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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-12-01

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, December 1, 2003

AIDS IS CONTINUING ITS LETHAL MARCH, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today marked World AIDS Day by warning in a message that the epidemic continues its lethal march around the world, with few signs of slowing down. During the past year, some ten people were infected with HIV every minute of every day. The Secretary-General says that, although the resources to fight AIDS are increasing, the action is still far short of what is needed.

Earlier today, the World Health Organization and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) released a detailed plan to provide treatment for three million AIDS patients by the year 2005 called the three by five initiative. That initiative focuses on simplified tools to deliver antiretroviral drugs and a new service to ensure an effective, reliable supply of medicines and diagnostics.

Peter Piot, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, said, We firmly believe that we stand no chance of halting this epidemic unless we dramatically scale up access to HIV care."

WHO today noted one area of progress: it added three new generic products for first-line AIDS treatment to its list of medicines that meet its standards of quality, safety and efficacy.

Asked what the Secretary-General has done to prod nations to provide more money for AIDS, the Spokesman said that his launch of the Global Fund dealing with AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria was a major force for attracting investment. He also has spoken forcefully that not enough is being done, but the ball, the Spokesman said, is in the donors court. More money is needed, Eckhard said, adding, Every dollar contributed saves a life.

He added that the hope is that, when it comes to patents, Governments and pharmaceutical companies will show the initiative to get life-affirming drugs to those who need it the most.

ANNAN NOTES ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CIVIL SOCIETY INITIATIVES

There is no military solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the Secretary-General said earlier today at a ceremony marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

He went on to say that the only solution to this conflict that has claimed thousands of lives, a majority of which have been Palestinian, is to be found in a political process that results in a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement. To that end, he noted that two civil society initiatives have made that point with courage and clarity.

The Geneva accord and the Ayalon-Nusseibeh statement of principles, he added, have caught the imagination of both peoples and should inspire in all the burning conviction that a settlement can be reached. However, he added, these efforts are no substitute for official action: the Governments for Israel and the Palestinian Authority must act on their commitments without waiting for the other to make the first move.

In his address, he also noted the daily hardship suffered by the Palestinians caused by the severe restrictions imposed by Israel on the movements of people and goods in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

He called on the international community to contribute generously to address the humanitarian emergency and economic devastation experienced by the Palestinian people. He also called on the Israeli authorities to grant full access to humanitarian convoys.

Asked who was attending the launch today of the Geneva accord, the Spokesman said that Francis Okello, the Deputy UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, would be present.

VOTER REGISTRATION BEGINS FOR ELECTIONS IN AFGHANISTAN

Voter registration will begin this week for next years elections in Afghanistan, in eight Afghan cities, including the capital, Kabul. The registration will take place at schools in those cities, with separate sites for men and women to register.

Every Afghan who is eighteen or older by June twentieth of next year is qualified to be registered as a voter. Everyone has to register in person.

Asked when a replacement would be named for the Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, the Spokesman said he was not sure whether Brahimi had announced a departure date, although he has indicated his wish to leave by the end of the year if possible. It is possible he may await the announcement of a replacement before he chooses to depart.

Asked whether Brahimi may play a role in Iraq similar to the one he has played in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said he doubted that Brahimi was looking for another challenging UN job at present. He expressed the UNs gratitude for Brahimis hard work for the Afghan peace process.

ADVISORY GROUP TO DISCUSS IRAQ THIS AFTERNOON

In response to questions, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General would meet with the ambassadors of 17 nations including 10 Security Council members to form an advisory panel to discuss ways that nations can move together to find a way forward for Iraq. The Secretary-General, Eckhard said, believed that the five permanent Security Council members were needed to participate in that discussion, and he had also selected five elected Council members to complement the five permanent members. In addition, the Secretary-General had placed an emphasis on the need to include Iraqs neighboring countries in the advisory panel.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would name a Special Representative for Iraq soon, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General would appoint an ad interim representative on the ground shortly, but a Special Representative was not expected to be named until early next year. The Spokesman declined to comment on whether Bernard Kouchner would be considered for either post.

ANNAN NAMES SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR SIERRA LEONE

The Secretary-General has appointed Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago as his new Special Representative for Sierra Leone. He will assume his responsibilities immediately.

Mwakawago, a Tanzanian citizen, has served has his countrys permanent representative to the United Nations from 1994 until this year. He has also held a number of high ministerial positions in the Tanzanian Government.

The new Special Representative replaces Oluyemeni Adeniji, who earlier this year was appointed Nigerias Foreign Minister.

