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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-12-17

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





Friday, December 17, 1999


At 10:30 this morning, the members of the Security Council stood in the Security Council Chamber with Secretary-General Kofi Annan for their year-end group photograph.

They then went into a formal meeting on the comprehensive resolution on Iraq, which sets up a new UN Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Fifteen speakers participated in the formal meeting and the Council approved the resolution by a vote of 11 in favor and none against, with four abstentions. Russia, China, France and Malaysia were the abstentions.

At 3:30 this afternoon, the Security Council Sanctions Committee dealing with Somalia will hold a closed meeting.


The donor meeting on East Timor ended in Tokyo today with pledges of $522.43 million, over two-thirds of which was for reconstruction and development.

The UN Transitional Administrator in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, said, "Today is a heartening development and a message of hope for the people of Timor and those who are there to serve them until independence."

For the first time, he said, donors were given a joint presentation by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations and the East Timorese of the overall needs for East Timor. He pledged to continue what he called "this close and exemplary partnership."

In East Timor, the number of returns by East Timorese from West Timor has once again risen above 1,000 a day, and the total number is now estimated at more than 118,000.

The Security Council will hold an open briefing on East Timor next Wednesday.


Carla del Ponte, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal for the Former Yugoslavia, issued a statement today in The Hague saying that she was not surprised by the announcement today that the Bosnian Croats had been attempting to carry out surveillance of Tribunal staff operating in Bosnia.

"It is clear that the Tribunal has been targeted for espionage for some time and it appears that this espionage has been officially sanctioned," she said. "This activity demonstrates the lengths to which political and government leaders throughout the former Yugoslavia are prepared to go to avoid investigation by this Tribunal."

Without going into any details about the Tribunal's security arrangements, the Prosecutor noted that procedures do exist to protect its staff and information.


Some 1,200 Chechen refugees have been evacuated by helicopter since last Friday from the remote mountain village of Shatili in Georgia, just across the border from Chechnya, to villages in north-eastern Georgia, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The arrival of the 1,200 brings the total number of Chechen refugees in Georgia to 5,000.

The air-bridge, organized by UNHCR with the help of the Georgian border guards, is now completed. The evacuated group was predominantly composed of women and children. There were also 50 war-wounded men in the group. They were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

UNHCR is trying to confirm reports that some Chechen refugees may still be stuck in no-man's land between Chechnya and Georgia, while trying to cross the border. The airlifting may resume if more people have to be flown to safety.


The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) today reported that two UNMIK police officers, both from the United States, were injured while trying to break up a demonstration in Mitrovica on Thursday.

About 500 Kosovo Serbs demonstrated in front of an office belonging to a Kosovo Albanian political leader. One shot was heard and UNMIK police and Kosovo Force (KFOR) troops detained a suspect who was also found in possession of a hand grenade. The crowd became violent, causing head injuries to the two UNMIK officers. Their injuries are not life-threatening, UNMIK reported.

UNMIK police and KFOR eventually dispersed the crowd. The demonstration was one of several violent incidents reported by UNMIK today.

Meanwhile, UNMIK also reported that a millennium tree in the middle of the main bridge over the Ibar River in Mitrovica was lit on Wednesday as a symbol to all people to accept co-existence and attempt to live in harmony.


Asked about whether the Secretary-General would visit Rwanda to deliver an apology for UN actions during the 1994 genocide, the Spokesman noted that Annan had visited Kigali a year ago. During that time, he visited massacre sites and met with survivors, and also held meetings with Government officials. The Secretary-General also expressed his deep remorse yesterday, he added.

"I think he now wants to look ahead to what he can do, from the Secretariat point of view, to see that the events of Rwanda never happen again anywhere else in the world," the spokesman said.


Oluyemi Adeniji, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone, gave his first press conference in Freetown today, together with the new Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), Major-General Vijay Jetley. Adeniji emphasized that UNAMSIL was in Sierra Leone at the invitation of the Government to assist with the disarmament and demobilization process.

"The deployment of UNAMSIL, contrary to the general impression that it's been long delayed is being done practically at a record time," he said. He added that it was less than two months since the decision of the Security Council to deploy the force has been taken. He added, "The international community is now facing its responsibility. It is not only a problem in West Africa for the West Africans."

Adeniji noted that the United Nations has a primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and added, "There is no reason why the United Nations, which is often prepared to go elsewhere, should not come to Africa."

Since his arrival last Sunday, Adeniji has held meetings with the President and senior government officials, among others.


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that its staff is trying to reach villages in northern Congo-Brazzaville, where thousands of refugees have reportedly fled recent fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In response to a question on whether the Secretary-General's addendum to his recent report on Cyprus represented a change in UN policy, the Spokesman clarified that the addendum was intended to inform the Security Council of the position of the relevant parties on the extension of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. "The Secretary-General reported the positions, as he always does, without comment," he said. He added that there was "no change of UN policy."

In response to a question on Angola, the Spokesman said that the United Nations is in the process of establishing a new presence there, but has urged the parties to the conflict "to stop fighting and start negotiating."

Nane Annan, wife of the Secretary-General, will open an exhibit of children's art on "Visions of the Millennium" at 3:30 today in the Visitors' Lobby at UN Headquarters. The exhibit consists of artwork by artists, writers and photographers around the world who are between the ages of 6 and 18. The exhibit is co-sponsored by the United Nations and International Paint Pals, and will remain on view at UN Headquarters through 28 February 2000.

The Spokesman thanked the member of the UN Treaty Section for donating toys and clothes this Christmas to HIV-infected "boarder babies," who had been abandoned in New York hospitals because their families were unable to care for them. Some 40 members of the Treaty Section sent their gifts to the Incarnation Children's Center of the Catholic Home Bureau, which provides care for HIV-positive children in New York City.

Croatia became the 120th Member State to pay its UN assessment in full for 1999, with a payment of more than 374,000 dollars.


With Christmas season and the end of the year approaching, the coming week will be the last week for noon briefings at UN Headquarters for the present year. During the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, there will be no briefings, although the Spokesman's Office will update the highlights daily on the Spokesman's Page of the UN web site.

Saturday, December 18

The Secretary-General's report on Bosnia and Herzegovina is expected to be submitted to the Security Council.

Monday, December 20

The General Assembly will continue its debate on Security Council reform.

Tuesday, December 21

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Guinea-Bissau and the situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Wednesday, December 22

At 12:30 p.m., Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund, will hold a press conference in Room 226 on an appeal for countries facing emergencies.

The Security Council has scheduled an open meeting on East Timor.

The General Assembly will consider the reports of the Second and Fifth Committees, and expects to complete the work for its present session.

Friday, December 24

Christmas Holiday; the UN Secretariat is closed.


Today was the last day of the third session of preparatory talks for the International Criminal Court (ICC), so today's quiz asks a few basic facts about the ICC.

Q. How many countries need to ratify the ICC Statute before it can enter into force?

1. 30

2. 50

3. 60

A. Sixty countries have to ratify the treaty before it takes effect; so far, five have completed and deposited their ratifications with the United Nations.

Q. True or false: the Rome Statute of the ICC specifically excludes riots and isolated or separate acts of violence from its jurisdiction.

A. True; it excludes those categories, as does existing international humanitarian law, from the category of war crimes committed in internal armed conflicts.

Q. Are terrorism and drug trafficking included as crimes covered in the Rome Statute?

A. No; however, at last year's Rome Conference that established the Court, a Review Conference was proposed to consider defining and including those crimes within the Court's jurisdiction.

  • The guest at today's briefing was Betrand de Fondaumiere, Director of the Management Policy Office in the Department of Management and UN "Y2K" Coordinator.


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