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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-08-04

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 FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, August 4, 2003

UN MISSION IN SIERRA LEONE SENDS TROOPS TO LIBERIAN CAPITAL

The deployment of a Nigerian battalion to Monrovia, Liberia, from the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) started as scheduled this morning. More than 140 troops were deployed. The pace of the deployment is expected to accelerate as the process proceeds.

The Security Council on Friday evening authorized a Multinational Force to support implementation of the 17 June ceasefire agreement, using all necessary measures.

Adopting resolution 1497 in a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with three abstaining (France, Germany, Mexico), and acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Council also authorized UNAMSIL to extend logistical support for up to 30 days to the forward elements provided by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the Multinational Force.

The Multinational Forces mandate will include maintaining security in the period after departure of the current President, Charles Taylor, and the installation of a successor authority, securing the environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, establishing conditions for initial stages of disarmament and demobilization, and preparing for the longer term United Nations peacekeeping force to relieve it.

The Council requested Secretary-General Kofi Annan to submit recommendations for the size, structure and mandate of the Force, preferably by August 15.

The Secretary-General, after the Council vote, told reporters that he was pleased that the resolution had been passed and that he hoped this implies a new political will, which he said had been absent among the international community. He added, I hope we will move ahead with urgent and determined action to help the Liberian people.

LAUNCHING OPERATION, WFP FLIES IN FOOD AID TO MONROVIA

The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched an emergency operation to fly critical food aid supplies into Monrovia, where hundreds of thousands of people are in desperate need of assistance following two weeks of fighting.

The first consignment of half a ton of high energy biscuits arrived in the city on Saturday from Sierra Leone, enough to provide an emergency ration to around 4,000 people. Another 11½ tons will be flown in over the next few days.

UN POLICE OFFICER SHOT DEAD IN KOSOVO

Late Sunday night in Kosovo, a UN civilian police officer from India, Satish Menon, was shot and killed by an unknown sniper while driving from the village of Leposavic towards Mitrovica. The UN Mission in Kosovo has begun an intense criminal investigation following the killing.

The Secretary-Generals Acting Special Representative in Kosovo, Charles Brayshaw, condemned the killing, which he called a direct attack on international forces of law and order, and he asserted that those responsible for this attack will not succeed in distracting the police from its duties.

In response to a question, the Spokesman said that Menon been the first person among UNMIK's personnel to be killed since 1999.

UN ENVOY FOR IRAQ HOLDS DISCUSSIONS IN TURKEY, KUWAIT

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, is in Turkey today, where he met in the capital, Ankara, with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. They had a long and fruitful discussion on the ways in which Turkey can help to support Iraqs political, humanitarian and economic reconstruction. They discussed the debate going on in Turkey about any military contribution that the country may make in Iraq, as well as ways to ensure the voluntary return of all refugees to and from Iraq.

Over the weekend, Vieira de Mello was in Kuwait, where he met on Saturday with Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah in Kuwait City. The two discussed the UN role in Iraq, assistance by neighboring countries in Iraqs reconstruction and support for the newly-created Governing Council. Vieira de Mello also met with the Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salam al-Sabah.

The Special Representative emphasized in his talks that Iraq needs its neighbors and its neighbors need a stable, sovereign and peaceful Iraq.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON GUINEA-BISSAU, VOTES ON COTE DIVOIRE

The Security Council held consultations on its program of work, and on Guinea-Bissau, with a briefing by the Secretary-Generals Representative to that country, David Stephen.

The consultations were followed by an open meeting on Cote d'Ivoire, in which the Council unanimously approved a resolution on a six-month extension of the French-led multinational force.

The Security Council President for the month, Syrian Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe, briefed the press afterward on the program of work for August.

He also read out a statement on Guinea-Bissau, saying that Council members welcomed the progress made since the joint visit by the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, and encouraged President Kumba Yala and his Government to continue working toward the holding of legislative elections in a transparent, free and fair manner.

UN MISSION ASSISTS FACTIONAL MEETING IN NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN

With the facilitation of the UN Mission in Afghanistan, the Mazar Multi-Party Security Commission held an extraordinary meeting today to address longer-term solutions to the problems in Dara-i-Suf disrict, which has experienced a spate of tensions and skirmishes in recent months.

