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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-03-20

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

Tuesday, March 20 2007

BAN KI-MOON OFFERS CAUTIOUS ENCOURAGEMENT

TO PALESTINIAN NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon views the establishment of the new government of Palestine as an important and positive step forward, and he wants to encourage that process. At the same time, he has expressed disappointment because he would like to see the program of the National Unity Government fully reflect Quartet principles.

He will be watching very carefully the new Government's actions and hopes to see further positive movement in that direction.

Asked why a clarification was required for the Secretary-General's comment on the new Palestinian Government of National Unity, the Spokesperson said that this was in response to some media reports incompletely quoting the Secretary-General as expressing disappointment at the government.

She added that the Secretary-General was watching very carefully the new government's actions and would like to see positive developments in that direction. She said that he would like to encourage that process. His disappointment, she added, referred to the fact that the programme of the new government appeared not to reflect the principles of the

Middle East Quartet.

Asked to explain the reasons for the delay in issuing a Quartet statement as announced at yesterday's briefing, Montas said that some among the Quartet Principals were discussing the terms of the statement, which explains why the statement has not yet been released.

Asked what the new Palestinian government was expected to do in order to win broad international recognition and legitimacy, Montas replied that the Quartet Principals, including the Secretary-General, expect the government to accept the Quartet's clearly stated principles.

U.N. LEBANON MISSION SAYS IT HAS NO PLANS TO MONITOR SYRIAN BORDER

A number of recent press articles regarding the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have not accurately reported the Missions current activities. Contrary to what was expressed in one article, there has been no official communication between the United Nations and the Lebanese Government planning for the establishment of a United Nations or any other monitoring mechanism on the Lebanese border with Syria.

In the course of his duties, the UNIFIL Force Commander has regular detailed conversations with senior Lebanese Armed Forces officials regarding all aspects of implementation of

resolution 1701.

UNIFIL is mandated under resolution 1701 to assist the Government of Lebanon to secure its border with Syria, at the request of the Government of Lebanon. Until now, the Government has not made any such request, and UNIFILs activities are limited to helping facilitate international bilateral assistance to the Government of Lebanon in this regard.

As the Secretary-General stated in his recent report regarding implementation of resolution 1701, the United Nations strongly encourages bilateral assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces and other internal security and border agencies to assist the Government to secure all its borders.

It should be noted that any smuggling across the Lebanese border with Syria is a serious violation of resolution 1701.

As the Secretary-Generals recent report stated, it is critical to reinforce and strengthen the Lebanese Armed Forces and other internal security and border agencies so that the Lebanese Government is able to extend its authority over all its territory, including all its border areas.

STRATEGIC COORDINATION NEEDED IN AFGHANISTAN

The Security Council held an open meeting on Afghanistan.

Briefing Council members were the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom Koenigs and Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Koenigs, the Special Representative, in his briefing, said that while the conflict continues in the South, with Afghanistans border areas in the east and southeast vulnerable to incursions and violence, the need for strategic co-ordination of military, political and development efforts is stronger than ever. The threat to peace has not diminished.

Costa, referring to the current opium situation, outlined four points and said he hoped that the Security Council will judge these developments as helpful to free Afghanistan from the clutches of drugs, crime and violence.

HEAD OF PEACEKEEPING SAYS MISUNDERSTANDINGS

DELAY MISSION DEPLOYMENT IN DARFUR

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean Marie Guéhenno, after briefing the Security Council yesterday afternoon on Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashirs response to the Secretary-General letter detailing UN support to the African Union force in Darfur, said: We still have, unfortunately, a long way to go because there may be some fundamental misunderstandings on what are the expectations of the Government of Sudan and what is on offer.

But in response to a question, the Under-Secretary-General said, We'll never take any reaction as a rejection. We can't afford that and the people in Darfur can't afford that."

DARFUR: CAMPS HOUSING DISPLACED NEARING MAXIMUM CAPACITY

The most recent humanitarian update from Darfur

reports that camps for internally displaced persons are almost at full capacity due to a continuing influx of people fleeing violence.

