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United Nations News

 Western Sahara: UN refugee agency resumes family reunion flights


New York, Nov  3 2006
After a five-month suspension, the United Nations refugee agency today
resumed family visit flights between Sahrawi refugees living in the
camps in Tindouf, Algeria, and their relatives in various towns in the
Western Sahara Territory, some of whom have not seen each other for 30 years.

If funding is available, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
plans to continue the visits until the end of next year, benefiting
more than 2,600 people, agency spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in
Geneva.

UNHCR first started organizing the family visits in March 2004 as part
of a series of confidence building measures in the conflict between Morocco,
which claims the former Spanish colony, and the Frente POLISARIO
independence movement. Other measures include telephone services
between refugee camps and the territory, which have benefited over 56,000
refugees since 2004.

The possibility of visiting family and friends for the first time in 30
years has been extremely popular, with nearly 2,500 people taking
advantage of the opportunity, and in April the UN Security Council reiterated its
call for contributions to family reunions.

Today, 15 relatives of Sahrawi refugees took off in a UN Mission for
the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) flight from Laayoune in the
Western Sahara for Tindouf in south-western Algeria. A stop was made in Dakhla
City in the Territory, where an additional 15 passengers were picked up.

After refuelling, the plane was returning to Laayoune with a group of
33 Sahrawi refugees from Smara camp. Both groups will spend five days with
family members.

UN-SPONSORED INTERNATIONAL COMPACT FOR IRAQI DEVELOPMENT WINDS UP
PREPARATORY STAGE
New York, Nov  1 2006 10:00AM
The United Nations-backed International Compact with Iraq (ICI) held
its final preparatory meeting in Kuwait today as it seeks to consolidate
peace in the violence-torn country and pursue political, economic and
social development over the next five years.

The meeting was attended by representatives of 20 States, regional and
multilateral institutions, the formal members of the preparatory group
for the ICI, which has been developed by the Iraqi Government with UN
and World Bank support, to tackle the challenges of security, good
governance and the provision of basic services.

“Iraq’s international partners have pledged to provide financial,
technical and political support to help meet these challenges on the basis
of mutual commitments to the necessary steps required to realize their
shared vision for the normalization of Iraq,” the UN Assistance Mission
in Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement.

“The United Nations also reaffirmed its commitment to the success of
the Compact and its continued intention to support the promotion and
implementation of the ICI, through its mission and agencies in Iraq and the
good offices of the Secretary-General and his representatives.”

The formal adoption of ICI’s specific agenda is scheduled at a
high-level meeting during the next six weeks.

At the time the Compact was launched in July, Secretary-General Kofi
Annan called it “an opportunity for the international community to build
a strong partnership with Iraq and the wider region” with a “framework
for a defined, prioritized and benchmarked economic programme for the
next five years.”
2006-10-31 00:00:00.000 

 

 

UN LAUNCHES NEW HUMANITARIAN AIR SERVICE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
New York, Nov  1 2006  2:00PM
The United Nations today launched a new humanitarian air service in the
Central African Republic (CAR) to help humanitarian agencies reach up
to 1 million people affected by violence in the north of the country.

“In a country where operations are complicated by enormous distances
and insecurity along many roads, having air capacity will boost United
Nations and NGO (non-governmental organization) efforts to deliver
humanitarian assistance at a time when the emergency in the north is reaching
alarming levels,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Toby Lanzer said.

In his most recent report on CAR last month, Secretary-General Kofi
Annan said both internal and outside factors were undermining security, in
particular on the borders with Chad and the Sudan, directly threatening
the impoverished country’s stability.

UN officials say almost a quarter of a million people in the north have
been forced to flee their homes in recent months because of “severe
levels of violence” perpetrated by armed groups, including Government
soldiers.

Today’s inaugural flight left the capital city, Bangui, for one of the
worst affected areas, Kaga Bandoro, where fighting has displaced
thousands of people just in the past three weeks.

Onboard were members of a joint UN, International Committee of Red
Cross (ICRC) and NGO team, which will assess the situation and plan an
immediate response. “It is particularly good to see NGOs, the ICRC, and UN
agencies on the mission together,” Mr. Lanzer said.

The air service, managed by the UN World Food Programme
(<"http://www.wfp.org/english/">WFP), consists of a 10-seater Caravan
propeller aircraft and offers daily flights to destinations across the
country, depending on needs. There will also be a weekly flight to Yaoundé,
in neighbouring Cameroon, where many CAR donors are represented,
affording better access for the country, which currently sees only one flight
to Europe per week.

The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) operates similar schemes in 15
other countries, including Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the
Sudan. Its arrival in CAR has been possible thanks to a $150,000 grant
from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the
multi-million-dollar UN mechanism set up this year to provide funding for humanitarian
activities in response to sudden-onset and under-funded emergencies.

Some $5.5 million from the CERF has been allocated to critically
under-funded programmes in CAR in 2006.
2006-11-01 00:00:00.000 

ANNAN WARNS OF NO IMPROVEMENT IN UZBEK HUMAN RIGHTS SINCE LAST YEAR,
URGES ACTION
New York, Nov  1 2006  3:00PM
Painting a very grim picture of the human rights situation in
Uzbekistan, including torture, harassment and a lack of access and independent
investigation into the killings in Andijan in 2005, United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today warned there has been no progress over
the past year and urged the Government to improve things.

While welcoming the Uzbek decision to abolish the death penalty as of
2008, Mr. Annan encourages the authorities to immediately introduce a
moratorium on the passing of death sentences, stresses the importance of
implementing recommendations by UN treaty bodies and urges them to
cooperate with UN experts and officials, particularly in allowing access.

“The lack of response from the Government of Uzbekistan to the call for
the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to examine
the facts and circumstances of the Andijan events coupled with the
persistence of allegations of serious human rights violations, demonstrate
that there has been no improvement since… [December 2005],” he states
in his latest
<"http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=a/61/526">report on human rights in the country.

“Of particular concern is the deteriorating situation of human rights
defenders and the increased restrictions on the activities of civil
society, including non-governmental organizations,” says Mr. Annan, who
also quotes an independent Special Rapporteur speaking of “ample evidence”
of torture by police and other security forces.

“The Secretary-General urges the Government of Uzbekistan to spare no
effort to protect and safeguard the rights of eyewitnesses to the
Andijan events and their families, as well as journalists, human rights
defenders and other members of civil society,” it adds, referring to the
clashes between Uzbek troops and protesters that reportedly left hundreds
dead.

Quoting from a wide range of sources, including UN, European Union and
others, the report includes the concerns raised by UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights Louise Arbour when she told the Human Rights Council
that the closed-door policies and denial of access were sources of grave
concern, and regretted that her Office had also been prevented from
assessing the trials into the Andijan events.

“Since mid-May 2005, OHCHR and the special procedures of the Commission
on Human Rights have received a significant amount of credible
information on harassment and detention of eyewitnesses of the events in
Andijan, as well as journalists, media officers and human rights defenders
who reported on these events,” the report states.

It also highlights concerns over asylum seekers and refugees who fled
Andijan and have been detained or returned to Uzbekistan, including
fears for the safety of five men who were returned by Kyrgyz authorities in
August.

The Uzbek Government claimed fewer than 200 people were killed in the
unrest. However, more than 450 of the Uzbek refugees subsequently
provided testimony to Ms. Arbour’s office regarding the events of 13 May 2005
and a report in July concluded that based on consistent, credible
testimony, military and security forces committed grave human rights
violations that day.  

Noting that Uzbek authorities called for the closure of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Uzbekistan earlier this year,
it further states this has “weakened protection of human rights of
refugees in the country. 

Calling on the Government to work closely with the enhanced Human
Rights Council, Mr. Annan further calls for Special Rapporteurs and
Representatives to be allowed to visit the country and follow-up on their work,
highlighting in particular remarks made in April by the Special
Rapporteur on the question of torture.

