Tag Archives: un

UN Chief Condemns Iranian President’s Speech at Anti-Racism Conference


Geneva, April 21 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned on Monday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the Durban Review Conference on racism.

“I deplore the use of this platform by the Iranian president to accuse, divide and even incite,” Ban said in a statement.

“This is the opposite of what this Conference seeks to achieve. This makes it significantly more difficult to build constructive solutions to the very real problem of racism,” he said.

“We must all turn away from such a message in both form and substance. We must join hands and work together to achieve a constructive, substantive agenda to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” he added.

The Durban Review Conference, which opened Monday in Geneva, is a follow-up meeting to the World Conference against Racism, held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa.

In his speech to the conference, the Iranian president referred to Israel as “the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.”

He also said the state of Israel had been created “on the pretext of Jewish suffering” from World War II.

Dozens of European diplomats walked out of the conference room to show their protest as Ahmadinejad gave his speech.

The United States, Israel, Canada, Australia and several other European countries had already chosen to boycott the meeting even before it started due to concern that it could be used as a forum to criticize Israel.

In a separate statement on Monday, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights also condemned Ahmadinejad’s speech.

“I utterly deplore the speech of the president of Iran delivered this afternoon at the Durban Review Conference against racism,” said Navi Pillay.

“I condemn the use of a UN forum for political grandstanding. I find this totally objectionable,” she said.

But she reiterated her objection to some countries’ boycotting the conference.

“The best riposte for this type of event is to reply and correct, not to withdraw and boycott the conference,” she said in the statement.

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Britain Will Attend UN Racism Conference: Official


London, April 20 – Britain is expected to attend a controversial United Nations conference on racism, a Foreign Office spokesman told AFP Sunday.

“We’re watching how things develop. It’s still our intention to attend,” the spokesman said ahead of the conference in Geneva Monday, which the United States, Australia and Netherlands have declined to join.

The event, being attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will review efforts to fight racism since the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.

Ahmadinejad, who has described the Holocaust as a myth, is due to address the conference Monday, the anniversary of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s birth.

The spokesman said Britain wanted the conference “to get a collective will to fight racism now” but was “under no illusions about the scale of this challenge.”

“We wouldn’t be able to support a process that was skewed against the West or other countries,” the spokesman said, adding that Britain had certain “red lines” on the issues involved that it would stick to.

“We have argued for the concluding document to have sufficient (content) on the Holocaust and combatting anti-Semitism… we would find it unacceptable if the process seeks to deny or denigrate the Holocaust”.

The British delegation will be headed by its ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Peter Gooderham.

The US and Israel walked out of the 2001 conference in a row over anti-Semitism.

This time, the US has said it is “unable to support” some of the language in declaration set to be adopted by the conference, a position shared by Australia.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands said the conference was “far too important to be abused for political ends and attacks on the West.”

(source ANTARA/AFP)

Israel Will not Cooperate With UN Gaza Inquiry


Jerusalem, April 16 – Israel does not plan to cooperate with a U.N. agency’s investigation into alleged war crimes by Israeli troops and Hamas militants during fighting in Gaza, an Israeli government official said on Wednesday.

Israeli forces launched a 22-day offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in late December with the stated goal of stopping cross-border rockets fired by Palestinian militants.

According to a Palestinian rights group, 1,417 Palestinians, including 926 civilians, were killed in the fighting. Israel disputes those figures.

The United Nations Human Rights Council appointed former U.N. war crimes prosector Richard Goldstone this month to head the investigation into allegations of human rights violations by both sides during the Dec. 27 to Jan. 18 conflict.

The Israeli government official said a letter was sent to Goldstone, a South African judge, through the Israeli embassy in Geneva informing him and the council that Israel believed it was “impossible to cooperate with the committee” in its inquiry.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on Jan. 12 condemning Israel’s military offensive and calling for its cessation was not supported by most democratic countries.

Hamas has not voiced opposition to Goldstone’s inquiry but has yet to say whether it will cooperate. Human Rights Watch on Wednesday urged the United States and the European Union to pressure Israel and Hamas to go along with the investigation.

Goldstone’s four-member team is expected to travel to the region in a few weeks and will issue a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in July, the investigator said this month.

Human rights groups have criticised Israel’s conduct during the Gaza offensive and called for an investigation into possible war crimes.

