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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-19

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

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

MANDELA ADDRESSES SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON BURUNDI

The Security Council this morning held a formal meeting on Burundi. It heard first from Secretary-General Kofi Annan and then from former South African President Nelson Mandela, who is the Facilitator of the Arusha peace process for Burundi.

The Secretary-General told the Council that the Secretariat was fully committed to helping Mandela revive the peace process.

He cited the fact that one in eight of Burundi's people are internally displaced, many as a result of the Government policy of relocation. The Secretary-General urged the Government to abandon "this inhumane and illegal policy."

Mandela told the Council that he was working on a follow-up visit to Arusha, Tanzania, in February, to which he plans to invite Heads of State from different parts of the world. While arguing that it was time for the Burundians to get to business and highlighting the responsibilities of the Burundian leaders to reach an agreement, Mandela said the international community could also play a political role and also provide humanitarian and financial support.

At the conclusion of today's meeting, the Council adopted a resolution on Burundi, supporting Mandela's role and the work of the United Nations in that country.

In his speech, the Secretary-General also endorsed the statement issued today by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, a grouping of 16 UN and non-UN organizations active in humanitarian issues, on the forcibly relocated communities in Burundi.

According to the statement, since last September 20, some 330,000 people, living mainly in the Province of Bujumbura Rural, have been forcibly relocated by the Government into 53 sites. The impact of this action on the affected populations has been disastrous, as the Government failed to prepare the sites or to make provision for food, water and shelter for those relocated. Most of those relocated have lost their homes and possessions and are being denied access to their fields.

The statement said the Committee "expresses its strong opposition to forced relocation in Burundi" and called upon the Government of Burundi to halt the practice.

COUNCIL WILL MEET US SENATE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN THURSDAY

At 11 a.m. Thursday, members of the Security Council will have a discussion with the Chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jesse Helms.

The gathering will take place in the Security Council chamber, and will be open to delegations that are not members of the Council, as well as to reporters.

In response to questions on the visit, the Spokesman noted that Annan had met Helms in Washington, D.C., in January 1997, shortly after taking up his duties as Secretary-General. Helms also had co-sponsored the bill passed by the U.S. Senate, which had helped to pay some of the U.S. arrears, Eckhard said. "They have had from the start a cordial relationship, so I expect it will be a friendly meeting," he said. He expected that the Secretary-General would describe the progress of his efforts over the past three years.

Eckhard noted that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is a body that "authorizes the funding for 25 percent of the UN budget."

Asked about U.S. efforts to change its assessments for the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets, the Spokesman added that the Secretary-General sees it as the task of the U.S. Government to convince the other 187 Member States to consider the conditions the U.S. Congress has attached to its repayment of dues. That discussion will take place in the Contributions Committee, he said.

COUNCIL TO TAKE NEXT STEP IN UNMOVIC CHAIRMAN'S SELECTION

In response to questions about the selection of an Executive Chairman for the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Committee (UNMOVIC), the Spokesman noted that the President of the Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, said that he would consult with other Council members on that question. But he added the Secretary-General still would nominate whoever is to lead UNMOVIC.

He noted the possibility that the Council might arrive at a number of names of potential nominees, on whom they could agree on a consensus basis. In that scenario, he said, the Secretary-General could pick his nominee from that list of consensus choices.

"I don't think the Secretary-General is out of the picture, but for the moment, the ball is in the Council's court," Eckhard said.

WTO CHIEF MEETS ANNAN AND SENIOR MANAGEMENT GROUP

At 9:30 this morning, the Secretary-General met with Mike Moore, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Moore then joined the weekly meeting of the Senior Management Group, which is the Cabinet-style body of senior UN officials chaired by the Secretary-General.

The United Nations issued Tuesday a background note on today's Senior Management Group meeting, which reflects the essence of Moore's message in his discussions today.

After the meeting, Moore took questions from reporters outside the Security Council before leaving for Washington, D.C. He said he had talked about the need for the UN system and the WTO to work more closely together to deal with what he called "anxiety over globalization."

Referring to the WTO Ministerial Conference held late last year in Seattle, Washington, Moore said that he was disappointed that Governments were not able to make progress in increasing market access and technical assistance to the developing world. Now, he added, "we have to build confidence, and get things moving in a modest, concrete, focused way."

