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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-01-16

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









Thursday, January 16, 2003


The Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Hans Blix, was in Brussels, Belgium, this morning, where he met a number of European Union officials, including the High Representative for a Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten.

Afterwards, in remarks to the press, Blix said the message he wants to bring to Baghdad is that the situation is very tense and very dangerous and that everybody wants to see a verified and credible disarmament of Iraq.

He added that he feels that Iraq should do more than they have done so far in order to make the inspection process credible.

He also said that both he and the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, were trying their best to make the inspections effective so that a peaceful solution to this crisis can be found.

Asked where Secretary-General Kofi Annan stands on the question of Resolution 1441, the Spokesman said the matter is being discussed by the Security Council, and the Secretary-General will not comment while the Council debate goes on.

Asked about what Blix and ElBaradei will discuss in Baghdad, the Spokesman said that the gaps in Iraqs reporting would likely be the first item on the agenda.


An UNMOVIC inspection team today visited the residences of two Iraqi scientists in Baghdad, in search of documents, and took some documents related to past proscribed activities, dating from the early 1990s, for further evaluation.

An UNMOVIC team visited the Ukhaider Ammunition Storage Area to inspect a large group of bunkers constructed in the late 1990s. During their inspection, the team discovered 11 empty 12mm chemical warheads and one warhead that requires further evaluation, which were in excellent condition and were similar to ones imported by Iraq during the late 1980s.

UNMOVIC missile teams also inspected sites in Baghdad and southeast of the city, while an UNMOVIC chemical team visited storage facilities 60 kilometers outside of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, in Geneva today, the UN Compensation Commission announced it had made more than $597 million available to 17 governments and one international organization for payment to 327 claimants. The Commission is mandated to pay compensation for losses and damage suffered as a direct result of Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait.


The Security Council heard a briefing from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast on the Israeli-Palestinian situation in an open meeting on the Middle East, which was followed by consultations on the same subject.

In his briefing, Prendergast reported on the recent Quartet meeting in Washington, as well as on the ongoing violence, which, since the last update to the Council, has claimed the lives of 68 Palestinians and 24 Israelis.

There is a legitimate concern, he said, that the negative trends so evident on the ground erode the prospect for achieving a two-state solution. But there is a clear consensus in the international community to support the Quartets efforts to reach a permanent settlement on two sovereign states, living side by side in peace and security.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Security Council came out with a press statement condemning in the strongest terms the massacres and systematic violations of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

And in the afternoon, Council members received a draft resolution on the sanctions against al-Qaeda. A vote is expected on Friday.

During next Mondays ministerial meeting of the Security Council on combating terrorism, only Council members will take the floor. Non-Council members who wish to participate in discussions on this issue have been invited to do so at an open meeting on February 20 under the German Council presidency.


President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela met with the Secretary-General today, while visiting New York to attend the ceremony marking the turnover of the chairmanship of the Group of 77 (G-77), the coalition of 133 developing countries, from last years chairman, Venezuela, to this years, Morocco.

The Secretary-General is scheduled to speak at that handover ceremony, which is to take place at 3:30 this afternoon in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General will highlight challenges the G-77 will face in the coming year, including the need to deal with trade-related intellectual property rights while allowing developing countries to have access to life-saving medicines, an issue which has led to difficulties in multilateral trade negotiations following the 2001 Doha agreement.

Also, he is to urge the developing nations to pay greater attention to protecting the human rights of migrants and for both developing and developed countries to realize fully the potential of international migration.

Asked whether the Secretary-Generals meeting with Chavez represented a higher priority for Latin America on the UN agenda, the Spokesman said that Annan had said late last year that he expected Latin American issues to have higher priority in 2003. Venezuela was one of two priority areas, along with Zimbabwe, mentioned by the Secretary-General in his recent press conference.

The Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has been on the phone with Latin American leaders, often on Venezuela, on a near-daily basis, including with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The Spokesman also noted the work done in Colombia by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, James LeMoyne.

