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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-06-29

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N.

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, June 29, 2007

BAN KI-MOON MAKES SURPRISE VISIT TO KABUL

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid a

surprise visit to Kabul today, his first to Afghanistan since taking the post. He met President Hamid Karzai, Speaker of Parliament Yunus Qanooni, and General Dan McNeill, the commander of NATOs International Security Assistance Force, as well as senior UN staff.

The Secretary-General spoke in detail with President Karzai on questions of governance, including the fight against illegal drugs and corruption. They agreed that to address such problems, strong leadership was needed, accompanied by visible action. They also discussed progress on economic development and the need to promote regional cooperation, as well as the paramount importance of education.

The issue of civilian casualties was raised separately during talks with General McNeill and President Karzai. General McNeill expressed his intention to do all he could to reduce the impact that the conflict is having on civilians. President Karzai and the Secretary-General acknowledged the huge importance of the issue and agreed that steps are needed to ensure that Afghan civilians are safe.

The Secretary-General and President Karzai will be traveling to Rome in the coming days to attend the July 2-3 Rule of Law Conference on Afghanistan, where they will continue their dialogue.

The Secretary-General is on his way now to Geneva, where he will attend the ECOSOC High-Level Meeting on Monday.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT

ON COTE DIVOIRE PRIME MINISTER

The Secretary-General is shocked at today's rocket attack on an aircraft that was carrying Prime Minister Guillaume Soro at Bouake airport, resulting in the killing of at least three people with several others wounded.

The Secretary-General strongly condemns this attack.

He calls on all Ivorian parties to continue to work together and in close consultation with the United Nations towards implementing the Ouagadougou Agreement.

The Secretary-General reminds all the Ivorian people that this Agreement represents a unique opportunity for a peaceful solution to the protracted Ivorian crisis, which should be used for the benefit of the people of Côte dIvoire and the entire sub-region.

The UN Mission in Côte dIvoire also condemned the attack. It asked the countrys authorities to identify those responsible for this attack and bring them to justice. The UN Mission is calling on all parties to refrain from any action that could compromise the Ouagadougou Agreement.

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTION

OF RESOLUTION ON RESTRUCTURING

The Secretary-General warmly welcomes the General Assemblys adoption of resolution 61/279, approving the thrust of his proposals aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Organization to manage and sustain peace operations.

The proposals approved by the General Assembly include a restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO); the establishment of a separate Department of Field Support (DFS), headed by an Under-Secretary-General; a major augmentation of working-level resources in both Departments and in other parts of the Secretariat; and new capacities as well as integrated structures to match the growing complexity of mandated activities.

The approved reform package has been carefully crafted to ensure that the two Departments, DPKO and DFS, will work in harmony, so as to provide unity of command, coherence in policy and strategy, and operational efficiency, while promoting the overall effectiveness and oversight of peacekeeping operations.

The Secretary-General is grateful that the General Assembly was able to tackle the daunting task of approving such wide-ranging proposals in a short period of time. Through this resolution, Member States have reaffirmed the importance they attach to UN peacekeeping, and demonstrated their willingness to substantially invest in bolstering the Secretariats capacity in this key endeavor.

The Secretary-General is confident that the Secretariat can now move quickly to make appointments and implement the new arrangements.

Asked whether the Secretary-General regarded the General Assemblys vote as a victory for him, the Spokeswoman said that he did. She noted that he did not get everything from the Assembly that he had asked for, but added that the resolution was nevertheless a very positive development.

SECURITY COUNCIL ENDS U.N. WEAPONS VERIFICATION MANDATE FOR IRAQ

On the last scheduled working day of the Security Council during Belgiums Presidency in the month of June, the Council held a formal meeting to discuss the work of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Iraq.

Security Council members voted 14 to 0, with Russia abstaining, on a resolution today to terminate those two bodies mandates in Iraq.

Prior to that, Council members heard from Demetrius Perricos, the Acting Chairman of the Commission, and Gustavo Zlauvinen of the IAEA about the inspectors work over the years. Perricos warned that, in Iraqs current security environment, it should not be discounted that non-state actors may seek to acquire toxic agents or their chemical precursors in small quantities.

Earlier, the Council issued a Presidential Statement that, among other things, encourages increased efforts to end the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.

EN ROUTE TO AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL PROMOTES PEACE AND GOOD GOVERNANCE IN GUINEA-BISSAU

The Deputy Secretary-General has arrived in Guinea-Bissau as part of efforts to consolidate peace and promote good governance in that country.

She was in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, on Thursday evening. She spoke to media on arrival and highlighted the efforts being made by the United Nations and the African Union in dealing with the

Darfur crisis.

