6 10 19

Addressing the World Health Assembly, Mr. Annan said that in order to encourage development in many countries, the runaway contagion of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases must be contained.”The devastation wrought by HIV/AIDS is now so acute that it has itself become one of the main obstacles to development,” the Secretary-General told representatives of the World Health Organization’s 191 Member States participating in the Assembly.Mr. Annan also detailed plans for the Global AIDS and Health Fund, which he first proposed at an African summit meeting last month. “The Fund would be governed by an independent Board, on which all significant stakeholders would be represented — including, of course, the governments of developing countries,” he said. “In addition, there would be a small secretariat, to do the day-to-day administration, and a strong advisory body, on which the best international experts would be asked to serve.”Mandated to set broad policies to support national strategies, the Board “would insist on transparency and accountability, so that we can be sure the money is being spent in ways that are effective, and that it is reaching the people who need it most,” the Secretary-General stressed.Muting concerns that the proposal would pull money away from current health programmes, Mr. Annan emphasized that the Fund “must be additional to existing funds and mechanisms, not just a new way of channelling money that is already earmarked for development.”Calling on governments and donors to contribute to the Fund, the Secretary-General said, “We must give hope to those infected with HIV, enabling them to plan for life instead of preparing for death, and we must give hope to humanity — hope that the spread of the disease can indeed be halted and reversed, and that future generations will not have to live under its shadow.”So far, the United States has donated $200 million to the Fund, while Mr. Annan has personally pledged the $100,000 grant he will receive along with the Philadelphia Liberty Medal which he will be awarded later this year. read more

6 10 19

Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN, told the press that during today’s closed consultations the Council had been briefed on the status of discussions held at the level of experts, “who have been examining the various concepts which are included in the draft earlier proposed by the United Kingdom and the recent draft by France.””It is possible that by the middle of next week a text will emerge based on the two existing drafts,” Ambassador Chowdhury said, adding that “hopefully then concrete negotiations on the text will start.” He noted that there was a general agreement on the need to exert every effort to wrap up the negotiations by the end of June “within the time-frame of the one-month rollover.” During its consultations today, the Security Council considered another matter related to Iraq — the fifth quarterly report of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), which had been issued a week ago. Hans Blix, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman, who briefed the Council this morning, told the press afterwards that the discussions had been “very friendly, constructive and interesting.” He described the Commission’s preparedness for going into Iraq as “great,” with about 180 people trained as inspectors, and adequate staff at UN Headquarters to back up and plan all the operations. read more

6 10 19

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, today called again for the establishment of an international monitoring presence in the occupied Palestinian territories to ensure that global human rights standards were being observed.”It is important to emphasize that neither the Israeli policy of targeted assassination of Palestinian civilians, nor Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians, can be reconciled with provisions of international humanitarian law,” including the Fourth Geneva Convention, Mrs. Robinson said in a statement to the conference of so-called High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Convention.The High Commissioner noted that UN bodies such as the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights have repeatedly reaffirmed the “de jure applicability” of the Convention to the occupied Palestinian territories.”The protection of the victims should be the overriding concern of the UN and its agencies and programmes,” she said, pointing out that Article 1 of the Convention placed a duty on the High Contracting Parties “to respect and ensure respect of” the provisions of the Convention “in all circumstances.”To meet this challenge, the High Commissioner said, legal and diplomatic mechanisms were available under the UN Charter, in addition to those created by the Convention itself. read more