In addition to looking at Israel’s conduct, Goldstone has said his inquiry would assess possible Palestinian violations of human rights. Militants fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel during the fighting.

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Japan to Call United Nation Meet If Nkorea Launches Rocket: Envoy


UNITED NATIONS, April 3, 2009 – Japan will call for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council if North Korea goes ahead with its planned rocket launch, its ambassador to the UN said Thursday.

“Japan will request an urgent meeting of the Security Council to discuss this issue,” Ambassador Yukio Takasu told reporters. “This could take place this coming weekend.”

He said after a closed-door meeting of the 15-member council that his US and French colleagues strongly supported his proposal.

North Korea says it intends to launch a communications satellite between April 4-8. But South Korea, the United States and Japan see the exercise as a cover for a long-range missile test.

They say a launch for any reason would breach a UN Security Council resolution passed after the North’s missile and nuclear tests in 2006, which bans it from engaging in any missile-related activities.

The Stalinist state has begun fuelling its rocket in a sign it could be in the final stages of a launch as early as this weekend, CNN quoted a senior US military official as saying. There was no immediate confirmation.

Takasu said intense diplomatic efforts were under way to persuade the North Koreans not to proceed with the launch.

He added that there was a very clear understanding within the council that a North Korean launch “affects not only Japan’s security but peace and the non-proliferation regime.”

Takasu would not say whether Tokyo would press for new sanctions against Pyongyang.

“The council should respond firmly, clearly,” he noted. “But how this would be formulated is something still we have been working on, including the possibility of a resolution.”

North Korea has meanwhile warned that any UN sanctions would cause the breakdown of six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

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UN Chief Condemns Killing of Senior PLO Official


United Nations, March 24 – UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon condemned on Monday the “terrorist attack” that killed Kamal Medhat, deputy head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Lebanon, and several of his bodyguards.

“He (Ban) conveys his condolences to the families of the victims. He hopes that the perpetrators of this crime will be brought to justice promptly,” Ban’s press office said in a statement.

“Such actions must not be allowed to endanger the climate of calm that currently prevails in Lebanon,” the secretary-general said.

Kamal Medhat and at least two bodyguards were killed on Monday by a roadside bomb near the entrance of Miyeh Miyeh Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon, according to media reports.

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UN Security Council Demands Credible Polls in Afghanistan


UNITED NATIONS, March 24, 2009 – The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution stressing the need to ensure credible presidential and provincial polls in Afghanistan next August.

Resolution 1868 also renewed the mandate of the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which expires Monday, for another year and pressed for “all efforts to be made to ensure the credibility, safety and security of the elections.”

The text, which was drafted by Japan, recognized UNAMA’s “key role” in supporting the electoral process and stressed the importance of bolstering and expanding its presence as well as that of other UN bodies.

It made clear that UNAMA and its Norwegian chief Kai Eide “will continue to lead the international civilian efforts” to beef up cooperation with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) at all levels and throughout the country in order to improve civil-military cooperation.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon immediately hailed the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate and “in particular, the Security Council’s reaffirmation of the United Nations’ central and impartial role in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” his press office said.

The 15-member council also urged strengthened efforts “to improve governance and the rule of law and to combat corruption at the local and national levels and to promote development initiatives at the local level.”

It also appealed to international donors and organizations as well as to the Kabul government to adhere to commitments made at the Paris conference last June.

Last Thursday, Eide called on the Kabul government to reassure its opposition that upcoming presidential polls will be “fair and transparent” amid expectations of stepped-up fighting by Taliban insurgents.

“The Afghan government must demonstrate that it will do its utmost to reassure the opposition that elections will be fair and will be transparent and that the resources of incumbency will not be misused,” he told the Security Council.

Against a backdrop of a deteriorating security situation, the August 20 polls are seen as a key test of Karzai’s rule, as well as of the seven-year-old US- and NATO-led efforts to stabilize the war-torn country.

The Taliban, driven from government in a US-led invasion for sheltering Al-Qaeda after the September 2001 attacks, have steadily increased their attacks in Afghanistan over the past two years.

More than 70,000 international soldiers, serving under NATO and as part of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom, are helping prop up the Karzai government.

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UN Chief to Open Afghanistan Conference in The Hague


United Nations, March 13 – UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that he would open the high-level conference on the future of Afghanistan hosted by the Dutch government in The Hague on March 31.

