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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-08-02
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, August 2, 2010
SECRETARY-GENERAL ESTABLISHES PANEL OF INQUIRY ON 31 MAY GAZA FLOTILLA INCIDENT
announced this morning that he has set up a Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident of 31 May. He called the launch of the Panel an unprecedented development.
He thanked the leaders of Israel and Turkey, with whom he engaged in last minute consultations over the weekend, for their spirit of compromise and forward looking cooperation.
The Panel will be led by the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Geoffrey Palmer, as Chair and the outgoing President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, as Vice-Chair. The Panel will have two additional members, one each from Israel and Turkey. It will begin its work on 10 August and submit the first progress report by mid September.
The Secretary-General hopes that the Panel will fulfil its mandate based on the Presidential Statement of the Security Council and with the fullest cooperation of the relevant national authorities of the two countries. It will also provide recommendations for the prevention of similar incidents in the future. The Secretary-General also hopes that today's agreement will positively affect the relationship between Turkey and Israel, as well as the overall situation in the Middle East.
Asked whether the Panels work could involve criminal responsibility, the Spokesperson clarified that the Panel is not a criminal investigation. It has been tasked with making findings about the facts, circumstances and context of the incident, as well as recommending ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future.
He added that the Panel is specifically tasked with reviewing the reports of national investigations into the incident. The time-frame of the Panels work has been set so as to permit it to do this. It is being undertaken with the full cooperation of the Governments concerned.
Asked whether the Panel would interview witnesses or examine videos, the Spokesperson said that the Panel will decide what steps it needs to take to carry out its mandate.
Asked about where it will be based, Nesirky said that, broadly speaking, it will be based at United Nations Headquarters in New York, where it will receive and review copies of the national investigations into the flotilla incident. It will be expected to conduct its work in a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent manner, in conformity with international standards.
The Panel, he added, will be assisted by experts in the fields that are relevant to its work.
Asked about the information that will be sought from Israel and Turkey, Nesirky said that it will be for the Panel to decide what steps it may need to take in order to obtain clarifications and information from relevant national authorities.
Asked about the timetable for the Panels work, he noted that the Panel will submit its report to the Secretary-General in six months, around February. It will then be for the Secretary-General to decide what further steps to take.
Asked whether Alvaro Uribe can perform his work in the Panel, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has full confidence that President Uribe is able to discharge his duties as Vice-Chair of the Panel.
Nesirky noted that the Panels mandate is in line with the 1 June Presidential Statement of the Security Council, which called for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards into the flotilla incident.
Asked about the discussions that led to todays announcements, he noted that the Secretary-General over the weekend had spoken with Israels Defence Minister and Turkeys Foreign Minister, and had also spoken by phone this morning with the Israeli Prime Minister.
Nesirky said that the Secretary-General had worked extremely hard over the past two months to find a formula for the Panel to go about its work. Now, he said, Israeli and Turkey had demonstrated a spirit of compromise and were both on board for the Panel.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HEADS TO JAPAN, WILL VISIT NAGASAKI AND HIROSHIMA
The Secretary-General left UN Headquarters this morning, on his way to Japan.
His activities there include meeting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada. He will also visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima in order to draw attention to the urgent need to achieve global nuclear disarmament.
He will attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, in the first time a Secretary-General has done so.
U.N. ACTIVATES EMERGENCY FUND TO ASSIST FLOOD VICTIMS IN PAKISTAN
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the worst floods to hit Pakistan since 1929 have left more than one million people in need of emergency assistance. In addition to a rising number of deaths, injuries and displacement, there is major damage to housing, roads, bridges, infrastructure in general, and livelihoods. In north-western Pakistan, the estimated number of those who have died now exceeds 1,110.
Over the weekend, a rapid assessment mission headed by Martin Mogwanja, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan, visited two north-western districts by helicopter, as there is no road accessibility to the districts. The mission confirmed widespread damage and urgent humanitarian needs.
Access continues to be the main problem hampering relief efforts. Floods have damaged roads, and bridges, and communications and utilities have also been damaged. The initial estimates are that 150,000 people will require emergency assistance.
The Pakistan Emergency Fund, managed by OCHA, which currently contains $8 million, have been activated to provide funding to partners. In a
statement issued on Sunday night, the Secretary-General announced that up to $10 million can be provided by the Central Emergency Response Fund.
