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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-01-10

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

SECURITY COUNCIL POSTPONES VOTE ON ETHIOPIA, ERITREA

The Security Council held consultations this morning to discuss a U.S.-sponsored draft resolution that calls for the lifting of an arms embargo against Ethiopia and Eritrea. A formal vote on that draft resolution has been postponed, but the Council will discuss it at a later date.

Also today, Council members are holding their monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General.

In response to questions about the Secretary-General's views on lifting the arms embargo, the Spokesman noted the Secretary-General's recent statements that silencing the guns did not by itself mean that peace had been achieved. The Secretary-General, he said, remained concerned that the job was not yet done in attaining a permanent peace. However, he added, the Security Council was involved in its own process, and the Secretary-General would respect that process.

FORMER BOSNIAN SERB PRESIDENT SURRENDERS TO UN TRIBUNAL

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced that Biljana Plavsic, former President of the Republika Srpska, surrendered voluntarily to the Tribunal in The Hague today, after she was advised of an indictment against her and an outstanding warrant for her arrest.

Plavsic flew to the Netherlands from Banja Luka, and is now in the Tribunals custody, having been indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of the laws and customs of war, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1991 and 1992. The indictment was issued under seal against her and another Bosnian Serb leader, Momcilo Krajisnik, on April 7, 2000.

Plavsic is expected to appear before a Trial Chamber Thursday, and, after that, the Tribunal's Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, intends to try Plavsic and Krajisnik jointly.

In a statement issued today, del Ponte said that Plavsic's surrender is "the best possible outcome" for her, and she called upon Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and others indicted to do the same.

In response to questions, the Spokesman said that Plavsic was being held at the same detention center as other suspects, and he asserted that no prior assurances or deal had been made between the Tribunal and Plavsic.

He declined to comment on whether her surrender would affect any potential case involving former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who, he noted, is under indictment for charges involving Kosovo, but not on any charges involving Bosnia and Herzegovina.

ANNAN TO ADDRESS WORLD AFFAIRS COUNCILS OF AMERICA

Today is the first day of a three-day series of meetings at UN Headquarters of the members of the World Affairs Councils of America, the largest international affairs non-profit organization in the United States. The meetings will provide an opportunity for the members of the Councils to hear from UN officials about UN efforts on a wide range of issues, from AIDS to peacekeeping to joint efforts with the private sector and civil society.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will attend a reception of the World Affairs Councils this evening in the Delegates Dining Room, and will deliver some remarks on the future of U.S.-UN relations.

FIRST HEARINGS ON SERIOUS CRIMES BEGIN IN EAST TIMOR

Today in East Timor, the first preliminary hearings involving people suspected of committing serious crimes took place at Dili's District Court, in two different murder cases -- one in which a pro-Indonesia militia member was accused, and one in which a pro-independence activist was accused.

In the first case, concerning a murder that took place on September 8, 1999, in the district of Bobonaro, a former member of the pro-Indonesia "Dadunus Merah Putih" (Red and White Tornado) militia pleaded guilty to charges of killing a village chief. The court will convene again on January 16 for his sentencing.

In the second case, a pro-independence activist pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering a militia member in the village of Gleno on September 26, 1999, and a trial in that case has now been scheduled to begin on February 6.

UN WELCOMES REPORTS OF PROGRESS IN US PAYMENTS

In response to a question on U.S. payments of UN arrears, the Spokesman noted press reports that the U.S. Congress was taking steps to implement the Helms-Biden legislation by freeing up some $585 million to be paid to the United Nations. "This amount of money will be very welcome to us," Eckhard said. "Every dollar of it will go to back payments owed to contributors to peacekeeping troops and equipment."

He noted that the United Nations now had a new scale of peacekeeping assessments, which was a self-adjusting, self-correcting scale that could respond to shifts over time in national economies. He added that the United Nations was hopeful that it was now on the path towards full normalization of relations with the United States.

UN RELIEF COORDINATOR TO VISIT FOUR ASIAN COUNTRIES

Carolyn McAskie, the Acting Emergency Relief Coordinator, will leave Thursday for Japan, China, Mongolia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In her visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, she will assess international efforts to address the famine. McAskie is visiting Mongolia to increase awareness of the situation there, where, for two years in a row, summer droughts have been followed by heavy winter snows, seriously affecting the livestock population that accounts for 80 percent of the economy.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked about a bomb threat at UN Headquarters, the Spokesman said that the New York City police bomb squad had been called in this morning after a suspicious-looking package was reported by mail handlers. The area was cordoned off and the staff was evacuated, but the package was found to contain only cell phones and batteries.

A report of the Secretary-General to the UN General Assembly on the participation of UN Volunteers in peacekeeping operations, issued today, said that almost 2,000 volunteers were mobilized last year to meet the operational requirements of UN peacekeeping missions and to complement those missions' civilian components.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a year-long campaign, "Stop Exclusion - Dare to Care," aimed at focusing attention on the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health disorders. It is estimated that 400 million people suffer from some sort of mental or neurological disorders worldwide, and few are correctly diagnosed.

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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