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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-12-03

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, December 3, 1999

SECRETARY-GENERAL ATTENDS BEGINNING OF CYPRUS TALKS

Asked on his arrival into the building today about his message for the young people of Cyprus, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he hoped they would all support the search for a comprehensive settlement. "It's their future that we are trying to resolve," he said, adding that he hoped that a solution could be found "that will assure the young people of the island a peaceful and harmonious future."

At 10 a.m., the Secretary-General met with HE Glafcos Clerides. He then met with HE Rauf Denktash. (That meeting started at around 11:50 a.m. and finished shortly after 1 p.m.)

There will be no further talks today. They will resume on Monday morning.

In response to several questions on Cyprus, the Spokesman said that no message from U.S. President Bill Clinton had been delivered on that topic, although one was expected. US Ambassador Alfred Moses expressed his Government's support for the proximity talks, however.

The Spokesman said that, in addition to meeting the Secretary-General, the parties met today with Special Advisor Alvaro de Soto, who will most likely conduct the meetings scheduled for Monday. There are no meetings scheduled on Cyprus for the weekend.

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON BURUNDI, IRAQ

The Security Council had consultations this morning regarding Burundi. It heard from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast on his recent visit to the region.

Following the consultations, the President of the Council, Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom, made a statement to the press concerning Burundi and the appointment of former South African President Nelson Mandela as the new Facilitator for the Burundi (Arusha) Peace Process. (See the UK mission website for the press statement on www.un/int/uk)

The Council also discussed Iraq today. There is a draft resolution from the United States that would extend Phase VI of the "oil-for-food" programme by an additional week, which would be the second technical rollover of the phase after the two-week extension adopted on November 19, which expires Saturday. (The Council scheduled consultations at 5 p.m. with a view to holding a formal meeting to vote on the resolution.)

Also on Iraq, the Permanent Representative of Iraq has written to the Secretary-General with comments on the latest report on the implementation of the "oil-for-food" programme.

UN ASSISTS AGREEMENT ON NEW ELECTIONS IN LESOTHO

In Lesotho today, the Government and the 12 political parties represented in the interim political authority had signed an agreement on arrangements for a new general election following the disputed results of elections last May. President Joachim Chissano of Mozambique, Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), witnessed the agreement, and SADC will be a guarantor of its implementation.

The United Nations provided technical and logistical assistance to the negotiations leading to this agreement, and today's ceremony was held at the UN House in Maseru. It was witnessed by the UN Resident Coordinator and a special envoy of the Commonwealth Secretary-General.

When Prime Minister Mosisili was at UN Headquarters in September, he met the Secretary-General, who assured him that the United Nations was prepared to assist Lesotho in holding new elections.

KOFI ANNAN APPOINTS NEW ADVISOR ON AFRICA

The Secretary-General today appointed Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria as his Adviser for Special Assignments in Africa, at the level of Under-Secretary-General.

The priority areas of his responsibility will be Angola, Southern Africa, and Central Africa, including the Great Lakes region.

Mohamad Sahnoun, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, will concentrate on Northern Africa, specifically Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Sudan.

The appointment took effect December 1 and is for an initial period of one year.

UNHCR CONCERNED BY CONDITIONS FOR EAST TIMORESE REFUGEES

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is increasingly concerned about the worsening conditions faced by the refugees still in camps in West Timor. There is a continuing pattern of harassment and intimidation by the militias directed at families who wish to return. Also, the rainy season is starting, creating serious health problems in the camps.

UNHCR cites reports from local authorities that, from November 22 to December 1, at least 35 people, mostly children under five, have died of various causes, mainly diarrhea and malaria, at the Tua Pukan camp outside West Timor's capital, Kupang.

The United Nations has received a copy of the regulation to establish a 15-member National Consultative Council in East Timor. The Council will be the main mechanism to enable the representatives of the East Timorese people to participate in decision making during the period of the United Nations Transitional Administration.

The Commission of Inquiry, meanwhile, has completed its work in East Timor and is heading to Jakarta, Indonesia, via Darwin, Australia.

UN REPRESENTATIVE FOR KOSOVO RETURNS FROM ALBANIA

The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, returned to Pristina from Tirana, Albania, where he met with the President, Prime Minister and other senior officials who stressed that stability in Kosovo meant stability in Albania. Kouchner had visited Skopje, the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on the first leg of his trip to discuss issues of regional importance.