“There is ample evidence that both police and other security forces
have been and are continuing to systematically practise torture, in
particular against dissidents or people who are opponents of the regime,” the
report quotes the Rapporteur as saying.
2006-11-01 00:00:00.000 


 

Panama emerges as compromise candidate to fill last vacant Security
Council seat


New York, Nov  2 2006
Panama today emerged as the compromise candidate to fill the last
remaining seat on the 15-member United Nations Security Council, breaking more
than two weeks and 47 rounds of voting deadlock in the General Assembly that
pitted Guatemala against Venezuela to represent the Latin American and
Caribbean region.

The foreign ministers of the two rival countries decided to withdraw
their candidatures at a meeting in New York and proposed Panama to the Group
of Latin American and Caribbean States, General Assembly spokesperson Gail
Bindley-Taylor Sainte told a news briefing.

Both Ministers stressed that Panama was chosen as it was a country
with which both nations had close ties, she added.

The 192-member Assembly is expected to proceed with a formal vote on
the consensus candidate on Tuesday.

Throughout the earlier voting Guatemala maintained its lead over
Venezuela, except in one tie vote, but was never able to reach the necessary
two-thirds majority to serve as the regions member for a two-year
term starting on 1 January, replacing Argentina.

In the final round on Tuesday, when 122 votes would have been enough to
secure victory, Guatemala obtained 101 votes, Venezuela received 78,
and Barbados, Ecuador and Uruguay received one vote each. There were seven
abstentions.

At the start of this year’s balloting on 16 October Assembly members,
following an agreed geographic allocation, elected Belgium, Indonesia,
Italy and South Africa to serve as new non-permanent members, replacing
Denmark, Greece, Japan and Tanzania when their terms end on 31
December.

The Council’s five other non-permanent members, whose terms end on 31
December 2007, are Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia. The five
permanent members, the only ones with veto power when voting, are
China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

 UN Compensation Commission for Kuwait seeks to recover overpayments
New York, Nov  3 2006 The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) that settles damage
awards stemming from Iraqs 1990 invasion and occupation of Kuwait
today announced steps to recover inaccurate awards involving overpayments,
approving a significant number of claims for correction.

The Council decided that all affected Governments and submitting
entities be required to undertake best efforts to recover the overpaid amounts
and return them to the Commission,UNCC Governing Council said in a
statement at the end of its 61st session in Geneva.

In addition, to the extent that the overpayments are not returned,
the Commission will be taking additional measures to recover the
overpayments from future payments to be made by the Commission to affected
Governments with outstanding awards,” it added, without giving details of the
amounts involved.

The overall amount of compensation made available to date by UNCC is
about $21.4 billion. There are now 47 approved claims, with a total
outstanding balance of some $31 billion.

The Council will hold its next regular session from 20 to 22 February
2007.

Money for the awards comes from the UN Compensation Fund, which
received up to 30 per cent of the revenue generated by Iraqi oil exports under the
now defunct UN Oil-for-Food programme that allowed the sanctions-bound
regime of Saddam Hussein to sell oil for humanitarian supplies.

 

 

SRI LANKA: UN AGENCIES GEAR UP TO HELP TENS OF THOUSANDS OF FLOOD
VICTIMS

New York, Nov  1 2006  4:00PM
With an estimated 333,000 Sri Lankans affected by floods, landslides
and displacement, United Nations agencies are gearing up to help the
Government in its relief efforts.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stands ready to immediately provide
6,000 sets of kitchen utensils, 3,000 sleeping mats, 200 water tanks,
10,000 bed sheets, 10,000 towels and 10,000 bars of soap, the UN Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(<"http://ochaonline.un.org/webpage.asp?Page=873&Lang=en">OCHA) said
today.

If needed, <"http://www.unicef.org/">UNICEF will procure septic tank
cleaning equipment such as gully suckers and water pumps.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(<"http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news">UNHCR) can immediately
provide 3,400 sets of kitchen utensils, 3,400 plastic mats, 3,400 bed
sheets, 3,400 towels and 6,800 bars of soap, OCHA reported.

Together with the UN, the Government is organizing assessments for the
next stage, which will concentrate on flood mitigation. Meanwhile, the
UN Development Programme (<"http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/">UNDP)
is committed to secure $100,000 for mitigation of floods.

UN agencies will be part of multi-sectoral teams that will be sent to
the field next week.
2006-11-01 00:00:00.000

 

ANNAN CONDEMNS RECENT ATTACKS IN DARFUR KILLING CIVILIANS, CALLS ON
GOVERNMENT TO ACT


New York, Nov  2 2006  8:00PM
Condemning the recent militia attacks in Sudan’s strife-torn West
Darfur region that killed scores of civilians, reportedly including young
children, and forced thousands more to flee, United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on all sides to respect humanitarian law
and appealed to the Government to prevent such violence.

“The Secretary-General condemns the large-scale militia attacks in the
Jebel Moon area… on 29 and 30 October.  The attacks on eight civilian
settlements, including a camp harbouring some 3,500 internally displaced
persons, caused scores of civilian deaths and forced thousands to flee
the area,” Mr. Annan said in a
<"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sgsm10712.doc.htm">statement
attributable to his spokesman.

“The Secretary-General is particularly distressed on hearing reports
that 27 of those killed were children under the age of 12.”

“The Secretary-General calls again in the strongest possible terms on
the parties to respect their agreements and the provisions of
international humanitarian law.  He appeals once more to the Government of Sudan
to take all necessary measures to prevent further attacks against
civilians, particularly by militia forces.”

At least 200,000 people are estimated to have died in Darfur as a
result of the conflict between Government forces, allied militias and rebels
seeking greater autonomy, and more than 2 million others have been
displaced. However the Government has rejected the expansion of the UN
Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) to the troubled region and at present the UN
assists an African Union mission there.
2006-11-02 00:00:00.000

Lebanon: UN force nears strength deemed sufficient by its commander


New York, Nov  3  2006 The enhanced United Nations peacekeeping force sent to Lebanon this
summer to monitor the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah
has now nearly reached the strength its commander considers sufficient.

Some 9,450 troops from 20 different countries have now been deployed,
the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said in a news release today.

Although Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended 34 days of
fighting in August, mandates strengthening UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops,
Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini said last month that he
thought 10,000 might be sufficient.

UNIFIL now has 7,730 troops deployed on the ground between the Litani
River and the Blue Line that separates the two countries, and a Maritime Task
Force with 1,700 naval personnel patrolling the coastline to prevent
arms smuggling.

Israel has withdrawn from all positions it occupied during the
fighting, except for one, the section of Ghajar village that is on the Lebanese
side of the Blue Line. UNIFIL commanders have been in regular talks with
senior Lebanese and Israeli officers on the issue.

A complete Israeli withdrawal, together with Lebanese army deployment
in southern Lebanon, is a key clause in Resolution 1701.


 

 

DR CONGO: ANNAN CALLS ON PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TO AVOID VIOLENCE AS
VOTES ARE COUNTED


New York, Oct 30 2006  3:00PM
With provisional results in yesterday’s presidential poll in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) not expected for another 10 days,
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the two candidates and their
supporters to avoid acts of violence at all cost after the largest and
most complex elections the United Nations has ever helped organize.

“The Secretary-General is pleased that voters were able to cast their
ballots in a generally free and calm environment, although he is
concerned at the violent incidents that took place in Equateur province and
near Bunia in Ituri district,” he said in a
<"http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=2276">statement issued by his
spokesman, as UN peacekeepers and European Union (EU) forces reinforced
security in various regions of the vast strife-torn country.

Mr. Annan called yesterday’s signing by representatives of the two
candidates, President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba,
of a declaration of intent regarding their conduct after the elections
“an important step in ensuring that the electoral process is
successfully concluded in calm and secure conditions.”

