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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-09-13

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 FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, September 13, 2001

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

ANNAN PLEADS FOR TOLERANCE IN AFTERMATH OF TERROR ATTACK

This morning at St. Bartholomews Church in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, accompanied by his wife Nane, participated in the annual Interfaith Service of Commitment to the Work of the United Nations. This is the fifth such service, traditionally held at the start of each new General Assembly session. This year the service was dedicated to all the victims of Tuesdays attacks in the United States.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that the events of the past two days have tested everyone's faith.

"At a time like this," Annan said, "it is all too tempting to jump to conclusions about the kind of people who must be behind such appalling acts, and to identify them with some faith or community different from our own."

He reminded the congregation, "We like to think of such acts as inhuman, but the truth is that human nature can sink to the depth of horror, as well as rise to the highest level of humanity. It is up to each of us to cultivate the best in his or her nature, and to struggle against the worst.

Asked whether the Secretary-General, in light of the attack, would press further for peace in the Middle East, the Spokesman said that a direct link between events in the Middle East and the attack on the United States had not been precisely determined so far. However, he added, it was felt by many that progress in the Middle East would reduce tensions.

In that regard, Eckhard said, the Secretary-General had called for "cool and reasoned judgment" following the Tuesday attack. He has been working hard behind the scenes, along with European diplomats, to bring about meetings between Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. The Spokesman noted media reports that the first such meeting between the two could take place over the weekend, and he voiced the hope that it would occur.

EVENTS RESCHEDULED; STAFF RELOCATED FROM AFGHANISTAN SINCE ATTACK

The United Nations has completed the temporary relocation of 75 international staff from Afghanistan. There are no international UN staff remaining in Afghanistan, but hundreds of national staff remain in the country to provide essential, life-saving assistance to the Afghan people.

Among the many UN events that have been rescheduled following the attack on the United States was the Secretary-General's annual ringing of the Peace Bell just outside the main entrance to UN Headquarters -- which had been scheduled for Tuesday morning, just when the tragedy began. The ringing of the Peace Bell, part of the traditional beginning of every year's General Assembly, is now scheduled to take place Friday morning at 9:30.

The Spokesman also noted that UN Staff Day, scheduled for Friday, has also been postponed.

Asked whether the number of world leaders who were scheduled to appear at this year's General Assembly plenary was unchanged, the Spokesman said after the briefing that 49 Heads of State or Government were inscribed to speak so far, a number, which has not changed since Tuesday's attack.

ANNAN APPEALS TO KEEP CHILRENS ISSUES HIGH ON AGENDA

The General Assembly decided on Wednesday afternoon that, in response to the tragedy that occurred on Tuesday, it would postpone the Special Session on Children, scheduled to take place from September 19-21, and would decide during its present session on a new date for the Session.

The Secretary-General addressed the Assembly during that seession, urging its members to keep concern for children uppermost in their minds. He emphasized, "This is only a postponement, not a cancellation. The issue is still very much with us. I think we should stay the course, and adopt a concrete agenda for action for this decade."

He added that the draft outcome document for the Special Session is very close to being finalized and urged delegates, despite the postponement, to keep working on an agreed text. He said, "We are close, and I don't want us to postpone it or relax, just because the meeting is not taking place next week. That is my plea."

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) added that, despite the postponement, the work of helping the world's neediest children would continue with deepened resolve.

UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said after the postponement of the meeting, "We regret the awful circumstances that have caused this summit to be postponed, but if this tragedy makes anything clear, it is that creating and defending a world that is fit for children is hard, hard work. On days like today, it seems harder."

She re-affirmed that the Special Session, which was to have reviewed progress since the 1990 World Summit for Children, would take place eventually, adding, "World leaders have shown they want it, and the children of the world surely deserve it."

UNICEF: MANY GOALS OF PAST DECADE ON CHILDREN STILL NOT MET

In response to recent events, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has cancelled todays launch ceremony for the State of the Worlds Children 2001 report. However, the embargo on the report is lifted, and it is officially issued.

