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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-11-05
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, November 5, 2009
BAN KI-MOON RETURNS TO NEW YORK AFTER BECOMING FIRST SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ADDRESS GREEK PARLIAMENT
The Secretary-General is on his way back to New York, after he wrapped up his visit to Greece this morning by becoming the first Secretary-General to address the Hellenic Parliament.
told the Parliament that his visit earlier this week to Kabul had inspired him as he saw the resolve and commitment of all those risking their lives for a better future for the Afghan people. He pledged that the United Nations vital work there will continue.
He also spoke about the prospects for a deal on climate change, saying that there is no doubt that the Copenhagen negotiations are complex with many actors and many moving pieces. The Secretary-General emphasized that we must have a global agreement, which is comprehensive, balanced, equitable and binding.
He reiterated that he is cautiously optimistic about prospects for a settlement in Cyprus, and that he was also encouraged by the Greek Government's clear endorsement of a continuing role for the United Nations in the negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the name issue.
U.N. INCREASES SECURITY FOR ITS STAFF ACROSS AFGHANISTAN
Effective immediately, the United Nations is taking additional
steps to reduce risks to its national and international staff serving in
Afghanistan. This is in light of the 28 October attack against UN staff in Kabul, as well as further ongoing threats.
Although many details of the new measures can not be made public, they will involve short-term relocations for some staff while additional security is being put in place. Some 600 out of the roughly 1,100 international staff we have in Afghanistan will be temporarily relocated, either to safer locations within the country or outside the country.
The United Nations is fully committed to helping all of Afghanistans people, as it has been for more than half a century. We will carry out all our mandated tasks. Every effort will be made to minimize disruption to our activities while these additional security steps are being taken.
Asked about the relocations, the Spokeswoman clarified that staff will continue to work even as they are moved to safer locations. She emphasized that many staff members will be relocated inside the country, with some others being moved briefly outside. In a separate matter, staff who were in Afghanistan specifically for electoral support have been leaving now that the work is done.
Asked how to step up security, Montas noted the importance of receiving budgetary support, both to increase security and to help families of the victims of attacks. She noted that lack of funds was one factor in not being able to ensure security at guest houses.
Asked how long the relocation would last, she said it could be an estimated four to six weeks, until security conditions at the guest houses are improved. She noted that the United Nations has evaluated all 93 guest houses that it had in place, and is now consolidating staff in a smaller number of accommodations.
There are also measures in place to enhance security for national staff, Montas said, but she declined to provide details.
Asked about the reported delay in the arrival of Afghan and other security forces during the 28 October attack, the Spokeswoman reiterated that the matter is being investigated.
Asked about UN Volunteers who were attacked, she said that two of the five UN staff killed last week were UN Volunteers who provided electoral support and were administered by UNDP.
In response to a question, the Spokeswoman added that the Secretary-General was expected to brief the
Security Council on Afghanistan at 3:00 pm on Friday.
U.N. CONFIRMS PUNISHMENT FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL IMPLICATED IN SEXUAL ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION
According to the latest information from the Department of Field Support (DFS), from the start of January this year, troop contributing countries have reported that 33 military personnel implicated in cases of sexual abuse and exploitation during UN peacekeeping have been disciplined and punished.
The punishments included dismissal, forced retirement, withdrawal of officers commission, various lengths of imprisonment and outright dismissal.
Last year, two military personnel received similar disciplinary action and there were fifteen such cases the year before.
Additionally, over the past three years, disciplinary action was also taken against twenty military personnel for cases involving other forms of misconduct, such negligent loss of firearms, traffic-related violations and fraud or theft.
Some of the cases involved peacekeepers who served in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Cote dIvoire, Liberia and Sudan.
When allegations of misconduct are substantiated against any military or police serving in UN peacekeeping, the UN repatriates the individuals concerned and then bans them from participating in future peacekeeping operations.
Asked about details of the misconduct allegations, the Spokeswoman declined to provide names and nationalities. But she said that there have been a number of cases where people have been repatriated, with follow-up action by troop contributing countries and responses by such countries to requests from the United Nations.
She noted that, in 2009, the UN has sent 112 requests for action taken concerning all forms of misconduct (including but not limited to sexual exploitation and abuse) and has received 14 responses by 3 November.
By comparison, she said, in 2008, the UN sent 192 such requests and received six responses on action taken. In 2007, 146 requests were made and nine responses received.
