Council bolsters UNOCI by 2,000, Dr. Chan addresses WHO Executive Board, PGA previews key GA activity for 2011 and more from UN Direct

Côte d’Ivoire: Today, the Security Council unanimously adopted the SG’s proposal to authorize the deployment of 2,000 additional UNOCI military personnel until June 30, 2011.  The letter requesting the augmentation in more detail is available here.  Ambassador Rice (@AmbassadorRice) is tweeting that the text also demands an end of the Golf Hotel blockade and for RTI to stop propagating hate speech.  On the ground, more violence incited by pro-Gbagbo forces has been reported, which occurred near UNOCI’s headquarters.  On top of the $33 million appeal issued for Côte d’Ivoire and neighboring countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, and Guinea) yesterday, the UN and IOM have launched an appeal for $55 million to aid refugees and returnees in Liberia. OCHA reported that an estimated 30,000 Ivoirians have fled and sought refuge in Liberia, with nearly 600 people arriving per day, which UNHCR said is putting a strain on Liberian communities with already limited resources.  Special Advisers Francis Deng and Edward Luck also briefed the press on the current situation in Côte d’Ivoire today in regards to the prevention of genocide and the responsibility to protect, stating that it is the priority to ensure the protection of civilians against genocide, crimes against humanity, and ethnic crimes. In the past few days, there have been ethnic clashes and over 28,000 have fled the country. Deng and Luck discussed the current situation in hopes that pressure will accumulate from relevant bodies such as the UN, ECOWAS, and the Council. They urge all parties to refrain from hateful speech, adding that they will be held accountable

WHO: speaking to the WHO Executive Board at its 128 session yesterday (which runs January 17-25 in Geneva), DG Dr. Chan called 2010 a  year of “big events for public health”, enumerating developments such as launch of a meningitis vaccine, an aggressive new polio eradication strategy and the Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health.  On the Global Strategy, she highlighted the new Accountability Commission, which she said “breaks new ground in terms of global health governance”.  Dr. Chan also warned against funding shortfalls, the impact of climate change and effect of natural disasters.  On the latter point, she noted that “poverty and weak infrastructures increase the health impact of disasters and extend recovery time”, thus underlining the need for the achievement of the MDGs and WHO’s essential work of strengthening public health capacities.  Due to the increasing demands on WHO and overstretched capacities, Dr. Chan also called for “far-reaching reforms” in terms of WHO’s administration, budget and programs.

Middle East: Speaking at today’s monthly Security Council debate on the Middle East, USG Pascoe reported increased tensions in the OPT and Lebanon.  In regards to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he expressed his support for U.S. efforts to engage in parallel talks on substance with the parties, but remains concerned due to a lack of progress in negotiations.  The Quartet is set to meet in Munich on February 5th.  On Lebanon, Pascoe said that it is essential for Lebanese leaders to continue addressing the current political situation through dialogue within the parameters established by the country’s constitution, noting the recent dissolution of its coalition government.  On settlements, he reiterated the SG’s denunciation of settlement expansion.  Yesterday, the Palestinians submitted a draft resolution to the Council which demands that Israel cease all settlement activity, which the BBC is reporting is backed by three Council members.  Speaking to the Council, Ambassador DiCarlo explained that the U.S. remains committed to a two-state solution and does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. Going further, she said that the fate of existing settlements must be dealt by the parties and is concerned that Israel is planning to create 1,380 new units, which will delay the possibility of a two-state solution. She added that the lack of a resolution harms Israel, the Palestinians, and the international community.  In regards to the Palestinian text, she said: “As we have consistently said, permanent-status issues can be resolved only through negotiations between the parties—and not by recourse to the Security Council. We therefore consistently oppose attempts to take these issues to this Council and will continue to do so, because such action moves us no closer to the goal of a negotiated final settlement. Rather, we believe it would only complicate efforts to achieve that goal.” Her remarks also touched on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and unfolding political situation in Tunisia.

SG: Today, the SG returned to New York from Oman, where he met with the leaders including the Sultan of Oman and the Deputy PM, and talked about issues surrounding Iran, the Middle East peace process, Lebanon, and Tunisia.

SRSG Business & Human Rights: over the past couple of days, there’s been some back and forth between Amnesty International and SRSG Ruggie on his proposed “protect, respect and remedy” framework for governing the rights practices of multinationals.  Specifically, a piece in the FT Monday highlights a statement issued by AI, HRW, and other rights group which says the standards – due to come before States at the HRC in June for adoption – should not be adopted, as they fail to clearly spell out how governments should regulate their business activity. The statement even goes as far as to suggest that the framework could “risk undermining efforts to strengthen corporate responsibility and accountability for human rights”.  The main reason for the opposition is that the standards are recommended “human rights due diligence” procedures, rather than mandatory guidelines.  In response, Ruggie published a letter in the FT which strongly hits back at the statement, stating that AI and the other signatories are the ones who have consistently criticized the lack of global standards governing business and human rights and suggesting that the victims of rights abuses will continue to suffer without any action.

DRC: today an army commander in eastern DRC was accused of leading the recent mass rape of at least 50 women in Fizi, which MONUSO and Congolese officials had recently investigated.  MONUSCO has called for the removal of the commander and deputy commander of the unit responsible, and that they be held accountable. The Governor of South Kivu told MONUSCO that the soldiers will be tried in a court in Fizi, possibly as early as next week.  At present, the commander has not yet been arrested and BBC is reporting that he has been transferred to another post.

ECOSOC: yesterday, the 54 ECOSOC members elected Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe (Zambia) as President for 2011 (replacing Ambassador Ali of Malaysia), as well as the Perm Reps from Bangladesh, Slovakia, Peru and Belgium as Vice-Presidents.  In his remarks, Ambassador Kapambwe looked ahead to 2011, noting the upcoming Annual Ministerial Review in July, which will focus on education, and underlining the need to begin to develop a post-2015 development framework.  He also highlighted the establishment of UN Women as a significant development for system wide coherence, and called on greater ECOSOC collaboration with academia.  The DSG spoke at the session as well.

PGA: speaking to the press Monday, PGA Deiss enumerated his 2011 priorities – including Security Council Reform, GA Revitalization, the HRC Review and Global Governance issues – and provided a window into GA activity throughout the year.  Highlights in 2011 will include debates on disaster risk reduction (February), international migration and development (May), the green economy, sustainable development (March 16), relations with the G20, and global governance.  Major meetings include the June 8-10 HL Review on HIV/AIDS, and September events on NCDs, desertification and the DDPA 10 year anniversary.  The PGA also announced that he will travel to Addis Ababa to attend the AU Summit January 30-31.

WFP/Afghanistan: On Tuesday, the WFP and the Government of Afghanistan met to map out a three-year strategy to provide food security to millions of Afghans, with an aim to strengthen cooperation between the two parties.