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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-06-05
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.comHIGHLIGHTS
OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, June 5, 2003
IRAQ: UNMOVIC HEAD SAYS NO EVIDENCE FOUND OF PROHIBITED WEAPONS
This morning, Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), gave what he said was likely to be his last briefing to the Security Council on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and presented Council members with UNMOVICs latest quarterly report.
During the inspection process, UNMOVIC did not at any time find evidence of the continuation or resumption of programs of weapons of mass destruction or significant quantities of proscribed items, Blix said. He added that this did not mean such items did not exist and that it was not justified to jump to the conclusion that something did exist just because it is unaccounted for.
Blix also noted that neither UNMOVIC nor its predecessor, the UN Special Commission, had made any significant finds of weapons. The lack of finds, he said, could be because the items were unilaterally destroyed by the Iraqi authorities or else because they were effectively concealed by them. In Iraqs new environment, he added, where there is full access and cooperation, it should be possible to establish the truth we all want to know.
The meeting was followed by closed consultations, also on Iraq.
Following consultations, Security Council President, Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov, said Council members "took note of the intention of the Executive Chairman to retire from his post at the end of June 2003. They expressed their sincere gratitude to Dr. Hans Blix for his service, and appreciation for the efforts undertaken by him and his team to implement the mandate of UNMOVIC in accordance with the Security Councils resolutions." They also "paid tribute to Dr. Hans Blix for his leadership and the dedicated and professional manner in which he has been guiding the work of UNMOVIC in pursuit of the disarmament of Iraq."
UN ENVOY MEETS IRAQI PROFESSIONALS IN BAGHDAD
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, today met informally with a group of Iraqi professionals at UN Headquarters in Baghdad, to listen to their views about the current situation in Iraq and what role they envisaged the United Nations playing in this new era.
The group comprised lawyers, judges, journalists, economists, human rights advocates, and other professionals, and came from various backgrounds, including Sunnis and Shiites, Kurds, and Christians. There were a total of 15 people, including three women.
Speakers from the group emphasized their desire to see the United Nations assist Iraq in a number of areas, including political, humanitarian and reconstruction work.
De Mello briefed the participants about the Security Council and the role of the United Nations and its limitations and ambiguities in this regard. He emphasized that the role of the United Nation is to assist the Iraqi people to participate effectively in the rebuilding of their country and made it clear that he places particular emphasis on the promotion of human rights and the role of women in promoting peace, unity, stability and justice.
He further explained that the power of decision-making rests with the Authority and he offered to convey the concerns of the Iraqis to the Civilian Administrator.
Earlier in the day he was briefed on the security situation throughout Iraq by a U.S. military delegation.
In the afternoon, the de Mello met with Paul Bremer, the Civilian Provisional Administrator of Iraq, and John Sawers, the U.K. Special Representative.
UNICEF, IRAQI AUTHORITIES DEAL WITH UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE
On the humanitarian front, the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) is working with the Iraqi Civil Defense Organization on the issue of unexploded ordnance (UXOs). Already, hundreds of children around the country have been seriously injured or killed by cluster bombs dropped during the war or by munitions stored by Iraqi soldiers in public places, such as schools.
One Baghdad hospital has seen well over 60 children seriously injured or killed by UXOs since the end of the war. The Civil Defense Organization has mounted a public information campaign in schools, mosques, markets and other public areas to urge children, and adults to stay away from UXOs.
Meanwhile, the Baghdad municipality has entrusted the UN Development Programme (UNDP) with the rehabilitation and maintenance of 50 sewage-pumping stations. Due to the lack of maintenance during the past four months, as well as the accumulation of garbage and solid waste through the manholes, more than 25 major clogging incidents have been reported.
FOUR UN PERSONNEL OF PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN GEORGIA KIDNAPPED
Today in Georgia at around 9:00 a.m., a joint team of peacekeepers from the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), patrolling in the upper Kodori valley, was detained by unknown armed elements. The CIS soldiers were released shortly thereafter.
The UN personnel, consisting of two military observers, one paramedic and one interpreter, are still in the hands of the hostage-takers. They managed to report by radio that they were unharmed.
The UN Mission is in contact with the Georgian authorities, who have the prime responsibility for the security of UN staff. The representative of the President for the Kodori valley has flown into the valley to establish contact with the hostage-takers.
The United Nations also in contact with the Abkhaz authorities and the leadership of the CIS peacekeeping force.
