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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-10-20

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 MARIE OKABE

ASSOCIATE SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE

SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

FIJI AGREES TO PROVIDE SECURITY FOR U.N. SENIOR STAFF IN IRAQ

AND PROTECT U.N. FACILITIES IN BAGHDAD

In response to questions from reporters, the Spokeswoman said that the Government of Fiji has agreed to provide the United Nations with the necessary manpower for protective security details for senior United Nations officials in Iraq, as well as a guard unit for the protection of UN facilities in Baghdad.

In addition, the Government of Australia has confirmed to the United Nations that they will provide most of the equipment to the Fijians.

The United Nations is grateful to these two Governments, as these contributions are critical to the UN's efforts to strengthen the security arrangements of its personnel in Iraq. This would make it possible for the United Nations to consider expanding its activities in Iraq, as circumstances permit.

Asked about the timing of the Fijian deployment, the Spokesman said the United Nations expect them to deploy as soon as logistic preparations and training are completed. She noted that Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently expressed his hope that they would go in next month. She later said the total contingent would number about 130.

Asked whether circumstances would allow an increase in UN staff, she said that security conditions are being monitored daily. She noted that the current staff ceiling remains at 35, but would change once circumstances permit. That ceiling, she said, is set by the UN Security Coordinator.

Asked about protection from the multinational force, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations is currently in discussion with the United States and the multinational force (MNF) regarding the provision of an MNF unit dedicated to the protection of UN perimeter security and/or the provision of armed escorts for UN personnel as they travel outside of Baghdads International Zone. That is in accordance with Security Council resolution 1546.

She declined to mention specific details of talks with other Governments on troops, saying the only confirmed contributions were those from Fiji and Australia.

Currently, she said in response to another question, the MNF is responsible for the security of UN personnel in Iraq.

Asked why the United Nations would want to have MNF security, Okabe said that the objective, as the Secretary-General has repeatedly noted, is to assist the Iraqi people as they prepare for elections. The United Nations is doing everything possible to provide as much support as it can and to stabilize the situation there.

She added, in response to another question, that the United Nations was constantly updating its planning to assist the Independent Electoral Commissions work.

Asked about comments from Iraqs Foreign Minister that the United Nations has not sent enough electoral workers, the Spokeswoman affirmed that the Secretary-General is doing his best to give as much support to the electoral process. More workers would go in as circumstances permit.

Asked whether there is enough time for the United Nations to contribute to elections set for January, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General had shared the sentiment that there is not much time to do the necessary work.

Asked about the abduction in Baghdad of Margaret Hassan of Care International, the Spokeswoman said the Secretary-General was very concerned about the fate of all those abducted in Iraq. The kidnapping of humanitarian workers is especially troubling, she said. The Secretary-General calls for the release of all those taken hostage.

U.N. ENVOY IN IRAQ HOLDS MEETINGS ON NATIONAL DIALOGUE

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, today held a series of meetings in Baghdad with representatives of Iraqi civil society, diplomats and others on how to advance the political process and the role the UN can play in promoting national dialogue.

Their talks also focused on national elections planned for January, security and the human rights situation, as well as efforts to encourage a broad-based dialogue and reconciliation in Iraq.

Qazi reiterated the UNs commitment to fulfil its mandate under Resolution 1546 and to serve the Iraqi people, highlighting the support the UN is providing to the Independent Electoral Commission and the rebuilding process.

Also on Iraq, Koichiro Matsuura, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), issued a statement condemning the recent murder in Baghdad of Dina Mohammed Hassan, a correspondent for Al-Hurriya TV, as well as the killing of European Pressphoto Agency photographer Karam Hussein in Mosul.

He stressed that dialogue and open debate, two fundamental characteristics of democracy, cannot thrive without free and independent media. The cowardly actions of those resorting to murder to deter the professionals who feed such debate must be stopped.

SUDAN IMPLEMENTATION MECHANISM TO MEET THURSDAY

The seventh meeting of the so-called Joint Implementation Mechanism for Darfur, Sudan, is going to be held Thursday evening in Khartoum. The mechanism was set up after the United Nations and Sudan signed a joint communiqué in July to bring an end to the conflict in Darfur.

The UN mission in Sudan says the discussion will focus on the apparent deterioration of the security situation in Darfur and its impact on humanitarian operations and on the safety of humanitarian workers. The mission also said that the upcoming peace talks on Darfur in Abuja would also be discussed.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, is scheduled to travel to Abuja on October 23 to attend the peace talks on Darfur between the Government of the Sudan and the rebel groups -- the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

U.N. MISSION REPORTS 285 COMPLAINTS RECEIVED IN AFGHANISTAN

The UN Mission in Afghanistan reported today that the countrys Joint Electoral Management Body has so far received 285 formal complaints concerning the October 19 elections. For the majority of them, about 180, action has either been taken or has started, or is not required.

More than 45 percent of the complaints concerned the application of indelible ink, the Mission said. It noted that the three-member panel of experts looking into the complaints are today visiting a center in Gardez where ballot boxes that were deemed problematic were isolated.

