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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-02-27
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, February 27, 2006
ANNAN URGES EARLY ACTION ON ESTABLISHING NEW HUMAN RIGHTS BODY
Asked whether Secretary-General Kofi Annans position on the Human Rights Council has changed following a statement from U.S. Ambassador John Bolton that the United States would vote against the proposed text, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-Generals position has not changed.
She noted that, speaking to reporters in Geneva, the Secretary-General had said that, if we get into line-by-line negotiations, it will lead to major delays and cause serious problems. He appealed to Member States to understand that this is not a perfect world.
Okabe said that the Secretary-General, speaking as the person who put forward the proposals on the Human Rights Commission, told reporters there are enough positive elements in the text to move forward. He expressed his hope that the General Assembly would act on the text sometime this week.
She noted, in response to a question about whether the United States would accept the proposal, that the Secretary-General had said that he hopes the Americans will join the vast majority of governments who seem ready to accept the Chairmans proposals.
Asked whether the Secretary-General had spoken to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently, the Spokeswoman said he had done so yesterday; she later confirmed that Rice had initiated the call, in which they discussed human rights.
ANNAN LAUDS GABON AND EQUATORIAL GUINEA
FOR AGREEING TO NEGOTIATE BORDER DISPUTE
Starting Monday morning, the Secretary-General met in Geneva with the Presidents of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, for a summit in which the three took stock of the mediation aimed at arriving at a negotiated solution to the two countries territorial dispute.
The Secretary-General thanked the two Presidents for their support for his mediation efforts, facilitated by his Special Adviser, Yves Fortier, and he emphasized that the accomplishments to date demonstrated that the two states can work together to settle their dispute in a peaceful manner.
The parties decided to embark immediately on negotiating the final delimitation of their maritime and land borders. They agreed that a meeting of experts would be held in Geneva on March 15.
The Secretary-General left Geneva for Paris in the early evening.
WIDENING GAP BETWEEN ISLAM AND WEST MUST BE ADDRESSED
On Saturday in Qatar, the Secretary-General met with the Secretaries-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and of the Arab League, as well as the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Spain and Qatar, and they issued a
joint statement on the issue of the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The members of the group called for restraint and for an immediate end to the present atmosphere, which threatens to sow deep discord between communities, societies and countries. While reaffirming the universal right to freedom of expression, they appealed to everyone to exercise that right responsibly, and not to use it as a pretext for incitement to hatred or to insult the deeply held belief of any community.
Asked afterward if the communiqué would become law at the United Nations, the Secretary-General
said he would bring the text to the attention of the General Assembly and the Security Council, and it would then be up to Member States to decide what to do next with it.
On Sunday morning, prior to leaving Qatar for Geneva, the Secretary-General delivered
opening remarks at the second meeting of the High Level Panel of the Alliance of Civilizations.
He told the members of the High Level Panel, and other invited guests, that the passions aroused by the recent publication of the cartoons, and the reaction to it, illustrate only too clearly the need to address the widening gap of understanding between Islamic and Western societies.
He underscored the need for moderate voices to be heard, as those who shout the loudest are not necessarily representative of the community they claim to speak for.
BOSNIA ACCUSES SERBIA OF GENOCIDE IN WORLD COURT
Today in The Hague, a public hearing is opening at the International Court of Justice, in which Bosnia and Herzegovina has
accused Serbia and Montenegro of violations of the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Todays hearings, which are to last until May 9, are the result of an application that Bosnia filed in 1993 against what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
IRAQ: UNITED NATIONS OFFERS HELP RESTORE BOMBED SHIITE SHRINE
Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq,
said over the weekend that the United Nations is prepared to support measures to calm the situation following the destruction of the Shrine of the Two Imams in Samarra.
In particular, he said, the United Nations would be prepared, with the support of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to establish urgently a special reconstruction fund, supported by the international community, to restore the damaged Shrine and other mosques that were subsequently damaged to their original dignity.
The United Nations would also encourage and assist projects, including a national compact for the protection of human rights, that are designed to strengthen the bonds of mutual respect, understanding and harmony among all the communities of Iraq, Qazi said.
Asked whether UNESCO has begun to assess the damage to the shrine and mosques, the Spokeswoman noted that the announcement of UN assistance was only just made. She added, in response to a further question, that reconstruction in post-war conflicts is one of the UNs activities.
U.N. ENVOY URGES SUDANESE PARTIES TO ENSURE PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan Jan Pronk over the weekend traveled to South Darfur. In response to the tense security situation, Pronk urged the parties to exercise restraint and to put in place joint mechanisms at the local level to ensure civilian protection.
Meanwhile, clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces and rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) continue in North Darfur, according to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). Reports indicate that since fighting erupted a week ago, a large number of villages have been attacked and burned and markets looted and people displaced.
Asked whether the Secretary-General had discussed while in Qatar the state of planning for a possible UN force in Darfur, Sudan, the Spokeswoman said that planning on the UN side for such a force was one of the Secretary-Generals priorities and he has been bringing the parties up to date on such planning.
Also on Sudan, the Security Council held consultations this morning and heard a briefing by the Chair of the Council Sanctions Committee for Sudan, Greek Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis.
Asked about the leaking of the names of people in Sudan who would face Security Council sanctions, the Spokeswoman said that the leaking of documents is a recurring problem. She noted that the independent panel of experts who prepared those names, while appointed by the Secretary-General, reported to the Security Council sanctions committee.
PARLIAMENT MEETING A TURNING POINT IN THE HISTORY OF SOMALIA
Francois Lonseny Fall, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, attended the first session of the Somali Parliament in Baidoa, calling the meeting a turning point in the history of Somalia.
