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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-05-01
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, May 1, 2006
ANNAN URGES REDOUBLING OF EFFORTS IN DARFUR PEACE TALKS
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has
taken note of the expiration of the 30 April deadline at the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks on the conflict in Darfur.
He urges the parties, particularly the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), to redouble their efforts and to come to an agreement without delay, so that the suffering and destruction in Darfur can be brought to an end.
The situation in Darfur continues to be dire. Millions of civilians remain dependent for their survival on humanitarian assistance. Attacks and insecurity threaten to put a stop to this life sustaining humanitarian work. The clear solution is for the parties to seize this historic opportunity to achieve peace and begin the task of recovery and reconstruction. The United Nations stands ready to assist them on this path.
Asked about reports that the United States had taken the lead in the final 48 hours of negotiations on Darfur, the Spokesman said that the African Union has been leading the mediation efforts in Abuja.
NUMBER OF SELF-SUFFICIENT HOUSEHOLDS DROPS IN DARFUR
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour,
arrived over the weekend in Khartoum for a visit to Sudan, including the Darfur region and the south of the country.
Meanwhile, the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan Gemmo Lodesani
said today the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur is serious and that fighting over the past three months has resulted in the displacement of some 250,000 more people in that area.
Lodesani told a press briefing in Khartoum that a result of the violence in Darfur, households that can take care of themselves dropped from 40 percent to 20 percent.
He was also critical of what he termed the insufficient flow of funds pledged by donors to Darfur. He said there was also an urgent need for $20 million to address problems stemming from the new displacements, including along the Chad/Sudan border.
ANNAN TO UNVEIL COUNTER-TERRORISM STRATEGY TOMORROW
Tomorrow morning at 11:30 a.m., the Secretary-General is scheduled to unveil his recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy to the General Assembly as requested by world leaders in the September 2005 World Summit.
The recommendations will be contained in a report, which will be made available on the following website: www.un.org/unitingagainstterrorism.
CONGO ASSUMES SECURITY COUNCILS ROTATING PRESIDENCY
With the beginning of a new month, the Republic of Congo has assumed the rotating Presidency of the
Security Council, replacing China.
Congolese Ambassador Basile Ikouebe is holding bilateral discussions with other Council members today on the Councils work over the coming month.
The Security Council expects to hold consultations on the programme of work for May tomorrow.
ANNAN REGRETS LACK OF AGREEMENT
AMONG MEMBER STATES ON U.N. MANAGEMENT REFORM
Asked about the vote that took place last Friday in the General Assemblys Fifth Committee on management reform, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had
regretted the breakdown of consensus in the Fifth Committee. Still, he said, the hope was that the United Nations could now move on and focus the attention of the Member States on the reform process.
He pointed to other reform proposals that would be coming up, including on financial rules, oversight, internal justice and budgeting. The hope, he said, is that attention can be focused on what is important, moving away from some of the politics of recent days.
Asked whether focusing on those proposals meant that the Secretary-General was abandoning his other management reform proposals, the Spokesman said nothing was being abandoned, and the reform process shouldnt be judged on the result of one inning.
Asked whether the Secretary-Generals reform proposals had entailed delegating powers away from Member States, the Spokesman said that there was no issue of taking way any powers but of creating an organization that functions more effectively.
Asked about the effects of the Friday vote on the UNs financial health, the Spokesman said that the organizations financial health was being examined on a regular basis.
Asked whether there would be any strategy to reintroduce some reform proposals in a different manner, the Spokesman said that the Secretariat would assess the situation and work with Member States and the General Assembly Presidency in determining how to proceed.
U.N. ENVOY VISITS IRAN TO PROMOTE REGIONAL COOPERATION
Tom Koenigs, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, is
visiting Iran today and tomorrow to promote regional cooperation. He is scheduled to meet with Irans Foreign Minister and other senior officials.
Yesterday, Koenigs participated in the first meeting of the high-level body bringing together the Afghan Government and the international community to oversee the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact. He said that the meeting marked a very important step towards achieving that ambitious plan.
U.N. OFFICIAL CALLS FOR INCREASED SECURITY FOR AID WORKERS IN SOMALIA
Kjell Magne Bondevik, the Secretary-Generals Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa, arrived in Somalia today, the fifth stop on his tour of drought-hit countries in the Horn of Africa.
In Baidoa, Bondevik called for increased security and access for humanitarian workers so that they can deliver aid to the people of Somalia. He also urged donors to be flexible as the aid community works on carrying out longer term programs.
