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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-10

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

Monday, January 10, 2000

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON IMPACT OF AIDS IN AFRICA

The first open meeting of the Security Council this century opened to a large audience this morning, with United States Vice President Al Gore presiding over the beginning of a discussion on the impact of HIV/AIDS on pace and security in Africa.

Twenty-eight Member States were inscribed on the Speakers List by this morning, including the Health Ministers of Namibia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Gore spoke of the need to recognize a new agenda for world security, which would include the challenges of the environment, of drugs and corruption, of terrorism and of global pandemics. He described HIV/AIDS as a global aggressor which, in Africa, is as much a security crisis as a humanitarian crisis.

In his comments, Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged the expanding security agenda and included the problem of inequality between states and the exclusion of too many of the world's people from the benefits of globalization.

He said that the impact of AIDS in Africa was, in some ways, worse than warfare, killing about ten times more people than died in armed conflict. "This cocktail of disasters is a sure recipe for world conflict," Annan said.

The President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, also spoke, noting that it was the first time that the World Bank was addressing the Security Council. He argued that poverty and development issues were root causes of most conflicts and told the Council that the absence of action against such issues would result in a world of conflict.

Wolfensohn said that Africa needed up to $2.3 billion for programs to prevent the growth of HIV/AIDS, compared to the $160 million in official assistance currently provided.

United Nations Development Programme Administrator Mark Malloch Brown and the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Peter Piot, also addressed the Council.

UN ESTABLISHES CIVIL JUDICIARY IN EAST TIMOR

At midnight this Wednesday, the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) will hand over to the newly-created Civil Judiciary of East Timor 36 cases of people detained by INTERFET for serious crimes. About two-thirds of these cases involve militia activity.

United Nations Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello last Friday appointed 10 judges to the Civil Judiciary, who will begin functioning on Thursday of this week. Also on Thursday, the UN Civilian Police will assume the principal authority for arresting, detaining and investigating criminals.

One of the first cases to be taken up by the new Civil Judiciary could involve a man who was arrested today in Liquica by UN Police in connection with several murders committed in Liquica last April. The suspect has been identified as a member of a local militia group.

Tuesday, UN Police will begin exhuming a mass grave in Liquica. According to local sources, the site contains seven bodies from the April 1999 church massacre in Liquica and 11 bodies from the April 17 violence in Dili.

TOYS AND EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL TO BE DISTRIBUTED IN KOSOVO

The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) announced that Tuesday, the Secretary-General's Special Representative Bernard Kouchner will preside at the hand-over of 11 tons of toys and educational material from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to a group of Kosovar children. The materials, purchased by financial donations by the citizens of Paris, will be distributed to schools throughout Kosovo. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), together with the Kosovo Force (KFOR), will also take part in the distribution.

UNHCR also reported that it operated in Mitrovica an exceptional inter-community bus service over the three-day holiday weekend, giving both Albanians and Serbs a chance to attend religious services and to visit Muslim and Christian graveyards on opposite sides of the Ibar River.

The special bus service with Danish drivers and French KFOR escorts took place without a hitch during Serbian Orthodox Christmas and Muslim Bajram (Eid) festival, both of which were commemorated Friday. The buses gave hundreds of Kosovars the opportunity to show respect for their deceased relatives in safety.

On Friday, for the first time in many months, bells tolled in the long-shuttered Orthodox Church south of the Ibar River. The following day, some 240 Albanians living south of the same river traveled north to visit the Muslim graveyard, and on Sunday some 40 Albanians went to the Mosque. Also Sunday, 100 Serbs went to the Christian graveyard in the south.

ANNAN TO CONSULT WITH COUNCIL ON IRAQ MONITORING CHIEF

In response to questions about an article in The Financial Times that mentioned the names of two candidates for the post of Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Inspection and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC), the Spokesman said that it was "not accurate" to suggest that only two names have been submitted to the Security Council.

