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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-10-25
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.comARCHIVES
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, October 25, 2004
U.N. ENVOY ADDRESSES IRAQI INTERIM NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ELECTIONS
In Baghdad today, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, attended a meeting of the Interim National Council. In an off-the-cuff address to members of the Council, Qazi said the United Nations shares the Interim Councils keenness for the holding of credible elections on time.
He said the technical support and strategic advice of a dedicated UN team of experts have been crucial in enabling the Independent Iraqi Electoral Commission to perform its task of organizing the elections. He added that UN experts working with the Commission have also been meeting with various political entities to explain the electoral process.
Qazi told members of the Council that the mandate of the UN Mission in Iraq also includes contributing to the political process. He pointed to a number of meetings he has held with government officials and representatives of political entities to encourage participation in the process, mainly the elections.
On Sunday, Qazi met with Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. The two focused their discussion on the political process in Iraq, especially electoral preparations. Talks also addressed the security situation in Iraq, human rights and the political dialogue launched to achieve reconciliation in the country and ensure a successful transitional process.
Over the last few days, Qazi has held discussions with various government officials and representatives of Iraqi political parties and civil society to explore means through which the United Nations can advance the political process and encouraging dialogue among various Iraqi parties.
Asked about reports that some 380 tons of explosives have gone missing in Iraq, the Spokesman said that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei is expected today to send a letter to the President of the Security Council expressing his concerns about missing explosive materials. That letter is expected to be received by this afternoon.
The Spokesman noted that ElBaradei has repeatedly informed the Security Council of his concerns about material and installations present in Iraq that have gone missing since the war last year.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals reaction to the reports, the Spokesman said that he had not expressed any response yet.
ANNAN CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF KOSOVO ON ELECTIONS
In a statement attributable to his Spokesman, and released on Sunday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan congratulated the people of Kosovo on the peaceful Assembly elections held there on Saturday.
He said that the turnout and good management of the electoral process, for the first time by Kosovans themselves, demonstrate their understanding of the importance of making their voices heard and taking a direct hand in shaping Kosovo's future.
While noting with disappointment the low turnout among the Kosovo Serb community, the Secretary-General congratulated those who voted and those who stood as candidates for their courage in the face of severe contrary pressure. He called on all of Kosovo's political leaders to respect the result of the election.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Kosovo, Soren Jessen-Petersen, has appealed for the quick formation of a new government once the final results are certified.
He reiterated that the UN Mission in Kosovo looks forward to working in partnership with the next government, who will be given important new competencies on improving the economic situation and creating more jobs.
In the next few days, Jessen-Petersen will meet with the newly elected political leaders to hear their views on the way forward.
U.N. REPORT LINKS BURUNDI REBELS TO GATUMBA MASSACRE
The Secretary-General has transmitted to the Security Council the report of the UN Operation in Burundi, the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the massacre at the Gatumba refugee camp on August 13, 2004.
The investigation concluded that the available evidence points to a Burundian rebel organization, the Parti pour la libération du peuple hutu-Forces nationales de liberation (PALIPEHUTU-FNL), the only group to claim responsibility, as having probably participated in the massacre, but as being unlikely to have done so on its own.
The report says that evidence of the presence of other groups, largely produced by the testimony of survivors of the attack, was credible, but could not be independently confirmed.
Nonetheless, the report concludes that the team collected sufficient information about this grave crime to recommend a thorough judicial inquiry at both the national level, led by the Government of Burundi with the full cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and the international level, led by the International Criminal Court.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The Security Council has the Central African Republic and other matters on its agenda today. In closed consultations, Gen. Lamine Cissé, Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Peace-building Office in the Central African Republic, briefed members.
He updated the Council members on the humanitarian and political situation, notably on the ongoing election process, which, he says, is taking place in rather good conditions. The Secretary-General has written to the Council asking them to extend the missions mandate.
This afternoon at 3:00, the Council has a meeting with troop-contributing countries to the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara.
U.N. ENVOY FOR SUDAN DISCUSSES MEETS WITH PARTIES ON WAYS
TO MOVE FORWARD PEACE TALKS ON DARFUR
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, has discussed ways to move forward in the dialogue on Darfur with all parties taking part in the Abuja peace talks.
He strongly recommended to them the need to capitalize on the current momentum that has resulted from the international community's focus on Sudan and particularly on Darfur; and to concentrate during this round of talks on political issues which are key to a sustained settlement of the Darfur conflict. Pronk also encouraged them to engage in the negotiations in good faith.
He also urged the parties to consider starting implementation of the agreed Humanitarian Protocol without waiting for its formal signature, in order to improve the security situation and the delivery of humanitarian assistance, particularly to the areas under the rebels control.
Pronk also met with the Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the Chairman of the African Union (AU), and discussed with him the current situation in Darfur, the AU expanded mission's deployment and UN/AU cooperation in dealing with the Darfur conflict.
The talks began on Friday are continuing in Abuja today. Pronk is on his way back to Khartoum.
U.N. POLICE PARTICIPATE IN OPERATION IN HAITIAN CAPITAL
In the early hours of Sunday morning, UN Police and military contingents participated in a large-scale operation by the Haitian national police to clear the streets of Bel Air. This is a poor neighborhood of Port au Prince that has been largely controlled by armed gangs and has been the scene of much violence in the past three weeks.
In the operation, the UN contingents helped to remove more than 130 burnt-out vehicles that had been used to barricade the streets as well as other obstacles which had blocked traffic. It is reported that one Haitian police officer died during the operation and that an undisclosed number of people were arrested by the Haitian police.
