HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
INT'L CRIMINAL COURT PROSECUTOR ASKS FOR SECURITY COUNCIL SUPPORT
ON ARREST OF INDICTED DARFUR SUSPECTS
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, today provided the Security Council with an update on his work dealing with Darfur. He said that all efforts in recent months have encouraged Sudan to respect its responsibilities as a UN Member State and to put an end to crimes and arrest people indicted by the Court.
He noted that President Omar al-Bashir, one of the indicted suspects, has been unable to travel to certain States where he may be arrested. Moreno-Ocampo added that the process of marginalization of indicted criminals is a way towards the ultimate implementation of the Court’s arrest warrants.
At the same time, the Prosecutor warned that he needs the Security Council’s full support to ensure that the attention remains on the need to arrest the indicted suspects and to end crimes in Darfur.
SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACK IN SOMALIA
The Security Council on Thursday afternoon received a briefing from Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios on the bomb attack that took place earlier that day in Mogadishu.
Afterward, the Council held a formal meeting to adopt a Presidential Statement in which it condemned that terrorist attack in the strongest terms, and urged that a thorough investigation be conducted and the perpetrators brought swiftly to justice. The Council underlined its determination to continue to support the people of Somalia and the Transitional Federal Government, three of whose Cabinet ministers were killed in the attack.
TWO PEACEKEEPERS KILLED IN ATTACK IN DARFUR
The joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that two Rwandan Peacekeepers were killed and others wounded today in an attack by unidentified armed men while collecting water at Saraf Umra in North Darfur.
The mission is evacuating the dead and wounded to El Fasher. Reports are preliminary at this time.
BAN KI-MOON: VIOLENCE IN GUINEA UNDERSCORES NEED TO RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER
Asked about reports that the leader of the junta in Guinea, Moussa Dadis Camara, has been shot, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General is aware and following the situation. This latest violence underscores the urgent need to move swiftly towards the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea in a peaceful and consensual manner, she said.
The Secretary-General calls for calm and reiterates the need to avoid violence and to respect the rule of law, Okabe said. He has instructed his Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, to remain actively engaged with national and regional stakeholders in the search for a solution that provides the people of Guinea an opportunity to elect their leaders in a democratic manner.
U.N. OFFICIAL ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT TO VISIT SRI LANKA
Special Envoy on Children and Armed Conflict, Major General (ret) Patrick Cammaert, is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka from Sunday, on behalf of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy.
His six-day mission, at the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka, is aimed at following-up on the recommendations of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on Sri Lanka within the framework of Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005).
Cammaert will report to the Security Council Working Group upon return from this mission.
During his visit, he will ascertain firsthand the situation of the children affected by the recent conflict with a view to ensure greater child protection.
Particular attention will also be paid to the situation of displaced children and the reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups into civilian life. He will meet with Government Officials, nongovernmental organizations, civil society representatives and children themselves.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY REPORTS THOUSANDS OF DISPLACED ARE LEAVING CAMPS IN SRI LANKA
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that it is encouraged by the Sri Lankan Government's long-awaited decision this week to allow increased freedom of movement for some 135,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) remaining in 20 closed camps in the north of the country.
UNHCR field staff reported that over 7,000 IDPs from the Menik Farm camps in Vavuniya and another 25 people from the camp in Trincomalee left the IDP sites the first day that the new policy came into force. The Agency’s teams are in the process of assessing the number of IDPs exercising their new freedom of movement over the past few days, and it reports that people continue to leave the camps.
According to UNHCR teams on the ground, many people left their belongings in the camps, which is an indication that they intend to return to the camps. While authorities say that there is no time limitation to the freedom of movement, there were reports that IDPs would only be allowed to stay away from the camps up to ten days.
The teams also report that, in general, people are happy to go back to their areas of origin where more basic services, such as health clinics and schools, are reopening.
In response to a question on Sri Lanka, asking if a letter from the Elders -- Desmond Tutu and others -- had been received, the Spokeswoman confirmed that it has.
DEPUTY U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TO VISIT ZIMBABWE
Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Catherine Bragg, will undertake a three-day mission to Zimbabwe beginning Monday, 7 December.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the mission is aimed at reviewing the humanitarian situation in the country and acquiring an overview of the linkage between humanitarian work and early recovery efforts by UN agencies and partner organizations.
Bragg will meet senior Government officials and humanitarian actors to explore ways of improving humanitarian response. She will also visit some humanitarian projects and meet the donor community.
On 7 December, Bragg will launch the Consolidated Appeal (CAP) for Zimbabwe for 2010.
TOP REFUGEE OFFICIAL APPEALS TO SPAIN, MOROCCO ON AMINATOU HAIDAR CASE
In light of the rapidly deteriorating condition of Ms. Aminatou Haidar, of Laayoune, who is on hunger strike, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, is appealing to the Governments of the two states directly concerned, Spain and Morocco, to consider any measure that could facilitate her movement and end the current impasse.
UNHCR adds that this appeal is on the basis of UNHCR’s good offices and is on strictly humanitarian grounds. Aminatou Haidar has been on hunger strike at the airport in Lanzarote since 16 November.
