HRC holds timely Special Session on Côte d’Ivoire, strongly condemns rights violations, and more from UN Direct.

Human Rights Council: today the HRC held a Special Session on Côte d’Ivoire at the request of the African Group and the U.S..  Speaking at the session, Ambassador Betty King said the meeting sends a strong signal that rights violations will not be tolerated and deplored the violence, abuses and deterioration of security there, calling for an investigation into all reports.  She said UNOCI’s Human Rights Division is carefully documenting and investigating claims of rights violations through the formation of a nationwide task force, but their work is being restricted by threats and harassment.  Speaking to the press, she said the Council sent a unified and unambiguous message that violence and abuses must end immediately and that the meeting demonstrates that the Council can respond in real time to real crises – particularly as people are leaving town for the holidays.  The resolution adopted by the Council (submitted by the African Group) strongly condemns the human rights violations and loss of life, calls on all parties to immediately stop violations, urges the media to refrain from incitement to violence, expresses its support for the AU and ECOWAS, and requests the High Commissioner to report to the HRC’s 16th session on the issue, among other provisions.

Côte d’Ivoire: UNOCI is reporting that severe human rights and acts of intimidations are continuing in Abidjan and parts of western Côte d’Ivoire, and the number of people dead, injured or missing is “increasing rapidly”. People have been marking houses and dwellings with signs, often a precursor to ethnic-based killings.  UNOCI stated that forces of Laurent Gbagbo’s camp – heavily armed with rocket launchers – continue to block roads, which blocks UN supply trucks and patrols.

Peacekeeping: In a briefing on Monday, Susana Malcorra briefed on DFS’s work, touching on logistical and operational challenges in Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire, Somalia and Sudan.  Discussing the implementation of the Global Field Support Strategy (GFSS), Malcorra noted the operationalization of a logistical support hub in Entebbe, Uganda (to service the nearby missions in Sudan and the DRC) and DFS’s work to establish modules to build up camps during mission deployment in a more standardize way, which she referred to as modularization.  Field missions have begun to standardize water treatment and waste management, and consider more environmentally-friendly practices through the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels.  Another development underway by DFS is the creation of a back-up center for UN ICT technology in Valencia, Spain, to support the support center in Brindisi, Italy. She also spoke to critical texts in front of the Fifth Committee (scheduled to be voted on this evening), which would address the harmonization of conditions of service of staff serving in the field, and better conditions for those working in the most difficult duty stations.

USUN Accomplishments: speaking at a COO event in D.C. last week, Assistant Secretary of State for IOs Esther Brimmer noted the U.S.’ work at the UN in 2010, enumerating progress made across the UN’s three pillars of work: peace and security, development and human rights.  In terms of IPS, she spoke of progress made to tighten peacekeeping mandates and improve enabling assets such as helicopters and medial and engineering units.  She also touched on thematic issues such as the protection of civilians, peacebuilding, sexual violence (specifically work with SRSG Wallstrom’s office), sanctions, and non-proliferation, as well as Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and the DRC.  On the HRC, Brimmer spoke about the U.S.’ focus on country-specific work, such as Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Afghanistan and Sudan, noting also thematic texts on freedom of assembly and association as well as discrimination against women, and touching on U.S. priorities for the 2011 Review.  On development, she highlighted the MDGs, the Feed the Future program, Global Health Initiative, and support for UN Women.  In terms of USUN reform priorities for 2011, Brimmer said that the U.S. will focus on how the UN evaluates its work (e.g. the delivery of results), in addition to its work on transparency/accountability and peacekeeping (specifically the Global Field Support Strategy).

UN Direct: UN Direct will be following the UN’s lead for the holidays (no noon briefings) and will resume January 3, 2011.  Happy Holidays!