Accountability Commission for Women’s & Children’s Health convenes in Geneva joined by Kikwete, Harper & SG, OHCHR deploys human rights team to Tunisia & more from UN Direct

SG: In Geneva, the SG spoke at the first session of the Accountability Commission for Women’s and Children’s Health, emphasizing the need to track commitments made in September.  Speaking to the press prior to the meeting, he said “The world’s women and children need more than pledges.  Commitments are wonderful, generous, but by themselves they cannot build clinics or immunize children”, explaining that the UN will monitor what’s being done with funds and ensure progress is being made across the spectrum of issues.  The Commission, co-chaired by President Kikwete of Tanzania and Prime Minister Harper of Canada, brings together medical professionals, finance officials, policy-makers, statisticians and human rights experts.  Critically, it will turn the “Global Strategy into global action for women’s and children’s health”.  The final report of the Commission is expected in May.  The SG also addressed the Conference on Disarmament, explaining that continued deadlock has ominous implications for international security.  He is expected in Davos tomorrow.

Tunisia: Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has announced that a team of top specialists will start a week-long human rights assessment mission in Tunisia (January 27-February 2), where they plan to meet with the interim authorities, civil society groups, UN agencies, and other actors. Pillay says that human rights must be at the forefront of the solutions to the problems which have plagued Tunisia.  The assessment will allow Pillay to formulate proposals to improve the human rights situation there.

USUN: last Thursday Ambassador Rice was featured on the Charlie Rose show, where she held a wide-ranging discussion on U.S. multilateral engagement through the UN, touching on several issues including non-proliferation (Iran & DPRK), relations with China, Sudan, the Responsibility to Protect, Tunisia and Afghanistan.  On non-proliferation, she quipped that the issue “underscores the utility of the UN”, as it inherently cannot be resolved by one nation working on its own.  In closing, Rice summed up the Administration’s new approach powerfully, stating that the “fundamental difference” is that the U.S. is “looking to strengthen and build partnerships” with both allies and those the U.S. has not always worked well with,  due to the fundamental understanding that U.S. security, wellbeing and prosperity is linked to the security and wellbeing of people elsewhere.  Threats that we face in the 21st century, including proliferation, terrorism and pandemic disease, “are precisely the kinds of things that can only be dealt with an partnerships with others”.  She added that that the “vast majority” of countries want to partner with the U.S. and this is serving American interests – including national security, economic, political and human rights and democracy – very well.  

Egypt: in response to questions raised on the protests in Egypt, Nesirky said the UN is monitoring the situation and stands ready to help.

Sudan: This morning, Atul Khare, the ASG for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Security Council on the situation in Sudan, highlighting that there has been progress in the political process in Darfur despite ongoing clashes. Next month, mediators will work in Doha to finalize a peace strategy for Darfur. In regards to Abyei, Khare reported that there hasn’t been recent violence. Ibrahami Gambari of UNAMID also briefed the Council on new fighting in Darfur, which has displaced about 43,000 people. UNAMID patrols have recently been denied access by the Sudanese government at two checkpoints in South Darfur, which was lamented in remarks to the press after the meeting by Ambassador Rice.

Somalia: There will be a high-level meeting on Somalia AU Summit in Addis next week to review the peace process. Augustine Mahiga, the SGSR for Somalia, said that the transitional period has to end in August, based on the provisions of the Djibouti Peace Agreement. 

Iraq: Antonio Guterres, the High Commission for Refugees, announced an appeal for $280 million to support the needs of approximately 200,000 Iraqi refugees living in neighboring countries such as Jordan and Syria. After a recent trip to Iraq, Guterres acknowledged “the beginning of the end of the displacement chapter in Iraq.”