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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-05-03

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 MARIE

OKABE

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N.

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, May 3, 2007

BAN KI-MOON LAUNCHES IRAQ COMPACT,

CALLING IT A ROAD MAP FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today co-chaired the launch of the International Compact with Iraq in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, and he told the delegates gathered for the launch that the Compact represents a road map for the next five years, aimed at helping Iraq achieve economic prosperity, political stability and lasting security.

Much work will be needed to keep Iraq on track, but I am confident that the people and Government are up to the challenge, the Secretary-General said. He emphasized that, under the Compact, the Government has committed itself to pursuing a number of important initiatives to promote dialogue and reconciliation and to adhere to a legislative timetable designed to strengthen Iraq unity.

Iraq is at a critical juncture, he said. Political solutions are essential to building the foundations for a peaceful and prosperous country.

The Compact meeting adopted by acclamation a resolution reaffirming the shared commitment of the 74 delegations to strengthen their partnership for a secure and stable Iraq. The Government of Iraq and the international community stressed the need for the Iraqi Government to pursue fundamental reforms in governance, strengthened anti-corruption measures, equal protection for all Iraqis and an institutional framework based on the rule of law.

The resolution adopted at Sharm el-Sheik also pledges substantive international engagement and investments to bridge the gap between Iraqs needs and its capabilities in the medium term, with a special emphasis on the granting of debt relief to Iraq.

Earlier today, the Secretary-General held a number of bilateral meetings, one of which was with Manouchehr Motaki, the Foreign Minister of Iran. The Secretary-General discussed the nuclear issue with Motaki and urged Iran to continue its discussions with the European Union. They also talked about

Lebanon and

Iraq, with the Secretary-General calling for Iran to play a constructive role in building a national consensus in Iraq.

The Secretary-General also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and with UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.

The Secretary-General, in a press conference, said he was pleased that a number of countries have made concrete commitments under the Compact today. He said that specific financial commitments made by particular countries are estimated to be over $30 billion, including some commitments of debt relief on the Paris Club terms.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would announce an increase in the UN presence in Iraq, the Spokeswoman said that security continues to be a concern, but that, if the conditions are right, the Secretary-General would like the United Nations to do more in Iraq.

U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO NOTES PROGRESS IN DISARMAMENT

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) reports progress in the disarmament process with the announcement by Peter Karim, a leader of one of eastern DRCs largest militias, that an additional 500 of his fighters will surrender their weapons and reintegrate into civilian life this week.

The Mission also reports that a joint UN-Congolese Army unit was able to verify the effective disarmament of some 320 individuals at the Mbandaka naval base. And a team from the Military Integration Structure recently left the Equateur province after registering some 50 soldiers and 130 former presidential security officers for reintegration.

U.N. HANDS OVER DIAMOND CERTIFICATION OFFICE

TO LIBERIAN GOVERNMENT

The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) says that following the Security Councils recent lifting of the sanctions on the export of Liberian rough diamonds, Alan Doss, the Special Representative of Secretary-General, has presided over the official handover by the UN of a regional diamond certification office to the Liberian government at a ceremony in Tubmanburg, a town near the capital Monrovia.

Doss also took part in the dedication of the Liberian Government Diamond Office, and later attended a series of workshops intended to strengthen the skills of Liberian immigration workers.

U.N. ENVOY CALLS FOR HOME-GROWN SOLUTION TO CYPRUS ISSUE

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Cyprus, Michael Moller, today addressed a gathering of international civil society in Nicosia.

In his remarks, he said no solution to the Cyprus problem would be sustainable unless every Cypriot truly felt that their voice had been heard as it was being shaped.

The Cyprus problem must have a Cypriot solution, Moller added.

CRIMINAL COURT OFFICIAL VISITS REFUGEE CAMPS IN EASTERN CHAD

The registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Bruno Cathala, is visiting three camps housing Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad as part of the outreach strategy the Court has to deal with

Darfur.

His three-day visit, which ends tomorrow, is intended to explain the mandate and activities of the Court, especially the right of victims to participate in Court proceedings.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME INCREASES AID TO DISPLACED SOMALIS

The World Food Programme (WFP) today said it was stepping up a drive to deliver food to almost 100,000 of the 365,000 people driven from their homes in Mogadishu by the recent fighting.

Meanwhile, on behalf of the UN refugee agency, WFP yesterday airlifted 14 tons of urgently-needed relief supplies to Baidoa.

Those items included blankets, plastic sheeting, water tanks, and water purification equipment, and are now being trucked from Baidoa to an area west of Mogadishu for distribution to the internally displaced.

U.N. AGENCIES URGE GREATER USE OF VACCINE MONITORING DEVICE

In a joint policy statement issued today in Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are

urging countries, donor agencies and NGOs to fund and promote the use of vaccine vial monitors.

The monitors are printed directly on vaccine vials, and change color when a vaccine may have been damaged by heat and rendered ineffective.

WHO says the monitors not only allow health workers to recognize and replace millions of doses of unusable vaccines, but also allow them to keep tens of thousands of unrefrigerated doses that are still effective and previously might have been discarded.

CRIME AND VIOLENCE THREATEN

DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS IN THE CARIBBEAN

High rates of crime and violence in the Caribbean are undermining growth, threatening human welfare, and impeding social development, according to a joint

report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Bank.

The report found that murder rates in the Caribbean are the highest in the world, with youth disproportionately represented among both the victims and the perpetrators. It also argues that many factors, including the drug trade and trafficking of weapons, transcend national boundaries and therefore require a coordinated regional and international response.

