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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-12-15

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:





Friday, December 15, 2000


At 11:30 a.m., Secretary-General Kofi Annan attended a press briefing and introduced former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo as the head of a newly established High-level Panel on Financing for Development. Following are his opening remarks:

"Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,

"I am very pleased to introduce to you this morning Dr. Ernesto Zedillo, who as you know has just completed his mandate as President of Mexico. He deserves great credit for his role in bringing that country to full multiparty democracy, and I'm sure he also deserves a period of rest after such a strenuous task.

"But I am delighted to say that he has decided instead to put himself at the service of the international community, and particularly to the developing world.

"Development, as you know, has been the twin objective of the United Nations, alongside international peace and security, ever since its foundation. The need for broader-based development, which can rescue over a billion human beings from abject poverty, was one of the main themes of the Millennium Report, and also the Millennium Declaration adopted at the Summit last September.

"In that Declaration the heads of state and government adopted many good resolutions, and set many targets, for combating poverty, ignorance and disease. But none of those targets can be achieved unless there is real development throughout the world, especially in the poorest countries. And development cannot happen without resources, especially financial resources.

"Yet official development assistance has been in steady decline for well over a decade, and many poor countries are so indebted that the net transfer of resources, in the form of interest and repayment leads to a net outflow in industrialized countries instead of the other way around.

"It is vital that we turn this situation around, and ensure that developing countries receive the financial resources they need. But how? What policies must they adopt? What kind of help from the industrialized world will be most useful to them?

"Have we got the international institutions we need? And if so, how can we ensure they play their proper role?

"Above all, how can we motivate the people and governments of industrialized countries, so that they are willing to devote more resources to debt relief and development assistance, and to open their markets more fully to developing country products?

"The more successful developing countries are the ones that have been able to mobilize private investment, both from abroad and among their own people. Flows of capital to the developing world as a whole are far larger than official assistance, but they are not evenly or equally distributed. Many of the poorest countries, especially in Africa, are almost completely left out.

We must establish clearly what is needed to enable all developing countries to mobilize private capital in this way.

"All these questions will be discussed at the global meeting on Financing for Development, which the United Nations will hold, in co-operation with the world's leading finance, trade and development institutions, in just over a year's time.

"We cannot afford to let that meeting be just another occasion where people meet and talk and adopt a communiqué, and leave the real world almost unchanged.

"In order to avoid that, I have formed a high-level Panel, on which a number of eminent people, all of them people with a record of outstanding achievement in the world of government and finance, have agreed to serve. I believe you already have the list - a press release has been issued. And I have asked these people to come back to me by May next year and recommend concrete and achievable steps that could be taken to augment the flow of resources to the developing world.

"I am convinced that this Panel can make a real significant contribution to our thinking. I believe its recommendations will help build up political momentum, so that the meeting on Financing for Development in 2002 can mark a real turning point in the fortunes of poor countries, and poor people, all over the world.

"I am especially pleased and proud that President Zedillo has agreed to chair this panel. I know he will give it exactly the kind of leadership it needs. And I will now let him speak for himself.

Ernesto, you have the floor."

In response to a question about Japans Official Development Assistance (ODA), the Secretary-General noted his concern about a proposed 3 percent decline in Japans ODA and said he had sent a letter to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori of Japan expressing his views.

Asked about the Financing for Development meeting in 2002, the Secretary-General said no venue had been chosen yet, but he expected one to be decided by early 2001.

The following are highlights from the noon briefing by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General:


The Secretary-General will brief the Security Council at 3 p.m. today on his recent trip, which included stops in Geneva, Sierra Leone, Benin, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Italy and Algeria.


Today in Palermo, Italy, the signing ceremony for the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which the Secretary-General opened on Tuesday, wrapped up, with the Convention receiving signatures from 124 nations.

Also, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children --which is a supplement to the Convention -- received 76 signatures, and another supplement to the Convention, the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, received 73 signatures.

In his closing statement to the Conference, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNDCCP), Pino Arlacchi, declared that never before had an international convention attracted so many signatures barely four weeks following its adoption by the Assembly. He said that the delegations that had spoken during the Conference had left no doubt that there was a strong and clear international commitment to achieving early ratification of the Convention.

He added, "Let us not lose the momentum we have achieved so far."


