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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-06-04

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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, June 4, 2008

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES EFFORTS TO RESTORE COLOMBIA-ECUADOR TIES

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly supports the continuing efforts of the Organization of American States (OAS) to assist in the restoration of normal bilateral relations between Colombia and Ecuador, which was among the important hemispheric issues discussed in connection with the 38th OAS General Assembly held on 1-3 June 2008 in Medellín, Colombia.

The Secretary-General is pleased that a report presented by OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza to the Foreign Ministers of the Americas gathered in Medellín noted progress in efforts to restore normal bilateral relations between the two countries, and that the Foreign Ministers requested that Mr. Insulza continue to exercise his good offices in this regard.

BAN KI-MOON ON FIGHT AGAINST HUNGER:

"WE SIMPLY CANNOT AFFORD TO FAIL"

The Secretary-General addressed the press before departing Rome today, saying that he believed the High-level

Conference on World Food Security has been the success that it needed to be.

There is a clear sense of resolve, shared responsibility, and political commitment among Member States to making the right policy choices, and to investing in agricultural productivity for years to come, especially for smallholder farmers, he said.

He noted that, just before the press conference, he had received a petition signed by well over 300,000 individuals all over the world, asking leaders for rapid action and fundamental reform to end the food crisis.

He urged world leaders to move ahead, collectively, with a sense of urgency and purpose to fight hunger and promote world food security, and to create a global partnership around a clear plan of action. We simply cannot afford to fail, the Secretary-General said.

He added that substantial new resources will be needed perhaps as much as $15 to $20 billion a year as our efforts build up. The Secretary-General said, We are duty bound to act, to act now, and to act as one.

At a working dinner co-hosted last night by the Secretary General and Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy, discussions focused on some of the most pressing policy issues related to the current world food security crisis and its underlying causes, namely agricultural productivity, bio-fuels, and trade restrictions, the three themes of the high-level dinner.

Asked what the most important outcomes were from the food summit, the Deputy Spokesperson said the Secretary-General had outlined immediate needs, including access to food by the most vulnerable, increased agricultural production, and longer-term measures to contribute to global food security.

She added that a joint plan had been presented and a communiqué issued following last nights working dinner. In terms of specific outcomes, Okabe pointed out that the Summit was not yet over. There were issues that were currently still being tackled in Rome.

Asked whether the Secretary-General was upset that the food summit could serve as a public stage for such leaders as the Presidents of Zimbabwe and Iran, the Deputy Spokesperson said he was not. Indeed, the Secretary-General had wanted world leaders to gather and discuss the pressing issues at hand. He considered the meeting a success, since Member States had demonstrated a clear resolve to investing in the right policy choices.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals meetings with different Heads of State, Okabe pointed out that it is common for the Secretary-General to meet with world leaders gathered on the sidelines of summits to discuss pressing issues and matters of common concern. That is part of his job, she added.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS OFTEN AT THE ROOTS OF FOOD CRISES

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour told world leaders and other high-level delegates attending the Conference on World Food Security in Rome that human rights violations by governments often lie at the roots of food crises as well as hinder efforts to feed affected populations.

"Food insecurity is often compounded by warfare, bad governance, and natural disasters," Arbour said. "In such cases, it becomes painfully evident that we cannot always rely on the willingness and ability of national authorities to discharge their obligations towards people in need. Not surprisingly, governments that commit or turn a blind eye to gross violations of human rights are also the most likely to disregard their duties and responsibilities."

MORE THAN A BILLION DOLLARS IN FOOD AID

TO HELP TENS OF MILLIONS STRUCK BY FOOD CRISIS

As the international summit on world food security continues in Rome, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced today it is rolling out an additional $1.2 billion in food assistance to help tens of millions of people in more than 60 nations hardest hit by the urgent food crisis.

Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, said the agency is helping the world to weather the storm by tripling the number of people who receive food in Haiti, doubling those who will receive food in Afghanistan, and delivering more critical food assistance to people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

On the margins of the High-Level Conference on World Food Security, a Memorandum of Understanding was also signed today by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and WFP to create opportunities for smallholder farmers.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Population Fund says it is addressing the global food crisis by supporting countries in building capacity for population data collection and analysis.

Population analysis is an important component for Governments in supporting food distribution, anticipating food demand in the medium and longer term, and mapping out the food needs of different population groups, particularly the most vulnerable.

CONCERNS VOICED OVER RESTRICTION OF RELIEF EFFORT IN ZIMBABWE

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes today expressed grave concern at a decision by authorities in Zimbabwe to restrict efforts by humanitarian agencies to deliver relief aid to those in need in that country.

