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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-04-30

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:







Wednesday, April 30, 2003


Representatives of the Middle East Quartet -- comprising the United Nations, United States, Russian Federation and European Union -- presented the Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Ramallah today, within hours of the swearing of the new Palestinian Government, led by Prime Minister Abu Mazen.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the Road Map offered the two parties a chance to bring an end to a long and painful conflict. I hope, he added, as we press ahead with its implementation, both parties will embrace it and see it as an opportunity to bring an end to this conflict.

The document was handed over to Abu Mazen by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed Larsen; the acting U.S. Consul General in East Jerusalem, Jeff Feldman; the Russian Federations Middle East envoy, Andrei Vdovin; and the European Unions Middle East envoy, Miguel Moratinos. Also attending the meeting in Ramallah with the Quartet were Palestinian ministers Nabil Shaath, Yasser Abed Rabo, Saeb Erakat.

At about the same time, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Kurtzer, delivered the Road Map to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In a joint statement, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, EU High Representative for Security and Foreign Policy Javier Solana and Secretary-General Annan said: The Quartet today presents to the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority a Road Map to realize the vision shared by the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United Nations of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. The members of the Quartet will work with the parties and key regional actors towards the implementation of the Road Map, in accordance with that vision.


In a statement issued by his Spokesman, the Secretary-General warmly welcomes the formal presentation of the Road Map. He believes that this performance-based and goal-driven peace plan the fruit of long and intense cooperation among the European Union, the Russian Federation, the United States of America and the United Nations gives the Israeli and Palestinian peoples a real chance to end their long and painful conflict, and thus a chance for all the peoples of that troubled region to establish, at last, a just and comprehensive peace. He calls on the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to embrace the Road Map, and to cooperate with the Quartet in implementing it.

The Secretary-General wishes to assure both Israelis and Palestinians that the United Nations will do everything it can to support them, as they follow the Road Map. He also looks forward to continued cooperation among the Quartet members and with the parties, as well as with the states in the region, which have an important role to play in the peace process.

The Secretary-General believes that, while the path to peace may be difficult, Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the international community, must stay the course. The Road Maps goal of two states, a secure and prosperous Israel and an independent, viable, sovereign and democratic Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security, must be the focus of our energies and efforts.


In another statement, the Secretary-General congratulated Abu Mazen on his swearing-in as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority and on the approval of his cabinet by the Palestinian Legislative Council. He applauded the Council and the President of the Palestinian Authority for taking this notable step in the development of Palestinian democratic institutions.

The Secretary-General looks forward to working closely with Abu Mazen and the Palestinian government to implement the Quartets Road Map and achieve the vision of two states, Palestine and Israel, living side-by-side in peace and security. He pledges the cooperation and the support of the United Nations to the parties for the implementation of the Road Map and the quest for peace in the Middle East.


Late Tuesday, in a statement issued by the Spokesman, the Secretary-General condemned in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. He strongly urged Israelis and Palestinians not to let this morally reprehensible act derail the resumption of the peace process. The Secretary-General called on all concerned to exercise maximum restraint and begin the implementation of the Road Map.

He reiterated his appeal to the Palestinians to pursue non-violent policies and urged the Palestinian Authority to make every effort to stop these terrorist acts against Israelis. The Secretary-General remains convinced that there is no alternative to a political solution of the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello also issued a statement on the attack, saying, "Such crimes are an affront to the most basic of human rights. They are a direct assault on efforts currently underway to achieve a stable and safe future for Israelis and Palestinians alike; the enemies of peace must not be allowed to succeed."


The President of the Security Council, Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico, today chaired a wrap-up session of the month on the last day of his presidency. The topic of the session is The role of the United Nations in post-conflict situations.

Speaking to the Security Council meeting, the Secretary-General noted that no two conflicts are alike and that, therefore, what is needed is to determine what makes a crisis unique and to develop a response accordingly.

He cited a few specific lessons that stood out from recent experience, including the need to cultivate and preserve the trust of the population; the importance of setting priorities, starting with essential humanitarian needs; and the direct correlation between UN success and Security Council unity.

In the case of Iraq, he said, the Council has a chance to leave behind its earlier disagreements and find unity of purpose in the post-war phase, although he acknowledged, Those decisions will not be easy. The overriding objective, he said, must be to enable the Iraqi people to take charge of their own destiny.

What is needed in Iraq, he said, is an impartial, representative and transparent process, leading to the choice, by the Iraqis themselves, of a credible and legitimate Iraqi political authority, to which sovereignty can be restored. As for a UN role, the Secretary-General voiced the hope that any Security Council mandate for the United Nations would be clear, coherent and matched by the necessary resources.

He told the Council, In just over 20 years, the Iraqi people have lived through three wars and over ten years of harsh UN sanctions. Let us set aside our past disagreements, ask what will help the Iraqi people most and act accordingly.

In addition to the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, Jan Kavan, and the President of the Economic and Social Council, along with 23 other speakers were scheduled to make statements.


Upon leaving the Security Council meeting, the Secretary-General was asked about whether sanctions on Iraq should be lifted, perhaps by June 3, when the current phase of the oil-for-food program ends.

He responded that it is important to bring Iraq into the family of nations, and that there is no question that sanctions will have to be lifted and that the oil-for-food program will have to be phased out. The question, he said, is when and how that will be done, and he added there shouldnt be an arbitrary date for that task.

Asked about the meetings of Iraqi representatives that have taken place in Baghdad, he said that he hoped the meetings to identify Iraqi leaders is not the end of the road, but something that will open up into a broader process, in which the United Nations will have a role to play.

