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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-12-15

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





Wednesday, December 15, 1999


At 10 a.m. in Pristina, the leaders of the main Kosovar Albanian political parties -- Ibrahim Rugova, Hashim Thaci and Rexhep Qosja -- signed an agreement by which they agreed to share the provisional management of Kosovo with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The Interim Administrative Structure formed by the agreement paves the way for the dissolution of all parallel structures in Kosovo.

The new structure, to become operational by 31 January, will consist of eight members -- the three Kosovo Albanian leaders and as-yet-unnamed Kosovo Serb, plus four UNMIK members. Each side will have one observer.

The Secretary-General's Special Representative Bernard Kouchner, who witnessed and accepted the Agreement on the establishment of the Joint Interim Administrative Structure, told reporters at a news conference following the signing, "This is a breakthrough, a historical moment for Kosovo. This is not the end of the process, but the beginning of a process--toward substantial autonomy, and to self-government after elections." He called today's agreement "the first real success of the mission." Saying that UNMIK's work had been hampered by the activities of parallel structures in Kosovo, Kouchner said the new structure would involve the people of the province directly in their own affairs, thus contributing to the mandate given to him by the Security Council and the Secretary-General.

The Kosovo Transitional Council, which has been the highest level advisory body of Kosovo's representatives to UNMIK, will maintain its consultative role.

In response to a question about the absence of a Serb representative at today's signing ceremony, the Spokesman said, "They weren't there because they chose not to be there." He noted the unhappiness by Kosovo Serbs over their security situation and added, "it's certainly our intention to have the Serb community represented, and it's our intention to provide as much security for them as we can."

He said that, over time, all of Kosovo's communities should be represented in society and said that there was still a seat reserved for the Serbs on the Joint Interim Administrative Structure. Eckhard added that Kouchner has had regular contacts with Serb leaders.


This morning, the Security Council began its open debate on Africa, for which 47 speakers were inscribed as of 10:45 a.m.

The Secretary-General opened the meeting by telling the Council that it should show sustained and effective interest in African conflicts and "avoid giving the appearance of sporadic or purely rhetorical reactions to crises without any follow-up." He noted that today's meeting was intended to make a difference "not just in words, but in action."

He urged the Council to act promptly to bolster the cease-fire in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to provide additional resources to UN peacekeeping efforts in Sierra Leone and to strengthen coordination with Africa's regional and sub-regional organizations.

The Secretary-General was followed by Peter Hain, Minister of State of the United Kingdom for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, who is presiding over today's debate. The open debate is expected to continue into the afternoon.

Also during the afternoon session, the Council will hold a formal meeting on the extension of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The current mandate of UNFICYP is set to expire tonight, but the Council is considering a draft resolution to extend its mandate by six months, until 15 June 2000.

Yesterday afternoon, the Council heard a briefing by the Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, who discussed the proximity talks held at UN Headquarters between the two parties. Those talks adjourned yesterday after the Secretary-General and de Soto held nine meetings each with His Excellency Glafcos Clerides and His Excellency Rauf Denktash.

Also yesterday afternoon, the Council voted, 14 to 0 with one abstention, to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 29 February 2000. Namibia was the sole abstention.

Tomorrow, the Council has scheduled an open meeting on the DRC.

In response to a question on Council action on Iraq, the Spokesman noted that the plan for Council action on Iraq had not taken place. There was talk that a formal meeting could come toward the end of the week, he said, adding that nothing official has been announced.


Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), is on his way to Tokyo, Japan, where tomorrow night, he will attend the beginning of a two-day Donor Meeting for East Timor, at which more than 100 officials from 29 countries are expected to participate.

The meeting, which is being co-hosted by the United Nations and the World Bank, will begin at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Tokyo time, with a dinner for the heads of the delegations.

Then, on Friday morning, the opening session of the donors meeting will begin at 9:30. De Mello and East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao will deliver statements on behalf of the United Nations/East Timor delegation.

The World Bank estimates that between 260 million and 300 million dollars will be needed over the next three years for East Timor's reconstruction. Immediate needs are estimated at 86 million dollars for humanitarian assistance and emergency relief, 76 million dollars for reconstruction and development and 15 million dollars for external financing of UNTAET's budget.

The Director of UNTAET's Human Rights Division, Sidney Jones, met yesterday and today with members of the Indonesian National Commission of Inquiry, which has been exploring human rights violations in East Timor.

UNTAET's Human Rights Division also intends to distribute some 1,000 copies of a Glossary of Human Rights Terms, in four languages. The Glossary was prepared by UN volunteers while they were in Darwin, following their relocation from East Timor during the post-balloting violence.


At the invitation of Carla del Ponte, the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Milorad Dodik, the Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska, will visit the Tribunal in The Hague tomorrow. This will be his first visit and he will have meetings with the Prosecutor, the Deputy Prosecutor and other Tribunal officials.

At a press briefing in The Hague today, Deputy Prosecutor Graham Blewitt said that there were signs that the Republika Srpska, one of the entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was cooperating more with the Tribunal than in the past.


A report released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that some 1.6 million people are cut off from relief operations in Somalia, and many have already died from starvation. The FAO report, "Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa," blames the crisis on increased fighting in Somalia's long-running civil conflict and the impact of a recent drought that resulted in a poor harvest.

Overall, the report, which is prepared by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning Service, says that 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa face exceptional food emergencies. Most of the worst affected countries, including Angola, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan, are suffering from recent or ongoing civil conflict.


According to the weekly humanitarian update on Afghanistan, the first phase of the UN assistance for Afghans displaced into the Panjshir valley has been successfully concluded upon delivery of 750 tonnes of food and other emergency supplies, including as warm clothes and blankets. Further convoys will be needed.

Near the end of the year, the United Nations will mark the millennium by displaying the slogan "UN 2000" in lights. The Secretariat Building will be lit up to read "UN 2000" on the west side of the building (facing First Avenue) on 27 December, and on the east side (facing the East River) on 28 December. Photographs of the event can be downloaded from the UN web site or obtained from the photo library, starting on 28 December.

Tomorrow, at 9:30 a.m., the panellists of the Rwanda Inquiry will present their findings of their report, which is being presented to the Secretary-General this afternoon. The report is expected to be transmitted by the Secretary-General to the Security Council in the early evening. The Spokesman's Office intends to post the report on its web site at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The Spokesman's Office distributed to correspondents yesterday a customer satisfaction survey. Reporters can contribute their views on how to improve the Spokesman's Office by filling out the surveys and leaving them in a drop box in the Office.

  • The guest at today's briefing was John Langmore, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development.


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