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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-26

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 26, 2000

SECURITY COUNCIL AGREES ON HEAD OF NEW INSPECTION BODY FOR IRAQ

The President of the Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, said today that the Council has been unable to reach consensus on the Secretary-General's nomination of Ambassador Rolf Ekeus of Sweden as the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq.

He added that the Council has reached consensus on another candidate, Hans Blix of Sweden who retired in 1997 as the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Council's decision on Ekeus and its consensus regarding Blix's candidacy are being conveyed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Under the terms of the resolution establishing UNMOVIC, the Executive Chairman is to be appointed by the Secretary-General in consultation with, and with the approval of, the Security Council.

[The Secretary-General later told reporters that he had sent a formal letter to the Security Council President recommending Blix's appointment. "Once I get their consent, I will go ahead and make the appointment." In response to questions, the Secretary-General described Blix as "a very experienced man." He added that he hopes that Iraq will cooperate.]

The Spokesman said at the briefing that the candidate's undivided support in the Council would improve the prospects of his eventual acceptance by Iraq.

COUNCIL BEGINS CONSIDERATION OF CONGO RESOLUTION

The Security Council held informal consultations on a draft Presidential Statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Shortly after the noon briefing, the consultations concluded and the Council went into a formal meeting to read the Presidential Statement which urged all the parties to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement to build on the momentum of the meetings held this week in New York in order to create and sustain the climate necessary for the full implementation of the Agreement.

In that statement, the Council also said it had begun consideration of a resolution authorizing the expansion of the present mandate of the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) along the lines recommended by the Secretary-General in his most recent report on that subject. (www.un.org/Docs/sc.htm)

KOFI ANNAN TO LEAVE FOR MOSCOW TODAY

The Secretary-General leaves this afternoon for Moscow, where he will have meetings tomorrow and Friday with senior Russian officials, including Acting President Vladimir Putin.

In a brief exchange with Russian State Television this morning, the Secretary-General confirmed that among the issues to be discussed in Moscow was the situation in Chechnya. "Innocent civilians, the vulnerable, must be paramount in everyone's mind," he said.

The Spokesman announced that he would accompany the Secretary-General, and Acting Deputy Spokesman John Mills would be in charge in his absence. Mills would be assisted by Associate Spokesman Marie Okabe, he added.

From Moscow, the Secretary-General goes on to Geneva, where on Monday he will chair the next session of proximity talks on Cyprus. He will return to New York next Tuesday.

EXCAVATIONS BEGIN IN EAST TIMOR ENCLAVE

Despite an unsatisfactory security situation in the East Timorese enclave of Oekussi, two UN forensic experts arrived in the enclave this morning to begin excavation of what may be the largest mass grave from the post-referendum violence in the territory.

According to local witnesses, as many as 60 bodies could be buried at the site, which is in the village of Passabe, near the border with West Timor. The experts will spend approximately two weeks at the site and will have 24-hour security provided by the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET).

Meanwhile, the new Timorese Border Control Service will begin its work on Friday. The first five international customs experts arrived in Dili yesterday, and they will be training East Timorese in customs and immigration procedures.

Refugee returns continue slowly, but steadily. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been running an information program, taking journalists and film crews to different sites in East Timor, then showing the footage to refugees in West Timor. UNHCR says the campaign is having an impressive effect. Over 132,000 people have returned voluntarily to East Timor so far.

See http://www.un.org/peace/etimor/DB/br260100.htm for the full briefing note from Dili.

KOSOVO TRANSITIONAL COUNCIL TO BE EXPANDED

Today in Kosovo, the Kosovo Transitional Council -- the highest-level political consultative group to the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo -- discussed plans to expand, so that the Council can include more minority representatives and members of diverse political parties.

The newly-expanded Council will be inaugurated on February 9. Bernard Kouchner, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo, said today that the Council would resemble an "interim Parliament" until elections could take place in Kosovo.

The Council, he added, could propose alternatives to decisions made by the Interim Administrative Council, the quasi-executive body that Tuesday finalized a list of names for the enlarged Kosovo Transitional Council.

Kosovo's first tax inspectors were sworn in on Tuesday after 34 tax inspectors graduated from a rigorous one-week training program. The candidates were selected from more than 700 applicants, and their first new job will be to educate the owners of large establishments on a pending tax to be placed on all hotels and restaurants that gross more than 15,000 Deutschmarks a month. That tax will go into effect on February 1.

For more news from Kosovo, see www.un.org/peace/kosovo/pages/kosovo1.htm

TRIBUNAL REDUCES SENTENCE IN TADIC CASE

Today in The Hague, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia reduced the sentence imposed to Dusko Tadic from 25 years to a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.

The Judges found that although Tadic's criminal conduct "was incontestably heinous, his level in the command structure, when compared to that of his superiors, or the very architects of the strategy of ethnic cleansing, was low."

For more details, see press release; the full text of the Judgement is available at http://www.un.org/icty/judgement.htm

ANNAN TO MEET WITH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HEADS

At 12:30 today, the Secretary-General met with Adnan Kassar, President of the International Chamber of Commerce. He received from Kassar a world business message on the role of the United Nations in the century ahead, which was delivered on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce's worldwide membership of more than 7,000 business associations and companies.

The message urges that the Millennium Assembly, which will begin on September 5 here, will ensure a lead role for the United Nations in supporting an open system of international trade and investment and opposing protectionism. It also welcomes the Secretary-General's proposal for a Global Compact for businesses to uphold strong labor, human rights and environmental standards.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Thursday in Hamburg, Germany, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will open a hearing on the case of a Panamanian fishing vessel, the "Camouco," which has been detained since last September by French authorities in R&eacute;union Island. Panama instituted proceedings against France on January 17, requesting the Tribunal to order the release of the "Camouco." The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday, and a judgment is expected within 10 days of the hearing's conclusion.

In a news release, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced that international football star Ronaldo will be appointed a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador in the fight against poverty on February 1 in Geneva.

Malta and Mauritania have become the 32nd and 33rd Member States to pay their dues in full for this year's UN regular budget. Malta made a payment of just over $147,000 and Mauritania just over $10,000.

The UN Correspondents Association announced the passing last Saturday of Marian Isaacs, the publisher of the Diplomatic World Observer, at Lenox Hospital in Manhattan.


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