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 The United Nations, Meetings, Proclomations, Etc.
Posted: Feb 14 2007, 04:10 PM

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The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General condemns the terrorist attack on a bus in the south-eastern city of Zahedan, carrying Iranian security officers, which killed at least 18 people and wounded many more. He reiterates that no cause can justify the use of terrorist violence. He extends his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Posted: Feb 14 2007, 04:11 PM

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Commission for Social Development

Forty-fifth Session

12th Meeting (AM)



The Commission for Social Development heard a briefing by the Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) this morning and addressed such organizational matters as the programme of work for 2008-2009 and the nomination of members to the Institute’s Board.

Reporting to the Commission, UNRISD Director Thandika Mkandawire said the Institute had always adopted a broad definition of social development that emphasized not only people’s material well-being, but also social cohesion, security and justice. Its research programme continued to focus on social justice, poverty reduction and equity -– three explicit principles of the Millennium Development Goals. The bulk of the Institute’s work was carried out by researchers based in academic institutions around the world, a network that allowed UNRISD to develop large international research programmes, while maintaining a minimal staff in Geneva.

During the biennium, he said, a new phase of the UNRSID research programme had been initiated under six themes: social policy and development; democracy, governance and well-being; markets, business and regulations; civil society and social movements; identities, conflict and cohesion; and gender and development. Research on social policy and development, carried out in 40 countries and involving 118 researchers, had been used in numerous publications, documents and conferences. Cited in academic journals and used in university curricula, the Institute’s work had also been featured prominently in the 2006 International Forum on the Social Science-Policy Nexus, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Governments of Argentina and Uruguay.

Another significant area of work over the past two years had been the publication and dissemination of the UNRISD policy report on gender and development, which presented guiding principles for policymakers, he said. The Institute had made greater efforts to synthesize the findings into a format that was accessible to policymakers. Its small group of senior research staff in Geneva had also fulfilled nearly 100 requests for a wide range of consultative and advisory services over the past two years.

Under its current research agenda, he said, UNRISD had embarked on a major initiative that would contribute to the understanding of different paths to poverty reduction and to the improvement of policies and institutions. That work would culminate in the publication of a flagship report in 2009. The Institute’s programme for the next biennium included research on mechanisms for financing social policy and measuring its results.

He added that the Institute received no funding from the Organization’s regular budget and depended entirely on voluntary contributions from Member States, research foundations, United Nations agencies and other bodies. Last year’s independent evaluation had assessed the relevance, quality, impact and cost-effectiveness of the Institute’s work from 1996 to 2005. It had found that UNRISD had promoted a coherent and distinctive perspective on development, provided important inputs for United Nations summit processes, fostered an inter-disciplinary perspective, and played an important role in stimulating debate and mobilizing scholars from developing countries.

The Institute had been found to be cost-effective, and its autonomy to be valuable and deserving of protection, he said. At the same time, the evaluation had recommended that UNRISD devote greater efforts to improving the visibility and impact of its work. Another recommendation related to the need to put the Institute’s financing on a more secure and stable foundation and to increase its funding.

Under its agenda item on programme performance and implementation, the Commission took note of the proposed programme of work for the biennium 2008-2009 of the Division for Social Policy and Development (document E/CN.5/2007/CRP.1). Johan Shovlinck, Director of that Division, presented an extract from the Secretary-General’s report on programme performance of the United Nations for the biennium 2004-2005 (document A/61/64), noting that General Assembly resolution 61/235 had approved the biennial programme plan for 2008-2009 containing the narrative of the social policy and development programme, which described its objectives, expected accomplishments, indicators of achievement and strategy. Accordingly, the programme narrative and review of the proposed outputs would be included in the Secretary-General’s budget proposal for 2008-2009, which would be submitted to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and the General Assembly at its sixty-second session.

Also this morning, the Commission nominated Peter Brandt Evans, Rosalind Eyben, Pasuk Phongpaichit, Annika Sundén, Zenebeworke Tadesse, Yakin Ertürk, Elizabeth Jelin and Marina Pavlova-Silvanskaya to serve on the Board of UNRISD, subject to confirmation by the Economic and Social Council.

The Commission will meet again tomorrow, Thursday, 15 February, to hear the introduction of draft proposals to be adopted on the last day of its session.

Posted: Feb 15 2007, 03:35 PM

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Ad Hoc Committee on Assembly

Resolution 51/210

39th Meeting (AM)



Negotiations on a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism had reached a critical stage, Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210, said today as that body concluded its eleventh session by adopting its draft report.

“I urge delegations to remain active during the up-coming intersessional period in order to sustain the momentum we have built at the current session,” he said, encouraging delegations to continue their bilateral contacts with a view to reaching a compromise solution on outstanding issues with respect to the draft convention.

The Chairman said the report on the just-ended session contained three chapters and an annex, part A of which contained an informal summary of general comments made during the Committee’s thirty-eighth meeting, on 5 February. Part B contained an informal summary of comments made during the general exchange of views and the results of informal consultations and bilateral contacts concerning the draft convention. Part C contained an informal summary of comments made during informal consultations on convening a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations. The summary was for reference purposes only and should in no way be taken as the record of the discussions, he noted.

Before the Committee adopted a draft recommendation asking the General Assembly’s Sixth Committee (Legal) to establish a working group to finalize the draft convention and discuss the convening of a high-level conference under United Nations auspices, the representative of the United States sought clarification regarding the recommendation’s financial implications.

The Committee Secretary said that the working group would meet during the time originally reserved for Sixth Committee meetings and therefore no additional meetings would be required.

Egypt’s representative suggested changing the part of the annex dealing with the proposed high-level conference to read “a majority of” delegations, rather than “some” delegations, supported the proposal in order to better reflect what had happened during the session. However, Egypt would not break the consensus if the change could not be made.

The Chairman informed her that his summary reflected the established practice and format of capturing a range of views, but did not quantify them. It could not be altered.

Pakistan’s representative wished the record to reflect his statement that part B of the annex was a compilation of some, but not all, proposals put forward, as well as to stress that the proposal of the Organization of the Islamic Conference remained on the table and should remain the basis for future negotiations.

The Chairman said all proposals remained on the table.

Posted: Feb 20 2007, 03:09 PM

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The Security Council met this morning to consider, in an open debate, its role in security sector reform, for which this month’s President, Peter Burian (Slovakia), sent a “concept paper”, annexed in a letter to the Secretary-General dated 8 February (document S/2007/72).

According to the concept paper, the United Nations has been engaged in security sector reform for many years, although not necessarily under that label. However, a comprehensive, coherent and coordinated United Nations approach to security sector reform has been absent. The open debate would offer the Council membership and other Member States the opportunity to articulate their views and propose concrete recommendations to enable the Council to formulate its role in the development of a comprehensive, coherent and coordinated United Nations approach to the issue.

In his paper, Mr. Burian states that security sector reform is driven by the understanding that an ineffective security sector represents a decisive obstacle to peace, stability, poverty reduction, sustainable development, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights. The security sector is defined as including all those institutions, groups, organization and individuals -- both State and non-State -- that have a stake in security and justice provision, including law enforcement institutions, such as police and armed forces; security management and oversight bodies, such as parliament and the executive, as well as civil society actors, such as the media and non-governmental organizations; justice institutions; and non-statutory security forces, such as liberation armies and political party militias.

As the security sector shares many of the characteristics of other service delivery systems, it should be subject to the same standards of efficiency, equity and accountability as any other public service. The overarching objective of security sector reform is to ensure that the security institutions perform their statutory functions efficiently and effectively in an environment consistent with democratic norms and the principles of good governance and the rule of law, thereby promoting human security.

Although a comprehensive, coherent and coordinated United Nations approach to security sector reform has been lacking, according to the Council President, such reform is very much on the Organization’s agenda, cutting across a wide range of policy areas, from peace and security to poverty reduction, economic and social development, human rights, rule of law and democratization, particularly in post-conflict environments. The absence of an adequate system-level capacity for planning, coordination and implementation is likely to hinder United Nations efforts to support nationally led security sector reform programmes in an effective, efficient and accountable way.

Mr. Burian suggests that the immediate priorities for promoting comprehensive, coherent and coordinated international support to nationally led security sector reform programmes for the United Nations are as follows: to reach consensus on a concept of security sector reform; to allocate roles and responsibilities among the various United Nations entities; to generate lessons learned, norms, standards and best practices; to establish coordinated mechanisms within the United Nations family; and to establish coordinating mechanisms with other external actors and with internal actors in partner countries.

As key issues for special attention during the debate, he suggests norms and standards for security sector reform; system-wide United Nations guidelines and best practices for security sector reform support; the need for the United Nations to ensure consistency of its approach to reform with related areas, such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, rule of law and transitional justice; the roles of the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission; ensuring sufficient United Nations capacity for supporting security sector reform; and the proper coordination among intergovernmental organizations and other international actors involved in security sector reform assistance.


Council President, JÁN KUBIŠ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, said that today’s meeting on security sector reform was the first thematic debate under Slovakia’s first-ever presidency of the Security Council. That was no surprise, since Slovakia’s own experience had shown the importance of such reform to ensuring peace, stability and development. Further, over its year-long transition, and throughout its experience on the international scene, Slovakia had seen that a lack of security sector reform could become one of the causes for relapse into conflict or prolonged instability.

He stressed that, while reformed and restructured security sectors were crucial for post-conflict peacebuilding, the ultimate objective should be the improvement of everyday lives of the people through the improvement of the security sector. He said that, while the United Nations had done a good job in dealing with security sectors in post-conflict situations, it was time for the Organization and the wider international community to devote more time and attention to the matter. Indeed, security sector reform must be delicately balanced between international support and national ownership. Such reform called for coordination, coherence and efficiency of international- and national-level efforts. Finally, he noted that security sector reform was one of the first thematic debates in the opening weeks of the new Secretary-General’s tenure and, noting Ban Ki-moon’s presence, said he hoped the matter would remain high on the United Nations agenda.

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General, said that today’s theme on security sector reform lay at the heart of the Council’s responsibilities in the maintenance of international peace and security, in particular in assisting the re-establishment of sustainable peace after violent conflict. Security sector reform, a relatively new term, stood for issues such as the search for sustainable security and the recognition that security was also a precondition for setting countries on the path to development. Security sector reform aimed to achieve effective, accountable and sustainable security institutions operating under a framework of the rule of law and respect for human rights. It embraced values and principles such as commitment to the rule of law, commitment to the protection of human rights and commitment to the State as the cornerstone of international peace and security.

From decades-long experience in peacekeeping in post-conflict environments, four lessons had been learned, he said. The first was that security was a crucial and immediate condition for peacebuilding. A basic degree of security was one of the most visible and immediate dividends. It was also a condition for initiating efforts towards long-term development. There was now a better understanding of how early decisions in peace agreements -- particularly in the context of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration -- impacted on efforts to establish sustainable security structures and processes.

He said a second lesson was that security could not be restored and maintained in a vacuum. It was also vital to address the needs and perspectives of the State and the communities within it. National ownership was the key to sustainable peace. National ownership in post-conflict environments was not a static entity, but evolved as leaders and communities were brought into the peacebuilding process. That principle had guided United Nations efforts in Kosovo, where the Organization was conducting a province-wide consultation on security sector reform with the purpose of obtaining a comprehensive picture of security needs and perspectives.

A third lesson learned was that sustainable security went beyond reintegrating soldiers and units, or training and equipping individual police officers, he said. As Haiti, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone and Liberia had shown: without effective, well-governed security institutions in place, the maintenance of peace was short-lived. Sustainable security involved strengthening institutions and processes. It called for capable management, sustainable funding and effective oversight. Through initiatives such as the Standing Police Capacity, the United Nations worked to support national authorities in building sustainable law enforcement institutions.

He said the fourth lesson learned was that building sustainable security after conflict went beyond the scope of any one actor. Even within the United Nations, coordination was necessary as a part of an effective response. Also, to build sustainable security, many others must be engaged: Member States, regional organizations, Bretton Woods institutions and others. All efforts must be carefully coordinated.

He said that, increasingly, peacekeeping mandates reflected the perspectives of security sector reform, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. From now on, the overall task must be to ensure that United Nations peacekeepers were provided with the guidance and support they needed to carry out those tasks effectively and efficiently. Peacekeepers must be provided with the standards, guidance and training they needed to provide consistent and quality assistance to national authorities. It must be ensured that mission leaders had the knowledge to direct personnel in carrying out complex support tasks. Finally, United Nations support for security reform in post-conflict environments must be closely coordinated with ongoing efforts to develop integrated peacebuilding strategies.

SHEIKHA HAYA RASHED AL KHALIFA ( Bahrain), President of the General Assembly, said the Assembly had reaffirmed the United Nations leading role in supporting countries emerging from conflict in building and strengthening institutional capacities. It had also stressed the importance of strengthening the role of the international community in dealing with countries emerging from conflict, in order to prevent them from sliding back into conflict. The role security sector reform could play in promoting that agenda could not be underestimated. The Organization had already developed a great deal of expertise and best practices in its peacekeeping operations.

She said the core institutions of State –- police, army and judiciary –- were crucial to national stability and justice, good governance and the rule of law. The impartiality of those institutions reflected the strength of a country’s democratic values. A competent, law abiding and well-governed security sector, with effective civilian oversight, was vital for overall peacebuilding and reconstruction efforts, and sustainable development. That was why national ownership was extremely important. The United Nations could play an important capacity-building role. Security sector reform, beginning with peacekeeping operations, was an integral part of the transition from conflict situations to long-term stability and economic development.

Better coordination of collective efforts at the international level and across the Organization was necessary to ensure that much needed assistance to countries emerging from conflict had a greater impact, she said. There was a need for a common policy within the framework of the Assembly to define such concepts and coordinate the efforts across the Organization. The Peacebuilding Commission could play a very important role in that regard. She also emphasized the important contribution the General Assembly could make to the emerging debate.

The President of the Economic and Social Council, DALIUS ČEKUOLIS ( Lithuania), said that the Security Council’s meeting was yet another acknowledgement that the traditional divide between “security issues” and development concerns was actually an artificial and unsustainable one. Indeed, that was the perspective under which the Economic and Social Council Ad Hoc Advisory Groups on Africa –- on Guinea Bissau and Burundi -- had operated. The experiences of the Groups had led them to conclude that the role of security forces, particularly its internal role, and the processes of security sector reform were key ingredients of the post-conflict peacebuilding agenda. “Without a secure environment, recovery, reconstruction and sustainable development is not possible,” he said.

That was why the Ad Hoc Groups, in their meetings with the countries concerned, had always seen the military as key interlocutors for dialogue, he said, adding that it was that interaction, as well as their dialogue with other stakeholders, that had led tem to support the wider call for security sector reform. Indeed, the Group on Guinea-Bissau had lent its voice to the Security Council during a joint mission in June 2004, in calling for urgent and immediate international assistance to finance a comprehensive restructuring package for that country’s armed forces, because of concerns regarding poor conditions of service, ethnic divisions in the military and the availability of small arms.

He went on to say that the lack of progress in security sector reform in post-conflict countries would continue to contribute to political instability and uncertainty and hamper development. Moreover, progress on poverty eradication would make the task of security sector reform easier, as demobilized soldiers and ex-combatants would be more willing to “give up the gun”. For that reason, special attention must be given to such ex-fighters in national poverty reduction strategies and also within the context of donors’ development cooperation activities. He said that, as the United Nations developed its capacities in the area of security sector reform, the Economic and Social Council, within the context of its coordinating role, would continue to promote a coherent and coordinated approach, based on the shared understanding of the system’s comparative advantage relative to other multilateral, Government and civil society actors.

ISMAEL A. GASPAR MARTINS ( Angola), Chairman of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that, considering that security sector reform constituted one of the key ingredients of the post-conflict peacebuilding agenda, today’s debate was of particular importance to the Commission, as it took place at a moment when that newly established body had embarked on concrete field efforts. He hoped that the proposals that emerged from the meeting, as well as from other United Nations forums, would enable the Council to reach its objective concerning a comprehensive, coherent and coordinated Organization-wide approach to security sector reform.

He said the security sector was itself complex, as it included all organizations that had the authority to use, or to order the use of, force or threat of force to protect the State and its citizens, as well as those civil structures that were responsible for their management and oversight. Given that, a comprehensive and coordinated approach was required. While it was generally considered that the United Nations needed to better enhance its capabilities and capacities in the security sector reform area, it was also important to note that the Organization had accumulated invaluable experience, through, among other bodies, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as well as the Security Council, the General Assembly and others. He also noted the formulation last year of the Policy Committee Working Group on Security Sector Reform.