This goes against fundamental humanitarian principles, said Mr. Holmes. Humanitarian agencies must be allowed to reach freely those who are in need in Zimbabwe. Millions of Zimbabweans are unfortunately dependant on humanitarian aid in the present circumstances, Mr. Holmes said.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise said she was deeply concerned by emerging news that the Zimbabwe government may have ordered a halt to food distributions by some international aid agencies in Zimbabwe until after the presidential elections.

"If true, this would be an unconscionable act," Arbour said. "To deprive people of food because of an election would be an extraordinary perversion of democracy, and a serious breach of international human rights law."

INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT NEEDED FOR CRIMINAL TRIBUNALS

The Security Council met this morning to discuss the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Addressing the Council were the Presidents and Prosecutors of both bodies.

In his remarks, Serge Brammertz, the ICTY Prosecutor, said that, during a recent trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, he met with a number of victims associations, whose demands for justice are unwavering. They have never given up. And neither can we, he said.

Meanwhile, the ICTY President, Judge Fausto Pocar, reminded Council members that the Tribunals success is not only crucial for peace and security in the former Yugoslavia. It will also set the stage for all present and future international criminal justice endeavors, he said.

On Rwanda, ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow reminded the Council that Rwanda shares concurrent jurisdiction with the ICTR over certain offenses. In that context, he said he hoped that Rwanda would conduct specific prosecutions in a manner that will effectively contribute to reconciliation in that country.

Meanwhile, the ICTR President, Judge Dennis Byron, said the continued assistance of all Member States is necessary for the ICTR to bring justice and restore peace and security in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region.

SECURITY COUNCIL ENDS SECOND DAY OF WORK IN SUDAN

The Security Councils mission to Africa just completed its second day of business in Sudan.

It met earlier today with Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor, with Presidential Advisor Nafie Al Nafie, and with Second Vice President Ali Osman Taha.

In those meetings, they discussed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South of Sudan, and Darfur.

The Security Council urged Sudan to press ahead with the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and said it is encouraged by the fact that the North and South have been talking following the recent violence in Abyei and have agreed that civilians displaced by violence can now return to their homes.

The delegation is also encouraged by the fact that Sudan will now accept that the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) can move freely in its area of operation.

On Darfur, the Council mission welcomed signs of improved cooperation between the United Nations and Sudan. It also emphasized the importance of providing protection to UN and other humanitarian convoys in Darfur and the Government agreed to increase its offer toward that goal.

The Council also stressed the importance of pressing ahead with the Darfur peace process.

The Council added that it had received an unsatisfactory response from Sudan on the issue of cooperation with the International Criminal Court, and it stressed the need for Sudan to respect Security Council resolutions on this issue.

Asked how the work of a Darfur mediator would be different from that of Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Darfur, the Deputy Spokesperson said this person would be on the ground full time to try to get the parties to the negotiating table.

HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF ALARMED BY EROSION OF RIGHT TO FAIR TRIAL IN SUSPECTED TERRORISM CASES

In Geneva today, the

Human Rights Council heard a presentation on recent reports submitted by High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour. The presentation was made on her behalf by one of her senior officers.

Regarding her report on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Arbour said she was alarmed by the continuing erosion of the right to a fair trial which occurs when suspects of terrorist acts are denied the right to obtain a judicial review of their case.

Concerning her report on the death penalty, she underscored the need to respect the right to a fair trial in judicial procedures leading to the imposition of the death penalty.

In connection with her report on fundamental standards of humanity, Arbour called on States to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.

Asked about the selection process for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Spokeswoman said the target date for the Secretary-General to submit a name to the General Assembly was by the end of the month, as the current High Commissioners term ended then. The Secretary-General is eager to fill the past as early as possible, she added. Asked for a shortlist of candidates, Okabe said that would not be made public, which was not unusual given past procedure for this post.

SECRETARY-GENERAL IS PLEASED TO SEE CONSTRUCTIVE PROPOSALS ON U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES WORK

The Secretary-General has received the report of the External Independent Investigative Review into the UN Development Programmes operations in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. Miklos Németh, former Prime Minister of Hungary, for their comprehensive, detailed and highly professional review.

He notes with interest the findings of the Panel on the important issues and complex matters addressed.

He is also pleased to see the many constructive proposals and recommendations relating to the work of UNDP and looks forward to UNDP management following up on these recommendations.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

NEW U.N. ENVOY ARRIVES IN LEBANON: Johan Verbeke, the newly appointed United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, arrived today in Beirut to take up his functions as representative of the Secretary-General in Lebanon. Verbeke will begin his round of meetings with Lebanese officials this week.

DEPUTY U.N. CHIEF CONGRATULATES NEW GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT: In remarks this morning, the Deputy Secretary-General warmly congratulated Miguel DEscoto Brockmann of Nicaragua on his election as President of the 63rd session of the General Assembly. She said DEscotos long and varied career will serve him well here at the UN, where momentum is already building toward the next session of the General Assembly.

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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