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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-07-22

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

HIGHLIGHTS

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, July 22, 2002

ANNAN NOMINATES SERGIO DE MELLO AS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, following consultations with the Chairmen of the five regional groups of Member States, this morning informed the General Assembly of his intention to appoint Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil as the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The General Assembly is expected to approve the appointment Tuesday afternoon.

De Mello was, until May of this year, the UN Transitional Administrator in East Timor. Prior to that, he was briefly the UN Special Representative in Kosovo following a year and a half stint at UN Headquarters as Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

The bulk of his career though, since 1969, has been with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, where he also had considerable field experience. His education took place in Rio de Janeiro and Paris.

He succeeds Mary Robinson, who completed a four-year term last September, and announced her decision to resign one-year later.

De Mello will succeed her for a four-year term starting September 12, 2002.

ANNAN WELCOMES PROGRESS IN SUDAN PEACE TALKS

The Secretary-General, in a statement released through his Spokesman, welcomes the progress made in the peace talks on the conflict in Sudan, which has been taking place in Machakos, Kenya, under the auspices of the Sudan Peace Committee of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

He recalled that during his recent visit to Khartoum he had had open and full discussions on the peace process with President Omar Hassan el-Bashir and that he had followed up by dispatching a Special Envoy to meet Dr. John Garang (leader of Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement).

The Secretary-General expressed the hope that the parties to the peace talks will be able to build on the momentum so that they can reach a definitive peace agreement in their next round, expected to open in August, in order to put an end to this painful and debilitating conflict, which has plagued Sudan for nearly 50 years.

He is confident that, once a definitive peace agreement is reached, the international community will be ready to provide the necessary assistance for its full implementation.

ANNAN LAMENTS U.S. CUT OF $34 MILLION TO UN POPULATION FUND

In response to a question from CNN about the news that the Bush administration was likely to cut $34 million that it was to contribute to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the Secretary-General said he was disappointed at that news.

The Secretary-General told the reporter, I think UNFPA does very essential work, and we have made it clear that it does not go around encouraging abortions. Rather, he said, it gives good advice to women on reproductive health and does good work around the world, including in China.

If the $34 million contribution is cut, the Secretary-General added, We will try and see if other donors will step up and make up the difference, because the work we are doing is absolutely essential and we do not want women, particularly poor women around the world, to suffer.

AN NAN APPOINTS ANNA TIBAIJUKA TO HEAD UN HUMAN SETTLEMENTS PROGRAM

The Secretary-General informed the General Assembly this morning of his intention to appoint Anna Tibaijuka as Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme at the level of Under Secretary-General.

The General Assembly decided last December to upgrade the UN Centre for Human Settlements, now headed by Tibaijuka at the Assistant Secretary-General level, effective September 1 of this year.

ANNAN FLAGS HUMANITARIAN EFFECTS OF PALESTINIAN ECONOMIC CRISIS

In his report to the Economic and Social Council on assistance to the Palestinian people, the Secretary-General says there is a deepening economic crisis with growing humanitarian consequences.

The report outlines the work, in the economic and social fields, of the United Nations and its agencies from June 2001 until May of this year.

In the report, the Secretary-General says that continued closure regime imposed by Israel on the West Bank and Gaza, in response to terror attacks on its citizens, is the immediate and single most important cause for this economic crisis.

Unless and until there is real political progress, the Secretary-General warns, the UN system needs to be prepared for a situation in which an increasing number of Palestinians will be dependent upon welfare and the generosity of the international community.

In addition to efforts aimed at finding a political solution, the United Nations, the Secretary-General writes, will continue to seek a resumption of progress towards an economically vibrant region where Palestinian living conditions, as well as those of Israel and all others in the region, would provide a strong underpinning to peace and reconciliation between peoples.

UAE TO PROVIDE $27 MILLION TO UNRWA TO REBUILD JENIN CAMP

The Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates entered into an agreement Saturday with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to provide $27 million to rebuild and repair Jenin camp following the events of April this year. The money will be used to rebuild or repair refugee shelters, camp infrastructure and communal facilities destroyed or damaged in the April fighting.

Families made homeless are currently being housed in tents or in rented accommodation near the camp. UNRWA has been providing food, medicines, cash assistance, kitchen kits and other relief to the homeless refugees in Jenin camp since April

UNRWA has undertaken to rebuild the camp over the course of the next two years.

ANNAN URGES REVIEW OF PAY/BENEFITS SYSTEM

The Secretary-General this morning opened the 55th session of the International Civil Service Commission, taking place here at Headquarters, and drew that bodys attention to the need to carry out a long overdue review of the UN pay and benefits system.

He told the Commission that if the organizations of the UN system are to be competitive employers, they must offer improved conditions of service so that they can attract, nurture, motivate and retain the highest quality personnel.

Consequently, he said, the United Nations needs the Commission to develop sound recommendations on conditions of service; to assist in addressing problems of recruitment and retention, especially at senior levels; and to help create a system that is simpler to administer and more easy to understand.

It is no exaggeration, the Secretary-General said, to say that the entire UN community is expecting you to rise to this challenge and that the very credibility of the Commission is at stake.

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP LEBANON, ETHIOPIA-ERITREA AND SOMALIA

The Security Council met in closed consultations today to discuss three issues.

Jean-Marie Guehenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed Council members on the Secretary-Generals most recent report on the UN mission in Lebanon. A draft resolution was introduced to extend the mandate.

Guehenno also introduced the Secretary-Generals report on the UN mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, which was released last week.