The report noted the need to locate a site for a new camp in the vicinity of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur. A new site has been identified in North Darfur near Zam Zam camp, which is nearing maximum capacity.

According to the report, 30,000 people were displaced across Darfur in February, bringing the total number of people who have fled violence in the region since January to 80,000. In 2006, almost half a million people were displaced.

U.N. MARKS 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF NUCLEAR TEST-BAN TREATY

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is 10 years old this year.

And on the occasion of the commemoration of the Treatys anniversary, Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament,

spoke at a special event in the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

He said that the conclusion of the Treaty marked the completion of an important step in the ongoing process towards the verified elimination of all nuclear weapons, and yet challenges that impede the Treatys entry into force persist.

A universal and effectively verifiable Treaty constitutes a fundamental instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the Director-General noted.

He added that the Treatys entry into force would restore confidence in multilateral security arrangements in general, and would boost efforts to negotiate further instruments towards nuclear disarmament, such as a treaty on fissile materials.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE UP HARIRI ASSASSINATION PROBE REPORT TOMORROW

Available as a document today is the latest progress report of the International Independent Investigation Commission on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others.

In it, chief investigator Serge Brammertz provides information on his teams progress in the Hariri case, with particular emphasis on developing crime scene leads and collecting evidence relating to perpetrators as well as other aspects of the case.

The report also asserts that the Commission has continued to provide significant technical assistance on 15 other cases. The Commission also reports that it continues to work with the Lebanese authorities on the investigation of the 13 February bombings, in which three people were killed and at least 20 people were injured when two explosions occurred on two buses traveling through the village of Ain Alaq, near Beirut.

Brammertz is scheduled to brief the Security Council tomorrow and will also speak to correspondents at the 2nd floor stakeout after briefing the Council.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TAKES UP REPORTS ON SEVERAL ISSUES

In Geneva, the Human Rights Council (HRC) began discussing thematic reports today, hearing presentations in the morning from human rights experts on minorities issues; the rights of migrants; and the rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples.

This afternoon, the Council is considering three additional reports, from the representative of the Secretary-General on human rights of internally displaced persons; the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Asked if Ban Ki-moon agreed with the stated intent of some Member States to do away with the Human Rights Council's roster of Special Rapporteurs, who have mandates to investigate and report on human rights issues assigned them by the Council, Montas said that the Council has not made any such decisions. She added that the Secretary-General expects the Human Rights Council to complete discussions on its procedures by June and that, in the meantime, he stands strongly behind the special procedures, as he has consistently done.

Asked to confirm press reports that the United Kingdom intended to request the Council to send a team of investigators to gather evidence in Zimbabwe, the Spokeswoman later said any of the Councils 47 members, the United Kingdom being one of them, could introduce a draft resolution or decision calling attention to a particular item. For this current session, the deadline for submission of any draft is this Friday by close of business. To date no such formal action has been taken by the UK or any other member.

UN REFUGEE AGENCY INVITES MORE THAN 190 COUNTRIES

TO IRAQ HUMANITARIAN CONFERENCE

The UN refugee agency says that invitations have now gone out to more than 190 governments, 65 international organizations and some 60 NGOs for next month's international humanitarian conference on refugees and displaced persons in Iraq and neighboring countries.

The April 17-18 ministerial-level meeting will be held in Geneva in the Palais des Nations.

It will examine the humanitarian dimensions of the displacement crisis, identify the enormous needs, and seek to forge a common international effort to address those needs, including through sharing the burden that's now being borne by neighboring states.

It will also seek targeted responses to specific, urgent humanitarian problems, including immediate solutions for those who are particularly vulnerable both inside and outside Iraq.

Asked what the United Nations is doing to assist the thousands of Iraqi refugees now pouring into neighboring countries, the Spokesperson said that there are several UN programmes working to alleviate the plight of these refugees. The planned high-level meeting in April is aimed at discussing how best to address the growing needs of refugees and internally displaced persons.

NEARLY $4 MILLION NEEDED FOR FLOOD VICTIMS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is

appealing for close to $4 million to help flood victims in southern Africa, where heavy rains and a series of cyclones have destroyed thousands of hectares of crops.

