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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-04-02

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

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

BAN KI-MOON ARRIVES IN BUCHAREST FOR

HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON AFGHANISTAN

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived earlier today in Bucharest, Romania, where he met with the Secretary-General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. They discussed

Afghanistan, Kosovo, and cooperation between the United Nations and NATO. On Afghanistan, they discussed whether additional troops would be offered at tomorrows high-level meeting.

After that, the Secretary-General met with Romanian Prime Minister C&#259;lin Popescu-T&#259;riceanu, and they discussed, among other things, tomorrows meeting on Afghanistan, recent developments in Kosovo, an expanded UN role in Iraq and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Secretary-General told reporters afterwards that he appreciated Romanias contributions to UN peacekeeping operations from Kosovo to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as its voluntary funding to 15 UN agencies, funds and programmes.

In response to a question about reports that the Secretary-General had plans to travel to Moscow, she said that she expected an announcement of the Secretary-General's upcoming travels shortly.

SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR APRIL

This morning the Security Council, under the Presidency of South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, held consultations on its monthly programme of work.

It also heard a briefing by Italian Ambassador Marcello Spatafora, who chairs the sanctions committee dealing with the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

BAN KI-MOON NOTES PROGRESS IN HAITI

BUT WARNS OF POTENTIAL FOR DETERIORATION

In his latest report on the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the Secretary-General says that Haiti has made significant strides in key areas.

He notes that collaboration among the political leadership has led to progress in judicial reform and an agreement on the establishment of the Provisional Electoral Council.

The security situation has improved considerably, thanks in part to the support provided by the UN to the Haitian law-enforcement authorities, and the economy is at its best in decades.

The potential for regression remains, however, as tensions between political actors and among branches of the Government have distracted from the reform agenda, the report says.

With an increase in reported kidnappings and the rumored reemergence of gangs, the Secretary-General calls on the authorities to persevere in their recovery efforts.

He also calls for a strong international involvement.

In conclusion, the Secretary-General says that he will soon introduce a consolidation plan with measurable benchmarks to help avert a premature disengagement and avoid a reversal of recent gains.

U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF EXPRESSES OPTIMISM

ABOUT CYPRUS SETTLEMENT EFFORTS

Speaking to reporters today in Nicosia, Cyprus, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said that a very positive tone and a palpable sense of momentum exist in Cyprus at the moment, and that Cypriots are right to have high expectations.

He said its the UNs expectation and sincere hope that efforts over the next three months will lead towards fullfledged negotiations on a settlement. He added that he is confident that, in the end, the two sides, with the UNs help, can succeed.

Pascoe noted that, when he returns to New York, he will report to the Secretary-General and the Security Council. He also said that he expects to go to Athens and Ankara next week.

Meanwhile, Nicosias Ledra Street crossing is slated to open tomorrow morning. The interim head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Elizabeth Spehar, will be among the speakers at the opening ceremony.

Last week, the Secretary-General said the leaders agreement on the opening of the Ledra Street crossing is a positive step forward.

U.N. NEPAL ENVOY CALLS FOR CALM DURING NEXT WEEKS ELECTIONS

In a press conference today, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Nepal, Ian Martin,

reiterated that the United Nations Mission in Nepal and its regional offices will exert their utmost efforts to make the current electoral process successful.

Stressing that violence should have no place in next weeks Constituent Assembly election, Martin pointed out that all political parties must respect the Code of Conduct and the rights of other parties to campaign freely without obstruction in any district or village that they choose.

In this regard, Ian Martin welcomed the agreement signed yesterday by the leaders of the three major parties of the governing Seven-Party Alliance. The agreement commits to hold the historic Constituent Assembly election in a free, impartial and fearless manner.

UNITED NATIONS RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT SETTLEMENT ACTIVITY

WITH ISRAELI GOVERNMENT

In response to a question on reported Israeli plans to build further settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, Okabe said that the United Nations has raised with the Israeli Government, through the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, its serious concerns at recent reports of further settlement activity and is now awaiting clarifications.

"We reiterate that any settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal and contrary to the Road Map," she said. "We believe credible and visible action must be taken to implement Israel's obligations to freeze settlement activity, including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts. We strongly support the ongoing efforts within the context of the Annapolis process to bring about concrete action on this and all Phase 1 Road Map obligations."

