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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-06-27

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

HIGHLIGHTS

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

ASSOCIATE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, June 27, 2003

UN REFUGEE COMMISSIONER CALLS FOR PEACEKEEPERS IN LIBERIA

High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers is gravely concerned over the situation in Liberia and is reiterating his call for an immediate end to hostilities and for deployment of an international peacekeeping force to fill the current security vacuum in the warravaged nation, according to his spokesman.

Tens of thousands of displaced people have converged on Monrovia, where remaining aid agency staff have struggled to provide assistance amid reports of shelling and gunfire within the city.

According to UNHCR, of the more than half a million refugees scattered across the West African region, some 300,000 are from Liberia. More are leaving every day in a desperate search for survival and safety.

Even before the latest fighting, nearly half of the country's 2.7 million people were displaced or in danger of displacement, threatening stability in neighboring states such as Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire. UNHCR warns that the deteriorating situation in Liberia could again lead to a massive influx of refugees into Cote d'Ivoire, where some 27,000 Liberians have arrived in the past month alone.

According to UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond, the High Commissioner believes that something needs to be done now to stop the killing and end the suffering of Liberia's people.

ANNAN SAYS LIBERIA FIGHTING A SOURCE OF CONCERN IN SIERRA LEONE

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Mission in Sierra Leone, notes that the gradual and carefully calibrated approach to the drawdown of that mission is yielding desired benefits, but adds that the impact of the conflict in neighboring Liberia remains a source of serious concern.

In analyzing future options in the drawdown process, he notes that the delayed withdrawal of the UN Mission would be desirable only in the event that either the internal security situation or the conflict in Liberia deteriorates to a level that would require a prolonged presence of the UN Mission to protect the Sierra Leone Government and the territorial integrity of the country.

UN ENVOY IN IRAQ TO MEET WITH RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN NAJAF

The Office of the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, confirmed today that he would be going to Najaf Saturday meet with the religious leaders of the holy city, in the context of his efforts to meet with and listen to all shades of Iraqi political, religious, intellectual and civil leaders.

De Mello is expected to meet Ayatollah Ali Muhammad al-Sistani in the morning. In the afternoon he will meet Imam Muqtada Al-Sadr, leader of the Sadriyun Movement, and later he will meet Imam Mohammed Baqer Al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

This will be his third visit to the provinces. He visited Basra on June 13 and Erbil on June 19. He will continue to meet with the broadest possible range of representatives of Iraqi society, in order to assist them and the Coalition Provisional Authority, in their efforts to create a representative, democratic administration as soon as possible, in implementation of his mandate under Security Council Resolution 1483 (2003).

UN TO CONVENE MEETING IN BAGHDAD ON TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE

This coming Monday in Baghdad, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Representatives office are organizing a meeting of experts on transitional justice in Iraq.

The aim of the meeting, which will be opened by Sergio Vieira de Mello, is to bring Iraqi jurists and international experts together with the participation of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, to discuss and identify practical means and policy options, as well as guiding principles, to ensure justice for past crimes committed in Iraq.

Participating will be Iraqi lawyers, and among the outside specialists will be experts from American University in Washington, the International Committee for the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, the War Torn Society and a forensic team from the UN Mission in Kosovo.

The meeting will provide a forum in which Iraqi human rights experts can share their experiences and learn about approaches that others have adopted to deal with past human rights violations.

ANNAN UNDERLINES IMPORTANCE OF UN BRIGADE TO ITURI

The Secretary-General has sent a letter to the Security Council underlining the importance of the deployment to Bunia and Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of a brigade-size UN contingent, as outlined in his special report to the Council of May 27.

He notes in the letter that, while the deployment in Bunia under Chapter VII of the UN Charter of the multinational force has had a stabilizing effect, it is also clear that the temporary calm in Bunia is a tenuous one.

He reminds the members of the Council that the deployment of the force is a temporary stopgap measure and the members would understand that extending the mandate of the force is neither an option nor a solution. In this light, he says, it would be crucial for the international community to demonstrate solidarity with the plight of the Congolese people by considering favorably the proposed increase in the capacity of the UN Mission to perform the tasks in Ituri.

UN MIDDLE EAST ENVOY HOLDS MEETINGS IN BEIRUT

Terje Roed-Larsen, the United Nations Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, arrived today in Beirut at the beginning of a regional tour that follows-up on the June 22 Quartet meeting in Jordan.

He held separate meetings with Lebanons President, Emile Lahoud, Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and Foreign Minister Jean Obeid.

He reiterated the Secretary-Generals statement in Jordan earlier this week concerning the importance of including Syria and Lebanon in the current process which is essential for the Road Maps goal of building a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

Roed-Larsen also expressed satisfaction with the current calm along the Blue Line in southern Lebanon, while emphasizing that the Lebanese army needs to further deploy forces in the south. He also expressed concern about the recent increase in Israeli overflights of Lebanese territory.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH UN STAFF, HEADS IN GENEVA

The Secretary-General began a series of meetings in Geneva today by seeing his Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Adolf Ogi.

After that, he met with representatives of the UN Staff Council in Geneva, and also addressed the UN staff in that city, focusing mainly on the difficulties that the United Nations has faced in recent months following the Iraq conflict. Despite the problems the United Nations has had to deal with before and after the Iraq war, he encouraged staff members to continue to fulfil their duties as best they can.

