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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-06-29
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, June 29, 2009
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT MYANMAR
At the invitation of the Government of
Myanmar, the Secretary-General will visit Myanmar on 3 and 4 July.
The Secretary-General looks forward to returning to Myanmar to address directly with the senior leadership a broad range of issues, including longstanding concerns to the United Nations and to the international community.
In particular, the Secretary-General considers that three of the most important issues for the future of Myanmar cannot be left unaddressed at this juncture of the countrys political process. These are: the release of all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; the resumption of dialogue between the Government and Opposition as a necessary part of any national reconciliation process; and the need to create conditions conducive to credible elections.
The Secretary-General also considers it important to consolidate and build on the joint humanitarian effort following his visit last year in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.
The Secretary-General believes that the sooner these issues are addressed, the earlier Myanmar will be able to move towards peace, democracy and prosperity. He looks forward to meeting all key stakeholders to discuss what further assistance the United Nations can offer to that end.
Asked if the Secretary-General will be meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, the Spokeswoman said that Ban Ki-moon has asked to meet with all major stakeholders, including the detained opposition leader.
Asked for the Secretary-General's reaction to the fact that witnesses for the defense in the ongoing trial of Aung San Suu Kyi were not allowed to testify, Montas reiterated the Secretary-General's earlier demand that all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, be released.
Montas, in response to a question on media participation in the trip, explained that the Secretary-General's trip was only confirmed this morning. She added that there was no formal invitation to correspondents because of the uncertainties surrounding the trip, and the small group of eight reporters selected came from a list of pending requests.
BAN KI-MOON ON THE WAY TO JAPAN; WILL VISIT EUROPE
The Secretary-General is on his way to Japan, where he is scheduled to meet with the countrys Foreign Minister, Hirofumi Nakasone, on his arrival on Tuesday evening.
He also will meet with Prime Minister Taro Aso and with Japanese business leaders during his trip.
The Secretary-General will be traveling to Europe next week for visits to Switzerland, Ireland and Italy.
In Geneva on 6 July, he will open the substantive session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and address the Second Global Review of Aid for Trade, organized by the World Trade Organization. He will also open the Innovation Fair at ECOSOC, and hold a meeting with donors on H1N1 at the
World Health Organization.
He will then travel to Ireland for his first official visit to the country, from 6 to 8 July. While in Dublin, the Secretary-General will meet President Mary McAleese, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Foreign Minister Micheál Martin and Defence Minister Willie ODea for discussions on UN-Ireland cooperation, especially in the area of peacekeeping operations.
The Secretary-General will also deliver an address on UN peacekeeping at Dublin Castle which will be facilitated by the Institute for International and European Affairs.
On 9 and 10 July, the Secretary-General will attend the meeting of the Group of Eight (G-8) in LAquila, Italy. He will seek to press G-8 countries for greater cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, financing the Gleneagles Scenarios for Africa and weathering the consequences of the economic crisis on developing countries.
He is expected back in New York on the evening of 10 July.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN IRAQ
statement, the Secretary-General strongly condemns the attacks and assassinations in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Anbar in recent days that have killed and wounded a large number of Iraqis.
He expresses his solidarity with the Government and people of Iraq in the face of these appalling acts of violence.
The Secretary-General notes that Iraq has been benefiting from an improving security environment, and appeals to the people of Iraq to continue to reject these attempts to incite further violence in the country.
As Iraq prepares to take full responsibility for security in its cities, he calls upon all Iraqi political leaders to work together towards achieving lasting peace through national dialogue and reconciliation.
The United Nations remains committed to supporting the Government's efforts toward this end.
HONDURAS: BAN KI-MOON DEEPLY CONCERNED AND URGES REINSTATEMENT OF DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED LEADERS
The Secretary-General, in a
statement issued on Sunday afternoon, expressed his deep concern at the latest developments in Honduras. He expressed his strong support for the countrys democratic institutions and condemned the arrest yesterday of the constitutional President of the Republic.
He urges the reinstatement of the democratically elected representatives of the country and full respect for human rights, including safeguards for the security of President Zelaya, members of his family and his government. He calls on all Hondurans to engage peacefully and in the spirit of reconciliation to resolve their differences.
The Secretary-General welcomes the prompt diplomatic efforts of the Organization of American States. He trusts that international and domestic efforts will succeed in the promotion of a peaceful solution to the crisis through democratic means. The United Nations stands ready to provide assistance in overcoming this crisis.
In light of the situation in Honduras and upon request from several Member States, the President of the
General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, convened the 91st plenary meeting of the General Assembly at noon today in the General Assembly Hall. The meeting was intended to consider the situation in Central America.
