Egypt Says Assad Should Return to Arab League

Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita held talks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on Tuesday in Cairo.Following the meeting, both officials co-chaired a press conference where Shoukry emphasized the convergence of views between Cairo and Rabat on many regional issues.“There is consensus and convergence of views between Egypt and Morocco on several regional issues, notably the Palestinian question in the light of HM King Mohammed VI’s chairmanship of the Al-Quds Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as the situation in Syria, Libya and Yemen,” said Shoukry. However, on the issue of Syria, only Shoukry spoke of normalizing the situation in Syria. Commenting on the conflict, Shoukry called on Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to return to the Arab League.Read Also: Nasser Bourita Highlights in Washington the King’s ‘Leading’ Role in Advancing Religious Freedom“There’s a need to get out of the current crisis in Syria through the political framework sponsored by the UN envoy in Geneva,”  said Shoukry, pointing out that the Syrian regime has not made any progress on the crisis.On Moroccan-Egyptian relations, he added that both countries are working to “revitalize the mechanisms of bilateral cooperation in order to reap the benefits and tackle shortcomings in the service of our common interests.”Shoukry described the joint Moroccan-Egyptian commission as “very important,” because it aims to develop bilateral ties and achieve“concrete objectives in the interest of the two brotherly peoples.”He added that preparations for a joint commision are underway, asserting that the date for the meeting will be announced after considering mechanisms at the ministerial and technical levels, according to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).Bourita emphasized the importance of solidifying coordination between Cairo and Rabat on regional matters, congratulating Egypt for chairing the African Union in 2019.Bourita also saluted Egypt’s efforts to preserve security and economic stability.During his visit in Cairo, Bourita also met with the secretary general of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.During the meeting, the two officials consulted on the latest developments in regional crises, including the conflicts in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. read more

Nevada court orders former Vancouver man to pay back 217 million to

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Securities Commission says it has won a court decision in Nevada that enforces a $21.7-million order against a man accused of defrauding his Canadian clients.It says it is the first time a court in the United States has recognized an order from the B.C. commission.The commission says Michael Lathigee committed fraud over a decade ago by raising millions from almost 700 investors without telling them his company was in severe financial trouble.In 2014, it ordered Lathigee to repay the investors, pay a $15 million administrative penalty and permanently banned him from trading in securities in B.C.The commission says Lathigee moved from Vancouver to Las Vegas, prompting it to go to court in Nevada to enforce the order.It says in a news release that Lathigee has appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Nevada and that it is working with its legal counsel to determine its next steps.“We’ve done everything in our power to collect from Michael Lathigee, because if we collect, we can return money to his victims,” Doug Muir, the commission’s director of enforcement, said in the release. “This decision sends a strong message that people can’t just leave the country to avoid the consequences of their wrongdoing.” The Canadian Press read more

UN envoy calls for greater international and internal efforts to stabilize Afghanistan

Given the conflict in the south of the country and militarily vulnerable borders in the east and southeast, “the threat to peace has not diminished,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, told the Security Council in an open meeting that saw the participation of more than two dozen speakers.“To be candid, international participation needs to improve,” he said, calling on donors to ensure “meaningful participation” of their representatives in international meetings on Afghanistan’s future and on the ground.Mr. Koenigs also pressed the Government to do more to fulfil its role as called for in the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year UN-backed blueprint launched early last year which sets benchmarks for certain security, governance and development goals.“The continued passivity of many government agencies – in the expectation that the international community will come to their rescue to meet the Compact objectives – only serves to delay progress and in some cases undermine it,” he cautioned.Also briefing the Council, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa reported on its latest Afghanistan survey, which offered a mixed picture marked by some progress but also serious threats posed by the nexus between terrorism and illicit drug revenue.While opium cultivation in the centre-north of the country is decreasing, thanks to improved security conditions and development, in the south, “the vicious circle of drugs funding terrorism and terrorism supporting drug lords is stronger than ever,” he said. “Afghanistan’s drug problem occurs in a security vacuum, where illicit crops coexist with other criminal activities that support such cultivation.”Mr. Costa recommended improved border management, bringing major drug traffickers to justice and stamping out corruption as three tactics to combat Afghanistan’s illicit drug production.“Terrorism, narcotics, weak State institutions and the slow pace of reconstruction are among our main challenges,” Afghanistan’s representative Zahir Tanin acknowledged at the meeting. “As such, it would be safe to state that we have jointly underestimated the magnitude of the challenges facing Afghanistan.”Citing the gains the country has made since 2001, when the oppressive Taliban regime was ousted, he said that it is “ever more obvious that the renewed commitment of the international community is required to address the remaining obstacles and consolidate the gains of the past years.”As a basis for its discussion, the Security Council had Security-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on Afghanistan, which proposed a 12-month extension of UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA).With Afghanistan at a “critical juncture,” the report said “it is time for the international community to reconfirm its commitment to Afghanistan.”UNAMA, along with its Afghan and international partners, is “well positioned” to assist in meeting challenges the country faces, such as the insurgency, national reconciliation and narcotics trafficking, the report said. 20 March 2007The senior United Nations envoy to Afghanistan today called on both the international community and the war-torn country’s Government to increase efforts to promote reconstruction and bring lasting stability to the “place of hope and challenge.” read more

