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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-09-06

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, September 6, 2001

(Updated weekdays by 3 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time)

IN SWEDEN, ANNAN DISCUSSES ISSUES DIVIDING RACISM CONFERENCE

Secretary-General Kofi Annan began an official visit to Sweden with a call on the speaker of Parliament, Birgitta Dahl, at the Parliament building in Stockholm. The Secretary-General asked the Speaker for her support in the effort to bring into force the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court, and she assured him of Swedens support. They also discussed anti-globalization protests, as well as upcoming UN conferences on sustainable development in South Africa and on financing for development in Mexico.

The Secretary-General then walked to the Foreign Ministry to meet with Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh. The Minister said that the outlook for the World Conference against Racism was a bit more hopeful today. They discussed the issues that have divided the Conference and the consequences of the success or failure of the Conference.

They also talked of the relationship between the European Union and the United Nations, the U.S. role in contemporary international relations, and the efforts to get the Palestinians and the Israelis back to the negotiating table and to restart the Cyprus talks.

Following a working luncheon in Stockholm today with Prime Minister Goran Persson, during which they reviewed the status of the Durban negotiations, the Secretary-General met with journalists and responded to a question on whether he thought it was a mistake to hold the World Conference against Racism now.

The Secretary-General said it was not, and added, "If it were a mistake, then by implication we are saying that racism and intolerance do not exist. Look around you. It's very much an issue. It is unfortunate that the Member States could not organize themselves to discuss it in a calmer and more constructive manner without all the divisions."

He added that the declaration to come out of the Conference is only a beginning. The important thing, he added, is that Governments and the people attending the Conference go home and act on these issues.

The Secretary-General made his comments following the luncheon in which he and the Prime Minister also discussed in depth the situation in the Middle East as a whole, the situation in the Balkans and current global economic trends and their impact on international security.

ANNAN PAYS TRIBUTE TO DAG HAMMARSKJÍLD

While in Sweden today, the Secretary-General travelled to Uppsala, where former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskj÷ld grew up and where he is buried. He placed a wreath on Hammarskj÷ld's grave. Later, he delivered the Dag Hammarskj÷ld Lecture.

He opened the lecture by saying, "It will not surprise you to hear that Dag Hammarskj÷ld is a figure of great importance for me. His life and his death, his words and his actions, have done more to shape public expectations of the office, and indeed of the Organization than those of any other man or woman in its history."

He noted that Hammarskj÷ld showed that the UN Charter clearly implies the existence of "an international community, for which the Organization is an instrument and an expansion."

He added that, although Hammarskj÷ld might disagree with some of the specific positions he has taken, he had no doubt that his predecessor would strongly endorse the principle that the Secretary-General must strive to make himself an authentic and independent voice of the international community.

GROUND IS READY FOR NEW PHASE OF GOOD OFFICES IN CYPRUS

Following Wednesday's announcement by the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, of an invitation to the Cypriot leaders to initiate a new and reinvigorated phase of the Secretary-General's good offices next week in New York, de Soto made clear at a press conference in Nicosia that the Secretary-General had believed 12 months ago that the time had come to move ahead.

As far as the Secretary-General is concerned, he underscored, the ground is prepared for the next phase of the Secretary-General's good offices to begin.

Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides has accepted the Secretary-General's invitation. The United Nations has seen statements to the press by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash expressing some concerns but has not received a direct reply, and it remains hopeful that he will find it possible to come to New York next week.

De Soto is now in Paris for scheduled meetings and consultations, and will return to New York next Monday.

UN MISSION PRESENTS FINAL RESULTS OF EAST TIMOR VOTE

East Timor's Chief Electoral Officer, Carlos Valenzuela, today presented the final results of the August 30 elections to the Constituent Assembly, in which the Fretilin party won 55 out of 88 seats. Eleven other parties also won seats to the Assembly, with the Democratic Party running in second place with seven seats.

In addition, 24 of the Assembly members that were elected -- or 27 percent of that body -- are women.

In a statement, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, congratulated the Timorese people for an electoral process of which, he added, many democratic countries can be jealous. He said, "East Timor has once again defied and proven wrong those skeptics who doubted its political maturity and the eloquence of its democratic feelings."

He also announced that on Wednesday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda extended Indonesia's congratulations for the elections and extended an invitation to meet with President Megawati Sukarnoputri and other senior officials in Jakarta.

Vieira de Mello said that he, along with Xanana GusmŃo and JosÚ Ramos Horta, would travel to Jakarta on Thursday, September 13, to meet with Megawati on the following day.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES DEPARTURE OF UN STAFF FROM IRAQ

The Security Council met in closed consultations this morning to hear a briefing from the Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme on the recent events surrounding the departure of UN staff members from Baghdad.

Asked about Iraqi allegations that the United Nations had apologized because of spying by some staff, the Spokesman said that, aside from five staff -- four Nigerians and one Bosnian -- that were declared personae non grata by Iraq, there was a sixth individual who left the country on August 30. Sevan had agreed to a request by Iraq that the staff member leave Iraq, because the staff member had confirmed taking photographs in an area that Iraq considered to be sensitive, contrary to the guidelines of the Iraq Programme. That staff member was Dutch.

