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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-08-12

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

During August, the Spokesperson's noon briefings will take place on Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's.

Developments within the UN system will be posted on the website daily during this time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

BAN KI-MOON REAFFIRMS SIGNIFICANCE OF GENEVA CONVENTIONS, ON THEIR 60TH ANNIVERSARY

On the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the four Geneva Conventions, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

reaffirms their enduring significance and relevance for the protection of human life and dignity in situations of armed conflict.

The Secretary-General urges all Member States to take the necessary steps to ensure respect for the fundamental principles therein.

HUMANITARIAN PERFECT STORM BREWING IN SOUTH SUDAN

A humanitarian perfect storm is brewing in Southern

Sudan, putting no less than 40 percent of the local population at risk. Thats according to Lise Grande, the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in that region. Grande said earlier today in Khartoum that three factors have led her and her team to this conclusion. They include a spiraling inter-tribal conflict, a massive food shortage and a lingering budget crisis.

She said that 200 people have died in inter-tribal violence since January. The violence has also displaced more than 250,000.

Southern Sudan also faces an acute food shortage brought about by a combination of delayed seasonal rains and widespread insecurity and high food prices due to a 40 percent drop in government revenues.

This situation has left 1.2 million people dependent on food assistance from the World food Programme and is made worse by a lack of funding for humanitarian work. So far this year, only 59 of the required 412 million dollars have been disbursed.

In Darfur, the UN/African Union Mission (UNAMID) says that 200 peacekeepers from Tanzania

joined its ranks earlier today. The newly-arrived troops are part of an advance party tasked with setting up a camp for an even larger contingent of Tanzanians expected to join the Mission in September. The Mission also notes that it now has some 14,180 troops, which represents more than 70 percent of its authorized strength.

U.N. AND CAMBODIA AGREE TO ESTABLISH INDEPENDENT COUNSELOR AT EXTRAORDINARY CHAMBERS

The United Nations and Cambodia have signed an agreement to establish an Independent Counselor at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the UN-backed institution mandated to try perpetrators of the crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge regime.

The UN Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) says that the designation of an Independent Counselor builds on the existing structure of national and international Ethics Monitors and the joint sessions among both parties of late 2008 and early 2009.

OLA says it represents a further step to strengthen the human resources management in the administration of the tribunal, including anti-corruption measures to ensure the requirements of due process including the full protection of whistle-blowing staff members.

GOVERNMENTS MADE GOOD START IN NEGOTIATING SESSION AT BONN CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS

In Bonn, Germany, a week-long informal negotiating session toward a new global response to climate change ahead of the Copenhagen Conference next December-- entered its third day.

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said that governments have made a good start in their effort to narrow down the number of options currently contained in the 200 pages of the main negotiating text.

He added that progress was made particularly in the areas of providing technology and finance to help developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change. He also said that governments were looking at how mid-term emission reduction pledges could be translated into legally binding targets as a key component of the Copenhagen deal.

De Boer stressed that the technical work of the negotiations now had to be connected to the political momentum received at the G-8 Summit and the Major Economies Forum meeting last month, so that Copenhagen can produce a strong, workable agreed outcome.

The Bonn Talks will continue until Friday.

BAN KI-MOON HOPES FOR COOPERATION BETWEEN IRAN AND THE UNITED NATIONS

Asked to clarify the nature of a recent letter of the Secretary-General to the President of Iran, the Spokeswoman explained that it is customary for the Secretary-General to acknowledge the inauguration of a head of state of a member state through such a letter. Okabe said that the Secretary-General must work with all Member States of the Organization. The letter, she said, expresses the hope that the UN and Iran will continue to work together on regional and global issues.

Asked to comment on reports that Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi while visiting Seoul had called on the Secretary-General to visit Iran, the Spokeswoman said that the two did not cross paths in the Republic of Korea and had not spoken. Asked for a reaction to a call to the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Envoy for Iran, the Spokeswoman said that Ban Ki-moon has addressed the issue at his 29 July press conference.

UN MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN HAS FLAGGED SECURITY CONCERNS IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS

The Spokeswoman, in response to questions about the upcoming elections in Afghanistan, recalled that the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide had highlighted the security and other concerns of the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on the upcoming elections at a recent press conference.

In that

press conference, he and flagged concerns from a recent report [co-authored by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) that found that insecurity has severely limited freedom of movement and constrained freedom of expression for candidates and supporters, hampering their ability to campaign openly.

She also said UNAMA's role has been one of support to the electoral preparations.

WESTERN SAHARA: ENVOY TO FIX DATE OF NEXT MEETING WITH THE PARTIES

Yesterday night, in Austria, the

Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, Christopher Ross, gave a statement to the press at the end of two days of informal talks between the parties to the Western Sahara conflict.

