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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-12-17

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 17, 2003

KOSOVO NEEDS STANDARDS BEFORE STATUS

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno told the Security Council today that any discussion on Kosovos future status is dependent on achieving the eight benchmarks outlined in the standards before status policy.

The benchmarks deal with issues such as rule of law, freedom of movement, and property rights.

In his open briefing, Guéhenno said that, depending on progress made towards reaching the standards, a review of the Kosovo Provisional Institutions could possibly be carried out in mid-2005.

He added that the past two months have seen an increase in serious crimes in Kosovo, including attacks against Kosovo Police Service officers.

The Councils open debate on Kosovo was chaired by the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, Solomon Passy. Statements were made by all 15 Council members and three other countries.

SECURITY COUNCIL SEEKS TIGHTER ARMS EMBARGO ON SOMALIA

The Security Council has asked the Secretary-General to establish a Monitoring Group, for six months, aimed at tightening the arms embargo on Somalia.

In a resolution adopted unanimously Tuesday following the meetings on Iraq, the Security Council detailed the mandate of the Monitoring Group, which would include up to four experts, to investigate breaches of the embargo - especially transfers of ammunition, single use weapons and small arms - by land, air and sea.

The Council also asks the Nairobi-based Group to make recommendations about how to strengthen the embargo.

ANNAN CALLS FOR RECONCILIATION IN COLOMBIA

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Secretary-General called for the release of hostages in Colombia, both foreign and Colombian.

"During the upcoming holiday season and the period of reflection that it brings, I call upon the parties to the conflict to relieve the people of Colombia from the suffering that has plagued this country over the last four decades," the Secretary-General said.

He also urged that steps be taken to nurture reconciliation, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

The FARC and ELN should assist by releasing the innocent civilians, Colombian and foreign, they have kidnapped, so that families may be reunited during what should be a joyous time of the year.

"It is also my hope," he said in the statement, "that the parties will renew dialogue to establish negotiations toward ending this violent conflict, for this is the only route to a sustainable peace."

AGREEMENT REACHED FOR KHMER ROUGE TRIALS IN CAMBODIA

The UN Technical Assessment Mission to Cambodia was able to reach agreement last week with the Cambodian Government on a number of concrete steps necessary to establish a court for Khmer Rouge trials.

These include a concept of operations, an outline of an implementation plan with timelines, a staffing table for the courts judicial and administrative component and the site where the trials would be held.

Contrary to some reports in the Cambodian press, the UN team did not specify the number of potential indictees during the talks with the Cambodian Government, nor was a list of names of potential indictees discussed.

It would have been highly improper to do so, since it will be the prerogative of the investigative judges and the prosecutors of the future court to make that determination.

For the purpose of drafting a budget proposal, a range of five to ten indictees was assumed by both parties, but this figure could change depending on the investigative and prosecutorial strategy that the future court may wish to adopt. We have a press release upstairs with more details.

UNITED NATIONS NEEDS MORE PEACEKEEPERS IN 2004

The Department of Peace-Keeping Operations has appealed to Members States to provide more peacekeepers for the UN Mission in Liberia and for future operations in Africa.

At a meeting for Troop Contributors, Guéhenno provided an update on the deployment of troops in Liberia, current operational challenges and the status of the disarmament and demobilization program in that country.

He also pointed out that the United Nations would probably need more peacekeepers in the coming year to conduct possible operations in Sudan and Burundi, and expanded activities in Cote dIvoire.

While it is too soon to give specific details of the personnel requirements, Guéhenno said the United Nations would need to generate substantial numbers of well-trained, well-equipped troops and civilian police personnel in 2004.

FOOD PRICES ROCKET IN ZIMBABWE

In Zimbabwe, prices for many food staples such as maize, sugar and flour have spiked by 49% in the last month, putting them out of reach for the average family, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

This comes at a period between harvests when families are most in need of food aid.

Zimbabweans have been dependent on aid due to a combination of drought, economic decline, and the effects of HIV/AIDS.

The spread of the virus has hit agricultural production hard as many farm workers die or are too sick to work.

2003 AMONG THE WARMEST YEARS IN 150 YEARS

This year been the third warmest year for the past 150 years, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Global temperatures for all of 2003 are expected to be 0.45 degrees Celsius higher than the 1961-to-1990 annual average making it the warmest year after 2002 and 1998, according to WMO.

Other findings include that the Antarctic ozone hole was unusually large this past year.

WHO REPORTS SARS INCIDENT IN TAIWAN

The World Health Organization has received reports from public health experts in Taiwan that a 44-year-old laboratory worker has been infected with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), after testing positive for the SARS coronavirus.WHO says that for the moment, this appears to be an isolated incident.

All people who came into contact with the infected patient, who last week had flown to a conference in Singapore, are being identified and monitored. Anyone who becomes feverish will be immediately isolated.

Details of this latest SARS incident are still under investigation.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNAN TO MEET THE PRESS THURSDAY: Secretary-General Kofi Annan will give his year-end press conference Thursday at 11:00 a.m. Consequently, there will be no noon briefing.

WHO CALLS FOR STRONGER PRIMARY HEALTH CARE: The World Health Organization is appealing for stronger health systems based on primary health care, in its annual report to be issued Thursday at 10:00 GMT.

MIDDLE EAST: The United Nations Meeting for Asia and the Pacific on the Question of Palestine welcomed the unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 1515 (2003) in which the Council endorsed the Road Map and called on the parties to fulfill their obligations under the plan and to realize the vision of two States living side by side. In a Final Document issued at the closing session of the two-day Asia and Pacific meeting, participants viewed the resolution as a strong indication of the Councils intention to remain fully engaged in efforts towards achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

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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