“The security situation continues to deteriorate. Elections are coming,” he told a press conference here a day after holding White House talks with US President Barack Obama.

“Afghanistan is at another crossroads,” he added. “This conference offers an opportunity to define a common way forward.”

The upcoming parley is to be attended by foreign ministers and representatives of international bodies involved in security and reconstruction in Afghanistan.

Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a high-level conference on Afghanistan “and the broader regional challenge.”

She said Afghan and Pakistani officials would be invited, with NATO allies, donors, international organizations and “key regional and strategic” nations.

In an apparent, new overture by the Obama administration towards arch-foe Iran, Clinton has said Tehran will receive an invitation to the gathering in The Hague.

Nearly 70,000 foreign troops under NATO and US command have been fighting a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan since late 2001.

Ban meanwhile hailed what he called “the fresh thinking and focus on Afghanistan by the Obama administration.

Wednesday, Obama nominated career military officer Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry as his new ambassador to Afghanistan.

The announcement came as the US leader awaits the results of a review of Washington’s policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan, expected to be concluded by the time he heads to a NATO summit early next month.

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Sudan to Expel Three More Aid Agencies


Khartoum, March 6 – Sudan plans to expel three more aid agencies, bringing to 13 the number of groups ordered out since the International Criminal Court called for Sudan’s president to be arrested over war crimes, an aid official said.

“We have heard that the Sudanese government is set to expel three more foreign aid groups. It looks like the instructions are coming from the top,” the official told Reuters on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

“We fear there could be more,” the official added, and named one of the expelled groups as Medecins Sans Frontieres France.

The arrest warrant issued for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court on Wednesday for atrocities in Sudan’s western Darfur region is the first against a sitting head of state by the Hague-based court.

U.N. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said the expulsions would have a devastating impact on Darfuris.

They said Sudanese security had already begun taking computers and other assets from the agencies’ offices in Khartoum and Darfur.

U.N. and other agencies are running the world’s largest humanitarian operation in Darfur, a mainly desert region in western Sudan. International experts say at least 200,000 people have been killed there, while Khartoum says 10,000 have died.

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Iran Slams U.S. Statement on Its Nuclear Program, Terrorisme


United Nations, Feb. 27 – Iran Thursday lashed out at the U.S. statement on its nuclear program and alleged engagement in terrorism, calling such allegations “baseless and absurd.”

In a letter circulated to the UN Security Council president, the Iranian permanent representative to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee, said, “It is unfortunate that the Security Council yet again heard some baseless allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran by the representative of the United States in today’s meting of the council on Iraq.”

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said the new U.S. administration will seek to end Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its support for terrorism. This comments at the end of an open meeting of the UN Security Council on Iraq drew an immediate rebuke Thursday from Iranian UN ambassador.

“Despite the allegations made by the U.S. representative, Iran’ s nuclear program has been, is and will remain absolutely peaceful and Iran has never tried nor will ever try to acquire nuclear weapons,” the letter said.

“It is unfortunate that, yet again, we are hearing the same tired, unwarranted and groundless allegations that used to be unjustifiably and futilely repeated by the previous U.S. administration,” the letter said.

The Iranian asked Japanese UN ambassador Yukio Takasu, who holds the council presidency for the month of February, to circulate the letter as a Security Council document “since the format of the said (council) meeting did not allow my delegation to make a statement on the council’s meeting,” it said.

“The allegation made against Iran on terrorism is also equally baseless and absurd,” the letter said. “As a victim of terrorism, we have always condemned terrorism in all its aspects and manifestations.”

“Instead of raising allegations against others, the United States had better take concrete and meaningful steps in correcting its past wrong policies and practices vis-a-vis other nations including the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the letter added.

Rice made the statement on Iran at an open Security Council meeting on Iraq, saying the long-term U.S. commitment to Iraq and the reduction of the U.S. military presence there had to be understood “in a larger, regional context” that included Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iran.

The United States “will seek an end to Iran’s ambition to acquire an illicit nuclear capacity and its support for terrorism, ” Rice said. She said the United States will aim to encourage both Iran and Syria to become “constructive regional actors.”

Her comments came as the Obama administration is reviewing U.S. policy toward Iran.

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Sri Lanka Tiger Rebels Say Would Accept Ceasefire


Colombo, Feb 24 – Tamil Tiger rebels told the U.N. and international community on Monday that they are willing to accept a ceasefire with the Sri Lankan government, as Asia’s longest-running civil war may be nearing an end.