“The Secretary-General calls on the presidential candidates and their
supporters to exercise patience and restraint, and to take all possible
steps to prevent any acts of violence while waiting for the results to
be announced by the Independent Electoral Commission,” the statement
concluded.

UN peacekeepers and EU forces continued to patrol Kinshasa, the capital
and security is being strengthened in other parts of the country,
including in the region of Western Kasai where two EU observers were
allegedly stoned by President Kabila’s supporters, the UN Mission in the DRC
(MONUC) reported.

It deplored the shooting deaths by Congolese soldiers of two electoral
workers in the town of Fataki, an incident which prompted an angry mob
to ransack 37 polling stations. The Mission said voting in that region
will resume tomorrow. Yesterday’s run-off poll was needed because no
candidate secured an overall majority in the first round in July.

Underscoring the logistical complexity of the three-month-long
electoral process, the first democratic poll in 45, years, Mr. Annan’s Deputy
Special Representative Ross Mountain noted that the UN was now assisting
the collection of the results from 50,000 polling stations in the vast,
with some stations a 10-day walk away from tabulation centres.

“If you look in the perspective of a country that is larger than
Western Europe… [that] just over three years ago had six foreign armies
fighting on it and it was partitioned, and that we had 50,000 places where
people were voting yesterday… while regrettable such incidents certainly
don’t harm the overall conduct of the operation,” he told UN Radio,
referring to the violence.

Provincial assemblies were also elected yesterday, the closing chapter
of an operation aimed at cementing the DRC’s transition from a six-year
civil war, widely considered the most lethal fighting in the world
since World War II, costing 4 million lives through fighting and attendant
hunger and disease. Factional fighting has continued since then,
particularly in the east.

Throughout the long process, in which a 500-seat National Assembly was
also elected, UN agencies helped to deliver tens of millions of ballots
and other supplies to the 50,000 polling stations, train 12,000 polling
supervisors and plan for the safety of the 25.7 million Congolese
registered to vote.
2006-10-30 00:00:00.000

 CHIEF OF UN FOOD AGENCY SAYS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT RESTS ON BETTER
COMMUNICATION

9New York, Oct 27 2006  8:00PM
Better communication – including more listening by donors – needs to be
a more central part of developments efforts, the head the United
Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (<"http://www.fao.org/">FAO) has
told a major conference on development and communications.

“Giving  people a voice, helping them to make that voice heard, only
then does development become sustainable,” Jacques Diouf,
Director-General of FAO told some 700 delegates at the First World Congress on
Communication for Development (WCCD) in Rome that wrapped up on Friday.

“It also helps to be a good listener because there is much to be
learned from the other side,” he added.

The three-day conference, attended by policy-makers, academics and
media professionals, was jointly organized by FAO, the World Bank and the
Communication Initiative Partnership, and was hosted by the Government
of Italy.

“This Congress demonstrated that Communication for Development is an
essential development tool and needs to be raised on the global agenda,”
said Paul Mitchell, manager of the development communication division
at the World Bank.

Professionals from over 200 organizations engaged in creative workshops
and seminars in order to share experiences, exchange ideas and debate
the most efficient communications strategies.

Conference participants distilled days of case study presentations and
debates into recommendations on ways policymakers can improve
communications to produce more tangible development results.

While noting the rapid advance of Information Communication
Technologies (ICTs), which is accelerating economic growth and creating a global
marketplace, Mr. Diouf said these new technologies could also widen the
gap between those with access, to cell phones and the internet, and the
one billion who do not.

“By extension the danger is to further widen the divide between all
those who eat three meals a day and the 854 million who count themselves
lucky to get one,” he warned.
2006-10-27 00:00:00.000

 

POLITICAL DIALOGUE IS THE KEY TO SOLVING THE STRIFE IN SOMALIA, NOT
MILITARY ACTION: ANNAN


New York, Oct 27 2006  7:00PM
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized today that all
sides in strife-torn Somalia must settle their differences through
dialogue and not military action, as he repeated calls for the international
community, and especially the country’s neighbours, not to make the
situation worse in the East African nation.

“The Secretary-General stresses that the solution in Somalia is
political and not military. He urges the Somali parties to settle their
differences through dialogue,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters
in New York.

“And he calls on the international community, especially Somalia’s
neighbours, to avoid any action that could further aggravate the
situation,” Mr. Dujarric said, adding that all countries should also respect and
abide by the arms embargo on the country.

The spokesman’s remarks came in response to a question regarding media
reports that Ethiopian and Eritrean troops are in Somalia. Mr. Dujarric
said that as a matter of policy the UN does not comment on such reports
because it is not in a position to verify them.

Earlier this month, Mr. Annan expressed concern about the heightened
tensions in Somalia between the Transitional Federal Government, which is
based in Baidoa, and the Union of Islamic Courts, which has control
over the capital, Mogadishu.

Somalia 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.

The most recent round of talks – which have been held in the Sudanese
capital, Khartoum – took place at the start of last month and another
round has been scheduled for 30 October.
2006-10-27 00:00:00.000

 

US MILITARY COURTS BREACH INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS, UN RIGHTS EXPERT
WARNS


New York, Oct 27 2006 10:00AM
The Military Commissions Act (MCA) signed into law by President George
Bush earlier this month violates the international obligations of the
United States under human rights laws in several areas, including the
right to challenge detention and to see exculpatory evidence, a United
Nations expert on terrorism
<"http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/13A2242628618D12C12572140030A8D9?opendocument">said
today.

“A number of provisions of the MCA appear to contradict the universal
and fundamental principles of fair trial standards and due process
enshrined in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions,” the Special
Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental
freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, said in a statement
issued in Geneva.

Special Rapporteurs are unpaid and serve in a personal capacity,
reporting to the
<"http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=114&Body=human%20rights%20council&Body1=">UN
Human Rights Council. Mr. Scheinin requested that the US Government
invite him for a visit “in the very near future” to discuss his concerns. 

“One of the most serious aspects of this legislation is the power of
the President to declare anyone, including US citizens, without charge as
an ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ – a term unknown in international
humanitarian law – resulting in these detainees being subject to the
jurisdiction of a military commission composed of commissioned military
officers,” he said.

At the same time, the material scope of crimes to be tried by these
commissions is much broader than war crimes in the meaning of the Geneva
Conventions, he noted.

“Further, in manifest contradiction with article 9, paragraph 4 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the MCA denies
non US citizens (including legal permanent residents) in US custody the
right to challenge the legality of their detention by filing a writ of
habeas corpus, with retroactive effect,” he added.

“Another concern is the denial of the right to see exculpatory evidence
if it is deemed classified information which severely impedes the right
to a fair trial.”

An added concern is that some Governments may view certain aspects of
this legislation as an example to be followed in respect of their
national counter-terrorism legislation, since the US has taken a lead role on
countering terrorism since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on
New York and Washington, he stressed.

Mr. Scheinin said that during a visit he would also like to discuss
other rights concerns such as the Patriot Act, immigration laws and
policies, secret detention centres, rendition flights (to countries where
detainees might face torture), breaches of non-refoulement (deportation)
and the Government’s denial of extra-territorial human rights
obligations. 

Last month, five other UN human rights rapporteurs rejected US denials
that people were tortured at the Guantánamo detention centre and
reiterated calls that it be closed down.
2006-10-27 00:00:00.000 

 

 SECURITY COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS WOMEN’S ROLE IN PEACE PROCESS, URGES MORE
INVOLVEMENT


New York, Oct 26 2006  7:00PM
Highlighting the role played by women in promoting peace in countries
emerging from conflict, the United Nations Security Council today
stressed it was essential to promote the full participation of women in
helping rebuild such societies and also encouraged more female involvement
in UN peacekeeping operations.

