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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-11-19
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, November 19, 2004
ANNAN OUTRAGED BY SEXUAL EXPLOITATION, ABUSE CARRIED OUT BY U.N.
CIVILIAN AND MILITARY PERSONNEL IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
In a statement issued Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "I have had a detailed briefing here in Dar es Salaam from my Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, about the investigations which the United Nations initiated some time ago into allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by both civilian and military peacekeeping personnel in the DRC.
I am afraid there is clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place. This is a shameful thing for the United Nations to have to say, and I am absolutely outraged by it.
Many of these allegations came to light last spring, and have since been looked into both by
UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) itself and by the
Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). I am glad to say that the allegations concern only a small number of UN personnel. But it is vital that the investigations be speeded up.
We cannot rest until we have rooted out all such practices from MONUC, from any other peacekeeping operation, and indeed anywhere in the Organization that they might occur. And we must make sure that those involved are held fully accountable.
I have long made it clear that my attitude to sexual exploitation and abuse is one of zero tolerance, without exception, and I am determined to implement this policy in the most transparent manner.
Last July, with this in mind, I asked Prince Zeid Raad Al-Hussein, the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations who is himself also an experienced UN peacekeeper to act as my Adviser on this painful issue, and he graciously agreed. I am now actively considering additional measures which need to be taken. In the meantime, I have instructed the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to send a special investigation team to the DRC, with the greatest urgency, to examine the outstanding cases."
Asked about the allegations, the Spokesman said that around 70 cases had been investigated by OIOS; fewer than 30 were considered to be actionable. None involved complaints against women, he answered in response to another question.
ANNAN SEES HOPE FOR PEACE IN GREAT LAKES REGION OF AFRICA
told delegates to the conference in Tanzania on the Great Lakes region that there is a glimmer of hope, as the regions leaders have made a strategic decision to pursue peace.
He told the International Conference on Peace, Security and Development in the Great Lakes Region, which began today in Dar es Salaam, that a declaration expected to be adopted tomorrow will be a major step forward.
He said it symbolizes a newfound political will to adhere to fundamental principles, to put in place confidence-building mechanisms and to promote a spirit of mutual trust.
The Secretary-General told the assembled leaders that it is in their power to give their people hope by demonstrating a commitment to live as good neighbors and by taking steps to bridge the suspicion gap.
He warned, We cannot afford to write this process off as a theoretical exercise.
Following a lunch break, the conference participants met in a closed session to discuss the draft declaration.
This evening, the Secretary-General and the other leaders in attendance will attend a state dinner hosted by Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa.
ANNAN MEETS WITH PRESIDENTS OF SOUTH AFRICA, BURUNDI AND SUDAN
On the margins of the Great Lakes conference, the
Secretary-General is holding meetings this afternoon with several of the African leaders in attendance, including the Presidents of South Africa, Burundi and Sudan.
After he met with South African President Thabo Mbeki, the Secretary-General discussed the transitional process in Burundi with that countrys President, Domitien Ndayizeye. The Secretary-General reinforced UN support for that process, and he also stressed the need for increased donor support for Burundis rebuilding process.
The Secretary-General then met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and told him, as he told the Security Council a day earlier in Nairobi, about the urgent need to complete the Naivasha peace process.
A successful conclusion of the Naivasha process would not only benefit North and South
Sudan, he said, but would also be an essential step in moving forward the peace process in Darfur. The President accepted this premise.
They also discussed the situation on the ground in Darfur.
SUDANESE GOVERNMENT AND REBEL GROUP PLEDGE TO CONCLUDE PEACE
ACCORD BY YEAR'S END
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed at 10 a.m. in Nairobi by the government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army, committing them to reach a final comprehensive agreement by 31 December, 2004. The signing was took place in the presence of the Security Council.
Security Council then unanimously adopted a resolution on Sudan, which strongly endorses the parties to fulfill that commitment. The Council declared its strong support for the two parties to reach a comprehensive peace agreement and its commitment, upon conclusion of an agreement, to assist the people of Sudan in their efforts to establish a peaceful, united and prosperous nation.
Asked about reports that 10,000 new peacekeepers and an additional $500 million would go to Sudan, the Spokesman said that two UN officials cited for such figures had said that they had been misquoted. He said that the United Nations has no official figures to put forward at this time. [The Department of Peacekeeping Operations said until the comprehensive peace agreement is finalized, it is not clear what precise tasks a UN operation will be called on to perform. These tasks, when determined, will be the basis for the figure that the Secretary-General will recommend to the Council.]
