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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-06-30

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, June 30, 2008

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PROGRESS ON IMPLEMENTATION OF SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1701

The Secretary-General welcomes the progress on the urgent humanitarian aspects of Security Council

Resolution 1701 achieved by the recent decision of the Israeli government. These involve the return of the two abducted Israeli soldiers and the solution of the cases of Lebanese prisoners held in Israel. He looks forward to the signing and the full implementation of the negotiated agreement in the near future.

He hopes that the envisaged humanitarian moves will encourage further steps on implementing other parts of the resolution and contribute to further humanitarian moves.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would also ask Israel to release thousands of Palestinian prisoners, the Spokeswoman said that was a subject of negotiations, and that the United Nations has been doing all that it can to help that process.

SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES IN WAKE OF DEATHS OF TWO GUATEMALAN OFFICIALS

The Secretary-General of the United Nations is saddened by the news of the helicopter crash that took the lives of Vinicio Gómez and Edgar Hernández, Minister and Vice-Minister of the Interior of Guatemala.

He wishes to express his sincere condolences to the Government of Guatemala, its people and the families for this tragic loss, both personally and for the important work they were doing at the head of the Ministry.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON AFRICAN LEADERS TO STAND BY PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro this morning addressed the leaders of the African Union at their summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, telling them that we must stand by the people of Zimbabwe, who are facing an extremely grave crisis.

She called the situation in Zimbabwe the single greatest challenge to regional stability in southern Africa, not only because of its terrible humanitarian and security consequences, but also because of the dangerous political precedent it sets.

She noted that, regrettably, the run-off election went ahead last Friday despite the concerns raised and calls made by the international community, including by the Security Council, to suspend the vote. This is a moment of truth for regional leaders, the Deputy Secretary-General warned.

In a statement issued on Sunday from Japan, the Secretary-General expressed his support for the views expressed by the President of the Security Council regretting the decision by the Government of Zimbabwe to go ahead with the presidential elections.

The Secretary-General has said repeatedly that conditions were not in place for a free and fair election and observers have confirmed this from the deeply flawed process. The outcome did not reflect the true and genuine will of the Zimbabwean people or produce a legitimate result.

The Secretary-General encourages efforts of the two sides to negotiate a political solution that would end violence and intimidation. He supports the efforts of the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) to promote an agreement acceptable to the people of Zimbabwe.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would refuse to recognize Robert Mugabe as the President of Zimbabwe, the Spokeswoman clarified that it is not up to the Secretary-General to recognize a Government, but for Member States to do so.

MIGIRO WELCOMES AFRICAN SUMMITS FOCUS ON DEVELOPMENT GOALS

The Deputy Secretary-General, in her statement at the African Union summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, welcomed the Summits focus on the Millennium Development Goalsincluding the targets on water and sanitation. With only seven and a half years to go, she said, we must do everything possible to accelerate progress on the Goals.

The Deputy Secretary-General added that we have seen progress in a number of post-conflict African States, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau all embarking on longer-term efforts to consolidate peace. Their efforts deserve greater support from the international community, she said.

And she said that Somalia, a country that has some of the worst indicators on earth, has taken a step toward improving stability. The Deputy Secretary-General welcomed the recent Djibouti Agreement on Somalia and called on all parties to abide by their commitments.

SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS JAPAN AHEAD OF G-8 SUMMIT

The Secretary-General is in Japan today, where, among other events, he met with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. The Secretary-General and his wife had an audience with the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and later in the day with the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan.

After his meeting with Prime Minister Fukuda, the Secretary-General told the press that they had an excellent discussion on the major challenges the world faces, and he particularly thanked the Prime Minister for his strong personal leadership and tireless efforts to make the coming G-8 summit meeting in Toyako a great success.

The Secretary-General said that the summit would be a major milestone in the common effort to mobilize international action on such challenges as climate change, the food crisis and the Millennium Development Goals. He added that he and the Prime Minister had paid particular attention to Africa, given Japans long-standing effort to turn it into a continent of hope.

He also said he appreciated the news that Japan is going to send its Self Defense Forces to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and also establish a peacekeeping training centre with financial support.

Earlier, the Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister, Masahiko Koumura, who hosted a luncheon in his honour. He also met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura and with Akihiro Ohta, the Chief Representative of the New Komei Party.

The Secretary-General began his official programme in Tokyo early Sunday evening by attending a reception hosted by the Global Compact Network of Japan. He

told the gathered business leaders that the race is underway to develop and provide needed solutions, such as clean technology, renewable energy, efficient products and processes, and sustainable goods and services.

