Durban/Cop-17; Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; Afghanistan; and more

Durban/COP-17: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged countries not to lose momentum and show determined leadership to advance negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, as States enter their first day of high-level talks.  “We must be realistic about expectations for a breakthrough in Durban,” he added. “We know the reasons: grave economic troubles in many countries, abiding political differences, conflicting priorities and strategies for responding to climate change. Yet let me emphasize: none of these uncertainties should prevent us from making real progress here in Durban.”

Mr. Ban laid out four points that he expected countries to accomplish by the end of the conference. First, he said parties should work to implement what was agreed at last year’s conference in Cancun. He then called on countries to firm up their short and long-term financing commitments. The third advancement involves the future of the stalled Kyoto Protocol, with Mr. Ban asking countries to “carefully consider a second commitment period.” Finally, Mr. Ban asked countries to build on a vision of a more robust climate change agreement that is effective for all parties.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed today’s ratification by Indonesia of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and encouraged all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify this instrument to advance its entry into force. Indonesia is one of the so-called Annex 2 States, whose ratification is required for the treaty to enter into force. The States in that group that have yet to ratify are China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States.  Tibor Tóth, head of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), congratulated Indonesia’s parliamentarians for bringing the treaty “a significant step closer” to becoming international law.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations mission in Afghanistan have strongly condemned yesterday’s explosions in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif that have resulted in numerous deaths and injuries of civilians who had gathered for a Shiite religious observance. Both explosions happened around midday, according to media reports. A suicide bomber struck a shrine packed with worshippers in the capital, Kabul, reportedly killing at least 54 people, while another blast struck near a mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif, killing four.

The UN envoy for Iraq  voiced concern over the situation in a camp housing several thousand Iranian exiles and urged the Iraqi Government to extend the deadline for closing down the settlement, as efforts continue to find a peaceful solution that conforms to international law. Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the SG and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), told the Security Council in a briefing that the UN is making efforts to facilitate a peaceful and durable solution. Mr. Kobler noted that any workable solution must be acceptable to both the Iraqi Government and residents of Camp Ashraf. A solution must respect Iraqi sovereignty, on the one hand, and be in line with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee laws, on the other.

South Sudan:
The United Nations peacekeeping operation in South Sudan is probing another spasm of ethnic violence in the new country that has reportedly killed dozens of villagers and displaced many more. About 45 people are said to have died and many others forced to flee their homes in Jalle in the state of Jonglei after yesterday’s attack, according to the peacekeeping mission. UNMISS reported that the attack occurred a week ahead of a scheduled press conference in nearby Pibor that aims to reconcile the Murle and Lou Nuer communities, who in September were involved in a series of clashes that killed about 600 people.

DR Congo:
As the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) await the results of last week’s presidential and legislative elections, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warned today that any outbreak of poll-related violence will be investigated and those found responsible prosecuted. “We are closely watching the situation on the ground, and recourse to violence will not be accepted,” said prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in a press release. The Congolese went to the polls on 28 November to cast their ballots in presidential and parliamentary elections – only the second time that the country has held multi-party polls since independence from Belgium in 1960.