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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-03-26
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, March 26, 2007
SECURITY COUNCIL RECEIVES REPORT CALLING FOR KOSOVOS INDEPENDENCE
This morning, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon conveyed to the President of the Security Council the Report on Kosovos Future Status and the
Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement, prepared by his Special Envoy for the Kosovo future status process, Martti Ahtisaari.
In doing so, the Secretary-General expressed his full support for Special Envoy Ahtisaaris Report and Settlement Proposal.
With the handing over of the Report and Settlement Proposal to the Security Council, the process designed to lead to a determination of Kosovos future status has reached a decisive phase. The Security Council has been presented with a plan which the Secretary-General believes contains all of the right elements for a fair and sustainable solution to Kosovos future status.
The Secretary-General wishes to express his gratitude to Special Envoy Ahtisaari and to his team for their ongoing efforts to facilitate bringing the Kosovo future status process to conclusion.
In the report, Ahtisaari says that, upon careful consideration of Kosovos recent history and the realities of Kosovo today and taking into account the negotiations with the parties, he has come to the conclusion that the only viable option for Kosovo is independence, to be supervised for an initial period by the international community.
He says that the Comprehensive Proposal provides the foundation for a future independent Kosovo that is viable, sustainable and stable, and in which all communities and their members can live a peaceful and dignified existence.
Asked when the Security Council would discuss Kosovo, the Spokeswoman said that the Council had not yet scheduled such discussions. She noted that the current Security Council President had said the discussions might take place next month, under the Council Presidency of the United Kingdom.
Okabe added that Ahtisaari would be in New York soon to present his report when the Council meeting is scheduled.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ISRAEL TO SEIZE OPPORTUNITY FOR PEACE
At a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today, the Secretary-General stressed once more his conviction that the long-term safety and security of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian State go hand in hand.
In his remarks to the press, he encouraged all Israelis to assess carefully the opportunity that may be emerging, saying that we must use the weeks and months ahead to advance the political dialogue, since the alternative is renewed stagnation, which only means more extremism and violence. The Secretary-General also stressed the need to give the new Palestinian Unity Government some political space.
In his meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, the Secretary-General also discussed the Iranian nuclear issue, the situation in Lebanon, and the importance of making progress on the Palestinian issue. A vital first step on that issue, the Secretary-General said, is for the new Palestinian government to take action against the firing of rockets from Gaza and to secure the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit.
The Secretary-General also stressed that Israels actions are very crucial, particularly as regards settlements, outposts, checkpoints and withheld revenues. Existing obligations and commitments, including under the Road Map, need to be kept by both parties, he insisted.
Yesterday in Ramallah, the Secretary General had met the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
During a press conference on Sunday, the Secretary General stressed that achieving peace will require all parties to go further than they have before, but it can and must be done, and his message to Israel and to the world from here in Ramallah is that he is convinced that President Abbas is ready.
On Saturday, he arrived in Israel after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. In a press conference after that meeting, he said that he had explained to the Egyptian President all that has been discussed between the United Nations and the Government of Sudan on Darfur, including the deployment of hybrid peacekeeping operations and the humanitarian situation there. He added that he expects that President Mubarak and other leaders in the region will take the time and look at this issue more seriously to help the efforts of the United Nations and the African Union to address this issue as soon as possible.
Asked about reports that Egypt was rejecting calls from the Secretary-General to be involved in dealing with Sudan on the Darfur issue, the Spokeswoman said that Egypt had not rejected the Secretary-Generals request to be more involved in the process. She said that the Secretary-General would push the issue at the Arab League Summit in Riyadh.
HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS CHIEF EXPRESSES CONCERN
ABOUT INTRACTABILITY OF DARFUR CONFLICT
The Under-SecretaryGeneral for Humanitarian Affairs and the UNs Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, completed his five-day mission to Sudan today, returning from Darfur to Khartoum, where he met with Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Taha and Senior Assistant to the President Minni Minnawi, as well as with representatives of the donor community.
