Secretary Clinton announces U.S. commitments on 1325, Valerie Amos gives updates on Niger, Pakistan and Haiti and more from UN Direct

Security Council debate on 1325: this morning the SC held an open debate to mark the 10 year anniversary of the landmark adoption of resolution 1325 on the role of women in peace and security.  In a video message (currently in SE Asia), the SG welcomed progress on implementation, such as the adoption of National Action Plans by 20 countries and increasing participation of women in national parliaments, while underlining the mass rapes in the DRC as a reminder of the remaining challenges and calling on the SC to take appropriate steps to end impunity. In her first remarks to the SC in her capacity as head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet presented details of the SG’s report, which recommends a comprehensive framework for the implementation of 1325, listing goals, targets and indicators. In his remarks, Le Roy emphasized DPKO’s priorities to advance 1325, including financial support, building the capacity of women and investing in women’s perspectives to ensure sustainable peace.

Addressing the meeting on behalf of the United States, Secretary Clinton urged the Council to “do more and think creatively”, as there is a lack of will to bring about an end to impunity.  Clinton also enumerated concrete commitments by the U.S., including; $17 million to address sexual and gender-based violence in the DRC, $44 million to empower women across various initiatives, and the development of a domestic National Action Plan to accelerate implementation of 1325.  The $44 million commitment will include $17 million for civil society groups that focus on women in Afghanistan, $14 to NGOs working to make clean water available in conflict zones, $1.7 million to help fund UN activities, including SRSG Wallstrom’s Office, and $11 million to expand literacy, job training and maternal health services for refugee women and girls.  Clinton also affirmed the U.S.’s support for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, noting that women also have a higher chance of becoming victims of violence when seeking firewood, and that this initiative will revolutionize how women will function in their societies. Through all this, Clinton explained that “ultimately, we measure progress by improvements of daily lives. Empowering women to contribute to this cause is our calling.”

OCHA: today Valerie Amos, USG for OCHA, reported on her recent trip to Niger where she visited the site of the recent flood and two areas heavily affected by the food crisis.  Due to donor support, Amos stated that a major food crisis has been averted and 5 million people have benefited from food assistance programs. Health is a major concern: roughly 250,492 children have been admitted to various nutrition centers and the rainy season has triggered a peak in malaria cases, with 2 million cases in 2010.   In regards to Pakistan, the reconstruction phase is currently underway, with an upcoming meeting in November to evaluate longer-term needs. She underscored the importance of keeping the pressure up and not forgetting the continuing humanitarian situation.  In regards to the cholera epidemic in Haiti, she said the UN has distributed water purification materials to those living along the water.

SG in Southeast Asia: the SG just arrived in Cambodia today after visiting Thailand. On Friday, he will attend the ASEAN-UN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.  While in Thailand, he met with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, discussing UN-Thailand cooperation and the country’s contribution to UN peacekeeping operations, as well as urging that any human rights violations be addressed in a transparent way.

Polio campaign: this week 15 African countries will launch a synchronized mass immunization campaign against polio to reach 72 children. The campaign, which will mobilize 290,000 vaccinators, will cost approximately $42.6 million and is being funded by the Gates Foundation, CDC, USAID, Rotary, UNICEF, Germany and Japan.

Annual GA vote on Cuban embargo: this morning the GA voted on an annual resolution introduced by Cuba on the “necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the U.S. against Cuba”, which passed by a vote of 187 in favor to 2 against (U.S. and Israel) and 3 abstentions (Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau).  In its statement, the U.S. affirmed its “sovereign right” to conduct its economic relations with another country and said its economic relationship with Cuba is a bilateral issue.  Ronald Godard, U.S. Senior Advisor for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said that he regretted the label of “genocide” to describe the trade restrictions, and noted U.S. humanitarian assistance to Cuba as well as greater U.S. engagement under Obama’s “new beginning” with Cuba.