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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-03-12

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 SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N.

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, March 12, 2007

BAN KI-MOON CONDEMNS BEATING OF OPPOSITION LEADERS IN ZIMBABWE

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is concerned about the detention yesterday of opposition leaders in Zimbabwe, following the break-up of a public meeting by riot police. He condemns the reported beating of those leaders in police custody. Such actions violate the basic democratic right of citizens to engage in peaceful assembly.

The Secretary-General urges the Government of Zimbabwe to release the detainees and to guarantee their safety. He calls on the authorities to allow peaceful assembly and to provide a space for the exercise of legitimate political rights.

Asked if there had been any contacts between the UN and Zimbabwean officials over the latest developments in that country, the Spokesperson said there had been no such direct contacts.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGED BY WEEKEND DISCUSSIONS IN IRAQ

The Secretary-General is encouraged by the discussions held in Baghdad on Saturday in preparation of a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the countries neighboring Iraq.

He hopes that the positive atmosphere of the meeting, which was attended not only by Iraqs neighbors, but also by representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, will carry over into the activities of the working groups formed on border security, refugees and internally displaced persons, and fuel imports.

The Secretary-General reiterates the need for countries around the region and for the international community more broadly to play a constructive role in support of a stable, secure and democratic Iraq.

BAN KI-MOON PLEASED BY PROSPECTS FOR PEACE IN NORTHERN UGANDA

In keeping with his mandate to encourage the peace process in Northern Uganda, Joaquim Chissano, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)-affected areas, has been in the region since late last month carrying on consultations with the LRA leadership and northern Ugandan parties, as well as with concerned regional countries. Yesterday, he chaired a meeting in Ri-Kwangba, Southern Sudan, with the main parties and participants to the Juba Peace Initiative.

The Secretary-General is pleased that all parties in attendance, including LRA leader Joseph Kony, reiterated their commitment to peace and stated their readiness to extend the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement to which they are currently bound.

The Secretary-General hopes that the discussions begun yesterday can lead in the near future to a resumption of the Juba peace talks, as those who have taken part in this conflict bear a responsibility to end the suffering in Northern Uganda.

The Secretary-General looks forward to further discussions on the situation of the LRA-affected areas when his Special Envoy visits New York later this month to brief the Security Council.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL OPENS SESSION IN GENEVA

The Human Rights Council opened its fourth session this morning in Geneva to debate the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. Council members watched a video message from the Secretary-General and heard an address by the High Commissioner for Human Rights before starting the high-level segment.

The Secretary-General said the world was watching to see if the Council would live up to its promise. He hoped that the Council members would work together to promote an objective and universal approach to human rights. In the weeks and months ahead, this would be put to the test time and again, and acute crises and long-simmering human rights issues would demand scrutiny and remedy, he said. It was crucial that the Council had the components in place to pass this test. He said by the first anniversary of the Council in June, the wheels of the Council should be in full motion, including the Universal Periodic Review.

The High Commissioner, Louise Arbour, said poverty and discrimination were both the causes and the consequences of the most egregious violations of human rights and attacks on human dignity.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL PUBLICIZES HI-LEVEL MISSION REPORT ON DARFUR

The

report of the High-Level Mission on the situation of human rights in Darfur has been made public.

The report notes that numerous efforts by the international community have not been successful in ending the conflict. Rebel movements have become increasingly fragmented and abuses have continued. Even after the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement, war continues and the human rights situation has further deteriorated.

Today, millions are displaced, at least 200,000 are dead, and conflict and abuse are spilling over the border into Chad.

Making matters worse, humanitarian space continues to shrink, and humanitarian and human rights actors are increasingly targeted. Killing of civilians remains widespread, including in large-scale attacks. Rape and sexual violence are widespread and systematic. Torture continues.

The mission led by Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams concludes that the critical needs for improving the situation of human rights in Darfur are numerous, and makes a number of specific recommendations for action by the Human Rights Council, the Government, rebel movements and the international community.

BAN KI-MOON DISCUSSES DARFUR WITH SUDANESE PRESIDENT

The Secretary-General spoke on Saturday with President El Bashir of Sudan. The Secretary-General informed him of the choice made, in agreement with Alpha Oumar Konare, Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, of a UN-AU joint Special Representative and a Deputy Special Representative for the Darfur region, as well as the force commander for the joint mission.

The Secretary-General discussed political and humanitarian aspects of UN and AU presence in Darfur. This morning the Secretary-General informed Security Council President Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa of the conversation, and he will discuss Darfur with members of the Security Council during their lunch on Thursday.

Asked if President Bashir had invited the Secretary-General to visit Sudan as alleged by press reports of the telephone conversation between the two leaders, Montas confirmed that the Sudanese leader did invite Ban Ki-moon to visit his country. She said that the Secretary-General has agreed in principle to do so but that there were no firm dates for that visit yet.

Asked to identify the proposed new Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan and if that person is African or not, Montas said that the Secretary-General would first formally brief the Security Council on the proposed appointment before the candidate's identity could be made public. She added that the candidate was jointly selected by the United Nations and the African Union and that a Deputy Special Representative was also similarly proposed by the two organizations. President Bashir of Sudan, she noted, has been duly informed of these agreed upon appointments.

Asked whether by not commenting immediately on the Sudanese president's reply to his letter on the proposed hybrid UN/African Union deployment in Darfur the Secretary-General was thus recusing himself from the Darfur dossier, Montas insisted that Ban Ki-moon has not recused himself from the Darfur dossier but was following normal UN procedures, which require that he first consult with the Security Council on this issue.