ANNAN: PEACE PROCESS IN ABKHAZIA CLOSE TO STANDSTILL

The peace process between Georgia and Abkhazia has come perilously close to a standstill, with the two sides not having met at the political level since July. Thats one of the observations the Secretary-General makes in his latest report to the Security Council on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia.

In the report, he also calls on the Georgian side to maintain its commitment to settling the conflict in Abkhazia, as well as other internal disputes, by peaceful means.

SECURITY COUNCIL ASKS STATES TO REPORT ON COUNTER-TERRORISM

There are no Security Council meetings or consultations scheduled for today.

On Tuesday, the Council ended its open meeting on counter-terrorism by adopting a Presidential Statement that asked the 78 States that had not yet done so to submit reports to the Counter-Terrorism Committee.

The Council has scheduled consultations Thursday on the humanitarian situation in Africa.

ANNAN REPORTS UNEVEN REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN AT UNITED NATIONS

The Secretary-Generals report on the Improvement of the Status of Women in the United Nations system notes that the representation of women in the Professional and higher categories is 36.4 per cent in the UN system as a whole, while in the Secretariat it is only slightly higher, at 37.4 percent.

The report says an analysis of longer-term trends shows uneven representation at all levels. Factors affecting the slow progress in parity include the recruitment and selection processes, accountability of program managers, the working climate and culture of the organization, and informal barriers.

In spite of initiatives undertaken to change the trend, the report concludes that UN entities have a long way to go to integrate gender balance considerations into institutional and attitudinal systems and into the human resources management policies of the Organization.

It adds that the Secretary-General remains firmly committed to reaching the goal of 50/50 gender balance at all levels and in all categories of posts, including senior and policy-making posts, as mandated by the General Assembly.

INT'L CRIMINAL COURT DEPUTY PROSECUTOR TO TAKE UP DUTIES

The new Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, will make her solemn undertaking in an open session of the Court in The Hague on November 1.

Bensouda was elected to the office for a term of nine years by the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court in September of this year. In her new position, she will head the Prosecution Division of the Office of the Prosecutor and report directly to Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

UNICEF SAYS WEST AFRICA CHILDREN NEED IODIZED SALT

UNICEF, the UN Childrens Fund, says that 30 percent of children in West Africa are still missing out on the benefits of iodized household salt. Every pinch of iodized salt can help protect children against the effects of iodine deficiency problems, such as brain damage and mental retardation.

Most of these West African children live in rural communities, and these have the worst indicators for child health, nutrition and survival.

Carol Bellamy, UNICEFs Executive Director, says the regions iodized salt production needs to be ramped up and quality controlled.

AT LEAST 800,000 ROBOTS ARE IN USE;

GROWTH IN ORDERS FOR NEW ROBOTS FORECAST TO GROW

The UN Economic Commission for Europe has released its World Robotics 2004 survey. Among its many findings, it says that there are at least 800,000 robots being used in industry all over the world. The report says investment in robots is being spurred by falling or stable prices, improved technology and increasing labor costs.

Growth in worldwide orders for new robots is forecast to grow at an annual average rate of about 7 percent between 2004 and 2007.

The report also says that in the long run, robots will be everyday tools for mankind. They will not only clean floors, mow lawns and guard homes, but will also carry out surgery, inspect pipes and sites that are hazardous to people, fight fires and bombs.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL ENDS OFFICIAL VISITS: The Secretary-General has ended his official visits to China, Ireland and the United Kingdom over the past two weeks. The Spokeswoman noted, in response to a question, that the Secretary-General was expected at UN Headquarters on Thursday.

HARIRI SERVED LEBANON COMMENDABLY, ANNAN SAYS: Asked about reaction to the dissolution of the Lebanese Parliament, the Spokeswoman said the Secretary-General had taken note of the resignation of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's Government. Hariri's government has served its country commendably, under difficult circumstances and has been a good partner for the international community in the best interest of Lebanon.

U.N. ATTENDANCE AT SHARM EL-SHEIKH NOT CONFIRMED: Asked whether UN officials would attend the Sharm el-Sheikh summit on Iraq, the Spokeswoman said she had nothing to confirm at this time.

IMPROVED EFFORTS NEEDED TO TREAT/PREVENT EPILEPSY: The World Health Organization is calling on governments to improve the treatment and prevention of epilepsy in the Western Pacific region. Epilepsy is the most serious common neurological disorder, with an estimated 50 million people suffering from it around the world and of these, 80 percent are believed to live in developing countries. WHO is trying to bring the issue to the forefront as a health priority, and will launch a new regional report on it Thursday in Beijing.

PARLIAMENTARIANS CALL FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: According to the UN Population Fund, 130 lawmakers from 90 countries have called for greater action by governments to defend the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all individuals. They were speaking at a conference held in Strasbourg, France, to follow up on the 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and Development.

FAO SAYS LATIN AMERICA WILL LOSE FOREST COVER: The Food and Agriculture Organization says that by 2020, Latin America and the Caribbean will have less natural forest cover but more protected areas and forest plantations, and an increased share of international trade in forest products. Thats the conclusion of an outlook study the FAO will publish at the end of the year.

  • The guest at the noon briefing was Mervat Tallawy, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

    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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