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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-10-07

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE

SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, October 7, 2004

ANNAN NAMES COMMISSION TO DETERMINE IF GENOCIDE

HAS TAKEN PLACE IN DARFUR, SUDAN

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today announced the establishment of an international commission of inquiry, which would determine whether or not acts of genocide have occurred in Darfur, Sudan. The commission is also to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur. The Security Council, in

resolution 1564, asked Secretary-General to establish the commission.

The five-member commission will be chaired by Judge Antonio Cassese of Italy, who was the first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The other four members are Mohammed Fayek of Egypt, Diego García-Sayán of Peru, Hina Jilani of Pakistan and Thérese Striggner Scott of Ghana.

The commission will also have an Executive Director, Dumisa Ntsebeza of South Africa, who will head the technical team supporting the commission.

Three of the members of the Commission, as well as the Executive Director, are scheduled to meet the Secretary-General today at 3:00 p.m.

Asked for specific details of the commissions work, the Spokesman noted that they would first meet with the Secretary-General; more details would be provided following that meeting.

Asked whether the commission would provide a definitive answer on whether genocide was taking place in Darfur, the Spokesman said he would refrain from prejudging their work before it has even begun.

U.N. ENVOY ATTENDS SUDANS NORTH-SOUTH PEACE TALKS

Jan Pronk, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan, arrived in Nairobi, Kenya today to attend the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Sudan and the rebel People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). Sudans First Vice-President Ali Othman Mohamed Taha and the Chairman of the SPLM/A, John Garang, are expected to meet this later this afternoon in Nairobi.

Pronk was invited by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the regional organization mediating the North-South peace talks.

In Khartoum, Pronks Deputy for Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan, Manuel Aranda da Silva, met on Wednesday with Prime Minister Tony Blair. Discussion focused on the Darfur crisis and the North-South peace process.

Aranda da Silva emphasized the need for sustained support for humanitarian operations in Darfur and the need for ensuring that rapid support is available for Sudan immediately following the signing of a peace agreement.

UN EXPERT URGES SUDAN TO RATIFY DISCRIMINATION CONVENTION

In a statement issued at the end of her visit to Sudan, Yakin Ertürk, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women detailed the multiple forms of violence suffered by women and girls during attacks on villages in Darfur.

She also made a series of recommendations to the Sudanese authorities including a strong appeal to the Government to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women And the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the rights of women in Africa.

Such a move would start a dialogue for the improvement of the legal protection of womens rights in Sudan, and also implement current obligations under international law, she said.

ANNAN TO TRAVEL TO CHINA, IRELAND AND UNITED KINGDOM

The Secretary-General will depart this weekend on official visits to China, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

In Beijing, he will meet with President Hu Jintao and senior Government officials. He will visit an eco-village and HIV/AIDS testing center, and he will tour the Chinese peacekeeping training center at Langfang. China currently provides close to 1,000 military and police personnel to 12 peacekeeping operations.

A speech and question and answer session with students of Tsinghua University is also included on his program in China, as are the opening celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the UN-China partnership.

In Ireland, which he visited once before as Secretary-General in 1999, he will meet with President Mary McAleese, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and Defense Minister Willie ODea.

The Secretary-General will address the National Forum on Europe on the issue of EU-UN Cooperation, and will meet with Irish military personnel who have served on UN peacekeeping operations.

In the United Kingdom, he will deliver the Tip ONeill Lecture at the University of Ulster on the topic of peace-building before traveling to London, where he will meet with Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and the Secretary of State for International Development.

He is expected to attend an All Party Parliamentary Committee Meeting, and will also meet with members of non-governmental organizations.

The Secretary-General will return to New York in the week of October 18.

ANNAN: UN INSPECTION IN IRAQ DID WHAT IT WAS SUPPOSED TO DO

Asked by a journalist on Wednesday what he thinks of the report on Iraqs weapons of mass destruction presented to the U.S. Congress, the Secretary-General said, You may recall that before [Hans] Blix left here, he indicated that they had not found any evidence. So I am not surprised by that report.

When the journalist asked if the report gives the United Nations more credibility, he replied, I think it indicates that the inspectors had an impact. The UN inspection did what it was supposed to do.

One reporter commented to the Spokesman that the United Nations was in no position to say, I told you so, since earlier UN reports indicated that there was no evidence that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed. The Spokesman said in response that he had never spoken for the UN weapons inspectors, whose reports speak for themselves.

Asked about the Duelfer reports information about alleged corruption in the oil-for-food program, the Spokesman said that the report was focused on weapons of mass destruction, with allegations of corruption featuring as a relatively minor part of the report.

As for the issue of corruption, Eckhard said, the matter is in the hands of the independent inquiry headed by Paul Volcker. The United Nations is cooperating with him, as are UN officials, including Benon Sevan.

He added that there needed to be patience to allow that investigation to come to a conclusion. He was not aware, in response to a further question, of when the Volcker panel would finish its work.

ANNAN DEPLORES ACTION OF MUTINOUS SOLDIERS IN GUINEA-BISSAU

The Secretary-General deplores the action by a group of mutinous soldiers that led to the death of the Chief of Staff of Guinea-Bissaus armed forces on October 6, 2004.

He has asked his Representative in Guinea-Bissau, Joao Bernardo Honwana, to continue to lend the necessary support to help all parties resolve the crisis peacefully and quickly.

A briefing on Guinea Bissau is scheduled in the Security Council this afternoon.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS BOMB ATTACK IN PAKISTAN

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the bomb attack that was carried out today in the Pakistani city of Multan, in which reportedly dozens of people were killed and many more wounded.

