SG, Ambassador Rice & Sec. Clinton question legitimacy of Myanmar elections, DSG heads off to Lao PDR, Lebanon and Ethiopia and more from UN Direct

Myanmar elections: in response to Myanmar’s election yesterday – the first in 20 years – the SG issued a statement which said the “voting was held in conditions that were insufficiently inclusive, participatory and transparent” and the Government “must demonstrate that the ballot is part of a credible transition to democratic government, national reconciliation and respect for human rights”.  His statement also calls for the release of all political prisoners, including lifting restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  Answering a question about whether a Commission of Inquiry is needed, the Spokesperson said the proposal was made by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar to the Human Rights Council and it is thus up to States to consider.  Also issuing a statement, Ambassador Rice said the elections were “neither free nor fair, neither credible nor legitimate”, adding “The regime chose to deprive Burmese of the basic freedoms that underpin any democratic election” and “chose to hold a vote under conditions of oppression, intimidation, and fear”.  Secretary Clinton’s statement can be found here.

SG Meetings: today the SG held a meeting with Israeli PM Netanhayu, which may have touched on reports of a possible agreement on Israeli withdrawal from Ghajar in Southern Lebanon.

DSG Travel: today the DSG began a three nation trip which will take her first to Lao PDR, where she will represent the SG at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  On November 11-12 she will be in Lebanon to chair the 14th Regional Coordination Mechanism for the Arab States, followed by a trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Chair the 11th Session of the Regional Coordination mechanism of UN agencies and organizations working in Africa in support of the AU and NEPAD.

U.S. on UN Women: speaking at today’s UN Pledging Conference for Development Activities, the U.S. said it looks forward to joining the Executive Board of UN Women as one of the “major contributors”, adding “The U.S. is the largest contributor to the UN, and we intend to remain so”.

Sudan: Today USG for Humanitarian Affairs and ERC Valeria Amos was in Darfur as part of her week-long trip to Sudan, where she evaluated the issues surrounding IDPs and those who have chosen to return to their native villages in neighboring West Darfur.

Pakistan: today the WFP received a $90 million donation from the U.S., which will be used to provide food to over 7 million Pakistanis affected by the flooding.  WFP stated that the cash segment of the donation will be used to purchase local food from Pakistan, so that the economy and farmers can directly benefit.  Josette Sheeran, WFP Executive Director, said, “This donation comes at a critical time as WFP is transitioning from emergency food distributions, towards helping communities rebuild the lives they lost before the floods.”

Cholera Outbreak in Haiti: MINUSTAH continues to test UN facilities in order to protect the Haitian people and UN personnel.  Recent cholera tests that were conducted on water samples from Mirebalais camps proved negative.

UN Action on Trafficking: last week the UN launched the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, created to collect funds and provide aid for victims of the multibillion dollar industry.  The Fund will be managed by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which the SG said will “give victims of human trafficking a fresh start”.  Speaking at the launch, Demi Moore said that more should be done to  change the way women are treated.  Ruchira Gupta, Founder and President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, said that sex trafficking survivors need safe housing, job training, education and security, while for her part, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney noted the bipartisan effort against trafficking in the U.S., describing it as the worst organized crime in the world.  Two victims of trafficking spoke to the need to give victims a voice and be at the forefront of activism, advocacy and awareness to help combat the crime.