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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-04-28

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 DAVID WIMHURST

ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, April 28, 2000

ANNAN PAYS OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE GAMBIA

Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Banjul, the Gambian capital, from Senegal this morning. At midday, he met with President Yahya Jammeh, for more than an hour, spending most of that time in a one-on-one discussion.

After that meeting the Secretary-General had a brief encounter with the Gambian press. Annan said that he had raised with the President the issue of the recent student riots in the Gambia and said that the President had assured him that those responsible would be prosecuted.

Asked for the United Nation's position on human rights, the Secretary-General said that the people must know of their rights and do whatever they can to defend them. It is not an issue, "that we should leave to governments alone to defend," he said.

In the afternoon, he was scheduled to attend a ceremony renaming Old Cape Road in Banjul to "Kofi Annan Street". He was then to attend the inauguration of United Nations House, a facility for all UN agencies working in the Gambia, subsidized in part by the government. In the late afternoon he was to leave Banjul for Libreville, Gabon.

SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION MEETS KOSOVO TRANSITIONAL COUNCIL

The Security Council delegation began their second day in Kosovo by participating in a special joint session of the Kosovo Transitional Council and Interim Administrative Council.

Delegation leader Anwarul Karim Chowdhury today made a strong appeal to the leaders of the various communities in the Kosovo Transitional Council to shun violence for the sake of Kosovo's future.

Chowdhury said that the Security Council delegation was there to see first-hand the situation in Kosovo, the difficulties and obstacles faced by the mission and the efforts by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to implement Security Council Resolution 1244. Council members also would "see what measures we can take to help UNMIK move ahead and bring peace, prosperity and security to Kosovo," he said.

Earlier this morning they visited Prizren where they met with leaders of the Turkish, Roma and Bosniac communities. The delegation proceeded to Mitrovica in the afternoon for an overview of the situation there and a look at employment projects and a Kosovo Protection Corps clean-up project. They were also scheduled to meet with the leaders of the Serb and Albanian communities.

From Mitrovica, they were to fly to Gracanica to meet Bishop Artemije, Serb National Council leader. At the end of the day, they were expected to meet with Stanimir Vukicevic, of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Committee for Cooperation with UNMIK.

Asked about the visit by the Russian and Chinese members of the delegation to Belgrade prior to the start of the Council trip, the Spokesman noted after the briefing that the members traveled in their national capacities.

CHINA TO TAKE OVER SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY FOR MONTH OF MAY

There is no meeting of the Security Council scheduled for today.

China will take over the Presidency of the Council starting on Monday, and Ambassador Wang Yinfan of China will hold bilateral consultations with other members on the program of work for the month of May.

A seven-member Council delegation, led by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke of the United States, is scheduled to leave for the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday. They are scheduled to return on May 8.

Ambassador Andr&eacute; Mwamba Kapanga of the Democratic Republic of the Congo wrote a letter to the President of the Council, issued today, conveying a request from his Government to establish a group of independent experts to investigate the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of his country. The Secretary-General also wrote to the Security Council on that subject, and the Council is currently considering a response.

Asked about the two letters, the Spokesman said that both were useful and he hopes the Council would decide on the issue of the exploitation of natural resources shortly.

ANNAN REPORTS ON LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN GEORGIA

The Secretary-General's latest report to the Security Council on the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) is out on the racks today, and it welcomed the readiness shown by the Abkhaz leader, Vladislav Ardzinba, to engage in a dialogue on the political settlement of the conflict over Abkhazia.

The Secretary-General noted the work the Observer Mission and his Special Representative, Dieter Boden, have done in trying to reduce tensions between the Georgian Government and the Abkhaz leadership.

In particular, he expressed satisfaction over the good will demonstrated by both sides, which helped the Observer Mission in bringing about a successful hostage exchange involving four people held by the Georgian side and eight held by the Abkhaz side. The UN Mission conducted the exchange, which involved simultaneous helicopter take-offs and landings between both sides.

The Observer Mission's current mandate lasts until the end of July.

The report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council concerning the High-level Coordinator for Iraq's activities concerning the return of Kuwaiti and third-country nationals was also made available. The Coordinator, Yuli Vorontsov, reported to the Security Council on that subject Wednesday.

ROCKET EXPLODES NEAR UN FORCE IN LEBANON

Members of the Indian contingent of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon came under fire this morning when a rocket exploded inside their position at Ebel Saqi.

