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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-01-23

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 HUA

JIANG

DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN

FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, January 23, 2003

COLLEGE OF COMMISSIONERS FOR UNMOVIC MEETS

The College of Commissioners of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) met at UN Headquarters this morning.

This is a special meeting during which UNMOVICs Executive Chairman, Hans Blix, and the commissioners reviewed the inspectors work on the ground in Iraq. They also discussed how Blix will formulate his update to the Security Council, which is scheduled for this Monday.

[Blix told reporters afterward, in response to questions, that some things had gone well, including access to many sites, while some had not, such as efforts to obtain permission for U2 flights. He noted that the timetable for inspections would be determined by the Security Council.]

In inspection activity today, an UNMOVIC team of missile inspectors flew by helicopter to the al-Kindi research facility, 400 kilometers north of Baghdad, in the northern no-fly zone. This was the first such flight since an agreement was reached on procedures earlier this week, and, in another first, the team was met by four inspectors from a separate UN base, in Mosul.

Other inspections today included visits by a chemical team to a large complex and by a biological team to Baghdads Mustansiriyah University, as well as visits to an airfield in Kirkuk and to the Basra vicinity. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) teams also performed inspections in Basra and at the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission.

The spokesman in Baghdad, Hiro Ueki, clarified reports about a visit by four UN inspectors to Baghdads Al-Nidaa Mosque, saying the inspectors visited the mosque on a private tour last Sunday, and asked questions as tourists. There was no inspection at the mosque.

ANNAN TO TRAVEL TO PARIS FOR COTE DIVOIRE TALKS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is leaving New York tonight, to travel to Paris for a summit this weekend of heads of state to deal with the crisis in Cote dIvoire.

On Saturday, he will attend that summit and speak at a meeting of Cote dIvoires political forces, as well as at another meeting on the follow-up mechanism to the Paris Conference.

On Sunday, as the summit continues, he plans to participate in a joint press conference with French President Jacques Chirac and South African President Thabo Mbeki, before heading back to New York later in the day.

He will attend the Security Council open meeting on Iraq next Monday, although he is not expected to speak at that meeting.

UN HUMANITARIAN ENVOY MEETS COTE DIVOIRE PRESIDENT

In Abidjan, Carolyn McAskie, the Secretary-Generals Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis in Cote dIvoire, met on Wednesday with President Laurent Gbagbo and voiced her concern over the humanitarian situation in the country.

In particular, she expressed concern about the lack of public services particularly those dealing with health and education in rebel-held areas, and underlined the need to protect civilians caught in armed conflict, including nearly one million Ivoirians who have been displaced from their homes since last September.

McAskie asked President Gbagbo to ensure that his declaration, made last October 8, that no more shantytowns would be destroyed would be respected, and she also asked the President to ensure respect for the safety of humanitarian personnel bringing aid to vulnerable people in the country.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES EXTENSION OF UN SAHARA MISSION

The Security Council met in closed consultations this morning to discuss the Secretary-Generals latest report on Western Sahara. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi briefed the Council on the report and on the travel to the region last week by the Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy, James Baker.

In the report, the Secretary-General asked the Security Council for a two-month extension of the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara while the parties consider Bakers proposals. Council members today discussed a draft resolution for a technical rollover of the Mission.

Afterward, in a statement to the press, the Security Council President, Ambassador Jean Marc de la Sabliére of France, said that Council members agreed with the Secretary-Generals report that the responsibility for a resolution rests solely with the parties.

UN TO SEEK SUBMISSIONS FOR CYPRUS FLAG, ANTHEM

During a Wednesday meeting which covered a variety of subjects, Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, and Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, authorized the United Nations to seek submissions on a flag and anthem for Cyprus through open public competition, as foreseen in the proposal for a comprehensive settlement put to them by the Secretary-General last December 10.

The parties agreed that this procedure needed to be set in motion if a flag and anthem were to be ready to be included in a completed agreement by February 28, so as to enable the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots to decide on the settlement in separate referenda on 30 March 2003.

It is understood that the flag and anthem would only be adopted as part of a comprehensive settlement if the entire plan is approved in the separate referenda and a new state of affairs comes into being.

This decision reflects a shared commitment to ensure that all preparations are made for a completed agreement, in accordance with the timeframe proposed by the Secretary-General. It should not be taken as an indication of the state of play in the ongoing negotiations.

UN MIDDLE EAST ENVOY CONCERNED BY BLUE LINE VIOLATIONS

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed Larsen, issued a statement late Wednesday on the violations of the Blue Line that occurred earlier this week.

Larsen expressed great concern for Hizbullahs totally unacceptable attack on an Israeli position across the Blue Line. This attack is part of an unacceptable pattern of serious Blue Line violations, he said.

Larsen said that Israels response to the unprovoked attack also constitutes a violation of the Blue Line, with the tragic consequence of one Lebanese civilian fatality and injury to another civilian.