“The Security Council recognizes the vital roles of, and contributions
by women in consolidating peace... [it] recognises that the protection
and empowerment of women and support for their networks and initiatives
are essential in the consolidation of peace,” the 15-member body said
in a presidential statement at the end of a day-long
<"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/sc8858.doc.htm">open meeting.

“The Council further encourages Member States and the Secretary-General
to increase, the participation of women in all areas and all levels of
peacekeeping operations, civilian, police and military, where
possible.”

The statement came after speeches from almost 50 UN and other officials
following up on Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s report on women, peace
and security, which was released earlier this month. Speakers also
emphasized the need to achieve gender equality, as set forth in the UN
Charter and Council resolution 1325, and acknowledged that more needed to be
done, especially in regard to peacebuilding.

“Women are critical to the consolidation of peace. In today’s mostly
internal conflicts, the socio-economic fabric of a country and its
societal dynamics become a key guide to finding entry points into resolving
and preventing conflicts,” Rachel Mayanja, Assistant Secretary-General,
Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women told the
Council.

“The past year has demonstrated that our collective efforts to ensure
equal participation of women in the consolidation of peace so far have
generally fallen short of what is required. From the Democratic Republic
of the Congo to Sudan and from Somalia to Timor-Leste, women continue
to be exposed to violence.”

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie
Guéhenno, acknowledged there remained “challenges to women’s rights and gender
equality in post-conflict societies,” but he also pointed to progress
made during the past year, especially with the election in Liberia of
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman head of State in Africa.

However he said much remained to be done, highlighting in particular
the problem of insecurity that many women endure even after conflict has
ended, and he also repeated the call to Member States to put forward
more female candidates for UN peacekeeping operations.

“Our predominantly male profile in peacekeeping undermines the
credibility of our efforts to lead by example in the host countries in which we
are engaged. We need Member States to nominate more women candidates
for senior civilian positions in missions… Less than two per cent and
five per cent respectively of our military and police personnel are
women.”

The head of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) said that
through its work in over 20 conflict-affected countries, her organization
recognized that “women are a crucial resource” in peacebuilding and
consolidation, while she also stressed that in order to strengthen any peace
process there must be justice for women.

“Peace agreements, early recovery and post-conflict governance do
better when women are involved. Women make a difference in part because they
adopt a more inclusive approach to peace and security and address key
social and economic issues that provide the foundations of sustainable
peace and that would otherwise be ignored,” said Noeleen Heyzer, UNIFEM
Executive Director.

“The question is not only what women can bring to peace consolidation,
but also what peacebuilding can do to promote women’s human rights and
gender equality – transforming social structures so they do not
reproduce the exclusion and marginalization that underlie conflict.”

Carolyn McAskie, Assistant Secretary-General in the Peacebuilding
Support Office, told the Council that “all three main peacebuilding pillars”
of the UN, namely the recently set-up Peacebuilding Commission, the
Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Support Office, have important
roles to play in getting women more involved.

“As such, the Peacebuilding Commission, supported by the Peacebuilding
Support Office, is currently exploring ways by which we can engage
civil society in general and women’s organizations in particular to support
the process of peacebuilding.”

“Women have a key role to play in building peace, in their own right,
and not only because they are disproportionately victimized nor seen
more naturally as agents of peace. Women’s key role must be recognized
because societies where women participate fully enjoy more peace, more
prosperity and more opportunity.”
2006-10-26 00:00:00.000

 

 

UN SEEKS MORE INFORMATION ON REPORTED PLANS BY NIGER TO EXPEL THOUSANDS
OF ARABS


New York, Oct 27 2006 10:00AM
The United Nations refugee agency is sending a senior official to Niger
to get more information on reports that the impoverished West African
country plans to expel thousands of Mahamid Arab nomads to Chad.

“We will be looking at whether the proposed government actions could
result in statelessness for anyone expelled, if any of these people could
be considered refugees, and what conditions or problems they could face
if returned to Chad,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
spokesman Ron Redmond <"http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/4541d56925.html">told a
news briefing in Geneva today.

The senior UNHCR staff member from the regional office in Benin is
expected to travel to the remote Diffa region in the eastern part of Niger,
where there are an estimated 100,000 to150,000 Mahamid Arabs, some of
whom have lived in the region for decades.

“The Mahamid Arabs have not previously been considered a population of
concern to UNHCR, so we want to get more detailed information on the
government’s announced plans and on specifically who these people are,”
Mr. Redmond said.

“We understand the Mahamid Arabs have large numbers of livestock,
including an estimated 100,000 camels, and are putting a big strain on
meagre water and grazing resources,” he added. “UNHCR is in contact with
Niger authorities and we’re following the situation closely.”
2006-10-27 00:00:00.000 

 

 RUSSIAN EXPULSION OF UZBEK NATIONAL VIOLATES REFUGEE PRINCIPLE, UN
AGENCY SAYS


New York, Oct 27 2006 11:00AM
Russia’s expulsion of an Uzbek national back to his homeland breaches
the principle of ‘non-refoulement’ under which no refugee or asylum
seeker whose case has not yet been properly assessed can be forcibly
returned to a country where their life or liberty could be in danger, the
United Nations refugee agency said today.

Rustam Tulaganovich Muminov, who had been living in Russia since 2001,
was forcibly returned to Uzbekistan on Tuesday before an appeal against
a decision by a Moscow court ordering his expulsion had been heard, UN
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond
<"http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/4541d56916.html">told a news briefing in
Geneva today.

“This follows several worrying forced returns of Uzbeks earlier this
year by Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan,” he said. UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Louise Arbour has repeatedly warned that Uzbeks deported back
home face a “serious risk” of torture.

“UNHCR is seeking clarification from the Russian Federation authorities
about this case and is also calling on the Uzbek authorities to adhere
to their international obligations,” Mr. Redmond said. “Persons
returned against their will to Uzbekistan should be treated in full accordance
with international human rights standards.”

Earlier this month, Mr. Muminov approached the UNHCR Moscow office
where he was registered and scheduled for a refugee status determination
interview on 1 November. He was later detained for violations of
administrative rules, then deported.

“UNHCR is concerned that Muminov was not given the opportunity to have
his case reviewed on its merits,” Mr Redmond said. “For this reason,
his expulsion is inconsistent with the principle of non-refoulement.”

Earlier this year, UNHCR strongly condemned similar expulsions. In
February, Ukraine forcibly deported 11 Uzbek nationals who had registered
asylum claims or were in the process of doing so. In August, four Uzbek
refugees and one Uzbek asylum seeker were extradited by Kyrgyzstan.

“We remain extremely concerned about the fate of all these people,” Mr.
Redmond said, noting that in April UNHCR closed its office in
Uzbekistan after being asked to leave by the Government.
2006-10-27 00:00:00.000

 

LIBERIA: TOP UN ENVOY CALLS ON OFFICERS TO WORK HARDER TO STRENGTHEN
PEACE AND STABILITY


New York, Oct 27 2006 11:00AM
The senior United Nations envoy in Liberia has called on the mission’s
senior military officers to work harder to strengthen peace and
stability as the West African country consolidates its transition to democracy
from 14 years of civil war.

“We cannot allow anyone to undermine the country’s peace and stability,
which has been achieved at such high cost,” Secretary-General Kofi
Annan’s Special Representative Alan Doss said at an award ceremony
yesterday where 164 officers and military observers of the UN Mission in
Liberia (<http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unmil/index.html">UNMIL)
received peacekeeping medals.

“We must continue working to promote and protect human rights
everywhere in this nation, we must continue working to curb crime and make
communities safe, we must continue working to rebuild roads and create jobs
across the country,” he told the recipients, who perform specialized
tasks behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the mission’s
operations.

