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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-04

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

Tuesday, January 4, 2000

SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS HOLD BILATERAL TALKS

There is no meeting of the Security Council today. Instead, the President of the Security Council for the month of January, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke of the United States, will hold bilateral meetings with the members of the Council today and Wednesday morning.

The composition of the Council changed on New Year's Day. Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mali, Tunisia and Ukraine join the Council as the five new non-permanent members, who were voted in by the General Assembly last October. They replace Bahrain, Brazil, Gabon, Gambia and Slovenia.

Wednesday afternoon, the new membership of the Council will meet for the first time, with informal consultations scheduled on the Council's program of work for January.

UN WEATHERS Y2K TRANSITION

The United Nations experienced no significant problems during the transition to the New Year, despite worries over the "Y2K" computer glitch. Although UN Headquarters was closed for most personnel from 1 p.m. on Friday until Sunday morning, the Situation Center was operational, and a special Y2K Coordination Response Center was up and running to deal with any Y2K-related problems.

Everything went exceptionally well, and work by the various personnel involved -- including security, information technology and management staff -- was well organized.

By Monday, the Coordination Response Team received status reports from UN field establishments in 127 countries, 14 UN missions and 11 other duty stations. None of them reported any significant Y2K-related disruptions.

Similarly, there were no reportable disruptions at UN Headquarters.

The effort, which included mobilizing about 250 people over the weekend, involved few costs beyond the cost of weekend labor, and was all done within existing resources.

UN POLICE SEEKING ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT IN EAST TIMOR

Crime is on the upswing in Dili, according to UN Police in East Timor, who are asking for additional protective equipment for their work. Incidents of crime included fights between youth gangs, break-ins of international staff, an attempted rape of a local staff member.

The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) Wednesday will swear in a Transitional Judicial Service Commission to recommend a dozen judges. They hope the swearing-in will result in the establishment of District Courts within a week.

Monday, UNTAET formally took control of Dili Airport. The first flight, from Indonesia, touched down at 12:40 p.m. An Australian airline will begin flying three times a week to Darwin on January 16.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Transitional Administrator, on Monday met with a representative of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry to discuss the opening of an Indonesian Diplomatic Mission in Dili. That event is expected to occur before the intended visit of Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid in late February.

The UNTAET Trust Fund currently comprises $8 million, thanks to contributions from Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Portugal. That money will be used to cover the costs of running the Government until tax revenue can be generated. It will also be used to fund "quick impact" projects, as aid in the territory shifts from emergency relief to rehabilitation and development.

Today, the Mission announced the arrival next week of its first forensic expert, who will begin work on the mass grave sites in the East Timorese enclave of Ambeno, also known as Oekussi. The expert is a forensic pathologist from the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Sydney, Australia.

The number of East Timorese refugees who have returned home is now more than 126,000, but the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that returns from West Timor continue to be hampered by militia there.

NEW UN ARMS INSPECTION CHIEF EXPECTED TO BE NAMED NEXT WEEK

In response to a question, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General has a short list of candidates for the position of Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC), the successor to the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) that verified disarmament in Iraq.

The deadline for the Secretary-General to appoint the Chairman, in accordance with last month's Security Council resolution, is January 16, and the Spokesman said that some action was expected to be taken by Friday, January 14.

MINURSO COMPLETES VOTER IDENTIFICATION IN WESTERN SAHARA

In Western Sahara, the Identification Commission completed its identification of applicants from three tribal groupings on schedule last week, convoking more than 64,000 people and identifying more than 51,000 of them. Identification work was completed on schedule by last Thursday, and a provisional list of voters for the Western Sahara referendum will be issued on January 15.

Since the voter identification progress began, the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has convoked a total of more than 240,000 people and identified nearly 200,000 of them as eligible to vote.

The process, however, is not over. On January 17, appeals from people who were not deemed eligible to vote can begin, and more than 70,000 people may appeal, the Secretary-General noted in his last report on Western Sahara. If such a high number of appeals were issued, he added, the holding of the referendum could be delayed until the year 2002 or even beyond.

UNITED NATIONS IS INVESTIGATING BANKING ERROR

In response to several questions concerning a case that came before the New York State Supreme Court today, the Spokesman noted that a woman who had received more than $700,000 in funds that were supposed to go to a biodiversity fund for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was suing Chase Bank to prevent the freezing of her bank accounts.

Eckhard said that the UN account in which the money was to have been placed differs by one digit from the account of the woman, a resident of Brooklyn. "Someone made a mistake," he said. "I can't say who did, but we'll have to see what the results of the investigation are." He said that the United Nations was investigating the error, and was not prepared to say who made the mistake until that investigation is completed.

The spokesman noted that the women claimed to have received the money after winning the lottery, a claim that is being evaluated in court. "This is a matter between this woman, who is a Chase customer, and Chase Bank, over money that is ours," he said.

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OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In response to questions, the Spokesman noted that the search for a new Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services continues. The job is a demanding one, he said, and the Secretary-General has conducted several interviews but "has not yet found the person he thinks is right for the job."

The United Nations received dues payments in full for the year 2000 from nine Member States: Belarus, Finland, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, the Marshall Islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Member States have until the end of January to pay their dues for 2000 in full.

Rolando Gomez returned to work in the Spokesman's Office in New York starting today, after a seven-month stint in East Timor.


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