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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-11-19

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





Friday, November 19, 1999


While attending the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) Summit in Istanbul, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today had a series of bilateral meetings and visited the site of the earthquake that devastated an area southeast of Istanbul on August 17.

He first met Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, and then President Jacques Chirac of France.

At mid-morning, he had a session with Glafcos Clerides to discuss preparations for the proximity talks on Cyprus planned for New York, to begin on December 3, and he also concluded a meeting with Rauf Denktash on the same subject.

In late morning, he met Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, and Constantine Simitis, the Prime Minister of Greece.

The last meeting of the morning was with the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States to discuss the situation in Kosovo. Bernard Kouchner, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, was also present.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan flew by helicopter to the earthquake site at Izmit-Kosekoy, where they visited two of the 100 tent cities in the area, which are temporarily housing some 70,000 people.

At the OSCE Summit today, the OSCE passed a resolution on small arms. In that decision, the participating OSCE states supported the UN General Assembly's decision to convene a "Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, in All Its Aspects," to be held no later than the year 2001.


Sadako Ogata, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is back in Moscow, where she is was to meet again today with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

UNHCR reported today that during her visit on Thursday to Ingushetia, she saw a train settlement that housed people displaced from Chechnya, many of them traumatized and very vocal about their suffering. She found very difficult conditions on the ground, including problems with bad drainage, sanitation and many complaints about the lack of basic necessities. The displaced received only one hot meal a day. The people told the High Commissioner they were very frustrated and wanted the fighting to stop so that they could go home.

At the border, the huge backups of the last few weeks seem to have abated. At the end of the day Thursday, there were only about 10 cars waiting. Considerable shelling could be heard just across the border.

Later on Thursday, Ogata was taken by helicopter inside northern Chechnya, which is under control of Russian forces. The Russian authorities showed her possible accommodation centers that could be used for returnees.

In meetings with Russian officials, the High Commissioner's party detected more concern about the humanitarian situation and a greater willingness to accept international aid, UNHCR said.

Earlier today the Secretary-General spoke to Ogata, who is undertaking this mission as his Special Envoy, and she reported that the trip was going well. She informed the Secretary-General that she had held good discussions with the Russian Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Emergency Situations. She told him that her talks had provided a good basis for future cooperation between the United Nations and Russia on humanitarian assistance.


The Security Council began work today with a briefing from Carolyn McAskie, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), on the situations in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The Council then held a formal meeting on an extension of the "oil-for-food" programme. Phase VI of that programme had been set to expire on Sunday. The Council extended Phase VI by two weeks, until December 4.

The Council also met informally on the situation in the Prevlaka peninsula in southern Croatia. They were to be briefed by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Young-Jin Choi.

Council members were expected to take up a draft Presidential statement on the role of the Security Council in the prevention of armed conflicts. The Council intends to hold a formal meeting on this subject on Monday, November 29.


The UN Coordinator for Afghanistan today deplored the bombing of displaced persons in the Panjshir Valley.

A Taliban warplane bombed the Bazarak market area Thursday. The bombs hit the location where some displaced persons were staying in tents and one of the public schools. Twelve people died, of whom 10 were displaced persons. Of the fifty-six injured, 24 were hospitalized.

The area which was bombed is 3.5 kilometers from the UN office in Bazarak. However, no UN or international agency staff was harmed. The United Nations established an office in Bazarak in September to respond to the needs of approximately 65,000 people from Shomali who fled to Panjshir during fighting that began in late July.

In another development regarding Afghanistan, the United Nations will be sending an observer to the Rome meeting of Afghan political leaders and intellectuals, which will begin on Monday, November 22, and will last for four days. The meeting will be attended by the former monarch of Afghanistan, King Zafir Shah, and is intended to set the stage for convening an emergency meeting of the Loya Jirgah, the Grand Assembly composed of traditional Afghan leaders and intellectuals. About 70 Afghan leaders are expected to participate in the Rome Meeting, which is being supported by the Government of Italy.


The United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) is about to complete the first leg of its technical survey of the country, which is aimed at assessing conditions on the ground in preparation for the deployment of the remaining military liaison officers.

The technical survey team was in Kananga today, the last stop of the first leg of its mission and the only government-held site included on this leg.

The team comprising of six civilians and four military staff, will continue to survey the remaining 13 sites, which include both government and rebel-held areas, and at the same begin deploying the remaining military liaison officers.


