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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-14

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

Friday, January 14, 2000

ANNAN CONTINUES MEETINGS WITH COUNCIL MEMBERS ON IRAQ

The Security Council met for closed consultations this morning, Iraq had been on the agenda initially, in the expectation that Secretary-General Kofi Annan would announce the appointment of an Executive Chairman for the United Nations Monitoring and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC).

However, as he entered the building this morning, the Secretary-General told reporters that his consultations with the Security Council were continuing. "It's been a bit more complicated than one would have expected," he said.

The Secretary-General said he still hopes to meet the 30-day deadline to announce the appointment, which ends on Sunday.

Annan met at 5 p.m. yesterday with the five permanent members of the Council. He will meet at 3 p.m. today with the non-permanent members of the Council.

In response to questions, the Spokesman said Annan continues to pressure Council members to resolve their differences and signal to him any candidate on whom they can agree.

Asked what would happen if no choice is announced by Sunday, Eckhard added, "The Council will have to decide what to do," adding that he was not sure if there were a precedent for that possibility.

FISCAL AUTHORITY SET UP IN EAST TIMOR

The National Consultative Council (NCC) in East Timor today adopted two new regulations.

The first establishes a Central Fiscal Authority, which United Nations Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello described as "an embryo of the future Ministry of Finance of East Timor."

The second governs the use of currencies during the transition period, abolishing foreign exchange controls and establishing that parties to a commercial contract can choose any foreign currency to meet their obligations.

The NCC also approved a six-month reconstruction and development plan as requested by international donors at a pledging conference in Tokyo in December. It includes timetables for projects on a range of areas, from agriculture to telecommunications.

Finally, the Council decided to pay civil servants out of a UN Trust Fund. They would be given a stipend of between $77 and $318 a month for three months, while the United Nations carries out a cost of living survey to establish a salary scale for the civil service.

After the NCC meeting, de Mello gave a press conference.

Also in East Timor news, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations H&eacute;di Annabi briefed the Security Council on the main developments in East Timor over the past three weeks.

The Secretary-General will give a report to the Council near the end of this month. De Mello is expected to come to New York in the first week of February to introduce that report.

ANNAN ADDRESSES WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL FORUM

The Secretary-General addressed the Women's International Forum at 11 a.m. today, and sketched out the UN agenda for the year 2000.

He said the reduction of poverty and equal access to technology is one of the biggest challenges ahead.

"Half the world's people have never made or received a telephone call," he said. "Hundreds of millions of people are completely excluded from globalization's benefits. Attacking these inequitiesand bringing these people in from the margins is certainly one of the biggest projects for the 21st century."

UN DEALS WITH POWER SHORTAGES IN KOSOVO

"Imagine on a bitter cold day like today having power only two hours out of every six hours," the Spokesman said. "That's what the people of Kosovo are coping with as they suffer from a serious power shortage in the province."

The situation is expected to improve when the second of two power plants damaged by a fire earlier this week begins operating later today, according to the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

Against this backdrop, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that a winter emergency team is seeing what can be done for elderly persons in the Pristina area. UNHCR also said that it is bringing in 100,000 more blankets and 380,000 thermal coats to cope with the situation. In the Glogovac region, UNHCR said it had opened a shelter for those who need to be sheltered in a heated room.

Looking ahead, UNMIK announced today that the Kosovo Protection Corps will be formally established in a ceremony next Wednesday. On that occasion, 43 senior Corps leaders will be sworn in. They will make a pledge of honour to commit themselves to the betterment of their community. The Secretary-General's Special Representative Bernard Kouchner and Kosovo Force (KFOR) Commander Gen. Klaus Reinhardt will speak at the ceremony.

The remainder of the Corps -- 3,000 active members and up to 2,000 reservists -- will be appointed by the end of January, and the Corps is expected to be operational by this September.

UNHCR NOTES DROP IN RETURNS OF CHECHENS

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that daily numbers of Chechens returning from Ingushetia have dropped sharply over the past few days, as fighting and artillery bombardment resumed around Gudermes and Shali, which had been previously regarded as relatively quiet.