She added that, among the sentences given, two personnel in one case were sentenced to eight months in prison and dismissed from service. In another, one person was imprisoned for 60 days, dismissed from service and tried before a military tribunal. In a third, one person was repatriated and imprisoned for 40 days. Three personnel were repatriated and imprisoned for 40 days and one was presented before the Counsel of Discipline in a different case, she said, while one subject was sentenced to six months imprisonment and separation from service from the military.
Montas said that the United Nations tries to pursue cases of any misconduct as far as it can. Beyond that, national tribunals and national courts have a role to play. But she stressed that there has been an increase in the number of requests and responses to those requests in dealing with the issue.
WEST AFRICA ON VERGE OF BECOMING SOURCE OF DRUGS, NOT JUST TRANSIT AREA
Security Council this morning received an update on the situation in Guinea-Bissau in an open meeting, which has been followed by consultations on the same subject.
Joseph Mutaboba, the Secretary-Generals Representative for that country, noted that the Government has focused on managing the consequences of the high-profile assassinations that took place in March and June. There is a perception that in other critical areas, limited progress has been made. Mutaboba stressed the importance of fighting impunity, re-establishing confidence in the justice system and contributing to forward-looking reconciliation.
Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the
UN Office on Drugs and Crime, also briefed the Council, and said that, in the past 18 months, there has been a significant drop in drug seizures in West Africa. But he warned that West Africa is on the verge of becoming a source of drugs, not just a transit area.
The Security Council also adopted a Presidential Statement on Guinea-Bissau today.
AFRICAS EFFORTS TO MEET MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS ARE IN PERIL
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro is in Addis Ababa, where she addressed the 10th Session of the UN Regional Coordination Mechanism. In her remarks, she said that Africas effort to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is in peril because of the likely impact the global economic crisis on the continents economies, many of which are export-based. Despite some notable achievements, progress is off track across the continent. Our poor progress on improving maternal health is particularly troubling, she said.
She urged the participants at the meeting to implement the MDG Steering Groups recommendations. She also invited them to attend and actively participate in the planned November 23rd New York meeting of the MDG Africa Working Group in order to identify areas where action should be intensified.
NEW U.N. COORDINATOR APPOINTED FOR HAITI
The Secretary-General has appointed Kim Bolduc of Canada as his Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), where she will also serve as United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. Ms. Bolduc succeeds Joel Boutroue of France. The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. Boutroue for his dedication and service in Haiti.
Ms. Bolduc brings to the Mission and Haiti broad experience in preparing and managing development and post-conflict recovery programmes in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
Her prior experience includes working for the Canadian International Development Agency, the United Nations Office for Emergency Operations in Africa, and serving as the delegate for the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator in Mozambique for five years.
U.N. AGENCY PROVIDING FOOD AID IN TAJIKISTAN
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
reports that the nutritional status of children under the age of five in rural areas of Tajikistan has been deteriorating significantly. Thats due in part to food scarcity and high food prices.
In response, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been providing daily hot meals to 360,000 children in primary schools. WFP is also delivering food to some 260,000 people living in Tajikistans so-called hardship regions -- as well as to 15,000 tuberculosis patients and their families.
WFP is also providing: temporary relief for natural disaster survivors; take-home rations for school girls; and nutritional supplements for malnourished children and their mothers. In addition, the agency is carrying out food for work projects.
In total, 750,000 people in Tajikistan are receiving food aid, OCHA says.
U.N. AGENCIES INTENSIFY COOPERATION TO FIGHT HUNGER
Ahead of the World Summit on Food Security, which will take place from 16 to 18 November in Rome, the heads of the three UN agencies based in that city have
agreed to intensify their cooperation to fight hunger.
The heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) met today with senior managers to determine how to maximize each agencys expertise so that their combined efforts better serve the worlds 1.02 billion hungry people.
Meanwhile, the FAO has
released a new report today which says that promoting climate-smart agriculture can at the same time help improve food security and contain climate change.
FAO says that although agriculture is responsible for 14 percent of global green gas emissions, it has the potential to be a part of the solution, by mitigating a significant amount of emissions.
CLIMATE EXPRESS TRAIN TO RAISE AWARENESS OF TRANSPORT SECTORS INFLUENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE
More than 400 climate change negotiators, business leaders and environmental activists will
travel together on board the Climate Express -- a train that will take them from Brussels to Copenhagen on 5 December.
According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), this will be the final leg of the Train to Copenhagen project an initiative that aims to raise awareness of the transport sectors influence on climate change. It provides a key opportunity for the passengers on board to debate the climate talks ahead.
