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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-03-07
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.comARCHIVES
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
UNITED NATIONS AND AFRICAN UNION AGREE ON FRAMEWORK
FOR HYBRID OPERATION IN DARFUR
As Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi mentioned to reporters yesterday afternoon, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has written to the Sudanese President on the framework for the hybrid operation agreed between the African Union and the United Nations.
The letter is in line with our agreement to proceed in transparency and share with the Sudanese government the joint AU-UN planning on a strengthened peacekeeping presence in Darfur,
The African Union and the United Nations have concluded that between 19,000 to 20,000 troops, together with some 3,700 police officers and 19 formed police units will be required under the present situation on the ground in Darfur.
Based on these conclusions, the United Nations and the African Union will now proceed to develop detailed operational plans.
The Chairperson of the AU Commission is also expected to send the Sudanese President an identical letter.
Asked if the Secretary-General had any concrete plans to address the deteriorating Darfur situation and speed up the political process there, the Spokesperson said that Darfur has been an area of great concern to the Secretary-General. He has been making multiple phone calls to different political actors in Africa to move the process ahead, she said.
Asked to confirm reports that the Secretary-General has presented a shortlist of three names to the African Union Chairman Alpha Omar Konare in the search for the next Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, the Spokesperson said that an agreement had been reached on the best suitable candidate and will be made public once all stakeholders have been informed.
UN MISSION IN SUDAN CONDEMNS KILLING OF A.U. TROOPS IN DARFUR
The United Nations in Sudan, in a press release issued today, condemns the killing of two soldiers from the AU force in Darfur (AMIS) and the injuring of one other in the town of Gereida, in South Darfur.
The UN mission in Sudan expresses deep concern at the repeated attacks targeting those who are assisting the people of Darfur, in particular AMIS and humanitarian workers.
It calls on all parties to the Darfur conflict to respect the neutral and impartial status of AMIS and recalls that any attack against the African Union personnel deployed in Darfur is a serious violation of international law and relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.
SECURITY COUNCIL URGES INCREASED REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN
IN DECISION-MAKING ROLES
The Security Council held consultations this morning on the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and other matters. The Commissions Acting Executive Chairman, Demetrius Perricos, gave his periodic briefing to Council members.
Following those consultations, the Council held an open meeting on women and peace and security. It adopted a Presidential Statement, by which it urged Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels that dealt with the prevention, management and resolution of conflict.
BAN KI-MOON SAYS SOMALIA FACES BEST OPPORTUNITY IN YEARS
Out on the racks today is the latest report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Somalia. Noting the demise of the Islamist administration and the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1725, which modified the arms embargo and allowed for the deployment of African Union peacekeepers, the Secretary-General says that the situation now represents the best opportunity Somalia has had in years to put in place a functioning and effective state.
But despite these relatively improved circumstances, the Secretary-General warns that the need is urgent to stabilize the country and help create the conditions conducive for true dialogue and reconciliation and for the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces, which helped topple the Islamist regime.
BAN KI-MOON IS BRIEFED ON STATUS OF SIX-PARTY TALKS
Asked for a readout of the Secretary-General's meeting today with Christopher Hill, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Montas said that Hill briefed Ban Ki-moon on the status of the Six-Party Talks o the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."
"The Secretary-General hopes and expects the parties to move ahead with the process and the UN will do its best to support that process," she said.
BAN KI-MOON HOPES UNITED STATES WILL CONTINUE
TO PLAY PROMINENT ROLE IN HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES
Asked if the Secretary-General had any reaction to the United States' decision not to seek a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, the Spokesperson said that Ban Ki-moon respects any decisions by a member state and hopes that the United States will continue to play a prominent role on human rights issues, including those under consideration by the Human Rights Council.
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORS DESCRIBE VOLATILE ENVIRONMENT IN
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
The UN Human Rights Integrated Office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today has released its latest report on human rights practices in the DRC covering the period of July to December 2006.
In it, UN rights monitors describe a volatile environment in which state actors and others abuse the rights of civilians with impunity. Government soldiers and police are singled out for widespread arbitrary arrests and abuses of womens rights, including rape. If placed under arrest, perpetrators, the report says, routinely escape from dilapidated detention facilities.
