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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-06-22

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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 SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON APPOINTS PANEL OF EXPERTS ON SRI LANKA

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has

appointed a Panel of Experts that will advise him on the issue of accountability with regard to any alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka.

Its members are: Mr. Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia the Chair ; Ms. Yasmin Sooka of South Africa; and Mr. Steven Ratner of the United States.

The Panel will advise the Secretary-General on the implementation of the commitment on human rights accountability made in the Joint Statement issued by President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and the Secretary-General during the latters visit to Sri Lanka in May 2009. It will look into the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience with regard to accountability processes, taking into account the nature and scope of any alleged violations in Sri Lanka. It will be available as a resource to Sri Lankan authorities should they wish to avail themselves of its expertise in implementing the commitment.

In the conduct of its mandate, the Panel hopes to cooperate with concerned officials in Sri Lanka. It is expected to complete its advisory responsibilities within four months of the commencement of its work.

The Secretary-General remains convinced that accountability is an essential foundation for durable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Through the Panel the Secretary-General expects to enable the United Nations to make a constructive contribution in this regard.

Asked about the activities of the Panel of Experts for Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson said that the body is an advisory panel limited to advising the Secretary-General. It is not a fact-finding or investigative body. He added that the Secretary-General has all the authority he needs to name a panel of advisers.

As for it activities, the first thing would be for the panelists to confer and decide on what they will do over the four-month timeframe of their work.

Asked whether the panel would issue a report, and whether its findings would be made public, the Spokesperson said that it would be up to the panel to decide what form its advice to the Secretary-General would take. Whether the results of its work would be made public would be at the Secretary-Generals discretion.

Asked whether the panel would interview witnesses, Nesirky said that the aim is for the panel to cooperate with concerned officials. It is not intended for the panel to make visits to Sri Lanka that would require the consent of the Government.

He noted that, in the Secretary-Generals view, the primary responsibility for investigating what happened in Sri Lanka is with that countrys Government.

Asked about time commitments by the panelists, the Spokesperson noted that Marzuki also has a role as special rapporteur dealing with human rights in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, but had made clear that he has the time to do both tasks.

Asked about the budget for the panels work, Nesirky said it would be paid out of funds available to the Secretary-General for unforeseen expenses.

PEACEKEEPING IS A UNIQUE AND UNIQUELY SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENT

The Secretary-General

spoke this morning at a General Assembly debate marking the 10th anniversary of the Brahimi Report, which the Secretary-General called a milestone in the evolution of United Nations peacekeeping operations.

He said that, thanks to the reforms proposed by the panel, UN peacekeeping has been able to grow, incorporate the lessons learned from those experiences, and continue to serve as a flagship UN activity and a mission of hope for people caught in armed conflict. But he added that we need to continue to strengthen the peacekeeping machinery.

The Secretary-General said that he is encouraged that different committees of the General Assembly have expressed general support for the proposals that are part of the New Horizons agenda to reform peacekeeping. He said that peacekeeping has been a unique and uniquely successful experiment, but there is a perpetual need to sharpen our tools.

SECRETARY-GENERAL, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER DISCUSS GAZA, INQUIRY, HUMANITARIAN ISSUES

Asked about the Secretary-Generals meeting on Monday afternoon with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General re-emphasized the need for fundamental change in the Israeli policy on closures in Gaza.

The Secretary-General called for prompt and positive response to his proposal for an international panel looking into the 31 May incident.

The Secretary-General also discussed humanitarian issues, including the situation of Corporal Gilad Shalit, and the issues related to the upcoming 1701 report, including the question of withdrawal from Ghajar.

Asked about remarks from the Defense Minister about wanting the Secretary-Generals inquiry proposal to be put on the shelf, the Spokesperson said that the Israelis have neither accepted nor rejected the Secretary-Generals proposal. The proposal remains on the table and we are hopeful for a positive response from Israel.

Asked about possible efforts to free the Israeli captive, Nesirky noted that the Secretary-General has repeatedly called for the unconditional release of Corporal Shalit.

BAN KI-MOON WANTS PARTIES TO AVOID FURTHER INCIDENT INVOLVING SHIPS HEADING TOWARD GAZA

Asked about reports of intentions to send further ships from several quarters to try to reach Gaza, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-Generals earlier comments that all parties should act responsibly and with caution, to avoid any further kind of incident.

