Council authorizes Abyei force, Brazilian elected as new head of FAO, USG Le Roy will not seek second term and more from UN Direct

Sudan: The Security Council today unanimously approved a U.S.-drafted resolution authorizing deployment of 4,200 Ethiopian troops to Sudan’s disputed Abyei region for a six-month period.  The resolution establishes a new U.N. peacekeeping force, called the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, or “UNISFA.” Its adoption comes a week after north and south Sudan signed a deal in Addis Ababa to demilitarize Abyei and let Ethiopian troops monitor the peace.  The Force has been authorized – under Chapter VII of the UN Charter – to take “the necessary actions” to protect UN and UNISFA personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, protect civilians in Abyei under imminent threat of physical violence and protect the area from incursions by unauthorized elements, among other tasks. The Council called on the Government of Sudan and the Government of Southern Sudan to urgently fulfill their commitments under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement to peacefully resolve the final status of Abyei. Statement by Ambassador Susan Rice on the Adoption of Security Council Resolution 1990 available here.


International Criminal Court: The ICC today issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, one of his sons and the country’s intelligence chief for crimes against humanity allegedly committed since the pro-democracy movement began in February. The Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber considered that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that the three suspects committed the alleged crimes and that their arrests appear necessary to ensure their appearances before the ICC, it stated in a news release.

Libya: USG for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Security Council this morning on the situation in Libya, including the latest fighting. He said the initiative in recent days has been with the opposition forces. Mr. Pascoe also discussed the work of the Special Envoy for Libya, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, who, he says, plans to visit Libya again in the near future and then come to New York to brief the Security Council. On the humanitarian front, Mr. Pascoe said that as the opposition takes control of some of the towns and cities, there are reports of some migrant workers returning to those areas. While an agreement is still far from being concluded, he added, the beginning of a negotiation process is now underway.

Cambodia: The joint trial of the four most senior surviving leaders of the notorious Khmer Rouge regime began today in Cambodia at the UN-backed tribunal set up to deal with the worst offences committed under the group’s reign. A five-judge panel in Phnom Penh began hearing preliminary arguments from lawyers of the four accused, who were arrested in 2007 and indicted by the tribunal last year.

FAO: José Graziano da Silva of Brazil, a former Brazilian food security minister, was elected the eighth FAO Director-General yesterday. Da Silva will become the first Latin American to head the Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN agency leading international efforts in the fight against hunger. In a speech yesterday in which he outlined his proposed program as FAO chief, Mr. Graziano da Silva pledged to work towards five main goals: eradicating hunger, promoting a shift to sustainable food production, ensuring greater fairness in global food management; swiftly implementing agreed internal FAO reforms, and expanding South-South cooperation.

Peacekeeping: Mr. Le Roy has informed the Secretary-General that he will not seek a further extension of his appointment, which will expire on 23 August 2011, citing family reasons for his decision. The Secretary-General looks forward to continuing to work with Mr. Le Roy until his departure in late August, and will begin the process reviewing possible replacements for his position.

Israel:  On the fifth anniversary of the captivity of Israeli Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, the Secretary-General calls for his immediate release. He also joins the Director-General of the International Red Cross in calling on Hamas to protect his life, treat him humanely, prove that he is alive and allow the Shalit family to have contact with their son.  The Secretary-General called on Hamas to comply with international humanitarian law, and commended a coalition of Israeli and Palestinian NGOs for calling for his humane treatment.

Gaza Flotilla: Asked about a flotilla reportedly heading towards Gaza with aid for the Palestinians, the Spokesperson recalled that the Secretary-General has spoken with a number of leaders in the region to make sure that nothing is done to raise tensions at this time.  The Secretary-General, he said, has repeatedly made clear that existing land routes should be used in order to bring aid to Gaza. For his part, the Secretary-General has been pressing to make sure that more aid can get into Gaza and that access into and out of Gaza can be improved.

JIU: “Transparency in the Selection and Appointment of Senior Managers in the United Nations Secretariat”: There was a question at the press briefing today about the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU’s) report, which raised concerns over the Secretary-General’s “opaque hiring practices” for senior management.” The spokesperson did not yet have a comment but said that they are currently studying the report.

International Conference on Terrorism: A question was also raised as to whether the Secretary-General delivered a statement in support of the Iran-led International Conference on Terrorism in Tehran. The spokesperson said that there was a message delivered on the SG’s behalf, and that the exact text would be released later this afternoon. The SG believes that all nations and people are affected by terrorism and that we should involve as many as possible in fight against terrorism. NGOs such as UN Watch are calling for the Secretary-General to distance himself from the event.