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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-02

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

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, June 2, 2000

UN PROSECUTOR TELLS COUNCIL NO NEED TO INVESTIGATE NATO

The Security Council today held a formal session to hear an open briefing from Carla del Ponte, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.

Del Ponte told the Council that, after considering the possibility of investigating potential war crimes committed by NATO during the bombing of Kosovo last year, her office had determined that it found "no basis" to investigate any charges against NATO. In particular, she said, her office's examination of potential charges found that there was "no deliberate targeting of civilians" by NATO during the bombing.

After that formal meeting, the Council went into a formal session to adopt a Presidential Statement on the exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [The Council, following up on a recommendation by the Secretary-General to establish an expert panel on the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth in the DRC, requested the Secretary-General to appoint the five-member panel.]

This morning, the Council began its work with informal consultations on its program for work in June, under the new Presidency of French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte. (For further information on the Council Presidency, see France's website.)

Council members also heard a briefing on the incident of missing persons in Georgia by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations H&eacute;di Annabi.

SEARCH CONTINUES FOR MISSING PERSONS IN GEORGIA

Today in Georgia, patrols from the UN Observer Mission, assisted by Georgian and Abkhaz authorities as well as the Commonwealth of Independent States, have continued a search for five people -- including two UN military observers -- who went missing Monday. The five have now been missing for more than 24 hours.

Since Thursday afternoon, the UN Observer Mission has had no contact with the team of five people -- the two military observers, two members of an international non-governmental organization and an interpreter -- who were conducting a routine patrol in the Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia.

The Observer Mission has conducted patrols by helicopter and by foot, but the United Nations has had no contact with the patrol or with anyone claiming to know their whereabouts.

So far, the United Nations is treating this as a case of missing persons and is trying to acquire more information. It cannot confirm media accounts that have called the incident a hostage situation.

Today, the Secretary-General's Special Representative to Georgia, Dieter Boden, met with President Eduard Shevardnadze, who stressed that Georgia hopes for progress toward a peaceful settlement of the dispute over Abkhazia.

SECRETARY-GENERAL, SECURITY COUNCIL TO GO ON WEEKEND RETREAT

The Secretary-General has invited members of the Security Council to join him this evening for a retreat, lasting through Saturday evening, which will focus on peacekeeping issues.

The retreat will take place at the Rockefeller Conference Center at Pocantico Hills, near Tarrytown, New York.

The retreat will not produce any document, but is an opportunity for the participants to reflect on lessons learned that could be applied to present cases being dealt with by the Council.

ANNAN POSTPONES VISIT OF UNDP ADMINISTRATOR TO ZIMBABWE

Earlier today, the Government of Zimbabwe publicly gave notice of its intention to acquire 804 farms compulsorily from the large-scale commercial farming sector.

In a statement issued through his Spokesman, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he regretted that development because it undermined the ability of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to build international support, including resources, for a legally based solution, including compensation based on the principles of the 1998 land reform conference.

"In the light of this announcement, whose consequences we will need carefully to review, the Secretary-General has decided to postpone the visit to Zimbabwe of the UNDP Administrator, Mark Malloch Brown, which was to have taken place this weekend," the statement said.

The Secretary-General, the statement added, stressed the need for "good faith efforts by all parties" and said that he would continue his efforts for a solution through UNDP.

The statement noted the Secretary-General's appreciation of Governments and Southern African leaders, particularly President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who have supported the United Nations in its efforts.

In response to a question, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General had previously asked UNDP to work with the Government of Zimbabwe, as well as with other concerned parties, in addressing the land reform issue. Before the effort could even get underway, the Government's actions may have pre-empted that initiative, he said.

UN, LEBANESE TEAMS WORK TOGETHER AT BORDER

Today in Lebanon, the UN cartographic team and a three-member Lebanese technical team were at the Lebanese border carrying out joint reconnaissance activities. On Thursday, the two teams met in Beirut before carrying out helicopter reconnaissance at portions of the border.

The UN team is identifying a practical line on the ground, corresponding to the 1923 border, for the purpose of confirming Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in accordance with Resolutions 425 and 426.

The situation in Lebanon was reported as calm today.

The UN mine action team that visited Lebanon this week has headed back to New York, following its meetings with the Lebanese Army and non-governmental organizations. The team and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are emphasizing the need for mine awareness in southern Lebanon, where there were 12 incidents involving landmines last week, which left two people dead and seven amputees.

The UN Mission is particularly worried about mines laid around the 100 or so positions that have been abandoned by the Israeli Defence Force and its South Lebanon Army allies in recent weeks. Those areas have drawn a considerable number of tourists, and there are worries that, as schools let out in Lebanon later this month, unidentified mines at those areas could pose a considerable danger.

