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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-03-30

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





Friday, March 30, 2001


In Geneva, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today addressed the UN Human Rights Commission, calling for enthusiastic support for the UN World Conference on Racism, which will take place in South Africa later this year.

"Our main business," he said, "is to redirect public policy, and leave a lasting imprint on the workings of Governments. They are the main violators of human rights and bear the main responsibility for promoting and protecting them."

The Secretary-General also had a number of bilateral meetings today. He met with President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and then was joined by French President Jacques Chirac for a three-way meeting on the DRC.

He told the press afterwards that he is "very encouraged by the hopeful signs that the parties are determined to implement the Lusaka accord." He added, "The signs are positive, but it has to be sustained, and we need to make progress both on the military and political tracks."

After President Kabila left that meeting, the Secretary-General briefed President Chirac on his recent attendance at the Arab League Summit in Amman, Jordan. They discussed the ongoing crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and also the issue of Iraq.

His final meeting of the morning was with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica. They discussed the volatile situation along the border between Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The Secretary-General said afterward in his press encounter that they had also discussed Yugoslavia's relationship with the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY). The President told him, the Secretary-General said, "that his Government is working on the laws, and the relationship is moving in the right direction and that he is pleased with the progress that is being made."

Asked about whether former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic would be handed over to the Tribunal, the Secretary-General responded, "I did not get into that. That is, they are handling it nationally."

President Chirac then hosted a lunch at the French Mission for the Secretary-General and the heads of UN agencies based in Geneva.

After lunch, the Secretary-General travelled to the mountain resort of Mont Pelerin, where he will attend the closing session of a retreat for his Special Envoys and Special Representatives. He is expected to meet with the French Foreign Minister, Hubert Vedrine, there this evening.

On Saturday, the Secretary-General will fly to Nairobi, Kenya, to attend the twice-yearly meeting of the heads of all the agencies, funds and programmes of the UN system.


Earlier today in Mogadishu, two of the four UN staff members who have been detained by a militia faction in Somalia were released unconditionally, and then flown into Kenya.

The two men -- Pierre Paul Lamotte of Belgium, who works for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), and Mohamed Mohamedi of France, who works for the World Health Organization (WHO) -- arrived, in good health, this afternoon in Nairobi. They were met at the airport by UN officials.

Randolph Kent, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said in Nairobi today that he was pleased by the release of the two staff members, which followed the release on Wednesday of three other UN staff, along with four staff members of Medicins sans Frontieres (MSF). The staff had been seized following an attack on an MSF compound in north Mogadishu on Tuesday morning.

Kent added, "Our paramount concern now is to ensure the safe and immediate return of the two UN staffers still being held in Mogadishu. We are concentrating all of our efforts in getting them out as soon as possible."

The two remaining staff -- Bill Condie and Roger Carter, both of the United Kingdom -- are said to be in continued good health.

The United Nations continues its direct dialogue with all parties to ensure the safe release of those being held.


The Security Council held consultations this morning on Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Under Sierra Leone, Council members reviewed the draft text of a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Mission in that country for another six months and increasing the strength of its military component to 17,500. Following this morning's consultations, the Council unanimously approved that resolution.

Council members also unanimously voted in favor of a resolution transmitting to the General Assembly the nominations for judges of the Rwanda Tribunal. Council members handed over to the Assembly five names provided by Member States, which were forwarded to the Council by the Secretary-General earlier this week. Two judges have to be elected by the General Assembly to take up two additional seats in the Tribunal.

Council members today also reviewed its activities during the month of March, under Ukraine's Council presidency. During the month of April, the Council will be presided by the United Kingdom.


This morning, Michael Sheehan, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Security Council on the latest developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today continued to monitor the disengagement of forces in that country.

In addition to movements by Rwanda, the DRC Government and its allies that it noted Thursday, the Mission reported Ugandan troops are continuing their withdrawal from Equateur Province. Also, Burundi, which is not a signatory to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement or the Harare disengagement plan, has announced the withdrawal of three Burundi battalions in the east. The UN Mission has not verified the reported withdrawal of those Burundi battalions.

Unfortunately, DRC and allied commanders in the south-central province of Kasai received orders on their disengagement and redeployment only on Thursday evening.

One rebel group, the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), continues to condition any withdrawal on the deployment of UN troops at areas that it now holds so that the United Nations can protect the civilian population there. The group was informed that the UN Mission has neither the means nor the mandate to do so.

The military situation has remained generally calm in recent days, but the Mission received one report of heavy fighting near Bolomba in Equateur Province earlier this week.


Eritrea will resume rearranging its armed forces on April 5 in order to continue the process of establishing the buffer zone between Ethiopian and Eritrean forces, the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) was informed today.

Earlier, Eritrea had suspended its rearrangement of forces, which was scheduled to have been completed by March 3, because it objected to parts of the southern boundary of the future buffer zone between the two forces, referred to as the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ).

Speaking from Addis Ababa, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, warmly welcomed the development. He said, "This decision is extremely important for moving the peace process ahead as it will allow for the establishment of the Temporary Security Zone, and for the return of the population displaced from the area."


The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup, visited Skopje today, where he met with President Boris Trajkovski, Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim and other senior officials of the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Haekkerup noted the problems caused by the closure of the border crossing points between FYROM and Kosovo of all non-UN and non-Kosovo Force (KFOR) traffic. He told the officials that it is essential for medicines, fuel and potato seedlings, among other key goods, to be delivered promptly.

The UN Mission said today that they are continuing to work on finding alternate routes for essential supplies to be delivered to Kosovo, but the Mission remains short on fuel and on some key medicines, notably supplies for haemodialysis. Eleven trucks with haemodialysis supplies are stuck on the FYROM side of the border.