Some damage occurred as a result of this incident, which occurred at about 6:15 local time. No members of the Indian Battalion were injured.

A second rocket landed some 200 meters from the Indian position. Meanwhile, the Irish contingent, based at Tibnine, also reported ordnance exploding close to their position.

ANNAN NAMES FIVE INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS FOR LOCKERBIE TRIAL

On the racks today is a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council, informing the Council of the names of five international observers nominated by the Secretary-General to attend the trial of the two Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case.

The Secretary-General named as his observers the following five people: Hairat Balogun of the Organization of African Unity and the Non-Aligned Movement; M.H. Beerenboom of the European Commission; Ambassador Nabil El-Araby of the League of Arab States; and Hans Koechler and Robert Thabit of the International Progress Organization.

The Secretary-General said that all five represented entities that had demonstrated a long-standing interest in the matter of Pan American flight 103. He added he may nominate additional international observers in the future.

The trial of the two suspects, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, is set to begin in Camp Zeist, the Netherlands, next Wednesday, May 3.

TOP UN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL APPEALS FOR AID TO HORN OF AFRICA.

Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, appealed solemnly to the international community to help protect the right to life "in the face of a potential disaster in the Horn of Africa."

Speaking at the closing of the annual session of the Commission on Human Rights, Robinson said, "We cannot allow human beings to die in large numbers before our very eyes. There is a shared responsibility here: the responsibility of the Governments involved, and the responsibility of the international community."

She called the situation in the Horn of Africa a test case of the practical implementation of the inter-dependence and indivisibility of human rights.

UN TROOPS CALM TENSIONS FOLLOWING FREETOWN SHOOTING

There was an incident in Freetown today in which one Sierra Leonean was shot dead, and another wounded. United Nations troops brought the situation under control. No UN personnel were wounded. One of four ECOMOG vehicles that had been stolen on Monday was seen today by ECOMOG soldiers who pursued it and stopped it. A scuffle followed and the driver was shot dead. Another man was wounded. After the shooting the area was tense, although the presence of UN peacekeepers reportedly helped to restore calm in the area.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Oluyemi Adeniji, Force Commander Gen. Vijay Kumar Jetley and Civilian Police Chief Maritz Dutoit gave a press conference on the work of the mission. Jetley announced that the peacekeeping mission so far has deployed in nine out of 12 districts. The new Zambian battalion is expected to deploy to Koidu in the Revolutionary United Front-controlled diamond region in Eastern Sierra Leone.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked about the visit of Special Envoy Terje Roed Larsen to the Middle East, the Spokesman said that he would be returning on May 10 and was currently in the region, having begun his trip on Thursday.

In response to a question, the Spokesman confirmed that the Secretary-General had received a letter from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on the Khmer Rouge trials, and was studying it.

Asked about the whereabouts of Alfredo Lopes Cabral, the Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti, the Spokesman confirmed that Cabral was on a personal visit to New York and would also visit UN Headquarters. He was not expected to meet with press during this visit, Wimhurst said.

Today in The Hague, the United Nations and Sweden signed an agreement on the provision of qualified personnel to assist the investigations being currently conducted in Kosovo by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (see ICTY). The four Swedish forensic teams, which will each be in the region for approximately two weeks, will gather evidence and assist in the exhumations of mass graves, to gather evidence for Tribunal Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. The first team of three people will be dispatched to the region within the next few weeks.

The first session of the Preparatory Committee for next years World Conference against Racism will start Monday in Geneva. During the weeklong meeting, the Preparatory Committee is expected to take key decisions on the agenda, dates, venue in South Africa and rules of procedure for the World Conference. More information is available on the Conferences web site.

Environment Minister Jan Pronk of the Netherlands and Executive Secretary Michael Zammit Cutajar of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will sign a Host Country Agreement this afternoon for the next UN Conference on Climate Change, which takes place at The Hague from November 13 to 24. This will be the sixth such conference.

Today's briefing notes from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) contain updates on refugee situations in West Timor and Tanzania and the distribution of aid supplies brought in by convoy to Chechnya this week.

In Geneva today, the International Labour Organization has issued a report saying that some 90 percent of the world's working-age population is not covered by any pension schemes that are capable of providing adequate retirement income. The report, titled "Social Security Pensions: Development and Reform," adds that bad management of many existing pension schemes render much of the world's population exposed to the risk of poverty in old age.

The Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan has issued a press release from Islamabad today, saying that about some 800,000 people -- or about 4 percent of Afghanistan's population -- are disabled in that country. About a quarter of the country's disabled population are landmine survivors, and the Mine Action Program for Afghanistan adds that some 400,000 people have been killed or injured by landmines there over the past decade.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns in a press release today that the recent economic problems and unrest over land reforms in Zimbabwe may add to an unfavorable outlook for food security there. Recent flooding, followed by the current unrest, have hurt agricultural activities on large-scale commercial farms, during the crucial season for harvesting and processing important crops like maize and tobacco, the FAO says.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, April 29, 2000

The Secretary-General is to meet with the President Omar Bongo, Prime Minister Jean-Francois Ntoutoume-Emane and Foreign Minister Jean Ping of Gabon, one day after arriving in Libreville from Banjul, Gambia.

The Security Council delegation to Kosovo will visit Gnjilane and Djakovica. They will meet with Kosovo Force (KFOR) contingent commanders and UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) police contingent commanders. They will also meet with co-heads of several Administrative Departments and at 7 p.m. they will hold a press briefing at the UNMIK Government Building.

Sunday, April 30, 2000

The Secretary-General departs Gabon for Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, where he is to meet with President Ange-Felix Patasse in the evening.

The eight-member Security Council delegation to Kosovo is scheduled to return to New York.

Monday, May 1, 2000

The Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Anicet Georges Doleguele and other officials of the Central African Republic, and is also expected to hold a press conference in that country. That evening, he is to leave for Yaounde, Cameroon.

The new President of the Security Council for the month of May, Ambassador Wang Yinfan of China, will hold bilateral discussions with the other Council members to organize the Council's program of work for the month. Also, the head of the Council delegation to Kosovo, Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury of Bangladesh, may brief the members of the Council on the April 26-30 trip.

From 1 to 2:45 p.m. in Conference Room 4 at UN headquarters, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala will moderate a panel discussion on new conceptual approaches to arms control and disarmament. The discussion is organized with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, whose Director, Adam Rotfeld, is among the panelists.

The Committee on Information begins a session lasting until May 12.

In Geneva, the Commission on Human Rights will meet to work as the preparatory committee for next year's World Conference against Racism, to be held in South Africa. The meeting will last through Friday. Also, the Committee against Torture will begin its 21st session.

The International Law Commission will begin a session lasting through June 9.

Tuesday, May 2, 2000

The Secretary-General, in his official visit to Cameroon, will meet with President Paul Biya, Prime Minister Peter Mafany Mussongue and other senior officials, and will also speak at the University of Yaounde II.

A seven-member Security Council delegation, led by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke of the United States, will leave on a mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which will last until May 8. The trip is to include stops in Kinshasa and in Lusaka, Zambia, where some regional Heads of State are expected to meet the delegation.

The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions begins a new session, lasting until June 30.

Ambassador Chris Westdal, Canadian Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, will give a press conference at 1 p.m. on Canada's approach to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.

In Geneva, the Economic Council for Europe holds its 55th session through Friday.

In Vienna, meetings will begin for the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization and for the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.

Wednesday, May 3, 2000

The Secretary-General is expected to meet with UN representatives in Cameroon and hold a press conference before leaving Yaounde for London.

Wednesday is World Press Freedom Day, which the Secretary-General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, and Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, plan to mark with a joint statement. From 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Conference Room 2, there will be a program on press freedom including a speech on that subject by Communications Director Shashi Tharoor, a screening of excerpts from the film "Cry Freetown," and a panel discussion moderated by Richard Roth of CNN.

In Rome, a two-day International Reconstruction Conference for Mozambique will begin. The Mozambican Government is expected to ask donors for $450 million to assist with reconstruction following the floods in February and March. Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the UN Development Programme, will participate.

The Economic and Social Council will resume its organizational session today and Thursday.

Thursday, May 4, 2000

The Secretary-General will return to New York from his trip to West Africa.

At 10:30 in the Dag Hammarskj&ouml;ld Library Auditorium, there will be a briefing sponsored by the Department of Public Information on "Trafficking in Women." Speakers include Jane Connors, Chief of the Women's Rights Unit of the Division for the Advancement of Women and Maria Lourdes Ramiro-Lopez, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Philippines.

Friday, May 5, 2000

The Committee on Sustainable Development will hold an organizational session.

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