THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Wednesday, 9 November 2005
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Guerrouj and Bekele in for Unep session (The Nation)
Nairobi world conference to focus on sport, environment (Xinhua)
President to open sports conference (Capital FM )
Africa loses billions due to lakes' degradation - Unep (The East African)
Países mediterráneos debaten sobre conservación ecología marina (Union
ICMM Calls for More Community Involvement in Preparing for Emergencies
Herausforderungen der Entwicklungs- und Umweltpolitik - Öffentliche
Antrittsvorlesung von Klaus Töpfer (Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen)
Other Environment News
Kyoto to 'reduce Europe's growth' (BBC)
El marciano Go-Go enseña a los ciudadanos a ahorrar energía (El Mundo)
Climate Change Only Partially to Blame (Inter Press Service)
La capitale menacée de pollution (El Watan)
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
UN Daily News of 7 November 2005
S.G.‟s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 7 November 2005
Communications and Public Information, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (254-2) 623292/93, Fax: [254-2] 62 3927/623692, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.unep.org
The Nation (Nairobi): Guerrouj and Bekele in for Unep session
by CHARLES NYENDE
A battery of current and former sports stars are expected to congregate in Nairobi over the next
few days for the sixth International Olympic Committee World Conference on Sport and
The three-day conference begins at 4 pm today at the headquarters of the United Nations
Environment Programme (Unep) in Gigiri, Nairobi, and will be officially opened by President
Mwai Kibaki, organisers said yesterday.
World 5,000m and 10,000m record holder and four-time World Cross Country double
champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia and Morocco's 1,500m world record holder and
Olympic 1,500m and 5,000m champion Hicham El Guerrouj are amongst the star-studded list
of VIP athletes.
They are joined by former Africa Footballer of the Year Roger Milla, easily remembered for his
1990 World Cup exploits with Cameroon, and former Olympic sprints great Frankie Fredericks
Ethiopia's Athens Olympics 10,000 and 5,000 metres gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba is also on
the roster. Fredericks arrived yesterday while Bekele and Dibaba are due in today.
The conference has been organised by the IOC in partnership with Unep to analyse progress
made in sport and environment. Participants drawn from all over the world will discuss ideas on
how sports can be used to aid development.
The conference is expected to outline priority issues on sport and environment over the next two
years. The Nairobi edition follows a similar one held in Turin, Italy, in December 2003.
Presentations will be made by Environment Minister Kalonzo Musyoka, Nobel laureate
Wangari Maathai and Sports Minister Achillo Ayacko.
Other speakers at the conference are Unep executive director Klaus Toepfer, IOC vice-president
Gunilla Lindberg and the chairman of the IOC Sport and Environment Commission, Pal
The athletes will also engage in the "Relay for Life" run on Saturday starting in Kibera and
ending at Sadili Oval Sports Club in Langata.
Kenyan athletes at the conference will include Susan Chepkemei, who finished second in last
weekend's New York Marathon, Isabella Ochichi, Henry Wanyoike, Tegla Loroupe, Richard
Limo, Ezekiel Kemboi, Eliud Kipchoge and Wilfred Bungei. Others are John Kibowen, Brimin
Kipruto, Margaret Okayo and Charles Kamathi.
Xinhua: Nairobi world conference to focus on sport, environment
NAIROBI, Nov. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- The linkages between sport, peace and the environment will
be the main focus at the Sixth World Conference on Sport and Environment to be held in
Nairobi from November 9 to 11, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said here
The conference, one of the key activities under UNEP's long term strategy on sport and
environment, will be attended by 300 heads of National Olympic Committees, international
sport organizations, UN agencies as well as sport stars, according to a UNEP statement.
The three-day meeting, organized by the International Olympic Committee and UNEP, will
review the environmental activities of the Olympic Movement and other sport stakeholders.
Within the course of the conference the participants will take part in panel discussion on key
themes relating to sports, peace, environment and sustainable development.
This edition follows on from the one held in Turin, Italy, in December 2003, where delegates
from all five continents shared experiences and ideas on sustainable development in and
through sport, and how it could be better promoted and achieved.
Capital FM (Nairobi): President to open sports conference
By James Wokabi
President Mwai Kibaki will be the guest of honour at the 6th World Conference on Sport and
Environment, which gets underway at the UNEP head quarters Gigiri.
The conference kicks off on Wednesday and is organized by International Olympic Committee
and United Nations Environment Programme and has attracted sports personalities from around
the continent including Namibian Olympic medallist Frankie Fredricks, Morocco‟s double
Olympic gold medallist Hicham El-Gherrouj, and multi world cross country champion Kenenisa
Kenyan sports stars including double Paralympics gold medallist Henry Wanyoike, Kenya
cricket captain Steve Tikolo, and Olympic gold medallist Ezekiel Kemboi will also attend the
There will also be a special race on Saturday featuring the athletes attending the conference.
The 'Relay for Life' event will start in Kibera and will end at the Sadili Oval in Langata where
IOC will donate sports equipment and material towards the nature and sports camp at Sadili.
The East African: Africa loses billions due to lakes' degradation - Unep
By PHILIP NGUNJIRI
Africa losses billions of dollarsin tourist recreational fees, fishing and use of water from its
fresh water lakes due to environmental destruction.
United Nations Environment Programme executive director, Klaus Toepfer, told the 11th World
Lakes Conference in Nairobi last week that African countries sharing the continent's more than
600 fresh water lakes also face increasing tensions and instability arising from competition for
water among various communities.
Mr Toepfer also launched an atlas, of the continent's fresh water lakes. It compares and
contrasts satellite images of the past few decades with contemporary ones. It brings to light
damaging environmental changes facing Africa‟s lakes. The satellite images show how other
factors, both natural and human, have adversely affected the lakes.
Extensive deforestation around Lake Nakuru in Kenya is a glaring example of degradation.
Compiled by Unep and the University of Oregon in the United States, the atlas assesses the
strength of legal agreements between countries sharing Africa‟s major water systems.
Satellite measurements, detailing the falling water levels of Lake Victoria are also mapped.
Africa‟s largest freshwater lake is now about a meter lower than it was in the early 1990s.
"I hope these images of Africa‟s lakes will galvanise delegates here to even greater action to
conserve and restore these crucial water bodies," said Mr Toepfer.
"If we are to overcome poverty and meet internationally agreed development goals by 2015, the
sustainable management of Africa‟s lakes must be part of the equation. Otherwise we face
increasing tensions and instability as rising populations compete for life‟s most precious
resources," he added.
Lake Victoria, with some 30 million people living around it, supports one of the largest and
poorest populations in the world. Around 1,200 people per square kilometre live in and around
the lake and their average annual income is less than $250.
An estimated 150,000 square kilometres have been affected by soil degradation of which 13 per
cent is severe.
Meanwhile, water hyacinth has caused havoc to shipping and the fishing industry.
However, the introduction of a pest to control the weed has had some impact. Satellite images
from 1995 and 2001 show the hyacinth has disappeared from many of the Ugandan bays such as
Buka, Gobero, Wazimenya and Murchison.
Other images in the Atlas include the rapid shrinking of Lake Songor in Ghana, partly as a
result of intensive salt production, the changes in the Zambezi river system due to the building
of the Cabora Bassa dam site and the shrinking of Lake Chad, which is almost 90 per cent .
The atlas concludes that, in order to reduce tensions between nations, more needs to be done to
beef up shared agreements and treaties to avoid instability in future. It mentions the Volta river
basin in West Africa, shared by Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D‟Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Togo, as
a particular source of concern.
Over the next two decades, pop- ulation levels are set to double to around 40 million causing a
dramatic demand for water. Meanwhile, rainfall and river flows in the region have declined
steadily in the past 30 years. This is partly linked to higher evaporation rates as a result of
The precise number of lakes, both natural and human-made (dams and reservoirs), in Africa is
unknown. But the World Lake Database puts the number at 677.
Globally there are an estimated 50,000 natural and 7,500 human-made "lakes." In Africa
Uganda – with 69 lakes – has the highest number followed by Kenya, 64; Cameroon, 59;
Tanzania, 49 and Ethiopia, 46. Gabon, has eight lakes, the least in Africa, followed by
Botswana, 12 and Malawi; 13.
Africa has about 30,000 cubic kilometres of water in its large lakes making it the largest volume
of any continent in the world. The annual freshwater fish catch in Africa is around 1.4 million
tones of which 14 per cent comes from Egypt.
Union Radio (Venezuela): Países mediterráneos debaten sobre conservación ecología
Representantes de los 21 países de la cuenca mediterránea y la Unión Europea (UE) inician hoy
una conferencia de cuatro días para deliberar sobre una estrategia de desarrollo sostenible que
limite los daños medioambientales y preserve el ecosistema del Mediterráneo.
La XIV Conferencia del Plan de Acción Mediterráneo del Programa de Naciones Unidas para el
Medio Ambiente (MAP-PNUMA) se centra en la discusión sobre planes nacionales que
disminuyan las emisiones contaminantes y la búsqueda de una estrategia que aúne el desarrollo
con el respeto a la ecología marina, según los organizadores.
Otro de los temas que se tratará será la introducción de especies invasoras de otros mares en el
mediterráneo a través de los grandes buques, lo que está acabando con muchos ecosistemas
propios, así como la defensa de especies en peligro de extinción, como la foca monje.
"Debido a las crecientes presiones sobre el medio ambiente marino, la vida en el mar está
poniéndose cada vez más en peligro, y como consecuencia de ello, la calidad de vida en las
regiones costeras está cayendo", afirmó hoy el ministro de Medio Ambiente esloveno, Janez
Podobnik, que asumió hoy la presidencia del MAP por dos años.
En una reunión paralela, también se inicia hoy un encuentro de 70 Organizaciones No
Gubernamentales (ONGs) ecologistas que con diversos actos pondrán el acento en la
conservación de la biodiversidad marina y costera del "mare nostrum".
El Mediterráneo, al ser un mar interior, es especialmente sensible a la contaminación, ya que
requiere de un elevado número de años, entre 80 y 90, según distintos expertos, para renovar sus
aguas, por lo que cualquier accidente ecológico como un vertido contaminante tiene un impacto
muy superior al producido en un océano.
Fruto de la concienciación de los efectos negativos de la polución marina, en 1976 los países
ribereños firmaron el "Convenio para la Protección del Mar Mediterráneo contra la
contaminación", conocido como "Convenio de Barcelona" y que fue renovado en 1995.
Por otro lado, los últimos datos del MAP sobre la degradación marina revelan que el 80 por
ciento de las aguas de los centros urbanos en el mediterráneo no son tratadas antes de verterse
en el mar.
Esto es especialmente relevante si se tiene en cuenta que los 150 millones de residentes
permanentes en el litoral mediterráneo viven mayoritariamente en núcleos urbanos, mientras
que otros 230 millones de personas viajan a la costa para pasar sus vacaciones.
Según los datos del MAP, cada habitante en la región costera genera de media 250 kilos de
basura por año, y parte acaba en el mar.
Por otro lado, existe un constante fluir de barcos a través del Mediterráneo, unos 2.000 diarios,
mientras que el número de petroleros asciende a 300, dado que gran parte del transporte
mundial de crudo se hace a través de este mar, según el MAP.
A esto hay que sumar el impacto que supone la existencia de 250 grandes puertos y 10
refinerías situadas en la costa, además de los vertidos de sustancias químicas de la gran
CSRWire: ICMM Calls for More Community Involvement in Preparing for Emergencies
ICMM releases a guide for mining operations on how to develop an emergency response plan. It
calls for companies to work with local communities to prevent accidents.
ICMM and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have released Good Practice
in Emergency Preparedness and Response, a new publication that covers everything from
identifying who does what in an emergency, to training and proper community liaison.
ICMM Secretary General Paul Mitchell said, “Local communities are often inadequately
informed of potential risks and are therefore unprepared for emergencies. This publication
provides mine site staff with the inspiration and the information to work more closely with their
A fast and effective local response to an incident can be the most important factor in limiting
injury to people. A well-informed, well-prepared community is also better able to deal with the
The new publication‟s model emergency plan was developed in line with UNEP‟s APELL
(Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level) process and is a companion
volume to UNEP‟s APELL for Mining (2001). Together they provide guidance to ICMM
members on meeting a number of their commitments to ICMM‟s Sustainable Development
Paul Mitchell and Andrew Parsons are available for comment. Please contact Ben Peachey,
ICMM Communications Manager, for further information or to arrange an interview. Electronic
copies of the report are available at http://www.icmm.com/project.php?rcd=26. Hard copies are
available on request.
Notes to Editors:
The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is a CEO-led organisation
representing the mining and metals industry internationally. An important part of its mandate is
dedicated to sustainable development. ICMM comprises many of the world's leading mining
and metals companies as well as regional, national and commodity associations, all of which are
committed to improving their sustainable development performance and to the responsible
production of the mineral and metal resources society needs. ICMM's vision is a viable mining,
minerals and metals industry that is widely recognised as essential for modern living and a key
contributor to sustainable development.
