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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-25

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

ARCHIVES

.HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON

BRIEFING

BY MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Oscar Fernandez-Taranco of Argentina as Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. He will take up his functions in May this year.

In this position, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco will be responsible, inter alia, for overseeing Department for Political Affairs (DPA) divisions dealing with the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East and West Asia, as well as the Decolonization Unit and the Division for Palestinian Rights.

He has worked in the UN system for over 25 years, both in Headquarters and the field, most recently serving as UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania leading the UN reform initiative of Delivering as One. Mr. Fernandez-Taranco replaces Angela Kane, who became Under-Secretary-General for Management in May last year.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR AFGHANISTAN

The Secretary-General has appointed Peter W. Galbraith of the United States of America as his Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan. Mr. Galbraith will be responsible for political issues, including continuing electoral and parliamentary matters, as well as issues related to peace and stability, security sector reform, and human rights. Mr. Galbraith replaces Christopher Alexander of Canada who will be completing his assignment at the end of March.

The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. Alexander for his dedicated service in Afghanistan over the past three years, during which he made a valuable contribution to the UN Mission in Afghanistans (UNAMAs) efforts to foster peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Mr. Galbraith is currently a Senior Diplomatic Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and founder of the Windham Resources Group LLC, a firm that specializes in international negotiations and strategies.

In response to questions about Galbraiths earlier actions as US Ambassador to Croatia, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations was aware of these concerns. She said that there had been extensive consultations on this appointment and Galbraith was believed to be the most qualified candidate for this post, because of his previous experience for the United Nations, notably in East Timor.

Asked about the impact of appointing a US national to a senior UNAMA post, Montas said that Galbraith, as with all UN staff, is an international civil servant and, in this post, would not act on behalf of any government.

She said, in clarification to a previous story about the appointment, that the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Kai Eide, has a good relationship with the United States. She noted that when the Secretary-General met with President Obama in Washington, the President spoke highly of Kai Eide, as well as of the UN's role in Afghanistan.

Asked whether Eide might leave the Mission following Galbraiths appointment, the Spokeswoman noted that there exist no friction between Eide and Galbraith; they are friends.

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS OPEN DEBATE ON MIDDLE EAST

The

Security Council is holding an open debate on the

Middle East, which began with a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe. Pascoe told the Council that, two months since unilateral ceasefires were declared in Gaza, we face a worrying situation of impasse and uncertainty. Despite international engagement and support, very little concrete progress has been made on key issues outlined in Security Council resolution 1860.

He warned that the intolerable situation at Gazas crossings remains the key impediment to bringing help and hope to the people of Gaza. The United Nations, Pascoe said, reiterates its call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law and to open the crossings for emergency supplies and reconstruction materials, without which there will be no way to rebuild Gaza.

He said that the United Nations continues to be concerned that, despite Egyptian efforts, no ceasefire regime is in place. And he stressed that we need to have both Israeli and Palestinian governments that are clearly committed to the two-State solution.

As for the Board of Inquiry looking into the incidents at UN premises in Gaza, Pascoe said that the Board will submit its report to the Secretary-General when he returns to New York in early April.

Asked about the Board of Inquiry report, the Spokeswoman noted that the report has not been turned in yet and that it would be produced separately from any inquiry by the Israeli Government.

Asked about a Human Rights Watch report on the use of white phosphorus by Israel, Montas recalled that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had reported the possible use of that substance near UN facilities. The United Nations, she added, has not had an independent investigation to confirm its use.

FIRE AT ABU ZAR CAMP KILLS TWO INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS IN DARFUR

Two internally displaced persons (IDPs) died today after a fire broke out at the Abu Zar camp near the West Darfur state capital of El Geneina, according to the UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

A joint team of UNAMID military and police personnel that was dispatched to the camp to investigate the fires cause was informed by residents that two armed men in military uniform and two others in civilian clothes were seen entering the camp, starting a fire sometime after midnight, and then fleeing.

One woman died at the scene and a 22-year-old man died later after being taken to hospital. Three other seriously injured displaced persons are receiving medical treatment at El Geneina hospital. The blaze spread relatively quickly because of strong winds at the camp, and as many as 1,500 residents were affected by the fire.

Senior UNAMID military and police officials expressed their deep concern to the displaced persons at Abu Zar following the incident.

In general, however, the Mission reports that the security situation in Darfur remained relatively calm.

CONDITIONS AT NO-FIRE ZONE IN NORTHERN SRI LANKA STILL INSECURE

In the Vanni region of

Sri Lanka, conditions for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the no-fire zone continue to remain insecure and precarious, with shelling still reported and limited access to food, safe water, sanitation facilities and medical assistance.