The daily number of those crossing back to Chechnya dropped to a mere 300 on Thursday, down from 1,500 or more just a few days ago. The drop has occurred at the same time as recent statements by Russian military commanders that men between the age of 10 and 60 will not be allowed in and out of Chechnya and will not be considered "refugees." The Russian military are now reported to be preventing men between those ages from leaving or entering Chechnya.

UNHCR is very concerned and has asked the Russian government for clarification of the military statements. All those fleeing the war in Chechnya are in need of international protection regardless of their gender and age.

Asked about the Secretary-General's response, the Spokesman said that he has "great concern," and added, "It is expected that this will be one of the items on his agenda when he travels to Moscow later this month."

UNICEF REPORTS CASES OF CHILD SOLDIERS IN SIERRA LEONE

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) about 5,000 children, some of them as young as 5-years old, are estimated to be have been involved in the conflict in Sierra Leone. Fifty-five per cent of the reported 4,000 missing children are documented cases of abduction. In 1999, only 801 children were released by rebel forces, according to UNICEF.

Today in Geneva, Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressed the Working Group currently drafting an Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which intends to raise the minimum age for children in armed forces from 15 to 18. She said, "I believe the question at issue is not the difference between 16, 17 and 18 years of age. The fundamental point is the distinction between children and adults."

She recalled the recommendations by the Secretary-General that measures to eliminate the use of children as soldiers should be aimed at rebel movements as well as states, and that arms embargoes should be imposed on parties to armed conflict which recruit children.

UNHCR REPORTS BURUNDI REFUGEE FLOW INTO TANZANIA

The rate of arrival of Burundians into Tanzania has continued steadily, with nearly 1,000 people arriving in Tanzania every day, according to information from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Since the beginning of the year, over 10,000 Burundian refugees have been settled into a newly opened site: Karago Refugee Camp. But within three weeks of its opening, Karago Camp has nearly reached half its capacity of 45,000 to 50,000.

UNHCR says that the situation in Tanzania is very worrying, particularly if the refugees continue to arrive at the rate seen over the past few weeks. UNHCR has used all sites allocated for refugees by the Tanzanian government. Options for the future settlement of new Burundian refugees in Tanzania are very few and very costly.

TRIBUNAL DELIVERS KUPRESKIC CASE SENTENCES

This morning in The Hague, The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sentenced five Bosnian Croats to terms ranging from six to 25 years. One of the accused was acquitted. The six accused were charged in connection with their alleged role in the attack on the village of Ahmici in Central Bosnia on April 16, 1993 and the massacre of 116 Bosnian Muslims villagers there.

In his summary of the judgement, Judge Antonio Cassese said, "This was not a combat operation. Rather, it was a well-planned and well-organized killing of civilian members of an ethnic group, the Muslims, by the military of another ethnic group, the Croats."

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Secretary-General announced today the appointment of Kunio Waki of Japan as Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). He succeeds Hirofumi Ando, who is retiring. The Secretary-General expressed his sincere appreciation toAndo for his contribution to the Fund. The appointment becomes effective February 1.

In response to questions about the visit of United States Senator Jesse Helms to the United Nations next week, the Spokesman said that he understands, although plans are not finalized, that Helms's meeting with Security Council members on Thursday will be closed. Helms will meet the Secretary-General earlier in the day, and will conduct a hearing on Friday of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in New York. That hearing would be followed by an informational meeting which two UN officials, Under-Secretary-General for Management Joseph Connor and Assistant Secretary-General in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General John Ruggie, have been invited to attend.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a press release on the economic impact caused by recent disasters on the insurance industry worldwide. The economic losses from the past 24 climate or weather-related catastrophes alone have exceeded $150 billion, of which $65 billion was insured, according to insurance industry data. "These events are further evidence that -- as the insurance industry has constantly highlighted -- society urgently needs to better manage environmental risks," said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP.

