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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-06-25
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP GUINEA-BISSAU, RETURN OF MISSING PERSONS AND PROPERTY FROM IRAQ
The Security Council began its work today with a briefing by the High-level Coordinator dealing with the return of missing persons and property from Iraq, Gennady Tarasov. He presented the Secretary-Generals latest report on that topic, which came out as a document yesterday.
After that, Shola Omoregie, the Secretary-Generals Representative for Guinea-Bissau, and UN Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa briefed the Council on the latest developments in Guinea-Bissau. Costa warned that transnational organized crime is threatening regional security in West Africa. The briefing was followed by consultations on Guinea-Bissau.
After those consultations, the President of the Security Council issued statements to the press on both subjects. On Iraq and Kuwait, he said that Council members noted that the total number of positive identifications of human remains by the Kuwaiti authorities had increased since the last report and they were encouraged and hopeful about the possibility of further progress.
On Guinea-Bissau, Council members welcomed the progress on the preparations for legislative elections but reiterated their concern over the acute threat posed by drug trafficking and organized crime.
On Tuesday, Joćo Honwana, the Director of the Africa I Division in the Department of Political Affairs, spoke to the Security Council on the de facto cease-fire that has been observed since last week between Djibouti and Eritrea. He told the Council in an open meeting that the cease-fire should be consolidated and the status quo ante restored.
SECURITY COUNCIL URGES PARTIES IN SOUTH SUDAN TO RESOLVE OUTSTANDING ISSUES
On Tuesday afternoon, the Security Council urged the parties in South Sudan to use the opportunities created by the 8 June road map to resolve all outstanding issues in the regions Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The road map was signed in order to quell the outbreak of violence in the city of Abyei.
In a presidential statement, the Council encouraged the parties -- the National Congress Party and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement -- to implement the agreement, known as the Road Map for the Return of Internally Displaced Persons and Implementation of Abyei Protocol, fully and in the agreed timelines.
Towards that goal, it emphasized the importance of the establishment of an Abyei Area Administration, deployment of a new joint battalion, free movement for troops of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and redeployment of the Sudan Armed Forces and SPLM troops outside the Abyei area. It also called on UNMIS to robustly deploy in and around Abyei to support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
U.N. ENVOY CONTINUES EFFORTS ON ZIMBABWE
Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios continues to be in the Southern African region on the Secretary-Generals behalf, where he is in communication with the leaders around the region and with the actors in Zimbabwe, to reinforce the Secretary-Generals message.
Today, he is in Luanda, the Angolan capital, where he expects to meet with the Foreign Minister of Angola this evening and with the countrys President on Thursday.
Asked if the Secretary-General would consider appointing Kofi Annan as a mediator in Zimbabwe, the Spokeswoman said she was unaware of any such appointment and noted that Menkerios was the senior UN official in the region at present.
MIDDLE EAST QUARTET REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATIONS
Representatives of the Middle East Quartet met at the principals level in Berlin on Tuesday. The Secretary-General participated by videoconference. Following the meeting, a
statement was issued.
The Quartet reaffirmed its support for ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Noting the dire budget situation facing the Palestinian Authority, it urged all donors who have not done so to fulfill their pledges from the December 2007 Paris donors conference.
The Quartet called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001. It also expressed its strong support for steady and sufficient fuel supplies to Gaza and for the immediate resumption of stalled UN and other donor projects there.
The Quartet principals said they would meet again in September at the UN General Assembly. At that time, 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.
U.N. SECURITY CHIEF RESIGNED BECAUSE HE FELT NEED TO TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY SECURITY LAPSES
Asked whether the resignation of Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security David Veness had been in light of the
report issued on Tuesday by the High-Level Panel dealing with the security of UN personnel and premises, the Spokeswoman noted that Veness had offered his resignation. It does not derive from any individual responsibility but from his belief that, as head of DSS, he must take full and ultimate responsibility for any security lapses.
In response to a question on the work of a group headed by Ralph Zacklin that would look into individual accountability for the 11 December 2007 bombing in Algiers, Montas said that the groups work would last for six weeks, and it has already begun.
WORLD DRUG REPORT TO BE LAUNCHED THURSDAY
Tomorrow, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is launching the World Drug Report 2008. It will show that recent progress in drug control is under threat by a surge in opium and coca cultivation and the risk of higher drug use in developing countries.
UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa will launch the report at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow at the Trygve Lie Center for Peace, Security & Development at the International Peace Institute. The reports findings are embargoed until 1:00 p.m. Thursday New York Time.
MYANMAR ASSESSMENT FINDS CONTINUED NEED FOR AID
A joint assessment team looking at post-Cyclone Nargis relief efforts in Myanmar has
found that there is a need for continued humanitarian relief efforts to cover unmet needs.
