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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-08

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

Thursday, June 8, 2000

ANNAN NOTES PROGRESS AT REVIEW OF WOMEN'S CONFERENCE

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement read by the Spokesman, noted the progress made over Wednesday night toward finalizing the outcome of the "Beijing Plus Five" process and welcomed the spirit of cooperation shown by delegations.

"The Declaration and Platform for Action of the Beijing Conference marked a major step forward in the advancement of women, particularly in the developing world," the statement said. "It is important that the outcome document for 'Beijing Plus Five' maintains in full all of the commitments" in those documents.

"The Secretary-General urges all Member States to work together in a spirit of cooperation to ensure that the gains made by women in Beijing five years ago are consolidated, protected and advanced further," the statement said.

LEBANON: FINAL LEG OF VERIFICATION PROCESS UNDERWAY

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has begun work, in tandem with experts from Israel and Lebanon, on verifying Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in accordance with Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426. That work began at about 4 p.m. local time, after Israel resolved one outstanding issue regarding the withdrawal line, which allowed the UN teams to begin their work.

Four UN verification teams investigated the withdrawal line previously marked by UN experts, from both the Israeli and Lebanese sides of the border. On either side of the border, Israeli and Lebanese experts worked with the UN teams, often in close proximity to each other.

The verification work ended at sunset and is expected to resume Friday morning. The United Nations expects the work to be completed within a relatively short span of time, possibly by Friday.

Once the verification work is completed, the UN Force Commander in Lebanon, Gen. Seth-Kofi Obeng, will inform the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General would then inform the Security Council in a letter.

The Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Terje Roed Larsen, arrived Thursday afternoon at the end of a two-week visit to Lebanon, with trips to Israel and Syria. This morning, he met with the Secretary-General and briefed him on his visit.

RWANDAN, UGANDAN PRESIDENTS AGREE TO CEASEFIRE IN KISANGANI

The Secretary-General this morning contacted Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, as well as with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, who headed last month's Security Council mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

They discussed the persistent outbreaks of fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces in Kisangani, in which a significant number of civilians were killed and at least five UN staff were injured. In a statement read by the Spokesman, the Secretary-General called the fighting "lamentable" and said that it must cease immediately.

In response, the two presidents agreed to a cease-fire as of 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EDT) and also agreed to withdraw their troops, consistent with the agreement reached between the two sides on May 21.

Under Phase I of that agreement, the Rwandan troops will withdraw south across the Congo River toward Ubundu and Lubutu, and the Ugandan troops will pull back to positions north and east of Kisangani, toward Banalia and Bafwasende.

UN Force Commander Maj. Gen. Mountaga Diallo has been instructed to deal directly with the Rwandan and Ugandan Chiefs of Staff on moving toward the second phase of the cease-fire agreement, which would involve further pullbacks.

The UN Mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo now has 20 military observers on the ground in Kisangani, and it was agreed this morning to increase that number immediately and to position the observers with both the Rwandan and Ugandan forces.

"The Secretary-General hopes that with the demilitarization of Kisangani, the DRC will move closer to a comprehensive cease-fire and eventually a stable and durable peace under the Lusaka cease-fire agreement," the statement said.

THOUSANDS FLEE FIGHTING IN SIERRA LEONE TOWN

In the northern town of Kabala, the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) reports continuing fighting between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Sierra Leone Army troops, although it adds that the fighting has not involved UN troops. There are roughly 300 Kenyan troops currently present in Kabala.

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Freetown reported that according to displaced persons' accounts, the fighting in Kabala is causing panic among citizens, causing thousands to flee into the bush.

Hostilities in May have caused more than 64,000 people to flee their homes in Sierra Leone. The number is expected to climb, with more refugees being registered in a number of areas. There are reports of large-scale population movements in areas of the Northern and Eastern Province that cannot be confirmed due to inaccessibility.

UNAMSIL continued contacts with the RUF on the release of 21 Indian personnel who had been based in Kuiva and are currently being held in Pendembu.

In Freetown today, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook met today for 45 minutes with Oluyemi Adeniji, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and with Force Commander Vijay Kumar Jetley, and expressed his support for the work of the UN Mission.

Later tonight, the assessment team led by former UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Manfred Eisele is scheduled to leave Sierra Leone and begin writing a report on its findings.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES HORN OF AFRICA, SIERRA LEONE, IRAQ

The Security Council began its work today with closed consultations on the Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute, on which it head a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast. The two Governments remain involved in proximity talks in Algiers under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity. However, continued fighting has been reported today along the border, particularly at the Bure front.

The Council then held consultations on Sierra Leone, on which members of the Council began discussion on the Secretary-General's recent report and on a draft resolution concerning the expansion of the UN Mission there.

The Council also briefly held consultations on a draft resolution concerning Phase VIII of the "oil-for-food" program and experts then met on that subject. The Council has scheduled further consultations on Iraq at 3 p.m. today, and if agreement is reached on a text by then, it is expected to proceed to a vote. Phase VII of the "oil-for-food" program expires today.

ANNAN TO TRAVEL TO WASHINGTON, D.C. AND CALIFORNIA

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will travel for three days starting this Friday, first to Washington, D.C., where he will deliver the keynote address at the national convention of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and from there to San Francisco, California, where he will deliver a commencement speech on Sunday at Stanford University.

While he is in California, he will also attend a private reception to support the efforts of Roots of Peace, a California-based non-profit that intends to use de-mined land for agricultural production. On Sunday night, the Secretary-General and Nane Annan will be the guests of Scott Cook, the founder and Chairman of Intuit, at a dinner with about 10 Silicon Valley executives in Palo Alto.

On Monday afternoon, the Secretary-General is expected to return to New York.

GOVERNOR OF WEST TIMOR VISITS EAST TIMOR

For the first time since last September, the Governor of West Timor, Piet Tallo, visited Dili today, where he met with UN and National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) officials.

They discussed the return of refugees, pensions of former civil servants who had worked for the Indonesian administration for East Timor, border issues and increased trade and investment on both sides of the island. They reached agreement on additional measures to accelerate refugee repatriation process.

RWANDA TRIBUNAL ORDERS RELEASE OF SOUGHT-AFTER MEMORANDUM

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda today ordered the release of a document written by a former UN employee concerning the April 6, 1994 plane crash in which the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were killed.

The three-page memorandum was written in 1997 by Michael Hourigan, a former member of one of the investigative teams of the Office of the Prosecutor for the Tribunal, while he was acting on his own initiative. The memorandum was found earlier this year at UN Headquarters where Hourigan had worked for the Office of Internal Oversight Services.

The memorandum was then transmitted to the Tribunal and today two separate Trial Chambers ruled that it should be released to the parties. Neither Trial Chamber ruled on the admissibility or relevance of the memorandum.

&nbsp;

  • The guest at today's briefing was UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell, who discussed the Secretary-General's call for ratification of human rights conventions, particularly those concerning women's rights.
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