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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-12

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:





Wednesday, January 12, 2000


Because of a number of premature reports of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's travel plans, the Spokesman said he would confirm most, but not all, of the Secretary-General's itinerary for the end of the month and February. "Our own planning of the trips is still incomplete," Spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

He confirmed reports by ITAR-TASS that the Government of Russia has invited the Secretary-General to Moscow later this month for meetings with senior Government officials. The current plan is for the Secretary-General to leave New York on Wednesday, January 26, for a two-day program in Moscow.

From Moscow, he will travel to Geneva on Saturday, January 29, where he will chair the opening of the next round of talks on Cyprus on Monday, January 31.

Annan will then return to New York for a week, before leaving for Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday, February 8.

In Bangkok, he will pay an official visit, and also attend the opening of the 10th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. After that, he will visit a number of countries in the region, as well as the UN Mission in East Timor.

He will travel to Singapore on Sunday, February 13, and then to Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday, February 15. From Jakarta, he will go to Dili, East Timor on February 17, and then to Sydney, Australia on the 19th and to Canberra on the 21st. On Tuesday, February 22, he goes to Wellington, New Zealand, as reported today by the Foreign Ministry of New Zealand.

The Spokesman said that the United Nations is still planning on one more leg of the Asian trip, and will make a further announcement once the plan is finalized.


The Security Council today held closed consultations on the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and on Sierra Leone.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, H&eacute;di Annabi, briefed the Council on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Council also has the Secretary-General's latest report, which was published in December. In it, he expresses his serious concern that progress in physical reconstruction has not been matched by progress in political integration, social reconciliation and economic development.

The report, and today's briefing, highlighted the need for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the international community to support law enforcement and judicial institutions in order to overcome entrenched opposition from extremist political interests and criminals.

Also today, the Secretary-General presented the Security Council with a report proposing an expansion in the concept of operation and strength of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). This is a response to the situation created by the withdrawal of Nigerian troops serving under the Military Observer Group of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOMOG).

The Secretary-General is requesting an increase in the mission strength from 6,000 to 11,100. This would enable the UN force to carry out additional tasks, currently assigned to ECOMOG, including the provision of security at Lungi airport and at key installations, buildings and Government institutions in and around Freetown, as well at the disarmament camps and weapons storage sites. The peacekeepers will also conduct mobile patrols and provide armed escorts to ensure the free flow of people and goods, as well as of humanitarian assistance.

Annan says in the report that "the rapid expansion of UNAMSIL will be indispensable to maintain the necessary security conditions for the implementation of the Lom&eacute; Agreement, in particular the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program, the extension of state administration throughout the provinces and, in due course, the conduct of elections in Sierra Leone."


In response to questions on internally displaced persons (IDPs) and on Thursday's Security Council meeting featuring United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Sadako Ogata, the Spokesman noted that the current issue of Refugees magazine, put out by UNHCR, focuses on the world's 20 million to 25 million IDPs.

The United Nations today provided advance highlights of three articles from that issue, including the main story, on why the internally displaced are different to refugees, the global debate on how best to help them and UNHCR's thinking on the subject.


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expecting to receive official confirmation from Iraq that visas have been issued for an IAEA team to visit Iraq. The inspections, the IAEA notes, are distinct from those mandated by the Security Council.

The IAEA said that it expects that a team of four inspectors and one technician will travel to Iraq next week. They will visit one place, Twaitha, near Baghdad, for "physical inventory verification." That verification entails checking that 1.8 tons of low enriched uranium and a larger quantity of natural uranium mined in Iraq are still there. Those quantities of uranium had been left under seal when arms inspectors left Iraq in December 1998.

The inspection is happening under the Safeguards Agreement of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which mandates "annual inspections of known and declared nuclear materials in the country."

Asked about the search for a Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), the Spokesman said that Annan had discussed names for a possible chairman with the Security Council on Tuesday. More than two names were discussed yesterday, he said.

The Secretary-General was asked this morning whether he still hoped to make an announcement on the UNMOVIC Chairman by Friday, Eckhard noted, adding that Annan responded that he still hopes to make the announcement by then.

However, Eckhard said, the United Nations has found it more difficult than expected to obtain candidates who are "willing to be considered." Either the candidates or their Governments, in some cases, were not willing to consider the UNMOVIC job, he said.


Officials of the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET), the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET), and the Indonesian armed forces signed a memorandum today which can help to improve cooperation at the border crossings between East and West Timor.

Today's memorandum covers a total of 11 crossings between East and West Timor.

