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High-level meeting on Iran set for Monday at U.N.

"Senior diplomats from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany will meet in New York next week to try to break a deadlock on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. officials and U.N. diplomats said on Thursday. The meeting is now set for Monday among foreign affairs officials from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the envoys said.
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UN Reports Progress in Syrian Cooperation with Hariri Probe

"In contrast to earlier problems with Syrian cooperation, the United Nations panel looking into last year's assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri today reported progress in this "critical area," with a common understanding reached regarding access to individuals, sites and information." [Full Story]
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Nations Vote for Creation of Human Rights Watchdog

"The United Nations will soon have a re-minted human rights body to monitor abuses worldwide after the full membership voted in favour of its creation yesterday ... The notion of a reformed council was proposed by Kofi Annan, the secretary general, last year and endorsed by the UN's 60th anniversary summit in September." More
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SUDAN: Focus Must Remain on Civilian Protection in Darfur

"United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged the international community to remain focused on the protection of civilians in Sudan's strife-torn region of Darfur, saying that rising insecurity there had made it dangerous and volatile. International efforts should aim to "contribute to the protection of civilians at risk with a view to creating an environment conducive to national reconciliation in a country where human rights are respected and internally displaced persons and refugees can return home," said Annan in his monthly update on Darfur, which was released to the Security Council on Tuesday." [Read more]
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West Seeks UN Pressure on Iran

"Iran came under more pressure to halt its suspected nuclear weapons programs on Tuesday when the United States and its allies took the issue to the full U.N. Security Council and Russia pursued its own initiative in talks in Moscow. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that any retreat on the nuclear issue would break the Islamic Republic's independence and force it to retreat in other areas." [Link]
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Security Council Welcomes African Decision to Transform Darfur Force

"The Security Council today welcomed the decision of the African Union (AU) to support, in principle, the transition of the AU peacekeeping mission in the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan to a United Nations operation. "The Security Council commended the African Union for the successful deployment of the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and AMIS' role in reducing large-scale organized violence in Darfur," Council President Cesar Mayoral of Argentina told the press after the body was briefed by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi." [MORE]
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Avian Flu Spreads, UN Prepares for Human Pandemic

Global_H5N1inHumanCUMULATIVE_20060308.png WHO: Affected countries with confirmed human cases of H5N1 avian influenza since 2003 "With wild birds spreading the avian flu virus further into Africa and Europe, the United Nations system was stepping up assistance to countries in their efforts to contain the virus in birds and conducting simulation exercises to prepare strategies for quick action on a human future pandemic, the official in charge of the effort said today. "Frankly, there will be a pandemic, sooner or later," Dr. David Nabarro, the UN System's Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza told correspondents at UN Headquarters in New York as he updated them on developments since his mission to China in mid-January. "It might be due to H5N1 or to some other influenza virus and it could start any time," he said. "We have to behave as though this could start any time, because if we don't, we will put off getting prepared." [Read more] Also see: Bird Flu Could Reach Americas in 6 Months UN Officials Rehearse Plans for Bird Flu Pandemic World Health Organization: Avian influenza complete coverage
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Annan Proposes Overhaul of UN to Realign Operations from Headquarters to Field

112846.jpg Secretary-General Kofi Annan ©UN Photo/Mark Garten "Aiming to keep step with the shift at the United Nations from bureaucratic tasks to life-saving work in the field, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today presented proposals for a far-reaching overhaul ranging from setting up a 2,500-strong core of mobile peacekeeping professionals to multimillion dollar investments in training and technology. His far-reaching report, "Investing in the United Nations: For a Stronger Organization Worldwide," focuses on ensuring efficiency and accountability in a way that reflects the fact that more than 70 per cent of the $10 billion annual budget now relates to peacekeeping and other field operations, up from around 50 per cent of a $4.5 billion budget ten years ago." [Read more]