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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-17

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

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FARHAN HAQ

ASSOCIATE

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

BAN KI-MOON WRAPS UP HIGH-LEVEL VISIT TO WASHINGTON

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is wrapping up his visit to Washington. D.C., which this morning included a breakfast meeting with the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, hosted by Committee Chairman Tom Lantos and ranking Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

The Secretary-General met yesterday afternoon with US President George W. Bush, and he spoke to reporters afterward, telling them that it was a useful meeting in which he had stressed the importance of a strong partnership between the United Nations and the United States. He said that they discussed the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, Darfur, Somalia and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

The Secretary-General will speak at the organizational session for the Economic and Social Council at 3:00 this afternoon, in which ECOSOC elects its President and Bureau. In his remarks, the Secretary-General is expected to urge the Council to engage in a broad-based dialogue on policy issues affecting development cooperation, and to take a leading role in promoting coherence and coordination of global efforts to deliver on the development agenda.

And tomorrow, the ECOSOC President-elect will be the guest at the noon briefing.

Asked if the subject of climate change had come up in yesterdays discussion between the Secretary-General and President Bush, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had brought up the topic in a number of his stops in Washington, DC.

Asked about reports that President Bush had asked the Secretary-General about the possibility of the UN doing more in Iraq, the Spokesman said the UN did intend to do as much as it could for the people of Iraq. However, the main constraint was the security conditions on the ground. The UN continued to be involved in a number of ways, including through its human rights work and the Iraq Compact.

HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES DECRY LACK OF ACCESS IN DARFUR

In a statement issued in Khartoum, UN humanitarian organizations, agencies, funds and programmes operating in Sudan warned that the humanitarian community cannot indefinitely assure the survival of the population in Darfur if insecurity continues.

The statement says that access to people in need in December 2006 was the worst since April 2004 and more than 250,000 people have been displaced as a result of fighting.

The statement also denounces as unacceptable the violence increasingly directed against humanitarian workers as more relief workers have been killed in the past six months (12 since July 2006) than in the previous two years combined.

In the last six months, 30 NGO and UN compounds were directly attacked by armed groups. In addition, more than 400 humanitarian workers have been forced to relocate 31 times from different locations throughout the three Darfur states. Assets have been looted and staff seriously threatened and physically harassed.

BAN KI-MOON: DARFUR CRISIS A STORY OF BROKEN HOPE

The Secretary-General, in his speech to the Center for Strategic Studies last night, citing the crisis in Darfur as a story of broken hope said he would coordinating closely with leaders in Africa and beyond.

He said, Life-saving humanitarian work must be allowed to resume, and civil society in Darfur must have a voice in the peace process.

And we must persuade non-signatories to join, while building consensus for a UN-AU force on the ground.

He added that Darfur will be at the top of the agenda at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

SECURITY COUNCIL REQUESTS EARLY DEPLOYMENT TO CHAD AND CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement yesterday afternoon, in which it requested the Secretary-General to deploy as soon as possible an advance mission to Chad and the Central African Republic, in consultation with their governments, to accelerate preparations for an early decision on the possible deployment of a multidimensional UN presence.

The Council requested the Secretary-General to submit by the middle of February updated and finalized recommendations on the size, structure and mandate of a UN multidimensional presence.

Asked when that advance mission would leave, the Spokesman clarified that there would be two missions. A technical assessment mission, led by Francois Durreau, would be leaving New York this weekend for the region. Expected to last two weeks, this mission would assess the logistical conditions in the region ahead of the advance party deployment that the Security Council had mandated.

Asked if the technical assessment mission would have a humanitarian component, the Spokesman later said that it would.

BAN KI-MOON IS CONSULTING MEMBER STATES ON DEPARTMENTAL RESTRUCTURING

Asked how close the Secretary-General was to making future UN appointments, the Spokesman said that, as soon as he made them, they would be announced. The Secretary-General was currently reviewing posts and looking at ways of restructuring different departments to make them more efficient.

Asked about the voluntary resignations of Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General, the Spokesman said that those resignations, whether they were accepted or not, gave the Secretary-General the flexibility to determine how certain posts should be filled.

Asked if the resignations process could take months, the Spokesman said that was not expected. In fact, the point of requesting the voluntary resignations was to allow the Secretary-General to make necessary decisions as quickly as possible. Haq also reminded journalists that many of the senior officials had contracts that had been set to expire in February.

Asked if there was a deadline for the appointments process, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General was trying to wrap this process up as quickly as possible.

Asked if the request for resignations had also gone to officials in the field, such as Special Representatives, the Spokesman said, Not at this point. The Spokesman reminded the correspondent that many of the Special Representatives had mandates that were based on the exchanges of letters between the Secretary-General and the Security Council.

Asked if the Secretary-General was considering merging the Department of Disarmament Affairs into the Department of Political Affairs, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General was currently discussing any restructuring plans with the Member States, which would have to agree with any restructuring of UN departments.

U.N CHIEF IN IRAQ CONDEMNS BOMBING AT BAGHDAD UNIVERSITY

Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, today condemned in the strongest terms the bombing outside the gate of the Mustansiriya University, which took place yesterday.

Qazi described the bombing, which caused the death and injury of dozens of civilians, as a shocking and heinous crime. He said that the targeting of centres of higher education by violent groups not only exacerbates sectarian tensions but also targets Iraq's future professionals.

He again called on the Iraqi authorities to pursue and apprehend the perpetrators of these crimes and appealed to Iraqi political, religious and civil society leaders to uphold the sanctity of educational institutions in the country.

Asked if the Secretary-General could do something to minimize bloodshed in Iraq, the Spokesman referred to the Secretary-Generals comments on Iraq, made during his press encounter yesterday.

