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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-06-24

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

U.N. SECURITY CHIEF RESIGNS IN WAKE OF ALGERIA BOMBING REPORT

The following statement is attributable directly to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

At a meeting with me yesterday, the Under-Secretary-General for Security and Safety, Sir David Veness informed me that, as the Head of the Department of Safety and Security of the United Nations, he was willing to shoulder full responsibility for any security lapse that may have occurred in the context of the heinous terrorist

attack on the United Nations in Algiers of December 11, 2007.

In the light of this responsibility, as the Head of the Department of Safety and Security, Sir David has voluntarily offered me his resignation.

I am grateful to Sir David Veness for his high sense of devotion to duty and strong professional motivation.

As the first head of the Department, he has provided it strong leadership at a critical period in building a safety and security structure for the United Nations that has significantly improved its security management system in a whole range of areas. This fact is recognized by the Independent Panel itself. The Organization is deeply indebted to him.

While accepting his decision to resign, in the interest of continuity, I have asked him to stay on until such time as a stable succession can be assured. I am aware that this will require some time.

GROUP SET UP ON INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTABILITY FROM ALGIERS ATTACK

The

Report of the Panel on Safety and Security was issued today.

Its contents are being disseminating with minimal redactions -- primarily because of our concern not to divulge details of our functioning that may pose further hazards or threats to our personnel or premises in their normal functioning.

While the Panel has not identified individual accountabilities, it found ample evidence that several staff members up and down the hierarchy may have failed to respond adequately to the Algiers attack, both before and after the tragedy.

For this reason it suggested an independent accountability procedure to review the responsibilities of the key individuals and offices concerned. The Panel felt such a procedure would help restore confidence and morale among the staff.

In a letter to the Staff published on the UNs internal website today, the Secretary-General announced the creation of a group to follow up on individual accountability. That group will be headed by former Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Ralph Zacklin, and it will urgently examine the question of individual accountabilities connected with the attack on the UN premises in Algiers.

Mr. Zacklin will be assisted by Mr. Jean Jacques Graisse, Mr. Sinha Basanayake, Ms. Zelda Holtzman and Ms. Marisela Padron. They will work from Headquarters, and the Secretary-General expects them to report their findings to him within a period of six weeks.

The Secretary-General reiterated his firm commitment to ensuring full accountability on the part of his senior managers as well as all those at other levels of responsible decision-making.

But, combating security threats from terrorists and other detractors of the United Nations and ensuring the safety and well-being of staff and dependents, national or international, makes it incumbent that host governments and Member States also realize their responsibilities more strongly, he says, so that fuller and more concrete cooperation on security matters can be elicited from them. This factor cannot remain under-emphasized.

Asked whether Lakhdar Brahimi will brief the press, the Spokeswoman said that he was currently traveling but would brief the press at UN Headquarters next Monday at 12:30 p.m.

Asked about the finding that there had been negligence by UN staff, the Spokeswoman said that the accountability group that had been formed would look into that question, and would use as information the findings by Brahimis panel.

DARFUR: NO PROGRESS UNLESS SUDANESE SHOW POLITICAL WILL

The Special Envoys for Darfur for the United Nations and the African Union, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, briefed the Security Council today on the political process and the search for peace in Darfur.

In his briefing, Jan Eliasson says there is now reason to seriously question whether the parties are ready to sit down at the negotiation table and make the compromises necessary for peace, despite the envoys best efforts to assist them.

He also says that the outside world, as much as the parties, has a responsibility to bring an end to this tragedy. It risks tearing apart a great nation. A new generation in Sudan may be doomed to a life in conflict, despair and poverty. The international community should have learned enough lessons from other conflicts where populations are left to stagnate and radicalize in camps.

He spoke of the urgent need to mobilize all available political energy inside and outside Sudan to, first of all, stop escalation and reach a cessation of hostilities and, secondly, to lay a foundation for serious peace talks in Darfur.

But at the end of the day, he concludes, progress will not be made unless the Sudanese themselves show seriousness, political will and a focused commitment to peace.

At 3:30 p.m., the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, is scheduled to brief the Security Council on the situation between Djibouti and Eritrea.