From now on, UN peacekeepers will provide 24-hour surveillance of the water tower in Bel Air. The tower is opposite another significant building, the national shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, which had recently been inaccessible to most Haitians.
Later today, Special Representative Juan Gabriel Valdes will be taking international and local journalists to the port area of Port au Prince, another strategic point which has been secured in recent days and is now considered operational.
KARZAI TAKES THE LEAD IN ELECTORAL COUNT IN AFGHANISTAN
More than 97 percent of the votes have been counted in Afghanistan, and the Joint Electoral Management Body in that country says that interim President Hamid Karzai is in the lead, with 55.5 percent of the vote.
Trailing behind him are Younus Qanooni, with 16.2 percent, Haji Mohammed Mohaqiq with 11.6 percent and Abdul Rashid Dostum with 10.2 percent. Ballot counting is expected to be concluded in the next few days.
Meanwhile, the impartial panel dealing with electoral complaints over the weekend decided to allow most ballot boxes to be counted, while having some boxes quarantined for further investigation.
Also, available today is the latest human rights report on Afghanistan by independent expert Cherif Bassiouni, which says that, despite progress, deep concerns remain about human rights in the country.
U.N. SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS WOULD COST $97 MILLION
A few weeks ago, the Secretary-General presented a report on strengthening security for the United Nations, which called for the establishment of a Directorate of Security in New York to unify all the security structures in the UN system. In an addendum today, he says the total gross costs of the proposals for strengthened security are estimated at $97.1 million. That includes one-time requirements of $29.6 million.
The 97-million total breaks down to more than $35 million for improvements at field locations, more than $27 million for measures at New York, $16 million for Geneva, more than $3 million each for Nairobi, Santiago and Addis Ababa and more than $1 million each for Bangkok and Beirut.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MARKS UN DAY WITH CALL FOR CHANGE
Sunday was United Nations Day, the 59th anniversary of the founding of this organization. To mark the occasion, the Secretary-General, in a message, says that, although the world is a better place because of the United Nations, we can and must do better.
He says that he will soon be putting before world leaders a package of measures to renew the organization. The Secretary-General asserts, We are in a new era. We need a new United Nations. Lets make it happen.
At 7:00 this evening in the General Assembly Hall, the UN Day concert will take place, featuring the Kuwaiti National Orchestra and the Kuwait Television Band. The Secretary-General will speak at the occasion.
Also, earlier today in Jerusalem, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed Larsen, presided over the UN Day ceremonies at Government House. His speech is a reflection on the development of the UN's presence and work in the Middle East and a strong affirmation in his belief in the two-state solution as the only viable way out of the conflict.
Asked about the debate that is expected on making the United Nations better, the Spokesman said the foundation for that debate would be the report by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change that the Secretary-General had established.
The Secretary-General, Eckhard said in response to another question, hopes the United States would be an active participant in the debate next year on the panels recommendations, with the General Assembly expected to take up the matter at its 60th session next fall.
Asked when the Assembly would receive the report, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General expected to receive it from the panel this December 1, and for it then to go to the General Assembly on December 2, at which time it would be made public. The Secretary-General will also present his own views to the General Assembly after studying the report.
Eckhard said that the Secretary-General has had regular discussions with the panel, and has a sense of the thrust of the report, which is expected to provide bold proposals to deal with the challenges before us.
Asked whether the Secretary-General felt confident that states would implement recommendations on UN reform, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General would be pushing for that. It is up to the Member States to deal with the recommendations forthrightly, but if they delay, the Secretary-General would urge them to take concrete action.
SPOKESMAN NOTES GOOD US-UN RELATIONSHIP: Asked about the United Nations relationship with the United States over George W. Bushs presidency, the Spokesman said that there has been a good, solid working relationship between the United Nations and United States over the past four years. The Secretary-General, he said, was basically pleased with the relationship. The Spokesman noted the fundamental disagreement over the invasion of Iraq, but said the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change would deal with whether the UN Charter and rules for collective security need to be revised.
FOOD RATIONS CUT TO REFUGEES IN TANZANIA: The World Food Programme has been forced to cut food rations to some 400,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees living in 13 camps in western Tanzania. The move is due to severe funding shortages and inadequate supplies of both cereals and pulses. WFP says it had no other choice, that the cuts were unavoidable and could have serious implications, as the refugees rely almost entirely on WFP food aid for their survival. WFP is urgently appealing to donors for $14 million to prevent additional cuts and continue feeding the refugees through the first half of next year.
ILO REPORT CITES WORKERS PREFERENCES ON WORKING HOURS: The International Labour Organization has released a report which notes that in industrialized countries there are groups of workers with excessively' long hours who would prefer to work less, as well as a sizable group of workers whose hours of work are significantly shorter than they would prefer. The overall pattern underlying these variations is that countries with relatively limited regulation of working time, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, tend to have a much higher incidence of excessive hours than other countries, according to the report.
DESERT LOCUST INFESTATIONS LESSENING IN PARTS OF AFRICA: Desert locust infestations are declining in the Sahel region due to control operations and the northward migration of swarms. Consequently, few locusts remain in the Sahelian zones in Mali and northern Burkina Faso but an increasing number of swarms are forming in northern Mali and Niger. If rains dont fall in the coming weeks, most of the swarms are likely to concentrate along the southern side of the Atlas mountains in Morocco and Algeria.
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