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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-07-07
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
BAN KI-MOON VISITS IRELAND, DISCUSSES PEACEKEEPING CHALLENGES
The Secretary-General today
spoke at Dublin Castle in Ireland to discuss the challenges faced by UN peacekeeping operations. Those operations currently field some 78,000 military personnel, more than 11,000 police and more than 23,000 civilian staff.
He said that peacekeeping has experienced serious setbacks, with mounting difficulties in getting enough troops, the right equipment and adequate logistical support. Supply has not kept pace with demand. And a number of missions struggle to operate amidst stalled peace processes and ongoing violence.
The Secretary-General said that the United Nations is talking to all stakeholders to determine how to address these challenges, in what is known as the new horizon effort.
The Secretary-General also met today with Irish President Mary McAleese and Prime Minister Brian Cowen. With both of them, he discussed Irelands contributions to the United Nations in peacekeeping efforts, as well as development aid, the fight against hunger and public health.
He held a
press encounter with the Prime Minister, in which he expressed concern about the two aid workers abducted in Darfur and added that the United Nations was doing its best to obtain their release.
He met later today with the
Joint Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and for the Environment.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES U.S.-RUSSIAN DISARMAMENT AGREEMENT
welcomes the Joint Understanding for a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START) between President Dmitry Medvedev and President Barack Obama on Monday in Moscow, which commits Russia and the United States to reduce their strategic warheads to a range of 1,500-1,675, and their strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500-1,000.
This agreement is consistent with the disarmament obligations by the two largest nuclear-weapon States under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The Secretary-General believes that this agreement will make a significant contribution to the process of nuclear disarmament as well as nuclear non-proliferation during the lead up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference and eventually to achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
BAN KI-MOON INTENDS TO APPOINT NEW U.N. ENVOY FOR IRAQ
The Secretary-General has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Ad Melkert of the Netherlands as his Special Representative for
Iraq. Melkert currently serves as the Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and will replace Staffan de Mistura, who has taken up his duties at the World Food Programme (WFP). The Secretary-General is grateful for de Misturas valuable leadership in a challenging security environment in Iraq.
Melkert brings to the new position a unique combination of extensive political experience, as a former Member of Parliament and Minister in The Netherlands, and economic and development expertise from his time at UNDP and the World Bank. As a result, he enters with a deep understanding of the nature of challenges and priorities that face Iraq at this phase of its transition.
PROGRESS IN WEST AFRICA REMAINS FRAGILE, COUNCIL TOLD
Said Djinnit, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for West Africa, briefed the
Security Council this morning in an open meeting in which he presented the Secretary-Generals recent
report on the important reduction in violence there. Yet West Africas significant progress remains extremely fragile, he warned. Djinnit pointed to a number of challenges, from terrorism to governance to drug trafficking and organized crime.
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, also
briefed the Council, telling them that around twenty tons of cocaine still pass through the region every year. The rule of law in West Africa must be strengthened, he said, and rich countries should assume their share of responsibility by curbing their appetite for drugs.
Council members also discussed West Africa in closed consultations.
Earlier today, the Security Council voted to extend the mandates of judges serving on the tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
U.N. ENVOY BILL CLINTON VISITS HAITI
The Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for
Haiti, former US President Bill Clinton is today in Gonaïves, one of the Haitian cities most affected by the floods that ravaged the country last year. The visit, with Haitian President René Préval, focused on disaster prevention, labor intensive rehabilitation projects and assistance in providing basic services to local communities in the Artibonite Valley.
President Clinton and President Préval visited the refurbishment project of the La Quinte River that flooded Gonaïves last year. They also stopped at an emergency hospital that has temporarily replaced the regional hospital destroyed by the last hurricanes and spoke to victims of the floods, who are weary of the new hurricane season now underway.
The Special Envoy, who also met last night with President Préval and Prime Minister Michele Pierre Louis, is expected today to visit a garbage recycling project that has created jobs in the impoverished suburb of Carrefour Feuilles in Port au Prince. He is scheduled to meet later with Parliamentarians and on Wednesday with members of the private sector, international and national non-governmental organizations and civil society, most particularly with women groups.
During his three-day visit to Haiti, the Special Envoy will discuss with Government officials how best to support their efforts to prepare for hurricanes, generate new jobs and enhance the delivery of basic social services. Clinton will also focus on how to ensure that the United Nations, civil society and the donor community align their activities with the Governments recovery plan, as well as with each other.
