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UNITED NATIONS NEWS

 

SENIOR UN ENVOY BEGINS SEVEN-NATION TOUR TO PROMOTE PEACE IN SOMALIA


New York, Oct  3 2006  2:00PM
Starting a seven-nation mission to promote peace and reconciliation in
Somalia, the top United Nations envoy for the war-torn east African
country today visited neighbouring Ethiopia to discuss the next round of
peace talks between the rival Somali factions.

Acting on recommendations contained in a Security Council presidential
statement of 13 July, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special
Representative for Somalia, François Lonsény Fall, also plans to visit Djibouti,
Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen for
consultations with their leaders.

“Among the most critical issues on Ambassador Fall’s agenda is the
third round of the Khartoum peace talks scheduled for 30 October between
the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) based in Baidoa and the
Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) established in Mogadishu,” the UN Political
Office for Somalia (UNPOS) said in a statement.

The last round of talks between the rival sides took place at the
beginning of last month in an effort to bring peace to the impoverished
drought-afflicted country, which has been riven by factional fighting and
has not had a functioning national government since President Muhammad
Siad Barre’s regime was toppled in 1991.

Mr. Fall had separate meetings today with Ethiopian Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi and African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security
Said Djinnit. In August he said his office had been informed by UIC
Executive Council Chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed that Ethiopian troops
were in Somalia but it had no monitoring capacity on the ground to
confirm the charge.

Mr. Fall will travel to Asmara tomorrow for talks with the Eritrean
Government. He is scheduled to visit Djibouti and Yemen next week, before
holding talks with leaders in Uganda, Sudan and Egypt prior to the
Khartoum talks. Included in his Cairo schedule will be discussions with
officials from the Arab League.
2006-10-03 00:00:00.000

SRI LANKA: UN AGENCY NEGOTIATES WITH GOVERNMENT TO BRING IN FOOD TO
BLOCKADED AREA


New York, Oct  3 2006  4:00PM
The United Nations World Food Programme
(<"http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=31">WFP) has been in constant negotiation
with the Sri Lankan Government in a bid to bring in urgently needed
food for more than 60,000 displaced people blockaded in areas controlled
by rebel Tamil separatists.

The Agency is particularly concerned about the very short supply of
food in the Jaffna and Kilinochchi area of northern Sri Lanka, where
escalating violence between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and
Government forces has driven 63,000 people, nearly half of them
children, into camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and cut off food
supplies, spokesman Simon Pluess told a news briefing in Geneva today.

As a result of the negotiations, 30 trucks with 500 tons of food have
been dispatched to the area, and last Saturday 19 of them crossed over
into Vanni, a Tamil Tiger-controlled area, he said.

Overall, WFP is currently distributing food aid to some 150,000
internally displaced persons in districts affected by the conflict, including
Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi.

Mr. Pluess said a high-level meeting would take place on Friday between
the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and the Government to discuss the issue
of humanitarian access.
2006-10-03 00:00:00.000 
 

UN SETS UP CAMPS FOR PALESTINIAN CHILDREN HIT BY SCHOOL STRIKE IN WEST
BANK


New York, Oct  3 2006  4:00PM
With 500,000 Palestinian children out of school due to a strike in the
West Bank that has left most public schools closed, the United Nations
Children’s Fund (<"http://www.unicef.org/">UNICEF) has set up youth
clubs to provide extracurricular activities, safe indoor and outdoor play
areas, and centres to provide literacy and computer training.

The lack of access to schools come on top of an already very difficult
year in which the number of children killed and injured are close to
record highs as youngsters continue to take the brunt of the unrest in
the Occupied Palestinian Territories, UNICEF spokesman Michael Bociurkiw
told a news briefing in Geneva today.

In Gaza, since 28 June, 58 children have been killed and 128 children
injured, he said.

The main reason for the strike is non-payment of civil service
salaries. The Territories have been particularly hard hit since Israel stopped
tax transfers and other countries suspended contributions to the
Palestinian Authority (PA) after the Hamas election victory in January.

Israel and international donors insist that Hamas, whose charter is
committed to Israel’s destruction, must subscribe to the principles of
non-violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and accept previous
agreements and obligations, including the UN-backed Roadmap plan providing
for two states living side by side in peace.

Various UN agencies have warned regularly over the past months of a
looming humanitarian emergency in the occupied Palestinian territories as
food, health and education services crumble.

Of all the schools in the West Bank, 24 per cent are run by the UN
Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the main provider of basic services to
over 4.3 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, six
per cent are private, and 70 per cent are Government-run, meaning that
the majority of children attend public schools.
2006-10-03 00:00:00.000

UN AGENCY VOICES CONCERN AT MOUNTING NUMBER OF AFGHANS DISPLACED BY FIGHTING

New York, Oct 3 2006 11:00AM The United Nations refugee agency today voiced concern about the increasing number of people internally displaced in southern Afghanistan as a result of hostilities between government forces, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and insurgents, with 15,000 families uprooted since July. “We expect further displacement may take place until conditions are safe for the population to return to their homes,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (<"http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/45223c542.html">UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva. “This fresh displacement adds new hardship to a population already hosting 116,400 people earlier uprooted by conflict and drought.” Some families were reported to have gone back from Kandahar city to Panjwai and Zhare Dasht in Kandahar province during daylight but to have returned to the city at night as they felt it was too insecure to stay overnight, she added. The Afghan government has created a disaster management committee in Kandahar to coordinate relief efforts together with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (<"http://www.unama-afg.org/Index.htm">UNAMA), UNHCR and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), distributing plastic sheeting, blankets and warm clothes for children to approximately 3,200 families in Panjwai and Zhare Dasht. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is providing food aid. The government is currently assessing the needs of the displaced in the southern provinces and UNHCR is ready to assist when it becomes clear what is required. Meanwhile, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (<"http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=34911&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html">UNESCO) announced today that it will conduct a study on violence against education personnel to assess what can be done to improve their safety after last week’s murder of an Afghan women’s rights defender and leading advocate of education for girls, Safia Ama Jan. The study will be dedicated to the memory of Ms Ama Jan, who was gunned down outside her home in Kandahar. “Her courage was an inspiration to us all,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement. “And her violent death serves as a grim reminder that those working to defend human rights, including and especially women’s rights, the right to education and education for girls, are often working on the front line, with their lives constantly under threat. “National authorities and the international community must stand united against the forces that would seek to destroy the efforts made by people such as Safia Ama Jan.” 2006-10-03 00:00:00.000

 TRIBAL FIGHTING WORSENS THE SECURITY SITUATION IN SUDAN’S TROUBLED
DARFUR REGION: UN


New York, Oct  2 2006  3:00PM
Security is deteriorating further in southern areas of Sudan’s
strife-torn Darfur region, the United Nations mission in the country said
today, citing reports of tribal conflict.
Meanwhile cholera has claimed more lives in western parts of the region
the size of France, where hundreds of thousands have been killed and 2
million others displaced over the past three years due to escalating
violence between the Sudanese Government, allied militias and rebel
forces, according to the UN Mission in Sudan
(<"http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unmis">UNMIS).
The Mission has also received reports that a Government policeman was
killed in Thur in western Darfur in a shoot-out with members of the
Sudan Liberation Army, a spokesman for the world body told reporters in New
York.
“The UN Mission in Sudan says it has received reports that the security
situation is getting worse in the town of Gereida, in South Darfur, as
a result of tribal differences.
Meanwhile, in West Darfur, the Mission says it has received reports
that five people have died from cholera in the town of Um Kher,” said
spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Last month, Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that Darfur is headed
for disaster unless the world can persuade Khartoum to accept UN
peacekeepers to take over the work of the existing African Union (AU) peace
operation.
However Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has repeatedly rejected a
proposed UN force for Darfur as an attempt to re-colonize his country,
criticizing August’s Council
<"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/sc8821.doc.htm">resolution to
deploy more than 17,000 peacekeepers in the region where UN officials
warn that a man-made humanitarian catastrophe is looming.
They estimate that over 400,000 people have already lost their lives
and some 2 million more have been driven from their homes in three years
of fighting in Darfur between the Sudanese Government, allied militias
and rebel forces.
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000

 

UNESCO BOARD MEETING OPENS WITH CALL FOR DIALOGUE BETWEEN CULTURES,
RELIGIONS


New York, Oct  2 2006  3:00PM
The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) today appealed for enhanced dialogue between
civilizations, cultures, religions and peoples, noting that “recent events
have once again highlighted, in some cases tragically, the crucial
importance of this issue.”

Education “must reinforce tolerance, mutual understanding, respect for
human rights and democracy, an education that contradicts all manner of
stereotype,” Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura
<"http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=34906&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html">told
UNESCO’s Executive Board on its opening day in Paris.

“Enhancing the value of all types of cultural heritage, whether passed
or contemporary, through improved understanding of the values, history,
religions of the other, is, without doubt, a strong axis for our
contribution,” he said, underscoring the importance of partnerships with all
driving forces of society, including not only States and the public
sector but also civil society and the private sector.

Board Chairman, Zhang Xinsheng, Vice-Minister of Education of China
stressed that UNESCO’s principle mission is to contribute to peace and
security by promoting collaboration among nations through education,
science and culture.

“Ignorance of the other remains a source for hatred and violence and
hence must be a concern for UNESCO which is called to promote knowledge
about others, notably through intercultural and inter-religious
dialogue,” he said.

The Board meeting ends on 12 October.
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000

 MEMBER STATES DEBATE ANNAN’S LAST ORGANIZATIONAL REPORT HIGHLIGHTING
‘GOOD GOVERNANCE’


New York, Oct  2 2006  8:00PM
The General Assembly today discussed Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s
10th and last organizational
<"http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=A/61/1(SUPP)&Lang=E">report
in which he focused on the need for “good governance and
accountability,” not only within the world body itself but also within Member States
and all global organizations.

“The themes of good governance and accountability run through this
report like golden threads. The Member States need to be well governed and
accountable to their citizens if they are to nourish economic and
social development, if they are to achieve lasting security and if they are
to uphold human rights under the rule of law,” Mr. Annan wrote in the
56-page document.

“The Organization, for its part, can become stronger and more effective
only if it is better managed and more clearly accountable to the Member
States… That implies a need for greater accountability and
transparency, and fairer representation, in all global institutions.”

During the day-long
<"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/ga10510.doc.htm">debate in the
General Assembly, representatives from almost 20 countries and regional
groups made statements on the detailed report, which is divided into
five sections covering development; peace and security; human rights, the
rule of law and humanitarian affairs; strengthening of the Organization
and global constituencies.

It looks at the UN’s main achievements and challenges during the past
12 months and, as Mr. Annan points out in his introduction, “examines
them in the light of the critical developments in the decade” since he
took office at the start of 1997. Mr. Annan’s term as Secretary-General
will end on 31 December.

“If any one phenomenon can be said to have dominated the decade we have
just lived through, it must surely be globalization,” he points out,
while also highlighting other changes in international relations,
including the fact that nation-States are no longer the sole players although
they are still the most important.

He also details how the UN has changed to try and deal with these new
global realities, noting for example that over its lifetime it has moved
from “being principally a conference-servicing Organization to become a
truly global service provider working on the ground in virtually every
corner of the world to improve the lives of people who need help.”

“Over 50 per cent of our 30,000 civilian staff now serve in the field.
The number of humanitarian offices increased from 12 offices with 114
staff members in 1997 to 43 offices with 815 staff members in 2005,” he
adds, emphasizing the particularly dramatic transformation over the
past decade.

Despite these developments however, Mr. Annan acknowledges that the
world body must transform itself further to deal with the myriad new
challenges of the 21st century, emphasizing that this requires the “urgent
attention” of all 192 Member States.

“But our commitment must never change. The United Nations, founded in
the name of “We the peoples”, must be able to advance their interests
effectively in all three areas – development, security and human rights…
This report shows how the Organization has sought to do so in the past
year and in the light of the past 10 years.”

“I believe there is much in it that we can be proud of. But I am also
fully conscious of the alarming extent to which… our capacities fall
short of the challenges we face. That is why I am convinced that the task
of strengthening the United Nations is… an imperative that directly
concerns the interests of all Member States and should, much more than it
appears to do at present, engage their urgent attention.”
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000

 

 SECURITY COUNCIL SET TO HOLD FORMAL VOTE NEXT WEEK ON NEW UN
SECRETARY-GENERAL


New York, Oct  2 2006  7:00PM
The Security Council is likely to hold a formal vote early next week on
the new Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Council’s
president said today after the 15-member body held its fourth informal ballot
on who will succeed Kofi Annan when he steps down on 31 December.

Ambassador Kenzo Oshima of Japan, which holds the Council presidency
for the month of October, said he was not authorized to disclose the
result of today’s straw poll because of “a gentlemen’s agreement” with the
Council.

