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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-06-12

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

Thursday, June 12, 2003

SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES EXEMPTIONS FROM ICC PROSECUTION

The Security Council this morning began an open meeting concerning the International Criminal Court, starting with an open debate before a vote was held on a draft resolution to renew a request, for another year, to defer any investigation or prosecution by the Court involving current or former personnel from a State that is not party to the Courts Statute, over acts or omissions relating to a UN-established or UN-authorized operation.

The Security Council approved the resolution by a vote of 12-0, with three countries France, Germany and Syria abstaining.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who opened this mornings debate, said that, although he accepted that Council members are acting in good faith to make it possible for peace operations to continue, he does not believe that the request being made to the Court is necessary.

Last year, when the Security Council first asked the Court for a 12-month deferral into the sort of investigations that todays resolution also deals with, the Secretary-General felt it was a reasonable thing to do, to allow Member States more time to study the way the Court is to work.

But, he added, Allow me to express the hope that this does not become an annual routine. If it does, he warned, the world may interpret that as a sign that the Council wishes to claim absolute and permanent immunity for people serving in the operations it establishes or authorizes, which would, he said, undermine not only the authority of the ICC but also the authority of this Council, and the legitimacy of United Nations peacekeeping.

The meeting today stemmed from a request made in a joint letter from Canada, Jordan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Switzerland. In addition to the Secretary-General, there were 18 non-Council members on the list to speak today, and Security Council members also spoke immediately before and after the vote.

SITUATION IN GUINEA-BISSAU IS WORSENING, ANNAN WARNS

The Secretary-Generals report on the developments in Guinea-Bissau and the activities of the UN Peace-building Office in that country says that the situation there has worsened.

The Secretary-General says, There is now consensus that Guinea-Bissau, which had seemed so promising following the ending of the 1998-1999 armed conflict and the holding of free and fair elections, is now once again embarked on a downward course.

He adds that the forthcoming legislative elections are widely seen as a crucial test of Guinea-Bissaus young democratic process. He says the United Nations is providing technical assistance in that process, but adds that, should the United Nations determine that conditions are not conducive for free, fair and credible elections, the organization could reconsider its assistance.

The Security Council is scheduled to discuss Guinea-Bissau next Thursday.

UN ASSESSES CONDITIONS AT DISPLACED CAMPS IN LIBERIAN CAPITAL

Reports from Monrovia today indicate that it is relatively quiet in the Liberian capital.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that an inter-agency assessment mission visited areas in Monrovia where displaced persons have congregated in large numbers. Mission members visited five sites, including the sports complex, where an estimated 30,000 people are living under extremely difficult conditions. In all locations, the priority needs are water and sanitation, food, shelter, medical services and protection.

Efforts are being made to assist some 300 Ivoirian and Sierra Leonean refugees who have congregated at the UNHCR offices in Monrovia.

On the political front, the Liberia peace talks bringing together the Government of Liberia and Liberian parties formally opened today in Akosombo, Ghana. The Secretary-General is represented by his Representative for Liberia, Abou Moussa.

SIERRA LEONE COURT: SUSPECT NEEDS OUTSIDE MEDICAL TREATMENT

Doctors say that Foday Sankoh, the Revolutionary United Front leader indicted earlier this year by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, urgently needs to travel outside of Sierra Leone for a medical assessment and treatment; the obstacle is finding a country to accept him temporarily.

Sankoh was in a catatonic state when he was first taken into the custody of the Court in March. According to the Courts Medical Officer, Donald Harding, he is incapable of walking, talking or feeding himself, and his condition is deteriorating. The Court appealed on humanitarian grounds for help from the international community in dealing with Sankohs condition.

Also this week, the President of the Special Court, Justice Geoffrey Robertson, wrote a letter to the Secretary-General that included a request for a Security Council resolution, with Chapter VII authority, which would obligate member states of the United Nations to cooperate with the Court.

UNESCO, UNICEF TO ASSIST IN HOLDING YEARLY EXAMS IN IRAQ

UN officials in Baghdad reported that the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF), working with the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Ministry of Education, are coordinating efforts to ensure that yearly exams take place for 6 million Iraqi students, countrywide. These exams are scheduled to take place at the start of next month.

One issue that UNESCO had to deal with, was that some examination centre were occupied by coalition forces.

