Iraq: this morning the Council unanimously adopted Resolutions 1956 and 1957, which terminate arrangements of the Development Fund for Iraq effective June 30, 2011 and lift the sanctions imposed pursuant to resolutions 687 and 707 relating to WMDs, respectively. Resolution 1958 was also adopted with 14 in favor and 1 abstention, which terminates the residual activities of the oil-for-food program. In his statement in his national capacity, VP Biden enumerated accomplishments in Iraq under the Obama Administration, including the withdrawal of 100,000 troops and completion of the combat mission there, which has been accompanied by the transition from a military-led to civilian-led engagement. The frequency of attacks has also reached its lowest level since 2003. He said with the 50,000 remaining troops until the end of next year, the U.S. will continue advising and assisting their Iraqi counterparts in areas including education, trade, energy, health, ICT, judiciary, law enforcement and security. In his remarks, the SG commended Iraq’s leaders for reaching an agreement which will pave the way for the creation of a national partnership government and ensure the first peaceful of transition of power between elected governments under full Iraqi sovereignty. Outlying issues include the normalization of relations between Iraq and Kuwait, voluntary return of refugees and IDPs, the improvement of relations with Iraq’s neighbors and the protection of minorities, including Christians. He also discussed UNAMI’s enduring partnership with the Iraqi people and its support for elections over the past decade.
CERF Replenishment: Monday and Tuesday, OCHA held CERF’s annual high-level replenishment conference. Now five years old, CERF has raised over $2 billion to help people in need, including $400 million 2010 alone to help the UN’s humanitarian work in 44 countries, $25 million of which went to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake. In his remarks, the SG spoke about the 10,000 individuals who have donated to the CERF, bringing in $600,000 in funds. In total, the private sector has contributed $6.8 million to the CERF, $4.4. million of which was in 2010 alone. Looking ahead, the CERF is targeting $450 million for 2011 (it received $358 million in pledges during the conference), and is currently undergoing the independent Five-Year Evaluation mandated by the GA upon its creation, the results of which will be available next year. The SG also indicated that the UN is implementing the CERF Performance and Accountability Framework and is conducting three independent country reviews.
WHO Malaria Report: yesterday, Margaret Chan and Ray Chambers launched the World Malaria Report 2010, which demonstrates significant progress in the fight against malaria. Pointing to the 43 countries in SSA which are affected with malaria, Chan said the progress noted in the report is evidence that investments in malaria control bring results. Moreover, the UN and its partners are now on the offensive, and actively promoting strategies such as the provision of bednets and spraying of indoor insecticide. The scale-up of interventions between 2008 and 2010 has resulted in nets for 578 million people in SSA and the protection of 75 million people due to indoor spraying. Chambers added that by the end of 2010, an estimated 90% of the 700 million at risk in Africa will be covered by nets and protected by spraying. Moreover, 11 African countries have demonstrated a 50+% reduction in cases and deaths over the past decade, and 32 of 56-endemic countries outside of Africa have also witnessed over a 50% reduction in cases over the same period. While the report demonstrates significant progress, a resurgence in cases was found in Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe and Zambia, lending evidence to the “fragility of malaria control”.
Côte d’Ivoire: The Spokesperson issued a statement today on behalf of the SG about the continuing political stalemate that is going on in Côte d’Ivoire, reiterating the need for all Ivorian parties to refrain from violence, stressing that such actions could yield severe unwanted consequences such as another civil war and reiterating that people will be held accountable for their actions. He again called on Gbago to step down to allow President-elect Ouattara to assume his mandate, as willed by the people.
Human Rights Day: On Friday, December 10, to mark Human Rights Day, a high-level panel discussion took place to discuss ending violence and criminal sanctions based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Civil society, human rights defenders, States, and other members of the international community were present. The SG made a statement about LGBT issues and the need to recognize universal human rights. He stated that “stigma and discrimination will end only when we agree to speak out” and called for an end to criminalization of homosexuality. He talked about his recent trips, and how he has successfully persuaded Governments to lift travel restrictions on people with HIV and noted his trip to Malawi, where he was able to secure the release of a gay couple sentenced to 14 years in prison. Ambassador Susan Rice spoke about several ways the Obama Administration has worked to ensure the rights of LGBT individuals. These include joining the GA statement on sexual orientation and gender identity which condemns violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (reversing the previous Administration’s position), winning consultative status for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (the first LGBT group from the U.S. to secure this status), including analysis of how LGBT people are treated worldwide in its annual Human Rights Report, and joining the LGBT Core Group at the UN, among other domestic measures. Ambassador Rice also indicated that the U.S. is currently working to re-submit deleted text from a draft resolution condemning extrajudicial exclusion, which would provide for protection for LGBT individuals.