TMC alleges BJP goons damaged Vidyasagars statue submits proof to EC in

first_imgNew Delhi: Intensifying its attack on the saffron party over the desecration of a bust of social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar during the violence in Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress on Wednesday released videos to claim that “BJP goons” damaged the statue. Trinamool Parliamentary team comprising Derek O’Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Manish Gupta, Nadimul Haque also met the Election Commission over the issue and submitted “proof” in support of their claim. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework Earlier, at a press conference here, TMC leader Derek O’Brien said, “The video not only clearly establishes what the BJP did, but proves that its chief Amit Shah is a liar and ‘dhokebaaz’ (betrayer).” The reaction from the TMC came close on the heels of BJP president Amit Shah accusing the West Bengal’s ruling party of indulging in violence in the state and alleged that the poll panel has been a “mute spectator”. “The streets of Kolkata are tinged with shock and anger. What happened yesterday hurt Bengali pride,” O’Brien said, adding the TMC will submit the videos, it has, to the poll panel and is authenticating them on record. Also Read – Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for work on cells, oxygen One of the videos shows a group of men purportedly trying to break down the gate of the Vidyasagar college and enter the campus by jumping over its walls. “It is a childish argument to ask who had the keys to the gate? The video establishes beyond doubt who desecrated the statue,” O’Brien said, claiming his party has as many as 44 videos to support its claims. The party also showed a video and WhatsApp message allegedly by a BJP supporter asking people to come to Shah’s roadshow with rods and arms to fight the TMC and police. “We are trying to obtain and authenticate audio of slogans like ‘Vidyasagar finished, where is the Josh’ raised during the violence,” O’Brien said and alleged that the Central forces deployed in West Bengal have started a “whisper campaign” asking people to vote for the BJP. “The Central forces are in cahoots with the BJP. We have written to the EC thrice and this will be our fourth letter,” the TMC leader said. BJP and TMC supporters Tuesday fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by the police. Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence as his convoy was attacked with stones by alleged TMC supporters from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties. Furious BJP supporters retaliated and were seen exchanging blows with their TMC rivals outside the college entrance. The Trinamool Congress also accused Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain of giving orders to the police not to intervene in BJP issues in state. “Jain has influenced the police not to interfere in what the BJP is doing in the election campaign, more so in the case of Amit Shah. The model code of conduct is being violated by them with impunity. There were drunken ‘outsiders’ who were part of this violence. “They have been brought by the BJP from Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and kept in hotels and private houses. The same people have been seen in Shah’s roadshow and the ensuing violence,” TMC leader Manish Gupta said.last_img read more

Famous Algerian singer Idir calls for independence of Kabylia

first_imgTaroudant- Famous Algerian singer called for the independence of region of Kabiliya, noting that Algerian Tamazight can’t live their culture or their identity under Algerian sovereignty. In an interview with Hacen Hireche for BRTV on the issue of the officialization of Tamazight, France-based singer Idir said that Amaizgh “must no longer claim it. It must rather be. It must exist.”“There many forms of governance that have been called for like regionalisation, federation, and autonomy, but now it makes sense for me to lead to the concept of independence because we can neither live our culture nor our identity so the last reasonable way is to separate,” he said. Algerian singer draws on his Amazigh culture to defend the officialization of Tamazight, adding that while in Morocco Tamazigh has already been made an official language, Algerian authorities still refuse to follow on the same path. “Morocco has already officialized Tamzight and Libyans are on the same path, but in Algeria they don’t like that,” he said. In response to a question about the name officially attributed to the Maghreb “union Maghreb Arab”, Idir replied that this name (the Arbic Maghreb) is a sign that the Arabism is still “carrying on its mission.” “The name actually attributed to this region doesn’t respect the diversity in ethnicity of the region, as there are Christians, Jews etc,” he said. He questioned the credibility of the official article that says Algeria is an Arab state, adding that Arabs if they even exist in Algeria, they are not real Arabs, they are Arab-speaking, not real Arabs.On the other hand, he called of the establishment of a secular state, adding that the state should not have a religion, nor dictate to people what religion they should embrace.“The state should guarantee the right of individuals to believe in what they want. Those who want to be Christians, Buddhists or Muslims etc, should have the right to do so, and it is not up to the state to enforce the religion of citizens,” he said.“The state should not have a religion, the state is permanent and eternal, it has no religion and is the guardian of institution,” he noted. Idir has always used his Amazigh music to claim the Amazigh identity of his fellow Algerians in particular and that of the Amazigh people in general.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributedlast_img read more

