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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-01-15

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

FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

UN TEAM CONFIRMS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN DR CONGO

This morning in Kinshasa, the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) said that a preliminary report confirms that human rights abuses by soldiers of the Congolese Liberation Movement and the Congolese Rally for Democracy/National in Mambasa and in the villages on the Mambasa/Mangina main road, in the northeast of the country.

On December 31, 2002, MONUC deployed an investigative team to the area following the serious allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by MLC and RCD-N troops during their occupation of Mambasa territory in the fourth quarter of last year.

The investigation team interviewed 368 people victims and witnesses alike during the two weeks spent in Mangina and Oicha villages where tens of thousands of displaced people found refuge.

The investigation mission received testimonies corroborating systematic looting and rape as well as summary executions and abductions.

The report also confirms that among the people executed, mutilated and cannibalized, there were members of the Pygmies community forced to leave the forest.

The United Nations continues to receive testimonies from the thousands displaced in Oicha and Butembo.

The exact number of the victims is not determined to date. The preliminary report by MONUC investigation team was presented to the Security Council in New York and to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON DR CONGO, CONDEMNS MASSACRES

The Security Council held consultations this morning on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, shared some of the information contained in the above-mentioned report. Annabi also provided the members with a comprehensive update on the situation in the country. In addition to the human rights abuses in the northeast, Annabi updated Council members on the political situation, including the upcoming Inter-Congolese Dialogue, and on the on-going disarmament and demobilization process.

[The Council President, Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France, in a press statement following those consultations, said members of the Council condemned in the strongest terms the massacres and systematic violations of human rights perpetrated by MLC and RCD/National troops in the Ituri area. "Jean-Pierre Bemba, as the leader of the MLC, bears the responsibility for the security of civilian populations in the territory under his control. The members of the Council demanded that Jean-Pierre Bemba ensure that these massacres and violations of human rights cease immediately and hold the perpetrators accountable," the statement said. "They took note of his commitments to take action and expressed their intention to continue to monitor the situation in this regard, on the basis of continuing investigations by MONUC and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights."]

SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE UP SANCTIONS AGAINST AL-QAIDA

At 3:45 p.m., the Security Council has scheduled consultations on the follow-up of Resolution 1390 of 16 January 2002 on the sanctions against Al-Qaida. In that resolution, the Council decided that the measures set out should be renewed a year later to decide whether to continue or improve them.

Asked which ministers would be participating in Mondays ministerial meeting on Combatting Terrorism, the Spokesman said the list had not yet be finalized. In response to another question on that meeting, the Spokesman later said French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, who would chair the meeting, has scheduled a press conference on Monday.

UN HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF VISITS ANGOLA , DR CONGO

High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello traveled to Angola today, where he is to meet with President José Eduardo dos Santos and other senior officials on a three-day visit during which he will receive information on the current peace process and draw attention to the importance of human rights in achieving national reconciliation.

Earlier, Vieira de Mello was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where he met yesterday with President Joseph Kabila and expressed his concern about the fate of 30 people recently sentenced to death by a military court on charges that they were involved in the assassination of the previous President, Laurent-Desiré Kabila.

Monday, two UN special rapporteurs Asma Jahangir, who deals with summary or arbitrary execution, and Iulia Antoanella Motoc, who deals with the DRC also expressed their serious concern about those death sentences, as well as by reports that 15 people had been executed recently following a military tribunal judgment. They said that, according to the information they had received, the military tribunals trials had been unfair.

CYPRIOT LEADERS MEET, REITERATE COMMITMENT TO NEGOTIATE

This morning at 11:30 in Cyprus, His Excellency Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, and His Excellency, Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, met in the UN area in the presence of the Secretary-Generals Special Advisor, Alvaro de Soto. The discussions continued over lunch, which ended at 2.30. p.m. A UN note-taker was present throughout.