On 22 March, the International Red Cross delivered to the no-fire zone a two-week supply of medicines aboard a ship, and preparations are under way by the World Food Programme (WFP) to send 1,000 metric tons of food to the area by the end of the week.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continue to forcibly recruit civilians and prevent people from leaving the Vanni region.

Meanwhile, the first phase of registration of the current displaced persons caseload in the Vavuniya camps is ongoing and is expected to be completed by the end of April.

Since 1 January up to 23 March, 44,756 persons crossed from conflict areas, and are accommodated in IDP camps, mostly located in Vavuniya, as well as Mannar and Jaffna.

A total of 3,701 shelters have been constructed at various sites for displaced persons in Vavuniya District by humanitarian agencies, while UNICEF is setting up a temporary medical facility for an IDP settlement in that area.

LEGAL TEAM FOR LEBANON SPECIAL TRIBUNAL HAS BEEN SWORN IN

Recently, the Judges, the Prosecutor and the Registrar of the

Special Tribunal for Lebanon were sworn in. Judge Antonio Cassese of Italy was appointed President of the Tribunal, and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, as well as those governing detention and the directive on assignment of defense counsel have been adopted.

The Secretary-General appointed, in consultation with the President, François Roux of France as the Head of the Defence Office. He has subsequently been sworn in.

President Cassese and Daniel Fransen of Belgium, the Pre-Trial Judge, will soon take up their duties on a full-time basis. The other Judges of the Trial and Appeals Chambers will take office on a date to be determined by the Secretary-General, in consultation with the President. Their names will be announced once all security measures are in place.

Today, Tribunal Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare filed an application seeking that Judge Fransen issue a request to the Lebanese authorities seized with the case of the attack against Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri for deferral to the Tribunals competence.

UNITED NATIONS MARKS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF REMEMBRANCE OF VICTIMS OF SLAVERY

The Secretary-General

spoke at an event at the UN Peace Bell Garden marking the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. He said that that the inauguration this year of Barack Obama as President of the United States marks a milestone in a 400-year struggle of the descendants of African slaves for justice, assimilation and respect.

He said that although slavery was abolished, the people of African descent around the world must still fight daily against entrenched prejudice that keeps them disproportionately in poverty. It is essential that we speak out loud and clear against such abuses, he said.

The theme of this years observance asks the world to beat the drum to proclaim our shared humanity. Break the Silence, Beat the Drum is also a call to seek harmony in mutual respect, to rejoice in our diversity, and work together for our common goals. These ideals were also celebrated Tuesday evening at the opening of an exhibition of African drums and related artifacts at UN Headquarters, which was attended by the Secretary-General.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR RELEASE OF DETAINED AND MISSING U.N. STAFF

Today is the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members. This day draws attention to the risks faced by United Nations staff and peacekeepers and their colleagues in the non-governmental community and the press.

Let us all redouble our efforts to ensure that all United Nations staff and associated personnel have the protection they need to carry out their vital work for humankind, the Secretary-General said in a

message to mark this day. At least 19 UN staff members are still under arrest, detained or missing, and the Secretary-General called for their immediate release.

The Secretary-General also made

remarks at a UN Correspondents Association event this morning. He said that anyone serving the United Nations, supporting it as a partner or reporting on its work is a potential victim, as recent high profile hostage cases in Niger and Pakistan attest.

In Niger, though Soumana Mounkaila was released last Friday, Robert Fowler and Louis Guay are still missing. In Pakistan, John Solecki is still in captivity, he added.

Concerning John Solecki, UNHCRs Islamabad Office issued a press release today, urging the group holding him to get in touch with them directly to discuss his immediate release. The entire responsibility for Johns well-being rests with the group holding him, it adds.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES RESOLUTION WELCOMING NEW REPRESENTATIVE FOR BOSNIA: Earlier today, the

Security Council approved a resolution that welcomes the designation of Valentin Inzko as the High Representative dealing with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Inzko will replace Miroslav Lajcák, and the Security Council also paid tribute to the former High Representatives efforts.

NEW U.N.D.P. CHIEF APPOINTMENT TO BE ANNOUNCED TOMORROW: In response to a question, the Spokeswoman said that the appointment of a UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator had not been finalized yet, but she expected to make an announcement on Thursday.

REPORT ON ECONOMIC REFORM TO BE DISCUSSED IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Asked about a report by a panel headed by Professor Joseph Stiglitz concerning economic reforms, the Spokeswoman said that it would be discussed in the

General Assembly. That report, she said, was not related to the Secretary-Generals proposals that are to be made at the Group of 20 meeting next week.

FUNDING RECEIVED FOR FACT-FINDING COMMISSION ON BHUTTO ASSASSINATION: Asked about the fact-finding commission that is looking into the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the Spokeswoman said that all of its members have not yet been chosen. She added that the commission has received the necessary funding for its initial work.

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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