UNITED NATIONS MARKS WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY

Today is World Press Freedom Day.

In a message to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General notes that more than 150 media professionals lost their lives in the line of duty in the past year. He also appeals once again for the immediate and safe release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

UNESCO, meanwhile, is marking World Press Freedom Day by

holding a two-day seminar in Medellin, Colombia, where it plans to award its Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize posthumously to slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

The Department of Public Information (DPI) hosted an event at UN headquarters that featured messages from the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly and the Director-General of UNESCO, followed by a panel discussion on "The UN and Freedom of the Press: What more can be done?". This afternoon, a panel discussion on The citizen journalist: The Internet as a tool for freedom of speech was also taking place.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals specific positions on press freedoms, the Spokeswoman said that he considers a free and secure press to be a key ingredient for democracy and peace.

NEW DIRECTOR OF ETHICS DEPARTMENT NAMED

Robert F. Benson of Canada has been appointed Director of the Ethics Office and began work on 1 May. Mr. Benson is a former Interim Ethics Commissioner in the Canadian Parliament and, prior to that, he served as Deputy Ethics Counselor within the Canadian Government.

Benson succeeds Ms. Nancy Hurtz-Soyka, who had served as Interim Director of the Ethics Office since its inception in early 2006.

SENIOR LEBANESE OFFICIAL DID NOT ASK

TO ATTEND MEETING OF SECURITY COUNCIL

In a clarification about a meeting held two days ago on Lebanon, the Spokeswoman said the Secretary-General and Ambassador Mohamed Chatah, Senior Advisor to the Lebanese Prime Minister, discussed the proposed establishment of a

Tribunal of an international character for Lebanon.

Contrary to some reports, at no time did Ambassador Chatah ask if he could attend a meeting of the Security Council. Accordingly, there was no rejection of such a request.

Ambassador Chatah presented to the Secretary-General the views of the Government of Lebanon regarding the status and prospects for ratifying the Tribunal. He also underlined the commitment of the Lebanese Government to see that the Tribunal is established in order to enhance stability and the rule of law in Lebanon.

In response, the Secretary-General briefed Ambassador Chatah on discussions taking place at the United Nations on this issue.

SECRETARY-GENERAL IS REVIEWING SPECIAL SENIOR APPOINTMENT

Asked whether the United Nations had any concern that Special Advisor Jan Egeland might have any conflict of interest now that he would also direct the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, the Spokeswoman said she did not think that was the case. Egeland, she noted, would take assignments from the Department for Political Affairs (DPA) and would work for the United Nations as scheduled at those times.

Asked about UN officials who are paid only when actually employed, Okabe said it would be the case sometimes that, as they are working part time, they could have other employment.

In response to question about who would vet conflict of interest issues, she said that the Office for Human Resources Management (OHRM) would look into those cases, with help from the Office for Legal Affairs (OLA).

Asked if the list can be made public of senior officials paid when actually employed or on dollar-a-year contracts, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General is reviewing the appointments of his senior officials and more information would be provided once that review has been completed.

She characterized the arrangements on payments as an economical way in which people of a certain caliber can deal with key UN issues even if they cannot work for the United Nations on a full-time basis. Those senior appointments, she added in response to a question, are made by the Secretary-General.

EXTERNAL BOARD OF AUDITORS WORK ON DPRK CONTINUES

Asked whether the External Board of Auditors had requested visas to travel to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the Spokeswoman said that, to her knowledge, they had not made that request. She noted, however, that the auditors work independently of the United Nations.

Okabe said that, while the audit is ongoing, the United Nations would not have further comment on the auditors work. Asked whether the Secretary-General would accept an audit if the auditors did not visit the DPRK, the Spokeswoman cautioned against prejudging the auditors before it has been completed. She noted that the auditors had yet to submit a report to the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

Asked about a February letter sent by the Secretary-General to the DPRK, urging cooperation with the auditors, the Spokeswoman said that the letter had been a response to a letter from the DPRK expressing its concerns.

Asked about the timeframe for the audit, Okabe noted that a proposed 90-day timeframe had been mentioned earlier, and said that the ACABQ might receive some information when it meets on May 14.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL'S REPORT ON RESOLUTION 1559 IS BEING FINALIZED: Asked whether the latest report on the implementation of resolution 1559, concerning Lebanon, had been delayed, the Spokeswoman said that it was presently being finalized, after which it would go to the Security Council.

NUCLEAR CONFERENCE TALKS TO CONTINUE: Asked about what a reporter called the failure of the nuclear conference talks in Vienna, the Spokeswoman said that this is a preliminary conference in a long process, which is ongoing, and advised waiting to see what happens as that process continues.

BAN KI-MOON CONTINUES TO SUPPORT ENVOYS KOSOVO PLAN: Asked whether the Secretary-General continues to support Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaaris plan on the final status of Kosovo, the Spokeswoman said he does.

U.N. AFGHANISTAN MISSION SAYS ANKARA DECLARATION DESERVES SUPPORT: Asked about a UN reaction to the Ankara Declaration from earlier this week, the Spokeswoman later said that the UN Mission in Afghanistan believed the declaration deserves support and says that it looks forward to seeing it being acted upon. Extremism and terrorism thrive amid animosity. That is why the United Nations, including through its Mission in Afghanistan, has consistently advocated for better dialogue and cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The two countries are faced with common enemies in the Taliban, al-Qaida, and their associates. And only by working together can Afghanistan and Pakistan prevail.

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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