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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-12-18

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

Tuesday , December 18, 2001

ANNAN TO HOLD YEAR-END NEWS CONFERENCE WEDNESDAY

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to hold his year-end news conference at noon Wednesday.

The press conference will substitute for the noon briefing by his Spokesman, which will resume on Thursday.

BRAHIMI TO HEAD BACK TO KABUL FOR HAND-OVER OF POWER

Lakdhar Brahimi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, is scheduled to leave New York tonight to make his way to Kabul in time of the scheduled handover of power to a new Afghan interim government on Saturday, December 22.

On Friday, Brahimi after briefing the Security Council told reporters that preparations for the handover were going ahead "very nicely" and that he and his small team intended to stay in Kabul for a few weeks to accompany this process.

The UN spokesman in Kabul reported today that the end of Ramadan this weekend saw several days of heavy rain, the first in many months, fall across most of drought-stricken Afghanistan. Snow now blankets the mountain ridges around Kabul, where the security situation is improving.

The spokesman also said that the security situation is also gradually improving in Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif and for the first time in many years, residents of Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar and Herat marked the Eid holidays with music concerts.

Catherine Bertini, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, will be the guest at the noon briefing on Thursday to talk to you about food aid operations for Afghanistan.

In response to a question on what the status is of the Security Council resolution on the multi-national force for Afghanistan, the spokesman answered that discussions were being conducted among the members of the council. He also said that the talks on the force with the parties on the ground were being conducting in a positive atmosphere.

Asked how Afghanistan's representation at the United Nations would be effected after the Interim Authority took over, the Spokesman said it would be up to the new government in Kabul to inform the General Assembly's credentials committee of its new representative and that the committee, as it does for all representatives, would make a ruling as whether or not to accept the new representative.

Responding to a question on the support the United Nations might give to a new Afghan Police Force, the Spokesman said that the UN would support the Interim Authority at it rebuilds government institutions in Afghanistan and that security would be an important part of that task.

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS OPEN DEBATE ON WEST AFRICA

The Security Council held an open debate on West Africa during which Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahima Fall, addressed council members.

In his briefing, Fall updated the Council on the latest developments in the region including, among others, the Mano River Union, the political situation in Guinea-Bissau as well as the plight of refugees in the area.

Through this West Africa initiative, Fall said, the United Nations is embarking on a new approach to its actions in Africa, in line with the general trend towards regional political security, social and economic integration.

In addition to the 15 council members, six member states are also on the speakers list.

Early Saturday morning, at 2 a.m., the Council failed to adopt a draft resolution on the Middle East when 12 members voted in favor, two abstained and one permanent member used its veto.

FULL DEPLOYMENT OF UN MISSION RESULTS IN MORE STABLE SIERRA LEONE

The Secretary-Generals latest report on the UN Mission in Sierra Leone was issued today, and, in it, he says that the full deployment of that Mission has led to a secure environment, with increased freedom of movement, gradual return of refugees and a resurgence of economic activity in the provinces.

Disarmament totals from mid-May until December 9, which amounted to more than 36,000 combatants on all sides, exceeded initial estimates, with the final figure expected to reach some 40,000.

However, he notes slower progress in the extension of the Governments authority throughout Sierra Leone, the reintegration of disarmed combatants and refugee returns and resettlement. Regrettably, he says, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) has slowed down the disarmament of its fighters in the districts of Kailahun and Kenema, although disarmament in those districts is now expected to be completed by the end of this month.

The report details UN plans to support Sierra Leones elections, which are to culminate in a vote on the President and Parliament on next May 14. The UN Mission intends to establish one electoral office in each of the countrys five electoral regions, and UN troops will be tasked to patrol more widely to promote confidence during the polling period.

Asked about the possibility that the former leader of the Revolutionary United Front, Foday Sankoh would face trial in Sierra Leone, the Spokesman said that discussions have been held between the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone on the establishment of a mixed court to try people accused of atrocities committed during the civil war. He added that a UN delegation will be traveling to Sierra Leone next month to continue these discussions.

ANNAN CALLS ON ERITREA TO ALLOW FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT FOR UN TROOPS

The Secretary-General, in his latest progress report on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, says that the situation in the Temporary Security Zone has remained generally calm, but that both parties have accused the other of building up militarily.

Eritrea continues to deny freedom of movement to UN peacekeepers in the adjacent areas north of the Temporary Security Zone, and he stressed the need for Eritrea to allow such freedom of movement and to disclose the number, strength and disposition of its militia and police inside the Zone.

However, the UN Mission emphasizes that, according to its best information, there is no evidence of any significant Eritrean military build-up, as Ethiopia has alleged.

The Mission estimates that there are some 6,400 Eritrean militia and 3,000 police currently deployed inside the Zone.

The Secretary-General urges both parties to exercise restraint, as the recent public allegations of major military preparations and the escalation of rhetoric do not help the cause of peace.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS GUINEA-BISSAU REMAINS VOLATILE

In his latest report on the UN Peace-building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau, which was published today, the Secretary-General says that the political situation in that country has remained difficult and volatile.

