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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-03-06

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING

BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, March 6, 2006

ADVISORY BOARD OF U.N. DEMOCRACY FUND HOLDS FIRST MEETING

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is pleased that the Advisory Board of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) is meeting today to review its governance and programme arrangements. The Boards decisions today will set the basis for the Fund to become operational.

The Secretary-General established UNDEF in July 2005. It was welcomed by Heads of State and Governments at the September 2005 World Summit, at which they reaffirmed that democracy is a universal value and that there is no single model of democracy. And it has now received pledges for more than $41 million from 17 countries from various regions of the world.

The Secretary-General sees UNDEF as an innovative and flexible mechanism for advancing the UN democracy agenda. UNDEF will support projects aimed at consolidating and strengthening democratic institutions and processes such as the drafting of constitutions and the development of pluralistic media.

It will also fund projects designed to empower civil society, strengthen the rule of law, increase popular participation and ensure that people are able to exercise their democratic rights. Its comparative advantage is expected to be its capacity to help build the enabling environment necessary for democratic institutions to function more effectively.

U.N. ENVOY STRESSES NEED FOR DARFUR CEASE-FIRE AGREEMENT

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan,

Jan Pronk, visited Abuja, Nigeria, over the weekend, where he met different stakeholders of the Darfur peace talks.

He stressed the importance of reaching a ceasefire agreement that can be implemented in order to put an end to the violence on the ground. He urged the mediation to call for an emergency meeting of the Joint Commission on the bases of the NDjamena Ceasefire Agreement.

The security situation in

Darfur remains very tense with intense fighting reported in at least one location, according to the UN mission in Sudan.

U.N. ATOMIC WATCHDOG CHIEF: NO SIGN OF DIVERSION OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL

Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the

International Atomic Energy Agency,

told the Agencys Governing Board today that, during its investigations on Iran, the Agency has not seen indications of diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

Regrettably, however, he added, after three years of intensive verification, there remain uncertainties with regard to both the scope and the nature of Iran's nuclear program. ElBaradei said that Iran should do its utmost to provide maximum transparency and build confidence.

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON WORK OF UNMOVIC

The Security Council held consultations this morning on the work of the

UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission for Iraq (UNMOVIC).

Demetrius Perricos, the acting Executive Chairman of that Commission, briefed the Council on the latest report on its work, which came out last week.

U.N. ENVOY SADDENED OVER DEATH OF AFGHAN STAFF MEMBER

Tom Koenigs, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, today expressed his sadness at the murder over the weekend of Mohammed Hashim, an Afghan engineer who had worked for

UN Habitat in the province of Farah.

Hashim was dragged from his car by six armed men and shot dead on Saturday. UN-Habitat and Afghanistans Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, in a joint statement, urge the authorities to bring the perpetrators of his murder to justice.

WITNESS FOUND TO HAVE COMMITTED SUICIDE IN CELL

Yesterday afternoon, Milan Babic, a detained witness at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, was found dead in his cell at the United Nations Detention Unit in Scheveningen.

After conducting an investigation, the Dutch authorities confirmed that the cause of death was suicide. Babics family has been informed.

The Tribunal President, Judge Fausto Pocar, has ordered an internal inquiry. Babic, who was already serving a 13-year sentence of his own, was to be a witness in the trial of another Serb, Milan Martic. In 2002, he already testified in Slobodan Milosevics case.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME RUNNING OUT OF FOOD FOR KENYANS

The

World Food Programme (WFP) today

said it is running out of food for 3.5 million Kenyans in need of emergency assistance.

The agencys Executive-Director, James Morris said the death toll in the area could rise in the coming months without additional donations to head off a disaster.

Morris said that a donation from the Kenyan government of 60,000 metric tons of maize and rice will cover the cereal requirements for March and April, but, the WFP has only half the quantity of beans needed in Kenya for the month of March and no vegetable oil.

Morris made the assessment at the end of a weeks visit to the horn of Africa.

INSURANCE DEAL CAN HELP SPEED UP RELIEF EFFORTS DURING DROUGHTS

The

World Food Programme (WFP) today

announced that it has struck a deal with an insurance company designed to speed up relief in case of a drought emergency this year in Ethiopia.

Under terms of the agreement, if the rainfall in Ethiopia falls below a certain level, the insurance company, Axa Re, will immediately provide the WFP with $7 million in contingency funding which can rapidly be put to work on relief.

The agency said the arrangement will markedly shorten response time, as it eliminates some of the need for assessments and other studies usually required before money can be released.

WFP said the agreement is a test case for what could be an entirely new way to finance disaster relief.

ANNAN TO PRESENT MANAGEMENT REFORM REPORT TOMORROW

The Secretary-General will present his report on management reform to the

General Assembly at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow at UN Headquarters in New York.

A senior UN official will brief on background at 11:30 a.m., and the Secretary-General will have a town hall meeting with staff at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.

Asked about staff concerns regarding the proposed reforms, the Spokesman said that UN staff will be closely consulted on the implementation of the report once it is approved by Member States.

The Spokesman declined to comment on details from leaked drafts of the report, noting that the final report will be issued on Tuesday. Asked whether the management reform report served any nations agenda, he said that the reforms are designed to create a stronger and more effective United Nations, and everyone has a stake in that.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT IS ENCOURAGED

BY SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

The Spokesperson for the

60th General Assembly (GA) said that on the topic of the Human Rights Council,

GA President

Jan Eliasson is encouraged by the support he received from five Nobel Peace Prize laureates Jimmy Carter, Oscar Arias, Kim Dae Jung, Shirin Ebadi and Desmond Tutu in the op-ed piece that appeared in the New York Times on Sunday.

This week, the GA President is continuing intensive consultations with Member States, including the United States. He is still aiming for action this week, in order to have clarity before the

Commission on Human Rights begins its annual session on 13 March. According to the spokesperson, there is unity among Member States that the text should not be renegotiated at this point, and there is growing consensus that the President himself should not make adjustments to the text.

This morning, at the first meeting of the Advisory Board of the UN Democracy Fund this morning, Eliasson expressed appreciation for the Secretary-Generals initiative in establishing the Fund, and wished the Board success in its work. He remarked that democracy has an important place in the UN reform process, and that one clear example of the use of the Fund will be in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

WALID JUMBLATT TO MEET ANNAN ON WEDNESDAY: Asked about a visit to the United Nations by Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt, the Spokesman said that, at Jumblatts request, he would meet with the Secretary-General on Wednesday. The Secretary-General, he said, looked forward to meeting with Jumblatt, who, Dujarric added, is a major political force in Lebanon.

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO MEET ANNAN ON WEDNESDAY: Asked about a meeting between the Secretary-General and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later this week, the Spokesman said it would take place on Wednesday.

U.N. ENVOY DISCUSSED POLICE AGREEMENT WITH HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER: Asked about comments by

Haitis Prime Minister that an agreement on Haitian national police was no longer valid, which signed earlier by the Haitian Government and the Secretary-Generals Special Representative,

Juan Valdes, the Spokesman said that Valdes had discussed the issue with President-elect Réne Préval and would await what develops.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 100178

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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