At the same time, the United Nations approach should take into account the organizational reforms already under way, including the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, which was an important framework for the consideration of many of the same issues. With that in mind, he said the Commission, in coordination with the Governments concerned, had spared no effort in addressing security sector reform in the countries on its agenda, Burundi and Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone, the Commission had agreed on the need to pursue ongoing national efforts in the fields of justice and security sector reform, strengthen the administration of justice and promote further reform of the police and army. As for Burundi, the Commission had agreed on the importance of national efforts to strengthen the rule of law, as well as completing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

“We are therefore before a challenging task,” he said, adding that, nevertheless, implementing security sector reform in post-conflict countries was possible, provided there was adequate international support in the presence of responsible national ownership. Such reform was a “worthy investment”, he said, noting that the recent experiences in Haiti, Timor-Leste, Guinea-Bissau and others had clearly demonstrated that, unless there was a sustainable and long-term engagement by the international community, there could be total disruption of fragile peace agreements and, ultimately, perhaps even a return to the Security Council’s agenda. All those lessons should inform the debate today, as should the experience accumulated by regional organizations and others working in post-conflict situations.

CUI TIANKAI, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said security sector reform had become an important part of peacekeeping and peacebuilding. As Liberia and Sierra Leone showed, security sector reform was conducive to restoring peace and promoting development. Reform of the security sector should aim to ensure the involvement of the security sectors, such as the army and police, in nation-building, preservation of stability and promotion of economic growth. It should not be used as a tool for wars and violence. Security sector reform should also serve the comprehensive strategy of peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

He said the United Nations should play the leading and coordinating role in the reform. It should formulate a comprehensive approach to the issue by drawing on practices proved effective over years of peacekeeping operations. The General Assembly, the Security Council, the Peacebuilding Commission and relevant United Nations missions should be more involved, and coordination with regional organizations strengthened. The will of the countries concerned should be respected. The rebuilding of national institutions was, after all, a country’s internal affairs. The international community should act more as an adviser and assistance provider.

The United Nations had been founded following the two world wars and had the important responsibility of building a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity in the twenty-first century, he said. “We are duty-bound to reach out to those people who are suffering from conflicts, help them get out of the abyss of war, restore law and order and enjoy stability and security. We should bring the conflicting parties together through mutual tolerance, resolution of differences and national reconciliation. We should help them heal the wounds of conflict, embark on the road to development and thus enabling them to enjoy the dividends of peace.”

VITTORIO CRAXI, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, aligning himself with the statement on behalf of the European Union, said his country attached crucial importance to security sector reform in countries emerging from conflict. Such reform should include the principle actors, such as the armed forces, but also Government institutions in general and the judiciary in particular. Security sector reform was an integral part of peacekeeping strategies, in which the United Nations played a vital role. It must be closely linked to the immediate post-conflict phase, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and be part of broad planning for development and reconstruction. It was also necessary to develop an effective system for the administration of justice.

He said the role of the United Nations in security sector reform was crucial, as the Organization enjoyed the greatest international legitimacy. It also had at its disposal a wide range of tools. As for the role of the “Blue Helmets”, priority should be given to the development of the police component in peacekeeping operations. In that regard, he proposed to establish in Brindisi the headquarters of the new police force.

It was crucial to strengthen international coordination among international and regional organizations, he said, and proposed intensifying operational cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union. Respect for national responsibility remained key to security sector reform. That implied that the country’s authorities define priorities. Italy contributed to peacebuilding efforts in Afghanistan, where it was the principal partner in reforming the judicial system. It would organize a conference on justice and the rule of law, in order to revive donor activity in that sector. Without justice and the establishment of the rule of law, one could not expect security and development.

MUHAMMAD ABDULLAH AL-RUMAIHI, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, said the issue of security sector reform was multidimensional and multifaceted, and did not fall within the purview of the Council alone, but involved several organs, both within and outside of the United Nations. Security sector reform should be viewed in the wider context of building State institutions. It must be ensured that the process was subject to the same requirements of accountability as any other public service.

He said that, first of all, at the forefront of security sector reform lay the stabilization of security and the achievement of comprehensive political and economic development, including establishment of an effective judiciary. The overall objective of security sector reform was ensuring the discharge by the security institutions of their statutory functions; i.e. providing security and justice for the people efficiently and effectively. A suitable strategy must be elaborated in order to ensure national ownership. The United Nations bore a special responsibility in elaborating a strategy for security sector reform, especially in countries where it had peacekeeping missions. The Peacebuilding Commission had an important role to play in securing operational continuity.

National ownership of the security sector reform process was crucial, but the contribution that could be made by regional organizations was another element in ensuring coordinated efforts, especially in view of the pioneering role that could be played by regional and subregional organizations. All efforts in security sector reform required adequate and continuous support by the United Nations and other international players, including bilateral and international donors. That would guarantee the success of the reform process, with a view to consolidating peace, strengthening democratic institutions and creating the necessary conditions for the establishment of justice and the achievement of development.

PIERRE CHEVALIER, Special Envoy for the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, said that a better understanding of the complex security sector reform issue would lead to better implementation and coordination among national and local actors. Belgium believed that the success of any security sector reform hinged on the capacity of, and interrelationships between, the various institutions concerned, in order to ensure lasting peace and stability. Belgium also stressed the importance of national ownership, which was critical in the so-called “transition” phase of post-conflict countries that followed coordinated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts.

On the need to have interaction and coordination between all the players in security sector reform –- who did what and when -– he said, among other things, regional and bilateral actors were necessary to help recovering Governments carry out security sector reform. The Peacebuilding Commission could be critical in helping coordinate the actions of various actors. On the issue of funding security sector reform, he said that the Organization and the wider international community should recognize the importance of official development assistance (ODA), as well as non-official funding.

ALEJANDRO WOLFF ( United States) said his delegation agreed that the multidimensional nature of today’s complex emergencies and peace operations required carefully coordinated and cohesive international responses. Security sector reform was a critical component of that response. Indeed, ad hoc responses were not sufficient, and failing, failed and post-conflict States presented a common challenge to global security and prosperity. If left unattended, they could provide a breeding ground for terrorism, trafficking, humanitarian catastrophes and other threats to common interests. While the United Nations could play a critical role in mitigating and responding to such crises, individually and collectively, States must continue to develop integrated approaches to address crises rapidly, from the first response stages to elements critical to promoting and ensuring sustainable development.

In the wake of war, there was often a rise in criminal activity, particularly in the immediate post-conflict period, he continued. While military and peacekeepers could help stabilize a country, establishing a competent, impartial and adequately resourced law enforcement system was crucial for continuing maintenance of security. While police were critical to re-establishing local and national public security institutions and the rule of law, a comprehensive approach required not only policing, but also the involvement of the entire public security and justice systems. Building police capacity must be integrated with assistance to the judicial and penal systems. Without that integrated approach, policing became nothing more than a continuation of the peacekeeping function, rather than a vital precursor to peacebuilding. To that end, it was of paramount importance that the rule of law be established rapidly across the full territory of the post-conflict State, to present the emergence of political corruption, organized crime and other criminal and terrorist elements.

JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru) said the responsibilities of the Council had evolved. It was no longer restricted to conflicts among States, but had transcended to violent conflict within countries with international implications. Dealing with those crises required not only ending the conflict, but also combating its root causes. Every State affected by internal armed conflict needed to rebuild institutions that would enable them to provide security and to promote the well-being of its population. Progress must go hand in hand with the protection of human rights and equality before the law.

He said security sector reform implied wide intersectoral planning and required participation of all political and social groups at the national level. The United Nations played a key role in supporting those processes, in particular its Peacebuilding Commission. Security sector reform should include making disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants a priority. Measures for arms control, particularly small arms and light weapons, were also important. It should create institutions oriented to public order and internal security, as well as the adequate composition of its staff. The effective application of security sector reform required the implementation of policies on incentives, supervision and sanctions. The reform process should be complemented with due attention to economic and social factors that might cause poverty, marginalization and exclusion.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), aligning himself with the European Union, stressed that security sector reform was a national responsibility that should be defined and owned by national stakeholders, informed by the best international standards and practices, and supported by the international community. Effective security sector reform required a comprehensive approach, particularly in post-conflict environments involving many complex and interrelated problems. A single, nationally owned, agreed and driven strategic plan was needed, around which international partners could coordinate their support.

He said the United Nations should be willing and able to play a key role in the coordination of that support by facilitating the work of the national stakeholders in three key areas: shared analysis of what must be done and to what extent; development of a clear strategic implementation plan; and establishment of a mechanism for management, monitoring and evaluation of implementation. The establishment or re-establishment of capable, accountable, responsive and sustainable security and justice institutions would require strong political support, technical expertise and human and financial resources.

There were three main areas in which measures could be taken to strengthen the Organization’s work on security sector reform, he said. First, the United Nations system must further define the roles and responsibilities of its different departments, agencies, funds and programmes on security sector reform. Second, there should be a clear strategic lead within the system, coordinating the work and overseeing the whole process. Finally, the Organization should define system-wide core principles on security sector reform, drawing on its own lessons-learned and on established best practices.

DUMISANI KUMALO ( South Africa) said that, while new, the security sector reform tool was critical for lasting development, as well as for creating an enabling environment for promoting and protecting human rights and the implementation of the rule of law. When a country was in the grip of conflict, State institutions were the first to collapse, democracy eroded and the culture for human rights generally regressed or disappeared. Further, he said that, at such times, State organs such as the courts, police and military began to serve those that were in power, rather than the people they had been created to protect and serve. Parties to the conflict began creating their own private armies.

He said all that led to a general breakdown of trust of State institutions, as citizens were left to conclude that democracy had been abandoned and human rights no longer applied, “Security sector reform, therefore, is not a process that was only restricted to building the State institution,” he added. “It is also about the building of trust between the populations with the newly established democratic institutions.” Such reform required full country ownership backed by an informed and active legislature, a clear Government policy framework, an effective executive authority and an active civil society. The roles and responsibilities of all those involved in a specific country’s security needed to be spelled out, he added.

He went on to say that it was imperative that the international community, including the United Nations, seriously define its role in the security sector reform process, as the complex issue required diverse activities and actions from which expertise could be drawn at national and local levels. Such international assistance should be clearly defined, as the donor community should avoid imposing solutions that were often at odds with the interest of the concerned country. The process should be one that favoured conflict resolution and which promoted national reconciliation.

In the recent past, the international community, particularly donors, had a tendency to impose solutions on countries emerging from conflict, he said. The uncertainty brought about by the competing interests of donors and national actors often deepened the challenges faced by the post-conflict country. As a result, the process ended up favouring donors, rather than promoting national reconciliation or nation-building. “While external actors can inform and advise, they cannot prescribe, when it comes to matters of national security, and this can be achieved through an open and transparent national process, with the assistance of the international community.”

RICARDO ALBERTO ARIAS ( Panama) said security development and human rights were each intimately affected by the historical, political and cultural reality of each country. Each security sector project, therefore, must conform to those realities. The rationale of security was to protect individuals: a democratic State had the duty and responsibility to offer security as a service with the same standards of quality regulating other public services and institutions. Under that perspective, the State’s protection of democratic institutions and national integrity constituted the way to guarantee sustainable human development.

He said the Security Council had the duty to prevent situations that might jeopardize international peace and security, and an equal responsibility to resolve conflict situations. It was somewhat more complex to deal with security sector reform in post-conflict situations. In that phase, the Council, the Peacebuilding Commission, the General Assembly and the Secretariat, as well as other United Nations organs, must act as parts of a whole in carrying out the objectives and priorities previously established.

In that context, he said, the Security Council must facilitate and foster the participation of regional organizations, as provided for in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, as well as a more active role for civil society organizations. Today’s debate must be aimed at generating a broad consensus, based fundamentally on respect for the principles and norms of international law and the Charter.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France), aligning himself with the statement on behalf of the European Union, stressed that security issues were not just a military issue, but a precondition for development and the fight against poverty. A holistic approach should be taken towards security sector reform, within the broader framework of improving governance. Simultaneous action in different domains had to be taken, including in the police, military and judicial sectors.

He said that, with the Peacebuilding Commission now in place, it was important to reflect on the specific responsibility of the Council in post-conflict situations. The Council should address security sector reform early on, when establishing mandates for peacekeeping operations. However, the scope of Council consideration could not be defined ahead of time, but would depend on the circumstances in each different case. It was crucial that the international community act in support of a national plan. His country had contributed to security sector reform in support of peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Haiti. One of the challenges in security sector reform was to create synergies and to coordinate actors. It would be up to the Peacebuilding Commission to enhance synergy and ensure such coordination.

REZLAN ISHAR JENIE ( Indonesia) said that, despite the fact that security sector reform continued to receive increasing attention, it remained a contentious and complex issue on which no consensus had been reached. In practice, security sector reform often appeared not as a single programmatic entity, but as a cross-cutting activity that involved various stakeholders. Reform in the security sector was interlinked with reform in other sectors. When crafted carefully and implemented consistently, with participation of civil society, reforms in different sectors would be mutually reinforcing, as the reforms in his country over the last seven years had shown.

He said that a United Nations approach to security sector reform should be confined to post-conflict contexts, but that a coherent and coordinated approach within the United Nations system was still lacking and warranted managerial and institutional reform. The Organization should have a sufficient planning, coordinating and implementing capacity in order to assist in security sector reform. The Peacebuilding Commission could bridge the coordination and implementation gap within the United Nations. It could also contribute to the definition, principles, norms, standards, modality and mechanisms of security sector reform. In order to make security sector reform sustainable, financial and technical assistance from the international community would be meaningful. The Council could propose, through its mission mandates, the parameters for security sector reform in post-conflict countries.

Posted: Feb 22 2007, 04:04 PM

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The following Security Council press statement on Iraq was delivered today by Council President Peter Burian ( Slovakia):

The members of the Security Council are following with concern the situation in Iraq, and condemn all terrorist attacks, including the recent chlorine gas and other bombings in and around Baghdad, which have resulted in the death and injury of many innocent Iraqi civilians and others.

The members of the Security Council acknowledge the efforts of the Iraq security forces and the Multinational Forces-Iraq, whose members are also being targeted in ongoing attacks. The members of the Security Council extend their condolences to all of the victims and their families.

The members of the Security Council urge an end to the violence in the country and the redoubling of efforts to allow fulfilment of the goals of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 1546 (2004) and most recently resolution 1723 (2006), to help meet security and stability needs, and express their hope that the efforts of the Government of Iraq will contribute to bringing security and stability to the country.

The members of the Council reiterate the Council’s call upon Member States to prevent the transit of terrorists to and from Iraq, arms for terrorists and financing that would support terrorists.

The members of the Security Council reaffirm the need to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and by all means, in accordance with international law.

Posted: Feb 22 2007, 04:06 PM

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Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the opening of the 2007 session of the Special Committee on decolonization in New York, 22 February:

It is a pleasure to join you so early in my tenure as Deputy Secretary-General.

The decolonization movement is one with which the United Nations is closely identified, and indeed was part of the Organization’s founding mission.

That quest gained clear momentum in the early 1960s, with the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and the establishment of this Special Committee.

Four decades later, decolonization is a United Nations success story, albeit an unfinished one.

Today, there are still 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories, in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Thus, there clearly remains work to do.

The United Nations and the international community have a responsibility to bring about a speedy, successful and sustainable solution for the total eradication of colonialism. And, if we are to close this chapter in human affairs, we need to focus on pragmatic steps.

One of the most promising opportunities for progress in the year ahead is the Pacific Territory of Tokelau. Last February, as you know, Tokelau held a referendum on a measure designed to ensure its attainment of self-government in free association with New Zealand, the administering Power. That referendum did not result in the two-thirds majority needed to effect a change in status. Nevertheless, New Zealand and Tokelau subsequently agreed to move the process forward by holding another referendum in November of this year. This demonstrates the indispensability of political will on the part of the administering Power.

I know you share my hope that the example of Tokelau, and the parties’ renewed efforts to hold a referendum, will inspire other administering Powers and Territories to move towards self-determination for the peoples in the Territories concerned. Needless to say, the cooperation of the administering Powers will be crucial. They must ensure that the views of the peoples of these Territories are heard. They should take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions. Towards that end, I urge all administering Powers to adopt a constructive attitude. They should do their utmost to muster the political will necessary for implementing the principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

I commend the Special Committee for its important work and for its steadfast commitment to the Declaration and the UN Charter. As you begin your new session, let me assure you that we in the Secretariat will continue to fully support your efforts.

Posted: Feb 23 2007, 04:12 PM

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Following is the text of Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the Culture of Peace New Year celebration in New York, yesterday, 22 February:

I am delighted to join you for today’s celebration, and to convey the Secretary-General’s greetings to everyone. I know that he had hoped to be here in person to mark this occasion, but official travels have kept him away from New York this week.