Dubai Breaks New Years Fireworks World Record

first_imgNew Jersey – Ringing in the New Year starts from one end of the world to the other. But, it was Dubai’s sensational six minute performance that trumped them all.Dubai broke the world record for the world’s largest pyrotechnic display on New Year’s Eve with more than half a million fireworks from the city’s top landmarks including Palm Jumeirah, World Islands, the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab.The spectacle had more than 200 expert technicians logging in 5,000 hours with 100 computers to make sure the fireworks went off at exactly midnight to a musical soundtrack. “The scale of this record attempt is truly impressive and will ensure all eyes are on Dubai,” said Alistair Richards, Global President of Guinness World Records ahead of the event.Dubai shattered Kuwait’s record setting 2012 display marking their golden jubilee anniversary with 77,282 fireworks.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributedlast_img read more

US experts visit prisons meet with officials from penitentiary department

first_imgRabat – A delegation of U.S. experts, on a visit to Morocco, conducted from February 24 to March 5 field visits in four prisons and held meetings with several officials from the General Delegation of the Penitentiary and Reintegration department.A statement of the said General Delegation, on Monday, says that following this visit which is part of the cooperation between the Kingdom and the United States in the penitentiary field, a program of cooperation and a finalized action plan for three next years were set up, noting that the program focuses on the identification of criminal evidence, classification, crisis management and integration.The delegation was composed of Judith McClintock, official in charge of Middle East at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and Stlworthy Donald and Kenneth Braz, consultants in the penitentiary field.last_img read more

Global counterterrorism forums coordination committee opens 5th session in Rabat

first_imgRabat – The 5th session of the Global counter-terrorism forum’s coordination committee opened on Tuesday its 5th session in Rabat in the presence of representatives of over 30 Forum member-states and several other partners and delegates of regional and international organizations.The two-day meeting will be an opportunity to take stock of the priorities set by the Forum which is co-chaired by the USA and Turkey.The GCTF is a multilateral informal platform endeavoring to identify needs of the fight against terrorism by mobilizing the needed expertise and resources and reinforcing international cooperation. Launched by foreign ministers of over 30 countries in New York in 2011 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the initiative’s mission is to support the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy around the globe in close collaboration with the United Nations and other relevant multilateral bodies.The GCTF maintains an inclusive, even-handed, and transparent approach to its work while continuing to be an informal, action-oriented, and flexible platform committed to ensuring that it attracts the most capable and experienced counter-terrorism policymakers and experts to the table.UN under-secretary general, executive director of the UN counter-terrorism committee Jean-Paul Laborde is taking part in the meeting.Morocco chaired the committee between 2012 and 2013.last_img read more

Miami mosque to open doors to nonMuslims during Ramadan

Tinejdad, Morocco – A Miami mosque opened its doors to non-Muslims to share with Muslims their celebration and festivities during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.According to the Associated Press, the Masjid AnNoor in Miami, Florida, held “a fifth annual open house to coincide with Ramadan.”The mosque hosted people from different faiths who joined to learn about Muslim customs. According to the same source, the chair of the Islamic School of Miami said “the event is designed to bridge gaps, open doors and show people what goes on inside mosques.”Built in 1999, Masjid An-Noor is a Sunni dominated mosque that provides its many services to the Muslim community.Lead by the Imam Zakaria Badat, the mosque host about 40-60 Muslims for daily prayers and About 400-500 Muslims usually come to Jum’ah prayer on Friday.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