6 10 19

“I know of no one who has been more creative in approaching this subject, and no one who has been a more valued friend and supporter of the United Nations,” said Mr. Annan. Professor Franck, he added, “has always striven to respect and preserve the life in legal instruments, starting with the United Nations Charter, rather than let them become dry and lifeless.” Calling the scholar a friend and invaluable adviser, the Secretary-General shared excerpts from a letter written by Professor Franck when the Security Council was debating Washington’s demand for immunity for United States citizens from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.”Fortunately, Congress already has before it legislation authorizing the President to use all necessary force to rescue me were I to be hauled before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity,” the letter states. “But what’s so special about genocide, that I should be protected only for those sorts of things? What about other crimes I choose to commit abroad? A little mail fraud? Some violations of anti-trust? As a citizen of the world’s only superpower I want my government to offer me full protection from foreign laws, whether against passing bad cheques or endangering the morals of a minor. Americans, wherever we are, should be under American law.”Voicing relief that Professor Franck, instead of leaving academic life, is moving to the emeritus faculty, the Secretary-General expressed confidence that in the years to come, the UN would benefit even more from his insight, wisdom and sense of humour.Professor Franck has written widely on the subject of fairness in international law, particularly the role of the UN as a source of global legitimacy. He has also been active in cases before the International Court of Justice. read more

6 10 19

“More and more businesses are themselves recognizing how much they depend on international norms and standards for the conduct of business on a global scale, and on the UN’s wide-ranging work for peace and development,” he said during an address in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management.Mr. Annan explained that his Global Compact initiative, launched in 1999, “was based on the belief that open markets and human well-being can go hand in hand.” The Compact requires participating enterprises to embrace nine principles in the areas of human rights, labour standards and the environment, and to enact those principles within their spheres of influence.Since its inception, the Secretary-General said, the Compact has promoted the importance of universal values and encouraged investors to look harder at opportunities in the least developed countries, particularly in Africa. Noting that the Compact has also created a learning forum – a worldwide academic network that examines case studies, Mr. Annan hailed the Sloan School for its “important role” in the effort.“Businesses may ask why they should go down this path, especially if it involves taking steps that competitors might not, or steps they feel are rightly the province of governments,” he said. “Sometimes, doing what is right – for example, eco-efficiency or creating decent work-place conditions – is in the immediate interest of business.”At the same time, the Secretary-General pointed to the moral imperative of acting with integrity. “Sometimes, we must do what is right simply because not to do so would be wrong, and sometimes, we do what is right to help usher in a new day, of new norms and new behaviours,” he said. “We do not want business to do anything different from their normal business; we want them to do their normal business differently.”From 1971 to 1972, the Secretary-General was a Sloan Fellow at MIT, where he received a Masters of Science degree in management. read more

6 10 19

The United Nations today announced the launch of the first comprehensive web site to deal with the problems facing three vulnerable groups of developing countries – least developed, landlocked and small island States.Offering extensive background information on international efforts and commitments relating to these nations and their hundreds of millions of inhabitants, the site provides regular updates on UN work in this area. It also contains links to major documents on the subject and to information on the countries themselves. The site was launched by the Office of the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Anwarul Karim Chowdhury. Comprehensive background information on the High Representative as well as the texts of his speeches are available on the site.Established by the General Assembly in 2001, the Office of the High Representative aims to enhance the mobilization of international support for the implementation of international commitments, agreements and texts relating to the countries in question. read more

6 10 19

Recent months have witnessed advances in the return of property stolen by Iraq during its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, but more must be done for Baghdad to meet its international obligations on this front, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report to the Security Council.Iraq has given back a first batch of documents from the Kuwaiti national archives, and a practical mechanism for the return of other property has been re-established, the Secretary-General notes, appealing to the Iraqi authorities “to redouble their efforts aimed at the return of remaining Kuwaiti property without delay.”Mr. Annan reports “limited” progress on the repatriation of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains, but adds that there are “some new positive elements.” Iraqi officials are now meeting with the UN coordinator on the issue, Yuli Vorontsov. In addition, Baghdad recently informed the League of Arab States of its intention to resume participation in the Technical Subcommittee of the Tripartite Commission set up to deal with the matter.Most recently, Iraq’s Ambassador to the UN last week wrote to Ambassador Vorontsov inviting him to Baghdad. Commenting on this development, the Secretary-General voices hope that it marks “the beginning of a process which would eventually enable me to report more substantive progress in the near future” and urges Iraq’s full cooperation. read more

