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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-01-04

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 MARTIN

NESIRKY

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, January 4, 2010

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES LIFTING OF HIV-RELATED TRAVEL BAN IN U.S. AND REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have

welcomed the removal of travel restrictions based on HIV status by the Republic of Korea and by the United States, as of today.

The lifting of the restrictions took effect on 1 January in the Republic of Korea and today in the United States.

The Secretary-General also repeated his call to all other countries with such discriminatory restrictions to take steps to remove them as soon as possible.

The head of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, added that such discrimination had no place in today's highly mobile world. According to UNAIDS, some 57 countries, territories and areas have some form of HIV-specific travel ban.

SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES YEMEN, SOMALIA AND CLIMATE CHANGE WITH BRITISH PRIME MINISTER

In a phone call on Monday morning, the Secretary-General and Prime Minister Gordon Brown exchanged best wishes for the New Year. They shared concerns about the situation in Somalia.

The Secretary-General indicated his support for the Conference on Yemen that is being organized by Prime Minister Brown in London at the end of the month.

The Secretary-General was appreciative of the initiative of Prime Minister Brown and welcomed the focus of the conference on counter-terrorism. He expressed concerns about the violence in part of Yemen and the presence of Al-Qaeda in the country. He was also concerned about the humanitarian situation. He sought assurance that the President of Yemen is involved in the preparation of the conference.

They also discussed follow-up steps on climate change.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would attend the Yemen Conference in London, the Spokesperson noted that there would be a high-level UN presence at the Conference on Afghanistan that is to take place in London at the same time, on 28 January.

Asked about security for UN staff in Yemen, Nesirky added that the United Nations takes the matter extremely seriously and is reviewing security on the ground.

AFGHANISTAN AT CRITICAL JUNCTURE, NEEDS REINFORCED INTERNATIONAL COORDINATION

The Secretary-Generals latest

report to the General Assembly and the Security Council on Afghanistan is out as a document today. The Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Kai Eide, will brief Member States on that report here this week.

In the report, the Secretary-General says that the controversial 2009 elections undermined confidence in Afghanistans leadership and affected international support for engagement in Afghanistan. However, it ultimately yielded a result that was acceptable to the Afghan people and respected the countrys laws and institutions.

He says that the electoral process revealed serious flaws and weaknesses that need to be corrected before the United Nations can engage in a similar supporting role for future elections.

The Secretary-General says that we are now at a critical juncture, and he adds that there is a need for a reinforced international coordination structure in Afghanistan, under a UN umbrella.

Asked about the coordination structure for Afghanistan under a UN umbrella, the Spokesperson provided details from the Secretary-Generals report, in which he proposes that his Special Representative would have overall responsibility for the coordination of international civilian efforts. He added that UNAMA would have to be strengthened with staff who are able to engage better in discussions with key donor Governments and embassies in Kabul.

Also, Nesirky said, the report describes a proposal for a civilian structure that would be co-chaired by an Afghan minister and the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, with the participation of the International Security Assistance Force, the European Union, the World Bank and major donors.

Asked about a recent New York Times editorial concerning Kai Eides replacement, the Spokesperson said that the recruitment process for that post is still going on, and it is not appropriate to talk about names for candidates at this time.

U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN RESPECTS PARLIAMENTS ROLE IN APPROVING CABINET CHOICES

The UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA), in remarks at a press briefing today, declared that it was encouraged that many of the reform-oriented ministers in the Afghan Cabinet, for agriculture, finance, defence and the interior, were approved. But the Mission noted that many others were rejected, and this will delay the formation of a functioning Cabinet.

The UN Mission respects the Afghan Parliaments constitutional role in approving the Cabinet choices and hopes that President Karzai will work closely with Parliament to approve his choice for the remaining Cabinet positions swiftly.

CHINA ASSUMES ROTATING PRESIDENCY OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL

With the start of a new month, China has assumed the rotating Presidency of the Security

Council, taking over from Burkina Faso. Also, five new countries joined the Security Council as of 1 January: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria.

The Security Council expects to hold its first consultations for this year tomorrow morning.

After that, Ambassador Zhang Yesui, the Council President for January, expects to brief reporters on its programme of work for the coming month. That press conference will be at 12:30 p.m.

UNITED NATIONS NOTES EGYPTIAN EFFORTS TO COUNTER ARMS TRAFFICKING INTO GAZA STRIP

Asked about Egypt's construction activity near the Gaza border, the Spokesperson later reiterated that it is the UNs understanding that Egyptian efforts to counter illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into the Gaza Strip, as all states are called upon to do by UN Security Council Resolution 1860, are ongoing.

As for any potential humanitarian consequences, he said, the United Nations continues to be gravely concerned about socio-economic conditions in Gaza. The key to a sustainable solution to the crisis in Gaza is for resolution 1860 to be implemented in full, including an end to the Israeli blockade and the reopening of all legitimate crossings between Gaza and Israel and Gaza and Egypt, as prescribed in the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access.

Asked about the closing of a checkpoint from Israel into Gaza, Nesirky said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly called for the removal of impediments to access into Gaza.

BAN KI-MOON RELOCATES TO TEMPORARY BUILDING DURING HEADQUARTERS RENOVATION

The Office of the Secretary-General has relocated from the 38th floor to the 3rd floor of the Temporary North Lawn Building (TNLB).

Altogether 272 occupants from the Secretariat Building and the Conference Building have their swing space offices in the Temporary North Lawn Building.

Most of them have moved since 25 December. They are scheduled to return to the renovated Secretariat and Conference Buildings in 2012.

Also a number of conference rooms have already been relocated, and by 25 January 2010 the move of the conference rooms from the Conference Building to the Temporary North Lawn Building will be complete.

The Secretary-General looks forward to welcoming staff to the new North Lawn Building at a ceremony on 11 January, and he is expected to be talking about the UNs agenda for 2010 at a town hall meeting and at a General Assembly meeting on the same day.

He is also expected to have a press stakeout in the new building on the same day.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

MORE FOCUSED OPERATION UNDERWAY IN D.R. CONGO: Asked about a new military offensive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson said that it was to be a more focused operation than Kimia II, which has just ended.

MAJORITY OF PREMATURE BABIES BORN IN AFRICA AND ASIA: Striking inequalities exist between developing and developed countries in the survival chances of preterm babies, according to the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO). In the first global overview of preterm births published, the Bulletin says that out of approximately 13 million premature babies born every year worldwide, almost 11 million are born in Africa and Asia, where many do not have access to effective care. An average of 10% of births worldwide occur before 37 weeks gestation, in other words are premature, although this rate ranges between 3.8% for countries in central Asia and 17.5% in southern Africa.

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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