ICMM’s 15 corporate members are:
Alcoa, Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, BHP Billiton, Falconbridge, Freeport-McMoRan,
Lonmin, Mitsubishi Materials, Newmont, Nippon Mining & Metals, Placer Dome, Rio Tinto,
Sumitomo Metal Mining, Umicore, Zinifex.
ICMM’s 24 association members are:
Camara Minera de Mexico, Chamber of Mines of South Africa, Consejo Minero de Chile A.G.,
Eurometaux, Euromines, Federation of Indian Mineral Industries, Indonesian Mining
Association, Instituto Brasileiro de Mineraçao, International Aluminium Institute, International
Copper Association, International Wrought Copper Council, International Zinc Association,
Japan Mining Industry Association, Lead Development Association International, Minerals
Council of Australia, Mining Association of Canada, Mining Industries Associations of
Southern Africa, Nickel Institute, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, Sociedad
Nacional de Minería de Chile, Sociedad Nacional de Minería Petróleo y Energia, The Cobalt
Development Institute, World Coal Institute, World Gold Council.
UNEP‟s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the
environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality
of life without compromising that of future generations.
Pressemitteilung Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen: Herausforderungen der
Entwicklungs- und Umweltpolitik - Öffentliche Antrittsvorlesung von Klaus Töpfer
Prof. Klaus Töpfer, Untergeneralsekretär und Exekutivdirektor des Umweltprogramms der
Vereinten Nationen, hält am Freitag, dem 11. November um 18.15 Uhr seine Antrittsvorlesung
im Hörsaal 22 des Kupferbaus in der Hölderlinstrasse 5. Töpfer lehrt als Honorarprofessor an
der Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät und wird in seinem Vortrag auf 'Offene Fragen und
wissenschaftliche Herausforderungen der Entwicklungs- und Umweltpolitik' eingehen.
Der Volkswirt steht wie kaum ein anderer für die Verbindung von ökonomischem Denken und
umweltpolitischem Handeln. Er initiierte nicht nur die 'Recycling-Gesellschaft' und den 'grünen
Punkt', sondern er gilt auch als wichtiger Ideengeber der globalen Umweltpolitik.
'Töpfers Bereitschaft, sich an der Lehre, insbesondere zu umwelt- und
entwicklungsökonomischen Fragen zu beteiligen, freut mich für die Studierenden unserer
Fakultät besonders', so der Dekan der Wirtschaftswissenschaften Prof. Jörg Baten.
Klaus Töpfer ist international bekannt für seinen persönlichen Einsatz für nachhaltige
Entwicklung und eine umweltbewusste Gesellschaft. Auf nationaler und internationaler Ebene
fördert er das Umweltbewusstsein der Menschen maßgeblich und nachhaltig. Er wurde 2002
mit dem Deutschen Umweltpreis ausgezeichnet. Töpfer bereitete die UN-Rahmenkonventionen
zum Klimawandel vor und verfasste etliche Publikationen zu Umweltschutz, Entwicklung, Bau-
und Raumplanung. Zudem wurden unter seiner Führung die Gesetze gegen FCKW und andere
Von 1978 bis 1979 war Töpfer ordentlicher Professor und Direktor des Instituts für
Raumforschung und Landesplanung an der Universität Hannover. Zugleich war er Mitglied im
Rat der Sachverständigen für Umweltfragen. Er war Staatssekretär im Ministerium für Soziales,
Gesundheit und Umwelt in Rheinland-Pfalz, bis er 1985 Minister des Landes wurde. Im Jahr
1987 wurde Töpfer ins Kabinett der Bundesregierung berufen, wo er bis 1994 Bundesminister
für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit war. Seit 1998 ist er für die Vereinten Nationen
Other Environment News
BBC: Kyoto to 'reduce Europe's growth'
By Richard Black
Meeting Kyoto Protocol targets on greenhouse gas emissions will reduce European economic
That is the finding of a new study from the International Council for Capital Formation, a
market-based think tank.
It projects that by 2010, Spain's growth will have fallen by 3%, and that Italy's will shrink by
These are bigger figures than previous studies have found, and their release comes as world
leaders struggle to find a successor to the Kyoto treaty.
In recent weeks, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has become the latest leader to suggest that
constructing a "child-of-Kyoto" agreement involving firm targets for reducing greenhouse gas
emissions will be tricky.
"No country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge," he told a
London conference last week, commenting further that talk of frameworks and targets "...makes
The US and Australian governments have opted out of Kyoto over economic concerns; and this
new analysis of four European states from the International Council for Capital Formation
(ICCF) endorses their view that the protocol will prove expensive.
It concludes that by 2010 - the middle of the four-year period in which Kyoto signatory states
are supposed to meet their targets - Spain's economic growth will be reduced by 3.1% from
what it would have otherwise been, Italy's by 2.1%, Britain's by 1.1% and Germany's by 0.8%.
ICCF managing director Margo Thorning said that these reductions took into account a
projected uptake of green technologies.
"We have a fair amount of new, clean technology already embedded in our forecasts," she told
the BBC News website, "so we're already assuming more use of renewables, more efficiency
and so on.
"We also assume the development of a regime in Europe which all energy use would be subject
to in an attempt to push emissions down."
Currently, the European Union's principal mechanism for reducing greenhouse gases, the
Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), includes only industrial producers.
But most of the EU's pre-expansion countries are some way off meeting their Kyoto targets, and
there are moves to include the domestic and transport sectors in an expanded ETS.
The ICCF analysis suggests this would raise energy costs to a considerable degree, with
electricity prices across the continent growing by an average 26% by 2010.
This means, it says, that economies would suffer, increasing unemployment by several hundred
thousand people in each of the countries studied as well as reducing growth.
Energy prices in some European countries have risen sharply in recent months, though Dr
Thorning acknowledged this had more to do with a changing supply and demand equation than
the Kyoto Protocol.
The differences between the four countries studied by ICCF arise largely because Germany and
the UK are close to achieving their targets already, whereas Italy and Spain are considerably off
Earlier this year a UK government agency, the National Audit Office, concluded that meeting
renewable energy targets would raise energy costs in the UK by 5% by the end of the decade.
Funded as it is by industrial, trade and finance groups, including oil companies, some observers
might not consider it surprising that the ICCF report casts a harsh light on the post-Kyoto world.
"The figures given for Spain are very different from all other studies done so far," commented
Bert Metz of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (MNP), co-chair of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group on mitigation.
"Other studies show changes in the order of 1% if you use options like emissions trading, 2% if
you don't," he told the BBC News website.
"You can get any conclusion from any economic study by choosing your assumptions
The ICCF figures arrive at a time when the picture of a possible international agreement to
follow the Kyoto Protocol is murkier than ever.
The European Union remains committed to a follow-up treaty specifying targets and timetables
for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, like the Protocol itself.
But in July, a group of six nations announced a rival agreement, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on
Clean Development and Climate, which, it was claimed, would bring emissions down through
The partnership appears to be in some disarray, with its inaugural meeting, originally scheduled
for this month, postponed until next year because ministers could not find a mutually
Nevertheless, its message that technology can take the place of targets finds support in some
powerful capitals, and has resonated with developing countries suspicious of what they see as
western attempts to curb their economic growth through emissions restrictions.
"By 2010, the net reduction in global emissions from Europe meeting the Kyoto Protocol will
be only 0.1%," said Margo Thorning, "because all the growth is coming in places like India,
China and Brazil.
"We need to focus on things like the Asia-Pacific partnership which are driven by long-term
strategies to reduce emissions and boost growth.
El Mundo: El marciano Go-Go enseña a los ciudadanos a ahorrar energía
MADRID.- El Minsiterio de Medio Ambiente y la organización ecologista Adena han puesto en
marcha una campaña conjunta para informar a los ciudadanos de los efectos del cambio
climático, así como la forma más efectiva de combatirlo. El marciano Go-Go, que en unos
días llegará a teles, colegios y carteles, enseñará a los ciudadanos las medidas que pueden tomar
para salvar el clima de nuestro planeta.
La propia ministra de Medio Ambiente, Cristina Narbona, señaló que el cambio climático es
"una de las peores amenazas para la Humanidad en el próximo siglo", con consecuencias
sociales, económicas y ambientales de gran magnitud. Sólo en España, la temperatura media ha
aumentado 1,5ºC el pasado siglo, una cifra mayor que la media mundial, y el nivel del mar está
subiendo 1,5 centímetros anuales en el Cantábrico y el Atlántico, y 0,7 cm en el Mediterráneo.
"El cambio climático es una realidad, está ocurriendo, y no vale de nada tratar de ocultarse
de él, más vale prestarle cara", señaló el secretario general de Adena, Juan Carlos del Olmo,
durante la presentación de la campaña 'Salvemos el clima'. "Hay que concienciar a la gente de
que este cambio climático no es un maleficio que nos ha caído del cielo, es algo que hemos
provocado nosotros, que nos hemos ganado a pulso día a día, y sólo hay dos formas d
eluchar contra él: produciendo energía más limpia y consumiendo menos energía", remarcó.
Precisamente por eso la campaña opta por instar a los ciudadanos a que contribuyen en la
medida de sus posibilidades a ese ahorro de energía "todos los días". Utilizando bombillas de
bajo consumo, optando por el transporte público y instalando placas solares en sus casas.
"Ahorrar, ahorrar, ahorra... Esa es la cuestión", dice.
La campaña está dirigida a los hogares españoles, los que consumen el 15% de la energía en
España. "Los ciudadanos tenemos que actuar, y para ello hace falta una gran sensibilización de
la sociedad, porque cada pequeña acción tiene importancia", señaló del Olmo.
Además del anuncio del marciano Go-Go, la campaña incluye una página web en la que los
ciudadanos podrán consultar algunos consejos para ahorrar energía, y una serie de actividades
participativas en toda España el próximo 13 de noviembre.
Los grupos de voluntarios de Adena en Alto Sil (León), Barcelona, Vizcaya y Guipúzcoa,
Ciudad Real, Guadalajara, Granada, Oviedo, Madrid, Murcia, Ourense y Sevilla atenderán
mesas informativas en puntos de afluencia -parques, plazas o paseos- y realizarán diferentes
actividades de información, participación y sensibilización sobre cambio climático y uso de la
Inter Press Service: Climate Change Only Partially to Blame
María Amparo Lasso*
MEXICO CITY, Nov 8 (Tierramérica) - This year's record-breaking hurricane season in the
North Atlantic, with storms like Katrina, Rita and Wilma wreaking unprecedented destruction,
can only be partially attributed to global warming, according to scientists consulted by
Hurricane Wilma, which crashed into Mexico's Yucatan peninsula after pounding Cuba and
Florida with torrential rains and gusting winds, was at one point the most powerful Atlantic
hurricane on record, with an all-time low barometric pressure of 882 millibars and winds of up
to 270 km an hour.
Wilma destroyed hundreds of hotels and tourism workers' homes in the Mexican resort area of
Cancún, turned central Havana streets into virtual rivers, and left millions without electric
power in Miami, Florida..
Thousands of people will continue to suffer its devastating effects for months to come.
But are these harrowing scenes of destruction a direct result of the global warming process
brought about by human activity, as some observers and environmental groups maintain?
The answer is no, according to Judith Curry, a U.S. scientist who has gained notoriety in recent
months precisely because of her efforts to highlight the correlation between tropical cyclones
and the warming of the earth's atmosphere.
"We can't directly attribute the intensity of a single storm, or storms in a single season, to global
warming," said Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia
Institute of Technology in Atlanta, in an interview with Tierramérica.
Global warming is a consequence of the build-up of what are known as greenhouse gases, like
carbon dioxide and methane, which trap the Sun's heat in the Earth's atmosphere.
The primary source of greenhouse gas emissions is the burning of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas
and coal). This warming process has led to a rise in air and sea temperatures and variations in
weather patterns collectively known as climate change.
"This year, in the North Atlantic and Caribbean, hurricanes have been especially intense since
the sea surface temperatures have been warmer than usual and atmospheric circulation patterns
have been favourable for hurricane intensification," said Curry.
Hurricanes form at sea when surface temperatures rise above 26.5 degrees Celsius, and draw
their destructive power from the warm, moist air above the water.
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which does not officially end until late November, has
already set a new record for the number of storms in a single year, with the formation last week
of Tropical Storm Beta, this season's 23rd. The previous record dated back to 1933, when 21
storms were registered.
There are numerous reasons for this, according to Curry. "The exceptional year can probably be
attributed to a combination of greenhouse warming, El Niño, and the North Atlantic
Oscillation," she said.
The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a large-scale pattern of natural climate variability that
has been shown to fluctuate across multi-decade cycles.
