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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-13

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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

Thursday, January 13, 2000

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SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UN MISSION IN PREVLAKA

The Security Council met this morning in formal session. Its first business was the adoption of a resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) for a further six months until July 16. The resolution was presented by the Netherlands and adopted unanimously as Resolution 1265.

The United Nations has 27 military observers on the Prevlaka peninsula.

OGATA BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON AFRICAN REFUGEES

The second Security Council meeting today was on the subject of "Promoting Peace and Security: Humanitarian Assistance to Refugees in Africa."

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, in an open briefing to the Council, appealed to the international community to devise concrete measures aimed at easing the critical plight of millions of African refugees and displaced persons.

The High Commissioner expressed particular concern about the increasing numbers of internally displaced people, who, unlike refugees, have not crossed international borders. The bulk of the uprooted people in Africa are internally displaced.

She lamented the fact that there are no effective conflict-resolution mechanisms in place in Africa and that armed groups in one country are often supported by Governments in neighboring states. She cited the Central African region as an example. Moreover, she said, efforts to consolidate the peace, once it is attained, are timid and piecemeal. She cited the examples of Rwanda and Liberia.

Ogata also noted the grave imbalance in the provision of aid for Africa compared to the rest of the world.

As the "month of Africa" continues in the Security Council, the Secretary-General will speak at next Wednesday's open meeting on Burundi, and former South African President Nelson Mandela will also speak in his capacity as Facilitator of the Arusha Process.

ANNAN APPROVES IRAQI DISTRIBUTION PLAN

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has written to the President of the Security Council conveying his approval of the distribution plan for Phase VII of the "oil-for-food" programme.

The Secretary-General's letter, along with the letter of the Executive Director of the Iraq Programme, Benon Sevan, to the Permanent Representative of Iraq setting out the understandings of the approval, was made available today.

The United Nations is also sending a group of oil experts to Iraq. The Secretary-General established such a group to report on alternatives for increasing Iraq's petroleum production and export capacity, and on the options for involving foreign oil companies in Iraq's oil sector.

The experts will also assess the impact of holds placed by the Sanctions Committee on Iraq, on contracts for spare parts and equipment for the oil industry.

To date, the Committee has approved contracts worth $581 million but has put on hold contracts worth $207 million.

The group comprises six experts: two from the United Kingdom and one each from Jordan, the Netherlands, Norway and the Russian Federation. They will arrive in Iraq on January 16 and remain for at least two weeks.

The Secretary-General's report is due on March 26.

ANNAN MEETING COUNCIL TODAY ON IRAQ COMMISSION CHAIRMAN

The Secretary-General is meeting this afternoon with the five Permanent Members of the Security Council to resume consultations on the selection of an Executive Director of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq.

The Council asked the Secretary-General to nominate a candidate by January 16, who would then have to be approved by the Council. The Secretary-General still hopes to announce a nominee, acceptable to all Council Members, by Friday.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS AT G-77 HANDOVER

The Secretary-General spoke this morning at the ceremonial meeting to mark the formal turnover of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General thanked Foreign Minister Clement Rohee and Ambassador Samuel Insanally of Guyana for their able leadership of the G-77 over the past year. He also congratulated Nigerian Foreign Minister Alhaji Sule Lamido and Ambassador Chief Arthur Mbanefo for Nigeria's assumption of the G-77 Chairmanship for this year.

"Africa is one of the main priorities of the United Nations, and Nigeria has recently given all Africans a fine example by its return to sound civilian leadership," he said.

The Secretary-General also highlighted several key events for developing countries in the months ahead, including the 10th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, to be held four weeks from now in Bangkok, Thailand, and this year's high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council on information technology.

"The road ahead is crowded with events and opportunities to advance the development agenda of our United Nations," he said as he urged developing countries to provide "a generous, inclusive vision of the future."

EXHUMATIONS AT EAST TIMOR SITE COMPLETED

Today in East Timor, UN Police and International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) investigators completed the exhumation of a mass gravesite in Maubara, near the town of Liquica, by examining 10 bodies. Over the past two days, 16 bodies have been exhumed at the gravesite, and 13 of them have been positively identified by family members.

Investigators said after examining the bodies that all had either been shot or stabbed to death. All 16 bodies have now been reburied at the graveyard by relatives.

Also today, a two-day meeting of the National Consultative Council opened with talks on creating a central fiscal authority for East Timor.

United Nations Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello urged the members of the Council, who represent a broad span of East Timorese political parties, to move quickly to provide an institutional base for the reconstruction projects that East Timor needs.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

On Friday in The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will render its judgement and sentencing on the Kupreskic case. Six former soldiers of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) are charged for their alleged involvement in the persecution of Bosnian Muslims in the village of Ahmici-Santici and its environs from October 1992 to April 1993, and in the participation in an attack on this village on April 16, 1993.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a fact sheet today on bronchial asthma. According to WHO, between 100 million and 150 million people around the globe -- roughly the equivalent of the population of the Russian Federation -- suffer from asthma and the number of asthma sufferers is rising. Deaths stemming from asthma worldwide have reached over 180,000 annually.

At 3:30 this afternoon, in a ceremony in the UN Treaty Room, Italy will sign on to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Italy becomes the eighth country to sign the Convention, which was opened for signature on Monday, one month after it was approved by the General Assembly. The Convention needs to be ratified by 22 countries before it can enter into force.

Libya and Sri Lanka became the 17th and 18th UN Member States to pay their regular budget dues in full for the year 2000. Libya paid just over $1.3 million and Sri Lanka paid approximately $125,000.

  • The guests at today's briefing were Roberta Cohen, Co-Director of the Internally Displaced Persons program at the Brookings Institution who works in support of the mandate of the UN Secretary-General's Representative for Internally Displaced Persons Francis Deng, and Thomas Linde, senior adviser to the Emergency Relief Coordinator on Internally Displaced Persons.

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