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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-01-27

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

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, January 27, 2003

Because of the Security Council meeting on Iraq today, there was no noon briefing by the Spokesman's Office. The following are highlights of the day's events.

IRAQ: UN WEAPONS INSPECTORS REPORT TO SECURITY COUNCIL

This morning in the Security Council, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Hans Blix, and the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed elBaradei, presented their 60-day update on the weapons inspection process.

In his remarks to the open meeting, Blix, said while Iraq is seen as cooperating on the inspection process, notably on access to sites, it needs to do more on substantive cooperation. "This is indispensable to bring the disarmament task to completion through the peaceful process of inspection, Blix added. The inspection process, Blix went on to say, is not based on the premise of trust. Rather it is designed to lead to trust, he said.

Blix also noted problems with Iraq weapons declaration of December 7, which he said raised a number of questions that need to be addressed seriously by Iraq if the weapons dossiers are to be closed and confidence is to arise.

Blix outlined UNMOVICs increased capabilities of the inspectors on the ground, which give them the ability to launch multiple missions. In the past two months, they conducted about 300 inspections on more than 200 different sites.

ElBaradei, in his update, said that over the first two months of inspection, his inspectors have made good progress in their knowledge of Iraqs nuclear capabilities, with a total of 139 inspections at some 106 locations to date. In the inspections so far, "n o prohibited nuclear activities have been identified," ElBaradei added.

However, ElBaradei said, "Our work is steadily progressing and should be allowed to run its natural course. With our verification system now in place, barring exceptional circumstances, and provided there is sustained proactive cooperation by Iraq, we should be able within the next few months to provide credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapons program."

The formal meeting was followed by consultations on the same subject.

ANNAN SAYS UN WEAPONS INSPECTORS NEED TIME

Upon entering the building this morning, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said at a brief press encounter that the Security Council will have to determine how to proceed next after hearing todays report from the chief UN weapons inspectors dealing with Iraq. He said, "I think if they do need time, they should be given the time to do their work and all of us, the Council when they sent them, must have realized that time will be necessary a reasonable amount of time."

He added that he believed the Council would allow for "a reasonable amount of time," and he reiterated his support for multilateralism and his hope that Security Council unity on the issue would be maintained.

"I really hope that Iraq will comply and we will be able to get on and disarm Iraq peacefully," the Secretary-General told reporters. "I have not given up on peace, and you shouldnt either."

INCIDENT REPORTED BY UN IRAQ-KUWAIT OBSERVATION MISSION

This morning at about 11:10 a.m. time in Kuwait, two UN military observers from the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) were confronted by a Kuwaiti military border guard at a checkpoint near Abdaly, about a few hundred meters outside the UN-monitored demilitarized zone in Kuwait.

The Kuwaiti guard came near the UN vehicle and first pointed his rifle at the shoulder of the UN officer and then moved the rifle aiming at the head of the officer.

At that point, one of the two UN officers showed their UNIKOM identification cards to another police guard while the gun was still pointed at them. About a minute later, the Kuwaiti military guards laughed and moved away from the scene of the incident, allowing the UN vehicle to pass.

Kuwaiti authorities have assured UNIKOM that they would be investigating the incident.

ANNAN TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON COTE D'IVOIRE ACCORD

The Secretary-General traveled to Paris Friday to attend a summit meeting on Cote dIvoire called by the French Government. France had hosted 10 days of talks outside of Paris among representatives of Cote dIvoires political parties. In the wee hours of Friday morning, they had agreed on a power-sharing arrangement. The purpose of the summit was to affirm that agreement and to seek international support for its implementation.

French President Jacques Chirac briefed the Secretary-General at mid-day Friday on the nature of the agreement reached among the parties. The summit then opened Saturday morning.

After a brief opening segment, President Chirac suspended the meeting to huddle with Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo, with the Secretary-General present. Two hours later, when the summit meeting reconvened, Chirac announced that, in an agreement concluded under the authority of the Secretary-General, Gbagbo had decided to nominate Seydou Diarra, a Muslim from the north of the country, as the new Prime Minister to head a government of national reconciliation. Diarra then described the architecture of the agreement, whereby the principal ministries and other governmental posts would be shared among all the political parties.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General chaired a segment on follow-up mechanisms for the peace agreement. He thanked all those who had contributed to the positive outcome, but said that the real hard work now begins. He pledged the support of the UN community, and said that he would report to the Security Council on Tuesday to discuss specific follow-up action the Council might want to take.

On Sunday, the summit leaders discussed the security situation in the region, and then heard from donors who indicated the nature of their support. The European Union, for example, pledged over $400 million over the next five years, on the condition that the parties respect the agreement.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, briefed the group on the UNs humanitarian assessment for Cote dIvoire, emphasizing the large number of displaced people and refugees.

At the end of the meeting on Sunday, Chirac chaired a press conference with several of the principals, including the Secretary-General, who said, I hope the population will work with the leaders, will accept the decision taken here in Paris and return the Ivory Coast to the Ivory Coast that we all knew and admired.

COTE D'IVOIRE: UN HUMANITARIAN ENVOY APPEALS FOR DONOR SUPPORT

The Secretary-Generals Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis in Côte dIvoire, Carolyn McAskie, visited the Abidjan shantytown of Washington following reports that residents there had been beaten and threatened by armed men during Sunday night.