As for the other five staff, the Spokesman said that the United Nations still needs to receive information from the Iraqi Government concerning the reasons they were declared personae non grata.

Also in its consultations this morning, the Council received a draft resolution to lift the arms embargo on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Council held a private meeting during which they were briefed by Sir Ketumile Masire, the Facilitator of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue. In a subsequent public meeting, the Council adopted a Presidential Statement in which they reiterated their support for the dialogue and called on the parties to further cooperate with each other and the Facilitator.

REPORT: PALESTINIAN UNEMPLOYMENT AT NEARLY 27 PERCENT

This morning in Jerusalem, Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, issued the fourth report examining the impact of border closures, confrontation and mobility restrictions on the Palestinian economy. The report paints a bleak picture of the Palestinian economy from last October until the end of June.

Current unemployment figures are at 26.9 percent, up from 10 percent in the middle of last year, and the current budget deficit for the Palestinian Authority is estimated at $371 million, up from $100 million last year.

The closures and mobility restrictions have also had a direct on the education and health care fields. Some 1300 students in Gaza are unable to attend university on the West Bank. Since the beginning of the current crisis, the Palestinian health care system has been under tremendous stress from the increased burden of caring for the thousands of wounded people, especially those with debilitating injuries.

The report finds that four years of economic progress has been completely offset by the past nine months of the crisis. Recovery will take longer than after the previous period's recession, even if the conflict is ended soon and mobility restrictions are lifted completely.

In other news from the area, Peter Hansen, Commissioner General of the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees ( UNRWA), today signed an agreement with the Dutch representative to the Palestinian Authority for an additional 10 million Dutch guilders, or about $4.1 million, to the agency's general fund for the year 2001.

UN ENVOY IN KABUL DISCUSSES TRIAL WITH TALIBAN OFFICIAL

In response to questions, the Spokesman noted that Francesc Vendrell, on a regular visit to Kabul in his capacity as the Secretary-Generals Personal Representative to Afghanistan, today discussed with a senior Taliban official the situation in that country and pressed two points on the current trial of aid workers.

Vendrell met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Taliban, Abdul Jalil, and asked the Taliban to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to the 16 national staff of Shelter Now International. He also asked for the Taliban to allow more frequent access by consular staff and others to the eight international detained staff.

Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, in its weekly update, said that "human suffering in Afghanistan has largely outstripped the capacity and resources of the aid community due to both the magnitude and the depth of the crisis. The catastrophe is a gradually cumulative humanitarian disaster of enormous proportions. Conflict, drought, displacement, grinding poverty and human rights abuses add up to a deadly combination."

DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE ON LANGUAGE AT RACISM CONFERENCE

Discussions are continuing today at the World Conference on Racism on the language to be included in the final two documents.

Later today the regional groups will report to the Conference President, South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on their reaction to the proposed language on the Middle East and the legacy of the past.

Agreement was reached on language on identifying the victims of racism.

SIERRA LEONE REBEL GROUP BOYCOTTS MEETING WITH UN, GOVERNMENT

A tripartite meeting among the Sierra Leone Government, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the UN mission in Sierra Leone ( UNAMSIL) was scheduled to take place in Makeni today.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sierra Leone, Oluyemi Adeniji, had traveled to Makeni for the meeting, but the meeting failed to take place because the RUF boycotted it.

The RUF submitted a letter to the UN Mission explaining its reasons for not attending, including reported cease-fire violations by the pro-Government militia (CDF) and a demand that no meeting with Government can take place without participation by civil society representatives.

[In a press release received after the briefing, Adeniji expressed regret that the meeting could not take place and that efforts to locate the RUF leadership in Makeni had proven unsuccessful. He indicated his hope that the RUFs non-attendance was not an indication of what the future holds, but rather a hiccup in the peace process.]

UNHCR CALLS FOR SECURITY ARRANGEMENT IN FYR-MACEDONIA

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR) today appealed to the international community to put in place urgently a security arrangement to stabilize the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and allow the return of refugees and displaced persons.

Eric Morris, UNHCRs special envoy to the region said, "UNHCR cannot suggest in what form or size the security arrangement should look like, but this has to happen now -- before NATO ends its mission -- to ensure not only safety for civilians but also to help create conditions for the safe return of refugees and displaced people."

NATO's mission in FYROM to collect arms from the Albanian rebels is due to be completed before the end of this month.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Today in The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) dismissed several charges against two Bosnian Serbs, Dusko Sikirica and Damir. The Tribunal threw out charges of genocide and complicity to commit genocide against Sikirica and dismissed four counts of torture, inhuman acts and cruel treatment against Dosen.

Two more Member States made full payments for their 2001 regular budget contributions, bringing the number of Member States that have fully paid up this year to 113. Algeria made a payment of more than $700,000 and Uzbekistan paid more than $100,000.

The UN Information Service in Vienna, along with the maxBundesliga and the Austrian Football Association, has planned a "Footballers Against Racism" campaign to coincide with the World Conference Against Racism. UNIS Vienna has designed a T-shirt, which will be worn by players in League and First Division matches this weekend as they come onto the field. After a short announcement, the players will remove the T-shirts and throw them into the crowd.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

Back


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