The statement also expressed the Secretary-Generals deep sadness at the significant loss of lives, livelihoods and infrastructure in Pakistan. He reiterated the UNs full commitment to supporting the national and provincial authorities in meeting the humanitarian needs of the people who have been affected.
Asked whether more funds would be needed, the Spokesperson said that OCHA will look at the funds available and see whether more is needed. He said that this was evidently a major catastrophe in which people needed to receive help as quickly as possible.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. PROVIDES ASSISTANCE TO FLOOD VICTIMS
Relief aid provided by various United Nations agencies and Afghan partners has started to reach the nearly 4,000 families affected by last weeks flooding in eastern
Relief aid, containing mostly non-food items such as tarpaulins, tents, blankets and kitchen kits provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNICEF, started reaching the affected population on Sunday, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The World Food Programme (WFP) has committed to providing food for three months to the affected families in Nangarhar and Laghman provinces, while the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is ready to distribute wheat seeds as part of a post-disaster package.
UNAMID WORKING WITH AUTHORITIES IN SOUTH DARFUR TO ENSURE MISSIONS FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
Asked about reports that Sudan would seek to monitor the movements of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the Spokesperson said that, if implemented, these restrictions of movement would not be consistent with the status of forces agreement.
We are working with the local authorities in South Darfur to ensure that conditions are in place for the implementation of UNAMID's mandate, Nesirky said.
Asked about the situation in Kalma Camp, the Spokesperson said it has improved but remains tense. No casualties were reported on Sunday.
UNAMID continues to patrol areas of the camp's interior and exterior; many internally displaced persons are still camped around the UNAMID site there.
The Spokesperson said that UNAMID is working with local authorities with a view to restore peace and stability in and around Kalma camp. The Deputy Joint Special Representative visited Nyala on Sunday, where he met with the Wali of South Darfur, UNAMID staff and sheikhs and leaders of both groups in Kalma. He urged both sides to eschew violence and exercise restraint.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SADDENED BY DEATH OF FOUR UNAMID PEACEKEEPERS
The Secretary-General is
saddened by the death of four UNAMID peacekeepers from Sierra Leone, in a traffic collision in Nyala, South Darfur on Sunday, 1 August 2010.
The Secretary-General would like to convey his sincere condolences to the Government of Sierra Leone and to the families of the four soldiers. He hopes for a full recovery of two additional military personnel who were injured in the accident.
The Secretary-General would like to take this opportunity to commend all of the men and women serving in UNAMID in military, police and civilian capacities, for their efforts to protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian assistance and bring peace to Darfur.
NEW ROUND OF CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS KICK OFF IN BONN, GERMANY
The third round of UN climate change negotiations this year started this morning in Bonn, Germany. The talks, which will last all week, are designed to prepare the outcomes of the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún in November and December.
The new Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), Christiana Figueres, said that Governments have a responsibility this year to take the next essential step in the battle against climate change. How Governments achieve the next essential step is up to them, she said. But its politically possible. In Cancún, the job of Governments is to turn the politically possible into the politically irreversible.
The UNs top climate change official also pointed to the opportunity to capture the promises, pledges and progress that Governments have already made, in accountable and binding ways, including on cutting emissions and on funding.
The Bonn gathering is being attended by around 3,100 participants, including Government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organisations and research institutions.
The next UNFCCC negotiating session is scheduled to take place from 4 to 9 October in Tianjin, China, before the UN Climate Change Conference, from 29 November to 10 December in Cancún.
U.N.I.C.E.F. ASKS HEALTH PROFESSIONALS TO ENCOURAGE NEW MOTHERS TO BREASTFEED
This week is World Breastfeeding Week. As part of the weeks activities, UNICEF and its partners are asking health professionals to
encourage new mothers to breastfeed their children.
UNICEF says breast milk is the best food a baby can have and breastfeeding gives a child the best possible start in life.
With this in mind, it says that the information that mothers receive from healthcare providers exerts a strong influence on their attitudes to breastfeeding, and healthcare professionals can play a vital role in encouraging new mothers to breastfeed their newborns.
While the benefits for children are beyond question, the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding is still only around 37 per cent.
UNICEF is working with Governments and partners to increase support and encouragement for breastfeeding mothers.
RUSSIA ASSUMES SECURITY COUNCIL MONTLY PRESIDENCY
Russia has assumed the rotating Presidency of the
Security Council for the month of August.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the Council President for the coming month, is holding bilateral consultations today with other Council members on the programme of work for the month ahead. He will brief on the programme of work on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, SA-1B15
New York, NY 10017
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