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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-06-02

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

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, June 2, 2003

ANNAN WELCOMES APPROVAL OF MULTINATIONAL FORCE FOR BUNIA, DRC

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement today, said he was heartened by the Security Councils approval on Friday of a robust multinational force to work alongside the UN Mission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to restore stability to the town of Bunia and help improve the humanitarian situation there.

The Secretary-General is grateful to France for having assumed the role of lead nation and for contributing roughly half the troops for the force, on which the people of Bunia, and indeed of all of the northeastern region, count to help them restore normalcy to their lives.

With advance elements scheduled to be deployed in a matter of days, and full deployment to begin in two weeks, the multinational force offers the parties in the DRC a chance to rebuild the peace process in that country, which is essential to the stability of central Africa. The Secretary-General urges them to cooperate fully with the force as well as with United Nations peacekeepers in pursuit of that goal.

ANNAN URGES SECURITY COUNCIL TO RAISE UN TROOP CEILING IN DRC TO 10,800

The Secretary-Generals second special report on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), issued on Friday, says that the DRC finds itself at an intersection of peace and war, and that the UN Mission is well placed to play a central catalytic role in assisting the parties through the transition period.

For that reason, he believes that the Missions main focus should now shift to facilitating and assisting the transition process and that it should be reconfigured and augmented accordingly.

The urgent priorities for the Mission include providing assistance to the transitional process, contributing to security arrangements in Kinshasa, supporting the Ituri peace process, assisting local-level peacemaking in the Kivus, and continuing the disarmament and demobilization of foreign armed groups. The longer-term objectives include assisting in elections, encouraging reform in the rule of law and the security sector, and reconstruction and rehabilitation.

With regard to Ituri, which the report calls one of the most volatile and lawless areas in the country, the Secretary-General proposes that both the mandate and the troop level of the UN Mission be strengthened to back up the Missions support for the political and reconciliation process generated by the Ituri Pacification Commission.

The increased military backup would be provided by deploying a UN battalion group previously earmarked for disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation activities in eastern DRC (based in Kisangani), and reinforcing it with by two additional battalions. This Ituri Brigade Force, the Secretary-General says, would require that the Security Council raise the troop ceiling of MONUC from its present 8,700 troops to 10,800.

Asked how 10,800 troops could help in a country to which the United Nations dispatched many more troops in the 1960s, the Spokesman said the situation today was different than that during the Katanga secession, with talks proceeding among militia leaders and agreement on senior leaders about the pacification of Ituri. However, he added, after watching periodic, bloody encounters in Ituri, the Secretary-General said enforcement was needed and it was decided to send in a well-trained, well-armed force.

Asked whether the expanded UN Mission would also be an enforcement mission, the Spokesman said he was unaware of any discussion to have MONUC take on enforcement powers under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter.

Asked to comment on reports of a massacre in Bunia over the weekend, the Spokesman said the Mission had not received any details. MONUC described the situation in the center of Bunia as quiet, although the Mission reported clashes between the Hema and Lendu on the outskirts of town.

[Asked whether the killers of two UN military observers had been identified, the Spokesman later said that the United Nations had heard rumors about that but had not received any details to substantiate them.]

IN EVIAN, ANNAN NOTES CHALLENGES OF MILLENNIUM GOALS

The Secretary-General is expected to arrive back in New York this afternoon, following a weekend trip to Europe in which he attended the Group of Eight Summit in Evian, France, on Sunday, where he told a closed working session of G8 leaders that formidable challenges lie ahead if the world is to come close to meeting the Millennium Development Goals that world leaders agreed to three years ago.

He warned that, since the Goals were adopted, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has actually increased in all areas except East Asia and, to some degree, South Asia. He said that the world is still far from finding the extra $50 billion a year that is needed to achieve the Millennium Goals and appealed for more and better aid.

On Sunday evening, the Secretary-General attended a working dinner bringing together the G8 leaders and presidents from members of the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD), and he warned them, If we dont want food shortages and famines to recur, we must have a long-term strategy that emphasizes investments in rural infrastructure and agricultural research. He also appealed to the G8 leaders to endow the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria with the additional resources it needs to achieve its goals.

The Secretary-General had come to Evian from Lausanne, Switzerland, where on Saturday he met with a delegation from Switzerland headed by Present Pascall Couchepin. During the discussion, which was focused on Iraq, the Secretary-General said he was pleased with the adoption of resolution 1483 and explained the role that United Nations would play under the resolution.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED BY DETENTIONS IN MYANMAR

The Secretary General, in a statement, expressed his increasing concern at the situation in Myanmar, following the incidents this weekend in the North of the country. He is especially worried by the continued detention in 'protective custody' of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD).

The Secretary-General believes that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of the NLD should be released immediately. At this crucial juncture, he maintains that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as both a national leader and the leader of the NLD, must be allowed to play a role, in co-operation with the Government and others, in taking steps to bring about national reconciliation in Myanmar.

Moreover, all parties should act responsibly to ensure that the national reconciliation process is not undermined further. The present situation in Myanmar is not merely a question of 'law and order', but rather as one that derives from the political aspirations of the Myanmar people who are overwhelmingly in favor of change.

The Secretary General has instructed his Special Envoy, Razali Ismail, in his capacity as 'facilitator', to talk to the Government of Myanmar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and other national leaders, during his June 6-10 visit, with a view to starting the process of national reconciliation.