In commending the military observers, Mr. Doss said: “They are our eyes
and ears; they provide regular assessments on security and public
order, cross border movements, community disputes, weapons collection,
unexploded ordinance, road and bridge conditions, illegal traffic of timber
and rubber.”

He noted that the staff officers are the administrative backbone of
UNMIL’s military management, working as construction engineers, medical
doctors, logistics experts, supply specialists, military analysts,
personnel managers, trainers and legal advisers, providing support for a
15,000-strong multi national force.

He stressed the need for senior officers to remain vigilant and careful
with their behaviour so that nothing is done to undermine the trust
that the people of Liberia have in UNMIL.

“Liberians expect us to help them recover from the trauma and pain of
conflict. We must not add to their suffering. This is why we must all
scrupulously respect the Secretary-General’s policy of zero tolerance of
sexual exploitation and abuse,” Mr. Doss said. 

UNMIL, established by the Security Council three years ago to support
the peace process after a ceasefire between the warring factions, played
a multifaceted role in overseeing Liberia’s transition from the ravages
of a disastrous civil war, culminating in the democratic election of
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf less than a year ago.
2006-10-27 00:00:00.000 


 

 

 

SECURITY COUNCIL SETS UP INTEGRATED UN OFFICE IN BURUNDI TO FOLLOW CURRENT OPERATION

 New York, Oct 25 2006 6:00PM Emphasizing the need for the United Nations system and wider international community to maintain their support for strife-torn Burundi, the Security Council today <"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/sc8857.doc.htm">voted to set up an integrated office in the country to follow on from the current mission that ends on 31 December. Adopting the resolution unanimously, the 15-member Council also noted the meeting earlier this month of the Peacebuilding Commission that focused on Burundi and recommended support from a multi-million dollar fund that aims to help countries emerging from conflict rebuild and prevent them from descending again into bloodshed. “The Security Council… requests the Secretary-General to establish a United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (Bureau Intégré des Nations Unies au Burundi, BINUB)… for an initial period of 12 months, commencing on 1 January 2007,” the resolution states. Stressing the need for a “smooth transition” from the current UN Operation in Burundi, which is known by its French acronym ONUB, the resolution states that the Integrated Office will support the Government in such areas as peace consolidation and democratic governance, disarmament and reform of the security sector, as well as various human rights and development activities. The Council also welcomed the signing in September of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement between Burundi’s Government and the Forces Nationales de Libération (Palipehutu-FNL), while also urging all political sides to “persevere in their dialogue on achieving stability and national reconciliation and to promote social harmony.” Burundi is emerging from 12 years of civil war between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority. 2006-10-25 00:00:00.000

 

 FINAL SEAT ON SECURITY COUNCIL REMAINS UNDECIDED AFTER LATEST DAY OF
VOTING


New York, Oct 25 2006  5:00PM
The United Nations General Assembly today remained deadlocked after a
fourth day of voting in the contest to fill a non-permanent seat on the
Security Council for the Latin American and Caribbean region, with
Guatemala maintaining its lead over Venezuela but falling short of the
necessary two-thirds majority.

This latest vote takes the total number of rounds since 16 October to
36. Balloting was continuing.

Guatemala and Venezuela are contending to serve as a non-permanent
Council member for a two-year term starting 1 January 2007, replacing
Argentina. It is the only seat not yet determined.

In the 36th round, when 121 votes would have been enough to secure
victory, Guatemala obtained 109 votes and Venezuela received 72. There were
no abstentions. Guatemala has led in every round so far, with the
exception of the sixth round on the first day of voting, when the two
countries were tied.

Balloting will continue until a State from the region achieves the
required majority. There is no limit to the number of rounds of voting and
in 1979-80 there were a record 155 ballots before Mexico was chosen
from the Latin American and Caribbean Group to serve a two-year term.

On 16 October Assembly members, following an agreed geographic
allocation, elected Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa to serve as
non-permanent members starting 1 January next year. They will replace
Denmark, Greece, Japan and Tanzania when their terms end on 31 December.

The Council’s five other non-permanent members, whose terms end on 31
December 2007, are Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia. The five
permanent members, which are the only members with veto power when voting,
are China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the
United States.
2006-10-25 00:00:00.000

 

 FINAL SEAT ON SECURITY COUNCIL REMAINS UNDECIDED AFTER LATEST DAY OF
VOTING


New York, Oct 25 2006  5:00PM
The United Nations General Assembly today remained deadlocked after a
fourth day of voting in the contest to fill a non-permanent seat on the
Security Council for the Latin American and Caribbean region, with
Guatemala maintaining its lead over Venezuela but falling short of the
necessary two-thirds majority.

This latest vote takes the total number of rounds since 16 October to
36. Balloting was continuing.

Guatemala and Venezuela are contending to serve as a non-permanent
Council member for a two-year term starting 1 January 2007, replacing
Argentina. It is the only seat not yet determined.

In the 36th round, when 121 votes would have been enough to secure
victory, Guatemala obtained 109 votes and Venezuela received 72. There were
no abstentions. Guatemala has led in every round so far, with the
exception of the sixth round on the first day of voting, when the two
countries were tied.

Balloting will continue until a State from the region achieves the
required majority. There is no limit to the number of rounds of voting and
in 1979-80 there were a record 155 ballots before Mexico was chosen
from the Latin American and Caribbean Group to serve a two-year term.

On 16 October Assembly members, following an agreed geographic
allocation, elected Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa to serve as
non-permanent members starting 1 January next year. They will replace
Denmark, Greece, Japan and Tanzania when their terms end on 31 December.

The Council’s five other non-permanent members, whose terms end on 31
December 2007, are Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia. The five
permanent members, which are the only members with veto power when voting,
are China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the
United States.
2006-10-25 00:00:00.000

 

 SWISS SINGER DJ BOBO JOINS UN CAMPAIGN AGAINST HUNGER
New York, Oct 25 2006  5:00PM


Swiss winner of some 10 ‘World Music Awards’ DJ BOBO today joined
Brazilian football superstar Ronaldinho, Cape-Verdian singer Cesaria Evora
and world record breaking marathon runner Paul Tergat, among others, as
a National Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food
Programme (<"http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=31">WFP).

“Travelling around the world has made me sensitive to human suffering,”
DJ BOBO, the first Swiss to take up this role, said. “It is a privilege
to be able to help. The advantage of fame is that I can be heard and I
have to seize this opportunity.”

As WFP Ambassador, the singer from the Swiss Canton of Aargau will use
his fame by seeking to increase public awareness of the problem of
hunger and child hunger, in particular, focusing on school feeding
programmes.

Every five seconds a child dies of hunger somewhere in the world. Some
400 million children know what it is like to go to bed at night on an
empty stomach. For 40 years, WFP has been running school feeding
programmes which increase school attendance and enrolment. By providing free
meals at school, it encourages parents to send their children to learn.

“I was captivated by the school feeding programmes,” DJ BOBO said. “The
idea behind them is very clever. In order to eat, these kids must go to
school. Later on in life, these same children in turn send their kids
to school because they have understood how important it is.”

He will embark on his first field visit to Ethiopia in January, where
he will become familiar with food aid operations in favour of
malnourished Ethiopians.

“We are thrilled that a singer as talented and as credible as DJ BOBO
has decided to lend his talent to reduce the spectre of hunger in the
world,” the Director of the WFP Geneva Office said.
2006-10-25 00:00:00.000

 

   UN HEALTH AGENCY CALLS FOR INDUSTRY INVESTMENT IN NEW DIAGNOSTIC
TOOLS TO CURB TB

   New York, 25 Oct 2006


   With most of the estimated 9 million people who develop active
   tuberculosis every year still not receiving laboratory-confirmed
   diagnoses, the United Nations health agency today called for
industry investment in new diagnostic tools targeted to low and middle income
   countries, where most cases occur.

