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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-05-31

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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

BAN KI-MOON HOPES LEBANESE PARTIES CAN WORK OUT CONSENSUS

ON SPECIAL TRIBUNAL BEFORE JUNE 10 DEADLINE

By a vote of 10 in favour and 5 abstentions, the Security Council yesterday adopted a Chapter 7 resolution on the establishment of a Special Tribunal for

Lebanon.

The resolution will enter into force on June 10th unless the Lebanese government notifies the Council of its entry into force prior to that date. It includes, among other things, a set of provisions on the choice of the Tribunals location, its funding mechanisms and a request for the Secretary-General to deliver a progress report to the Council within 90 days.

Asked if the Secretary-General would be sending his Legal Counsel, Nicholas Michel, to Lebanon to follow up on measures to establish the Special Tribunal, the Spokeswoman said that while it is undecided as of yet whether Michel will visit Lebanon, Ban Ki-moon will ask the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), which is headed by Michel, to lead the Secretariats effort in helping to set up the Tribunal .

The Secretary-General has been requested by the Security Council, in coordination, when appropriate, with the Government of Lebanon, to undertake the steps and measures necessary to establish the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in a timely manner and to report to the Council within 90 days. She noted that a number of steps will need to be taken, including determining a location for the Tribunal, raising funds, and selecting judges, a prosecutor and staff. "This process could take at least a year," Montas said.

She said further that the Secretary-General respects the decision of the Council in that the principle of ending impunity is upheld. He will prepare a report about the implementation of the resolution as requested by the Council, Montas said, adding that he hopes that the Lebanese parties can work out a consensus before 10 June.

Asked if the Secretary-General has had any conversation with the President of Syria since the adoption of the resolution, Montas said that Ban Ki-moon was attending a meeting of the Middle East Quartet yesterday and has not yet spoken with the Syrian leader.

MIDDLE EAST QUARTET EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER

FACTIONAL VIOLENCE IN GAZA

The Secretary-General has returned to Headquarters after taking part yesterday in a meeting of the Middle East Quartet in Germany. At the conclusion of that meeting, the Secretary-General read out a statement on behalf of the Quartet, in which the Quartet principals expressed deep concern over recent factional violence in Gaza.

The Quartet called on the Palestinian Authority government, in cooperation with President Abbas and regional actors, to do everything necessary to restore law and order, including the release of kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

It also urged Israel to exercise restraint to ensure that its security operations avoid civilian casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure. It also noted that the detention of elected members of the Palestinian government and legislature raises particular concerns and called for them to be released.

The Quartet principals have agreed to meet again in June in the region with the Israelis and Palestinians to review progress and discuss the way forward.

BAN KI-MOON EXPECTED TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL TOMORROW

Tomorrow morning at around 11:30, the Secretary-General is expected to brief the Security Council in closed consultations on his trip to the meeting of the Quartet.

Earlier today, in closed consultations, Council members heard a briefing by Dimitri Titov, the Africa director for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), who reported on the latest assessment mission to Chad.

After that, still in closed consultations, Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, briefed the Council on her recent tour of the Great Lakes region of Africa, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi.

The Security Council yesterday adopted a presidential statement on Burundi and a press statement on Haiti. On Burundi, the Council welcomed the recent political developments and the governments corrective measures towards national reconciliation. In the statement on Haiti, Council members reiterated their strong support for the UN Missions and the governments efforts to maintain stability and achieve progress in the country.

NGO COMPOUND AND STAFF COME UNDER ATTACK IN DARFUR

The UN mission in Sudan

reports a number of incidents in Darfur, including a break-in robbery of a compound occupied by an NGO, as well as the abduction of a driver and staff member of an NGO whose vehicle was stopped on return from a camp housing internally displaced persons. Both incidents took place in West Darfur.

Also on Darfur, the joint African UnionUnited Nations report on the hybrid peacekeeping operation for Darfur, which the Secretary-General submitted to the Security Council last week, is now out as an official Security Council document.

