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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-08-31

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY

MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, August 31, 2009

BAN KI-MOON PLANS TO SEE FIRSTHAND IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN ARCTIC TOMORROW

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this morning held meetings in Oslo with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Norway, in which he discussed multilateralism and Norways role in the international community.

In a joint

press encounter with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General said that Norway, by any standards, is a steadfast believer in the goals and ideals of the United Nations and he said he was very much encouraged by its strong support for the United Nations.

He said he was very encouraged by the promise made by the Prime Minister this morning that Norway will be able to reach 1.1% of its gross domestic product to meet the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

During their meeting, the Prime Minister announced to the Secretary-General that he would attend the 22 September Summit on Climate Change.

Their discussion focused primarily on climate change issues and on the need to mobilize political will and create confidence building measures between the developed and developing countries.

The Secretary-General also met with the Norwegian Foreign Minister this morning over breakfast; they discussed Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Myanmar, as well as sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Also this morning, the Secretary-General attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Memorial Monument of the first Secretary-General, Trygve Lie.

The Secretary-General later met with members of Norways Parliament, and he discussed with them climate change, including carbon trading, UN reform, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and the situation of Iranian refugees in Iraq.

In his earlier press encounter, the Secretary-General had noted that one of the principal reasons for his visit to Norway is to see first-hand the dramatic changes to the Arctic and to learn what that means for humankind.

This evening, he will fly north to Svalbard to meet with scientists who are gathering important climate data, before he visits the Polar Ice Rim tomorrow.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General

spoke at a symposium in Alpbach, Austria, discussing the need for the United Nations to speak out on behalf of people whose trust has been betrayed.

He noted that, in Sri Lanka, he made it clear to President Mahinda Rajapaksa that though the fighting might be over, people must be allowed to return to their homes and that he must reach out to minority groups.

In Myanmar, he said, he met with Senior General Than Shwe, and told him bluntly that the world is watching him and his Government, and that he must release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

TOP ENVOY IN DARFUR CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF TWO ABDUCTED STAFF

A total of 26 police officers from Nepal together with 30 from Nigeria arrived in El Fasher, Darfur today to begin working with the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Their arrival will push UNAMIDs police deployment to over 3,000 police officers.

And over the weekend, as you know, two international civilian UNAMID staff members one man and one woman were abducted at gunpoint by four or five armed men from their residence in Zalingei, West Darfur.

The incident is reported to have occurred early Saturday morning and the two staff members were taken to an unknown destination.

UNAMID has informed the relevant Sudanese authorities, which have assured the Mission that they are taking all the necessary steps to address the situation.

Joint Special Representative Rodolphe Adada has called for the immediate and unconditional release of the two staff members, urging their abductors to return them unharmed.

TIMOR-LESTE SHOWS THAT DEMOCRACY IS BEST PATH TO PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

In a message on the 10th anniversary of the U.N.-conducted popular consultation in Timor-Leste, the Secretary-General said Timor-Leste has shown the world that democracy is the best path to sustainable peace and development.

The Secretary-General also highlighted that in just over 7 years since the restoration of independence, the country has established all major democratic institutions.

He commended the resilient Timorese people and their leaders that have risen to meet their challenges, adding that Timor-Lestes progress shows yet again the power of peaceful means in changing the course of history.

The Secretary-General reiterated the United Nations continued support for Timor-Lestes efforts to build a prosperous, inclusive society, based on democracy, rule of law, human dignity and respect for the human rights of all the countrys people.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER CONCERNED OVER RELEASE OF INDONESIAN

ACCUSED OF SERIOUS CRIMES IN TIMOR-LESTE

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is seeking urgent clarification of reports that Martenus Bere, a former militia commander alleged to have been implicated in a 1999 massacre in Timor-Leste, was released on Sunday by the Timor-Leste authorities.

Bere is alleged to have been involved in directing an attack which resulted in at least 40 people, including women, children and priests, being killed in the Covalima district of Timor-Leste on 6 September 1999.

If the reports are true, his release is contrary to the Security Council resolutions which set up the UN Mission in Timor-Leste and seriously undermines the global principle of accountability for crimes against humanity.

The UN's firm position is that there can be no amnesty or impunity for serious crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

In that context, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights strongly opposes the release of someone for whom an arrest warrant of this nature has been established.

UNICEF HEAD MEETS CHILD VICTIMS OF THE L.R.A. IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman has

met with children abducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by rebels of Ugandas Lords Resistance Army, (LRA).

The meeting in Dungu, a remote community in the north-east of the country, came on the last day of Venemans five-day trip to the D.R. Congo. An estimated 320,000 people have been displaced in the area since December 2007.

Ms. Veneman said, The population of Dungu lives in constant fear of attacks from the LRA.

The LRA is notorious for kidnapping children, forcing them to kill and maim innocent victims and enslaving young girls as their concubines, she said.

