SG condemns Falk’s remarks as “preposterous”, Lang encourages funding for UNODC anti-piracy efforts and more from UN Direct

SG: Today in Geneva, the SG addressed the HRC, asking States to “examine the Council’s work not from the perspective of governments or experts, but through the eyes of people who need this Council’s protection” when undergoing this year’s Review, adding that the Council needs to rise about national and regional interests and cannot be selective in promoting rights.  In a reference to Falk’s remarks, he said that independent experts are appointed by the Council and that they (HRC members) have to decide whether or not to continue their jobs; moreover, while their independence cannot be limited, we can condone “irresponsible behavior that undermines the HRC and the UN”.  He added, “I condemn this sort of inflammatory rhetoric.  It is preposterous – an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack”.  Earlier today, the SG opened the 2011 Consolidated Appeal Resource Mobilization Conference with Valerie Amos, USG for Humanitarian Affairs, urging people to support the UN’s growing humanitarian work and secure $7.4 billion in funding for 2011.

UN Women: This afternoon, Michelle Bachelet briefed the press on UN Women, now the largest single body on gender-specific issues. By working globally with Member States to enforce international standards on gender equality, UN Women will focus on increasing posts in the field, providing countries with expertise and support in order to implement laws, policies, and resources, and working to expand women’s leadership.  UN Women will also be creating a strategy to prioritize the world’s most economically-marginalized women, as well as a 3-year program with DPI to foster an increase in female mediators (they currently account for a mere 8%).  In regards to violence against women, Bachelet explained that coordination with DPKO and other agencies within the UN system is essential, but reiterated that it won’t replace the work of existing agencies. Today, Bachelet will fly to Davos to discuss economic, political, and social issues surrounding UN Women, present UN Women’s action plan and agenda and ask attendees for financial support.  So far, a number of countries have given fivefold the budget for 2010.

USUN/UN Strengthening: In regards to this morning’s hearing on the UN at Congress, the Spokesperson explained that the UN always works constructively with the U.S. on shared goals of a stronger, more efficient, accountable, and effective UN, adding that one of the SG’s key priorities is strengthening the UN. The SG plans to travel to Washington to meet with members of Congress soon, though the date is undetermined.

Holocaust: this evening the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme is holding a screening of the film “Daring to Resist”, featuring the stories of three women who fought back against the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Somalia: This morning, the Security Council heard an open briefing by Special Advisor to the SG on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia Jack Lang. Lang described an increase in the number of pirates and an emergence of a new industry of piracy, explaining that there’s no jurisdiction prepared to prosecute them. This afternoon, Lang briefed the press on the details of the need for $25 million to help UNODC combat piracy over a three-year period. Largely due to a sense of impunity, the creation of piracy courts is necessary, and Lang said that he is conducting discussions with leaders, such as the Tanzanian president, on establishing courts. He also urged for a development plan for Somaliland and Puntland.  In her statement to the Council, Ambassador Rice said she supports the recommendations in Lang’s report, including the recommendation that all states criminalize piracy, as defined in the UN Convention on Law of the Sea, and adopt universal jurisdiction over the crime.

DRC: The SG welcomes the surrender of Callixte Mbarushimana, the Executive Secretary of the FDLR, to the ICC in The Hague, who is accused of committing crimes against humanity in the DRC. The SG also welcomes the steps taken to prosecute and try the President and VP of the FDLR, who are accused of committing international crimes, which will advance the fight against impunity.

DPKO: The number of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by DPKO and DFS personnel fell “markedly” between 2009 and 2010.