Let me begin by wishing all of you a very happy Chinese Lunar New Year, and by welcoming to the United Nations all the performers who have travelled from different parts of the world to enliven this occasion. Let me also thank His Excellency Ambassador Chowdhury for hosting this event, and for his years of service to the cause of peace, here at the United Nations and beyond.

As an African and as a mother, the ideals behind the International Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World hold deep significance for me. Today, it seems particularly appropriate that I -- one of the UN’s newest staff members -- should be among all of you to mark the UN’s efforts to build a culture of peace.

Over the years, it has become clear to everyone in our Organization that our work to end war must reach well beyond the mere absence of conflict. Peacekeepers and preventive diplomacy remain essential tools in our efforts to silence guns and implement ceasefires. But, by themselves, they are not enough to counter humanity’s worst instincts.

Instead, the search for a durable and enduring peace demands action at a deeper, more profound level. It requires the spread of values, attitudes and behaviours that reject violence and embrace tolerance, justice and respect for human rights. In short, it requires a culture of peace.

Of course, attaining such peace is a daunting challenge. Often, it proves a painfully slow process; one that requires action at multiple levels and by myriad actors. Yet, it remains a goal well worth pursuing.

We need only look to the suffering inflicted by conflicts and violence on the world’s children to understand what lies at stake. The young suffer enormous harm in countless wars that are never of their making. Globally, millions of children are displaced from their homes due to conflict. They are deprived, not only of education and health care, but also of the opportunity to become productive members of society. Many are unwittingly caught up in the vicious cycle of conflict, drafted as child soldiers and trained to fire AK-47s even before they have learned to read or write.

Creating a peaceful world for the next generation is the driving force behind the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence. I believe that such a world is attainable. It requires collective effort and the teaching of tolerance and coexistence at all levels within our respective societies. And it requires that we keep the promises captured in the Millennium Declaration. By meeting the goals that we have already set, we can create a world fit for our children. A world that is at peace, where no child is forced to fight or flee, and where all children can grow and thrive.

On this day, I hope you will join me in reaffirming your commitment to achieving this vision. Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can create a culture of peace and non-violence.

Posted: Feb 26 2007, 04:03 PM

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28 February Event Gathers High-Tech, Academic, Venture Capital Communities

The Strategy Council of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development, a United Nations initiative to bring the benefits of information technology to developing countries, will meet with Silicon Valley’s high-tech industry on 28February.

At the event -- to be held at Mountain View’s Computer History Museum and jointly organized by Intel Corporation, prominent members of industry, academia and the venture capital community -- will join Global Alliance members to identify areas where the United Nations and Silicon Valley can work together to expand the benefits of information and communication technology (ICT) in the developing world. Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett, Chair of the Global Alliance, will host the meeting.

“Increasing access to technology will be a critical driver of economic growth in emerging economies,” Mr. Barrett said, “but it will require Silicon Valley’s leaders and the public sector to work together to make their respective programmes more impactful. This forum is designed to foster discussion and, more importantly, create action.”

Some 250 people are expected to attend. Global Alliance participants include Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis, Malaysia’s Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation; Ali Abbasov, Azerbaijan’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology; Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union; Cai Liu,Vice Chairman of China’s Science and Technology Commission for Telecommunications; Lyndall Shope-Mafole, Director-General of South Africa’s Department of Communications; Farrukh Qayyum, Pakistan’s Secretary for Information Technology and Telecom; Walter Fust, Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; and Guy Sebban, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Silicon Valley participants include executives from communications, hardware, Internet, software and venture capital firms. Among them are Eric A. Brewer, Director, Intel Research Berkeley; John Davies, Vice-President, Intel World Ahead Program; Georg Haubs, Senior Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer for Innovation, Nokia Siemens Networks; Andrew M. Isaacs, Executive Director, Management of Technology Program, University of California-Berkeley; Wayne Johnson, Vice-President for Worldwide University Relations, Hewlett Packard; Andrew McLaughlin, Head of Global Public Policy, Google; Claudia Fan Munce, Managing Director and Vice-President, IBM Venture Capital Group; Art Reilly, Senior Director, Cisco Systems; William Schoch, Vice-President and Director of Emerging Markets, Visa International; and Fred Tipson, Director for International Organizations and Development, Microsoft.

“The United Nations sees the private sector as bringing a lot to the table -- abundant resources, capacity and an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Global Alliance Executive Coordinator Sarbuland Khan. “Business fuels innovation, and so many of the world’s problems are crying out for innovative solutions.”

Panel discussions will examine what is on the minds of Silicon Valley’s innovators regarding science and technology for development; case studies of private-public sector collaboration; relevant content in developing countries; and venture capital and the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals.

“There is a need to find innovative business solutions and to invest in the right technologies for the 4.8 billion people without access to ICT,” Mr. Khan said. “Developing pro-poor business models and technology solutions that can make the market grow also enhance profits for those who have the courage to think beyond the traditional modes.”

The event’s opening remarks by Mr. Barrett, Mr. Touré and Mr. Qayyum will be available at http://un-webcast.edgesuite.net/un/index.htm at 8:30 a.m. (Pacific Daylight Time). A press conference featuring Mr. Barrett, Mr. Khan and Mr. Touré will be webcast at http://un-webcast.edgesuite.net/qa/index.htm at 9:45 a.m. (Pacific Daylight Time). Podcast interviews related to this event are available on the “About Intel” channel intelpr.feedroom.com.

The event will be preceded on 27 February by a meeting of the Global Alliance Steering Committee. At the meeting, to be held at Intel’s headquarters in Santa Clara, participants will focus on the next steps for reaching the objectives of the Alliance, and discuss the ways in which they can contribute to the implementation of the Business Plan.

Participants will pay special attention to the Alliance’s Flagship Partnership Initiatives, such as improving broadband connectivity in Africa and expanding telecentres in developing countries. Parallel sessions on the Alliance’s Communities of Expertise, organized by area of focus, will facilitate discussion on how these networks of experts can contribute to the objectives of the Global Alliance.

The Alliance, an initiative of the Secretary-General to promote effective use of information and communication technology for development, held its inaugural meeting last June in Kuala Lumpur.

For further information, please visit www.un-gaid.org or contact Enrica Murmura at the Global Alliance secretariat, tel: 212 963 5913, e-mail: murmura@un.org; Timothy Wall at the Department of Public Information, tel: 212 963 5851, e-mail: wallt@un.org; or Laura Anderson at Intel Corporation, tel: 480 552-9020, e-mail: laura.m.anderson@intel.com.

Posted: Feb 27 2007, 02:50 PM

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Information technology central to quest for development, dignity, peace,

Secretary-General tells global alliance

Following is the text of the video message by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the opening session of the meeting of the Steering Committee of the Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development, today in Santa Clara, California:

Information and communications technologies have a central role to play in the quest for development, dignity and peace.

The international consensus on this point is clear. We saw it at the 2000 Millennium Summit and at the 2005 World Summit. And we saw it in the two phases of the World Summit on the Information Society.

With the launch of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development last March, the international community has taken that consensus a crucial step further. The Alliance is well placed to promote the use of ICT in fighting poverty, illiteracy and disease, in protecting the environment and empowering women and girls.

It is important that you work as a true partnership of all essential stakeholders -- Governments, civil society, the private sector, academia and others. All of you are needed if we are to succeed.

So let us use all our energy and innovation to harness ICT to our work towards the Millennium Development Goals. Let us turn the digital divide into digital opportunity. Let us promote new business models, public policies and technology solutions in the global approach to development.

The United Nations family is a willing and able partner in that process. I send you my best wishes for a successful meeting, and look forward to learning about your progress.

Posted: Feb 28 2007, 03:19 PM

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NEW YORK, 28 February (UNIS) -- The theme of the thirty-first annual United Nations International School-United Nations (UNIS-UN) Conference is “Global Warming: Confronting the Crisis”. The Conference will be held on Thursday and Friday, 1 and 2 March, in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations.

Over the past decade, word of significant changes in the Earth’s temperature has spread around the globe. In the twenty-first century, instability in the environment has caused a great deal of worry among the scientific and political communities. Variability in the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans is mainly attributable to human activities that have disrupted the world’s natural balance. From collapsing ice shelves to increasingly violent hurricanes, global warming promises to shape the future of the modern world.

This year’s UNIS-UN Conference will investigate climate change and its effect on the political, environmental and economic spheres of our world. The debatable causes and consequences of climate change, as well as the alternative methods of mitigating it, are the fundamental topics that will be discussed throughout the two days of the Conference. Through close examination of factors shown to influence global warming, we hope that attendees will gain insight into this pressing issue, as well as make their own conclusions from the available evidence in the current day.

This year, we are honoured to have the new United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, as our keynote speaker. In addition, other distinguished speakers include Laurie David, the producer of An Inconvenient Truth, who is best known for her efforts in mitigating global warming. Also, James Hansen, formerly of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States (NASA), will discuss astounding evidence illustrating the Government’s inaction in fighting climate change, and Robert Bindschadler, who currently works for NASA, is a glaciologist who has led 14 field expeditions to Antarctica and has travelled to the South Pole to study the climate patterns in ice sheets. The Conference will conclude with a student panel on “How Important is Climate Change to the Future of our World?”, followed by a presentation of student produced and selected films on this year’s topic of global warming.

The UNIS-UN Conference is organized and run by UNIS students in the Upper School (Tutorial House). The UNIS-UN Committee begins preparations for the Conference nearly a year in advance, finding and researching a topic of global relevance, drawing up a list of speakers, inviting several hundred students from schools all over the world, managing UNIS Tutorial House debates and compiling a working paper of articles, written and edited by members of the UNIS-UN Committee, pertaining to the topic.

The structure of the UNIS-UN Conference is designed to provide students with expert knowledge through the experience of provocative guest speakers. The Conference also endeavours to give students a platform to express and debate their own opinions and views in arguably the most internationally significant gathering place on earth. More than 600 students hailing from six continents will attend the Conference. By outlining some of the issues that dominate the discussion of global warming, the UNIS-UN Committee hopes that this year’s Conference will foster awareness of climate change, a subject of great challenge in the twenty-first century. The Conference will be webcast on both days.

For further information, please contact Sylvia Fuhrman, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNIS, tel: 212 963 8729 or United Nations International School, tel: 212 584 3108, e-mail: unis-un@unis.org, Internet: www.unis.un.org.

Posted: Mar 5 2007, 07:00 PM

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The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

**Guest at Noon Briefing

Our guest today at the briefing is Ms. Alicia Bárcena, the Under-Secretary-General for Management.

**Côte d’Ivoire Statement

The Secretary-General welcomes the successful conclusion of the dialogue on the Ivorian peace process and the signing of an agreement between President Laurent Gbagbo and Mr. Guillaume Soro in Ouagadougou on 4 March 2007, under the facilitation of the Chairman of ECOWAS, President Blaise Compaoré. The Secretary-General commends President Compaoré for his effective facilitation role and assures him and the Ivorian leaders of the commitment and readiness of the United Nations to assist in the implementation of the agreement.

The Secretary-General notes that the Ouagadougou agreement builds upon Security Council resolution 1721 (2006) and previous peace agreements with the aim of resolving the protracted political stalemate. The Secretary-General is especially pleased to note that the agreement addresses the key issues that had blocked progress on identification of the population, disarmament, reform and restructuring of the Armed Forces, restoration of State authority throughout the country, reunification of the country and the preparation of the voters list, in order to ensure credible, free and fair elections.

The Secretary-General stresses that this agreement was drawn up by the Ivorian leaders themselves, which places on them a special responsibility to implement it in full and in good faith. He looks forward to further discussions with President Compaoré and the Ivorian leaders on details of the provisions of the agreement and the role the United Nations is expected to play.

**Deputy Secretary-General

The Deputy Secretary-General spoke this morning at the International Conference on Trafficking in Women and Girls, which the UN Office on Drugs and Crime helped to organize.

She said that trafficking respects no borders and the response, therefore, requires cross-border cooperation. She also encouraged parties to join the Global Initiative to fight Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, which is being launched by the UN this year in Vienna. We have her full remarks upstairs.


The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) reports that on Saturday the International Security Forces (ISF) initiated an operation in Same, targeting the fugitive Major Reinado and his supporters.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, in a press conference yesterday said that UNMIT, in consultation with the Government of Timor-Leste and the ISF has considered all possible options to achieve Reinado’s surrender to justice.

UNMIT expresses regrets that the efforts to ensure a peaceful judicial path have not been successful, stressing that it is Reinado’s disregard for the laws of Timor-Leste and the well-being of its population that have brought us to this point.

**Security Council

There are no meetings or consultations of the Security Council planned for today.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, will be briefing the Security Council in consultations tomorrow morning and then speaking to you at the stakeout microphone afterwards.

**Ibrahim Gambari

Ibrahim Gambari, who travelled to Saudi Arabia over the weekend as a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, had an audience in Riyadh on Sunday with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud. Gambari delivered a message from the Secretary-General. Their discussion focused on a range of regional issues, as well as on Saudi Arabia’s relations with the UN.

Gambari has since spoken with the Secretary-General by phone and will be able to fully brief him on all of his discussions upon his return to New York. While in Saudi Arabia, he will continue contacts with senior government officials and will travel to Jeddah later in the week to meet with the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.


The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met earlier today in Vienna and considered, among other issues, the status of implementation of safeguards in both Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In his address to the Board, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said that the situation in Iran remains a stalemate. He said that, although the Agency has verified the non-diversion of Iran’s declared nuclear material, Iran’s lack of transparency continued to hinder the Agency’s ability to reconstruct the full history of the country’s nuclear programme and some of its components.

On the DPRK, ElBaradei told the Board that he had been invited by the Government to visit the country in the wake of the 13 February Beijing agreement at the six-party talks. We have more on this upstairs.

**Democratic Republic of Congo

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, is currently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The objective of her mission is to work towards ensuring greater protection for children in the immediate post-conflict phase and peace consolidation process. We have a press release on that.


UNICEF head Ann Veneman today addressed the fifty-first Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which is meeting here at Headquarters. She said that violence against women and girls is one of the most extreme forms of inequality.

She also said that education is key to addressing discrimination and violence against girls and to helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Educated girls are better equipped to protect themselves against life-threatening diseases and more likely to give birth to healthy babies, she said. We have a press release on that upstairs.

** Nepal

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Nepal announced today that it has launched a programme toolkit for Ministries of Education on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

The HIV and AIDS situation in Nepal is categorized as a concentrated epidemic, spreading rapidly amongst its most at-risk groups, and by adapting an advocacy toolkit to the Nepali context, UNESCO hopes the toolkit can be used as additional efforts to limit the spread of HIV.

** Afghanistan

Divergent trends characterize opium cultivation in Afghanistan this year, with a pronounced divide between the troubled south of the country and the more stable centre-north, according to a survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics.

“The trend towards more and more provinces in Afghanistan cultivating opium may be broken,” UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said. “This is a moderately good sign.” We have more on that upstairs.

**Press Conferences

As you might know, the Minister of Defence of Lebanon, Mr. Elias El-Murr, is meeting the Secretary-General at 12:30 today. Right after the meeting, around 12:45, Minister El-Murr will speak to the press at the 2nd floor stakeout.

At 1 p.m. today, there will be a press briefing with Natalya Petkevich, the Deputy Head of Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus and Vladimir Naumov, Minister of Interior of the Republic of Belarus. They will brief you on the International Conference on Trafficking in Women and Girls.

At 11 a.m. tomorrow, there will be a press briefing with Mr. Nasir el-Rufai, Minister of Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria who will brief you on issues related to anti-corruption policy and Nigeria’s presidential election, which is scheduled to take place in April 2007.

Then at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, there will be a press briefing with Ms. Mary Robinson, the President of Realizing Rights and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; and with Ms. Beatriz Paredes, President of Mexico’s political party PRI. They will brief you on gender equality and the empowerment of women. This is all I have for you.

**Questions and Answers

Question: Is the Secretary-General planning on attending the Iraq-Government sponsored governance conference in Baghdad this weekend?

Spokesperson: No, he is not.

Question: Was he invited? Or will there be any UN-related involvement in that conference?

Spokesperson: The conference, I’m sure there will be but I don’t know. I can check for you, but I know the Secretary-General will not be going.

[The Spokesperson later added that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, would attend as an observer.]

Question: Does the Secretary-General have any comments on the incident in Afghanistan in which American troops fired at Afghan civilians killing 16 of them? And since the UN has an extensive (inaudible) in Afghanistan, what was the UN version of that incident?