SPOKESWOMAN: UNAMID PROVIDED SUPPORT TO PANEL OF EXPERTS FOR DARFUR
In response to a question, the Spokeswoman said that the AU-UN Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has been the principal provider of logistical and other support for the Panel of Experts since it was established by the Security Council in 2005. In this respect UNAMID has provided hundreds of hours of direct support to the Panel in the form of air and ground transport, briefings and meetings. The work of the Panel is extremely important aspect of international engagement with Sudan. The United Nations Secretariat and peacekeeping operations will continue to support the work of the Panel in this regard.
In his congressional testimony (done in his personal capacity), Enrico Carisch alleged that the United Nations prevented the Panel from working for a period of time and delayed granting the Panel access to the Sudan and Darfur for security reasons. The period referred to in the testimony was an extremely volatile moment in Darfur. Movements and deployments were limited to those personnel who were directly involved in the protection of civilians. The movement of all UNAMID civilian staff was seriously curtailed and deployment of new staff to the Mission was virtually suspended, based on the level of security risk in the Mission area.
The UN Department for Safety and Security (UNDSS) in El Fasher reports that, during its visit to Darfur, the Expert Panel was provided with all possible support, facilities, including provision of field security and escort, in all UNAMID-covered areas. Concerning areas devoid of UNAMID presence, the Mission was informed by all parties on the ground that these were no-go areas, as Panel security could not be ensured and guaranteed. In some cases, rebel movements not only advised against access but banned it outright for the same security reasons.
U.N. MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC/CHAD TO REPATRIATE NEPALESE MAJOR IMMEDIATELY
In response to a question at Thursday’s briefing about the deployment of a Nepalese officer to the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), the Spokeswoman said that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) vets all senior appointments to its missions.
However, with more than 115,000 personnel currently in the field, it is impossible to vet each and every peacekeeper deployed. Therefore, the United Nations relies on its troop and police contributing countries – which ultimately have the mandated responsibility for the good conduct, order and discipline of their forces – to screen all contingent members nominated to take part in peacekeeping operations in accordance with international norms and standards.
With regard to one specific case, due to the serious nature of the allegations against Major Niranjan Basnet, who was deployed as a member of the Nepalese contingent, a decision has been made to repatriate him immediately.
BAN KI-MOON TO ATTEND HIGH-LEVEL SESSION AND SUMMIT AT COPENHAGEN
Asked when the Secretary-General will travel to Copenhagen for the climate conference, the Spokeswoman said that the dates are still being worked out.
He is to attend the high-level session and the summit, for which some 100 heads of state or government are confirmed to attend so far, she added.
Asked about a controversy concerning emails on climate change by academic experts, the Spokeswoman said that, according to the Secretary-General’s senior adviser on climate change, Janos Pasztor, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is looking into the relevant emails. The science on climate change, she noted, has not changed.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SALUTES CONTRIBUTION OF VOLUNTEERS: Saturday, 5 December, is International Volunteer Day. In a message to mark the occasion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that “volunteerism is a source of community strength, resilience, solidarity and social cohesion. It can bring positive social change by fostering respect for diversity, equality, and the participation of all. It is among society’s most vital assets.” Furthermore, the Secretary-General salutes, in particular, the 8,000 UN Volunteers who support the work of the United Nations. He paid tribute to the two UN Volunteers who were killed in Afghanistan in October.
W.H.O. LAUNCHES TOBACCO CONTROL EFFORT IN AFRICA: The World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a new tobacco control effort in Africa. WHO’s goal is to prevent tobacco use from becoming as prevalent there as it is in other parts of the world. According to WHO, tobacco use kills more than 5 million people per year. Unchecked, it will kill more than 8 million people per year by 2030, with more than 80% of those deaths occurring in developing countries.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Saturday, 5 December
Today is the International Volunteer Day.
Sunday, 6 December
Starting today and until 11 December, Special Envoy Major General (ret) Patrick Cammaert will be visiting Sri Lanka on behalf of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, at the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka.
Monday, 7 December
In Copenhagen, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15) will start today and run through 18 December.
This afternoon, the Security Council is expected to hold consultations on Côte d’Ivoire.
At 4.15 p.m. in Room-S226, Bernard Kouchner, Foreign Minister of France, will brief the press following his meeting with the Secretary-General.
In Geneva, the Meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) for 2009 will be held from today to 11 December.
In Geneva, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will launch the "World of Work Report 2009: The Global Jobs Crisis and Beyond".
Starting to day and until 16 December, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva, will be visiting Colombia.
In Cairo, the Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) will organize a regional UN workshop on implementing Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), until 10 December.
Tuesday, 8 December
Today, the Security Council will hold a debate on peace and security in Africa: drug trafficking as a threat to international security.
In Geneva, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, will hold a press conference ahead of Human Rights Day.
At 3 p.m. in Room-S226, there will be a press conference by Mark Bowden, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.
The United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will launch its annual study on shipping transport, focusing this year on Africa.
Wednesday, 9 December
Today is the International Anti-Corruption Day.
This morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
In Istanbul, the World Health Organization (WHO) will launch its report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2009.
Thursday, 10 December
Today is Human Rights Day.
This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on its 1737 Committee. It will also hear a briefing and hold consultations on the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB).
The guest at the noon briefing, John Holmes, will discuss the humanitarian impact of climate change.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378