Based on roughly half the data from a recent Village Tract Assessment, the survey found that nearly three quarters of households do not have enough food to last more than a week, and nearly half are dependent on humanitarian assistance to eat.
Meanwhile, 60 percent of households say their access to clean water is inadequate. Many are now depending on rainwater since ponds are full of salt water
The assessment will be used to revise the humanitarian appeal, which is set to be issued in early July.
MORE THAN 30,000 MYANMAR REFUGEES TRANSPORTED FROM THAILAND TO THIRD COUNTRIES
The world's largest resettlement operation passed a significant milestone this week, with more than 30,000 Myanmar refugees transported from Thailand since January 2005 to begin new lives in third countries, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
UNHCR says that the number of departures since the resettlement programme began had this week reached 30,144. Nearly all of the refugees had been sheltering in nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border since fleeing fighting and oppression in their homeland.
Resettlement has become an attractive option for Myanmar refugees in Thailand, UNHCR says, as the chances of returning home any time soon have dimmed. Settling down permanently in Thailand is also not a possibility.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS OF FRAGILE SITUATION IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
In his latest report on the situation in the Central African Republic and on the activities of the Peacebuilding Support Office there, the Secretary-General says that the overall political, security and socio-economic situation in the country continues to be fragile. It is characterized by widespread poverty, insecurity, and a disturbing cycle of human rights violations and impunity.
The Secretary-General renews his appeal to all armed groups to lay down their weapons and work towards restoring peace and stability. He adds that the Governments encouraging efforts to improve respect for human rights need to be intensified and made irreversible.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES LORDS RESISTANCE ARMY TO PROVIDE FULL LIST OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN ITS RANKS
An additional report by the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Uganda was issued today. In it, he notes that his Special Envoy for the Lords Resistance Army (LRA)-affected areas, Joaquim Chissano, transmitted a message from the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to the head of the LRA delegation to the Juba peace talks.
Among other things, that message contained a strong condemnation of the continuous recruitment and use of child soldiers by the LRA.
In his report, the Secretary-General urges the LRA to provide a complete list of names and ages of the women and children remaining in its ranks -- for verification purposes and to bring about their immediate release. He also requests that several UN bodies develop a strategy for increased regional joint capability to monitor and report on cross-border recruitment and use of children by the LRA.
WHO LAUNCHES NEW CHECKLIST TO MAKE SURGERY SAFER
The World Health Organization (WHO) has
launched a new safety checklist for surgical teams to use in operating theatres, as part of a major drive to make surgery safer around the world.
The launch of the new tool follows studies which indicate that a significant percentage of surgeries result in complications and deaths that could have been prevented.
Meanwhile, WHO is launching a new report tonight on water. Called Safer Water for Better Health, it is the first-ever report providing country-by-country estimates of the effects of poor water, sanitation and hygiene on health.
SEVEN CITIES IN ARAB WORLD LAUNCH ANTI-RACISM NETWORK
Seven municipalities in the Arab World today
launched a network to combat racism.
At a ceremony in Casablanca, under the auspices of UNESCO, they signed a joint declaration committing themselves to tackle discrimination specific to the region on the basis of a Ten Point Action Plan.
By creating the network, the Arab municipalities are joining regional coalitions of cities in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific Regions.
Those regional networks will launch an International Coalition of Cities against Racism next Monday in Nantes, France, as part of UNESCOS World Forum on Human Rights.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO BRIEF THE PRESS: At 11.30 a.m. on Thursday, the Secretary-General will be briefing at the stakeout position outside the Security Council chamber before he leaves on his trip to Northeast Asia. There will be no briefing by the Spokesperson that day.
INTERVIEWS CONTINUING FOR NEW HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: In response to a question, the Spokeswoman said that interviews for the High Commissioner for Human Rights post were still taking place.
SECRETARIAT TO RESPOND TO SECURITY COUNCIL REQUESTS ON SUDAN AND DJIBOUTI: Asked about Security Council requests for a fact-finding mission on the Djibouti-Eritrea situation and for an examination into the UN Mission in Sudans actions during the violence in Abyei, the Spokeswoman said that the Councils recommendations will be taken up by the relevant UN Secretariat departments.
SECRETARY-GENERAL NOT FORMALLY INFORMED OF POLISARIO FRONTS REPORTED DECISION TO WITHDRAW FROM TALKS: Asked about reports that the Polisario Front would not participate in future talks on Western Sahara until Personal Envoy Peter van Walsum leaves his post, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has not been formally informed of that.
TIMOR-LESTE: ACTION FILM STAR PROMOTES USE OF MARTIAL ARTS FOR PEACE: UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Jackie Chan is on a three-day
visit to Timor-Leste. The action film star and kung fu expert is there to meet young people to promote the use of martial arts for peace.
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