GAZA: FACT-FINDING MISSION DEEPLY MOVED BY TESTIMONIES
UN fact-finding mission on the recent Gaza conflict, mandated by the Human Rights Council and led by Justice Richard Goldstone, today completed its first round of public hearings in Gaza City.
After hearing two days of sometimes harrowing testimony from witnesses, victims and experts Justice Goldstone said, As fellow human beings we would like to put on record how deeply moved we were by many of the accounts of profound suffering and grief.
This is the first UN inquiry of its kind to hold public hearings. And the mission says, it is holding them to let the face of human suffering be seen and to let the voices of the victims be heard.
In addition to hearing from people in Gaza, the mission had also wished to hold hearings in the West Bank and in southern Israel, where the population had been on the receiving end of rocket attacks launched from Gaza. But that has not been possible, as the Government of Israel is so far not cooperating with the mission.
For that reason, the mission will hold additional public hearings in Geneva, on July 6 and 7, where they will hear from victims from Israel and the West Bank.
Asked for a reaction to new settlements being built by Israel, Montas said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly made it clear that there must be a full freeze on settlement building, including from natural growth.
SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS PROPOSALS ON REVIEWING BASIC MODELS OF PEACEKEEPING
Security Council today is holding an open debate on UN peacekeeping, and heard from Under-Secretaries-General Alain Le Roy and Susana Malcorra about the changes in peacekeeping over the years.
Le Roy told the Council that, in the current global environment, financial constraints press us to review the basic models of peacekeeping. Costs, troop numbers, and capability requirements cannot all continue to rise indefinitely. And there is no sign, he said, that demand is decreasing.
He said that the Departments for Peacekeeping Operation and for Field Services have been working on a New Horizon initiative, to help form a new Partnership Agenda for peacekeeping. Member States have already received an executive brief of a Non-Paper, which will be released in July. The non-paper will focus on critical peacekeeping tasks and functions that require a renewed consensus, measures to improve mission design, resourcing and deployment; proposals on assessing and building the capacities needed for future peacekeeping; and a strategy to create a stronger, more flexible support system.
Malcorra then briefed Council members on the Field Support Strategy on which her Department has taken the lead. The Councils open debate will continue into the afternoon.
DARFUR: FORCE COMMANDER CONTINUES VISIT TO TROOPS
The UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) says that its Force Commander, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, continued his visits to the troops across Darfur this weekend. He met with peacekeepers under his command at their bases in Graida and Marla in South Darfur. They discussed operational matters and he also listened to their concerns.
Meanwhile, other Mission officials were in Kutum in North Darfur to verify reports of the spontaneous return of refugees and displaced persons to their original villages, as well as to assess their living conditions. Villagers there told the Mission that some 2,300 families have effectively returned to the area. They are receiving food and other aid from the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF. Mission officials also visited Masri and El Manara for similar meetings.
The security situation across Darfur is reported calm today.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ADDRESS AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT IN LIBYA
Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migiro is leaving New York this evening for Sirte, Libya, where she will attend, on behalf of the Secretary-General, the 13th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union. That meeting will last from July 1-3.
Ms. Migiro will address the opening session of the Assembly on the Summit's theme, which is, Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security.
She will also conduct bilateral meetings with officials from Governments and multilateral organizations. She is expected back in New York on July 3.
SRI LANKA: ACCESS TO INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS IMPROVES BUT DELAYS AND DENIALS REMAIN
At the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps of Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, there have been some improvements with regard to humanitarian access. However, agencies continue to report delays and occasional denials in gaining access to the IDP sites. Access procedures differ between the sites.
On funding, as of 25 June, the Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) for Sri Lanka is 48 percent funded, with more than $74 million received out of the $155 million required. In addition, $24 million has been pledged by various donors.
LEBANON: SECRETARY-GENERAL APPEALS TO PARTIES TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES PEACEFULLY
The Spokeswoman, in response to a question about the formation of a government in Lebanon, said that the Secretary-General would wait to see a fully-formed Lebanese Government before giving any reaction. Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon has appealed to the parties to resolve their differences peacefully, she said.
The Spokesperson added that the Secretary-General spoke earlier this month on the telephone with new Prime Minister Saad Hariri and other officials.
She also said that Michael Williams, the Special Coordinator for Lebanon, is on the ground at this moment to consult with the Government and other parties.