Asked if the Secretary-General was not commenting yet because the letter's content was a setback to the whole process, Montas said that Ban Ki-moon did not consider the Sudanese reply a setback. "There are positive elements in that letter," Montas said, "and the Secretary-General would like to see, from these positive elements, how far we can go."

Asked if the Sudanese reply was an acceptable one, the Spokesperson advised that the Secretary-General be given time to brief the Security Council before he could react publicly.

Asked why he must first brief the Security Council before he could speak publicly about a letter addressed to him, Montas explained that it is because the Council is actively seized of the matter and UN procedures require this approach. Ban Ki-moon's own views on the Darfur crisis are well-known and well-publicized, Montas noted.

Asked if translated copies of the Sudanese President's letter would be sent to members of the Security Council, Montas said the Secretary-General's office intended to do so today.

U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN ENTERING NEW PHASE

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guehenno today wrapped up a visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan with a press conference in Kabul, at which he said that the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is beginning a new phase of the implementation of its mandate.

This phase, Guehenno explained, would consist of helping to consolidate what has been achieved under the inter-Afghan Bonn Agreement of December 2001. It will also see a reinforcement of the Missions presence in the provinces and a strengthening of the partnership with the Afghan people.

On Pakistan, Guehenno said the main item of discussion at his meeting with President Musharraf was the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan and security management at their joint border.

KOSOVO: FINAL TALKS END WITH NO BREAKTHROUGH

Regarding the Kosovo status process, Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari on Saturday chaired in Vienna a high-level meeting of delegations from Belgrade and Pristina. That meeting concluded 14 months of negotiations on Kosovos future.

Ahtisaari

expressed regret that there was no will from the parties to move away from their previously stated positions and that the potential for negotiations had now been exhausted.

Calling his proposal a realistic compromise, Ahtisaari said he would now finalize his proposal and submit it to the Security Council this month.

Asked if the Security Council was the only international forum to deliberate in the dispute over the final status of Kosovo, the Spokesperson said that the Security Council is the initiator of the process for Kosovo's final status and as of yet it is the only designated authoritative international forum.

IRAQ SECURITY SITUATION IS COMPLEX AND UNPREDICTABLE

Available today is the Secretary-Generals quarterly report on Iraq, in which he writes that the Iraqi Council of Representatives has still not confirmed the status-of-mission agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Iraq, which was signed in June 2005.

The Secretary-General also reports that as of January, contributions to the UN Development Group Iraq Trust Fund totaled $1.12 billion and some 113 projects have been approved for funding.

He also notes that the fifth meeting of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq Donor Committee will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, on 20 March 2007.

The Secretary-General reports that the security situation remains complex and unpredictable, and the UN presence and activities in Iraq continue to be severely limited by prevailing conditions.

COTE DIVOIRE: BAN KI-MOON STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF PEACE AGREEMENT

In his report on Cote-dIvoire, the Secretary-General reiterates the importance of this months peace agreement between Government and rebels and emphasizes the UNs commitment to work toward its pragmatic implementation within the context of Security Council resolutions on Cote-dIvoire.

And the Security Council is expected to take up Cote dIvoire on Thursday and hear briefings by the UN High Representative for Elections and the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

UNITED NATIONS HELPS REHABILITATE SCHOOL IN HAITIAN CAPITAL

The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) this weekend reported a number of law-enforcement and other activities, including the arrests in the Cite-Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince of five presumed members of the Evans criminal gang.

In the area of reconstruction, the Mission reported that the Special Representative Edmond Mulet took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a Port-au-Prince high school recently rehabilitated with funding from the United Nations and United States to host some 5,000 students. At that event, Mullet said that the strengthening of state institutions, including education facilities, is a crucial part of the UNs mandate in Haiti.

SRI LANKA: U.N. AGENCIES ALARMED BY ESCALATION OF HOSTILITIES

UN humanitarian agencies working in Sri Lanka today expressed alarm at the increasing number of people who are being displaced in eastern Sri Lanka as a result of the current escalation in hostilities.

As fighting continues, the agencies are also worried for the safety and protection of all civilians, as reports indicate that shelling is occurring in highly populated areas.

The agencies urge both parties to find immediate means to ensure the protection of civilians in these areas and call on all parties to comply with their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.

DUBAI DONATES TO HUMANITARIAN OPERATION IN CAMBODIA

The World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed an urgently needed donation by the Government of Dubai, which will now allow WFP to resume key operations in Cambodia that were suspended in January due to lack of funding.

Dubais contribution of $1 million U.S. dollars will be used to end drastic food aid cuts affecting some 700,000 Cambodians effected by HIV/AIDS as well as 18,000 TB patients in that country. The money will also go into the agencys food for education programme.

WFP says that more donations are desperately needed to ensure the full resumption of key operations in the country, where 35 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and hundreds of thousands of children are dependent of WFP meals provided by the agencys food for education programme.

GLOBAL CONTROLS STABILIZE SUPPLY AND DEMAND FOR ILLICIT DRUGS

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which is the UNs central policy-making body on illicit drug issues, is meeting this week in Vienna.

The focus of this session will be controlling the precursor chemicals used to make heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs.

Addressing the session today, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, said that, during the past few years, global controls have broadly stabilized supply and demand for illicit drugs. In other words, the world drug problem is being contained.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT BODY LAUNCHES NEW SOFTWARE: The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Microsoft today launched the prototype of a new technology solution, which will be a key component of the UNIDO Africa Investment Promotion Agency initiative. The new investment monitoring platform is designed to enhance communication between governments in Africa and investors. By providing greater information and transparency, it is hoped that the solution will facilitate more informed investment decision-making and deeper partnership between government and business towards sustainable development in Africa.

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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