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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-12-22

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

Wednesday, December 22, 1999

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CONGO, EAST TIMOR

On the last day of scheduled Security Council meetings this week, members held consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and heard a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi. The discussion was a follow-up on a briefing Tuesday on the deteriorating military and security situation particularly in the eastern part of that country. Council members agreed on a press statement that was read by the president.

Following consultations, the Council members proceeded across the hall for an "open briefing" on East Timor by Annabi.

Annabi expressed deep appreciation to the Governments which pledged $522 million to East Timor at the Tokyo Conference of December 16 and 17.

He said that the security situation in East Timor continued to be "stable," while the humanitarian situation, while remaining difficult, had improved. Intimidation of refugees in West Timor by militia continued.

The UN Mission had established a skeletal administration in all 13 districts, deploying 275 international civilian police throughout the territory.

The multinational force, INTERFET, continued to discover mass graves. INTERFET would be replaced by a UN military component in the month of February.

The UN mission is working closely with the East Timorese, and will be setting up a commission to deal with the appointment of civil service, which will be reduced from the size maintained by Indonesia so that it can be self sustaining.

It was reported in Dili, meanwhile, that 45 Timorese journalists today established a professional association rejecting all forms of censorship. Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta was present at the signing ceremony, and declared his intention to return to his journalistic career once he quits politics.

The United Nations organized a visit to Dili today of 94 orphan children from Baucau, most of whom had never been to the capital before. They were greeted by Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Interim Administrator and by INTERFET Commander Gen. Peter Cosgrove, and received gifts from INTERFET soldiers.

UN REPORT ON KOSOVO WARNS OF ESCALATION OF TENSION

In the Secretary-Generals monthly report to the Security Council on the international security presence in Kosovo, issued as a document today, the Kosovo Force known as KFOR said it continued its deployment into the theater and by the end of November, there were some 48,000 troops in place.

KFOR observed no significant change in the security situation since the last report, but reported that attacks against ethnic minorities continue to give cause for concern and flagged the potential for tension to escalate in areas of confrontation between the Albanian and Serb communities such as Mitrovica.

Meanwhile, the UN mission in Kosovo reported an earthquake earlier today in Prizren. Two sets of tremors were felt and UN personnel reported that tiles fell off the walls during the quake. No further information was available.

UNMIK also reported that as of December 20 there were 1,938 police in Kosovo.

UN TO BEGIN NEW ROLE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

In a statement issued through his spokesman, the Secretary-General said the first four UN infantry companies repatriated from Bangui last week in line with Security Council Resolution 1271 that envisaged the phased withdrawal of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA).

"The draw down of the civilian and military personnel of the Mission will be conducted in stages, with the full closure of MINURCA envisaged for 15 February 2000," the statement said.

"With the challenging tasks performed by MINURCA almost complete, the Secretary-General, in his letter to the Security Council dated 3 December 1999, proposed to establish a UN Peace-Building Support Office in the Central African Republic, aimed at assisting in the efforts to consolidate peace, strengthening democratic institutions and economic recovery. The Security Council has taken note of the Secretary-General's proposal with appreciation," it said.

The Secretary-General said, "The United Nations will do everything possible to ensure a seamless transition from peacekeeping to the post-conflict peace-building phase in the country."

UN CHIEF PROSECUTOR MARKS 100 DAYS IN OFFICE

In The Hague today, Carla Del Ponte, Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, issued a statement marking her first 100 days in office.

"Next year will perhaps be the most important year so far for the Rwanda Tribunal," Del Ponte said and vowed to spend a considerable portion of her time on Rwanda Tribunal business.

Saying that "there must be no safe havens for those indicted for war crimes," the UN chief prosecutor said her top priority in the former Yugoslavia will be the arrest of leading figures who are still at liberty.

Looking ahead, Del Ponte said there will be significant trials in the coming year, some of which will reveal evidence of matters that have not yet been dealt with at trial. She promised to deliver the concrete results of a great deal of work that has been going on behind the scenes for many months. In conclusion, Del Ponte said that she and her colleagues at both tribunals are "rapidly building a unique legal system of which we can justifiably be proud."

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The United States has paid $51.2 million to the regular budget of the United Nations. That amount puts the United States in excess of what it needed to pay in order to maintain its vote in the General Assembly.

The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Ottunu, today congratulated the Colombian Army on discharging the final contingent of 950 soldiers under the age of 18. "This is a very welcome example which I hope will be followed by other governments and armed groups who still recruit and deploy children in their ranks," Otunnu said in a statement released in New York.

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) today warned that "humanitarian favoritism" is threatening the lives and future of the most needy children and women in the developing world.

The Government of Norway is contributing 3.75 billion Kroners -- equivalent to a little less than half a million dollars -- to the UN Trust Fund to demarcate the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea. That amount is in addition to the Government of Norway's previous contribution of 3.75 billion Kroners to the Ethiopia-Eritrea Trust Fund, bringing Norway's total contribution to the Fund close to $1 million.

The UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the UN Centre for Human Settlements (HABITAT) outlined an offer of assistance to the Government of Venezuela following the devastation caused by two weeks of torrential rains.

Ghana completed its ratification of the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court by depositing its ratification. Ghana is now the sixth country to ratify the Rome Statute, which needs 60 ratifications before it can enter into force.

  • Today's guest at the noon briefing was Joseph Connor, Under-Secretary-General for Management, on the financial situation of the United Nations at the end of 1999.
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