UN agencies highlight climate changes impact on human security health

The heads of two United Nations agencies today marked World Environment Day with calls for decisive action to address climate change, warning of its potential risks on human security and health. In his message for the Day – commemorated every year on 5 June – Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), observed that climate change is “magnifying existing disparities between rich and poor” and “aggravating tensions over fragile or increasingly scarce natural resources” such as productive land and freshwater. “It increases the potential to create a new class of displaced people known collectively as environmental refugees,” Mr. Steiner warned.He stressed that collective and decisive political will is “the final – and still missing – piece in the jigsaw puzzle.” While many sectors of society are moving to deal with climate change – including local authorities, industry, the financial sector and civil society – the collective political process, he said, is moving “frustratingly slowly.”Referring to this year’s theme, Melting Ice: A Hot Topic?, Mr. Steiner urged people everywhere to ask their political leaders and elected representatives: “Just how much hotter does this topic need to become before Governments across the globe finally act?”Meanwhile, the head of the UN health agency highlighted in her message the close relationship between health and the environment, noting that 60,000 deaths from climate-related natural disasters occur every year, the majority in the developing world.“Limiting the impact of climate change is about saving lives and livelihoods, as much as it is about protecting the natural environment,” Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said. She stressed the need to strengthen public health systems, the “first line of defence against climate-related health risks.” Also, noting that prevention is just as important as a cure, she said many of the actions that are necessary to reduce the impact of humans on the global climate can also reduce pollution and save lives now. “Reducing our impact on the global climate requires individuals, communities and governments to make the behaviour and policy changes – such as cleaner energy and more sustainable transport systems – that will also bring immediate health benefits.”World Environment Day was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to raise global awareness of the environment and boost political attention and action. 5 June 2007The heads of two United Nations agencies today marked World Environment Day with calls for decisive action to address climate change, warning of its potential risks on human security and health. read more

Ban Kimoon endorses report of UN team assessing Lebanese border security

Mr. Ban transmitted the report to the Security Council yesterday, Michele Montas told journalists, adding he “fully supports” the recommendations of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team.“It is clear that efforts are required from the Lebanese Government, with the support of the international community, to develop a more efficient system for border management in Lebanon,” Ms. Montas said.“The Secretary-General also concurs with the recommendation that Syria should cooperate with the Lebanese authorities, noting that Syria has a shared responsibility in controlling its borders with Lebanon and in implementing [Security Council] resolution 1701,” which ended last year’s war between Hizbollah and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).The five-member team, comprised of experts in border security, police, customs and military issues, was set up by Mr. Ban after a request from the Council in April. The team travelled to Lebanon late last month and spent several weeks holding consultations with Lebanese officials and bilateral partners already assisting the country on border monitoring and reviewing existing security arrangements. 27 June 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon backs the recommendations contained in the report of the independent United Nations team tasked with assessing the monitoring of the Lebanese border with Syria, his spokesperson announced today. read more

