UN just calls to say it loves Stevie Wonder

Musician Stevie Wonder attends the United Nations Messenger of Peace induction ceremony at the United Nations in New York City. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced the appointment by hailing Wonder as a "musical genius" and "great humanitarian, who has campaigned against apartheid, for children in need, and for persons with disabilities."

Musician Stevie Wonder attends the United Nations Messenger of Peace induction ceremony at the United Nations in New York City. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced the appointment by hailing Wonder as a "musical genius" and "great humanitarian, who has campaigned against apartheid, for children in need, and for persons with disabilities."

AFP – The United Nations on Thursday tapped genre-defying music icon Stevie Wonder to become a “Messenger for Peace,” focusing on the battle for disabled rights.

Wonder — who has won dozens of Grammys and an Oscar for his soundtrack featuring the hit tune “I Just Called to Say I Love You” — has been blind since birth.

But it is not Wonder’s first time stepping away from the ivories and onto the political stage, having once campaigned against apartheid in South Africa

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced the appointment by hailing Wonder as a “musical genius” and “great humanitarian, who has campaigned against apartheid, for children in need, and for persons with disabilities.”

Ban said Wonder would help promote the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force in 2008.

The secretary general noted that one in ten people suffer from some form of disability.

“It’s beyond my ability to fathom that 10 percent of the people of this world don’t matter to the other 90 percent,” Wonder said, “I’m not able to believe that.”

He vowed to “make the world more accessible.”

“I’ll sing songs. Speak on it and sing about it. I plan to do that”.

Other messengers of peace include Nobel Price winner Elie Wiesel, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, actors Michael Douglas and George Clooney and actress Charlize Theron.

US Senate to bring climate framework to Copenhagen: Kerry

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (R) and US Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, hold a press conference following a meeting on global climate change at the US Capitol in Washington. The US Senate will complete the framework of climate change legislation before next month's high-stakes summit in Copenhagen, Kerry promised Ban on Tuesday.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (R) and US Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, hold a press conference following a meeting on global climate change at the US Capitol in Washington. The US Senate will complete the framework of climate change legislation before next month's high-stakes summit in Copenhagen, Kerry promised Ban on Tuesday.

The City & My Life|AFP The US Senate will complete the framework of climate change legislation before next month’s high-stakes summit in Copenhagen, Senator John Kerry promised UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.

“We are engaged in the process that will hopefully put us in a position to go to Copenhagen with a sort of framework, or outline, or where the Senate will be heading in its legislation,” Kerry told reporters after meeting Ban at the US Capitol.

The Senate has not followed the House of Representatives in finalizing the first-ever US federal caps on carbon emissions, raising fears that the December 7-18 talks in the Danish capital will flop without the world’s biggest economy.

Kerry, a former presidential candidate who authored climate change legislation introduced into the Senate, said he told Ban that senators were “engaged in a very intensive process.

“What I wanted to convey to the secretary-general — and I think it’s important to all those taking part in Copenhagen — is we are very serious about our goal,” Kerry said.

Ban, who has made the fight against climate change one of his top priorities, said he was encouraged by his day-long trip to Washington, calling a Senate framework a “sign of commitment” to the rest of the world.

“I have emphasized to the senators that US leadership is crucial at this time,” Ban told the joint news conference with Kerry and other senators.

“No country is more important than the United States in resolving this climate change issue. All eyes of the world are looking to the United States and more precisely to the US Senate,” he said.

Climate change legislation squeaked through the full House in June and last week members of Obama’s Democratic Party rammed legislation through the Senate’s key Environment and Public Works Committee, with Republicans boycotting.

But other committees are still working on the bill, meaning it cannot come to a full Senate vote. Senator Max Baucus, a centrist Democrat who heads the Finance Committee, has pushed for more guarantees the legislation will not worsen the wobbly US economy.

Kerry, however, said he understood that Baucus has not made a “final decision” on climate legislation.

Kerry did not specify the exact form that the Copenhagen framework would take but said he would be careful not to pre-empt committee work by Baucus on the financing of climate legislation.

UN assembly votes for probes into Gaza war crimes allegations

>NEWS ALERT|The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved an Arab-sponsored resolution calling on Israel and the Palestinians to probe war crimes allegedly committed in Gaza nearly a year ago…this Article Will be Updated throughout the day

5 NOVEMBER UPDATE | AFP

The UN General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly approved an Arab-sponsored resolution calling on Israel and the Palestinians to probe war crimes allegedly committed in Gaza nearly a year ago.

The vote, capping a two-day debate in the 192-member assembly, was 114 in favor and 18 against, with 44 abstentions.

UN has ‘complete cooperation’ on war crimes: Serb prosecutor

Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic, pictured in 2008, said Wednesday he hopes an upcoming UN report will recognise his country's "complete cooperation" in trying to bring to justice two fugitives accused of atrocities during the 1990s Balkans War.

Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic, pictured in 2008, said Wednesday he hopes an upcoming UN report will recognise his country's ''complete cooperation'' in trying to bring to justice two fugitives accused of atrocities during the 1990s Balkans War.

AFP – Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said Wednesday he hopes an upcoming UN report will recognise his country’s “complete cooperation” in trying to bring to justice two fugitives accused of atrocities during the 1990s Balkans War.

Vukcevic’s comments came as Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor of the UN’s Yugoslav war crimes court (ICTY), arrived in Belgrade on a two-day assessment visit.

He is to submit a report to the UN Security Council on the level of Serbian cooperation in tracking down suspected war criminals Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.

“I hope that he (Brammertz) will be able to see this complete cooperation for himself as he is aware of everything that we are doing to arrest the two remaining fugitives,” Vukcevic told Serbian public television.

“Once these two fugitives have been arrested, we will no longer need a report from Serge Brammertz as the case will be closed,” he added.

Mladic, 67, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb armed forces, has been on the run since being indicted by the ICTY in 1995.

He is alleged to be behind the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left 10,000 people dead and the July 1995 massacre of around 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.

Former Croatian Serb leader Hadzic, 51, is wanted over the murder of hundreds of people and the deportation of tens of thousands of Croat and non-Serb civilians during the 1991-1995 Croatian war.

The arrests of Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic are key conditions for Serbia to activate a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), considered to be a first step on its way toward European Union membership.

The Netherlands has refused to sign the agreement, which needs the approval from all 27 EU members, until they are arrested.

Upon his arrival Brammertz met Vukcevic and was to have talks with intelligence officials by the end of the day.

In a brief statement issued after the meeting, Vukcevic’s office said the two “have reached a high level of understanding” in relation to cases already on trial before the ICTY or the Special court in Belgrade.

Bruno Vekaric, Vukcevic’s spokesman, told Beta news agency that the prosecutor’s office estimated the “meeting as extremely successful.”

And Dusan Ignjatovic, chief of Serbia’s office for cooperation with the ICTY, told B92 TV station that the country “is cooperating (with the UN court) as best as it can at this moment.”

Ignjatovic said he expected Brammertz’s report to be “objective and correct” as the ICTY’s prosecutor’s “opinion (on cooperation) is of utmost importance.”

“There is no one at this moment who doubts that there is a political will in Serbia” for the arrest of Mladic, Ignjatovic said.

On Thursday, Brammertz will hold talks with President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic

UN body set to endorse report slamming Israel’s Gaza offensive

The UN Human Rights Council is set to vote on a report into the Israeli offensive in Gaza last year.

The Goldstone report accuses both Hamas and Israel of war crimes, but lays greater blame on the Jewish state. It calls for both to investigate or face prosecution.

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay said: “I also wish to underscore the necessity
for all parties to carry out impartial, independent,
prompt, and effective investigations into reported
violations of human rights and humanitarian law in
compliance with international standards.”

Britain and other European Union countries are poised to abstain from the vote.

Visiting the region before his country assumes the EU Presidency next year, Spain’s Prime Minister refused to be drawn on the issue.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said: “Respecting human rights should be essential, but let’s leave the report to the Human Rights Council to decide,” he said.

Israel has threatened to withdraw from the peace process if the Council endorses the report.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor said: “If the Goldstone report is adopted, this will present a clear danger to the continuation of the peace process.”

While the US has vowed to vote against the resolution endorsing the report, it looks set to pass.

There is no state in the council holding veto power and a majority seem to support the report.

UN Afghan mission chief admits fraud in vote

euronews -The head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan has admitted for the first time that there was widespread fraud in Afghanistan’s election.

A visibly angry Kai Eide told a news conference that cover-up allegations by Peter Galbraith, his recently fired deputy, were false and undermined the election process.

“That’s been a difficult process. It’s been marred, not least, as you know, by widespread fraud,” Eide said.

Eide appeared at the news conference flanked by the US, British and French ambassadors, which he said was an “expression of international unity in the work that we are doing.”

The Electoral Complaints Commission will announce results of the fraud investigation later this week, either confirming President Hamid Karzai as the victor or ordering a run-off if a large share of Karzai’s votes are found to be fraudulent.

Presidential election fraud ‘significant’, says UN

AFP – The United Nations special representative to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, said Sunday that the level of fraud in Afghanistan’s presidential election was “significant”.


“It is true that in a number of polling stations in the south and the southeast there was significant fraud, but not only there,” Eide told reporters.

“The extent of that fraud is now being determined,” he said.

Eide called a media conference to answer accusations that he tried to conceal information about the extent of the fraud in the elections, which were held on August 20.

The elections, the results of which are not yet known, have been overshadowed by allegations of widespread fraud, mostly aimed at President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai leads preliminary results with about 55 percent of the vote, against his nearest rival Abdullah Abdullah, who is on 28 percent.

Final results are expected to be announced by the end of this week.