Eckhard reiterated that the Secretary-General expects to announce the appointment of the UNMOVIC Chairman on Friday, and will consult with Security Council members on the remaining names of candidates. "There are more than two," he said.

Because the issue is unresolved, he added, it remained difficult to say how the announcement will be made on Friday.

UN DISARMAMENT BOARD LIST AVAILABLE

A list of this year's board members of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, which will hold its next session from January 31 to February 2, was issued at UN Headquarters.

The Board, which provides advice to the Secretary-General on arms limitation and disarmament affairs, has five new members this year: Ambassador Guillermo Enrique Gonz&aacute;lez of Argentina; Ambassador Kostyantyn Gryschenko of Ukraine; Ambassador Jean-Marie Gu&eacute;henno of France; Ambassador Hu Xiaodi of China; and Gra&ccedil;a Machel, former first lady of South Africa and President of the Foundation for Community Development.

The Advisory Board has 20 members, as well as one ex officio member, and will be chaired this year by Miguel Mar&iacute;n Bosch, who had served for many years as Mexico's representative to the Conference on Disarmament.

MORE THAN 4,500 UN TROOPS DEPLOYED IN SIERRA LEONE

As of today, more than 4,500 troops are present on the ground in Sierra Leone.

Out of the six battalions scheduled to form the military component of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), five battalions have been inducted into the mission area. Two are from Nigeria, one from Kenya, one from Ghana and one from India. India is also providing administration, medical, transportation and engineering teams as well as an aviation refueling unit.

The remaining battalion, from Guinea, is scheduled to arrive to Freetown shortly.

In addition to the troops, 215 unarmed Military Observers monitor the cease-fire and report on violations.

UN REPRESENTATIVE URGES MINIMUM RECRUITMENT AGE OF 18

Olara Otunnu, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflicts, issued a statement today as discussions started in Geneva on a draft optional protocol dealing with the minimum recruitment age, currently set at 15.

In his statement, Otunnu said: "I urge the establishment of 18 as the minimum age for both recruitment - voluntary and compulsory - and participation in armed conflict. This age limit must apply both to Governments and non-State entities and for both international and internal armed conflicts."

TERRORISM CONVENTION OPENS FOR SIGNATURE

This morning, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism was opened for signature at UN Headquarters; by the end of today seven nations are expected to have become the treaty's first signatories.

Starting at 9:30 this morning, the ambassadors of Finland, France, the Netherlands and Sri Lanka signed the Convention at the UN Treaty Room. This afternoon, officials from Malta, the United Kingdom and the United States are expected to sign the treaty between 3 and 3:30.

The Convention, which commits Governments to take steps to prevent the financing of terrorist activities, was approved by the General Assembly on December 9 (A/RES/54/109). It will take effect 30 days after it has been ratified by 22 countries.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Carolyn McAskie, Emergency Relief Coordinator ad interim, in a statement on an incident in Sudan last week in which two humanitarian workers were killed and two were abducted, called on all parties to maintain respect for international humanitarian law and principles

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a press release and background information on the resumption of bio-safety talks later this month in Montreal, Canada. Governments will resume the talks -- following the suspension last February of the first session in Cartagena, Colombia -- from January 24 to 28, and will focus on reducing any potential risks that could result from the trans-boundary movement of living modified organisms.

At 6:30 this evening in the UN Trusteeship Council, the UN Staff Union, Universal Pictures and Beacon Pictures are hosting a special screening of the film "The Hurricane," based on the life of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. Among the expected attendees at the screening will be General Assembly President Theo-Ben Gurirab, director Norman Jewison and actor Denzel Washington. As part of the ceremony, Universal Studios will provide a donation to the scholarship fund for the children of UN personnel who have died in the line of duty.

Denmark and Egypt became the 11th and 12th Member States to make their full payments to the regular budget. Denmark made a payment of $7,279,068 and Egypt made a payment of $679,727.

  • The guest at today's briefing was Jim Sherry, Director of Programme Development of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDs (UNAIDS).

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