As part of efforts to adapt aid to conditions on the ground, affected families in Mozambique will be given vouchers that they can redeem for seeds, tools and even small livestock at trade fairs organized by the FAO and the local Government.

The agency is also asking for help for Madagascar, where cyclones have caused severe crop damage over the past four months. In the coming days, the FAO also plans to launch an appeal for funding for Zambia.

SRI LANKA: WFP RESPONDS TO SURGE IN NUMBER OF DISPLACED PERSONS

The World Food Programme (WFP) is ramping up its operations in eastern Sri Lanka, where intense fighting between Government and Tamil Tigers forces has more than doubled the number of internally displaced persons in just the past week.

The WFP plans to send nearly 600 tons of rice and wheat flour to the Batticaloa District. The agency warns, however, that its available food stocks in Sri Lanka are dwindling. The WFP has received only about a third of its required funding for food assistance, and could run out of supplies by the end of next month unless it receives new contributions soon.

INITIATIVE AIMS AT LOWERING COST OF SENDING REMITTANCES TO RURAL AREAS

The UNs International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is launching a global initiative to improve the remittances services used by foreign workers around the world to send money back to their families in rural areas.

IFAD is establishing a $0 million financing facility to fund innovative money transfer proposals. While competition has driven down the cost of sending remittances between major cities, it is still more expensive to send money to rural areas that lack formal financial services.

As part of the Funds efforts to turn remittances into a development tool, priority will be given to proposals submitted by financial institutions that link remittances with other services, such as savings, insurance and loans.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

WORLD BANK LAUNCHES FUND TO PROMOTE GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTIONS: The World Bank today

launched the Carbon Fund for Europe, in partnership with the European Investment Bank. The Carbon Fund is a 50-million Euro trust designed to help European countries meet their commitments to the Kyoto Protocol and the EUs Emissions Trading Scheme. The fund will purchase greenhouse gas emission reductions from climate-friendly investment projects.

U.N. CONFERENCE ADDRESSES UNDER-INVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE: The UN Economic and Social Commission on Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) is holding a regional meeting in New Delhi, India from 21-22 March, to tackle underinvestment in infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. UNESCAP estimates that the requirement of infrastructure investment in the region is over $600 billion annually but falls short by about US$200 billion every year. A proposal is expected to be made in the meeting on raising the $200 billion annually.

SYRIA, IRAQ NOT PART OF SECRETARY-GENERALS MIDDLE EAST ITINERARY: Asked if the Secretary-General would visit Syria and Iraq during his upcoming Middle East trip, the Spokesperson said that Ban Ki-moon would not visit Syria or Iraq.

OVERSIGHT OFFICE NOT INVOLVED IN UNESCO AUDIT: Asked if the UN Office of Oversight Services (OIOS) was involved in the UNESCO audit that would have led to the resignation of Peter Smith, the highest-ranking U.S. official at the Paris-based UNESCO, Montas said that OIOS had no direct involvement in this audit. UNESCO, she added, is a separate agency that is part of the greater UN family . As a matter of principle, however, Montas went on, ""the Secretary-General has expressed the need in all UN bodies for accountability and transparency, as well as investigations into all allegations of wrongdoing."

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FRANCOPHONIE: Asked if the Secretary-General had any messages or comments on the International Day of Francophonie and the anniversary of UNESCO's Convention on Cultural Diversity, both of which are commemorated today, the Spokesperson said that Ban Ki-moon has no specific message or comment on these commemorations. However, she added, Ban Ki-moon supports cultural diversity and language parity, as he has repeatedly said.

EARTH DAY CELEBRATIONS: Asked if the United Nations would be represented at the ringing of the bell at the Equinox in celebration of Earth Day, the Spokesperson later said that Earth Day is not a "UN day", which would be the World Environment Day observed on 5 June. An NGO, the Earth Society Foundation, organizes the ringing of the bell at the Equinox this year at 8:07 p.m.

  • * Mr. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was the guest at noon.**

    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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