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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-04-08
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON DEMONSTRATIONS IN HAITI
Hédi Annabi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Haiti, this morning told the Security Council that Haiti has made significant gains in politics, security and institution-building. At the same time, he warned, this progress remains fragile and subject to swift reversal.
He said that there has been a rise in anti-Government demonstrations, with a particular focus on the recent dramatic increase in the cost of living, notably in a violent demonstration last week in Les Cayes. He said that, in order to combat the threat of criminality and violence, the UN Mission has reinforced its collaboration with the Haitian authorities and has enhanced the sharing of information.
Annabi also spoke to Council members about Haiti in closed consultations.
A Security Council press statement on Haiti was read out today by Security Council President Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO HEAR BRIEFING ON LEBANON INVESTIGATION
At 3 p.m., the Security Council was scheduled to hear in an open meeting from the head of the International Independent Investigation Commission dealing with Lebanon, Daniel Bellemare, and to follow that meeting with consultations, as well.
Bellemare provided an update on the Commissions work, following the report that went to the Council two weeks ago, which confirmed that a network of individuals acted in concert to carry out the assassination of Rafik Hariri and that this network, or parts of it, are linked to some of the other cases within the Commissions mandate.
INTERNATIONAL ENVOYS HEAD TO SUDAN FOR TALKS WITH OFFICIALS
The African Union and UN Special Envoys for Darfur are in
Sudan this week to conduct consultations with officials of the Government of National Unity.
The consultations come as a follow-up to the recent informal consultations held with regional partners and members of the international community in Geneva last month.
Jan Eliasson of the United Nations and Salim Ahmed Salim of the African Union plan to meet with Government of Sudan Chief Negotiator Nafie al-Nafie, Senior Assistant to the President Minni Minnawi and Foreign Minister Deng Alor to discuss the way forward in the Darfur political process. They will also travel to Juba to meet with the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM).
From 15 to 20 April, the Special Envoys will conduct consultations with non-signatory movements and representatives of civil society in Darfur.
CHAD: U.N. LAUNCHES POLICE TRAINING PROGRAM
This Wednesday, the UN Mission in Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) is launching a training programme for some 77 Chadian police and gendarmerie commanders.
The Mission says the Chadian officers will acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to enforce law and order and respect for human rights in camps for refugees and the internally displaced, as well as in the major towns of eastern Chad.
The intensive training is expected to last four weeks and will take place in NDjamena. Once they have completed their training the officers will deploy in both the capital and the eastern region and will remain under UN Police supervision for six months. The Mission says that a total of 850 trained gendarmes and police officers will be required to meet its mandate requirement.
CRITICAL STEPS TAKEN TOWARDS RESTORING STABILITY
IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
In his latest report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that despite numerous setbacks, critical steps have been taken toward finding a solution to the instability in the east.
The Nairobi and Goma processes, he says, have set up frameworks to deal with outstanding security problems, particularly in the Kivus. However, success in both processes will ultimately depend on the determination, good faith and political will of all parties. In this regard, continued international engagement remains essential.
Meanwhile, the increasing number of verified ceasefire violations is a matter of serious concern. And the Secretary-General calls on all signatories to respect their obligations under the statements of commitment. He encourages the DRC Government to ensure that the follow-up process is inclusive and he welcomes recent executive orders seeking to do just that.
Continued dialogue among countries in the Great Lakes region is also a welcome development and the Secretary-General is appealing to the Congolese Government to resume full diplomatic relations with its neighbours as soon as possible and to address mutual concerns about security and border issues.
Additionally, he appeals to the Government to ensure timely local elections, which will mark another important step towards strengthening democracy.
While pledging UN electoral assistance, he warns that further postponement of these polls will carry political risks and possibly heighten dissatisfaction among some segments of the population concerned about uneven representation.
Widespread sexual violence also remains a source of deep concern. The UN Mission and the UN system, meanwhile, have stepped up their activities and are undertaking a thorough review of measures to support Congolese efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence and to hold perpetrators accountable.
UNITED NATIONS NEEDS MULTI-SKILLED & MOBILE GLOBAL WORKFORCE
The Secretary-General today addressed the General Assemblys thematic debate on management reform, noting that the subject is one of his top priorities.
The Secretary-General told the Assembly that today, history is swinging our way, with the United Nations being called to do many tasks with proportionately fewer resources. As a result, he said, the UN will need to be made more modern, more flexible and more efficient.
He stressed that the United Nations needs an integrated, multi-skilled and mobile global workforce, and, to achieve it, it must streamline its contractual arrangements and improve conditions of service. He added that we must be able to recruit staff more quickly than at present.
He also noted what the United Nations is doing to ensure accountability, including a new system for the administration of justice that is to be introduced next January. We have his statement upstairs.
NEPAL: U.N. ENVOY CALLS ON ALL TO AVOID VIOLENCE ON ELECTION DAY
Counting down to Nepals historic Constituent Assembly election this week, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Nepal, Ian Martin, in a
press conference, appealed to the political parties and the people, stressing that much now depends on election day itself and on the days that follow.