At a summit meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Bamako, Mali, the Secretary-General today drew attention to the deteriorating situation along the border of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone which risks destabilizing the countries and the region as whole.

The message was delivered by the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sierra Leone, Oluyemi Adeniji. The Secretary-General issued a statement earlier this week appointing Adeniji as Special Envoy to travel to Guinea and Liberia to assess the situation and make recommendations on how best the United Nations could help ECOWAS and concerned Governments to stabilize the situation.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that more refugees are fleeing areas of southwestern Guinea amid rumors of possible attacks. More arrivals have been reported in Guineas capital, Conakry.

In response to a question about a message from Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) that it would not allow UN troops into its areas of control, the Spokesman said that the United Nations had not received such a message from the RUF. He noted that the UN Force Commander in Sierra Leone, Gen. Daniel Opande, had met with interim RUF leaders Issa Sesay earlier this week, and had received equipment, including armored personnel carriers, that had been stolen by the RUF.


The Secretary-General today announced the appointment of Enrique Román-Morey as Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament with effect from December 18.

Román-Morey will bring to the Conference his long-standing knowledge and expertise in disarmament and extensive diplomatic experience in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru, the Spokesman said in a statement.


The Secretary-General has decided to appoint Henry Hans Holthuis of the Netherlands to be the Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The Secretary-General made the appointment in consultation with Judge Claude Jorda, President of the ICTY, in accordance with the statute of the Tribunal.


Today in Geneva, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched its annual appeal, asking for $953.7 billion next year to care for more than 22 million people who have been driven from their homes worldwide.

The outgoing High Commissioner, Sadako Ogata, said that the agency could not make any further budget cuts without jeopardizing the essence of its work.

Only about 2 percent of the agencys annual budget is covered by regular contributions from the UN system. The remainder comes in the form of donations, mostly from about 14 industrialized countries.


UNHCR reported this morning that it continues to be concerned about the plight of Afghan refugees who are living in a desperate health and security conditions along the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. At this point, there are some 10,000 refugees, but their numbers are growing as more families arrive.

In Western Sahara, the UN Mission has confirmed that the Polisario Front yesterday released 201 Moroccan prisoners of war, who were escorted to the Moroccan town of Agadir with the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The release of the prisoners of war was announced as a gesture of goodwill for Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.

The World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it is in need of urgent new funding for its Angola emergency aid operation. The agency warned that unless new funding was received immediately, it would be forced to cut back drastically on food distribution in the war-devastated country. More than one million Angolans are at risk of being affected by this cutback.


Monday, December 18, 2000

The Secretary-General is expected to receive a petition calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions. The petition contains more than three million names from 132 different countries, presented by Amnesty International's Moratorium 2000 and the Community of Sant'Egidio. Among those present at the handover of the petition will be Sister Helen Prejean.

At noon, the Secretary-General will deliver remarks at a new exhibition of 125 posters at the Visitors' Lobby of UN Headquarters, "For a Better World: Posters for the United Nations."

In the morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on Guinea. Then in the afternoon, the Council will hold a formal meeting to consider the report on diamonds by the Sierra Leone Sanctions Committee, and it also intends to hold consultations on the situation in the Middle East. Following the afternoon Security Council meetings, Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury of Bangladesh, chair of the Sierra Leone Sanctions Committee, will talk to the press about the diamonds report.

On the occasion of the first commemoration of International Migrants Day, there will be a panel discussion sponsored by the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Labour Organization Liaison Office with the United Nations, New York and the International NGO Committee on Human Rights which will take place from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Conference Room 6.

Tuesday, December 19

At 11 a.m., the Secretary-General will hold a press conference to review the past year and look ahead to the United Nations' work in 2001.

The Security Council expects to hold a formal meeting on Kosovo.

The Security Council has scheduled its monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General.

Wednesday, December 20

The Security Council will hold consultations on the question of missing persons and property in Iraq, as well as on the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq.

The Secretary-General will address a farewell reception for outgoing UN Population Fund Executive Director Nafis Sadik.

Thursday, December 21

The Security Council expects to hold a formal meeting on the extension of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).

At 11:15 a.m., General Assembly President Harri Holkeri will hold a press briefing on the work of the current General Assembly session, which is expected to wrap up towards the end of the week.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

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