DARFUR: CALM BUT UNPREDICTABLE, SAYS ENVOY
The Joint United Nations and African Union Special Representative in Darfur, Rodolphe Adada, has described the current security situation in Darfur as calm but unpredictable, and called on the international community to do everything possible to advance the peace process for Darfur.
He said the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) will continue to work hard on the ground to reduce violence, protect civilians in particular, internally displaced persons - and create an environment conducive to the success of the peace process.
Adada was addressing a delegation of French Members of Parliament who visited UNAMID Headquarters in El Fasher today.
ESCALATING FIGHTING IN SOMALIA LEADS TO MASSIVE DISPLACEMENT
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is
warning that escalating fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, is causing enormous suffering and massive displacement, with a devastating impact on the citys population.
UNHCR says an eight-week offensive by anti-Government militiamen has now left more than 200,000 people displaced. The agencys local partners have put the death toll, in the past week alone, at more than one hundred, with nearly 400 others injured.
The agency says that though the majority of the displaced are seeking assistance in the Afgooye corridor, some 30 kilometers west of Mogadishu, thousands more have been crossing the border into Kenya, where they are seeking help at the UNHCR-run Dadaab refugee complex.
REPORT ON D.R. CONGO DOCUMENTS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
report of the Secretary-General on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been released as a document today. In the report, the Secretary-General says the overall situation in the DRC continues to pose many complex challenges. In the eastern part of the country, the report says that the security situation remains volatile and the humanitarian situation has deteriorated.
The Secretary-General further notes that military operations against foreign armed groups and the remaining Congolese armed groups have resulted in attacks by these groups against civilians. This has led to high levels of additional population displacement and human rights abuses. These abuses include increased sexual violence, carried out sometimes by Government security forces.
On the issue of sexual and gender-based violence, the report says that military commanders, police investigating officers and magistrates have continued to encourage families of rape victims to accept out-of-court settlement, a situation that is perpetuating the pervasive culture of impunity.
NEW REPORT CITES ALLEGATIONS OF ISRAELI SPYING IN LEBANON
The Secretary-General, in his latest
report to the Security Council on the implementation of resolution 1701, concerning Lebanon, says that the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Lebanon continues to hold. The parties also continue to make progress, in cooperation with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), to visibly mark the Blue Line; Israel also handed over technical strike data on cluster bombs to UNIFIL in May.
The Secretary-General said that he is concerned at the allegations by Lebanons Government that Israeli spy cells have been operating in Lebanon and that the Israeli Defense Forces helped alleged spies to cross from Lebanon into Israel.
He also congratulates the people and Government of Lebanon on the successful conduct of the parliamentary elections. He trusts that the process of Government formation will proceed smoothly and expeditiously.
GAZA FACT-FINDING MISSION HEARS MOVING STORIES THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO HEAR
In Geneva today, the UN fact-finding mission on the recent Gaza conflict, mandated by the
Human Rights Council and led by Justice Richard Goldstone, wrapped up its second round of public hearings.
The purpose of this round of interviews was to hear from victims, witnesses and experts, from southern Israel and the West Bank.
During a press conference in Geneva today, Goldstone said his team had heard moving stories that were very difficult to hear. He reiterated that the purpose of the hearings was to show a human side to suffering and give a voice to the victims.
With the conclusion of the hearings this afternoon, Goldstone said, the mission is moving towards the end of its investigative phase. It will now soon be moving into its report drafting phase.
That final report is due to be completed early next month and will be presented in September to the Human Rights Council, Goldstone added.
Goldstone noted that his team had also traveled to Amman, Jordan, to hear from Israelis and people from the West Bank. He also said that he would be sending questions soon to authorities from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, asking for input on areas where his team had been unable to gather sufficient information.
Asked whether Goldstones report would be made public, the Spokeswoman said that would be up to the Human Rights Council to determine.
NAME ISSUE ENVOY LEAVES SKOPJE FOR ATHENS, SUBMITS CHANGES TO LAST PROPOSAL
Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, is currently on his way to Athens from Skopje.
While in Skopje, over the past two days, Nimetz held constructive meetings on the name issue with the countrys Prime Minister, President, Foreign Minister, and other officials. He presented to them some changes to the proposals he had submitted to the parties last October, for them to study.
Nimetz said he hopes these latest changes will lead to a positive reaction and accelerated negotiations. He added that the leaders he met in Skopje had assured him that they were eager to move forward.
Nimetz will now discuss the issue with the Greek side.
HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF ALARMED BY RIOTS IN CHINA
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today
said she was alarmed by the large number of casualties during Sundays rioting in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region and by continuing reports of tension and unrest there. She labeled the developments a major tragedy and called for restraint by all actors.
While recognizing the authorities duty to maintain public order, Pillay also emphasized the right of demonstrators to peacefully exercise freedom of expression.
Pillay stressed that those who have been arrested should be treated in accordance with Chinese law and international human rights standards and norms. She also called for a transparent independent investigation into the causes of the rioting and the reasons why it escalated, as well as the identities of the victims and what happened to them.
HUMANITARIAN CHIEF VISITS PAKISTAN
Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes today completed the first day of a four-day visit to Pakistan. Holmes met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi and General Nadeem, head of the Special Support Group, as well as the humanitarian country team in Pakistan.
Over the next two days, Holmes will gain a first-hand impression of the humanitarian situation in the North West Frontier Province through field visits to camps for internally displaced people, to host families and to spontaneous settlements of the displaced. He is scheduled to depart Pakistan on 11 July.
Also, the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) yesterday
signed a partnership agreement to support vital humanitarian operations in Pakistan. The agreement will procure relief items like tents and blankets, to meet the needs of internally displaced people, mainly women and children.
NEPAL: HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED BY POSSIBLE PROMOTION
In Nepal, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights yesterday met with the Nepalese Defense Minister, and expressed concerns about the recommended promotion of Major General Toran Jung Bahadur Singh to Lieutenant General.
In 2006, the Human Rights Office released a report of its investigation into arbitrary detention, torture and disappearance at Maharajgunj Barracks, which was under the control of a Battalion that Major General Singh commanded.
The report concluded that the commander also knew about these actions by the battalions. It recommended that those potentially implicated directly or through command responsibility for units involved should be suspended from any official duties pending the investigation, and should not be proposed for participation in UN peacekeeping missions.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. ENVOY FOCUSES ON WATER MANAGEMENT
Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Afghanistan, today pressed donors and non-governmental organizations to focus on the management of Afghanistans water resources. That effort, he said, could lift impoverished communities out of poverty and foster stability by preventing tribal conflict over resources.
Eide spoke at Afghanistans National Conference on Water Resources Development and said that there is no more important issue for the country at this time than the development of its water resources. He said Afghanistan needs agreements with its neighbours that can provide equitable sharing of water.
UNICEF WELCOMES DEMOBILIZATION OF CHILD SOLDIERS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
In the Central African Republic,
UNICEF has welcomed the demobilization of 182 children who have been released by the People's Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD), a rebel group in the northern Ouham Pende Province.
The children, aged between 10 and 17 years, and including 16 girls, have fought with the rebel group since its formation in 2006.
UNICEF has checked the health status of the children and continues to offer catch-up classes for those of school-going age, in order to facilitate their reintegration into the formal school system. Those who are too old to return to school are being offered a range of training programmes, including skills in animal husbandry, agriculture, tailoring and carpentry.
All the demobilized child fighters have been reunited with their families after they received assistance on how to make the transition into normal civilian life.
NEW H.I.V. PREVENTION CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED IN POST OFFICES WORLDWIDE
UNAIDS, the Universal Postal Union and the International Labour Organization are teaming up with a global labour union group to
launch a new international HIV prevention campaign. The campaign is initially being launched in some 16,000 post offices in seven countries: Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Estonia, Mali and Nigeria.
When people enter participating post offices, they will be greeted by eye-catching posters and handouts featuring information about how to prevent HIV. The materials will also provide the address of a multilingual website on HIV prevention, hosted by UNAIDS.
U.N. AGENCIES CALL FOR MORE SUPPORT TO FIGHT WORLD HUNGER: The World Food Programme (WFP) is
calling for further support to alleviate world hunger, as the G8 summit gathers this week in LAquila, Italy to discuss the global food security crisis. It recommends a twin-track approach to food security by supporting long-term agricultural production and providing continued support for immediate hunger assistance. Meanwhile, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
reports that the number of hungry people in the world has rocketed to more than 1 billion.
UP TO LIBERIANS TO DECIDE HOW TO ADVANCE RECONCILIATION PROCESS:
Asked about a report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Liberia recommending the banning from office of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the Spokeswoman said that the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has received a draft of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report. It will be up to the Liberians to determine how they want to take forward their reconciliation process, she said. UNMIL will continue to monitor the situation and ensure the security and stability of Liberia.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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