SG in Seoul: Today, the SG met with President Lee Myung-bak and PM Kim Hwang-sik in the Republic of Korea, discussing the complementary roles of the G20 and UN, the inclusion of development on the G20 agenda for the first time and security issues on the Korean Peninsula. Speaking to the press, he stressed the need to keep promises on the MDGs, calling them “weapons of mass construction”, in addition to urging strategic investment and action on climate change. He also stated that he will do his best to ensure that the most vulnerable people are not forgotten during the Summit and called for unity around currency issues and trade imbalances when leaders meet Thursday and Friday.
UN Women Executive Board: today ECOSOC Members voted on the 41 members of the inaugural UN Women Executive Board. The four “donor” seats were allocated to the U.S., UK, Norway and Spain while the two “emerging donor” seats were given to Saudi Arabia and Mexico. Seats won by region are as follows: African States (10): Angola, Cape Verde, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Libya, Nigeria and Tanzania; Asian States (10): Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Timor-Leste; Eastern European States (4): Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Hungary; Latin American and Caribbean States (6): Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada; and WEOG (5): Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden. Perhaps the most closely-watched contest was within the Asian Group, with Timor-Leste entering the race in a bid, backed by the U.S, Canada and others, to prevent Iran from gaining a seat. Iran failed to secure a seat, winning only 19 votes and falling short of the majority needed. The only other contested regions were Eastern Europe (Armenia and Albania lost) and GRULAC (Chile lost). Members will begin their either two or three year terms today. Ambassador Rice’s remarks at a press stakeout regarding the election can be found here.
U.S. UPR: Yesterday, Harold Koh gave the U.S.’ initial response to the 228 recommendations made in its UPR, summarized in the Report of the Working Group. In his remarks, he divided the recommendations into 10 groups and gave brief remarks on each; namely: political criticisms; treaties; criminal justice; discrimination; immigration; national security; indigenous issues; freedom of expression & religion; economic, social & cultural rights; and domestic implementation of human rights. Some of the key issues discussed by Koh included the Administration’s focus on ratifying CEDAW and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (requiring Senate action), the reiteration of U.S. adherence to applicable law in Iraq and Afghanistan and commitment to closing Guantanamo (reminding that this requires the help of Congress and the courts as well) and the recommendation that the U.S. create a national, independent human rights institution. The U.S. will provide its full response to the HRC in March 2011.
Iraq: today the Security Council President read a statement which condemned the recent terrorist attacks targeted at religious groups in Iraq, as well as the October 19 attack against the SRSG’s convoy.
Lebanon/Israel: today the SG issued his latest report on Lebanon, which states that the security situation is deteriorating, citing an August 3 conflict along the Blue Line. He said a priority is resolving the issue of Israel’s occupation of the northern part of Ghajar, which was just discussed at a recent meeting between Netanyahu and SG. In this meeting, the two also discussed the peace process and the SG urged the need to break the current stalemate so negotiations can continue. He also expressed his concern regarding the recent announcement of additional settlements in East Jerusalem.
Angola/DRC: today USG Amos called for an urgent investigation into allegations of sexual violence and other abuses suffered by Congolese immigrants during their deportation from Angola, adding that every effort should be taken to prevent any more abuse.
Haiti: OCHA is reporting that nearly 10,000 people have so far been affected by the cholera outbreak in Haiti, with 643 confirmed dead. The number of victims is expected to rise, as the infection has been confirmed in Port-au-Prince. Due to poor sanitary conditions and the recent flooding, rates of infection are expected to accelerate. However, while the number of cases is expected to rise, death toll will likely continue to decline, due to the effectiveness of medical interventions. A key priority is to ensure swift responses in already infected areas to prevent its spread. Fifteen cholera treatment centers are up and running nationwide; seven are in Port-au-Prince and eight are in urban centers outside of the capital. Both public and private hospitals have been equipped to respond. Additional treatment centers, including in rural areas, are being determined as well. Yesterday, OCHA announced the creation of an alert system – a Stand Operation Procedure – to allow for quicker reporting.