SRI LANKA: U.N. AGENCIES DELIVER AID TO CONFLICT-DISPLACED PEOPLE
In Sri Lanka, UN agencies have started aid deliveries to people affected by the recent tensions between the Government and Tamil rebels.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a UN assessment of the area has shown that around 10,500 people have been displaced in rebel-controlled areas over the past week and are in need of food, safe water and protection.
SPOKESMAN: ACHIM STEINER BEST CANDIDATE FOR UNEP TOP SPOT
Asked whether Achim Steiner should step down from his post as Executive Director of the UN Environmental Programme, because he had served on a board that had conferred a prize to the Secretary-General, the Spokesman said that Steiner was chosen for the job because he was considered the strongest candidate, and the Secretary-General continues to believe he is the best person for the job.
The Spokesman, in response to further questions, said that the search for the UNEP Executive Director had been a long and exhaustive one, in which every topic, including the awarding of the prize, had been looked at. But Steiner, he said, has been regarded as the best candidate for a number of reasons, including his strong record in the environmental community.
Steiners appointment, Dujarric added, was not connected in any way to the conferring of the prize to the Secretary-General. Kofi Annan, the Spokesman reiterated, was not keeping the money involved in that prize but was contributing all of it to charity.
Asked who made the decision, the Spokesman said that senior appointments go through interview panels that include senior UN officials, but the final decision was made by the Secretary-General. Steinger, he said, had been on a short list of candidates put out in January, of people who were nominated by governments, civil society or the Secretariat. The Spokesman later added that the Secretary-General forwarded Steiner's name to the General Assembly for ratification.
Asked whether Steiners name had been added to the short list by then-Chef de Cabinet Mark Malloch Brown, the Spokesman noted that the process had not been circumvented and that Steiner's name was on the short list which was made public in January of this year. Steiner, he said, had attracted the UNs attention following discussions with non-governmental organizations that deal in environmental affairs.
SIERRA LEONE COURT CONTINUES TO WORK ON TAYLOR TRIAL
Asked about former Liberian President Charles Taylors trial, the Spokesman said that the Special Court for Sierra Leone is continuing with the procedures for that trial. He noted that before May 17, initial disclosures of witnesses was to take place.
Asked about problems in finding a residence for Taylor following a judgment, the Spokesman said that that issue did not have any real effect at this point in the process by which he is being tried.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals involvement, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General would like to see this issue resolved.
PAKISTANI RAPE VICTIM TO SPEAK AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS
Regarding Mukhtar Mai, the Pakistani woman who was not able to speak at the United Nations earlier this year, she will now speak at UN Headquarters tomorrow. Mukhtar Mai will be focusing on her experiences in Pakistan and what needs to be done for education and womens rights in the region where she lives.
That event is co-sponsored by the NGO Virtue Foundation and by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs NGO section. It comes following invitations from the Secretary-Generals office and the Pakistani Mission to the United Nations for Mukhtar Mai to speak here.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT HEADS TO JORDAN & KENYA: The General Assembly President is traveling today to Amman, Jordan, where he has been invited in his capacity as President of the General Assembly to give the keynote address tomorrow at the annual meeting of the InterAction Council of former heads of state and government. Following that he will be traveling to Nairobi, primarily as President of the General Assembly, to discuss environment and other related issues with senior officials at the UN Environment Programme and UN-HABITAT, and with government delegates there. He is scheduled to be back at UN Headquarters on Monday, 8 May.
LETTER FROM IRAN NOT YET RECEIVED: Asked about a letter from the Iranian Government alleging that Iran is being threatened, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has not yet received that letter.
INVESTIGATION INTO FORMER U.N. INTERNAL WATCHDOG STILL CONTINUING: Asked about investigator Jerome Ackermans report on former Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services Dileep Nair, the Spokesman said Ackerman was still working on that report but did not say when it might be finished.
FORMER QUARTET ENVOYS WORK GREATLY APPRECIATED: Asked about the former envoy of the Middle East Quartet, James Wolfensohn, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had great appreciation for Wolfensohns work and may even call on him in the future.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT BODY FOCUSES ON ENERGY & POLLUTION: The UN's Commission on Sustainable Development began its 14th session this morning, focusing on the issues of energy, air pollution, industrial development and climate change. The Chair of CSD, Georgian Finance Minister Aleksi Aleksishvili, sent word that he could not attend the opening due to a national emergency, but said in a message that the issues under consideration were unparalleled in their importance for achieving sustainable development goals.
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