Amos announces Haiti visit, Orr briefs on COP-16, Security Council debates the Protection of Civilians and more from UN Direct

Amos to Hait: tomorrow USG for Humanitarian Affairs and ERC Valerie Amos will travel to Haiti to assess the humanitarian response to the cholera outbreak in Haiti.  While there, she is expected to review operations in IDP camps and other affected areas, and meet with Haitian, UN and NGO officials.  At present, the UN’s $164 million appeal in response to the outbreak is less than 10% funded.  In addition to money, the UN is calling for doctors, nurses, water purification systems, chlorine tablets, soap, oral rehydration salts and tents for treatment centers (there are currently 36 Cholera Treatment Centers, in addition to 61 smaller units, and more are being built).  The UN’s Humanitarian Relief Coordinator in Haiti, Nigel Fisher, will brief the press tomorrow.

COP-16: ASG Orr briefed this afternoon in advance of next week’s COP-16 in Cancun, setting the stage for what’s expected.  The briefing primarily achieved two things: 1) managed expectations for Cancun and spelled out that no one is expecting a “final deal”; and 2)  outlined areas where he thinks progress can be achieved; namely, on deforestation, technology transfer and finance.  His basic message was that there is no “silver bullet” and the SG is looking for a broad set of outcomes with progress across the board on all moving pieces (which Orr thinks can be achieved).  The SG will arrive December 7 to open the high-level segment.

SG in Lisbon: over the weekend the SG attended the NATO Summit in Afghanistan, where he said the international community has to be guided by realities, not schedules, and a purely military solution is not enough.  Moreover, the transition must be Afghan-led.  In his remarks to the press, he emphasized that the UN will continue to support the Government and people of Afghanistan for the long-term, including the civilian aspects of the transition and the search for a political solution.

Security Council: today the Council held an open debate on the Protection of Civilians, and considered the SG’s latest report (S/2010/579).  In his remarks USG Le Roy said that peacekeeping missions must make every effort to protect citizens at all times, but cannot be a substitute for State authority and cannot protect all citizens at all times, especially in vast regions.  USG Amos, High Commissioner Pillay and the Director General of the IFRC also briefed.  In her remarks, Ambassador DiCarlo highlighted Res 1894 of 2009 and the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operation’s 2009 report as milestones on the issue, which called for better planning, training and protection strategies.  She also expressed concern with the ongoing targeting of civilians, sexual violence and attacks on humanitarian workers, calling for more concrete action to hold people to account.  In closing, she outlined four areas where progress can be made: 1) tailoring mandates to address situation-specific challenges, including a clear hierarchy of tasks; 2)  increasing knowledge, training and resources to help peacekeepers fulfill their mandate, including protection against sexual violence; 3) ensuring protection principles are equally applied, including through monitoring the SG’s development of benchmarks and indicators for monitoring and reporting on POC; and 4) holding violators to account, including being ready to take action such as sanctions and use of courts (national to ICC).

Sudan: today the SG’s Panel on the Referenda ended its second visit to Sudan, which took place during the start of the voter registration.  The Chairman, President Mkapa, said he is worried about the low registration in the North, which could be linked to lack of information, long travel distances and a campaign by some Southern Sudanese leaders to encourage people not to register outside of Southern Sudan.

UNAIDS: today Michel Sidibe called the reported statement made by Pope Bendict XVI, which justifies condom use to reduce the risk of HIV infection, a “significant and positive step forward taken by the Vatican”.  UNAIDS has worked with the Vatican in the past, including on how to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.