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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-12-25
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NOON BRIEFING
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, December 22, 2000
DURING THE WEEK OF DECEMBER 25, 2000, THERE WILL BE NO NOON BRIEFINGS PROVIDED BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN, BUT THE HIGHLIGHTS WILL BE POSTED ON THIS SITE ON TUESDAY, THURSDAY AND FRIDAY. MONDAY AND WEDNESDAY ARE HOLIDAYS AT UN HEADQUARTERS, WHICH WILL BE CLOSED ON THOSE DAYS. THE BRIEFING RESUMES ON JANUARY 2, 2001.
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO CONSIDER REVISED SCALE OF ASSESSMENTS
Very early this morning, at about 3 a.m., the General Assembly's Fifth Committee on budgetary matters appeared to reach an informal agreement on revising the existing scale of assessments. However, the details of that agreement have yet to be worked out, and the Fifth Committee is discussing the matter today in informal consultations.
If agreement is finalized in those consultations, the Committee will then go into a formal meeting to adopt the resolution, which would then go to the General Assembly Plenary for adoption. That could possibly happen later this evening, pending agreement on the understandings that have been reached.
The understanding being discussed would result in several changes in the calculation of the scale of assessments for the UN regular budget. For example, the statistical base period for which country economies are studied to assess how much they should pay would be reduced from the current level of six years to 4.5 years. The ceiling for how much any one nation should pay would be reduced from 25 percent to 22 percent.
The Fifth Committee also held a formal meeting to handle its other outstanding business; although that meeting does not include discussion of the scale of assessments, the Committee approved funding relating to the recommendations of the Brahimi report on UN peace operations. The Committee considered a draft resolution that would approve some $8.7 million in additional funding for UN post and non-post requirements that would be paid out of the support account for peacekeeping, as well as some $430,000 in Political Affairs and other expenses to be appropriated from the regular budget. Funding requirements resulting from other recommendations of the Brahimi panel have been deferred for further consideration.
In response to questions about reports that U.S. businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner would contribute some $35 million of what the United States would owe for 2001 dues, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was not aware of Turner's offer but, if the money came from the U.S. Government, the United Nations would have no problem in accepting it.
Asked about the state of UN finances this year, Eckhard said that, with the recent payment of $217 million from the United States, "we will finish this year in the black." If other money appropriated by the United States were to be disbursed to the United Nations, he added, it would go toward the payment of countries that have contributed troops and equipment to UN operations but have not been reimbursed.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS SIERRA LEONE MISSION, DISCUSSES AIDS
The Security Council held a formal meeting this morning to adopt a resolution, which extended the mandate of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone until 31 March 2001. Resolution 1334 was adopted unanimously.
Following that, Council members went into informal consultations, to hear a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guéhenno on HIV/AIDS and peacekeeping, in the context of Security Council Resolution 1308.
Guéhenno outlined measures taken in response to the July resolution, which asked the Secretary-General to take further steps towards providing training for peacekeeping personnel on issues relating to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and to continue the development of pre-deployment orientation and ongoing training for all peacekeeping personnel.
He said efforts to increase awareness are now part of planning for missions. He mentioned recent training courses aimed at reaching senior personnel from national armed forces in such places as Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana. All budgets for new peacekeeping missions include provisions for HIV/AIDS training and education programs designed to inform personnel.
Council members continued their discussions on a draft resolution on the Dec. 12 peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
UN WARNS OF NEW FIGHTING IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Guehénno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, also briefed the Security Council on the flare-up of fighting in the north and south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
In a statement issued in Kinshasa today, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kamel Morjane, called on all sides to stop the fighting and proposed a truce at least for the holiday period. He also cautioned against the spillover of the fighting into neighboring countries such as Zambia, which until now has maintained its neutrality in the conflict.
According to the UN Mission in the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and their allies have mounted what appear to be two separate offensive actions in Katanga and Equateur Provinces.
