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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-02-14
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, February 14, 2008
BAN KI-MOON URGES LEBANESE PARTIES TO REDOUBLE RECONCILIATION EFFORTS ON ANNIVERSARY OF HARIRI KILLING
On the third anniversary of the terrorist attack that took the lives of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and twenty-two others, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stands in solidarity with the families of the victims and with the people and Government of Lebanon.
He reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to assist Lebanon in establishing the truth and in bringing to justice those who instigated, planned and executed this and other callous political assassinations and terrorist attacks in the country.
He continues with determination to prepare for the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, convinced that impunity must not prevail and that the tribunal process cannot be reversed.
This solemn anniversary comes at a perilous moment for Lebanon.
The Secretary-General believes there could be no greater homage paid to the memory of Rafik Hariri than for the parties in Lebanon to redouble their efforts to achieve national reconciliation and to ensure the stability, security and prosperity for which Rafik Hariri worked so hard during his lifetime.
In response to a question regarding the jurisdiction of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Spokesperson later told reporters that
Resolution 1757 (2007) states that the mandate of the Special Tribunal is "to prosecute persons responsible for the attack of 14 February 2005 resulting in the death of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and in the death or injury of other persons.
According to Article 1 of that resolution, if the Tribunal finds that other attacks that occurred in Lebanon between 1 October 2004 and 12 December 2005, or any later date decided by the Parties (Lebanese Government and the UN) with the consent of the Security Council, are connected in accordance with the principles of criminal justice and are of a nature and gravity similar to the attack of 14 February 2005, it shall also have jurisdiction over persons responsible for such attacks. This connection includes but is not limited to a combination of the following elements: criminal intent (motive), the purpose behind the attacks, the nature of the victims targeted, the pattern of the attacks (modus operandi), and the perpetrators."
SECRETARY-GENERAL ESTABLISHES MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
OF LEBANON TRIBUNAL
In a statement issued last night, the Secretary-General announced the establishment the Management Committee of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
This Committee, which will inter alia, provide advice and policy direction on all non-judicial aspects of the operations of the Special Tribunal and review and approve its annual budget, is composed of the main donors to the Tribunal.
The Secretary-General believes that this step, along with other steps announced in December of last year the selection of the judges, the appointment of the Prosecutor, the finalization of a headquarters agreement with the Government of the Netherlands enabling the Tribunal to be based in that country, and agreement on a building near The Hague to house the Tribunal are decisive landmarks in the process of making the Special Tribunal a reality.
The Secretary-General also wishes to announce that he has received indications that expected contributions to the Special Tribunal will meet the budgetary requirements for the establishment and first 12 months of operations of the Tribunal. This will assist greatly in the effort by the Secretariat to establish the Special Tribunal in a timely manner as requested by the Security Council in resolution 1757 (2007). This development, as well as the others previously set out, confirms the Secretary-Generals belief in the irreversibility of the establishment of the Tribunal.
UNITED NATIONS. BEGINS TEMPORARILY RELOCATING TROOPS FROM ERITREA
The temporary relocation of personnel and equipment of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) from Eritrea to designated relocation sites on the Ethiopian side of the border has begun.
Advance units of UNMEE started moving across the border, by road, on 11 February while the main body started its relocation earlier today. So far, some of UNMEE's convoys have been allowed to cross the border without any obstruction, while others have been stopped and later allowed to cross or asked to turn back.
Yesterday, the Secretariat discussed with the Permanent Representative of Eritrea the arrangements for the relocation process. UNMEE is also engaging the Eritrean authorities in order to ensure that appropriate instructions are issued to the Eritrean troops in the Temporary Security Zone and officials at the crossing points, to facilitate the movement of our personnel and equipment.
The Secretary-General stresses the important conflict prevention role UNMEE plays in promoting regional stability. However, without the fuel needed to conduct its operations, the mission has been effectively immobilized and rendered unable to carry out its critical functions.
The Secretary-General regrets that the relocation has become necessary despite the letter he addressed to President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea on 21 January seeking his urgent intervention to resolve the situation.
SECRETARY-GENERAL PAYS OFFICIAL VISIT TO WASHINGTON, D.C.
The Secretary-General this morning attended a memorial ceremony for Congressman Tom Lantos on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General praised the Congressmans leadership on challenges confronting humankind, from AIDS to Darfur, and for his work in building a better understanding of the UN in this country. We have lost a voice that binds us to the very reasons the United Nations was founded, the Secretary-General said.
The Secretary-General was expected to meet with the Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor.
This afternoon he is expected to address the Model United Nations in North America, which is sponsored by the Georgetown International Relations Association.
The Secretary-General is also expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice later tonight.