Another oft-cited scientist, Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),
agrees with Curry.
In the Atlantic, where only 11 percent of the world's tropical storms are recorded, the intensity
of hurricanes corresponds to natural cycles. "It's difficult to see a signal from global warming
there," remarked Emanuel.
"The terrific damage from these storms (Katrina, Rita, Wilma) depended on the fact that they
made landfall where and when they did, and this is largely a matter of chance," he told
Both Curry and Emanuel have been under the spotlight in recent months following the
publication of separate studies, based on different methodologies, that provide the first
conclusive evidence of an increase in the intensity (not the number) of tropical cyclones around
the world -- including North Atlantic hurricanes -- in the last 35 years, as a result of the rise in
average sea surface temperatures.
Curry was co-author of a study by scientist Peter Webster and colleagues published by the
journal Science in September, while Emanuel's study was published by Nature magazine in
Both believe that the worldwide increase in sea surface temperatures over the last few decades
is partially a result of global warming, although Curry stressed that there is no way to determine
its precise share of the responsibility. And both experts were cautious to avoid blaming this
man-made phenomenon for the destructive force of any specific hurricane.
Emanuel also emphasised that there is no evidence of an increase in the number of storms
around the planet.
"There are about 90 tropical cyclones worldwide per year, and this frequency of storms has been
rock steady," he stated.
The studies published by Emanuel and Curry and her colleagues served to heat up the highly
politicized debate over climate change in the United States, where the George W. Bush
administration has withdrawn the U.S. signature from the Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing
emissions of the greenhouse gases, despite being the world's largest single source of these
After Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, unleashing death, destruction
and 30 billion dollars in damages on New Orleans and other nearby towns and cities -- as well
as dealing a heavy political blow to the Bush administration -- the debate over the role of global
warming and climate change in this catastrophic storm sharply divided the scientific
Some specialists have even refuted the claim that hurricanes have increased in intensity over the
last 35 years, criticizing Emanuel and Curry et al for limiting their studies to satellite data dating
back to 1970, when there is information gathered by aircraft over the North Atlantic going back
to at least 1945. According to their detractors, these data prove that there have been periods of
storm activity in previous decades just as intense as what is currently being witnessed.
A high degree of hurricane activity was recorded between the 1940s and 1960s, followed by a
period of relative calm from the 1970s to the 1990s, until the current cycle of renewed intensity
began in 1995, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Jorge Sánchez-Sesma of the Mexican Institute of Water Technology agrees. "The frequency of
hurricanes in the 1950s and 1960s was intense, and we are now returning to those conditions.
There is a significant contribution made to global warming by non-anthropogenic factors (not
caused by human activity) that have not been taken into account," he said.
Moreover, "the population and cities have grown significantly in the southeast coastal areas of
the United States and on the coasts of Quintano Roo (on the Yucatan Peninsula) in Mexico,
which makes us more exposed than in the past," he added.
For his part, Patrick Michaels, a professor at the University of Virginia and researcher at the
Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, firmly maintains that global
warming had absolutely no influence on either Hurricane Wilma or Katrina.
Michaels is one of the most outspoken critics of what he calls the "media hysteria" stirred up
around global warming, the political motives behind climate change research, and the millions
of dollars in taxpayers' money devoted to this field in the United States.
The federal outlay on climate research is now almost the same as the amount given to the
National Cancer Institute, he commented to Tierramérica.
If hurricanes had actually doubled in power, the losses in the insurance industry would be
catastrophic, and this is not the case, he added.
El Watan: La capitale menacée de pollution
La capitale est, à l‟instar des grandes métropoles du monde, en butte à des problèmes
d‟environnement variés. Ils vont, soutient Mustapha Yala, directeur de l‟environnement à la
wilaya d‟Alger, de ceux plus « courants » liés à la gestion des déchets solides et des eaux usées
urbaines et industriels à des couacs plus « confus » ayant trait à la présence remarquée d‟une
industrie implantée dans le tissu urbain. S‟y ajoutent d‟autres gênes relatives aux déchets
spéciaux générés par les activités industriels dont le traitement nécessite une technologie
« Etant donné que le territoire de la wilaya d‟Alger est dans une situation de saturation, ce
problème reste pendant et mérite l‟attention », reprend Yala en relevant les « infortunes » que
rencontrent ses agents. Evoquant, succinctement les missions de son administration, M.Yala
dira qu‟elles sont « tout sauf désuètes ». L‟application de la réglementation pour tout ce qui a
trait au cadre de vie du citoyen en est la plus « ostensible ». Les campagnes de sensibilisation,
engagées « sous la férule » du ministère de l‟Environnement reste l‟autre rôle non négligeable.
« Nous mettons à profit certaines périodes de l‟année pour vulgariser et sensibiliser les citoyens
quant à la propreté et aux problèmes liés à leur milieu immédiat », renchérit le directeur. Autres
actions plus « pointus », sont les programmes touchant à la gestion des déchets solides initiés
par la tutelle. Ces plans couvrent, selon Mustapha Yala toutes les wilayas, y compris la capitale.
« Il y a l‟élaboration du schéma directeur pour ce qui est de la gestion des déchets de la capitale.
L‟étude, atteste-t-il, est en cours. Elle a été lancée récemment. Tout cela vise la réalisation de
certains équipements », notera Yala. Restent des missions plus « terre à terre » tels les contrôles
qu‟effectuent les préposés de son administration à travers les localités de la capitale. Selon le
directeur de l‟environnement, l‟arsenal juridique a été renforcé en conséquence. « Nous avons
une batterie de textes nous permettant d‟intervenir sans gêne. Preuve en est la loi 01/19 relative
à la gestion des déchets solides et les décrets d‟application y afférent. » Et d‟ajouter : « Les
outils élémentaires sont là. Les moyens, nous sommes en train de les mettre en place pour
pouvoir appliquer la réglementation. Il faut des moyens techniques et des équipes spécialisées »,
dira le directeur en signalant que des cycles de formation sont initiés par le ministère de
l‟Environnement. Selon M.Yala, des équipements sont acquis dans le cadre du programme
enclenché par l‟administration centrale pour la mise en place de laboratoires et d‟équipements
spécialisés subséquemment à des segments spécifiques. Revenant sur les programme initiés
avec l‟apport de la wilaya d‟Alger pour parvenir à ce « Smic nécessaire dans la gestion de la
pollution urbaine », il citera celui relatif à la gestion des déchets spéciaux. La wilaya d‟Alger
étant choisi comme une wilaya pilote tant pour la délocalisation des unités industriels
implantées au niveau du tissu urbain que pour la gestion des déchets spéciaux qui y découlent
tels que les déchets hospitaliers. Point nodal de ce dispositif, la salubrité au niveau du bassin
versant de oued El Harrach. Un projet engagé conjointement par les ministères des Ressources
hydriques et de l‟Environnement est opérationnel depuis peu. A en croire le directeur de
l‟environnement, ce projet englobe deux volets. Le premier concerne la prise en charge du lit du
oued par le ministère des Ressources hydriques pour tout ce qui est de l‟aménagement du
bassin. Le deuxième a trait à la dépollution des unités industrielles implantées dans les
pourtours du bassin de l‟oued. « Une démarche progressive consiste à amener les unités à
adhérer à la démarche de la tutelle à travers le contrat de performance. Ce dernier a été élaboré
par le ministère dans lequel les unités industrielles s‟engagent à prendre des mesures adéquates
pour remédier aux différentes incidences qu‟elles génèrent », indique M. Yala. De même, un
projet « opérationnel » avait été concocté dans le cadre de la coopération avec la JICA, une
firme nippone, consistant en la mise en place de laboratoires pour l‟analyse des eaux usées
industrielles. Aussi, une étude de vulnérabilité est menée au niveau du massif de Bouzaréah et
une autre hors de cette zone pour, relève notre interlocuteur, contrer les risques liés aux
inondations et à la pollution qui peut venir des autres pays. Pour rappel, un dispositif analogue a
été mis sur pied par la wilaya d‟Alger à deux reprises. D‟abord, lors de l‟échouage du pétrolier
au large de la wilaya de Tipaza et des deux bateaux le Batna et le Béchar. « Nous sommes en
train de mener une opération envers les unités industrielles pour leur demander de mettre un
dispositif nécessaire pour lutter contre les risques majeurs, en application de la circulaire R1 »,
informa notre vis-à-vis. S‟agissant de leur rapport avec les Epic à l‟image de Netcom, il notera
leur rôle non négligeable dans l‟assainissement de la capitale. Et le citoyen dans tout ce
charivari ? « Il doit adhérer à notre politique, puisqu‟on vient pour notre part d‟avoir une base
juridique qui s‟ajoute à cette volonté politique qui s‟est manifestée », conclut Mustapha Yala.
ROAP Media Update 9 November 2005
UN or UNEP in the news
Pollution Turns Yellow Sea Into Dead
Donga, South Korea, NOVEMBER 09, 2005, by Jun-Ho Cha Kum-Chun Hwang (run-
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org) - The city of Cixi, located south of Shanghai, is an
industrial complex that provides manufactured goods to nearly 17 million Shanghai residents.
As our research team entered the city, the smell of rotten streams stung our noses.
The local residents repeatedly uttered the words “He chuan de Qi wei fei chang chou”, which
means, “the smell from the streams stings the nose.” Scattered all over the city, scores of
streams, wide and narrow, all share the same color--that of Chinese ink--which is the reason
why the residents call them “Chinese ink streams.”
…In March last year, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) accordingly
categorized the Yellow Sea as a “dead zone,” together with the Chesapeake Bay in the United
States, the Baltic Sea of Scandinavia, the Black Sea of Europe, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Marine pollution has also affected the incomes of fishermen.
Nairobi world conference to focus on sport, environment
NAIROBI, Nov. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- The linkages between sport, peace and the environment will
be the main focus at the Sixth World Conference on Sport and Environment to be held in
Nairobi from November 9 to 11, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said here
ROA Media Update 9 November 2005
UNEP-UN in the news
UNEP plans conference on sports, peace, and the environment
Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - About 300 heads of National Olympic Committees, international
sports organizations, UN agencies and sports stars will convene here Wednesday to focus on the
linkages between sports, peace and the environment, UNEP announced here Tuesday.
Participants at the UNEP/International Olympic Committee (IOC) Sixth World Conference on
Sport and Environment will review the environmental activities of the Olympic Movement and
other sport stakeholders. A release from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says the
three-day conference is one of the key activities under UNEP's long-term strategy on Sport and
the Environment. Kenyan President, Mwai Kibaki will open the Conference, while Nobel
Laureate Wangari Maathai and IOC vice-president Gunilla Lindberg, are listed as key speakers
at the opening. UNEP says African athletics and soccer stars like reigning New York Marathon
and former five-time Olympic champion-Paul Tergat (Kenya), former Cameroon striker Roger
Milla will also attend. Others are Olympic and World middle distance gold medalist Hicham El
Guerrouj (Morocco), retired African and Commonwealth sprint hero and Olympic 100m silver
medalist Frankie Fredricks. Others are Ethiopian megastars, Trunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele
and Susan Chepkemei of Kenya.
Conférence du PNUE sur le sport, la paix et l'environnement
Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Environ 300 présidents de comités olympiques nationaux et
représentants d'organisations sportives internationales, d'agences de l'ONU et des vedettes du
sport vont se réunir mercredi à Nairobi pour se pencher sur les relations entre le sport, la paix et
l'environnement, a annoncé le PNUE ce mardi. Les participants à la Sixième conférence
mondiale sur le sport et l'environnement du PNUE et du Comité international olympique (CIO)
vont passer en revue, au cours de cette rencontre, les activités environnementales du mouvement
olympique et des autres acteurs sportifs. Un communiqué du Programme des Nations Unies
pour l'environnement indique que cette conférence de trois jours est une des principales activités
menées dans le cadre de la stratégie à long terme du PNUE sur le sport et l'environnement. Le
président kényan Mwai Kibaki va procéder à l'ouverture de cette conférence, alors que la
lauréate du Nobel de la Paix Wangari Maathai et la vice-présidente du CIO Gunilla Lindberg,
feront partie des principaux intervenants de la cérémonie d'ouverture. Le PNUE a annoncé que
des athlètes africains et des stars du football comme le champion en titre du Marathon de New
York et ancien quintuple champion olympique Paul Tergat (Kenya) et l'ancien attaquant
camerounais Roger Milla, sont aussi attendus. Comme autres grands sportifs, il y aura le
médaillé d'or olympique et du monde sur mi-distance Hicham El Guerrouj (Maroc) et le
Namibien Frankie Fredricks. Seront aussi présentes les mégastars éthiopiennes comme Tirunesh
Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele et la Kényane Susan Chepkemei.
