SG: today the SG convened the first meeting of the MDG Advocacy Group in Madrid, which is co-chaired by Rwandan President Kagame and Spanish PM Zapatero.  He urged the Advocates to educate and inform on the MDGs and help send the message, especially in this time of economic uncertainty, that the Goals go beyond development and are about generating global economic growth.  This weekend, the SG travels to Geneva to attend the Third World Conference of Speakers of Parliament.

Security Council: today the Council held an open debate on conflict prevention and the settlement of disputes, the focal point of the Liberian Presidency of the Council this month.  Speaking on behalf of the SG, the DSG said that the UN has sought to strengthen DPA, which has supported more than 20 peace processes over the last year alone.  She added that there is a need to re-evaluate how to use the UN’s limited resources to maximize preventative action and build capacity for international preventative diplomacy.

Nelson Mandela International Day: today the UN commemorated the first Nelson Mandela International Day, designated July 18 (Mandela’s birthday) by the GA in November.

OCHA: today USG Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes allocated $41 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for under-funded humanitarian emergencies in 9 countries where people are affected by hunger, malnutrition, disease and conflict.  Humanitarian actors in Chad and DRC received the largest allocations.

1267: in a press conference yesterday, Ambassador Mayr-Harting of Australia – Chair of the 1267 Committee (Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions) – introduced the Kimberly Prost of Canada, the new Ombudsperson (the result of U.S.-sponsored Res. 1904).  In her capacity, Prost will deal with individual cases for delisting and provide independent reports to the Sanctions Committee, who will make final decisions.  In her remarks, Prost, a former judge of the ICTY, said the her objective is to provide individuals with an avenue for a measure of recourse to provide fundamental fairness and overall efficiency, effectiveness and enforceability of sanctions.  She will strive to maintain the two principles of independence and accessibility of her Office.  Answering a question of whether, and how, she will be involved in delisting requests by States (such as the recent U.S. request to delist some Taliban members), she said she will only deal with cases made by individuals – not States – and the issue of listing and delisting itself rests firmly with the Security  Council and 1267 Committee Members.  Ambassador Rice issued this statement on her appointment yesterday.  On a separate note, Staffan de Mistura, SRSG for Afghanistan, confirmed that Afghanistan has put in a request for 10 individuals to be delisted, which has been sent to the Security Council.

UN Millennium Campaign: ahead of the September MDG Summit, the UNMC issued this set of Global Policy Demands.  Significantly, the document urges developing countries to develop national action plans, localize the MDGs, allocate domestic resources, monitor progress and enhance accountability, while calling on developed countries to fulfill aid commitments (0.7% of GNI by 2015) and increase aid effectiveness, reform trade and agricultural  policies to remove barriers to growth in developing countries and analyze progress on MDG commitments.

Kabul Conference: speaking to the press July 13, Holbrooke addressed the upcoming Kabul Conference on Tuesday, July 20, reaffirming that it is not a pledging conference, but rather, a follow-up to the January 28 International Conference in London.  He said the Afghan-led Conference, called by President Karzai, may be the largest gathering of foreign leaders on Afghanistan since the 1970s.  The press reports that the SG is expected to attend.