Casablanca to host 1st Salon Kids World

By Safaa KasraouiRabat – The city of Casablanca will be hosting the premier edition of Kids World Salon, scheduled to run from May 17-21 at Sindibad park.The symposium aims to provide parents who are concerned about their children’s schooling, the opportunity to obtain informed answers to their questions regarding the critical issues currently facing education in Morocco. A space of 2,000 square meters at the park will be devoted to a host of entertainment activities including sports and games, as well as learning and extracurricular activities.“Kids world is a project that is particularly important to us,” explained the inaugural event’s curator, Maria Hammouchene. “Being parents and concerned about the well-being of our children, we wished to bring together the whole universe of the child, where parents, future parents and children can meet professionals from different sectors of activity. From education to games, to all kinds of leisure activities, even culinary activities.”The event will also host other activities including conferences and round tables. These will be facilitated by renowned experts, namely Anne Bacus, author of many best-sellers on education, Abla Benchabir, expert in positive education in Morocco and Hassan Baraka, a high-level sportsman holding many international records.“We want to inform, advise, support and entertain. For this first edition, several conferences and workshops will be devoted in favor of parents and children,” added Hammouchene.The event will also highlight some of the major issues related to education and children’s development. Coaching sessions will be included during the event’s program for parents interested in learning about cognitive development and emotional intelligence. read more

Pediatric Drug Shortage Ministry of Health Denies StockOut Says Allegations Based

Rabat – Following recent allegations by media and social networks regarding a stock-out of certain medicines for children in pharmacies and hospitals, the Ministry of Health has issued a statement denying such “allegations,” stating that these are injections used only in hospitals. The national media insistence on a supposed shortage of medicines in certain hospitals and pharmacies in Morocco led the Ministry of Health to issue a communique Thursday drawing the distinction between a stock out and a shortage. The department of Houcine Louardi denied the existence of a stock-out while acknowledging the shortage of certain drugs in hospitals and pharmacies. The drugs in question are used in the treatment of infantile diseases and some types of cancers. In the statement, the ministry specified that the out-of-stock drugs are Vancomycin and Amikacin, two antibiotic vaccines imported and used only in hospitals. It acknowledged that the mentioned rupture “lasted only 10 days.” Currently, injections are available again in laboratories and drug distribution companies in Morocco.The ministry made no comments on the media concerns that these imported drugs are monopolized by pharmaceutical laboratories, endangering the health of millions of Moroccans. The ministry simply stated that the stock-out of certain medicines is common, even in the most developed countries of the world, like France, which recently experienced a stock-out of some 400 medicines. Furthermore, the ministry claims to have introduced the generic version of drugs composed of Dopamine and Phenobarbital, to compensate for the deficit. The latter will be available “in the coming weeks.”In late July, the Moroccan Pediatric Society criticized Louardi for the disappearance of certain important drugs, whose lack would make pediatricians’ job quite difficult.The ministry refuted the articles and comments published in recent days questioning the feasibility of the treatment of certain medicines, saying that the data informing the claims was far from “any scientific and technical truth.” The ministry said that “the health of the citizen is above all other considerations,” and the “unfounded information” and allegations published in this respect harms patients and affects the Moroccan pharmaceutical industry.In order to compensate for the lack of certain medicines, the ministry said it has “undertaken several measures” to encourage the deposit of generic medicines and to ensure continuous monitoring of the monthly stock by the National Monitoring Center for Medicinal Products. As part of its national drug policy, the department said it aims to encourage the local pharmaceutical industry to provide high-quality medicines at reasonable prices and to reduce imports of medicinal products from abroad. It specified that these measures will allow Morocco to produce nearly 65 percent of its needs for medicines.Pharmaceutical laboratories in Morocco are obliged by law, in particular by Decree 02.263 of June 2002, to maintain a safety stock of medicines to cope with possible shortages on the national and international market. Something they did not do in this case. read more

Grains higher livestock mixed

CHICAGO — Grain futures were Thursday in early trading on the Chicago Board of Trade.Wheat for Mar. delivery rose 8.60 cents at $4.8620 a bushel; Mar. corn was up 6.20 cents at $3.7560 a bushel; Mar. oats gained 3.60 cents at $2.6960 a bushel; while Mar. soybeans was 17.40 cents higher at 9.11 a bushel.Beef was lower and pork was higher on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.Feb. live cattle was off .22 cent at $1.2808 a pound; Mar. feeder cattle fell .13 cent at $1.4382 a pound; Apr. lean hogs rose 1.12 cents at .5460 a pound.The Associated Press