The Secretary-General has appointed Oluyemi Adeniji of Nigeria as his Special Representative for Sierra Leone and Head of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). Adeniji will succeed Francis Okelo, who has been serving as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General since June 1998.

The Secretary-General paid tribute to Okelo for his dedication and his commitment in carrying out his tasks under the extremely difficult conditions in Sierra Leone.

Adenijis appointment coincides with the critical phase of the implementation of the Lom&eacute; Peace Agreement, as well as the major expansion of the UN mandate in Sierra Leone. Adeniji has been serving as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the UN Mission in the Central African Republic.


Ian Martin, the departing head of the UN Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), bid farewell today in a news conference in Dili. He said that the United Nations and the National Council on Timorese Resistance had begun today a dialogue on possible joint structures for future cooperation, and that the discussions had set a tone for working together.

Martin, Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the new UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao were accompanied afterward by a Gurkha bagpiper as they walked between hundreds of local and international staff, at the end of Martin's term in East Timor. Vieira de Mello and Gusmao continued their talks on cooperation in the afternoon, while Martin departed for Darwin, Australia.


On Sunday, the five-member International Commission of Inquiry on human rights violations in East Timor will go to Dili. The Commission, headed by Sonia Picado of Costa Rica, will interview witnesses and visit sites where rights violations were reported to have taken place in East Timor. They will then return to Geneva to prepare their final report to the Secretary-General, which must be submitted by December 31, 1999.

Also, the National Indonesian Human Rights Commission on East Timor had recently requested assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in carrying out their mandate, and the Office has agreed to provide it. An expert from the Human Rights Office is working with them in Dili.


A memorial service for the victims of the WFP plane crash a week ago was held today in Pristina.

Also in Pristina today, the UN Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) reported on Wednesday's Donors' Meeting in Brussels, which resulted in new pledges of more than $1 billion. UNMIK said that Bernard Kouchner, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, had presented a program of some $2.3 billion, which will be needed for long-term development and reconstruction in Kosovo over the next four to five years. Among the priority needs for Kosovo were housing, energy, and agriculture.

UNMIK announced two new regulations -- one on registration of non-governmental organizations and another on the appointment of judges.


The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, will embark Sunday on a 10-day tour of three Latin American countries, Costa Rica (November 21-23), Mexico (November 23-28), and Ecuador (November 28-30). During her visit she will meet with Government and Non-Governmental Organization representatives, including indigenous groups. She will return to Geneva on November 30.


The World Food Programme announced that much-needed distributions of emergency food supplies for tens of thousands of people living in Burundian so-called "regroupment" camps will resume on Monday after a five-week halt.

In response to a question about UN efforts to deal with the 'Y2K' computer glitch, the Spokesman said that the United Nations has been dealing with the Y2K problem for more than a year. "We expect by the end of this month to be 100 percent Y2K-compliant," he said. Also, the United Nations has asked all its suppliers to provide written assurances that they are also Y2K-compliant and has been seeking similar assurances from essential New York City services. The United Nations has also taken the same steps with its overseas missions, offices and peacekeeping missions.


Next Tuesday is World Humanitarian Day; and, on that day, the Secretary-General and the heads of several UN agencies will launch Coordinated Inter-Agency Appeals asking for money to deal with 14 complex emergencies. In honor of that effort, this week's quiz asks a few questions about what the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) calls "the forgotten people."

Q. True or false: One out of every three people in the Republic of the Congo has been displaced in the past two years.

A. True. Every third Congolese has been displaced since 1997, a total of 810,000 displaced people. Of that amount, 200,000 are urban residents who have returned home, but 610,000 urban and rural Congolese are still displaced.

Q. "Stunting," or low height for one's age, has affected many North Korean children since that country's food shortages worsened since 1994. What is the percentage of North Korean children who suffer from stunting?

A. 40 percent

B. 50 percent

C. More than 60 percent

A. Choice 'C' is right. According to North Korea's 1998 Nutrition Survey, 62 percent of all children are affected by stunting.

Q. True or false: Fewer than two-thirds of all residences and buildings in East Timor were destroyed during the violence following the 30 August vote.

A. False. According to OCHA, 70 percent of all private residences, public buildings and essential utilities were destroyed in the two-week period after the vote.


