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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-04-16

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 MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

PREVENTING, RESOLVING CONFLICT PEACEFULLY MUST REMAIN

PRIORITY FOR AFRICAN UNION AND UNITED NATIONS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the High-Level Meeting of the Security Council on peace and security in Africa, and he told the participants that preventing and resolving conflict peacefully must remain high on the shared agenda of the African Union and the United Nations.

In that context, he welcomed the announcement of a new Government in Kenya and urged all sides to stay committed to resolving the longer-term causes of the recent unrest.

He added that we must step up the work for desperately needed progress in bringing peace and stability to Darfur and Somalia.

On Zimbabwe, the Secretary-General said that he is deeply concerned at the uncertainty created by the prolonged non-release of the election results and warned that the situation could deteriorate further, with serious implications for the people of Zimbabwe. The credibility of the democratic process in Africa could be at stake here, he said. If there is a second round of elections, they must be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, with international observers.

The Secretary-General urged the leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to continue their efforts, and added that the United Nations stands ready to provide assistance in this regard.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe also addressed the Security Council, and he presented the two reports that the Secretary-General has submitted concerning the UNs cooperation with regional organizations and on conflict prevention, particularly in Africa.

Todays open meeting is chaired by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, which holds the Security Council presidency for the month of April.

Council members are also considering a draft resolution on cooperation with regional organizations, including the African Union, and may vote on it later today.

Asked about proposals that are being discussed in the Council on sending UN electoral observers to Zimbabwe, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations is able to send observers for elections, but that it would need to be requested by the concerned Government before it does so. She declined to speculate on what kind of assistance the United Nations could provide.

DARFUR: BAN KI-MOON NOTES EXTREME DISAPPOINTMENT

AT LACK OF PROGRESS IN DARFUR

In his most recent 90-day report to the Security Council on Darfur, the Secretary-General says he is extremely disappointed at the lack of progress on all fronts in the efforts to address the situation in

Darfur.

He says the parties appear determined to pursue a military solution; the political process is stalled, the deployment of UNAMID, the African Union-United Nations hybrid operation in Darfur, is progressing very slowly and continues to face many challenges; and the humanitarian situation is not improving.

The primary obstacle is the lack of political will among all the parties to pursue a peaceful solution to the Darfur crisis.

The Secretary-General calls once again on Member States to pledge the necessary capabilities for UNAMID and to prevail upon others who may be in a position to do so.

He also calls on both Chad and Sudan to take definitive steps to normalize their relations and ensure the full and expeditious implementation of the Dakar Agreement.

And, he calls on all parties to urgently commit to a cessation of hostilities and to meaningfully engage in the political process led by the UN and AU Special Envoys.

Asked whether the United Nations can help to fund AU peacekeepers, the Spokeswoman noted that the AU and UN forces serve together in a joint force, UNAMID, and all funding goes into that force. She said that what is required most now are a number of critical capabilities, including helicopters, adding that the deployment of UNAMID forces has moved more slowly than expected.

Montas confirmed that the Secretary-General and director Steven Spielberg had discussed Darfur in a meeting on Tuesday, adding that the Secretary-General welcomes any effort to draw attention to the Darfur issue. She added that the subject has always been at the top of the Secretary-Generals agenda.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE: OUAGADOUGOU AGREEMENT RESULTING IN PROGRESS

In his latest report on Côte d'Ivoire, the Secretary-General says that the Ouagadougou Agreement has built on progress made by previous agreements.

It has also helped achieve greater strides, bringing Côte dIvoire closer to national elections. Its most significant achievements include the increasingly positive political and security environment in the country, the reemerging economy and progress in the identification of the population.

The Secretary-General welcomes the consensus among the Ivorian parties to hold the elections in 2008. The challenges ahead will, however, subject that consensus to a rigorous test, he warns.

In this regard, the parties should do everything possible to preserve the spirit of reconciliation, dialogue and inclusiveness.

He also encourages them to make progress on disarmament, the reunification of the country and the full restoration of State authority.

Without tangible progress on these key issues, the progress achieved so far will remain vulnerable to the risk of serious reversals.

The Secretary-General will be visiting Côte d'Ivoire next week as part of his official visit to West Africa. Later this afternoon, he is scheduled to meet Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.

CONSOLIDATION OF STATUS QUO IN WESTERN SAHARA NOT ACCEPTABLE

In his latest report on Western Sahara, the Secretary-General welcomes the parties commitment to continue the process of negotiations but adds that momentum can only be maintained by trying to find a way out of the current political impasse through realism and a spirit of compromise from both parties.

