SG travels from Morocco to France, Security Council debates the Middle East, Bachelet addresses Member States on UN Women, and more from UN Dispatch

SG Travels: after spending the weekend in Morocco, the SG is expected to arrive in France this evening to address the Council of Europe and European Parliament in Strasbourg.  While in Morocco, the SG addressed the opening of the World Policy Conference in Marrakesh, highlighting the need to help the poor and most vulnerable, fight climate change and work together on “new-generation challenges” (such as organized crime, terrorism, the vulnerability of migrants and biotechnology).

Open debate on the Middle East: Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, ASG for Political Affairs, briefed the Security Council this morning, warning that six weeks after direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations began, we are at an impasse as the parties have not met since September 15th.  He noted that the SG has publicly expressed his disappointment that the moratorium on settlements was not renewed, and reaffirmed that settlement activity is illegal under international law and goes against the Roadmap.  Fernandez-Taranco said that the Quartet envoys have been in regular contact and Principals are discussing a proposal to meet soon to review developments.  The SG continues to believe that, if the door to peace closes, it will be very hard to reopen.  Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Ambassador Brooke Anderson underlined U.S. efforts to continue direct negotiations, expressing disappointment with the “announcement of new tenders in East Jerusalem on October 14, which was contrary to our efforts to resume negotiations”.  She also commented on the situation in Gaza, the need for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit, the SG’s panel on the investigations by Israel and Turkey on the flotilla incident and the need for the efforts of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to “go forward without interference”.

Security Council adoptions &  consultations: late last week, the Security Council held a number of meetings which touched on a wide range of regional security issues from Haiti to Sudan, the SC Mission to Africa and the DRC.  On Haiti, the Council unanimously adopted Res 1944, extending the mandate of MINUSTAH for one year at current force levels (military component of up to 8,940 troops and a police component of up to 4,391 officers), encouraging the Mission to provide support to the Government for the upcoming elections and requesting the SG provide a comprehensive assessment of the threats to security in Haiti, specifically relating to women and children, after the election and transfer of power in 2011.  In her remarks, Ambassador Rice stated that the U.S. has committed $5 million to the election fund administered by UNDP, in addition to another $8 million for the National Democratic Institute and International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

On Sudan, the Council extended the mandate (14-0-1) of the Sudan Panel of Experts that monitors the targeted arms embargo and sanctions.  China abstained from the vote, as it doubted the objectivity of the report of the Panel.

On the DRC, SRSG Wallström briefed on her recent trip there stating, “where sexual violence is planned and orchestrated as a tactic of war, it must be viewed as preventable”, and calling on the Security Council and wider international community to find and charge the perpetrators.  The recent arrests of FDLR leaders, later charged in Paris under an ICC warrant, should “serve as a warning to perpetrators everywhere”.  In a series of recommendations to the Council, Wallström called on the DRC to conduct investigations, urged the deployment of police in Walikale, North Kivu and requested that MONUSCO continue monitoring and reporting on activities in the DRC.  During Friday’s briefing on MONUSCO, head of Mission and SRSG Roger Meece said the mass rapes in eastern DRC and assault on a MONUSCO base had prompted a “major internal review” on civilian protection activities.  In response, a more visible and active MONUSCO presence has been established and “Operation Shop Window” – to put pressure on armed groups – was carried out throughout most of September.  Other initiatives underway include increasing communications and outreach.  Overall, Meece estimated 15,000 rapes were committed last year in DRC.  Looking forward, Meece said, MONUSCO needs a broader strategy that goes beyond the military and encompasses a wider range of issues including security sector reform.  Mission recently launched a six-month training program for 500 recently-integrated Congolese national police.  Impunity and illegal extraction of minerals remain huge problems.

Briefing the Council on its Mission to Sudan earlier this Month, Ambassador Rice said the purpose was to demonstrate the Council’s solidarity of support for the upcoming referenda.  She also spoke of South Sudan President Kiir’s proposal for a UN-administered buffer zone between the North and the South, later expressing her skepticism when speaking to the press, but adding that alternative models which focus on vulnerable border areas could be feasible.

Sudan: speaking to the press today in Khartoum, SRSG for Sudan Haile Menkerios touched on the recent press attention regarding the possibility of additional UN troops, stating that the UN is addressing needs and will continue consultations with the parties to determine the best way to provide assistance.  No decision has yet been made by the Council.

UN Women in Third Committee: last week the Third Committee took up its agenda item on the Advancement of Women, where Michele Bachelet addressed Member States for the first time in her capacity as Executive Director of UN Women.  In her remarks, she outlined the three primary changes in establishing UN Women; namely, elevating leadership to USG level, working towards greater coherence (and bridging the operational and normative aspects of the UN’s work) and achieving a financial investment commensurate with the vision for change.  Over the next three months, Bachelet will focus on making UN Women operational by January 1, 2011, strengthening collaboration with UN entities to achieve greater coherence on gender equality, re-engaging constituencies that advocated on behalf of the establishment of UN Women and reaching out to States to build innovative partnerships to secure the $500 million proposed for UN Women’s start-up phase.  In a related NGO event last week, Moez Doraid, Deputy Executive Director of UNIFEM. indicated that the 41-member Executive Board would be elected in October and four seats would go to the highest donors (two from donor countries and two from developing countries).  In addition to UN Women amalgamating existing functions of the UN system, it will also incorporate research/analytical work, coordination of UN system strategies for gender mainstreaming, strengthening the UN’s accountability and reporting on compliance with mandates on gender balance.