“I think the sense of the Council is that on the basis of today’s
ballot, the Council is now ready for a formal ballot,” he told reporters
after the meeting. “We will discuss this matter in tomorrow morning’s
informal consultations and take a decision on it. The likelihood is that we
will be having this formal vote early next week.”

In response to reporters’ questions, Ambassador Oshima said the
Council’s vote was likely to come as early as next Monday.

The Council will then make its recommendation to the 192-member General
Assembly, which formally elects the world body’s new Secretary-General.
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL OUTLINES CHANGES AT THE WORLD BODY; REMAINS
UPBEAT


New York, Oct  2 2006  6:00PM
Stressing the need for the United Nations to change to deal with the
myriad new demands of the 21st century, Deputy Secretary-General Mark
Malloch Brown today reiterated the importance of development, security,
and human rights and democracy as the “three pillars” around which the
world body is reorganizing.

Mr. Malloch Brown, addressing the Belgian Royal Institute in Brussels,
said the UN was built “on the ashes of 1945” but is now facing vastly
different issues from what it was set up to deal with, including
terrorism, bird flu, and massive levels of inequality and poverty where more
than a billion people are still living on less than one euro a day.

“To answer that, let me set out what Secretary-General Kofi Annan saw
as the three pillars around which we need to reorganise today’s United
Nations to give it focus, and to reconnect it and make it more relevant
to its core constituents: the peoples of the world… 
development, security and human rights and democracy.”

Citing progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),
and other developments such as the setting up the UN’s Peace Building
Commission, as illustrating reform efforts already underway, he further
stressed the importance of structural change in the organization, as
also outlined earlier this year in the report <i>Investing in the United
Nations</i>.

He acknowledged that many of these reform proposals, involving for
example human resource management, governance and oversight, had been
“largely blocked by the wider political tensions and splits between groups
and individual Member States,” but expressed hope of progress in the
months ahead, while noting that the next Secretary-General would have to
do “much more in the area of management reform.”

Despite such challenges, Mr. Malloch Brown was upbeat about the overall
reform process, expressing his belief that it was creating a “genuinely
new United Nations… that we hope will reconnect us with the people.”

“And, while the broader crisis of legitimacy facing multilateral
organizations is very much with us, in the case of the United Nations at
least, I hope we have now got the plan in place to confront these
challenges.”
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000 
 

 

UN REFUGEE AGENCY CLOSES CAMP FOR ANGOLANS IN ZAMBIA, AS REPATRIATION
NEARS END


New York, Oct  2 2006  5:00PM
As its four-year programme of voluntary repatriation for Angolans who
fled nearly three decades of civil war nears its end on 31 December, the
United Nations refugee agency today began transferring some 15,000
people from the Nangweshi refugee camp in western Zambia.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(<"http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/452131402.html">UNHCR) plans to relocate
those who choose not to return home to the Mayukwayukwa refugee
settlement, also in Western Province, by the end of October. Although the
number of Angolans asking to repatriate this year has been low, it is
expected that many of those still in Nangweshi could opt to return home
rather than relocate to Mayukwayukwa.

During Angola’s 27-year war, some 500,000 Angolans fled their country
and millions more were internally displaced. When a peace agreement was
signed in 2002, an estimated 457,000 Angolans were refugees outside the
country's borders. Since then, more than 370,000 have returned home,
including 123,000 brought back by UNHCR. Many of the rest received UNHCR
assistance on arrival.

The closure of Nangweshi, which was set up in 2000 to shelter those
fleeing the last convulsion of the civil war, reflects the successful
UNHCR voluntary repatriation programme in Zambia, which has helped nearly
64,000 Angolans to return from the country since 2003, leaving only
about 29,000 still in camps and settlements.

The relocation to Mayukwayukwa from Nangweshi, with its infertile,
sandy soil and seasonal floods, will allow those who opt to remain in
Zambia better prospects of self-reliance, especially when humanitarian
assistance is eventually withdrawn.

As of July, Zambia was still hosting almost 155,000 refugees, including
some 74,000 in camps and the rest settled on their own elsewhere in the
country. The great majority of the refugees are from the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Angola, with most others from elsewhere in
the Great Lakes region.
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000

WORLD ECONOMIC GROWTH RATE PROJECTED TO DROP TO 3 PER CENT IN 2007 – UN
ESTIMATE


New York, Oct  2 2006  4:00PM
The world can expect a robust economic growth rate of 3.6 per cent this
year but a deceleration to 3 per cent is projected for 2007, according
to the latest United Nations assessment.

A number of downside risks could reduce that projection even further,
Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs José Antonio
Ocampo <"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/gaef3144.doc.htm">told
the General Assembly Second Committee on economic and financial matters
today.

A decline in the housing market, for example, is a real threat in the
United States and could have strong ripple effects. Since that country
was suffering from large external deficits, a sharp fall in housing
prices could trigger a disorderly adjustment of global imbalances, Mr.
Ocampo said.

The impact of oil prices on global growth remains uncertain, with
recent increases due to stronger-than-expected growth in world demand, a
tight capacity for oil production and refining, natural disasters and
geopolitical concerns, he added. Though worries about supply shocks were
likely to dominate market movements, higher oil prices had not resulted
in major recessionary effects, unlike those of the 1970s and 1980s.

But if supply disruptions were to happen, implications for the world
economy would be greater and it is therefore crucial to increase
investments to safeguard the world economy against such a disruption, Mr.
Ocampo told the committee.

Heightened volatility in oil prices and other primary commodities is
also a vivid reminder for commodity-exporting developing countries that
their economic growth was vulnerable to the vicissitudes of commodity
prices.

The longer widening global imbalances are allowed to develop, the
higher the risk of a sudden and sharp disorderly adjustment, he noted. For
instance, a US recession and devaluation of the dollar could in turn
depress the world economy as a whole, with a particularly large impact on
developing countries.

As for the outlook for developing countries, Mr. Ocampo said an
increasing income gap between them and the developed world – a “dual
divergence” – could be seen alongside a “growth divergence” among the developing
countries.

He called the suspension of the UN World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha
Round of talks a major setback. The least developed countries are the
most adversely affected by trends in global disparities, and as such,
development partners, including other developing countries, should
continue to increase their support through the contribution of official
development assistance (ODA), debt reduction and the provision of market
access.

The Doha Round has been in limbo for months, partly over subsidies from
wealthy nations to their agricultural industries, tariffs and quotas,
which all shut poorer agricultural countries out of the market.
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000

 FACING ‘MOMENT OF TRUTH,’ UN REFUGEE CHIEF CALLS FOR AIDING INTERNALLY
DISPLACED PEOPLE


New York, Oct  2 2006  1:00PM
Facing what he called a “moment of truth,” the head of the United
Nations refugee agency today
<"http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/452111dd4.html">called for fully expanding its mission from assisting those displaced
from their countries to also helping the tens of millions uprooted
within their own homelands. And he appealed for concerted international
action to preserve the institution of asylum.

“Both by choice and out of necessity, we face three major challenges
simultaneously,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António
Guterres told the opening session of the week-long annual meeting of the
agency’s governing Executive Committee in Geneva.

“The first is a reassessment of our mission. We must remain faithful to
our mandate while meeting the demands of a changing world, shifts as
consequential as the international community redressing one of its
greatest failures, the neglect of internally displaced persons.

“The second is the pressing need for a deep structural and management
reform, which is absolutely indispensable if we are to build a stronger,
more effective organization able to generate and direct more resources
to the people we care for. The third challenge is a renewal of our top
management, affecting, over one-and-a-half years, 10 members of the
Senior Management Committee,” he added.

In addition to its original mandate of protecting the world’s refugees,
UNHCR had now become a fully-engaged partner in a new joint approach to
help the estimated 24 million internally displaced persons (IDPs)
worldwide, Mr. Guterres told delegates from 70 member nations.

The new approach had already been instrumental in the return of more
than 300,000 IDPs in Uganda, “transforming a dramatic humanitarian
situation into a potentially remarkable success story,” he said. UNHCR was
also reassessing its IDP work in Colombia, Sri Lanka, the Caucasus and
Côte d'Ivoire.

“We are now part of the collective response by the UN system and the
broader humanitarian community, and in that context have assumed leading
responsibility for... protection, emergency shelter and camp
coordination and management,” he said. “Lessons learned from ... four pilot
countries – Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and
Somalia – will guide us in the future.”

Despite some progress, an estimated 2 million IDPs in Sudan's Darfur
region remain in desperate need of protection and assistance. “Faced with
a situation like Darfur, the role of organizations such as ours is
severely constrained,” Mr. Guterres said.

He underscored the pressing need for deep structural and management
reform within UNHCR itself, a process he said was “absolutely
indispensable if we are to build a stronger, more effective organisation” able to
focus maximum resources on the people it cares for.

This includes efforts to lower fixed costs, such as those involved with
staff and administration, to ensure that maximum resources go to
beneficiaries. Possible measures include moving field support staff closer to
the point of delivery and relocating some Geneva-based activities.

UNHCR’s budget of about $1 billion a year is unable to provide enough
help to refugees wanting to repatriate or to provide basic medical
treatments. “We cannot accept that money that should be spent on the people
we care for is spent unnecessarily on the organisation,” the High
Commissioner said.

He stressed the urgent need to preserve asylum and oppose all forms of
refoulement – or forcibly returning refugees. International refugee law
must be respected and “cannot be superseded by national legislation,
extradition treaties, or redefined by bilateral arrangements,” he
declared.
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000

UN ENVOY TO LIBERIA PRAISES THE ROLE OF WOMEN AT ALL LEVELS OF
GOVERNMENT


New York, Oct  2 2006  1:00PM
Speaking at a high-level forum in Liberia, which is run by Africa’s
only female president, the top United Nations envoy to the country praised
the role of women at all levels of Government, saying they bring a
“different perspective” to development and stressing the benefits of their
involvement, particularly in the health and education sectors.

“Experience has shown that at all levels of Governance women do and can
make a difference in raising awareness and in bringing a different
perspective to a nation’s development agenda,” Alan Doss, Secretary-General
Kofi Annan’s Special Representative, told a gathering of female
politicians, legislators and other officials.

“Experiences in other countries show that it makes economic, social and
political sense to put the power of choice in the hands of poor women.
Only then can we get significant and quick advances in improving health
and education.”

Congratulating all the women who were elected during Liberia’s
elections last year, or appointed to positions of leadership, Mr. Doss also
called on development partners to place women at the centre-stage in
rebuilding the country after years of conflict.

The Women in Governance Forum was organized by the Ministry of Gender
and Development, in close collaboration with the United Nations
Development Fund for Women
(<"http://www.unifem.org/index.php?f_page_pid=6">UNIFEM).
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000

UN ENVOY IN TIMOR-LESTE STRESSES THE NEED TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES AT THE
BALLOT BOX


New York, Oct  2 2006 12:00PM
Stressing the need to restore stability and peace in Timor-Leste
following the deadly violence that erupted earlier this year, the United
Nations envoy in the tiny nation said today that all Timorese should
resolve their differences at the ballot box and not through conflict.

In his first major speech as Acting Special Representative of the
Secretary-General, Finn Reske-Nielsen also reaffirmed the commitment of the
UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (<"http://www.unmiset.org">UNMIT)
to promoting justice in the tiny South East Asian nation as well as to
next year’s planned parliamentary and presidential elections.

“The key focus of the Mission is to assist this country in returning to
stability and promoting justice and peace.  It is therefore part of the
core mandate of the Mission to help facilitate the dialogue amongst the
leaders that will lead to national reconciliation,” he told a press
conference in the capital Dili.

“This is not going to be an easy task, but we have a number of tools
available to us to help us with this. The Good Office’s role of the
United Nations will be critical to our success in the coming months…
Fundamentally we have to convey to the people of this country that conflict
and other differences need to be fought at the ballot box and nowhere
else.”

Mr. Reske-Nielsen said that once up to full strength the Mission will
be made up of over 3,000 staff including civilian and uniform personnel.
He also emphasized the important role of UN police in rehabilitating
the local force, which disintegrated following the violence in April and
May that involved factional fighting with the military and led to the
deaths of at least 37 people and forced around 155,000 to flee their
homes.

UNMIT is also committed, in cooperation with other partners, to
strengthening the integrity of the legal system, he said, adding that the
report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into this year’s violence ––
expected to be presented sometime this month –– will be “a very important
step in the direction of ensuring that there is justice for all.”