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES SOMALIA AND RELATIONS WITH AFRICAN UNION
Security Council in Nairobi also discussed Somalia today and was expected to adopt a presidential statement.
Secretary-General, in his remarks to the press while in Nairobi, said he was encouraged by the recent developments in Somalia, where they came together, set up a parliament, named the President and the Prime Minister and are determined to go back home and rebuild their nation.
He said the Somalis are going to need lots of help from the international community and from their neighbours, but in the final analysis, it is only the Somalis themselves who can stabilize their country and live in peace.
Also on the agenda today was a meeting on the Security Council's "Institutional Relationship with the African Union."
NUMBER OF REFUGEES FROM SOUTHERN SUDAN INTO UGANDA ON THE RISE
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
says there has been a marked increase in the number of refugees crossing from southern
Sudan into Uganda in recent weeks.
Refugees cite a growing number of raids by the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army, from its bases in south Sudan as the main reason for taking flight.
UNHCR has launched a series of initiatives to assist the hundreds of thousands of people who have already returned to south Sudan.
GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS PERSIST IN COTE D'IVOIRE
UN Operation in Cote DIvoire (UNOCI) reports that the situation in Abidjan and the rest of the country is calm, but unpredictable.
UN peacekeepers continue regular patrolling in various parts of the city both during day and night.
On the humanitarian front, the water supply has been restored to virtually all parts of the north.
Gross violations continue to be reported throughout the country, in the government-controlled and Forces Nouvelles-controlled zones, respectively, as well as in the zone of confidence, the mission reports. They include cases of summary executions and extra-judicial killings, torture, rape, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, illegal and detentions and the destruction of houses and other property.
In line with its mandate and despite its drastically reduced staffing, the UN mission continues to investigate allegations of human rights violations, in particular, those allegedly perpetrated over the last two weeks since the outbreak of hostilities in Abidjan and in towns and villages in the north of the country.
Meanwhile, humanitarian agencies in northeastern Liberia are struggling to cope with the arrival of thousands of refugees from neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire,
UNITED NATIONS LIAISING WITH IRAQI INTERIM GOVERNMENT
ON PROVIDING HUMANITARIAN AID
The United Nations continues to deal with the Iraqi Interim Government and the humanitarian community to coordinate and provide emergency assistance to civilians both inside and displaced around
UNICEF, the UN Childrens Fund, the
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the
International Organization for Migration have provided emergency stocks that are being mobilized for distribution in and around Falluja. The supplies include chlorine, soap, jerry cans, tents and winterization supplies.
World Health Organization has sent medical supplies, including blood bags and dressings, to Iraqi Ministry of Health facilities in the area.
These activities have taken place despite constraints in obtaining access to people in need.
As access improves, UN agencies and partners stand ready to provide additional services, including water trucking, medical supplies and technical assistance.
Asked about the deaths of Iraqi children because of the sanctions on the country, the Spokesman acknowledged that there had been substantial debate over the years about the impact of UN sanctions. He said that the
oil-for-food program greatly improved the nutritional requirements of all Iraqis, particularly children, citing that as the main accomplishment of the program.
Asked whether UN international staff levels in Iraq would be raised past a ceiling of 59, the Spokesman said that he was unaware of any decision to raise the ceiling further. The Secretary-General, he said, had raised the ceiling to allow more electoral monitors to go to Iraq, with a target of 25 electoral staff for the country. Eckhard said that UN electoral chief Carina Perelli thought that number would be enough to carry out the electoral work that is needed.
NEW EMERGENCY APPEAL LAUNCHED FOR AID TO PALESTINIAN REFUGEES
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East today
launched an emergency appeal for $185.8 million.
That money is intended to allow the Agency to carry out crucial relief operations for the 1.6 million refugees in the West Bank and Gaza throughout 2005.
The Agency said that this year has seen the worst levels of destruction of the four year intifada.
More than 2.2 million people in the occupied Palestinian territory are now living on less than two dollars a person each day.
U.N. ENVOY STRESSES NEED FOR QUICK IMPLEMENTATION OF PROJECTS IN HAITI
Juan Valdes, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Haiti, has stressed the importance of a quick implementation of projects in Haiti, so that the population can see improvements on the ground, as well as build trust in the
UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti.
Valdes did this at a presentation he made for foreign ministers yesterday at the 14th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government this was attended by several countries which have troops taking part in the peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
Prior to the Ministerial Meeting, Valdes attended a workshop on Haiti, chaired by Brazil and attended by several Group of Rio representatives.