The leaders reiterated their commitment to negotiate on the basis of the Secretary-Generals revised proposal of December 10, 2002, with a view to completing an agreement by the end of February so that informed decisions can be taken by the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots in separate referenda on March 30, 2003.

The leaders have agreed to meet again, together with their advisers, on Friday January 17, 2003 at 4.00 p.m. A programme for intensive negotiations in the coming weeks would be agreed then.

The work of the technical committees will continue in parallel.

CHIEF UN WEAPONS INSPECTOR TO STOP IN EUROPE BEFORE HEADING TO IRAQ

The Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Dr. Hans Blix, will be stopping off in Brussels, Paris and London before heading off to Bagdhad.

He is expected to meet Thursday with, among other people, the European Union High Representative for a Common Foreign Security Policy Javier Solana as well as Chris Patten, the European Commissions External Relations Commissioner.

He will then be traveling to Paris where he is expected to meet with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Following Paris, Blix will be in London to meet with senior officials of the British government.

Blix will be in Cyprus over the weekend and then travels on Sunday to Baghdad, along with the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei. The two are expected to leave Baghdad on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, on the ground the inspections continue, including airborne operations. Teams from both IAEA and UNMOVIC visited a variety of sites, including agricultural facilities, a heavy machinery design plant and missile propellant factory. There are now 264 people working for UNMOVIC and IAEA in Iraq, including 114 inspectors. The rest are support staff. And in Vienna, UNMOVICs seventh training course for inspectors gets underway next Monday. Fifty-eight people, from 21 countries, including three Arab states, are set to participate.

ANNAN CALLS FOR CONTINUED PRESENCE OF UN FORCE IN SOUTH LEBANON

Published today is the Secretary-Generals latest report on the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in which he recommends that its mandate be extended a further six months until July 31, 2003.

In it, the Secretary-General says that since his last report six months ago, the situation on the ground has returned to one of general stability, with some sites of tension.

The hostility prevailing between the parties has been tempered by a willingness bolstered by international pressure to exercise restraint, the Secretary-General observes. Tensions, however, do remain notably along the Blue Line. In the report the Secretary-General reiterates his call to all concerned to respect the line as each violation and any provocation from either side could lead to confrontation.

On operations, the Secretary-General says the reconfiguration of the peacekeeping force was completed at the end of last year and that, at this stage, no further reduction of the force is planned.

FIRST DRAFT OF ANTI TOBACCO CONVENTION IS RELEASED

The Inter-Governmental Negotiating Body of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control today made public its draft text for the Convention.

The draft contains articles on methods to reduce the demand for tobacco and tobacco products including the control of price and taxes, advertising of tobacco products, health warnings and packaging. It also addresses ways of reducing the supply of tobacco by curtailing the illicit trade in tobacco products and the targeting of minors.

When adopted, the Convention will create a global regulatory system to control tobacco and protect public health. The draft will be considered at the Negotiating Bodys next meeting in February and the final text will be presented to the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization for adoption in May.

ECA TO HOST TALKS BETWEEN AFRICAN AND OECD FINANCE MINISTERS

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) announced today that effective implementation of the development cooperation agenda will be the subject at its informal Big Table consultation that will take place between African finance ministers and their counterparts from the Organization for Economic Cooperation in Development (OECD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this weekend.

The meeting will bring together finance and planning ministers from 11 African countries and development cooperation ministers and aid agency heads from 10 Western European and North American countries.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

PEACEKEEPING: The 2003 Conference of Heads of Missions organized by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) opened today in New York. This morning, 13 heads of missions held discussions on administrative and logistics support to peacekeeping operations. In the afternoon, they will depart to off-site DPKO seminar on management and leadership. The Conference will end on 18 January.

UNICEF: The UN Children's Fund announced today a contribution of $2.5 million to support the Kenyan governments primary education programme. The funds will be used for learning and teaching materials and other support in schools in eight districts and Nairobi and will benefit 450,000 children.

UN BUDGET: Kuwait today became the 18th Member State to pay its 2003 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $1.9 million.

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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