Consolidation of the status quo is not an acceptable outcome of the current process of negotiations, he says.

In addition, the Secretary-General expresses concern about the restrictions on UN military observers, as well as about the humanitarian situation of Western Saharan refugees.

While welcoming progress in the area of family visits and other confidence-building measures, he notes that such programs could be at risk if they dont receive further funding from the international community.

Asked whether the Secretary-General was pushing for the Polisario Front to adopt a more realistic stance, the Spokeswoman declined to characterize the report that way and added that the United Nations would wait to see how the talks develop.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS U.N. GEORGIA MISSION, CALLS FOR GREATER IMPLEMENTATION OF RESOLUTION 1701 IN LEBANON

Yesterday afternoon, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending for six months the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and calling on both Georgia and Abkhazia to consolidate and broaden recent improvements in the overall security situation.

The Security Council also adopted a Presidential Statement on Lebanon that called on all concerned parties, in particular in the region, to intensify their efforts in implementing

resolution 1701 (2006), including by fully cooperating with the Secretary-General in that regard. The Council also emphasized the need for greater progress on all key issues required for a permanent ceasefire and for a long-term solution.

The Security Council also was briefed by Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on Cyprus. Pascoe

told reporters afterward that his discussions last week with senior officials in both Athens and Ankara also left him really optimistic about the outlook for Cyprus and the chances of ending the long-running dispute.

WORKING GROUPS ON CYPRUS REUNIFICATION TO START WORK FRIDAY

On Cyprus, efforts to reunify the island will take another step forward this week, according to the UN Mission there.

After a series of meetings, representatives from both sides have now

decided on the agendas of the six Working Groups and seven Technical Committees, which were agreed to by the two sides leaders at their meeting last month.

This Friday, the heads of the Committees and Groups will start their work following a brief ceremony in the UN Protected Area of Nicosia.

Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar will preside over the event. Representatives of the two leaders will also make statements.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH PRESIDENT OF REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Asked about the meeting this morning between the Secretary-General and President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea, the Spokeswoman said that the meeting lasted for about half an hour and was very cordial.

The Secretary-General urged pro-active measures by the Republic of Korea on climate change, expanding its part in peacekeeping, increasing official development assistance in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and other pending issues, such as Sudan/Darfur.

Regarding the Korean Peninsula, Montas said that the Secretary-General welcomed the positive developments at the six-party talks, emphasizing the need for understanding and harmony on the Peninsula.

She noted, in response to further questions, that the Secretary-General had also discussed his meeting in a brief press encounter earlier today.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME WARNS OF IMPENDING FOOD CRISIS IN DPRK

The World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that time is running out to avert looming food shortages and a potential humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) following confirmation of a critically low national harvest.

According to WFP, the food security situation in the DPRK is clearly getting worse, and it is increasingly likely that external assistance will be urgently required to avert a serious tragedy.

It adds that WFP takes the situation very seriously and will be intensifying discussions with the DPRK Government and major donors that have indicated a willingness to provide food aid to DPRK.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently projected a 2008 food shortfall in DPRK of 1.66 million metric tons, nearly doubling the 2007 deficit, and the highest level since 2001.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL TO HOLD AD HOC MEETING

ON GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS

On the topic of rising food prices, the president of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has announced plans to hold an ad hoc Council meeting in the first half of May on a global response to the food crisis.

In other news, public administration experts are here at Headquarters all week to mark the 60th Anniversary of the UN Programme on Public Administration and Development. Since 1948, the Programme has been assisting developing countries to build public institutions, set training curricula, and improve public service delivery.

Asked about the UNs response to the food crisis, the Spokeswoman noted that the UN system had been discussing its response, with agencies like the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) stepping up their efforts. She stressed that this is not solely a UN problem, but a world problem.

Montas added that the recent food-related riots in Haiti and in several African countries had underscored the urgency of the situation.

Asked whether the Secretary-General shares the views of an intergovernmental assessment panel that said that major agricultural countries must change their policies, the Spokeswoman said that there is no doubt that these policies have an impact on food prices worldwide. She noted that some countries have stopped exporting food and that is having a tremendous impact on prices. That is one of the issues that needs to be discussed, she said.

PEACEKEEPERS IN HAITI HAND OUT FOOD IN POOR NEIGHBORHOODS

The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti reports that the situation is calmer after weeks of violent mass protests related to soaring global food prices.