FRESH CLASHES REPORTED IN EAST TIMOR ENCLAVE

The International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) reported clashes Tuesday and again today with armed militia elements that crossed over from West Timor into the East Timorese enclave of Oecussi.

Tuesday, near the East Timorese village of Mahata, an INTERFET patrol came across five militia members armed with rifles. According to INTERFET, the militia waved the rifles in a threatening manner and the INTERFET soldiers fired six quick shots, sending the militia fleeing back across the border to West Timor.

Today, another five armed militia confronted villagers near the village of Bobometo, in the East Timor enclave. The villagers stood up to the militia, according to INTERFET, shots were fired and at least one villager was injured. The United Nations is awaiting further details on that incident.

INTERFET reported a total of five militia incursions into Oecussi in the past 72 hours.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has temporarily halted repatriation convoys to and from the enclave until the situation calms down.

HOLDS ON IRAQ CONTRACTS EXCEED $1.1 BILLION

The regular weekly update from the "oil-for-food" programme, issued today, shows that there are $1.13 billion worth of contracts for humanitarian supplies on hold with another $224 million of oil spare parts and equipment on hold.

With the expansion of the programme over the past 18 months, the category of "humanitarian supplies" now includes contracts worth up to $100 million for the rehabilitation of major power stations and other large contracts to improve water and sanitation facilities.

The issue of holds is on the agenda of the Iraq Sanctions Committee this afternoon, which is its first formal meeting for the year.

The agenda also includes consideration of the letter sent in November by the Under Secretary-General for Management Joseph Connor regarding the over-concentration of funds in the United Nations Iraq Account at the Banque Nationale de Paris. The current balance of that account is around $5.7 billion.

ANNAN WARNS OF CHALLENGES IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

In his report on the Central African Republic, which was issued today, the Secretary-General emphasized the challenges that lay ahead for the authorities of that country after the withdrawal of UN peacekeeping operation on February 15.

He noted that important elements of the Bangui Agreements, such as the restructuring of the armed forces, have not yet been implemented.

He recalled that a Peace-Building Support Office will take over from the peacekeeping operation after its withdrawal. The office's main task will be to support the Government 's effort to consolidate peace and national reconciliation, to strengthen democratic institutions, and to facilitate the mobilization of international assistance for national reconstruction and economic recovery.

UN REACHES AGREEMENT ON KOSOVO PROTECTION CORPS

In today's briefing in Pristina, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) reported that the ceremony establishing the Kosovo Protection Corps, which had been scheduled for today, has been postponed until Friday.

The UNMIK spokesman also said that all outstanding issues were ironed out in discussions between the Secretary-General's Special Representative Bernard Kouchner, Kosovo Force (KFOR) Commander Klaus Reinhardt and Kosovo Protection Corps Commander Agim Ceku.

The proposal to create the Kosovo Protection Corps was an integral part of the demobilization process and was an essential factor in securing support for the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army. www.un.org/Docs/sc/reports/1999/s19991250.htm

UNMIK reiterated today that the senior members of the Corps would have no military ranks. In addition they would wear non-military insignias, and Ceku will have three deputies who were to divide responsibilities among themselves. One deputy, to be appointed Friday, will be ethnically non-Albanian.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The second edition of the Human Rights Newsletter published by the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone announced that the draft statute of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was transmitted by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Government of Sierra Leone.

Ireland and Latvia have become the 19th and 20th Member States to pay their regular budget dues to the United Nations in full for this year. Ireland paid approximately $2.3 million, and Latvia made a payment of just under $150,000.

The President of the Security Council has issued a note that lists the Chairpersons and Vice Chairpersons for all Security Council sanctions committees. There are currently nine committees in all, and the terms of their Chairs will last until the end of this year.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr&eacute;chette today delivered a keynote address on the future of the United Nations, which she gave at a forum at the United Nations University in Tokyo. In addition to her participation in the forum, which concerned the United Nations and global governance in the new millennium, she also met this morning with members of the Parliamentary Group for Japan's contribution to the United Nations.

The final UN budget appropriations for the 1998-99 biennium, issued today, take note that the Professional vacancy rate over the 1998-99 biennium was higher than the rate on which the programme budget had originally been based. As a result, the final budget appropriations for that period were decreased by more than $41 million. The final amount appropriated for the regular budget for 1998-99 was just under $2.5 billion.

Thursday's guest at the noon briefing will be Erick de Mul, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan.


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