Among its recommendations, the report calls on the DRC government and Parliament to practice a zero-tolerance policy for arbitrary arrests, torture and sexual violence committed by the security forces.
HUMANITARIAN ACCESS IN TIMOR-LESTE IS SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED
The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) reports that UN police and International Security Forces (ISF) continued search operations today in the southern city of Same for Major Alfredo Reinado and his supporters.
UNMIT also reports that former Minister of Interior Rogerio Lobato was convicted today by the Dili District Court. He was sentenced to 7 and a half years of imprisonment on four counts of manslaughter and use of firearms.
Meanwhile, the situation in the capital Dili remains tense and so far, more than 5,000 new internally displaced persons have joined existing camps there. With the recent deterioration of the security situation, humanitarian access throughout the country has been significantly reduced.
UNITED NATIONS HAS NOT RECEIVED MOROCCAN PROPOSAL ON WESTERN SAHARA
Asked why the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, has been declining interview requests by correspondents at UN Headquarters for more than a year, the Spokesperson said the decision could be motivated by the fact that mutlilateral negotiations on the status of Sarahawi territory are at a crucial point.
She added that a Moroccan proposal, now the subject of much of the press coverage of Western Sahara, had still not been formally received by the United Nations.
Asked if the Secretary-General has the authority to compel his special representatives or envoys to speak to the press, Montas noted that the Secretary-General could not "force" envoys to accept interview requests. Montas explained that in this particular case Ban Ki-moon respects the Special Envoy's decision but continues to encourage him and other top officials in all UN missions and departments to be as transparent with the press as possible.
U.N. AGENCIES ASSIST QUAKE VICTIMS IN DISASTER-STRUCK INDONESIA
Turning now to Indonesia, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that local search and rescue efforts were going on this morning in earthquake-hit areas of Indonesias Sumatra island as the first UN inter-agency assessment team arrived.
To help quake survivors, UNICEF will deliver school tents, water bladders, hygiene kits, cooking sets, water purification tablets, and jerry cans. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, is monitoring the health situation and has placed emergency trauma kits and health professionals on standby.
OCHA notes that four separate disasters have struck Indonesia in the past week: flooding and landslides in eastern Indonesia; yesterday's earthquake in West Sumatra; yesterday's plane crash in Yogyakarta; and today's earthquake in northern Sumatra.
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAQ TO ATTEND WEEKEND IRAQ CONFERENCE: Asked to describe the level of UN participation at the planned Baghdad regional security conference between Iraq and its neighbors, Montas later said that the United Nations would be represented by its Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi.
PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS IN LEAD ON PROPOSED RESTRUCTURING OF U.N. PEACEKEEPING: Asked for an update on negotiations toward a realignment of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Spokesperson said that work is continuing on this issue at the General Assembly and that two different facilitators were active on the dossier. As such, she noted, "the President of the General Assembly has the lead now on this issue and it will come up eventually, in the next few days, with a framework resolution." Asked if the ongoing visit to Pakistan by DPKO chief Jean-Marie Guehenno was to consult on the proposed DPKO reform, Montas said he was visiting some major troop contributing countries like Pakistan.
NO DECISION TAKEN ON THE HOLDING OF SUMMIT ON THE ENVIRONMENT: Asked if Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had decided not to hold a summit on the environment, the Spokesperson said that no such decision had been made. Asked if the Secretary-General would attend the G8 Summit, which this year will be devoted to the environment, Montas said Ban Ki-moon hoped to be able to attend that summit.
AGENCIES PROVIDE RELIEF WORK FOR FLOOD VICTIMS MOZAMBIQUE: The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that flood relief work is continuing in Mozambique. The World Food Programme (WFP), for example, has provided an airplane to help transport food to flood survivors. For its part, UNICEF is providing learning materials to accommodation centres and school tents to areas without schools. On the funding front, nearly 10 million dollars has been made available from the Central Emergency Response Fund so far.
PIONEERING ANTI-HIV PLAN IS LAUNCHED IN BRAZIL: The Brazilian Government, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UNIFEM and UNICEF are today launching a pioneering anti-HIV plan. The initiative, the first of its kind in Latin America, is designed to raise HIV awareness specifically among women and help women become less vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. According to UNFPA, HIV infection rates among Brazilian women increased by 44 per cent between 1996 and 2005.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
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