6 10 19

Forty-six businesses in Panama have signed on to form a network that seeks to incorporate principles upholding human rights, labour rights and environmental standards as outlined in the Global Compact initiative – a UN inter-agency initiative led by Mr. Annan.”Enterprises need to adapt their activities to support social development and the well being of the community,” said UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Elizabeth Fong. UNDP is funding, for six months, the technical secretariat that supports the Global Compact Network-Panama.Ms. Fong noted that the initiative has already made progress, including recruiting more companies, holding provincial forums and launching an awareness campaign targeting the media. The network’s main challenge will be to promote a change in Panama’s business culture, she added.The Global Compact Network-Panama plans to complete several major projects this year, including Panama’s first study on corporate social responsibility and a partnership with the University of the Pacific in Lima, Peru, to incorporate the concept of corporate social responsibility in university curricula. read more

6 10 19

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the current EU president, signed a Joint Declaration on UN-EU Cooperation in Crisis Management, which defines their roles in military and civilian relief operations and disaster situations.The Secretary-General “hopes that this step will lead to even closer cooperation between the two organizations in both military and civilian areas of crisis management,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement.”The Secretary-General is particularly pleased that the declaration outlines specific area where practical cooperation can advance, such as training, planning, communications and ‘lessons learnt’,” the statement added.

6 10 19

The report from the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said that at about 8 p.m. the UN garrison outside of Bunia, near the Ugandan border, came under attack from a group of gunmen inside the town and from others outside it.”It is clear that the shots were aimed directly at the blue helmets of the MONUC,” the dispatch said, in what it called a “planned and synchronized” attack from guerrillas of the Patriotic Congolese Union (UPC), and from armed members of the Lendu tribe nearby.The UN brigade “vigorously responded to the military provocation,” MONUC said, in a firefight that lasted two hours. One UN soldier was lightly wounded and casualties on the other side were unknown.MONUC said Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for the DRC, William Lacy Swing, had contacted Congolese military commanders to report the incident.At a meeting Thursday with all the military groups, except the UPC, MONUC had called for a demilitarization of Bunia and a prohibition of all public demonstrations not authorized by the UN peacekeepers.The MONUC statement said the UN believes “such provocations and attacks are intolerable” and warned that it will take “all necessary measures” to ensure security in Bunia. read more

6 10 19

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is travelling to the Kenyan capital and is scheduled to address the session tomorrow. His Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, will also participate in the meeting, just the fourth time in its history that the Council has convened away from UN Headquarters in New York.Council members voiced their deep concern over the findings of the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Africa’s largest country, as well as the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation.In addressing these issues, they have reiterated their support for the leadership of the Africa Union in the Darfur crisis, welcomed the Union’s decision to enlarge its mission there, and urged all parties in the conflict to cooperate with the AU to ensue a secure and stable environment.Meanwhile, the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) said internally displaced persons (IDPs) reported that police units started firing indiscriminately over the weekend at Kalma camp in South Darfur. The residents speculate the shooting took place as a warning following the visit earlier in the day on Saturday of a panel looking into the occurrence of genocide in the region.According to the Government, rebels within the camp fired on Sudanese police positions, forcing an exchange of gunfire, UNAMIS said.The Mission also reported that residents in camps around El-Geneina are increasingly concerned about the presence of armed men in and around their camps. They say that gunshots are being fired during the night.Also in West Darfur, UN agency workers conducted a one-day sensitization training workshop on sexually transmitted diseases and gender-based violence for 60 members of the African Monitoring Force in El-Geneina. read more