On Monday, January 17, about 350 teachers will be participating in a day-long conference for educators on "Educating about the Culture of Peace in the New Millennium." Kim Phuc, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Goodwill Ambassador for the Culture of Peace, will be among the speakers at this conference.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

SATURDAY, JANUARY 15

The Secretary-General's reports to the Security Council on Angola and the Central African Republic are due. Also due is the report on oil spare parts in Iraq, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1281.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 16

This is the deadline in Security Council Resolution 1284 for the Secretary-General to appoint the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Committee (UNMOVIC).

The High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, is scheduled to arrive in Tanzania to begin a 10-day, three-nation visit to some of the major refugee situations in the Great Lakes and Southern Africa region.

MONDAY, JANUARY 17

In Western Sahara, the United Nations expects to issue the second provisional voter list, following the Identification Commission's completion of voter identification last month. On the same day, the UN Mission will begin to receive appeals in 14 centres.

At UN Headquarters, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet is expected to appear at the noon press briefing on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The briefing is in anticipation of the Secretary-General's report on the DRC; if that report is not issued to the Security Council by Monday morning, the intended press briefing will be rescheduled.

The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names convenes its 20th session until January 28.

Also from today until January 28, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations holds its resumed 1999 session.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will begin its 22nd session in New York. The session will last until February 4.

Also from today until February 4, the Ad Hoc Group of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention will hold its 18th session in Geneva.

The first part of the year's Conference on Disarmament meetings begins in Geneva.

In Vienna, an ad hoc committee begins its seventh meeting to elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The session is to last until January 28.

International Civil Aviation Organization committee meetings begin in Montreal.

On Monday, Carla del Ponte, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, will begin her first visit to Brussels, Belgium. During her trip, she will meet with Romani Prodi, President of the European Commission, and with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson. On Wednesday, she will address the North Atlantic Council.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 18

The Security Council will hear an open briefing on Angola, including information from the Chairman of the Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, who will have completed a fact-finding mission to Angola. Ambassador Fowler will hold a press conference at 1:00 p.m.

The States Parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination will hold their 18th meeting in New York.

In Geneva, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland will hold a press conference at noon on the WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19

The Security Council will hear an open briefing on Burundi by former South African President Nelson Mandela, the Facilitator of the Arusha Process.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr&eacute;chette will deliver a keynote address at the opening of a United Nations University Conference, dealing with the United Nations and global governance, in Tokyo, Japan. She will visit Japan from January 18-21, during which time she will meet Government officials, Parliamentarians and business leaders.

In Geneva, the ECE Regional Preparatory Meeting on this year's review of the Beijing Platform for Action will be held from today until Friday.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 20

Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will meet with the Security Council in a closed session.

The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is due.

Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), will begin a trip through Asia by participating in the Asia-Pacific Symposium on the Trafficking of Women and Children, which will be held today in Tokyo, Japan. Other stops on Bellamy's trip will include Dili, East Timor, on January 23; Kupang, East Timor, on the following day; and Surabaya and Jakarta, Indonesia, from January 25-27.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 21

United States Ambassador Holbrooke and several UN officials are invited to participate in a meeting with the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to be held at the Bar Association of the City of New York from 2 to 4 p.m. The meeting will be chaired by Senator Jesse Helms and attended by other Foreign Relations Committee members, and will discuss the implementation of United Nations reform.

In Geneva, the Open-Ended Working Group on a Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is dealing with the question of child soldiers, will conclude its sixth session.

FRIDAY QUIZ

Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, who chairs the Angola Sanctions Committee, will brief the Security Council next Tuesday on Angolan sanctions. This week's quiz tests your knowledge of those sanctions, with information taken from the Committee chairman's last reports on the subject (S/1999/644 and 829).

Q. How much money is UNITA estimated to have earned through diamond revenues since 1992?

1. About $2 billion

2. $3 billion to $4 billion

3. More than $5 billion

A. UNITA has earned an estimated $3 billion to $4 billion from diamonds since 1992, according to the Sanctions Committee.

Q. Legitimate diamond sales account for how much of the gross domestic products of Angola's neighbours Botswana and Namibia?

1. Less than half

2. About half

3. More than two-thirds

A. More than two-thirds of the GDPs of both Namibia and Botswana come from diamond revenues.

Q. True or false: The number of Angolans killed since the civil war began exceeds one million.

A. True.

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