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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-06-08

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

Friday, June 8, 2007

BAN KI-MOON HAILS G-8 AGREEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to reporters today at a press conference of the Group of Eight Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, telling them that it is only fitting that climate change dominated the agenda, and calling it a defining issue of our era.

He said he wholeheartedly welcomed that the G8 leaders agreed on strong and early action to combat climate change, and that the United Nations is the forum for negotiating future global action on climate change. But he added, While this is an important step, it is only a first step a beginning, not an end. The Secretary-General informed the G8 leaders of his intention to convene a high-level meeting on climate change on September 24, the day before the opening of the General Debate.

The Secretary-General said that this year marks the mid-point of our work to realize the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. He warned, We have far to go indeed, especially in Africa. This is why, he said, he has offered to chair a new MDG Africa Steering Group of all the major players to help refocus the efforts to achieve the Goals in Africa.

Asked about the views of G8 members on climate change, the Spokeswoman reaffirmed that the Secretary-General welcomes the strong and early action by G8 leaders on the issue.

U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE CONVENTION WELCOMES G-8 STATEMENT

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is

welcoming todays Joint statement by the German G-8 Presidency and the Heads of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, in which they called for constructive participation in the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement at the UNFCCC Conference in Indonesia in December.

Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer says he is very encouraged by the latest developments, which give a promising signal as to the political will with which climate change is being addressed. He also welcomed the instruments to address climate change contained in the G-8 communiqué, particularly the carbon market and its role in creating economic incentives for developing countries.

GLOBAL FUND APPLAUDS G-8 COMMITMENTS

ON UNIVERSAL TREATMENT ACCESS

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is

applauding the G8s re-commitment to universal access for treatment. It notes that the G8 leaders had pledged $6 to 8 billion per year for the Global Fund, calling it very good news.

The Executive Director of the Fund said the G8 agreement was a strong one that would make it possible to defeat the pandemics of AIDS, TB and malaria.

BAN KI-MOON DISMAYED AT IRANIAN PRESIDENTS REMARKS ON ISRAEL

The Secretary-General was shocked and dismayed at the remarks attacking Israel attributed to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, on 3 June, in which he says repeatedly that the world could witness the destruction of the Zionist regime soon.

The Secretary-General points out that the State of Israel is a full and long-standing member of the United Nations with the same rights and obligations as every other member. He reminds that under the United Nations Charter, all members have undertaken to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State.

The Secretary-General has repeatedly made his views clear on this issue.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR UNIVERSAL MEMBERSHIP IN

GENEVA CONVENTION PROTOCOLS

Friday 8 June is the 30th anniversary of Protocols I and II additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The 1977 Additional Protocols supplement the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and provide very important legal protections for civilians and others in both international and internal armed conflicts.

Additional Protocol I is significant for strengthening the protection of civilians during international armed conflict. Balancing both military and humanitarian needs, Additional Protocol I brings together two formerly separate areas of law concerning armed conflict: the law concerning the conduct of hostilities, and the law protecting civilians and those who no longer take an active part in hostilities. It sets forth essential rules reminding parties that the methods and means of warfare are not unlimited and prohibits the use of weapons which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering. It also sets forth the principle of distinction, according to which parties to a conflict must distinguish between the civilian population and combatants, and between civilian objects and military objectives, and may only direct operations against military objectives.

Additional Protocol II is the first treaty of its kind to address internal armed conflicts or civil wars. It prohibits attacks on the civilian population and objects indispensable for their survival. It also sets forth protections for those not or no longer taking part in hostilities.

At present, 167 States are party to Additional Protocol I and 163 States to Additional Protocol II.

The Secretary-General calls on all States currently not party to the 1977 Additional Protocols to become party to these instruments.

NUCLEAR TERRORISM CONVENTION TO ENTER INTO FORCE

The International

Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism will enter into force on 7 July, following the ratification of that Convention by its 22nd state, Bangladesh, yesterday. The Convention requires 22 ratifications or accessions to enter into force.