UNICEF, in an effort to prevent the spread of disease among children, has been sending out teams of workers across Baghdad to fix blocked sewage lines and to clean up the piles of refuse building up in many areas of the capital. With work done so far, a total of 1.5 million people are now living in safer, cleaner homes and neighborhoods.

UN MISSION SAYS DE-MINING WORK RESUMES ON KEY AFGHAN ROAD

The UN Mission in Afghanistan said that demining work has resumed along parts of the Kabul to Kandahar road after extra security measures were put in place. The situation continues to be assessed, and further demining will resume if conditions are considered safe enough for the demining teams.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said that Afghanistan is expected to have probably its best harvest in 25 years. Sustained precipitation and increased land utilization are the main reason behind the good news, FAO said. FAO and the World Food Programme will jointly carry out a crop and food supply assessment starting on June 16.

UN RELIEF COORDINATOR CONCLUDES VISIT TO COLOMBIA

In Colombia, civilians are not only caught in the crossfire, they are also directly targeted as part of a strategy to control land and access routes, said Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, at the end of his trip to that country.

The United Nations estimates that some 2 million persons were forced to flee their homes because of fighting, one of the highest such totals in the world. The UN has put in place a plan to reduce poverty among the conflict-affected population. About $80 million are required to implement the Plan. So far, the donor community has provided $27 million.

UN INFORMATION CENTERS CLOSING AS REFORM PLAN PROCEEDS

As an essential step in his reform process aimed at streamlining the work of the United Nations, the Secretary-General has decided to proceed with his plan to close the UN Information Centers in Western Europe and replace them with a regional information hub.

Nine centers will therefore close down by the end of this year. These are located in Paris, London, Rome, Madrid, Bonn, Lisbon, Athens, Copenhagen and Brussels. The Information Services at the Headquarters locations of Geneva and Vienna will be maintained.

The new Information Hub, covering the countries in the European Union, is expected to be located in Brussels, and negotiations with the Government of Belgium are at an advanced stage.

The Secretary-General wishes to pay tribute to the loyal staff of these nine centers for their remarkable work over the years and their contribution to enhancing European understanding of the United Nations goals and achievements. He is taking a personal role in seeing that their interests will be protected as their offices close.

UNICEF MARKS WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOR

Today is the World Day Against Child Labour. Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), said today that efforts to end the worst forms of child labor would not succeed unless nations cooperate in fighting the trafficking of children and women within and across national borders.

According to UNICEF, children are seen by traffickers as commodities since they are more easily manipulated, they are in high demand, and they can be exploited over a longer period. UNICEF also pointed to estimates that the global trade in human beings is beginning to rival the illicit trafficking of arms and drugs.

We can no longer simply look at the worst forms of child labor as a shame. We have to see it as one part of an inhuman and criminal trade that must be stopped, said Bellamy.

In other UNICEF news, Bellamy called on African leaders, at the African Economic Summit in Durban, South Africa, to use the well-being of children and child-centered standards as the primary measure for progress across their continent, and to invest their limited resources in health, education, equality and protection for children.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION VISITS BUNIA: The Security Council mission to Central Africa was scheduled to be in Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today to meet with the UN mission, the multinational force and the members of the Ituri Pacification Commission and representatives of all the Iturian communities. Mission leader French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere insisted on the need to accelerate the implementation of a transitional government in the DRC. Also, the UN Mission in the DRC expressed its concern at the intensified fighting in North Kivu.

UN KOSOVO ENVOY MARKS KFOR ANNIVERSARY: The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, spoke at a ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the Kosovo Forces (KFORs) arrival in Kosovo, saying that KFOR can be justly proud of what it has achieved in creating the safe and secure environment that exists today.

GLOBAL COMPACT CONVENES DIALOGUE: Today at UN Headquarters, the Global Compact is convening a dialogue session dealing with management and partnership practices along the supply chain, in which over 200 participants, including representatives from more than 100 companies (including Citigroup, Microsoft and General Motors) are participating, along with labor groups and non-governmental organizations. The meeting is designed to identify concrete measures to build the capacity of suppliers, in a manner consistent with the Global Compacts environmental, labor rights and human rights principles.

SOUTHERN AFRICA FOOD NEEDS REMAIN SUBSTANTIAL: According to the findings of the joint assessment missions in southern Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme, food aid needs in southern Africa remain substantial, despite an overall regional improvement in food production. Over the next year, six southern African countries will need to import nearly 2.5 million tons of food to meet their minimum food needs.

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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