The Security Council was briefed by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi on the abduction of the UNOMIG personnel.
PROSECUTOR DISAPPOINTED AS LIBERIAN PRESIDENT EVADES ARREST
David Crane, the chief prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, today voiced his disappointment that Liberian President Charles Taylor, whom the Court indicted yesterday for war crimes and crimes against humanity, had not been arrested and had fled a meeting in Ghana to return to Liberia as an international fugitive.
The prosecutor said that all States are on notice that they cannot provide him with safe harbor and that any nation that finds Taylor within its borders is legally bound to execute the arrest warrant against him. Asked about the timing of the announcement of Taylors indictment, Crane added that Taylor was indicted based on the evidence and that the indictment was made public because of his travels.
The Spokesman noted that, as he had said on Wednesday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan supports the work of the Special Court in Sierra Leone. He also continues to attach great importance to the peace process in Liberia, since that countrys problems can only be solved through political means.
The coincidence on Wednesday of the indictment of President Taylor by the Special Court as a high-level political effort was underway in Ghana was unfortunate, but illustrates the tension sometimes between the imperatives of justice and peace.
SECURITY COUNCIL AGREES TO LIFT SIERRA LEONE DIAMOND BAN
On Wednesday afternoon, the Security Council met on the UN embargo against the import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone without a valid Certificate of Origin.
The Council President, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of Russia, in a press statement read today, announced, In the light of the Government of Sierra Leones increased efforts to control and manage its diamond industry and ensure proper control over diamond mining areas, and the Governments full participation in the Kimberley Process, members of the Security Council have agreed not to renew these measures.
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY MARKS IMPORTANCE OF DRINKING WATER
Today is World Environment Day, and the theme of this years observance is Water: Two billion people are dying for it!
More than a billion people live without access to safe drinking water and more than 2.4 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. The challenge, according to the Secretary-General, is to provide water services to all, especially the poor. What is needed along with fresh water, he said in his message on the Day, is fresh thinking. We need to learn how to value water.
The main international celebrations are being organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) throughout this week in Beirut, and among the events taking place in Beirut will be the awarding of UNEP's environmental achievement awards -- the Global 500 Roll of Honour -- to eight individuals and organizations.
UNEP has also launched a new report on the state of many of the world's natural underground reservoirs upon which two billion people depend for drinking water and irrigation. The report paints a worrying picture of this critical, hidden, natural resource as growing and thirsty cities, industries and agriculture take their toll.
At UN Headquarters, the Day will be observed on Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to noon, in the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium with a multi-media program devoted to the Year of Freshwater, which will feature remarks by Nane Annan, and include an interactive discussion with student groups in New York, Kenya, Lebanon and Peru on water-related issues.
SARS OUTBREAK COMING UNDER CONTROL
The World Health Organization said that Wednesday was the first day with no deaths reported in the global outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome since March 28.
With the outbreaks in the initial hot zones either contained or coming under control, SARS is clearly in decline, said WHO, which indicates that recommended control measures are effective when combined with political commitment and determination. WHO stresses the risk of a resurgence of cases, emphasizing the constant need for vigilance.
The latest statistics indicate a total of 8,402 cases with 772 deaths, reported from 29 countries.
SECURITY COUNCIL: This afternoon at 3:30, the Security Council has scheduled a meeting with troop contributors for the UN mission in Cyprus.
DE-MINERS ATTACKED IN AFGHANISTAN: In Afghanistan, there was another rocket attack this week on the de-miners along the Kabul -Kandahar Road. The UN Mission and the Afghan Authorities are looking into why de-miners have been frequently targeted. There are about 8,000 de-miners in the country. The UN Mission said that whatever the motivation is, the impact is tremendously negative, as about 55 percent of the areas contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance is in grazing areas and about 29 percent of all the contaminated area is agricultural land.
REWARD OFFERED TO TRACK KOSOVO KILLERS: The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, today announced that he is offering a reward, worth 50,000 euros, to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who are responsible for the Wednesday murder of three members of a Serb family in Obilic.
SUPPORT FOR THE UNITED NATIONS: Asked about a recent poll suggesting that public confidence in the United Nations is declining, the Spokesman noted that the poll had indicated a decline in support for many international institutions, including NATO. He said that the best thing the UN can do is tell its story straight and hope that people will listen.
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