New Council members assume their seats, GA pushes human resources reforms forward, UNMIS and UNAMID continue election preparations and more from UN Direct

Security Council: Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa have taken up their two-year seats on the Security Council as of January 1, 2011. Bosnia-Herzegovina holds the Presidency of the Council for the month and will brief the press on its program of work for January tomorrow.

Côte d’Ivoire: The SG called Ouattara on New Year’s Day and reaffirmed the UN’s unwavering position to support him as President-elect. He noted the reports of egregious human rights violations, encouraging UNOCI to conduct further investigations and record violations. UNICEF is providing supplies of food for more than 20,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition. The SG also spoke to UNMIS, expressing his disappointment that the latest visit by ECOWAS didn’t produce the desired result. Nonetheless, he continues to believe that a good outcome will come out of the diplomacy.  UNOCI continues to carry out patrols and monitor human rights, trying to gain access to sites with alleged mass graves.

Sudan: With the upcoming referendum in South Sudan this weekend, the South Sudan Referendum Commission is wrapping up training sessions for staff at the 20 polling centers in the three Darfur states where an estimated 23,000 are registered to vote.  During the vote, UNAMID will support the transportation of materials and peaceful completion of the election.  UNMIS is also working with local authorities in the run-up to the vote to airlift materials to remote areas.  A background briefing will be held on the referenda tomorrow at 10am.

Fifth Committee: Upon the completion of the main part of the 65th GA on December 23, the GA adopted several resolutions from the Fifth Committee.  Significantly, the GA voted to approve the granting of continuing contracts as of January 1, 2011, thus completing a reform initiative approved by the GA in 2008 to streamline UN contracts.  The GA also decided to harmonize the conditions of service for staff in non-duty family stations, whereby staff in the field, regardless of whether they work for the Secretariat or an Agency/Fund/Programme, will have the same service conditions, thus helping the UN attract and retain staff in the most difficult areas.  On budgetary aspects, additional funding was apportioned for MONUSCO, MINUSTAH and UNMIS, and $634.1 million was approved to support 29 Special Political Missions.