|Wednesday, 24 February 2021|
United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-12-31
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, December 31, 1999
ANNAN WRITES YELTSIN AFTER RESIGNATION ANNOUNCEMENT
The Secretary-General has written a letter to Boris Yeltsin, who today stepped down as President of the Russian Federation.
He praised Yeltsin's historic role in Russia's transition to democracy and a free economy and pledged to work closely with Acting President Vladimir Putin.
He wished the former President well as he takes up private life.
UN PROVIDES ASSISTANCE AS HIJACKING DRAMA ENDS
Secretary-General Kofi Annan is greatly relieved that the terrorist hijacking of Indian Airlines flight 814 has come to an end with no further loss of life, the Spokesman said in a statement. "The Secretary-General is particularly pleased that the passengers and the crew of the hijacked plane are back in freedom," he said.
The Secretary-General reiterates his condemnation of all acts of terrorism, from whatever quarter, the Spokesman added.
Erick de Mul, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, tried to make the final hours before their liberation as comfortable as possible for the 160 passengers aboard the Indian Airlines plane in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
He supplied them with toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving razors and hand towels. He also flew in two meals today from Islamabad, Pakistan, because food supplies in Kandahar were getting scarce. In fact, de Mul had flown in 300 meals for each of the two servings, in order to feed not only the passengers, but the Indian negotiators, diplomats and a growing international press corps.
De Mul praised the Taleban's handling of the crisis, telling UN Headquarters in New York, "I appreciate their efforts and their approach, which was totally humanitarian, aimed at assuring the safety of the passengers and the crew. Their objective was to see that the crisis ended in a non-violent way, and it did."
He also thanked the United Nations staff in Kandahar, especially Field Security Officer Alan Brimelow, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, for supporting his efforts.
De Mul will observe in the new millennium in Kandahar, and then return to his headquarters in Islamabad tomorrow.
ANNAN DELIVERS YEAR-END MESSAGE TO STAFF
In a year-end message to UN staff, the Secretary-General said that while the past century has seen "bloodshed unparalleled in the history of humankind" it also saw "the renewal of hope." He cited the arrival of "a new era of human rights and humanitarian intervention."
He said that humanity could do better in the 21st century, "where we might break new ground and, not least, some old habits worth breaking."
He thanked the staff for their commitment. "We remain undefeated," he said, "because you have continued trying."
SECRETARY-GENERAL ISSUES MILLENNIUM MESSAGE
In a millennium message to the world, the Secretary-General gave thanks for a world at peace but also warned of old dangers in a new form: bigotry, violence and disease, environmental damage and the loss of jobs by economic change.
"More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny," he said. "We can master it only if we face it together."
"That, my friends, is why we have the United Nations," Annan concluded.
UN MISSION RINGS IN NEW YEAR IN EAST TIMOR
The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) is the first UN mission to cross the dateline to the new millennium. UNTAET personnel report no problems with the "Y2K" computer glitch. The elevators, they say, are not operating, but they haven't been operating for months.
Thousands of East Timorese gathered in front of the Governor's Mansion overlooking the sea to ring in the New Year. They all sang a song composed for the occasion, "Today Starts Tomorrow", and were in a festive mood when Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, whose Church is just next door, complained of the noise and ordered the faithful to disperse. The party promptly ended at 10:30 p.m., leaving Sergio Vieira de Mello, the head of the UN mission, General Peter Cosgrove, the leader of the International Force in East Timor, and an Australian clown hired for the occasion, alone on the stage at midnight.
All is well, and quiet, in Dili at the moment.
KOUCHNER TRAVELS FOR NEW YEAR'S CEREMONY IN MITROVICA
As he had pledged earlier, Bernard Kouchner, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo, travelled this evening to celebrate the new millennium on the Mitrovica bridge linking the Serb and Albanian communities of that town.
He is travelling through heavy snow with a retinue of staff and journalists to Mitrovica. He has planned for an event on the bridge this evening featuring representatives from both the Serb and Albanian communities, musicians from both sides, and representatives of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Kosovo Force (KFOR). Kouchner plans to deliver a brief speech at the bridge.
After the event concludes, Kouchner plans to return to Pristina, where he will bring in the New Year by attending a classical music concert at Pristina Theatre. Before the concert begins, there will be a moment of silence to pay tribute to all missing persons in Kosovo.
ROBINSON VOICES CONCERN FOR CHECHNYA IN NEW YEAR'S MESSAGE
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson today said her thoughts went out to the civilian population of Chechnya "who face great trials and danger as a result of the fighting," in her message marking the end of the Twentieth Century.
"The legitimate goal of combating terrorism does not remove the responsibility to observe the human rights and humanitarian conventions designed to protect civilians, and to which the Russian Government is a party," she said. She urged the Russian Government to ensure the safety of the civilian population of Grozny and to pursue "all possible means" of a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Looking ahead to the next century, Robinson said she regarded the prospects for human rights "with a mixture of hope and apprehension" and noted that the current level of support for human rights is "unparalleled in human history."
She added, however, that the slogan "All human rights for all" is still far from becoming a reality. "We are reaching the end of a very bloody century, with conflicts still claiming lives in the Great Lakes region and other parts of Africa, with violence in Indonesia, continuing attacks against the Serb and Roma minorities in Kosovo, and with the people of East Timor facing fresh evidence of mass killings perpetrated there," she said.
UN WAITING FOR ANNEXES TO IRAQI DISTRIBUTION PLAN
In response to questions in recent days about when the Secretary-General would endorse the distribution plan for Phase VII of the "oil-for-food" programme, the Spokesman noted that the distribution plan has yet to be submitted in full. The United Nations has received the executive summary and the proposed allocations by sector, he said, but the Government of Iraq has yet to submit the annexes to the distribution plan.
The annexes list all the items that Iraq intends to procure under the resolution, and they have to be reviewed by the Secretariat before the Secretary-General can approve the plan, the Spokesman added.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
MONDAY, JANUARY 3
Today is a UN Holiday. In addition, because of the need for special arrangements in the event of "Y2K"-related computer failures, UN Headquarters will be closed, except for authorized staff, until Tuesday morning.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 4
The President of the Security Council for the month of January, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke of the United States, will hold bilateral consultations with the members of the Security Council. Among the members will be the five new members for the years 2000 and 2001: Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mali, Tunisia and Ukraine.
The noon briefings at UN Headquarters by the Spokesman resume.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 5
The President of the Security Council will continue bilateral consultations with Council members in the morning. In the afternoon, the Council is scheduled to hold informal consultations on its programme of work.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 6
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), will launch the final push for global polio eradication, by delivering a New Year's Message on polio in New Delhi. She will present the message to Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will also send the message to heads of state in the 30 remaining polio-endemic countries.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 7
UN Holiday. The UN Headquarters will be closed.
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