   Some 1.7 million people a year die from TB, many because the
infection  goes undiagnosed, or is diagnosed too late to be cured, according to
a new report released by the UN World Health Organization Special
   Programme for Tropical Disease Research and Training (WHO/TDR) and
the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), a non-profit
   organization.


  The world urgently needs new, safe and affordable diagnostics to
   simplify case detection,the director of WHOs Stop TB
Department, Mario Raviglione, said. Despite scientific progress that is
rapidly changing other fields, most of the worlds TB patients have access
only to conventional microscopy which requires repeated testing, may miss
   half the cases, and which works especially poorly for HIV co-infected
   patients.


   HIV is fuelling TB epidemics in many countries and multi-drug
resistance is a growing threat. Improved tests could bolster international
control efforts and respond to a significant market demand. One third of the
   worlds population is infected with latent TB, and at risk of
developing the active disease, the report noted.


   A test that detects latent infection and predicts its progression to
   active disease could see the greatest use, with a potential
available market of some 204 million patient evaluations a year, according to
the report  Diagnostics for Tuberculosis: Global Demand and Market
   Potential the most comprehensive review of the TB diagnostics
market to date.


   Such a test, if widely implemented and accompanied by successful
   treatment, could revolutionize TB control,” the report concluded.


   Only about 2.2 million TB cases annually are diagnosed and reported
with sputum smear microscopy, the most widely available test. Other cases
are diagnosed through an often inefficient and sometimes wasteful
   combination of chest x-rays, bacterial cultures and guesswork.


   The global market for TB diagnostics is more than twice that of the
   market for drugs used to treat the disease. Worldwide, about $1
billion is spent on TB tests and evaluations, which screen some 100 million
   people annually; around $300 million is spent on drugs for
treatment.


   In low and middle income countries where three-quarters of the TB
tests  and screenings are carried out, around $326 million annually is
spent on diagnostics  and an even larger potential market exists for more
   effective and affordable tools. Between 70 and 90 per cent of the
   potential available market is concentrated in 22 countries with the
   highest burden of TB.
 

 

 

UN NUCLEAR CHIEF MEETS WITH US SECRETARY RICE; CALLS FOR TALKS WITH DPR
KOREA, IRAN


New York, Oct 23 2006


The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog met today with United
States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington to discuss the
nuclear programmes of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) and
Iran, shortly after calling for talks with both countries.

If I look at the problems that we are facing right now  the
Koreansituation, the Iran situation these problems hinge, in my view, on
the parties sitting together, UN International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in an interview published in
Newsweek magazine ahead of the meeting.

We need to move away from the idea that dialogue is a reward
for good behaviour. You need dialogue when you have bad behaviour, because the
purpose of the dialogue is to change the behaviour. As former [US]
secretary of State James Baker said recently, talking to your enemy is
not appeasement, he added.

Asked about US assertions that Iran, despite its repeated denials, has
anuclear weapons programme, Mr. ElBaradei reiterated his previous
statementsthat the jury is still out, adding that it was difficult to determine
whether the Iranians intend to pursue a nuclear weapon, or are simply
hedging their bet by developing their enrichment capability.

But one of the lessons we learned from Iraq (where a current nuclear
weapons programme was not found after the US-led invasion of 2003) is
that we really need to be very, very careful coming to conclusions because
these issues make the difference between war and peace, he declared.

And as long as I know, and I am supported by all intelligence
agencies in this, that Iran in the worst-case scenario is still a few years away, I
have ample time to talk to them, I have ample time to negotiate with
them,and I need to encourage them to cooperate with me.

Asked whether he thought the IAEA would be blamed for the DPRKs
development of atomic weapons, Mr. ElBaradei noted that the agency was
“kicked out” in 2003 when the country withdrew from the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

We lost jurisdiction. But I have been saying for the last two or
three years that North Korea is the No. 1 security challenge to the NPT. I
saw North Korea out of the [treaty] regime; I saw North Korea having
plutonium; I saw North Korea feeling more and more isolated. I saw this coming,
he said.

As he has in other recent statements, he stressed that the IAEAs
annual budget of $120 million was insufficient and should be at least doubled
to enable it to have independent satellite-monitoring and a
state-of-the-art laboratory for particle analysis.

There is a difference between us and the [UN] Universal Postal
Union. You can postpone issuing commemorative stamps or improving the efficiency
of mail delivery,he stressed. “But in our areas there are certain
things that we have to do yesterday, because otherwise we are going to face a
colossal danger. And people do not understand that. They do not
prioritize.

 UP TO 50,000 INDONESIAN FAMILIES STILL LACK SHELTER AFTER MAY’S
EARTHQUAKE IN JAVA: UN


New York, Oct 22 2006 
As many as 50,000 families who lost their homes in the deadly
earthquake that rocked Indonesia’s island of Java in May are still without
sufficient shelter for the approaching rainy season, the main United Nations
humanitarian office
<"http://ochaonline.un.org/DocView.asp?DocID=5179">warned today, as it highlighted ongoing appeals for funding from the
World Bank and other donors.

“To address these families’ needs, the Indonesian Government, UN
agencies and other humanitarian partners have developed a joint ‘roof first’
strategy. To date, 23,000 roof structures have been constructed and
tens of thousands of additional roofs are planned to be delivered by early
2007,” the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
said in a press release.

“Preliminary conclusions… indicate that 40 per cent of all those who
lost their housing remain in insufficient shelter to last the rainy
season, which translates into approximately 50,000 families in need of
urgent shelter assistance,” it added, referring to the effects of the 27 May
earthquake, which killed nearly 6,000 people, injured almost 40,000 and
destroyed or damaged more than 300,000 homes and other buildings.


The earthquake’s impact was particularly severe in the city of
Yogyakarta and in Klaten and Bantul districts, which suffered the greatest
losses. From the start, the Indonesian Government has led the response and
reconstruction effort in the wake of the earthquake, with the support
of the UN and wider humanitarian community.

Elsewhere, parts of the sprawling archipelago are still recovering from
an earthquake off Sumatra island in December 2004 that caused a
devastating tsunami which killed more than 230,000 people and affected more
than 12 countries in Asia.
2006-10-20 00:00:00.000

 

MARINE POLLUTION THREATENS CORAL RECOVERY, FISH STOCKS, OYSTERS, UN
REPORTS WARN


New York, Oct 19 2006 11:00AM
With the conditions under which coral reefs have flourished in the past
half-million years dramatically changing, their ability to survive in a
globally warming world may crucially depend on the levels of pollution
to which they are exposed, the United Nations environmental agency
warned today.

At the same time, the UN Environment Programme
(<"http://www.unep.org">UNEP) reported that the number of ‘dead zones’ or low oxygenated areas
in the world’s seas and oceans due to pollution may now be as high as
200 and are fast becoming major threats to fish stocks and oysters, and
thus to people who depend upon fisheries for food and livelihoods.

The latest findings from two separate reports were released at an
inter-governmental review congress in Beijing where 700 delegates from some
115 countries are seeking to  chart a new course for the Global
Programme of Action (<"http://www.gpa.unep.org/bin/php/atg/index.php">GPA) for
the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Sources, a
voluntary UNEP initiative.

“There are numerous compelling reasons for combating pollution to the
marine environment,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said. “These
range from public health concerns to the economic damage such pollution
can cause to tourism and fisheries.

“Climate change, and the need to build resilience into habitats and
ecosystems so that they can cope with the anticipated increase in
temperatures likely to come, now represents a further urgent reason to act,” he
added of the report on coral reefs – Our Precious Coasts: Marine
Pollution, Climate Change and Resilience of Coastal Ecosystems.

The study is based on surveys carried out between 2004 and 2006
following damage caused to reefs world-wide in 1997-1998 when surface sea
temperatures reached up to 34 degrees Celsius.

