ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE

20 September 2013

Corinne Momal-Vanian, Director of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing which was also attended by Spokespersons for the United Nations Human Rights Council, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, World Trade Organization, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, World Health Organization, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,  World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund, International Organization for Migration, International Telecommunications Union and United Nations AIDS.

Syria

In response to questions, Corinne Momal-Vanian recalled that the spokesperson of Joint Special Representative Brahimi had stressed that Mr. Brahimi had always called for a cessation of hostilities and, in fact, had called in the past for ceasefires.  Mr. Brahimi would very much welcome that the parties call for, and ultimately respect, a cease fire so that the bloodshed in Syria could be stopped as soon as possible.

Marixie Mercado, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that over 4,150 Syrian children had crossed borders into neighbouring countries without parents or adult relatives.  That figure only included children that had been identified and registered, and the real numbers were evidently higher.  Lebanon had received the largest number, 1,698 children.  In the Beka'a Valley area newly-arrived refugee children were being swept up and used for agricultural child labour.

Jordan was second, with 1,170 children, including some as young as nine, most of whom were in Za’atari camp. In Iraq, UNICEF estimated that there were 300 newly-arrived unaccompanied and separated children in the north.  Many were working to provide income back home to families, and were desperate to get back to school.

Each of those children had witnessed, or been a victim of horrific levels of violence.  Separated from parents and care givers, they were extraordinarily vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.  Aya lived in a shabby tented settlement set in an almond orchard in Sawiri, right on the border with Syria, close to the route between Damascus and Beirut.  She was 11 years old, taking care of her seven-year-old brother and four-year-old sister, all of them staying with an uncle.  She started going to UNICEF-supported recreational activities, and last Thursday, for the first time, she spoke about seeing her father hacked to pieces in front of her.

There were many reasons that drove children to leave Syria on their own.  Some had lost their parents and relatives in the fighting, and ran for their lives.  Some left to be reunited with family members who had left earlier.  Some were being sent away by parents afraid they would be recruited into the fighting.  More were now leaving or being sent away because there was simply no work at home, and their families were in debt.  Some were leaving just so they could get basics like water, food and shelter. UNICEF had worked with partners to identify separated and unaccompanied children and to make sure they were protected.  That included safe accommodation until family and relatives could be traced, as well as medical, psychosocial, and education support.

Elisabeth Byrs, for the World Food Programme (WFP), announced that the WFP was particularly concerned about the situation of many vulnerable people trapped in conflict areas in Damascus, Rural Damascus and several other areas in Syria.  The WFP had more and more difficulties to reach them and it had become a true challenge to access those people.  The WFP called upon all parties of the conflict to allow the safe passage of food to the families that live month to month on WFP’s food rations.  

The WFP was not giving up and would deploy all its logistical possibilities and its experience in this field to reach those people.  The WFP operated in a very difficult environment in Syria and insecurity was growing.  Since the beginning of the year, the WFP had recorded close to 50 incidents of theft and confiscation against food trucks by armed groups.  In some of those incidents, the WFP was able to recover the food after negotiations through third parties, but truck drivers had become more reluctant to drive on some roads or deliver food assistance to risky areas.

This week, a WFP warehouse in Rural Damascus was caught in the crossfire when three mortar bombs hit the building, causing structural damage.  One of the mortars hit a truck parked inside the warehouse loaded with 920 bags of sugar, resulting in partial damage to the truck and the food.  Oil cartons were also damaged by shrapnel.

In the governorates of Damascus and Rural Damascus, more areas were becoming inaccessible due to the intensification of the conflict.  Since mid-2012, the WFP had been unable to access 38 locations such as Moadamiyeh, Daraya, Armouk, Hajar Aswad, Yalda, Babila, Sbineh, Douma, Jobar, Qaboon, Zamalka and Erbeen which were some of the most deprived areas where even the most basic items were in scarce supply.

Elsewhere, in Northeast Syria, last month the WFP was unable to deliver food rations to its three partners in Al Hassakeh as the roads from both Ar Raqqa and Deir Ezzor were blocked by armed groups.