The report states that many of the goals of the World Summit for Children of 1990 have not been met and much work remains to be done. Three areas conflict, HIV/AIDS and poverty require particular concentration, the report argues. It suggests that social spending should be increased over military expenditure and that domestic resources should be used for social development.

Although a significant reduction has been made in reducing the mortality rate for infants and children under five, the target set ten years ago, to reduce such rates by one third was met in only 60 countries. The report adds that number of malnourished children in developing countries fell from 177 million to 149 million, and the goal of the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders by 2005 seems a realistic prospect.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES ETHIOPIA-ERITREA, IRAQ OIL PRICING

The Security Council held consultations this morning on Ethiopia and Eritrea, on which it received a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila.

The mandate of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea ( UNMEE) expires this coming Saturday. The Secretary-General, in a report he issued earlier this month, recommended, among other observations, the extension of the Mission for six months, until March 15, 2002.

After those consultations, Council members discussed Iraq. The Chairman of the 661 Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby of Norway, briefed the other Council members on oil pricing.

This afternoon, following a format used for the first time last week, the Security Council will hold a private meeting with troop contributing countries to the UN Mission in Sierra Leone ( UNAMSIL). That meeting will be at 3:30 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, the facilitator for the Arusha peace process on Burundi, will not be able to come to New York to address the Security Council meeting on Burundi scheduled for next week. As a result, Burundi was not taken up in todays Council consultations. Asked why Mandela was not coming, the Spokesman said he expected it was for medical reasons.

IRAQ OIL SALES RISE SLIGHTLY OVER PAST WEEK

The financial and other operational aspects of the Office of the Iraq Programme have not been affected by the events of the last two days.

The weekly update from the Office of the Iraq Programme, covering the period 1 7 September, indicates that Iraqi oil exports under the United Nations oil-for-food program rose slightly from the previous weeks total of 13 million barrels, to 14.2 million barrels.

UN MISSION BEGINS ASSESSMENT OF RWANDAN FORCES IN DR-CONGO

The Force Commander of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ( MONUC), Maj.-Gen. Mountaga Diallo, visited Kamina in the southeastern part of the country, on Wednesday for a preliminary assessment of Rwandan armed elements who have been rounded up by the DRC Government.

During the Secretary-Generals recent visit to the DRC, the Government announced its intention to disarm a group of 3,000 members of a group it identified as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda, and the Secretary-General said at the time that UN observers were to have access to the group.

The visit to Kamina is expected to be the first in a series of visits to assess what the UN Mission and agencies on the ground can do regarding the demobilization and repatriation of these combatants. A technical mission to screen the group at Kamina is expected to take place next.

NHK PROVIDES HIGH-DEFINITION TV SCREENS FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY

When the General Assembly opened on Wednesday, the Hall was outfitted with large high-definition television screens on the walls, which had been present for the Millennium Assembly a year ago. The closed-circuit TV system had been installed last year on a loan basis by NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. The United Nations later asked NHK if they would consider a more permanent loan, and is gratified that it agreed.

The Secretary-General wishes to thank NHK, and particularly its Chairman, Katsuji Ebisawa, for providing the United Nations with this state of the art system, which makes watching the General Assembly debates a much more vivid experience.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

A technical meeting has begun in Islamabad, Pakistan, to discuss curbing drug trafficking in Afghanistan, bringing together its six neighboring countries and the UN Drug Control Program.

The new Spokesman for General Assembly President Han Seung-Soo of the Republic of Korea is Jan Fischer of Denmark, who has been an information officer in the UN system for 12 years. He has worked for one year in Bahrain for the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) and three years in Australia as head of the UN Information Center in Sydney.

  • The guest at today's briefing was Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Ethiopia and Eritrea, who briefed the Security Council this morning on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).

    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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