Holmes said the talks focused on issues of humanitarian access, the need for security guarantees so aid workers can operate safely, accountability for crimes when they happen, and addressing the significant bureaucratic impediments that affect the aid community.
Summarizing the impressions of his visit to the Sudan, Holmes noted the extraordinary humanitarian achievements that have been made, given the massive scale of the problems faced. However, the one major concern was how long such a massive humanitarian response could continue, as large populations have been displaced for several years and ever more newly displaced people continue to flow into existing camps.
A planned visit on Saturday to a camp housing displaced persons in Darfur had to be abandoned. He
noted it was due to communication problems, and was not a deliberate attempt to exclude him from the camp. But if this can happen to a senior United Nations official, you can imagine the effect on an ordinary humanitarian worker, he said. We need to see a return to the commitments made and actual implementation on the ground.
He travels to eastern Chad tomorrow.
U.N. AND AFRICAN UNION ENVOYS MEET WITH SUDANESE OFFICIALS
UN Special Envoy for Darfur Jan Eliasson and African Union Special Envoy for Darfur Salim Ahmed Salim held today a series of meetings in Khartoum. They met with First Vice President and President of the Government of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir.
The two envoys also met with opposition leaders.
They informed their interlocutors on their joint efforts aimed at revitalizing the Darfur peace process and exchanged views with them on the way forward.
BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR NEGOTIATED SOLUTION ON IRAN
There are no Security Council meetings or consultations scheduled today, but on Saturday afternoon the Security Council unanimously approved
Resolution 1747, which includes an annex adding 13 entities and 15 individuals to the list of those affected by sanctions measures.
It calls upon all states to report to the Councils sanctions committee within 60 days on the steps they have taken to implementing the resolutions steps.
In a statement we issued yesterday in New York, the Secretary-General noted with satisfaction the Security Council's unanimity in adopting that resolution and called on Iran to fully implement the resolution's provisions and to take urgently the necessary steps to restore the international community's trust that its nuclear programme is peaceful in nature.
The Secretary-General believes that a negotiated solution would strengthen the international non-proliferation regime and hopes that dialogue will resume on this issue of paramount importance.
Asked whether the Secretary-General had any comment on Irans recent seizure of British sailors, the Spokeswoman said he had not commented, beyond some brief remarks made to a roundtable of journalists last Friday. She described the matter as one between the countries involved.
SECRETARY-GENERAL RELAYS CONCERN OVER RECENT VIOLENCE
IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
The situation is now relatively calm in Kinshasa after days of deadly gun battles between the Congolese Armed Forces and the security detail of Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former vice-president, who is reported to have taken refuge at the South African Embassy. Some 96 members of Bembas security detail have, for their part, surrendered to UN peacekeepers and remain at the UN compound in the capital.
This comes after, over the weekend, the Secretary-General placed a call to Congolese President Joseph Kabila, during which he expressed concern over the latest escalation of violence and urged the president to ensure an immediate cessation of hostilities and resolve the situation through dialogue.
UNITED NATIONS MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF SLAVE-TRADE ABOLITION
Today the United Nations is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro this morning addressed the General Assembly, saying that today we celebrate the fact that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Yet around the world, millions of people are still deprived of their fundamental human rights and freedoms.
There should be no place in the 21st century for trafficking, forced labor or sexual exploitation, she added.
U.N. OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME LAUNCHES HUMAN TRAFFICKING INITIATIVE
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today launched a global initiative to fight human trafficking, at the House of Lords in London. Some 2.5 million people throughout the world are the victims of human trafficking at any given time, say international experts.
Todays event is one of several that will lead up to an International Conference against Human Trafficking in Vienna in November.
YEMEN: AT LEAST 100 REPORTED DEAD, MISSING IN SMUGGLING TRAGEDY
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that at least 29 people are confirmed dead and 71 others reported missing after smugglers forced some 450 Somalis and Ethiopians into stormy seas off the coast of Yemen.