Meanwhile, the inter-Congolese talks scheduled by the Government to be held in Libreville, Gabon, were postponed owing to the non-participation of the two rebel movements, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) and the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC). The principal non-armed opposition leaders also refused to participate in the meeting on the grounds that it was intended to substitute for the inter-Congolese dialogue called for by the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement.
ANNAN SAYS UN READY TO SUPPORT PEACE-BUILDING IN SOMALIA
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report to the Security Council on Somalia, updating developments there since mid-August, welcomed the commitment by the new Transitional Government, led by President Abdikassim Salad Hassan, to achieve progress by peaceful means. The Secretary-General called on Somalis on all sides to solve their remaining issues "in a peaceful and constructive way."
The Secretary-General said in the report that he is ready to prepare a proposal for a peace-building mission for Somalia, which would assist in the completion of the peace process that has been supported by Djibouti. The Office of the UN Security Coordinator would be closely involved in elaborating options to relocate a UN presence in Somalia.
However, the Secretary-General emphasized, "given the current security situation, locating United Nations staff in the capital would be possible only after a single -- and effective -- authority for security in the city has been established." In that regard, it would be positive if free and safe access to all districts of the city were guaranteed.
REFUGEES ARRIVE IN EAST TIMOR FOR CHRISTMAS VISITS
A number of East Timorese refugees currently in West Timor arrived today in East Timor for Christmas visits. Some 244 refugees, of an anticipated 450, arrived by boat in Dili this morning. After screening and registration, the refugees, from camps in the vicinity of Kupang, West Timor, were transported to their home districts.
In addition, also today, 100 refugee Christmas visitors arrived in the East Timor enclave of Oecussi.
Meanwhile, eight refugee leaders from the camps in West Timor, who arrived in Baucau yesterday for a one-day visit, received a warm welcome in their communities. Large groups of people gathered to talk to the visitors and presented them with letters to bring back to relatives in West Timor. The visitors said that they would pass on the message to refugees that East Timor is peaceful and safe.
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), nearly 50,000 East Timorese refugees have returned home this year. Some 3,200 of them went home in the past four months despite the withdrawal of aid workers from West Timor following the September murder of the three UNHCR aid workers. Total refugee returns to East Timor since October 1999 now stand at some 174,000 people.
In response to a question on the Middle East, the Spokesman said that the United States was trying to bring the parties together for another summit, and the Secretary-General was pleased by the efforts that have been made so far. For now, there has been no direct role for the United Nations in that process, but the United Nations stands ready to assist the parties as needed.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week announced that, over the course of the week, they would approve billions of dollars in debt relief to 22 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries. As of the end of the week, the two agencies have approved the disbursal of some 20 billion dollars of debt relief, which are to go to four Latin American and 18 African countries under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today announced the release of a special report on the joint FAO and World Food Programme Crop assessment mission to Sudan. The report indicates that more than three million people in southern Sudan are facing serious food shortages due to civil strife and drought, with 600,000 people in urgent need of food aid and another 2.4 million expected to require aid in the year 2001.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said its staff in Iran repatriated some 134,000 Afghan refugees this year the largest single return movement of the year. Meanwhile in Pakistan, new arrivals from Afghanistan continue to be registered, with nearly 60,000 new refugees recorded, most arriving mainly since September. Inside Afghanistan, displaced persons continue to arrive in camps outside the western city of Herat.
Peru became the 63rd country to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which entered into force today.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Monday, December 25
Christmas Holiday; UN Headquarters will be closed.
Tuesday, December 26
Wednesday, December 27
Eid Holiday; UN Headquarters will be closed.
Thursday, December 28
Advance copies of the report "World Economic Situation and Prospects 2001," produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, will be released. The report assesses the world's economic performance during 2000 and previews the year ahead.
Friday, December 29
The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on the Central African Republic is due.
This is the International Day for Biological Diversity, which marks the entry into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Secretary-General will issue a message for the occasion.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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