The Council also took up the issue of Somalia. During that discussion, Norway introduced a resolution regarding the arms embargo on that country and the Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution in a formal meeting following consultations. The resolution requests the Secretary-General to establish a Panel of Experts consisting of three members to be based in Nairobi for a period of six months, in order to generate independent information on violations of the arms embargo and as a step towards giving effect to and strengthening the embargo.

ANNAN RE-APPOINTS EXPERT PANEL ON LIBERIA SANCTIONS

The Secretary-General, in a letter to the Security Council, has reappointed the panel of experts to conduct a follow-up assessment mission to Liberia and neighboring states.

The panel will investigate and compile a report on the Liberian governments compliance with demands contained in the Security Council resolution extending sanctions on that country, the potential economic, humanitarian and social impact on the population of the measures imposed and on any violations of those measures.

HUNGARIAN GENERAL TO HEAD UN FORCE IN WESTERN SAHARA

In a letter to the Security Council, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Maj. Gen. Gyorgy Szaraz of Hungary to the post of Force Commander of the UN mission in Western Sahara.

The appointment is effective 11 August 2002, subject to the Security Councils decision on the extension of that missions mandate after 31 July.

The Council is scheduled to take up the mandate extension this week, first Tuesday and then on Friday.

UN MISSION IN DR CONGO HONORS MILITARY OBSERVERS KILLED IN UGANDA

A memorial service was held today at the Kinshasa headquarters of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) for the two Indian military observers who died in a bus crash in Uganda last Thursday.

The bodies of Lt. Col. Simhadri Raja and Maj. Sandeep Sharma were flown back to Kinshasa, DRC from Kampala, Uganda on Saturday. Their remains will now be repatriated to India later this week.

Over the weekend, the Deputy Chief of the UN mission, Lena Sundh, attended a mass burial ceremony in Uganda for the victims of the crash. She sent UN condolences to all the bereaved families, thanked the Ugandan officials for their assistance and paid a special tribute to the MONUC observers.

Meanwhile, on Saturday in Kinshasa, the head of the UN mission, Amos Namaga Ngongi, witnessed the departure from Kinshasa of the first commercial barges to travel the Congo river up to the northern Equateur province in over four years. The 12 barges, which will be escorted by UN riverine units, will carry fuel and spare parts to factories in the province. On their trip down river, the barges will bring back to Kinshasa timber, rice, palm oil and other products.

MOST SEX WORKERS IN BALKANS ARE VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Today in Geneva, the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) put out a joint report on human trafficking in south-eastern Europe, which estimates that 90 percent of foreign migrant sex workers in the Balkans are victims of trafficking.

After years of denial, governments are now giving priority to anti-trafficking initiatives, but, the report argues, some obstacles remain, including lack of access to reliable data, no clear human rights standards for the treatment of trafficked women and children and inadequate prevention measures in terms of focus on the root causes of trafficking.

As the report puts it, The attempts to come to grips with the problem of human trafficking have so far been toothless and without much success.

It emphasizes, Human trafficking is first and foremost a violation of human rights.

EUROPEANS TO DONATE $10 MILLION FOR DE-MINING IN AFGHANISTAN

The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) today announced a large contribution from the European Commission for the UN Mine Action Programme in Afghanistan. The contribution, in excess of $8 million, is the first part of a grant amounting to over $10 million, will be used to support Afghan and international NGOs carrying out de-mining operations, as well as to strengthen the overall coordination of mine action in Afghanistan.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, Sunday began a week-long visit to Afghanistan. He told the reporters in Kabul that his visit was to ensure that the appropriate focus is placed on the concerns and needs of children. He said it was crucial to strengthen the capacity of Afghans within the family and the community as well as within the government and civil society to take care of the young people of the country.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

On Saturday, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, went to the town of Obiliq, where the major Kosovo B power plant was damaged after being struck by lightning during a storm on Friday night, in an incident in which one person died and 32 were wounded. Steiner said he has formed an Energy Committee, including international and local members, and said, Despite the seriousness of the situation, we can overcome the hardships if we follow the example of those on the ground who did a great job of responding to the crisis.

On Saturday, one of the suspects facing trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Momcilo Gruban, was provisionally released from the Tribunals detention unit at The Hague. The order by the Tribunal trial chamber granting his release sets several terms for Gruban, including that he would have to return to the Tribunal when the trial chamber orders. .

The World Health Organization published of new guidelines for using the Global Solar Ultra Violet Index to help in the reduction of skin cancer and cataracts. The new guide says that simple measures such as wearing protective clothing and sunglasses and avoiding the sun at midday can reduce the risk of skin cancer and cataracts by up to 70 percent. There has been an increase in skin cancer since the 1970s caused by changes in lifestyles and the depletion of the ozone layer. Overexposure to the sun also contributes to the more than 2 million cases of blindness due to cataracts worldwide.

The UN Environment Programme said today that $600 million is needed to replenish Multilateral Fund for the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The role of the Fund is to help countries reach the targets for reduction of ozone depleting substances set by the Protocol. The Fund has received $1.6 billion in contributions from industrialized countries, $1.3 billion of which has been used for projects in 134 developing countries. The additional funds are needed to meet the targets for the 2003-2005 period.

Saudi Arabia became the 87th Member State to pay its 2002 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $6 million. At this time last year, 97 Member States had paid their contributions in full.

This morning, the Seychelles signed five treaties and protocols and ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Control, which now has 75 parties.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General United Nations, S-378 New York, NY 10017 Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only Fax. 212-963-7055

All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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