VIOLENCE HAS HINDERED DEPLOYMENT OF DARFUR MISSION

The Secretary-Generals monthly report on the deployment of the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) is available today.

The Secretary-General notes that the ongoing violence has hindered the deployment of UNAMID, which struggles to carry out its mandate by continuing patrols, escorts and the protection of humanitarian convoys despite limited resources.

The Secretary-General also reiterates his call for all parties to lay down their weapons and begin substantive negotiations.

TOO MUCH VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION IN ZIMBABWE

The Security Council wrapped up its consideration of Zimbabwe yesterday evening by adopting a Presidential Statement condemning the campaign of violence against the political opposition ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections there.

The Council called upon the Government of Zimbabwe to stop the violence, to cease political intimidation, to end the restrictions on the right of assembly and to release the political leaders who have been detained.

The Security Council, in its statement, regretted that the campaign of violence and the restrictions on the political opposition have made it impossible for a free and fair election to take place on 27 June.

The Council issued that statement after hearing a briefing, in a private meeting, from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe on the alarming deterioration of the situation in Zimbabwe, in which he said that the United Nations strongly discouraged the authorities from going ahead with the run-off election under these circumstances.

The Secretary-General, speaking after meeting the Council members at lunch yesterday, warned of the situation on the ground, There has been too much violence, too much intimidation. A vote held in these conditions would lack all legitimacy. Under the circumstances, he said, going ahead with the run-off on Friday would only deepen divisions within the country and produce a result that cannot be credible.

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES SECURITY PACT

FOR AFRICAS GREAT LAKES REGION

The Secretary-General welcomes the entry into force of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region on 21 June 2008, following its ratification by eight of the 11 core countries of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

Under the terms of the Pact, the Governments of the region have committed themselves to address the underlying causes of the conflicts in the heart of Africa, and to tackle the key security, governance, development, humanitarian and social issues from a regional perspective.

By prioritizing and realizing results on the ground, the Conference will send a strong signal to the international community of its determination to turn the ideas of the Pact into concrete achievements.

The United Nations, which helped facilitate the Conference process for many years, remains committed to support the implementation of the Pact. The Secretary-General renews his appreciation to the Executive Secretary of the Conference, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, and to the Conference Secretariat.

Asked what the United Nations is doing to support the Great Lakes peace initiative, the Spokeswoman said that UN had fully supported the process with a Special Representative and an office in Nairobi, until two years ago when the 11 core countries took full ownership of the process by adopting the Pact. After the Pact was signed in Dec 2006, the Security Council ended the UN mandate in March 2007 and the office was closed. The UN is now supporting the fledgling structures of the Conference, through the UN Country Teams, Missions and Offices in the countries of the region.

BAN KI-MOON LAUDS CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC PEACE AGREEMENT

The Secretary-General welcomes the peace agreement signed in Libreville on 21 June between the Government of the Central African Republic and the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) and Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) political-military groups, with the facilitation of the President of Gabon, Mr. El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba.

The Secretary-General commends the parties to the agreement for their resolve to restore stability in the Central African Republic.

He hopes that the agreement will enable the Central African authorities to convene, without further delay, the inclusive political dialogue needed to allow the country to embark on a path to sustainable peace, stability and development.

The Secretary-General urges all signatories of the agreement to scrupulously respect its provisions and calls on all other political-military groups in the country to join it.

The Secretary-General reaffirms the United Nations support to the stabilization efforts of the Central African Republic. He calls on the international community to continue to provide assistance to the country to sustain its recovery.

MIDDLE EAST QUARTET CALLS FOR MORE VISIBLE PROGRESS ON GROUND

The Secretary-General today participated, via videoconference and teleconference, in a meeting of the

Middle East Quartet, which took place today in Berlin, Germany.

A press conference was held in Berlin, where Javier Solana, the European Unions High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, read out the Quartets latest

statement.

In that statement, the Quartet underscored the urgent need for more visible progress on the ground in order to build confidence and support progress in the negotiations launched at Annapolis. It said Israels removal of some significant West Bank checkpoints and the opening of a number of Palestinian police stations in Area B represent good steps. But greater efforts are required now to project a new reality, including through further urgent steps to improve access and movement.