El Khalfi Geneva Western Sahara Roundtable Marked Significant Changes

Rabat –Morocco’s government spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi spoke about Geneva’s Western Sahara roundtable, which convened the four parties to the conflict on December 6-7.On Thursday after the weekly cabinet meeting, El Khalfi said in a press conference that the roundtable on the Western Sahara conflict marked “significant changes” as it brought together the four stakeholders.He reiterated Morocco’s long-held and “unwavering” position that Algeria is a “leading player” in the Western Sahara conflict, a position that King Mohammed VI reaffirmed in his message to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last March. El Khalfi went on to say that through this participation, Morocco showed its commitment to aiding the efforts of the Secretary General’s personal Envoy Horst Kohler in finding a mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict.The Moroccan official pointed out that Morocco has long proposed the idea of finding a realistic solution through its autonomy plan.read Also: Ambassador to Morocco: Russia Remains Friendly with Parties to Western SaharaHe added that the Maghreb region must be a player in the peace, stability, and development of the five countries, and that the aim “is not only to find a solution to the regional conflict but also to lay the foundations for effective regional integration.”“It is impossible to determine the future of the Sahara without the involvement of its inhabitants,” he said.El Khalfi said that UN Security Council Resolution 2440 adopted on October 31, brushed aside the Polisario’s claims that the area east of Morocco’s defense wall belongs to its “liberated territories.”Recalling the resolutions of the Security Council, El Khalfi said that the UN has been clear as it urged Polisario to refrain from transferring some of its “administrative facilities,” to the buffer zone and east Morocco’s defense wall.He also reiterated that the Western Sahara conflict should only be solved within the auspices of the United Nations. read more

SecretaryGeneral Security Council praise Ivorian deal to appoint new Prime Minister

Guillaume Soro, the Secretary-General of the rebel Forces Nouvelles, which controls the north of the country, has been designated to replace Charles Konan Banny as Prime Minister under a supplementary agreement struck on Monday.An integrated command centre, which is tasked with reintegrating combatant forces and restructuring the country’s defence and security forces and will be run jointly by the Government and the rebels, was also established on 16 March.In a statement issued by his spokesperson today, Mr. Ban commended Mr. Soro and President Laurent Gbagbo, whose Government holds the south of Côte d’Ivoire, for the steps they have taken to implement the Ouagadougou political agreement.That agreement, reached in the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso on 4 March, commits both sides to honouring all Security Council resolutions on the issue, including the need to abide by free, fair and transparent elections.It also tackles other key issues such as disarmament, reform and restructuring of the armed forces and the restoration of State authority throughout the country.Mr. Ban’s statement thanked Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré for his work to facilitate this week’s supplementary agreement and assured Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Soro that the UN will work closely with them to implement the rest of the Ouagadougou agreement.He also voiced gratitude to Mr. Banny “for his significant contribution to the peace process, in particular for his tireless efforts to rebuild trust among the Ivorian parties and launch the key disarmament and identification processes over the past 16 months.”The Security Council also welcomed Mr. Soro’s appointment today and called on Ivorian political leaders to implement the remainder of their commitments under the Ouagadougou accord within the prescribed timetable.Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma of South Africa, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency this month, read out a presidential statement in which the 15-member panel hailed the “spirit of compromise and sense of responsibility” that led to the deal in Ouagadougou.The statement reiterated the Council’s view that the agreement provides a good basis for a comprehensive peace deal to end the stand-off in Côte d’Ivoire.The UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) has nearly 9,000 total uniformed personnel in the country, including 7,850 troops and almost 1,000 police with a mandate to monitor the cessation of hostilities and movements of armed groups, help in disarmament and dismantling of militias and contribute to the security of the operation of identifying the population and registering voters.National elections originally slated for last October have been postponed until this year. 28 March 2007Commending the efforts of both sides to implement this month’s peace deal between rival political leaders in the divided West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the agreement earlier this week that has led to the appointment of a new prime minister. read more