But the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rejected calls to lay down arms and surrender, saying keeping their weapons is necessary to ensure survival for the ethnic minority Tamil people in the Indian Ocean island nation.

The rebels said in a letter to the United Nations and international community — including the United States, European Union, Japan and Norway –that Sri Lankan forces use heavy weapons like artillery and multi-barreled rocket launchers which the Tigers say are killing 50 to 100 Tamil civilians daily.

“Already more than 2,000 civilians have been killed and more than 5,000 have been injured. It is painful to see the world maintaining silence on this immense human suffering as if it is amused by what is going on,” said Balasingham Nadesan, the political head of the rebels.

“In this situation, the LTTE is ready to accept the calls for a ceasefire issued by the international community with the good intention of ending the human suffering. The LTTE desires that this effort for a ceasefire grow further into peace talks to seek a political solution to the ethnic conflict.”

The United States, EU, Japan and Norway, which have been key players in the tattered peace process, urged the Tigers in early February to consider surrendering, renounce violence, accept a government offer of amnesty and participate “as a political party in a process to achieve a just and lasting political solution”.

But the rebel statement said the international community should act to stop “the genocidal attacks on the Tamil people” rather than call for the laying down of the arms, and should also press the Sri Lankan Government to seek a political solution.

Sri Lanka denies rebel claims civilians are being targeted, and says it is the rebels themselves who are committing genocide by not allowing Tamil civilians to leave and depriving them of their rights.

“They are the people causing destruction to the entire Tamil community by killing thousands including Tamil political opponents,” said defence spokesman and government minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

The Tiger statement, a copy of which was emailed to Reuters, came after the military shot down two Tiger airplanes on Friday as they raided the capital Colombo. Two people were killed and at least 53 wounded when one slammed into a government building.

The attack showed the Tigers still had the ability to strike far from the shrinking war zone, where troops have rapidly encircled them in just 73 sq km (28 sq miles) of jungle in the drive to end the separatist war that began in 1983.

But the military proved it could down planes from a ramshackle Tiger air squadron that had flown nine previous sorties since debuting in 2007.

More than 50,000 soldiers surround the Tigers in the northern war zone. Estimates of the rebel fighters still in action range from 500 to 2,000. The military says heavy fighting continues.

Tens of thousands of civilians are trapped in the zone, many forcibly kept there by the LTTE and others fearing heavy shelling, according to people who have escaped.

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Unexploded Bombs Gone Missing in Gaza: UN


Jerusalem, Feb 19 – UN officials said Wednesday that several large, unexploded Israeli bombs left over from last month’s war in the Gaza Strip have gone missing in the Hamas-ruled territory.

“A number of aerial bombs and other materiel retrieved in Gaza were being held in a collection area at a traffic police compound in Gaza City,” a UN official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “This has disappeared.”

The missing munitions include three 2,000-pound (900 kilogram) bombs and eight 500-pound (230 kilogram) bombs dropped by Israeli warplanes during the 22-day offensive that killed over 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

“We are anxious to return this ordnance. It’s dangerous materiel and needs to be disposed of in a safe manner,” UN spokesman Richard Miron said.

The UN said it did not know who had taken the bombs and did not accuse the Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza of being involved in the incident.

Israel launched the offensive — the largest it has ever carried out against the Palestinian territory — on December 27 in what it said was a bid to halt the firing of crude, homemade rockets on Israeli communities near the border.

The conflict came to a halt on January 18 when Israel and Hamas declared separate ceasefires, but the calm has been strained since then by dozens of rocket attacks and several deadly Israeli air strikes on the territory.

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Hamas Returns Seized Gaza Aid: UN


Jerusalem, Feb 10 – The Islamist Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have returned aid supplies they seized last week, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA said in a statement on Monday.

“The Hamas authorities in Gaza have returned to the UNRWA warehouses in Gaza City and Rafah all of the aid supplies confiscated on 03 and 05 February,” it said.

“UNRWA will now lift the suspension on the import of its humanitarian supplies into Gaza, which went into effect on 05 February.”

It said earlier that Hamas last week seized 200 tonnes of rice and flour brought into Gaza by UNWRA, and in a separate incident grabbed 3,500 blankets and more than 400 food parcels at gunpoint from a distribution store at a Gaza City refugee camp.

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