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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-12-10

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, December 10, 2003

IN REPORT, ANNAN NAMES NEW UN REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAQ

In his latest report on Iraq, Secretary-General Kofi Annan stresses that the rebuilding of Iraq must succeed. For that to happen, it must be recognized that the current insecurity problem cannot be solved by military means alone: there must be a representative and fully inclusive political process. There must also be a broader regional and international engagement in the Iraqi issue.

Regarding UN involvement, until circumstances permit a full deployment of the UN international staff to Iraq, the Secretary-General says he will build up the UN Mission incrementally outside of Iraq. The bulk of the staff will be located in Nicosia, Cyprus, with a small office in Amman, Jordan.

The UNs current Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ross Mountain, has been chosen by the Secretary-General to be his acting Special Representative.

The Secretary-General introduced Ross Mountain publicly in Geneva today.

ANNAN CALLS FOR AN OPEN, INCLUSIVE INFORMATION SOCIETY

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said it is up to all of us to build an information society as the World Summit on the Information Society opened in Geneva. He said, An open, inclusive information society that benefits all people will not emerge without sustained commitment and investment.

He urged all those participating at the Summit to recognize that we are embarked on an endeavor that transcends technology. Building an open, empowering information society is a social, economic and ultimately political challenge.

The Secretary-General started his day at the site of the World Summit on the Information Society by sending an e-mail message to children in more than 80 countries on the original World Wide Web server. The computer he used was the one that Time Berner-Lee, the inventor of the programs that sparked off the World Wide Web, used to write the software in 1990.

In his message, the Secretary-General wrote, At that time, no one could have dreamt that within a few years the Internet would connect millions of people all over the world in a blink of an eye. His message concluded, May this World Summit help us see the world as a domain we all share.

He met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before hosting a luncheon for the Heads of State and Government participating in the Summit.

Following that meeting, the Secretary-General, together with Mubarak and the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union, Yoshio Utsumi, signed and transmitted an e-mail message inviting Governments, business sectors, NGOs and the international community at large to support African development through their active participation in "Telecom Africa 2004," which is to be held in Cairo next May.

Other bilateral meetings scheduled included those with the Saudi Foreign Minister and the Presidents of Tunisia, Romania and Ghana.

In the afternoon, Nane Annan cut a symbolic electronic ribbon to launch a Global eSchools and Communities Initiative, a joint venture of the United Nations, Ireland, Sweden and Canada.

We need, she said, to ensure that men and women can participate fully in society, empowered with choices and opportunities. And having met so many young ones, their eyes glittering with hopes and dreams, I feel we have to do everything we can to help them turn those dreams into reality.

INFORMATION SUMMIT A CHANCE TO SET POLICY FOR THE DECADE AHEAD

The World Summit on the Information Society differs from previous UN conferences because, instead of focusing on a global threat, it concentrates on how best to use a new global asset, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor told reporters today.

The Summit, he said, was not merely a gathering to discuss technological issues, but a chance to set policy in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Nitin Desai, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser dealing with the Summit, added that contentious issues surrounding it had been thoroughly discussed and happily resolved.

ANNAN CONCERNED OVER DISTURBANCES IN MONROVIA

In a statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General expressed his concerns about recent disturbances following the launch of the disarmament program just outside Monrovia, the Liberian capital.

The Secretary-General stressed that the leaders of the armed factions are responsible for the behavior of their combatants and calls upon them to cooperate fully with the UN Mission in Liberia.

He appealed to Member States to make available in a timely manner the troops pledged for that Mission, in order to allow it to create the necessary security environment in the country.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Liberia reports that the situation around Monrovia, where disturbances had been reported following the start of the disarmament process this week, is quieter today. It says that combatants are turning in weapons at Camp Scheiffelin in an orderly manner.

The Mission confirmed that one Beninese peacekeeper suffered minor injuries from shots fired in the Paynesville area, on Tuesday afternoon.

UN ENVOY NOTES ENORMOUS ECONOMIC CHALLENGES FOR PALESTINIANS

The presence of both Israeli and Palestinian officials in Rome is the most powerful expression yet that both parties have a renewed desire to engage, said the UNs Middle East Envoy, Terje Roed Larsen, at the opening of a donors conference in Italy.