Ban Kimoon pledges continued UN support for Liberias postconflict recovery

22 April 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today pledged the continued assistance of the United Nations to Liberia, which he said has made great strides in recovering from a brutal decade-long civil war, but still faces daunting challenges in areas such as security, rule of law and development, as he wrapped up a visit to the West African nation. “I have come to Liberia to see at first hand the remarkable achievements your country has made in recovering from a devastating conflict. And I have come to reassure the Liberian people of my steadfast commitment to peace, stability and prosperity in your nation,” Mr. Ban said in an address to a joint session of the Liberian legislature in the capital, Monrovia.“As the most representative legislature in the history of this country, you have a unique chance to build a national vision for a secure, peaceful and prosperous Liberia – one that provides opportunities for all its citizens,” he said.Mr. Ban outlined several areas where further progress is needed, including reforming the legal and judicial system and extending the rule of law throughout the country. He said more also needs to be done to reintegrate populations affected by war and promote reconciliation and national unity, as well as ensure economic development. “Delivering the peace dividend in these areas is necessary to underpin the stability that Liberia currently enjoys,” he noted. “In this and other challenges confronting Liberia, the entire United Nations family will work with you,” the Secretary-General pledged.The UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has begun the first phase of its drawdown process, and the Security Council will decide on the next phase after reviewing the progress made by the Government in meeting certain key benchmarks. Mr. Ban said his recommendations to the Council on the drawdown will be linked to the Government’s ability to assume full responsibility for its national security. “Our common strategic goal is to ensure that Liberia has a solid security sector – one that can stand on its own feet before UNMIL completes its withdrawal.”The Secretary-General also drew attention to surge in food prices, a major concern not only for Liberia, but also for the region and the world as a whole. Speaking to reporters later in the day, he said that “the recent worldwide protests over soaring global food prices have demonstrated the need for Liberia to meet the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] in order to be safe from the weaknesses of globalization while taking advantage from its myriad opportunities for growth and prosperity.” He added that it is regrettable that rape continues to be the most commonly committed crime in Liberia, and he called on community leaders, Government leaders, traditional chiefs, elders and prominent Liberians to take the lead in combating the scourge of rape and other acts of sexual and gender-based violence. Recently the UN joined forces with the Liberian Government and civil society groups in a nationwide anti-rape campaign.Upon arrival in Monrovia yesterday the Secretary-General was greeted by an honour guard and received the traditional Liberian gift of a live chicken and an egg, as well as a key to the city, making him an honorary citizen of the Liberian capital. He met this morning with Vice President Joseph Boakai, and with members of the cabinet, with whom he discussed the recovery efforts since the war and the challenges ahead for Liberia as well as the peacebuilding projects under way.Mr. Ban is now in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, where this evening he will meet with President Blaise Compaoré and Prime Minister Tertius Zongo. Burkina Faso is the third leg of a four-nation West Africa tour that began in Ghana and will conclude in Côte d’Ivoire. read more

UN voices serious concerns about US execution of Mexican national

8 August 2008The United Nations human rights office has voiced serious concerns about the execution of a Mexican national by United States authorities in defiance of an order from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). José Ernesto Medellín was executed by the authorities in the US state of Texas by lethal injection on 5 August. This despite the fact that the ICJ, also known as the World Court, ordered the US last month to delay the executions of Mr. Medellín and four other Mexican nationals on death row in its prisons until the court issues a final ruling on the matter.“The United States has an international legal obligation to comply with decisions of the International Court of Justice, an obligation which cannot be set aside because of domestic constitutional arrangements,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told a news conference in Geneva today.A 2004 ruling by the ICJ, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, on the same issue found that the US had been in breach of its international obligations because authorities did not inform 51 Mexican nationals of their right to contact their consular representatives “without delay” after being arrested.“Mr. Medellín had been found guilty of very serious crimes,” stated Mr. Colville. “However, at the time of his arrest, he was not informed of his right to consular assistance in accordance with international treaty obligations under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.”The Court had ordered that the US take all measures necessary to ensure that Mr Medellín, and others, not be executed until he received a review and reconsideration of his case to determine whether the breach of the Vienna Convention prejudiced his defence. Judgments of the ICJ are binding and cannot be appealed. OHCHR notes that the ICJ orders remain valid for another 50 Mexican nationals on death row in the US whose situation is similar to that of Mr. Medellín.“The finality of the death penalty makes it essential that it is applied with scrupulous attention to safeguards set down international law,” noted Mr. Colville. “One of those safeguards is that foreign nationals should have access to consular services. “This is crucial for the protection of all individuals who travel abroad. It is imperative that all States take every possible action to ensure reciprocal compliance of this safeguard, not least for the sake of their own nationals,” he said. read more

Security Council condemns deadly attack on African Union base in Somalia

The United Nations today condemned in the strongest terms the suicide attack on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Mogadishu, which caused the deaths of 11 Burundian peacekeepers and injured 17 others on Sunday.“The members of the Security Council express their condolences to the families of the victims, to the people and the Government of Burundi, and to the African Union,” Ambassador Yukio Takasu of Japan, which holds the Council Presidency for the month, said in a press statement.“The members of the Council reiterate their condemnation of all acts of violence and incitement to violence against AMISOM” following reports of further attacks yesterday, he added.The 15-member body reiterated its commitment to supporting a strengthened AMISOM, which it said played a vital role in helping to bring peace and security to Somalia, and commended the Governments of Uganda and Burundi for their contributions. In its statement, the Council applauded the ongoing political process in Somalia that led to the expansion of Parliament and the election of a new president, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who has made taken steps to “strengthen the political process and improve security.”Mr. Takasu said that “the members of the Security Council call on all Somalis to reject violence and extremism, to embrace peaceful means of resolving conflicts, and to support the government towards this goal,” stressing the body’s “determination to combat all forms of terrorism.” 25 February 2009The United Nations today condemned in the strongest terms the suicide attack on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Mogadishu, which caused the deaths of 11 Burundian peacekeepers and injured 17 others on Sunday. read more

