Highlights of the noon briefing

Secretary-General welcomes announcement of final results in Southern Sudan referendum

The Secretary-General today welcomed the announcement of the final results of the referendum on the right of self determination of the people of Southern Sudan. The results, which showed that 98.83% of all voters chose independence, are reflective of the will of the people of Southern Sudan. The peaceful and credible conduct of the referendum is a great achievement for all Sudanese.

The Secretary-General commends the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) partners, the Government of Sudan led by President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, and the Government of Southern Sudan led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, for keeping their commitment to maintain peace and stability throughout this crucial period. The Secretary-General urges the CPA partners, the Government of Sudan and the Government of Southern Sudan, to build on the momentum generated by the successful conduct of the referendum to reach an agreement on post-referendum arrangements, including Abyei, expeditiously and in the same spirit of cooperation.

The Secretary-General calls upon the international community to assist all Sudanese towards greater stability and development, reiterates the commitment of the United Nations towards this end and assures continued UN assistance and support to the CPA partners.

Secretary-General to brief security council on his latest travels

The Secretary-General is back in New York today, having wrapped up nearly two weeks of travel to Switzerland, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom and Germany. He is expected to brief the Security Council on Tuesday afternoon on his travels and the discussions that he has had. After that, at around 4:30 pm, he expects to talk to reporters at the Security Council stakeout.

He ended his travels over the weekend in Munich, where he told a security conference that we do not know how the events in the Middle East will end. But they are driven, at bottom, by human insecurity: poverty, diminished or disappointed expectations, the lack of good governance and a deficit of democracy.

In Munich, he and the other principal members of the Quartet met and took note of dramatic developments in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East region in recent days. The Quartet members considered the implications of these events for Arab-Israeli peace and agreed to discuss this further in upcoming meetings as a matter of high priority. The Quartet agreed to meet again at the level of Principals in mid-March on the way ahead.

Asked about the source of the Secretary-General’s information in Egypt, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has been briefed from numerous channels, including from UN staff in Cairo.

He noted that the Secretary-General has said that there have been several Arab Human Development Reports which have helped to analyse the situation in that region, and that the United Nations also stands ready to help as needed. Ultimately, Nesirky added, it is up to the Egyptian people to determine their future.

Secretary-General deeply concerned by clashes around Cambodia-Thailand border

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Secretary-General said he was deeply concerned by reports of repeated armed clashes between 4 and 6 February 2011 between Cambodia and Thailand around their common border area, which has reportedly claimed a number of lives and led to the displacement of civilians and destruction of property.

The Secretary-General appeals to both sides to put in place an effective arrangement for cessation of hostilities and to exercise maximum restraint. He also calls on them to continue their efforts to finding a lasting solution to their dispute through established mechanisms and arrangements and a spirit of dialogue and good neighbourly relations. The United Nations remains at their disposal to assist in these peaceful efforts.

D.R.Congo: U.N. envoy tells security council of improvement in military coordination

The Security Council discussed the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today. Roger Meece, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for that country, briefed Council members this morning in a formal meeting.

Meece said that recent initiatives by the UN Mission (MONUSCO) have led to an improvement in the coordination of military activities with Congolese Government forces.

Meece also reported a significant increase in the number of arrests of Government soldiers and police accused of sexual abuse. However, illegal armed groups continue to prey on civilians, often using rape and other violence as weapons against the population.

A.U.-U.N. mission to send assessment mission in North Darfur villages that have seen recent fighting

The UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) sent a patrol this past Saturday to the North Darfur villages of Tabit and Tukumara to assess the effects of recent intense fighting in the area and meet with local leaders. The fighting has reportedly forced most of Tukumara’s population to flee to nearby mountains for safety.

UNAMID says that it will conduct an assessment of local humanitarian needs in the next few days and help repair a vital water pump destroyed during the fighting.

Top U.N. officials call for end to female genital mutilation, cutting

The heads of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have jointly called for stepped-up global efforts to abolish female genital mutilation and cutting.

The practice, they say, has serious immediate and long-term health effects and is a clear violation of fundamental human rights. Worldwide, up to 140 million women and girls have undergone the process.

Other announcements

Deputy-Secretary-General travels to Chile: The Deputy Secretary-General is in Santiago, Chile, to chair the annual meeting of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism in Latin America and the Caribbean. This year's meeting, to be held on 8 and 9 February, will focus on defining a regional perspective in preparation of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20.

U.N. seeking to assist Pakistan in coordination with government: Asked about aid to Pakistan, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations has been seeking to assist Pakistan in coordination with the Government of Pakistan.

U.N. envoy to Somalia voiced disappointment over extension of transitional government: Asked about UN disappointment concerning the extension of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, the Spokesperson said that the Special Representative for that country, Augustine Mahiga, had made clear the disappointment concerning the TFG’s extension. He noted the importance of continuing the process of assisting Somalia at a difficult time.

Travel arrangements for Sri Lanka panel still under discussion: Asked about the work of the advisory panel dealing with Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson noted that it is not essential for the panel to visit Sri Lanka in order to carry out its work. Discussions are continuing concerning any arrangements for panel members to travel to Sri Lanka.

(Published by UN.org - February 7, 2011)

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