Spokesperson: We don’t have a separate version of this incident. The UN is not being involved in any way. However, I will try to get some answers for you on the first part of your question. You are not the first one to ask, so the UNCA seat does not hold.

Question: It only appears to be the case when we have a guest, not for the press briefings. Anyhow, thank you for this. But I was going to ask… one can assume that the Secretary-General has already started giving interviews to the press and my question is: is there any waiting list for that? How long is the waiting list and what are the priorities, if any, of the Secretary-General? To whom is he granting interviews?

Spokesperson: Okay, in this specific case, when we have, and that’s what we did last time, we had some interviews on his trip, there were some pre-trip interviews and post-trip interviews. This was the case also for his Quartet meetings. However, if you have filed, in my office, a request for an interview, we are considering all requests, and as we find the time for the Secretary-General to give these interviews, they are given.

Question: Only time?

Spokesperson: Only. Time schedule is the only criterion. Yes, indeed.

Question: The new UN humanitarian chief seemed to indicate today that the inquiry into the programmes in North Korea was focusing almost solely on UNDP. I had thought that the Secretary-General had ordered a much broader investigation of the operations. And I wonder if you could check and confirm whether it is just limited primarily to UNDP, or whether UNICEF and WFP were also being looked into.

Spokesperson: The only thing I can tell you is that, for the time being, it is being concentrated, because that was one of the issues, it is being concentrated on the UNDP programmes in North Korea. However, I’ll ask for whether, when there will be other agencies touched by that investigation. Just a second, okay, a follow-up.

Question: It’s exactly on that. We’ve heard that the suspension operations of the UNDP programme in North Korea may also undermine the audits that are supposed to be taking place. I wonder if you can say whether the auditors still have full access to all the papers they need and if the clock that you said has started will continue to run before the release of the audits.

Spokesperson: As far as I know, this will not affect the investigation.

Question: I’d like to know on whose initiative is the proposed press conference to be addressed by the Nigerian Minister tomorrow? Is it the UN that has invited the Minster to come and make this address? Or whose idea it is for the Nigerian minister to address the press conference regarding the elections that are coming next month?

Spokesperson: I can’t tell you who asked for it, but it was probably the Nigerian mission.

Question: I just wanted to follow up. As I understand it, the UNDP’s statement was posted on their website but I don’t think that we got any announcement. I would like to put in a request that on announcements, such as this, those announcements should be made to us, not just posted. We don’t go and read the UNDP website all the time.

Spokesperson: Well, I think we have someone from the UNDP here. I’m not sure. Yes, we do have Jim back there and he will be glad to answer your questions right after the briefing.

Question: Brammertz is in Saudi Arabia for the first time and Mr. Gambari is going to Saudi Arabia. Will they meet? Do you know if they are going to meet there? And the second question is, when will Mr. Secretary-General be leaving, going to the Middle East and in which capital will he be stopping before going to Riyadh for the Summit?

Spokesperson: Your first question, I cannot confirm that Mr. Brammertz was in Saudi Arabia. I cannot confirm that and, as you know, we do not comment on people doing investigations and where they go and when they go, okay? That’s a question of security for the people doing investigations. Second question, when is the Secretary-General going on his trip? We don’t know yet. I don’t have an exact date for that yet. And I will give it to you as soon as I have it, okay?

Question: Where?

Spokesperson: We don’t know yet either.

Question: As you know, we had a briefing held by the Georgian Mission today. Has the Secretary-General issued any statements or comments with regards to the parliamentary elections held yesterday in Abkhazia? Or is he planning to issue any statements?

Spokesperson: Not that I know of.

Question: Since you couldn’t comment on whether somebody else was there, we know that Ahmadinejad was in Riyadh at the same time that Gambari was there. Did he have any plans to meet with him or with any of his delegation? And also, since Ban Ki-moon said early on that he wants to impose a term limit of five years, how come he rehired Gambari after a little over five years?

Spokesperson: He means five years in the same post. That’s what mobility means. It’s five years in the same post.

Question: As far as that is concerned, the only one now is Guéhenno, who’s more than five years, right?

Spokesperson: Well, I can check on that but as far as I know, Mr. Gambari changed jobs.

Question: Does he plan to meet with any of the Iranian mission?

Spokesperson: Not that I know of. But if such a meeting takes place, I’ll let you know.

Question: Will the Secretary-General be attending the upcoming Human Rights Council conference mid-month, this month? And also, is the Secretary-General having any dialogue with the North Korean delegation that’s in town now? Or has he had some conversation over the last couple days?

Spokesperson: Okay, first question, the Human Rights Council -- no, he’s not going to that session. However, he will most probably take another trip to Geneva in the near future. Your second question was about the North Korean -- as far as I know, there has been no contact between the Secretary-General and the North Korean Mission here for the six-party talks. And the Secretary-General has not, as far as I know, any plans to meet with them.

Question: Do you know if the Secretary-General knows anything about the nine women from Iran, the delegation, that was supposed to come to the Commission, the current conference and was supposedly refused visas by the US? Do you have some information about that?

Spokesperson: No, we don’t, but I think you should address your questions to the Spokesperson for the President of the Assembly and you will probably get a chance to ask those questions later on with him.

Question: The Secretary-General noted the good progress on the discussions on the Ivory Coast, dispute or tension there. There are other positive developments in other lands. For example, there has been progress towards formation of unity Government in Palestine. There are indications that there will be a good unity Government very soon in Lebanon. And finally, there are indications that Iraq will have a new Government. Does the Secretary-General see progress on all these fronts and is he satisfied?

Spokesperson: Well, as you know, he has already welcomed the agreement among the Palestinians, between the Palestinians. And we are waiting to see what it is going to result into. This is the same thing for the Lebanese Unity Government. We are waiting to see when it comes into being fully.

Question: Have you got any more information on this reported letter from Sudan? Has the Secretary-General asked for an explanation as to why this letter of his got lost in the mail?

Spokesperson: Well, we have not received a letter yet as far as I know. And we don’t have the explanations yet. The Mission said -- ask the Mission about the letter.

Question: Have you asked the Mission?

Spokesperson: I can, no, not personally, no. I don’t know whether the Secretary-General has.

Question: Will the UN ask the mission for an explanation? Because it’s rather curious that there have been all these messages … the letter was signed and sent and it’s still not here. So I was just wondering whether the Secretary-General or anybody on the 38th floor had asked the Mission for an explanation, whether an explanation was given?

Spokesperson: Okay, we’ll ask, we’ll ask.

Question: A follow-up on Jonathan’s question. Has the SG had any contact with North Korean officials outside the Mission here, meaning the Foreign Minister in Pyongyang or somewhere else?

Spokesperson: Not that I know of.

Question: Just a follow-up, in terms of the upcoming Iraqi conference, can you clarify whether the Secretary-General was indeed invited to participate or indeed, was he not invited?

Spokesperson: I’ll check on that for you, I said I would check.

Question: Is Gambari going to be there?

Spokesperson: I can find out for you.

Question: In terms of this afternoon, Nicholas Burns is scheduled to meet with the Secretary-General. Do you have any details about that -- if it was initiated by the US? What’s on the agenda?

Spokesperson: It was initiated by the US. It will most probably be about North Korea and other issues. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other issues.

Question: As I understand, Dr. ElBaradei was in touch with the Iranian authorities concerning the arrangement. What is the nature of the meeting of the Security Council concerning Iran?

Spokesperson: Well, I think you should ask that question to the Security Council. You had Ambassador Kumalo on Friday and I’m sure you can get a chance to ask the Security Council. As you know, and as Mr. Kumalo said, in the next three days, you can expect to discuss that issue. If you don’t mind, I’m going to stop here because I would like to give Alicia a chance to present her briefing and we can have more later.

Question: We’re going to have a lot of questions for Mrs. Bárcena. Is there a possibility that we can at least have a briefing longer than normal because I do see that a lot…

Spokesperson: Yes, what happens here is that at 1, I have to give the room to another press conference which is taking place in the same room. It’s at 1 p.m. today and they informed me that we might have to cut it up exactly at 1. Anyway, I’ll invite Alicia Bárcena to come up.
Posted: Mar 6 2007, 06:17 PM

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The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon all.

** Iraq Statement

[The following statement was issued immediately after the noon briefing.]

The Secretary-General is outraged by the series of bomb attacks in Iraq today on Shia pilgrims who were making their way to the holy city of Karbala. He condemns these heinous acts, which appear to be aimed at provoking sectarian strife.

The Secretary-General appeals to all communities in Iraq to show maximum restraint in the face of these criminal actions. He also calls on all political and religious leaders in the country to exert their influence to protect civilian lives and to promote mutual respect and dialogue between all Iraqi communities.

**Indonesia Statement

The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the loss of life and destruction of property suffered by the people of Indonesia after the recent earthquake in Sumatra. He extends his deepest condolences to the families of those who have been killed or injured in the earthquake.

The United Nations has been in contact with the Government of Indonesia and stands ready to lend its assistance to efforts to respond to humanitarian needs created by the disaster, including by using existing resources and providing grants from emergency funds, and to mobilize international support for that response.

**Security Council

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, briefed the Security Council in consultations on the joint mission he carried out with African Union Special Envoy for Darfur, Salim Ahmed Salim, as well as on the next steps the two Special Envoys will take to assist in re-energizing the Darfur political process.

Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, also gave an update.

Mr. Eliasson has agreed to speak to reporters at the Security Council stakeout following the consultations.

** Sudan

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has launched a $56.1 million appeal for operations in South Sudan to help tens of thousands of southern Sudanese refugees and internally displaced people return home and reintegrate in their communities.

Also on South Sudan, the World Health Organization has launched an emergency response operation to contain a meningitis outbreak. A mass immunization campaign, targeting more than 600,000 people in high risk areas, is being carried out.

**Gender Equality

Speaking at the opening of the General Assembly debate on gender equality, the Secretary-General pledged to work for a collaborative and coordinated approach to gender perspective – one that involves and engages the entire UN system in supporting Member States’ work for gender equality and empowerment of women.

Adding that there is still a long way to go in implementing global goals and commitments for gender equality, the Secretary-General stressed the need for changing values and attitudes, while transforming relations between women and men, at all levels of society.

He also urged partnership between Governments, international organizations, civil society and private sector, to ensure that women and girls enjoy their full rights and take up a rightful place in society.

** Iran

Regarding Iran, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today expressed strong concern over the arrest of at least 31 women activists during a peaceful gathering in front of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran last weekend.

Arbour emphasized that these women were exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. She recalled that Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and must adhere to its legal obligations. We have more on that in my office.

** Somalia

As the hijacking of a World Food Programme-chartered vessel off the coast of Somalia enters its tenth day, WFP is calling for a swift end to the impasse, citing concerns for the welfare of the crew. WFP is also concerned about increasing difficulties in contracting additional ships to deliver urgent food aid to hungry people.

Six hijackers remain in control of the vessel, now anchored in an area close to the border of Puntland and the central region of Somalia. None of the crew has been released, despite appeals and interventions for their immediate safe return.

WFP is in close contact with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, the Puntland authorities and the vessel’s agents. We have a press release on that upstairs.

**Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Responding to a letter dated February 13 from the Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Secretary-General has asked for the continued cooperation of the Government to allow the audit of United Nations funds and programmes in that country to be completed in a timely manner.

I quote from the Secretary-General’s letter: “On 22 February, I initiated an overall assessment and audit of operations of the United Nations funds and programmes in several countries where concerns had surfaced. On 9 February, the Advisory Committee on Budgetary and Administrative Questions made a formal request to the Board of Auditors to carry out a special audit of the United Nations Organizations in DPRK. The Board of Auditors is currently undertaking preliminary preparations and will be approaching your Government shortly to seek assistance in making logistical arrangements for the upcoming audit.” This is the quote from the letter. You can have the full text upstairs.

The first letter from the DPRK Permanent Representative has been circulated by the General Assembly.


On the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Richard Monk of the United Kingdom yesterday assumed his duties as UNMIK Police Commissioner in Pristina, following his appointment to the post by the Secretary-General.

He replaces Stephen Curtis, who left the Mission last month. We have a press release on that.

** Ghana

In a message on the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, delivered today in Accra by his Special Adviser on Africa, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, the Secretary-General praised Ghana’s steady participation in UN peacekeeping operations around the world.

“Many Ghanaians have made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the cause of peace. To them and to your nation, the United Nations owe a debt of gratitude,” the Secretary-General said.

He also noted Ghana’s work for regional conflict resolution through ECOWAS, its current chairmanship of the African Union and membership in the UN Security Council. We have copies of this speech upstairs.


The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) reports that some 49 instance of violence broke out in capital Dili overnight. Most involved stone-throwing. The situation is now stable but tense.

While the search for Major Alfredo Reinado continues, a group of some 50 to 100 locals in the south-western city of Suai demonstrated peacefully in support of the major.

**Press Conferences

Right after this briefing, there will be a press conference with Mary Robinson, the President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; and with Beatriz Paredes, President of Mexico’s political party PRI. They will brief you on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Just as a heads-up, at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow, there will be a press briefing with the president of the International Narcotics Control Board, Dr. Philip Emafo, and the board’s secretary, Koli Kouame. They will brief you on their latest report.

Then at 11 a.m. tomorrow, there will be a press briefing on International Women’s Day with Rachel Mayanja, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Gender Issues;. Noeleen Heyzer, the Executive Director of UNIFEM; and Rima Salah, the Deputy Director of UNICEF. This is all I have for you today. Your questions.

**Questions and Answers

Question: I wanted to ask you about the meeting that the Secretary-General’s going to have with the Organisation of the Islamic Conference at 5 today. I know that François Lonseny Fall is in the building – is he going to be in attendance in that meeting? Is it going to be about Somalia? Or is it going to be about any other matter?

Spokesperson: No, as far as I know, it was a request from the Organisation and the issues that will be discussed will be the Middle East, terrorism and counter-terrorism, and other general issues. That’s all I have for you.

Question: Several things… can we have the reading from the meeting of the Secretary-General with Mr. Burns yesterday? And with the Foreign Minister of Montenegro? I saw that he met the Foreign Minister of Montenegro for 40 minutes even, so I’m really eager to see what did they discuss. And also, what other countries are mentioned that are under concern regarding that investigation?

Spokesperson: I’ll get the details for you, which country. On the readouts, the Secretary-General briefed Under-Secretary of State Burns yesterday on the latest developments related to Sudan, Darfur, and he drew attention to the potentially increasing peacekeeping engagement in Africa, for which he requested continued U.S. support. They also exchanged views related to negotiations concerning Iran and the DPRK. Burns updated the Secretary-General on the US position vis-à-vis the Human Rights Council. That’s the readout I got.

Question: Kosovo?

Spokesperson: That I don’t know. And I don’t have anything for you yet, but I can find out for you the readout about the Montenegro meeting.

[The Spokesperson later added that the Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister of Montenegro discussed Montenegro’s foreign policy priorities, the UN’s presence in Montenegro and regional issues. The Foreign Minister expressed support for the Secretary-General’s reform package. On the meeting with Mr. Burns, the Spokesperson said that Kosovo had not come up.]

Question: What is going on Kosovo now in Europe? What is the stage? Is that going in coordination with the UN Headquarters here? There is a stage of seven days, I would say, in Vienna that is going on? What is that?

Spokesperson: Well, this is not directly related. As you know, they are continuing consultations on that, and it is led by Mr. Ahtisaari, and we are going to see what will come out of it. And as soon as we get something more constructive, I’ll let you know. And, in fact, it will be in front of the Security Council once it is decided.

Question: As you know, there is an important debate today in the General Assembly on the gender equality and empowerment of women. Since the Secretary-General’s assumed duties in Headquarters, he has made a number of senior appointments. How many of those appointments concern women? Is there a ratio?

Spokesperson: Well, it’s a little difficult to say now, because as you know the process is still continuing. As you know, the DSG is a woman and I think she’s an important part of the equation. And as you know, Alicia Barcéna is Head of Management and we will know more in the next few days about other, about the ratio that you’re talking about.

Question: Do you expect more appointments coming soon?

Spokesperson: We should get some. I don’t know how soon, but as you know, the ones who had been appointed are slowly picking up their charges at the UN. The beginning of April, two more SRSGs will be taking up their duties, 1 April.

Question: Mr. Gambari is in Riyadh right now. Do you know who -- he met with the King and who else did he meet with?

Spokesperson: Okay, I’ll try to find out more about his trip for you. We gave you some details yesterday, but we can have additional ones for you today. We couldn’t get in touch with them this morning.

[The Spokesperson later added that Mr. Gambari had also met with the Saudi Foreign Minister and the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.]

Question: When is he expected to be back to New York?

