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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-06-19
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THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, June 19, 2009
COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO BHUTTO ASSASSINATION TO START WORK IN JULY
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has
informed the Government of Pakistan, by letter to President Asif Ali Zardari, that the Commission of Inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto will commence its six month mandate on 1 July 2009.
The Commission will be composed of the Permanent Representative of Chile, Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz, as the head of the Commission; Mr. Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia; and Mr. Peter Fitzgerald of Ireland.
In accordance with the agreed Terms of Reference, the Commissions mandate will be to inquire into the facts and circumstances of the assassination of former Prime Minister Bhutto.
The duty of determining criminal responsibility of the perpetrators of the assassination remains with the Pakistani authorities.
The Commission will submit its report to the Secretary-General within six months of the commencement of its activities.
The Secretary-General will share the report with the Government of Pakistan and submit it to the Security Council for information.
The Secretary-General notes that the anniversary of the birth of former Prime Minister Bhutto is on 21 June, and is a reminder of the tragic loss suffered by her family and the Pakistani people.
The United Nations is committed to assisting Pakistan by determining the facts and circumstances of her death.
Asked why the Commission would hand over its findings to the Pakistani authorities, the Spokeswoman clarified that the Commissions mandate was not to conduct a criminal investigation. She added that the Commission had been set up because of a specific request from the Government of Pakistan, and it would be up to the Pakistani authorities to follow up on its work.
The Spokesperson later said the first donation is from Pakistan, and we're using those funds to get the Commission started. A number of Member States have undertaken to contribute to the Commission, but these processes take time. We're confident that we will ultimately have a diverse set of donors, she said.
Asked about security arrangements for the Commission, the Spokeswoman said that it would be up to the Government of Pakistan to make the necessary arrangements. As for the Commissions schedule, she said, that would be determined by Commission members.
Asked about security in Pakistan, Montas said that UN staff in the Peshawar area had worked from their homes briefly last week, and had been assisted by staff in other locations. (The UN office in Peshawar has since re-opened, as of 16 June.)
NEW RELIEF SUPPLIES AIRLIFTED TO NORTHEASTERN PAKISTAN
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has welcomed the airlift yesterday of more than 35,000 kilograms of relief supplies, donated by the Irish and the Norwegian governments, for its operations on behalf of displaced people in northwestern Pakistan. The urgently-needed relief goods include tents, blankets, kitchen sets and mosquito nets. The goods are now on their way to the Refugee Agencys operational hub in the North West Frontier Province, where they will be used to help improve conditions in camps for displaced people.
As for the $543 million UN humanitarian appeal to deal with the needs of Pakistans displaced people, so far, one month since the appeal went out, only 30 percent of the funding has been received.
BAN KI-MOON URGES GUATEMALA TO SUPPORT COMMISSION AGAINST IMPUNITY
The Secretary-General met on Thursday afternoon at UN Headquarters with Carlos Castresana, head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and expressed his strong support and appreciation for the work of the Commission and all of its staff, under difficult circumstances, to help strengthen justice and the rule of law in Guatemala.
With the Commission now involved in a critical phase of its operations, the Secretary-General calls on Guatemalas political and judicial authorities, and all sectors of Guatemalan society, to help CICIG carry out its work. He urges full respect for its mandate and independence.
The Secretary-General appreciates the strong political and financial support being provided to CIGIG by the international community, and welcomes continued backing in the period ahead. The United Nations remains committed through the efforts of CICIG to help ensure that the people of Guatemala can be protected by, and have trust in, their judicial institutions.
BAN KI-MOON TO TRAVEL TO JAPAN LATER THIS MONTH
The Secretary-General is planning to make an official visit to Japan later this month.
During his stay in Tokyo, scheduled from June 30 to July 2, the Secretary-General plans to hold meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone.Also on his agenda is a meeting with Japanese business leaders. In addition, he is expected to have a Town Hall meeting with students at the University of Tokyo, meet with the UNs Goodwill Ambassadors in Japan and make a guest appearance on a television childrens news program.
Further details of this trip and possible additions to it will be announced as they develop.
Asked whether the Secretary-General would visit Myanmar, the Spokeswoman said that a trip was possible, but the Secretary-General has not decided on one yet. She noted, in response to a further question on Myanmar, that the Secretary-General has consistently called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners and the resumption of political dialogue in the country.
