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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-03-08

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

PRESS ENCOUNTER

BY

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN

KI-MOON

UPON RETURN FROM CHILE

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, March 8, 2010

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON: "Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to see you.

As you know, I visited Chile over the weekend.

I was there to express my solidarity, and of the United Nations and the international community as a whole, with the people [and Government of Chile] following the devastating earthquake.

I also had a meeting with my staff and inspected the extent of the damage of the UN office there.

I really wanted to have a fuller picture, a clearer picture, at first-hand, at the extent of damage, to better assess how the United Nations can help Chile overcome.

I saw some of the worst-affected areas, in Concepción. I was able to fly over the tsunami-hit areas.

Grief was widespread. But there was also a strong sense of unity among the people workers and families of the victims, and Government leaders, and survivors. This was quite heartening for me.

That unity was reflected in the outpouring of support from the general public, the business community and others. The telethon fundraising event in which I participated together with President Bachelet and incoming President Piñera raised $60 million, twice what was expected.

I met both the current President - Michelle Bachelet, and her key Cabinet members. We had a joint meeting between the Chilean Government and the United Nations. Then I met with the incoming President, Sebastián Piñera, and I had another opportunity of engaging in in-depth discussions with the incoming ministers Foreign Minister, Planning, Finance, Public Works, and Health Ministers. We discussed, and as a result of our discussions, we agreed to establish a joint working group between the United Nations and the Chilean Government, to try to identify the areas where they needed [help] most urgently. Those areas are shelter and sanitation, mobile hospitals, electric generators and communications and small-scale fishery support. There are several areas which the Chilean Government wanted to have a targeted support from the international community.

I stressed to both the strong commitment of the United Nations to help the country pick up the pieces and build back better.

I have, as you are aware by this time, authorized $10 million from the CERF, the Central Emergency Response Fund. The United Nations and the Chilean Government will work very closely together.

I will brief the General Assembly on Wednesday morning, and will see how the United Nations Member States can help the Chilean Government and how Member States can do their part.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me now turn to some of the very serious situations in some parts of the world.

In Nigeria, I am deeply concerned that there has been more inter-religious violence, with appalling loss of life. I appeal to all concerned to exercise maximum restraint. Nigerias political and religious leaders should work together to address the underlying causes and to achieve a permanent solution to the crisis in Jos.

On Iraq, I applaud all those Iraqis who exercised their constitutional right to vote despite the very serious and difficult challenging security situation. My Special Representative, Mr. Ad Melkert, will have an opportunity of briefing you, with more to tell you at his own briefing later today.

Finally, as you know, today is International Womens Day. Gender equality and womens empowerment are among my top priorities. Women are central to the Millennium Development Goals and all our hopes for progress and peace and stability and human rights.

For that reason, I am pleased to announce that Ms. Ann-Marie Orler will be the new Police Adviser for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Ms. Orler brings great experience to the job, including in the Swedish National Police.

She has been the United Nations Deputy Police Adviser since 2008, and has led the global effort to recruit more female police officers for UN peace operations.

Now, the United Nations top cop is a woman.

That is a wonderful way to celebrate International Womens Day.

Ms. Orler will be at the noon briefing today to take your questions.

Thank you very much, and I am ready for your questions.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on the subject of another trip you are about to take, or will be taking in a couple of weeks to another conflict zone, the Middle East, can you tell us about where you are going to be going in the Middle East, I guess after the Quartet, and what your role is going to be, and how you see the launch of these so-called indirect negotiations that are resuming between the Israelis and Palestinians?

SG: As you know, during the last couple of months I have been extensively engaged with the Americans and Israelis and Palestinians and other Arab leaders, to facilitate the early resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Now, this Quartet meeting which will be held on 19 March in Moscow, will provide the Quartet principals a very good opportunity first of all, to assess and encourage the earliest possible resumption of the proximity talks which will eventually, I hope, lead to direct negotiations between the parties. I will do my part, as Secretary-General, representing and reflecting the wishes of all the United Nations Member States.

I am considering visiting some countries in the region, but that will be announced soon. I am in the process of discussing this matter to engage myself and to facilitate this Middle East peace process.

Soon after that, I will participate in the League of Arab [States] Summit meeting which will be held in Sirte, Libya, on 27 March. There I will engage in bilateral or group meetings with the Arab leaders, so that both Arab leaders, and the United Nations, and all concerned parties can promote this peace process.

