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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-05-10
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
ANNAN CALLS FOR REVOLUTION IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Secretary-General Kofi Annan this morning addressed the high-level segment of the 14th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development.
In his remarks, he said that, among other things, we need a revolution in energy efficiency, as well as a reduction in the pollution generated by fossil fuels -- through the use of clean coal for example.
Saying that renewable sources of energy remained woefully inadequate and underutilized, the Secretary-General added that all countries needed to be more rigorous in carrying out what they have agreed to do with regards to energy and sustainable development.
More than 80 ministers are attending the Commission meeting, which will conclude on Friday.
NEW HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL NOW HAS CHANCE
TO SHOW DEPTH OF COMMITMENT
The General Assembly yesterday held its first elections for members of the Human Rights Council.
In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomed the elections, noting that the new Council, which will start work on 19 June in Geneva, is required to conduct regular human rights reviews of all countries, beginning with its own members. That will give its members the chance to show the depth of their commitment to promote human rights both at home and abroad, he said.
The Secretary-General also lauded the fact that there were genuinely contested candidacies, and that all those elected made specific pledges and commitments to promote and protect human rights.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour also welcomed the elections.
Asked what would happen if countries on the Council do not improve their human rights records, the Spokesman said that the way the Council is structured makes clear that its members will have their human rights records reviewed. The system of the Council, including its peer reviews, are more transparent and ensure that countries can be held accountable for their human rights records, he said.
FUNDING MECHANISM FOR PALESTINIAN AID IS BEING WORKED OUT
Following the series of meetings on the
Middle East held by the principal members of the Quartet, the Secretary-General opened a press conference yesterday afternoon by noting that the Quartet underscored its continued commitment to a two-state solution, as embodied in the Roadmap, as well as the need for both parties to avoid actions which could prejudice final status issues.
He said the Quartet also expressed its willingness to endorse a temporary international mechanism, limited in duration and scope and fully accountable, that ensures direct delivery of assistance to the Palestinian people.
The Quartet welcomed the European Union's offer to develop and propose such a mechanism, and invites donors and international organizations to consider participating.
He added that the Quartet welcomed Prime Minister Olmert's call for negotiations with a Palestinian partner committed to the Roadmap, as well as President Abbas's continued commitment to a platform of peace.
Asked about the next step in aiding the Palestinians, the Spokesman noted that the European Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero Waldner, had explained that the European Union would bring together its own experts, as well as those from the United Nations and the World Bank, to put the funding mechanism together. Dujarric said the hope was that such a mechanism would be elaborated within the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, he said, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), as well as other UN humanitarian agencies, will continue with their work, even as UN experts help work on the elaboration of the funding mechanism.
Asked how money could be transferred to the Palestinians directly when most humanitarian offices are run by Hamas, the Spokesman noted that the Quartet had expressed its concern that Hamas had not abided by the commitments that the Quartet had previously underscored as essential. At the same time, he added, the mechanism would be set up to deal with basic human needs, in areas like health, education and welfare, and said we should wait until it is established.
DARFUR: IMMEDIATE PRIORITY IS STRENGTHENING THE AFRICAN UNION FORCE
In the Security Council on Sudan yesterday, the Secretary-General said the next step in the possible transition from an African Union force to a UN operation in Darfur will be an assessment mission there to work out what would be needed.
He has written to Sudans President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, seeking his support for the assessment mission, and hopes to discuss it with him directly as his support for this mission is vital.
The Secretary-General also said an immediate priority is strengthening the African Union force in Darfur in the meantime, and appealed to donors to start now and not to wait for a pledging conference in the coming weeks.
Also, the Security Council President issued a statement on Sudan yesterday, and in it he calls on the Sudanese Government of National Unity to facilitate immediately the visit of the joint UN and African Union technical assessment mission to Darfur.
Asked whether the Sudanese Government is more open to having a UN force, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had mentioned that he had written to the press and expected the Government of National Unity to work with the United Nations as it sends an assessment mission to Darfur. Dujarric added that everyone has spoken with one voice that, following the signing of the Abuja agreement, the planning process should be facilitated.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF VISITS REFUGEE CAMPS IN CHAD
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, is currently in eastern Chad, visiting a camp for refugees and internally displaced persons and meeting with local officials and aid workers.
Yesterday, in Khartoum he met with Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha. During that meeting, Egeland raised a number of issues related to security, access and resources for humanitarian operations in Darfur and others areas of
Egeland today announced that $32 million would be made available from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for the worlds most under-funded emergencies.
The countries that will benefit from this first disbursement are Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote dIvoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Kenya, the Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Of the $450 million that the UN has requested for the Fund, $254 million has been received from 40 countries and two private sector donors.
Asked how the aid to Africa would be distributed, the Spokesman said that CERF provides assistance to emergencies that are under-funded. He said the Fund is overseen by a board comprising Member States, as well as by OCHA.
U.N. AND SUDANESE OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS TALKS WITH EASTERN FRONT
A senior official from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has met with a Government of National Unity minister to discuss preparations for the first round of talks between Khartoum and the Eastern Front, the resolution of the Abyei question, and efforts to address the activities of the Lord Resistance Army in southern Sudan, according to the mission.
The Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Sudan, Tayť-Brook Zerihoun, met in Khartoum with the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deng Alor, to discuss issues relating to the mandate of UNMIS and to explore ways of making further progress on a number of issues relevant to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP SOMALIA
The Security Council this morning held consultations on Somalia and received a briefing by the Ambassador of Qatar, Nassir Abdelaziz al-Nasser, who chairs the sanctions committee for Somalia, about the recent report of the Monitoring Group dealing with reported violations of the arms embargo for that country.