Central African Republic

Adrian Edwards for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that new displacement had been seen in Central African Republic (CAR) this week in the northwest of the country, sparked by new fighting.  Heavy clashes were reported between Saturday and Tuesday between unidentified armed groups in and around the towns of Bossembele and Bossangoa, 150 kilometres and 300 kilometres northwest of the capital Bangui respectively.  Currently, the fighting appeared to have subsided in the area, but the situation remained very tense.

Yesterday, a UNHCR team arrived in Bossangoa as part of an interagency mission with OCHA, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP and several non-governmental organizations to assess the extent of the displacement as well as the humanitarian needs of the affected populations in the region.  People they met spoke of multiple abuses by both sides in the conflict, including murder, rape, and torture.

Further north at Paoua in Ouham-Pendé prefecture, UNHCR staff, who had been on the ground since Monday, saw new displacement and heard further accounts of human rights violations.  People were fleeing from a nearby village (Benamkouna) following rumours of a retaliatory attack over the killing of a local man.  Colleagues said that people were also living in fear in Paoua where last week the town emptied after rumours of an attack.

People told UNHCR that those who returned to their villages had to flee again, and spoke of arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, extortion and illegal taxation by armed men. 

In another village (Korozian), 35 kilometres from Paoua, UNHCR heard that relatives of people who have been arrested were being forced to pay ransoms of up to 200,000 CFA francs (approximately US$400) to secure release.  Five children, who had been hiding in the bush without shelter during the rainy season, were said to have died of cold and malaria.

Despite the unstable situation, UNHCR continued to assist IDPs in Paoua either directly or through partner aid agencies.  It had provided aid kits consisting of tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, jerry cans, buckets, soap and hygienic kits for all women and girls. Distribution started yesterday and aimed to reach some 3,000 recently uprooted people.

UNHCR urged all armed parties engaged in fighting in CAR to take more effective measures to protect civilians and prevent indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.
Violence in CAR since December 2012 had uprooted an estimated 227,000 people and forced into exile another 60,800 mostly women and children to neighbouring countries, namely the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Chad.

Marixie Mercado, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that over nine months of lawlessness and insecurity had spelt disaster for children in the Central African Republic.  Measles outbreaks had been reported almost everywhere in the country, mostly due to the breakdown in routine immunization services.  

At least 60 per cent of schools were closed, because of the violence and the absence of teachers.  One in five water points assessed in the southwest of the country were broken, and there was no capacity to repair them.  Forced marriage for young girls was reportedly on the rise, and more and more children were showing symptoms of psychosocial distress.

One indicator of the chaos and violence surrounded children was an increase in the number of children being recruited into the fighting.  Before the crisis broke out in December, UNICEF estimated that there were around 2,000 children associated with armed groups.  Recruitment of children for use by armed forces and groups had taken place on both sides since then, and partners estimated there were some 3,500 children now among the ranks of armed actors.

In the northwest, which had seen fighting in recent weeks, UNICEF had sent teams to the field as part of a joint humanitarian mission to assess conditions and confirm numbers of internally displaced people in need of assistance.  In Bangui, the capital, security remained unpredictable.


With partners, UNICEF worked in very difficult conditions to continue providing life-saving support.  Mobile teams had been in the interior of the country since late July, helping re-start services in health facilities that had been closed or non-operational for months.  A measles vaccination campaign as set to begin on September 30, with the goal of reaching all districts except Bangui, where around 200,000 children had already been vaccinated.  Partners were repairing water points, and supporting a return to learning wherever security permits.

Funding remained an acute constraint.  UNICEF’s 2013 emergency appeal of $11.5 million, issued before the military takeover of the country, had since tripled to $31.9 million.  UNICEF has received about $11 million, leaving a funding gap of $21 million through the end of the year.

UNICEF reminded all parties that the use of children in conflict was a war crime.  All parties must abide by their obligations to protect children and to provide for the law and order that will allow humanitarian actors to reach children, families and communities that desperately need assistance.

Elisabeth Byrs, for the World Food Programme (WFP), announced that the WFP was to increase the number of operations and the staff headcount on the ground because of the growing insecurity that directly impacted upon the populations’ needs.  

WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa, Denise Brown, had visited Bangui for two days and Bozoum which was situated 400km northwest of Bangui, where she met beneficiaries among thousands of people who have fled conflict in Bossangoa.  Displaced people, many of them women and children, walked for days in search of a safe place, leaving everything behind.

She said that the WFP estimates that there were up to 500,000 people at risk of food insecurity and 130,500 people in need of immediate food assistance.  For now, the WFP brought assistance to 200,000 people in need and hoped to double this figure by December and be able to help 400,000 people.  Ms. Byrs said that in July the WFP was able to distribute food assistance to 84,000 people; 900 tons of food assistance would be distributed in total in September to help displaced persons from Cameroun, Congo, Chad, and DRC.

Ms. Momal-Vanian added that the Secretary-General had met yesterday with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif.  The Secretary-General welcomed the release of political prisoners including Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and expressed hope that the Government would continue to take steps to fulfil the priorities made by President Rouhani during his recent election campaign.

Iran

Rupert Colville, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said that the High Commissioner warmly welcomed the release by Iran earlier this week of Ms. Sotoudeh, and 11 other political prisoners including a number of women’s rights activists, political activists and journalists.

Ms. Sotoudeh, an internationally recognised human rights activist and recipient of the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, was released on 18 September, after having served half of a six-year sentence, imposed on charges of “acting against national security,” not wearing hejab (Islamic dress) during a videotaped message, propaganda against the system, and membership of the “Centre for Human Rights Defenders.”  She was also given a 10-year ban on exercising her profession as a lawyer.

The Secretary-General, the High Commissioner and a number of independent UN experts, known as Special Procedures, made a succession of diplomatic and public representations to the Government of Iran on her behalf.

Activists like Nasrin Sotoudeh could make a major contribution to improving the protection of human rights in Iran, the High Commissioner believed, and it urged the Government to build on the positive step by creating space for human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists by allowing them to exercise their professions without harassment or sanctions by the state.  

The High Commissioner called upon the Government to remove any restrictions placed on Ms. Sotoudeh’s travel and to rescind the ban on her practicing as a lawyer.

The High Commissioner also welcomed the recent news that the death sentence imposed on the Iranian blogger Mr. Saeed Malekpour had been overturned and encouraged the Government to release all those held for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and association.

Sri Lanka


Rupert Colville, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said that journalists may recall that the High Commissioner, in her statement of 31 August made at the end of her mission to Sri Lanka, mentioned the unfortunate fact that at least three Government Ministers had joined in an extraordinary array of distortion and abuse during her visit. Unfortunately that practice has continued.

A week ago, on 12 September, OHCHR sent a formal complaint to the Government of Sri Lanka concerning the widely reported comments attributed to the Secretary of Defence that, during her meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the High Commissioner requested the removal of the statue of Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister from Colombo’s Independence Square.

The letter from OHCHR to the Sri Lankan Government requested an immediate retraction and public correction of this misinformation which had – not surprisingly – aroused much disquiet in Sri Lanka.

Since neither a retraction nor a correction had been forthcoming, today OHCHR made public what was said, and not said, about Independence Square during the visit.

Firstly, OHCHR categorically denied that the High Commissioner ever uttered a single word about the statue of Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake at any point during her visit to Sri Lanka, let alone asked the President to remove it. That claim was without a shred of truth.

Secondly, there had been a further distortion concerning comments the High Commissioner made to the President concerning a flag in Independence Square. The High Commissioner discussed with the President her concerns with rising inter-communal tensions and incitement to violence on the basis of religion in Sri Lanka. In that context, she asked why the only flag flying, other than the national flag, in such a symbolic location was that of one religious community, and suggested it might be more inclusive to fly only the national flag which is a symbol that unites the nation, no matter who they are or what religion they adhere to. At no time did she request any flag to be removed.

OHCHR considered it deeply regrettable that government officials and other commentators continued what appeared to be a coordinated campaign of disinformation in an attempt to discredit the High Commissioner or to distract from the core messages of her visit.

The High Commissioner would be updating the Human Rights Council on her visit and progress on accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka on 25 September.

