Ban Kimoon looks for more than words from Fridays highlevel Middle East

Mr. Ban will be participating in his first meeting of the so-called diplomatic Quartet with top officials of the other three partners – United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; and European Union (EU) High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, representing the EU Presidency. “He hopes that the Quartet will seriously engage with the key issues that have a direct impact on the situation on the ground, going beyond mere statements,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Michele Montas, said. “He is fully aware that, within the region and beyond, many are looking at the Quartet to be more energetic in its efforts than it has been at times to break the current impasse in the peace process. “He believes the Quartet should reach out to the parties and also other key regional partners for a more systematic dialogue, and involvement in the Quartet’s deliberations,” she added. The Quartet has been championing the so-called Road Map plan aimed at securing a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace, originally slated for completion by the end of 2005. 1 February 2007United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for more than mere words from tomorrow’s high-level diplomatic meeting in Washington of key partners seeking a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution. read more

CPP Investment Board to buy Houston office REIT for 12 billion

TORONTO — Canada Pension Plan Investment Board announced a deal Friday to buy a Houston-based real estate investment trust for US$1.2 billion.Under the agreement, shareholders of Parkway Inc. will receive a total of US$23.05 per share, including a $4 special dividend to be paid before the deal closes.Parkway owns a portfolio of 19 office buildings in Houston.PSP Investments seeking Asia base but London remains key hub despite Brexit fears: CEOCPPIB says Parkway fits well with its long-term real estate strategy and gives it additional scale in the Texas city.The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter, subject to approval from Parkway’s shareholders.Private equity firm TPG Capital and its affiliates, which own 9.8 per cent of Parkway’s common stock, have agreed to support the deal.09:35ET 30-06-17 read more

UN labour agency seeks to help Latin America cope with economic crisis

The ILO meeting is being held in a regional context of low economic growth, high unemployment and the growing “informalization” of the labour market as more and more people work without social protection.Urban unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean rose in the third quarter of this year to 17 million – the highest figure in the past 22 years, according to the ILO, which warned that this would likely continue to rise as an additional 1 million people lose their jobs.The four-day meeting brings together more than 400 delegates, representatives of governments and workers’ and employers’ organizations from 35 countries. They are considering the impact of globalization, gender and discrimination, the social and labour dimension of regional integration and the region’s lack of jobs and income.“We are faced with populations in despair who cannot understand how their own countries can have come to such a pass and who in many cases feel themselves to be the true pariahs of globalization,” ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said.In a report to the meeting, he blames the crisis in part on “serious shortcomings in the functioning of democratic institutions,” widespread corruption, and society’s loss of confidence in the independence of those in power, their institutions and the judicial system.Faced with the seriousness of the economic crisis and the worsening of social and labour conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Director-General calls for measures “not only to return to high and sustained economic growth, but also to incorporate social objectives into economic policy, democratize and modernize institutions, prevent corruption and violence and – the final goal – to achieve development with freedom, equity, security and human dignity.” read more

UN human rights chief calls on Thailand to take steps towards reconciliation

“In spite of its limited mandate and initial difficulties, the TRCT has conducted an important investigation into political violence and human rights violations in Thailand,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. “The Royal Thai Government now has the responsibility to act on the TRCT’s recommendations, both in holding State officials to account and addressing the institutional weaknesses identified in the report.” During April and May 2010, demonstrations took place in Thailand, leading to violence in which 92 people died and thousands were injured. On 6 July 2010, the Government established the TRCT with the mandate to seek truth and reconciliation. While the final report fails to specify who was responsible for the deaths during the demonstrations, it contains substantive findings backed by forensic evidence and recommends urgent action to bring perpetrators to justice, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a news release. In particular, the report stresses the importance of the army remaining neutral in political affairs, the need to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and a proposal to review article 112 of the criminal code in order to protect freedom of expression in Thailand. “Making the legal and institutional reforms recommended in the report will strengthen Thai democracy,” Ms. Pillay said. “Bringing perpetrators to justice will not only set an important precedent for Thailand but for South-east Asia as a whole.” OHCHR noted that concerns have been raised about preserving the evidence gathered by the TRCT, and Ms. Pillay urged the Government to take the necessary steps to protect the information collected as this is essential for the pursuit of accountability. Another report on the 2010 political violence by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand is also expected to be released soon and will provide a further detailed account of human rights violations, OHCHR stated. read more