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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-02-22

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 FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, February 22, 2001

SECURITY COUNCIL ENDORSES REVISED UN PLANS FOR THE CONGO

Shortly after noon, the Security Council held a formal meeting in which it unanimously approved a resolution on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including an endorsement of the Secretary-General's revised concept of operations for the UN Mission in that country and a timetable for disengagement of forces. The Political Committee of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, including ministers from the six countries who signed the accord, attended that meeting.

Before that formal meeting, the Security Council heard in a closed meeting a briefing by the facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue, former Botswanan President Ketumile Masire.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday welcomed the decision of Congolese President Joseph Kabila's Government to permit Masire to work with the various Congolese parties in conducting the national dialogue. He added that without broad political agreement among the Congolese people based on a dialogue leading to free and fair elections, there can be no lasting peace and stability in the Congo. The Secretary-General appealed for financial and other support to Masire's work.

Stan Mudenge, Zimbabwean Foreign Minister and chair of the Political Committee for the Lusaka Agreement, and the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kamel Morjane briefed reporters after the meeting.

The Government of Uganda, in a letter available today, announced the withdrawal of two battalions from Congo, a development welcomed by the Secretary-General.

In its other work, the Security Council has scheduled at 3 p.m. this afternoon an open debate in the monitoring mechanism on Angola sanctions.

ANNAN SAYS UN MISSION WORKING TO IDENTIFY OVERFLIGHTS OF IRAQ

The Secretary-General responded by letter to a letter from the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Said al-Sahaf, on the recent U.S.-U.K, raids on Iraq, and said that only the Security Council can determine whether or not its resolutions provide a legal basis for the so-called "no-fly zone."

The Secretary-General also defended the efforts by the UN Mission along the Iraq-Kuwait border (UNIKOM) to monitor the demilitarized zone and report on any violations of it. That Mission, he wrote, regularly records and reports such violations but, in the most cases, it has not been possible for the mission to identify the aircraft or to determine its nationality.

Annan added that the inability to identify the states responsible for the air violations is in no way to be understood as condoning those flights.

In response to a question on the United Nations' plans for the meetings scheduled for February 26-27 with the Iraqi Government in New York, the Spokesman said that the Secretariat has presented a format for those meetings to the Iraqi Government and is awaiting its reaction.

He added he was unaware of any plans for the Secretary-General to meet U.S. President George W. Bush prior to the meetings with Iraq, and said the United Nations awaited a date for such a meeting from the White House.

UN-OAU REPORT ON TOGO CONCLUDES OPPOSITION WAS TARGETED

In a report released today in Geneva, the International Commission of Inquiry for Togo said that the allegations made by Amnesty International that hundreds of people in Togo had been victims of extra judicial executions during 1998 "must be taken into consideration."

In the report, which was jointly commissioned by the UN and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) last June, the three-member commission concluded that "executions were aimed especially at political activists linked to opposition parties."

The members of the commission expressed their concern for the security of persons who cooperated with them. The commission based its findings on investigations carried out in Togo and neighboring countries in November and December of last year.

The report recommended, among other things, that the Commission on Human Rights consider appointing a special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Togo and that the Special Rapporteurs on Summary and Arbitrary Executions; Torture; and Violence against Women undertake missions to Togo.

The report has been issued as a document of the Commission of Human Rights, which is set to meet from March 19 to April 27 in Geneva.

TRIBUNAL FINDS THREE BOSNIAN SERBS GUILTY IN RAPE TRIAL

Today in The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found three Bosnian Serbs -- Dragoljub Kunarac, Radimir Kovac and Zoran Vukovic -- guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the municipality of Foca in 1992 and 1993.

The three were accused, in particular, of involvement in the sexual abuse of women and girls in Foca, in which Muslim women and girls -- some as young as 12 -- were kept in buildings where they were repeatedly raped; some were kept in servitude for months on end. Today's decision was the culmination of the first international case of sexual enslavement as a crime against humanity.

Presiding Judge Florence Mumba said in her ruling, "What the evidence shows is that the rapes were used by members of the Bosnian Serb armed forces as an instrument of terror -- an instrument they were given free rein to apply whenever and against whomsoever they wished."

She added that authorities who should have protected the women instead guarded them and even joined in their abuse. Foca as a whole was ethnically cleansed of Muslims.

Of the three accused who were convicted today, Kunarac was sentenced to 28 years' imprisonment, Kovac to 20 years and Vukovic to 12 years.

UN ENVOY DISCUSSES PALESTINE FUNDING CRISIS IN SWEDEN

Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle Peace Process is in Stockholm today where he met with Foreign Minister Anna Lindh of Sweden, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU), as well as with other senior Swedish officials.

In speaking to reporters following his meetings, Larsen said that his visit is part of the continuing joint effort by the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Norway to raise awareness of the "dire fiscal and economic situation in the Palestinian Territory."

Larsen told journalists he had used the occasion of these meetings to thank the European Union for "formidable efforts on both the fiscal and economic aspect of the crisis." He referred to the EU as a critical partner and expressed the Secretary-General's gratitude for its efforts in the region.

The Special Coordinator said, "We are now in the deepest crisis of the peace process since the signing the Oslo Accord." He added that the economic and social crisis was generating "an individualization of terror which was producing a very difficult security situation" and that only a resumption of dialogue between the parties could develop the necessary political progress to contain the current crisis.

Larsens next stop will be Oslo, Norway.

NATIONAL COUNCIL CALLS FOR EAST TIMOR ELECTIONS ON AUGUST 30

The Timorese National Council today approved a set of recommendations on the political transition in East Timor, calling for elections to an 88-member Constituent Assembly on August 30. It also decided that, by December 15, a constitution should be proclaimed. The Constituent Assembly would later be transformed into a national Parliament. The National Council will discuss final dates before submitting them for approval by the Transitional Administrator.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for East Timor, arrived today in Jakarta for a two-day visit. He will have a series of meetings with senior Indonesian officials. Josť Ramos-Horta, member of the Timorese Cabinet in charge of Foreign Relations, is a member of the delegation, marking the first time Vieira de Mello holds talks in Jakarta together with a Timorese official.

ANNAN TO RECEIVE REPORT ON DIGITAL DIVIDE

At 3:30 p.m. today, the Secretary-General will meet with his Special Representative on Information and Communication Technologies, former Costa Rican President Josť Maria Figueres Olsen.

Figueres is to present the Secretary-General with a report outlining a viable strategy for a task force on information and communication technologies to combat poverty worldwide. That report was prepared by an Advisory Group, headed by Figueres, which held consultations worldwide with Governments, members of academia, non-governmental organizations and partners in the private sector.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The UN Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) today expressed concern about an increase in threats and intimidation against indigenous and human rights workers as well as political figures. The most recent incident occurred on Wednesday, with two simultaneous attacks against the family of General Oto Perez Molina, a signatory of the Guatemala peace agreements.

The UN Country Team in Eritrea today announced that is issuing a humanitarian appeal for more than $157 million to meet the needs of 1.76 million Eritreans who have been affected by the recent conflict and drought. The appeal includes $103 million sought by the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide nearly 230,000 metric tons of emergency food aid, and $20.5 million requested by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to support voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Eritreans.

The closure of the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH) has reduced the number of UN peace-building missions and political offices to 13.

  • The guest at today's briefing was Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), who discussed global warming and the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

    United Nations, S-378

    New York, NY 10017

    Tel. 212-963-7162

    Fax. 212-963-7055


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