Uganda

Adrian Edwards, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that in the Great Lakes region of Africa UNHCR urgently sought an extra US$21.4 million for underfunded operations in Uganda for refugees who have fled from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The amount covered needs till the end of the year and was largely revised to reflect the influx into Uganda’s Bundibugyo district of tens and thousands of refugees from the Kamango area of Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu province since July. 

In total, UNHCR sought US$ 43.7 million to help Congolese refugees who have arrived in Uganda to escape violence in North Kivu province since early 2012.  At the moment this $43.7 million programme was only 28 per cent funded.  The situation was currently more or less stabilized, but about 100 people a day still crossed the border into this mountainous, harsh but densely populated region.  Further south, near Goma, clashes between armed groups and the Congolese army, backed by the United Nations intervention brigade, as well as fighting among the different militias and general lawlessness also continued to push people into Uganda.  For those who sought longer-term protection, UNHCR had since mid-August arranged transfers to an existing refugee settlement at Kyangwali in Hoima district. To date, just under 11,000 refugees had relocated to Kyangwali, with another 10,000 in the transit centre and 20,000 along the border.

The new appeal covered operations for new arrivals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in mid-west Uganda (Bundibugyo) as well as in the country’s south-west (Kisoro and Kanugana districts).  A priority for the funds has been to continue to relocate refugees to Kyangwali, UNHCR had been moving 1,000-1,200 people a week.  The funding has also been needed to ensure assistance for refugees moving to the Kyangwali settlement. The funds have been vital for provision of health, water, sanitation and education services as well as shelter materials and farming packs and household items. 


UNHCR’s fresh request formed part of a revised United Nations inter-agency appeal for a total of US$92 million for the continuing arrivals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to mid-west and south-west Uganda. The United Nations country team in Uganda had been working hard to provide food, non-food aid and basic services.  There have been currently an estimated 2.6 million internally displaced people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while more than 290,000 refugees have fled the country since the start of last year.  In Uganda, more than 170,000 have been assisted in three districts.

Central America Coffee Rust

Elisabeth Byrs, for the World Food Programme (WFP), said that Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Dominican Republic had declared a national state of emergency because of a disease affecting coffee trees, and more specifically their sleeves, called coffee rust.  It was caused by a fungus that prevented the photosynthesis of the plant.  This disease was extremely serious as it destroyed the coffee tree very quickly and spread to the entire plantation. The WFP intervened at the request of the Government and brought food assistance to small producers which primarily relied on coffee for their incomes, and to all seasonal workers working on plantations.  It was estimated that up to 2 million people in Central America and the Caribbean lived on coffee production.

Ms. Byrs illustrated the gravity of this disease referring to the case of Sri Lanka, which in 1869 saw its entire coffee production destroyed by this disease in less than 10 years.  The situation was extremely preoccupying, action had to be taken to try to stop the infection and bring assistance to the people who would find themselves in a dramatic situation of food insecurity.

South Sudan

Gaëlle Sévenier, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that the IOM was distributing relief for the first time in Jonglei State, South Sudan, where there was ongoing conflict between the Lou Nuer and Murle groups.  Last May, the conflict had escalated and thousands of people had fled the city of Pibor to find shelter in Juba or in neighbouring countries, such as Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya.  People fleeing mainly belonged to the Murle community.  As Pibor was surrounded by swamps, access to the city was very difficult.  In early July, IOM and its partners had for the first time been able to gain access to Pibor County, one of the worst-affected areas of Jonglei State, despite severe logistical and security constraints.  Pibor was currently only accessible by helicopter, with humanitarian staff operating out of temporary camps.

Working in cooperation with local communities and partner agencies, IOM’s Displacement Tracking and Monitoring (DTM) team was leading the profiling of affected populations to form a basis for future response.  The latest registration exercise, covering some 21,000 individuals in and around Gumuruk, Pibor County, had been completed on 24 August and the findings were published this week.  The information gathered by IOM includes demographic data such as age, sex and place of origin, as well as household intactness. Partners can use this data to make informed decisions about the provision of future assistance, helping ensure that aid is quickly and effectively delivered to those who need it most.