He also called on the Lebanese Government to make every effort to take more steps for the return of its effective authority throughout southern Lebanon, as called for in Security Council resolutions.

He urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint in order to avoid a dangerous cycle of attacks and counter-attacks, particularly at this difficult and unpredictable time in the region.

UNEP NOTES ALARMING POLLUTION IN PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

The United Nations Environment Programme announced that its report, Desk Study on the Environment in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, has been published on its website. The report says that conflict related environmental problems are adding to the pressure already on the environment, including pollution and the scarcity of land, weak environmental infrastructure and inadequate resources.

Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director, says in his foreword to the study that UNEPs work was motivated by the alarming reports related to pollution of water, dumping of wastes, loss of natural vegetation and pollution of coastal waters in the region.

The report will be presented to the Governing Council when it meets in February.

ANNAN URGES CENTRAL AFRICA TO PROMOTE ECONOMIC DIVERSITY

In the Gabonese capital, Libreville, the Secretary-General issued a message to the Summit meeting of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States in which he said the partnership between the United Nations and Africa rests on a vision that takes into account both the preoccupations and the aspirations of Africans.

He called on Central African states to use their vast wealth of natural resources in ways that promote economic diversity, and asked them also to ensure an equitable distribution of wealth within their countries, to ensure sound economic growth and sustainable development.

In the message, delivered by his Representative in the Central African Republic, Gen. Lamine Cisse, the Secretary-General called on regional leaders to create an environment of peace and stability.

In these areas, and others, the New Economic Partnership for Africas Development NEPAD serves as the framework for effective cooperation between Africa and the international community, including the United Nations.

UN ENVOY IN SUDAN WELCOMES RESUMPTION OF PEACE TALKS

The UN team working in Sudan today welcomed the resumption of peace talks brokered by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which restarted after a nine-week break.

The Secretary-Generals Humanitarian Envoy to Sudan, Tom Eric Vraalsen, said he hoped the talks would continue in a spirit of goodwill. He noted positive developments including deliveries of food to some 188,500 people who had previously been unable to gain access to it and a record number of polio immunizations of children that demonstrate the commitment by both parties to humanitarian goals.

UN agencies and its partners have already been able to reach a much larger number of people in need, Vraalsen said. We hope that this climate continues to allow suffering to be relieved effectively while creating the right conditions for meaningful talks.

UN CONGO MISSION DENIES ALLEGATIONS BY FACTION

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) issued a statement today saying that it was shocked by a press statement, put out two days ago by the RCD-N faction (Congolese Rally for Democracy-National), which accused the UN peacekeeping mission of partiality.

Amos Namanga Ngongi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in the DRC, denied the charges as unfounded, and the Mission said its report on the events at Mambasa was transmitted exclusively to the United Nations and, at its request, to one of the accused parties. It also denied reports that the Mission airlifted militia members and filmed events that took place before it was deployed to Ituri.

The Mission, in its statement, made clear that during the discharge of its mandate, it will never set traps for anyone, but will work under the mandate given by the Security Council.

FARYAB DISARMAMENT STALLED, UN AFGHANISTAN MISSION SAYS

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was informed that disarmament in Farybad has unfortunately been stalled due to differences between the Jamiat and Jumbesh factions. Negotiations are going on to settle these issues.

The disarmament exercise began Faryab province on January 18, and 500 light and heavy weapons had been collected.

UNAMA said that a national disarmament program has not yet been started, but relevant Commissions are being formed, and it hopes they will be in a position very soon to finalize how demobilization and disarmament will take place.

HUMAN RIGHTS DETERIORATING IN GUATEMALA, UN EXPERT SAYS

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative dealing with human rights defenders, Hina Jilani, says in a report she will submit to the Commission on Human Rights that the human rights situation in Guatemala is deteriorating, despite some positive Government initiatives.

Jilani says that the number of violations against people involved in defending human rights has increased over the past two years, including a rise in killings, death threats and acts of intimidation that are rarely investigated properly.

She warns, The involvement of clandestine structures and groups and attacks against defenders and allegations of their links with state security forces is a matter of serious concern that must be addressed by the Government on an urgent basis.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS MODEL UN: Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette is in Montreal, Canada, today, attending the 13th annual McGill Model UN Assembly. She will be the keynote speaker at the opening ceremonies. In her speech, she will offer the audience an inside look into what is on the UN agenda. The Deputy Secretary-General will be back in New York on Friday. DIGITAL DIVIDE: On Friday, starting at 9:00 a.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, the UN Information and Communication Task Force is sponsoring a meeting on Bridging the Digital Divide for the Caribbean, at which several officials from Caribbean Governments and the private sector will be present. The event is in preparation for the launch of the Digital Diaspora Network for the Caribbean, through which Caribbean expatriates working in North America will seek to mentor and underwrite information and communication technology initiatives in their home region.

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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