Asked about reported plans that the U.S. Government would be cutting funds for UN peacekeeping operations, the Deputy Spokesperson said the Secretary-General was in Washington, D.C., today, to meet with a wide range of leaders including members of the Congress who dealt with UN funding issues.
STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT WITH SUDANESE GOVERNMENT
REPRESENTS STEP FORWARD IN DEPLOYMENT OF DARFUR FORCE
The Secretary-General is pleased to announce that the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United Nations/African Union and the Government of Sudan was signed by Joint Special Representative Adada and Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor on 10 February 2008.
The signing of this agreement represents a positive step forward in our efforts to deploy UNAMID, and the Secretary-General would like to congratulate all parties involved in the negotiations leading to the conclusion of the SOFA.
Asked for an update on the helicopter situation for peacekeepers in Darfur, the Deputy Spokesperson said the Secretary-General and the United Nations had been on a vigorous quest for these helicopters. The United Nations had approached every country that could be a potential contributor and would continue to do so.
Asked for details concerning the deployment and composition of the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the Deputy Spokesperson said the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which had been agreed upon by the UN, AU and Sudan was a public document and contained the relevant information. In terms of the composition of UNAMID, that issue was outside the framework of the SOFA.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO HOLD PRIVATE MEETING ON KOSOVO
The Security Council is scheduled to hold a private meeting at 3 p.m. on Kosovo.
In the morning, Council members held consultations in connection with the attendance of non-Council members at the afternoon meeting.
Asked how the role of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) would change if Kosovo declared independence, the Deputy Spokesperson said the Security Council was taking up the issue of Kosovo this afternoon. In terms of the UN Mission, the Secretary-General was closely monitoring the situation.
UNITED NATIONS TO HELP SELECT REMAINING DIRECTORS OF IRAQS GOVERNORATE ELECTION OFFICES
At the Iraqi Parliament today, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, announced that the UN Mission there (UNAMI) will help select the remaining eight directors of Iraqs governorate election offices.
This follows the passing of new legislation calling for governorate elections before 1 October 2008.
De Misturas announcement follows concerns raised by the UN and many Iraqi political leaders about how the previous selection of directors was conducted last September.
Qualified candidates will be able to apply through UNAMIs website, and the process should be completed in 43 days, depending on the number of interested candidates.
Once the directors are appointed in a transparent and professional manner, the Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq should be fully operational and ready for the much anticipated elections, according to de Mistura.
IN MESSAGE TO COMMITTEE ON PALESTINIAN RIGHTS, SECRETARY-GENERAL REMINDS BOTH SIDES OF THEIR OBLIGATIONS
The Secretary-General today sent a message to the 2008 Session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which is opening today.
In that message, which was delivered his Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General said the decision by Israel to introduce a full closure of the Gaza Strip has cut off an already destitute population from vitally needed supplies, and the recent breach of the border between Gaza and Egypt showed the degree of desperation among ordinary Gazans.
He reminded Israel of its obligations towards the civilian population of Gaza under international law, including the laws of occupation, which continue to apply to the extent of Israel's control over the territory and its population.
In related news, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes today arrived in Ramallah, in the West Bank, to begin a five-day visit to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.
He said his visit was an act of solidarity with the people of the region, who have suffered great misery and insecurity. He said many people in Gaza are hovering on the brink of a humanitarian disaster, while in the West Bank, closures are destroying economic life. Meanwhile, in Sderot, whole communities are living in fear of rocket barrages. The present situation cannot continue, Holmes said.
Tomorrow, Holmes plans to visit two Gaza crossings which are currently closed and a Gaza hospital, whose ability to provide adequate medical care has suffered from reduced fuel, electricity, medicine and supplies. Asked if the Secretary-General had been in touch with Israeli leaders about the situation in Gaza, the Deputy Spokesperson said he was in regular contact with the regions leaders.
MYANMAR GROUP OF FRIENDS EXPRESSES HOPE
THAT SPECIAL ADVISER CAN RETURN TO MYANMAR SOON
Yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General convened the second meeting of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General on Myanmar.
Member States welcomed the opportunity to meet and reiterated their full support to the Secretary-General in the implementation of his good offices mandate.
The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, is expected travel to the region next week to continue his consultations with Member States, visiting China, Indonesia, Singapore and Japan.
Members of the Group expressed their hope that the Myanmar Government would invite the Special Adviser to return to Myanmar as soon as possible.
TIMOR-LESTE POLITICAL LEADERS CONDEMN MONDAY ATTACKS
At the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) this morning, leaders of Timor-Lestes political parties reached a consensus on three main areas, starting with a unanimous condemnation of the attacks on Monday.
In the meeting hosted by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, all leaders further agreed that strong action should be taken to apprehend the perpetrators and that a thorough investigation was required.