Nevertheless, he cautioned, this optimism should not lead to ignoring the divisions that remain between the parties and even within Israeli and Palestinian society as well, as within the international community.

So I would like to emphasize, even plea, Larsen went on to say, that now, when hands are outstretched, is not a time for slapping faces. Instead, let us avoid deepening divides, and use the opportunities before us to bridge them.

Larsen said the economic challenges facing the Palestinians were enormous. Economic losses between 2002 and 2004 reached $5.4 billion. Sixty percent of the population is living below the poverty line.

UNIFIL GENERAL CALLS FOR CALM ALONG BLUE LINE

On Tuesday, the Israeli Defence Forces reported to UN peacekeepers in Lebanon that it had shot and killed two armed men crossing the Blue Line from the Lebanese side who were approaching the technical fence, near the village of Ghajar.

The Israelis recovered the bodies, which were turned over to the Lebanese authorities through the UN today. The two men were Lebanese civilians who reportedly had been carrying hunting guns.

The UN Missions Force Commander, Gen. Lalit Tewari, expressed anguish and sorrow over the unfortunate incident and urged all parties to exercise caution and prudence in the charged atmosphere prevailing along the Blue Line.

ANNAN CALLS FOR ISRAELI, SYRIAN RESTRAINT IN GOLAN HEIGHTS

In his report to the Security Council on the UN Observer Mission in the Golan Heights, the Secretary-General notes that the cease-fire in the Israel-Syria sector was disrupted by an Israeli air strike on a target north-west of Damascus on October 5. At that time, the Secretary-General had strongly deplored the raid.

The missions actual area of operation was relatively quiet, except in the Sheba Farms area, where there was an increase in activity.

While tensions have remained high in the Israeli-Syrian sector, the Secretary-General urges both parties to respect international law and exercise restraint.

In conclusion, he asks the Security Council to extend the Forces mandate until June 30, 2004.

SERGIO VIEIRA DE MELLO RECEIVES POSTHUMOUS HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD

The cause of human rights lost a major defender this year when High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello was killed in Iraq, the Secretary-General says in a message to mark Human Rights Day. But we must all be human rights defenders, he adds, and a good place to start is to defend those who champion human rights.

The General Assembly today held a meeting at which Vieira de Mello received a posthumous award, and the winners of this years UN Human Rights prizes also received their awards.

The prizes, awarded every five years, went to Enriqueta Estela Barnes de Carlotto of Argentina; the Family Protection Project Management Team of Jordan; Pufang Deng of China; Shulamith Koenig of the United States; and the Mano River Women's Peace Network in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Meanwhile, at a panel at UN Headquarters today, acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan assailed poverty, terrorism, state-perpetrated violence and prejudice, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism, anti-other religions, and other forms of intolerance.

UN ENVOY NOTES HUMANITARIAN CONCERNS IN COTE D'IVOIRE

At the end of her visit to Cote dIvoire, the UN's Humanitarian Envoy to that country, Carolyn McAskie, noted that important humanitarian issues remained to be addressed.

She urged the Government and Forces Nouvelles to work to resolve these problems. While some displaced persons are returning to their home areas due to improved security, many also feel pressured by their overstretched host communities to return, she said. Another concern was the involvement of child soldiers in the conflict.

However, McAskie did observe some signs of progress during her visits to the field. In Bouaké, for example, electricity is still being provided from the south, and armed roadblocks are decreasing. She also saw that humanitarian agencies enjoy full access there.

McAskie also called on the international community to support the humanitarian effort in Cote dIvoire.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNAN SAYS KYOTO PROTOCOL IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE: The Secretary-General told countries meeting in Milan, Italy, to deal with the Framework Convention on Climate Change, that the Kyoto Protocols entry into force is of utmost importance. Already, he says, we may well be seeing some of the impacts of climate change, with a heightened frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and associated natural disasters.

NO SECURITY COUNCIL MEETINGS: There are no Security Council meetings or consultations scheduled for today.

STANDARDS DOCUMENT FOR KOSOVO LAUNCHED: Today in Pristina, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Harri Holkeri, launched a Standards for Kosovo document standards which Kosovo must reach in full compliance with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), the Constitutional Framework and other applicable law, and the original standards/benchmarks paper, endorsed by the Security Council. This initiative is another step in the process of implementation of resolution 1244 (1999) and will give new momentum to the standards before status policy.

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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