U.S. announces $10 million for Special Tribunal for Lebanon, SG addresses human rights in China, Council is briefed on Cote d’Ivoire elections and more from UN Direct

U.S. financial support for Special Tribunal: in a rare videotaped statement issued today, Ambassador Rice announced the U.S. provision of an additional $10 million for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is currently under significant pressure within Lebanon.  This brings total U.S. support to $30 million.  In her statement, she condemned the recent attack on three Tribunal members in Beirut, adding that such attempts to discredit, hinder or influence its work will not be tolerated.

SG Returns to NY: the SG is due to return to New York this afternoon, following his Asia trip last week.  Before leaving China, he spoke at a roundtable discussion at the Central Policy School, highlighting the importance of China in its role to help address climate change, Sudan, Myanmar, and human rights issues.  On the later issue, the SG said no country can claim a perfect record and that there is always room for improvement adding, “we recognize that achieving the shared goals of human rights around the world is more than an aspiration, it is a foundation of peace and harmony in our modern world.  So too is respect for freedom of expression and the protection of its defenders”.

Third Committee discusses Refugees: today the Third Committee considered the report of the High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres.  Responding to the report, Ambassador Barton expressed the U.S.’ support for UNHCR’s efforts to reform itself through decentralization (less staff in Geneva) and budgeting appeals based on global needs assessments.  He also welcomed UNHCR’s two priority objectives of strengthening its protection capacity in response to threats to humanitarian and asylum space and enhancing its emergency preparedness and response capability.

UNHCR: today UNHCR issued an urgent appeal to Kenyan authorities to stop forcing Somali refugees to leave the country, brought to their attention when local authorities ordered more than 8,000 refugees out of a camp in northeast Kenya.  UNHCR has advised governments of the substantial risk that Somali refugees encounter, stressing the need for international protection.

Cote d’Ivoire elections: in a briefing on UNOCI in the Security Council this morning, SRSG for Cote d’Ivoire Choi Young-jin said voter turnout was over 80%, one of the highest turnouts in the world.  The UN provided – and will continue to provide – support to the electoral process.  The results of the October 31 elections are expected to be announced November 10 and, if necessary, a second round will be held November 28.