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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-06-26
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, June 26, 2009
BAN KI-MOON MEETS WITH OTHER QUARTET MEMBERS IN ITALY
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today met with the other principal members of the Quartet in Trieste, Italy, and they discussed five items: moving towards
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; supporting the Palestinian Authority and economic growth; the situation in Gaza; comprehensive peace between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon; and the Moscow conference.
The Quartet also issued a joint communiqué which was read by the Secretary-General at a press conference following the meeting.
The communiqué notes that the United States briefed the Quartet on its intensive, ongoing discussions with all parties in the region to create the conditions for the prompt resumption and early conclusion of negotiations to resolve all permanent status issues, without preconditions. The Quartet called on Israel and the Palestinians to implement their obligations under the Roadmap and affirmed that unilateral actions taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community.
The Secretary-General told the press, We need to work very hard towards meaningful progress [so as] not to lose the faith again of all the people in the Middle East. And in response to a question, he said that the United Nations has a good proposal to kick-start early recovery and reconstruction in Gaza and has made quite significant progress in the West Bank. He added that the United Nations is urging the Israeli authorities to stop settlements, including natural growth, and open crossings.
The Secretary-General then attended a closed meeting of the G-8 Foreign Ministers on Afghanistan. The meeting focused on regional perspectives, including cooperation in border management and countering illicit drug trafficking. Later today, he will meet with the Quartets Arab partners.
Asked whether the communiqué asks for any specific steps to be taken by Arab states regarding Israeli, the Spokesperson noted the call by the Quartet for the full normalization of relations between all states based on the Arab Peace Initiative, as well as the goals set by the Roadmap.
In response to a question, he added that no dates have been set for a conference in Moscow, but that the Quartet expressed its support for one in todays communiqué.
Asked about compensation for damages to UN facilities in Gaza, Haq said that UN legal officials were pursuing the matter with their Israeli counterparts.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT
Security Council today is holding an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, which Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes opened by discussing the deaths of civilians in recent conflicts, ranging from Somalia to Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Holmes highlighted the need for access to conflict zones, which has sometimes been hindered for bureaucratic reasons, as in Gaza, and at other times been undercut by lack of security, as in Afghanistan, Chad, the DRC and Somalia. And he stressed the need for accountability, whether in the context of Operation Kimia II in the DRC or by prompt and credible investigations into air strikes in Afghanistan. We have his full statement upstairs.
Also today, the Security Council intends to vote on a resolution concerning the extension of the mandate of the UN Peace-building Office in Guinea-Bissau.
DR CONGO: U.N. MISSION TEAMS UP WITH GOVERNMENT TO RESTRUCTURE PRISON ADMINISTRATION
Less than a week after a prison break in Goma, during which a number of female inmates were raped, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) is
teaming up with the Ministry for Justice to consider ways to restructure prison administration in the country.
This is being done through a 10-day workshop that will last until July 3 in Kinshasa. The workshop brings together 50 officials from the judiciary, universities, civil society and prison administration.
The Mission, which has a dozen UN experts working with Congolese prison administrators, says it is hopeful that the workshop will begin charting ways to address problems facing Congolese prison authorities. Prison breaks are not uncommon in the country, partly because the government lacks an operational budget and qualified personnel to run jails. The Mission says penitentiary facilities are dilapidated and most often unfit for use. Conditions are harsh for the inmates and illness and death occur frequently.
DISPLACEMENT CRISIS WORSENS IN SOMALIA, CAMPS OVERCROWDED IN KENYA
On Somalia, the UN refugee Agency (UNHCR) is
voicing its grave concern over the spiraling violence and the worsening displacement crisis in the country. The agency says that the deteriorating security situation has sharply reduced deliveries of humanitarian aid to the displaced in and around Mogadishu.
UNHCR adds that, according to records of local Somali hospitals, more than 250 civilians have been killed and at least 900 wounded since last month. The agency also estimates that more than 160,000 people have been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere within Somalia or in neighboring countries since the start of the fighting in May.
UNHCR, since the beginning of the year, some 38,000 new refugees arrived in neighbouring Kenya, virtually all of them Somalis. UNHCR says that the Dadaab camp which shelters more than 280,000 people--is the largest refugee complex in the world.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) meanwhile says that the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator has allocated $ 4.2 million from the UN Central Emergency Response
Fund (CERF) to alleviate overcrowding and provide humanitarian relief and services in Somalia refugee camps in Kenya.