In Pristina, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission (UNMIK) in Kosovo announced that electricity bills will be sent out starting next week. UNMIK says it will be the first time since the beginning of the war that residents will be billed for the use of public services.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that together with its main partners in Kosovo -- the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) -- it has distributed 89 percent of the planned 57,100 emergency shelter repair kits. These kits are designed to provide dry rooms for 350,000 Kosovar families over the winter months.

The winter shelter rehabilitation program undertaken in Kosovo is the largest that UNHCR says it has ever undertaken in Europe, and possibly the largest such program ever done anywhere in the world. The amount of materials distributed in Kosovo to date is massive, including enough plastic to wrap Pristina several times over; but the scale of the devastation across the countryside is huge.

UNHCR RELIEF CONVOY ARRIVES IN INGUSHETIA

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that a 15-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 210 metric tons of food and 200 wood stoves arrived in Ingushetia's capital Nazran this morning, becoming the second UNHCR relief convoy to reach Ingushetia this week.

The flow of people from Chechnya to Ingushetia continues at a pace of just over 1,000 a day. The Ingush authorities say they have now registered 226,000 Chechens. Those interviewed at the border said they were fleeing artillery bombardment in and around Chechnya's capital, Grozny.

According to UNHCR, it is extremely difficult to give precise figures of civilians who remain in Chechnya. The last population census in 1989 put the population there at one million. But experts in Russia said that there were no more than 400,000 people left in Chechnya at the onset of this latest round of fighting.

ANNAN OFFERS ASSISTANCE IN HONDURAS-NICARAGUA DISPUTE

The Secretary-General, in a statement through his Spokesman, noted the tensions between Nicaragua and Honduras following the ratification by the Honduran National Assembly on November 30 of the "L&oacute;pez-Ram&iacute;rez" Treaty with Colombia.

"The Secretary-General is following the issue closely and has called on all parties concerned to continue their efforts to seek a peaceful resolution of this controversy," the statement said. "The United Nations is ready to provide any assistance that the parties may deem necessary."

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The general elections in Guatemala, to be completed later this month, pose the challenge of ensuring the continuation of the peace process, both in the consolidation of the accomplishments of the past three years and in the implementation of the outstanding agenda, according to the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala. The report, which was issued as a document today, outlined the outstanding agenda facing the new Government, including electoral, fiscal, judicial and military reform.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced it was stepping up its fight against rheumatic fever and its heart complication, rheumatic heart disease, which cause 400,000 deaths annually mainly among children and young adults.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) made available its list of 48 new World Heritage Sites yesterday. According to UNESCO, notable new sites include the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina's Patagonia region, Robben Island in South Africa, Lorentz National Park in Indonesia, Germany's Warburg Castle and the Jurisdiction of San Emilion in France.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, December 4

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is sponsoring a concert in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, to raise money for food projects worldwide as part of its "TeleFood 1999" campaign. The concert will be televised internationally and can also be seen on the FAO homepage, at www.FAO.org, for 30 days afterward.

Sunday, December 5

International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, which is designed to heighten awareness of volunteer service, is observed today. The Secretary-General will mark the occasion with a message.

Monday. December 6

The proximity talks on Cyprus that began in UN Headquarters on December 3 are expected to continue.

The Secretary-General will deliver a speech at a two-day meeting of governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, which he convened to form a partnership to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The latest Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on Sierra Leone is due.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda will render its verdict in the Prosecutor Vs Georges Anderson Rutaganda in Arusha, Tanzania. This will be the Tribunals fifth judgement and Rutaganda will be the sixth individual to be judged by the Tribunal. Rutaganda, 41, is charged with Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes. His trial was concluded on June 17.

The Sixth Ad Hoc Committee Session on the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime will take place in Vienna from 6 to 17 December. The first week of the meeting will be dedicated to the two Protocols on Illegal Migrants and Corruption. During the second week of meeting, the Ad Hoc committee will carry out the second reading of the draft text, which is expected to be also the last general reading.

The Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal will begin a one-week session in Basel, Switzerland. The adoption of a Protocol on Liability and Compensation will be one of the key items on the agenda of the Conference, which will also mark the treaty's 10th anniversary. The Convention is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) -- see www.basel.int

The General Assembly will consider resolutions of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (the Fourth Committee).