TIMOR-LESTE: SPOKESPERSON REITERATES HOPE THAT ALLEGED WAR CRIMINAL WILL BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE
The Spokesperson responded to questions asked earlier about the UNs views concerning reports that Maternus Bere, who was indicted for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in 1999 in what was then East Timor, had gone to Indonesia. She noted that the
UN Mission in Timor-Leste had no information on the circumstances of Beres return to Indonesia.
The United Nations position that there should be no impunity, especially for serious crimes, including crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide is well known, Montas added. In the case of Maternus Bere, it is the UNs position that Mr. Bere should be brought to justice. The UN has made this position clear on numerous occasions.
The UN has seen the media reports indicating that Maternus Bere was transferred to Indonesia late last week. The UN was not aware of this transfer and has yet to receive official confirmation that such a transfer took place. For the UN, any act that undermines the rule of law, particularly with respect to accountability for serious crimes, is deeply regrettable.
The Spokesperson recalled that the Secretary-General expressed his hope in last month's report to the Security Council that the Governments of both Timor-Leste and Indonesia will ensure that Maternus Bere is brought to justice, taking into account the report of the Commission of Experts appointed in 2005.
U.N. TO IMPROVE CONGOLESE ARMED FORCES CAPACITY TO CARRY OUT OPERATIONS DIRECTED AGAINST ARMED GROUPS
Asked about the recent Human Rights Watch report citing abuses by the Congolese Armed Forces in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokeswoman emphasized that targeted attacks on civilians, rape and pillage are always unacceptable.
The UN Mission in the country (MONUC) does not dispute that military operations have been accompanied by civilian suffering, she said. MONUCs support for the Congolese Armed Forces has, actually, been aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating human rights violations.
This support is consistent with MONUCs mandate and aimed at protecting civilians in several ways, Montas said, including by improving the command and control over a Congolese army that is only just taking shape and is composed of some former members of some 50 militias who have been integrated in the course of a series of peace processes.
She added that MONUC was working to improve the Congolese Armed Forces capacity to carry out operations directed against armed groups through training, including training in the protection of civilians.
TRIAL CHAMBER ORDERS APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL IN CASE OF RADOVAN KARADIĆ: After repeated warning the accused, a trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today
issued a decision instructing the Tribunals registrar to appoint a defense lawyer for Radovan Karadić. The trial chamber also instructed the registrar that the appointed lawyer be given three and a half months to prepare for trial, whose resumption is now set for March next year.
GENOCIDE ACCOMPLICE SENTENCED TO 8 YEARS IMPRISONMENT: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has convicted and sentenced Michel Bagaragaza, a former Rwandan business executive. He will be facing 8 years in prison on one count of complicity in the 1994 genocide. In effect, Bagaragaza will spend just over three years in prison, as he was given credit for the time already spent in detention since his arrest in 2005.
BEMBA TRIAL TO START IN APRIL: The International Criminal Court
announced today that the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba will begin in April next year. He is alleged to bear responsibility for two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes. These international crimes are alleged to have committed by Bembas armed political group, Mouvement de libération du Congo, between October 2002 and March 2003 in the Central African Republic. Bemba was arrested by Belgian police in July and transferred to the Court soon afterward.
U.N. OFFICIAL WELCOMES SUDANESE OPERATION TO FREE ABDUCTED KIDS: The UN Deputy Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Southern Sudan, Lise Grande, has welcomed the rescue operation by the southern Sudanese police that led to the release of 28 abducted children. The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) says that the children were rescued about two weeks ago. This is the first such operation by southern Sudanese police. Meanwhile, Lise Grande called on the Government to ensure that all abducted children are released.
U.N. AGENCIES HELP TYPHOON-HIT VIET NAM: The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that UNICEF is delivering water purification materials to typhoon-hit areas of Viet Nam. It adds that the Disaster Management Working Group, of which UN agencies are a part, today decided to send rapid assessment teams to three hard-hit provinces. OCHA says the recent typhoon in Viet Nam caused fifty-six million dollars worth of damage -- to houses, as well as schools, hospitals and other public buildings.
NO VOTE ON GOLDSTONE REPORT YET: Asked how the Secretary-General would respond to a General Assembly resolution on the report by Justice Richard Goldstone, the Spokeswoman noted that no such resolution has been voted on yet. The Secretary-General is prepared to do whatever the General Assembly asks of him, she added.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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