Since her arrival in Abidjan, McAskie has registered her concern for the residents of Abidjans shantytowns, several of which had been destroyed in the wake of a September 2002 coup attempt. After threats had been made early last week to residents of a shantytown, McAskie asked President Laurent Gbagbo to ensure that his October 8 declaration that no more shantytowns would be destroyed was respected.

The acts committed here last night are against the laws of Côte dIvoire," she said. "The police and the gendarmes are not above the law. They are the law. If they do not respect the law, there is only lawlessness."

She also appealed to donors for added support to Cote dIvoires vulnerable populations, adding, "Twenty million dollars would go a long way" and comparing that amount to the close to one billion dollars that has been collected for Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Abidjan remains tense after a weekend filled with violent demonstrations against a peace accord signed in Paris late last week.

MIDDLE EAST: ANNAN DEPLORES "OMINOUS ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE"

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued through his Spokesman on Sunday, deplored the ominous escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip over the past few days.

He is concerned by Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip that place Palestinian civilians in harm's way, and deeply regrets the loss of life and injury resulting from Saturday night's Israeli incursion into Gaza City, which left approximately twelve dead and scores wounded.

The Secretary-General is concerned by the preceding rocket attacks against Israel launched from the Gaza Strip on Friday, and a similar attack earlier Sunday, and believes that they are counterproductive to peace efforts such as the Palestinian ceasefire talks under way in Cairo.

The Secretary-General called on both sides to act with restraint, in keeping with their obligations under international humanitarian law. He urged them to take steps to break the cycle of violence that has claimed so many Israeli and Palestinian lives in recent years. He remains convinced that the only way forward is a process that addresses political, security and economic issues in parallel, as set forth in the Quartet's Road Map.

CONSULTATIONS CONTINUE ON IAEA BOARD MEETING ON NORTH KOREA

Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors -- which in recent months has adopted two resolutions on safeguards in North Korea -- are continuing consultations on the question of taking up the matter again, with a consensus emerging for a Board meeting in early February.

The Board last met on January 6, following North Korea's decision to withdraw from the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and before the latest and ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue.

ANNAN NOTES MILLENNIUM GOALS IN PORTO ALEGRE MESSAGE

In Porto Alegre, Brazil, today, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Nitin Desai delivered a message on the Secretary-Generals behalf to the World Social Forum, telling participants that they meet against a backdrop of great anxiety, from Iraq to the Korean peninsula.

In his message, the Secretary-General tells the participants at the Forum that he shares their worries that a plethora of other issues, from the merciless spread of AIDS to the unequal distribution of globalizations benefits to environmental despoliation, will be neglected when so much else is happening in the weeks and months ahead.

He warns, "That would be a tragedy, not least because we are better positioned than ever before to tackle these problems." In particular, he notes the common framework the Millennium Development Goals offer for Governments to push forward.

EFFORTS TO REBUILD JUSTICE SYSTEM UNDERWAY IN AFGHANISTAN

The Afghan Judicial Reform Commission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed a project on rebuilding the justice system of Afghanistan.

The first part of the project will be, among others, reconstructing and equipping the courthouses across the country and training judges and other law offices. Particular attention will be given to ensure gender equity and a firmer role for women through the judicial system.

The project follows the international conference on Reform of the Afghan Justice System held in Rome in December 2002. Approximately $30 million were pledged for rebuilding Afghanistans judicial system by the donor nations which attended that Rome conference.

Also in Afghanistan, UN security has suspended road missions to three districts in the province of Nangarhar as a result of an attack on a convoy of the UN High Commissioner of Refugees.

The attack happened Sunday when a UN mission of four vehicles, escorted by one vehicle with provincial security guards, was traveling in the province of Nangarhar. They saw a body lying on the road and they stopped to find out what had happened. Armed men then fired on the escort and killed two of the escort officers and seriously injured another one. No UN staff were hurt and all of the UNHCR vehicles arrived safely in Jalalabad. An investigation of the attack now is being carried out.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS SOUTHERN AFRICA HUMANITARIAN CRISIS: Rapid response from international donors has helped stave off a catastrophe in Malawi but millions of people remain at risk from lack of food, HIV/AIDS and floods, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, James T. Morris, warned today. Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary Generals Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, has joined Morriss second mission to southern Africa, given the impact of AIDS on the crisis.

LABOR: In addition to rising crime, violence, accidents and terror attacks, the public emergency sector in many countries are increasingly facing new challenges as a result of deteriorating working conditions, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The report to a meeting on public emergency service, which opens today in Geneva, says that public emergency sector workers must often contend with long working hours, a shrinking workforce and, in many countries, a lack of fundamental workplace rights including the right to strike. The five-day meeting will review trends in working conditions and elaborate a set of guidelines on the issues raised. HUMAN RIGHTS: High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, today announced the appointment of Christine Chanet as his personal representative for Cuba. Chanet is a judge specializing in criminal law and has been a member of the UN Human Rights Committee since 1996. She was the first woman to hold the position of President of the Committee. WATER: The United Nations Environment Programme announced today that the report, Vital Water Graphics, will be presented to the Governing Council when it meets next week. The report is a collaboration between UNEP and some of the worlds leading water institutions and explains through graphs, charts and photographs, some of the problems such as waste, dwindling freshwater supplies and the dramatic reduction in the size of some of the large freshwater lakes. BUDGET: Cyprus today became the 29th Member State to pay its 2003 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $500,000.

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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