Spokesperson: I’m not sure but I can find out for you also.

[The Spokesperson later added that Gambari would return to New York this weekend.]

Question: Yesterday, I’m told the UNDP was here. I wasn’t able to hear what they said in the hall because we had a briefing on human trafficking. But I’m told that they said they now put the value of UNDP’s programme in 2006 in North Korea at 4.4 million rather than 3.2 as was previously said. So, I’m wondering, the numbers are changing. Is it possible rather than have a briefing out in the hall to actually have UNDP come and answer questions? Probably Mr. Dervis, since he signed the letter to suspend operations in North Korea. It seems more appropriate than to have, I mean I appreciated that they came yesterday, but I wasn’t able to get any answers…

Spokesperson: I’ll transmit your request to them. Yesterday, I’m sorry you were not there because David Morrison was fully available for everyone that had questions.

Question: First, we had Ms. Barcéna and after that, there was a briefing on human trafficking. I guess it’s just a matter of scheduling. Obviously there are some answers to be gotten, but it would be better to get…

Spokesperson: Actually, why don’t you contact David Morrison?

Question: I have and I don’t have the answer to this question. That’s why I’m asking you.

Spokesperson: Okay, I don’t have it for you. Only UNDP can answer.

Question: We had Cochemé -- that was great. In this case, it’s a high-profile thing with North Korea. The Administrator of UNDP has signed a letter saying “I’m suspending programmes”. It seems like the Administrator should come and answer questions like anyone else does.

Spokesperson: Okay, we’ll transmit your request, and I’m glad you spoke to them, so you have some of your answers at least, I hope.

Question: (Inaudible)

Spokesperson: Okay, thank you very much.
Posted: Mar 7 2007, 05:35 PM

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grounded approach’ to escaping poverty highly relevant, Secretary-General says

in message to international conference on official development aid

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message for the ODA International Conference hosted by the Korea International Cooperation Agency in Seoul, today, 7 March:

The Millennium Development Goals represent our common vision -- a partnership between rich and poor countries for building a better future. This year is a crucial one in our efforts to reach the Goals, as it marks the halfway point to the 2015 target date. Many regions remain distressingly off track, particularly in Africa. We must move quickly to implement our commitments.

I take special pride in Korea’s efforts to mobilize support for the MDGs, through this conference and other initiatives. I am all the more moved because in my lifetime, I have seen Korea transform itself from a war-ravaged and impoverished country, into a thriving society and globally competitive economy. The Korean people achieved this through their own determination, village by village, community by community. But they were also backed by remarkable support from the international community.

This grounded approach to assistance remains highly relevant in our time. Today, you will hear about one example. My Special Adviser, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, will describe how the United Nations supports Millennium Villages in Africa. These empower rural Africans with the basic tools they need to escape extreme poverty. I am proud that the Korean Government will now join this effort in Madagascar.

Together, we must implement such programmes on a large scale. This conference has an important role to play in advancing that mission. I wish you a most productive day, and express my gratitude to all of you for your leadership and your commitment.
Posted: Mar 8 2007, 07:58 PM

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The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and Frehiwot Bekele, Special Assistant to the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon all.

**International Women’s Day

Today is, of course, as you know, International Women’s Day. And here at Headquarters, all across the UN system and around the world, we are celebrating this important occasion with various events and activities. You’ll find upstairs in my office copies of key speeches by UN officials and press releases on most of these events.

To flag just a few, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier today spoke here at Headquarters at an inter-agency event on ending impunity for violence against women and girls. He said that International Women’s Day is an occasion for all of us -- men and women alike -- to unite in defence of women and girls who live with violence, or the threat of violence. “Violence against women and girls,” he said, “makes its hideous imprint on every continent, country and culture. It doesn’t care about your income, class, race or ethnic background.”

Echoing the Secretary-General, Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that violence against women is the most common but least punished crime in the world. She noted that less than 5 per cent of rape prosecutions lead to convictions globally and that 130 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation.

A little later today, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will be delivering a speech shortly here at Headquarters at an event titled “Breaking Barriers: Achieving Balance in Numbers and Work-Life.” In her remarks, the Deputy-Secretary-General is expected to say that “resolution after resolution of the General Assembly has called for 50-50 gender balance in the staff of the United Nations system. But so far, we have failed to make it a reality.”

On the same theme, the International Labour Organization (ILO) says in a report released today that more women than ever before hold jobs, but a persistent gap in status, job security, wages and education between women and men is contributing to what the ILO calls the “feminization of working poverty.” We have more on all of that upstairs.

** Iran

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) earlier today singled out 22 technical assistance projects in Iran and decided by consensus to suspend them in order to meet the requirements of Security Council resolution 1737.

As you’ll recall, that resolution required, among others, that Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and discontinue work on all heavy water-related projects. The resolution also required Iran to allow the IAEA to verify that it had complied, something the IAEA Director-General recently reported that Iran has not done.


A quick update on the Kosovo status process. The parties are currently considering Special Envoy Marti Ahtisaari’s revised status proposal. The next step will be a high-level meeting in Vienna this Saturday, to which Ahtisaari has invited representatives from both parties, the Kosovo Contact Group, the EU, NATO and the UN Mission in Kosovo.

Currently, there are no plans for any further meetings following the one on Saturday. As you know, Ahtisaari has already made it clear that his intention, after the Saturday meeting, is to finalize his proposal and send it to New York in order for the Security Council to receive it before the end of March.

** Sudan

The UN Mission in Sudan reports fighting between tribes in South Darfur and an attack by militiamen in West Darfur that forced the temporary suspension of humanitarian operations in that area.

The Mission also says that is has been facilitating in Wau, in southern Sudan, a 10-day Peace, Reconciliation and Justice Conference aimed at diffusing tensions between the communities arising from militia activity and a high influx of refugees coming from Darfur.

Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that food security in southern Sudan will improve in 2007.

But the World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that more than 100,000 tons of food aid will be required by 1.3 million people this year, including displaced persons and refugees returning home.

**WFP –- Southern Africa

The World Food Programme (WFP) has expressed deep concern over erratic weather patterns in Southern Africa, which have devastated harvest prospects for millions of people and could mean yet another year of widespread food shortages.

Even without these additional challenges, WFP already faces a funding shortfall of nearly $100 million for its current operations in that region. We have a press release on that upstairs.

** Mozambique

Turning now to Mozambique specifically, which has recently been hit by floods and a cyclone, the World Food Programme has distributed 520 tons of food to more than 95,000 flood survivors. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has made bed nets available, and the UN Population Fund has locally procured the contents for 4,000 hygiene kits.

For its part, UNICEF is helping to immunize children against measles and has been working to distribute kits for students, teachers and schools, as well as school tents.

Regarding the cyclone, WFP has provided over 120 tons of food to more than 15,000 survivors with the help of two helicopters. And UNICEF has supported more than 30,000 people with roofing materials. This is our update on Mozambique.

** Cambodia

In Cambodia this week, a Review Committee of international and national judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) are meeting to discuss the outstanding issues which have so far held up the adoption of the Internal Rules for the conduct of the Khmer Rouge Trials.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia is part of the Cambodian court system, using both Cambodian and international law. The ECCC is supported by the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials.

**Democracy Fund

The UN Democracy Fund received a $10 million contribution from the Government of Japan yesterday. That makes Japan one of the largest contributors to the Fund, along with the United States, India and Qatar.

The UN Democracy Fund is currently financing more than 100 projects around the world aimed at strengthening democratic institutions and supporting democratic civil society organizations.

Japan’s donation adds to the Fund's current capacity of $65 million, and will be used to finance a new round of projects, expected to be advertised in the spring.


The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Kim Hak-su, today stressed that sustainable development strategy was critical to the long-term well-being of the Asian region.

Speaking at the opening of a Workshop on Developing Sustainability Strategies in Asia in Bangkok, Kim said it is a shared challenge for Governments, and sustainable development strategy must be the core of every country’s economic growth plan. We have a press release on that upstairs.

**Press Conferences

Then finally, we started with women, we end with women. The Commission on the Status of Women will conclude its 51st session tomorrow. The Chair of the Commission, Ambassador Carmen Maria Gallardo Hernandez of El Salvador, will be here tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. to give you a wrap-up briefing.

This is all I have for you. Thank you.

**Questions and Answers

Question: About this suspension of the Atomic Agency for work or aid to Iran. We know that the Atomic Agency has been dealing with Israel, which is a nuclear-proliferator, it’s a nuclear Power, and now they are denying Iran this peaceful facility aid. What is the criterion here used in dealing with nations? Israel is not an NPT signatory.

Spokesperson: Well, I think you should be directing your questions to the IAEA.

Question: But it’s part of the United Nations, isn’t it?

Spokesperson: But it’s a separate agency.

Question: On that same issue, if I may, you say that the IAEA has suspended these 22 projects in Iran. I’m not sure I understand what that means. You mean they’ve called upon Iran to suspend the 22 programmes?

Spokesperson: Well, those are projects. They are technical assistance projects, so the UN is involved.

Question: In other words..

Spokesperson: The IAEA is involved.

Question: The IAEA has told those 22 projects to…?

Spokesperson: That it will stop…

Question: …to terminate themselves and pull out their people?

Spokesperson: It will stop providing technical assistance to those projects.

Question: The same issue, it seems there are some differences among the Security Council States regarding a new resolution against Iran. I wonder about the position of the Secretary-General – does he prefer a tougher resolution or gradual sanctions to be imposed on Iran?

Spokesperson: Well, the issue is now in front of the Security Council. It is for the Security Council to decide.

Question: How the Secretary-General sees the issue?

Spokesperson: Well, on the issue, he has said from the start that Iran should comply and be more transparent on its projects. And this was a public position.

Correspondent: But Iran’s already [inaudible] and allowed every inspector to go into its facility.

Spokesperson: This is a point of view.

Question: Two questions – Cambodia and North Korea. You talk about the Cambodian courts and the UN’s involvement trying to get it started. It’s reported that Cambodia wants to charge $2,000 for every international lawyer that comes to represent either defendants or participate in it – that’s one of the sticking points. It hasn’t really -- it’s been said, but it hasn’t been written -- what are the sticking points that the UN is trying to resolve?

Spokesperson: We can ask the Legal Office for you what the major points are.

Question: That would be great. And if this fee would result in there not being enough UN or international participation in the tribunal? Then, on North Korea or DPRK, I heard yesterday late from Security Council diplomats that North Korea has denied or has indicated it will deny visas to auditors, so I’m wondering, it’s unclear to me if the letter was written, the letter that you spoke about was dated 28 February, and it was announced here 6 March. Was this after a denial of visas? Was this in anticipation of this coming up? Have visas been denied? What’s the status of the auditors getting in?

Spokesperson: As far as I know, the UN has not been officially informed of any visa being denied.

Question: Not to say there’s anything behind it, but what was this gap in the letter being dated 28 February and the decision to announce it here 6 March? What was the thinking behind that?

Spokesperson: There was nothing particular behind it. Just a second, we have… yes, Vladimir.

Question: Would you please have any comment on yesterday’s guilty verdict by a jury in the courthouse in Manhattan on Vladimir Kuznetsov’s case?

Spokesperson: Well, the only thing I can say is that the United Nations had waived Mr. Kuznetsov’s immunity as a UN official. And his arrest came as a result of an OIOS investigation of former procurement official Alexander Yakovlev, as you know, and has cooperated with the US Attorney’s office. There has been continued cooperation between the UN and the US Attorney’s office. My understanding is that, as Chair of the ACABQ, Kuznetsov was proposed by his Government and elected by the General Assembly. He was not an SG-appointed UN staff member. And you can have more on this with my colleague Ashraf, who will be coming to brief you for the General Assembly. It will be Freh, who will be briefing you in a few minutes.

Question: Israel has been recently carrying on more raids on southern Lebanon, and in defiance of 1701, with the approach of review of 1701. Have you been making any newer presentations to Israel on why they are violating 1701 so regularly?

Spokesperson: This is a Security Council matter, as you know.

Question: Did you establish the reason… how the two UNIFIL soldiers died in south Lebanon yesterday?

Spokesperson: Well, I think the details were given. We gave them yesterday.

Question: But it was an accident? Or nothing to…[inaudible]?

Spokesperson: Thank you very much. Freh.

Briefing by the Special Assistant to the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly

Good afternoon.

**Informal Thematic Debate

The General Assembly concluded this morning its Informal Thematic Debate on gender equality and the empowerment of women. In adjourning the debate, Assembly President Haya Al Khalifa noted that the discussions over the last two days had “highlighted the importance of a two-track approach to achieve gender equality and women’s economic and political empowerment. First, gender equality needs to be mainstreamed in legislation, national budgets and in macroeconomic and social policies. And second, targeted interventions, such as quotas for political representation are needed to support women”.

The President also observed: “Though we have made progress in many areas, we must not forget the scale of the challenges that lie ahead. However much we can learn from best practices and the challenges that have been overcome, the real issue lies in the area of implementation. The promises that Governments have so far made to eliminate all discrimination against women need to be realized.”

**International Women’s Day

The Assembly President also addressed this morning a panel discussion on the occasion of International Women’s Day, with the theme “Ending Impunity for violence against women and girls.” She emphasized: “In order to allow women to enjoy their full human rights and uphold their dignity, we need strong interventions now, to immediately prohibit and delegitimize acts of violence against women and girls…Criminal impunity must end. Every crime must be prosecuted.”

**Secretariat Restructuring Proposals

Finally, informal consultations of the General Assembly plenary on the Secretary-General's proposal to realign the Department of Disarmament Affairs are scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Consultations on the realignment of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations are scheduled for Monday afternoon.

I’ll take questions now.

**Questions and Answers

Question: In terms of these restructuring talks, is there an end date envisioned? There have been consultations almost every week. Do you know about..?

Special Assistant: No, we just have to see how things go, how things unfold. I know that on the Department of Disarmament Affairs meeting, last week or the week before, a first draft framework resolution was presented and they’re coming back with a revised version. That’s what they’re going to discuss in their consultations tomorrow. And on DPKO, they’re just going to begin discussions on elements for a draft framework resolution.

Question: How about the facilitators’ process on the Security Council – are they doing anything or do you know…?

Special Assistant: As you know, they had meetings. Each facilitator had plenary consultations. They were also supposed to continue consultations in different kinds of configurations; they’re still doing that. And at the end of the month, they’re all expected to present reports to the President.

Question: And will there be a final meeting of the full Group?

Special Assistant: There will be a consolidated report to be presented to all Member States after that.

Question: There has been in the Fifth Committee this week a discussion of OIOS reports. One was on the tsunami, on the OIOS’ attempt to audit the spending of money in the tsunami. And OIOS said that various funds and programmes were unwilling to cooperate with OIOS and its audit. So I’m wondering, from the release that they wrote about the meeting, it doesn’t say which funds and programmes didn’t cooperate with the OIOS.

Special Assistant: I have no idea, Matthew. I’ll have to find out. Let’s talk later.

Question: Talking about Kuznetsov. He was a Chair of the General Assembly body?

Special Assistant: Yes.

Question: But his immunity was lifted by the Secretary-General without any consultations with the General Assembly and in a very hasty manner. So, the Russian Foreign Minister today calls it “groundless” –- the decision of the former Secretary-General on the question of lifting immunity of Kuznetsov. Would you have any comment on this?

Special Assistant: The comment I have regarding this case is that the President has been informed of the latest developments. What is important to note in this instance is that the Organization acted promptly, and fully cooperated with the authorities in the investigation of the case. We should also acknowledge that measures are being taken currently by the Secretariat -– such as the establishment of an Ethics Office, financial disclosure procedures and tightening of procurement rules -- to ensure greater compliance with rules and regulations and to uphold stronger accountability and ethical standards.

That’s all I have to say. Thank you.

Posted: Mar 12 2007, 04:58 PM

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Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message for the opening of the fourth session of the Human Rights Council, in Geneva today, 12 March:

As you open this fourth session of the Human Rights Council, a vast responsibility rests on your shoulders. The pursuit of human rights lies at the heart of the mission of the United Nations. It underpins the hopes of millions of people for a life in freedom, security and prosperity.

Last year, I participated in your inaugural session as Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea. I saw, at first hand, the high level of excitement and anticipation at that time.

Now, the world is watching to see whether this young Council will live up to its promise. It is my hope that Council members will work together to promote an objective and universal approach to human rights.

In the weeks and months ahead, your determination will be put to the test time and again. Acute crises and long-simmering human rights issues will demand scrutiny and remedy. It is crucial that you have the components in place to pass those tests.

By your first anniversary in June, the wheels of the Council should be in full motion, including the universal periodic review. This mechanism has great potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world.