The Secretary-General was also asked about UN weapons inspections, and reiterated his hope that the UN inspectors will be able to resume their work, noting that the mandate given to them is still valid unless the Security Council modifies it.


The UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Programme (WFP)are increasing their capacity to deliver much needed goods to various parts of the country.

Two trucks carrying high protein biscuits and medical supplies provided by UNICEF-Iran crossed the Khosravi border point in western Iran today en route for Baghdad. UNICEF staff in the Iraqi capital will distribute the biscuits and health supplies to medical centers and hospitals in Baghdad. This is UNICEF-Irans first medical convoy to Iraq, following two tanker convoys, which took supplies of drinking water to the al-Fao peninsula in southern Iraq earlier this month.

The WFP said that today two ships are going to berth at Aqaba port with 38,500 tons of food donated for WFP operations in Iraq. The grain will be off-loaded later today or tomorrow to be milled in Jordan and then forwarded to UN warehouses inside Iraq for eventual distribution.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) said that this past week saw a concrete re-start of its operations in Iraq. Four UNDP international technical staff arrived in Erbil to resume their duties as part of an Electricity Rehabilitation Programme. UNDP's national staff had ensured the continuation of the programme throughout the conflict.


Today, at a ceremony in Bujumbura, Burundi, former Vice President Domitien Ndayizeye was sworn in as the new President, together with Alphonse Kadege as Vice President, thereby completed the Presidencys transfer from the Tutsi minority to the Hutu majority, in accordance with the 2000 Arusha Peace Agreement.

The Secretary-General, in a message read out by Berhanu Dinka, his Special Representative for Burundi, cautioned that this second phase of the transition, unfortunately, is starting in an environment which is still unstable. He warned, Despite the ceasefire agreements concluded in October and December 2002 between the Government and the armed movements, war and violence are continuing.

He called upon the parties to cease hostilities and respect the commitments undertaken and reminded the Government of the tasks lying ahead, including reform of the army and the police and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.

The Secretary-General also urged the international community to support these efforts and he pledged that the UN would continue to uphold and promote the peace process in the country.


The World Health Organization (WHO) today lifted the travel advisory concerning the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, in Toronto, Canada. The advisory had recommended considering postponing non-essential travel to Toronto, and was issued as a precautionary measure one week ago in order to minimize the international spread of SARS.

The situation in Toronto has now improved, as the magnitude of probable SARS cases has decreased, 20 days have passed since the last cases of community transmission and no new confirmed exportation of cases has occurred. However, due to continued recent transmission in the hospital setting, Toronto still has an outbreak and therefore the lifting of the travel advisory does not change Torontos status as an affected area.

The travel advisories for areas of China and Hong Kong remain in place.

The latest statistics indicate a total of 5,462 probable cases with 353 deaths reported from 27 countries.


Parties to the conflict in Sudan have agreed to open a new corridor that would allow enhanced humanitarian access to southern Sudan, says the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The agreement, which allowed the opening of the Nile River Corridor, was signed jointly by the Government of the Sudan, Sudanese Government and rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), and the United Nations. It was reached at a meeting hosted this week.

The agreement would reduce the cost of delivering supplies by enabling the use of water barges, which cost much less than airlifts and airdrops.


HUMAN RIGHTS-DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: The Special Rapporteur dealing with human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Iulia Motoc, has welcomed the decision by the DRC Government last week to abolish the countrys military tribunal and court prosecutors office. She said that this step represented important progress for the administration of justice in the DRC and encouraged the Government to continue in the same direction.

GLOBAL COMPACT FORUM IN NORTH AMERICA: Some 50 representatives of leading companies in North America, as well as of academia, met yesterday in Palo Alto, California, at Hewlett-Packard Headquarters to establish a North America Global Compact Learning Forum. The meeting was convened by Hewlett-Packard and Pfizer. Global Compact participants informed interested companies of the opportunities and challenges of engagement in the Compact, under which businesses affirm support for nine key human rights, labor rights and environmental standards.

WORLD BANK APPROVES LOAN FOR POLIO VACCINE IN NIGERIA: The World Bank has approved a $28 million no-interest loan for the purchase of oral polio vaccine in Nigeria, in the launch of a partnership with private companies to help eradicate polio worldwide by 2005. The World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International and the United Nations Foundation have joined together as the Investment Partnership for Polio, which will in the coming months provide funds to immunize children in other polio-endemic countries. Next month, the partnership is considering a $20 million dollar to eradicate polio in Pakistan.

WHO LAUNCHES PARTNERSHIP FOR EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST CITIES: The World Health Organization and the International Solidarity Fund of Cities against Poverty today launched a new partnership for health and human development of European, Palestinian and Israeli Cities. The program will promote collaboration in the area of health between local governments and civil society. It will facilitate the exchange of health expertise, address concrete health needs of municipalities in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and focus on improving the health and social conditions of vulnerable groups resulting from armed conflict on both sides.

UNDP SUPPORTS GREEN CORRIDOR IN BHUTAN: The UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Government of Bhutan today agreed to manage a protected green corridor in Bhutan, where forest and mountain ecosystems will be conserved and the endangered Bengal tiger will be protected. The corridor will also provide ecologically friendly development opportunities for Bhutanese people, in such areas as cheese-making and honey production. The project is one of the first in a new partnership between UNDP and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

TREATY SIGNING: Argentina signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Protocol, which opened for signature in December 2002, now has three signatures.

  • The guest at todays Briefing was Ko´chiro Matsuura, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) who discussed UNESCOs role in Iraq.

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