Friday, 19 September 2014

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Ban lays out criteria for successful Copenhagen gathering on climate change

On the Road to Copenhagen26 October 2009 – As just over one month remains before nations converge in Copenhagen to ‘seal the deal’ on a new climate change agreement, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has laid out his four benchmarks for success at the negotiations in the Danish capital.

Firstly, he wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times published yesterday, every country – developed and developing – must do all it can to slash emissions from all sources, including deforestation and shipping.

“A successful deal must strengthen the world’s ability to cope with an already changing climate,” Mr. Ban added, stressing that “support for adaptation is not only an ethical imperative; it is a smart investment in a more stable, secure world.”

Thirdly, any deal must be backed by funding to allow poorer countries to transition to a low-carbon economy.

Lastly, the Secretary-General wrote, nations must agree on an equitable global governance structure. “All countries must have a voice in how resources are deployed and managed. That is how trust will be built.”

Despite the gridlock at the last round of climate change negotiations held in Bangkok, Thailand, earlier this month, “the elements of a deal are on the table,” he underscored.

All that is needed to put them in place is political will, Mr. Ban said. “We need to step back from narrow national interest and engage in frank and constructive discussion in a spirit of global common cause.”

The leadership of the United States in this endeavour, he said, is vital, noting that he is encouraged by last week’s bipartisan initiative in the US Senate.

“We cannot afford another period where the United States stands on the sidelines,” Mr. Ban emphasized, adding that an “indecisive or insufficiently engaged” US will result in unnecessary and unaffordable delays in tackling global warming.

With the last round of negotiations before the start of the Copenhagen conference kicking off next week in Barcelona, Spain, “we are now at a rather critical juncture,” Janos Pasztor, Director of the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, told reporters today in New York.

There is a flurry of activity in the world’s capitals, with this uptick in activity expected to continue during the final stretch before the December summit, he said. “This is a good development as it is only governments who can make the deal and bring us success in Copenhagen.”

When leaders assemble in Denmark, they have the ability to “deliver an agreement on a range of fast-track implementation measures for which credible resources are needed and which governments need to make available,” Mr. Pasztor stated.

The Secretary-General, he said, is serving as a “neutral broker” among all 192 UN Member States, pressing for an ambitious multilateral deal to ensure that global temperature increases remain within safe levels.

With concerts, films and ceremonies, UN marks its 64th birthday

UN Charter23 October 2009 – The United Nations marked its 64th birthday today with ceremonies around the world, a concert at its New York Headquarters paying tribute to its blue helmet peacekeepers, and a call from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to stand up for the vulnerable, powerless and defenceless.

UN Day in fact falls on 24 October, the anniversary of the day in 1945 that the UN Charter entered into force, but as the date this year falls on a Saturday, many of the ceremonies were held on Friday.

“On this UN Day, let us resolve to redouble our efforts on behalf of the vulnerable, the powerless, the defenceless. Let us stand more united than ever – united in purpose and united in action to make the world a safer, better place,” Mr. Ban said in a video message released ahead of the Day.

“The United Nations is doing its utmost to respond – to address the big issues, to look at the big picture. We are forging a new multilateralism that can deliver real results for all people, especially those most in need.”

At UN Headquarters a concert was being held on Friday evening in the General Assembly Hall with, for the first time since its inception, a theme: “A Tribute to Peacekeeping.”

Organized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), in partnership with the Culture Project, a New York based non-profit organization dedicated to artistic work focusing on social justice and civic engagement, it used different art forms to focus on the achievements and importance of UN peacekeeping.

Musical performances by artists from a broad array of countries, oral presentations by public figures, and documentary film clips highlighting the faces and stories of the people in the field, paid homage to the blue helmets.

Among the performers were John McLaughlin (United Kingdom) with the band Remember Shakti (India), Emmanual Jal (Sudan), Sister Fa (Senegal), Salman Ahmad (Pakistan), Harry Belafonte (United States), Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China) and the Colombian band Aterciopelados.

The concert also featured segments from a new documentary film on UN peacekeeping, The War Against War, directed by Fisher Stevens and giving insight into the formidable challenges facing peacekeepers and the committed individuals who serve some of the most victimized and vulnerable populations on Earth.

The event aimed to create greater public awareness of the important mission performed by peacekeeping operations around the globe. The recent tragedy in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), when 11 peacekeepers died in a helicopter crash, has made the concert theme even more poignant, as the UN pays tribute to lives lost.

At the UN’s Asia hub in Bangkok, a joint four-day exhibition by 19 UN entities opened on 22 October in CentralWorld, the city’s biggest shopping complex, with the theme “60 years of the UN in Thailand,” because the organization moved to Bangkok from Shanghai, China, in 1949.

The official UN Day ceremony itself will take place on 26 October, when the King’s daughter Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva are expected to attend.

The UN’s European hub in Geneva celebrated the day today with a conference on “Comprehensive Human Security – from Theory to Practice,” while in Vienna the publication Together Strong – Die Vereinten Nationen was launched on 20 October, containing a set of German-language teaching materials on the UN, 4,000 copies of which are to be distributed to secondary schools around Austria.

In South America, meanwhile, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) held a ceremony at its headquarters in Santiago, Chile, today.

High Commissioner opens first ever UN Human Rights office in European Union

BRUSSELS / GENEVA – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday opened the first ever UN human rights office in the European Union, and said she hoped this development would mark a new era of closer cooperation between the UN human rights system and European institutions based in Brussels, Strasbourg and Vienna, as well as with individual EU states.

The new Brussels office is the 11th regional office set up by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which is headquartered in Geneva but has never before opened a national or regional office in Western Europe.