Once the review is in place, you will be able to examine the record and performance of all countries, on all human rights, at regular intervals.

This will also require the help of independent experts, who can use impartial fact collection and analysis to facilitate your work. It will require you to tap into the resources of civil society and the international human rights machinery. And it will require you to make full use of the mandate-holders of special procedures.

I hope you will ensure that all States open their doors to all of them. I hope you will strive to ensure that Governments cooperate with the Council’s decisions. And I hope you will work in full partnership with the High Commissioner and her Office, who offer invaluable support for your work to make human rights a permanent item on everyone’s agenda.

All victims of human rights abuses should be able to look to the Human Rights Council as a forum and a springboard for action. That is the essence of your mandate. That is ultimately how you will be judged.

I wish you strength and inspiration in that mission.

Posted: Mar 14 2007, 05:06 PM

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The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

In accordance with the United Nations mandate under Security Council resolution 1546 (2004) to assist in the reconstruction and recovery of Iraq, the Secretary-General will convene a meeting at United Nations Headquarters this Friday, 16 March, to bring the Government of Iraq and the international community together to review the substantive progress made in the development of the International Compact with Iraq. Adel Abdul Mahdi, Vice-President of Iraq, will lead Iraq’s delegation and brief participants. All Member States and representatives of multilateral institutions have been invited to attend.

Together with the Government of Iraq, the United Nations continues to serve as co-chair of the International Compact with Iraq. The Secretary-General recently appointed Ibrahim Gambari to be his Special Adviser for the Compact, and he will serve as United Nations co-chair.

The Secretary-General looks forward to the participation of the broader international community at Friday’s meeting to help put Iraq on a credible path towards sustainable development and economic prosperity.

Posted: Mar 15 2007, 04:34 PM

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The Human Rights Committee met this morning to conclude its examination of the fifth periodic report of Chile, as part of the Committee’s eighty-ninth session, which is scheduled to run through 30 March. It will present its concluding observations at the end of the session. For background, see Press Release HR/CT/681 issued on 8 March and HR/CT/684 issued on 14 March.

Delegation’s Response to Initial Round of Questions

Responding to questions on the penal system, a member of Chile’s delegation said that penal reform had been far reaching and included adjustments relating to those with mental disabilities. A pending draft law would set up psychiatric units within the penal establishments, in order to provide special attention to those in the inmate population who needed it and to examine the possible culpability of those presented to court.

Responding to questions about gender minorities, another member of the delegation said that Chile was advancing in that area through several legal initiatives. A bill on sexual discrimination, which added new crimes and aggravating factors, was in the advanced stages of working its way through the legislature. Meanwhile, another draft bill, which was yet to be presented to Congress, would regulate civil unions to provide a platform for same-sex couples.

As for the national human rights institute, she said that it was compatible with the Paris Principles. It was constituted as a corporation of public law with its own legal personality and assets. Its leadership was elected by law school deans, Chile’s President, the two houses of Congress and various human rights institutes. The institute had a specific sphere of competence to protect human rights and its operations were transparent, with all acts and recommendations open and public.

Experts’ Questions and Comments

MICHAEL O’FLAHERTY, expert from Ireland, said he had taken note of the expressions of strong will to correct the problems, particularly through the legislative route. That was very welcome. He hoped that, in what seemed to be a very heavy programme, the issue of discrimination against sexual minorities and mentally disabled persons would not “fall down the priority list”.

He asked whether the procedures for voluntary incarceration and the appointment of guardians in that regard could be reviewed. Also on the issue of sexual minorities, while welcoming the news that sexual orientation would be one of the prohibited categories in the new anti-discrimination bill, it seemed that the problem had to be dealt with in the context of the very wide social prejudice. All the laws in the world would not correct the problem. The legislative initiatives should be matched by very widespread public awareness and education programmes, he stressed.

WALTER KÄLIN, expert from Switzerland, thanked the delegation for its detailed answers, but requested copies of legislation pertaining to terrorism, particularly the text of the articles that defined crimes of terrorism, plus copies of the articles that set out specific procedures for cases, trials and so forth that related to terrorist acts.

NIGEL RODLEY, expert from the United Kingdom, referring to torture and reparations, asked why the National Commission for Political Detentions and Torture could not identify the perpetrators of the torture. Were the reasons the same as why the National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation had not been allowed to identify the perpetrators of disappearances and extrajudicial executions? Had he understood correctly that not one of the more than 27,000 perpetrators in the cases of torture had been prosecuted? And was there no intention to review the power of judges for “incommunicado detention” for up to 10 days?

On the question of prison abuse, it was not clear whether the 61-day sentence was final or whether it was still under appeal, he said. For compensation, were separate judicial proceedings required, or was that part of the same judicial process against the alleged perpetrators?

JOSE LUIS SANCHEZ-CERRO, expert from Peru, noted that the Supreme Court had recommended non-implementation of the decree law on amnesty and that it had also annulled the sentences of the military courts that had implemented that amnesty decree. He asked if that decree law had been repealed since it was incompatible with a State that had the rule of law as Chile now did. Also, did that decree law continue to be enforced? Were crimes against civilians heard in military courts?

CHRISTINE CHANET, expert from France, felt the responses of the delegation had been somewhat vague, and it had not always been possible to “get to the essence of things”. She drew the delegation’s attention to the fact that often its answers concerned draft laws, and, in response to Mr. O’Flaherty’s questions, that was a pre-draft law. The Committee considered that positive law could modify provisions, but draft laws were considered in a “lesser light”.

Moreover, she said, drafts could sometimes be delayed for several years. The matrimonial regime for example was very complicated. She wanted to know what institutional process had been blocked for 12 years and how the Senate had been able to block it, as well as how inter-American “instances” had been able to intervene in that area.

Committee Chairman, RAFAEL RIVAS POSADA of Colombia, informed the delegation that, in accordance with standard practice, it would have until Tuesday to respond to those additional questions in writing, in order to give it time to consult with its capital, or it might wish to supply some answers right now.

Delegation’s Response

On the subject of identifying the perpetrators of torture, disappearances and executions, a member of the delegation said that the relevant commissions did not have the same characteristics as courts of law. Another member clarified that the decree creating the commissions had as its goal the identification of victims for purposes of providing reparations. As for identifying the guilty parties, that was a judiciary matter. To sanction those who were guilty of torture, there had been investigations but those were part of broader initiatives. He could find out more information about that topic and provide it to the Committee.

As for the question about the 61-day sentence for prisoner abuse, another representative said that the sentence was not subject to appeal. He added that the person convicted was a warden of a penitentiary, not just a policeman or guard. In addition to the 61-day sentence, he had also been permanently relieved of his duties. As for whether civil indemnification was a separate process, he said that, under the new penal process, a person could bring a civil suit against the perpetrator but not against the State. As for third parties, the law followed the classic measures on liability.

On the amnesty law, another member of the delegation said that the Supreme Court had reaffirmed the application of that law. Another member clarified that the amnesty law had not been revoked. Previously, there had been no possibility of revoking it. Following the 2005 constitutional reform, a constitutional court could declare a general annulment or revocation of a law, but that had not been applied to the amnesty decree. Some draft bills had been presented to nullify or revoke the amnesty law, but they would not succeed.

As for judges’ power to confer incommunicado detention, he said that the rules were strict. All individuals must be brought to court within 24 hours. Once there had been a judicial review of detention, a judge could order pretrial detention, but a person could not be prevented from communicating with legal counsel and family members.

As for the congressional stalemate on property under the marriage regime, he clarified that the 1994 law had established a new system providing for joint ownership of assets. What was under discussion was not the establishment of an additional regime but a supplementary one.

On the subject of civilians being brought before military courts, another member of the delegation said that Chile was seeking to change that. The current power of military courts made it possible to bring civilians before them for specific crimes. Legal modifications were being examined that would grant military courts the competence only to address situations involving military officers.

Continuing, the head of the delegation said that, as of 2000, the Chilean Government had decided to address the issue of deteriorating prison conditions by adopting non-traditional measures, which were based in a public-private investment partnership. Some $249 million had been invested in the construction of 10 new penitentiaries, and more than 16,000 new places had been made available for inmates. Hopefully, that had put an end to the old housing conditions in many of the penitentiaries. There was a table in the fifth periodic report, which provided a detailed breakdown of how the investment programme was being applied.

Regarding reform of the criminal proceedings, he said there was an organic law in place, which regulated the duties and powers of the judges. In 2000, a reform had supplemented the penal procedural law to ensure proper supervision and monitoring of prison living conditions for which certain actions had been taken. Those had included weekly visits of one judge per court to each prison unit, with the aim of investigating whether detainees were suffering from any form of undue pressure, deprived of the right to defence, or whether due process had been delayed without grounds. Moreover, the hygiene and state of security and safety were also monitored in the context of the weekly and monthly visits. Clergy also visited the prisons when deemed necessary.

An organic code on courts also requested that the Office of the Prosecutor monitor and supervise whether adequate penal proceedings were being pursued by the courts of appeal, he noted. In 2002, information officers had been assigned to take on board suggestions and complaints of inmates. Those officers had been dispersed throughout the country. In addition, a procedural manual had been elaborated. It governed the way the officers worked. Finally, the national directorate of the Chilean gendarmes provided compulsory training for the criminal judiciary personnel.

Responding to the series of questions yesterday and today about the military courts, he said that an inter-ministerial expert group had formulated new norms commensurate with international standards. Nevertheless, there had not yet been a comprehensive reform of military justice. However, the Government had sought to correct many of its deficiencies, and numerous decree laws had been issued to restrict the military court’s power. For example, journalists formerly could be brought to trial for freedom of expression, and now they no longer could. The independence and impartiality of the courts must be guaranteed, he stressed.

On the legal treatment of juvenile offenders, a special criminal proceeding had been created to be applied to juvenile offenders between the ages of 16 and 18, he said.

On discrimination, the 1980 Constitution, which had been ushered in during the military regime, had established a bi-nominal electoral system applicable to congressional elections, he said. That system needed to be overhauled, in order to bring it in line with the larger electoral system because it resulted in insufficient representation of minorities. The system also made it difficult to forge political alliances.

Also, he drew attention to a draft law containing measures against discrimination and it was well under way, now in its second constitutional phase. In essence, it was aimed at the prevention and elimination of all forms of discrimination against any person and made it the duty of the State to establish policies to ensure that all persons fully enjoyed their rights. The law defined arbitrary discrimination, required legal implementation and established the grounds for appeals.

Regarding the indigenous population, he said that, until 2003, nearly 30 per cent were living in poverty, with a more than 10-point separation from the non-indigenous population. That had been an “alert point” for the State, which had now narrowed that disparity. The problem had stemmed from the “strong economic and social discrimination” suffered by the indigenous population until the 1980s. Now, the indigenous people in Chile enjoyed approximately 10 per cent of the State’s benefits, as well as policies of “positive discrimination”, such as the inter-cultural health and education programmes, the return of lands, scholarships and special housing provisions.

He said that indigenous people did have rights that had been acknowledged under the law, including those regarding land, water, cultural diversity and identity. One of the main legal objectives had been to enhance indigenous lands. The 2005 law dealing with coastal lands had been drafted with the input of Mapuche organizations and had consecrated their right to coastal access. As stated previously, Chile was determined to ratify the universal declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. Owners of indigenous lands enjoyed all rights under the law, with the exception of the right to transfer land to non-indigenous persons. Mineral resources remained the property of the Chilean State. The Indigenous People’s Act of 1993 addressed the main demands put forth by the indigenous peoples, but those demands had changed in the last 14 years. Recent debates had focused on political representation, sustainable development, the historical truth process and other issues.

Experts’ Questions and Comments

Mr. RODLEY, expert from the United Kingdom, said he desired further clarification on the subject of incommunicado detentions. Was there concrete information on periodic prison visits? To what extent had ad hoc visits by senior judges occurred, and what results had been produced thereby? Had there been any similar efforts in the area of detentions in police custody? Where were people held after being brought before a judge?

On the subject of prison building and overcrowding, he asked what the rate of incarceration per 100,000 people in Chile was. New prisons were being built and existing ones needed refurbishment. How many prisoners were accommodated in them? It was not possible to build oneself out of overcrowding. There were alternatives to imprisonment and he invited the delegation to consider them.

Under Chile’s political system, if a party had 33 per cent of the seats, it could block legislation, which explained why there had been a hold-up in many of the proposed changes, he said. Where were the votes to change the law going to come from if the country’s system provided such a blocking capacity? What were the prospects for changing that system?

EDWIN JOHNSON LOPEZ, expert from Ecuador, expressed concern about the jurisdiction of military courts and whether that contributed to the impunity of military personnel for gross human rights violations. Granting military courts the ability to try civilians was not in compliance with the Covenant. The law needed to be changed. He expressed concerns about allegations of torture, excessive use of force by police and other forces, and the lack of independent mechanisms for investigation. The State should create an independent body to investigate such excessive use of force.

He added that the 1993 law on indigenous populations was now considered obsolete in view of the enhanced acknowledgment of the rights of indigenous peoples in international law. Chile’s legislative framework had proven insufficient for dealing with Mapuche demands and preventing the gradual loss of their lands.

On the issue of sexual minorities, he referred to the case of the judge who was a biological mother of three and had a partner of the same sex. The Supreme Court had granted custody to the children’s father because she was a lesbian, which ran counter the normal practice of giving custody to the mother unless she was a drug addict, alcoholic or a prostitute. He would like further clarification on that issue.

As for union rights, he said that those were only guaranteed at the company level. The 2001 law, rather than providing for national collective bargaining, only provided for voluntary collective bargaining, and then only if the employer gave its consent. In the public sector, employees did not have the right to go on strike and agricultural workers could not go on strike during the harvest season. Instead of preventing firings, labour codes prevented workers involved in such actions from defending themselves. Anti-unionization activities continued and proceedings in the case of unfair dismissals were so slow and expensive that workers often abandoned them. He wanted to know what measures were being taken to resolve all of the above issues.

PRAFULLACHANDRA NATWARLAL BHAGWATI, expert from India, said that, following the last report, the Committee had noted the existence of sexual harassment in the workplace. The delegation had said that a law would be passed making that an offence. What action had been taken on that recommendation?

In the judiciary, what was the representation of women? In the last report, the Committee had said that women’s representation was inadequate and that something should be done to improve that, if necessary, by affirmative action. He also wanted to know what major reforms had been taken as a result of the new Code of Criminal Procedure. What were the qualifications for granting legal aid? Was that done by statute or executive order, and when would the new legal aid bill be enacted? He also wanted to know more about the family courts and the judicial academy for the training of judges.

IVAN SHEARER, expert from Australia, said that the prison visits by members of the judiciary had been greatly appreciated. He knew of one magistrate who had drawn attention to several inmates sleeping out in the open and others living in unhealthy conditions. Another district attorney had revealed serious human rights violations following her visit. He was wondering what the State party had done to follow up those very recent reports. He had also been told that female prisoners were not always kept in special facilities, but sometimes in sections where the male prisoners were kept.

In the tables set out in the report in response to the Committee’s question 13, a special section had been devoted to the category of prisons classified for “homosexuals-HIV-insane”. That was a rather strange and unfortunate grouping on the face of it. Insane prisoners often were held, not in prisons, but in special sections of mental hospitals. Those persons infected with HIV might need special care, and he doubted whether homosexuals should be in a section all to themselves unless they had been convicted of assaults on children, but that would apply to heterosexuals as well.

He also had a series of questions about conscientious objectors to the military service, including why Congress had rejected such a measure and whether it was possible to reconsider it, not necessarily the abolition of compulsory service, but perhaps an alternative service in the form of community service.

Mr. O’FLAHERTY shared his disappointment that that legislative initiative had failed and asked whether it might be reintroduced. Also, could Congress consider a reformulation ensuring that there be no punitive consequences for objection to military service, not just before military service commenced, but also during the time it was operational?

On indigenous issues, he said that, while he was reassured that the State party recognized that those issues were very important, he felt the Government should seek once more to ratify the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169.

Also on that matter, the State party had said it did not intend to ensure coverage of ancient land within the framework of regulating indigenous lands, he noted. However, not recognizing ancient land had been a catalyst for many social problems and tensions. Several references had been made today to matters of land, but not to other resources, such as water and maritime use, on which indigenous people traditionally depended. Did the delegation agree with the position by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of indigenous peoples on that issue, and, if so, what was it doing to act upon that?

ABDELFATTAH AMOR, expert from Tunisia, asked several questions about voter lists, noting the statement that the Government was moving towards “proportional representation”. Specifically, he wanted to know whether that meant national voters lists or only proportional lists at the district level. Also, did they imply a simple vote or a preferential vote? In addition, might proportional representation, even with a 3 per cent threshold, entail the risk of placing too much emphasis on minorities?

