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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-12-18

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 FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, December 18, 2000

KOFI ANNAN TO HOLD YEAR-END PRESS CONFERENCE TUESDAY

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will hold his end-of-the-year press conference at 11 a.m. at UN Headquarters on Tuesday, to review the past year and look ahead to the United Nations' work in 2001.

ANNAN RECEIVES PETITION ON DEATH PENALTY MORATORIUM

The Secretary-General this morning received a petition, with close to 3 million signatures, calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.

The petition was presented to the Secretary-General by Sister Helen Prejean of the Moratorium 2000 campaign, Paul Hoffman of Amnesty International and Mario Marazatti of the SantEgidio community.

The Secretary-General accepted the petition on behalf of the United Nations and thanked those people whose efforts had made it possible to collect so many signatures.

He added, in a statement issued today, "The forfeiture of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict it on another, even when backed by legal process. And I believe that future generations, throughout the world, will come to agree."

The Secretary-General concluded, "Only Sovereign States have the power to grant your petition. I pray they will do so."

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES AFGHAN SANCTIONS, GUINEA ATTACKS

The Security Council began its work today with closed consultations in which members discussed a draft resolution proposing new sanctions measures, including an arms embargo, against the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. That draft resolution is expected to be introduced in final form by this evening.

Following those consultations, the Council heard a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast on the situation in Guinea following the recent violence along its borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Prendergast informed the Council of the work of the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Oluyemi Adeniji, who is also the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sierra Leone. Adeniji last week traveled to Guinea and also attended a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Bamako, Mali, which discussed the recent attacks in Guinea.

At 3:30 p.m. today, the Council is expected to go back into consultations to discuss a draft resolution concerning a monitoring presence in the Palestinian territories. There is a possibility that the Council might go into a formal meeting following those consultations.

ANNAN: SIERRA LEONE REBELS MUST DEMONSTRATE GOOD FAITH

The Secretary-General, in his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), says he is pleased to note the Mission's progress in recovering from the May crisis. Yet, he said, the challenges that confront Sierra Leone are still daunting. The UN Mission needs to keep a balance between its limited presence and the need to be proactive, he said. He recommended the extension of the missions mandate for a further three months.

He urged the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) not to lose what he described as a unique opportunity to return to the peace process. The Secretary-General said the rebels must demonstrate their good faith by immediately opening roads in RUF-controlled areas, returning all stolen UN weapons and proceeding with the disarmament and demobilization of its combatants.

Saying that the forward deployment of the UN Mission will depend on the availability of well-trained, well-equipped and rapidly deployable contingents, he recalled his earlier recommendation to increase the missions strength to a level of 20,500 personnel.

On regional aspects of the crisis, the Secretary-General welcomed the efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to stabilize the border situation and urged international support to help create a regional observation mechanism along Guineas borders.

Over the weekend, the UN Missions Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande, contacted RUF interim leader Issa Sesay to discuss a recent RUF press release that said UN troops would not be allowed into RUF-controlled areas. Sesay said that the statement, which appeared on the RUF website, was neither authorized nor issued by the RUF leadership.

In response to a question on the Security Council's consideration of a report on diamonds sanctions, the Spokesman said that the Sanctions Committee on Sierra Leone would meet Tuesday to consider the matter, and the Council now planned to take up the issue at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

UN MISSION CONDEMNS VIOLENCE AT KOSOVO POLICE STATION

Over the weekend in Kosovo, in an incident which has been condemned by the UN Mission there, a violent demonstration by a group of Kosovo Serbs resulted in the death of two Serbs and the burning of a municipal police station in the northern town of Leposavic.

The violence began Saturday when a crowd of some 200 people surrounded the Leposavic police station to demand the release of a Kosovo Serb who had been arrested by UN police after driving his car recklessly. The crowd threw stones at the Kosovo police's vehicles and briefly took hostage seven Belgian soldiers from the Kosovo Force (KFOR), whose release was then negotiated by the Belgian KFOR commander.

By midnight Saturday, the crowd became more violent and broke into the police compound, and KFOR troops responded by firing tear gas and warning shots into the air. In the ensuing violence, one Serb was shot dead and another died of a heart attack. The situation in Leposavic has since calmed down, and is described as quiet today.

UN police are conducting an investigation into the incident, and they intend to conduct joint patrols in Leposavic with French gendarmerie when the situation allows.

The Secretary-General's Special Representative, Bernard Kouchner, condemned the incident, as well as the murder of a Kosovo Albanian man in North Mitrovica over the weekend. Speaking on the violence in Leposavic, Kouchner said, "Such action will not be tolerated."

SANCTIONS COMMITTEE TO DISCUSS IRAQ OIL PRICING MECHANISM

The Security Council's 661 Sanctions Committee, which deals with Iraq, is expected to rule on the issue of an oil pricing mechanism for Iraq by 6 p.m. Tuesday, under the "no-objection" procedure.

The Iraqi oil authority requested on Friday that the pricing mechanism for the second half of December be revised, in light of recent market changes. The Oil Overseers from the Office of the Iraq Programme have reviewed the request, and have made their recommendation to the Chairman of the Sanctions Committee.

The Spokesman, in response to a question, said that no details about the pricing mechanism could be given until the Sanctions Committee had ruled on the issue.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The United States today paid slightly more than $217 million towards its outstanding contribution to the UN regular budget.

The World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it would end its operations in Vietnam at the end of this month because the country is able to feed its people. Vietnam, which is now the world's second-largest exporter of rice, received about half a billion dollars in food and non-food assistance from WFP since 1974; now, the agency says, it is confident enough about Vietnam that it can redirect its efforts to more needy countries.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issued assessments today on relief efforts in Iran, following two consecutive years of drought in that country, and on the damage caused by storms and flooding in Moldova.

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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