Guerrouj and Bekele in for UNEP Session
The Nation (Nairobi): A battery of current and former sports stars are expected to congregate in
Nairobi over the next few days for the sixth International Olympic Committee World
Conference on Sport and Environment. The three-day conference begins at 4 pm today at the
headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Gigiri, Nairobi, and
will be officially opened by President Mwai Kibaki, organisers said yesterday. World 5,000m
and 10,000m record holder and four-time World Cross Country double champion Kenenisa
Bekele of Ethiopia and Morocco's 1,500m world record holder and Olympic 1,500m and
5,000m champion Hicham El Guerrouj are amongst the star-studded list of VIP athletes. They
are joined by former Africa Footballer of the Year Roger Milla, easily remembered for his 1990
World Cup exploits with Cameroon, and former Olympic sprints great Frankie Fredericks of
Namibia. Ethiopia's Athens Olympics 10,000 and 5,000 meters gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba
is also on the roster. Fredericks arrived yesterday while Bekele and Dibaba are due in today.
The conference has been organized by the IOC in partnership with Unep to analyze progress
made in sport and environment. Participants drawn from all over the world will discuss ideas on
how sports can be used to aid development. The conference is expected to outline priority issues
on sport and environment over the next two years. The Nairobi edition follows a similar one
held in Turin, Italy, in December 2003. Presentations will be made by Environment Minister
Kalonzo Musyoka, Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai and Sports Minister Achillo Ayacko. Other
speakers at the conference are UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer, IOC vice-president
Gunilla Lindberg and the chairman of the IOC Sport and Environment Commission, Pal
Schmitt. The athletes will also engage in the "Relay for Life" run on Saturday starting in Kibera
and ending at Sadili Oval Sports Club in Langata.
Africa Loses Billions Due to Lakes' Degradation - UNEP
The East African (Nairobi): Africa losses billions of dollars in tourist recreational fees, fishing
and use of water from its fresh water lakes due to environmental destruction. United Nations
Environment Programme executive director, Klaus Toepfer, told the 11th World Lakes
Conference in Nairobi last week that African countries sharing the continent's more than 600
fresh water lakes also face increasing tensions and instability arising from competition for water
among various communities. Mr. Toepfer also launched an atlas, of the continent's fresh water
lakes. It compares and contrasts satellite images of the past few decades with contemporary
ones. It brings to light damaging environmental changes facing Africa's lakes. The satellite
images show how other factors, both natural and human, have adversely affected the lakes.
Extensive deforestation around Lake Nakuru in Kenya is a glaring example of degradation.
Compiled by UNEP and the University of Oregon in the United States, the atlas assesses the
strength of legal agreements between countries sharing Africa's major water systems. Satellite
measurements, detailing the falling water levels of Lake Victoria are also mapped. Africa's
largest freshwater lake is now about a meter lower than it was in the early 1990s. "I hope these
images of Africa's lakes will galvanize delegates here to even greater action to conserve and
restore these crucial water bodies," said Mr. Toepfer. "If we are to overcome poverty and meet
internationally agreed development goals by 2015, the sustainable management of Africa's lakes
must be part of the equation. Otherwise we face increasing tensions and instability as rising
populations compete for life's most precious resources," he added. In Lake Victoria, an
estimated 150,000 square kilometers have been affected by soil degradation of which 13 per
cent is severe. Other images in the Atlas include the rapid shrinking of Lake Songor in Ghana,
partly as a result of intensive salt production, the changes in the Zambezi river system due to the
building of the Cabora Bassa dam site and the shrinking of Lake Chad, which is almost 90 per
cent. The atlas concludes that, in order to reduce tensions between nations, more needs to be
done to beef up shared agreements and treaties to avoid instability in future.
General Environment News
Environment Convention Starts in Munyonyo
New Vision (Kampala): THE World's top environmentalists have convened in Kampala to
attend the largest global meeting organized under the auspices of the Ramsar Convention on
wetlands. Paul Mafabi, who heads the national organizing committee, yesterday said over 1,000
conservationists had confirmed to attend the meeting, which is the first of its kind in Africa.
Mafabi said delegates from over 150 countries comprise the contracting parties (countries that
have signed the Ramsar Convention), NGOs and academics. He said the meeting, which opens
today, would run up to November 15 at Speke Resort and Country Lodge, Munyonyo. Mafabi
said three outstanding environmentalists who have articulated the concept of wise use of
wetlands would be given Ramsar Awards 2005 at the opening ceremony. The Convention on
wetlands is an inter-governmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and
international cooperation for conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Mafabi
said many initiatives to create partnerships have been mooted by different conservation parties.
Uganda became a party to the Convention in 1988 and has since become a role model in the
whole world. http://allafrica.com/stories/200511080323.html
Kony Conflict Has Adverse Impact on the Environment
New Vision (Kampala): A recent study by USAID and the Wildlife Conservation Society is the
first to specifically look at the impact of the conflict in Northern Uganda on the environment.
"The results of this study have important implications for the development of plans for post-
conflict northern Uganda once peace is restored, or as peace slowly returns to the region," the
report states. Given the ongoing unrest in the area, data from the ground is very limited.
However, comparing satellite images of the region from 1985 to images from 2002, scientists
were able to map the trends in woody cover throughout the area. The study has revealed a
combination of increases and decreases in woody ground cover in different parts of the region.
Woodlands in Northwestern Uganda have increased from 12-23% in the districts and from 20-
39% within protected areas. In Northeastern Uganda, on the other hand, there has been a net
loss of woody cover, including losses in protected areas. The degradation has been especially
pronounced in Nakapiripirit, Lira and Moroto districts. The results indicate that there has been
significant natural habitat recovery in the northwest where the LRA has been most active,
corroborating the theory that the land has recovered because people have been forced to
abandon it. The study notes that it cannot necessarily attribute all the environmental changes in
the area directly to the conflict, as other factors such as the loss of elephant populations in the
area and climate changes could also play a role. However, the data correlates with the predicted
effects of the mass population movements caused by the war, indicating that the conflict itself
has been a major factor in shaping the environment. The goal of the study was to compile
information about the environmental changes in the north to help clarify what the impact of the
conflict has been and to inform decisions about resettling and redeveloping the northern region
when peace returns. http://allafrica.com/stories/200511080717.html
Bamboo Solution to Lake Pollution
The East African (Nairobi): WORLD AGROFORESTRY centre (Icraf) has launched a bamboo
project on the Lake Victoria basin as a solution to water pollution. ICRF was asked by the
Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency to develop an ecological wastewater
treatment that would serve the dual function of filtration and purification of polluted Lake
Victoria waters. The development comes in the wake of reports by the Lake Victoria
Environmental Management Project (LVEMP) that Lake Victoria's pollution had reached
alarming levels. One report compiled from findings on agricultural chemicals and metal
contaminants on the Ugandan side of the lake indicated that chlorinated pesticides like DDT,
endosulfan, dieldrin and lidane were detected in the lake's water. In the same month, there were
also press reports quoting scientists from LVEMP saying the lake may burn up to extinction due
to the growing accumulation of gaseous pollutants. However, the report, written by Icraf
scientists Chin Ong and Willy Kakuru says that bamboo is a promising alternative since it can
take up nitrogen, phosphorous and heavy metals. These metals are attributed to pollution of
some of the aquatic ecosystems. The bamboo, according to the ICRAF report, will serve the
crucial dual function of purification and filtration of polluted water and producing Bahamas,
suitable for a range of industrial, domestic and artisanal uses. The project is expected to offer
great potential for income and employment for communities around the Lake Victoria Basin.
The ICRAF project has already started pilot sites in Kisumu to demonstrate the bamboo's
potential for wastewater treatment. The main focus of the project is to expand the project to the
whole Lake Victoria Basin, including Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Minister Calls for Measures to Prevent Air Pollution
Accra Mail (Accra): Ms Christine Churcher, Minister of Environment and Science, has called
on industries and domestic users of fuel to put in place measures to minimize and prevent air
pollution in the country. She said indiscriminate open burning of waste; emissions from
industrial processes, as well as combustion of traditional fuels such as firewood and charcoal for
domestic and commercial energy needs are among the major contributors to the deteriorating air
quality. Ms Churcher made the call at a workshop to disseminate the initial findings of
EPA/USEPA air quality monitoring capacity building project in Accra. The project aimed at
monitoring air quality in Accra. She noted that emissions from these sources pose a threat to
human health and can cause serious health effects including asthma, irritation of the lungs,
bronchitis, pneumonia and even death. She said findings have revealed that road side locations
and commercial areas in Accra have high levels of dust which is likely to affect human health.
In addition, she said, recent study conducted by the Occupational Health Unit of the Ghana
Health Service (GHS) has determined the possible link between air pollution and the incidence
of upper respiratory diseases in Accra. "In Ghana, statistics shows that the incidence of
respiratory ailments ranks second among the top ten diseases in the country" she said. She
hoped that the project would be extended to cover monitoring during the dry season and other
cities such as Kumasi and Takoradi to ensure that the data collected would be comprehensive
enough to guide policy formulation on the abatement of air pollution in Ghana.
ROLAC Media Update 8 November 2005
Big Commitment to Water
By Humberto Márquez *
New commitments for clean water are being adopted by Latin America's environment
ministers. Some 100 million people in the region don't have access to sanitation services.
CARACAS - The fury and quantity of storms and torrential rains that have thrashed the
Caribbean and Mesoamerica, and the unprecedented droughts in Cuba and Brazil put water
resource management back on the Latin American agenda this year, and pushed commitments at
the 15th regional forum of environment ministers, which ended Nov. 4 in the Venezuelan
The region assumes an increasingly difficult commitment to back its plans for watershed
management and programs for residents to have access to potable water and sanitation, said Tim
Kasten, policy specialist for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in a
conversation with Tierramérica.
In the 2006-2007 Action Plan, 33 Latin American and Caribbean governments supported about
50 projects and programs for boosting the region's capacity to supply the population with clean
water, sewage treatment and watershed and coastal management, and to take on the delicate
matter of territorial regulation.
These commitments will be seen in the World Water Forum to take place in Mexico City, said
Kasten. Slated for March 2006, the meeting will bring together experts and officials from
around the globe under the theme "Local Actions for a Global Challenge".
"Rains and mudslides caused by hurricanes have punished watersheds in areas that should never
have been populated, or at least not to the extent they have been. Throughout the Caribbean,
people live mostly along the coasts, and their exposure to natural disasters is greater," Nelson
Andrade, UNEP's coordinator for the Caribbean, told Tierramérica.
Latin American-Caribbean region holds a third of the planet's freshwater resources, but there are
serious problems when it comes to distribution: in Venezuela, for example, 80 percent of the
population lives where there is barely five percent of the country's freshwater. And in the island
countries, this precious resource is on the decline.
One goal established at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg
in 2002, is to halve the region's population without access to potable water and sanitation
services by 2015.
In that situation today are some 100 million people -- or 20 percent of the region's population.
And the management plans must also take into consideration that by 2015 there will be an
estimated 120 million more people living in Latin America's cities.
The ministers agreed that at the World Water Forum in Mexico they would press strategies that
consider water an essential element for life and human health, and that focus on environmental
sustainability and economic and social development, leading to integrated water management,
involving actors from national government to local communities.
The aim is to cultivate the idea of the social and economic services provided by natural
resources, said Ricardo Sánchez, UNEP regional director. "If you eliminate a coastal mangrove
forest to open space for a shrimp farm, for each harvest you'll earn 400 or 500 dollars per
hectare. But then, if a hurricane comes and you no longer have the mangrove for protection, the
economic losses could be so much greater," he said as an example.
"The evaluation of ecosystems shows that quality of life increases with human intervention, but
compromises access to water," warned Fernando Casas, from the Colombian non-governmental
Humboldt Institute. "The use of natural resources doesn't necessarily mean reducing poverty,
but it provides strategic leverage to reduce it," he said.
In addition to that premise "is South-South cooperation, because many of the technologies
employed in developing countries for natural resource management come from the
industrialized North, and tend to be more expensive, which is why the Forum in Mexico is a
great opportunity for exchange," said Kasten.
For Venezuelan delegate Alejandro Hitcher, another important idea has to do with the "culture
of peace". "We've introduced a new notion in this Caracas meeting, which is that we Latin
Americans consider water a tool for peace among peoples, as a counterweight to the discourse
in vogue that the wars of the future will be about water," he said.
The 15th Forum of Environment Ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean, celebrated Nov.
4-5 in Caracas, also discussed renewable energy, chemical management, the importance of
ecotourism and shared environmental management between government and citizens.
BRAZIL: Amazonian Caviar - Banned Luxury
RIO DE JANEIRO - The jaraquí and the black piranha, two abundant types of fish in the
Amazon, permit production of a caviar similar to that made from sturgeon eggs, according to an
experiment by the National Research Institute of the Amazon, INPA.