They also noted that any investigation should seek to unveil the motives behind the attack, identify the perpetrators, and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Asked about press reports saying that, according to President Josť Ramos-Hortas brother, the UN did nothing to help the President, the Spokesperson reminded the journalist that the UN Mission had no direct responsibility for the Presidents security.
She later added, citing the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) that, contrary to press reports, UN Police (UNPOL), along with Timor-Lestes National Police, had responded immediately to a call that there was shooting near the President's residence at 7:00. Two UNPOL units arrived at the scene at 7:18.
She noted that the President's residence was at least 15 minutes away from the police station and that international close protection had been removed at the President's direct request.
Regarding the Prime Minister, DPKO added that UNPOL had actively engaged shooters with long arms, and that UNPOLs actions had allowed the Prime Minister to escape unharmed.
LARGEST-EVER FEMALE EXPEDITION
TO CLIMB MT. EVEREST WITH U.N. SUPPORT
A group of 13 courageous women representing a range of Nepal's castes and ethnicities will attempt to climb Mt. Everest in the spring of 2008, aiming to draw attention to the effects of climate change in the Himalayas, as well as encourage and empower women and mountaineering.
This will be the largest female expedition team to date, organized exclusively by women, including the coordination executive, technical experts, kitchen staff and mule drivers.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have together raised nearly one-quarter of the $ 200,000 needed to finance the expedition. The womens group is currently in the process of fundraising and hopes to begin their ascent in early spring.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES TOP INVESTORS
TO PURSUE GLOBAL RESPONSE TO CLIMATE CHANGE
The 2008 Investor Summit on Climate Risk is taking place today at Headquarters.
More than 450 institutional investors, Wall Street leaders and CEOs from around the world have gathered to consider the scale and urgency of climate change risks, as well as the economic opportunities of a global transition to a clean energy future.
In a message to todays session, the Secretary-General stressed the need for a comprehensive, global response to climate change. No single organization or any one country can win this battle on its own, he said. The Secretary-General noted that the shift towards a greener future is still in its infancy. The ability of the financial community to determine investment flows gives it great influence over the pace of innovation, technological change and adaptation in this area. He urged those gathered to join with the United Nations in crafting a forceful yet flexible response to climate change.
BAN KI-MOON NAMES NEW SPECIAL ENVOY FOR MALARIA
Secretary-General has appointed Mr. Ray Chambers of the United States as his Special Envoy for Malaria.
The Secretary-General attaches high priority to concrete action being taken to control and stop malaria, and Mr. Chambers will help the Secretary-General to raise the issue on the international political and development agendas.
Mr. Chambers is a philanthropist and humanitarian whose efforts have focused on at-risk youth. He currently serves as Co-Chairman of Malaria No More, an organization which he also founded.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes Ray Chambers in his newest global role in malaria control. "We are at a pivotal moment in the fight against malaria," said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO's Director-General. "We now have the tools to stop malaria, including to quickly reduce child deaths. Ray Chambers has the passion, experience and commitment the world needs right now to secure the political will and the funds needed to profoundly reduce this threat."
U.N. ASSISTS THOSE AFFECTED BY BOLIVIA FLOODING: According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), heavy rains and floods are continuing to devastate Bolivia. The World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing 10 tons of high-energy biscuits, which were contributed by Ecuador, to survivors. For its part, UNICEF has provided more than 14,000 portions of baby food. Meanwhile, nearly $2 million from the UNs Central Emergency Response
Fund has been allocated for immediate life-saving programs in the hardest-hit areas.
U.N. POPULATION FUND LAUNCHES FUND FOR MATERNAL HEALTH: The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has launched a new fund aimed at boosting global efforts to reduce the number of women who die in pregnancy and childbirth. UNFPA hopes to raise nearly 500 million dollars over the next three years from developed countries and private sponsors. The funds will be used to reduce maternal deaths in 75 countries. We have more information upstairs.
PRICES FOR CEREALS AND TEA EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TO RISE: World cereal production is expected to rise significantly this year, but prices remain and record levels and some are still on the increase. Thats according to the Food and Agriculture Organizations latest report. Meanwhile, FAO says tea prices are also expected to maintain their upward trend in 2008, due to tight supply. Kenya is projected to see a 10 percent decrease in production due to civil unrest there.
U.N. ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY HELPS NIGERIA REMOVE EXPIRED RADIOACTIVE SOURCES: The International Atomic Energy (IAEA) says it deployed a team of nuclear safety experts to Nigeria last year. At they request of the Government, they secured and transported several potentially hazardous used radioactive sources that had been used for cancer treatment and insect irradiation. IAEA notes that it makes trips like this almost every month to recover disused radioactive material that could be inappropriately used.
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