GA upgrades EU’s status at the UN, new OIOS positions to be filled, UN commemorates World Press Freedom Day and more from UN Direct

OIOS: Lynch is reporting that the UN has appointed an Australian and U.S. national to head the OIOS Investigations Division, and Inspections and Evaluation Division, respectively.  The information was obtained via an internal memo; the UN has not officially announced the positions.

EU: today the GA adopted a resolution upgrading the EU’s status at the UN (largely symbolic), which mainly gives it enhanced speaking rights.  The EU will now be equated with the Palestinian Authority and Vatican.  The EU first tried to raise its status in September 2010, but withdrew the resolution due to pressure from CARICOM.

World Press Freedom Day: The SG, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, and DG of UNESCO Irina Bokova stressed that state authorities must do everything to counter impunity. In the past decade, more than 500 journalists have lost their lives, with 60 killings reported worldwide in 2010 alone. They stated, “We will never forget the courage of journalists who paid with their lives for our right to know. The media revolution is triggering new debates about freedom of expression, about the nature of regulation, about the balance between expression and responsibility. We must not shy away from exploring all angles of these questions. We must rise to the occasion and accept the responsibility of change.” Also, to help celebrate World Press Freedom Day, U.S. Ambassador to the HRC Eileen C. Donahoe announced the launch of the Internet Freedom Fellows Program, in order to highlight the innovative use of the internet in promoting and defending human rights. Ambassador Donahoe explained that the U.S. Mission plans to invite a group of fellows to visit Geneva and Washington in order to engage in discussions that demonstrate the importance of internet freedom at the global level.

Security Council: This morning, the Security Council held its first consultations under the French presidency for the month of May and approved the program of work. At 3 PM, the Council held an open meeting on Libya, including a briefing by Special Envoy Abdul Ilah al-Khatib.

Libya: According to UNHCR, the exodus from Libya’s Western Mountains region into Tunisia has resumed after a short interruption due to last week’s clashes between the Libyan government and opposition forces. More than 8,000 people – mostly ethnic Berbers – have arrived in southern Tunisia. UNHCR and its partners are struggling to maintain nearby camps due to a sandstorm. In addition to people seeking refuge in Tunisia, more people, mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa, have been bound for Italy by sea. Since March 26th, 8,100 Libyan refugees have arrived in Italy. Meanwhile, the HRC’s International Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations in Libya concluded its field visits to Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia last week. In Benghazi, the Commission visited medical centers and interviewed patients. In addition, members of the Commission spoke with Libyan authorities and reiterated the need to treat all detainees in accordance with international standards. In Tripoli, the Commission discussed the fate of journalists who were detained and launched an investigation into the whereabouts of 18 specific journalists. The Commission also interviewed a number of detained people and asked for their release based on humanitarian grounds. The Commission’s report will be submitted to the HRC at its next session in June. In response to questions about whether the agreement about humanitarian access between Valerie Amos, USG for Humanitarian Affairs, and the Libyan government still exists following the incidents that occurred in Libya last weekend, Nesirky explained that due to the security situation in Tripoli over the weekend, the UN made the decision to relocate the team to Tunisia temporarily until it can return to Tripoli when the security situation improves (though the agreement is still in place). Nesirky also stated that the UN is concerned about Misrata it needs to have access there.

Sudan: On Monday, people went to the polls to vote for a new governor and regional assembly in Sudan’s oil-producing northern state of South Kordofan, a key battleground in the conflict.

Upcoming Briefings: There will be a briefing by the ASG of UNESCO tomorrow at 1 PM on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. Afterwards at 1:45 PM, Luis Moreno-Ocampo is expected to hold a press conference on the situation in Libya.