Likewise, the Quartet added, Palestinian security performance has improved, including recent efforts in Jenin. Continued Palestinian efforts to fight terrorism and to implement a more comprehensive security strategy are necessary for sustainable long-term improvement.

The Quartet also reiterated its deep concern at continuing settlement activity and called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001.

The Quartet voiced its support for the outcomes of the Berlin Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and the Rule of Law." With its focus on the Palestinian police and justice sector the conference provided a timely forum to re-focus and direct international support efforts towards two key sectors of Palestinian state-building.

The Quartet called for speedy implementation of projects agreed and robust donor support in order to build the capacity of the Palestinian police and justice sector. The Quartet urged Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in that respect, and emphasized the importance of unobstructed delivery of security assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

Noting the dire budget situation facing the Palestinian Authority, the Quartet urged all donors who have not fulfilled their pledges, especially the key regional partners, to fulfill their pledges from the December 2007 Paris donors conference and to urgently provide budgetary support to meet the requirements of the Palestinian Authority government. It looked to the next AHLC meeting on September 22 to take stock of progress.

Recalling the centrality of economic development and institutional reform to the success of a future Palestinian state, the Quartet reaffirmed its support for Quartet Representative Tony Blairs efforts, and congratulated the Palestinian Authority on the success of the May 21-23 Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem.

Commending the close cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on this initiative, the Quartet encouraged similar cooperation to break ground on short and medium term projects and to make progress in private sector activities that will create jobs for Palestinians and help change the conditions of life. The Quartet underscored the importance of uninterrupted transfers of Palestinian tax and customs revenues to the Palestinian Authority.

The Quartet noted that a lasting solution to the situation in Gaza can only be achieved through peaceful means. The Quartet expressed its continuing support for Egyptian efforts to restore calm to Gaza and southern Israel and welcomed the period of calm that began on June 19.

The Quartet urged that the calm be respected in full and expressed the hope that it would endure, and lead to improved security for Palestinians and Israelis alike, and a return to normal civilian life in Gaza. In this respect, the Quartet looked forward to increased humanitarian and commercial flows through the Gaza crossings under the management of the Palestinian Authority, consistent with the November 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, and welcomed the European Unions offer to resume its monitoring mission at the Rafah crossing point.

The Quartet expressed its strong support for the steady and sufficient supplies of fuel to Gaza and for the immediate resumption of stalled UN and other donor projects there. It further tasked the Quartet Representative to develop and promote implementation of measures, in coordination with Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to improve conditions in Gaza, as a matter of urgency.

The Quartet welcomed the May 21 announcement by Syria, Israel and Turkey that indirect talks have been launched, with Turkeys facilitation, aimed at achieving peace in accordance with the Madrid terms of reference, and hopes that progress is made in this direction.

The Quartet principals looked forward to meeting again in September at the United Nations General Assembly. On that occasion the Quartet will consider, after further consultations with the parties, the timing and agenda of an international meeting in Moscow to lend support to the process launched in Annapolis.

Quartet Principals will also continue their dialogue with members of the Arab League Follow-Up Committee.

REFUGEE AGENCY PRESSES FOR RELEASE OF ABDUCTED STAFFER

On Somalia, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is continuing to press for the immediate and unconditional release of the head of its office in Mogadishu.

Hassan Mohamed Ali, also known as Keynaan, was abducted from his home on Saturday. He spoke with a relative by phone on Sunday and said he was in good condition. But no other information has been received about his abductors, their motives or his whereabouts.

As a result of his abduction, humanitarian activities in the Somali capital will be affected, with delays in the delivery of aid to people who are already desperate, UNHCR says.

HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF TO VISIT PAKISTAN

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour will pay her first official visit to Pakistan this week. This will be her last official mission overseas before finishing her four-year mandate on 30 June.

She leaves for Pakistan tomorrow and will spend three days in the country, discussing a wide range of human rights issues with top Government officials, members of civil society and other interlocutors.