On Sunday, he also took part in a Town Hall

meeting on Climate Change at Kyoto University. He said that Japan, the world's second largest economy and a leader in green technology, had a "moral and political responsibility" to play a bigger role in tackling climate change.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW HEAD OF U.N. PEACEKEEPING

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today the appointment of Mr. Alain Le Roy of France as Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. Mr. Le Roy will replace Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno.

The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Guéhennos dedicated service to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and for his important contribution to the achievement of its goals. He recalled the strong sense of commitment and professionalism shown consistently by Mr. Guéhenno to the fulfilment of his responsibilities.

As the new Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Alain Le Roy brings to the job an extensive experience in public administration, management and international affairs, both at the political level and in the field. After serving in the private sector as a petroleum engineer, he joined the public service as Sous-préfet , then as Counsellor at the Cour des comptes (French Audit office).

Mr. Le Roy was appointed as Deputy to the UN Special Coordinator for Sarajevo and Director of Operations for the restoration of essential public services. He went on missions for the U.N. Development Programme in Mauritania and was appointed UN Regional Administrator in Kosovo (West Region).

After having been National Coordinator for the Stability Pact for South-east Europe in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was appointed European Union Special Representative in The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He was subsequently appointed Assistant Secretary for Economic and Financial Affairs in the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, before serving as the French Ambassador to Madagascar.

He is currently Conseiller Maître à la Cour des comptes and is serving as Ambassador in charge of the Union for the Mediterranean Initiative since September 2007.

NEW JOINT U.N.-AFRICAN UNION CHIEF MEDIATOR FOR DARFUR NAMED

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the African Union Chairperson have appointed Mr. Djibril Yipènè Bassolé of Burkina Faso as Joint AU-UN Chief Mediator for

Darfur. Mr. Bassolé will conduct the mediation efforts in Sudan on a full-time basis. He will be based in El Fasher. The UN and AU Special Envoys for Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, will remain available for advice and engagement as required.

Mr. Djibril Yipènè Bassolé comes to this position with extensive experience in multilateral diplomacy and mediation processes. Since 2007, Mr. Bassolé has been serving as his countrys Foreign Minister. Between 2000 and 2007, he was Minister of Security and played a key role in facilitating the Ouagadougou Agreement of 2007 signed between President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte dIvoire and Forces Nouvelles leader (now Prime Minister) Guillaume Soro.

Mr. Bassolé also worked as a Member of the Mediation Committee for the Touareg conflict in Niger (1994 - 1995) and was a Member of the International Committee for the monitoring of the elections in Togo (1993 - 1994).

U.N. PEACEKEEPERS IN NORTH DARFUR RELEASED AFTER BEING HELD HOSTAGE FOR SEVERAL HOURS

In North Darfur, a patrol of 38 peacekeepers from the UN-AU Mission (UNAMID) has now been

released after being held at gun-point by a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) for more than five hours. The peacekeepers were denied entry to the Zamzam camp for internally displaced persons by members of the SLA/Minni faction (SLA/M).

When the patrol attempted to return to their base, they were prevented from doing so. The SLA/M soldiers were demanding immediate compensation for an injured member who was involved in a motorbike accident with a UNAMID vehicle on 25 June. That accident is presently being investigated by the Government of Sudan and UNAMID Military Police, but the SLA/M soldiers wanted immediate compensation without the necessary legal procedures being followed.

UNAMID dispatched reinforcements to the camp to assist in the release of the detained peacekeepers. The patrol was finally released, following negotiations between UNAMID and the SLA/M leadership.

WFP DRIVER IN SOUTHERN SUDAN KILLED IN AMBUSH

The World Food Programme has sent its condolences to the family of one of its drivers, who was killed in an ambush over the weekend in southern Sudan.

28-year-old Muzamil Ramadan Sida, from Uganda, was shot and killed after delivering food to a WFP warehouse in Juba. His death brings to five the number of WFP-contracted drivers or their assistants killed in South Sudan this year.

There is, however, welcome news for aid workers from more than 200 organizations who depend on WFPs humanitarian air service. With banditry and insecurity making it dangerous for humanitarians to travel by road in many parts of southern Sudan and Darfur, that service will remain up and running through the end of September, after receiving donations of nearly $15 million.

The funds are still not enough to prevent some service cuts, and the air service has no funds to operate beyond the end of September.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL OPENS HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today opened its high-level segment, which runs through Thursday.

Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang this morning delivered a message on behalf of the Secretary-General. In it, he noted that we are at a critical juncture in the implementation of the UN development agenda. The fragile state of the major developed market economies, persistent global imbalances and soaring oil and other commodity prices are slowing global economic growth, while rising food and energy prices are hitting the poor and vulnerable especially hard.

No social or economic order is secure if it fails to benefit the majority of those who live under it, he said, adding that we should also all have serious concerns about a system whose wealthiest 400 citizens command more resources than its bottom billion.

