HRC Review begins Monday in Geneva, Security Council holds debate on support to AU pecekeeping and more from UN Dispatch

Human Rights Council Review: On Monday, the 2011 Review of the Human Rights Council will begin in Geneva.  Upon the HRC’s creation in 2006, the GA mandated a five year review, which will take place both at both the HRC (on working methods and functions of the HRC) and the GA (on the status of the HRC).  At the end of September 2010, the President of the GA and President of the HRC agreed on a “joint understanding” whereby the formal process in Geneva will commence first and the discussions in New York will be guided by the outcome in Geneva.  From October 25-29, the “open ended working group” (OEWG), mandated to review the work and functioning of the HRC, will hold the first of two sessions in Geneva.  It will hold its second session in January 2011 and is expected to report to the HRC on its progress in June 2011.  The two facilitators of the New York-based process, the Ambassadors of Liechtenstein and Morocco, are expected to present to the IEWG on Monday.

Security Council on support for AU peacekeeping: today, the SG briefed the Security Council on the strategic partnership between the AU and UN, namely in what ways the AU’s peacekeeping capacity can be enhanced based on what has already been achieved. The SG praised the AU for its successful ability to prevent, mediate, and preserve peace in Africa, having demonstrated major peacekeeping efforts in Somalia, for example. He also noted the challenges that the AU faces in undertaking peacekeeping operations developed at last year’s AU-UN Panel, which called for a comprehensive review on the capacity building program for the AU. Based on this review, the SG urges the international community to find ways to gather resources and continue to support the AU in their efforts.  In Amb. Brooke D. Anderson, U.S. Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs remarks, she commended African nations for their significant deployment of more than 7,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops in Somalia and the critical work being done together by UNAMID. She emphasized the US’s decision to fully back the UN-AU strategic partnership, the UN’s continued assistance to the AU in the development of the Continental Early Warning System, the establishment of the UN Office to the AU in Addis Ababa, and the peace process in Somalia.  She went on further to explain that the “partnership between the UN and the AU has allowed both organizations to accomplish more than they could have on their own.”

SG on G20: The SG is speaking to an informal plenary session at the GA this afternoon on the key priorities for the G20 Summit in Seoul, including preserving and sustaining economic recovery as well as climate change and renewable energy financing.

Relief Efforts in Haiti: Catherine Bragg, ASG for Humanitarian Affrairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, talked briefed the press today on her recent three-day trip to Haiti. In Port-au-Prince, she met with UN officials, NGOs, the government of Haiti, and earthquake survivors. Thanks to the work that has been conducted, Bragg said there hasn’t been a second wave of mortality. She stressed that the magnitude of what has been achieved shouldn’t be forgotten and that the international community has actually done what it set out to do. Medical teams are being mobilized, hygiene kits are being distributed, and shelters have been provided for the most part. Still, more needs to be done. Bragg mentioned that a $10 million project was recently approved to address the issue of gender-based violence.

SG’s Report on UNAMID: In his latest report on UNAMID, the SG explained that while clashes between communities in Darfur have decreased, fighting between communities has continued, resulting in fatalities. He noted that progress has been made by the Joint Chief Mediator, the Joint Mediation Team, and UNAMID towards agreement between the government and the Liberation and Justice Movement. The SG also urges for peaceful negotiations.

PGA briefs press: today the 65th PGA Joseph Deiss of Switzerland briefed the press on some of the key issues for the current session, including preparations for an upcoming high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS, the 2011 Review of the HRC, Security Council reform, disaster risk reduction and the UN’s place in global governance.

Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories: speaking to the press today, the HRC-mandated Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories, Professor Richard Falk, underlined the human toll that the occupation is exacting, stating only one-third of the trucks with humanitarian assistance such as food, medicine and fuel are allowed to enter Gaza (compared to numbers prior to the blockade).  However, this does represent an improvement in goods entering Gaza as compared to before the flotilla incident.