However, the the study will not have commercial applications, the project's leader Edson Lessi
told Tierramérica, because that would put the Amazon species in danger of extinction, as is the
case of sturgeon. 888
Over-fishing is prevented by banning capture during the fishes' reproductive period. The INPA
study utilized the fish eggs left over at the market in the Amazon city of Manaos.
The black piranha (Serrasalmus rhombeus) is believed to have the additional attraction of being
an aphrodesiac. But the only alternative to produce more caviar, for now, is fish farming of
sturgeon, which is done in neighboring Uruguay, concludes Lessi.
GUATEMALA: To the Rescue of Laguna
GUATEMALA CITY - Authorities here launched a program to rescue Laguna del Tigre
National Park, on the Maya Biosphere Reserve, affected by contamination, over-use and
Among the measures is the creation of a fund of around two million dollars to buy lands and
resettle hundreds of poor families who have invaded the reserve, Ana Noguera, executive
secretary of teh National Council of Protected Areas, CONAP, told Tierramérica.
Also planned are more patrols and monitoring by the army and the national civil police, as well
as granting special-use permits for the reserve, for its sustainable management.
The park covers 289,212 hectares, holds an important international wetlands and forms part of
the Maya Biosphere Reserve, a 1.5-million-hectare area situated in the northern department of
El Petén along the Mexican border.
CHILE: Are They Glaciers or Not?
SANTIAGO - The Sustainable Chile program charged on Oct. 31 that the Canadian company
Barrick Gold is manipulating scientific reports so that the government will allow the removal of
glaciers on the Chile-Argentina border, where the firm aims to establish the million-dollar gold
mining project Pascua Lama.
Sara Larraín, director of the non-governmental Sustainable Chile, told Tierramérica that Barrick
Gold is publishing a report by unknown glaciologists who maintain that the glaciers Toro I,
Toro II and Esperanza (located 660 km north of Santiago) cannot be clasified as glaciers "and,
therefore, can be destroyed," although two months earlier they said the ice masses were indeed
The three glaciers provide the water needed for irrigating the Elqui Valley, in the central region
of Coquimbo, home to 70,000 small farmers -- who oppose the mining project. Barrick Gold is
paying out a total of 60 million dollars to quell their protests against Pascua Lama, charges
VENEZUELA: No Palms, Blame the
CARACAS - The caterpillar of the Brassolis sophorae butterfly are destroying the fronds of
palm trees in Caracas, especially in the Botanical Garden, the 70-acre lungs of the city center
that had aimed to establish Latin America's leading palm tree collection, says director Mariflor
Entomologist Yasmín Contreras told Tierramérica that the areas hardest hit in the city are Los
Caobos Park, with several tree-covered hectares alongside the Botanical Garden, and the
neighborhoods where there are a lot of chaguaramo or royal palms (Roystonea regia).
This pest is harmless to humans, noted Contreras. So far, the Ministry of Environment has been
fighting the problem by collecting the species' pupae and larvae in public sites and homes,
eliminating them later by submerging them in oil or in concentrated liquid soap.
CUBA: Wilma Left a Lot of Water
HAVANA - The rains brought by Hurricane Wilma alleviated the drought that had plagued
Cuba, with evident benefit for the island's agricultural areas, according to farmers consulted by
"It began to rain here long before Wilma, in August, and we practically didn't need to irrigate
the rice paddies. Harvesting was a bit complicated with so much water, but the grain has already
dried," said Rubén Torres, owner of a farm in the central province of Villa Clara, where earlier
this year the fields were long parched from the drought.
The Cuban Water Resources Institute announced in early November that the 235 reservoirs
exploited throughout the country, with a total capacity of nine billion cubic meters of water, are
at 72 percent of their volume.
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
8 November, 2005
SYRIA'S ASSAD ASSURES ANNAN HE WILL COOPERATE WITH PROBE INTO
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has assured Secretary-General Kofi Annan
that he will cooperate with the United Nations-sponsored independent probe
into the terrorist assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik
Hariri, following an interim finding that pointed to both Lebanese and
Speaking to reporters during an official visit to Egypt, Mr. Annan said
Syria had indicated it will cooperate fully and "I myself have had the
chance to speak to President Assad after the passing of the [Security
Council] Resolution and he confirmed that to me."
Resolution 1636, passed unanimously last week, called on Syria to detain
Syrian suspects identified by the UN International Independent
Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), headed by German prosecutor Detlev
Mehlis, and clarify all unresolved issues. It holds out the possibility of
"further action" in the case of non-compliance.
Answering questions after meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed
Aboul Gheit, Mr. Annan noted that recently Syria "has had a good record in
implementation" of UN resolutions, cooperating on Resolution 1559 on
withdrawing its troops from Lebanon.
"The last Lebanese elections were free and fair without any interference
from the outside, as far as we know," he said, referring to another clause
of Resolution 1559, "and I would expect Syria to continue the cooperation
with the investigation and work with Mehlis.
"I think if they do cooperate and we get to the truth and the culprits are
brought to the dock and made accountable that should be the end of it. I
think whoever did this should be punished and the message must go out that
the impunity will not be allowed to stand."
Asked about sanctions on Syria in the case of non-compliance, Mr. Annan
stressed his expectation that Syria should cooperate fully. "If Syria were
not to cooperate and sanctions were to become a possibility, and
probability, obviously the Council will have to decide what type of
sanctions it will impose," he said.
But, he added, his answering the question on sanctions "does not imply
that the Council is planning sanctions. The whole thing is in the hands of
the Syrians and the Syrian government, if they cooperate fully and we get
to the truth, I think that should suffice and that is what I would urge
them to do," he declared.
Fielding questions on other topics, Mr. Annan said "things are not moving
fast enough" in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and he called
the Arab League plan for an Iraq Reconciliation conference was a very good initiative.
"If we are not able to help the parties in Iraq reconcile, elections alone
are not going to resolve their problems," he said. "So I am extremely
encouraged by the Arab League initiative to bring the parties here to
Egypt for talks on reconciliation and we at the UN support that fully."
In his talks with Foreign Minister Gheit, Mr. Annan also discussed Lebanon
and Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea and the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
He also met with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.
The Secretary-General also visited the "Smart Village," a technology
centre built by the Egyptian Government outside of the capital, where he
toured a number of high-tech projects, accompanied by Prime Minister Ahmed
Nazif. The two had met earlier to discuss development issues in Africa.
Meanwhile, Mr. Annan's wife Nane visited the National Council of Women
together with Suzanne Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt. She also visited a
slum upgrading project designed to promote peace through poverty
reduction, community participation and youth engagement, and she met with
a group of prominent Egyptian women active in development issues.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF MULTINATIONAL FORCE IN
The United Nations Security Council decided unanimously today to extend
the mandate of the United States-led multinational force in Iraq by one
year, until the end of 2006, unless the Iraqi Government requests it leave earlier.
Through previous resolutions, the Council had decided that the Force's
mandate could be reviewed or terminated should the Iraqis ask, but would
nonetheless expire once a permanent Government was constitutionally
elected by the end of 2005.
Under today's resolution, the Council also decided to extend until 31
December 2006 the arrangements for depositing proceeds from export sales
of petroleum, petroleum products, and natural gas into the Development
Fund of Iraq (DFI), which was established in May 2003 to administer
proceeds from those commodities as well as funds remaining from the United
Nations "Oil-for-Food" Programme and other assets seized from the former regime.
Speaking after the vote, US Ambassador John Bolton said he was pleased
that the Council had been able to come together quickly and unanimously to
respond to the Iraqi Government's request for continued support.
He urged the international community, "especially the Arab world," to
support the Iraqi people. "That support comes in many forms –
participation in the Coalition, contribution to Iraq's humanitarian and
reconstruction activities, increased diplomatic engagement, and compliance
with relevant resolutions," Ambassador Bolton said.
Iraq's representative, Samir Shakir Mahmood Sumaida'ie, expressed his
appreciation for the Council's response to the request by his Prime
Minister – who asked for the extension in a letter earlier this week – as
well as for the manner in which the resolution had been adopted, in an
environment of harmony and agreement.
Stressing that the foreign forces in Iraq must maintain their temporary
status, France's representative, Michel Duclos, emphasized the clarity of
the provision of the text that said the future government, at any time,
would be able to request that the mandate be continued or ended.
ANNAN CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON IRAQI TRIBUNAL DEFENCE COUNSELLORS
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today condemned what he called
"brutal" attacks, two of which were fatal, on three attorneys defending
officials of the regime of Saddam Hussein in a trial that began on 19
In particular, he cited the "cold-blooded murders" of counsellors to the
Special Iraqi Criminal Tribunal Adel al-Zubeidi today and Saadoun
al-Janabi last month, according to a UN spokesperson.
"These actions undermine efforts to uphold the cause of justice and the
rule of law in Iraq. In this regard, it is vitally important that the
security of all involved with the Tribunal should be equally assured to
ensure a trial free from intimidation and coercion," the spokesperson said.
"The Secretary-General hopes that the Tribunal will uphold the
international standards of justice necessary to ensure its legitimacy,
fairness and independence," she added.
In other news from Iraq today, Mr. Annan's senior envoy in that country
praised the conduct of the Independent Election Commission of Iraq (IECI),
which oversaw the 15 October constitutional referendum and other polls of
the past year in the strife-torn country.
"The IECI preserved the levels of transparency and accountability that are
consistent with internationally accepted standards and practices for
verification of the votes," Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the Special
Representative of the Secretary-General, said as the results of the field
audit of last month's referendum were released.
"The IECI has overseen 22 different elections in Iraq in one year, a
remarkable task by any standard," he added.
The UN, which has a mandate to provide strategic advice and technical
assistance to the IECI under Security Council Resolution 1546, has been
supporting the IECI since its establishment in May 2004. Under the
coordination of the UN Electoral Assistance Team, some 45 foreign
specialists provided advice and technical support to IECI headquarters and
its 1,000 staff members for the organization of the referendum.
The IECI hired more than 100,000 polling staff across the country and
carried out a public outreach campaign featuring television commercials,
leaflets and education materials. It also trained staff and provided
materials for polling stations.
EGYPTIAN UN OFFICIAL KILLED IN IRAQ TERROR EMBODIES ALL UN STANDS
FOR – ANNAN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today eulogized an Egyptian United Nations
official killed in the 19 August, 2003, terrorist attack on UN
headquarters in Baghdad as an exemplar of all that the international
organization is striving to achieve in a world free from poverty,
terrorism, insecurity and the abuse of human rights.
"The lesson we must learn from her tragic death is that we need to work
even harder to spread enlightenment and tolerance, and to overcome
extremism and intolerance," Mr. Annan said in the Nadia Younes Memorial
Lecture at the American University in Cairo.
The attack which killed Ms. Younes, a 33-year veteran of UN service, along
with the top UN envoy in Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello and 20 others, was
not resistance to foreign occupation but murder and terrorism, he
"If anything can make such murders even worse, it is the fact that they
appear to be part of a deliberate strategy to foster division and hatred,
both within Iraq and in the wider world. The objective, it seems, is to
turn Muslims not only against the west but against each other," he said.
"We must break free from these cycles of violence and exclusion, which are
stifling the human spirit. But we cannot do so by replying in kind. If we
respond blindly to violence with violence, to anathema with anathema, to
exclusion with exclusion, we will be accepting the logic of the very
people we seek to defeat, and thereby helping them win new converts to
their ideas," he added.
"On the contrary, we must respond to their logic with our own logic – the
logic of peace, of reconciliation, of inclusion and mutual respect. We
must resolve, even more firmly, to build nations within which people of
different communities can coexist, and enjoy equal rights."
Such resolve entails making the Middle East "a region where all nations,
including Israelis and Palestinians, can live side by side in peace and
justice, each in their own state, within secure and recognized boundaries,
free from threats or acts of force," Mr. Annan said.
It entails, too, building a world in which no nation or community will be
punished collectively for the crimes of some of its members, in which no
religion will be demonized for the aberrations of some of its adherents,
in which there will be no 'clash of civilizations,' because people will
strive to discover the best in each other's traditions and cultures, and
to learn from it, he said.
"That is the kind of world that Nadia Younes stood for," he continued. "If
we lose the battle against poverty, disease, injustice and environmental
degradation, we will all lose. If we allow conflict to persist between
nations, or within them, we will all lose. If we allow the continued
proliferation of nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons,
we will all lose. If we lose the battle against terrorism, we will all
"But if we win the battle for justice – which means balanced and
sustainable development, collective security, and universal human rights,
underpinned by the rule of law both among nations and within them – then
we will all win," Mr. Annan declared.
"Those are not separate battles, but one – because, in the long run, we
will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security
without development, and we will enjoy neither without respect for human
"To justice in that broad sense, comprising those three essential aspects
of the UN's mission, Nadia Younes devoted, and in the end, sacrificed her
life. The best way for us to commemorate her is to work even harder to
achieve that goal," he concluded.
