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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-01-20

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

Monday, January 20, 2003

UN WEAPONS INSPECTORS, IRAQ END TALKS WITH 10-POINT AGREEMENT

Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), and Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), today ended two days of talks with an Iraqi delegation, and the two sides jointly noted 10 points.

Among other key points, the sides agreed that access has been obtained to all sites, and that this will continue. The Iraqi side will encourage persons also to accept access to private sites.

After some empty 122-millimeter chemical munitions were found at al-Ukhaidhir, the Iraqi side has appointed a team to undertake an investigation and comprehensive search to look for similar cases at all locations. One find, of four more units, was already reported at the al-Taji munitions stores.

Some documents requested by UNMOVIC were handed over, and clarifications were given regarding others. Iraq also expressed a readiness to respond to questions raised in connection with its declaration of last December 7.

Persons asked for interviews in private will be encouraged to accept this. The list of persons engaged in various disciplines will be supplemented, in accordance with advice from UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

Blix and ElBaradei gave a press conference before leaving Baghdad. Blix told reporters that he had no doubt that the points agreed to would be respected and implemented. ElBaradei added that some progress had been made on nuclear issues. They then left for Cyprus, from where Blix will travel back to New York and ElBaradei to Vienna.

UN INSPECTORS ANALYZE WARHEAD, VISIT SITES OVER WEEKEND

Over the weekend, UN inspections work on the ground continued, with an UNMOVIC team on Saturday conducting further analysis of the 12th warhead found last Thursday at the Ukhaidhir site and taking additional samples from that warhead.

The inspection teams also visited a manufacturing site and various colleges, and went to al-Rasheed air base in anticipation of flying by helicopter deep into the northern no-fly zone.

Asked about UN humanitarian planning in the event of a war with Iraq, the Spokesman said the United Nations has been dealing with contingency planning if such a war occurs, and had brought together all relevant UN offices and agencies in that effort.

Asked about whether Cyprus could be the site of any UN humanitarian operations if a war takes place, the Spokesman confirmed that the United Nations has been talking to Cyprus as one possible place from which to conduct humanitarian operations.

UN ENVOY ON MISSING PERSONS AND PROPERTY ARRIVES IN KUWAIT FROM IRAQ

The Level Coordinator Yuli Vorontsov had meetings in Baghdad over the weekend on the subject of missing Kuwaiti nationals and seized Kuwaiti property resulting from the 1991 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. He also met with the Chairman of the Committee for Missing Iraqis in Baghdad.

Today, he stopped at UN Mission headquarters in Um Qasr, after traveling overland from Baghdad, where he met with the Acting Head of Mission, Tesfaye Tedese, to discuss seized property. Tedese was asked by the Secretary-General to facilitate the return of small items of Kuwaiti property, such as those that are discovered in markets.

The UN Mission then facilitated Vorontsovs trip to Kuwait City, where he will have meetings with Kuwaiti officials. He is scheduled to go next to Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday.

ANNAN: UNITED NATIONS MUST PLAY ROLE IN DISSUADING TERRORISTS

The Security Council this morning held a high-level meeting on the issue of combating terrorism, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan speaking first.

In his statement, the Secretary-General said the United Nations must play an increasing role in dissuading would-be-perpetrators of terror by setting effective international norms, and issuing a clear message on the unacceptability of acts of violence targeting civilians. The Security Councils Counter-Terrorism Committee will continue to be at the center of

global efforts to fight terrorism.

He noted, Even as many are rightly praising the unity and resolve of the international community in this crucial struggle, important and urgent questions are being asked about what might be called the collateral damage of the war on terrorism damage to the presumption of innocence, to precious human rights, to the rule of law, and to the very fabric of democratic governance.

Just as terrorism must never be excused, so must genuine grievances never be ignored, the Secretary-General further noted.

All 15 Council members spoke before they voted unanimously to adopt a resolution, affirming a declaration on counter-terrorism. Thirteen Council members were represented at the ministerial level.

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION ELECTS LIBYAN AS 2003 CHAIR

The Commission on Human Rights met this morning in Geneva under a new procedure, two months ahead of its annual six-week session, and elected Ambassador Najat al-Hajjaji of Libya as its chairperson for this year. She was elected by a secret ballot, with 33 countries voting in favor, three opposed, and 17 abstentions.