As youll recall, the Security Council last week noted that the agreement between the African Union and the United Nations on this joint report was an important development in the comprehensive approach to the peace process in Darfur, which also includes re-energizing the political process, strengthening the ceasefire and implementing the three-phase approach to peacekeeping, culminating in the joint AU-UN hybrid operation.

Asked if the Secretary-General had had any conversation with the President Bashir of Sudan since the United States tightened its unilateral sanctions on Sudan, Montas said that Ban Ki-moon had not done so yet. In response to a further question, Montas said that Ban Ki-moon had been in contact with the US administration prior to the US imposition of additional sanctions on Sudan earlier this week.

Asked if Ban Ki-moon was in favor of creating a humanitarian corridor for Darfur as proposed by Bernard Kouchner, the new foreign minister of France, Montas said that though the Secretary-General had discussed this idea with Kouchner, he had not yet made any decision as this is part of a whole package of new ideas put forward to devise better ways to assist the civilian population in Darfur.

U.N. AGENCIES PROVIDE HUMANITARIAN RELIEF TO DISPLACED SOMALIS

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says UN agencies and humanitarian partners have provided aid to more than 90 per cent of the nearly 400,000 Somalis displaced by fighting in Mogadishu between February and earlier this month.

OCHA stresses that considerable needs remain, however. Of particular concern is the prevalence of acute watery diarrhea, which has killed nearly a thousand people. The agency also notes continued insecurity, particularly in Mogadishu, which is preventing aid from reaching people who need it.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TAKE PART IN AFRICA DAY CEREMONY

At an African Union-sponsored ceremony this afternoon marking Africa Day, the Secretary-General is expected to give an overview of the situation on the continent.

He will reaffirm the support of the United Nations for the work of the African Union.

And he will pledge the strong commitment of the UN to serve as Africas partner in efforts to bring peace where there is war, prosperity where there is poverty, and hope where there is despair.

AFGHAN DE-MINERS RECEIVE GIFT OF LAND

The Governor of the Afghan province of Herat has donated land now free of mines to 87 deminers who were wounded during mine-clearing activities.

The 87 de-miners had since returned to their homes, but most are unemployed and face challenging living conditions. The deminers and their families will be able to use the land to build new homes and generate needed income through farming or raising livestock.

Mohammad Sediq, the Chief of Operations of the United Nations Mine Action Center for Afghanistan (UNMACA), which oversees mine action on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan, said we hope this action will be followed by other government authorities as a positive example throughout the country.

HEALTH AGENCY URGES PROMOTION OF SMOKE-FREE

INDOOR ENVIRONMENTS

Today is World No Tobacco Day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco is the second leading cause of death worldwide. WHO says that half the people who smoke regularly today about 650 million people will eventually die from it.

In addition, 200,000 workers die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke, WHO says. And almost half of the world's children breathe in tobacco smoke, especially at home.

The theme of this year's World No Tobacco Day is the promotion of 100 per cent smoke-free indoor environments as the only effective way to protect people from second-hand smoke.

Asked if the UN Secretariat building was exempt from New York City's anti-smoking rules, the Spokeswoman said that a resolution of the General Assembly had banned smoking within the Secretariat building. She regretted that the General Assembly's smoking ban was not being universally respected in the building.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

PEACEKEEPER SEXUAL ABUSE ALLEGATIONS UNDER INVESTIGATION: Asked for a reaction on allegations of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers along Liberia's border with Sierra Leone, the Spokeswoman said that an investigation into the matter was ongoing.

UNDP AUDIT REPORT EXPECTED SOON: Asked when to expect a report of UN auditors looking into allegations of improprieties in the UN Development Programme (UNDP) operations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Montas said that the auditing team was expected to deliver its report to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) very soon.

BUDGET COMMITTEE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE SESSION NEXT WEEK: Asked if the Secretariat had requested the General Assembly's Fifth Committee to extend its current session in order to complete its consideration of funding proposal for the reform of the peacekeeping department, Montas said that the Fifth Committee was expected to continue its considerations next week.

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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