In that report, which is out on the racks today, the Monitoring Group says that arms embargo violations continue, as does the militarization of central and southern Somalia. It says that in recent months, militant Islamic fundamentalists have actively and aggressively asserted their independence as the third force among the major antagonists.
Council members then held a formal meeting, voting to extend the mandate of the Monitoring Group by six months.
Council members will also have their monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General today.
U.N. ENVOY APPEALS FOR END TO HOSTILITIES IN MOGADISHU
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, today appealed for an end to hostilities in Mogadishu as the city entered its fourth day of violence between heavily armed militia forces.
I am deeply disturbed by the daily reports of civilian deaths and injuries and of families fleeing for their lives, Ambassador Fall said.
He said that, elsewhere in the country, peaceful initiatives have given hope that Somalia can extricate itself from more than a decade of civil war.
Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that seasonal rains have begun in southern Somalia and they have warded off the risk of famine. OCHA warns, however, that much needs to be done. Because of logistical problems, including lack of infrastructure, and in some areas the rain itself, less than half the malnourished children needing assistance have been reached.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR WAY FORWARD IN WESTERN LIES WITH PARTIES
Asked about the stance taken by the Secretary-General in his latest report on Western Sahara, the Spokesman later said that the way forward recommended in the report is that the Security Council cannot wait for the question of Western Sahara to deteriorate from a source of potential instability in the region to a threat to international peace and security. Instead, negotiations (without preconditions) between Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO as parties, and Algeria and Mauritania as neighbouring countries, should be initiated to reach a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.
In addition, the report states that after years of reliance on UN-sponsored plans, it should be made clear to the parties that the United Nations was taking a step back and that the responsibility now rested on them. This did not mean that the parties would henceforth be on their own. There was a consensus in the Council that any solution to the problem of Western Sahara had to be found in the framework, or under the auspices, of the United Nations.
Asked whether there was an alleged business interest of the Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy on Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, in a fishing fleet based in Morocco, the Spokesman said he was not aware of any and added that financial disclosure reports would be turned in, and the UN Ethics office would follow up on any significant information in them. He added, in response to further questions, that the forms would not be made public, nor would details against specific individuals.
Asked to enquire if the Secretary-Generals brother was the Ghanaian Ambassador to Morocco, the Spokesman said he did not know and added he would not follow up.
Asked if the Secretary-General was planning to take up employment with firms related to the Moroccan government, the Spokesman said that, as far as he was aware, he did not. Dujarric added that the Secretary-General had repeatedly made it clear that he intends to pursue work on agricultural development in Africa and girls education.
Asked whether the Secretary-General still intends to set up a foundation to deal with those matters, the Spokesman said that he did.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO BEGIN CONSULTATIONS ON COUNTER-TERRORISM
The Spokesperson for the General Assembly President, Jan Eliasson, said tomorrow morning, the Assembly will begin informal consultations of the plenary on a counter-terrorism strategy, based on the report presented by the Secretary-General. That process will be co-chaired by Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon of Singapore and Ambassador Juan Antonio Yanez-Barnuevo of Spain.
She said yesterday the General Assembly elected 47 members of the new Human Rights Council, and lots were drawn to ensure that the terms of the new members are staggered, for either one, two or three years. In his press encounter and statements yesterday, Eliasson stressed that this was a truly historic occasion, and that we are witnessing a new beginning for the promotion and protection of human rights.
He noted that the members elected are a reflection of the whole body of the United Nations, and he stated that he finds it very important that all the members have made pledges and commitments to human rights that they are expected to live up to, and that they have accepted, by their membership in the Council, to have their human rights record reviewed during their term. The process and preparations for the new Council will now move to Geneva.
Eliasson said that he has great confidence that the newly elected members will agree on the measures necessary for a successful first meeting of the Council, and he looks forward to participating in that meeting, starting on 19 June.
UNITED NATIONS IS RESPONDING TO FLOODING IN SURINAME: In Suriname, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is assembling a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team to respond to recent flooding there. OCHA along with the UN Development Programme is also allocating funds to the relief effort.
HAITIS FIRST CENSUS IN 24 YEARS IS RELEASED: The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and Haitian authorities today released the results of the first census held in Haiti in the past 24 years and it shows that half of the countrys population is younger than 20 years old, unemployment is a 33% and school attendance rate is as low as 49%. UNFPA says the census offers a map of where the direst needs are in Haiti, and that with an overwhelming majority of young people, more resources are needed in education and reproductive health services.
URBAN POVERTY SEEN AS ENTRY POINT FOR DISEASE: The Secretary-General last night spoke at the annual meeting of the fellows of the New York Academy of Medicine, and he said that, with more than half of humankind living in cities, urban poverty creates an entry point for disease and ill health. It is in the urban killing fields, with their homelessness, crime and overcrowding, that diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS take their heaviest toll.
PARLIAMENTARIANS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR AIDS-AFFECTED CHILDREN: Parliamentarians are uniquely placed to make a profound difference for children affected by HIV/AIDS by breaking the silence about the diseases impact on children and embracing legislation to defend their rights to healthcare, protection and support according to UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Children under 15 account for one in every six global AIDS-related deaths.
NO UPDATE AVAILABLE ON DILEEP NAIR REPORT: Asked for an update on the report by Jerome Ackerman into the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, under the leadership of Dileep Nair, the Spokesman said he had no update to offer.
WORLD BUSINESS AWARDS TO BE PRESENTED TONIGHT: The 2006
World Business Awards will be presented to 10 winners at 6:00 p.m. tonight at the Grand Hyatt Hotel here in New York. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and current Chair of The Ethical Globalization Initiative, and Ad Melkert, the UN Development Programme Associate Administrator, will present the awards.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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