RIGHTS COMMISSIONER CONCERNED INCREASING POST-ELECTION ARRESTS
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay,
said Friday she is concerned about reports of an increasing number of arrests in Iran. She also expressed concerns about the possible illegal use of excessive force and acts of violence by some militia members in the aftermath of the recent presidential elections. "The legal basis of the arrests that have been taking place, especially those of human rights defenders and political activists, is not clear," Pillay said.
The High Commissioner commended the largely peaceful and dignified conduct of the huge demonstrations that have been taking place in the Iranian capital, Tehran. But she expressed particular concern about reported acts of violence by members of the Basij militia, which may also be in contravention of international and Iranian national law.
Asked whether the Secretary-General would send a congratulatory letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Spokeswoman said he had not sent any letter and would first try to get a better sense of what happened during the elections. The Secretary-General, in his press remarks this week, had noted the inquiry that would be conducted into the election results.
PEACEKEEPERS DID NOT FIRE ON HAITI DEMONSTRATORS
The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) categorically
denies allegations that MINUSTAH troops fired on a demonstrator, yesterday in Port-au-Prince.
After the funeral of reverend Gérard Jean-Juste, a demonstration took place in which one person died. According to initial information gathered by the UN Mission, the death resulted from a blow from a blunt object, such as a stone, and not a bullet wound.
The Mission also stresses that although,
MINUSTAH peacekeepers were present and fired in the air to disperse the crowd, their actions seem to have no link with the death of the demonstrator. It adds that the peacekeepers used minimum force as authorized in these circumstances.
MORE RWANDAN REBELS ARE DISARMED, REPATRIATED FROM EASTERN DR CONGO
The Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says that this week has seen the highest rate of return to Rwanda by former Hutu rebels. 57 former members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and 26 others left the restive northeastern DRC for their country in a move facilitated by the UN. Meanwhile, more than 1 650 children have been extracted from the ranks of armed groups since the start of the year.
The Mission says that UN peacekeepers have established an alert and surveillance system across North Kivu in the context of their joint operations with the Congolese army against illegal armed groups. These operations received a boost this week with the opening of another joint coordination center, bringing their total number to 8.
DARFUR TALKS SUSPENDED, TO RESUME NEXT MONTH
The second round of talks between the Government of Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Doha, Qatar, which have been going on since 27 May, were suspended today and are expected to be reconvened at the end of July.
The two parties broke negotiations to further consider the two main issues on the table at this point, i.e. the cessation of hostilities vis-à-vis the exchange of their respective prisoners of war. During the current round of negotiations, JEM called for the release of prisoners before an agreement on the cessation of hostilities, while the Government maintained the position that the cessation of hostilities should precede the release of prisoners.
During this period, the Mediation will continue to consult with other major stakeholders in the peace process.
SECURITY COUNCIL STRONGLY CONDEMNS SUICIDE ATTACK ON SOMALI SECURITY MINISTER
In a press statement, the Security Council today strongly condemned the suicide attack which yesterday killed Somalias national security minister, Omar Hashi Aden, along with community leaders and other innocent Somalis.
Security Council began its work this morning by discussing the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights (UNDOF), first in a meeting with troop contributing countries and then in consultations. The Secretary-General, in his latest report, recommends a six-month extension of the Forces mandate; that report was introduced by Wolfgang Weisbrod Weber, Director of the Asia and Middle East Division of the Department for Peacekeeping Operations.
The Security Council then received an update on the work of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) by the head of that Centre, Miroslav Jenca. The Councils president later read a press statement expressing support for the work of the Regional Centre.
Also in its consultations today, Council members expect to discuss the work of its Sanctions Committee dealing with Sudan, which is chaired by Austria.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL DECRIES VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose
Migiro has been on an official working visit to Norway since Wednesday.
Her activities there have focused on international justice, especially in the context of violence against women and girls and the protection of childrens rights.
Yesterday, she spoke about domestic violence in a keynote speech to the 29th Conference Ministers of Justice of the Council of Europe. Surveys from around the world, she said, show that half of the women who die from homicides are killed by their current or former husbands or partners. She said ending this violence will require adopting new laws, enforcing the ones that exist and working to change the backward mindsets that condone, excuse or ignore such violence. She pledged the UNs support to achieving this goal.