The incident occurred last Thursday, UNHCR reports. Some of the survivors say the smugglers forced the passengers overboard when they were still far from shore. Those who resisted were stabbed and beaten with wooden and steel clubs, then thrown overboard where some were attacked by sharks, they say.
The survivors were taken to a UNHCR Reception Centre, where they received medical assistance and other aid.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS SPECIAL EVENT ON PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The Human Rights Council in Geneva is continuing this week with its current session due to conclude this Friday.
Today, it held a special event focusing on people living with disabilities in light of the recently adopted Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which will be opened for signature here at headquarters this Friday, 30 March.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour addressed the Council's special meeting on the rights of persons with disabilities, reminding delegates that States remain the key actors in ensuring improved respect and protection for these rights. Her Office has already been involved in raising awareness about the new treaty though its field presences, including in Uganda, Mexico, Afghanistan, Russia and South Africa.
After this event, the Council heard presentations from and held discussions with human rights experts dealing with counter terrorism measures and human rights and on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
CEREMONY TO MARK SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION
OF ANGOLAN REFUGEE REPATRIATION
The UN refugee agency reports that nearly 410,000 Angolan refugees who fled their country during its 30-year civil war have returned home from neighboring countries.
The High Commissioner, Antonio Guterres, will attend a ceremony tomorrow to officially mark the successful conclusion what has been the largest repatriation of refugees in Africa this decade.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER JOURNALISTS DETENTION
The UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today said that it remains concerned by the ongoing detention of the abducted journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi.
It called upon those holding him to immediately release him and respond positively to the calls from his family, journalists and many other Afghans who have called for his safe return. The Mission underscored that Ajmal has no connection with either Afghan or international military forces.
The UN Mission reiterated that the right of journalists to go about their work, free from interference or harm, is vital, adding that it will continue to monitor this case closely.
U.N. EXPERTS DISCUSS EARLY WARNING SYSTEM FOR NATURAL DISASTERS: The Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) says that scientists and advisors from 20 specialized UN bodies are gathering at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany, for discussions on how a people-centered early-warning system could be implemented around the world. This is the first Advisory Group Meeting of the International Early Warning Program, and it is expected to provide to help start shaping the work agenda for the coming years. Participants will also assess the recommendations of the Global Survey of Early Warning Systems to build a more comprehensive alert platform that includes all types of natural hazards.
MAKING FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES PUBLIC FOR SENIOR U.N. OFFICIALS IS VOLUNTARY: Asked whether senior UN officials would make their financial disclosures public, the Spokeswoman said that would entail a voluntary decision on their part. She noted that the Secretary-General, who made his disclosure public, hoped that he would set an example. She later said that those who have not yet filled out their financial disclosure forms were being referred to the Joint Disciplinary Committee.
TROOP CONTRIBUTING COUNTRIES MUST FOLLOW UP INVESTIGATIONS OF THEIR OWN TROOPS: Asked about the follow-up regarding Romanian police who left the UN Mission in Kosovo while an investigation is underway, the Spokeswoman underscored that it is up to troop contributing countries to follow up with investigations into the activities of their troops.
U.N. MISSION IN LIBERIA OPENS YOUTH PEACE-BUILDING CENTER: The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) this weekend opened the first youth peace-building centre in the capital Monrovia, and called on the Liberian youth to be tolerant and work together to help rebuild the country. The Multi-purpose Youth Peace-building Centre was funded by the Missions Quick Impact Project Programme for the township of Caldwell, a community near Monrovia reputed for violence and the training of rebels during Liberias civil war.
POP STARS JOIN WITH WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME TO FIGHT CHILD HUNGER: The World Food Program (WFP) has signed a pact with an association of Spanish-speaking pop stars, including Shakira and others, to fight child hunger and malnutrition. The Latin America Foundation for Solidarity Action signed the accord at the opening of its regional office in Panama City, Panama, on Thursday. The agreement is aimed at helping the two organizations work together to fight malnutrition among children and promote good nutrition among pregnant women and nursing mothers.
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