AT RWANDA GENOCIDE TRIBUNAL, TRIAL OF FOUR MILITARY OFFICERS VERDICTS AWAITED AS TRIAL CONCLUDES
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda says that both the prosecution and defense lawyers have
completed their arguments in the second so-called military trial. The case involves four former Rwandan military officials. They include Gen. Augustin Bizimungu, former chief of staff of the Rwandan army and Gen. Augustine Ndindiliyimana, former chief of staff of the Gendarmerie Nationale. The accused are jointly charged with genocide or complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Prosecution is seeking life imprisonment for the accused.
The trial began in September 2004 and lasted 392 days of hearings, with 208 witnesses testifying. No date has been set yet for the verdict.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES NEW U.K. PROPOSAL ON CLIMATE CHANGE FINANCING
The Secretary-General welcomes the initiative shown by the U.K. Government in announcing its Roadmap to Copenhagen proposal on financing for climate change.
This initiative comes at a critical time, and is precisely the kind of leadership that developed countries must demonstrate if the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations on a new post-2012 climate change framework are to succeed.
Without a serious commitment on financing from developed countries, a deal in Copenhagen is unlikely.
The Secretary-General believes the focus on adaptation, which is at the core of the U.K. proposal, is particularly important given that the poorest, most vulnerable developing countries are suffering first and most acutely from the effects of climate change.
He also welcomes the reaffirmation of the principle that additional public funding, beyond existing pledges for development assistance, is necessary to finance adaptation.
The Secretary-General hopes the U.K. initiative, which includes a concrete resource figure, will catalyze discussion and commitments on financing from other Member States. He strongly encourages developed countries to engage in the same spirit.
Asked for a reaction on the adoption by the US House of Representatives of a major climate change bill, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General welcomes the passage of the Waxman-Markey bill in the U.S. House as an important first step. This is the first time, she added, that either chamber of the US Congress has approved a mandatory ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions.
She added that the Secretary-General has urged all developed nations to take urgent action on climate change in line with the demands of science.
NEW SITES ADDED TO WORLD HERITAGE LIST
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has
added thirteen new sites to its World Heritage List. Meanwhile, three sites have been added to the Danger List in order to help raise international support to their preservation.
UNESCO says that this is the first time that three countries have sites included on the World Heritage List. The sites are Burkina Fasos Ruins of Loropeni, Cape Verdes Historic Centere of Ribeira Grande, and Kyrgyzstans Sulamain-Too Sacred Mountain.
U.N. HEADQUARTERS STAFF DRESS FOR COOL UN FOR SUMMER
Summer is finally here, and it may be noticed that fewer UN male staff members will be sporting ties and that more UN employees will wear their national dress.
Thats because, although the weather hasnt quite encouraged people to dress in lighter clothing these past weeks, the Cool UN initiative has resumed at UN Headquarters.
The Cool UN initiative was first implemented in the summer of 2008. Due to its success, this year it will run for a period of three months. Since mid-month, the thermostat settings were raised from 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit in offices and from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the conference rooms at Headquarters.
The programme reduces CO2 emissions, has the effect of increasing awareness among staff and allows the United Nations to lead by example in the global fight against climate change.
The "Cool UN" trial period in August 2008 resulted in savings of 30 million pounds of steam, translating into 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This is the carbon footprint equivalent of a passenger making 710 round-trip trans-Atlantic flights.
Similar programmes have since been adopted by other UN offices away from Headquarters.
NEW STEPS MADE TO CREATE SMOKE-FREE U.N. HEADQUARTERS
Last December, the General Assembly called for a complete smoking ban at UN premises.
For his part, the Secretary-General has taken a number of steps to help create a smoke-free Headquarters, including new "No Smoking" signs at building entry points and the creation of partially sheltered areas now designated for outdoor smoking. Also, if you want to buy tobacco products at UN Headquarters, youre now out of luck, since theyre no longer sold there.
In addition, the UN Medical Services Division offers a six-week monitored smoking cessation programme with individual follow up.
TOP U.N. OFFICIAL IN AFGHANISTAN STRESSES NEED FOR INFRASTRUCTURE: Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Afghanistan, addressed the Group of Eight Summit in Trieste, Italy, last week and stressed the need for investment in large infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. Eide said that the development of infrastructure was the most critical precondition for economic growth. He identified two key sectors to invest in: transport infrastructure and energy.
UNCTAD TO MEET ON ADDRESSING AFRICAS FOOD CRISIS: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)s governing board is
meeting on Tuesday to address the lingering food crisis in Africa. UNCTAD stresses that the food crisis has not disappeared from Africa and must not be ignored as governments focus on world economic difficulties. According to UNCTAD economists, more than 300 million Africans are chronically hungry, about one third of the continents population.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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