UN ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT ACCELERATES WORK ON DEVELOPMENT,
Seeking to carry out decisions made at the September World Summit, the
President of the United Nations General Assembly has accelerated work in
the areas of development and management reform, his spokesman said today.
Pragati Pascale told reporters in New York that Assembly President Jan
Eliasson has received support for his proposals to appoint lead
negotiators on those issues.
The proposals are contained in a letter sent by the President to the 191
Member States late last week. In it, he assesses progress achieved so far
in implementing the Summit's "Outcome Document" and charts a course for
Talks on the Peacebuilding Commission, which would aim to help
post-conflict countries, have been "constructive," he wrote, predicting
that the new body would be operational by the end of the year.
Negotiations on the new Human Rights Council, slated to replace the
Commission on Human Rights, will intensify at the end of this month,
according to the letter. "We must aim to reach an agreement before the end
of the year, also for budgetary and practical reasons," the President
wrote. "The earlier we have a decision establishing the Council, the
earlier we can start working on the necessary transitional arrangements
with the present Commission on Human Rights."
Also expected to be ready by the end of this year is a comprehensive
convention against terrorism. "In the wake of recent terrorist atrocities,
we must redouble our efforts to bring this about," he urged.
On humanitarian issues, he said that the need for the Central Emergency
Revolving Fund to finance relief efforts has been "dramatically underlined
by recent natural disasters."
In order to achieve "balanced and comprehensive progress," he called for
work on development – specifically aimed at meeting international targets
for cutting poverty – and management reform. Towards that end, he proposed
a consultation process geared towards advancing agreement.
The General Assembly President said the very credibility of the body he
now leads is at stake. "As we continue our work, we must not lose sight of
this unique opportunity to reassert the relevance of the General Assembly
to the major international issues of our age," he wrote to the members.
UN-SPONSORED FORUM EXPLORES WAYS TO GET FINANCIAL SERVICES TO
The governors of several central banks, recipients of micro-business loans
and other business people from around the globe attempted to zero in on
the most effective ways to get credit to the poor, as a forum on
microcredit, or grassroots financial services, continued today as part of
the International Year of Microcredit 2005.
A highlight of the proceedings, on the second day of the three-day forum,
were testimonials of micro-entrepreneurs from developing nations whose
lives have been changed by access to credit. They included Shakila
Sarajulldin, an Afghani woman who – despite having tried to kill herself
by self-immolation because of marital abuse – supports her three children
with a tailoring business in Kabul she began with a loan worth the
equivalent of $100.
Along with his partner Ernesto Silva Toledo, Milkov Machaca, a 26 year-old
engineer from Tacna, Peru, produces 3,000 litres of homemade beer per
month, supports five employees, and is successfully competing with the
industrially-produced beer which was the only kind previously available in
his area. The business began with a $5,000 line of credit.
Other speakers came from Bangladesh, China, India, Liberia, Malawi, Sierra
Leone and South Africa. All nine will be given awards tonight at a United
Nations Headquarters gala hosted by Tim Robbins, Jennifer Lopez and Marc
Anthony, among other celebrities.
During the International Year of Microcredit, the World Bank and the
Consultative Group to Assist the Poor are working with national committees
around the world to host a series of events and conferences to highlight
the importance of microfinance in the fight against poverty, as they also
develop strategies and resources to reach an estimated 3 billion people
who lack access to formal financial services.
In past decades, the World Bank says, microfinance has evolved from the
provision of small loans to help start businesses to a vision of creating
financial systems in developing countries where none exist.
UN ENVOY TO LIBERIA SAYS RUN-OFF ELECTION WAS CONDUCTED
The run-off election in Liberia between leading presidential contenders
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and George Oppong Weah was conducted in a peaceful
and transparent manner, the senior United Nations envoy to the West
African country said today.
In a statement made after visiting polling places in Buchanan and Gbarnga
and across Monrovia, Alan Doss said the process was free of disruption or
"Today's run-off election offers the people of Liberia the opportunity to
leave behind the war that has wrecked this country for so long and to
enter into a future of peace and stability," said Mr. Doss, who is the
Secretary-General's Special Representative for Liberia.
All of Liberia's 3,070 polling places were open, with polling staff
standing by, and voting took place without obstruction to the Liberians
who chose to vote.
Mr. Doss refrained from commenting on turnout, pending a count, and from
assessing yet whether the voting was free and fair. He also appealed to
the candidates "to urge their supporters to be patient in waiting for the
results and to accept the results peacefully."
Civilian police and troops from the UN peacekeeping operation in Liberia (
UNMIL) were deployed at key locations and patrolled very visibly across
the country to ensure a secure voting environment. Five arrests, including
three for assault, were reported, according to Mr. Doss, who noted that
hundreds of international observers and thousands of domestic observers
were on hand to witness and report on any challenges to the proper
administration of this run-off election.
"While we do not know this evening which of the two candidates will be
chosen as the newly elected leader of Liberia, we do know that today,
Liberian voters have taken a major step towards rebuilding their nation,"
the envoy said.
ACCUSED SURRENDERS TO UN TRIBUNAL ON RWANDAN GENOCIDE
The man who served briefly as interim Rwandan interior minister during the
peak months of the 1994 genocide and is accused of helping to coordinate
the slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus turned himself in today to the
United Nations criminal tribunal in Tanzania, bringing the number arrest to 72.
Calixte Kalimanzira, 52, has been transferred to the UN Detention Facility
in Arusha, Tanzania, and is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide,
and with direct and public incitement to commit genocide, the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said.
In April and May, when he was interim interior minister, he is alleged to
have coordinated efforts to begin the killings from 6 April and 19 April
in Butare prefecture, an area where Tutsis had not previously been subject
to widespread attack.
He is specifically charged with making inflammatory speeches that called
for the elimination of all Tutsis, including women, children and the
elderly, distributing weapons to be used against Tutsis, supervising the
killings of thousands of Tutsis at their places of refuge and personally
beating a number of Tutsis to death.
With the 100-day genocide being orchestrated by the Hutu Government then
in power, members of the army and the Interahamwe Hutu militia led the
massacre of hundreds of thousands of minority Tutsis, as well as Hutu
political moderates. The killings ended when Tutsi-led rebels, under
President Paul Kagame, took over the Government of the former Belgian colony.
The UN Security Council set up the ICTR in November 1994. It has so far
convicted 22 people, acquitted three and released two conditionally. Seven
of the 22 convictions are being appealed.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ISSUES ANNUAL CALL FOR AN END TO US EMBARGO
For the 14th year in a row, the United Nations General Assembly today
overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for an end to the 41-year-old
commercial, economic and financial embargo by the United States against
Cuba and objecting to laws and regulations compelling third countries to
adhere to it.
The resolution passed with a vote of 182 in favour to four against
(Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau and United States) with one abstention
(Federates States of Micronesia). Last year's resolution garnered 179 in
favour with the same countries voting no and abstaining.
Introducing the resolution, Cuba's Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque
said that over the decades-long blockade, the measures had not been
enforced with such brutality as in the last 18 months. As a result, for
the first time an American would be barred from smoking a Cuban cigar even
when travelling to another country. "Such insanity should go into the
Guinness Book of World Records," he said.
Travel to Cuba from the United States and elsewhere had dropped markedly
since the imposition of the heightened sanctions. The blockade had cost
Cubans nearly $82 billion, and had as well deprived the United States of
low-cost goods, cholesterol-reducing drugs, drugs for HIV/AIDS and much more.
The Foreign Minister claimed the strengthened embargo was an economic war
against Cuba, carried out on a global scale.
Ambassador Ronald Godard of the United States said his country's trade
embargo against Cuba was merely bilateral, or a matter between the two
countries, which should not come before the Assembly. However, since Cuba
had raised the issue, he responded that Cuban President Fidel Castro was
using it to try to blame the United States for the failures his economic
"If the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry or without medical care, as Mr.
Castro admits, it is because of his economic mismanagement, not because of
the embargo," he said.
He said that the Cuban President continued with his "cynical and baseless"
claims that the embargo denied Cuba access to food and medicine, but he
knew that since 1992, the United States had licensed over $1.1 billion in
the sale and donation of medicines and medical equipment to the Cuban
people, as well as over $5 billion worth of agricultural commodities in
the past five years.
In its resolution the Assembly reiterated that, since its first resolution
on the matter in 1992, the United States had taken further measures to
strengthen and extend the restrictions, adversely affecting the Cuban
people at home and abroad.
It also expressed concern about the implementation of laws and
regulations, such as the US's Helms-Burton Act of March 1996, "the
extraterritorial effects of which affect the sovereignty of other States,
the legitimate interest of entities or persons under their jurisdiction
and the freedom of trade and navigation."
It noted that the declarations and resolutions of different governments,
intergovernmental forums and bodies had rejected those laws and
regulations and it called on all states to repeal or invalidate them as
soon as possible.
Among those countries speaking on lifting the United States embargo
against Cuba today were the representatives of Jamaica on behalf of the
"Group of 77" developing countries and China, Saint Lucia on behalf of the
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Uruguay on behalf of the Southern Common
IN BURUNDI, SECURITY COUNCIL DELEGATION LAUDS SUCCESS OF POLITICAL
Calling Burundi an example of political success for the Central African
region and beyond, the leader of a United Nations Security Council
delegation on a fact-finding trip through Central Africa has pledged
support for the country, emerging from ethnic clashes, as it undertakes
the challenging recovery effort.
"We come to render homage to the Burundian people and their
representatives who knew how to develop an approach based on dialogue,
sharing and consensus and has succeeded remarkably in completing this
transition," the Permanent Representative of France, Ambassador Jean-Marc
de La Sablière, told journalists in Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, after
the delegation arrived yesterday.
In that regard, Burundi still had to complete disarmament, the rebel
political holdout National Liberation Forces (FNL) should rejoin the peace
camp and reconstruction must go forward, he said.
The Council was also supporting the UN Operations in Burundi (ONUB), which
had supported Burundi remarkably in its efforts, and it was also scheduled
to meet the recently elected President of the Republic and the Government,
Mr. de La Sablière said.
The delegation's 10-day schedule includes visits to Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC), Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, which have had conflicts, and
Tanzania, which has acted as both mediator and refugee host.
AMID ERITREAN-ETHIOPIAN TENSION, UN SECURITY COUNCIL ENVOY
Visiting Ethiopia and Eritrea amid concerns that deteriorating relations
could lead to fresh fighting between the two countries, which fought a
bitter border war from 1998 to 2000, a United Nations Security Council
envoy today received a briefing from UN military observers but no
explanation from the Asmara Government as to why it has banned flights
over Eritrean territory.
The Chairman of the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping
Operations, Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, who yesterday conferred with
Ethiopian officials, today visited the Eritrean capital of Asmara and
operational sectors affected by Eritrea's ban on UN helicopter flights.
All the observers stressed the debilitating effects of the ban on freedom
of movement and the challenge this posed for the UN Mission in Ethiopia
and Eritrea's (UNMEE) ability to fulfil its mandate to monitor the
ceasefire between the two countries. The ban forced UNMEE to vacate 18 of
40 locations in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) because they had become
no longer operationally viable.
In Asmara, Mr. Oshima met the Acting Chief Representative for Coordination
with UNMEE as well as the Director in the Office of Eritrean President
Asked whether there was any progress on the issue of humanitarian flights,
he said that the issue was raised with the Director of the Office of the
President, but no concrete answer was given. Last month permission was not
forthcoming for the helicopter evacuation of two UNMEE personnel injured
in a road accident.
Mr. Oshima told the press he would report to the Security Council on what
he has seen and heard "so that the Council as a whole will be able to make
a good judgment" that will above all promote peace between both countries.
Last month, warning that the serious deterioration of the situation could
lead to "another round of devastating hostilities," Secretary-General Kofi
Annan called on the Council to ensure that Eritrean restrictions on UN
peacekeepers were lifted.
But he also urged the 15-member body to address the underlying causes of
the stalemate in the peace process, including Ethiopia's opposition to
significant parts of the agreed Boundary Commission's binding demarcation decisions.
Since then, UNMEE has reported movements of military personnel on both
sides of the TSZ and irregular activities inside the Zone, including small
and large military and paramilitary formations, and the movement of armour
and aerial defence equipment.
PAKISTAN: UN AND PARTNERS PRESS ON WITH RELIEF EFFORTS 1 MONTH
Stepping up relief to the victims of Pakistan's devastating earthquake,
the United Nations and the inter-governmental International Organization
for Migration (IOM) now have 300 staff in the disaster area, the UN Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.
Giving a balance sheet of operations in the first month since the 8
October disaster, OCHA cited on the health front the prevention of
epidemic outbreaks of major communicable diseases as a big achievement,
with 300,000 children vaccinated against measles so far.
