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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-12-09

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

HIGHLIGHTS

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY

FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

SECRETARY-GENERAL SHOCKED BY ATTACK IN RUSSIAN CAPITAL

According to a statement, Secretary-General Kofi Annan was shocked to learn that the Russian Federation had been the victim of yet another act of terror, this time in Moscow, that resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians. Terrorism can never be justified, under any circumstances whatsoever.

He sends his deepest condolences to the Government of the Russian Federation and to the families and friends of those who were so heartlessly killed.

ANNAN ALARMED BY WORSENING SITUATION IN DARFUR, SUDAN

The Secretary-General expressed his alarm at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Darfur region of Sudan, and by reports of widespread abuses against civilians, including killings, rape and the burning and looting of entire villages. Insecurity is also severely hampering humanitarian assistance efforts as many of the one million civilians affected by the conflict remain beyond the reach of relief workers.

The Secretary-General calls on all parties to the conflict to take all possible measures to reduce the impact of hostilities on civilians to the absolute minimum, including by granting humanitarian organizations safe and unimpeded access. He strongly encourages all parties to join the peace talks on Darfur that are scheduled to resume tomorrow, 10 December, in Abeche, Chad and urges them to finalize an all-inclusive ceasefire without further delay and respect it.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that the worsening conflict in Sudans Darfur region has prompted nearly 10,000 new Sudanese refugees to flee to eastern Chad over the past few weeks. UNHCR continues to have concerns about the security situation along some of the border sites where the refugees are living, with an increasing number of cross border incursions reported in the area.

ANNAN STRESSES NEED FOR INCLUSIVE INFORMATION SOCIETY

In Geneva today, the Secretary-General told the opening ceremony of the World Electronic Forum that the digital divide is not just digital; it reflects wide disparities in freedom, in wealth, in power, and ultimately in hope for a better future.

He stressed the need for an information society open and inclusive in which knowledge empowers all people and serves the cause of improving the human condition.

He added, All over the developing world, as antennas and satellite dishes sprout across the landscape some of them placed there in defiance of the authorities we can see the immense thirst for connection. Let us show that we are listening, and that we are going to help them fulfill their dreams.

The Secretary-General earlier in the day participated in a high-level dialogue co-chaired by Swiss President Pascal Couchepin and Klaus Schwab, President of the World Economic Forum, on Taking Responsibility in the Information Age.

He also visited the new Inter-Parliamentary Union headquarters in Geneva before going to the Palais des Nations, where he gave end-of-the-year remarks to hundreds of UN staff members gathered in the Assembly Hall. He discussed issues ranging from staff security and UN reform to the importance of addressing the so-called soft targets such as poverty and hunger, unsafe drinking water, environmental degradation and infectious disease.

The Secretary-General then addressed the launch of the independent Global Commission on International Migration, saying, Our approach to migration will be an important test of our commitment to universal values, and of our capacity, as an international community, to cooperate for mutual advantage.

The Secretary-General afterward had a brief tete-a-tete meeting with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey.

Later in the day, he held a series of bilateral meetings, beginning with the President of Azerbaijan. He also met with the President of Gabon.

This evening, he is to attend the Official Welcome Ceremony of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), hosted by the Swiss President.

UN RELIEF HEAD BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON PROTECTING CIVILIANS

Jan Egeland, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, today told the Security Council that we seem to be moving into a time where the challenges of protecting civilians in armed conflict are more complex. The threats are constantly evolving, he said, and they include new weapons, new ways of conducting war and of inflicting violence, and new ways of deterring those who would keep the peace and provide assistance.

In the Councils open debate this morning on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, Egeland outlined eight challenges the world faces in protecting civilians. These include access to affected populations; the security of humanitarian workers; the special needs of children; demobilization and disarmament; the challenge of sexual violence in armed conflict; justice and reconciliation; the needs of the displaced; and the problem of charges of sexual exploitation by UN-affiliated personnel.

He presented a ten-point plan for further action to help civilians, and proposed that the Security Council lead a process of consultation to identify gaps in protection.

A Presidential Statement is expected at the end of todays meeting.

ADVISORY BOARD ON IRAQ CHOOSES CHAIR FOR FIRST YEAR

The International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq met for the first time at UN Headquarters on Friday afternoon.

In a formal statement on the outcome of that meeting, the members said they chose the Secretary-Generals representative on the Board, UN Controller J.P. Halbwachs, as Chair for the first year.

The statement elaborates on six areas of discussion during Fridays organizational meeting.