Corals in an estimated 16 per cent of the world’s coral reefs suffered
up to 90 per cent mortality as a result of mass bleaching, with reefs
across the Indian Ocean, including around the Comoros, La Reunion,
Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles, among those severely damaged.

But soft coral cover and stony coral increased rapidly in areas least
affected by coastal development. “If we fail to protect the coastlines
from unchecked piecemeal development, or protect the water sheds from
deforestation, huge amounts of sewage and sediment loads will reduce the
ability of reefs to recover dramatically,” UNEP Rapid Response Team
researcher Christian Nellemann said.

“Once they are overgrown, it is difficult for them to recover, and over
time they change or even die entirely.”
The findings on the ‘dead zones’ – where algal blooms triggered by
nutrients from sources such as fertilizer run-off, sewage, animal wastes
and atmospheric deposition from the burning of fossil fuels can remove
oxygen from the water – show that the number and size of deoxygenated
areas are on the rise, with the total climbing every decade since the
1970s.

Some of the earliest recorded dead zones were in places like Chesapeake
Bay in the United States, the Baltic, Black and northern Adriatic seas
and the Scandinavian fjords, but others have been appearing off South
America, China, Japan, south east Australia and New Zealand. The best
known area is in the Gulf of Mexico, directly linked to nutrients or
fertilizers carried down by the Mississippi River.
2006-10-19 00:00:00.000 

 

 

 SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN REMAINS A MAJOR CONCERN IN
LIBERIA: UN


New York, Oct 18 2006  2:00PM
Sexual violence against women and children remains a major concern in
Liberia, according to a United Nations report released today, which also
warns that weaknesses in the impoverished country’s judicial system,
including inoperative courts and inefficient investigation, are violating
the human rights of both victims and suspects.

The report, the UN Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL) fifth on human rights,
says that six months after the country’s Rape Amendment Act came into
effect, the cases listed clearly shows that far more effort is required
by everyone working in the judicial system to address this
reprehensible crime.

“Sexual and gender-based violence, particularly against children,
continued to be a major concern for UNMIL and all its partners working to
uphold the fundamental rights of women and children,” the Mission said in
a press release.

The report, covering the period May to July 2006, was prepared with
information from 25 UNMIL human rights monitors stationed in all Liberia’s
15 counties and, as well as providing an overview of the most important
trends, it focuses in particular on challenges facing the judicial
system as the country rebuilds after 14 years of conflict.

“Circuit Courts in five counties were not operational during the May
Term of Court, resulting in violations of the Constitutional and the
human rights of both victims and suspects,” said Chief of the Human Rights
and Protection Section, Dorota Gierycz, in launching the report.

Further, Ms. Gierycz said that where courts were operational, only a
fraction of the cases listed for trial were heard. Also, inefficient
investigation, prosecution and hearings led to prolonged pre-trial
detention in many cases and frequently, suspects were released from detention
without facing trial.

A positive development has been the submission of a joint report by
UNMIL and the Government of Liberia Rule of Law Task Force to President
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf outlining a programme to strengthen the judicial
sector. As part of this, UNMIL and the Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights (OHCHR) supported a three-day workshop jointly organized
by the Ministry of Justice, to consider best practices to strengthen
the Rule of Law.

Also related to law and order, the head of UNMIL has called for an end
to the illegal rubber trade, stressing the importance of the crop in
helping the country rebuild.

“Illegal tapping and sale of rubber remains a problem and we need to
have a proper certification or licensing for dealers and traders.
Regulation of the rubber industry needs to be strengthened.  We must stop the
trade in illegal rubber because it is one of the most important sources
of income and growth for Liberia,” said Alan Doss, the
Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Liberia.

Mr. Doss made his <"http://www.unmil.org/article.asp?id=1731">remarks
during a trip to the Guthrie Rubber Plantation, about 50 kilometres west
of the capital, Monrovia, where he highlighted the progress made since
<"http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unmil/index.html">UNMIL
supported the Government in taking control of the plant in August.

“The peace process is not just stopping war.  It is also about
rebuilding the economy and creating jobs… we must ensure that nobody seizes
this plantation again and harvests rubber illegally.”

In another development, Mr. Doss recently
<"http://www.unmil.org/article.asp?id=1732">joined members of the
Liberian police force, and UN military and police officers on a night patrol
in some parts of the capital, as part of increased patrolling to curb
the reported increase in violent crime in Monrovia.
2006-10-18 00:00:00.000

 

 

SECURITY COUNCIL SEAT STILL UNDECIDED AFTER SECOND DAY OF VOTING


New York, Oct 18 2006  7:00PM
A non-permanent seat on the Security Council remains up for grabs after
the United Nations General Assembly held a second day of voting today
in the contest to fill the place allocated to the Group of Latin
American and Caribbean States.

After 12 additional rounds of voting today, which takes the total
number of rounds so far to 22, neither Guatemala nor Venezuela had obtained
a two-thirds majority of ballots of members present and voting.
Balloting will now resume on Thursday morning.

The two countries are contending to serve as a non-permanent Council
member for a two-year term starting 1 January 2007, replacing Argentina.

In the 22nd round today, when 120 votes would have been enough to
secure victory, Guatemala received 102 votes and Venezuela 77. There were 12
abstentions.

Balloting will continue until a State from the region achieves the
required majority. There is no limit to the number of rounds of voting and
in 1979-80 there were a record 155 ballots before Mexico was chosen
from the Latin American and Caribbean Group to serve a two-year term.

Yesterday Assembly members, following an agreed geographic allocation,
elected Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa to serve as
non-permanent members starting 1 January next year. They will replace Denmark,
Greece, Japan and Tanzania when their terms end on 31 December.

The Council’s five other non-permanent members, whose terms end on 31
December 2007, are Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia. The five
permanent members, which are the only members with veto power in votes, are
China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the
United States.
2006-10-17 00:00:00.000

 

TOP UN INFORMATION OFFICIAL SAYS WORLD BODY STILL HAS ‘COMPELLING STORY
TO TELL’


New York, Oct 17 2006  4:00PM
Critics of the United Nations tend to doubt its ability to deliver on
promises made rather than question its ideals or legitimacy as a
universal body, so the Organization needs to close the gap between what people
want from it and what it can actually deliver, the  top UN
communications official has told the General Assembly.

Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information Shashi
Tharoor
<"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/gaspd349.doc.htm">told the Assembly’s Fourth Committee (Special Political & Decolonization)
yesterday that the public still wants the UN to preserve world peace,
promote human rights and ensure economic justice.

Addressing the committee as it took up questions relating to
information, Mr. Tharoor cited a study last year of Americans that showed that an
increasing number considered the UN to be central to solving global
conflicts.

“The UN has a compelling story to tell,” he said, adding that that
story must be told better and more widely to build public support for the
world body and explain what it can achieve.

To reach that goal Mr. Tharoor said the UN Department of Public
Information was trying to create stronger partnerships with the various
departments, agencies, offices and field missions within the UN system to
help identify key messages and then re-cast them so they can be understood
by target audiences around the world.

He cited the placement of opinion columns by senior staff in
newspapers, including an article by Secretary-General Kofi Annan – which was
published by some 70 newspapers in at least 40 countries – that used the
World Cup soccer championships to draw attention to UN activities.

Mr. Tharoor also stressed the value of the UN speaking with one public
voice, noting that the UN Communications Group was formed to better
coordinate the world body’s media messages.

“From the recent humanitarian crisis in South-East Asia to the crisis
in Darfur to the looming threat of avian flu, there is clear proof that
the world is paying more attention when we speak in concert,” he said.
2006-10-17 00:00:00.000 

 


 

 SECURITY COUNCIL URGES ERITREA TO ‘IMMEDIATELY WITHDRAW’ TROOPS FROM
ZONE WITH ETHIOPIA


New York, Oct 17 2006  6:00PM
Expressing deep concern over reports that Eritrea has moved around
1,500 troops and 15 tanks into the Temporary Security Zone with Ethiopia,
the United Nations Security Council today called for them to be
withdrawn and urged both sides to exercise restraint in their long-standing
border dispute that erupted into a two-year war in 1998.