Mr. Reske-Nielsen took up his post as Deputy Special Representative of
the Secretary-General at the beginning of last month but is currently
the Acting Special Representative following the departure of Sukehiro
Hasegawa at the end of September.
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000 
 

 

 IRAQ: UN ENVOY BRIEFED ON LATEST GOVERNMENT PLANS TO STEM VIOLENCE


New York, Oct  2 2006 12:00PM
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki today briefed the top United
Nations official there on various initiatives that he hopes will combat
terrorism and bring down the level of sectarian violence in the war-torn
country.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Ashraf Qazi
discussed a wide range of issues with Mr. Al-Maliki, including his recent
trips to Abu Dhabi, New York and Washington, as well as the high-level
meetings convened by Mr. Annan on the International Compact with Iraq
(ICI).

The ICI was launched in July in an effort to end the killings and bring
stability to Iraq and Mr. Annan told a high-level meeting of partner
states last month that without greater global support, Iraq will fail to
attain peace.

Mr. Al-Maliki expressed to Mr. Qazi his appreciation for the UN
partnership with Iraq on the ICI and looked forward to an even closer
engagement with it, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported.

The latest political and security developments in Iraq were also
discussed.
2006-10-02 00:00:00.000

 

UN'S AFGHANISTAN ENVOY CONDEMNS SUICIDE ATTACK IN KABUL


New York, Oct  1 2006 10:00PM
The senior United Nations envoy to Afghanistan has condemned a suicide
attack outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul city that reportedly
resulted in more than a dozen deaths and wounded over 50 other people.

"I am shocked and appalled," Tom Koenigs, Secretary-General Kofi
Annan's Special Representative, said in a statement released on Saturday
following the blast.

"It is particularly upsetting that so many lives have been lost in such
a callous attack against innocent Afghans who were simply going to
work," he said.

Declaring that the Afghan people "have suffered enough," he decried
those who use violence "in a civilian arena with such wanton disregard for
so many innocent lives."

2006-10-01 00:00:00.000 
 

 

AS SOMALI REFUGEES POUR INTO KENYA UN URGENTLY NEEDS CLOTHING, SCHOOL SUPPLIES

 New York, Sep 29 2006 12:00PM With Somalis fleeing the conflict between Islamists and warlords pouring into neighbouring Kenya at the rate of 200 to 300 a day, most of them women and children, the United Nations refugee agency today appealed for additional supplies to tend to the influx, now topping 25,000 since the beginning of the year. “We are still in urgent need of clothes for the new refugees,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis <"http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl=NEWS&page=home&id=451cf7d84">told a news briefing in Geneva. “Children especially are wearing tattered clothes after walking long distances for weeks with only the clothes on their backs.” “We are currently working to expand the three existing camps in Dadaab (north-eastern Kenya) to make room for another 25,000 people as more refugees keep crossing from Somalia,” she added. More than 5,000 Somalis arrived this month alone, over 60 per cent of them under the age of 18 and many of the families headed by women. The refugees say males stay behind to take care of other family members unable to leave and to look after family businesses or property. After screening them at the border, UNHCR transports them to Dadaab, a complex of three camps already hosting 134,000 refugees, mainly Somalis. The Agency has received additional stocks of domestic supplies sufficient for up to 25,000 new arrivals. “With the new stocks, we will be able provide items such as soap, blankets, mats, jerry cans and kitchen utensils to all new arrived families,” Ms. Pagonis said. “Until now, because of insufficient stocks, our distribution of household supplies has been limited to the most vulnerable families.” But clothing remains an urgent need, as do school supplies. The non-governmental organization CARE, which handles education in the camps, has been trying to encourage the new refugee families to send children to school. “However, we are going to need additional resources to ensure all the children can attend – new classrooms, desks, text books, teaching materials and other supplies,” Ms. Pagonis said. A team of medical experts from Kenya’s Health Ministry and the UN World Health Organization (<"http://www.who.int/mediacentre/en">WHO) visited border areas this week and pledged to provide additional health workers to ensure proper screening for communicable diseases as well as immunization or treatment against polio, measles and tuberculosis for all children under five. The team also pledged to provide more stocks of vaccines. The refugees are fleeing Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, and the Kismayo area following repeated clashes between the Islamic Courts Union and warlord militia. Others fled the Baidoa area, headquarters of the Transitional Federal Government. 2006-09-29 00:00:00.000

 

 

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC AGREES TO RESUMPTION OF UN REPATRIATION OF SUDANESE REFUGEES

 New York, Sep 29 2006 10:00AM The Central African Republic (CAR) has agreed to allow the United Nations to use an air charter company to resume the voluntary repatriation of thousands of refugees to South Sudan and the operation, which had been suspended for security reasons, will start again in a few weeks. “We expect to conclude the repatriation operation from CAR by August 2007,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (<"http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news">UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news <"http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl=NEWS&page=home&id=451cf7d816">briefing in Geneva today. The repatriation from Mboki camp, in the far south-east of CAR, which was launched in February 2006, had to be suspended in April after the return of some 2,115 people, due to the official closure of the border with Sudan following unrest in the region. After the signing of a peace agreement in January 2005 ended more than two decades of fighting between Government and rebel forces in South Sudan, refugees in CAR expressed a strong desire to return home. Many have been in exile for a decade or more. “With the resumption of the operation, we hope to repatriate up to 450 refugees a week,” Ms. Pagonis said. At the peak of the Sudanese influxes to CAR in the early 1990s, some 36,000 refugees were living in Mboki. Since last December, UNHCR has assisted the repatriation of 13,000 Sudanese from CAR, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Some 350,000 Sudanese refugees still remain in neighbouring countries. There are also 4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Sudan as well as more than 2 million others uprooted from their homes by a separate conflict that is still raging in the vast country’s western region of Darfur. 2006-09-29 00:00:00.000

 

UN REFUGEE AGENCY COMPLETES LIBERIAN REPATRIATION PROGRAMME IN EAST-CENTRAL GUINEA

 New York, Sep 29 2006 10:00AM The United Nations refugee agency today <"http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/451cf7d92.html">announced the successful conclusion of its 18-year operations in the Kissidougou region of Guinea during which it sheltered tens of thousands of Liberians and Sierra Leoneans fleeing vicious civil wars before assisting their return to their recently pacified homelands. With more than 41,000 assisted returns to Liberia, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (<"http://www.unhcr.org/ ">UNHCR) operation in Guinea tops the list of West African countries involved in the Liberian repatriation operation which, since October 2004, brought back home over 90,000 people. The office in the east-central region, scheduled for closure tomorrow, was set up in 1989, initially for eight years in the town of Guékédou, near the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia. In 1997, it had to be moved for security reasons to Kissidougou, 80 kilometres to the north. “UNHCR’s decision to close the office and end its presence in the Kissidougou region is primarily the result of a successful repatriation of Liberian refugees,” spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva. Since March 2005 the Agency repatriated 16,000 out of the total 18,000 Liberians there. The remaining 2,000, who were either unable or unwilling to return, were transferred to Kouankan, near the town of Nzérékoré in south-eastern Guinea. UNHCR has donated to the local communities that helped the refugees for so many years some 3,600 items ranging from medical supplies and school uniforms to furniture and sewing machines. The closure allows the Agency to consolidate its financial and human resources in Guinea, which still hosts 39,000 refugees – more than 30,000 of them Liberian and the rest from Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. Most live in camps located along the border with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, while some 9,000 are scattered across the Guinean capital, Conakry. 2006-09-29 00:00:00.000

 

 

UN TRADE CHIEF CALLS FOR RESUMPTION OF TALKS TO BOOST POOR NATIONS’ AGRICULTURAL EXPORTS

 New York, Sep 28 2006 4:00PM The head of the United Nations agency that seeks to integrate developing countries into the global economy has called for the speedy resumption of the so-called Doha round of trade talks, underlining the critical need to open up industrialized nations’ markets to agricultural and other exports from the world’s poorer states. “The suspension of the talks hurts the world’s poorest most acutely,” UN Conference on Trade and Development (<"http://www.unctad.org/Templates/webflyer.asp?docid=7363&intItemID=3549&lang=1">UNCTAD) Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told the organization’s governing body in Geneva yesterday. “Countries’ prospects for export-led growth and development have diminished with the suspension of the Doha Round,” he said, referring to the talks which have been in limbo for months, partly over subsidies from wealthy nations to their agricultural industries, tariffs and quotas, which all shut poorer agricultural countries out of the market. “The distortions caused by subsidies in world agricultural trade will persist at the current level, thereby jeopardizing the prospects of developing countries to generate additional export revenue and income from agricultural exports, including cotton,” he added. But if the current round of negotiations concluded with a substantial development-oriented outcome, it could bring gains for economic growth and poverty alleviation. On Monday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the world’s wealthy countries to “go the extra mile” to re-balance the rules of the trading system in favour of the poor and push ahead as soon as possible with the Doha Round. “I join developing and least developed countries in calling for the round to resume as soon as possible,” he said in a message to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum in Geneva. 2006-09-28 00:00:00.000

 

ETHIOPIA CAN BEAT MALARIA WITH ITS LATEST PROGRAMME, SAYS OFFICIAL AT UN CHILDREN’S

New York, Sep 28 2006 4:00PM Ethiopia has a chance of defeating malaria, its biggest killer, an official from the United Nations Children’s Fund (<"http://www.unicef.org/media/media_36039.html">UNICEF) said today as the Horn of Africa country’s Government launched a major push against the disease ahead of the annual transmission season. Speaking at the launch in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, UNICEF Country Representative Bjorn Ljungqvist said: “We now have an historic opportunity to get on top of malaria. We can make this killer disease as manageable as measles and other childhood conditions in the West.” Malaria infects nine million Ethiopians each year and can kill more than 100,000 people, mostly young children, within just a few months during an epidemic. The peak of the annual transmission season is October to November. The three-pronged programme will cost at least $140 million over the next three years and is being supported by UNICEF, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank and several foreign governments and public agencies. Under the campaign the distribution of insecticide-treated malaria nets across the country is being expanded drastically. Before 2004, there were only 1.8 million nets; by the end of this year there will be eight million nets and that number will increase to 20 million by 2008. Ethiopia will start treating the overwhelming majority of its malaria cases with the drug Coartem, which has a 99 per cent success rate, compared with the 36 per cent rate of the current preferred drug, Fansidar. Health posts around the vast country are also being supplied with cheap rapid diagnostic test kits that can detect serious malaria cases within minutes, avoiding the delays that come with sending samples from patients to distant laboratories. Mr. Ljungqvist urged international donors to keep up their support of the campaign as it continues, especially “the hard-to-fund parts of any malaria campaign – the monitoring and evaluation and the general management costs to run such a large operation.” 2006-09-28 00:00:00.000

 

 

UN ANTI-TERRORISM COMMITTEES STRESS THE NEED FOR GREATER INVOLVEMENT BY MEMBER STATES

 New York, Sep 28 2006 8:00PM The heads of three major United Nations anti-terrorism committees <"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/sc8840.doc.htm">briefed the Security Council today on the latest efforts to tackle the scourge, calling for greater involvement by Member States and stressing the importance of the world body’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy launched earlier this month. “The success or the failure of a sanctions regime rests with the States and with their effective sanctions implementation,” said Cesar Mayoral of Argentina, Chairman of the Security Council Committee on Al-Qaida, the Taliban and their associates, known as the 1267 committee for the resolution that established it. “We need to hear more from you in order to know where the sanctions really work and where they don’t work, but more importantly to identify the areas where further improvements to the sanctions and their implementation are necessary,” he told the Council. A key aspect of the Committee’s work and the sanctions regime, said Mr. Mayoral, is a list – known as the Consolidated List – of individuals and entities that it agrees are members of or associated with Al-Qaida, Usama Bin Laden and the Taliban. As of the end of July, this list had 478 entries: 142 individuals and one entity associated with the Taliban, and 213 individuals and 122 entities associated with Al-Qaida. He emphasized the importance to the Committee’s work of its Monitoring Team, whose latest report was issued yesterday, and also stressed the importance to tackling terrorism of the UN’s global strategy that Secretary-General Kofi Annan formally launched on 19 September. Also highlighting the importance of the strategy was Ellen Margrethe Løj of Denmark, the Chairperson of the Security Council Committee established to implement the 15-member body’s landmark anti-terrorism resolution 1373 – adopted in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. “As is the case in all aspects of the Committee’s work… [it] will continue to engage actively and constructively with Member States. In that regard, I strongly encourage States who have not yet done so to report to the Committee,” she told the Council. “The Committee’s main task remains vital and urgent. I also welcome the recently-adopted United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which reiterates our strong determination to fight against terrorism. Support from, and cooperation with, Member States remains invaluable.” In his remarks, Peter Burian of Slovakia, the Chairman of the Security Council Committee established in relation to Council resolution 1540 (2004) on weapons of mass destruction, said as of 20 September, 132 Member States and 1 organization had submitted their first reports to the Committee, while 59 States had yet to submit one, and he stressed the need for more cooperation. “I would like to use this opportunity to call on all States that have not yet done so to send their first reports on implementation of resolution 1540 to the Committee,” he said. Mr. Burian also highlighted other aspects of the Committee’s work related to the resolution, in particular its “outreach activities” aimed at promoting implementation and which included the first seminar in the Asia-Pacific region held in China in July. “In its future work, the Committee… will also continue to identify national practices in implementing resolution 1540 that might be used in providing further general and specific ideas… to States seeking legislative assistance in implementing the resolution,” he added, emphasizing a “proactive approach” from States. Following the comments from the three heads of the Committees, representatives from 16 Member States also addressed the Council during the debate. 2006-09-28 00:00:00.000