Since yesterday, the Brazilian contingent of the UN peacekeeping force has been

handing out 14 tonnes of food rations in the impoverished neighborhoods of the capital, including the Cité-Soleil, Bel Air and Cité Militaire areas, where recent food riots caused several deaths.

Some 3,000 families are expected to receive the food rations along with 10,000 litres of water. The operation is expected to conclude next weekend.

LIBERIA: ANTI-RAPE CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED IN FOURTH COUNTY

The nationwide Stop Rape Campaign has been launched in a fourth county in Liberia.

Speaking at the launch in Lofa County, Deputy Special Representative for the Rule of Law Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu said families of rape victims must not agree to private settlements with rapists or their families, as this only encourages rapists to attack others.

She stressed the importance of enforcing the countrys rape law, and called on individuals and communities to expose all rapists and to allow the law to take its course.

U.N. ENVOY EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES TO VICTIMS

OF YESTERDAYS PLANE CRASH IN DR CONGO

Alan Doss, the Secretary-General Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is saddened by yesterdays deadly crash of a commercial plane in the northeastern town of Goma.

There are conflicting reports as to the number and identity of the victims, with the UN Mission reporting between 21 and 37 dead, with survivors including three UN staff members and one UN dependent.

More than 70 people are reported to have been on board the plane, although it remains unclear whether most victims were passengers or residents of a nearby neighborhood the plane dove into while attempting to take off.

Expressing his condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of the DR Congo, Special Representative Doss pledged continued UN involvement in the rescue operation, which is continuing.

CRITICAL HEALTH CARE NOT REACHING WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN NEED

Despite gains in fighting deadly childhood diseases around the world, critical health care is not reaching the majority of women and children in the most affected, high-mortality countries.

Thats according to the new report on Tracking Progress in Maternal, Newborn & Child Survival. The study was undertaken by UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities, and other institutions.

While noting progress in such areas as providing vaccinations and insecticide-treated bed nets, the report finds that few of the nearly 70 developing countries that account for 97% of maternal and child deaths are making adequate progress in providing the vital health care needed to save the lives of women, infants and children.

DISARMAMENT WORKSHOP ON SMALL ARMS TO BE HELD IN TOGO

The Office for Disarmament Affairs is set to hold a two-day workshop from tomorrow in Lomé, Togo, to support the implementation of the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons.

The workshop, organized in partnership with INTERPOL, is tailored for West and Central African countries as part of a series aimed at promoting the

International Tracing Instrument and assisting states in building their capacity to implement it.

The workshop is aimed at helping relevant government officials to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Instrument, its operational aspects and technical tools for the tracing of illicit small arms and light weapons, such as INTERPOLs Electronic Weapons Tracing System.

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs is planning to organize similar workshops in Asia and the Pacific in May and in Latin America and the Caribbean in June 2008.

U.N. RENOVATION PROJECT TO INCLUDE TREE-PLANTING CAMPAIGN

The United Nations is planning a significant greening of the Headquarters compound, and the surrounding neighborhood, during the landscaping phase of the Capital Master Plan.

In addition to the greening measures that have already been announced to lower energy use and save water, the Office of the Capital Master Plan has also announced a plan to plant 150 new trees on the North Lawn and in the vicinity of the United Nations compound following the completion of the renovation project in 2013.

In coordination with neighborhood associations, the United Nations will plant a number of the trees on First Avenue and on 48th Street, in the neighborhood outside of the United Nations compound.

Todd Forrest, Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections at the New York Botanical Garden, will work with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to assist the United Nations in the selection of appropriate species and locations to assure that the proposed tree planting will serve not just as a greening program, but also an opportunity to increase the diversity of trees in the Turtle Bay area.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNITED NATIONS PRESSES ISRAEL TO ALLOW HUMANITARIAN GOODS INTO GAZA: In response to a question, the Spokeswoman reiterated that the Secretary-General and UN staff in the field continue to press Israel to allow the transit of humanitarian goods into

Gaza.

MULTINATIONAL FORCE FOR SOMALIA IS A SECURITY COUNCIL MATTER: Asked whether the United Nations is prepared to help Somalia through a multinational force, the Spokeswoman said that is a matter for the Security Council to decide.

BAN KI-MOON PLANS TO VISIT CHINA BEFORE THE OLYMPICS: Asked about the Secretary-Generals plans to travel to China, the Spokeswoman said that no specific date for a visit had been decided yet, but the Secretary-General plans to go to China before the Olympics. She noted Chinas important role at the United Nations, including in the Security Council.

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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