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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-11

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:









Thursday, December 11, 2008


This morning, the United Nations marked the anniversary of the terrorist

attack against the United Nations in Algiers one year ago, in which 17 UN staff died and 40 were injured, with a minute of silence in honour of the fallen staff and a solemn ceremony at Headquarters.

At the ceremony, the Deputy Secretary-General read out a

message on the Secretary-Generals behalf, recalling his outrage that terrorists had inflicted such brutality on the very people who were working for a better life for all Algerians.

Terrorists have taken these noble individuals from us, the Secretary-General said in his message. But they can never extinguish our hopes for global harmony nor our conviction that working together is the only path to a better world.

In terms of follow-up to the Algiers attacks, and in response to questions posed yesterday, the Spokesperson provided an update on the improvements the UN has been making on security.

In June 2008, the Secretary-General received the report of the Independent Panel on Safety and Security of UN Personnel and Premises, chaired by Lakhdar Brahimi. Following the release of that report, the Secretary-General established a steering committee to follow up on the Panel's recommendations. That committee presented its findings at the October meeting of the Chief Executives Board, and, since then, further work has been done to develop a comprehensive plan for a system-wide security management system. The Chief Executives Board will consider that plan at its spring 2009 session, to ensure that we have the best possible security system for our staff.

As the UN makes progress on the recommendations of various expert committees, the Secretary-General is also committed to looking at how the UN can better support the families of victims.

Under the leadership of the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Management, a Working Group has been formed to examine how we can better respond to the need for sustained support for surviving staff and families of deceased staff. This includes, for example, improving institutional capacity for counselling, reviewing and updating insurance claim procedures, specifically the Malicious Acts Insurance Policy and Appendix D, carrying out a lessons-learned exercise, and assess the feasibility of establishing a trust fund to further assist the families of the victims and survivors. The Working Group is also reviewing the concerns of individual survivors.

Asked why it has taken so long to pay the families of victims, the Spokeswoman said that some compensations were made to the family members immediately after the bombing. Since then, she said, the United Nations has been putting in place a trust fund not just for the Algiers victims but for other UN victims of attacks.

The United Nations, Montas said, is trying to do better, but is still far short of doing what is needed for victims and their families.

Asked about the measures being taken internally, the Spokeswoman said that an accountability panel headed by Ralph Zacklin had mentioned the need for further action to deal with different individuals, as well as one entity. Those recommendations are being implemented at the moment.


The Secretary-General

spoke at the High-Level Segment of the United Nations

Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, today, and he called for bold, urgent steps to tackle the defining global challenge of our time. The next generation is counting on us, he said. We must not fail.

Saying that the coming year is the year of climate change, the Secretary-General spoke of the need for a Green New Deal and for leadership. He said that we look for that leadership from the European Union and from the United States.

The Poznan conference, which has drawn more than 11,600 participants, constitutes the half-way mark in the negotiations on an effective international response to climate change, which is to be agreed in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.

The Secretary-General told the Poznan delegates, Twenty years from now, let our children and grand-children look back upon this day and say: Yes, that is where it began.

The Secretary-General held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the meeting, including with the Prime Minister of Sweden, the President of Poland, and U.S. Senator John Kerry, as well as ministers from Malta, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea. A meeting with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore is also expected later today.

He also attended a number of side events, such as a meeting with representatives of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and a Ministerial Roundtable on Shared Vision.


The Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday said that the dialogue between the DRC Government and the Congrès National pour la Défence du Peuple (CNDP) had made some progress in forging consensus on the format and ground rules for substantive discussions. But he warned that success has been blocked by two difficulties that need urgent resolution.

He said that the CNDP continues to demand discussions on what it sees as the challenges facing the country as a whole, not just the ongoing conflict and humanitarian emergency in the eastern DRC. Obasanjo said that he and his co-facilitator, Benjamin Mkapa, believe that this goes beyond their mandate.

Second, Obasanjo said, progress has been slower than desired because the powers given to the CNDP delegation by its leadership appear to have severely limited its ability to make decisions on matters of concern without continuous recourse to its leadership in North Kivu.

Asked about the recent New York Times story and Human Rights Watch concerning the massacre that took place in Kiwanja, in eastern Congo, in early November, the Spokeswoman said that the Times story and the Human Rights Watch report paint a stark picture of the overwhelming conditions in which UN peacekeepers try to protect populations caught up in the conflict in the eastern DRC.

The factors cited by those reports have been highlighted repeatedly in the Secretary-Generals own reports and his briefings to the press and to members of the Security Council: too few peacekeepers to cover vast and difficult terrain; belligerents who respect no rules and who use civilians as human shields; difficulty in communicating with local populations who are manipulated by various actors who incite hostility towards the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) for their own ends; and a national army in complete disarray, which MONUC is mandated to support.

These factors, Montas said, were precisely why the Secretary-General called for additional capacities for MONUC and why he has appealed for a multinational force. They are also why MONUC has redeployed nearly 92 percent of its troops to the eastern DRC and is moving two battalions from Ituri into North Kivu.

She added that the Times and Human Rights Watch accounts unfairly minimize the efforts of fewer than 150 peacekeepers to protect some 60,000 people in two adjacent towns. They scarcely mention the more than 5,000 civilians who sought protection around the MONUC base at Kiwanja. They fail to acknowledge that peacekeepers in Kiwanjaand elsewhereprotected large numbers of civilians, often at great risk to themselves.