 

 

UN REFUGEE AGENCY MEETS WITH ITS ‘VITAL PARTNERS’ – NON-GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS

 New York, Sep 28 2006 3:00PM The United Nations refugee agency has begun its annual consultations with 179 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 85 different countries – vital partners in implementing its programmes of providing food, water, shelter and education to the world’s uprooted people. “The reality of today is that no humanitarian organization can go it alone,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (<"http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl=NEWS&id=451a81f24">UNHCR) chief of operations officer Judy Cheng-Hopkins told the opening session yesterday of the three-day meeting in Geneva, attended by more than 300 delegates. “We increasingly rely upon partnerships and collaborative mechanisms to deliver protection and solutions,” she said. NGOs act are the UN refugee agency's right arm, implementing many of the crucial programmes for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in some of the world's most remote and difficult places. In all, about a quarter of UNHCR’s resources are channelled through its partners. Ms. Cheng-Hopkins highlighted the ways in which NGOs can help strengthen the humanitarian response to emergencies. “UNHCR’s emergency response capacity is largely dependent on how fast we can get the right people and the necessary relief items to the areas where they are most needed,” she said. “There is clearly a need to better utilize local networks and knowledge to enhance the effectiveness and speed of our response. NGOs can and do play an important role in facilitating such cooperation and collaboration.” She also addressed the challenges of ensuring the security of humanitarian staff, an issue of concern to all humanitarian organizations. For the past two decades, the annual consultations have brought together NGOs and UNHCR managers to examine all facets of their partnership on behalf of refugees. The UN refugee agency works extensively with well over 500 NGOs worldwide, many of them national or local organizations. 2006-09-28 00:00:00.000

 

RWANDA: UN TRIBUNAL AND DIPLOMATS HOLD TALKS WITH KENYA ON FUGITIVE GENOCIDE SUSPECT

New York, Sep 28 2006 3:00PM The Prosecutor for the United Nations war crimes tribunal for Rwanda and diplomatic representatives from 25 countries have held talks with Kenyan Government ministers to discuss efforts to apprehend the fugitive businessman Félicien Kabuga, who stands accused of helping to fund the 1994 Rwandan genocide. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (<"http://69.94.11.53/default.htm">ICTR) Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow and the diplomats met Kenya’s Justice Minister Martha Karua and Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Moses Wetangula in Nairobi yesterday, according to a <"http://69.94.11.53/ENGLISH/PRESSREL/2006/9-3-17.htm">press statement issued by the Tribunal. Mr. Kabuga, who has been under indictment for genocide and other charges since 1997, has been tracked for several years by the ICTR, which said it believes he has been a regular visitor to Kenya. He is accused of setting up and then operating a notorious “hate” radio station, as well as helping to fund and arm the Interahamwe militias responsible for many of the massacres during the genocide. In the press statement, Mr. Jallow and the representatives from the diplomatic missions said they “appreciated Kenya’s commitment to pursue all available leads in this case, including, through the investigation of suspected associates of Mr. Kabuga; investigation and, where appropriate, seizure of assets and provision of any records relating to the accused movements into and out of Kenya.” The statement concluded: “We are hopeful that these efforts will soon bear fruit with the apprehension and prosecution of Mr. Kabuga before the ICTR.” Last December Mr. Jallow told the Security Council that previous efforts to seize Mr. Kabuga in Kenya “appear to have been compromised by leakages.” More than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus are estimated to have been killed during the genocide, which took place between April and July 1994. The Security Council later established the ICTR, which is based in the Tanzanian city of Arusha, to hear cases involving the most serious crimes committed during that period. 2006-09-28 00:00:00.000

 

 

LEBANON IS RECOVERING QUICKLY FROM RECENT CONFLICT BETWEEN ISRAEL AND HIZBOLLAH –

New York, Sep 28 2006 2:00PM Lebanon is making speedy progress towards recovery after the destructive conflict between Israel and Hizbollah this summer and humanitarian agencies are preparing to close down or transfer their activities to relevant Government authorities or development agencies, the United Nations officials reported today. As early as tomorrow the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (<"http://ochaonline.un.org/webpage.asp?Page=873&Lang=en">OCHA) plans to hand over of the role of coordinating international activities in southern Lebanon to the UN Development Programme (<"http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/">UNDP). The official end of humanitarian operations is scheduled for 24 October, according to OCHA’s latest update. The UN World Food Programme (<"http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=31">WFP), which has taken the logistics lead in arranging cargo movements, will wind up those operations by 15 October. Since commercial traffic has resumed, WFP will support other agencies’ transport needs and those of non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs) through commercial means. By the same date, it intends to complete its food distribution programme and is helping the Ministry of Social Affairs to establish a national food security and capacity-building strategy in its place. On the water and sanitation front, the UN Children’s Fund (<"http://www.unicef.org/">UNICEF) has agreed to serve as a clearing house for requests and information to relieve pressure on the Lebanese water authorities, while distributions of bottled water will be phased out in the coming weeks. The transport of water to more than 100 villages in southern Lebanon will remain a priority for six to eight weeks. The water recovery process has been speeded by a ready supply of generators and the fact that electric power is coming back on line more quickly than anticipated. Coordination of de-mining activities will continue through the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC). To date, some 592 cluster bomb strike locations have been identified, and 40,000 cluster sub-munitions and other pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) have been cleared out of a possible total of 1 million. Fourteen people were killed and 90 injured from all types of unexploded ordnance in Lebanon from 14 August until 19 September. Some 200,000 people remain displaced due to the level of destruction and contamination by cluster sub-munitions and other UXO in their hometowns. Ten UN Environment Programme (<"http://www.unep.org/">UNEP) experts are due to arrive on Saturday to look at key environmental hazards including waste rubble, medical and industrial waste, coastal marine pollution, asbestos, and ground water contamination. A three-member delegation of the UN Human Rights Council is already in Lebanon and will remain there until 7 October to investigate what OCHA called “the systematic targeting and killing of civilians by Israel in Lebanon” as well as to examine the weapons used by Israel and their conformity with international law. The team will meet with Government officials, the diplomatic community and representatives of civil society and will travel to areas affected by the recent conflict to collect evidence and witness accounts of the military operations. 2006-09-28 00:00:00.000

 

UN TSUNAMI ENVOY BILL CLINTON WELCOMES POLITICAL REFORM PROGRESS IN THE MALDIVES

New York, Sep 28 2006 2:00PM The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, former United States President Bill Clinton, today welcomed the release of an opposition leader in the Maldives and the commitment by the archipelago’s Government to undertake further political reform as it rebuilds in the wake of the disaster. Mr. Clinton said he had held constructive discussions with Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom during his recent visit to New York for the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly. “I welcome recent progress in the political reform process in the Maldives, and the acknowledgement by officials that ‘building back better’ after the tsunami should include a commitment to transparency, political dialogue and good governance,” he said in a statement. Mr. Clinton added he was “encouraged” by the recent decision to release Maldivian Democratic Party Chairperson Mohamed Nasheed from detention. “President Gayoom assured me that the reform process will continue, and I offer my support in the weeks and months to come.” 2006-09-28 00:00:00.000

 

UN HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF TO VISIT OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, ISRAEL


New York, Sep 28 2006 12:00PM
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour
<"http://www.ohchr.org/english/">briefed the Human Rights Council today
on the worldwide work of her Office, voicing concern at the
deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and announcing that she would soon
visit Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The situation in Afghanistan carries grave implications for human
rights, Ms. Arbour told the new enhanced Council during its second session
in Geneva, recalling that just this Monday armed assailants targeted and
for the first time killed a female official, Safia Ama Jan, Director of
the Women’s Affairs Department of Kandahar province.

Civilians have at times become indirect victims of attacks by
insurgents as well as by Government and international military forces, she
added.

Turning to the Palestinian Territories (OPT), she stressed that only a
political solution “will bring an end to the loss of life, immense
suffering and hardship.”

“But pending that, compliance by all duty bearers with their
responsibilities under international humanitarian and human rights law is of the
utmost importance,” she added, noting that her forthcoming visit will
allow her to conduct a first-hand assessment of the situation.

Ms. Arbour’s appeal echoed a call for political action issued yesterday
by the head of the principal UN agency tending to Palestinian refugees.

“The political front is where we need your leadership,” UN Relief and
Works Agency (<"http://www.un.org/unrwa/news/index.html">UNRWA)
Commissioner General Karen Koning AbuZayd told UNRWA’s Advisory Commission in
Amman, stressing that living conditions in Gaza, already in steep
decline, had “deteriorated dramatically” with Israeli action after the
kidnapping of one of its soldiers in June.  

“I see my role as one of informing political leaders of the facts on
the ground and of encouraging action that will ease the plight of the
refugees,” she added, expressing hope that a unity government in Palestine
will become a reality and pave the way for revitalizing the peace
process.

She noted food distribution in Gaza had been delayed because of severe
difficulties getting goods through the Karni crossing from Israel and
that civilian casualties had been “depressingly numerous” with 280
people killed, 45 of them children, and 815 injured.

Referring to the situation in the West Bank, Ms. AbuZayd stressed that
the “insidious effects” of the barrier which Israel is building, while
less visible, “are as devastating as what is so plain to see in Gaza.”

Commerce and travel in some areas have been reduced to a trickle. “Land
expropriations and house demolitions continue, as does settlement
expansion. IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) incursions and live fire incidents
are a daily occurrence in the northern West Bank,” she added.

She noted that the once bustling downtown area of Hebron “is now
surreally desolate of commerce, and presents a harrowing existence for those
few Palestinians who dare to remain or who are too deep in poverty to
move elsewhere. Settler violence has forced out over half the
Palestinian population in some neighbourhoods in downtown Hebron,” she added.

“We are very concerned about the human impact of the closure regime -
whether for those in Hebron, those caught in enclaves, those who lost
livelihoods to the seam zone, those separated from families by the
barrier or Bedouins whose traditional way of life is destroyed.”
2006-09-28 00:00:00.000

GRASSROOTS BATTLE AGAINST DESERTIFICATION HONOURED WITH UN ENVIRONMENTAL PRIZE

New York, Sep 28 2006 11:00AM Highlighting the daily struggle of billions of people living in the world’s drylands, the United Nations Environment Programme (<"http://www.unep.org/">UNEP) has awarded a major prize to two grassroots initiatives that combat desertification and land degradation in Colombia and Mauritania. The <"http://www.unep.org/sasakawa/">2006 UNEP Sasakawa Prize goes to Rodrigo Vivas Rosas of Colombia, leader of an alliance of 16 organizations and 6,500 people that has promoted the sustainable use of water, and the Tenadi Cooperative Group of Mauritania, which has sunk boreholes with immersed pumps and reforested the area around them to stop the movement of dunes and solve the problem of drinking water. “This is an award for the literally hundreds of thousands of grassroots initiatives trying to conserve the health and the fertility of the land in some of the harshest environments on the globe,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner <"http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=487&ArticleID=5361&l=en">said today in announcing the award. “In honouring Mr. Vivas Rosas and the Tenadi Cooperative we also honour these countless unsung individuals and groups whose commitment, creativity, tenacity and steadfastness are a lesson to us all.” The prize is sponsored by UNEP and the Nippon Foundation of Japan, whose chairman is Yohei Sasakawa. Mr. Vivas Rosas’ Inter-institutional Consortium for Sustainable Agriculture (CIPASLA) includes government and non-governmental organizations, a foundation established by ex-guerrillas and an association of indigenous people, and his activities span the Andean region. His achievements have led to a dent in the poverty that helps to perpetuate local guerrilla activity, the production of illicit crops and the flow of migrants to cities. His integrated models are considered by many as a laboratory for sustainably managing hillside environments threatened by desertification and plagued with a lack of resources. “I always thought we could replicate successful sustainable development initiatives in Colombia,” Mr. Vivas Rosas said, voicing pride at receiving the award. “Thanks to the support of international organizations, this has become possible. It is now feasible to promote a culture of harvesting and using rainwater in Colombia. This should become public policy and a priority for all local and regional governments.” The Tenadi Cooperative, led by Sidi El Moctar Ould Waled, has worked against a background of years of persistent drought in the Sahel region of Africa that since 1973 has killed 90 per cent of livestock and annihilated the hopes of nomadic people who have been living there for centuries. Thanks to the Cooperative’s activities, a large number of families have chosen to settle around the Tenadi oasis, where they are being trained in new income-generating agricultural techniques, including introducing new crops in a desert environment through the regeneration of flora which were rapidly becoming extinct. “Our initiatives serve as an example to many other communities who are fighting desertification in Mauritania and throughout West Africa,” Mr. El Moctar Ould Waled said on learning of his award. The winners will formally receive the Prize from Mr. Steiner on 30 October at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. They were selected by an independent jury of international leaders and environmentalists, including 2004 Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai. 2006-09-28 00:00:00.000

