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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-01-12

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

Friday, January 12, 2001

IN LAST ADDRESS TO KOSOVO, KOUCHNER CALLS FOR TOLERANCE

Bernard Kouchner, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Kosovo and head of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), gave Kouchner gave a farewell address in Pristina today to 2,000 guests, including political and civil society leaders as well as people from all communities.

Kouchner praised them for their achievements and exhorted them to practice tolerance and stop the violence if they want to join European society and enjoy the benefits of a western democracy.

At the ceremony, he was joined by Albanian and Serb leaders, including Hashim Thaci, Ibrahim Rugova and Rada Trajkovic, along with a dozen primary school children representing all ethnic communities of Kosovo, who were singing and dancing. Together they sang We are the world.

ANNAN THANKS KOUCHNER FOR HIS EXTRAORDINARY EFFORTS IN KOSOVO

Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement in which he expressed his deep gratitude to Bernard Kouchner for his service to the United Nations and the people of Kosovo.

Annan called Kouchner a man of remarkable talents, deep intellect and great charisma.

Though much remains to be done, and many wounds remain unhealed, the Secretary-General added, the healing has begun, and a better future is now in sight - not least, thanks to the tireless efforts and extraordinary contribution of Bernard Kouchner. I join his many friends and admirers in wishing him all success in the future.

ANNAN WELCOMES EFFORTS TO TEST FOR RADIATION IN KOSOVO

The Secretary-General welcomed the decision announced Thursday by his Special Representative in Kosovo, Kouchner, to set up of a voluntary programme at Pristina Hospital to test the civilian population for possible radiation levels.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a fact sheet on depleted uranium (DU). In addition to basic facts, the document underscored the need for more scientific research to better assess the risk to humans who come in contact with depleted uranium.

In touching upon the cases of leukemia in military personnel who have come in contact with depleted uranium ammunition, WHO said that, based on the information they have now, a link between the two is unlikely. However, even with the present uncertainties, WHO recommended that clean-up operations be undertaken in impact zones where remnants of depleted uranium ammunition is known to exits.

SECURITY COUNCIL VOTES TO EXTEND PREVLAKA MISSION

The Security Council this afternoon unanimously adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN mission in Prevlaka (UNMOP) by six months, until July 15, 2001.

Earlier, the Security Council began its work with closed consultations on Prevlaka, on which it received a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi.

Following the consultations on Prevlaka, the Council had a discussion on Angola during which it received a briefing by the Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Special Assignments in Africa, Ibrahim Gambari. Gambari told the Council that the armed conflict in Angola has continued in recent months, with much of the country remaining insecure.

In response, the Secretary-General has initiated wide consultations with Member States and is considering a UN-sponsored conference to examine the challenges of peace-building in Angola.

In other Council news, the Sierra Leone Sanctions Committee has cleared the report of the panel dealing with violations of Sierra Leone sanctions, including the role of conflict diamonds. The Council now expects to hold a formal meeting to discuss that report on January 25.

COUNCIL INVITES SG TO PROPOSE PEACE MISSION FOR SOMALIA

Thursday afternoon, following a briefing by the Secretary-General's Representative for Somalia, David Stephen, the Council held a formal meeting in which it adopted a Presidential Statement on Somalia.

In that statement, the Council welcomed and supported the outcome of the peace conference held last year in Arta, Djibouti, and urged all groups to engage in peaceful and constructive dialogue with the new Transitional National Government.

The Council also invited the Secretary-General to "prepare a proposal for a peace-building mission for Somalia," which should pay specific attention to the security situation in the country and outline possible ways to advance the peace process.

UN RESPONDS TO DRAFT OF CAMBODIAN WAR CRIMES LAW

In response to questions received, the Spokesman confirmed that the United Nations received an unofficial translation of the draft law adopted last week by the lower house of the Cambodian Parliament, which would provide for a national court with international participation to try Khmer Rouge leaders.

The UN Legal Counsel, Hans Corell, has reviewed the text and found some discrepancies in relation to what was discussed during his visit to Phnom Penh last July.

On Tuesday of this week, he wrote to his Cambodian counterpart, Sok An, to seek clarifications.

The draft legislation is now before the Cambodian Senate, and it is hoped that the remaining outstanding issues can be resolved so that the United Nations can approve the new court and work with it.

Any cooperation between the United Nations and Cambodia will have to be regulated by an agreement. A draft of such an agreement was elaborated in July last year, but it has to be formalized once the law is adopted.

UN MISSION CALLS FOR CALM IN CONGO

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) today called for calm as the parties to the conflict traded military threats and reported accusations of cease-fire violations.

In a statement issued in Kinshasa, the mission force commander, Gen. Mountaga Diallo, said that these allegations and the ongoing fighting in Equateur and Katanga provinces undermine the political progress achieved towards the inter-Congolese dialogue to convene in accordance with the Lusaka Peace Accord.

