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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-12-12

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

Friday, December 12, 2003

COUNCIL BRIEFED ON WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY IN MIDDLE EAST

Once again, we have a narrow window of opportunity to put the peace process back on track, the UNs Middle East Envoy, Terje Roed Larsen, told the Security Council during an open briefing this morning. This opportunity, he said, comes about, in part, because both the new Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmad Qurei, and his Israeli counterpart, Ariel Sharon, have expressed a willingness to meet and restart the peace process based on the Quartets Road Map.

However, Larsen added, the current situation remains fragile. The only viable route, he told Council members, is a step-by-step approach, based on the Road Map, assisted by bold confidence-building measures. For this to work, Larsen said, both parties need a determined and engaged international community to keep them on track.

In conclusion, he said, the cost of squandering the existing opportunity would be devastating. The current hopes for peace among the peoples, Larsen declared, would be replaced by creeping paralysis and a deepening of the spiral of violence. There is urgency, the envoy told Council members, as time is not an ally for peace, and merely waiting prolongs the suffering.

The Council followed its open meeting with consultations, also on the Middle East.

Following its consultations, the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement on Kosovo, welcoming the launching of a review mechanism under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Special Representative. It notes that a first opportunity for a comprehensive review of progress in meeting the standards should occur around mid-2005.

UNRWA SAYS TWO THIRDS OF PALESTINIANS FACE DIRE POVERTY

Three years of curfews, closures and conflict in the West Bank and Gaza have plunged two-thirds of the Palestinian population there into dire poverty, increased hunger and restricted access to health and education, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Today, the agency launched an emergency appeal for $193 million to meet the needs of those Palestinians.

Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said today in Jerusalem that, in such dark and desperate times, it falls upon the international community to keep some hope alive.

IN GERMANY, ANNAN HIGHLIGHTS UNIVERSAL VALUES

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today emphasized the importance of universal values, including non-violence, respect for life, tolerance and equal rights, in a lecture at Tubingen University, in southwest Germany.

He began his lecture on global ethics, titled Do We Still Have Universal Values? by saying, Let me spare you any suspense, and tell you right now that my answer is Yes! He said that the values enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are no less valid today than when they were drafted half a century ago.

But he warned that we have allowed globalization to drive us further apart, increasing the disparities in wealth and power, both between societies and within them. It is not surprising that there has been a backlash, he noted, in which those values have come under attack at the moment we most need them.

So, the Secretary-General asserted, this is a time to reassert our universal values. We must not allow those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, to provoke a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West, as if Islamic and Western values were incompatible.

He said that Muslims should not be persecuted for identifying with Palestinians or Iraqis or Chechens, whatever one thinks of their national claims or the methods used in their name. The Secretary-General added that, no matter how strongly some of us may feel about the actions of the state of Israel, we should always show respect for the right of Israeli Jews to live in safety within the borders of their own state, and for the right of Jews everywhere to cherish that state as an expression of their national identity and survival.

After the speech, the Secretary-General and Nane Annan walked along the Neckar River through the old town to the more than 600-year-old town hall, where Mayor Brigitte Russ-Scherer welcomed him.

The Secretary-General is scheduled to leave Germany on Saturday.

SECRETARY-GENERAL NOTES PROGRESS, OBSTACLES IN WEST AFRICA

The Secretary-General says in a report that appreciable progress has been achieved in implementing Security Council recommendations concerning Sierra Leone and Liberia, but that obstacles remain in the way of efforts to stabilize West Africa.

In a report on West Africa, out on the racks today, he writes that significant progress made in Cote dIvoires peace process has been interrupted by the recent stand-off between the Government and the Forces Nouvelles. If allowed to continue, that situation could dangerously consolidate the de facto partition of the country.

He also urged the international community to remain fully engaged with Guinea-Bissau, to maintain the momentum generated by its commitment to restore legality and hold legislative elections by the end of next March.

The Secretary-General also intends to submit to the Security Council within the coming few weeks a report on cross-border issues in West Africa.

UN TEAM REPORTS COOPERATION ON CAMBODIA MISSION

A UN team headed by Karsten Harrel has been in Phnom Penh this week for talks with Cambodian officials to look at technical assistance and practical needs to bring into force the agreement on the creation of Extraordinary Chambers to try Khmer Rouge leaders.

The team has communicated to the UN Legal Office that its mission is going quite well, and it has received considerable cooperation from the Government of Cambodia.

The team has wrapped up its work and should be returning to New York this weekend.

CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE WRAPS UP IN MILAN

In Milan, Italy, the annual ministerial conference of the 188 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded today after it adopted some two dozen legal decisions to strengthen both the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol on Global Warming.

Despite some disappointment over the uncertain timing of ratifications to bring the Kyoto Protocol into force, participants emphasized that the Protocol is already changing the way we think about climate, energy and investment.

There was broad agreement that climate change remains the most important global challenge to humanity and that its adverse effects are already a reality in all parts of the world. Many of the decisions made touched upon cooperation between developed and developing nations through technology transfer and capacity building.

UN OFFICIALS NOTE ACHIEVEMENTS OF INFORMATION SUMMIT

The World Summit on the Information Society is a pioneer summit, which has started to build an international consensus on issues such as digital governance and intellectual property rights protection, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme said today. Mark Malloch Brown added in comments to the press that the Summit would be remembered not so much for what it achieved, but rather for having put these issues on the international agenda for the first time.

On Thursday, Bertrand Ramcharan, the acting UN human rights chief, voiced his concerns at the Summit about rapid advances in surveillance and security technologies that can have a chilling impact on freedoms of expression and association. He underlined the serious responsibility of authorities to ensure that technologies are applied for the promotion of human rights and human dignity.

ANTI-CORRUPTION CONVENTION GAINS 95 SIGNATORIES

At the end of a three-day anti-corruption conference in Mexico, a total of 95 countries signed a new UN treaty to combat global corruption.

The UN Convention against Corruption which binds ratifying countries to a range of anti-corruption measures will enter into force with ratification by 30 countries. The large number of signings has boosted confidence that enough ratifications for its entry into force will soon follow.

TRIBUNAL ISSUES DECISIONS ON COMMUNICATION BY DETAINEES

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today disclosed decisions concerning the communications rights of its detainees, saying that they can communicate with their family, legal counsel and diplomatic or consular representatives. They cannot, however, use telephone communication or personal visits to contact the media.

Those guidelines were set up in response to the political campaigns by two detained suspects, Slobodan Milosevic and Vojislav Seselj, both of whom are candidates for Serbias December 28 Parliamentary elections. The Tribunals deputy registrar deemed that the use of its communications facilities by people seeking to participate in those elections could frustrate the Tribunals mandate.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

DEPUTY RELIEF HEAD TO VISIT CHAD, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: The Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees will begin a six-day visit to Chad and the Central African Republic on Saturday, to review the Refugee Agencys work in both countries.

UNHCR, MICROSOFT SIGN AGREEMENT ON TRAINING: Today in Geneva, UNHCR and Microsoft agreed, by the signing of a letter of understanding, allowing Microsoft to pay for training and computer education for refugees. That agreement is expected to open Microsoft-funded centers in Kenya, for mainly Somali refugees, and in Russia, for mainly Afghan and Iraqi refugees.

SEAN CONNERY TO TAKE PART IN WFP TV CAMPAIGN: In an effort to raise awareness of global hunger, the World Food Programme has added Sean Connery to a chorus of international celebrities who will be starring in TV spots to be aired in the lead-up to holiday season. Connerys 30-second spot will illustrate how WFP uses every means of transport to cross some of the most hostile terrain in the world and deliver food aid to people in need. By running the spot at a time of giving, WFP hopes to encourage viewers to rally behind its operations.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS Saturday, December 13

The Secretary-General is expected to return to New York, ending a week-long trip to Switzerland and Germany.

Sunday, December 14 Monday, December 15

The Security Council has scheduled an open briefing on Bougainville and consultations on the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights.

The executive heads of UN agencies and international aid organizations will join talks in Marrakesh, Morocco, lasting through Friday, as the Group of 77 and China seek to establish new partnerships for economic and social cooperation.

Tuesday, December 16

The Secretary-General is expected to brief the Security Council, in an open meeting, on the future role of the United Nations in Iraq. The Council will also hold consultations on the same subject. Afterward, the Security Council will hold its monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General.

Wednesday, December 17

The Security Council has scheduled an open meeting on Kosovo.

Thursday, December 18

The Secretary-General will give his year-end press conference at 11:00 a.m.

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on missing Kuwaiti persons and property, and on the working group on sanctions.

Today is the International Day for Migration.

Friday, December 19

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Guinea-Bissau, and a review of the Security Councils mission to Western and Central Africa.

  • The guest at the noon briefing was the Secretary-Generals humanitarian envoy for Cote dIvoire, Carolyn McAskie.

    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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