The SG; The SC; Gaza; DRC; Climate Conference

The SG: The SG is in Vienna today meeting with Austrian leaders, including the President and Foreign Minister, on developments in the Middle East, Africa, and South-eastern Europe. While in Vienna, the SG will meet with Yury Fedotov, the DG of UNODC, hold a town hall meeting with UN staff based in Vienna, and meet with the outgoing and incoming Executive Secretaries of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization. He will be back in New York tomorrow afternoon.

The SC: The Security Council held an open debate on its working methods today, aimed at developing better techniques for enhancing the Council’s transparency, efficiency, and its interaction with member states and regional groups. The United States issued a statement after the debate, noting that, despite great improvement in communication and accessibility, the SC must build on its current momentum and “keep working to make the Council more effective.”

Gaza: The head of UNRWA, tasked with helping Palestinian refugees, said today that the ceasefire halting the recent violence between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza – which has largely held since it began on November 21 – offers a chance to “address the real problems underlying the crisis.” On Saturday, UNRWA re-opened all but two of its 245 schools in Gaza and, on Sunday, all 21 of its health centers resumed operations.

DRC: The SG welcomed the joint communiqué and subsequent outcome of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Summit held in Kampala, Uganda on Saturday. He calls on the M23 to immediately lay down their arms in accordance with the agreements reached in Kampala, and comply with the immediate withdrawal of their forces from Goma. The WFP also began distributing vital food assistance late last week to roughly 81,000 displaced people who have taken refuge in and around Goma.

Climate Conference: The UN Climate Change Conference began today in Doha, Qatar, as thousands of government representatives, international organizations, and civil society members have gathered to build on and implement previously agreed decisions to curb global carbon emissions by the year 2020. The ten-day meeting brings together the 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, with the goal of extending the Protocol which will expire at the end of 2012.