As lead agency of the Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Item (NFI) Cluster, IOM was also coordinating the delivery of urgently needed relief supplies in Jonglei, utilizing data collected during the registration exercises. IOM had prepositioned 15,000 NFI kits in Jonglei State through the Cluster, able to serve 90,000 individuals.  In Dorein and Labrab, Pibor County, where registration exercises had also been recently conducted, families began receiving plastic sheets, blankets, and mosquito nets from IOM on 14 August. Registered households in Gumuruk would receive NFIs later in September, following the completion of food distributions.

In addition to activities within Jonglei, IOM had registered thousands of members of the Murle community who had been displaced by conflict from Jonglei to Juba.  A total of 1,566 individuals had been registered from 11-13 September, bringing the total number of Murle internally displaced persons (IDPs) registered in Juba to over 8,400.

Latin America

Gaëlle Sévenier, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that this week the IOM would begin the rehabilitation of new evacuation centres in Haiti; more than 30 evocation centres had been rehabilitated these last few years.  Ms. Sévenier also informed that a regional conference on migration in Central America would take place next week and would focus on assistance for migrants seeking to return to their countries.

This week the IOM had also published a study confirming that Colombia ranks first in number of migrants among Latin American countries. There are 4.7 millions of Colombians living abroad, 34% of which live in the United States, 23% in Spain and 20% in Venezuela.  Ms. Severnier noted that press releases regarding the situations in Haiti, Colombia and Central America were available at the back of the room and on the website. 

Human Rights Council

Rolando Gomez, for the Human Rights Council (HRC), said that the Human Rights Council today continued with its consideration of Universal Periodic Review reports.  Bangladesh, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation were to be considered this morning.  In the afternoon, the Council would consider the reports of Cameroon and Cuba.  The reports, which highlighted all recommendations put forward to States under review, along with States’ responses were available on line.

This was the final stage of the Universal Periodic Review process which was now well into its second stage and served as an opportunity for States to spell out the steps they were taking to implement the recommendations made during the previous cycle.  The next meeting of the Universal Periodic Review working group would take place from 21 October to 1 November.  Mr. Gomez recalled that a note had been circulated informing that a total of 35 draft resolutions had been submitted.  The texts, which would be considered on 26 and 27 September, were available on the Human Rights Council’s extranet.

An extension of the deadline had been requested for resolutions on Syria and on situation of older persons, and the deadline for these two resolutions had been set for Monday 23 September, at 1p.m.  Mr. Gomez also flagged some events in the bulletin of informal meetings.  The number of informal consultations showed that a number of consultations would continue on these resolutions, including on Syria.  A public consultation on Syria would take place this afternoon in room XVI, from 4 to 6 p.m.  Regarding side events, Mr. Gomez highlighted one that entitled “How to safeguard the right to privacy in the digital age”, taking place from 12 to 2 p.m. in room XXI, with High Commissioner Navi Pillay and Frank LaRue, Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, as well as representatives from Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, and Reporters without Borders.  Another side event on attacks on healthcare systems would take place in room XII, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and was hosted by the Swiss, Norwegian and the United States delegations. 


MERS Corona Virus

Gregory Härtl, for the World Health Organization (WHO), indicated that in July two IHR Emergency Committee meetings had been held regarding the MERS Corona Virus.  At the end of the second meeting, it had been decided that there would be another meeting in September to follow up in the situation.  The third meeting would take place in Geneva on Wednesday and, at the end of the meeting, after the report was finalized, a virtual press conference would take place at WHO. Geneva-based journalists were invited to attend, as they had been last time, and it was expected that the press conference would take place at 7p.m.  Additional information would be available as soon as the room was decided.                                  

ITU

Sanjay Acharya, for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), announced that ITU, BIP and the Bureau International des Poids et des Mesures, would be holding a workshop on the international time scale at ITU. In January 2012, the Communication Assembly deferred the decision to develop a continuous time standard until the elimination of the leap second.  ITU was holding this workshop to debate the reasons for the elimination of the leap second and to have a continuous time scale.   

A press conference would be held today, at 2:30pm, at ITU.


