Recent financial woes highlight need to revive Doha trade talks – UN

Progress on the stalled Doha round of trade liberalization talks would not only boost the world economy but also confidence amid current economic and financial uncertainties, such as those being witnessed in the United States banking sector, the head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said today.“We are witnessing a confluence of different crises this year,” Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told the annual session of UNCTAD’s governing Trade and Development board, which is currently meeting in Geneva.“As for Doha, we need this one multilateral effort to be completed successfully. Then we could face these other difficulties with a more optimistic perspective,” he added. Mr. Panitchpakdi joined the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, in stressing that reaching agreement on the Doha talks – which have been going on for seven years – is important at this time not only because it can strengthen the world economy and livelihoods, but also boost confidence in the midst of shaken economies and financial markets.“We are told that this is one of the most serious crises we’ve seen in the last 60 or 70 years. There must be some better rules and regulations to help the financial system as rules help the trading system. Unfettered market mechanisms have led to crises every few years,” the UNCTAD chief told the meeting.Developing countries “can only do so much” in the face of turmoil that is beginning to affect their exports and their economic growth prospects, he added. Recent crises, including rising food and fuel prices, climate change and threats to the global financial and banking systems, “can only be dealt with at the multilateral level. We need international predictability and stability in the global financial system,” he stated, adding that concluding the Doha round will provide a good foundation for facing these other crises. Mr. Lamy stated that “there is far too much on the table, particularly for developing countries, to give up on these negotiations. “A multilateral system offers many solid, important benefits which other ways of trade opening do not offer. Trade is one of the necessary conditions for development – this is clear. Because of this clear view, the pressure for concluding the round on the side of developing countries is now very high,” he told participants. 16 September 2008Progress on the stalled Doha round of trade liberalization talks would not only boost the world economy but also confidence amid current economic and financial uncertainties, such as those being witnessed in the United States banking sector, the head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said today. read more

TimorLeste indicts militia members Indonesian officers for 1999 crimes UN mission

The indictments were filed with the Special Panel for Serious Crimes of the Dili District Court, UNMISET said. One of the indictments involves crimes allegedly committed by five members of the Mahadomi militia in Manatuto District during 1999. One of the five is the former district chief and the founder and commander of the militia group while the other four men were section commanders.The indictment contains 13 charges of crimes against humanity. Five of the counts concern the murder of six men in May and September 1999, while the other counts include charges of torture, imprisonment, persecution and deportation committed within Manatuto between May and October 1999. The five accused are all believed to be currently residing in Indonesia.The second indictment concerns two Indonesian officers who were members of the Indonesian Battalion 745 that was stationed in Lautem District during 1999. One of the accused was the commanding officer of the battalion and the other a platoon commander.The indictment charges 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including 14 counts of murder in which members of Battalion 745 are alleged to have killed 21 civilians during September 1999. Many of the civilians were killed during the Battalion’s withdrawal from East Timor, as they travelled overland from Lautem to Dili. Included within the charges is the murder of Sander Thoenes, a Dutch journalist who was allegedly killed by members of Battalion 745 in Dili on 21 September 1999.Both of the accused are believed to be residing in Indonesia at the present time, UNMISET said.Arrest warrants for the all of the accused have been requested from the Dili District Court. Once received by the General Prosecutor, these will be forwarded to the Attorney General of Indonesia. The arrest warrants will also be forwarded to INTERPOL, which Timor-Leste joined late last month. read more

Annan launches wideranging search for refugee chief in new transparency policy

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is writing to Member States seeking names for a new High Commissioner for Refugees in addition to those emerging from his own consultations, and his Chef de Cabinet, Mark Malloch Brown, is sending a similar letter to major non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in refugee issues, spokesman Fred Eckhard told a news briefing in New York.”In the letter, the Secretary-General says that he can only be sure of finding the best person for one of the most important jobs in the UN system if the best qualified candidates come forward and are judged against transparent selection criteria,” Mr. Eckhard added.In outlining some of the necessary criteria, Mr. Annan says he wants someone with a thorough knowledge of refugee issues and of unimpeachable personal and professional integrity.He or she must have proven skills in the management of a complex organization and, of course, be an unflinching champion of the cause of refugees, not only by providing for their relief but also by firmly upholding the international principles which entitle them to protection, Mr. Eckhard said.Mr. Lubbers yesterday handed over temporary leadership responsibilities for the agency to Deputy High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin after Mr. Annan welcomed his resignation as being in the best interest of UNHCR, its staff and the refugees it serves.Throughout the controversy, Mr. Lubbers vigorously denied the accusations, dismissing them as a campaign of slander. The charges came from a UNHCR staffer who said the 65-year-old former Dutch Prime Minister sexually harassed her during a meeting in December 2003. On Sunday, after Mr. Lubbers submitted his resignation, Mr. Annan said in a statement that while he had accepted legal advice that the original allegations could not be substantiated, “the continuing controversy has made the High Commissioner’s position impossible.”The ninth head of the UNHCR since its establishment in 1951, Mr. Lubbers served since 1 January 2001, when he succeeded Sadako Ogata of Japan. read more