He called on the international community to pursue truly concerted efforts to redress the woes of the global economy, which also include the challenges of climate change and skepticism about globalization and fears that it is leaving many people behind. This session of ECOSOC should give new impetus to achieving economic growth, social development and environmental protection, he said.

He added that the first-ever Development Cooperation Forum, which opens this afternoon, should become the principal venue for global dialogue and policy review of international development cooperation. It should also focus on how the current aid effectiveness framework is not sufficiently responsive to development issues that cut across multiple sectors, such as human rights, gender equality, and environmental sustainability.

SECURITY COUNCIL CLARIFIES SANCTIONS ON AL-QAEDA, TALIBAN

The Security Council this morning unanimously adopted a resolution clarifying how Member States are to implement the sanctions measures that have been previously imposed on the individuals, groups and entities linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Council members then received a briefing on the work of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate by its chief, Mike Smith. He presented a survey on the implementation of resolution 1373, which set up the Councils Counter-Terrorism Committee.

Today is the last day of the US Presidency of the Security Council. Tomorrow, Vietnam will assume the Presidency of the Council for the month of July.

The Spokeswoman declined to offer any response from the Secretary-General to claims that the resolution does not deal with how people are to be removed from the Consolidated List of individuals linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, noting that the issue is a matter for the Security Council.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF WRAPS UP FIRST VISIT TO AFGHANISTAN

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes spoke to the press in Kabul yesterday about his first visit to Afghanistan, where he discussed the worsening humanitarian situation in the country.

He said that the most serious immediate problem is food insecurity as a result of the rise in global food prices and the recent drought. He noted that the UN appeal earlier this year for $81 million to deal with that food crisis has been well-funded, but more may be needed, so work is being done on another, larger appeal.

Holmes added that the number of civilian casualties from the fighting in the country is a source of great concern. He said that most of the casualties are caused by insurgents, but there are also still significant numbers caused by the international military forces.

NEW AGREEMENT ALLOWS WFP TO EXPAND FOOD ASSISTANCE TO DPRK

The World Food Programme (WFP) has signed an agreement with the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea that will allow it to rapidly increase food assistance to more than five million people.

WFP will also expand its operations into 128 counties, up from just 50. New areas covered include the traditionally food-insecure Northeast and some counties that have never before been accessible to humanitarian agencies.

The agreement will also allow WFP to send nearly 50 more international aid workers to the DPRK. They will oversee and monitor the delivery of food to make sure it reaches those most in need.

Following the signing of the agreement on Friday, a ship from the United States arrived Sunday in the port of Nampo, carrying 37,000 tonnes of wheat. Its the first installment of a U.S. food aid pledge of up to 500,000 tonnes.

NEW RAPID TEST FOR DRUG-RESISTANT TUBERCULOSIS TO BE LAUNCHED

The World Health Organization today took part in the

unveiling of a new rapid test for Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Instead of waiting two to three months for a diagnosis during which time they can transmit the disease to others patients in 16 developing countries will now receive their test results in just two days.

In addition to enhancing lab facilities and training lab staff, todays initiatives will also boost the supply of drugs needed to treat MDR-TB in these and nearly 40 other countries.

It is estimated that only two percent of MDR-TB cases worldwide are diagnosed and treated appropriately, mainly because of inadequate laboratory services, WHO says. It is hoped todays initiatives will increase that number at least sevenfold over the next four years.

UNDP ANNOUNCES NEW HEAD OF ETHICS OFFICE

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has announced the appointment of a new head of its Ethics Office.

Ms. Elia Armstrong of Canada has been working as a Senior Governance and Public Administration Officer for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) since December 2006. Prior to that, she helped set up the operations of the new UN Ethics Office in the Secretariat.

She also worked for six years as a Public Administration officer for DESA, and as a consultant on Civil Service Reform, primarily on Public Sector Ethics.

Ms. Armstrong replaces Karunesh Bhalla, who has served as head of UNDPs Ethics Office since last December.

CHINA QUAKE CAUSED $6 BILLION IN DAMAGES TO AGRICULTURE, FAO SAYS

Last months earthquake in Chinas Sichuan province caused an estimated $6 billion in damage to the agricultural sector, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

An FAO assessment mission that recently visited Sichuan province found that over 30 million people in rural communities have been severely hit, losing most of their assets. FAO notes that it could take three to five years to rebuild the agricultural sector in Sichuan.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNTV STAFF CONTRACTS ARE NOT WITH U.N. DIRECTLY: Asked about the expiring contracts of some UNTV staff, the Spokeswoman noted that the United Nations does not contract those staff directly; rather, the United Nations hires the contractor and negotiates with that company, and that company in turn hires the workers. The issue of contracts, she said, is between the company and its employees.

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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