SECRETARY-GENERAL DETAILS U.N.S SUPPORT FOR AFGHAN ELECTIONS
The Secretary-Generals latest
report on Afghanistan is out as a document today, and it details the UN systems support for the upcoming presidential and provincial council elections in that country.
At the same time, the Secretary-General notes, Afghanistan is currently in what may well be its most intensive fighting season since 2001. This year has so far seen a 43 percent increase in the monthly average number of security incidents, and insurgent activity has also expanded in previously stable areas, including the north.
The Secretary-General says that he welcomes the deployment of additional troops. However, the report stresses, every effort must be made to avoid a situation where more troops and more fighting lead to more civilian casualties and behavior that offends the population. It is also urgent to review the use of air power in populated areas.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has eight regional offices and 12 provincial offices, and the report says that, in order to have a presence in each of the countrys provinces, the Mission would need additional resources, including for security, to establish 11 more offices.
MYANMAR: SECRETARY-GENERALS SPECIAL ADVISER ARRIVES FOR A TWO-DAY VISIT
At the request of the Secretary-General and at the invitation of the Government of Myanmar, Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari arrived today to Myanmar for a two-day visit.
He was received this morning by Foreign Minister Nyan Win in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.
Asked about Gambaris travels, the Spokesperson said that Gambari would return to New York over the weekend and brief the Secretary-General about his trip upon his return.
PAKISTAN: U.N. FOCUSES ON IMPROVING CONDITIONS OF DISPLACED WHILE PREPARING FOR EVENTUAL RETURNS
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that UN humanitarian activities in Pakistan continue to focus on the needs of displaced people living in camps, schools, and with host communities. Planning and preparedness activities are continuing in the evolving humanitarian context. The recently established Returns Task Force is focusing on how to bring the displaced back to their area of origin.
Staff from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in north-west Pakistan report that displaced people are visiting their areas of origin on a go and see basis, to harvest crops, check on livestock and generally assess the possibility of returning home. There is no discernible large scale movement out of the camps, the staff members report.
UNHCR this week conducted a rapid survey among 4,200 displaced families, primarily from the district of Buner. While the data is still being analyzed, initial findings suggest most people want to return home but are concerned about security conditions.
Meanwhile, in all the organized camps, the Refugee Agency is continuing to improve conditions, building shade structures over tents to relieve the heat and privacy walls around groups of tents. It is also improving infrastructure like lighting and fencing.
Also, the World Food Programme (WFP) has established a food and relief items bank, which will provide a central point for donations from Pakistanis for people who have been displaced from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The relief bank will be set up in Peshawar, which will serve as central receiving hub. From there, WFP and the Pakistani authorities will arrange for direct transport and distribution to the displaced population, both in host communities and in camps.
Asked about security in Pakistan, the Spokesperson noted that UN staff were at work throughout the country, and that UN international staff have been able to work in Peshawar again following the explosion there earlier this month. At the same time, some restrictions are in place on staff movement, for security reasons.
Asked about funding for the UN humanitarian appeal for Pakistan, he said that, as of Thursday, the appeal was 36 percent funded, and he stressed the importance for it to be fully funded.
CYPRUS LEADERS DECIDE TO PROCEED WITH THE OPENING OF A CROSSING POINT
The Cypriot leaders met today under UN auspices, and following their meeting, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, read out a statement saying that the leaders decided to proceed with the opening of the Yesilirmak/Limnitis crossing point, under normal rules of existing crossings. In the context of this agreement, the role of the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) is underscored.
Zerihoun said that the crossing of persons wishing to visit Erenköy/Kokkina will take place with the escort of UNFICYP. The visits will be made by minibuses on Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays. Humanitarian issues, including travel by ambulances, fire engines and water tanks, were also agreed on and included in the statement.
VICE-PRESIDENT OF LEBANON SPECIAL TRIBUNAL ASSUMES FUNCTIONS
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) announced today that Judge Ralph Jacques Riachy has assumed his functions full time as Vice-President of the Tribunal, effective 8 June 2009.