ZONKE ZANELE MAJODINA, expert from South Africa, asked about what happened at the moment of an arrest. There were still reports of physical mistreatment and psychological torture by police, especially among the poor. What measures had the State party taken to deal with that residual subculture of police violence within the framework of the new criminal procedures?

Also on the indigenous population, she queried continuing reports of violations in the context of land ownership, including cases of intimidation and even death threats when those complaints were brought to the authorities.

JULIA ANTOANELLA MOTOC, expert from Romania, asked how, if the Government supported the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, it did not then support the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 since the former text was far more progressive and forward-looking.

She also asked how the Government obtained informed consent with regard to investment projects to be undertaken on the territory of indigenous persons.

Mr. SANCHEZ-CERRO, expert from Peru, noting that the delegation had mentioned that there was a constitutional reform under way to introduce five changes to provide for greater proportionality in the elections, asked whether that was an executive or congressional initiative. If it was an executive initiative, did the delegation foresee another rejection by Congress? Efforts to change that “perverse system” since 1992 had so far failed, so what did the State party envisage in that respect, given that the election system was “in the very least, unfair”? he asked.

YUJI IWASAWA, expert from Japan, thanked the delegation for their replies thus far, adding that his question had already been asked, and for the sake of time, he would not repeat it.

RUTH WEDGWOOD, expert from United States, noting that, although there had not yet been any prosecutions for torture, asked whether an administrative process had in some way assured the retirement of all persons so involved and some process to maintain a historical record.

More generally, she said that the report had been very welcome because of the high-profile accorded Chile owing to the “Pinochet incident”. Thus, Chile was of huge importance, not just for Chile, but for the rest of global society, and the country’s success in dealing with its problems was “a kind of class action in a global sense” -– “a kind of model for other societies”.

Responses of Delegation

On questions regarding the penal system, a member of the delegation said that far-reaching reform was under way to bring it into line with international norms. Access to justice services had improved considerably. Since 2002, more than 500,000 persons had received legal aid before the penal courts. There had been more than 17,000 visits to penal institutions in northern Chile alone by public defenders and defence attorneys, clear evidence that there was day-to-day monitoring of conditions.

There was a 24-hour limit to the amount of time someone could be held before appearing before a judge, and police must report arrests to the prosecutor’s office within 12 hours, he said. Once the court heard a case, it determined what measures were to be implemented. If a preventive prison sentence was handed down, it would be in the appropriate penal system under control of gendarmes, not the police. Chile was not proud of its rate of incarceration but was taking measures to build new penitentiary facilities to solve overcrowding and help in rehabilitation.

On the topic of prisoners held incommunicado, another representative said that, during the former regime, people could be held indefinitely. The 2000 law introduced important modifications. For example, prisoners could not be prevented from communicating with their lawyers.

On the case of the judge whose children were taken away because she was a lesbian, another representative said that that decision could be repealed or reviewed. The judge had appealed to the court of human rights and the case was pending. Currently, she was in negotiations with the State. Since both sides had reached a confidentiality agreement on the talks, he was unable to reveal more information.

On sexual harassment, another member of the delegation said that, since the re-characterization of that crime in 2004, many cases had been filed under the heading of sexual abuse. The percentage of women serving on the higher courts was gradually on the rise. While the President was working to achieve gender balance in distributing portfolios at the various ministries, such affirmative action had not yet been applied to the judiciary. Another factor was that access to judiciary posts required the completion of training in the judicial academy.

On the question of indigenous issues, another member of the delegation said that the new indigenous policy had been drawn up to expand recognition of indigenous rights. Hopefully, further discussions would be launched in the current year. The President hoped to see the indigenous people’s declaration submitted to Congress and ratified. As for land issues, no community had been deprived of land since 1990 and there had been no accusations that that had happened. Rather than appropriating indigenous lands, the Government was working towards restitution, which was not covered by prior legislative mechanisms. So far, some 500,000 hectares had been returned to indigenous ownership.

She recognized that there had been institutional delays in applying the measure that applied to purchasing land in order to transfer it to the indigenous community. The situation had since improved greatly, as institutions had been streamlined. Land could be held collectively, if a community so decided. The law also provided for recognition of ancestral waters and their restitution. A draft bill submitted last year recognized preferential access to the coastal community for indigenous people. It was currently undergoing a second reading and being examined by the Senate; hopefully, it would be adopted by the end of the year. While the indigenous law was limited, it did require that communities be consulted on investment projects in their areas or in neighbouring ones. Chile was working on improving that mechanism.

As for detentions of indigenous peoples, she said that nine regional offices had been set up to make sure that they were getting proper protection and being provided with interpretation. The police force had undertaken significant efforts when operating in indigenous areas to make sure that they took account of local customs.

On labour laws, another member of the delegation said that additional information would be provided to the Committee at a later time. The number of unions was a problem and Chile was working to address that. Extended collective bargaining did take place, though not in the public sphere. Nonetheless, there were associations of officials within all ministries, and there was also an extensive system within the Ministry of Planning which in practice meant that the collective bargaining process was provided for. It was also important to distinguish between strike and stoppage. Strikes took place during collective bargaining and were provided for in the Labour Code.

He added that an outsourcing law had entered into force a month ago. It enshrined the principle of solidarity between the contracting and contracted parties and the fact that the parent company, not the subcontractor, must ensure that all requirements were met.

On the subject of prisons, another member of the delegation said that new places had been made in the Santiago 1 prison, which had resolved the overcrowding situation. As for inmates sleeping in the open, changes had been made to ensure that adequate follow-up was given to visiting and reporting. The rate of incarceration was approximately 238 inmates per 100,000 population. Chile was working on the reduction of sentences and other limited measures; by the end of the year, the Ministry of Justice would submit further proposals.

He added that further information would be provided to the Committee at a later time on the electoral system, voters’ lists and conscientious objection. Another member of the delegation clarified that conscientious objection would be addressed in an independent draft bill, which was currently before the Chamber of Deputies.

Concluding Remarks by Committee Chairman and Head of Delegation

The Committee Chairman thanked the delegation for the information it had provided and took note of the quality of the report, the earnestness of the issues elaborated and efforts to disseminate the information. He hoped that the next report would be submitted in a timely manner.

Highlighting some of the Committee’s lingering concerns, he touched on the need for wide-ranging reforms to the legislative, constitutional and social systems following the military regime. The Committee had highlighted the immense efforts made in legislative reforms to rectify the previous situation and install the rule of law in the most perfect sense. The delegation had acknowledged that its mandate was not limited to legislative measures.

The Committee assigned equal importance to the implementation of legislative measures and addressing human rights abuses, which was why it insisted on having information about the practical results of legislative measures. In the case of Chile, there were clearly obstacles to the speedy adoption of constitutional and legal reforms. He reiterated the hope that political difficulties could be overcome as soon as possible.

He said he still harboured serious concerns about the persistence in the law of provisions such as the amnesty decree. While non-implementation was a step forward, there was a real danger of reversion to measures that contradicted the Covenant as long as it remained on the books. He hoped that situation would be done away with as soon as possible.

Restrictions on abortion remained a concern, he said. As long as such criminalization existed in the legislature, it would impinge on article 6 of the Covenant. In countries with a separation of powers, there were often difficulties when it was not the executive branch’s responsibility to respect the Covenant. The delegation must recognize that the responsibility to implement the Covenant must lie with the state, not with the different branches of Government. Doubts remained about the treatment of indigenous peoples and property rights within marital unions. Further clarifications of reforms in those areas were needed.

EDGARDO RIVEROS, Subsecretary in the Ministry of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of Chile, thanked the Committee for the dialogue and said that Chile had a stake in the internationalization of human rights. Globalization could not just be economic and commercial; it must have a human face, which would be provided by respect for the basic rights of persons and the cooperation of the international community. Strengthening of Chile’s democracy was based on the defence of human rights.

Posted: Mar 20 2007, 05:21 PM

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Following is a near verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

**Guest at noon today

Good afternoon. Our guest at the briefing today is Mr. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Mr. de Boer will brief you on his meeting with environmental ministers at the “G-8+5” meeting that took place this last weekend in Germany.

**Secretary-General / Palestinian National Unity Government

I will start with a clarification. The Secretary-General views the establishment of the new Government of Palestine as an important and positive step forward, and he wants to encourage that process. At the same time, he expressed disappointment because he would like to see the program of the National Unity Government fully reflect Quartet principles.

He will be watching very carefully the new Government's actions and hopes to see further positive movement in that direction.


Also, to answer some questions we received yesterday about UNIFIL, a number of recent press articles regarding UNIFIL have not accurately reported the Mission’s current activities. Contrary to what was expressed in one article, there has been no official communication between the United Nations and the Lebanese Government planning for the establishment of a UN or any other monitoring mechanism on the Lebanese border with Syria.

UNIFIL is mandated under resolution 1701 to assist the Government of Lebanon to secure its border with Syria, at the request of the Government of Lebanon. Until now, the Government has not made any such request and UNIFIL’s activities are limited to helping facilitate international bilateral assistance to the Government of Lebanon in this regard.

As the Secretary-General stated in his recent report regarding the implementation of resolution 1701, the United Nations strongly encourages bilateral assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces and other internal security and border agencies to assist the Government to secure all its borders.

It should be noted that any smuggling across the Lebanese border with Syria is a serious violation of resolution 1701.

As the Secretary-General’s recent report stated, it is critical to reinforce and strengthen the Lebanese Armed Forces and other internal security and border agencies so that the Lebanese Government is able to extend its authority over all its territory, including all its border areas.

**Security Council

The Security Council is holding a meeting on Afghanistan. Briefing Council members were the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom Koenigs and Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the Office on Drugs and Crime. We have their briefings upstairs and they will both go to the Security Council stakeout microphone immediately after the meeting.

Mr. Koenigs, the Special Representative, in his briefing, said that while the conflict continues in the South, with Afghanistan’s border areas in the east and southeast vulnerable to incursions and violence, the need for strategic co-ordination of military, political and development efforts is stronger than ever. The threat to peace has not diminished.

Mr. Costa, referring to the current opium situation, outlined four points and said he hoped that the Security Council will judge these developments as helpful to free Afghanistan from the clutches of drugs, crime and violence.

** Sudan

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, after briefing the Security Council yesterday afternoon on Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s response to the Secretary-General’s letter detailing UN support to the African Union force in Darfur, said: “We still have, unfortunately, a long way to go because there may be some fundamental misunderstandings on what are the expectations of the Government of Sudan and what is on offer.”

But in response to a question, the Under-Secretary-General said, “We'll never take any reaction as a rejection. We can't afford that and the people in Darfur can't afford that."

** Darfur Today

Meanwhile, the most recent humanitarian update from Darfur reports that camps for internally displaced persons are almost at full capacity due to a continuing influx of people fleeing violence.

The report noted the need to locate a site for a new camp in the vicinity of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur. A new site has been identified in North Darfur near Zam Zam camp, which is nearing maximum capacity.

According to the report, 30,000 people were displaced across Darfur in February, bringing the total number of people who have fled violence in the region since January to 80,000. In 2006, almost half a million people were displaced.

**Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is 10 years old this year. And on the occasion of the commemoration of the Treaty’s anniversary, Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, spoke at a special event in the Palais des Nations in Geneva. He said that the conclusion of the Treaty marked the completion of an important step in the ongoing process towards the verified elimination of all nuclear weapons. And yet challenges that impede the Treaty’s entry into force persist.

“A universal and effectively verifiable Treaty constitutes a fundamental instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,” the Director-General noted. He added that the Treaty’s entry into force would restore confidence in multilateral security arrangements in general, and would boost efforts to negotiate further instruments towards nuclear disarmament, such as a treaty on fissile materials. And we have his full remarks upstairs.

** Lebanon

Available as a document today is the latest progress report of the International Independent Investigation Commission on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and 22 others.

In it, chief investigator Serge Brammertz provides information on his team’s progress in the Hariri case, with particular emphasis on developing crime scene leads and collecting evidence relating to perpetrators as well as other aspects of the case. The report also asserts that the Commission has continued to provide significant technical assistance on 15 other cases. The Commission also reports that it continues to work with the Lebanese authorities on the investigation of the 13 February bombings, in which three people were killed and at least 20 people were injured when two explosions occurred on two buses travelling through the village of Ain Alaq, near Beirut.

And Brammertz is scheduled to brief the Security Council on March 21 and will also speak to correspondents at the 2nd floor stakeout after briefing the Council.

**Human Rights Council

In Geneva, the Human Rights Council began discussing thematic reports today, hearing presentations in the morning from human rights experts on minorities’ issues; the rights of migrants; and the rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples.

This afternoon, the Council is considering three additional reports, namely, from the representative of the Secretary-General on human rights of internally displaced persons; the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. We have additional information available in a press release for you upstairs.

** Iraq -- Refugees

The UN refugee agency says that invitations have now gone out to more than 190 governments, 65 international organizations and some 60 NGOs for next month's international humanitarian conference on refugees and displaced persons in Iraq and neighbouring countries.

The April 17-18 ministerial-level meeting will be held in Geneva in the Palais des Nations. It will examine the humanitarian dimensions of the displacement crisis, identify the enormous needs, and seek to forge a common international effort to address those needs, including through sharing the burden that's now being borne by neighbouring states.

It will also seek targeted responses to specific, urgent humanitarian problems, including immediate solutions for those who are particularly vulnerable both inside and outside Iraq.

**FAO –- Africa Floods

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is appealing for close to $4 million to help flood victims in southern Africa, where heavy rains and a series of cyclones have destroyed thousands of hectares of crops.

As part of efforts to adapt aid to conditions on the ground, affected families in Mozambique will be given vouchers that they can redeem for seeds, tools and even small livestock at trade fairs organized by the FAO and the local Government.

The agency is also asking for help for Madagascar, where cyclones have caused severe crop damage over the past four months. In the coming days, the FAO also plans to launch an appeal for funding for Zambia. We have a press release upstairs.

**WFP –- Sri Lanka

The World Food Programme (WFP) is ramping up its operations in eastern Sri Lanka, where intense fighting between Government and LTTE (Tamil Tiger) forces has more than doubled the number of internally displaced persons in just the past week. The WFP plans to send nearly 600 tons of rice and wheat flour to the Batticaloa District. The agency warns, however, that its available food stocks in Sri Lanka are dwindling. The WFP has received only about a third of its required funding for food assistance, and could run out of supplies by the end of next month unless it receives new contributions soon. We have a press release upstairs.

**IFAD -- Remittances

The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is launching a global initiative to improve the remittances services used by foreign workers around the world to send money back to their families in rural areas.

IFAD is establishing a $10 million financing facility to fund innovative money transfer proposals. While competition has driven down the cost of sending remittances between major cities, it is still more expensive to send money to rural areas that lack formal financial services.

As part of the Fund’s efforts to turn remittances into a development tool, priority will be given to proposals submitted by financial institutions that link remittances with other services, such as savings, insurance and loans. We have a press release upstairs.

**World Bank -- Climate Change

The World Bank today launched the Carbon Fund for Europe, in partnership with the European Investment Bank. The Carbon Fund is a €50 million trust designed to help European countries meet their commitments to the Kyoto Protocol and the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The fund will purchase greenhouse gas emission reductions from climate-friendly investment projects. We have more in a press release upstairs.

**UNESCAP – Infrastructure Conference

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission on Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) is holding a regional meeting in New Delhi, India from 21-22 March, to tackle underinvestment in infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. A proposal is expected to be made in the meeting on raising the $200 billion annually. UNESCAP estimates that the requirement of infrastructure investment in the region is over $600 billion annually but falls short by about $200 billion every year.

**Guest at noon tomorrow

And our guest at the noon briefing tomorrow will be Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

This is all I have for you. Thank you. Yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question: Did you say you were clarifying the Secretary-General’s statement on the Palestinian Unity Government? What is the clarification?

Spokesperson: The clarification is that the disappointment that was noted by some media, I just explained the fact that he is watching very carefully the new Government’s actions and he hopes to see positive movement in that direction. He wants to encourage the process. His disappointment was, because he would like to see the programme of the National Unity Government fully reflect Quartet principles.

Question: This is broadly what he said yesterday in his statement. That’s why I asked what was the clarification.

Spokesperson: Because there were some misunderstandings, apparently. We have gotten quite a few questions about this statement, so we had to clarify what was said. Yes?

Question: Michèle, is the Secretary-General going to meet the President of Syria, al Assad?

Spokesperson: I can check. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Question: Okay, because a media source is telling me that he is going to meet him, that the news is broken. Is he visiting Baghdad also?

