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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-30

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR MAINTENANCE OF GAZA CEASEFIRE

The Secretary-General has noted todays announcement of an agreed ceasefire in Gaza, and commends Egypt for its continuing efforts to calm a volatile and worrying situation.

He calls for all parties to abide by the terms of the ceasefire and to move quickly back to the process of national dialogue in the pursuit of national unity.

BAN KI-MOON ON LAST LEG OF AFRICA VISIT

The Secretary-General arrived in Nairobi from Addis Ababa on Tuesday afternoon, and he and his wife immediately visited Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa.

He walked along the railroad tracks to one of the slum villages, named Soweto East, and told the inhabitants that he felt very much humbled by what he saw today.

The Secretary-General said he would work towards improving living conditions, education, water and sanitation and housing, adding, All these are challenges that we must overcome.

He began the day in Addis Ababa, where he continued to have bilateral meetings with African leaders on the sidelines of the African Union summit. Following the meetings, he held a press conference.

The Secretary-General told reporters that his presence in Addis in the first month of his tenure is a strong sign of the growing partnership between the United Nations and the African Union and of the high priority he attaches to Africa.

On Darfur, the Secretary-General said that he was pleased that President Omar al-Bashir welcomed a joint AU-UN mission to Khartoum and Darfur in early February.

But he added that he urged President Bashir, and all parties, to cease hostilities, as an essential foundation for a successful peace process, and humanitarian access.

No more time can be lost, the Secretary-General said. The people of Darfur have waited much too long. This is just unacceptable.

BAN KI-MOON IN TOUCH WITH MEMBER STATES ON U.N. RESTRUCTURING

The Secretary-General is concerned about the need to strengthen the capacities of the Organization to cope with the increased scope of activities in the area of peace and security, as well as to advance the disarmament agenda.

In this connection he has been in touch with the President of the General Assembly. The proposals outlined by him seek the realignment of some of the political and security departments.

Over the past week, the Secretary-General has been in touch with Member States individually and in groups in order to solicit their views and be guided by them.

The Secretary-General has come to the conclusion that this procedure needs to be pursued further before a formal issuance to the General Assembly can be undertaken.

On his return from his current visit to Africa, he plans to meet with Member States of the Assembly to further share his ideas and hear their views.

This is an ongoing consultation. On the basis of the reaction he receives from Member States he will consider how to take this matter forward.

The Secretary-General intends to fully respect and operate through the established legislative procedures of the Organization.

Asked when the Secretary-General would meet with Member States on restructuring, the Spokeswoman said that this was the first thing on his agenda when he returns from Africa.

He has been holding consultations with different groups of Member States, she noted, starting with the Non-Aligned Movement, in discussions that preceded the sending of his letter to the President of the General Assembly.

Montas added, in response to further questions on how he would push his proposals, that the Secretary-General would respect the legislative process, adding that he did intend to move forward with his agenda.

ALL-FEMALE FORCE ARRIVES IN LIBERIA

For the first time in the history of UN peacekeeping, an all-female Formed Police Unit has arrived in Liberia to assist the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in strengthening the rule of law and maintaining peace in the country.

The Indian contingent, led by Commandant Seema Dhundia, consists of 125 members - 103 women performing operational tasks and 22 men doing logistics work.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES GUINEA-BISSAU SOLUTION

An official

statement on Guinea Bissau was released yesterday.

The Secretary-General is pleased that a mutually agreeable solution has been found to the disagreement between the Government of Guinea-Bissau and the former Prime Minister, Mr. Carlos Gomes Junior. He welcomes this positive development and would like to express his gratitude to all who contributed to resolving the differences.

He calls on all the stakeholders in Guinea-Bissau to work together towards peace and stability in their country as well as on poverty alleviation and development.

ADDITIONAL U.N. PEACEKEEPERS DEPLOYED IN HAITI

The first of an expected 350 additional UN peacekeepers began arriving in Port-au-Prince this week as part of a second contingent of soldiers from Nepal expected to be fully deployed in Haiti by early March.

The light infantry battalion will be used for operations in Port-au-Prince as part of the UN Missions plan to intensify efforts against criminal gangs operating in the capital city.

The Missions Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz, met with his contingent commanders based in the Haitian capital on Sunday to direct them to start planning several operations per week to target gang leaders and criminal activity in Port-au-Prince.

REFUGEE AGENCY LAUNCHES $20 MILLION APPEAL FOR SUDAN OPERATIONS

On Sudan, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is launching a $20 million appeal to fund its work in 2007 for tens of thousands of internally displaced Sudanese, as well as Chadian refugees in Darfur.

UNHCR also reports that the number of South Sudanese refugees, who have returned home since the 2005 launch of voluntary repatriation programmes to South Sudan, has now surpassed 100,000.

Meanwhile, in Asia, UNHCR says it is extremely alarmed about reports that Thailand may deport 153 refugees from the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic.

If the deportation proceeds, it will be the first time that Thailand has refouled UNHCR-recognized refugees, thus breaching international humanitarian law.

MELTING GLACIERS CONFIRM CLIMATE CHANGE

Mountain glaciers, an important source of water, are melting around the world, according to a new

report from the World Glacier Monitoring Service.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has drawn attention to the report, saying that its findings confirm the science of human-induced climate change, confirmation that will be further underlined when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change unveils its next report this Friday in Paris.

UNEP adds that the reports findings should strengthen the resolve of Governments to act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and put in place strategies necessary to avert dangerous climate change.

Asked whether the Secretary-General supports a summit on climate change, the Spokeswoman said that had not been decided yet.

She noted that, in a recent press conference, the Secretary-General said that we must do far better in the mission to halt climate change, and that this will be one of his priorities.

The Secretary-General raised the issue of climate change in meetings with both Presidents George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac, Montas added.

The next event to watch for, the Spokeswoman said, is the release of the first part of the assessment on climate change by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Secretary-General encourages that effort and will be sending a video message to the gathering, she added.

The Spokeswoman noted that in his recent meetings, the Secretary-General had brought to the forefront his concerns about climate change, although he had not specifically discussed a conference.

U.N. INTERNAL WATCHDOG DOES NOT HAVE AUDIT MANDATE FOR WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION

Asked about allegations of corruption at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Spokeswoman noted that the WMO has itself

responded in recent press releases to those allegations.

Asked about any UN oversight of WMO, the Spokeswoman later made clear that the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) does not have the audit mandate of WMO, nor does it have the possibility to investigate, unless the WMO requests it.

The external auditor for WMO is the National Accounting Office of the United Kingdom.

The Secretary-General does not have direct authority, but may act via his chair in the Chief Executives Board, Montas added.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL GIVES GREEN LIGHT ON MANDATE EXTENSION: The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Council ended up adopting a resolution, extending the mandate of the UN Mission there by six months, until the end of July 2007.

ROMA AND SINTI WANT SPECIAL ENVOY: Asked about a request from Roma and Sinti groups for the Secretary-General to appoint an official to deal with their concerns, the Spokeswoman noted that the request had only now been made. She added that the Secretary-General had welcomed the inclusive nature of Mondays commemoration of the Holocaust, which had also drawn attention to the Roma and Sinti.

NO REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL SECURITY DETAIL: The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, denied that the Secretary-General had requested a South Korean officer to be part of his security detail.

  • ** The guest at todays noon briefing was the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Stephen Rapp. He briefed on preparations for the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

    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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