He added, in response to a question about whether the Secretary-Generals message that the Venezuela crisis must be resolved through democratic means has been delivered to the opposition, that he was unaware of any contact between Annan and the opposition, but that his appeal had been made in public.


Alvaro de Soto, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, is today in Athens where he met George Papandreou, Greeces Foreign Minister, and other foreign ministry officials.

Papandreou confirmed Greeces support for achieving a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem by February 28, using the Secretary-Generals revised proposal of December 10, 2002, as a basis for negotiations.

Later today, de Soto is meeting Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy.

De Soto will return to Cyprus on Friday, where he will attend a meeting at 4:00 p.m. in the UN Protected Area in Nicosia between Glafkos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, and Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader.

Asked whether the Secretary-General regards the current process as the last chance for peace in Cyprus, the Spokesman said, Its the last good chance for a very long time. He said that the talks must conclude by the end of February, and that, if the opportunity slips, it will be a tragedy.


The Secretary-Generals report on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, notes that, after one year of strenuous efforts by his Special Representative and the Group of Friends, the parties to the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict have not moved much closer to the start of negotiations. The Abkhaz side, in particular, refuses to even enter into discussions on the principles on which negotiations should be based, the report says.

In order for the conflict to be resolved rather than contained, the Secretary-General expresses his intention to invite senior representatives of the Group of Friends to an informal brainstorming session on the way forward.

He also recommends a further extension of the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) for six months, until July 31.


High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello is in Angola, where today he is meeting with Foreign Minister Joćo Bernardo de Miranda and other senior officials.

On Wednesday, upon his arrival in Luanda, Vieira de Mello said there were two major problems that deserve special attention from the Angolan Government and the outside world: the plight of the people displaced by the countrys conflict and the humanitarian treatment of troops and former troops, especially from the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

He called the end of Angolas war the fundamental improvement in its human rights situation, adding, Now it is necessary to consolidate this great progress.


James Baker, the Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, met Wednesday with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his Cabinet and explained to them a proposal for a political solution of the conflict over Western Sahara. They listened to the proposal and said they would return with comments or questions to him.

Today, he was expected to go to Tindouf, Algeria, where the Polisario Front is based.

Bakers visit to the region this week has also taken him to Morocco. Mauritania is scheduled to be the last stop of his four-day mission.

During his mission, ending Friday, Baker will present and explain to the parties and neighboring countries a proposal for a political solution of the conflict over Western Sahara, which provides for self-determination as requested by Security Council Resolution 1429 (2002).

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS GLOBAL COMPACT: The Advisory Council for the Global Compact is holding its third meeting at UN Headquarters today, which included discussions this morning on broadening corporate commitment to the nine human right, labor rights and environmental principles enshrined in the Compact, among other topics. This afternoon, the participants are expected to hold an informal exchange of views on where the Global Compact should be five years from now.

COTE DIVOIRE: Carolyn McAskie, Special Humanitarian Envoy of the Secretary-General for the crisis in Cote dIvoire, arrived in Abidjan today. She told reporters that the message she will convey to all parties to this conflict is that the United Nations attaches great importance to the protection of civilians, respect for human rights and their responsibilities with respect to the humanitarian situation.

MALAWI FLOODS: A humanitarian update on floods in Malawi says the great majority of the victims in often-inaccessible areas of the country are extremely poor women who are predominantly engaged in crop production.

AFGHANISTAN: The UN Mission in Afghanistan has informed journalists that its website is now up and running at the address The website provides, among many other things, access to transcripts of the briefing, all relevant United Nations documents, including all General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on Afghanistan.

ROMA: In Brussels, Belgium, the UN Development Programme launched its Roma Human Development Report, "Avoiding the Dependency Trap," which points out that the literacy, infant mortality and basic nutrition rates of most of Europe's four to five million Roma are closer to levels in sub-Saharan Africa than those for other Europeans. Nearly half of the Roma surveyed are unemployed, and close to one in six is "constantly starving." VIETNAM: The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has pledged $1.3 million in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to help the city's progress in reforming its public administration.

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:

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