6 10 19

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which sits in The Hague, today released the details of the indictment against Mr. Haradinaj, who voluntarily surrendered to the ICTY earlier this week after resigning as Prime Minister.In a statement the ICTY said Mr. Haradinaj, 36, faces 17 counts of crimes against humanity and 20 counts of war crimes, all connected to his role as a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the Dukagjin area. The charges, which cover the period between March and September 1998, include murder, rape, the deportation of civilians, unlawful detention, harassment and the destruction of property.Mr. Haradinaj, an ethnic Albanian, has been indicted alongside two of his subordinates, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj. Those two men each face 16 counts of crimes against humanity and 19 counts of war crimes.The indictment alleges that the three men formed a “joint criminal enterprise” in early 1998 to consolidate the KLA’s total control over the Dukagjin area by attacking, persecuting and forcibly removing Serb civilians and by violently suppressing “any real or perceived form of collaboration with the Serbs by Albanian or Roma civilians.”While they may not have physically committed every crime for which they are charged, the indictment states, they are still considered criminally responsible for planning, instigating, ordering or aiding and abetting their commission.Mr. Haradinaj “established a system whereby individuals were targeted for abduction, mistreatment and murder, and whereby a systematic attack on vulnerable sections of the civilian population was carried out.” He “personally ordered, controlled and participated in beatings of persons” and gave tacit approval “on at least one occasion” for detained persons to be executed.The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UMIK) has been in place in Kosovo since June 1999 when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drove Yugoslav troops out of the province amid grave human rights abuses in fighting between ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs. read more

6 10 19

Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Adviser Lakhdar Brahimi and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno tomorrow will begin weeklong visits to Africa’s largest country.Mr. Brahimi, who has been in close contact with the AU on the scope and nature of UN support to the Union’s mission in Darfur, will be following up on those contacts during his visit, which will focus on the war-riven region in Sudan’s west.The purpose of Mr. Guéhenno’s fact-finding mission is to gain the best possible understanding of the situation in wider Sudan, as well as the UN response.

6 10 19

“Because the money they earn is crucial to ensuring that they and their families survive, many are unable to attend school at all. These children are digging for survival,” the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) says. “Underground, they endure stifling heat and darkness, set explosives for underground blasts, and crawl or swim through dangerous, unstable tunnels. Above ground, they dive into rivers in search of minerals, or may dig sand, rock and dirt and spend hours pounding rocks into gravel using heavy, oversized tools made for adults,” it adds. ILO says its International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) is working to ensure that no child has to toil in a quarry or mine. “Pilot projects undertaken by ILO/IPEC in Mongolia, Tanzania, Niger and the Andean countries of South America have shown that the best way to assist child miners is to work with the children’s own communities,” ILO adds. ILO says it has helped mining and quarrying communities to organize cooperatives and improve productivity by acquiring the machinery that reduces or eliminates the need for children to risk their lives. Such communities have also obtained legal protections and developed health clinics, schools and sanitation systems. Over a four-year period, the remote gold mining community of Santa Filomena, Peru, went from employing 200,000 child miners to declaring itself “child labour-free,” it says, adding that ILO helped the community develop new income-generating projects for adults. Meanwhile, however, more children are entering the mining and quarrying sector all over the world every day. While community projects can help child miners in direct and practical ways, only worldwide awareness of the problem can mobilize the international effort needed to end the practice for good, it says. In the Philippines, nearly 18,000 children between 5 and 17 years old work in mines and quarries. In Nepal, about 32,000 children work in stone quarries, it says. “In Niger alone, a staggering 250,000 children are employed in both small-scale mines and quarries, accounting for roughly half the total number of persons doing such work in the entire country,” ILO says. read more

6 10 19

“A child who is a victim of sexual abuse may suffer serious, lifelong or even life-threatening consequences,” UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Senior Programme Coordinator Yasmin Ali Haque said of the campaign, launched on Sunday.“As the first country in South Asia with a national plan of action to combat child sex tourism, Sri Lanka has a unique opportunity to lead the way for other countries in the region.”UNICEF is providing the Sri Lanka Tourist Board with financial and technical support. As well as mass media campaigns on television, radio and in newspapers, messages will be relayed to tourists through a range of devices such as in-flight magazines and videos, billboards, posters, car-stickers and flyers. Legal penalties for the sexual exploitation of children range from five to 20 years imprisonment.While the exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that thousands of Sri Lankan children are drawn into prostitution every year, the majority of them boys, with money, clothes, pens, sweets, food and sometimes the chance to travel overseas. They are exploited by foreign tourists, as well as by local people. The most vulnerable are those from poor and marginalized communities who have little supervision from their families.Last year 549,000 foreign tourists visited Sri Lanka, with the figure projected to rise to 600,000 in the current year, and to 1 million by 2010.The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 1.8 million children globally are exploited in the multi-billion dollar commercial sex industry, which includes child sex tourism. read more