The Convention aims to prevent and suppress nuclear terrorism, bring to justice planners and perpetrators of nuclear terrorist acts and promote cooperation among States in those fields.

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON CYPRUS AND DARFUR

The Security Council this morning held consultations on Cyprus, with Michael Moller, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for that country, briefing Council members on the work of the UN peacekeeping force there.

After that, Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for

Darfur, is talking about the recent work by him and by African Union Special Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim to reinvigorate the Darfur peace process.

Then, in the afternoon, the Security Council will hold an open meeting to discuss the work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will address that meeting. The President and the Prosecutor for that court will brief the Council on its work and completion strategy, and will also note the Special Courts need for securing funding, with available funds expected to be exhausted by this November.

U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF MAKES SURPRISE VISIT TO SOMALIA

During an unannounced visit to Mogadishu today, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe expressed solidarity with the people of Somalia while encouraging the leaders of the Transitional Federal Government to reach out to opponents for the sake of peace and reconciliation.

The international community is willing to help Somalis in all areas as long as there is progress on the ground, Pascoe told reporters at the Mogadishu airport. He was in Mogadishu for about four hours, during which time he met with the Somali President and Prime Minister along with members of the cabinet. Pascoe also met with Ali Mahdi, the chairman of the committee charged with organizing the upcoming National Reconciliation Conference.

Pascoe is on a weeklong mission aimed at shoring up peace and stabilization efforts in Somalia. Tomorrow he heads to Asmara for a meeting with Eritrean President Asias Afewerki and then to Cairo to meet with the Egyptian foreign minister and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.

On Sunday, Pascoe will be in Addis Ababa to meet with the Ethiopian Prime Minister and African Union Chairman Alpha Omar Konaré before heading to Brussels, where he will meet on Tuesday with European Union officials. He is expected back in New York Wednesday to brief the Secretary-General and then the Security Council on Thursday, June 14.

SOMALIA: U.N. ASSESSMENT FINDS HIGH LEVELS OF MALNUTRITION IN CHILDREN

A recent assessment by the Food and Agriculture Organization, conducted in five settlements of internally displaced persons in Baidoa District, found that nearly one in five displaced children suffer from acute malnutrition.

Preliminary findings from three other nutritional assessments in the Gedo region found similar numbers, but also noted that there had been some limited recovery since the previous assessment.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS JUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE IN BAHEL TRIAL

On Thursday, the Spokesperson issued a statement in which the Secretary-General noted the verdict announced in federal court in Manhattan against Sanjaya Bahel. He is satisfied that justice has been done.

The Secretary-General once again reaffirms his support for the work of the United Nations own Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and the Procurement Task Force. The evidence supporting this guilty verdict was based in large part on the extensive work done by the Task Force. Their 86-page report about Mr. Bahel's conduct was given to the Office of the US Attorney the Southern District of New York in July of last year.

The evidence gathered by the PTF supported the criminal charges against Mr. Bahel and Nishan Kohli, a principal of a company that did business with the UN and who pleaded guilty to bribing Mr. Bahel and testified against him.

The Secretary-General very much appreciates the diligence and effort put into this case by the US Attorneys office. In continuing these investigations, the United Nations stands ready to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in every concerned Member State.

The Secretary-General expects all vendors, contractors, and their representatives, to conduct their business with the United Nations with highest levels of integrity and honesty. Those who fail to do so will not be permitted to continue doing business with this organization.

The Secretary-General remains committed to actively pursuing any fraud and wrongdoing at the United Nations. Such actions tarnish the reputation of the organization and the tens of thousands of UN employees who work honourably and honestly.

BAN KI-MOON EMPHASIZES COMMITMENT TO U.N. PROCUREMENT REFORM

The Secretary-General is committed to achieving the highest level of performance, quality control and accountability for the Procurement Service.

He very much appreciates the efforts made by OIOS in helping bring about a stronger and more accountable procurement service. The Secretary-General and his staff are in fact working closely with OIOS to implement many of their recommendations.

The Secretary-General is very much aware that more needs to be done. Procurement reform is a dynamic process that needs to remain in tune with the ever-changing commercial market place and the needs of the organization.