Providing medical services part of UN Police role in Haiti Commander

Officers from the Formed Police Unit (FPU) provide free consultations, medicine and hot meals to people from Cite Militairé and Village Solidarité, the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said in a press release, adding that most of those receiving treatment are women and children.“Since our arrival in Haiti, we initiated a policy of taking charge of medical services… officers must carry out development actions outside of their security activities. Thus they provide reinforcement to civilian doctors in offering consultations to the population,” said the contingent commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Hassan Diouf.The most common cases treated are children or adults suffering viral infections and those who have been involved in road accidents. Shooting victims also receive help. In addition, Senegalese officers working with charity organizations, distribute food to the poor three times a day, including inside orphanages.Working closely with the Haitian National Police, FPU officers are also helping restore law and order in the violence-ridden country, through regular patrols and crowd control, efforts that along with the work of other UN and national units has improved security, said Lieutenant-Colonel Diouf.“When I arrived in Haiti the security situation was bad but it is now very different,” he said, voicing satisfaction with the work of the men under his command.In particular, in recent months the mission has stepped up efforts to crack down on criminal gangs. Since the start of the year, more than 400 gang members have been arrested.MINUSTAH is currently staffed with almost 9,000 uniformed personnel, including over 7,000 troops and 1,800 police, along with 444 international civilian personnel, 727 local civilian staff and 165 UN Volunteers. 14 May 2007Along with its security and law-enforcement role, the Senegalese specialized United Nations police unit in Haiti continues to help civilian doctors provide medical services in some of the poorest areas of the capital, Port-au-Prince, its commander highlighted recently before ending his mission to the impoverished country. read more

Angola UN independent expert voices concerns over religious freedom

Asma Jahangir, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, wrapped up a week-long visit with a statement in which she noted that the country only emerged from 27 years of armed conflict in 2002, and that many people can practise their religion freely due to “a measure of tolerance within Angolan society.”But she pointed out that a law on “freedom of religion, consciousness and worship discriminates against religious minorities… It contains stringent requirements for registration including membership of 100,000 persons who are domiciled in Angola.”Ms. Jahangir said several Christian groups and the Muslim community have yet to be recognized, even though they have submitted registration applications. “Other religious minorities have no chance of recognition,” she noted.She urged the Government to reform the law, and said she had been encouraged by its openness to review the code’s provisions. The Rapporteur, who serves in a personal and unpaid capacity, acknowledged that the “Government’s invitation to me represents a commitment to transparency in the area I cover, and also allows outside scrutiny of its human rights record.”In the north-western province of Cabinda, security forces continue to violate human rights, she observed. “These violations and the intra-religious conflict within the Catholic Church are inter-related and represent challenges to the full enjoyment by all of the right to freedom of religion or belief.”Four men were arrested on 12 July for peacefully protesting against the newly-appointed bishop at a mass, and three of them were sentenced to suspended sentences “under a draconian Colonial Decree dating from 1911.”In the course of her visit, Ms. Jahangir received several reports of violence, intimidation, harassment and arrests by State agents of those seen to be associated with the crisis in the Catholic Church, she said.Angola is also affected by a “dominant global trend” linking Muslims to international terrorism, the Rapporteur said, with high-ranking Government officials reported to have stigmatized Islam’s followers in the media.In addition, she expressed concern about the negative impact of witchcraft, which is widespread and has a long history in Angola, with reports that children are sometimes accused by their families of being witches.Ms. Jahangir’s final report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next March. 28 November 2007Although the freedom of religion is enshrined in the Angolan constitution, an independent United Nations human rights expert today voiced concern that the right to practise religion or belief is infringed in the Southern African nation. read more

General Assembly president lauds Bali climate change breakthrough

17 December 2007The President of the General Assembly today welcomed this weekend’s outcome at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, where nearly 200 countries agreed to launch a two-year process of formal negotiations to tackle the problem of global warming. Srgjan Kerim “commends the spirit of compromise and cooperation shown by all parties during the discussions in Bali,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.After the two-week Bali negotiations were extended for an extra day, delegates reached agreement on Saturday on both the agenda for the negotiations and a 2009 deadline for completing them so that a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions can enter into effect in 2013.Under the so-called Bali Roadmap, key issues to be negotiated will be: taking action to adapt to the negative consequences of climate change, such as droughts and floods; devising ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; finding ways to deploy climate-friendly technology; and financing adaptation and mitigation measures.Thanking the Indonesian Government for its leadership during the process and for hosting the landmark event, Mr. Kerim said that he “believes that advancing further on this agreement in the forthcoming negotiations is of crucial importance.”He intends to convene a high-level Assembly meeting – bringing together Member States, the private sector and civil society – on 11-12 February next year to bolster support for addressing climate change in partnership with the UN.Four major UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings to implement the Bali Roadmap are planned for next year, with the first to be held in either March or April. The negotiations process is scheduled to conclude in 2009 at a major summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. read more

