asked about Israels "decision" to investigate alleged rights violations during the recent fighting in Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General had, early on, asked Israel for such an investigation. She noted that, as a separate matter, the United Nations was continuing to pursue a Board of Inquiry review into the deaths, injuries and damages that took place at UN premises in Gaza.

Also, she said, the Human Rights Council was to carry out a wider investigation into rights violations.


Asked about a letter sent by Syrias UN Mission to the Secretary-General criticizing the mandate of the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the Implementation of Resolution 1559, Terje Roed-Larsen, the Spokeswoman said that Roed-Larsen continues to carry out his work implementing that resolution. His mandate, she noted, derives not only from Resolution 1559 but also from subsequent related resolutions, including Resolutions 1680 and 1701.

Those resolutions, she said, provided a "roadmap" or benchmarks for securing Lebanons sovereignty and political independence.

Montas added that the Secretary-General had passed the Syrian letter on to the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly. She said that the Fifth Committee does not interpret the mandate of special political missions based on Security Council resolutions; rather, it is up to the Security Council to define the objectives of its resolutions.


Tomorrow is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In a message to mark this occasion, the Secretary-General urges all countries to work together in the struggle against racism which exists in all countries. He adds that next months review of the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance is a timely opportunity for countries to reaffirm their commitment to the battle against racism.

And in another statement to mark this day, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay,

notes that the Durban Review Conference will be convened under the banner United against Racism: Dignity and Justice for All. She adds that we should be truly make progress in creating a world where the promise of dignity and justice for all is not an empty slogan, she says.


Sunday will mark World Water Day. The Days theme this year is Shared Waters, Shared Opportunities highlighting how trans-boundary water resources can act as a unifying force.

Water is our most precious natural resource, says the Secretary-General in a message. More than ever we need to work together to use it wisely, he adds -- urging governments, civil society, the private sector and all stakeholders to recognize that our collective future depends on how we manage our precious and finite water resources.

In another statement, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

warns that water could become one of the limits to human development. He also notes that investing in the worlds freshwaters could be one of the keys to aiding the global economic recovery. And we have both these messages in my office.


CYBERSECURITY PARTNERSHIP OPENS NEW HEADQUARTERS NEAR KUALA LUMPUR: The global headquarters of the International Multilateral Partnership against Cyber Threats, or IMPACT, was

inaugurated today near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. IMPACT is the worlds first global public-private initiative against cyber-threats. Its collaboration with the UNs International Telecommunication Union (ITU) provides ITUs 191 Member States with the expertise, facilities, real-time information, and rapid access to resources to effectively address the worlds most serious cyber-threats. Speaking at todays inauguration, ITU head Hamadoun Touré said, "Cybersecurity is one of the most critical issues of our time.

TIMOR-LESTE, UNITED NATIONS LAUNCH RADIO SOAP OPERA ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: The Timorese Ministry of Health, supported by the United Nations Population Fund,

launched last week a new radio drama series which chronicles the story of the, a typical Timorese family dealing with the issues of family planning, safe motherhood and other reproductive health issues. Titled Domin Familia, this program on Radio Timor-Leste featuring a forbidden love story was produced at the initiative of the activities where the Ministry of Health emphasizes the importance of creating culturally-sensitive and rights-based materials addressed to the people of Timor-Leste. The objective of the 24-episode radio soap opera is to address reproductive health issues in an entertaining way, ensuring that the audience has access to relevant information intended to increase awareness. Domin Familia is broadcast every Saturday on Radio Timor-Leste.


21 27 March 2009

Saturday, 21 March

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Sunday, 22 March

Today is World Water Day. This years theme is Shared Waters Shared Opportunities.

Monday, 23 March

This morning, the Security Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The Council is also expected to adopt a resolution on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Today is World Meteorological Day. This year, the theme is Weather, climate and the air we breathe.

In Geneva, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 to the Human Rights Council will hold a press conference at 6:15 pm.

Tuesday, 24 March

Today is World TB Day.

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

In Geneva, the new ILO report "Global crisis: the decent work response" will be presented by Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General, and Raymond Torres, Director of the ILO's International Institute for Labour Studies.

Wednesday, 25 March

Today is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The Secretary-general will participate in an outdoor ceremony to mark this years commemoration under the theme Breaking the Silence, Beating the Drum. A concert and cultural event will also be held in the General Assembly Hall, at 7:30 p.m. Emmy Award-winning musician and philanthropist Peter Buffett and pop star Akon will perform a new song entitled Blood into Gold.

At 1 p.m. in Room-S226, Kiyotaka Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Public Information, Peter Buffett and Akon will be joined by other speakers such as Gilberto Gil, former Brazilian Minister of Culture, to brief on the International Day.

Today also marks the International Day of Solidarity with detained and missing staff members.

The Security Council will hold an open debate on The situation in the

Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Thursday, 26 March

The Secretary-General arrives in Moscow, in the Russian Federation, on the first leg of a trip that will also include stops in Doha, Qatar; The Hague, in the Netherlands; London, United Kingdom; Paris, France and Istanbul, Turkey.

This morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on Sudan.

The guest at the noon briefing is Marc Scheuer, Director of the Secretariat of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, briefs on the upcoming Second Forum of the Alliance to be held in Istanbul on 6-7 April.

From 3 pm to 5 pm, in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, a panel discussion entitled Left in the Dark: The Unmet Need for Communication in Humanitarian Response, will look at the information needs of affected populations. Panelists at this event include senior representatives of OCHA, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the BBC World Service Trust, Internews and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Friday, 27 March

In Moscow, the Secretary-General will participate in a conference on Afghanistan, under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The focus will be on the impact the situation in Afghanistan is having on its neighboring States and on ways for States to jointly tackle threats emanating from Afghanistan, including terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.

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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