He also noted that the Quartet, in its statement on Monday, urged all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into Gaza. The Quartet emphasized that there is no need for unnecessary confrontations and it calls on all parties to act responsibly in meeting the needs of the people of Gaza.

U.N.R.W.A. CHIEF CALLS FOR FREE FLOW OF PEOPLE AND GOODS INTO GAZA

Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA),

told the Agencys Advisory Committee in Cairo that, four years into the blockade of Gaza, every Gazan is affected by poverty, unemployment and crippled public services, causing human misery on a massive scale.

He expressed the hope that world leaders will now match their words with the political determination required to end the blockade of Gaza, adding that it will be crucial that we closely follow the measures recently announced by the Israeli Government.

Grandi said that UNRWA believes that nothing short of the free two-way flow of people, commercial and humanitarian goods, and currency, will generate a significant reversal of Gazas economy.

SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION TO AFGHANISTAN MEETS PRESIDENT KARZAI

The

Security Councils mission to Afghanistan held a series of meetings in Kabul today, on its first full day since arriving in the country.

The 15-member delegation had a two-hour meeting with President Hamid Karzai and senior members of the Government, at the Presidential Palace, exchanging views on the current situation in Afghanistan.

In the afternoon, Security Council members met with members of Afghan civil society, in particular members of the Afghan Women's Network, human rights defenders and humanitarian workers and members of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission. The delegation was also briefed by the head of the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Staffan de Mistura.

Asked whether the United Nations would remove the Taliban from the list of sanctions under resolution 1267, the Spokesperson noted that the members of the Security Council had said that they were waiting for details of a report on this topic. Any delisting, he said, would be up to the Security Council to decide.

As for reconciliation, Nesirky said, the Secretary-General has made clear that any reconciliation process would need to involve the Taliban, among others.

Asked how the Security Council would respond to crises while so many ambassadors are in Afghanistan, the Spokesperson said that the Member States on the Council have larger delegations that can meet in New York if so needed.

SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON DARFUR PEACEKEEPERS

The

Security Council President issued a statement today, in which the members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attacks on UN-African Union peacekeepers in Darfur on 21 June, which resulted in the deaths of three Rwandan soldiers and in which another seriously wounded.

The members of the Security Council expressed their condolences to the families of those killed in the attacks, as well as to the Government of Rwanda. They encouraged the Government of Sudan to ensure that all the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice and stressed that there must be an end to impunity for those that attack peacekeepers.

KYRGYZSTAN: U.N. PROVIDES ASSISTANCE DESPITE TENSE SECURITY SITUATION

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that providing aid for displaced people in Kyrgyzstan has been difficult due to the tense security situation on the ground where there are reports of barricades still up in the city of Osh and government troops trying to clear the streets have been met with resistance.

Thirty airplanes carrying aid from the United Nations or other organizations have arrived in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan since the start of the crisis, and the aid they carried is being distributed.

OCHA says that in the past two days, more than seven-and-a-half thousand people have returned to Jalal-abad province, where the situation was a bit less tense than Osh.

Over the border in Uzbekistan, the authorities there have been helping the UN refugee agency hand out relief items; theyve also told the refugee agency that, in addition to Andijan, there are more than 50 other locations hosting refugees along the border.

The UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) says that from its meetings with the refugees, its clear that many are struggling to deal with the family separations involved in fleeing the recent violence.

The Spokesperson, in response to questions, said that the Secretary-General remains concerned about tensions in Osh and elsewhere. The Secretary-General is fully aware of the sensitivities among the Uzbek population in Kyrgyzstan.

Asked whether a referendum should go ahead in Kyrgyzstan even if displaced ethnic Uzbeks are not able to vote, Nesirky said that Special Representative Miroslav Jenca had made clear that the decision would be in the hands of the Kyrgyz authorities. The United Nations is in touch with the Kyrgyz authorities to discuss how the population can vote.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

WORLD DRUG REPORT 2010 TO BE LAUNCHED: Tomorrow, the UN Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) will release its 2010 World Drug Report. The UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, will release the report in Washington D.C. with the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Director of the Federal Drugs Control Service of the Russian Federation.

LETTER FROM PAKISTAN ON BHUTTO COMMISSION WAS RECEIVED: Asked about a letter from the Pakistani Government on the work of the fact-finding commission that dealt with Benazir Bhuttos assassination, the Spokesperson confirmed that the letter has been received and is being studied.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, SA-1B15

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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