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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-12

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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

Monday, June 12, 2000

ANNAN SENDS CHIEF OF STAFF TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT'S FUNERAL

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will be represented by his chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, at the funeral Tuesday of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, who died on Saturday.

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued by his Spokesman on Saturday, expressed his sorrow at President Assad's passing and his condolences to his family and to the people of Syria. The Secretary-General also underscored the urgent need for a comprehensive and lasting solution to the region's problems.

UN CONTINUES WORK TO VERIFY ISRAELI PULLOUT FROM LEBANON

In neighboring Lebanon today, verification teams from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), accompanied by Lebanese experts, continued their work in determining whether Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon in accordance with Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426.

That work is proceeding slowly on the ground, with the teams having to travel through heavily-mined areas, which often lack roads or easy access.

Although verification work continued today, it was not completed by day's end and is expected to continue for another day or two.

Asked about possible travels by the Secretary-General to the Middle East, the Spokesman said that planning is underway for a trip, but added that the United Nations is awaiting further confirmation of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon before finalizing any travel plans.

CONGO: LULL IN KISANGANI FIGHTING, ANTI-UN PROTESTS IN KINSHASA

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations H&eacute;di Annabi briefed the Security Council today in closed consultations on the latest developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Fighting between the Rwandan and Ugandan armed forces in Kisangani now appears to have stopped, as the Rwandan troops have driven the Ugandan forces out of the city center.

Over the weekend, a series of violent demonstrations took place outside the UN Mission headquarters in Kinshasa. Several UN vehicles were damaged and staff narrowly escaped injury as protesters threw stones at the building, smashing some of the windows.

The DRC Government has denounced the neutral facilitator, former Botswanan President Ketumile Masire, and called on the Organization of African Unity to nominate a new facilitator.

Humanitarian agencies are taking advantage of the lull in the fighting to bring much-needed assistance to the people in Kisangani. The World Food Programme announced an airlift to take place Tuesday to the northeastern city, where water and electricity were cut off after a week of fighting.

UN ASSESSMENT TEAM RETURNS FROM SIERRA LEONE

The team sent by UN Headquarters to assess the mission in Sierra Leone is back in New York and is finalizing its report. There has been no decision on whether that report will be made public.

The situation on the ground in Sierra Leone was reported to be relatively quiet today.

There has been no change in the situation of the more than 200 UN personnel in Kailahun and Pendembu in eastern Sierra Leone.

TEAM ON STANDBY TO DISCUSS UN ROLE FOR ETHIOPIA-ERITREA DISPUTE

The United Nations welcomed Eritrea's agreement last Friday to the Organization of African Unity's (OAU's) peace plan, as well as Ethiopia's announced agreement in principle to the plan, which has been discussed in the proximity talks held under OAU auspices in Algiers.

A three-person planning mission from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is on standby to travel to Algiers to discuss a possible UN role under an agreed upon peace plan between the two parties. The team will discuss the technical aspects of UN participation at the beginning of the planning process.

ANNAN URGES STANFORD STUDENTS TO SAFEGUARD ENVIRONMENT

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected back in New York later this afternoon, following visits to Washington, D.C. and California over the weekend.

On Sunday, he delivered the commencement speech at Stanford University, in which he urged the graduates and their generation to "take the lead in safeguarding the global environment." He said that the need for sustainable development has failed to register on the political radar screen, yet the challenges are serious. He said that weather patterns have become more volatile and extreme as the warming trend has accelerated, with economic losses from natural disasters totaling some $100 billion just in the last year alone. The Secretary-General warned, "We are in a race against time."

Also on Sunday, the Secretary-General met with several top Silicon Valley entrepreneurs at a dinner hosted by Steve Cook, founder of the software company Intuit, and he attended a ceremony in support of the "Mines to Vines" campaign of the California-based non-profit group Roots of Peace. That group's campaign has encouraged the re-establishment of a vineyard on what had been mine-strewn land in Croatia. The Secretary-General said the group "helped turn what used to be a killing field into a fruitful enterprise."

SPECIAL SESSION ON WOMEN ENDS WITH TEXT ON FURTHER ACTIONS

The 23rd special session of the General Assembly, entitled Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace, also known as "Beijing Plus Five," concluded on Saturday afternoon with the adoption of text on further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

In a statement issued by the Spokesman on Saturday, the Secretary-General said he was delighted at the outcome of the negotiations and applauded the spirit of cooperation shown by delegations to ensure that the gains made by women in Beijing five years ago are consolidated, protected and advanced.

ANNAN APPOINTS DEPUTY COMMISSIONER-GENERAL OF UNRWA

The Secretary-General today appointed Karen AbuZayd of the United States as Deputy Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The post is at the level of Assistant Secretary-General.

AbuZayd is currently regional representative for the United States and the Caribbean for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She has been with UNHCR for 19 years, and has been involved in such crisis areas as Somalia, Sierra Leone and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Office of the Iraq Programme reported that, in the week ending June 9, Iraq exported 12.4 million barrels of oil for an estimated value of $220 million. The total revenue under Phase VII of the "oil-for-food" program, which ended last Thursday, is now $8.285 billion.

The Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court (ICC) began its three-week session today. The Commission, chaired by Philippe Kirsch of Canada, is required to complete, by June 30, work on rules of procedure and evidence, and elements of crimes. So far, 97 countries have signed the treaty and 12 have ratified it, with France being the most recent, on Friday. 60 ratifications are needed for the Court to become operational.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the only UN human rights treaty body that deals exclusively with womens rights, began its twenty-third session today. During its current session, the 23-member expert body, which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, will review the reports of seven States Parties: Austria, Cameroon, Cuba, Iraq, Lithuania, Moldova and Romania.

Following his briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday, Jacques Klein, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Bosnia and Herzegovina, will give a press conference.


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