Judge Riachy was elected as Vice-President of the Tribunal, with the unanimous support of his fellow judges. He was one of the four Lebanese Judges appointed by the Secretary-General, upon the recommendation in December 2007 by the Selection Panel set up to interview Lebanese and international candidates for the positions of Tribunal judges.
FREER TRADE AND COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE CAN HELP ACHIEVE LOW CARBON ECONOMY
The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
launched today a report explaining for the first time the connections between trade and climate change. The report says that opening up trade and combating climate change will be beneficial towards achieving a low carbon economy. It also says that freer trade could alleviate climate change by increasing the distribution of adaptation and mitigation technologies.
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, both stress that, in the fight against climate change, multilateral cooperation is crucial. They are urging the international community to seal the deal at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 and are also urging nations to conclude the Doha trade round, which includes opening up trade in environmental goods and services.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS TO STEP UP FIGHT AGAINST TORTURE,
ON INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF TORTURE VICTIMS
Today is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
Marking this occasion, the Secretary-General
stresses that there is no justification for torture or any form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment in any society, at any time, under any circumstance.
Let us step up the fight against torture and cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment and punishment, wherever they occur, he says. He urged all Member States that have not yet done so to ratify and implement the Convention against Torture and the provisions of its Optional Protocol.
In her own
statement to mark the International Day, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, calls on leaders across the world to send a clear and unequivocal message that torture will no longer be tolerated.
Pillay welcomes the U.S. Presidents decisions to close Guantanamo and ban methods of interrogation such as water-boarding. But, she says, much more still needs to be done before the Guantanamo chapter is brought to a close. She adds that the remaining inmates must either be tried before a court of law like any other suspected criminal or set free.
BAN KI-MOON URGES COUNTRIES TO INTEGRATE DRUG TREATMENT IN PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAMMES
Today is also the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
message, the Secretary-General calls to help people suffering from drug addiction and to reduce the number of dangerous places on this planet where drugs are produced, trafficked and consumed.
He urges Member States to upgrade their preventive interventions and integrate drug treatment into public health programmes. He also says that greater development assistance and a strengthening of the rule of law are needed in countries that are vulnerable to the cultivation, production and trafficking of illicit drugs.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WILL WAIT FOR FINAL DECISION BY IRANIAN AUTHORITIES ON ELECTIONS: Asked whether the Secretary-General recognizes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the winner of the Presidential elections in Iran, the Spokesperson recalled that the Secretary-General had mentioned the investigation into the election results and would wait for a final decision by the Iranian authorities.
SECRETARY-GENERALS PERSONAL ENVOY TO WESTERN SAHARA TOURS REGION: In response to a question yesterday, Christopher Ross, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, is in Nouakchott, Mauritania today. Tomorrow, he will go to Rabat, Morocco. Ross was in Algeria, from 23 to 25 June, where he met with the President of the country, the Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State for African Affairs.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Saturday, 27 June
No major events are scheduled for today.
Sunday, 28 June
Today and tomorrow, the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict will hold public hearings in Gaza City.
Monday, 29 June
Today, the Security Council will hold a debate on UN peacekeeping operations.
In The Hague, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court will hold a public hearing to listen to the parties before deciding on Jean-Pierre Bemba's pre-trial detention.
The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) will hold its 42nd session in Vienna, from today until 17 July.
Starting today and until 4 July, the 32nd Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) a commission jointly established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) which discusses international food standards-- will hold its annual meeting in Rome.
At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, there will be a press conference organized by the Permanent Mission of Chile, to brief the press in advance of Chiles ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court later that day.
Tuesday, 30 June
Starting today and until Thursday, the Secretary-General is on an official visit to Japan, where he will meet with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the country.
Today, the Security Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
Wednesday, 1 July
Uganda assumes the monthly rotating Presidency of the Security Council today.
In Vienna, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Karen Koning AbuZayd, will brief on the current challenges facing both Palestine Refugees and UNRWA in the task of delivering essential humanitarian aid in Gaza and implementing its programme in line with its mandate. The event will also launch a Scholarship Fund for Talented Palestinians.
Thursday, 2 July
Uganda, which holds the Security Council Presidency this month, will brief the press in S-226 on the Councils programme of work at12.30 p.m.
Friday, 3 July
Today is an official holiday. UN Headquarters in NYC will be closed.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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