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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-03-27
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, March 27, 2006
ELECTIONS ILLUSTRATE HAITIS FAITH IN DEMOCRACY
Security Council held an open meeting on Haiti, on which it heard from President-elect Réne Préval.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who met with Préval earlier this morning, opened the meeting by
telling the Council that the first round of national elections that took place last month was a vivid illustration of the faith of the Haitian people in the democratic process, and their determination to make a fresh start.
The Secretary-General stressed, It is right and indeed necessary that a multidimensional peacekeeping operation continue. Yet the work of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), he added, can tackle only the most urgent needs, and generous and coordinated bilateral assistance is needed to supplement and build on those efforts.
Juan Gabriel Valdes, head of MINUSTAH, also spoke to the Council and stressed the inclusive character of the elections, which saw a massive turnout from all sides.
U.N. OFFICIAL BIDS FAREWELL TO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
In Geneva today, Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
addressed the final session of the Commission on Human Rights.
Louise Arbour noted the historical importance of the creation of the Human Rights Council, but also noted that its actual impact on peoples lives is still to be determined. She said, Much will rest on the profound culture shift that must accompany this institutional reform.
The first opportunity to breathe life into this new institution will come with the elections of its first members, scheduled for the ninth of May, she said. This is a vital opportunity for the United Nations to begin setting the standard for its human rights work in the future.
The Human Rights Council will convene for the first time on 19 June and begin its work. She said it will be important that during its first sessions the Council quickly find a way to deal with its substantive mandate even as it establishes its working procedures.
IRAQ: U.N. ENVOY STRONGLY CONDEMNS RISING SECTARIAN TENSIONS
Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Iraq, today strongly condemned the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in Iraq, where sectarian tensions are higher than ever and mutilated bodies continue to appear on the streets on a daily basis.
He said he was saddened and appalled by the daily cases of torture, arbitrary arrests, and extrajudicial executions that have affected all communities and led to the internal displacement of Iraqi civilians.
Qazi called on the Iraqi authorities to take firm action to stop the violence, and emphasized the need, more than ever, to speed up the formation of a government that will assert respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Qazi also addressed the summit of the League of Arab States in Khartoum over the weekend, and he told the gathered Arab leaders to send a message that Arab solidarity supports all of Iraqs communities.
Asked about a British memo from 2003 that had mentioned the possibility of creating an incident around a plane with UN markings, the Spokesman said that there was no point in speculating about things reported in leaked memos that did not take place. The Secretary-Generals views prior to the onset of war in Iraq are well-known, he said.
Instead, he said, the goal of the United Nations is to deal with the actual concerns on the ground, including the daily violence and the need to stabilize the situation on the ground. He noted that Qazi has said that, while he does not believe that Iraq is experiencing a civil war, it could face ungovernability if the current violence continues.
Asked when the United Nations would deploy more people to Iraq, the Spokesman said that the United Nations has tried to provide more people to the country, while taking account of security conditions on the ground. He noted that the United Nations has more than 120 substantive staff in Iraq, based in Baghdad, Basra and Erbil, and that it monitors the security situation daily to see what more could be done.
UNITED LEBANONS OUTSTRETCHED HAND SHOULD BE ACCEPTED BY SYRIA
Terje Roed-Larsen, the Special Envoy for the implementation of
resolution 1559, yesterday left
Lebanon, ending three days of intense talks with leaders there.
Before departing, he told reporters there that he was very encouraged by what he had heard and seen in Lebanon. Noting the agreements reached so far in Lebanons national dialogue, Roed-Larsen said, There is a consensus among the Lebanese that the border with Syria needs to be delineated, and that formal diplomatic relations should be established. This should take place as soon as possible.
He added that the matters of Hizbullah and the Palestinian militias and their arms should be dealt with through dialogue and consensus, guided by the Taif Agreement, which ended the infighting and communal violence among the Lebanese, and by resolution 1559.
Roed-Larsen is in Paris today, where he met with the Foreign Ministers of France and Qatar. After meeting with French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, Roed-Larsen said, The outstretched hand of a united Lebanon should now be grabbed by Syria. It takes two to tango.
ANNANS REPRESENTATIVE HEADS TO SOUTH SUDAN
FOLLOWING ATTACKS ON U.N. CAMPS
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Sudan, Jan Pronk, will visit Juba, in southern Sudan from 30-31 March, in the aftermath of the attacks on UN camps last week, according to the UN Mission in Sudan.
He will then travel to Abuja, Nigeria, from 1-2 April, to meet parties of the peace talks on Darfur.
The UN Mission in Sudan also reports that a meningitis outbreak was reported yesterday in Warap State in southern Sudan and the World Health Organization is dispatching a team to the area in response to a government request for UN assistance.
PEACEKEEPING DEPARTMENT TO SEEK WAYS TO INCREASE WOMEN IN MISSIONS
The Department of
Peacekeeping Operations will hold policy meetings tomorrow and Wednesday aimed at coming up with ways to increase the numbers of women in uniformed posts in peacekeeping missions.
Although the numbers of civilian positions held by women in peacekeeping has increased recently to 27 percent, the percentage of women in the military and police units remains far too low, at 1% and 4% respectively.
The meetings will bring together senior military and police officers from both troop contributing and troop receiving countries.