MORE THAN ONE MILLION SUDANESE CHILDREN WILL BE BACK TO SCHOOL

Under the UNICEF-supported Go to School initiative in Southern Sudan, 1.3 million children are expected to enter classes this year, compared to just 340,000 in 2005.

UNICEF says that millions of school bags, books, pencils and other essential learning materials, including those for teachers, have been distributed by truck, boat and even on foot to communities, often in remote areas with limited infrastructure.

Of the 1.3 million children now in school, 34 per cent are girls, a significant milestone in overturning taboos that had restricted girls from attending classes.

U.N. MISSION NOTES HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN LIBERIA

The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has released its latest report on the human rights situation in that country. Covering the period from May to October of last year, the report notes several violations, including cases where national police officers, as well as court and prison officials, were found to have been involved in corrupt practices.

There have also been reports of government officers abusing their authority, and Justices of the Peace continuing to perform their duties despite the expiration of their mandates or appointments.

Other issues of concern include poor detention conditions; sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and forced marriages; and inadequate resources for schools. The report also cites three cases where parents allegedly attempted to sell their children in order to buy food.

The Report recommends that the Government legally prohibit violence against children, including corporal punishment and female genital mutiliation; allocate more resources to education, especially in rural areas; and collaborate with UNMILs Human Rights and Protection Section to train national police on rights issues.

DESPITE MAJOR PROGRESS ON DEVELOPMENT GOALS, PACE IS TOO SLOW

The General Assembly today is continuing with its thematic debate on Recognizing the achievements, addressing the challenges and getting back on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Summing up yesterdays panel discussions, the Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said several key messages had emerged. Among them that major progress has been made on achieving the MDGs, but the pace is too slow, due to an internationally fragmented and inefficient response.

Scaled-up and more predictable aid, as well as improved aid effectiveness, are crucial, she said, calling on Member States to develop stronger partnerships with the private sector and civil society.

ON WORLD AUTISM DAY, BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR

INCREASED EFFORTS FOR CHILDREN

Today is the first official World Autism Awareness Day, which seeks to highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder.

In a message to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General said that it is especially fitting that this inaugural Day falls in 2008 when the world will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and when we expect to see the entry into force of the

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

He called on the world community to empower children suffering from autism and allow them to prosper as future members of their communities, citizens of their countries and full-fledged members of the global community.

Yesterday, Jordan became the 18th country to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The treaty, which opened for signature one year ago, only needs two more ratifications to enter into force and become an internationally legally binding document.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

BAN KI-MOON IS COMMITTED TO PURSUING ACTS OF FRAUD OR WRONGDOING: Asked for a reaction to the sentencing of former UN procurement official Sanjay Bahel by a U.S. court, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General had most recently expressed satisfaction at Bahel's conviction and noted that much of the evidence levelled at Bahel was provided to U.S. investigators as a result of the investigative work of the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS)/Procurement Task Force. At the time, she noted that the Secretary-General said he remains committed to actively pursuing any fraud and wrongdoing at the United Nations. Such acts tarnish the reputation of the Organization and the tens of thousands of United Nations employees who work honourably and honestly.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY ACTIVELY SEIZED OF THE ISSUE OF MIGRANT DEATHS IN THE GULF OF ADEN: Asked for a reaction to the call by a Somali official that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) take up migrant deaths in the Gulf of Aden, the Spokeswoman said that the agency is actively seized of the matter.

UNITED NATIONS IS ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN SOMALIA: Asked if the head of the Department of Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, would be going to Somalia soon, Okabe said that the Secretary-General has a full-time Special Representative dedicated solely to the issue of Somalia. She added that a wide range of United Nations agencies were providing key humanitarian assistance. Okabe also noted that the Secretary-General had proposed several scenarios and options, now being studied by Security Council members, for continued UN engagement and presence in Somalia.

RICE PRODUCTION EXPECTED TO RISE THIS YEAR, BUT EXPORTS WILL CONTINUE TO DECLINE: The Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that world rice production will rise by nearly two percent this year, which may eventually ease the recent surge in prices, but international trade in rice is expected to decline, a result of export restrictions in the main producing countries. International rice prices have increased about 20 per cent since January. The arrival of new harvests in South America and East Asia in the coming months may diminish the upward trend, FAO says, but short term volatility will likely continue.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

to the Spokesperson's Page


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