The Special Representative also stressed the need for a dialogue between the FYROM Government and minority groups, and he mentioned the incident Thursday in which three people were killed when the village of Krivenik, on Kosovo's side of the border with FYROM, was shelled. Haekkerup had expressed his deep regret about the tragedy.

The Macedonian officials told Haekkerup that a full investigation would be carried out into the incident.

Asked about the shelling incident, the Spokesman noted reports that a shell had hit a car traveling on the Kosovo side of the border, immediately killing a journalist for Associated Press Television and an ethnic Albanian cameraman. Neither the Government nor ethnic Albanian rebels had admitted that they fired that mortar round, he added.


A meeting to chart the future of the official scientific body that advises Governments on climate change will take place next week at the Nairobi headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The plenary meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will take place in Nairobi from April 4 through 6, and will be an opportunity for climate change experts to consider formally the reports of the panel's Working Group.

Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Director of UNEP, said Thursday that the latest scientific assessments show that global warming is intensifying with serious consequences for all people. Toepfer said, "I would ask those countries with any lingering doubts about the science of global warming to come forward, to tell us areas where they believe the science is incomplete, so the IPCC can address those concerns."

Although talks on the Kyoto Protocol, which requires countries to curtail their emission of greenhouse gases, stalled in The Hague last November, they are scheduled to resume in mid-July in Bonn.

Toepfer added that the United States, which produces around 25 percent of world emissions of greenhouse gases, could not be ignored. He said, "The United States is an important part of the problem, but also an important part of the solution. It has an advanced economy with the technology able to help avert the threat of damaging climate change."


The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, responded to questions on the resignation of Timorese leader Xanana Gusm&atilde;o from the Timorese National Council on Wednesday by saying that he "understood Gusm&atilde;os position."

He added that Gusm&atilde;o's role as National Council President had been crucial, especially for the approval of a regulation on the elections and the registration of political parties, signed on March 16.

Vieira de Mello noted that Gusm&atilde;o would now have more time, as President of the National Timorese Resistance Council, to work for reconciliation and national unity, and to work together with the East Timorese people and the UN Mission to ensure a peaceful and responsible process towards independence.

East Timor's National Council will reconvene next Monday.


Thursday marked the seventh anniversary of the signing of the Guatemalan Human Rights Accord. In a statement, the UN Verification Mission in that country said that there has been progress in the Government action at the international level through the ratification of treaties and the closure of cases which were pending in the inter-American human rights system.

However, the Mission also noted that the State remains unable to guarantee the basic human rights of the population, such as the right to life, security and justice.

The Mission reaffirmed its human rights verification mandate and said it will continue to report periodically on the implementation of the Human Rights Accord.


At a meeting in New York Thursday, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina said that the UNDP-funded Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre is experiencing severe funding shortfalls. He said it would have to close by early May unless $2.3 million can be found to support its activities through the end of this year.

The UN Postal Administration and the US Postal Service marked the 300th anniversary of Yale University with a special cancellation stamp and commemorative postal card. Joseph Reed, President of the Staff Management Coordination Committee, represented the Secretary-General at the dedication ceremony at Yale University this morning and delivered a message on his behalf.


Saturday, March 31

The Secretary-General will depart from Geneva to Nairobi.

Sunday, April 1

Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom will be the Security Council's President for the month of April, taking over from Ukraine.

Monday, April 2

The Secretary-General will attend a two-day meeting in Nairobi of the UN Administrative Committee on Coordination. This is a semi-annual meeting of the chief executives of the UN system, chaired by the Secretary-General. The heads of 26 agencies, funds and programmes of the UN system are expected to attend.

The Security Council, under the presidency of the United Kingdom, is expected to hold consultations on its program of work for the month of April.

The Executive Coordinator of the UN Volunteers, Sharon Capeling-Alakija, will address the 105th Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Havana, Cuba, about the growing awareness of volunteer action during the International Year of Volunteers 2001.

A week-long session of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee will begin at UN Headquarters to discuss the Third UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries -- which is to be held in Brussels, Belgium, in May.

In Geneva, the Preparatory Committee for the Second Review Conference dealing with restrictions on certain conventional weapons will be held through Friday.

The fortieth session of the Legal Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will be held through April 12 in Vienna.

The 34th session of the Commission on Population and Development begins its weeklong meeting at UN Headquarters. The Session's theme is "Population, Environment and Development", and will include discussions on options for a ten-year review of the International Conference on Population and Development.

Tuesday, April 3

The Deputy Secretary-General will be in Bern, Switzerland, to speak at the Parliamentary hearings which are being organized in preparation for Switzerland's referendum on UN membership, which is to be held in 2002.

Towards the early part of the week, the Security Council is expected to receive the report of its Special Panel on the exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2001 will be launched at a press conference at 11:15 a.m. by Ambassador Bagher Asadi of Iran.

Wednesday, April 4

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette will arrive in Sierra Leone, where she is to stay through Saturday. Starting on Thursday, she will meet with Government officials and see the work of the UN Mission during her stay.

In Nairobi, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will meet through Friday.

Thursday, April 5

The Secretary-General is expected to return to New York, ending his trip to Jordan, Switzerland and Kenya.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Kenzo Oshima will arrive in Kinshasa to begin a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which will last until April 11. He will meet with both Government and rebel officials during his stay, which is intended to highlight the humanitarian crisis affecting some 16 million people in the country.

UN Headquarters will offer exhibits to mark World Health Day, which will be officially observed on Saturday. This year's theme concerns stopping the exclusion of people from health services.

A press conference will be held at 11:15 a.m., on the 34th session of the Commission on Population and Development, which will be held throughout the week.

  • The guest at today's briefing was Under-Secretary-General for Management Joseph Connor, who discussed the UN financial situation, based on his report to the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly.

    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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