ANNAN URGES INCREASED TROOPS & POLICE FOR COTE D'IVOIRE MISSION
Available today is a
letter from the Secretary General to the Security Council, reiterating his call for increased troops and police for the UN Mission in Cote dIvoire (UNOCI).
The Secretary-General says that the Mission needs four battalions of soldiers, three formed police units and 100 additional police officers to support the implementation of the peace agreement there and provide protection for the October elections.
He originally asked for the additional support on 3 January, when he presented his latest report on the UN Mission.
MANAGING NATURAL HAZARDS SHOULD BE A GLOBAL PRIORITY,
U.N. ENVOY BILL CLINTON SAYS
More than 1,200 participants from 140 countries are
gathering today in Bonn, Germany, for the Third International Conference on Early Warning, to discuss ways to reduce natural disasters.
The UNs Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, is there to present a report on the Global Survey of Early Warning Systems, which was called for by the Secretary-General in January 2005.
Also attending is the UNs Special Envoy for
Tsunami Recovery, former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Addressing the conference today, Clinton said that making communities saferby better managing the risks of natural hazardsmust become a global priority.
IRAN REMAINS IN SECURITY COUNCILS HANDS
Asked whether the Secretary-General has declared any intention to get involved in mediating among Security Council members on how they deal with Iran, the Spokesman asserted that the question of Iran is a matter in the Security Councils hands.
The Secretary-General, he said, awaited the Security Councils decision on how to proceed, and he hopes that the Council members can come to agreement on this important issue. The question of Iran, he noted, was brought to the Councils attention by the International Atomic Energy Agency and its Board of Governors.
While Council discussions proceed, he said, the IAEA is proceeding with its work, while the Secretary-General has encouraged Iran to do all that needs to be done to ensure that concerns about its nuclear program are addressed.
U.N. ENVOY DISCUSSES WAYS FORWARD WITH TURKISH CYPRIOT LEADER
Asked whether the United Nations is ready to mediate again on
Cyprus, the Spokesman noted the UNs continued involvement.
Special Representative for Cyprus Michael Moller met with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat this morning to discuss ways forward, and the United Nations continues to seek out information from both sides on how to do so.
Asked about a letter from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, Haq confirmed that, at the Secretary-Generals request, a letter was sent to the Turkish Cypriot leader by Gambari, detailing what happened at the meeting in Paris earlier this year between the Secretary-General and President Tassos Papadopoulos. Asked why Gambari had written the letter instead of the Secretary-General, the Spokesman said that was normal procedure when the Secretary-General was travelling, given that Gambari is the senior UN political official.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT TO SERVE AS SWEDENS FOREIGN MINISTER
The President of the General Assembly, Jan Eliasson, has today, been appointed Foreign Minister of Sweden by Prime Minister Göran Persson. Eliasson will formally take office on 24 April.
Eliasson will continue his work in his position as President of the General Assembly. He will be based in New York and return to Stockholm on a regular basis. To assist Eliasson, Prime Minister Persson has today appointed a Deputy Foreign Minister, the current Minister for Development Cooperation, Carin Jämtin.
President Eliasson will continue to work with the same commitment and energy to implement the United Nations reform agenda.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals reaction to the announcement that Eliasson would become Swedish Foreign Minister, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General commented to reporters today that Eliasson has important work to do here, but added, I am very pleased that he has been designated Foreign Minister. The United Nations expects that Eliasson would be able to perform both jobs.
ANY INCOMING PALESTINIAN GOVT. MUST FORESWEAR VIOLENCE: Asked about statements from Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh, the Spokesman said that the members of the
Middle East Quartet continue to discuss developments since the Palestinian elections. The Quartet, he added, has made it very clear that any incoming Palestinian government would need to foreswear violence, recognize Israel and abide by all previous agreements, including the Road Map.
ANNAN MEETS WITH U.S. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ON U.N. REFORM: Asked about the visit by a U.S. Congressional delegation led by Representative Henry Hyde, the Spokesman noted that the delegation had met with the Secretary-General, and the focus of its discussions was
SECRETARY-GENERAL SUPPORTS TRANSFER OF INDICTED SUSPECTS: Asked about the announcement from authorities in Nigeria that former Liberian President Charles Taylor could be handed over to Liberia to stand trial, the Spokesman said that was an issue being dealt with by the Liberian and Nigerian Governments. He noted that the Prosecutor of the
Special Court for Sierra Leone, Desmond de Silva, over the weekend
welcomed the Nigerian Governments comments on transferring Charles Taylor. The Secretary-General has repeatedly made it clear in past comments that he expects justice to be done and that indictment suspects are transferred to stand trial.
ANNAN WELCOMES EUROPEAN SUPPORT TO U.N. MISSION IN DEM. REP. OF CONGO: The Secretary-General, in a
statement issued on Saturday, warmly welcomed the decision of the European Union to start planning and preparation for possible EU support to the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). Consultations between representatives from the European Union, the UN and the Congolese authorities are presently underway.
ANNAN ENCOURAGES INCLUSIVE GOVT. IN BURUNDI: Asked about reports that the Frodebu party has withdrawn from the Government of Burundi, the Spokesman noted the Secretary-Generals consistent encouragement of an inclusive government in Burundi.
U.N. HOUSING AGENCY HONORS SWEDISH KING: The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has awarded a Special Citation to King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden for what it calls his tireless campaigning to promote an environmentally sustainable human habitat.
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