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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-03

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

BAN KI-MOON APPOINTS MANAGEMENT CHIEF

AND HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR

The Secretary-General has decided to appoint Alicia Barcena of Mexico as the Under-Secretary-General for Management. Ms. Barcena has wide experience in the United Nations, serving most recently as Chef de Cabinet to Secretary-General Kofi Annan and, prior to that, as Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). She has also served as the Mexican Vice Minister of Environment.

The Secretary-General highly values her leadership and managerial skills and has confidence that she shares his vision and philosophy to strengthen and revitalize this Organization.

The Secretary-General has also decided to appoint John Holmes of the United Kingdom as his Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Mr. Holmes most recent position was as British Ambassador to France and his experience of both multilateral and bilateral diplomacy has been wide and varied.

Throughout his diplomatic career, Mr. Holmes has offered a proven record of strategic vision, crisis management, multilateral negotiation, dedication and hard work. The Secretary-General is confident that the international community will benefit from his leadership and expertise.

In response to a reporter who argued that the new appointments did not signal a change in how the United Nations operates, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General is reviewing the work of every single manager in the United Nations, in a process that is continuing. She said the results of that effort could be assessed better toward the end of the month.

Asked how the Secretary-General saw Barcena as the person to carry out sweeping reforms, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General had discussed with Barcena the changes that he wants, and they have similar views on the subject. He made his decision on her appointment after considering all the candidates for the position.

Asked about Holmess qualifications, she noted that the Secretary-General had discussed humanitarian affairs with Holmes and had taken his decision with due consideration to what Holmes could do.

BAN SUPPORTS HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEFS STANCE ON EXECUTIONS IN IRAQ

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, today renewed her call for restraint by the Government of Iraq in the execution of sentences of death that have been imposed by the Iraqi High Tribunal. Last week, the death sentences of two of Saddam Husseins co-defendants, Awad Hamad Al-Bandar and Barzan Ibrahim Al-Hassan, were upheld on appeal.

Arbour underlined that international law, as it currently stands, only allows the imposition of the death penalty as an exceptional measure within rigorous legal constraints. Given that her concerns about the fairness and impartiality of Saddam Husseins trial apply also to the other two defendants, the High Commissioner today directly appealed to the Iraqi President to refrain from carrying out these sentences.

The Secretary-General is, of course, aware of the ongoing debate in the General Assembly concerning a total ban of the death penalty. Until the matter is resolved, he respects the right of Member States to have their own positions on it.

However, the Secretary-General strongly believes in the wisdom of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. In that context, he fully endorses the call made today by Louise Arbour for restraint by the Government of Iraq in the execution of the death sentences imposed by the Iraqi High Tribunal.

Asked whether the Secretary-General had changed his views since Tuesday, when he had mentioned that the issue of capital punishment was up to Member States, the Spokeswoman noted that when he spoke yesterday, the Secretary-General was acknowledging that there was no consensus on the death penalty. She noted that in one recent vote, a majority of Member States did not agree to condemn the death penalty.

At the same time, Montas emphasized, the Secretary-General stressed the need to work to abolish the death penalty, although he is aware that Member States differ on the issue.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on Saddam Husseins trial, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General had not expressed any view on whether or not the trial was fair, adding that he supported Arbours statement.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals Tuesday comments on the death penalty, the Spokeswoman noted that his complete statement yesterday had also referred to international humanitarian law.

The Secretary-General, she said in response to further questions, supports the Universal Declaration and the traditions of human rights bodies and international courts. But he represents at the same time the views of 192 Member States, who disagree on this issue.

Asked about Arbours fate, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General, in his views expressed today, clearly supported Arbours position.

Asked how the Secretary-Generals views had been conveyed, the Spokeswoman said that they had been said in comments to her, in which the Secretary-General had stressed that he agreed with what international humanitarian law had to say on the issue.

She added, in response to a question, that the United Nations continues to defer to national laws on internal matters.

Asked about a moratorium on the death penalty, the Spokeswoman noted that the matter was the prerogative of the General Assembly, and the Secretary-General would push forward whatever the Assembly agreed to on that matter.

UNITED NATIONS IS CONCERNED BY SEX ABUSE ALLEGATIONS

BY U.N. PERSONNEL IN SUDAN

We are deeply concerned by press reports of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel in Juba. The UN standard on this issue is clearzero tolerance, meaning zero complacency and zero impunity. In cooperation with the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), we are looking into the substance of the press reports to determine if the allegations are new or are existing cases already under investigation.

It is the UNs policy to treat credible allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse as serious offences to be investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). OIOS has a team permanently based in Sudan which investigates all allegations of abuse. Over the past year, as a result of UN investigations four UNMIS peacekeepers have already been repatriated. The United Nations is working closely with local authorities and all operational partners including our troop contributing countries to ensure that UN personnel adhere to the highest standards of accountability. When necessary, strong disciplinary action will be taken.

Asked what triggered the OIOS investigation, the Spokeswoman said that there had been allegations for some time, and the point was to investigate it.

She said that the United Nations is determined to end all sexual abuses by its peacekeepers. The fact that Sudan has a full-time UN person investigating allegations, she added, indicates how seriously the United Nations takes the issue.

The Secretary-General, she said, has made it clear that people who are responsible should be held accountable, once the facts have been established.

Asked whether the Secretary-General had contacted UNICEF about its information on the allegations, Montas said that UNICEFs report was not on sexual abuses by UN peacekeepers, but rather those committed by Sudanese forces.

Asked whether the allegations would complicate UN efforts in Darfur, the Spokeswoman said that was an underlying concern.

BAN EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES FOR DEATH OF NORTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER

The Secretary-General expresses his condolences for the death of Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), with whom he worked for peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula over the years.

The Secretary-General hopes that the death of Foreign Minister Paek does not, in any case, hinder the ongoing Six-Party Process or the way for North Koreas foreign policy to open up to the international community.

U.N. CONCERNED BY FORCIBLE RETURN OF SOMALI REFUGEES

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees today expressed concern over reports that Kenyan authorities were forcibly returning Somali refugees back to Somalia. High Commissioner António Guterres said border security measures should not prevent deserving Somali civilians from seeking safety and protection in Kenya.

And he reiterated his agencys offer to provide expertise and support to Kenya, to help it deal with new arrivals.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL TO HOLD FIRST DEBATE WITH NEW SECRETARY-GENERAL ON MONDAY: The Security Council met for the first time this year, and, following brief consultations, it adopted its programme of work for January. The Council President for January, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia said the Council will hold its first public debate with the new Secretary-General next Monday, on threats to international peace and security.

BAN MARKS END OF U.N. MISSION IN BURUNDI: In a statement yesterday, the Secretary-General congratulated the people and Government of Burundi on the successful implementation of the mandate of the UN Operation in Burundi, which concluded its activities on 31 December. The Secretary-General noted that with the support of the UN and other partners, elections were held in Burundi, new integrated national defence and police forces were established, and a ceasefire agreement was concluded between the parties.

SPOKESPERSON WELCOMES NEW PRESIDENT OF CORRESPONDENTS ASSOCIATION: At todays noon briefing, the Spokesperson welcomed J. Tuyet Nguyen, who was elected as President of the UN Correspondents Association at the end of last month. She also thanked the outgoing President, Masood Haider.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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