This is an ongoing and continuous process. No system will ever be 100% percent corruption-proof. That is why we continuously have to upgrade our oversight and training in all our duty stations.

Currently, the Procurement Service is taking early action on its reform, which it outlined to the General Assembly less than a year ago. A number of actions have already been taken, aimed at strengthening internal control measures to prevent and mitigate the risks to which procurement process is open. Plans are being made at making the procurement process more transparent and also making it more equitable for firms from developing countries.

The vendor debarment process has been significantly improved. The Procurement Service works closely with OIOS and the Procurement Task Force dealing with the suspension of vendors who refuse to cooperate with our investigations.

The Secretary-General expects all vendors, contractors, and their representatives, to conduct their business with the United Nations with the highest levels of integrity and honesty. Those who fail to do so will not be permitted to continue doing business with this organization.

Asked about support in the General Assembly for procurement reform, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has a procurement reform package as part of his larger reform effort, adding that it was one of his priorities.

SECRETARY-GENERAL FULLY SUPPORTS CALL FOR JUSTICE IN SREBRENICA MASSACRES

Asked about a letter sent by the group Women of Srebrenica, the Spokeswoman said she had just learned that the United Nations had received legal documents relating to the case and that the survivors of the Srebrenica massacres are absolutely right to demand justice for the most heinous crimes committed on European soil since World War II.

The Secretary-General joins them in that demand, without reservation, and expresses his deepest sympathies to them and to the relatives of those brutally executed at Srebrenica, almost 12 years ago, Okabe said.

Those indicted for having planned, orchestrated and carried out the attacks must be brought to justice, she added. Yet, Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic remain at large. The international community should not rest until they are apprehended and brought to trial.

Nor should the UN rest until it is fully-equipped to prevent such tragedies from occurring in future within its peacekeepers' midst. To that end, the Spokeswoman said, the former Secretary-General's report of 1999, on the Fall of Srebrenica, highlighted in very frank terms the actions that need to be taken by the UN -- namely, the Security Council members, the Secretariat, and military and civilian personnel on the ground -- to avoid a repeat of those tragic events. Since then, new UN peacekeeping forces have been provided with clearer mandates and more robust rules of engagement, to help protect civilians under imminent threat.

Asked whether the United Nations was waiving its immunities in this matter, the Spokeswoman said that the fact that the United Nations is immune from legal process under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations in no way diminishes the United Nations' commitment to assist the people of Srebrenica in the aftermath of their horrific tragedy.

Asked whether the Secretary-General is satisfied with the follow-up on Srebrenica, Okabe said that the UN continues to do everything within its ability to bring those responsible for the atrocities to justice, and to assist in the recovery of Srebrenica and the region. These efforts have been through the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), as well as through a variety of efforts of other United Nations bodies and international partners.

REFUGEE AGENCY EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT RACIST ATTACKS IN UKRAINE

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is expressing concern at increasing racist attacks against asylum seekers, refugees and other foreigners in Ukraine.

In the latest incident, an Iraqi asylum seeker was killed last Sunday. That incident remains under investigation. UNHCR has asked the Government to keep it informed of developments in the case.

HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS PIG DISEASE SPREADS FROM AFRICA TO GEORGIA

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is

expressing concern over the possible spread of a highly contagious pig disease. The FAO reports that Georgia has been hit by African Swine Fever and warns that the disease could also threaten Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation.

According to the FAO, this is a dramatic development in the international distribution of the disease, which was previously almost entirely confined to sub-Saharan Africa. The transboundary animal disease has the potential for wide international spread, FAO says. African Swine Fever does not affect humans but has serious socio-economic consequences for rural livelihoods.

Asked about actions being taken in response to the outbreak, the Spokeswoman said that the European Union, the World Organization for Animal Health and FAO will send a joint team of experts to Georgia in the next days to assess the situation and advise the government on immediate control measures.

NEW MENINGITIS VACCINE SHOWS PROMISE

The World Health Organization says that it has a new meningitis vaccine is showing great promise. The vaccine is expected to be much more effective than any other vaccine currently on the market, according to preliminary findings of tests conducted in Western Africa.

Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General, said the initial results of the vaccines performance brought real hope that the lives of thousand of children, teenagers and young adults will be saved by immunization.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL SESSION TO GET UNDERWAY NEXT WEEK

The Human Rights Council is scheduled to begin its fifth session next week in Geneva on Monday.

During the session, which lasts through the 18th of June, the Council is expected to take up a wide range of human rights issues, including food, racism, housing, and extreme poverty.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES G-8 ENGAGEMENT ON KOSOVO: Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on recent proposals for Kosovo, the Spokeswoman said that he welcomes the engagement of the G8 on the issue of the final status process for Kosovo, and added that it is important that the process maintain a forward momentum.

BAN KI-MOON WOULD WELCOME FURTHER EFFORTS ON DARFUR: Asked about an initiative on

Darfur proposed by France, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General has expressed concern about the pace at which events are proceeding on Darfur, and would welcome the engagement of the G-8 in efforts to speed up the process.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

[This document is for planning purposes only and is subject to change.]

Monday, June 11

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte dIvoire, and the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea. In the afternoon, it is scheduled to hold consultations on Lebanon and resolution 1559.

The United Nations and the African Union are expected to meet with the Government of Sudan on the proposed hybrid operation for Darfur in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 11 and 12 June.

At 3 p.m. in Room. 226, a senior UN official will give a background briefing on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

At 10 a.m. in the Trusteeship Council, the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations will meet to complete its work and finalize its report before holding its 200th meeting, with a view to adopt the report.

From 12 to 1:15 p.m. in Conference Room D, there will be a briefing on the UN-IPU Global Centre for Information and Communication Technologies in Parliament.

For the next two weeks, the annual session of the Executive Board of UNDP and of UNFPA will be held in Conference Room 2.

In Geneva, the Human Rights Councils fifth session gets underway.

In Rome, the 11th session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture meets all this week.

Tuesday, June 12

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a private meeting with troop contributing countries of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), followed by consultations on UNDOF and on the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.

At 12.30 p.m. in Room. 226, Mr. Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, will brief the press following his meeting with the Secretary-General.

Wednesday, June 13

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on Liberia and Côte dIvoire sanctions and on Sudan. Following a luncheon with the Secretary-General, the Council in the afternoon is scheduled to hold consultations on the multi-national force in Iraq, as well as a debate on that force and on the UN Mission in Iraq.

At 10 a.m. in Conference Room 4, the Secretary-General; Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica; and Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, former President of Guatemala will address the opening session of a one-day conference entitled A firm and lasting peace in Central America: The pending agenda 20 years later.

At 12.30 p.m. in Room. 226, Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica, and Vinicio Cereze Arévale, former President of Guatemala, will brief the press.

From today through Friday in Delft, the Netherlands, the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education is organizing a Symposium entitled: Water for a Changing World: Enhancing Local Knowledge and Capacity.

Thursday, June 14

Today is World Blood Donor Day. The World Health Organization plans to launch Safe Blood for Safe Motherhood, a new initiative to improve the availability and use of blood in obstetric care, as well as new data from a recent survey on world blood safety.

This morning the Security Council is scheduled to adopt resolutions on the UN Mission in Cyprus, as well as on Côte dIvoire sanctions, followed by consultations on Somalia. The Security Council mission to Africa is scheduled to depart today.

At 12.45 p.m. in Room. 226, there will be a press conference by Mr. Bruno Cathala, Registrar of the International Criminal Court.

At 3.20 p.m. in Room. 226, Mr. Jorge Sampaio, High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, will brief the press following his meeting with the Secretary-General.

Today and all next week at Headquarters, the seventeenth Meeting of States Parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea will be held.

Friday, June 15

In Helsinki, the two-day conference on Fragile States - Fragile Groups, organized by United Nations University and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, will tackle economic and social vulnerability.

From 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. in the Dag Hammarskjold Library, there will be a meeting on the transition to the rule of law and an inclusive market economy.

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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