6 10 19

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Strong dollar, world competition blamed for closing of Nova Scotia mill BROOKLYN, N.S. – A Nova Scotia newsprint mill became the latest victim of the global downturn in the pulp and paper industry Friday when its owners announced it would stop production and sell its assets, throwing 320 people out of work.Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products (TSX:RFP) said the strong Canadian dollar and competition from Europe forced it to put the mill, locally known as Bowater, into an indefinite idle.The grim news comes only months after the provincial government provided a $50-million assistance package to the mill late last year.Premier Darrell Dexter said his government tried everything within its power to keep the company in the province, and he blamed currency markets for the factory’s demise.“All of the partners came together to try and give the plant the best possible opportunity for the future. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out as we would have wished,” he said.“That doesn’t make the attempt to do that in any way invalid.”In December, Dexter announced the province would give the mill a $25-million forgivable loan to keep its two paper machines operating, and to help the company make efficiency improvements and upgrade its power plant.The government says none of that money has been spent.Dexter put most of the blame for the plant’s demise on the high Canadian dollar and a 30 per cent erosion in the value of the Euro against the dollar.“The plants in Europe are now able to sell into the world market at a considerable discount,” he said.“We recognize that advantage because it used to be ours. … The results as anyone can see have been pretty profound.”The company’s sawmill in nearby Oakhill and the Brooklyn Power Corp. are also affected by the shutdown. The company said it is looking at the feasibility of selling all of its assets and timberlands that it owns in the province.Dexter said he is concerned about the possibility the company may sell the land to an overseas company that could ship wood fibre abroad.However, he said he didn’t know if the province would offer to buy the woodlands.Dexter said the government will look for alternative uses of the idled mill and try to attract new industries to an area beset by high unemployment.“Very shortly we will set up a transition process and it will be led by a prominent Nova Scotia leader. We intend to find a way forward for these communities,” he said.Company spokesman Seth Kursman acknowledged that workers made sacrifices in the form of concessions to try and save the mill.“Everything that was really in the direct control of the people here, of government, of stakeholders across the board, people did — they stepped up and it makes the situation that much more frustrating,” he said in an interview.Kursman said the company, which was previously called AbitibiBowater, has also responded to global pressures by closing some of its paper-making machines in Quebec and Alabama.The plant was initially scheduled to shut down Sunday for about two weeks. It was also idled last month, the latest in a series of scheduled down times for the mill since December.Late last year, unionized workers at the mill voted to cut 110 jobs in an effort to reduce labour costs and help save the operation.Don MacKenzie of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada said the indefinite closure is a blow to the area, which has relied heavily on jobs at the mill during more than 70 years of operation.“It’s just got to be devastating to the members I represent,” he said. “It’s a sad day for the people of Liverpool and it will obviously have an impact to many spin-off jobs in the province, and it’s simply another reflection of the turbulent times in the pulp and paper industry.”He too is worried the company’s 212,000 hectares could be bought up by foreign interests and exported, making it unavailable to domestic interests that could use the raw fibre.The lifeline thrown to the company also included $23.75 million the province spent to buy about 10,120 hectares of woodland from the company.Another $1.5 million was offered over three years to train workers. So far, $605,000 has been spent on training and the remainder will be returned to province.— By Alison Auld and Michael Tutton in Halifax by The Canadian Press Posted Jun 15, 2012 1:11 pm MDT read more