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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-12-10

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

MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday , December 10, 2001

ANNAN AND UNITED NATIONS ACCEPT 2001 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

In Oslo, Norway, today, the Secretary-General and the United Nations received the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, on the centennial of that award, with Kofi Annan and General Assembly President Han Seung-soo each accepting a medallion and certificate.

Upon receiving the prize, the Secretary-General said that the world had entered the third millennium "through a gate of fire," and, noting the inequalities in the world, he added, "If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further, we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations or regions."

He said that in the new century, "the sovereignty of States must no longer be used as a shield for gross violations of human rights" and "peace must be made real and tangible in the daily existence of every individual in need."

He urged all to appreciate human diversity, and pointed to the respect each religion shows the values of tolerance and mutual understanding.

"Beneath the surface of states and nations, ideas and language, lies the fate of individual human beings in need. Answering their needs," he concluded, "will be the mission of the United Nations in the century to come."

Earlier today, the Secretary-General and General Assembly President, along with their wives, were joined by the Crown Princess of Norway at an open-air event involving thousands of school children at the seaside near Oslos City Hall. The children cheered on the Nobel Laureates, and the Secretary-General spoke to them briefly, saying they were the leaders of the 21st century.

He and President Han then had an audience with His Majesty King Harald V of Norway.

Also today, some two dozen Nobel Laureates issued a centennial appeal expressing their joy at todays award to the United Nations and Kofi Annan, in which they also called for the prompt establishment of the International Criminal Court, the non-violent pursuit of peace and the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.

After the Nobel ceremony, the King hosted a reception for the Secretary-General and all the other previous Peace Prize Laureates at the Royal Palace.

In the evening, the Secretary-General and his wife Nane, along with the General Assembly President and Mrs. Han, were to observe the traditional torchlight procession from the balcony of their hotel. They were then to attend the Nobel banquet this evening.

To mark the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to the Secretary-General and the Organization, the UN Postal Administration (UNPA) has issued commemorative stamps, in the three currencies of the UNPA.

The new stamps feature the UN flag with the caption "United for Peace."

ANNAN SAYS ATTACK ON IRAQ WOULD BE "UNWISE"

The Secretary-General arrived in Oslo on Saturday, where he was met at the airport by the Chairman of the Nobel Committee, Gunnar Berge.

He and General Assembly President Han Seung-soo then held a joint press conference, which the Secretary-General began by saying that any achievements he could claim "were the fruit of remarkable work and dedication on the part of many colleagues on the staff of the United Nations."

He said, in response to a question about expanding the war on terrorism, that any attempt to take military action in other parts of the world would be a matter for the Security Council to take up.

He added, "Any attempt or any decision to attack Iraq today will be unwise andit can lead to major escalation in the region, and I would hope that would not be the case."

In the late afternoon, the Secretary-General and Nane Annan, along with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen and his wife, went to the Oslo Synagogue for a ceremony to light the first candle of Hanukkah. Members of the families of three Israeli soldiers and a businessman abducted late last year by Hezbollah were also there, and the Secretary-General later met with them privately.

They expressed their gratitude for his efforts to obtain information on the condition of the abductees and urged him to work for the return of any still alive, or the return of their bodies if they are dead.

On returning to his hotel last night, the Secretary-General was greeted by officials of Amnesty International Norway, who presented him with the results of a letter-writing campaign on the theme of "no security without human rights."

Then at night, the Secretary-General and the General Assembly President attended a dinner in their honor, hosted by the Nobel Committee.

AFGHANISTAN: BRAHIMI EXPECTED IN KABUL TUESDAY

The Special Representative for the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday after meeting on Sunday in Rome with the former Afghan King Mohammed Zaher Shah and the Italian Foreign Minister.

During his meeting with the former King that lasted about an hour, Brahimi discussed the transfer of power, which according to the Bonn Agreement, is due to take place on December 22, 2001, the convening of an emergency Loya Jirga and his visit to Kabul starting Tuesday .

While in Kabul, Brahimi is expected to hold talks with political leaders including Burhanuddin Rabbani, Mohammad Yunus Qanooni and Abdullah Abdullah. He also hopes to meet with Hamid Karzai, designated head of the interim administration.

In response to a question as to what government is accountable in Afghanistan prior to December 22, the Spokesman answered that there are de-facto local powers in charge of certain areas, but that the overall situation remains murky. He added that it was urgent that the Interim Administration takes power so that Afghans can once again enjoy the protection of laws, due process and basic human rights.

