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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-02-23
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, February 23, 2006
ANNAN URGES SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued the following statement after the General Assembly President presented a proposal to establish the Human Rights Council.
"I have long
argued that a new Human Rights Council would help give human rights the importance accorded to it under the United Nations Charter. Together with the revitalization of the
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council will usher in a new era for the Organizations advancement of human rights one built on increased cooperation with Member States, individually and collectively, to help them fulfil their obligations.
We have now reached a critical moment, at which Member States must live up to the individual and collective commitments they have given. Now is the time for the membership to support the Presidents compromise text and adopt a resolution in the coming days. Failure to do so would undermine this Organizations credibility, render the commitments made by world leaders meaningless, and deal a blow to the cause of human rights. This decision must not be further delayed: it is simply too important.
Despite the fact that the draft does not reflect everything that I called for when I proposed a new Council, nearly a year ago, there are important elements in it that ensure that the Council will be more than a cosmetic change. For instance, the text makes it clear that members of the new Council, elected individually by the General Assembly, must be committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. It also makes it clear that the rights and privileges of members can be suspended if they themselves commit gross and systematic violations of human rights. This has not been the case with the Commission.
The new body will better reflect the universality of human rights by elevating the Council into a body directly elected by the General Assembly, giving it greater transparency and legitimacy. It will also have an explicitly defined function of periodically reviewing the record of all states, starting with that of its own members, in fulfilling their human rights obligations. This approach will strengthen and help to improve the human rights work of the Organization as a whole.
The new Council will also be better placed to address situations of gross and systematic violations of human rights. Its ability to meet throughout the year, and when necessary for longer than the Commission has done, will allow the Council to sound the alarm and bring urgent human rights crises to the attention of the world community. At the same time, the Council will preserve the best features of the Commission, including the use of independent rapporteurs and the opportunity for non-governmental organizations to play their essential role in the Organizations human rights work.
I hope the General Assembly will adopt this draft resolution within the next few days. But that will be only the first step in a process of change and renewal. No technical fix can make all the difference. Indeed, how different the Council is from the Commission will depend in large part how committed member states are to make it better, and how they act on that commitment in the weeks and months ahead.
Meanwhile, the Presidents text is the product of many months efforts to reach consensus, by him and by the Assembly as a whole. While no delegation will get everything it wants, the Council established by this text can be the basis for a more credible, and at least potentially more effective, approach to human rights one that will, if Member States make good use of it, stand the test of time and offer hope to future generations."
SECURITY COUNCIL FOCUSES ON PROBLEM
OF SEXUAL ABUSE IN PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS
Security Council held a public meeting during which
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, delivered a statement on the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping and the progress achieved to date to tackle it.
Guéhenno said while progress has been made, there's still much to be done and greater support is needed from Member States.
In his remarks, Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein, in his capacity as Advisor to the Secretary-General on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN Peacekeeping Operations, told the Council that the peacekeepers perform a service to the international community and this fact must not be forgotten.
He added that because of this, its all the more urgent for the blight of sexual exploitation and abuse to be removed from whats otherwise a distinguished and appreciated performance.
Prior to that meeting, the Security Council issued a
presidential statement expressing support for the International Working Group's efforts towards reconciliation in the Cote d'Ivoire. The statement also urged the authorities to facilitate the return of humanitarian workers to areas from which they were force to flee during violence in January.
SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ATTACKS IN IRAQ; URGES NATIONAL DIALOGUE
Security Council President, Ambassador John Bolton of the United States read out a press
statement Wednesday afternoon on Iraq in which members condemned the attacks, calling the people of Iraq to come together against violence and terror and support the peaceful political process of national dialogue and unity. They also reiterated their call for Iraqs political leaders to work with resolve toward the formation of a fully-inclusive Government.
Juan Gabriel Valdes - the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for that country told the press that Haitis legislative elections are expected to go into a second round at the end of March.
He also said he was satisfied with President-elect Rene Prevals indications that he planned to invite all Haitian parties into a national dialogue.
Asked about the decision by some Sunnis to suspend discussions on forming a government, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General was following the situation closely. Yesterday, he said, the Secretary-General had called on all political and religious leaders in Iraq to work together to avoid further violence.
Asked for the Secretary-Generals reaction to the killing of three journalists for Al Arabiya television, the Spokesman expressed condolences to the journalists families and said that the killings underscored the dangers that journalists face in Iraq.
HEAD OF U.N. LEBANON BOMB PROBE VISITS DAMASCUS
Serge Brammertz, the head of
the International Independent Investigation Commission dealing with the assassination of Rafik Hariri, had his first meeting in Damascus with senior Syrian officials today. He has now returned to Beirut.
The Commission said that Brammertz had a good and constructive meeting in Syria. The discussion focused on cooperation on pending, new and future requests.
Asked who Brammertz had met with, the Spokesman said that Syria could provide the names of participants on their side, but noted that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem was among the participants. The Spokesman underscored that his had been a meeting and not an interview.
LEBANESE JUDGES MEET WITH U.N. LEGAL COUNSEL
The Lebanese Government has sent two senior Lebanese judges to New York, as a result of discussions in Beirut last month between
Nicolas Michel, UN Legal Counsel, and the Government of Lebanon.
They will continue the discussions between Lebanon and the UN Secretariat regarding the nature and scope of the international assistance needed for those charged with the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to be tried before a tribunal with an international character, pursuant to Security Council
resolution 1644 (2005).