Many of the children who have managed to escape from the LRA are being cared for in the Dungu community.

LEBANON: GERMANY TAKES OVER COMMAND OF UNIFILS MARITIME TASK FORCE FROM ITALY

The UN Interim Force in Lebanons (UNIFILs) Maritime Task Force today underwent a transfer of command, from Rear Admiral Ruggiero Di Biase of Italy to Rear Admiral Jürgen Mannhardt of Germany.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, the UNIFIL Force Commander, Major-General Claudio Graziano, highlighted the constructive relationship between the Task Force and the Lebanese Navy that has developed, from joint naval exercises to the conduct of combined maritime interdiction operations.

Since the start of its operations on 15 October 2006, the Task Force has hailed around 27,000 ships and referred more than 370 suspicious vessels to the Lebanese authorities for further inspection.

NEW REPORT ON ORGANIZED CRIME IN THE ASIA PACIFIC LAUNCHED

While new laws designed to target the structure, organization, members, and associates of organized crime groups have had some success in Asia and the Pacific, these laws at the same time fail to address the root causes of organized crime. The new laws create the risk that outlawed groups will consolidate, move further underground, and engage in more violent and clandestine operations, as has been the case in Japan.

This is one of the findings of a new report by the East Asia and the Pacific regional office of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes, (UNODC), launched today in Bangkok.

WORLD CLIMATE CONFERENCE OPENS IN GENEVA

The World Climate Conference

opened in Geneva today.

Experts and politicians from around the world are meeting to ensure that people have access to climate predictions and related information so that they can cope with climate change and variability.

Michel Jarraud, the head of the World Meteorological Organization, which is convening the Conference, today

said that, until now, the way we deliver climate information to some sectors has been ad hoc.

He added that, what we need is a formal system that all people can trust to have access to vital information that can save their lives and protect property and economies.

The Secretary-General will be in Geneva later this week to personally address the World Climate Conference.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES MORE EFFORT TO ADDRESS PROBLEMS OF MARINE ENVIRONMENT

Here at Headquarters today, Governments are

meeting to discuss ways to monitor seas and oceans.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that despite the central role that oceans play in our world today, significant gaps exist in our understanding and management of the marine environment.

If Governments can reach an agreement, the first globally integrated oceans assessment could be delivered under UN auspices by 2014, UNEP says.

The Deputy Secretary-General

addressed the gathering today.

She urged participants to carry their work a step forward and ensure that the establishment of such an assessment can provide, at the global level, a continuous and comprehensive review of the problems facing the marine environment.

UNITED NATIONS VIEWS WITH UTMOST CONCERN INFORMATION OF SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Asked about a Channel Four (UK) video that purportedly showed Tamil prisoners being executed, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations has always viewed with utmost concern the reports and information that it receives from various sources of serious human rights violations, including those related to war crimes.

The footage broadcast on Channel Four (UK) last week that shows Tamil prisoners being summarily executed allegedly by Sri Lankan armed forces personnel is no exception.

Okabe added that the United Nations is not in a position to ascertain the authenticity of the video in question and has noted its rejection by the Sri Lankan authorities.

The United Nations, she said, is in regular contact with the Sri Lankan Government regarding the implementation of the joint statement issued in May at the conclusion of his visit to Sri Lanka, where the Secretary-General underlined the importance of a comprehensive accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and where the Government of Sri Lanka undertook to take measures to address grievances of the victims of the conflict.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

FINAL RESULTS OF AFGHAN ELECTIONS EXPECTED IN MID-SEPTEMBER: Asked about complaints that the voting in Afghanistan has been rigged, the Spokeswoman noted that the tallying of the vote and the complaints process are still ongoing. The final result of the election is not expected until around 17 September, she said.

SPOKESWOMAN REFERS QUERIES ON SHIP SEIZURE IN THE U.A.E. TO SECURITY COUNCIL SANCTIONS COMMITTEE: Asked about the seizure of a ship in the United Arab Emirates that allegedly involved North Korean arms, the Spokeswoman said the matter was being handled by the relevant Security Council Sanctions Committee, headed by Turkey.

UNITED STATES TO ASSUME MONTHLY PRESIDENCY OF SECURITY COUNCIL: Today is the last day of the UK Presidency of the

Security Council. Tomorrow, the United States will assume the rotating Presidency of the Council for the month of September.Ambassador Susan Rice of the United States is expected to brief you in this room on the programme of work on Wednesday.

LAUNCH OF 2009 WORLD ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL SURVEY: Tomorrow at 11 a.m., there will be a press conference by Rob Vos from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. He will be here to launch the World Economic and Social Survey 2009. The Survey, which focuses on climate change and development, will also be launched in Geneva, Bangkok, Islamabad, Johannesburg, Moscow and New Delhi tomorrow.

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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