The memorandum of understanding, which was signed in Motaain, west of Dili, today, establishes checkpoints at the 11 crossings, to help facilitate the crossing of refugees from West Timor back to the East. UN military observers will act as liaisons between the Indonesian forces and INTERFET at the checkpoints.

This morning, 346 people disembarked in Dili from a ship, operated by the International Organization for Migration, which brought them from the provincial capital of West Timor, Kupang. A large number of East Timorese living in the camps near Kupang continue to register for repatriation, with several hundred more gathered in Kupang's transit center today, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Meanwhile, more than 9,000 East Timorese collected applications for UN jobs today after the Mission launched its recruitment campaign to employ local staff to fill 1,905 positions.

The Mission is also in the process of establishing a civil service for East Timor, which could provide additional jobs.

On Thursday and Friday, the third meeting of the National Consultative Council will take place, which groups UN personnel and the East Timorese, in which the Council is expected to discuss a new civil service, including recruitment plans and salary scales for future civil servants.

In response to a question on the hand-over of responsibility from INTERFET to the United Nations, the Spokesman said that the planning is complete for the hand-over, and it will take place over a month-long period during the month of February.


Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, the Chairman of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on Angola, visited the former headquarters of National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) rebels Tuesday during his fact-finding mission to Angola.

Fowler visited the city of Andulo Tuesday, to inspect war materiel which had been left by UNITA rebels after Government forces seized the area last October. He is accompanied by several experts who are investigating how to strengthen the UN sanctions that prohibit trade in diamonds and in arms with UNITA.

On Monday, Fowler met with Angolan Minister of External Affairs Jo&atilde;o Miranda and Vice Minister of Geology and Mines Carlos Sumbula. Fowler said that the United Nations has made progress in enforcing the sanctions, and added, "There is no doubt that sanctions against UNITA are much better understood today than a year ago."

Fowler is scheduled to participate in an open briefing of the Security Council on Angola next Tuesday.


The next report by the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is expected to come out on Monday, January 17. That report will contain a concept of operations based on the information sent back from the deployment locations by the military liaison officer teams now in place in nine locations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and also in capitals of the neighboring countries.

The following week, the Security Council is expected to hold several open briefings on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


The latest report from the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), which covers events from January 1 until November 30 of last year, was issued today.

"The number of human rights violations reported during the period under review increased markedly in comparison with the previous reporting period," the report says.

During the first nine months of 1999, the report says, MINUGUA admitted 316 complaints involving more than 3,500 violations of human rights. Including investigations of complaints from earlier years, the Mission confirmed a total of more than 4,700 violations during that nine-month period.

According to the report, a large number of violations stem from the failure of the judiciary, the Public Prosecutor's Office and other key parts of the justice system to follow up on investigations of massacres and disappearances which occurred before the end of the armed conflict.


The current weekly UN humanitarian update on Afghanistan, issued today, reported on the plight of displaced persons in the Afghan capital of Kabul and notes there are about 3,000 families, which is about 16,000 people, including 10,000 children, in the ex-Soviet Embassy compound alone. These people had initially settled with relatives who now find it impossible to support them.

In addition, humanitarian agencies are seeking to assist as soon as possible the most vulnerable among the displaced community living outside the compound.

After last summer's fighting Kabul has received about 65,000 displaced people from the Shomali Plains alone. That is in addition to tens of thousands of displaced people from previous fighting. The World Food Program targets about 350,000 internally displaced persons in Kabul.


Asked about a human rights report on East Timor, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has received the report and circulated it to several advisers, including the UN legal counsel. Eventually, he noted, the report will be sent to the Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Commission.

In response to a media story about a woman who claimed to have been abused while working in domestic service to a diplomat posted at the United Nations, the Spokesman declined comment. "This involves a diplomat who enjoys full diplomatic immunity," he said. As a result, the matter is between the United States Government as host country and the Governments from which the diplomat and the woman have come, he said.

The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo Bernard Kouchner today condemned the killing Monday of four members of a Bosniak family in Prizren. The Spokesman noted that the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo is still investigating the killings.

A note issued by the Secretary-General circulates the application of Tuvalu for admission to membership in the United Nations. The note includes as an annex a letter from Prime Minister Ionatana Ionatana of Tuvalu, declaring that Tuvalu accepts the obligations contained in the UN Charter and solemnly undertakes to fulfill them. Tuvalu, formerly called the Ellis Islands, became an independent country in 1978. The United Nations currently comprises 188 Member States; if accepted, Tuvalu could become the 189th.

Three more Member States have made their year 2000 dues payments in full. They are Estonia, which paid more than $78,000, Liechtenstein, which paid approximately $63,000 and Singapore, which paid approximately $1.8 million. Sixteen Member States have now paid their regular budget dues for this year in full.

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