Saturday, November 20, 1999

The Secretary-General is expected to deliver a speech to commemorate African Industrialization Day.

The Secretary-General will also deliver a speech for Universal Children's Day, which this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 40th anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child.

Sunday, November 21, 1999

On November 21, Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, will start an official visit to Latin America during which she will visit Costa Rica (Nov. 21-23, Mexico (Nov. 23-28), and Ecuador (Nov. 28-30) before returning to Geneva on November 30. More details on her visit can be found at

On Sunday the five-member International Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights violations in East Timor headed by Sonia Picado of Costa Rica will travel to East Timor.

Monday, November 22, 1999

The Secretary-General will meet Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and President Suleyman Demirel in Ankara, on the last full day of his visit to Turkey. He then departs early Tuesday morning for Geneva.

The United Nations will be sending an observer to the Rome Meeting of Afghan political leaders and intellectuals, which will begin on Monday, and last for four days. The meeting will be attended by the former monarch of Afghanistan, King Zafir Shah, and is intended to set the stage for convening an emergency meeting of the Loya Jirgah (the Grand Assembly composed of traditional Afghan leaders and intellectuals). About 70 Afghan leaders are expected to participate in the Rome Meeting, which is being supported by the Government of Italy.

The Investments Committee begins a two-day session at UN Headquarters.

In Geneva, the Ad Group of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention beings its 17th session. The session will last from 22 November until 3 December.

Also in Geneva, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will discuss the situation in Armenia, and will take up Cameroon and Mexico over the course of the week.

The General Assembly will to discuss the Law of the Sea and Ocean Affairs. The President of the Law of the Sea Tribunal, Chandrasekhara Rao, and the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, Satya Nandan, will address the Assembly.

A panel discussion on "Dialogue among Civilizations: A Call for Common Grounds," organized by the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, will be held at UN Headquarters from 3 to 6 p.m. in Conference Room 4. The discussion will be moderated by Giandomenico Pico, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations.

From Monday until Wednesday, a meeting of an Ad Hoc Expert Group dealing with the diversification of African economies will meet in Conference Room 9 of the UN Headquarters. The meeting is organized by the Office of the Special Coordinator for Africa and the Least Developed Countries (OSCAL) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). For further information, please contact Leslie Wade at (212) 963-4420.

From Monday through Friday, the Human Rights Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Dato' Param Cumaraswamy, will visit South Africa to look into concerns over the independence of magistrates in the country's lower courts. During the one-week mission, Cumaraswamy will visit Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Johannesburg. He will meet a cross-section of figures in the administration of justice, including the Chief Justice, the President and Judges of the Constitutional Court, the Minister of Justice, the Magistrates Commission, Members of the Magistrates Association and the Bar Association.

Throughout this week, there will be a seminar on demand reduction for drug control field officers at the UNDCP office in Vienna.

Tuesday, November 23, 1999

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Kosovo.

Tuesday is World Humanitarian Day. The Secretary-General will preside over the second global launch of the Consolidated Inter-agency Appeals in Geneva. These appeals will seek funding for humanitarian operations in 14 complex emergencies around the world. The acting Emergency Relief Coordinator, and the heads of UN relief agencies, will also be present. Information on the humanitarian programs and the dimensions of the crises can be obtained from the Consolidated Appeal documents that have been posted on the

Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, will travel to Germany to deliver an address to a conference on the subject" Crime Control in Europe on the way to Integration". The conference is organized by the Federal Bureau for Crime Control of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

The Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and on the UN Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH).

In Geneva, the seventh meeting of states parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment will be held. Also, from Wednesday until December 3, the Commission on Human Rights' Working Groups on Arbitrary Detention and on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will meet.

The General Assembly will discuss "the Olympic ideal" in the morning, and multi-lingualism in the afternoon.

At 11:15 in Room S-226, Amb. Penny Wensley, Permanent Representative of Australia, and Daniel Kowalski, Australian Olympic swimmer and UNHCR Goodwill Sporting Ambassador, will hold a press conference to discuss the Olympic Ideal.

In Rome, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Council will hold its 118th session.

Thursday, November 25, 1999

Thanksgiving Holiday at UN Headquarters in New York; no meetings are scheduled.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr&eacute;chette will receive an honorary degree from Toronto University, and is expected to deliver a speech at the occasion.

The United Nations will start deploying its new 6,000-strong peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone.

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