In Geneva, the Pre-sessional Working Group of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights begins a week-long meeting.

Also in Geneva, the Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods begins its 17th session, which will end on December 17; and UNCITRAL's Working Group on Insolvency Law holds its 23rd session, which will last until December 17.

In Vienna, the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets from Monday until Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 7

The Secretary-General visits Montreal, where, on Tuesday, he will deliver remarks at a dinner of the United Nations Association of Canada.

The Secretary-General's trip to Montreal falls on International Civil Aviation Day, which this year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, which established the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Security Council will hold consultations on Cyprus, and is also expected to receive the latest report on the referendum in Western Sahara.

The General Assembly will take up the return or restitution of cultural property to countries of origin.

The 23rd meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) for Asia and the Pacific, will take place in Bangkok December 7-10. Participants will inform the Meeting on progress made in the implementation and action taken by the respective Governments in areas such as joint investigations, law enforcement training, sharing of information and experience in drug trafficking countermeasures. In addition working groups will discuss specific countermeasures against regional illicit trafficking-related patterns, and topics like the illicit manufacture and distribution of stimulants, heroin trafficking and drug trafficking via the mail system.

Wednesday, December 8

In Montreal, the Secretary-General will deliver the keynote address at the opening of the World Civil Society Conference before returning to New York.

In New York, the Secretary-General is expected to deliver remarks at a pledging conference for the UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). At 3 p.m. in Room 226, the Secretary-General and Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General for UNRWA, will discuss the work and accomplishments of UNRWA during the past 50 years. Delegations are invited to watch the briefing in Viewing Room 4.

The General Assembly will address causes of conflict and the promotion of peace and sustainable development in Africa.

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Sierra Leone, and a formal meeting on the extension of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

Thursday, December 9

The Security Council has scheduled informal consultations on Western Sahara; the mandate of the MINURSO peacekeeping force is set to expire the following Monday, December 14.

On behalf of the Secretary-General, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahima Fall will deliver a statement at a summit meeting of heads of state and government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Lome, Togo.

The weekly DPI/NGO briefing will feature Reed Brody, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, Ambassador Vladimir Galuska of the Czech Republic and Professor Julia Kristeva of the University of Paris, who will discuss the fight against racism and preparations for the World Conference against Racism.

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) begins two days of meetings in Vienna.

The General Assembly will discuss the problem of the 'Y2K' computer glitch.

Abdelfattah Amor, the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance of the Commission on Human Rights, is scheduled to end his visit to Turkey, which began on December 1 and included stops at Istanbul, Ankara and Turabdin.

Friday, December 10

Today is Human Rights Day, which this year falls on the 51st anniversary of the General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Geneva at the Palais Wilson, the theme of this commemoration will focus on the forthcoming World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in 2001. The High Commissioner of Human Rights, Mary Robinson, will open the ceremony. Among the speakers will be Ruth Dreifuss, President of the Swiss Confederation; and Vladimir Petrovsky, Director-General of UNOG. A video-message of the Secretary-General on overcoming racism and racial discrimination will be shown.

At 11 a.m., Waly Bacre Ndiaye, Director of the New York Office of the Centre for Human Rights; Angela King, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women; and others speakers will attend a press briefing in Room 226. They will discuss human rights and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The United Nations Development Programme will hold informal consultations on the Human Development Report 2000, in Conference Room 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"QUIZ OF THE WEEK"

Next Friday is Human Rights Day, which this year will be devoted to the subject of racism and the forthcoming World Conference against racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which is to be held in the year 2001. This week's quiz includes questions based on information from the Web site of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (www.unhchr.ch).

Q. When did the General Assembly first use the word "racism" in its declarations on discrimination?

1. 1949

2. 1967

3. 1985

A. The Assembly's first use of the word "racism" was in 1967.

Q. There are 23 States which recognize the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to receive complaints of racial discrimination. Of those States, which one has been the source of the most complaints so far?

1. Australia

2. Peru

3. The Russian Federation

A. Australia, which has had three complaints brought to the Committee so far.

Q. True or false: The word "discrimination" never appears in either the United Nations Charter or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A. True.

  • The guest at today's briefing was Kathleen Cravero-Kristofferson, former Humanitarian Coordinator for Burundi.
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