Asked about the UNs reaction to Iranian diplomats being abducted in Iraq, the Spokesman said the UNs involvement in the matter had not been requested.

Asked about security in Iraq and whether sending more US troops was useful, the Spokesman said the UN was working with a wide number of parties on ways to restore the full sovereignty and stability of Iraq, and to bring all sides together. He said the UN had stressed the need to go beyond military efforts and to emphasize diplomatic and reconstruction efforts, in order to solve the problems in Iraq.

PROSECUTOR IN HARIRI MURDER CASE SEEKS WIDER COOPERATION

Asked about a recent meeting held by the Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy for Lebanon, Geir Pedersen, the Spokesman said that such meetings were part of Pedersens continuing efforts to meet with political leaders from all sides, in order to bring together all of Lebanons political factions at this delicate time.

Asked if the Secretariat knew the identity of the countries that were not cooperating with the UN International Independent Investigation Commission into the death for former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Spokesman said the Commissions head, Serge Brammertz, was dealing with those ten countries. Brammertz himself had said that the problem was not of willful non-cooperation so much as problems connected to domestic legal systems. Brammertz had said that he would try to work with those countries, but if there was no progress, he might revert to the UN Secretariat. At this stage, this was a matter for Brammertz and the countries involved, Haq added.

Asked if the Secretariat therefore did not support a Russian proposal linked to this matter, the Spokesman said the Secretariat was not putting forth any view into the Security Councils discussions on the matter. The Secretariat would abide by whatever the Council decided.

Asked if former Commission head Detlev Mehlis was not cooperating with Brammertz, the Spokesman said he was not aware of that.

U.N.-ADMINISTERED DISARMAMENT DRIVE UNDERWAY IN NEPAL

In Nepal, an important stage in UN support to the peace process began today with the commencement of UN registration and storage of the weapons of Maoist combatants.

According to the Office of the Secretary-Generals Personal Representative in Nepal, the process is now underway at two of the seven designated cantonment sites around the country.

UN arms monitors are present at both sites, where they are supervising the registration and storage of weapons in containers. Registration at the other five sites should begin early next week.

General Jan Erik Wilhelmsen, the UN Military Adviser on the ground, visited the cantonment site in Chitwan, located south of Kathmandu. He reported that the first day of arms registration went well very well thanks to excellent cooperation between the Maoist combatants and the UN monitors, who are being supported in their work by an Interim Task force of former Nepalese soldiers from the Indian and British armies.

The start of UN arms monitoring was made possible by the advance deployment of 35 UN arms monitors approved by the Security Council in December. Last week, the Secretary-General requested Council authorization to deploy a full-fledged political mission in Nepal, UNMIN, to carry out all of the tasks requested of the United Nations in support of the peace process.

FUNDS SOUGHT FOR HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO TIMOR-LESTE AND SOMALIA

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today hosted in Geneva an event to support the Humanitarian Appeal 2007, which was launched last November. Donors had the opportunity to share feedback and indicate their priorities for humanitarian action, including funding, in the current year.

In other humanitarian news, the UN and the Government of Timor-Leste have appealed for nearly $17 million to support the return, resettlement and reintegration of an estimated 100,000 displaced persons in Timor-Leste during the first six months of 2007.

And turning to Somalia, Eric Laroche, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for that country, today said that the international aid community must take immediate advantage of the window of opportunity that now exists in Somalia by substantially re-engaging in Mogadishu. And that statement comes in light of the two high-level UN missions that went to Mogadishu in the last week.

FORMER BOSNIAN SERB SOLDIER GUILTY OF TORTURE AND RAPE

Dragan Zelenovic, a former Bosnian Serb soldier and de facto military policeman in the town of Fo&#269;a, today pleaded guilty to seven counts of torture and rape committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack on Bosnian Muslims in the eastern Bosnian municipality.

According to the redacted indictment and the plea agreement, Zelenovic was involved in a July 1992 attack on Fo&#269;a and its surroundings and in the arrest of civilians, among whom a 15-old girl Zelenovic acknowledged raping and torturing.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

BAN KI-MOON URGES COMPLIANCE WITH NEW YORK TRAFFIC LAWS: Asked for the Secretary-Generals reaction to reports that the New York City Finance Department was owed $18 million from diplomats for parking tickets, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General encouraged all Member States to comply with local laws. However, Haq added, it was up to each individual Member State to decide how to deal with the Host Country.

U.N. TROOPS IN HAITI HELP LOCAL POLICE FIGHT GANGS: Asked if the UN felt that there had been indiscriminate shooting by UN peacekeepers in clashes with gangs in Haiti, the Spokesman said the UN trusted that UN forces in Haiti were acting appropriately and within their authority.

REPORT ON KOSOVO STATUS PROCESS DUE OUT SOON: Asked about the Kosovo status process, the Spokesman said that Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari was still on track to present his proposals shortly after the upcoming Serbian parliamentary elections.

U.N. CHIEF FOR SOMALIA PROTESTED MEDIA CENSORSHIP: Asked if the UN was pushing for an investigation in Somalia into why independent radio stations had been recently shut down, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, had expressed his concerns to Somalias Transitional Federal Government. Haq added that, since then, some of the efforts to ban certain media outlets had been reversed or eased.

U.N. TO HOST PHOTO SHOW ON BURUNDI PEACEKEEPING OPERATION: At 5:00 p.m. tomorrow , a photo exhibition highlighting the achievements of the UN Operation in Burundi will open in the South Gallery of the General Assembly Visitors Lobby.Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Joseph Ntakirutimana, Permanent Representative of Burundi at the UN, and Carolyn McAskie, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, will address the audience at this event entitled Burundi: From Conflict to Peacebuilding.

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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