The Deputy Secretary-General is expected back in the Ghanaian capital on Saturday afternoon for the African Union Summit.

UNITED NATIONS APPEALS FOR EARLY TROOP AND POLICE

OFFERS FOR PEACEKEEPING FORCE IN DARFUR

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations this morning met with potential troop and police contributing countries for the African Union-United Nations hybrid operation for Darfur.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, opened the meeting and appealed to the participants for early contributions. He also noted that suitable offers from African contributors will be given priority but if there are not enough such offers, offers from outside Africa would be accepted.

The potential contributors were briefed on the military and police requirements of the hybrid operation as outlined in the AU-UN joint report issued earlier this month. They also heard a briefing on the logistical challenges of deploying in Darfur.

DPKO characterized todays meeting as a constructive start, and it will press ahead with informal discussions with the potential contributors and hold the next meeting after the Security Council officially authorizes the operation and establishes a mandate.

BAN KI-MOON SENDS MESSAGE TO PEOPLE OF TIMOR LESTE

ON EVE OF PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION

Tomorrow is Election Day in Timor-Leste and the Secretary-General, in a video message recorded last week, expressed the hope that Timorese voters will demonstrate a determination to see genuine multi-party democracy prevail in the young nation.

He called on candidates to accept the results of the parliamentary elections and to raise any concerns about the vote through the appropriate legal channels.

He also renewed the UN commitment to stand by Timor-Lestes side as the country consolidates the foundations of democratic governance.

The UN Integrated Mission (UNMIT), meanwhile, says that representatives of the five leading political parties met yesterday to discuss threats of violence looming over the election and how best to prevent violence during and after the vote. The Mission was also represented at that meeting, which saw participants commit to more dialogue on a number of specific violence-prone areas.

Meanwhile, the UN Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM, has actively promoted the participation of women in Timorese politics. UNIFEM says that it conducted workshops on the electoral process in a democracy as young as Timor-Lestes.

UNITED NATIONS PROMOTES CONFIDENCE MEASURES TO RIVAL GEORGIAN PARTIES AND GEORGIAS PARTNERS

The UN Observer Mission in Georgia says that senior representatives of the Secretary-Generals Group of Friends of Georgia met earlier this week in Bonn, Germany under the chairmanship of Jean-Marie Guehenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

The meeting, attended by the Georgian and Abkhaz delegations, addressed the enduring tensions in the zone of conflict, the absence of dialogue between the sides and the need to promote the confidence-building measures endorsed by the Security Council.

The Group of Friends includes France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

ON ITS FIFTH ANNIVERSARY, BAN KI-MOON LAUDS

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

This Sunday will mark the fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Secretary-General regards the creation of the Court as one of the major achievements in international law during the past century.

A statement marking the fifth anniversary, which we have upstairs, says that the Court has already established itself as the centerpiece of a system of international criminal justice. It provides a unique opportunity to hold people responsible for the most serious crimes, and already the Courts activities have helped to deter potential perpetrators of international crimes.

REPORT ON WESTERN SAHARA TALKS TO BE REISSUED SHORTLY

Asked about the Secretary-Generals latest report on Western Sahara, the Spokeswoman said that there would probably be a revised version of that report coming out in the next few days. Asked why the report was being revised, Montas said that was in response to reservations expressed by all the parties.

[In addition to the information provided at todays noon briefing regarding the Secretary-Generals report on Western Sahara, correspondents are advised that the report will be reissued shortly without the final section of Observations. It was felt by all concerned that at this stage in the talks it would be in the best interests of the process for the Secretary-Generals envoy to share observations and recommendations to the Security Council in his coming oral briefing to the Council and to the parties directly within the negotiations themselves, rather than in a public report. ]

NO DECISION TAKEN ON PROSECUTOR FOR EX-YUGOSLAVIA TRIBUNAL

In response to questions, the Spokeswoman emphasized that it is up to the Security Council to decide who will be the next prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, upon recommendations by the Secretary-General.

The Secretary-General would like to ensure a transition as smooth and rational as possible between Prosecutor Carla del Ponte and her replacement.

Confidential discussions are underway but no decision has yet been taken.

The matter has not yet been brought to the attention of Security Council and the Council members will be informed once all necessary details have been agreed upon.

As to Serge Brammertz, the Secretary-General greatly appreciates his skills and the manner in which he is discharging his duties as head of the International Independent Investigation Commission for Lebanon. The Secretary-General wishes to be able to rely on his talents so that the United Nations will continue to benefit from them.

Asked whether Brammertz is being considered to become the next ICTY prosecutor, the Spokeswoman said that consultations are taking place on Del Pontes successor.