 

DR CONGO: UN ENVOY SAYS COUNTRY SHOULD BE READY TO HOLD SUCCESSFUL POLLS NEXT MONTH

 New York, Sep 27 2006 9:00PM The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) should have all the necessary financial, logistical and security elements in place to successfully stage the run-off round of landmark presidential elections next month, the senior United Nations envoy to the country said today. Speaking to reporters after briefing the Security Council at UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative William Lacy Swing said the UN Organization in the DRC, known as MONUC, is in the midst of “a very complex operation” to prepare the vast African country for the polls. About 1200 tons of electoral kits have already been transported and 25-28 million ballot papers have also been distributed to regional bases, he said. Using more than 60 helicopters, or travelling by bicycle, foot or canoe, MONUC staff will then help election officials deliver the ballot papers and electoral kits to some 50,000 polling stations around the country. On 29 October the Congolese will go to the polls to elect either current President Joseph Kabila or Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba as their next President after the two scored highest in the first round on 30 July. Elections will also be held for members of the DRC’s provincial assemblies, who will then have the task of appointing senators to the national parliament, as well as all the regional governors. The polls on 30 July were the first free and fair elections staged in the DRC in more than 40 years and represent the most complex electoral-assistance programme ever undertaken by the UN. Mr. Swing was briefing Council members today on the contents of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s latest report on MONUC, in which he called for the Mission’s mandate to be extended until February. 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

SMALL ISLAND STATES DISCUSS TRADE, ENVIRONMENT AND COLLECTIVE ACTION DURING UN DEBATE

New York, Sep 27 2006 6:00PM The lack of progress during recent global trade negotiations, the threat posed by climate change and the value of countries finding multilateral solutions to problems were among the key themes as ministers from six small island States addressed the United Nations General Assembly today. Speaking on the final day of the high-level debate, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador Philip Sealy called for the resumption of the Doha Round of trade talks, which collapsed earlier this year, while ensuring that development is given appropriate attention during any fresh negotiations. “It is crucial that global trade rules be enhanced in recognition of the need for treatment to be accorded to small economies that would take cognizance of their special circumstances, and allow them to participate in world trade in a manner commensurate with their national capacity to do so,” he said. Echoing that theme, Timothy Harris, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, Industry and Commerce for Saint Kitts and Nevis, said he was concerned that the needs of small island developing States were being overlooked or downplayed in favour of other issues. Citing the work of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in helping his country adjust to changes in the international sugar industry, he called for more partnerships for development within regional groups and between nations. Justin Simon, Attorney-General of Antigua and Barbuda, voiced concern about climate change and the impact of natural disasters, such has hurricanes and tsunamis, on small island countries. “My country’s Government feels that a review of existing international disaster relief funds and an increase in the amount of financial resources made available are necessary for the elimination of this sad state of economic vulnerability of so many nations,” he said. Tuvalu’s Ambassador Enele Sosene Sopoaga said that in recent years there has been unusual flooding of his country’s main islands, perhaps because of rising sea levels caused by climate change. “We are frightened, and worried. And we cannot think of another Tuvalu to move to – all by the actions of others – if nothing is done urgently and we are forced out of our islands. There is still time to act,” he said. Ruben Zackhras, Vice Speaker of the Marshall Islands, raised the issue of the United States’ nuclear weapons testing programme, which took place in his country before it became independent in 1986. Calling on the UN and its Member States to examine this issue more closely, Mr. Zackhras said “our people have paid a disproportionate sacrifice for helping the world understand the power of the nuclear bomb. We have paid with our own lives, our health, and the well-being of our land and waters that are so sacred to us.” Turning to the subject of migration, Tonga’s Chargé d’Affaires Mahe ‘Uli’Uli Tupouniua quoted a World Bank study revealing the benefits that migrants provide to sender countries when they remit some income to their families. Mr. Tupouniua said the study showed that for countries such as Tonga, remittances help to improve income distribution and alleviate poverty in sender States, as well as induce higher savings, stimulate business activities and promote increased investment in education. 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

 

INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT CRUCIAL TO SOLIDIFYING PROGRESS IN HAITI, OFFICIAL TELLS UN

 New York, Sep 27 2006 10:00PM Haiti's Government is working to foster stability and economic growth but will require international support to back its efforts, the country's ambassador told the United Nations General Assembly today during its annual debate. Léo Mérorès said in order to provide relief to the suffering masses in the country and eliminate the roots of gang recruitment, the Government had launched a programme aimed at generating jobs. To create a climate conducive to good governance, the Government had worked with all concerned to achieve social cohesion and political reconciliation. The international conference on Haiti earlier this year produced promises of financial commitment, he noted, adding that the Government was preparing to carry out a long-term development plan and the international community should do its part to help. Donors should live up to their promises and support Haiti, he stressed. "In the long-term, the financial aid from the international community will facilitate the consolidation of democracy and will help us to establish the basis for sustainable development." He voiced Haiti's gratitude for international assistance it has received so far, pledging that with this continued global backing, "my country will attain its goals." 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

STRESSING USE OF TECHNOLOGY FOR DEVELOPMENT, ANNAN CALLS FOR A ‘NETWORK OF NETWORKS’

 New York, Sep 27 2006 8:00PM United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for the vision of a global information society to be transformed into reality, stressing the need to use technology for development and urging a new international alliance to build a “network of networks” to harness high-tech innovations for the benefit of everyone. Mr. Annan made his remarks in a <"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sgsm10662.doc.htm">speech to the recently formed Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (GAID), which was launched in Malaysia in June as a means of utilizing new technologies to fight poverty and promote development. “We must translate the vision of a truly global information society into reality… The Alliance’s Strategy Council has identified four priority areas: health, education, poverty reduction through enterprise creation, and citizens’ participation in governance,” he told the group’s high-level Steering Committee at today’s <"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/dev2593.doc.htm">meeting in New York. “The Alliance will… have the flexibility to encourage additional organizations and individuals to participate. The idea is to develop a decentralized ‘network of networks’ on a global scale, so that the Alliance can draw in the relevant stakeholders, particularly as new issues emerge.” He said the group’s success will hinge on several factors, including its ability to formulate clear and attainable objectives, to operate with transparency and accountability and to work with a broad group of participants, and he commended its initial efforts, particularly recognition of the special challenges facing women, youth and marginalized groups. The Alliance’s Steering Committee brings together senior figures from government, as well as people from the fields of business, media and civil society. It includes Jamaludin Jarjis, Malaysia’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, while the chairman is Craig Barrett, who also holds the same position for semiconductor giant Intel. “The challenge for the Alliance is relatively straightforward but certainly not simple – it’s really to bring the information and communication technologies and resultant development associated with the introduction of those technologies to the emerging worlds, the emerging marketplaces,” Dr. Barrett told reporters before the meeting. 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

 

BOSNIAN SERB LEADER JAILED FOR 27 YEARS AFTER UN TRIBUNAL CONVICTS HIM OF WAR CRIMES

 New York, Sep 27 2006 8:00PM The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today <"http://www.un.org/icty/pressreal/2006/p1115-e.htm">sentenced a former Bosnian Serb political leader to 27 years’ jail after convicting him of crimes against humanity for his role in the 1990s conflict in the Balkans. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (<"http://www.un.org/icty/">ICTY) found Momcilo Krajišnik guilty of persecutions, extermination, murder, deportation and the forced transfer of non-Serb civilians. But the court, which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands, acquitted him of genocide, complicity in genocide and one count of murder. The Tribunal heard that Mr. Krajišnik was part of a joint criminal enterprise between July 1991 and December 1992 that aimed to reduce the population of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats within Bosnia and Herzegovina. The joint enterprise included the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloševic, the notorious paramilitary leader Željko Ražnatovic (aka ‘Arkan’) and the former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadžic, who remains at large today. Mr. Krajišnik, 61, was a senior Bosnian Serb political figure during the 1990s, serving variously as President of the Bosnian Serb Assembly and a member of the Expanded Presidency of the “Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.” The three judges hearing the case found that he gave the go-ahead for the programme of ethnic cleansing during a session of the Bosnian Serb Assembly. Although the initial plan was confined to deportations and forced transfers, the court said the evidence showed it soon extended to murder and persecution. “Immense suffering was inflicted upon the victims in this case, and the consequences that the crimes have had on the Muslim and Croat ethnic groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina are profound. The crimes were committed over a long period of time, often through brutal methods, with hatred or appalling lack of concern,” according to a summary of the judgement. The judges hearing the case were Alphons Orie (presiding) of the Netherlands, Spain’s Joaquín Martín Canivell and Claude Hanoteau of France. In a separate ruling, the ICTY dismissed appeals by Ivica Marijacic and Markica Rebic against an earlier judgement which found them guilty of contempt of court. In March the Tribunal ruled that Mr. Marijacic, a journalist with a weekly Zagreb publication, and Mr. Rebic, the former head of Croatia’s Security Information Service, deliberately disclosed information about the testimony of a witness during a closed session. The appeals chamber affirmed the ruling and the fine of 15,000 euros each. 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

CAMEROON HAILS UN FOR HELPING IT SETTLE BORDER DISPUTE WITH NIGERIA

New York, Sep 27 2006 7:00PM The Ambassador of Cameroon today credited the United Nations – and especially Secretary-General Kofi Annan – for helping it to achieve a peaceful settlement to the border dispute it had with Nigeria and renewed his country’s commitment to carrying it out. The Greentree Agreement of 12 June resulted in the withdrawal of Nigerian troops from areas deemed to be part of Cameroon by a 2002 ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Thanking the UN, Mr. Annan and supportive countries, Ambassador Martin Belinga Eboutou renewed Cameroon’s commitment to the pact. “In particular, I would like to give the guarantee that those of the Nigerian nationals currently living in Bakassi and who are wiling to remain there will enjoy the same treatment as the 4.5 million Nigerians living in Cameroon who carry out their activities in safe conditions, perfect harmony and fraternity with Cameroonian Nationals,” he said in an <"http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/cameroon-e.pdf">address to the General Assembly’s annual debate. He added that the process had demonstrated that a final settlement cannot be imposed. “A true and lasting peace is built up through patience and moderation that can derive only from a real and shared political will.” Youssouf Bakayoko, the Foreign Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, which has been divided between the Government-controlled south and the rebel-held north since 2002, said the country is moving forward but requires continued international support. He welcomed the indispensable help of the UN, African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union and friendly countries, adding: “My delegation invites all to continue their support for the Ivorian Government and people in their quest to achieve a definitive solution to this unprecedented crisis.” Also addressing the Assembly today, the Ambassador of Cape Verde, Maria De Fatima Lima Da Veiga, said that with international help, her country had seen improvements in its social and economic indicators in its 30 years since independence. It had also agreed to the pilot creation of a framework of common action for UN programmes, agencies and funds operating there in a bid to improve efficiency. Ambassador Phesheya Mbongeni Dlamini of Swaziland <"http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/swaziland-e.pdf">voiced appreciation for the UN’s support, in particular in advancing the constitutional process. “This is a costly but worthwhile exercise and we are grateful to the United Nations for the assistance and support that has been made available to us,” he said. At the same time, Mr. Dlamini pointed out that Swaziland still faces numerous challenges and said its people are encouraged “to be in partnerships with foreign direct investors in joint ventures to develop our nation.” 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE, SPEAKERS PRAISE UN REFORMS BUT URGE FURTHER ACTION