The Secretary-General, in the report, also appeals to all political actors to work to resolve their differences through dialogue and within the framework of the Constitution.

ANNAN SAYS THAT IRAQ NEEDS TO COOPERATE ON MISSING KUWAITI QUESTION

The Secretary-Generals latest report on the issue of missing Kuwaitis, and Third Country nationals, as well as the return by Iraq of all missing Kuwaiti property was published today.

In the document, the Secretary-General reports on the activities of the High-level coordinator for this issue, Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov.

In his conclusion, the Secretary-General urges the Iraqi leadership to cooperate with the work of Ambassador Vorontsov. He goes to say that Vorontsov remains ready, at short notice, to meet with Iraqi officials, at any time and at any place.

UNMOVIC CHIEF CALLS NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED ERRONEOUS

In a statement issued today, Dr. Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, described as erroneous the information published Monday in an Op-Ed article in the New York Times saying that UNMOVIC's so-called new protocols "do not allow inspectors to demand immediate access after finding a site."

The Security Council resolution establishing UNMOVIC, like many resolutions before it, stresses the demand that Iraq must grant "immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access" for the inspection of sites, Blix's statement says.

"Far from suggesting that immediate access to a site would not be demanded, I, as Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, have repeatedly and explicitly stressed that we will not give any discounts on the Security Councils requirements,' the statement says.

"The right of immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access is central to our function. Moreover, the granting of such immediate access is required if Iraq is to provide the "cooperation in all respects" which is a condition for a suspension of sanctions by the Security Council, under the terms of its resolution 1284 (1999), " Blix concludes.

ANNAN; CONTRIBUTION OF MIGRANTS NEEDS TO BE RECOGNIZED

Today is the second commemoration of International Migrants Day, and the Secretary-General, in a message, said today is an occasion to "recognize the huge, but often unseen, contribution that millions of migrants make to the economies, societies and cultural advancement of countries throughout the world."

He noted that more than 150 million people, or two percent of the worlds population, live and work as migrants in countries other than that of their birth or citizenship. Many of them, he said, are the unsung heroes of their home countries and families.

PLANNING PHASE OF GLOBAL AIDS FUND ENDS

The Transitional Working Group responsible for establishing the foundations of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, announced on Monday that it was ready to hand over to the 18-member Board its recommendations for guidelines for the Fund's operations, including eligiblity criteria.

The Board, composed of 18 members - 7 members each from developed and developing countries, and two members each from NGOs and private sector donors - will meet on January 28 and 29, 2002 to consider the recommendations of the Transitional Working Group and adopt a framework document.

In addition to the 18 voting members, the World Health Organization, UNDAIS and the World Bank will have non-voting seats on the Board as will a person living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, TB or malaria.

The Fund thus far has had pledges amounting to about $1.6 billion. About $700 million will be available for disbursement in 2002 as some of the pledges are multiyear pledges.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Today, the United Arab Emirates became the 134th Member State to pay its 2001 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $2 million.

Late on Friday afternoon, the United Nations received payment of more than $39 million from the Russian Federation for full payment of peacekeeping arrears. In 1995, the Russian Federation had pledged to pay off all its debts to the regular and peacekeeping budgets within seven years. Last weeks payments mean that the pledge was fulfilled one year early.

K.Y. Amaoko, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, in a statement delivered on Monday to an audience that included British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said that overall aid to Africa has declined from $19 billion a year at the beginning of the 1990s to $12 billion today, a per capita drop of 40 percent.

Asked if the fact that per capita income in Africa keeps going down illustrated the fact the Secretary-General's initiative on development in Africa had failed, the Spokesman said that if the figures indicated one thing it would be that these initiatives required more resources.

The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism received four more signatures today, from Albania, Latvia, Thailand and Bangladesh. This Convention now has 129 signatures.

Thailand also signed the Protocol Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and the Protocol Against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea, both supplementing the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime.

The United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime itself was signed by Lebanon and now has 140 signatures.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was signed by Nepal and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography was signed by Antigua and Barbuda.

The World Food Programme welcomed the endorsement by Pope John Paul II for the agencys global school feeding programme and his appeal to the international community for more financial support. Catherine Bertini, the agency's Executive Director, said, "This is a message of hope for millions of hungry children." She added that not only is school feeding affordable, but it is "the best investment the international community can make in the worlds poorest children."

Asked if there was a UN reaction to the failed coup attempt in Haiti, the Spokesman said that there was not at this time since we were still studying the exact circumstances of what had actually transpired.

  • The guest at the noon briefing today was Julia Taft, Assistant Administrator and Director for the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recover of the UN Development Prograam (UNDP), who discussed the newly established temporary fund to enable donors to provide financial support for the Interim Authority of Afghanistan.

    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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