The Secretary-General reiterated his deep appreciation for the effective leadership Adeniji provided to the UN Mission in Sierra Leone. Under its new leadership, the UN Mission, and the whole United Nations family, will continue to assist the people of Sierra Leone to consolidate peace as the Mission draws down.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT LOS ANGELES THIS WEEK

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General will leave for a two-day trip to Los Angeles, California.

Shortly after his arrival, the Secretary-General will address the 50th anniversary dinner of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, a leading international issues forum in the western United States. In his speech, the Secretary-General will recall the great achievements of multilateralism under US leadership in the 20th century and will urge Americans to help preserve and build on them for the 21st.

On Wednesday morning, he will meet with Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn and City Council President Alex Padilla. He will then attend and address an open session of the Council.

Later on, he will participate at a luncheon in his honor hosted by Diane Disney Miller and Heidi Kuhn, the founder and President of Roots of Peace. The organization operates in four heavily mined countries where it demines and then plants food crops where mines once lay. Wednesday is also the sixth anniversary of the Ottawa Anti Land Mines Convention.

Later that day, the Secretary-General and Nane Annan will visit an AIDS clinic jointly run by the University of Southern California and Los Angeles County.

On Wednesday evening, the Secretary-General will speak at a gala to mark the 50th anniversary of the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors. The evening will benefit the Audrey Hepburn Foundation, which rehabilitates schools worldwide.

AL QAEDAS IDEOLOGY IS SPREADING, SAYS MONITORING GROUP

The second report of the monitoring group dealing with the sanctions on al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their associates was issued today. That report says that al-Qaedas ideology has continued to spread, raising the spectre of further terrorist attacks.

Iraq, the report says, has become fertile ground for al-Qaeda, becoming readily accessible to followers anxious to battle coalition forces.

The monitoring group says that important progress has been made to cut off al-Qaedas financing, with a large part of the groups funds located and frozen. But it says that it continues to encounter serious difficulties in monitoring and reporting on the arms embargo against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on the monitoring groups recommendations, the Spokesman said that he supports the general thrust of their report.

BULGARIA TAKES OVER AS SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT

Ambassador Stefan Tafrov of Bulgaria takes over today as the President of the Security Council for the month of December. He will be having bilateral discussions today with other Council members on its program of work for the month, and there are no Council meetings or consultations scheduled for today.

On Tuesday, the Council has scheduled consultations on its program of work for December. After those discussions end, Ambassador Tafrov intends to speak to the press about the Councils work this month, at about 1:15 p.m. Tuesday.

DELEGATES MEET TO DISCUSS AGENDA FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

Representatives of the 188 nations that have signed the UN Climate Change Convention are meeting in Milan today to assess progress in addressing climate change and to set the global agenda for the coming year.

According to the Conventions Executive Secretary, Joke Waller-Hunter, the fact that 2003 is on track to be one of the warmest years on record should be a warning that we must all take seriously. She adds that while many Governments have been inspired by the Convention and its Kyoto protocol to strengthen environmental action at the national level, much more needs to be done to stop the increase in greenhouse gas concentration.

Part of todays opening ceremony will be the screening of a Canadian documentary entitled The Great Warming, narrated by Keanu Reaves and Alanis Morissette.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UN SAYS KOSOVO LOCAL BODIES CANT RENAME TOWNS: The laws in Kosovo that apply to official names for towns and villages must be upheld, said Francesco Bastagli, the head of the UN Civil Administration in Kosovo. Renaming towns and villages is not within the authority of the municipal assemblies, which are limited to renaming roads, streets and other public places, he said.

UN TO SET UP HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE IN GUATEMALA: In Guatemala today, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is signing an agreement with the Government of Guatemala to establish an office there. The new office is to follow the human rights verification role of the UN Mission, MINUGUA, once it withdraws from Guatemala at the end of 2004. Also today, Guatemalan authorities will be holding a ceremony as a posthumous tribute to Sergio Vieira de Mello.

HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY VISITS DR CONGO: Iulia Motoc, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo is in that country at the invitation of the Government, and will remain there until December 11. During her mission, she will tackle problems related to massive violations of human rights, impunity, national reconciliation, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the administration of justice. She will also deal with the difficulties facing vulnerable groups, especially female victims of sexual violence, children associated with the armed conflict and indigenous persons.

UN VIRTUAL ACADEMY ON WATER MANAGEMENT: In an effort to raise awareness about the availability of safe water worldwide, the UN has created a unique virtual academy to teach the fundamentals of water management on a global level. Students will obtain access to the material via CD-Rom, the Internet or mailed printouts, depending on their circumstances and access to technology. Graduates of the 250-hour course will obtain an academic diploma from the UN, the first ever authorized by the United Nations University.

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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