The Deputy Secretary-General also held a number of bilateral meetings, including with the Norwegian minister of justice and the Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.
She is expected back in New York this weekend.
MORE THAN A BILLION GOING HUNGRY EVERY DAY THIS YEAR
World hunger is projected to reach a historic high in 2009 with more than one billion people going hungry every day,
according to new estimates published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today. This is an increase of some 100 million people or 11%-- for the current year. It also means that one sixth of humanity is affected by hunger.
The UN agency says that this increase is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis. The crisis, it adds, has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment thus reducing access to food by the poor.
FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are calling on states to take quick actions to eradicate hunger, including by boosting agricultural production and the productivity of poor countries.
GOVERNMENTS ARE URGED TO HALVE NUMBER OF DEAD FROM NATURAL DISASTERS
conference on Disaster Risk Reduction has ended in Geneva, with a
call on governments to work on reducing by half the number of deaths from natural disasters, by the year 2015.
The conference which was chaired by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes identified, among its key recommendations, the need for a global structural evaluation of schools and hospitals to make them safer, especially in all disaster-prone countries.
The recommendations also include the need for appropriate measures to be enforced in building and land codes for all major cities in disaster-prone areas of the world, by the year 2015. Most importantly, the conference recommends that clear financial commitments to disaster risk reduction should be established nationally and internationally by the end of next year.
The conference also examined the rising threat of climate change as a major contributing factor to disasters.
BAN KI-MOON URGES WORLD TO TACKLE SICKLE-CELL ANAEMIA WITH RESEARCH AND OUTREACH
The United Nations system is raising awareness about Sickle-Cell Anaemia.
The Secretary-General has issued a
message urging governments and civil society to improve research and understanding of this inherited and incurable disease which every year affects hundreds of thousands of newborns, especially in low and middle-income countries.
The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution last December recognizing this disease as a public health problem. The Secretary-General joins his voice to that of the entire international community to raise global awareness so that people afflicted with sickle-cell anaemia may lead full and productive lives.
TOMORROW IS WORLD REFUGEE DAY
Tomorrow is World Refugee Day.
In a message to mark this occasion, the Secretary-General underlines how much refugees have lost and how much the humanitarian community must do to help them.
He says there are gaps in meeting their basic needs such as shelter, health services, education, food, clean water, sanitation and protection from violence and abuse. To address these gaps, he calls for commitment, action and a response based on solidarity.
Let us ensure that people displaced by conflict, persecution and upheaval get the support and services they need to build a better life, says the Secretary-General.
Also marking the Day, the High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, says that refugees are not faceless statistics they are real people, who through no fault of their own, have lost everything. He adds that in these difficult times, those working with refugees are struggling more than ever to meet even their most basic needs. He says that with adequate resources, many of these ills can be eliminated or minimized.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there were more than 42 million refugees and internally displaced people worldwide at the end of 2008. And the number has grown significantly since the beginning of this year - in places such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Somalia.
UNHCR offices worldwide will hold a range of activities for World Refugee Day.
PACIFIC REGION EXPERTS TO SEEK WAYS TO ERADICATE ILLICIT TRADE IN SMALL ARMS
The United Nations regional meeting on the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (PoA) for States of the Pacific region will kick off on Monday in Sydney, Australia. The Meeting, organized by the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs, is in partnership with the Government of Australia as well as the Governments of Japan and New Zealand.
Officials from the regions Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia, Niue, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Tuvalu among others, as well as representatives of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat have been invited to participate.
The meeting in Australia is the first of a series of regional meetings planned in follow-up to the report of the third Biennial Meeting of States on the Programme of Action which was held in New York in July, 2008.
BAN KI-MOON, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER TO DISCUSS TWO-STATE SOLUTION, SETTLEMENTS: Asked about the Secretary-Generals meeting this afternoon with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, the Spokeswoman said they would be expected to discuss the two-state concept supported by the United Nations, settlements and the opening of crossing points into Gaza, among other topics.
BAN KI-MOON BACKS UNCTAD CHIEF FOR ANOTHER TERM: Asked about letters from different groups of nations concerning whether Supachai Panitchpakdi will remain as the head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General had received different letters on the matter, and had expressed his support for Supachais re-appointment.
