SG in India; Charles Taylor case; Cote d’Ivoire mandate renewal; Timor Leste elections; and more

SG in India: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon kicked off his visit to India today by commending the country’s progress on health, while highlighting the need to do more to promote the well-being of women and children. He noted the importance of doing more to improve women’s and children’s health, and commended India’s commitment to the Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health and its innovative programmes in this area.

In his meeting with India’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nazi Azad, in New Delhi, Mr. Ban took note of India’s continued efforts towards achieving universal health coverage.He also noted that more than a year has passed since the country has seen a case of polio.

Tomorrow, the SG is expected to meet with several senior Indian Government officials, as well as receive an honorary doctorate degree from Jamia Islamia University. He will then visit the commercial hub of Mumbai, where he will meet with government officials and key business leaders committed to utilizing their expertise to promote the health of women and children.

Charles Taylor verdict:
United Nations officials today welcomed the guilty verdict handed down against former Liberian President Charles Taylor by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

“This is a historic and momentous day for the people of Sierra Leone, for the region and beyond. The Secretary-General’s thoughts today are with the victims of the crimes for which Charles Taylor has been found guilty,” said a spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The judgment is a significant milestone for international criminal justice, as it concerns the first ever conviction of a former Head of State by an international criminal tribunal for planning, aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he added. “It sends a strong signal to all leaders that they are and will be held accountable for their actions.” Mr. Taylor, who was indicted while he was still President of Liberia, is the first former Head of State to be convicted by an international criminal tribunal since the Nuremberg trials in 1946.

Security Council
:   On Thursday morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending the sanctions on Cote d’Ivoire until April 2013.   The Council also extended the mandate of the Group of Experts it set up to monitor the arms embargo, and reiterated the need for the Ivorian authorities to provide unhindered access to the group so it can carry out its work.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous also told the Council that in the months ahead, the U.N. will continue to streamline and strengthen the effectiveness of the uniformed personnel of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

On the political front, progress has been affected by the problems in Sudan as a whole and the hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan.  Mr. Ladsous called on the signatory parties to live up to their commitment to implement the Doha Document for Peace.

Timor Leste:
The Security Council has welcomed the second round of presidential elections in Timor-Leste calling it “an important milestone for the consolidation of peace and stability” in the country, as well as a reflection of the commitment of its people to democracy and the rule of law.

In a press statement issued on Wednesday night, Council members commended the national electoral authorities and all those responsible for the successful management of the elections, including the National Police Force (PNTL), “for their role in ensuring an orderly and calm environment throughout the electoral process.”

UN Trade & Development Conference
: International trade plays a key role in expanding demand and supply of environmentally friendly goods and services and helping countries shift to a greener development path, experts said during a panel debate at a United Nations trade and development conference in Doha, Qatar.

Experts stressed that trade will be an essential factor in ensuring economic growth without increasing environmental risks, as well as social disparities and poverty – and emphasized the importance of addressing this issue during the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June.

The panel was part of the events held during the 13th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, known as UNCTAD XIII, the first ministerial conference on trade and development since the fallout from the 2007-2008 global economic crisis. The sessions are held every four years, and the theme of this year’s session is ‘Development-centered globalization: Towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development.’