On behalf of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative in the Congo, Kamel Morjane, Diallo expressed concern over the potential deterioration of the military situation on the ground and called for all parties to refrain from any further military action in order to enable the deployment of UN observers to all fronts.

Meanwhile, the World Food Program (WFP) today urgently appealed for $112 million for its relief operations to feed more than 2 million people in the increasingly volatile Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the number of people in need of WFP aid has nearly tripled over the past year.

ANNAN ATTENDS CHANGE OVER OF GROUP OF 77 LEADERSHIP

Nigeria formally handed over the chairmanship of the Group of 77 (G-77) developing countries to Iran, with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi on hand for the transfer, which took place at UN Headquarters.

The Secretary-General, in remarks at the occasion, praised the work done over the past year under the leadership of Nigerian Ambassador Chief Arthur Mbanefo, including its encouragement of the Economic and Social Council's examination of the role of information technology in development.

He also urged the G-77 to provide ideas to the high-level panel he appointed last month, chaired by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, that will make recommendations on concrete steps that can be taken to improve financing for the developing world.

UN NEEDS URGENT FUNDING FOR AFGHAN HUMANITARIAN PROGRAMS

Erick de Mul, the UNs top humanitarian official for Afghanistan, called an emergency meeting of donor countries asking for an immediate response to the 2001 Appeal for Afghanistan and specifically for $3.5 million for non-food items, $3.2 million for food-for-work programmes and $600,00 for seeds.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the number of Afghans arriving at a makeshift camp in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan had jumped from 250 to 750 in the past three days.

Since last summer more than 470,000 people have left their homes and most are internally displaced within Afghanistan. It is feared that not only will this internal displacement continue in the next few months, but that it will also continue to spill across borders, resulting in more requirements for both food and non-food items.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) held a closed hearing last evening to consider a request from Biljana Plavsic's lawyer for modified conditions of detention. Following that session, the President of the Tribunal, Judge Claude Jorda, decided that the hearing would resume on Wednesday, January 17, again in closed session.

The United Nations has suspended all humanitarian action in Chechnya for the time being in order to evaluate the situation following the kidnapping of a member of staff of Médecins sans Frontieres-Holland. We have been informed that Non-Governmental Organizations working with the United Nations and those funded by the European Community Humanitarian Office have similarly suspended operations. Humanitarian assistance in other parts of the Northern Caucasus is continuing.

A UN Disaster and Coordination Team, made up of representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), has arrived in Mongolia and will begin their assessment, weather permitting. The team will be preparing an appeal to be presented to donors next Friday.

The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) is launching an initiative to carry out a poverty assessment throughout the country, in which it intends to conduct a survey of all 500 of East Timor's neighborhoods by March. The UN Mission's National Planning and Development Agency, in cooperation with the World Bank, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the Asian Development Bank, will also survey some 1,500 to 2,000 households by July, to ask Timorese about the quality of development assistance so far, and what could be done better. It is also creating a database that shows development assistance in each district and sector of East Timor.

Latvia today became the 15th Member State to pay its 2001 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of over $103,000.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Monday, January 15

The Secretary-General will depart New York on a two-week trip that will take him to Cameroon, China, Japan, Switzerland and Sweden, from which he is scheduled to return on January 31.

The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on East Timor is expected toward the beginning of the week, as is the Interim Report of the Expert Panel on the Illegal Exploitation of the Natural Resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In Geneva, countries participating in the preparatory process for the World Conference against Racism will begin two days of informal consultations on the Conference, which will take place in Durban, South Africa, from August 31 until September 7. The agenda and other documents on the informal consultations and the Conference in General are available on the web at http://www.unhchr.ch/html/racism/index.htm.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child will take up a report on Egypt in Geneva.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will convene its 24th session at Headquarters, which will last until February 2. It will review reports by Burundi, Egypt, Finland, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Mongolia and Uzbekistan.

Tuesday, January 16

The Security Council has scheduled an open debate on ways to strengthen cooperation with troop contributing countries.

Wednesday, January 17

The Secretary-General will speak at the France-Africa Summit in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The Secretary-General is to stay in Cameroon through Thursday.

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Ethiopia and Eritrea.

There will be a meeting of troop contributing countries for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Thursday, January 18

The Secretary-General will leave Cameroon to travel to China, where he is to begin an official visit on January 20.

The Security Council will hold a formal meeting on Kosovo.

There will be a panel discussion at 10 a.m. at the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium on follow-up to the work of the 55th session of the General Assembly.

Friday, January 19

The Security Council will hold a formal meeting on the follow-up to Security Council Resolution 1308 (1999), concerning HIV/AIDS.

Acting Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie will present an appeal to donors on humanitarian assistance for Mongolia, on the last day of her visit to that country to assess the impact of summer droughts and severe winter weather during the past two years.

At 12:30 p.m., the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is sponsoring a press conference by a coalition of civil society groups to discuss the outcome of the meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

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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