Council extends DRC mission, Zukang addresses D.C. press on Rio+20, Human Rights official back from Sudan visit and more from UN Direct

DRC: The Security Council today extended the mandate of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUSCO, by one year, until 30 June 2012. Earlier this month, Roger Meece, head of MONUSCO, told the Council that there have been significant improvements in security in the African country, but many challenges remain before stability can be restored in conflict-affected areas, especially in the north and east. Today’s resolution stresses that any future re-configurations of MONUSCO should be determined by the situation on the ground and on whether the DRC and the mission have achieved certain objectives, such as consolidating State authority across the country and reducing the threat from armed groups. It also calls on the Government and other parties to ensure that elections scheduled for November are free, fair, credible and transparent.

Guinea-Bissau: Council members also received a briefing on Guinea-Bissau by the Secretary-General’s representative for that country, Joseph Mutaboba. He said that several encouraging developments have taken place recently in Guinea-Bissau, particularly regarding the reform of the security sector and regional efforts to stabilize State institutions. However, Mr. Mutaboba added, the increased stability and more positive political climate in the country remain fragile. He said that there remain serious concerns about the lack of commitment by the national authorities to address impunity, drug trafficking and organized crime.

Sustainable Development Summit: The head of next year’s UN world summit on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro said today that he looked for leadership from the United States to make it a successful conference. Sha Zukang, USG for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the 2012 UN conference on sustainable development, said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington today that he would be asking the US for many contributions.

Libya: OCHA says that it has received reports of significant displacement in Libya’s Nafusa Mountains, which has been the scene of intense fighting between government forces and opposition groups since mid-March.  UNHCR estimates that, since the start of the conflict, more than 64,000 Libyans have been displaced from the Nafusa Mountains and other parts of western Libya into Tunisia. However,  UN agencies have so far been unable to gain access to the Nafusa Mountains to undertake assessments and monitor the delivery of assistance.

Sudan: The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kang Kyung-wha, has wrapped up her mission to Sudan, where she visited Khartoum, South Sudan, the North-South border area and Darfur. In Abyei, Ms. Kang said she saw utter devastation, which is a chilling warning of what might become of the border area. She spotlighted the urgent need for the protection of civilians across the border area and urged the Governments of the North and South to facilitate access for humanitarian workers and human rights officers.

Afghanistan: The Special Representative for Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, met on Tuesday with representatives of Lower House candidates backed by a court set up to examine cases of electoral fraud in the parliamentary polls last year. Mr. de Mistura explained to them that the UN supports the electoral process in Afghanistan but does not address individual cases.

Horn of Africa: OCHA reports that the Horn of Africa is facing the most severe food crisis in the world, with more than ten million people in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda severely affected. The Office says that the situation continues to deteriorate, as the number of people in need is expected to increase. Child malnutrition rates in the worst-affected areas of the region are also expected to rise, while food prices have risen substantially.

Fund for Victims of Torture: Human Rights chief Navi Pillay called on donors to support the fund that provides financial assistance to groups providing psychological, medical and social assistance to thousands of torture survivors and their families worldwide. The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture provides assistance to over 300 projects in more than 65 countries around the world. However, a funding shortfall has forced it to reduce support to many programs, including legal aid initiatives that are crucial to fighting impunity and bringing perpetrators to justice.

Thematic debate Global Governance: In his opening remarks to the General Assembly at today’s debate on the UN in global governance, the President of the GA  Joseph Deiss urged Member States to be flexible and innovative when considering ways of strengthening the role of the United Nations as the central institution for global governance: “In order to ensure that the United Nations remains relevant to the world in 2025 and beyond, we have to learn the lessons of the past 60 years and affect the requisite reforms… However, it also seems to me to be essential to accept that we can’t have it all – the sovereignty of the nation State that we have known up until the present day, defense of national interests, globalization and an efficient system of global governance,” he said.

Peacekeeping: The Secretary-General deeply regrets that Mr. Le Roy is not able to continue to serve the United Nations in this position and thanked him for his outstanding service over the past three years.