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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-12-10

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





Friday, December 10, 1999


The Cyprus talks resumed this morning at 9:30, when Alvaro de Soto, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, met with His Excellency Glafcos Clerides for about an hour and a half. He then met with His Excellency Rauf Denktash at 11:30 a.m.

At this point, it is expected that another round will take place tomorrow morning at roughly the same times.

More than a dozen delegations have expressed special interest in the proximity talks, and De Soto is meeting with individual members of these delegations in the margins of the talks.

Concerning the shooting incident that the Spokesman mentioned Thursday, he noted that the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus is still investigating the matter. At this time, the United Nations cannot confirm any of the facts reported by the local media, he said.

The Secretary-General has decided to appoint Maj. Gen. Victory Rana of Nepal as the new Force Commander of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). He will succeed Maj. Gen. Evergisto Arturo de Vergara of Argentina, whose term ends on 15 December.

In response to questions about whether the Secretary-General would report on the progress of the Cyprus talks, the Spokesman said that the talks were continuing but that it was "too early to say anything substantive about them to anyone." He said that, as long as the parties wanted to talk, the United Nations was at their disposal.


In a statement issued today, the Secretary-General noted the guidelines he issued over the course of the year to his envoys and representatives, to assist them in dealing with human rights issues that arise during peace negotiations.

"These guidelines address the tensions between the urgency of stopping fighting, on the one hand, and the need to address punishable human rights violations on the other," he said.

He called the guidelines "a useful tool with which the United Nations can assist in brokering agreements in conformity with law and in a manner which may provide the basis for lasting peace. They are a significant step in the direction of mainstreaming human rights."

To mark the occasion of Human Rights Day, the Secretary-General at noon opened the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women (CEDAW) for signature at the UN Headquarters.

At 3 p.m. today, the Secretary-General will deliver an address on the opening for signature of the Optional Protocol. In that address, he notes the progress that has been made in combating violence against women, and says, "To protect, promote and realize women's human rights is the responsibility of all of us -- wherever we may be, whichever gender we belong to."


In Geneva, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson commemorated Human Rights Day in a ceremony attended by Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss and Goodwill Ambassador Tahar Ben Jalloun. That ceremony opened with a statement from the Secretary-General, and U.S. President Bill Clinton, Czech President Vaclav Havel and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oscar Arias also delivered video messages.

In her speech, Robinson drew attention to the preparations for the World Conference against Racism, which is to be held in July 2001 in South Africa. "No society is free from at least some people who are intolerant of difference, whether ethnic or religious, and whose intolerance finds violent expression," she said. The importance of the World Conference, she added, would be to "shape a new vision of the fight against racism for the 21st century."

Robinson also inducted several Goodwill Ambassadors, one of whom, Panamanian actor and musician Ruben Blades, attended a press briefing today at UN Headquarters.

In Pristina today, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Bernard Kouchner, addressed the Kosovo International Human Rights Conference, urging all Kosovars to renounce the cycle of violence.

East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao, in commemorating Human Rights Day in Dili, unveiled a new street sign today signalling the change of name of one of the principle avenues of Dili to the "Avenue of Human Rights."

In Dili Stadium, about 4,000 young people turned out to hear a dialogue between East Timor's two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Jose Ramos Horta and Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, who together called for an international war crimes tribunal for East Timor. Sergio Vieira de Mello, who heads the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), also addressed the youth gathering.

Also today, the United Nations Information Centers (UNICs) worldwide are hosting a number of special Human Rights Day events. For example, UNIC New Delhi, the National Human Rights Commission for India and the International Institute for Human Rights Society planned a seminar on the rights of the child. In Africa, UNIC Tunis and the Arab Institute of Human Rights are jointly mounting an exhibition of paintings created by children from 12 countries. In Latin America, UNIC Mexico City and the City's Human Rights Commission are holding a jazz concert to honor the rights of older persons and also, the Center will walk with 4,000 children in a Human Rights Day march.


The Security Council held an open session on Sierra Leone this morning, in which Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet presented the Secretary-General's latest report on Sierra Leone.

In his briefing, Miyet said there had been significant progress this week in the deployment of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). By the end of this month, he said, the Indian and Kenyan deployments to UNAMSIL should be complete, and Nigeria and other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries should have 2,000 fresh troops and 50 military observers in Sierra Leone.