Spokesperson: No, he is not visiting Baghdad. And he is not going to Syria.

Question: He is not going to Syria?

Spokesperson: No, he is not.

Question: I was just wondering if you could tell us what’s holding up the statement from the Quartet?

Spokesperson: I don’t know at this point. I do know that some of the principals had to discuss the terms of the statement, and that’s why the statement has not been released yet.

Question: Do you know when it might be released?

Spokesperson: I really don’t know at this point. Yes, in back?

Question: Just to follow up on the first question, according to the Secretary-General, what is the new Palestinian Government required to do in order to show its commitment to the Quartet and the calls of the international community?

Spokesperson: Well, you know, the conditions of the Quartet were set quite clearly. Yes, Mr. Abbadi?

Question: Michèle, yesterday the Secretary-General met with Mr. Ould-Abdallah, the Special Representative to West Africa, and Mr. Bedjaoui, the Foreign Minister of Algeria. Can we have a readout of those two meetings?

Spokesperson: I will get it for you. I think we have the readout upstairs for Algeria, but I can check for the other one for you. Yes, Laura?

Question: I wanted to ask you about the Human Rights Council that you mentioned had gone over some reports. British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett called on the Human Rights Council to examine the problems going on right now in Zimbabwe. Was there any mention of that in the (inaudible)?

Spokesperson: Not that I know of and I haven’t seen any reaction on the part of the Council on that. But, we can certainly get more information from Geneva. If I find anything concerning that, I will let you know. Yes, Masood?

Question: Michèle, there is a United Nations report out, which says that there are thousands and thousands of refugees, Iraqi refugees, in Jordan and in Syria and that they are suffering from malnutrition, lack of medicine and everything. What is being done about that? Are there (inaudible) there? I mean, they are there, I know that’s what the report says. How is their situation being eased?

Spokesperson: There are United Nations programmes related to those refugees and we can get more information for you on that.

Question: I want to ask another question about this official at UNESCO. As you probably are aware, he gave out contracts to six American concerns without an open bidding process. Are the same rules applicable which are here, at the United Nations? Or, are those rules separate?

Spokesperson: UNESCO is a separate agency, but it is part of the United Nations family and I just want to reiterate the principles, as yet expressed, of the need in all United Nations bodies for accountability and transparency, as well as investigations into allegations of wrongdoing. But, you know, this is not a case that the United Nations Office of Oversight Services is involved with.

Question: So, it doesn’t oversee that body?

Spokesperson: Not directly.

Question: Any body… okay.

Spokesperson: Yes?

Question: One follow-up to Laura’s question. There’s a move afoot in the Human Rights Council to eliminate the Special Rapporteurs. It has been proposed by a number of countries that there no longer be investigations of abuse in countries. Kofi Annan used to call these Rapporteurs the “crown jewel of the human rights system,” and I’m wondering if Ban Ki-moon has any position. I understand you are going to say it’s a Human Rights Council matter, but it’s so central to the United Nations system that I’m wondering if Mr. Ban has any position on whether that type of human rights inquiry should continue.

Spokesperson: To start out with, the Human Rights Council has not decided on anything of that sort. You know, this is…some countries might talk about it, but this is not at all being decided by the Council right now at this point. The Secretary-General expects the Human Rights Council to complete its discussions on its procedures by June and he stands strongly behind the special procedures, which he has consistently supported. So, this is his position.

Question: I just wanted to ask you one question. The AU has called for additional, from the United Nations, financial and logistical help for its mission in Somalia, saying it really needs it and things are…so, I’m wondering if the Secretary-General is going to propose that, what the response from the United Nations system or DPKO is to this urgent request from the AU for help in Somalia.

Spokesperson: Well, I don’t have an answer on this yet. You know, the AU has proposed that and we should know more about it very soon. There should be a formal request done. Yes?

Question: Does the Secretary-General have any reaction to Peter Smith’s resignation from UNESCO and the audit being made against him?

Spokesperson: Well, we just had that question a few minutes ago. No reaction. Yes, Mr. Abaddi?

Question: Michèle, today is the International Day of the Francophonie and also the entry into force of the UNESCO convention on cultural diversity. Does the Secretary-General have any message or comment on this occasion?

Spokesperson: On the Day of Francophonie? No, I don’t have a statement, but as you know he is for cultural diversity and he has said it several times, and for also language parity.

Question: Today is Equinox and at 8:07 tonight the Peace Bell will be rung in honour of Earth Day. Usually, the Secretary-General, or many times, the Secretary-General has participated. Who is participating this time, tonight, from the United Nations? Does the Secretary-General participate? Is somebody else appointed to do that?

Spokesperson: I don’t know at this point. I’ll check for you.

Question: It happens tonight at 8:07 downstairs at the Peace Bell.

Spokesperson: Thank you for informing us. Yes?

Question: Following Russian anger over the United Nations plan on the official status of Kosovo and even an implied threat of a veto, what are the options left for the Secretary-General to pursue the plan?

Spokesperson: Well, at this point, we are not discussing hypothetical questions and I think we will wait for something to happen.

Question: There was nothing hypothetical about what the Russian ambassador said.

Spokesperson: Well, the Russian ambassador said it. But you know, at this point, the Security Council is dealing with the question, right? Yes, okay. Yes, any other questions? Okay, I would like to have Mr. de Boer just to come over and brief you.

Posted: Mar 22 2007, 04:55 PM

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The following Security Council press statement on the attack in Baghdad was read out today by Council President Dumisani S. Kumalo ( South Africa):

The members of the Security Council welcomed the Secretary-General’s visit to Baghdad.

They expressed their unwavering support for the efforts of the United Nations and its Secretary-General to promote an inclusive and effective political process in Iraq aimed at reaching national reconciliation, preserving its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the abhorrent terrorist attack on the Iraqi Prime Minister’s office where the Secretary-General participated in a joint press conference.

The members of the Security Council condemned all terrorist attacks and reaffirmed the need to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and by all means, in accordance with international law.

Posted: Mar 23 2007, 05:27 PM

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The following is a near verbatim transcript of today’s noon press briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

I’m sorry I’m late. I was waiting for a statement being approved in Cairo, where the Secretary-General is. The first statement is on the attack on the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq.

**Secretary-General Statement on Iraq Attack

“The Secretary-General met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Salam Z. Al-Zubai, yesterday in Baghdad. He was shocked and dismayed to hear that the Deputy Prime Minister had been injured in an assassination attempt earlier today. The Secretary-General sent a personal message to Mr. Al-Zubai, offering his condolences for those who were killed and injured in the attack and wishing him a full and speedy recovery from his injuries.

“The Secretary-General greatly valued the opportunity to meet with Mr. Al-Zubai yesterday to hear his views on the current situation in Iraq. He reiterates his admiration for the Deputy Prime Minister’s readiness to serve Iraq at a great personal risk.”

**Secretary-General on Iraq

In a meeting with a group of reporters travelling with him today, the Secretary-General made it clear that his position on any possible increase of the United Nations role in Iraq has not changed because of the incident yesterday, in which a mortar exploded nearby while he was giving a press conference.

He said that he will consider upon his return to New York how the United Nations could do more for the Iraqi people and for political and development work in that country. At the same time, he noted that United Nations activity has been largely constrained by the security environment, and that the situation in Iraq is still very volatile.

The Secretary-General added that he was very moved during his meeting with United Nations staff in Baghdad, saying: “From my meeting with them, I was very much assured and grateful to them that, even in such an exceptional situation, they were working with a sense of dedication and duty.”

** Iraq Refugees

The UN refugee agency, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), today announced that Iraq had regained the top spot among asylum seekers in the world's industrialized countries in 2006. There is more on that from UNHCR upstairs.

**Secretary-General in the Middle East

The Secretary-General is in Cairo today, where he arrived earlier in the day from Baghdad. After meeting with the United Nations country team he was to meet with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, which should be taking place now. He will also attend a dinner hosted by the Foreign Minister. The Secretary-General continues his visit in Egypt tomorrow.

**Secretary-General Statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

“The Secretary-General continues to follow with concern the developments unfolding in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The civilian population continues to be threatened by fighting in the heart of the city. He urgently appeals once again for a complete halt to all fighting. He deplores the unnecessary loss of life and condemns the looting and destruction that have taken place.

“The Democratic Republic of the Congo has reached a critical turning point. The recent violence in Kinshasa underscores the urgent need for a new political culture in the country. The Secretary-General urges all parties to turn away from violence and to actively pursue political dialogue at all levels. He urges the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to provide the necessary space for effective participation of all political parties in debate and in decision making and urges the Congolese authorities to observe due process and respect for fundamental human rights.”

** Democratic Republic of the Congo -- Update

Following yesterday’s hostilities between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and the guards of former Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba in Kinshasa, the United Nations Mission there reports today that sporadic fighting continues but order has generally been restored.

While MONUC welcomes the restoration of order by Government forces, it deeply regrets the fact that force was used to resolve a situation that could and should have been settled through dialogue. MONUC deplores the loss of life, damage to property, looting and the serious risks caused to civilians living in the capital.

In response to the unrest, MONUC moved two military companies into Kinshasa from elsewhere in the country. They have helped provide first aid, for example, to victims of the violence, as well as water and rations to school children holed up at their schools and people sheltered at MONUC headquarters.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, William Swing, is in contact with the different sides as well as with international officials, and issued repeated public appeals over the UN Radio station calling for an end to the violence.

** Democratic Republic of the Congo -- DSG

Here at Headquarters, the Deputy Secretary-General called Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete in his capacity as chair of the Organ of Peace and Security of the South African Development Community (SADC) to discuss the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

**Security Council

The Security Council this morning unanimously adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan by one year, until 23 March 2008. It then heard a briefing about the sanctions adopted under resolution 1737, concerning Iran, by the chairman of that sanctions committee, Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium. This is a periodic briefing, as called for in that resolution.

After that, Council members resumed consultations on the draft resolution on non-proliferation, concerning Iran, which they had also discussed yesterday afternoon.


Following a briefing yesterday afternoon in the Security Council on the situation in the Great Lakes by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Lord’s Resistance Army affected areas, former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement in which it stressed its support for a negotiated settlement in the conflict in northern Uganda.

** Sudan

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes today travelled to Juba, Southern Sudan. While there, Mr. Holmes met with First Vice-President of the Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), Mr. Salva Kiir, and Vice-President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar.

While the largest humanitarian crisis in the world unfolds in the north, securing funds for Southern Sudan in the shadow of Darfur remains a significant challenge. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs notes this in a press release they have on this subject upstairs.

John Holmes, said from Juba today: “The United Nations, donors and NGOs all need to do much more to support the Government and people in Southern Sudan. Recovery and development activities need to be accelerated and the benefits of peace to become more apparent.”

** Sudan -- Eliasson

Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, has arrived in Khartoum from Asmara after having constructive meetings with Eritrean officials, including the President on the coordination of Eritrean mediation efforts in Darfur with those of the United Nations and the African Union.

Jan Eliasson is about to meet with African Union Special Envoy for Darfur, his counterpart, Salim Ahmed Salim. The two will be in the Sudan on a five-day mission in their attempts to re-energize the stalled peace process in Darfur.

I have just been informed that Security Council consultations have adjourned. For those of you who need to go out there, they will resume this afternoon at a time to be confirmed. Back to the briefing.

** Somalia

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, has condemned the recent violence in Mogadishu, calling on all combatants, uniformed or not, to desist from further acts of aggression and to respect civilian life.

Laroche said the desecration of bodies of fallen fighters is a barbaric act and a gross violation of international humanitarian law. Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that the humanitarian situation in Mogadishu continues to deteriorate. We have more on both of these subjects upstairs.

**Human Rights Council

In Geneva, the Human Rights Council today heard presentations from independent experts on the human rights situations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; Burundi; Myanmar and Liberia. Human Rights Council members are currently holding a general debate on a number of country situations.

Afterwards, if there is enough time, the members will vote on certain drafts before them. You can find all relevant documents and draft resolutions on the Human Rights Council webpage. I think somebody asked me about this yesterday.


The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste reports that the official campaign period began yesterday for the eight declared contenders in the April presidential election, following the completion of voter registration all across that country.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday in the capital Dili, the Special Representative to the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, said he was pleased that the registration went smoothly and without major security incidents.

The two-week campaigning period will see rallies, meetings, campaign posters and media publicity across Timor-Leste’s 13 districts. All campaigning will be supervised by the National Electoral Commission (CNE) and monitored by both national and international election observers. The campaign period ends on 6 April, ensuring a two-day information black-out ahead of the election. And we have more on this upstairs.

**Meningitis Epidemic

We also have a press release on a meningitis epidemic that erupted in Burkina Faso and is also affecting eight other countries in West Africa. You can read more about that upstairs.

**International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members

Sunday will be the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members. The Secretary-General is marking the occasion in a message recalling that 14 staff members are currently under arrest, detained or missing. There are copies of that message upstairs.

**United Nations Global Initiative on ICT

On Monday, the first global forum on the United Nations Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communications Technologies is taking place here at United Nations Headquarters. Some 200 participants from industry, Government, academia and civil society are expected to attend the all-day meeting, which will address how such technology can improve the lives of people with disabilities. We have the full week ahead for you so that you can plan your coverage of the United Nations next week. And that’s what I have for you today.

Mr. Abbadi?

**Questions and Answers

Question: Regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the latest report indicates that Jean-Pierre Bemba has taken refuge in MONUC’s premises. Can you confirm that? And also, does the Secretary-General have any reaction to the alleged information that Iran has taken 15 British marines in the sea?

Deputy Spokesperson: On the latter, I have nothing. On Mr. Bemba’s whereabouts, the United Nations Mission has not reported on that.

Question: On the DRC, it’s reported and I think it’s true that Mr. Bemba has been indicted for treason. There’s now a court proceeding against him. Does MONUC or the Secretary-General have any comment on the utility of that in terms of maintaining the peace?

Deputy Spokesperson: (The Deputy Spokesperson referred the question to the above statement by the Secretary-General.)

Question: I have two more questions. You have a press release upstairs about UNMIK in Kosovo and the Romanian soldiers who left the country despite the request that they stay there. Can you explain, what are the duties of a troop contributing country? If they’re under investigation for having killed these demonstrators in Kosovo, can they just leave the country? And is the United Nations just asking Romania to voluntarily produce them, or is there some legal requirement that peacekeepers answer to charges of absence?

Deputy Spokesperson: I had that item, I don’t know why it’s not in my pile so I cannot read it out and I don’t really have too many details on that. Let me get you more after the briefing.

Question: I guess it’s to understand whether they call on them to make them available but it’s not clear at all whether there is a duty on Romania’s part, or on these troops’ part, to answer to this.

Deputy Spokesperson: It’s up to the troop contributing countries, obviously, to investigate. The file is given to the national authorities for them to look into, but I will give you the precise language on that particular case.

Question: And to me also please. Can I follow up on Kosovo? What would be the scenario after the 26th? We are going to have a presentation of Mr. Ahtisaari’s plan. He is not going to be here? Or, he is going to be here?

Deputy Spokesperson: My only understanding at this moment of the Kosovo report is that it is coming out on Monday. After that, I think the Security Council President for the month of March told you at his press conference here, I believe he said it was something that would be taken up in the month of April. So we will now have to find out from the April Security Council Presidency when they will schedule the discussions on that report.

Question: On the 26th, there is not going to be any discussion, or it is going to start on the 26th? I’m asking whether this date is going to be the starting point for discussion and then it will continue.

Deputy Spokesperson: You would have to ask the Security Council members. The report is going to the Security Council members on Monday.

Question: Is Mr. Ahtisaari coming?

Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have a date for when the discussions are, so we will have to find out. Nothing has been officially decided on the date for the debate. It’s not in the Security Council programme for the month of March. It’s something that the Council members will have to agree on. Yes?

Question: I’m sorry if I missed some information before. Is the Security Council definitely meeting tomorrow on the draft resolution regarding Iran?

Deputy Spokesperson: I think this is why everybody ran out of the briefing room right now when the Security Council consultations finished. The Council President is probably announcing right now what the scenario is for the resolution. But if there is a vote, we’ll be here. Yes?

Question: Yesterday, when UNDP’s David Morrison was asked…to a number of questions he said the Board of Auditors answers that, he’s asked the Board of Auditors to make themselves available. I know the Secretary-General has been asked the same thing. Is there some way, given the interest in the audit of DPRK-UN programmes, to get the Board of Auditors to explain the delays, to just give some kind of a briefing? It seems that everyone has said to them they should speak, but they have not spoken.

Deputy Spokesperson: I’ll look into it for you, okay. No other questions? Have a good weekend and we’ll probably see you tomorrow.

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