Yet again, the Secretary-General reiterates that all terrorist acts are utterly unacceptable, and expresses his serious concern about the dangers of sectarian violence. He urges the authorities to take effective action against such acts and hopes that community and religious leaders will exercise their influence by calling for restraint and calm.

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON LIBERIA, TERRORISM

At 10:00 a.m., the Security Council began closed consultations on sanctions placed on Liberia, in particular on diamonds and timber.

[Members of the Council concluded that the conditions for lifting the sanctions on diamond and timber were not yet fully met, the Council President, U.K. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, told the press after the consultations had ended. Council members noted progress towards meeting the conditions.]

Also on the agenda is a discussion on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist attacks.

[Ambassador Jones Parry said the Council is to hold an open meeting, followed by a vote, on a resolution on that subject on Friday morning at 10:00.]

Also today, the Security Council will hold its regular monthly lunch with the Secretary-General.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO BE BRIEFED ON LEBANON REPORT

In consultations at 3:00 p.m., Terje Roed-Larsen the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, will brief the Security Council on the Secretary-General's report on resolution 1559, which called, among other things, for all foreign troops to withdraw from Lebanon. It also called for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.

In his report, the Secretary-General says that, to the best of his ability to ascertain, the only significant foreign forces deployed in Lebanon are Syrian.

Those troops currently number, according to the Government of Syria, about 14,000. It is not clear whether the recently announced redeployment of Syrian troops is confined to regular troops or includes non-uniformed military intelligence, and whether they have all returned to Syria.

The Secretary-General also notes that while the Government of Lebanon has made great strides in significantly reducing the number of militias present in Lebanon, several armed elements remain in the south, the most significant of which is Hezbollah.

In conclusion, he says, fourteen years after the end of Lebanons civil war and four years after the withdrawal of Israeli troops, the withdrawal of foreign forces and the disbandment and disarmament of militias would, with finality, end that sad chapter of Lebanese history.

UNRWA DELIVERS FOOD TO FAMILIES TRAPPED IN NORTHERN GAZA

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today delivered food and water to half of the 600 families trapped in their homes near the northern Gaza Strips Jabalyia camp.

UNRWA says that some 3,300 people have been completely unable to leave their homes since the beginning of the Israeli military operation on September 29. But, following a dialogue with Israeli military liaison officers, the Agency was able to give food parcels to some 300 families. It hopes to reach the remaining families on Friday.

U.N. ENVOY FOR IRAQ RETURNS TO BAGHDAD

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, has returned to Baghdad this week, and is meeting with a wide spectrum of Iraqi political leaders and actors to see how the United Nations can best help the transitional process.

Among his meetings, Qazi on Wednesday saw the visiting Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Jack Straw. He also had one of his regular meetings this morning with U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte.

In response to press requests, the Spokesman said he would try to make Qazi available to the press the next time he is in New York.

U.N. AGENCIES IN HAITI DISTRIBUTE SUPPLIES AROUND GONAIVES

Three weeks after Tropical Storm Jeanne ravaged Haiti, UN humanitarian agencies continue to distribute relief supplies to people around the hard-hit city of Gonaives.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, after initial problems due to security constraints, several food distribution points have been opened, and food aid has been distributed to more than 54,000 families since September 22.

Water distribution is proceeding well. International organizations have provided 11 trucks for delivering water and local authorities are working on repairing Gonaives local water system.

Nonetheless, the people of Gonaives still face a range of problems. Humanitarian groups are helping in the clean up of the mud, which clogs roads and leaves homes uninhabitable. In order to prevent future disasters, relief agencies are stressing the risks of long term damage to agriculture and the marine ecosystem, because of land erosion and mud flows into the sea.

DR CONGO-RWANDA COMMISSION HOLDS FIRST MEETING

The first meeting of the Joint Verification Commission launched by the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda was held in Kigali this week.

A confidence-building measure, which aims to address DRC-Rwanda border security issues and normalize bilateral relations, the mechanism was agreed upon at a meeting hosted by the Secretary-General in New York on September 22.

At its first session on Tuesday, which was chaired by Rwanda on a rotational basis, the two Governments agreed to deploy permanent joint verification teams to the border towns of Goma and Bukavu in the DRC on October 15. These teams will comprise military experts to undertake investigations on the ground, and each team will be led by a UN military officer.

The next meeting of the Commission will be held in Kinshasa in early December. The UN Mission in the DRC serves as the secretariat of this mechanism.

IAEA HEAD SAYS WORLD MUST RESPOND TO NON-COMPLIANCE

The Spokesman was asked on Wednesday about the comments made by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, on North Korea.

The IAEA Director-General made those comments at the Pugwash Conference in Seoul, where he said that one lesson from North Korea is that we cannot afford not to act in cases of non-compliance. He said that examples of North Korean non-compliance were repeatedly referred by the IAEA to the Security Council, but will little to no response.

By contrast, he said, verification and diplomacy have been part of the success so far in Iran and Libya. He hopes that the continuation of the six-party talks on North Korea will yield results that will include full IAEA verification.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

OFFICIALS SAY UNITED NATIONS IS READY FOR AFGHAN ELECTIONS: Asked whether the United Nations is ready for the elections in Afghanistan, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Jean Arnault, said on Wednesday that everything is ready for free and fair elections to take place.

UN REFUGEE AGENCY WARNS AGAINST POLITICIZING ASYLUM: The top protection official of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today warned states that politicising the asylum debate will only compromise refugee protection without solving migration concerns. She called instead for multilateral cooperation to share responsibilities and better manage the movement of people. Erika Feller, UNHCR's Director of International Protection, made the comments while addressing the agencys annual Executive Committee meeting in Geneva.

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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