The Secretary-General's report concluded by noting that the commitment of the parties to the Lom&eacute; Agreement would be put to the test in the coming period, which he described as crucial. He said that the responsibility to advance the peace process in Sierra Leone rested with the leaders of the rebel movements.

Immediately after the open meeting, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing Phase VII of the "oil-for-food" program in Iraq.

At 4:45 p.m., the Council is scheduled to continue its consultations on the draft comprehensive resolution on Iraq, which was circulated Thursday evening by the United Kingdom.


In Geneva, the Governing Council of the Compensation Fund concluded its meeting yesterday.

The Governing Council, which comprises the 15 members of the Security Council, approved compensation claims totaling just less than $2 billion. The claimants included individuals, non-Kuwaiti corporations and the Governments of Jordan and Kuwait.

The latest batch of awards brings the total compensation awarded to $14.6 billion, of which $4.5 billion has been paid out.


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it continues to be concerned about the situation of civilians remaining in Grozny, Chechnya.

UNHCR said that confusion reigns over the Russian ultimatum issued to Grozny's civilians last Monday telling them to leave the city by Saturday or be destroyed. The Russian media today are quoting the Emergencies Minister, Sergei Shoigu, as saying civilians can also leave after the deadline.

The Russians have reportedly opened a corridor from Grozny to the Russian-controlled settlement of Pervomayskoe, northeast of the Chechen capital, but few people have used the corridor, according to UNHCR. There are still reportedly 35,000 to 40,000 civilians in Grozny. A majority has been moved to outlying districts of the city.

People continue to cross from Chechnya to Ingushetia, there but there is also a movement back to Russian-controlled parts of Chechnya, where 850 people went back on Thursday. The Ingush authorities now say they host 240,000 people from Chechnya.


An international group of scientific and public health experts, meeting at the World Health Organization (WHO), this week recommended to Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland that WHO undertake some further research on the smallpox virus before the two remaining collections of the virus are destroyed. The research will focus on defined priority areas, will be time limited and will be carried out under the careful control of the WHO.

A World Health Assembly resolution in May 1999 strongly reaffirmed the decision to destroy the remaining stocks of variola virus, but authorized temporary retention of the stocks up to the year 2002, subject to annual review. Extending the deadline for destruction of the stocks was to allow the possibility, if needed, of further international research.

The two remaining smallpox virus stocks are held at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Koltsovo, in the Russian Federation's Novosibirsk Region and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. The successful eradication of smallpox was declared in May 1980 by the WHO.


Sergio Vieira de Mello, who heads the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) will travel to Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday, where on Monday he will meet with President Abdurrahman Wahid and other Indonesian officials. From there he will go to Japan to participate in a donor conference for East Timor on December 16 and 17.

The AIDS epidemic is threatening Africa's productivity by killing the most productive members of the African workforce, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a new report launched in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.

The United Nations today received nearly $148 million in contributions from the United States, including a partial payment on its current dues and some of the balance owed in prior years. That amount brings the United Nations' outstanding contributions to a little over $2.3 billion, of which some $500 million are owed to the regular budget and more than $1.7 billion owed to peacekeeping.

Despite continuing turmoil, more than 100,000 Afghans have returned from neighboring countries so far this year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


At the beginning of next week, the Spokesman's Office is expected to announce a date over the course of the week in which the Secretary-General will hold his year-end press conference at UN Headquarters.

Saturday, December 11

Another round of Cyprus talks is expected to take place at UN Headquarters in the morning.

Kamel Morjane is expected to arrive in Kinshasa to take up his duties as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sunday, December 12

Phase VII of the "oil-for-food" program is scheduled to enter into force, and apply for 180 days, at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The Secretary-General will deliver a speech at a dinner of the American Jewish Congress honoring Morris Abram, a former diplomat who now heads the Geneva-based group UN Watch.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr&eacute;chette will begin a visit to Kosovo, which will last until December 15, to meet with United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) personnel and have discussions on issues of policy, coordination and support from Headquarters.

More than 2,000 broadcasters will air programming by and for young people in recognition of the United Nations Children's Fund's (UNICEF's) eighth annual International Children's Day of Broadcasting. Special programming created by a 10-nation consortium will focus on the theme "Kids Are Changing the World."