UN tribunal stays order temporarily releasing five former Bosnian Croat leaders

22 February 2008The United Nations tribunal set up to deal with the worst crimes committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s today stayed its decision earlier this week to grant provisional release to five former senior Bosnian Croat figures who are currently on trial. The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague stayed the release order issued by the trial chamber on Tuesday after prosecutors filed leave to appeal, voicing concern that the men could be flight risks.Jadranko Prlić, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petković and Valentin Corić – all on trial in what is known as the ‘Prlić and others’ case – had been granted conditional release for varying periods of time until the scheduled beginning of the defence case on 5 May.But the five accused will now remain in the custody of the ICTY’s detention until the appeals chamber issues its ruling on the merits of the prosecution appeal into Tuesday’s order. Their other co-accused, Berislav Pušic, was not involved in the order for temporary release.The accused, former high-level leaders in the Bosnian Croat wartime entity known as Herceg-Bosna, stand accused of war crimes committed in 1992 and 1993 against Bosnian Muslims and other non-Croats in south-western and central Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially the municipalities of Prozor, Gornji Vakuf, Jablanica, Mostar, Ljubuški, Stolac, Capljina and Vareš. The many charges include murder, rape, unlawful deportation, imprisonment, cruel treatment, unlawful labour, the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds. read more

SecretaryGeneral to focus on global health during upcoming visit to Atlanta

Mr. Ban will be convening a meeting at the Carter Center with the Elders – a small group of world figures ranging from civil society leaders to past heads of State – on critical global health priorities, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters. Participants in the meeting will include top UN officials, philanthropists, and global health leaders from the private sector, non-governmental organizations and academia. Mr. Ban also plans to tour the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While in Atlanta, the Secretary-General is scheduled to attend a luncheon hosted by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.He will also join Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin in viewing the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Collection at the Robert W. Woodruff Library.In addition, he plans to visit CIFAL Atlanta, a not-for-profit organization affiliated with the UN Institute for Training and Research, and attend a luncheon with the Atlanta business community.Since taking office in January 2007, the Secretary-General has travelled to San Francisco and Chicago, where he saw first-hand how these two major cities are tackling climate change, as well as to Washington D.C. In February this year he made his first visit to the state of Texas, where he participated in the William Waldo Cameron Forum on Public Affairs at the Bush Presidential Library, located in College Station. 29 April 2008Global health will be the focus of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Atlanta, Georgia, next week, part of his ongoing tour of major cities in the United States. read more

Only political will can bring lasting peace outgoing UN peacekeeping chief says

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who will be replaced by fellow Frenchman Alain Le Roy when he steps down after almost eight years as Under-Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations, told reporters in New York that “the notion that you can enforce a peace is wrong. “What you can do is deter spoilers on the margin of a conflict, but peace has to be made by those who made war,” he said. “You can help them – you can provide a measure of trust in that transition where they’re tired of war but not yet convinced of the good intentions of the other side, and that’s where a robust peacekeeping force can make a real difference – but you’re not going to impose peace with a UN force.” The Under-Secretary-General stressed that peacekeeping was essentially a political process and needed the full support of Member States as well as a united Security Council. He called on contributing countries not to skimp on financial support for missions. “To the financial contributors, to those countries that pay the overwhelming percentage of our budget, I say don’t cut on the missions – you’ll make them more fragile and you can lose the whole investment,” he said. Quoting recent research Mr. Guéhenno told reporters that the general trend worldwide was for a decrease in conflicts since the Cold War, a process that has been accompanied by an increase in peacekeeping operations. But he said that missions should not be launched without proper planning. “I have seen in a number of places, from Liberia to Haiti to Sierra Leone, that a difference was made – insufficient, imperfect – but a difference was made and I think it’s important for the United Nations to be able to continue to make that difference… because for many people it’s their only hope and the UN is the institution of last resort,” he concluded. During Mr. Guéhenno’s term, peacekeeping has seen an unprecedented expansion. Today the UN has 20 peacekeeping operations worldwide, with some 110,000 personnel in the field – not including the joint Darfur mission with the African Union (UNAMID), which is slated to have 26,000 peacekeepers at full deployment. 29 July 2008Lasting peace after armed conflicts can only be achieved when there is genuine political will applied by the parties involved, and not simply when a United Nations force has intervened, the outgoing chief of the world body’s peacekeeping operations said today. read more

