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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-11-30

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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

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, November 30, 1999

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ADDRESS WTO

The Secretary-General is expected within hours to address the third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO); embargoed copies of his speech, as amended, have already been made available.

Later, at about 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the Secretary-General will deliver remarks at the Rotary Club, which have also been made available, and will participate in a question-and-answer session afterward, at which journalists will be present.

COUNCIL MEETS ON HAITI, ICJ, CONFLICT PREVENTION

The Security today began with informal consultations on the renewal of the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH), the mandate of which is to expire at the end of today. Council members are ready to vote, however, on a resolution to continue MIPONUH's existence until 15 March 2000, when it can be replaced by a new international civilian support mission in Haiti.

The Council also informally discussed a draft resolution to determine a date for the holding of an election to fill the expected vacancy in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), when Justice Stephen Schwebel's resignation takes effect. Justice Schwebel is scheduled to leave his post on 29 February 2000.

Also in their informal consultations, the Council took up the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in which Member States have been discussing a draft resolution on equipping 500 military observers with the intention of eventually deploying them in the DRC.

Next on the agenda, the Council turned to unfinished business from yesterday, when the Council's open debate on its role in conflict prevention was suspended last night at around 8 p.m. That debate resumed after the consultations. Once it concludes, the Council will read a Presidential Statement on conflict prevention.

The Council will then hold formal meetings on the Haiti resolution and on the ICJ resolution. There is a possibility that the Council may return in the afternoon for informal consultations on the DRC, where work remains to be done on the draft resolution.

Tomorrow, Jeremy Greenstock, Ambassador of the United Kingdom, will replace Ambassador Danilo Turk of Slovenia as Council President, and will hold bilateral meetings with the other Council members.

UN REPRESENTATIVE IN EAST TIMOR VISITS AUSTRALIA

Sergio Vieira de Mello, the head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), visited Sydney, Australia today, where at a press encounter he was asked about controlling the cost of his Mission. "I intend to keep it lean, as small as possible," he said. He added UNTAET would "rely as much as we can on local resources, or train them as a matter of urgency so that they can take over even before independence. That is what we are there for."

Vieira de Mello will return to Dili tomorrow, accompanied by Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos Horta, who will be returning to East Timor for the first time after 24 years of exile.

Meanwhile, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced in Geneva today that they have opened a fourth repatriation corridor along the border with West Timor to hasten the return of refugees. One thousand returnees returned through the new crossing since yesterday. In all, about 110,000 people have now returned to East Timor, and the Indonesian Government estimates that about 140,000 people still reside in refugee camps in West Timor.

UNHCR staff continues to be confronted daily by the militia, and the agency is pressing the Indonesian Government to separate the militia from the refugees. West Timor is the only place in the world where UNHCR staff must have heavy military or police escort to enter refugee camps.

VEHICLE REGISTRATION BEGINS IN KOSOVO

The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) started the temporary registration of all motor vehicles in Kosovo today, when Special Representative Bernard Kouchner placed the first license plate on the first car at the registration centre in Pristina.

"This is the most visible sign of law and order in Kosovo," Kouchner said. "With the return of regular license plates, it will be safer on the roads of Kosovo."

The people of Kosovo have until next 31 March to register their vehicles at UNMIK registration centres. UNMIK plans to open six more registration centres throughout Kosovo.

The Spokesman responded to a question on whether the licenses would be a symbol of Kosovo's independence by noting that "there should be no symbols except of substantial autonomy."

He added, upon being asked about stolen vehicles in Kosovo, that the UN police have already stopped vehicles and tried to verify ownership. In that process, he said, they recovered numerous stolen cars. UNMIK noted that the vehicle registration will not establish ownership over the vehicles, but will allow for the creation of a database listing vehicles and their holders.

KENYAN TROOPS LAND IN SIERRA LEONE

The first group of 130 Kenyan troops landed in Sierra Leone at 9:30 p.m. local time yesterday, in an arrival that was later than expected. The welcoming ceremony took place early this morning. The planned deployment of 6,000 peacekeepers in Sierra Leone will take place throughout December.

There has been a surge in the disarmament of former rebel fighters from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), as more than 500 ex-combatants registered and surrendered their weapons after RUF leader Foday Sankoh talked to his men. Former combatants who have now disarmed include 1, 342 from the RUF, 494 from the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and 515 from the Civil Defense.

Problems persist in other parts of the country. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports the arrival of about 700 people at the Guinean border yesterday. They were reported to be fleeing attacks by rebels in north-western Sierra Leone. The new arrivals are in addition to 192,000 Sierra Leonean refugees already in Guinea.

REPORT NOTES INCREASE IN CHILDREN ORPHANED BY AIDS

The number of children orphaned by AIDS is skyrocketing, according to a report that will be released here tomorrow by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The report, "Children Orphaned by AIDS: Front-line Responses from Eastern and Southern Africa," highlights the plight of children below the age of 15 who have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related causes. According to the report, by the end of this year, 11.2 million children will have been orphaned by AIDS worldwide, with 95 percent of the "AIDS orphans" living in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report is being launched here tomorrow, on World AIDS Day. The UN commemoration of World AIDS Day will begin at 10 a.m. in Conference Room 4, and participants will include Queen Noor of Jordan, United States First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Harry Belafonte.

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO BRIEF COUNCIL ON CYPRUS

The Spokesman said that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, plans to brief the Security Council this week on the logistics and possibly the substance of the Cyprus talks that begin here on Friday. The parties to the talks and the Secretary-General agreed on a news blackout for their duration, Eckhard added, but de Soto expected to brief the press this week, although not on the substance of the talks.

BRUNDTLAND CALLS FOR TRADE TALKS TO INCLUDE HEALTH ISSUES

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), says that one-third of the world's people still lack access to essential drugs, and she says that "those in charge of global trade must place this striking market failure at the core of their attention."

Brundtland's appeal comes at the start of the third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Seattle today. WHO has made available her comments on how health concerns should be addressed in trade talks, as well as a background paper on trade and public health.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, says that Latin American and Caribbean countries today show an awareness of the "absolute need to settle inter-State problems without violence." He makes that comment in a speech that he will deliver tomorrow at a forum on 'Disarmament and Security: A New Latin American and Caribbean Agenda for the Next Millennium,' which will be held in Lima, Peru. The event is a cooperative effort by the Department of Disarmament Affairs, the Government of Peru, and the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean to review progress in the region on disarmament.

Tomorrow, at 9:30 a.m., there will be a press conference in Room 226 with Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS; Urban Jonnson, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa; and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Harry Belafonte. They will discuss the report on "Children Orphaned by AIDS: Frontline Responses from Eastern and Southern Africa."

There will be a briefing tomorrow sponsored by the UN Correspondents Association, with Ambassador Marjatta Rasi of Finland, on the European Union (EU) agenda at United Nations during Finland's presidency of the EU, at 11 a.m. in UNCA Club.

In response to a question on whether members of the UN Secretariat had attended meetings on the "oil-for-food" programme in Iraq in which some of the five permanent members of the Security Council were present and others were not, the Spokesman said that Secretariat members had not attended such meetings.


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