 New York, Sep 27 2006 7:00PM As the General Assembly continued its annual debate today, speakers voiced support for measures that have been taken to strengthen the United Nations while calling for further reforms to enable the Organization to meet the challenges ahead. “Even sceptics cannot deny that the UN in 2006 is profoundly different from the UN 10 years ago,” said Alexandr Vondra, the Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, <"http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/czech_republic-e.pdf">noting that many reform projects were carried out although some, including the “long-overdue reform of the Security Council” were not. If the UN could succeed in management reform, it will become “stronger, leaner, less bureaucratic and more operational,” he said. “Let us hope that these changes will be backed by the adoption of a new and fair scale of assessments, by adequate budget and payment discipline, and, last but not least, by progress in implementing the Capital Master Plan” for overhauling the UN’s dilapidated Headquarters complex. Anders Lidén, Sweden’s Ambassador <"http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/sweden-e.pdf">said the High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence provides “a unique opportunity to revitalize the support of the United Nations to the developing countries.” This, said, will ultimately serve those States where the Organization operates. “If the UN can become more effective at the country level, it will be able to mobilize more resources and ensure that they will reach the countries in need.” Representing the Observer Mission of the Holy See, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Governatorate of the Vatican City State, <"http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/holy_see-e.pdf">voiced support for reforms that have already been carried out, such as the creation of a new Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council, while stressing the need for further changes. “The need to improve the system for effective humanitarian interventions in catastrophes brought on by war, civil conflict and ethnic strife will be an important test of the UN reform agenda,” he said. Also <"http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/monaco-e.pdf">addressing the Assembly today, Gilles Noghès, the head of Monaco’s delegation, said the Principality’s Princess Stéphanie would soon be designated as a Special Representative of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS. This “will further reinforce her commitment to the battle against this terrible pandemic affecting more and more women,” he said. 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

ETHIOPIA SAYS ERITREA BREACHED SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS ON BORDER DISPUTE

 New York, Sep 27 2006 7:00PM Eritrea must withdraw its troops from the temporary security zone along its border with Ethiopia and renounce the use of force to resolve the conflict between the two nations before genuine dialogue to solve that dispute can begin, Ethiopia’s Ambassador Negash Kebret told the General Assembly today. Mr. Kebret said that Eritrea has breached several Security Council resolutions and the Algiers Peace Agreement between the two countries by maintaining its armed forces in the zone, which was created by the UN Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) as a demilitarized area. He said Eritrea has also repeatedly engaged in “flagrant restrictions against UNMEE,” preventing the Mission from carrying out its mandate and arresting or detaining several of its personnel. “Eritrea should behave as a responsible State and resolve any dispute through diplomatic means. Eritrea has to understand that this is its only option. Its continued dangerous tactics of brinkmanship against many actors in the international community should not be acceptable.” Mr. Kebret said Ethiopia has been willing to hold talks with Eritrea “and has attended in good faith the meetings convened by the Boundary Commission,” and yet Eritrea has issued ultimatums and refused to participate in Commission meetings. “Eritrea’s strategic goal is neither peace nor a peaceful common boundary. What it wishes to have is [an] interminable boundary problem with Ethiopia.” 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

 

STATES ARE MORE WILLING TO WORK TOGETHER AGAINST TERRORISM, BUT LOOPHOLES REMAIN:

 UN New York, Sep 27 2006 5:00PM Member States are now more willing than ever to “band together” to prevent the movement of terrorists and their supporters across borders, but unpoliced frontiers and forged documents still allow such travel, a United Nations team said in a new <"http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=s/2006/750">report released today. The 51-page document is the fifth report by a team of experts set up to monitor and support sanctions against Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities, and it covers a wide range of measures, including travel bans, an arms embargo and financial restrictions set up following various Security Council resolutions on the issue. “The Team has seen an increasing willingness of States to band together to prevent the movement of terrorists and their supporters across borders, and these efforts have made a difference. But at the same time, there is no doubt that listed persons continue to travel and the problems of unpoliced borders, and widely available stolen, falsified or forged documents remain persistent and difficult to address,” the report states. “The Team continues to believe that the arms embargo should take into account the evolution in terrorists’ tactics in order to address the threat posed by listed individuals and entities. States need a clearer definition of their obligations under the arms embargo in order to better implement this sanction and to make it more effective.” Another widespread frustration among States, the report highlights, is a lack of proper knowledge and understanding of the nature of the threat and the best way to deal with it, citing in particular the “transnational nature of Al-Qaida and the subversive appeal of its message leave many States at a loss.” To counter this, the Team, which undertook various field visits for the report, brought together groups of very senior intelligence and security officials and also contacted many others to try to identify new measures and actions that the Security Council Committee dedicated to this issue could consider. A list of individuals and entities that the Committee agrees are members of or associated with Al-Qaida, Usama Bin Laden and the Taliban is at the centre of the sanctions regime and its efficient distribution is vital to successful implementation, the report stresses. As of the end of July, this list – known as the Consolidated List – had 478 entries: 142 individuals and one entity associated with the Taliban, and 213 individuals and 122 entities associated with Al-Qaida. As well as focusing on the need to make the various sanctions more effective and relevant to the threat, the Team’s report also calls for improving procedures for adding and removing names from the Consolidated List, as well as the need to increase the involvement of as wide a range of UN Member States as possible. “Over the last six months Al-Qaida, Usama Bin Laden and the Taliban have made some gains and suffered some losses. The violence in Afghanistan has increased considerably, and there has been no let up in Iraq, with Al-Qaida’s contribution remaining disproportionate to its size.” “But there have also been deaths and arrests. Ahmad Fadil Nazal Al-Khalayleh (also known as Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi), killed in Iraq in June, and Shamil Basayev, killed in Ingushetia, Russian Federation, in July, both on the Consolidated List, were key leaders… There have been many arrests and disrupted plots, only some of which have been announced publicly. Despite warnings by Al-Qaida of major imminent attacks against Western countries, none has occurred, at least not yet.” 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

THAILAND PROMISES SWIFT RETURN TO DEMOCRACY DURING ADDRESS TO UN DEBATE

New York, Sep 27 2006 4:00PM Thailand will end martial law and return soon to democracy and, in the meantime, its interim constitution will provide full protection of civil liberties, the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations told the General Assembly today, a week after a coup took place in the South-East Asian nation. Khunying Laxanachantorn Laohaphan <"http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/thailand-e.pdf">told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate that he was grateful that last week’s events had been peaceful and that “the situation has returned to normal within hours.” Promising that Thailand “will emerge as a stronger and more vibrant democracy,” Mrs. Laohaphan said the military leadership will ensure there is “a swift return to democracy with a definite timeline. “An interim constitution will be promulgated in the coming days, with the military being placed under the constitution once more. This interim constitution will provide full guarantees for civil liberties and rights under the supervision of the National Human Rights Commission,” she said. Mrs. Laohaphan said a civilian government is likely to be installed within days, followed by the end of martial law, the start of constitutional reform and eventually general elections within the next 12 months. “It is the hope of the Thai people that as a result of constitutional reform, independent organizations to be re-established under the new constitution will become more effective in carrying out their tasks in checking and monitoring the work of the executive branch of government.” Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had been scheduled to address the high-level debate last week, but his appearance was cancelled following the coup. Meanwhile, Timor-Leste’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, José Luis Guterres, told the Assembly earlier today that his Government was making progress on its programme to establish security, reform defence institutions, reconcile conflicting groups and promote good governance and economic development following the deadly violence that swept the country earlier this year. “As political leaders of a young nation we acknowledge that not all decisions made were right and some created discontentment and were the source of demonstrations in April, May, June and July of this year,” he said. Mr. Guterres said the Government will conduct a national dialogue “to recapture the confidence lost by our State institutions” during the unrest, adding it is also proceeding with reform of the national police force. He added that Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta yesterday met with representatives of armed forces members who were dismissed earlier this year – in the move that sparked much of the violence – “to once again find a solution which is in conformity with the laws of Timor-Leste and is acceptable to the various parties involved in this situation.” 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

INEQUITABLE HEALTH CARE RIFE IN THE AMERICAS, ACCORDING TO NEW UN REPORT

 New York, Sep 27 2006 2:00PM Unequal access to services and disparities between rural and urban areas continue to mar the health systems in North and South America and the Caribbean, according to the latest United Nations report on the issue. “The search for equity in health is one of the main objectives,” Pan American Health Organization (<"http://www.paho.org/English/DD/PIN/pr060926.htm">PAHO) Director Mirta Roses said in presenting her annual report to the organization's 47th Directing Council currently meeting in Washington. The report focuses on closing the gaps in health in the least protected populations in the Americas, especially in areas where poverty is highly concentrated in relation to disadvantaged groups such as women, children, indigenous populations, young people and the elderly. “In far too many countries, unnecessary poor health conditions persist” and evidence shows there are a number of cost-effective interventions to improve health conditions, PAHO’s former Director George Alleyne told the region’s Health Ministers today. Dr. Alleyne is an editor of the project, deals with such issues as tobacco use, cardiovascular disease, maternal and newborn mortality, and the reduction of infectious diseases, such as TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS. The Western hemisphere continues to show inequities in resource allocation and the design and implementation of health policies, according to PAHO, which is the regional office for the Americas of the UN World Health Organization (WHO). The report notes advances in policy making and strengthening operating capacity, and outlines examples of progress in reaching disadvantaged groups such as pregnant mothers and newborns, strengthening primary care and broadening access to health and nutrition, and protecting the health of children and adolescents and preventing youth violence. Other initiatives noted are strengthening gender equality, reducing stigma and discrimination against people affected by HIV/AIDS, protecting the disabled, improving health care for the elderly, and advancing programs to protect against and mitigate the impact of disasters. 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

 

RECENT INTERNATIONAL CRISES PROVE NEED TO REFORM SECURITY COUNCIL, INDIA TELLS UN

 New York, Sep 27 2006 2:00PM Recent events in Lebanon and the stalemate in the Middle East peace process have demonstrated the growing failure of the Security Council to tackle issues under its mandate, the Defence Minister of India <"http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/india-e.pdf">told the General Assembly today, calling for reform of the 15-member body. “There is wide acceptance that the Security Council can no longer be regarded as being reflective of the changed international environment that has emerged since the time of its creation,” Pranab Mukherjee told the Assembly’s annual debate. “The Security Council has not only to be more representative but also to be more effective if it is to be able to satisfactorily perform the role mandated to it by the Charter.” He also said the global response to terrorism has remained inadequate and voiced outrage at the bombings in Mumbai and elsewhere that have claimed innocent lives. “A strong response to terrorism requires broad-based international cooperation denying the space available to terrorists and increasing the capability of States to address terrorist threats.” Mr. Mukherjee welcomed the recent adoption of a UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy but said it should have been stronger. In addition, he said the international community must “unanimously reject the notion that any cause can justify terrorism.” The comprehensive convention on terrorism now being drafted would provide the legal framework for addressing the issue, he said, appealing for agreement on the pact. “It cannot be beyond our collective ingenuity to reach an agreement on this comprehensive convention.” 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

 

ON ANNIVERSARY OF WORLD WAR II MASSACRE, ANNAN APPEALS FOR GLOBAL
TOLERANCE


, Sep 27 2006  1:00PM
Using the anniversary of a notorious massacre of Jews and others in
Ukraine in World War II to deplore the recent increase in extremism and
intolerance, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today made an
impassioned appeal for pluralism and mutual respect around the world,
decrying those who deny the Holocaust.

“The massacre of many thousands of Jews, Soviet prisoners of war,
Ukrainian nationalists, Roma and others at Babyn Yar was one of the worst
horrors of the Second World War,” Mr. Annan said in message to the
ceremony commemorating the 65th anniversary of the tragedy, delivered by UN
Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Francis O'Donnell.

“If we are to have any chance of sparing future generations from
similar tragedies, we must keep memory alive,” he added, warning that
communities under assault must not be left alone to defend themselves.

“Even today, after the Holocaust and other horrors of the last century,
we see people around the world targeted for brutality and violence
simply because of their ethnic, religious, national or other identity. We
see Jews in many places, including in Europe, living in fear for their
safety and freedoms. We see Muslims and others facing attacks and
discrimination.”

He noted that politicians in several countries have found
anti-immigrant appeals a path to electoral success and added: “We must reject the
false claims of those who say the Holocaust never happened or has been
exaggerated. Everyone must speak out.”

Last year Mr. Annan voiced shock over reported remarks by Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad casting doubt on the truth of the Holocaust,
and the General Assembly passed a resolution rejecting any denial of the
Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or in part.