“OHCHR was only founded 16 years ago, so it is still a young organization,” Pillay said. “We already have 10 other regional offices in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, and we are now present in 55 countries around the world in all. Europe was in many ways the missing piece in the puzzle, so it is a real pleasure for me to open the office at the EU’s headquarters here in Brussels.”

Pillay said the prime objectives of the new Regional Office will be to strengthen engagement with European countries in the implementation of international human rights standards as well as to forge stronger partnerships with regional organizations such as the European Union and its relevant institutions, including the Fundamental Rights Agency. The office would also work with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, she said.

The new office will help to promote and follow up on human rights standard-setting, policy making and implementation in Europe, as well as address the EU’s role in human rights promotion, protection and empowerment around the world.

“The EU is, of course, already an important partner for us, both as a donor and as a strong moral voice on many human rights problems facing people all over the world,” Pillay said. “When the EU speaks, people listen. When the UN speaks on human rights issues, people also listen, and when we are in tune we can be an important force for change.”

She noted that EU countries themselves face a number of human rights challenges. “This office will help EU countries in their efforts to combat racism and discrimination, and to tackle human rights violations related to migration and poverty, as well as deficits in other economic and social rights, particularly for minorities such as the Roma,” she said. “A particular challenge in recent years has been ensuring that counter-terrorism measures do not undermine human rights standards.”

“We will also seek to ensure the integration of the UN’s human rights principles in external EU policies and activities,” she said, citing technical assistance, peace-keeping and peace-building operations, development and mediation efforts as well as EU trade initiatives.

During her Brussels visit the High Commissioner also took part in a joint OHCHR-EU conference on combating all forms of discrimination – with a particular focus on discrimination based on race, gender and disabilities. She held meetings with EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek and other senior EU officials and parliamentarians, as well as with the Belgian Foreign Minister Yves Leterme and representatives of the 23 other UN organizations already based in Brussels.

During her meeting with M. Leterme, the High Commissioner thanked the Government of Belgium for enabling OHCHR to set up the new Regional Office in Brussels. She also paid tribute to the role of the Swedish Government, which currently holds the EU Presidency.

 

Migiro lauds extensive partnership between UN and European Union

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro12 October 2009 – Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro today highlighted the vital partnership between the United Nations and the European Union (EU) in helping to improve the lives of millions of people around the world, particularly through their support to countries emerging from crises.

Addressing a joint meeting in Brussels of the European Parliament committees on foreign affairs and development, Ms. Migiro noted that the “already solid, varied and extensive” collaboration between the UN and EU ranges from coordination of peacekeeping missions to consultations on conflict prevention.

It includes the exchange of management best practices, staff exchanges and training, European Commission financing of UN humanitarian and development interventions, and consultations on development policy.

It also includes support to countries emerging from natural disasters or man-made conflicts – the subject of a new report entitled “Renewing Hope, Rebuilding Lives.”

“The challenges in such environments are immense, with needs often vastly exceeding capacities and resources,” Ms. Migiro said as she presented its findings.

The report cites, among other elements, European Commission-sponsored UN interventions to enhance communities’ physical security by removing landmines, curbing the circulation of weapons and protecting individuals and groups at risks.

In addition, the UN and EU have worked together to help ex-fighters and those indirectly engaged in combat to return to normal lives and reconcile with their past and with their communities, as well as secured food, nutrition and health for millions of people and worked to create jobs.

At the same time, the report does not minimize the difficulties that countries face as they emerge from crisis, said Ms. Migiro, noting that international support is not always decisive in creating and sustaining stability.

“However, our partnership has been able to improve lives, marginalize spoilers and restore peoples’ hope for a better future, even in those cases where the overall security situation has not greatly improved,” she stated.

Ms. Migiro added that the partnership between the two organizations is premised on the fact that the role of the international community is to support national actors to take back the reins of their own development as soon as they can.

In more general terms, she said Europe has always been a strong advocate of international solutions to international problems, and of global frameworks in which all countries have a say in identifying the appropriate solutions.

“The European Union has repeatedly stated its commitment to building an effective multilateralism with a strong United Nations at its core, and it has backed this commitment both politically and financially,” she stated.

Ms. Migiro is on a two-nation trip that also included a stop in Geneva.


Cyprus leaders accelerate UN-backed proces of talks to unify island

Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders held further discussions today on the presidency and vice presidency of a bi-communal republic in ongoing United Nations-backed talks to unify the Mediterranean island, but have not yet reached any decision.

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat decided to accelerate the pace of their sessions, meeting twice a week in two consecutive weeks next month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Tayé-Brook Zerihoun told reporters after the talks at UN premises in Nicosia.

In New York for talks with Mr. Ban and Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said he was cautiously optimistic on the talks to reunify the island, where UN peacekeepers have been deployed since 1964 to prevent inter-communal fighting, but a lot of work remained.

The talks seek to forge a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality. The decision to meet twice a week is “quite positive and they (the leaders) are upbeat about it themselves,” Mr. Zerihoun told reporters in Nicosia, adding that they had not yet decided on the executive power.

Mr. Downer said there were “some convergences and some divergences” on the issue, without going into further details. “The pace of the talks is now accelerating,” he told a New York news conference. “I’m cautiously optimistic. I believe what you have here are two leaders who are very committed to a successful outcome.

“You don’t have two leaders who are just turning up there for the sake of it and are not focusing on how to negotiate a successful bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality,” he added, noting however that it is a complicated negotiation dealing not only with the structure of the new federation but with property, security, territorial and economic issues.

Mr. Downer said that although the week-by-week momentum in the talks, which began a year ago, may seem little, “I think if you take it in an overall sense, the momentum’s been pretty good.”

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