The UN Mission has received cooperation from Israel in finding the location of many mines, and it expects to receive additional troops to handle de-mining tasks shortly. A reconnaissance team from the Ukraine that deals with such tasks is expected in Lebanon next week.

WFP TO AIRLIFT FOOD FOR ERITREAN REFUGEES IN SUDAN

The World Food Programme (WFP) announced its plans to airlift 40 tons of corn-soya blend to Kassala, Sudan, this weekend to feed 50,000 Eritrean refugees displaced by the current conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that only a few dozen people crossed the border from Eritrea to Sudan overnight. As of this morning, almost 45,000 people have arrived this week.

The first UNHCR relief flight arrived in Khartoum on Thursday. The Airbus 300 is expected to shuttle between Khartoum, Copenhagen and Cairo over the next several days to bring in more supplies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it has moved rapidly to ensure that medical supplies are available for the estimated 550,000 people now internally displaced in Eritrea. Kits containing enough essential drugs to care for 50,000 people for three months will arrive in Asmara this weekend, together with a complete anesthetics unit.

AFGHAN PARTIES TO ALLOW IMMUNIZATION CAMPAIGN FOR POLIO

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan says that all parties, including the Taliban, have renewed their verbal commitment to observe a cease-fire for the next round of polio immunization scheduled from June 3-5. Afghanistan is one of 30 countries where wild poliovirus remains endemic. The UN goal is to certify Afghanistan as polio-free by 2005.

Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its briefing today that drought affecting Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan has resulted in the suspension of UNHCR's assisted returns of Afghan refugees from Iran and Pakistan to four southern Afghan provinces which have been hit by the drought.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo noted the "extremely disturbing spate of killings of Kosovo Serbs" in recent days.

A woman living in Africa has a lifetime risk of dying from complications related to pregnancy 200 times greater than a woman living in a wealthy industrialized country, according to research findings reviewed in the May issue of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Bulletin. WHO data show that of the more than 500,000 maternal deaths that occur every year, over 99 percent are in developing countries and less than 1 percent in the industrialized world.

The Secretary-General has appointed Marie Heuze of France, head of the UN Childen's Fund's Communications Unit in Geneva, as the new Director of the UN Information Service in Geneva. Heuze replaces Th&eacute;r&eacute;se Gastaut, who has joined the Department of Public Information in New York.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, June 3, 2000

The Security Council will participate in a weekend retreat near Tarrytown, New York, to discuss peacekeeping. The retreat is at the invitation of the Secretary-General, who will address the Council retreat.

Sunday, June 4, 2000

Sunday is the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, which the General Assembly designated in 1982 to mark "the great number of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese children victims of Israel's acts of aggression."

Monday, June 5, 2000

The General Assembly begins its special session on gender equality, development and peace, called "Women 2000," which reviews progress since the Fourth World Conference for Women was held in Beijing in 1995. The Secretary-General will deliver a speech to the opening of the special session and will also talk to non-governmental organizations gathered for the event. Other speakers include the Prime Minister of Namibia and the Vice Presidents of the Gambia and Gabon.

In other events related to the special session of the General Assembly, Under-Secretary-General for Public Information Kensaku Hogen will address the Japan Global Forum discussing the "Beijing Plus Five" process.

At 3 p.m., Juan Somavia, Director of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), will hold a press conference on the progress of the Micro-Credit Summit Campaign.

At 3:30 p.m., the UN Population Fund will hold a press conference to announce the results of a new national poll, "Connecting Women in the US and Global Issues". Among the guests will be US Representatives Joseph Crowley and Carolyn Maloney.

Monday is World Environment Day. This year's theme is "The Environment Millennium: Time to Act".

The Ad Hoc Committee on the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime will begin its two-week session in Vienna. The session is expected to complete the negotiations for finalizing the Convention and advance negotiations for the Convention's protocols on trafficking in human beings, migrants and firearms.

The Committee on Contributions holds its 60th session through June 30.

In Geneva, the pre-sessional working group for the Committee on the Rights of the Child will meet through Friday.

In Bonn, Germany, the subsidiary bodies of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet through June 16.

Tuesday, June 6, 2000

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on the "oil-for-food" program in Iraq.

Wednesday, June 7, 2000

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Cyprus and on the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq.

The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo is expected.

The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will begin its forty-third session in Vienna, which will continue until June 16.

Thursday, June 8, 2000

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Ethiopia and Eritrea. It also intends to hold a formal meeting on the humanitarian program for Iraq, on the last day of Phase VII of the "oil-for-food" program.

In Ottawa, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr&eacute;chette will address a joint meeting of the United Nations Association of Canada and the Canadian Institute for International Affairs that will discuss UN peacekeeping.

Friday, June 9, 2000

The Secretary-General is expected to address the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee in Arlington, Virginia.

The Security Council has scheduled an open meeting on Kosovo, on which it expects to be briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bernard Kouchner.

The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina is due.


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