This afternoon, as you know, I am meeting Vice Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. [Silvan] Shalom.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, late last week you spoke with the President of Sri Lanka, and said that you are going to name a panel, to advise yourself, on accountability. Over the weekend, the President said that you had no right to do it and had a very different read-out of the call than we received, at least the way I hear it. Can you explain what the purpose of the Panel is and when you think youre going to name it? And also the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, also over the weekend, confirmed that he sought a job for his son with the UN. I wonder if you think that is appropriate, and is such a job going to be given?

SG: As you said, I had a frank and honest exchange of views with President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa, Thursday night, last week, over issues that were of concern to both of us. This included moving forward on political reconciliation, further movement on the condition of internally displaced persons, and the establishment of an accountability process. I am concerned with the lack of progress of the joint statement which both I and President Rajapaksa had agreed during my visit last year. I raised this issue and discussed [it]. I made clear to President Rajapaksa that I intend to move forward on a Group of Experts which will advise me on setting the broad parameters and standards on the way ahead on establishing accountability concerning Sri Lanka. For that purpose, we have agreed that I dispatch [Under-Secretary-General of Political Affairs] Lynn Pascoe in the very near future.

Q: Do you think that its appropriate for the Foreign Minister of a country with which you are dealing with on possible war crimes to be seeking a job for his son with the UN?

SG: First of all, I am not aware of that particular case of job application of the Foreign Ministers son. As a matter of fact, any recruitment process will have to be dealt with in a most transparent and objective manner by the selection committee members. That is what the United Nations has been [using] as a principle.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on Myanmar, theyve adopted new laws preparing for the elections, but theyre also going to keep Aung San Suu Kyi locked up. What do you intend to do? Are you going to go back there this year? Are you going to appoint a new Envoy? There have been some rights experts here that have said that even the most free and fair elections wont solve the problem, because they need a new constitution.

SG: I have been very closely following and monitoring the situation in Myanmar. I have sent, about ten days ago, a letter to Senior General Than Shwe, first of all expressing my concern about the lack of progress and also emphasizing the importance of the election which will held this year to be a most credible, inclusive and transparent manner. For that purpose, there should be administrative measures taken. I took note of the report that there was an announcement on Myanmar State media on the enactment of election laws. That is what I had been urging the Myanmar authorities to do as soon as possible. First of all, I have been following up on that and I will continue to follow this matter. Most importantly, all the political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, should be released as soon as possible, so that all of them can take part in elections. That would make the elections inclusive and credible. I repeatedly emphasized that, without the participation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all key political prisoners, the elections would not be inclusive.

Q: And on the Envoy?

On the Envoy, I am still in the process of finding a good candidate. But, at this time, my Chef de Cabinet, Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar, who has wide experience, knowledge and network with Myanmar, is now taking care of this job.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the Iraqi refugees issue is becoming a big problem for countries like Jordan and Syria. During your upcoming trip, do you plan to bring this issue up with the Arab leaders?

SG: I have been expressing my gratitude to the leaders of Jordan and Syria for their accommodation of Iraqi refugees. I know that, despite their economic difficulties, they have been generously accommodating and taking care of these refugees. For them to be able to return to their homeland, peace and security should be restored as soon as possible. That is what the current Iraqi Government has been trying and is going to do through a more democraticizing process, as we have seen yesterday, through elections. We are in a constant process of discussing this matter and providing necessary humanitarian assistance to those refugees.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you have been talking about your commitment to womens rights and all the things that you have been pressing for, and yet we recently had this case of sexual harassment by a UN employee [Cynthia] Brzak I think is her name who was dismissed because your predecessor had not lifted the diplomatic immunity of the man in question. Is that not a policy you think you should tackle, to really put some teeth into your commitment to womens rights, lifting this policy of diplomatic immunity in the case where UN officials are accused of sexual harassment?

SG: I think that, as far as the United Nations is concerned, we have taken right and correct measures in that case. Now it is in the hands of the judiciary process. I have taken note of the decision of the US court here, not allowing for her to pursue this case by reason of immunity and privileges. That is the courts decision. We had taken all necessary administrative and legal measures at that time, when it had happened. But it will continue to be the firm policy and position of the United Nations.

Q: On Chile and Haiti. Both countries need shelter and tents, and they need it quickly, and there dont seem to be enough in the world. Are they competing with each other for this kind of resource?

SG: This is a very serious challenge for the international community, when we were actively, heavily engaged in helping the Haitian people, then another powerful earthquake devastated Chile. The extent of destruction in Chile was also beyond description. I was appalled by such destruction by an earthquake. As far as these priority elements, shelter is very important and an urgent one for both Haiti and Chile. For Haiti, we have provided almost forty percent. My last figure was 300,000 tents had been provided, but we need at least one million tents, because two million people have been displaced.