Ross said that the discussions took place in an atmosphere of serious engagement, frankness, and mutual respect. He added that the parties, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, reiterated their commitment to continue their negotiations as soon as possible, and that he would fix the date and place of the next meeting in consultation with them.

The Special Envoy added that delegations from the neighboring states, Algeria and Mauritania, were also present at the opening and closing sessions and were consulted separately during the discussions.

TOP U.N. OFFICIAL IN DR CONGO ACCOMPANIED CLINTON DURING HER VISIT

The Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says that the Secretary-Generals Special Representative Alan Doss was accompanying US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her just-completed visit to the country. The Mission says Doss provided briefings to Clinton on various aspects of the UNs work in that country, both on the military and civilian fronts. Doss also discussed the challenges now facing the Mission.

The Special Representative was also among a group of officials who accompanied the US Secretary of State to the Goma-based HEAL Africa clinic for victims of sexual violence.

The UN Force Commander of the Force Gen. Babacar Gaye also provided briefings on military matters.

SOMALIA: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE WELCOMES RELEASE OF AID WORKERS

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for

Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has welcomed the release of the four aid workers and their two pilots from captivity in Somalia.

He expressed great satisfaction over the release of the six who had been working in Somalia for the international non-governmental organisation, Action Contre La Faim, or Action Against Hunger.

Ould-Abdallah stressed however that we should not forget the number of Somalis and foreign nationals that are still being held hostage in unacceptable conditions. Such hostage-taking should be vehemently condemned by Somalis and the international community, he added.

Ould-Abdallah has also welcomed todays convening of the Joint Security Committee held in Mogadishu as part of continuing efforts towards reforming and improving security in Somalia.

UNRWA IS INCREASINGLY CONCERNED OVER UNFOUNDED PRESS REPORTS

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says that it is increasingly concerned with a pattern of unfounded Israeli press reports. The most recent cites an anonymous Israeli Defense Official, claiming that Hamas had hijacked at gunpoint three UNRWA ambulances.

The allegation is without foundation and UNRWA has provided photographic evidence of the ambulances in question at the Agencys Gaza Headquarters. UNRWA has further offered to return the ambulances to an Israeli crossing point for inspection and verification if there is any lingering doubt on the issue.

UNRWA has protested this and other similarly inaccurate reports to the Israeli authorities and expects that those anonymous officials involved in recent briefings to the press will be more accurate in the future.

The agency says that it is playing a vital humanitarian role in Gaza and that false reporting about it is a most unhelpful distraction from the humanitarian plight of Gazas 1.5 million Palestinians who are living in unbearable conditions.

UNRWA echoes the Quartet's call for the immediate reopening of Gaza's crossing points to allow the rebuilding of the more than 50,000 homes, damaged and destroyed by the Israeli military operation "Cast Lead" earlier this year.

SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS FORMER KOREAN PRESIDENT, SITE OF EXPO 2012

The Secretary-General is currently on Jeju Island, in the Republic of Korea.

This morning in Seoul, he visited ailing former Korean President Kim Dae-jung at his hospital.

The Secretary-General also traveled to the city of Yeosu, on the Republic of Koreas southern coast. Expo 2012 will be held there, and the Secretary-General was able to visit the International Exposition site.

Tomorrow the Secretary-General will deliver the keynote speech at the Jeju Peace Forum.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPLORES VERDICT ON DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI: Asked if the Secretary-General had spoken to any of Myanmar's top officials on the new house arrest ruling against pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Ky, Okabe said that the Secretary-General's view on the matter was clearly stated yesterday in an official statement.

UNESCO CONCERNED OVER PRESS FREEDOM IN VENEZUELA: The Director-General of The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today

voiced deep concern over press freedom in Venezuela. Venezuela recently ordered to revoke the licenses of 34 broadcasters and a total of 240 radio stations and 45 TV stations may get their licenses taken away soon.

MONITORING AND WARNING SYSTEMS CAN REDUCE LANDSLIDES IMPACT: The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Relief (UNISDR)

reports that more landslides are expected due to the rainfall intensity from climate change. It says it is possible to reduce their impact by alerting people living in landslide-prone areas through monitoring and warning systems that will measure rainfalls and soil conditions.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR FULL COMMITMENT TO YOUTH: Today is International Youth Day. In a

message to mark this occasion, the Secretary-General noted that young men and women around the world are hit excessively hard by the impact of the global economic meltdown and climate change. In 2007, for example, youth comprised 25 per cent of the worlds working age population yet accounted for 40 per cent of the unemployed, he added.

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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