SG holds talks with EU’s Ashton, condemns attack on UNAMI convoy, Pillay briefs GA on human rights and more from UN Direct

SG in Europe: Today the SG met with Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU. They discussed the importance of the cooperation between the UN and the EU on several issues, including the importance of sustaining direct talks in the Middle East and the Quartets’ readiness to support these talks.  They also discussed recent developments in preparation for the referenda in Sudan, both agreeing on the need for the UN-led mechanism to coordinate monitoring.  The SG is now back in NY.

Condemnation on the attack in Iraq: today the SG issued a statement strongly condemning the attack yesterday on a UN convoy carrying SRSG Melkert and other UNAMI staff in Najaf.

Afghan elections: Staffan de Mistura, SGSR for Afghanistan, welcomed the publication of preliminary results by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of the September elections, stating that the UN will continue to provide technical support to the electoral institutions. He commended the IEC for improvements in managing the post-polling process, but noted that the number of invalidated votes suggest considerable fraud and that it is critical to hold those responsible to account.  The process is not yet final; the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) must complete its “adjudication of complaints” and review allegedly fraudulent candidates.

High Commissioner’s Report to GA: this morning the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, presented her report to the GA’s Third Committee, in which she reflected on the six strategic priorities for the 2010-2011 biennium; namely, to help combat poverty, discrimination, inequality, impunity, violence and strengthen human rights mechanisms.  In her remarks, the emphasized the need to integrate a human rights perspective into development and strengthen the rights of migrants and of women.  In regards to the issue of violence, she underlined the centrality of the protection of civilians and how the OHCHR’s field presences (56 in total) monitor and report on abuses, as well as sound an early warning.  Speaking on the upcoming 2011 Review of the Human Rights Council, Pillay said we must close the gap between rhetoric and results and the HRC must have effective tools at its disposal to respond to both chronic and emergency situations.  In closing, and reflecting on the role of human rights in the UN system, she said that the UN Development Group (UNDG) recently established a Human Rights Mechanism which will help ensure system-wide coherence on human rights and provide support to UN Country Teams on the ground.  At the national level, OHCHR is focusing on how to support the implementation of the recommendations by human rights mechanisms such as the UPR.  Responding to her report, several States were interested in ways to strengthen the human rights machinery, including supporting the implementation of recommendations made by the UPR, increasing the capacity of the OHCHR to provide technical assistance and expanding the toolbox of actions that the HRC has at its disposal to respond to emergency situations.

State of the World Population 2010: today UNFPA released its “State of the World Population 2010” Report, coinciding with the 10 year anniversary of the passage of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.  An important message of the report is that while women rarely wage war, they suffer the consequences and are often denied a seat at the negotiating table.  The report, authored by Barbara Crossette, analyses Liberia, Uganda, Bosnia, East Timor, the West Bank and Haiti, to see whether 1325 has made a difference on the ground.  Importantly, it shows that when women are presented with opportunities, they are resilient and able to play a central role in peacebuilding and rebuilding of societies.

World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics: also today, DESA released its report to mark World Statistics Day, which details gaps in gender statistics and the difference in the status of women and men in different cultures.  One interesting statistic, is that women live longer than men in all regions, yet there are 57 million more men than women in the world.  Sadly, violence against women remains a universal phenomenon.  It is hoped that the establishment of UN Women will provide support to the challenge of compiling and analyzing gender statistics.

Security Council: today the Council was briefed on the drawdown of MINURCAT by the head of the Mission, Youssef Mahmoud.  On October 15, the military suspended all operational activity and started its final drawdown, with the goal of complete withdrawal by the end of December.  Mahmoud said the security situation in the north-eastern part of the country remains volatile and he remains concerned about attacks by groups affiliated with the LRA.  The security situation in the east is calm.

Appointment: today the SG announced the appointment of Martin Mogwanja (Kenya) as Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, replacing Omar Abdi.  Mr. Mogwanja is currently the UNICEF Representative in Pakistan and has served in Uganda and the DRC.