U.N. MANAGEMENT PREPARED TO TALK TO STAFF UNION OVER CONCERNS
Asked about reports that the UN Staff Council in New York would hold a vote of no-confidence in the
Secretary-General this afternoon, the Spokesman said that a media story on Thursday misconstrued what was taking place.
Staff Council President Rosemarie Waters had assured UN management today that the Council did not intend any vote of no-confidence in the Secretary-General, but wanted to express their dismay about several issues, particularly concerning the handling of allegations about the
Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). She has clarified the Councils stance in a press release.
When the Department of Management submitted its report to the Secretary-General this week on the OIOS allegations, Staff Council members were also briefed, the Spokesman said, and were given additional details about the Secretary-Generals conclusions. The Staff Council, he added, was not happy with the results.
The Spokesman said that UN management was prepared to talk to Waters and the Staff Council next week to deal with their concerns. He said that management wants to keep dialogue going, and wants the Council to have more confidence in us, and we hope that we can achieve that through dialogue.
Asked about the implications of the vote, the Spokesman said he did not think there were any legal implications. The Staff Council expresses the views of UN staff.
He acknowledged, Its been an up and down relationship, but added that it is UN managements intention to work with them.
Asked how representative the Staff Council was, Eckhard said that they are nominated by their peers and accepted by management as staff representatives.
Asked why the Staff Council wasnt consulted during the OIOS investigation, the Spokesman said that would be an issue for discussion next week. He noted that, in the OIOS investigation, one of the things brought forward initially had been an unsigned letter, and no one came forward to explain further.
The Spokesman noted that the United Nations had already explained several other matters that were also the subject of complaints by the Staff Council.
U.N. LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO ASSESS HUMANITARIAN IMPACT OF SANCTIONS: The
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is launching a new initiative to assess the potential humanitarian implications of sanctions. The United Nations wants to ensure that such measures will not worsen the living conditions of civilian populations in targeted states so OCHA has started developing a system to determine how sanctions might harm instead of help. Among other things, it will take into account the status of humanitarian conditions in countries before sanctions are imposed.
CAMEROON/NIGERIA MIXED COMMISSION OBERSERVERS TO CARRY OUT VISIT: The
Cameroon/Nigeria Mixed Commission Observer Personnel will carry out their first quarterly visit to the land boundary between the two countries, from Monday, 22 November, to Tuesday, 23 November. During this mission, the Observers are scheduled to visit villages where the withdrawal and transfer of authority took place last July. In other areas the observers have reported that, in general, peaceful and good relations are prevailing among the population and the new authorities in the area; although issues related to property rights continue to remain.
LITTLE DAMAGE EXPECTED FROM LOCUST SWARMS IN MIDDLE EAST: The
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has
warned various Middle Eastern countries about the possibility of
desert locust swarms arriving from Egypt, but says there is no reason to panic. The alert went out to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. FAO says crop damage is expected to be limited.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Monday, November 22
The Sixteenth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer will take place in Prague through Friday; for further details, see www.unep.org/ozone.
At noon on Monday, senior UN peacekeeping officials will brief the press on sexual exploitation allegations stemming from the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).
The Cameroon/Nigeria Mixed Commission Observer Personnel will carry out their first quarterly visit to the Land Boundary today and tomorrow.
The United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) is hosting an important workshop on Security Sector Reform and Conflict Prevention in West Africa in Dakar, Senegal.
Tuesday, November 23
The Secretary-General will address the International Conference on Iraq, which is being held in Egypt. Later in the week, he is to travel to Ouagoudougou, Burkina Faso, where he will meet with the President and attend the Francophonie Summit.
The Security Council has scheduled an open briefing with the senior officials for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.
The first Global Creative Meeting on AIDS will take place, bringing together 100 creative experts from major broadcasters from around the world to exchange ideas on how best to use programming to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. At 10:30 a.m., Sumner Redstone, Chairman and CEO of Viacom, will brief the press on that meeting.
The guest at the noon briefing will be Desmond Johns, Director of the New York Office of UNAIDS, who will launch the AIDS Epidemic Update
Wednesday, November 24
The Security Council has scheduled consultations on the UN Mission in Haiti.
The guest at the noon briefing will be Juan Gabriel Valdes, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Haiti.
The Global Forum on Sport and Environment will meet in Lahore, Pakistan, through Friday; for more information, see www.unep.org/sport_env
Thursday, November 25
Today is Thanksgiving Holiday, and UN Headquarters will be closed.
Friday, November 26
The Secretary-General is expected to attend the Francophonie Summit in Ouagoudougou, Burkina Faso.
The Security Council mission to Central Africa is scheduled to return.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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