Stressing that the United Nations is playing an important support role through its mission on the ground, Martin said Nepal is within reach of an historic achievement, in which the country has come in a relatively short time since the end of the armed conflict. Martin said that preparations are now "in good order" for an election more complicated than any Nepal has carried out before.
While noting that there have been serious acts of violence and violations of human rights during the election campaign, Martin appealed to the armed groups that have been claiming responsibility for violent acts to call off any of those efforts to disrupt the process.
He also appealed to the political parties to fulfill on election day, their commitments to improve their respect for the election Code of Conduct and avoid all violence amongst their supporters as well as to respect the result of the election, whatever that result is. To both the armies, Martin urged them to respect fully their commitments to remain in their barracks or cantonments respectively on Election Day.
Martin also urged voters to trust that this is a secret ballot and not to be influenced by threats or inducements and urged all Nepalese people to be patient during an inevitably prolonged period, as election results come in.
GULF STATES URGED TO STEP UP HUMANITARIAN COLLABORATION
Continuing his travels to the Persian Gulf region, Under-Secretary-General and Humanitarian Relief Coordinator John Holmes today
commended Gulf States for their support of humanitarian efforts around the world, but urged them to step up their collaboration, in order to address such needs more effectively and more multilaterally.
Speaking at a humanitarian aid conference in Dubai, Holmes noted that close to 60 percent of UN emergency assistance is provided to countries with Muslim populations.
Greater engagement between Gulf countries and the United Nations would help build a more representative system and keep humanitarian assistance from being viewed solely as a Western enterprise, he said.
UNITED NATIONS CONDEMNS SUICIDE ATTACK IN SRI LANKA
The UN Office of the Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, today strongly condemned the suicide attack in Colombo that killed 15 people on Sunday during a peaceful sporting event.
Condemning all violence and indiscriminate attacks against civilian there, the United Nations offers its deepest sympathies to the families of the victims, including one Government Minister, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, and a number of athletes.
The United Nations urges all parties to the conflict to do everything within their power to avoid civilian casualties and appeals to them to seek a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict.
TWO NEW SENIOR OFFICIALS APPOINTED
The Secretary-General has appointed Mr. Ajay Chhibber of India as Director of the UN Development Programmes Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. Mr. Chhibber replaces Hafiz Pasha of Pakistan, who finished his assignment in December 2007. Mr. Chhibber has worked for the World Bank for over 25 years in a variety of capacities, and has worked across Asia.
Ms. Inés Alberdi of Spain has been
appointed by the UN Development Programmes Administrator as Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women, better known as UNIFEM. Ms. Alberdi replaces Ms. Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore, who is now the Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Ms. Alberdi brings with her over 25 years of professional experience on issues related to gender and development and in politics.
Asked whether financial contributions by Member States had played a role in who gets appointed to senior positions at the United Nations, the Spokeswoman said that it does not play a direct role. She noted that one of the key concerns in making appointments is ensuring a fair geographical distribution.
Regarding the UNIFEM post, Montas said that the selection had been made after a long, thorough and careful process involving the Secretary-General and the Administrator of the UN Development Programme.
BAN KI-MOON LOOKS FORWARD TO PAPAL VISIT: Asked about the visit next week by Pope Benedict XVI, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General looks forward to meeting the Pope again, following a visit that the Secretary-General made last year to the Vatican.
HUMANITARIAN GAME LAUNCHED IN ARABIC: The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched the worlds first humanitarian video game in Arabic. Food Force lets players join a virtual team of WFP experts to get food to the needy in emergencies. The game has already clocked around six million players worldwide in other languages, and is available for free on the internet.
NEW AGREEMENT TO PROTECT PROPERTY RIGHTS OF DISPLACED COLOMBIANS: The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is signing an agreement today with the Colombian Government on the protection of land rights and the restitution of property for the countrys displaced population. The agreement will help coordinate various existing programmes to legally protect abandoned lands. It also envisions new initiatives to restore the property rights of people who have lost land through forced displacement. We have more information in the UNHCR Briefing Notes upstairs.
NEW ONLINE MAPPING TOOL UNVEILED: The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Google have unveiled a new online mapping programme. It provides an up-close view of some of the worlds major displacement crises, as well as the humanitarian efforts aimed at providing assistance to millions of people. The programme takes advantage of Google Earths technology by letting agencies overlay text, audio and video explaining their work in various places. In response to a question, the Spokeswoman noted that Palestinians were included in the Google map.
NO MYANMAR APPOINTMENT YET: In response to a question, the Spokeswoman said that no one had been appointed yet to head the UN House in Myanmar.
U.N. NOT INVOLVED IN FRENCH SHIP SITUATION: The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, said that the United Nations was not involved in resolving the situation of a French ship held by pirates off the Somali coast.
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