SG back in NY after 2 weeks abroad, SG, USG welcome announcement of Sudan Referendum results, and more from UN Direct

Egypt/Mideast Peace Process: This weekend in Munich the SG discussed the status of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and Egypt’s crucial role in this process, expressing his concern about the implications the unrest could have for peace, adding “President Mubarak was one of the key players in trying to facilitate reconciliation.” At the Munich Security Conference, he explained that these situations (in North Africa) “are driven, at bottom, by human insecurity: poverty, diminished or disappointed expectations, the lack of good governance – corruption, ineffective public institutions, a deficit of democracy.” On Saturday, he met with the Quartet and the group asserted that, “further delay in the resumption of negotiations is detrimental to the prospects for regional peace and security.” They considered related implications and agreed to hold another meeting in mid-March.

Human Rights: useful article by Reuters touting Navi Pillay’s proactive messaging on the unfolding situation in North Africa – quotes Ambassador Donahoe: “We appreciate the shift in her ability to speak out in real time and address crisis situations as they are happening…Timing is important….The United States believes the High Commissioner’s office is supposed to be a voice for the voiceless”.  Also gives the example of OHCHR’s rapid response to the situation in Tunisia.

Senior Staff Travel: The SG is back in New York after a two-week trip where he traveled to Switzerland, Ethiopia, the UK, and Germany. DSG Asha-Rose Migiro will be in Santiago, Chile to chair the Annual Meeting in Latin America and the Caribbean on February 8-9, in order to work on defining a regional perspective on sustainable development in preparation for Rio+20.

Sudan: Today in Khartoum, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission announced the results of the Southern Sudan Referendum, reporting that close 98.83% of the voters backed independence; 44,000 voted for unity and 3.8 million wanted separation.  President Bashir reiterated his commitment to accept the referendum outcomes, allaying fears that the split would incite violence over the south’s oil.  The SG issued a statement welcoming the announcement of the results as a “great achievement for all Sudanese”, urging all partners to reach an agreement on post-referendum arrangements (e.g. Abyei). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commended northern and southern leaders for conducting a peaceful and orderly referendum process and urged the Government of Southern Sudan to launch a process of inclusive governance and adopt long-term security and economic arrangements with the North. Clinton also announced that the U.S. has started the process of withdrawing the country’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation (currently under review) in the condition that all parties continue to work together towards full CPA implementation.  Ambassador Rice also issued a statement which praised UNMIS for their referendum efforts.

Global Health: On Sunday, UNICEF and UNFPA came together to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), and renewed their commitment to combat this widespread, harmful practice that has affected approximately 100-140 million women and girls, and have rendered serious long-term health effects. Both agencies are working in Africa and showing progress in programs to stop this practice.

MONUSCO/DRC: Today, SRSG for the DRC Roger Meece briefed the Security Council on the current situation in the DRC and MONUSCO’s efforts. In the eastern DRC, he noted that there were 50-80 cases of rape reported in South Kivu, as well as the continued violence by the FDLR in the area. Meece reported clear progress on diminishing the group’s capacity and its longstanding strain on the population and urged for more political pressure.  However, the LRA remains a major threat and utilizes brutal tactics in very remote areas. Meece highlighted the significant increase in arrests of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FRADC) and Congolese National Police (CNP) troops who have committed abuses, and called for the increase in FRADC and CNP capabilities through adequate training. Meece also called for a more active military posture and increase in resources, as MONUSCO’s recent initiatives have led to an improvement of the coordination of military activities by Congolese authorities and government forces.