Today the Secretary-General stressed UN’s wide-ranging, long-standing
work to promote and protect human rights, highlighting the “Alliance of
Civilizations,” launched last year and co-sponsored by Spain and
Turkey, which aims to bridge divides and overcome prejudices and
polarizations that potentially threaten world peace. 
2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

UN AGENCY CHIEFS CALL ON US CONGRESS TO HELP END DEADLY TOLL OF CHILD HUNGER NOW

New York, Sep 27 2006 12:00PM Calling the plight of hundreds of millions of poor, malnourished children who die or fail to develop properly “an affront to conscience,” senior United Nations officials have <"http://www.wfp.org/english/?ModuleID=137&Key=2255">appealed to the United States Congress to help end child hunger now. “Some 18,000 children will die of hunger and malnutrition today,” UN World Food Programme (<"http://www.wfp.org/english/">WFP) Executive Director of the WFP James Morris told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, testifying on the Ending Child Hunger and Undernutrition Initiative. “That is hard for people in the US or Europe to comprehend. But Within a month, we will lose more children to hunger than there are people living here in Washington. Yet there are no headlines and no public outcry. Instead, these poor, forgotten children die in silence in places like Guatemala, Bangladesh and Zambia - far from our sight. This need not happen: we have every tool we need to solve hunger.” The Initiative promotes an “essential package,” including basic daily health, hygiene and nutrition practices and a set of life-saving commodities such as micronutrients, clean water, hand washing with soap and parasite control such as de-worming, at an estimated cost of $79 per family. The initiative, though ambitious, is doable, not only from an economic standpoint but a practical one, since the population of undernourished children tends to be highly concentrated, said Mr. Morris, who appeared together with UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Ann Veneman, a core partner in the project. He stressed that beyond the death toll, the physical damage and ill health brought on by malnutrition have lasting impact on those children who survive, affecting every stage and aspect of life, not only stunting bodies but slowing mental growth – dropping IQ by 10, 15 points or more. In some countries, stunting rates exceed 60 percent. “Imagine the impact on poor countries, seeking to develop their economies. How can their workers compete? The bottom line is that very little - not education and certainly not development - can happen where hunger rules,” he said. “We must help these children early on in life. Once severe malnutrition takes its toll, it cannot be reversed later on. There’s no such thing as retroactive nutrition.” The two UN agency heads are working to engage partners throughout the aid world - humanitarian organizations, foundations and businesses, as well as governments - to eliminate the extreme hunger that still threatens the lives of an estimated 400 million children in the developing world today. According to the Initiative, the cost of helping 100 million families protect their children from hunger and undernutrition is estimated at roughly $8 billion. Of this amount, it is estimated that approximately $1 billion of new international resources could be effectively programmed immediately, Mr. Morris said. “This investment can change lives, even generations. And the cost of action is but a tiny fraction of the enormous costs we will shoulder by continuing to do ‘business as usual’,” he added. 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

 

DESPITE RECENT RAINS, UN STILL FACES SHORTFALL IN FEEDING DROUGHT-STRICKEN KENYANS

New York, Sep 27 2006 12:00PM Although rains have reduced the number of drought-stricken Kenyans in need of food aid from 3.5 million to nearly 3 million, the United Nations World Food Programme (<"http://www.wfp.org/english/">WFP) said today it still needs $44 million to continue its operations there for the next six months and is concerned that donor contributions have slowed considerably. “The numbers in need have gone down but that is no consolation or help to those who remain victims of the drought,” WFP Emergency Coordinator in Kenya Denise Brown <"http://www.wfp.org/english/?ModuleID=137&Key=2256">said. “In particular, WFP now has a big problem with a shortage of cereals, which make up most of the food ration. We will completely run out of cereals from October and through November.” WFP has so far received $155 million or 69 per cent of the $225 million needed for its Emergency Operation from March this year until March 2007. At the height of the drought this year, 3.5 million people received food aid each month. The Agency is $44 million short of the funds it needs to feed 2.4 million people with general food distributions from September to March 2007, as well as feed 550,000 school children in drought-stricken areas. The greatest needs are in nine pastoralist districts, where the number of people receiving general food distributions will be cut from September from 1.3 million to 1.2 million. In marginal agricultural districts, the number of beneficiaries is reduced from 1.4 million to 1 million. In coastal districts, the numbers receiving food rations were reduced by 55 per cent. An assessment report by the Government, WFP, other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations noted that 84 per cent of Kenya’s land area is arid or semi-arid and chronic poverty is high. It found that the latest rains varied from fair to good in the northeast, coast and parts of the south to 50-75 per cent below normal in north western and northern parts of Kenya and stressed that drought will inevitably return. A commitment to developing the arid areas is a humanitarian obligation and economic imperative and long-term development is needed both to alleviate poverty and mitigate the damage done by drought, the report added. 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

 

UNESCO CHIEF CONDEMNS YET ANOTHER JOURNALIST’S MURDER, THIS TIME IN BANGLADESH

New York, Sep 27 2006 11:00AM Keeping up his campaign to defend the freedom of the press, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (<"http://portal.unesco.org">UNESCO) today <"http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=34876&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html">deplored the murder of a Bangladeshi journalist as a blow against democracy. Bellal Hossain Dafadar, 38, a correspondent of the Khulna-based daily newspaper Janabani, died after he was stabbed by four or five assailants as he was cycling back home from a local bazaar on 14 September. “I am very distressed by this new attack on a journalist in Bangladesh and urge the authorities to ensure that such crimes do not go unpunished,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement. “It is essential that journalists be able to carry out their professional duties and exercise the basic human right of freedom of expression in the interest of democracy and rule of law,” he added. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), nine journalists have been killed in Bangladesh over the past five years. UNESCO has a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom, and Mr. Matsuura has issued frequent condemnations of the murder of journalists around the world. 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

TIMOR-LESTE: FIRST BATCH OF POLICE RETURN TO WORK UNDER UN MENTORING SCHEME

 New York, Sep 27 2006 10:00AM The first group of Timor Leste police has resumed work under a United Nations mentoring scheme after being relieved of duty earlier this year in violence that shook the small South East Asian nation, which the world body shepherded to independence from Indonesia just four years ago. “The return to duty of these police in the capital is a crucial step in restoring Timorese public authority and ensuring law and order to the streets of Dili and the whole country,” Antero Lopes, Acting Police Commissioner for the new UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) said today. The UN Security Council created the expanded Mission last month, citing ongoing threats to stability. The crisis, attributed to differences between eastern and western regions, erupted in late April with the firing of 600 striking soldiers, a third of the armed forces. Ensuing violence claimed at least 37 lives and drove 155,000 people, 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes. Eighteen of this first batch of 25 police officers are on general patrol duties, five have been assigned to the Dili detention centre, and the remaining two are working in the UN Police (UNPol) communications room, all in co-location with UNPol. They are participating in an ongoing screening process that began in early September with a call to registration by the Ministry of Interior. Some 900 Dili-based police registered for screening, a prerequisite to returning to work. The programme is to be implemented in outlying districts later. The screening is carried out by UNPol together with the Government, based on records from various offices including those of the Prosecutor and UNMIT’s human rights section. Any officer found to have had a complaint lodged against him is subject to UNPol investigation and/or criminal investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office. If there are no complaints or the complaints are found to be invalid, the officer can begin the six-week training and mentoring programme that includes a five-day intensive refresher course at the Police Academy and five weeks of on-the-job mentoring. The officers are evaluated on a daily basis. No PNTL officer may carry firearms during mentoring. UNMIT initially is to consist of a civilian component, including up to 1,608 police personnel and some 34 military liaison and staff officers. 2006-09-27 00:00:00.000

 

UN’S INFLUENZA PANDEMIC TASK FORCE MEETS FOR THE FIRST TIME; WILL PLAY ADVISORY ROLE

New York, Sep 26 2006 9:00PM The United Nations health agency’s Influenza Pandemic Task Force (IPTF), which will advise the world body on how best to respond to health issues of global concern related to bird flu and pandemic influenza, has held its first meeting in Geneva. The Task Force is a temporary body that will operate until the World Health Organization’s (<"http://www.who.int/en/">WHO) International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR) come into force on 15 June 2007, the agency said, at which point an emergency committee will be convened if and when needed to advise on disease events of global public health importance. "The International Health Regulations (IHR) are a key element in strengthening global health security. By bringing this group of experts together and ensuring that we have established effective means of working together… we can ensure that we are getting both the best advice for WHO and building a platform of shared knowledge," <"http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2006/np28/en/index.html">said Dr Guenael Rodier, WHO Director responsible for the coordination of IHR implementation. The meeting of the Task Force, which took place yesterday in Geneva, covered administrative issues such as roles and responsibilities, as well as setting out how meetings would be run, WHO said, adding that the 21-member body would also give advice on the appropriate phase of pandemic alert. The Force also agreed that until the middle of next year, it will serve as an expert advisory group to WHO's Global Influenza Programme (GIP), while after 15 June 2007, two separate bodies will function as needed – an IHR emergency committee, to be convened if and when necessary, and an expert advisory group to GIP. "We welcome the fact that the Task Force is up and running. It will complement other technical partnerships and networks… and ensure that the IHR, when they come into force, move quickly from being simply a legal framework to being a functional support to our efforts to improve global health security," added Dr Mike Ryan, Director of WHO's Department for Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response. 2006-09-26 00:00:00.000

 

A REFORMED UN SHOULD LEAD RESPONSE TO GLOBAL CHALLENGES, SAY JAPAN AND TURKMENISTAN

 New York, Sep 26 2006 9:00PM The United Nations should stand at the forefront of global efforts to end conflicts, establish peace and promote economic development, but it must also become more efficient and broadly accountable to do so, representatives of Japan and Turkmenistan told the General Assembly today. Speaking during the annual high-level debate at UN Headquarters in New York, Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima <"http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/japan-e.pdf">described UN reform, from expanding the Security Council’s membership to obtaining “concrete results in management reform,” as critically important. “The UN has heavy responsibilities in today’s and tomorrow’s world as an indispensable global instrument for resolving conflicts, building peace, addressing emerging global threats and laying the foundation for prosperity,” he said. “To fulfil such a mission, it must be efficient and effective, as well as accountable and broadly representative in its decisions and operations.” Mr. Oshima praised the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission earlier this year, calling it “a significant milestone in the history of the UN” and urging Member States to ensure that its first two cases, Burundi and Sierra Leone, are both successes. He also noted the establishment of the new Human Rights Council. But the Japanese Ambassador added that the current structure of the Security Council leaves the 15-member body in danger of “waning credibility,” and he said Japan would take the initiative in pursuing a new “creative and persuasive” proposal for expanding Council membership during the current session of the General Assembly. Aksoltan Ataeva, the Head of Delegation of Turkmenistan, <"http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/pdfs/turkmenistan-e.pdf">agreed that the setting up of the Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council were constructive moves, and that the Security Council needs an expanded membership. Mrs. Ataeva said her country considered closer cooperation with the UN to be a top priority of its international relations. “It is beyond any doubt that the UN has been and continues to be the largest and most prestigious international organization that has been entrusted with the coordinating role in world affairs and on which mankind pins its hopes for peaceful development,” she said. 2006-09-26 00:00:00.000

 

 

SOMALIA TELLS UN DEBATE ISLAMIC COURTS’ ACTIONS ARE THREATENING PEACE NEGOTIATIONS

 New York, Sep 26 2006 8:00PM Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government will not remain committed to peace talks with the country’s Union of Islamic Courts (ICU) if it persists in its “aggressive policies of attacks and territorial expansion,” the Somali Foreign Minister told the United Nations General Assembly today. Ismael Mohamoud Hurreh, who is also Somalia’s Minister for International Cooperation, told the Assembly’s annual debate that the Union’s “concealed intentions are fast becoming evident to the Somali people and to the international community.” He cited the Union’s recent move into areas outside of the capital, Mogadishu, such as Jowhar, Balad and Kismayo, describing the latest as being “in flagrant violation of the Khartoum peace agreement.” “Despite all these violations of the peace agreement, the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) remains committed to the path of dialogue and negotiation with the ICU and relevant civil society organizations.” Mr. Hurreh said the Transitional Government urgently needs greater support from the international community to establish administrative authority and competence across the country so that reconstruction and economic recovery can take place. “This calls for a broad-based participatory partnership approach from the family of nations and provision of technical assistance to build efficient institutions that leverage the resiliency and potential of the Somali people.” Earlier, he criticized the international community for not offering greater support to the Transitional Government after it was created in 2004. “Consequently, a window of opportunity has been lost, which led to continued to violence and conflict.” Echoing that theme, Kenyan Foreign Minister Raphael Tuju said it was time for the international community to realize that “the problem of Somalia is not going to go away unless we take deliberate steps to address the crisis.” He stated that “this is the time to send in life-saving support. It is really a tribute to the resilience of the Somali people that there are still living human beings in that country. “One day or one month without government, police, hospitals or banks in modern society is unimaginable. The Somalis have endured for 16 years. How much longer are they expected to endure? Where is the international rescue plan with a billion dollars? Where is the Marshall Plan?” Mr. Tuju said the hijacking of merchant ships by local pirates off the coast of Somalia was an example of the danger that the Horn of Africa represents to the whole world, and not just its immediate region. “As criminal elements establish their safe enclaves in a country like Somalia, the neighbouring countries and the international community are soon forced to intervene, even militarily, to free hostages, hunt terrorists or flush out rebels.” 2006-09-26 00:00:00.000

