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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-27

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 MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, March 27, 2009

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF COOPERATION IN FAVOR OF AFGHANISTAN

In Moscow today, the Secretary-General

addressed the Special Conference on

Afghanistan convened under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. He warned that terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and organized crime are impeding progress for the Afghan people. Afghanistan cannot face these challenges alone, the Secretary-General said, adding that cooperation must be our watchword as we respond.

Prior to that, the Secretary-General started his day with a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Dadfar Spanta. During that meeting, the Secretary-General said that todays gathering in Moscow and the upcoming conference in The Hague showed how strongly the international community was committed to Afghanistan. He added that he hoped the Afghan Government would seize this opportunity and move forward on stability, security and social and economic development.

The Secretary-General stressed that it was important for Afghanistan to maintain improved relations with neighboring countries, especially Pakistan. The two also touched on the drug situation in Afghanistan and the need for transparent, democratic and fair elections later this year.

Following his address to the Special Conference on Afghanistan, the Secretary-General met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. They discussed ways of further strengthening relations between the United Nations and Russia, and also talked about a range of international issues where Russia can play a leadership role, including regional issues like Somalia and Sudan and global issues like climate change and the financial crisis. The Secretary-General told the President that he believes that the conferences in Moscow and The Hague are important contributions to a stable, peaceful and democratic Afghanistan.

He also met with Pakistans Foreign Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi. The Secretary-General said he was horrified by todays bombing at a mosque in northwest Pakistan, and he expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. The Secretary-General feels that Pakistan has a crucial role to play in the peace process in Afghanistan. A military solution is not enough in Afghanistan; we also need a political and economic surge and a comprehensive approach, he said. He also thanked Pakistan for its contribution to UN peacekeeping.

The Secretary-General recently

delivered a wide-ranging lecture at an event organized by International Affairs, the journal of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

On Thursday evening, the Secretary-General participated in a working dinner with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that focused mainly on Afghanistan. They also discussed, among other topics, Gaza, North Korea, Kosovo, Georgia/Abkhazia, climate change and nuclear disarmament.

SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR CONTINUED HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE IN DARFUR

On Thursday afternoon, following consultations on

Sudan, the

Security Council President, Ambassador Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgam of Libya, spoke to the press to say that Council members had stressed the importance of continuing the distribution of humanitarian assistance to all the needy in Darfur.

He added that Council members urged the Government of Sudan to continue to cooperate with the United Nations and humanitarian organizations, and appealed to it to reconsider the decision to suspend the activities of some non-governmental organizations in Sudan.

There are no Council meetings or consultations scheduled for Friday.

SOMALIS STILL FLEE COUNTRY DESPITE NEW GOVERNMENT

The

UN Refugee Agency says recent improvements in Somali political life have done little to slow the tide of Somalis fleeing the country. The Agency says that Somali refugees are arriving in even greater numbers at a UN-run camp in northeastern Kenya, with some 20,000 having been registered at the already-overcrowded Dadaab camp since January. UNHCR says the new arrivals are blaming increased insecurity, drought and food shortages for their flight into Kenya.

Built 20 years ago to provide shelter for 90,000 people, the Dadaab camp, one of the oldest and largest refugee site in the world, is home to well over 261,000 people.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: FLOODS CAUSE DISPLACEMENT IN ANGOLA AND NAMIBIA

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that recent rainfalls across Southern Africa have caused massive damage to land and property and displaced several thousands of people in Angola and Namibia. Angola alone has seen 160,000 people affected by the rains and OCHA fears that number is likely to increase. Schools and other public buildings are being used as shelter, a situation that has caused an interruption of classes.

With some $600,000 already allocated to various emergencies actions, UN humanitarian agencies are requesting more funds from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which is managed by OCHA.

In Namibia, where 13,000 people have been displaced, many health facilities and schools are either flooded or inaccessible. The Namibian President has declared an emergency for the north-central and north-eastern part of the country and appealed for international assistance. In response, a Flash Appeal for Namibia is now being finalized.

SECRETARY-GENERAL INTENDS TO APPOINT NEW MINUSTAH FORCE COMMANDER

The Secretary-General has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Major General Floriano Peixoto Vieira Neto of Brazil as Force Commander of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). He will replace Major General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz.

Major General Floriano Peixoto has had a wide-ranging command and staff experience since joining the Brazilian Army in 1973, including prior service with MINUSTAH in 2004. He is currently based in Brasilia.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

The Secretary-General has also appointed Andrei Terekhov as Executive Director of the Office of Administration of Justice.

Terekhov, who previously served as Deputy Director of the General Legal Division in the Office of Legal Affairs, assumed his new functions on 16 March.