For the first time, he said, Somalias parliament was meeting inside the country, giving hope to the Somali people that this is the day when they can start to rebuild their nation. He assured them of the UNs support.
NO DEVELOPMENT TOOL BETTER THAN WOMENS EMPOWERMENT
Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) starts its
50th Session today, and its focus will be on equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes.
Over 50 high-level government officials and more than 3,000 representatives from non-governmental organizations are expected to attend the session, which ends on 10 March.
Speaking at the opening today, the Deputy Secretary-General,
Louise Fréchette, said that she thought the world is starting to grasp that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women and girls.
PEACEKEEPING CAPACITY MUST BE A CORE U.N. FUNCTION
The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations,
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, today addressed today the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, also known as the C34.
In his speech, he highlighted the need to acknowledge UN peacekeeping as a permanent rather than transitory feature of the UN system.
He also spelled out the case for building an institutionalized, professional and responsive UN peacekeeping capacity as a core and integrated function of the Organization.
To implement this central reform, Guéhenno stressed priorities such as finding and retaining well-trained, effective and responsible people, and working with sufficient guidance and resources, in a responsive, transparent organization that cooperates efficiently with a whole range of peacekeeping partners to successfully provide security and support to post-conflict countries.
U.N. AGENCY DELIVERS FOOD TO BOLIVIAN FLOOD SURVIVORS
Following the recent floods in Bolivia, the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team, together with the Bolivian Government, has
decided to focus on several pressing areas of concern, such as improving water quality and sanitation and extending psycho-social care to camp dwellers.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Bolivian Red Cross have distributed food and relief items to 1800 families. Theyll extend their operations as soon as additional funds become available.
WORLD NEEDS TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO D.R. CONGO
The heads of the UNs three largest humanitarian agencies
continued their visit to the Great Lakes Region of Africa today as part of a joint effort to focus world attention on the plight of the millions of refugees and displaced persons in that area.
Speaking for his colleagues from the World Food Programme and the UN Childrens Fund, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres called on the international community to provide greater support to the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) transition to full democracy for the first time in 45 years.
He said The scale of the problem, the complexity of the problem, and the nature of the problem are such that all our resources combined together won't easily solve it.
Guterres said that it has largely escaped the worlds attention that a six-year war cost 4 million lives in the DRC. A further 1,200 are still dying needlessly every day. More than 3.4 million have been displaced from their homes, and 17 million do not have a steady supply of food.
TSUNAMI OFFICIAL GENUINELY IMPRESSED BY RECOVERY PROGRESS
Deputy Special Envoy for
Tsunami Recovery Eric Schwartz ended his 10-day assessment mission to Indonesia and India today. He met with government and UN officials, as well as representatives from civil society, the affected communities and the private sector, to discuss both progress achieved and ongoing challenges in the recovery effort.
Schwartz said he was genuinely impressed with progress since his visit last December. His next order of business is a trip to Geneva, to meet with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour.
U.N. AGENCY FIGHTS BIRD FLU IN NIGER
Regarding reports about the bird flu spreading to Niger, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said that its regional coordinator for bird flu emergency projects in West Africa will arrive in Niger today.
The coordinator will review surveillance and preparedness plans and advise Nigers Government on how best to control the spread of the virus.
FAO will soon also provide protective equipment for the technical staff and veterinarians involved in the control efforts.
PROCUREMENT AND SEX EXPLOITATION CONCERNS
ADDRESSED IN SECURITY COUNCIL
Asked about critical comments made about the United Nations over the weekend by U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, the Spokeswoman said that she had seen media reports about those comments.
She noted that the Security Council last week took up the issues he raised, concerning procurement and
sexual exploitation allegations involving UN peacekeeping. The Secretary-General, she said, had the top UN officials in those fields explain to the Security Council the work the United Nations has been doing to address those problems and the work ahead.
DETERIORATING HUMANITARIAN SITUATION REPORTED IN ETHIOPIA: According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the humanitarian situation in southeastern parts of Ethiopia continues to
deteriorate, with increasing livestock deaths, serious shortage of water and high levels of malnutrition as the dry season advances. Large-scale migration from Kenya and Somalia has been observed, and large population movements from rural to urban areas are also reportedly taking place. Also, a significant number of malnourished children have been admitted into the therapeutic feeding centers in neighboring Mandera town, in Kenya.
UNITED NATIONS URGES MORE LIMITS ON FISHERIES: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today
told participants at an international fisheries conference that more vigorous efforts to limit access to fishing are necessary. Ichiro Nomura, FAO Assistant Director General for Fisheries told the Sharing the Fish Conference in Fremantle, "It has been clear for some time that the world's fisheries are finite and that our catches have to be similarly finite. It's also clear that not everybody can participate in fisheries -- access to capture fisheries must be limited.
UNITED NATIONS CHAIRS DISCUSSION ON FUTURE ARRANGEMENTS FOR KOSOVO: The
UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) today
Søren Jessen-Petersen, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, chaired a meeting of the informal Steering Group on future international arrangements for Kosovo in Vienna. UNMIK and its partners, including the European Union, NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), discussed the possible needs in Kosovo as well as the respective roles of relevant organisations following the settlement of Kosovos status without pre-judging the outcome of the status process.
ANNAN TO USE DUBAI PRIZE MONEY FOR CHARITY: Asked whether there was a conflict of interest in the Secretary-Generals acceptance of the recent International Prize for the Environment awarded in Dubai, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General made it clear that he would use the prize money to set up a foundation on agriculture and girls education in Africa. The foundation, she said, would have a transparent board so that you can see how the money is spent. She added that, as Paul Volckers reports show, the Secretary-General has given all his prize money to charity.
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