 

ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN ADDRESS ISSUE OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH IN UN ASSEMBLY DEBATE

New York, Sep 26 2006 8:00PM Addressing the United Nations General Assembly on the fifth day of its annual high-level debate, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan expressed their views on the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said on Monday that “the people of Nagorno-Karabakh chose long ago not to be represented by the Government of Azerbaijan. They were the victims of state violence, they defended themselves, and succeeded against great odds, only to hear the State cry foul and claim sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Mr. Oskanian said that last December Azerbaijan destroyed or removed thousands of hand-sculpted mediaeval Armenian tombstones. “Such destruction, in an area with no Armenians, at a distance from Nagorno-Karabakh and any conflict areas, is a callous demonstration that Azerbaijan’s attitude towards tolerance, human values, cultural treasures, cooperation or even peace, has not changed.” He added that “one cannot blame us for thinking that Azerbaijan is not ready or interested in a negotiated peace.” Elmar Mammadyarov, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, told the Assembly that a recent joint environmental operation between the two countries to tackle major fires inside Nagorno-Karabakh has been “the only positive development so far.” “The occupying forces have to withdraw from the occupied territories and necessary conditions have to be in place to allow secure and dignified return of the Azerbaijani displaced persons to the Nagorno-Karabakh region and surrounding territories of Azerbaijan,” he said. Nagorno-Karabakh’s status can only be defined “through peaceful, democratic and legal process with direct participation and consent of both Azerbaijani and Armenian communities,” he said, adding that the region’s economic development must be strengthened and its inter-communal relations enhanced. But “it is difficult to hope for a breakthrough in the negotiations when Armenia rejects face-to-face meetings and refuses to take a constructive approach to solve existing problems.” 2006-09-26 00:00:00.000

 

UN HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERT REPORTS ON ‘APPALLING’ CONDITIONS FOR ORDINARY PALESTINIANS

New York, Sep 26 2006 8:00PM Describing a ‘tragic’ human rights situation for ordinary Palestinians living in the occupied territory, an independent United Nations expert today presented his report to the newly established Human Rights Council, sparking criticism from the Israeli representative that the work was one-sided and imbalanced. John Dugard, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said that he wished to speak only about Israeli actions against ordinary, non-militant, non-activist Palestinians who simply wanted to lead a good life, educate their children and enjoy the basic amenities of life. The human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory had deteriorated since 2001, and was intolerable, appalling, and tragic for ordinary Palestinians, he was reported as saying by a press release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). In response, Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Levanon said there could be no value in a report that follows a one-sided and imbalanced mandate that did not conform to the reality on the ground and which prejudged key issues. He said that, like its predecessors, it was characterized by errors of omission as well as distortions of both fact and law. While it had been Israel’s intention to disengage from Gaza only to return to it, clearly Israel had the fundamental right and duty to defend and protect its citizens, Mr. Levanon said, adding that any Palestinian Government should renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept existing Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Also speaking on behalf of a “concerned country,” Palestinian representative Mohammad Abu-Koash thanked the Rapporteur for his report and warned that the Middle East was in turmoil while no genuine effort had been expended to address its root cause, namely, ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese territories. Representatives from over 20 other countries also spoke during the debate before the 47-member Council moved on to discuss reports on the human rights situations in Cuba, Cambodia, Haiti and Somalia. In wrapping up her presentation, Christine Chanet, Personal Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Cuba, highlighted the negative effects of the United States embargo, saying it was not a path to democracy and should not continue, but, as per her mandate, she said she could only deplore it and not recommend that it be lifted. She said there was nothing new in terms of prison or detention conditions in Cuba but that these continued to be a source of concern. There were also no unknown detainees, all were recorded, and there was nothing hidden. Nor had there been any changes with regards to the legal arsenal and while there was some progress in gender equality, more work remained to be done. In response, Juan Antonia Fernandez Palacios of Cuba said his country could not understand what concerns the European Union (EU) was talking about, as it kept secret prisons and was collaborating with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as well as repressing people. He also slammed Washington for committing atrocities, including in Guantanamo, and said it should therefore stop making critical comments that were insulting to the Council’s Member States. Over 10 countries also made statements on this report. Regarding Cambodia, Yash Ghai, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in the country, said he was concerned that few of his or his predecessor’s recommendations had been implemented, and that human rights continued to be violated on a systemic scale. Responding to Mr. Ghai’s report, Vun Chheang from Cambodia acknowledged the assistance and cooperation provided by the UN but said that the tragic events that took place from 1970 onwards had seriously affected the country, including the loss of skilled individuals and the annihilation of infrastructure. Representatives from eight other countries were also involved in this debate. Presenting his report on Haiti, Louis Joinet, Independent Expert appointed by the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights, highlighted the spirit of conciliation and reconciliation of the Haitian people, saying this had led to progress although acknowledging that much remained to be done, particularly regarding the protection of civilians. In response, Jean-Claude Pierre of Haiti paid tribute to the Independent Expert and said that the Government had endeavoured to implement his recommendations. He also highlighted that the authorities had reinstated equality between men and women, and in order to curb violence had launched a programme to disarm armed groups. Concluding its discussion of country-specific reports today, the Council also heard from Ghanim Alnajjar, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, who warned that although there was an apparent calm in the areas controlled by the Islamic Council Union, the situation would surely and disastrously deteriorate if the international community did not engage with Somali leaders. In the dialogue that followed the presentation of the report, Finland spoke on behalf of the EU, and there were also statements from Italy, Djibouti, the US and Sudan. Rapporteurs are unpaid independent human rights experts. 2006-09-26 00:00:00.000

 

 

MYANMAR POSES NO THREAT AND SHOULD NOT BE ON SECURITY COUNCIL AGENDA, MINISTER SAYS

New York, Sep 26 2006 6:00PM Security Council Member States have misused their mandate by placing Myanmar on the Council’s agenda because the country does not pose a threat to regional peace and security, Myanmar’s Foreign Minister U Nyan Win told the General Assembly today. Speaking during the annual debate at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Win said “the attempts by some strong and powerful States to impose their will on developing countries” had created an environment of hostility. “The founders of the UN did not intend the world body to become a forum where some members with political and economic clout could gang up against a Member State, and label it for what it is not,” he said. Mr. Win said Myanmar enjoyed close relations with all of its neighbours and had done nothing to undermine the peace and security of any country. Therefore it was a “glaring abuse of the mandate” to suggest that it poses a threat to the region. He urged other Member States to help Myanmar or other countries in the same situation “resist attempts by those powerful States to influence the Security Council.” The Foreign Minister also called for the expansion of the Council’s membership, both permanent and non-permanent, to “reflect today’s political and economic realities.” 2006-09-26 00:00:00.000

 

 

ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN EXCHANGE ACCUSATIONS ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH DURING UN DEBATE

New York, Sep 26 2006 5:00PM Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other during addresses to the United Nations General Assembly of not being interested in achieving a lasting peace settlement in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Elmar Mammadyarov, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, told the Assembly yesterday that a recent joint environmental operation between the two countries to tackle major fires inside Nagorno-Karabakh has been “the only positive development so far.” “The occupying forces have to withdraw from the occupied territories and necessary conditions have to be in place to allow secure and dignified return of the Azerbaijani displaced persons to the Nagorno-Karabakh region and surrounding territories of Azerbaijan,” he said. Nagorno-Karabakh’s status can only be defined “through peaceful, democratic and legal process with direct participation and consent of both Azerbaijani and Armenian communities,” he said, adding that the region’s economic development must be strengthened and its inter-communal relations enhanced. But “it is difficult to hope for a breakthrough in the negotiations when Armenia rejects face-to-face meetings and refuses to take a constructive approach to solve existing problems.” Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said yesterday that “the people of Nagorno-Karabakh chose long ago not to be represented by the Government of Azerbaijan. They were the victims of state violence, they defended themselves, and succeeded against great odds, only to hear the State cry foul and claim sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Mr. Oskanian said that last December Azerbaijan destroyed or removed thousands of hand-sculpted mediaeval Armenian tombstones. “Such destruction, in an area with no Armenians, at a distance from Nagorno-Karabakh and any conflict areas, is a callous demonstration that Azerbaijan’s attitude towards tolerance, human values, cultural treasures, cooperation or even peace, has not changed.” He added that “one cannot blame us for thinking that Azerbaijan is not ready or interested in a negotiated peace.” 2006-09-26 00:00:00.000

 

WASHINGTON OUT OF TOUCH WITH ANGER OF ARAB WORLD, SYRIAN MINISTER TELLS UN

 New York, Sep 26 2006 3:00PM United States officials are interpreting the actions of the people of the Middle East in a distorted manner in a bid to justify their policies to the detriment of all concerned, the Foreign Minister of Syria told the General Assembly today. “Tragically, we all end up paying the price when the decision-makers in Washington believe that they know better, and are in a better position to understand and grasp the needs and circumstances of the Arabs,” said Walid Al-Moualem. “They diagnose the ambitions and aspirations of the Arab individual in a manner that is tailored to their own vision.” He asserted that the people of the region are angered by the denial of their sovereign national rights. Summing up the collective sentiment, he said: “We want an end to the Israeli occupation of our lands in Palestine, Lebanon and the Golan. We want to recover all our usurped rights. We want the flow of American weapons to Israel, which are sowing death and destruction, to stop. We refuse hegemony over our resources and interference in our affairs.” He went on to say that the people of the region “want a Middle East governed by peace and built on right and justice, a Middle East where people can dedicate their energies and resources to development and progress and embrace the positive trends of current human endeavours.” The Foreign Minister said the so-called war on terror had not achieved its objectives, and in fact terror is more widespread than before. He called for international efforts to deal with the scourge, “taking into account the need to distinguish between fighting terrorism and people’s legitimate right to resist foreign occupation.” In addition, he said the war on terror had been misused. “It looked as if it was masking the clash of cultures and civilizations, a fact that eventually proved detrimental not only to the interests of all parties concerned, but also played into the hands of terrorists and the cause of terrorism.” He said Syria is committed to Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty and it “demands the withdrawal of Israel from all Lebanese occupied territories, including from the Lebanese Shabaa Farms. He also voiced hope that Lebanon would receive the necessary assistance to “overcome the consequences of Israeli aggression.” The continued Israeli occupation of Arab territories is the “source of all problems in the region and the origin of the overwhelming anger consuming its peoples.” This is blocking peace and must be addressed to achieve a just and comprehensive settlement. Tunisia’s Foreign Minister, Abdelwaheb Abdallah, also echoed this sentiment in an address to the Assembly today, calling for international efforts to help the Palestinian people regain their legitimate rights, including the establishment of an independent State, and to allow Syria and Lebanon to recover their occupied territories. On the issue of terrorism, he called for tackling its root causes – “mainly injustice, the policy of double standards, as well as economic and social conditions which generate frustration and marginalization, within the framework of a comprehensive approach.” Towards this end, he urged support for the World Solidarity Fund to fight poverty and exclusion and efforts “to lay the foundations for a more equitable and solidarity-based vision for development.” 2006-09-26 00:00:00.000

 

 

AT UN DEBATE, DPR KOREA ACCUSES UNITED STATES OF ENCOURAGING NUCLEAR TENSIONS

 New York, Sep 26 2006 4:00PM The United States is promoting tensions on the Korean peninsula to justify its desire to strengthen its military presence in the region, the Chairman of the Delegation from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) told the United Nations General Assembly today. Choe Su Hon said “it is crystal clear” that Washington does not support either the denuclearization of the peninsula or the Six-Party Talks between the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the US. “The US policy towards the DPRK has gone further beyond the mere hostility, so far as to pose nuclear threats even by designating it as part of an ‘axis of evil’ and target of pre-emptive strikes, thus driving the DPRK to inevitably possess nuclear deterrent after all,” he said. Mr. Choe said the US had created the current impasse in the Six-Party Talks by scrapping an already agreed itinerary for the next round of discussions and by imposing financial sanctions on the DPRK. “If there is anything that the United States is in favour of, that is the aggravated tension on the Korean peninsula to be used as a pretext for reinforcing its military forces in the North-East Asian region.” He added that Pyongyang is committed to solving the nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue and negotiations, and that it possesses a deterrent nuclear power, “solely for self-defence.” Mr. Choe also said Japan should not be given a permanent seat on the Security Council because of its record during World War II and the fact that since then it “has been distorting its aggressive history instead of liquidating it.” 2006-09-26 00:00:00.000


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