Asked how many reports Brammertz would issue in his current position prior to the end of the year, Montas said that was up to him.

UNICEF PROVIDES EMERGENCY AID TO PAKISTAN FLOOD VICTIMS

UNICEF is providing emergency supplies in the province of Balochistan, where more than 800-thousand people have been affected by flooding. Heavy rains and a recent cyclone have left dozens of villages under water, and thousands of people homeless.

UNICEF is providing tents, blankets, medicine, and water purification tablets, as well as 50 tons of food supplements.

Asked whether the United Nations would assist the population in Karachi that needs help, the Spokeswoman noted that it was primarily the responsibility of the Pakistani Government to deal with the response to the floods. She said that the United Nations would provide help to Pakistan as requested.

MEDICAL EVACUATION URGED FOR PALESTINIAN CHILDREN IN IRAQ

In Iraq, the UN refugee agency is making an urgent plea for the immediate evacuation of at least a dozen seriously-ill Palestinians, mostly young children, who are stuck in Baghdad or in makeshift camps on the Syrian border.

Thousands more Palestinian refugees in Iraq are living in dire conditions and have nowhere to go, UNHCR says.

In other news, UNHCRs two and half year repatriation program for Liberian refugees is set to end tomorrow. The last repatriation convoy, transporting 550 Liberians, departed yesterday from a camp in eastern Guinea. More than 100 thousand refugees have returned home to Liberia with UNHCRs help since October 2004.

HIGHER RISK OF BLOOD CLOTS FOR PASSENGERS

TRAVELING FOUR HOURS OR LONGER

In a

study released today, the World Health Organization says that the risk of developing venous thromboembolism or blood clotsdoubles for passengers who remain seated or immobile after travel of four hours or more whether its in a plane, train, bus or car.

The study also found that those taking multiple flights over a short period of time are at higher risk. Walk around, WHO advises, stressing, however, that the risk of developing blood clots when traveling are relatively low, at about 1 in 6000.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

REVOLVING-DOOR POLICY DOES NOT LIMIT POST-U.N. POLITICAL FUNCTIONS FOR FORMER STAFF: In answer to a question, the Spokeswoman referred to a bulletin issued last December putting into force regulations regarding post-employment restrictions. It outlines clear limitations on UN staff who have been involved in various levels of "procurement activity" but in no way concerns accepting a political post.

STUDY BY REFUGEE AGENCY SHOWS NO LINK BETWEEN CONFLICT AND AIDS PREVALENCE: A study by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is challenging assumptions that conflict increases the prevalence of HIV infection. In the seven African countries where it collected data, the UNHCR did not find evidence that conflict, forced displacement and wide-scale rape lead to a higher prevalence of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the results of the study showed no link between refugees fleeing conflict and the spread infection in host communities.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

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

Saturday, June 30

Today is the Belgiums last day as Security Council president.

Through Friday in Bangkok, the second session of the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control takes place.

Sunday, July 1

The Deputy Secretary-General to address the Summit of the African Union in Accra, Ghana.

Today is Chinas first day as Security Council president.

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Monday, July 2

From today through 27 July in Geneva, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) holds its substantive session. The Secretary-General will open the high-level segment, which runs today through Thursday, and present the Millennium Development Goals Report 2007.

The International Conference on Rule of Law in Afghanistan takes place today and tomorrow at the Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome. The Secretary-General is expected to co-chair part of the session.

Through Saturday in Rome, the 30th annual meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the joint international food standard-setting body of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization, takes place..

From today through Friday in Cape Town, South Africa, the International Atomic Energy Agency hosts a global workshop on radioactive waste.

Tuesday, July 3

In Geneva, ECOSOC holds its first Annual Ministerial Review on the theme of strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development. The Review will close tomorrow with the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration.

Following the noon briefing in Room 226, Ambassador Wang Guangya of China will brief the press, in his capacity as the Security Councils President for July, on the Councils programme of work for the month.

Wednesday, July 4

Today is an official holiday in New York. UN Headquarters will be closed.

The Secretary-General is scheduled to be in Turin, Italy, today to visit the UN Staff College.

Thursday, July 5

In Geneva, ECOSOC launches the Development Cooperation Forum and holds parallel roundtables on the role of national aid coordination and management and on South-South and triangular cooperation.

The Global Compact Leaders Summit takes place today and tomorrow in Geneva.

Friday, July 6

In Geneva, the Coordination Segment of the ECOSOC Substantive Session opens today. Through 10 July, the segment will focus on the role of the UN System in promoting full and productive employment and decent work for all. This morning, there will also be a dialogue of ECOSOC with the Executive Secretaries of the Regional Commissions.

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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