The Office of Administration of Justice, which is an independent office, will coordinate the new internal justice system in the UN. The new system is intended to be more professionalized, efficient and decentralized, and will be implemented as of 1 July 2009.

The new system will include two Tribunals; a first-instance UN Dispute Tribunal, and a second-instance UN Appeals Tribunal. Judges were recently elected by the General Assembly to serve on these tribunals.

UNOPS TO RECTIFY ANY PROBLEMS REVEALED BY INVESTIGATION

Asked about allegations of corruption made against a former UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) official in Afghanistan, the Spokeswoman noted that, to preserve due process, UNOPS is not permitted to discuss specifics regarding any investigation currently undergoing internal UN review.

She discussed some of the

background of the case, noting that it was UNOPS that had initiated an investigation. In late 2006 UNOPS initiated an independent investigation into alleged misuse of UNOPS project and administrative funds, and serious breaches of accounting and procurement policies said to have occurred between 2002 and 2006. These allegations were brought to senior management attention by UNOPS staff. The initial report raised certain questions, she said.

Montas said that UNOPS asked the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to look into matters further. OIOS assigned the investigation to their Procurement Task Force (PTF). At the end of 2008 the PTF reported internally the first of their assessments, which are currently under review by the UN Office of Legal Affairs.

The alleged misuse of UNOPS funds and breaches of accounting and procurement policies are grave charges, the Spokeswoman said. Such misconduct is totally unacceptable to UNOPS.

Therefore, she said, UNOPS will rectify any problems revealed by this investigation and deal fairly but firmly with proven wrongdoers. UNOPS intends to reimburse any money owed to its clients as a result of errors or misuse.

Asked whether the investigation would continue, Montas said that it would.

TIMOR-LESTE NATIONAL POLICE RESUMES RESPONSIBILITIES IN TWO DISTRICTS

In Timor-Leste, Prime Minister Gusmão and the Secretary-Generals Special Representative Atul Khare

welcomed the agreement for the resumption of responsibilities by the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL).

The resumption is to begin in two Districts: Lautém and Manatuto. The resumption in these two districts will depend on the conclusion of an agreement between the local Government and the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) concerning the resumption process and compliance with the certification procedure.

Assessments by the Government and the UN Mission there have also been completed in two other districts. Experts are now assessing several other remaining districts and will then review the special units of the National Police.

MADAGASCAR: U.N. ENGAGED IN ACHIEVING PEACEFUL, CONSENSUAL SOLUTION

Concerning the UN efforts to deal with the situation in Madagascar, Tiébilé Dramé, the UN Senior Political Adviser on Madagascar, was in New York this week for consultations. He will be returning to Madagascar shortly.

The United Nations continues to

believe that stability, prosperity and democratic freedoms can be ensured only through a consensual and inclusive dialogue process that would address the root causes of the crisis and would be accepted by all parties. We will remain engaged through Mr. Dramé to help achieve a peaceful, consensual solution in Madagascar. The United Nations is ready to work with the Malagasy parties as well as regional and international partners to reach this goal.

U.N. LEGAL COUNSEL CALLS FOR ARREST OF 13 REMAINING FUGITIVES FROM RWANDA TRIBUNAL

UN Legal Counsel and Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs Patricia OBrien left Arusha Thursday after a two-day

visit to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). During her time there, OBrien discussed with Tribunal officials the institutions mandate and completion strategy and held a town hall meeting with the staff.

In remarks to the press at the end of her visit, OBrien stressed that the need for cooperation by UN Member States in arresting and delivering fugitives to the Tribunal, in witness relocation and in the enforcement of sentences. She also called for the arrest and surrender of the 13 remaining fugitives from the Tribunal, adding that a residual prosecutorial mechanism will deal with them should the Tribunals mandate have expired by the time of their arrest.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER ENCOURAGED BY REACTIONS TO DURBAN REVIEW CONFERENCE TEXT

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

said today that she is greatly encouraged by the positive reactions to the new draft outcome document for the up-coming Durban Review

Conference -- which will take place in Geneva from 20-24 April.

She noted that all the ambassadors she met with so far have indicated that they consider the text to be a very good basis for negotiations. They agreed that this text meets the basic requirements of all concerned, while still being substantive and adding value to the fight against racism, xenophobia and similar forms of intolerance, she added.

The High Commissioner appealed to all ambassadors "to maintain the current momentum and spirit of cooperation."

MIGRANTS TO RECEIVE HELP IN INVESTING IN AGRICULTURE

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will work together to

help migrants invest in agricultural development in their home countries.

