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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-02-06
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, February 6, 2006
SECRETARY-GENERAL RECEIVES ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD
Secretary-General Kofi Annan is in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, today, where he received the Global Leadership Award of the Zayed International Prize for the Environment. He
said he was honored to receive a prize named after someone with a well-known commitment to the environment.
The Secretary-General said he would use his prize as seed money for a foundation he will establish to work in Africa for agriculture and girls education.
He said as he received the award that action on climate change is particularly urgent, and he called on all countries to take seriously discussions on action against climate change. Equally important, he said, is a change in mindset, at a time when the world remains perilously wedded to oil and other fossil fuels.
The Secretary-General also expressed alarm at the attacks that have taken place following the recent publication of caricatures seen as insulting to Islam. The Secretary-General said at a press encounter that he shares the anguish over those cartoons, but added that it cannot justify violence, least of all attacks on innocent people. He appealed once more on Muslims to accept the apology that has been offered.
Earlier today, he met with the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals response to attacks on embassies and churches in Lebanon, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General was very alarmed by the violence that has been seen, and condemns attacks on embassies and churches. The situation, he said, underscores the need for leaders to call for calm, for a stop to the violence, and for dialogue to start. The Danish paper that initially published the caricatures has apologized, and the Secretary-General said that apology should be accepted.
Asked whether the United Nations was aware of any Syrian involvement in the violence in Beirut and in Damascus, the Spokesman said he had no information one way of the other.
The violence against innocent targets, Dujarric added, was unacceptable. People who had nothing to do with the cartoons had been targeted because of their nationality or religion, he said.
ANNAN HOPES FOR MORE NEGOTIATIONS ON IRAN
While in Dubai today, the Secretary-General was asked about his response to the
International Atomic Energy Agencys vote on Iran, and he said that this is not the end of the road.
He noted that IAEA Director General
Mohamed ElBaradei would be working on a report that should be submitted to the Agencys Board of Governors by the end of the month. The Secretary-General said he hoped that, during that time, Iran would take steps that would help to bring the parties back to the negotiating table.
On Saturday, the Board of Governors for the International Atomic Energy Agency voted to request that ElBaradei report to the Security Council about the steps that the Board has required Iran to take. The Boards resolution also requests Iran to extend full and prompt cooperation to the Agency, and says it deems it necessary for Iran to re-establish a full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. The Board voted to adopt the resolution with 27 votes in favor, three against (Cuba, Syria and Venezuela) and five abstentions (Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya, South Africa).
ANNAN PLEDGES U.N. SUPPORT FOR ELECTIONS IN HAITI
The Secretary-General today sent a
message to the Haitian people on the eve of their presidential elections.
He said the vote was an opportunity for Haiti to move away from violence and uncertainty and towards a future of peace and stability.
He called upon all Haitian citizens to participate and exercise peacefully their right to vote. He said that the UN
Mission will do all it can to support the Haitian authorities in ensuring that the vote is held in freedom and safety.
He said he was confident the elections would prove a significant step towards building a more stable Haiti. And he called upon all parties to respect the outcome of the vote.
SECURITY COUNCIL REINFORCES PEACEKEEPERS IN COTE DIVOIRE
Security Council this morning unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the Secretary-General to redeploy an infantry company from the UN
Mission in Liberia to the UN
Operation in Côte dIvoire.
The Secretary-General had asked for the redeployment earlier in the month, in view of the situation in Côte dIvoire. He said the troops would be used to protect the UN personnel in the country and to help them carry out the tasks assigned to them by the Security Council.
Over the weekend we issued a
statement in which the Secretary-General reiterated his deep concern over the recent violent demonstrations and attacks in that country.
Asked whether the Secretary-General was concerned that the number of troops authorized for the transfer by the Security Council was inadequate, the Spokesman said the United Nations had been hoping it could obtain more, and it would be in touch with the Security Council to see if it can move forward.
He added, in response to another question about whether there are enough UN troops to deal with any violence once sanctions take effect in Cote dIvoire, that the United Nations would deal with developments with whatever troops it has, and would do what it can to protect UN personnel and any civilian populations in their areas of operation. He noted that the Secretary-General had wanted more personnel.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS MEET WITH U.S. SENATORS.
Following the adoption of the resolution on Cote dIvoire, Security Council members met with U.S. Senator Richard Lugar and his party.
ANNAN URGES ALL PARTIES IN SUDAN TO NEGOTIATED
In the latest monthly
report on Darfur reflecting developments through the first half of January, the Secretary-General notes that another year had ended without a major breakthrough in efforts to resolve the crisis in the region and urged the parties to reach a negotiated settlement without any further delay.
In the meantime, he said, everything possible should be done to support and strengthen the existing African Union operation and provide it with the necessary funding. In this regard, the Secretary-General said that he and African Union Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare have agreed to convene a pledging conference for the AU force in Darfur in the second half of this month.
The Secretary-General also drew attention to the violence along the Chad-Sudan border, which has considerably exacerbated instability in Darfur. He calls upon the two governments to take immediate and resolute steps to defuse the tensions.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, is back in Khartoum from Abuja, Nigeria, where he met with the negotiating parties to the Darfur peace talks as well as with the African Union mediation team and its chief mediator Salim Ahmed Salim. He told them that there was the need to rethink the strategy so far implemented in Darfur, by strengthening and speeding up the negotiations, imposing sanctions if need be, on those hindering the peace process; and by establishing a more robust peace force that will be big, strong, of long duration and with a broad mandate.
THREE MILLION GIRLS SUBJECT TO FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
Today is the fourth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation.
Marking the day, the Executive Director of the
UN Childrens Fund,
Ann M. Veneman congratulated women and men who have worked for years to end the practice worldwide.
She said, however, that there is still along way to go, with some three million girls in 28 countries subject to such mutilation, every year.
Veneman said UNICEF and its partners are working on several areas, including using a non-coercive and non-judgmental approach and raising awareness in the community about the harmfulness of the practice.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOCUSES ON OLYMPIC TRUCE, RIGHTS COUNCIL
General Assembly plenary meeting this morning, General Assembly President Jan Eliasson issued the traditional appeal to all Member States to demonstrate their commitment to the Olympic Truce and to take appropriate measures to ensure a peaceful global environment for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.
Consultations of the Plenary on the Human Rights Council are continuing all day today, and are expected to carry over to tomorrow. Member States are expected to give their reactions to the new negotiation text issued by the Co-Chairs last week.
Consultations of the Plenary on development follow-up and
Economic and Social Council reform are scheduled to continue on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
COUNTRIES BUILD ON MOMENTUM OF GLOBAL TOBACCO CONTROL TREATY
Countries around the world are taking effective measures to curb tobacco use, including strong legislation, graphic warning labels and advertising bans. These positive changes reinforce the commitment made by the more than 110 countries meeting this week to decide on the detailed implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
"This group has already changed history," said Dr Lee Jong-wook, Director-General of the
World Health Organization. "The convention is something that we all committed to. Its provisions are bold. They are based on knowledge of what is effective. We will make it work."
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