At the same time, Montas added, the headlines fail to make any reference to those who are responsible for victimizing the Congolese populationeven though both reports note the involvement in Kiwanja of the CNDPs Bosco Ntaganda, an indicted war criminal and the belligerents utter disregard for civilians in the course of combat.

Asked whether the UN troops need interpreters and other key assets, Montas said that they do; MONUC needs not just more personnel on the ground but the right assets so that they can be effective.

She added that, after the initial killings in Kiwanja, MONUC peacekeepers did investigate and find bodies there, and reported on their findings, as we announced in early November. The military hostilities on November 4th and 6th involved the Mai Mai PARECO fighters and rebels loyal to Laurent Nkunda. Beyond the preliminary fact-finding mission on 7 November, MONUC sent a further team to Kiwanja and an in-depth investigation is still being conducted by the MONUC Human Rights Division. A full report is expected to be concluded this month. The matter is being handled carefully so as not to compromise any future investigation of war crimes.


The two-day International Conference on Piracy around

Somalia wrapped up in Nairobi today. It had been chaired by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kenya.

A communiqué was issued after the meeting by the participating ministers. In it, participants condemned all acts of piracy and armed robbery against vessels in the territorial waters of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Eastern Africa. They also stressed the importance of enhancing coordination and cooperation in the fight against piracy.

The ministers added that the problem of piracy around Somalia cannot be durably resolved without the return of peace, stability and a functioning government. In that regard, they stressed that Somali leaders who impede the stabilization of their country will be placed under sanctions.


Officials of the UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in Sector West received information yesterday that the Sheikh, or traditional leader, of the Hassa Hissa Camp for internally displaced persons had been shot dead by unknown armed men. A UNAMID patrol dispatched to the Camp confirmed these reports, but found the Camp to be calm.

Meanwhile, UNAMIDs Deputy Police Commissioner for Operations, Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi, paid a one-day official visit to Kabkabiya, in North Darfur. The visit is part of his familiarization tour of UNAMIDs area of operations.


Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet is in Cote dIvoire, where he met in Yamoussoukro with President Laurent Gbagbo, with whom he discussed the work of the UN Mission in that country (UNOCI).

The UN Missions current mandate expires at the end of January, and Mulet is conducting a technical evaluation mission during which he will meet with a range of political leaders in Cote dIvoire. He expects to meet as well with Alassane Ouattara and Henri Konan Bédié, among other leaders.


The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that 93 trucks were able to cross into Gaza today. That represents a slight increase from yesterday. Of those 93 trucks, 21 were for humanitarian agencies.

At the same time, UNSCO notes that, in October of this year, the average number of trucks crossing into Gaza was 123 per day. And in May 2007, the average was 475 a day. So todays figures are still relatively low.

For its part, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reports that it got seven trucks into Gaza today containing sugar, canned meat and whole milk powder.

UNSCO also reports that industrial fuel made it to the Gaza power station today. But despite the plants increased output, most of Gaza is still experiencing power cuts of four to eight hours a day.


The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, strongly condemned the bombing attack that struck a popular restaurant near Kirkuk today. The attack coincided with the last day of Eid Al Adha killing dozens and injuring more than 90 people.

De Mistura notes with great concern that "this appalling attack targeting scores of people during a religious holiday in an especially sensitive city seems deliberately designed to provoke revenge attacks and further inflame ethnic tensions". He called on the leaders of all the communities of Kirkuk to demonstrate responsible leadership and to urge restraint by their followers at this difficult time. "At moments such as these, peace-loving people from all groups in Kirkuk should unite against the forces of cold-blooded mass murder," he said.

De Mistura extends the United Nations sincere condolences to the bereaved families and its heartfelt wishes for the full and speedy recovery for those wounded.

Meanwhile, de Mistura also expressed concern today about the situation of more than 1,000 foreign workers brought by international contractors who are currently in Baghdad International Airport. De Mistura said that the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq takes the allegations of human trafficking by contractors in Iraq very seriously and is concerned about their predicament.

He said that the UN Mission has just conducted its own evaluation of the situation in the airport, and added that the relevant authorities and contractors concerned are expected to ensure that international labor standards are respected and enforced.



Security Council this morning is holding consultations on the work of its Monitoring Group dealing with Somalia and its Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau.

Then, at 3:00 this afternoon, the Council has scheduled an open meeting, followed by consultations, to discuss the UN Peacebuilding Office in Burundi.

Yesterday afternoon, the Security Councils 1267 Sanctions Committee, which deals with al-Qaeda and the Taliban,

approved the addition of four individuals to its list of the people and entities subject to a travel ban, assets freeze and arms embargo. It also revised three entries on its list to include additional entities.


The Department of Public Information (DPI) in collaboration with the

Peacebuilding Support Office will hold a full-day conference on Media and Communications in Peacebuilding at UN Headquarters starting at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

The meeting is chaired by DPI Under-Secretary-General Kiyo Akasaka and opening statements will come from Jane Holl Lute, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacebuilding, as well as Ambassador Yukio Takasu, the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission.

The conference will be in a panel discussions format focusing on the government, the media and the international assistance aspects of the issue in three separate panels. High-level participants include the Ministers for Information and Communications from Sierra Leone and Burundi. Leading journalists from Nepal, El Salvador, Kosovo and Liberia will also speak.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

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