Political talks in Central African Republic could herald reconciliation – Ban

8 December 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the long-awaited multi-party talks launched in the Central African Republic (CAR) set the stage to begin a national reconciliation process that is crucial to bringing stability to the land-locked country. “In attending this dialogue, you have put the interest of the nation and the people of the Central African Republic above all other interests,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the two-week gathering in the capital, Bangui. “This is encouraging, and proves your determination to reconcile your differences through dialogue, not violence,” he added. The country has been beset by widespread fighting and armed banditry in recent years, with some 200,000 Central Africans have been either internally displaced by the fighting or forced to live as refugees in neighbouring Chad and Cameroon. In June, the Government struck an agreement with the rebel groups known as the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) and the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) after talks in Libreville, Gabon, facilitated by that country”s President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba. “Stability can unleash the rich potential of the country’s people, and put its abundant natural resources to use for its citizens’ well-being and prosperity,” the Secretary-General said, noting that efforts must be undertaken to fight poverty, build strong national institutions and promote respect for human rights and the rule of law. He acknowledged that conflict in the sub-region will continue to jeopardize stability in the CAR, but noted “with satisfaction” the support of regional States for the talks, and pledged that the UN will do its utmost to help put the recommendations of the dialogue into practice. Mr. Ban expressed his gratitude to Mr. Ondimba for his efforts to facilitate peace in the CAR, as well as to former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya for chairing the dialogue. read more

UN expert finds Egypts willingness to discuss human rights encouraging

“I was able to have open and extensive discussions with key stakeholders regarding the country’s counter terrorism law and practices,” Martin Scheinin, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, said on concluding a visit to the Middle Eastern country.The primary purpose of the visit, he explained, was to engage with officials and experts regarding a counter terrorism law that is intended to replace the state of emergency, scheduled to end on 28 May 2010. During his four-day visit, Mr. Scheinin met with the Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and officials in the ministries of foreign affairs, interior and justice, and also consulted with lawyers, academics, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and diplomats. He also met with the Chief of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, the Public Prosecution and high-level representatives of the Egyptian Council of Human Rights and Parliament, including the President of the People’s Assembly, he said. “I will continue my dialogue with Egypt with a view to submitting a full public report on its counter-terrorism law and practice by the end of 2009,” Mr. Scheinin said, stressing that the report will include finding and recommendations for consideration by the UN Human Rights Council. In that context, he discussed with authorities his wish to visit Egypt again in the near future, he saidMr. Scheinin, a Professor of Public International Law at the European University Institute, reports to the Human Rights Council in an independent, unpaid capacity, as do all UN Special Rapporteurs. 21 April 2009The willingness of the Government to discuss the subject of upholding human rights while countering terrorism is “most encouraging,” an independent United Nations expert said today. read more

Sudan UN agency warns of massive food deficit in southern region

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that Southern Sudan is facing a massive food deficit fuelled by drought and widespread insecurity.The warning comes as Sudan marks the fifth anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended two decades of conflict between the central government in Khartoum and the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.The 2005 peace deal established a semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, and a referendum on independence is to be held in February 2011. In addition, national elections are scheduled for this April. Food aid will be key for the region in 2010, noted WFP, which is aiming to feed 4.5 million people this year in Southern Sudan, where drought has pushed cereal prices up and livestock prices down. In addition, widespread insecurity has displaced families from the places where they had livelihoods. According to WFP, intertribal fighting killed more than 2,500 people last year and displaced over 350,000. Last June an attack on river boats carrying WFP food in Southern Sudan caused a serious setback to food distributions to displaced people in the region, forcing the agency to resort to airdrops to get the food in.“With tribal tensions reportedly mounting, there could be similar disruptions to vital food distributions in 2010,” warned the agency, which hopes to feed a total of some 11 million people across the entire country this year. In a related development, the top UN envoy in Sudan has called on the parties to the CPA to ensure the success of the peace deal in the face of the challenges that have emerged.“2010, which will be the final full year of the Interim Period of the CPA, will present its challenges, and the responses of the two signatory parties will determine whether or not the CPA is successfully implemented and whether or not the peace will be sustained in Sudan,” Secretary-General’s Special Representative Ashraf Qazi said in a statement issued yesterday. “Accordingly, an historic responsibility devolves upon the leadership of the signatory parties not to allow any difficulties, any impediments, or any perceptions to stand in the way of achieving durable peace.” 11 January 2010The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that Southern Sudan is facing a massive food deficit fuelled by drought and widespread insecurity. read more