Asked about the UN role in the proposed multi-national force for Afghanistan, the Spokesman said the current discussions center on a Security Council-sanctioned multi-national force, but not a "Blue Helmet" UN peacekeeping force. For this type of multi-national force, the Spokesman added, one nation would have to take the lead in organizing such a force.

UN AID AGENCIES WELCOME OPENING OF UZBEK-AFGHAN BRIDGE

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed opening of the Friendship Bridge linking Uzbekistan to Afghanistan.

On Saturday, Tajikistan also opened the Nijni Pyandj - Shirkhan Bandar River crossing between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, which, in addition to the Friendship Bridge, will boost the delivery of aid to internally displaced Afghans in the northern and western parts of the country. UNHCR said instability in the two regions makes it virtually impossible for any humanitarian organization to access the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons.

WFP said the expected return of international staff to the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif this week will give agencies a greater capacity to assess the situation and deliver assistance.Kandahar remains a major area of concern.

The overall security situation in Afghanistan continues to be complicated by reports of rising common criminal activity, looting, and highway robberies in the east and parts of the northwest. Furthermore, snow and winter conditions continue to pose logistical problems in the northeast region of Afghanistan.

The Secretary-Generals report on Afghanistan to the General Assembly and Security Council covering a three-month period until 15 November has been issued as a document. The section on human rights says that millions of Afghans are unable to exercise such fundamentals as their right to adequate food, housing, health and physical security. It says the United Nations plans to bolster its monitoring, reporting protection and advisory capacities on the ground.

ANNAN SAYS FIRST KOSOVO ASSEMBLY IS A 'MILESTONE' FOR DEMOCRACY

Today in Pristina, the elected Kosovo Assembly met for the first time, in a historic session opened by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup. Haekkerup welcomed the inaugural session of the Assembly and read a message from the Secretary-General, which called todays event "a milestone on the road to democracy and peaceful development in Kosovo."

The Secretary-Generals message went on: "You face the challenge of achieving efficient daily government in particularly difficult circumstances. At the same time, you have an important task in overcoming the legacy of the past and establishing a political culture of tolerance, mutual respect and constructive compromise."

After that, the 120-member Assembly voted to seat five members of the seven-member Presidency of the Assembly.

The Democratic Party of Kosovo also staged a brief walk-out during todays ceremony, with the partys leader, Hashim Thaci, complaining that he had not been allowed to speak.

The Partys 26 members in the Assembly left briefly and returned after the newly-elected President of the Assembly, Nexhet Daci, took the floor.

Daci adjourned todays session, and scheduled the Assembly to reconvene on Thursday to elect a President of Kosovo.

UN TEAM SENT TO GABON TO INVESTIGATE EBOLA OUTBREAK

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed 11 deaths from the Ebola virus in Gabon.

A five-member WHO team is leaving Geneva today and will arrive in Gabon tomorrow to assist the Gabonese government in its effort to combat the outbreak.

WHO had also been informed of a suspected outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but laboratory tests confirmed that the outbreak was not Ebola.

TIMOR DONOR'S CONFERENCE TO GET UNDERWAY IN OSLO

A two-day donors conference to review the progress of the transition to independence in East Timor begins tomorrow in Oslo.

The meeting, hosted by the Government of Norway and co-chaired by the UN mission in East Timor and the World Bank, will focus on the run-up to independence on 20 May 2002 and on national development planning and fiscal matters. The Secretary-General is expected to attend the meeting along with his special Representative for East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello and President of the World Bank, Jim Wolfensohn.

The East Timor combined Budget estimates for 2001-2001 stands at $304 million, of which $167 million will come from donors in the form of both bilateral and assessed contributions.

HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERTS SAY ANTI-TERROR LAWS MUST BE BALANCED

On the occasion Human Rights day, 17 independent experts of the Commission on Human Rights issued a joint statement today to remind "States of their obligations under international law to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001."

"Public policies," they say, "must strike a fair balance between on the one hand the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all and on the other hand legitimate concerns over national and international security."

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS said today that commitments made at international conferences this year must be met if the epidemic is to be pushed back in Africa and elsewhere. Speaking at the 12th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, he said that there had been ample promises of resources and political will and it was now time to turn the commitments into action.

Issued today is a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council officially informing the council that the government of Iraq has agreed to extend the Memorandum of Understanding, which regulates the Oil for Food Programme, for an additional 180 days starting December 1st. This will be phase XI of the programme.

Today, Zimbabwe became the 132nd Member State to pay its 2001 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $72,000.

There are no Security Council meetings today. The President of the Council, Ambassador Moctar Ouane of Mali, is in Oslo at the Nobel ceremonies.

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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