UN: WORLD POPULATION COULD RISE TO 9 BILLION BY 2030

The UN Population Division says that world population will rise from 6.3 billion people at present to around nine billion people in 2300, under the medium scenario of its latest population projections.

In its report, World Population in 2300, the Population Division says that, under that scenario, world fertility levels would stabilize at around two children per women. But population overall would continue to rise, if slowly, because of continuous improvements in longevity.

The world population is also projected to age rapidly, with the median age, which is now 26 years, expected to rise to nearly 50 years in 2300.

UN MISSION, COMBATANTS AGREE ON DISARMAMENT IN LIBERIA

The disarmament effort being conducted by the UN Mission in Liberia has had to deal with an influx of combatants at Camp Schieffelin that exceeds the camps capacity of 1,000 people. At the same time, the Mission says, combatants have obstructed the disarmament process by firing their weapons and threatening the security of people inside and outside the camp.

Because of this, the Mission held an emergency meeting today with the commanders of the Liberian Governments forces, and agreed that the number of combatants being taken in will be a maximum of 400 per day, from 9 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon. All disarmed and demobilized combatants will receive an initial payment of $75, as a safety net allowance, starting today.

MILITIA MEMBER CONVICTED IN TIMOR LESTE FOR 1999 ATTACKS

Earlier today in Timor Leste, a special panel of judges convicted a former militia member of crimes against humanity for the murder of two Timorese UN workers in September 1999. The judges sentenced Salvador Soares to 10 years and 6 months in prison for the killings.

At the time of the attack, the two workers, Ruben Barros and Dominggos Pereira, were being specifically targeted in an attack conducted jointly by the Indonesia Army and the Dadurus militia.

This is the second conviction by the Special Panels for the murder of East Timorese UNAMET staff since trials began. This panel is made up of two international judges and one Timorese judge.

ANNAN PRAISES UN CONVENTION AGAINST CORRUPTION

The High-Level Conference to sign the UN Convention against Corruption began today in Merida, Mexico, and the Secretary-General hailed the Convention for providing the tools to address corruption on a global scale.

In a message delivered by UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell, the Secretary-General says, We have come a long way. Until the early 1990s, corruption was hardly ever mentioned in official circles, although everybody knew it was there. Now, he says, nations attending the signing conference are sending a clear message that the betrayal of public trust will no longer be tolerated.

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY TO BE OBSERVED WORLDWIDE

Human Rights Day will be observed around the world on Wednesday, and a number of special events will be held at UN Headquarters.

The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights will be awarded at the meeting of the General Assembly from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the General Assembly Hall.

Two panels will also be held Wednesday. The Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan, will participate in a United Nations University panel discussion on the launch of the UNU book entitled Globalisation of Human Rights, in the Dag Hammarskj÷ld Library Auditorium, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Then, from 3:00 6:00 p.m. in Conference Room Two, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will convene a high-level panel discussion entitled Human Rights Ten Years After Vienna: Progress, Challenges and the Role of Key Institutions.

The HelloWorld Project will project human rights messages on the north face of the Secretariat Building, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL DISCUSSES IRAQ TRIBUNAL: Asked about the United Nations views on the plans in Iraq for a tribunal to try crimes against humanity, the Spokesman noted that acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan has been in touch with the Coalition Provisional Authority on the Tribunals terms of reference. The Secretary-General is watching closely to see how the Authority will respond.

HEAD OF REVIEW MEETING FOR BARBADOS PROGRAMME NAMED: The Secretary-General has designated Anwarul Karim Chowdhury as Secretary-General of the International Meeting for the ten-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of the Small Island Developing States. That review will be held in Mauritius from August 30 until September 4, 2004.

UN MIDDLE EAST ENVOY TO ATTEND DONORS MEETING: Terje Roed Larsen, the UNs Middle East Envoy, is in Rome today where, starting Wednesday, he will attend a meeting of international donors to the Palestinian Authority. High level delegations from Israel and the Palestinian Authority are also attending. Larsen is expected to deliver a statement during the open public session of the meeting.

OTUNNU SADDENED BY DEATHS IN AFGHANISTAN: Olara Otunnu, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, expressed his sadness and distress over the killing of nine children during a coalition airstrike over the weekend in Ghazni, Afghanistan.

  • The guest at the noon briefing was the chief of the Population Division, Joseph Chamie, who discussed the report on population projections for 2030.

    Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

    United Nations, S-378

    New York, NY 10017

    Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only

    Fax. 212-963-7055

    All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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