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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-12-19
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
[U.N. Headquarters will be closed tomorrow in observance of Eid al-Adha.
The noon briefing will resume on Friday, 21 December.]
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
BAN KI-MOON RESOLVES TO IMPROVE SECURITY
FOR U.N. STAFF IN WAKE OF ALGIERS BOMBING
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon returned to U.N. Headquarters this morning, following his trip to Asia, Paris and Algiers, where UN offices were bombed last week.
Immediately upon his return, the Secretary-General addressed UN staff in the Secretariat Lobby. He told them how shocked and overwhelmed he was by what he saw in Algiers, and how heartbreaking it was to meet with the survivors and families of the victims.
He said the attack had redoubled his resolve to push for implementation of the UNs Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and to improve the security of UN staff.
He said he will soon present a proposal for a review of UN security worldwide, and will also make a number of specific suggestions to countries hosting UN offices on how they can improve security.
He stressed that the United Nations must become better at explaining its role to the public and the media by emphasizing that it does not represent the interests of one group of nations against another but rather exists to build better lives for the people it serves.
Noting that many of the national staff members who perished in the bombing were the sole breadwinners in their family, he added that he had asked the Resident Coordinator in Algiers to distribute payments of solidarity to those families, in order to tide them over until the insurance pays out.
The Secretary-General ended by holding up the battered UN flag that was flying outside the UN House in Algiers at the time of the attack. He called on everyone to honor the flag and the memory of our fallen friends by redoubling efforts for peace and security, development and human rights around the world. He then signed the condolence book.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS LIBERIA AND BURUNDI BODIES,
THEN HOLDS PRIVATE MEETING ON KOSOVO
The Security Council this morning adopted two resolutions on Africa.
The first one extended the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi until 31 December 2008. The second one extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts dealing with Liberia sanctions until 20 June 2008.
The Security Council then held a private debate on Kosovo, which the Secretary-General attended.
Following that meeting, the Security Council will hold its monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General.
This afternoon, the Security Council will hold a meeting on Somalia. It is expected to adopt a Presidential Statement on that subject.
In response to a question, Montas said that the contract of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo, Stephen Schook, will expire on December 31 and that she had nothing to announce about a replacement for him.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE
OF MULTINATIONAL FORCE IN IRAQ BY ONE YEAR
The Security Council has extended the mandate of the Multinational Force (MNF) in Iraq by another year, until the end of 2008.
Yesterday afternoon, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1790 (2007), deciding further that the mandate would be reviewed at the request of the Government of Iraq or no later than 15 June 2008.
The Council also extended until 31 December 2008 the arrangements for the depositing into the Development Fund for Iraq of proceeds from export sales of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas.
Also extended were the arrangements for the monitoring of the Fund by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB).
Warren Sach briefed the Security Council on the status of the Board, as the Secretary-Generals designated representative on the Board.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS OF VOLATILE SITUATION IN EASTERN CHAD
In the Secretary-Generals latest report on the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad, he notes the volatile and unpredictable security situation in eastern Chad, which has put civilians in the area at increased risk. The Secretary-General urged all parties to immediately cease hostilities and renew their commitment to the peace process.
On the Central African Republic, the Secretary-General said he is pleased with the efforts to establish the necessary structure to ensure an inclusive dialogue.
He lauded the positive collaboration between the United Nations and the European Union in the planning of the complementary and parallel deployment of the UN mission and EU peacekeeping force. He also called all relevant Member States to provide the force requirements necessary to enable the EU force to deploy with the needed robustness and credibility.
Without credible security arrangements on the ground, the UN mission will not be able to deploy in eastern Chad, he said.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) has completed general food distributions for the month to all 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad. Due to continuing insecurity, however, not all camps received full rations, and general food distributions to internally displaced persons have not even begun.
Because of continued threats on overland routes, the UN Humanitarian Air Service has increased flights to southern Chad to four per week. A flight to Gore will soon be added, once the local airstrip is completed.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO CONVENE FIRST MEETING
OF GROUP OF FRIENDS ON MYANMAR
This afternoon, the Secretary-General will convene the first meeting of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General on
The Group, composed of 14 Member States, will be a consultative forum for developing a shared approach in support of the implementation of the Secretary-Generals good offices mandate. The group will meet as needed in an informal format.
Asked if the meeting would be open, the Spokeswoman said that it is a closed meeting.
In response to a question, Montas said that the Secretary-General's Special Advisor, Ibrahim Gambari, will be briefing the Group on his efforts to address the situation in Myanmar.
The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, said that the Group of Friends is made up of 14 members, including Australia, Indonesia, Russia, USA, China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, France, Norway, Thailand, India, Portugal and the UK. She added that in selecting members of the group, the Secretary-General wanted a broadly representative group of Member States to whom he could initially turn to for support and advice in carrying out the good offices mandate on Myanmar, and these countries all agreed to take part on the group.
Montas also said, in response to another question, that the objectives of the Group of Friends are to support the Secretary-General in the implementation of his good offices mandate, as defined in Resolution 61/232 of the General Assembly.
U.N. DARFUR FORCE HAS STILL RECEIVED NO HELICOPTERS
Asked to explain reports that the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) had a number of helicopters available that might be used by the UN/African Union hybrid peacekeeping operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the Spokeswoman later said that to date the United Nations had not received any of the 24 helicopters sought for UNAMID and for which we have been appealing to all potential contributors.
Regarding the number of UNAMID troops to be on the ground in Darfur at the beginning of the year, the Spokeswoman later said that nearly 7,000 troops were expected to be part of a 9,000-strong force that also included police.
PORTUGAL JOINS SENTENCE ENFORCEMENT AGREEMENT
WITH U.N. TRIBUNAL FOR EX-YUGOSLAVIA
Portugal today entered into an agreement on enforcement of sentences with the International Criminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia, which allows for persons convicted before the Tribunal to serve their sentences in its prisons.
The agreement makes Portugal the 13th state to enter into an enforcement of sentences agreement with the Tribunal.
IMPROVED IRRIGATION COULD REDUCE ARSENIC LEVELS IN RICE CROPS
Improved irrigation practices could reduce high levels of arsenic in rice crops across Asia, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
FAO today released a new report that focuses on Bangladesh, but that makes recommendations that could apply to a dozen countries.
FAO says high levels of arsenic in soil and groundwater often end up in crops, especially when shallow wells are used to pump water from contaminated aquifers. Planting rice in raised beds, about 15 centimeters off the ground, instead of in conventional flooded fields required less water and thus resulted in lower arsenic levels. It also created better crop yields, FAO found.
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