Pakistan will be the 55th country to receive an official visit by Arbour during her four years in office.

BAN KI-MOON STRESSES NEED TO BUILD ON FOOD CONFERENCE MOMENTUM

The Secretary-General chaired today the third meeting of the High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf briefed on the High-Level Conference on Food Security that was held in Rome earlier this month.

The Secretary-General stressed the need to build on the momentum generated by the High-Level Conference and to focus on the way forward in addressing the food crisis.

He indicated that key upcoming events, including the G8 Summit, a possible General Assembly meeting in July, and the Assemblys High-Level Segment, are all critical occasions to build upon the foundation provided by the Rome outcome to confront global challenges effectively and in a coherent way.

Task Force Coordinator John Holmes provided an update on the Comprehensive Framework for Action being prepared by the Task Force, which includes a set of actions to address both immediate and longer-term needs, including the structural factors underlying the current food price hikes.

COUNTRIES HONORED FOR RATIFYING INSTRUMENT

ON SAFETY OF U.N. PERSONNEL

Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., there will be a ceremony in Conference Room D to honor the 14 countries that ratified the 2005 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.

UN Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel and UN Staff Council President Stephen Kisambira will present those Member States with a certificate and draw attention to the fact that eight ratifications are still required for the instrument to come into force.

The Optional Protocol extends legal protection to UN and associated personnel in peacebuilding missions.

The Spokesperson noted, in response to a question, that the Optional Protocol on the Safety and Security of UN Personnel had not entered into force because it had not yet received enough ratifications.

U.N. ENVOY FOR ANGOLA REMEMBERED

Thursday, the 26th of June 2008, marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of Alioune Blondin Beye in a plane crash near Abidjan.

Maitre Beye was serving as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Angolan peace process, and was making one of his frequent missions in the region to build support for the end to the civil war that plagued Angola for decades and cost a half million lives.

A former Foreign Minister of Mali and Secretary General of the African Development Bank, Maitre Beye and eight other people perished in this tragedy, all committed persons of peace.

Maitre Beye touched the lives of all those who knew him, and was beloved by millions of Malians, Angolans, and other peoples of Africa and beyond for his selfless dedication to peace, justice, human rights, and national reconciliation. His life was the ultimate symbol of selflessness and dedication to the common humanity of all people.

A commemoration of his life will be held in the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm on 26 June 2008. The media are welcome to attend.

WOMENS AGENCY HIGHLIGHTS ANTI-VIOLENCE CAMPAIGN

Yesterday in Vienna, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

welcomed prime ministers and foreign ministers representing 10 countries, the European Commission, and others, as leading participants in its Say NO to Violence against Women campaign.

UNIFEM seeks to gather one million names through the campaigns website before 25 November, when the signatures will be handed over to the Secretary-General on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

NEW U.N. ENVOY ARRIVES IN KOSOVO: The Secretary-Generals new Special Representative in Kosovo, Lamberto Zannier, has arrived in Pristina to take up his duties. In his latest press encounter, he said he sees his role as one focused on helping to maintain peace, security and stability in the region as a key condition for economic and social development.

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES IRAQS ROLE IN REMAINING KUWAIT CASES: The latest report from the Secretary-General on missing Kuwaiti and third-country persons and property in Iraq is out as a document today. In it, the Secretary-General details the work of his new High-level Coordinator, Gennady Tarasov, in returning Kuwaiti or third-country nationals or their remains from Iraq. He adds that he is pleased that Iraq has shown sensitivity and understanding, as well as a sincere intention to assist in resolving the outstanding cases.

RESULTS OF NORTH KOREA INVESTIGATION PRESENTED IN GENEVA: Today in Geneva at the annual meeting of the UN Development Programmes Executive Board, Miklos Nemeth, along with Maryann Wirsch, Mohan Vasudev, presented the report of the independent investigative review panel into UNDP activities in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Many of the 36 members of the Executive Board spoke during the more than three hours of discussion in an open meeting.

  • *The guests at noon were Jan Eliasson and Ahmed Salim, the UN and African Union Special Envoys for Darfur, who briefed on the Darfur peace process.

    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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