Among other recent achievements, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has
helped fix the Muzaffarabad water supply system, which serves more than
200,000 people and is now 90 per cent restored. UNICEF has also provided
more than 1 million packets of chlorine to rural populations, while the UN
World Food Programme (WFP) has donated more than 8,300 tons of high-energy
On education, UNICEF has delivered 300 'school-in-a-box' kits and worked
with partners to establish 36 tent schools.
Bearing in mind the lack of funding for the flash appeal – with only $133
million of the $550 million sought so far contributed or pledged – the UN
and its partners have decided to target up to 200,000 people living in
high altitude valleys above the snowline who may become inaccessible
within the next four weeks, as well as an estimated 150,000 people who may
choose to move down to the lower valleys.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that it would
be providing half a million blankets and over 20,000 family tents from its
global stocks, but the Pakistani Government says more than 241,000 tents
are needed together with 3.8 million blankets – or two per head.
"We are continuing to look for additional sources of supplies, but our
efforts are still hobbled by a lack of funds," agency spokesperson
Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva.
Meanwhile, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) warned that with some 17,000
quake-affected women expected to give birth in the next two months, 1,200
will face major complications and about 400 require surgical assistance.
To help local authorities address this situation, UNFPA is providing clean
delivery kits, caesarean section kits, emergency supplies and much-needed
surgical equipment to health centres and referral facilities.
TOP UN REFUGEE OFFICIAL PROMOTES REFUGEE PROTECTION PLAN WITH
The United Nations' top refugee official met with Brazilian Government
leaders today to seek support for a new plan to protect and assist those
who have been forced to flee their homes.
On the second day of his first visit to Latin America since he took office
in June, High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is scheduled to
meet with President Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Acting Minister of
Foreign Affairs, the National Bishops Conference, and parliamentarians, to
enlist their further aid in promoting the "Mexico Plan of Action" an
international blueprint to protect and assist refugees.
According to the office of the High Commissioner (UNHCR) Brazil has shown
regional leadership on refugee issues and promises to be an active partner
in the promotion of tolerance for refugees within the international
community at large. Brazil also has the ability to help prevent the
worsening of conflicts in the region that might result in refugee
Brazil was one of the first countries in Latin America to sign (in 1960)
the 1951 Refugee Convention. It was also the first country in southern
South America to pass a national refugee law in 1997. Last year, it played
an important role in the adoption by 20 Latin American States of the
Mexico Plan of Action.
Along with Chile, Brazil has also established one of the first
resettlement programmes in Latin America, under which it has received 170
refugees, most of them Colombian. It has granted asylum to some 3,000
refugees from 58 countries, the agency says.
Yesterday, Mr. Guterres met with the Minister of Justice, the National
Refugee Committee, ambassadors from the Group of Latin American and
Caribbean countries, and with refugees from Colombia, Iraq, Rwanda, Peru,
the former Yugoslavia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Angola
"In all of his encounters, the High Commissioner cited Brazil's tradition
of asylum as a model of solidarity with refugees," said a UNHCR
spokesperson. "Mr. Guterres also expressed his commitment to enhanced
efforts with partners towards the integration of urban refugees, a
challenge UNHCR currently faces throughout Latin America," she added.
ANNAN RE-APPOINTS MONITORING GROUP FOR ARMS EMBARGO AGAINST
With Somali armed groups reported to be still receiving weapons despite a
1992 embargo, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has re-appointed
four members of the sanctions Monitoring Group called for by the UN
In a letter to the President of the Security Council released today, Mr.
Annan named the four experts who served on the last Monitoring Group to
investigate the weapons situation of the Horn of Africa country for
another six months.
They are Melvin Holt, Jr., of the United States and Joel Salek of
Colombia, who have been members of the Somali panel since its
establishment in early 2004, Harjit Singh Kelley of Kenya, who once served
on an expert panel on Liberian sanctions, and Bruno Schiemsky of Belgium,
who was part of a group monitoring the embargo against the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The Security Council had requested Mr. Annan to re-establish the
Monitoring Group with a multi-faceted mandate, including investigating the
implementation of the arms embargo by Member States and violations through
field-based investigations in Somalia, where possible, and in other
States, particularly those in the region.
The panel, based in Kenya, should also assess the actions taken by Somali
authorities and other UN Member States, especially Somalia‟s neighbours,
“fully to implement the arms embargo.”
The Group has described its mandate as investigating, among other aspects,
“the points of entry and exit of arms and the flow of weapons into
Somalia; the mode of transport (air, land, sea) used; the destination of
the weapons; the warlords, faction leaders or businessmen receiving the
arms and weapons; the areas or regions under the control of the faction
leaders, warlords and businessmen and their associates” as well as the
operation of arms markets in Somalia and the source of the arms.
UN EXPERT FIGHTING SEX TRAFFICKING CALLS FOR CHILD PROTECTION
SYSTEM IN ALBANIA
The new Government of Albania has improved the legal framework necessary
to reduce the flow of trafficked children, but it must develop a national
child protection system aimed at combating the poverty that drives
exploitation, a United Nations human rights expert said after completing
his visit to the Balkan country yesterday.
Want, lack of opportunities and social services, stigmatized minorities,
discrimination against women, and an inadequate educational system are at
the root of the scourge, the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children,
child prostitution and child pornography of the UN Commission on Human
Rights, Juan Miguel Petit said.
“This is what makes children leaving their communities, in most cases in
dangerous conditions. This is what puts them at risk of exploitation and
trafficking. This is the disease we have to treat.
“A strong child protection system needs to be put in place, with a firm
investment in education and social services, together with strengthened
child protection component of police, health and justice,” stressed the
expert, who serves in an independent personal capacity.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been providing a good range of
social programmes funded almost exclusively through international aid, he
said. “It is time for the State to take up responsibilities in social
matters, capitalizing on the experiences of NGOs and supporting their
activities and programmes.”
Among the important achievements of the Government in the past five years,
he cited legislative and policy frameworks, societal awareness, improved
police training and border controls and strengthened prosecution capacity.
The expert also emphasized that child trafficking is a global problem.
“Countries of destination have their responsibilities as well. It is time
they assume them,” he said. “Albanian victims of trafficking are exploited
in Greece, Italy, and other European States. These countries have legal
obligations and duties vis-à-vis these victims and victims have rights
that too often are not respected.”
Mr. Petit carried out his official visit to Albania from 31 October to 7
November, visiting Tirana, Korca and Elbasan and conducting more than 40
meetings with over 100 persons, he said. The Albanian office of the UN
Children‟s Fund (UNICEF) facilitated the visit, which will be followed by
a week-long trip to Greece.
In related news, UNICEF yesterday praised the United States for becoming
the 95th country to ratify the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and
Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, a supplement
to the UN Convention against International Organized Crime, which entered
into force in 2003.
The protocol calls for specific measures to prevent human trafficking,
prosecute traffickers and protect victims.
MOROCCO GRANTS UN REFUGEE AGENCY ACCESS TO SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN
The United Nations refugee agency has been given access to more than 40
sub-Saharans in Morocco with agency documentation and hopes to interview
others later this week, an agency spokesperson said today.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) last month sent a
three-member team to Morocco to interview dozens of sub-Saharan Africans
with agency documentation reportedly being held in various parts of the
country after having been picked up by the authorities in a crackdown on
At the time, UNHCR called on the Rabat Government not to forcibly return
them to a country where they might face persecution.
The UNHCR team spent three days last week interviewing more than 40 such
migrants, on a list of 85 people of concern to the agency, in a civilian
location near Guelmin camp in southern Morocco. Their claims for refugee
status are currently being assessed, spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a
news briefing in Geneva today.
“Later this week, UNHCR hopes to get access to Nador camp near the Spanish
enclave of Melilla to interview other individuals on the list,” she said.
“In cooperation with the Moroccan authorities, we are trying to identify
the location of the remaining persons of concern.”
Meanwhile, the agency is continuing to receive asylum requests in Rabat.
“We are reviewing our internal asylum procedures so as to more rapidly and
transparently identify asylum seekers with valid claims,” Ms. Pagonis
said. “We hope to clear our backlog of 1,700 pending cases in the coming
Since 2000, a total of 265 people in Morocco have been recognized as refugees.
ISLAMIC STATES GATHER AT UN-BACKED MEETING TO AID QUARTER OF
With some 4.3 million children under five dying each year from preventable
disease and malnutrition in Islamic countries, the United Nations
Children‟s Fund (UNICEF) is co-organizing a three-day meeting in Rabat,
Morocco, intended to make a lasting difference for more than a quarter of
the world‟s children.
“I can think of no better focus for Islamic solidarity than the welfare of
children, and I congratulate the OIC, ISESCO and UNICEF on this important
initiative,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message to yesterday‟s
opening session, referring to the other two sponsors – the Organisation of
Islamic Conference and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural
OIC Member States account for a quarter of the world‟s 2.3 billion
children in nations spanning Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Meeting the
needs and guaranteeing the rights of children in Islamic countries will in
large part determine the success of overall efforts to combat poverty,
accelerate human development and promote global peace and security, UNICEF
“There are many noteworthy examples of progress for children in Islamic
countries, but the situation for a disproportionate number of them
continues to be a cause for grave concern,” the agency‟s Deputy Executive
Director Rima Salah told the more than 200 participants from almost 50
states and nearly 20 international organizations gathered in the Moroccan
The conference is focussing on issues specific to OIC member countries
under four major themes: health and HIV/AIDS; quality education and
culture; protection against abuse, exploitation and violence; and
mobilizing resources. Recommendations will be submitted to the next
sessions of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers and the Islamic
In OIC countries, about 6 million children under five suffer from
malnutrition in the form of stunted growth, about 23 per cent of the total
population have no access to safe drinking water, and 45 per cent lack
adequate sanitation. Children in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, are
facing a deadly combination of armed conflict, HIV/AIDS and poverty.
UN ATOMIC AGENCY CHIEF LAYS OUT PLAN TO DEAL WITH NUCLEAR
In a bid to thwart the smuggling of nuclear materials and the threat of
terrorists‟ acquiring weapons of mass destruction, the head of the United
Nations atomic watchdog agency has laid out a series of “yardsticks”,
including multilateral management of potential weapons-grade fuel and
Security Council resolve to take action.
“We are approaching a crossroads. After the end of the Cold War, we were
hopeful that a new global security regime would emerge – inclusive,
equitable, and no longer dependent on nuclear deterrence,” International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei told the
2005 Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference in Washington
“Regrettably, we have made little progress towards that goal,” added Mr.
ElBaradei, who together with the IAEA shared this years Nobel Peace Prize.
In recent years, four developments have radically altered the security
landscape – the emergence of clandestine nuclear supply networks, the
spread of nuclear fuel cycle technology, the efforts by more countries to
acquire nuclear weapons, and the declared ambition of terrorists to
acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, he declared.
In response, he proposed four “yardsticks” against which to gauge recent
performance and set future goals.
First, he stressed the need for expanded access, with spot checks, as
provided by additional protocols to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT), since “in today´s security environment, inspections that only
verify what a country has declared are not likely to be judged
But only 70 countries have additional protocols in force, and he cited the
case of Iran, which concealed its nuclear programme for nearly 20 years,
saying that a number of open questions remain.
“The responsibility rests with Iran to provide, if needed, additional
transparency measures – beyond the confines of the safeguards agreement
and additional protocol – to enable the Agency to resolve these questions,
and to provide the required assurance about the peaceful nature of Iran´s
nuclear programme,” he added.
In September the IAEA Board of Governors found that Iran‟s previous NPT
safeguards agreement breaches were within the competence of the Security
Council, which can impose sanctions when such issues are referred to it.
The second yardstick concerns sensitive nuclear technology, with a key
„choke point‟ for weapons development being production of weapon-usable
nuclear material through uranium enrichment and plutonium separation.
Among measures Mr. ElBaradei proposed is a framework for multilateral
management both for enrichment and fuel production and spent fuel
reprocessing and waste disposal, to ensure supply of reactor technology
and nuclear fuel based on apolitical, objective non-proliferation criteria
and at competitive market prices.
The third yardstick concerns the protection of nuclear material. Multiple
international and regional initiatives are helping countries to improve
the physical protection of such material. “These and other projects are
helping to reduce the risks posed by existing nuclear material. But much
remains to be done,” he said.
Finally, Mr. ElBaradei stressed the need for credible mechanisms to deal
with cases of non-compliance, including Security Council action.
“To be effective, the UN Security Council must be ready at all times to
engage, in order to cope with emerging threats to international peace and
security,” he said, noting that while referral to the Council has
sometimes encouraged compliance, referral of the Democratic People‟s
Republic of Korea in 1992 and 2003 resulted in little to no action.
But, he added, “the slow progress of nuclear-weapon States towards making
good on their commitments to move towards nuclear disarmament – with 27
000 warheads still in existence – is creating an environment of cynicism
among the non-nuclear-weapon States.”