Monday, December 13

The Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on Angola and Western Sahara.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch this year's "State of the World's Children" Report at 10:30 a.m. at the Danny Kaye Visitors Center at UNICEF House. Actress Susan Sarandon, Special Representative for UNICEF, will present the report. This year's report looks at progress on children's rights at the end of the century.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will deliver its Judgment in the Kasikili/Sedudu Island case. In that case, the Governments of Botswana and Namibia have asked the ICJ to determine the boundary between their nations at the island, which is situated in the Chobe River.

At 11 a.m., Philippe Kirsch, Chairman of the Working Group on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, will hold a press briefing at UN headquarters.

The General Assembly will take up the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) will launch a new report on the dangers of the fishing industry. According to the ILO, as many as 24,000 fishermen and persons engaged in fish farming or processing are killed every year in the line of work.

In Geneva, the working party on the medium-term plan and program budget of the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will hold the second part of its 34th session today and Tuesday.

Also in Geneva, the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the field of Human Rights will begin its 12th session.

A press conference will be held in Geneva at 10.30 a.m. by Timothy Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, Amir Dossal, Director of the United Nations Funds for International Partnership, and Jean-Claude Faby, Vice President, UN Liaison, United Nations Foundation, on the activities of the UN Foundation.

Tuesday, December 14

In The Hague, the first Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia will hand down its sentence against Goran Jelisic, a Bosnian Serb who was convicted on October 19 of 31 counts of torture and murder. Jelisic was ruled to have killed and beaten Muslim and Croat detainees at Luka camp in the Brcko municipality; however, he was acquitted of genocide.

The Security Council is expected to hold a formal meeting on the extension of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO); Tuesday is the last day of the Missions current mandate. The Council may also hold consultations on Kosovo.

The Secretary-General will deliver a speech to the Forum of Small States, which will be held at the Permanent Mission of Singapore to the United Nations.

The General Assembly will hold open-ended informal consultations on the forthcoming UN Millennium Assembly.

Wednesday, December 15

The team of the Global Programme against Corruption of the Centre for International Crime Prevention is undertaking a mission to Hungary to review the pilot survey in the framework of the CICP anti-corruption project in the country.

The Security Council has scheduled an open meeting on Africa, at which the Secretary-General is to speak.

Thursday, December 16

At 9:30 a.m., the three members of the Rwanda Inquiry panelChairman Ingvar Carlsson of Sweden, Han Sung-Joo of the Republic of Korea, and Gen. Rufus Kupolati of Nigeriaare expected to hold a press conference at UN headquarters to discuss the Rwanda Inquiry report.

Thursday and Friday, there will be an international aid donors meeting in Tokyo to discuss the rehabilitation and development of East Timor. Thirty donor countries will attend, and will also discuss assistance to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). The meeting is co-hosted by UNTAET and the World Bank, and Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello will attend.

The Security Council has scheduled an open meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

There will be a live teleconference including UN offices and non-governmental organization centers on "The UN Millennium Assembly/Summit and the Millennium Forum." The teleconference is sponsored by the NGO section of the Department of Public Information, and will feature Miles Stoby, Coordinator for Preparations for the Millennium Assembly, and South African Ambassador Dumisana Shadrack Kumalo as speakers.

In Geneva, the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the field of Human Rights will end its 12th session.

Friday, December 17

At 10:30 a.m., the Members of the Security Council for its 1999 session are scheduled to participate in a group photograph.

The General Assembly is scheduled to take up the report of the Third Committee.


Next Wednesday, the Security Council will hold an open meeting to discuss Africa, and this week's quiz tests your knowledge about several recent UN peace efforts in Africa.

Q. The United Nations established four new peacekeeping missions in 1999. Of those, how many were in Africa?




A. Two -- the United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).

Q. True or false: More than half a million people have been internally displaced by the fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

A. True; as of November, more than 800,000 people were internally displaced in the DRC, according to UN estimates.

Q. Roughly what percentage of ex-combatants in Sierra Leone had reported in to disarmament and demobilization centers by the end of November?

1. About 10 percent

2. About 20 percent

3. About 40 percent

A. About 10 percent of fighters have reported in to the centers; the United Nations estimates that there were some 45,000 fighters in Sierra Leone, and the total number registered at the centers by 2 December was 4,217.

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