SG condemns violence in Yemen, travels to Paris to follow-up on Council action on Libya, U.S. responses to human rights recommendations in Geneva and more from UN Direct

Yemen: The SG is disturbed by the continued violence there and strongly condemns the use of live ammunition as security forces and government supports opened fire on protestors in the capital. The SG calls on all to desist from any provocative acts that might lead to further violence, reminding the government that it has an obligation to protect civilians.

SG Travel: The SG is currently in Spain, where he recently discussed the dramatic developments in the Mideast and North Africa, particularly the violence in Libya, with PM José Zapatero and FM Trinidad Jimenez. He commended Spain for their continued support and in repatriating the migrant workers at the Tunisian border. He emphasized that those responsible for human rights violations will be held accountable and will work to coordinate closely with Member States based on SCR. 1973, which authorizes the use of “all necessary measures”. The SG will follow up on yesterday’s Security Council resolution by traveling to Paris over the weekend to meet with President Sarkozy as well as leaders of the EU, AU, and the Arab States. Afterwards, he will travel to Egypt and Tunisia to evaluate how the people are transitioning towards democracy. The SG will listen to government officials, women, youth, and civil society organizations among other actors. He will return to NY by mid-next week.

Libyan Refugees: UNHCR said that there’s an increased risk of a mass influx of people fleeing the violence in Libya and therefore, stands ready to work with the Egyptian government to prepare. Already, there’s evidence of an increase of Libyans fleeing to Egypt, with 1,500 who fled to Egypt on Wednesday. Also, a steady flow of 1,000 new arrivals have entered Tunisia, the majority being from Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, today, UNHCR and IOM appealed to donor governments for renewed funding and logistical assets to handle the second phase of evacuations, as there are more than 1 million migrant workers who remain in Libya, according to the IOM. Meanwhile, Abdul Illah Khatib, the Special Envoy for Libya, will be meeting the SG over the course of the weekend and possibly on the margins of the Paris meeting after his Cairo visit wraps up.

Côte d’Ivoire: UNOCI and UNHCR reported that the attack against civilians by pro-Gbagbo forces in Abobo yesterday may constitute as a crime against humanity. The mission confirmed that security forces fired at least 6 mortar shells, killing about 30 people and wounding 40-60 others. Perpetrators of these acts will be held accountable. Meanwhile, UNHCR said that the escalating violence in Abidjan is causing further displacements. The number of Ivoirians in Liberia has reached 90,000. USG for Humanitarian Affairs and ERC Valerie Amos has said that she’s worried about the escalating violence and issue of access.

Japan: The IAEA Board of Governors will convene on Monday in Vienna. DG of the IAEA Yukiya Amano will brief Member States on the nuclear emergency in Japan and then will brief the press on Monday afternoon.

Haiti: A cholera report is expected later this month or early next month. The UN urges for a smooth and well-run election on Sunday, March 20th.

U.S. UPR at the HRC: Harold Koh, Legal Adviser at the State Department, addressed the concerns and recommendations brought forth by members of the HRC and civil society organizations at the UPR of the United States, and reaffirmed the U.S.’ commitment to forging changes in order to promote human rights at home. Counterterrorism, immigration, LGBT rights, and Guantanamo were among the various issues addressed and highlighted at the UPR. HRW’s statement, delivered today, is available here, in which it regretted that the U.S. did not use the opportunity to issue an invitation to all Rapporteurs, but stated its encouragement about recommendations accepted relating to improvements in detention conditions, treatment of migrants and racial profiling.

Sustainable Development: On Wednesday, March 16, an interactive dialogue on the SG’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability took place. Launched in August 2010, the panel briefed Member States on current developments with the task to create a blueprint for a low-carbon, sustainable future in the lead-up to Rio 2012. President Tarja Halonen of Finland and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa serve as co-chairs of the panel.  President Halonen explained that at this stage of work, the panel is working towards a number of goals including, 1) eradicating poverty and enhancing social justice; 2) sustainable production and inclusive growth (job creation); and 3) managing scarcity, common goods and systems with respect to boundaries. She underscored that there’s no need to redefine the concept of sustainable development; the missing piece is implementation. In addition, President Zuma highlighted a few key outcomes from the second panel meeting that took place in Cape Town on February 24-25, 2011. For example, the panel members developed an illustrative framework and agreed that combating poverty and inequality should be at the core of any intervention that the panel report recommends. Elizabeth Cousens, Principal Policy Advisor to the UN from the U.S. Mission pointed to the importance of a “true ‘green economy’ [which] will need to deliver for all communities” and also welcomed the robust attention the Panel is giving to the role of the private sector, which can help attract new investments into more sustainable activities.

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