COLOMBIA COCAINE PRODUCTION IN MAJOR DECLINE: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
issued a survey today that reports a major decline in cocaine production in Colombia. The survey also shows that drug trafficking is being seriously disrupted. UNODCs Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, says that cartels are becoming more violent as a result of the shrinking cocaine supply and the drop in demand in the major markets of North America and Europe.
BAN KI-MOON ENDORSES GLOBAL JOB PACT TO PROTECT WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES: In his video
message to the International Labour Conference today, the Secretary-General said that he will carry the Global Jobs Pacts message with him to the General Assembly and the G8 Summit, as it speaks to the concerns of enterprises large and small, and addresses the hopes of young people seeking opportunity as they enter this turbulent market. Following the strong support that was voiced during the three-day ILO Global Jobs Summit, the Global Jobs Pact was
adopted today to guide national and international policies aimed at stimulating economic recovery, generating jobs and providing protection to working people and their families.
PROGRESS IS REPORTED IN SETTING UP AN INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: Silvana Arbia, the registrar of the
International Criminal Court, told a session of the UN Human Rights Council today that notable progress has been achieved in the establishment of an effective international criminal justice system of which the ICC is a part. She also stressed the importance of empowering national jurisdictions to handle serious international crimes. Arbia paid tribute to human rights defenders around the world, and in particular in the regions were active ICC investigations are underway, for their support to the work of the Court. She also reminded the state parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC of their obligation to cooperate with the Court>
CHINA GROWTH WREAKING HAVOC ON ITS NATURAL RESOURCES: Chinas industrialization is wreaking havoc on its natural resources, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP) says, at the end of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Low Carbon Economy today in Beijing. The Chief of the Energy Security Section of UNESCAP, Shaoyi Li, reports that low-carbon development models are an effective way of leading the future economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Saturday, 20 June
Today is World Refugee Day.
Sunday, 21 June
The Secretary-General will be in Birmingham, U.K. at the invitation of Rotary International, to receive an award for his contribution and efforts on the eradication of polio.
Monday, 22 June
This morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA).
At 3 p.m. in S-226, there will be a background briefing on media arrangements for the forthcoming Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis, to be held 24-26 June.
Today and tomorrow, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, will be in Washington, D.C., for a discussion at the National Defense University, as well as meetings with senior officials from the US Department of State and the National Security Council. The Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support, Susana Malcorra, will also join Mr. Le Roy in Washington, D.C, for the meetings on 22 June.
Today in Geneva, Ambassador Matthew Nimetz, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, will brief the press, following the meeting between the representatives of Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to continue the ongoing discussions on the name issue.
Starting today in Vienna, some 500 policymakers, private sector and civil society representatives from developing and industrialized countries will meet to discuss energy issues in the context of the global financial and economic crisis. The three-day conference is organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Government of Austria, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy.
In Sydney, a United Nations meeting on the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects for States of the Pacific region will be held today and tomorrow.
Tuesday, 23 June
At noon today, the Secretary-General and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will hold a joint press conference to highlight major events this fall to promote action on climate change: the 22 September Summit at UNHQ and Climate Week NYC (21-25 September). Location to be determined.
This morning, the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). It will then hear a briefing and hold consultations on United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS).
At 11 a.m. in S-226 The President of the General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann will hold a press conference before the launch of the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, to be held 24-26 June.
Today is the United Nations Public Service Day. An awards ceremony will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Conference Room 4.
Wednesday, 24 June
Starting today and through Friday, the General Assembly will hold the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development.
Today, the Security Council will hold a debate on the situation in the Middle East.
The guests at the noon briefing are Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and Cheikh Sidi Diarra, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, to launch UNCTADs report Economic Development in Africa 2009.
A high-level panel on migration and the economic crisis by UNITAR and IOM will take place from 1.15 to 2.30 p.m. in Conference Room 7, on the occasion of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development.
At 11.15 a.m. in S-226, the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) will hold a press conference to highlight the High-level Colloquium on Conflict Related Sexual Violence in Peace Negotiations: Implementing Security Council Resolution 1820 , 22-24 June 2009.
In Washington, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, will launch the World Drug Report 2009.
Thursday, 25 June
This morning, the Security Council will have consultations on the Liberia Sanctions Committee and on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
At 11 a.m. in S-226, Rafael Correa Delgado, President of Ecuador, will hold a press conference on the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, being held 24-26 June.
Friday, 26 June
Today, the Security Council will hold an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
Today is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
Today is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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