The vote was requested by the United States, in a change from traditional practice, in which chairpersons are elected by acclamation.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello, who had just returned to Geneva after visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, said today offered a unique opportunity for the Commission to demonstrate that it could manage its procedural business with wisdom, speed and restraint. Vieira de Mello told reporters today that he hoped that approach would continue as the Commission performs its substantive work.

Al-Hajjaji said that the Commission must affirm the universality, indivisibility and complementarity of human rights, and that it must deal with human rights in all countries, taking into account the different religious, cultural and historical backgrounds in the world.

UN ENVOY LEAVES NORTH KOREA AFTER FOUR-DAY TRIP

Maurice Strong, the Secretary-Generals special advisor, returned to Beijing on Saturday after spending four days in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), where he met with, among others, Paek Nam Fun, the President of the Supreme Peoples Assembly and Kim Yong Nam, the Foreign Minister.

Strong was asked by the Secretary-General to visit the country to assess the humanitarian situation there, and the discussions also touched on the current issues that affect the Korean peninsula.

Strong is scheduled to report on his trip to the Secretary-General in New York on Wednesday.

UN ENVOY FOR COTE DIVOIRE VISITS DISPLACED FROM SHANTYTOWNS

Over the weekend, Carolyn McAskie, the Secretary-Generals Humanitarian Envoy for the Crisis in Cote dIvoire, visited people who had been displaced from their homes when government authorities destroyed several shantytowns in Abidjan in the wake of a coup attempt in September 2002.

On Saturday, McAskie visited sites where some residents have found temporary shelter in churches, in mosques, under trees or amidst debris. Others sleep out in the open. Speaking to journalists about what she saw, McAskie said, To see exactly how these people are living is absolutely shocking. We are talking to the Government and also trying to bring international aid.

Speaking to internally displaced persons, she said, We will continue to pressure the Government to stop this destruction and to treat its citizens and foreign guests in a more humane manner.

The United Nations estimates that as many as 1 million people have been displaced within Cote dIvoire and that more than 120,000 people have fled to neighboring countries since September.

FORMER SERBIAN PRESIDENT TRANSFERRED TO TRIBUNAL

Former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic was transferred today to the detention unit of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, where he faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, deportation, forcible transfer and persecution on political, racial and religious grounds.

The charges stem from his time in the Serb leadership, which ended just last month, when he stepped down as Serb President on December 29.

The date and time for his initial appearance at the Tribunal will be set in the coming days.

WHO TO CONSIDER NOMINATION OF NEW DIRECTOR-GENERAL

The World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board begins its 111th session today. Among the items on the agenda is the nomination of a candidate for the post of Director-General to replace Gro Harlem Brundtland, who ends her five-year term in July.

During the course of this week, the Board will examine all the candidates proposed and make a short list of five candidates, who will then be interviewed on January 27. The Board will vote on Tuesday, January 28, the final day of the meeting, for the candidate, who will be nominated to the World Health Assembly for confirmation.

The Board will also draft the contract for the new Director-General, establishing terms and conditions of employment and salary and other considerations.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS CYPRUS: Asked to respond to media comments by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, which allegedly called UN efforts in Cyprus a crime against humanity, the Spokesman said if Denktash had said that, he would have to disagree. The Secretary-General, he said, was offering his good offices so that a unified Cyprus could enter the European Union, adding, Hes trying to help them. Told that there had been criticism of his own earlier comments that it would be a tragedy if the current opportunity were lost, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, has made similar comments. The United Nations, he added, feels that if an agreement is not reached by the end of February, it is hard to see what new opportunity would present itself.

KOSOVO: In a speech broadcast this evening on Kosovos television stations, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, said he is ready to hand over all competencies that he legally can to Kosovos provisional institutions, but on one condition: that they work more seriously. He spelled out several priorities for Kosovo in the year ahead, including reform in the economy, progress in fighting crime and efforts to build a multi-ethnic society. RATIFICATIONS: This afternoon Mexico will become the 80th country to ratify the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the 67th to ratify the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

UN BUDGET: Today, Ireland became the 21st Member State to pay its 2003 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $3.9 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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