Through this new collaboration,

FAO and

IOM will support projects stemming directly from migrant communities in Europe and other OECD nations in favor of development in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

According to FAO, this new agreement reflects growing international recognition of the key roles played by migrants in their countries of origin through their contributions of financial support and expertise.

U.N. OBSERVES EARTH HOUR

On Saturday, the United Nations will join in

observing Earth Hour at its Headquarters in New York and at other facilities around the world. This is part of an effort to mobilize global support for a new UN agreement to address climate change when governments meet in Copenhagen in December.

Earth Hour calls for people, communities and cities to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, starting at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, 28 March. The symbolic effort will be observed by more than 1,000 cities and close to a billion people this year.

The Secretary-General has called this initiative a way for citizens of the world to send a clear message that they want action on climate change.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

W.H.O. WARNS OF MENINGITIS OUTBREAK IN NIGERIA: The World Health Organization (WHO) told UN Radio that the Nigerian government is

reporting a serious outbreak of meningitis in northern Nigeria. Some 17,500 cases have been registered and 960 people have already died of the disease. The regions most affected are the Bauchi, Gombe and Yobe states, but the epidemic has also hit other northern states hard.

SECRETARY-GENERALS PROPOSALS TO DEAL WITH FINANCIAL CRISIS TO BE DISCUSSED AT G-20 SUMMIT: Asked whether the Group of 20 leaders will take up the Secretary-Generals proposals for dealing with the financial crisis, the Spokeswoman said that those proposals will be discussed at the G-20 meeting next week in London. The Secretary-General, she said, believes that leaders will be responsive to his call. In response to further questions, she noted that the Secretary-General had discussed his proposals with World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

U.N. NEEDS MORE INFORMATION ON ISRAEL/SUDAN REPORTS: Asked about a reported Israeli attack on Sudan earlier this year, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations does not have enough information at this point to comment.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTINUES TO PRESS FOR CROSSING POINTS OPENING IN GAZA: Asked about the problems of access at crossing points into

Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General continues to press Israeli leaders to open the crossing points to humanitarian goods and commercial traffic.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS[1]

28 March 3 April 2009

Saturday, 28 March

Today is Earth Hour. As part of an effort to mobilize global support for a new UN agreement to address climate change when governments meet in Copenhagen in December, the United Nations will observe Earth Hour at its Headquarters in New York and at other UN facilities by turning off non-essential lights for an hour, starting at 8:30 pm, local time.

Sunday, 29 March

The first in a series of UN negotiating sessions on a new climate change agreement start today in Bonn, Germany and runs through April 8. These sessions are designed to culminate in an international climate change deal in Copenhagen in December.

Monday, 30 March

The Secretary-General is in Doha where hell address the Summit of the League of Arab States.

In New York, the 42nd Session of the Commission on Population and Development opens today and runs through 3 April. The theme of the forty-second session is the contribution of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development to internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

Representatives of more than 90 countries will meet in Vienna from today to 3 April International Symposium on Nuclear Security, organized by the IAEA The Symposium will aim to assess the achievements of seven years of global efforts to improve the protection and control of radioactive material, and to chart a course for future nuclear security activities.

The 22nd Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) will be held from today to 3 April 2009 at the UN-HABITAT headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality will take place in Rio de Janeiro, from today to April 3, 2009. Four hundred fifty participants from around the world will share their work in applied research, policy, and program development.

At 11 a.m. in Room-S226, the Permanent Representatives of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as well as a representative from the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs will brief on the Central Asian

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty which entered into force on 21 March 2009.

Tuesday, 31 March

The Secretary-General will help to open the International Conference on Afghanistan, in The Hague, Netherlands.

Starting today and until 2 April, the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development Moving into the Second Half of the UN Decade will be held in Bonn, Germany.

Wednesday, 1 April

Mexico assumes the monthly rotating Presidency of the Security Council.

At 1.30 p.m. in Room-S226, Hania Zlotnik, Director of the Population Division, joins other speakers to brief on the impact of population growth on least developed countries efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Thursday, 2 April

The Secretary-General is in London, United Kingdom, for the G-20s Summit for Stability, Growth and Jobs.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat meet today under UN auspices in Nicosia. They are expected to conclude their discussions on European Union matters.

At 12.30 p.m. in Room-S226, Ambassador Claude Heller, Permanent Representative of Mexico and the President of the Security Council for April, briefs on the Councils programme of work for the month.

Friday, 3 April

The Secretary-General will be in Paris, France, to meet with the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB).

The Security Council will hear a briefing and hold consultations on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

[1]This document is for planning purposes only and is current as of DATE \@ "HH:mm" 14:48 DATE \@ "dddd, dd MMMM, yyyy" Friday, 27 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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