In an earlier statement, issued on Saturday, the Secretary-General first expressed his concern about the situation in Myanmar, saying that the latest developments underline the urgent need for national reconciliation in Myanmar and renewing his call on the two sides to start their substantive dialogue as soon as possible.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar have also issued a statement urging the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the lifting of government restrictions on the exercise of basic political rights and freedoms.

UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAQ ARRIVES IN BAGHDAD

Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Special Representative for Iraq, arrived in Baghdad today, telling reporters at the airport, My only purpose, as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, is to try to ensure that the United Nations does all that it can to help the people of Iraq out of what has been a terrible period in their long and noble history.

De Mello was accompanied by a staff of about 20 who traveled on a UN plane from Cyprus.

He said that the task ahead is huge, adding, We should all come to it with a keen sense of humility and a strong sense of determination. De Mello explained that one of the most important tasks that the UN will seek to assist is the critical effort to establish representative governance. The day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly, he added.

In the coming days, de Mello said he intended to listen intensely to what the Iraqi people had to say and that would be meeting with broadest possible spectrum of Iraqi society. He will also meet with the Authority as well as with his UN colleagues who have been working in the country for a long time.

Asked about the status of the Iraqi Government, the Spokesman said that the sovereignty of Iraq has been interrupted by the coalition forces, and the coalition forces are currently the responsible authorities. As occupying powers, they have the responsibility under the Geneva Convention for restoring government functions and eventually turning over the formation of a sovereign government to the Iraqis themselves.

WFP RELAUNCHES FOOD DISTRIBUTION IN IRAQ

With the relaunching today of Iraqs Public Distribution system, nearly 27 million Iraqis are to receive their food rations from 44,000 distribution agents across the country this month. This is the first time the system has been reactivated since it was disrupted by the war.

To date, the World Food Programme (WFP) has brought about 440,000 tons of food to Iraq to help re-activate this vital social safety net in a country where 16 million people are believed to be entirely dependent on monthly food rations after two decades of wars and stringent economic sanctions.

A WFP official in Iraq said there was good cooperation between the United Nations, the Iraqi Ministry of Trade and the U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) on this project.

Security remains one of the largest threats to Iraqs vast Public Distribution System. WFP provided ORHA with a complete list of the silos, mills and warehouses in the country to ensure that proper security arrangements can be made.

RUSSIA TAKES OVER SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY FOR JUNE

Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov has taken up the Presidency of the Security Council for June. Today, there are no meetings or consultations scheduled.

Ambassador Lavrov is holding talks with other Council members on the program of work for the month. He is scheduled to brief the press on the months program on Tuesday, following consultations.

SINGAPORE REMOVED FROM LIST OF RECENT SARS CASES

The World Health Organization Saturday removed Singapore from the list of areas with recent local transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. The change in status comes 20 days after the last locally acquired case was placed in isolation. The 20-day period represents twice the maximum incubation period, a reliable indication that a chain of transmission has been broken.

This is an inspiring victory that should make all of us optimistic that SARS can be contained everywhere, said Dr. David Heymann, Executive Director for Communicable Diseases at WHO. The latest statistics on the worldwide spread of SARS indicate a total of 8,360 probable cases, with 764 deaths.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UN TALKS WITH CAMBODIA GOVERNMENT: UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell is leaving today for Geneva, where he will work with the International Law Commission over the next two days. After that, he will travel to Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, where he is to arrive on Thursday afternoon. He intends to sign an agreement on Friday with his Cambodian counterpart, Sok An, on the establishment of extraordinary chambers to try the crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea (from 1975-1979).

CONSULTATIONS ON AFGHAN CONSTITUTION: The UN Mission in Afghanistan says that nationwide consultations on the new Constitution are scheduled to commence this week. They will be carried out in all the provinces during approximately six to eight weeks. Their outcome will make it possible for the Constitutional Loya Jirga to adopt, in October 2003, as envisaged by the Bonn Agreements, the new fundamental law of Afghanistan.

SIERRA LEONE COURT RECEIVES BOCKARIES BODY: Officials from the Special Court for Sierra Leone on Sunday took into custody the alleged body of indicted war criminal Sam Bockarie, and will conduct, starting today, an independent forensic examination in order to identify the body and determine the cause of death. Liberian authorities said that Bockarie was killed on May 6, and turned the body over to the Special Court three weeks after the Court had requested the body in order to provide a positive identification of it.

UNEP LAUNCHES SHOPPING CAMPAIGN: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is working on a new project called Shopping for a Better World, targeting the $7 trillion retail industry in an attempt to promote the positive side of sustainable consumption and production. UNEP believes the retail sector is well placed to promote the cool green lifestyle. Some companies have already started to make their operations more green by rethinking transportation, assessing the life-cycle of packaging, marketing green products and demanding innovation in building design and energy systems.

UNEP LAUNCHES WEBSITE ON CRIME: UNEP launched a new Green Customs website today as part of an initiative to help tackle the growth of environmental crime. The initiative will provide a training package to strengthen domestic capacity in environmental crime and enforcement of international environmental agreements.

UN CIVIL SOCIETY PANEL BEGINS WORK: The Secretary-Generals Panel of Eminent Persons on UN Relations with Civil Society began two days of closed-door meetings at UN Headquarters today, chaired by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette opened the panel session on Monday morning, after which the panel immediately began a discussion of two main issues, with presentations by President Cardoso: an overview of civil society and global governance; and a review and analysis of UN practice in dealing with civil society.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: 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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