“Members… call on Eritrea to immediately withdraw its troops from the
Temporary Security Zone, to extend its full and unconditional
cooperation to the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE),
particularly to maintain ceasefire arrangements in place, and to immediately
lift the restrictions imposed on UNMEE,” Council President for October,
Ambassador Kenzo Oshima of Japan,
<"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/sc8854.doc.htm">told reporters.

“Members of the Security Council call on both parties to show maximum
restraint and to refrain from any threat or use of force against each
other, to avoid any action which may lead to an escalation of the tension
between the two countries, and to adhere to previous commitments they
have made.”

Echoing concerns raised by Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday, the
Council warned that the incursion is contrary to the agreement on
cessation of hostilities of 18 June 2000, and it also violates the integrity
of the Temporary Security Zone.

“Members of the Council once again reaffirm the integrity of the
Temporary Security Zone and their unwavering commitment to the peace process,
including in the full and expeditious implementation of the Algiers
Agreements and implementation of the final and binding decision of the
EEBC (Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission).”

The Council also called on Ethiopia to implement fully the EEBC
decision demarcating the boundary.

In his latest report on the conflict, Mr. Annan repeated concerns that
Ethiopia had not accepted the Commission’s decisions, and that Eritrea
refused to continue to cooperate with the body. Last year Eritrea
restricted UNMEE’s use of helicopters, impeding its ability to monitor 50 to
55 per cent of the area on the Eritrean side within the Temporary
Security Zone.
2006-10-17 00:00:00.000


 

 

 

 UN HEALTH AGENCY LAUNCHES GUIDELINES TO HELP COMBAT VIOLENCE AGAINST
CHILDREN


New York, Oct 17 2006  8:00PM
The United Nations health agency today issued a practical guide to help
governments and aid agencies prevent violence against children by
following up on the recommendations made in the in-depth study on the
problem by Secretary-General Kofi Annan that was launched last week.

In particular, the World Health Organization
(<"http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2006/pr57/en/index.html">WHO)
<i>Preventing child maltreatment: a guide to taking action and
generating evidence</i> is aimed at stamping out violence by parents and
caregivers, the agency said in a press release, adding that Mr. Annan’s study
showed that much of the violence endured by children aged 0-14 years
occurs in the home.

“For too long now the response to child maltreatment has been dominated
by systems for reacting to cases once maltreatment has already started.
The scientific evidence for preventing physical, sexual and
psychological abuse from occurring in the first place is already quite strong, and
the time is ripe for a paradigm shift from reaction to prevention,”
said Dr Anders Nordström, WHO Acting Director General.

The guide, published jointly with the International Society for
Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), provides technical advice for
professionals working in Governments, research institutes and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on how to measure the extent of child
maltreatment and its consequences and how to design, implement and evaluate
prevention programmes.

It also notes that the strong relationships between child maltreatment,
economic inequality and poverty mean that reducing inequality, as well
as poverty, is likely to make a significant contribution to preventing
child maltreatment.

“We welcome the WHO-ISPCAN guide on Preventing Child Maltreatment,”
said Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund
(UNICEF). “This is an important new tool for addressing violence against
children.”

Mr. Annan’s study, which was discussed in the General Assembly last
Wednesday, examines all forms of violence against children and puts
forward 12 overarching recommendations aimed at prevention and how to respond
if violence occurs. It also puts forward five specific recommendations
applying to the home and family, schools and other educational
settings, institutions for care or detention, the workplace and the community.

Most of the 10 pages of recommendations and follow-up are directed
primarily at States and refer to their legislative, administrative,
judicial, policymaking, service delivery and institutional functions, while
also emphasizing the primacy of the family.
2006-10-16 00:00:00.000

 

LEBANON: UN NAVAL FORCE TAKES OVER PATROLLING SEAS AGAINST ARMS SMUGGLING

New York, Oct 16 2006 11:00AM A United Nations naval force is now in place to support the Lebanese Navy in monitoring its territorial waters, securing the coastline and preventing arms smuggling as part of the Security Council resolution that ended this summer’s hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah. “The <"http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/pr065.pdf">Maritime Task Force has an important job to do in line with UN Security Council Resolution <"http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=s/res/1701(2006)">1701, ensuring, through supporting the Lebanese Navy, that this country’s territorial waters are not utilized for any illegal or hostile activities,” UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Commander, Maj.-General Alain Pellegrini, said at the official transfer yesterday in Beirut Port. At the ceremony, the commander of the Interim Maritime Task Force that had temporarily patrolled the coastline, Italian Rear Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi, handed over command to German Rear Admiral Andreas Krause, who leads the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force. The Force, comprising 19 vessels from Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Norway, Sweden and Turkey, will have a crew complement of some 1,500. Resolution 1701 mandates strengthening UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops. At present it has some 5,000 troops on the ground, but the second phase of deployment may be delayed by several weeks due to problems of logistics and capacity, the UN Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC) said in its latest update. 2006-10-16 00:00:00.000

 

ON WORLD FOOD DAY, UN SEEKS ANSWERS IN AGRICULTURE TO DEADLY BLIGHT OF HUNGER

 New York, Oct 16 2006 10:00AM The United Nations today marked World Food Day, seeking answers and solutions to a searing question: why are there 850 million chronically malnourished people in a world with enough resources to feed all, 400 million of them hungry children whose lives will be forever blighted by lack of nutrition in their first months? “In a world which has the means to feed us all, this continued suffering is unconscionable,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message. “Many countries, including those most in need, have not allocated sufficient resources to farming and rural development,” he added, underscoring that the Day’s theme this year is ‘Investing in agriculture for food security.’ “There is a need to reverse this trend, and to channel increased public and private resources towards agricultural activities. Such investment must reach beyond infrastructure and irrigation systems to fund broader human development goals, especially the education of rural women and girls who constitute the backbone of most agrarian economies.” UN World Food Programme (<WFP) Executive Director James Morris stressed that new research has shown yet again that the rapid development of the brain, dependent on good nutrition, during the early months and years of a child’s life is crucial and influences learning, behaviour and health throughout the life cycle. “Given that 70 per cent of brain development occurs in the first two years of our lives, malnutrition in early childhood can have a devastating effect. Even before they can walk and talk, these kids are already behind the curve,” he said. Calling on the affluent to do more for the poor, he added: “There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for your own children – it would be unnatural to wish otherwise. But next time you upgrade your child’s laptop or book those extra tuition sessions, spare a thought for the millions of children whose fingers will never touch a keyboard. They will be lucky if they even learn to read and write or do basic arithmetic. “We can make a difference. There is more than enough food in the world,” he said, noting that Official Development Assistance has been rising steadily for several years and now tops $100 billion. “We can afford to help, but we need to develop a food first policy – poverty cannot be eliminated until hunger and malnutrition are laid to rest. And one way to start would be to prevent hunger from cheating children of hope.” Other UN agencies joined in the appeal for action. “Increasing the volume of public investment in agriculture but also making it more effective are of absolute necessity,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf said. FAO launched a new global education project to raise awareness about hunger and the right to food among children and young people around the world, a cartoon-style story book entitled ‘The Right to Food: A Window on the World,’ produced together with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stressed that under-nutrition remains a major killer of children under five, contributing to approximately 50 per cent of the more than 10 million child deaths every year. But it also held out a ray of hope, noting that if it is detected early, children can be effectively treated at home and in communities, without being admitted to health facilities, sometimes miles away from their homes. “With the addition of community-based treatment and new technology, much more can now be done to reach undernourished children and to address this important cause of child mortality,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said. 2006-10-16 00:00:00.000


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