The Secretary-General then hosted a luncheon for the various UN agency heads in Geneva, and discussed with them a wide range of topics, including Liberia, the Middle East, Iraq and UN reform.

Afterward, he met with two of the agency heads: Godwin Obasi, who will leave his post as Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization later this year; and High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers.

On Monday, the Secretary-General will address the High-Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council, which will meet in Geneva to discuss rural development. He will tell them that the overriding task must be to stimulate economic growth, amid signs that the world economy still has to recover from its slowdown in 2001, but that, in the long term, combating poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals require more work.

SEVENTEEN NEW NAMES ADDED TO UN AL-QAEDA LIST

The Security Council Sanctions Committee on al-Qaeda sanctions issued a list of 17 new names added on the list of individuals and entities linked to al-Qaeda.

Following a press briefing on Thursday, Michael Chandler, the Chairman of the Monitoring Group established to monitor the implementation of measures against al-Qaeda, issued a clarification regarding possible links between the previous regime in Iraq and al-Qaeda.

He said, The report submitted by the Monitoring Group to the 1267 Committee does not address this issue and the Monitoring Group has reached no conclusions concerning these matters. Given the nature and intensity of the crisis surrounding Iraq during the reporting period, and attention being directed to such issues by the Security Council itself, an inquiry by the Monitoring Group into such issues was considered inappropriate.

EU, UN LAUNCH PAPER ON ASSISTANCE TO UN HUMANITARIAN WORK

Today in Brussels, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima and Poul Nielson, European Union Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, launched a paper entitled Guidelines On The Use Of Military And Civil Defence Assets To Support United Nations Humanitarian Activities In Complex Emergencies.

The document lays down the main principles, concepts, tasks and responsibilities of the players in a complex emergency. One of the points made is that non-UN military assets should be requested by humanitarian agencies only as a last resort, where there is no comparable civilian alternative and only the use of military assets can meet a critical humanitarian need.

Any use of military and civil defence assets should be clearly limited in time and scale and present an exit strategy element. Military personnel providing direct assistance should not be armed.

Humanitarian assistance must be provided in accordance with the basic humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality and neutrality, the guidelines state.

The guidelines are the result of nearly three years of deliberations between Member States, international and regional organizations, and agencies from both the humanitarian and the military communities.

WFP HEAD CALLS ON ASIA TO INCEASE HUMANITARIAN SUPPORT

The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), James Morris, today in Bangkok, Thailand, called on the nations of Asia to give stronger support to the humanitarian assistance needed in the region and around the world.

Morris said Southeast Asia has the economic potential to produce the largest number of emerging donors to WFP in its mission to tackle the problems bred by hunger and poverty, adding, We need the countries of this region to work with us in alleviating the crises in this region and the world.

Among the top priorities for WFP in South and Southeast Asia are the high rate of child malnutrition, with more than two-thirds of the underweight children in the world living in Asia; the food crises generated by frequent natural disasters; and the rapidly increasing HIV/AIDS rates in Asia.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

NO SECURITY COUNCIL MEETINGS TODAY: There are no Security Council meetings or consultations scheduled today. Russia's Presidency of the Council ends on Monday. The Security Council mission to West Africa has arrived in Guinea Bissau and begun the first leg of the regional visit led by Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico. Among the appointments today is a meeting with President Kumba Yala.

IRAQ COMPENSATION COMMISSION AWARDS $2.2 BILLION: On Thursday afternoon in Geneva, the Governing Council of the UN Compensation Commission ended its 48th session and approved awards of more than $2.2 billion for compensation.

WHO, FAO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS ON CHEMICAL INTAKE LEVELS: Today, experts convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) announced agreement on recommendations regarding safe intake levels for a variety of different chemicals occurring in food, including the most toxic forms of mercury. A summary of the expert report will be available within two weeks.

UN EXPERTS ASKS CUBAN PRESIDENT FOR PARDONS: Christine Chanet, the personal representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights dealing with Cuba, has appealed to Cuban President Fidel Castro to exercise his right to grant pardons to 50 Cubans who face lengthy terms of imprisonment, following a ruling earlier this week by Cubas Supreme Court.

BOSNIAN SERB LEADER TRANSFERRED TO SWEDISH PRISON: On Thursday, the former President of Republika Srpska in Bosnia, Biljana Plavsic, was transferred to a Swedish prison, to serve her 11-year prison term on persecution charges. She is the first person found guilty in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to serve out her sentence in Sweden.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS Monday, June 30

In Geneva, the Secretary-General will address the High-Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council.

The Security Council Presidency of Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov will end today, with Spain taking over as Council President for July.

Tuesday, July 1

The Secretary-General will be in Berne, Switzerland, where he will receive the Olé 2002 prize and meet with Swiss President Pascal Couchepin, among other senior officials.

Ambassador Inocencio Arias of Spain will take over the Presidency of the Security Council, and will hold bilateral talks with other Council members on its program of work for July.

Wednesday, July 2

The Security Council is expected to hold consultations on its program of work for July. Afterward, Council President Inocencio Arias is expected to talk to the press.

Thursday, July 3

The Security Council is expected to hold an open meeting on Kosovo, which the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, will attend.

The guest at the noon briefing will be Georg Kell of the Executive Office, who will discuss the Global Compact.

Friday, July 4

This is a US holiday, and UN Headquarters in New York will be closed.

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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