NEW UN AGRICULTURAL CENSUS WILL HELP ATTAIN MILLENNIUM
More than 100 countries are taking part in United Nations agricultural
censuses over the next 10 years as part of the overall effort to achieve
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to slash a host of ills,
ranging from extreme poverty and hunger to lack of education and health
care, all by 2015.
In addition to collecting the conventional structural data at farm level,
the censuses now gather socio-economic data at the community or village
level, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO), the organizing
agency, said today.
“Examples of community-level data under consideration are: whether the
community is prone to natural disasters, the availability of services such
as roads, electricity, health facilities and schools,” FAO Surveys and Statistical Development
Service Chief Hiek Som explained.
“Markets and agricultural input suppliers, as well as the existence of
farmers organizations, are also considered,” he added.
In the effort to achieve the eight MDGs, accurate and updated data will
help explain how changes in the agricultural sector affect household food
security. This will provide indications on progress towards meeting the
first MDG of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.
Data will help planners better understand the reasons for low school
enrolment, especially in rural areas, as part of the second MDG which
calls for primary education for all.
Figures on the role of women in agriculture and the participation of rural
women in non-farm economic activities can reveal social and cultural
patterns, helping to attain the third MDG, which calls for gender equality
and empowerment of women.
Data on irrigation, soil degradation, use of mineral fertilizers and
pesticides and forests will help governments keep a close watch on
environmental issues, part of the seventh MDG, which calls for
In addition to community-level data, included for the first time are items
such as soil degradation, irrigation by crop type, method and sources of
irrigation, agricultural practices and services, demographic and social
characteristics, household food security, type of aquaculture site and
The new round of agricultural censuses is the ninth in a decennial
programme, begun in 1930.
For more details go to UN News Centre
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE
AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT
8 November 2005
Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today‟s noon briefing by Marie Okabe,
Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, and Pragati Pascale, Spokesperson for the
General Assembly President
Good afternoon, I‟ll start with a statement attributable to the Spokesman on Iraq.
**Secretary-General - Iraq
“The Secretary-General condemns the brutal attacks against three defence counsels to
the Special Iraqi Criminal Tribunal since the opening of the Trial on 19 October, including the
cold-blooded murders of Mr. Adel al-Zubeidi today and Mr. Sadoun al-Janabi last month.
These actions undermine efforts to uphold the cause of justice and the rule of law in Iraq. In
this regard, it is vitally important that the security of all involved with the Tribunal should be
equally assured to ensure a trial free from intimidation and coercion. The Secretary-General
hopes that the Tribunal will uphold the international standards of justice necessary to ensure its
legitimacy, fairness and independence.”
**Secretary-General in Cairo
The Secretary-General began his official programme in Egypt this morning with
meetings in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Arab League
Secretary-General Amr Moussa.
Prior to meeting with their delegations, the Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General
met tête-à-tête for about 20 minutes. In the larger meeting, they discussed, among other issues,
Lebanon and Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea and the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Secretary-General said he and the Foreign Minister
were hopeful that States will be able to agree to a comprehensive convention on terrorism by the
end of this year. Asked about Syrian cooperation with Detlev Mehlis‟s investigation, he said
that he had spoken to President Bashar al-Assad, who had confirmed to him that Syria will
The Secretary-General, in response to another question, said he was “extremely
encouraged” by the Arab League initiative to bring Iraq‟s parties to Egypt for a reconciliation
conference, adding, “The need for reconciliation in Iraq is real”.
He then went on to the seat of the Arab League for a meeting with Amr Moussa.
Following that meeting, he again spoke to reporters, and in response to further questions about
the Mehlis investigation, he said that if Syria cooperates fully and we get to the truth, that
should suffice. He added that, “we have no problem” with Syria setting up its own commission
to investigate while it cooperates with Mehlis and the Lebanese.
Afterwards, the Secretary-General left Cairo to visit the “ Smart Village”, a technology
centre built by the Egyptian Government outside the capital. There he visited a number of high-
tech projects, accompanied by the Prime Minister, Ahmed Nazif. The Secretary-General and
the Prime Minister had met earlier to discuss development issues in Africa.
The Secretary-General then went to the American University in Cairo to deliver the first
Nadia Younes memorial lecture. He paid tribute to Nadia Younes as “almost a prototype of the
modern Egyptian woman”. He said we must resolve to make the Middle East a region where
“all nations, including Israelis and Palestinians, can live side by side in peace and justice”.
In a separate programme, Nane Annan visited the National Council of Women together
with Suzanne Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt, who presides over the Council. Nane Annan also
visited a slum upgrading project designed to promote peace through poverty reduction,
community participation and youth engagement, and she met with a group of prominent
Egyptian women active in development issues.
The Security Council held a formal meeting in which it voted unanimously to approve a
resolution to extend the mandate of the multinational force in Iraq by one year, until the end of
2006. The Council earlier held consultations on the Central African Republic, on which it
received a briefing from the Secretary-General‟s Representative, General Lamine Cissé.
In other Council-related business, the Secretary-General, in a letter out on the racks
today, informs the Council that he has appointed four people to serve on the Monitoring Group
dealing with Somalia sanctions.
**Security Council Mission in Burundi
The Security Council delegation visiting the Great Lakes Region arrived in Burundi
from the Democratic Republic of the Congo late yesterday afternoon. Ambassador Jean-Marc
de La Sablière, delegation leader, told the press on arrival in Bujumbura that while a lot of work
remains to be done, the transition process has been remarkably successful. He stated that
Burundi is an example for the region and beyond.
Today the delegation met with President Pierre Nkurunziza, members of Government,
and leaders of political parties.
The Chairman of the UN Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations,
Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, today visited Asmara and operational sectors affected by
Eritrea‟s ban on helicopter flights, and he was briefed on the situation on the ground by UN
military observers. All the observers stressed the debilitating effects of the ban on freedom of
movement and the challenge this posed for their monitoring capability.
In Asmara, Ambassador Oshima also met the Acting Chief Representative for
Coordination with the UN Peacekeeping Mission, as well as the Director in the Office of the
President of Eritrea. Oshima also had a very open exchange this evening with Ambassadors
based in Eritrea.
Asked whether there was any progress on the issue of humanitarian flights, he said that
the issue was raised with the Director of the Office of the President, but no concrete answer was
Oshima also held a brief press encounter and we should have those remarks available in
the Spokesman‟s Office in a little while.
The second round of the Liberian presidential election is presently under way. Voting
started early this morning under peaceful and orderly conditions at all polling places across the
country. Security for voters and polling places is being provided by the Liberian National
Police with the support of United Nation‟s civilian police and peacekeeping troops.
**South Asia Quake
Turning now to the South Asia earthquake, according to the Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN and the International Organization for Migration now
have 300 staff in the disaster area. In addition, the UN refugee agency and the World Health
Organization have helped the Pakistani Government to establish 18 organized camps, which
together house around 10,000 people.
On the health front, OCHA notes that -- with 300,000 children vaccinated against
measles so far -- a big achievement has been the prevention of epidemic outbreaks of major
communicable diseases. We have a full note on the humanitarian efforts under way for the
quake in today‟s briefing notes from Geneva.
And we also have a note from the High Commissioner for Refugees talking about the
Head of the organization, who is in Brazil on a two-day mission.
The international meeting on microcredit continues today downstairs in Conference
Room 2. There are six major panels mainly zeroing in on the most effective ways to get credit
to the poor. Speakers include the governors of several central banks and the recipients of
This evening there will be a gala in the fourth floor dining room, hosted by Tim
Robbins. There is more information in the press release upstairs.
**Follow-up to Questions from Yesterday
I was asked if the Secretary-General had received a letter from the Indian Government
regarding the IIC, and to update, a letter was received yesterday evening on the 38th floor from
the lawyers of the Congress Party. The letter is being forwarded to the Volcker Committee.
Regarding the reported comments attributed to Shashi Tharoor, which I was asked
about, I have been in touch with Shashi, who is on leave in India. He denies dismissing the
Volcker report and says he made the points that I made to you yesterday about the status of the
And also I was asked about the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, which
informs us today that it will publish the minutes of its October meeting on its website:
www.iamb.info. And we are still trying to get Mr. Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, who chairs the
Board, to talk to you, which was requested to me yesterday.
And that‟s all I have for you. Before I turn to Pragati, let‟s start with Sylviane today.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Can you please elaborate more about the trip of the Secretary-General in
Cairo, when he met with the Foreign Minister? And also with Amr Moussa, he spoke about
Lebanon. Did he speak about Mehlis only, or about the Roed-Larsen report? And also, is there
anything on the extension of the Mehlis Commission?
Deputy Spokesman: I did not see anything on the extension of the Mehlis Commission,
but we just received the transcript of the press encounter, so I would encourage you to go and
take a look at it upstairs.
Question: This letter that was received by the Secretary-General today, by the Congress
Party. Do you have the contextual letter available for the press?
Deputy Spokesman: No, we don‟t.
Question: And does this office intend to forward it to the Inquiry Commission?
Deputy Spokesman: That‟s what I reported. I just wanted to follow up to say yes we
have received the letter, and yes we will be forwarding it on to the Commission.
Question: Now, given what is happening in India at this time, the big storm after the
demotion of the Foreign Minister and everything else, and there are investigations going on and
they‟re now saying they will sue the IIC, I guess and basically they were saying the United
Nations and now they retracted and said it‟s going to be IIC. In that view, will IIC remain in
session when a lawsuit is filed? Will it continue to function?
Deputy Spokesman: I think you have to pose those questions to the ICC. The
Commission, as you know, is in existence until the end of this month.
Question: You also said that the Secretary-General had talked about the Sudan. Is there
any more information about that issue?
Deputy Spokesman: No. Those are the topics that were covered in that meeting. I have
no further details. Is there anything specifically that you were interested in?
Question: On Iraq, as it is going bad, do you think the United Nations believes that
elections would go on as scheduled, with things again going out of control?
Deputy Spokesman: In that regard, I‟d like to draw your attention to the remarks today
made by Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-General‟s Special Representative for Iraq. He expressed
his appreciation for the creditable conduct of the Independent Electoral Commission in that
Despite numerous difficulties, Qazi said, the Commission “preserved the levels of
transparency and accountability that are consistent with internationally accepted standards and
practices for verifications of votes”. We have more in a press release upstairs.
Question: In the United Nations, if the Inquiry Commission wants to stay in session, if
it is sued by the Indian Government, because it takes exception to the fact that it was named in
the report, will the United Nations allow it to continue to function? Can someone tell me the
answer to that?
Deputy Spokesman: I don‟t have an answer to that. Right now I think you have to refer
all questions about the Commission to the Commission itself.
No other questions? I‟d like to turn it over to Pragati Pascale.
Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
Late yesterday, the General Assembly and the Security Council completed elections for
five members of the International Court of Justice. The following judges were elected for a
nine-year term of office beginning on 6 February 2006: Mohamed Bennouna ( Morocco),
Thomas Buergenthal ( United States of America), Kenneth Keith ( New Zealand), Bernardo
Sepúlveda Amor ( Mexico) and Leonid Skotnikov ( Russian Federation).
This morning the Assembly is meeting in plenary to consider the agenda item on the
"Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United
States of America against Cuba". A draft resolution has been tabled, and we are expecting a
vote to be taken by the end of this morning‟s meeting.
This afternoon, the Assembly plenary will consider the report of the International
Criminal Court, which will be presented by its President, Philippe Kirsch.
Informal consultations on follow-up to the 2005 World Summit were held yesterday
afternoon, to hear Member States‟ views on the letter circulated by Assembly President Jan
Eliasson on 3 November. Afterwards, the Assembly President commented that he was gratified
by the generous support he received from Member States for the continued reform process -- in
this case, for the proposals he set out in his letter for the areas of development and ECOSOC
reform, and management reform. He said that he will now consider the comments Member
States have made. In the next few days he plans to appoint Co-Chairs in these two areas, who
will in turn hold consultations.
Yesterday, Assembly President Eliasson, along with Under-Secretary-General Jan
Egeland, participated by satellite in a special broadcast by Swedish Television 4 aimed at
raising funds for relief efforts for the South Asia earthquake. As a result of this broadcast, 41
million Swedish kronor, equivalent to over $5 million, was raised -- three times more than
The Assembly President is departing today for Washington, D.C. This evening, he will
be speaking at George Washington University‟s Elliott School of International Affairs, at the
opening of an exhibit on Dag Hammarskjöld. Tomorrow morning he will give a briefing at the
Woodrow Wilson International Center, on the subject of “Moving Forward with UN Reform”.
**Questions and Answers
Question: When was this particular conference?
Spokesperson: On Swedish Television. It was a live broadcast. It took place yesterday
afternoon, our time, but yesterday evening in Sweden.
Have a good afternoon. Thank you.