France plans Security Council mission to Africa, ICC Prosecutor briefs Council on Libya violence, Experts release Haiti cholera report and more from UN Direct

Security Council: Yesterday, Ambassasdor Gérard Araud of France briefed the press on the Security Council’s adopted program of work for the month of May. Because the Council will be heading to Africa for a special mission on May 19th and will return to NY on the 26th, the briefing and consultation agenda is particularly light. The visit will focus on two main issues: 1) the independence of southern Sudan ahead of the July 9th independence and, 2) the options regarding UN presence in Sudan.  While in Africa, Council Members will visit Ethiopia (Addis, AU Peace & Security Council), Sudan (Khartoum, Abyei and Juba), and Kenya (Nairobi) Under France’s presidency, there will be a debate on the protection of civilians May 10 and a debate on issues concerning the DRC on May 18th. Other key consultations will take place to discuss the political and humanitarian situation in Libya, and the issue of civilian potential for crisis management.

World Population Prospects: Yesterday, Hania Zlotnik, Director of the Population Division at DESA, briefed the press on the results of the “World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision” report, which forecasts the world’s population trends over the next ninety years to 2100, anticipating that the population will reach 10 billion (under the assumption that fertility on average in the world will decline). Zlotnik stated that there are some countries in the world that only account for 18% of the population and are high-fertility countries (HFC). Theses HFCs tend to be poor countries that are expected to add most of the 3 billion forecasted.  By 2100, the HFCs are projected to triple in size and deserve special attention, because if they don’t achieve reductions in fertility, these populations may triple or quadruple, which will cause serious problems. In contrast, 42% of the population – an evidently large proportion of the population – lives in low fertility countries (LFC), such as China, Indonesia, Brazil, and Tunisia. One worry is that these countries’ populations will shrink. Consequently, the lower the fertility gets, the older the population will be. In regards to world population figures projected today, Zlotnik explained that it is expected to reach the 7 billion mark later this year. UNFPA will have a big event to officially announce the figure. With all these figures and results in mind, Zlotnik argued that people shouldn’t be scared of reducing fertility because it’s part of making the world population sustainable. Going further, she explained that the international community and the countries themselves have to make a greater effort to have fewer children.

Libya: Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the ICC, told the Security Council today that evidence shows that security forces in Libya have been shooting at peaceful demonstrators. 500-600 people died in February alone. In the coming weeks, Ocampo will request arrest warrants to three individuals responsible for the majority of these crimes. Also, yesterday afternoon, the Security Council was briefed by Abdul Ilah Khatib, Special Envoy for Libya, in which he explained that both sides were ready to cease all hostilities. Essentially, the plan is to reach a real and verifiable ceasefire. Khatib continues to work with the experts and regional organizations such as the AU on specific modalities.  On the humanitarian front, OCHA reported that the situation continues to be of concern with fighting still an ongoing trend. Civilians don’t have access to basic services, especially in and near areas where heavy fighting is taking place. Most notably, continuous heavy fighting in Misrata has been taking place for nearly six weeks. At this point, roughly 12,000 people have been evacuated and more than 3,000 tons of humanitarian aid has been delivered.  Today, 1,000 migrants will be evacuated by ship. 180 tons of food, water, and infant supplies is expected to be delivered as well.

Palestinian Unity: To mark today’s signing of the Palestinian unity agreement in Cairo, the Spokesperson issued a statement explaining that the SG has “continually supported” efforts for unity.  Robert Serry, Special Coordinator for the Mideast Peace Process, will travel to Cairo to mark the agreement.

Cholera in Haiti: Yesterday the SG met with the Independent Panel of Experts to investigate the source of the Haitian cholera epidemic and the UN released the report.  The SG has said that he intends to convene a task force within the UN system to review and follow-up on the Panel’s recommendations.

Syria: Today, the SG had a phone conversation with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in response to human rights issues in the country. The SG urged for an immediate end to violence against the peaceful demonstrators, and for an independent investigation of all killings that happened during the protests, including the alleged killing of military and security officers. He also pushed for full implementation of reform measures officially proposed by the Syrian government. In regards to the urgent humanitarian needs, he called on Assad to immediately grant access to the UN in order to assess the humanitarian needs of the affected civilian population.  The SG said that he appreciated Assad’s willingness to consider the assessment to Deraa.

Kyrgyzstan: High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay welcomed the report by the Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission into the deadly interethnic violence that happened last summer. She urged the government to act on the report’s findings, stressing that there can be no lasting reconciliation without justice, and that the new report sets out a viable pathway to achieve both.