The Chilean Government also appealed for the urgent provision of shelter. I have also participated with the President-Elect in a very moving event when young boys and girls were volunteering to build this temporary shelter this was called Un Techo para Chile. This was a Roof for Chile in English. I was very moved by such volunteer work.

The Chilean Government told me that, as far as funding is concerned, the Chilean Government may have the capacity to provide all this. But they need some targeted support, like shelter, generators. There are many items which we have received and I will discuss with Member States, and OCHA [Office for the Coordination Humanitarian Affairs] has been working very hard to provide as swiftly as possible all those required items. Thats why I was there and why I will continue to work hard.

Thank you very much. "

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNITED NATIONS TO HOLD MEMORIAL SERVICE TOMORROW FOR STAFF DECEASED IN HAITI: The United Nations will hold a Memorial Ceremony at its Headquarters in New York tomorrow, Tuesday, 9 March, in honor of the United Nations personnel who perished in the Haiti earthquake. The Secretary-General will address the large number of family members of the deceased who will be in attendance, as well as UN staff gathered for this memorial. In addition, there will be senior officials, representatives of Member States, and representatives from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) attending. The ceremony will take place at 10:00 a.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.

ASIA-PACIFIC HAS ONE OF THE WORLDS LARGEST GENDER GAPS: Asia-Pacifics vibrant economic transformation in recent decades has not translated into progress on gender equality, according to the regions Human Development Report launched today by the UN Development Programmes Administrator, Helen Clark, in New Delhi, India. The report Power, Voice and Rights: A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific

stresses that the region has one of the worlds largest gender gaps. It says that womens lack of participation is depressing economic growth and adds that very few women hold political office in the region figures are lower than anywhere else in the world except in the Arab states. The report also highlights the increasing problem of missing girls. More boys are born than girls, as girl fetuses are presumably aborted, and women die from health and nutrition neglect. China and India together account more than 85 million of the nearly 100 million missing women estimated to have died from discriminatory treatment in health care, nutrition access or pure neglect &#8213;or because they were never born in the first place.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE STARTS THREE-WEEK SESSION: The Human Rights Committee began its 98th session in New York today and this afternoon will begin examination of the fifth periodic report of Mexico under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. During the three week session the Committee will also examine periodic reports from Argentina, New Zealand and Uzbekistan. A full programme of work and all documentation are available on the Committee's

website.

U.N. TEAM REVIEWING PLANS TO RESPOND TO DROUGHT IN SYRIA: The UN Humanitarian Country Team in Syria is reviewing the drought response plan which seeks funding for life-saving emergency assistance to drought-stricken populations in north-eastern Syria. Some 1.1 million Syrians have been affected by a three-year drought that has devastated their livelihood and forced hundreds of thousands to migrate to urban areas where they face very difficult living conditions, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). UN assistance focuses on providing a comprehensive package of food aid and agricultural inputs to farmers and herders, particularly in the area south of the town of Hassake.

SOME 2 MILLION PEOPLE IN CHAD WILL NEED FOOD AID THIS YEAR: An assessment by the Government of Chad and its partners showed that around 2 million Chadians will require food assistance during 2010. The

World Food Programme has put in place a programme of assistance to provide 47,000 tonnes of food for 750,000 people affected by drought in regions a cross the country. Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the government have put in a place a project to distribute 615 tonnes of cattle food, and a project to distribute seeds for 33,000 vulnerable households is planned. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has so far allocated $3,751,801 to Chad this year. This money is focused mainly on the health and nutrition sectors.

FAILURE TO CONTROL DRUGS WILL UNLEASH HEALTH DISASTER IN DEVELOPING WORLD: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is warning that failure to control drugs will unleash a health disaster in the developing world. In his address to the opening of the 53rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) today in Vienna, the head of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa,

said that the developing world lacks the treatment facilities and law enforcement to control drugs. He said that this seems to have been forgotten by richer countries calling for loosening of drug controls. Referring to health as the first principle of drug control, Costa said that drug addiction is a treatable condition, but warned that inequality within and between states marginalizes poor people who lack access to treatment. He added that around the world, millions of people caught taking drugs are sent to jail, not to treatment.

U.N. AGENCIES ASSISTING CHRISTIANS DISPLACED FROM NINEWA: United Nations agencies and local authorities in the northern Iraqi governorate of Ninewa have been providing humanitarian aid to over 860 Christian families who have recently fled their homes in the city of Mosul as a result of targeted intimidation and violence.

SPECIAL TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON ISSUES REPORT: The

Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Saturday issued a report in which the Tribunal President, Judge Antonio Cassese, voiced his confidence in the Tribunals progress and said that prosecutions may begin within a year.

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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