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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-06-04

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

LIBERIAN PRESIDENT TAYLOR INDICTED FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

The Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone today announced the indictment of (Liberian President) Charles Ghankay Taylor.

The indictment accuses Taylor of bearing the greatest responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of international humanitarian law within the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996, says Chief Prosecutor David Crane. "The indictment was judicially approved on March 7th and until today, was sealed on my request to the Court," Crane said in a statement.

The statement went on to say that upon learning that Taylor was travelling to Ghana, the Registrar of the Special Court served the outstanding warrant for his arrest on Ghanaian authorities and transmitted the arrest warrant to INTERPOL. This is the first time that his presence outside of Liberia has been publicly confirmed. The Registrar was doing his duty by carrying out the order of the Court.

The Prosecutor says: West Africa will not know true peace until those behind the violence answer for their actions. This office now calls upon the international community to take decisive action to ensure that Taylor is brought to justice.

Bertrand Ramcharan, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, currently performing the functions of High Commissioner for Human Rights, said today the indictment of Charles Taylor is highly significant. Taking into account the aspirations of the peoples of Sierra Leone and Liberia for peace and reconciliation, Ramcharan appeals to all concerned, particularly the leadership in Liberia, to act with calm and wisdom to uphold international human rights and humanitarian law.

Asked if the Secretary-General was concerned with the impact this indictment might have on the Liberian peace talks, the Spokesman answered that it was too early to assess any impact on these talks.

Asked if he continues to support the work of the Special Court, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General does continue to support its work. The Secretary-General, the Spokesman added, hopes the court, which just got underway, can successfully conclude its work.

Asked if the Secretary-General had been notified on the indictment ahead of the official announcement, the Spokesman answered that a member of his staff received a phone call just after the announcement had been made.

In answer to a question relating to Ghanas obligations in executing the arrest warrant against President Taylor, the Spokesman said that when the Court was created, the Security Council called on, in the pre-ambular paragraph of the resolutions, member states to cooperate with the Court. However, the Spokesman went on to say, since the resolution is not under Chapter VII, there is no enforceable obligation on the member states to actually cooperate.

ANNAN CALLS ON LIBERIAN LEADERS TO AGREE ON CEASE-FIRE

A message from the Secretary-General was delivered to the Liberian Peace Conference in Accra, Ghana today by Abou Moussa, his Representative in Liberia.

Saying that For too long, Liberia has been torn apart by disastrous conflict, he urges all parties to agree on a cease-fire and an end to violence.

He also says that lasting peace cannot be imposed from the outside and that Liberian leaders must demonstrate a genuine and concrete readiness to restore peace and stability to their country. It is they who must uphold this responsibility, make the compromises and difficult choices needed for peace, and respond to the overwhelming pleas of the Liberian people for peace. I hope they will take full advantage of the window of opportunity offered by this gathering.

The Liberian Peace Conference, sponsored by the Economic Community of West African States was attended by African heads of state, representatives of the Ghana government, the diplomatic corps, members of the International Contact Group on Liberia, and representatives of Liberian political parties, civil society organizations, and the rebel movement, LURD.

The Secretary-General's latest report on Liberia to the Security Council was published today. It also echoes the strong message for a binding ceasefire to stop the bloodshed.

ANNAN WARMLY WELCOMES U.S., ISRAEL, PALESTINE SUMMIT IN AQABA

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement released through his Spokesman, warmly welcomes the impetus given to the renewed Middle East peace process by today's summit meeting in Aqaba initiated by U.S. President George W. Bush and hosted by King Abdullah of Jordan.

He believes that the statements by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas open the way for both parties to implement the Quartet's Road Map. He calls on them to take immediate steps as outlined in the Road Map to maintain the momentum generated by President Bush's important initiative.

For his part, the Secretary-General pledges through his personal efforts and together with the Quartet partners, to continue to assist the parties in arriving at a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 1397.

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP DR CONGO SITUATION

This morning in closed consultations, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guehenno introduced the Secretary-Generals second special report on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In that report, which was issued on Monday, the Secretary-General recommended that the mandate of the mission be extended for another year, until 30 June 2004, and that its authorized military strength be boosted to 10,800 troops.

Guehenno also briefed the Council of his recent trip to the region where he held meetings with Presidents of the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda in regard to the situation in the DRC.

The Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie also briefed the Council on the Humanitarian situation in the DRC.

On the ground, the United Nations has withdrawn its unarmed military observers from an eastern town Kanyabayonga, after they were informed by the local authority of threats against their lives. In Bunia, the situation remained unstable with kidnapping, robbery and raping a daily occurrence.