The UN Mission in Afghanistan said that all the parties showed up at todays meeting except the Jumbesh faction. The Commission has requested a meeting with the head of Jumbesh on Tuesday to discuss their absence at the meeting.

The Security Commission decided on July 30 that all factional commanders in Mazar-e-Sharif must report daily to the UN Mission. The Mission said that although the registration process so far has not yielded the needed results, it is a start and at the very least will provide one way for the Commission to ascertain which commanders have remained in Mazar.

Also in Afghanistan, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said today that it has helped to treat over 123,000 hectares of farmland, mainly with conventional pesticides. In spite of the current locust outbreak, which started in 2001 and has been the most severe in living memory, damage to the wheat crop was kept to a minimal level.

The UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) said that a one-month immunization campaign that reached more than five million children since June has protected Afghan children against measles.

SIERRA LEONE COURT RELEASES BODY OF FORMER REBEL LEADER

On Saturday, the Special Court for Sierra Leone released the body of former Revolutionary United Front leader Foday Sankoh to members of his family, after first performing an autopsy to determine his cause of death. After an examination, Sankoh was determined to have died of respiratory failure due to a massive pulmonary embolism.

Sankoh, an indicted suspect of the Special Court, had been in Choithram Hospital in Freetown, under Court custody, since March, having suffered a stroke last August. He died on July 29.

UN OFFICIALS STRESS GAY RIGHTS AS PANEL TAKES PLACE

This evening at 6:00 p.m. at the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, a panel discussion presented by the UN Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees organization will take place, and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Mark Malloch Brown, who could not attend, has sent a written statement welcoming it and noting that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unfortunately still pervasive.

He says in the statement, which we have upstairs, Discrimination based on sexual orientation not only violates basic human rights, but also hinders development by immobilizing human capital, stifling expression and limiting freedom of choice. He adds that many Governments are taking progressive action on these issues, while, within the UN system, the issue of domestic partnership is being reviewed.

In another statement to the panel, Dr. Peter Piot, head of the Joint UN Programme against HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said, Homophobia continues to have a devastating impact on individuals, communities and societies today. Persecution of sexual minorities including arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and legal and extrajudicial executions is all too common. He supported efforts to ensure that the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Charter are upheld for all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

The Secretary-General is expected to make an appearance at this evenings event.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on gay rights, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General has been meeting with his senior advisers on the question of UN entitlements and benefits, which under current rules apply only to traditional spouses, to see whether new forms of partnership, including among homosexuals, could be included.

Current UN practice is based on the national laws of the staff member in question. The Spokesman added the United Nations is not ready at present to announce a new policy.

He added that Member States have strongly divergent views on the subject, which the Secretary-General is considering.

WHO CHIEF URGES COUNTRIES TO RATIFY TOBACCO CONVENTION

Director-General Jong-Wook Lee of the World Health Organization has urged countries to sign and ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as quickly as possible. He made his remarks on the first day of the 12th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, currently underway in Helsinki, Finland.

Since the unanimous adoption of the Convention by 192 Member States in May, 47 countries have signed and one country Norway has ratified the treaty. Ratification of 40 countries is needed before the treaty can enter into force and be a legally binding document.

Also, the Global Cancer Alliance, the first worldwide coalition to address global cancer control, made its first public statement today, calling for the rapid implementation of the Convention, which could save millions of lives.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNEP URGES ACTION TO PROTECT WILD FORESTS: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today called for urgent action to be taken to map and protect the Worlds Wild Forests, as they are becoming living museums of virtually extinct species. UNEP also said that new research revealed how the fragmentation of wild forests prevents regeneration and that one in 10 tree-species is at threat. The wild forests in Chile, which are up to 2000 years old, have almost been destroyed by fire.

CONSENSUS REPORT ADOPTED ON CONVENTIONAL ARMS: Last Friday, the Group of Governmental Experts reviewing the UN Register of Conventional Arms successfully concluded its work by adopting a consensus report, including recommendations to improve the registers work and to strengthen the Secretariats role in promoting its progress.

UN BUDGET: Costa Rica paid more than $30,000 to become the 96th country to pay its UN regular budget dues in full.

  • The guest at the noon briefing was Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi, who discussed the UN role in peace operations in Liberia.

    style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

    United Nations, S-378

    New York, NY 10017

    Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only

    Fax. 212-963-7055

    All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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