Latest round of UNbacked Darfur peace talks resumes tomorrow in Qatar

17 November 2009United Nations-backed mediation talks aimed at bringing peace to the strife-torn Sudanese region of Darfur will resume tomorrow in Doha, Qatar, the world body announced today. This latest round of the talks will include the participation of Darfurian civil society organizations, including women’s and youth groups.Organized under the auspices of the African Union-UN Joint Mediator, Djibril Bassolé, the Doha talks present an opportunity for the Sudanese Government and rebel movements to negotiate and agree on common measures that would help push the peace process forward.Fighting has raged across Darfur since 2003, pitting the rebel movements against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen. An estimated 300,000 people have been killed in the region over the past six years and another 2.7 million people forced to leave their homes. The joint African Union-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, known as UNAMID, has been deployed there since January 2008 to try to quell the fighting and protect civilians. read more

On eve of nuclear security summit UN agency aids in warding off

9 April 2010When 47 countries gather in Washington on Monday at a summit to prevent nuclear proliferation and counter the risk of atomic weapons falling into terrorist hands, one United Nations agency with a proven track record in the field will be front and centre in offering help. From protecting nuclear sites against theft and sabotage to enabling secure repatriation of used but still dangerous atomic fuels to helping countries guard against radioactive attacks on major events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games or June’s soccer World Cup in South Africa, the Vienna-based UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has played a major role.“The risk that any terrorist or criminal would be able to construct a nuclear explosive device or a radiological dispersal device, a so-called dirty bomb, and then use it for their purposes… the threat is real,” IAEA Office of Nuclear Security Director Anita Nilsson said this week of the Washington meeting, which United States President Barack Obama has convened and which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend.“We have been talking about nuclear security for a long time and it has been part of the interest of the international community for a long time, but it has come into focus lately because of many brutal terrorist events that happened around the globe and the recognition that they see no limits.”The IAEA, which began life 53 years ago as a UN body with the name Atoms for Peace, does not have responsibility for nuclear security in Member States but can help all countries that so wish “to establish effective, sustainable nuclear security systems that would significantly reduce or even eliminate this threat,” Ms. Nilsson added.“We recognize that this is a global threat and, therefore, if there are countries and regions who do not recognize the possibility that something like this could happen, that we think is the greatest threat. There is no room for complacency when we are speaking about nuclear security,” she stressed.The Beijing Olympics involved one and a half years of work in which IAEA helped train people to detect radioactive material that might be brought into the venues, and to know what to do if that happened. “And this has now become a major part of how to prepare for big gatherings and events,” Ms. Nilsson said, citing the upcoming World Cup as another example.“We supply them with radiation detection equipment and how to use it, and also what to do if there is detection or even a dispersal of radioactive isotopes – what are the first measures to take and how to clean it up,” she added.Greece, Germany and Brazil likewise called on agency support for the 2004 Olympics, the 2006 World Cup and the 2007 Pan American Games respectively.The IAEA has invaluable knowledge in the field. “The exuberance, the show and the colours that characterize these events often belie sinister risks such as terrorism, which unfortunately come with the high profile these events receive,” it said in a news release. “Recently, the international community has been confronting a new security threat: the risk of the malicious use of nuclear or other radioactive material, an area in which the IAEA has unique expertise.”But the agency is not only concerned with nuclear materials if they should get into the wrong hands. Much of its work focuses on trying to ensure that this does not happen in the first place.IAEA experts help States protect nuclear facilities and transport against sabotage or theft, offering specialized training, helping to enhance cooperation between various national law enforcement officials and backing the installation of radiological monitoring equipment and training at border crossings.In the past six years the agency has helped Member States repatriate 45 consignments of radioactive materials from developing countries where they were used in medicine, industry or research. Should a nuclear security incident occur or a nuclear or radiation emergency arise, the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre coordinates 24/7 specialized support and assistance for Member States.Some 110 States and several international organizations voluntarily contribute information to the agency’s illicit trafficking database, which tracks nuclear or other radioactive materials outside authorized custody and control. On top of this, the IAEA also undertakes various types of on-site visits to assess a State’s specific security vulnerabilities, needs, and capabilities. read more