The UN humanitarian agencies have assisted the distribution of food to 10,000 people in Bunia in the past two days. The food package will last 21 days.

The number of dead bodies that have been collected by the local Red Cross now stands at 429.

Following the discussions on the DRC, the Security Council is expected to discuss the diamond ban on Sierra Leone, which is due to expire this week.

Earlier this morning, prior to the closed consultations, Security Council members met with a meeting with troop contributing countries to the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed on the latest report by the Secretary-General.

UN ENVOY DE MELLO MEETS WITH JAPANESE AID DELEGATION IN BAGHDAD

On his second full day in Iraq, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, continued his consultations to familiarize himself with all the relevant issues. He held a number of internal meetings with his staff which includes representatives of various UN agencies, as well as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

This afternoon, de Mello met with the President of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Takao Kawakami and his delegation. They are the first foreign aid delegation to visit Baghdad since the war ended. Japan has made available $100 million in aid to Iraq, to be dispersed through various channels.

They are interested in contributing, among other things, to the repair of power stations and water supply and sewage systems, as well as the sectors of health and medicine, and the renovation of hospitals throughout the country.

Kawakami stressed his Agency's intention to cooperate very actively with UN agencies.

De Mello said he was glad to see Japan here in Baghdad in the early days, because "we need a truly international approach to the needs of this country."

Thursday, de Mello intends to hold his first of a series of meetings with the broadest possible spectrum of Iraqi society when he meets a group of professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc).

VALUE OF ITEMS IN OIL FOR FOOD PIPE LINE REACH $1.2. BILLION

According to the weekly update from the Office of the Iraq Programme, the total value of priority items from the Oil-for-Food Programmes humanitarian pipeline that can be shipped to Iraq for emergency needs has reached $1.2 billion.

Most of these supplies are in the food, electricity, agriculture and health sectors.

Also on published today is the Secretary General's 180-day report on the implementation of the humanitarian programme in Iraq. It covers operations and humanitarian achievements in phase XIII of the programme from December 5, 2002 to May 28, 2003, including the immediate post war period and implementation of resolutions 1472 and 1476 (2003).

Meanwhile in Basra, the World Food Programme said the city will start to receive its food distribution within the few days. The distribution process is being carried out in cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Trade and under British supervision. The monthly rations include rice, sugar, tea, oil, lentils, pulses, and soap and detergents.

The UN Childrens Fund reports the arrival in Basra of 1.8 million doses of refrigerated vaccines. These include, among others, measles, Tetanus, Hepatitis B and Polio.

Up north in Mosul, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues with its rapid health assessments of all health facilities. WHO established a sentinel surveillance system for communicable diseases, and a water quality surveillance team to monitor water projects and networks in Mosul.

ANNAN AND MRS. ANNAN HONORED FOR THEIR WORK WITH CHILDREN

The Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan will be presented with the Sesame Workshop Award at the celebration of the Workshop's 35th Anniversary this evening. This inaugural award is being presented to them for their efforts in support of children all over the world.

In their remarks, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan are expected to stress the importance of the work Sesame Street is doing in the United States and around the world, in opening the minds of young people, in working for better understanding, in uniting us around our common humanity.

The event will be hosted by Sesame Street Muppet Elmo and Katie Couric of NBC's Today show.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS:

KOSOVO: The UN Mission in Kosovo issued a press release today on the murder of three members of a Kosovo Serb family outside of Pristina. The Secretary-General Special Representative, Michael Steiner, said at the scene of the murder that this is the most despicable, barbaric and heinous crime.Steiner announced the setting up of a special police squad to investigate the crime.

NAMIBIA: The emergency assistance of the World Food Programme (WFP) to Namibias Caprivi region, where thousands of people have had to flee their homes to escape the worst flooding in decades, has arrived, WFP said today. The trucks carried enough food supplies to last for three months. The floodwaters span more than 40 square kilometers and have destroyed large tracks of farmland and drowned many cattle, while aggravating the already fragile food security situation in Caprivi.

SRI LANKA: The World Health Organization (WHO) today recommended close disease surveillance in flood-affected areas in Sri Lanka, which faces a heightened risk of communicable disease outbreaks due to the severe floods and landslides which have affected the country recently. WHO is moving quickly to support the country to prevent large-scale outbreaks while focusing on safe drinking water and sanitation. WHO aims to prevent epidemics through providing logistic support and assistance to the Ministry of Health, such as the distribution of water purification tablets and emergency health kits.

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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