The meetings between the Secretariat and the Lebanese delegation will occur over the next few days.
Asked about the visit by the judges, the Spokesman said it was part of an ongoing dialogue that they are having with the United Nations on the formation of a tribunal of an international character. He noted that Michel may also visit Lebanon again. He said, in response to a further question, that he was not aware of any meeting between the Secretary-General and the visiting judges.
DEPUTY-SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS DECOLONIZATION WORK NOT FINISHED
The Deputy Secretary-General,
Louise Fréchette, this morning addressed the opening of the 2006 Session of the Special Committee on
Decolonization, here at Headquarters.
Although noting that more than 80 million people around the world had exercised their right to self-determination under UN auspices, she said that, with 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories still to decide their future, the UNs decolonization work remained unfinished.
Hoping that the recent peaceful referendum in Tokelau would guide other administering powers and their territories on the way forward, she expressed satisfaction that the Special Committee was continuing to actively inform the inhabitants of Non-Self Governing Territories about their options for self-determination.
In response to a question about the last working day of the Deputy Secretary-General, the Spokesman's Office later announced that it was March 31.
U.N. PEACEKEEPING MISSION REPORTS MORE ATTACKS IN DARFUR
UN mission in Sudan reports that in North Darfur, following attacks we reported to you yesterday, four more villages are reported to have been attacked yesterday. Soldiers reportedly burned and looted houses and properties and allegedly raped a young woman, according to the mission.
Meanwhile, the number of cholera victims is increasing with 75 persons reported to have died in southern Sudan.
Asked about pressures certain Member States were putting on the United Nations to hasten the pace of planning for a United Nations force in Darfur, the Spokesman said that the planning was going on "full steam" and noted the main source of pressure on the Secretariat was a desire to halt the on-going violence on the ground.
Dujarric said that planning for the force is underway at the
Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and the United Nations will try to accomplish it as quickly as possible. He reiterated that governments with the capacity to help in creating a robust and highly mobile force will have to consider what assets they can provide when the United Nations comes to ask them for assistance.
In response to a question about recent comments by the U.S. President concerning a NATO role, the Spokesman said that the United Nations will need all the assistance that it can get, but he added that the force being envisioned to take over from the African Union would be a UN-led force.
BAN ON U.N. FLIGHTS OVER ERITREA CONTINUES
UN mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) reports that the ban imposed by the Eritrean Government on UNMEE helicopters is still in place. Restrictions are continuing on the movement of UNMEE patrols inside the Temporary Security Zone.
The mission, at its weekly press briefing, also confirmed that two national Eritrean staff members were still being detained out of the 27 people originally arrested.
U.N. ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON SCHOOLS
Tom Koenigs, the new head of the
UN Mission in Afghanistan, said at his first press conference in Kabul today that attacks against schools and teachers amount to a denial of human rights for Afghanistans children.
He said, I can only appeal to those who apparently disagree with the development Afghanistan takes, leave Afghanistans children alone.
SPECIAL ADVISER ON ETHICS OFFICE APPOINTED
The Secretary-General appoints Tunku Abdul Aziz of Malaysia as Special Adviser on the Establishment of the Ethics Office. This Office was established as a follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, and is part of management reform efforts.
Mr. Aziz, who co-founded the Malaysian Chapter of Transparency International, will advise on the set-up of the Ethics Office and its operating procedures as well as on the process of recruiting its staff.
MONITORING BOARD POSTS PROGRESS OF AUDIT OF IRAQI FUND
International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq (IAMB) has posted to its web site the minutes of its last meeting, which took place in Paris on 23 January.
At that meeting, the Boards Iraqi member briefed on the progress of the audit of the Development Fund for Iraq, during the second half of 2005. The IAMB concurred with the recommendation of the Government of Iraq to proceed with that audit, which is expected to be completed by mid-May.
U.N. HORN OF AFRICA ENVOY SAY MILLIONS AT RISK OF STARVATION
The Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa,
Kjell Magne Bondevik, today visited the drought-stricken district of Kajaido in Kenya. I have seen with my own eyes the terrible effect this drought is having on pastoralists, farmers and their families, he said. Bondevik noted that children are often the most vulnerable.
At a press conference in Nairobi, he said that eleven million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia are threatened by starvation, and that much more still needs to be done by those countries and the international community to prevent the crisis from becoming a catastrophe.
NEW CONVENTION TO PROTECT SEAFARERS: The
International Labour Organization today adopted a new
convention to protect the worlds 1.2 million seafarers. The convention sets minimum standards for employment, accommodation, recreational facilities, food, health protection, medical care, welfare and social security.
U.N. TEAMS AID RELIEF EFFORTS IN BOLIVIA & PHILIPPINES: In response to recent flooding, the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team in
Bolivia has established a new center to help with the coordination of humanitarian relief. Meanwhile, in the
Philippines, the UN is continuing to work on the development of contingency plans in view of the possibility of additional landslides and to support the Government in developing strategies for early recovery, enhanced preparedness and long term risk reduction.
UNITED NATIONS TO HELP SCHOLARS IN COTE DIVOIRE: The
UN mission in the Cote dIvoire today welcomed the decision by the government to organize school examinations in the northern part of the country. The examinations have not been held north of the zone of confidence in more than three years. ONUCI truck drivers and peacekeepers will provide logistical support for the examinations. The exams are necessary for school children to advance to higher education.
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