Geneva activities

Ms. Momal-Vanian announced that the Committee on the Rights of the Child resumed its work this morning and examined the initial report of Tuvalu which was presented by videoconference, in Room XVI at the Palais des Nations.  The Committee would examine the report of Lithuania, on Monday, and the report of Paraguay on Tuesday.

Ms. Momal-Vanian also indicated that there would be a press conference by the International Labour Organization on the study “Measuring progress in the struggle against child labour” on Monday, at 10 a.m., in Room III at the Palais des Nations.

Sophie Barton-Knots, for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UN AIDS), announced that on Monday 23 September, UNAIDS would launch the 2013 report on the Global AIDS epidemic. The report included the latest data on people living with HIV, new HIV infections, infections among children, deaths, access to treatment as well as funding. The report outlined some significant progress towards the 2015 HIV targets and commitments of the UN Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, set by United Nations Member States in 2011 at the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS, as well as some of the remaining challenging in reaching people with HIV services. The report would be available today and access be provided to journalists via email. All materials were under embargo until Monday, 23 September, at 8 a.m. GMT.

Melissa Begag, for the World Trade Organization (WTO), said that next week, from 23 to 27 September, there would be a Global Seminar on Accessions.  Representatives of the concerned governments and WTO specialists and experts would be present.  Mr Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the WTO, would give a press conference on Monday 23 September, at noon, in room D at the WTO on the topic of the progress of negotiations towards the Ministerial Conference in Bali.  Ms. Begag also informed that the meeting of the Committee on Agriculture, on Thursday 26 September, would be followed by a briefing.  Further details would be given as soon as possible. 

Finally, Ms. Begag noted that the Working Party on the Accession of Yemen would meet for the last time on Thursday 26 September.

Concerning Mr Azevêdo’s schedule, he would meet Mr Ali bin Massoud Al-Sunaidi, Minister of Commerce and Industry of Oman, on Monday 23 September; and meet Dr Saadaldeen Ali Salim bin Talib, Minister of Industry and Trade of Yemen, on Thursday 26 September.

Jean Rodriguez, for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), announced that the first workshop on “River Bassin Commissions and other joint bodies for transboundary water cooperation: legal and institutional aspects” would take place on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 September at the Palais des Nations in Room V, and include presentations of representatives from Europe (International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine, Finnish-Russian Commission, Russian-Estonian Commission, International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River), Asia (Conflict prevention in the Aral Sea Bassin, Afghan-Tajik cooperation on hydrology and environment, Mekong River Commission), Africa (The establishment of Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM), Commission International du Bassin Congo-Oubangui-Sangha, Organization for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS)), and Latin America (Authority of Lake Titicaca (ALT)).  From Tuesday 24 to Friday 27 September, the Compliance Committee meeting under the Aarhus Convention would take place at the Palais des Nations in Room IX and would continue its deliberations on communications from Germany, Romania, Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Croatia, the European Union and the United Kingdom conjointly.

Mr. Rodriguez also informed that the UNECE Secretary-General, Mr. Alkalaj, would be in New York next week to participate to some side events occurring within the framework of the debate on the millennium development goals and the post-2015 agenda, at the General Assembly.

There will be a joint side event of the Government of Turkey, UNDP and UNECE for the launching of the RCM/ECA UNDG joint publication “Building more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous societies: a common vision for the post-2015 agenda” on Friday 27 of September.

Catherine Sibut, for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), announced that on Monday 23 September the Trade and Development Council will begin its second week of session; on the agenda the examination the multilateral commercial system. On Monday afternoon the three new chiefs of the agencies related to international trade and development (WTO, UNCTAD, ITC) will be present. A press release will be published but journalists are invited to hear their statements; it will be at 3pm in Room XXVI.

Ms. Sibut also informed that the experts of electronic trade had just released a study on the harmonization of electronic trade legislations in countries that are members of the ASEAN (10 countries). Economic stakes were important in this regard, for example in the field of tourism, if tourism portals were developed in some countries it would help the tourism promotion without having to resort to tour operators. The briefing would take place Wednesday 25 September at 2:30 p.m., in press room 1, at the Palais des Nations.

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The representatives of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the International Labour Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization also attended the briefing but did not speak.
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The webcast for this briefing is available here: webtv.un.org/media.