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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-04-07

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 MARIE OKABE

ASSOCIATE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, April 7, 2000

ANNAN MEETS POPE ON LAST DAY OF VISIT TO ITALY

After a morning meeting with President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi of Italy, Secretary-General Kofi Annan went to the Vatican, where he had a private audience with Pope John Paul II. He presented the Pope with a bound copy of the UN Charter as well as a copy of his Millennium Report.

They discussed the Pope's recent visit to the Middle East and the message of peace and reconciliation that he delivered there. They also assessed the prospects for peace in the region.

The two talked about world poverty and the need to alleviate the suffering of the poor. They then reviewed some of the ideas contained in the Millennium Report and resolved that concrete results should be achieved this year to improve the lot of the world's people, especially the poor.

After that meeting, the Secretary-General was joined by more than two dozen heads of UN agencies, funds and programs, who are in Rome to attend the twice-a-year meeting of the UN's Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC). The Pope addressed the group, citing the Millennium Report, and said that the world's problems are not new, but have just acquired a global dimension.

The United Nations family is the natural forum for developing new ways of thinking on how to deal with globalization, he said. The Pope concluded by praying for the work of the UN officials to be "thoroughly pervaded by a generous and ambitious spirit of global solidarity."

After a working lunch, during which various poverty-reduction strategies were discussed, the Secretary-General and members of the ACC returned to the headquarters of the World Food Programme (WFP) for the final session of the two-day ACC meeting. On the agenda was the problem of AIDS and what measures should be taken to improve staff security and safety.

On Saturday, Annan and his wife Nane will travel to Florence, where they will spend his birthday weekend. He leaves for Havana, Cuba, on Monday, to attend the Summit of the Group of 77 countries.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT WEST AFRICA AT END OF APRIL

The Secretary-General is planning official visits to five nations in West Africa, which will take him out of New York from April 24 to May 4.

He is scheduled to leave New York on Monday, April 24, and arrive in Dakar, Senegal -- the first leg of the trip -- the following evening. In Senegal, he will meet with officials of the new government of President Abdoulaye Wade. He will address the World Educational Forum organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other UN agencies during which he is expected to highlight the need for the education for girls worldwide.

The Secretary-General is scheduled to leave Dakar on Friday, April 28, and arrive in Banjul, Gambia, and on the same day travel to Libreville, Gabon.

He travels on Sunday, April 30 to Bangui, Central African Republic, where the UN Peace-Building Support Office in the Central African Republic is based. On May 1, he goes to Cameroon from which he departs on Wednesday, May 3.

The Secretary-General's detailed program will be made available as soon it is ready.

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SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES AFGHANISTAN IN OPEN MEETING

The Security Council began its work this morning with closed consultations on Afghanistan, during which it considered a draft Presidential Statement that it adopted at the end of its formal meeting.

The Council then went into a formal meeting to hear a briefing by John Renninger, Officer-in-Charge of the Asia and Pacific Division of the Department for Political Affairs, on the latest developments in Afghanistan. Renninger noted that the Afghan conflict has now entered its 22nd year, with no tangible hope for a solution foreseeable.

A stalemate has persisted on the battlefield, he said, with the intensity and frequency of clashes between the Taliban and the United Front on the rise. "Once again, the Afghan warring factions seem ready to repeat the vicious annual cycle of violence with the arrival of spring," he said.

Renninger also noted serious humanitarian problems, particularly in southern Afghanistan, which is experiencing drought conditions. He added that the Taliban has slowly shifted some of its policies that have restricted women's access to health services, education and employment, and has also eased restrictions on the movement of the female staff of UN agencies; but he said that the overall situation for women remains unacceptable.

The Council members then discussed Afghanistan. Angela King, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, answered questions that the Council members asked on the status of women in Afghanistan.

The Council's next scheduled meeting is on Wednesday, when it is expected to hold consultations on the UN Office in Angola; the Secretary-General will issue a report to the Council on that subject early next week.

BOSNIAN SERB LEADER ENTERS "NOT GUILTY" PLEA AT TRIBUNAL

Today in The Hague, Momcilo Krajisnik pleaded "not guilty" before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to nine counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

Krajisnik was indicted by Tribunal Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte in February, and the sealed indictment was amended last month. It accuses Krajisnik, formerly President of the Bosnian Serb Assembly, of criminal responsibility -- along with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and others -- for atrocities committed by Bosnian Serbs between July 1, 1991, and December 31, 1992, when the "ethnic cleansing" campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina began.

Krajisnik was arrested by the NATO-led Stabilization Force on Monday at his home in Pale, and was transferred to the UN Detention Unit later that day. His arrest brings the number of suspects who have been brought to trial before the Tribunal to 41.

SPECIAL POLICE UNIT TO BE DEPLOYED IN MITROVICA

The first complete Special Police Unit to be deployed in Kosovo by the United Nations will be operational in Mitrovica on Monday, April 10. The 114-strong unit is from Pakistan.

A total of 10 Special Police units, which have a public order function, are scheduled to be deployed. The next two to go to Kosovo will be from India, in mid-April, and Jordan, later this month.

At a meeting Thursday at headquarters of countries contributing civilian police to the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations ascertained that there will be a shortfall of between 270 and 350 regular police, unless further contributions are forthcoming.

The total authorized strength of regular police is 3,229, which means the shortfall could be more than 10 percent.

There are currently 2,886 police on the ground in Kosovo, with a projected strength of 3,179 in four weeks. Total authorized strength, which includes regular, border and special police units, is 4,718.

SAFE BLOOD NOTED ON WORLD HEALTH DAY

Today is World Health Day, which is dedicated this year to the importance of safe blood supplies.

The Secretary-General, in a message issued earlier as a press release, said that blood transfusions save millions of lives each year, and are an essential component of the health-care system. However, he warned, an estimated 13 million units of untested blood are transfused each year -- increasing the risk of infections and of the spread of Hepatitis B and HIV.

The World Health Organization encouraged Governments to mark this day by pushing for voluntary blood donations, taking steps to screen blood and to train professionals on the effective clinical use of blood. The Secretary-General said in his message that blood should be seen as one of the essential services to which every human being is entitled.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In response to a question on the financing of the UN Civilian Support Mission in Haiti, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General has raised concerns on the need for adequate financing of UN Missions. She added that he has drawn attention to the funding needs of several Missions that have relied in part on voluntary funds, including the Missions in Haiti, East Timor and Kosovo.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda issued a press release about the note by former UN employee Michael Hourigan, concerning the plane crash in April 1994 that killed the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi. The release, in French, contains a statement by Navenatham Pillay, President of the Tribunal, in which she says the note had been sent to the Tribunal from UN Headquarters last week and has been placed under seal. None of the Tribunal's judges have read the note, she said.

The Secretary-General announced today the establishment of a Task Force on the UN Response to Long-term Food Security, Agriculture Development and Related Aspects in the Horn of Africa, chaired by the Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Jacques Diouf, according to a FAO press release.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) issued a press release on the drought in Ethiopia, noting that an estimated eight million Ethiopians are now threatened. UNICEF earlier this year issued an appeal for $.7 million in non-food emergency requirements for Ethiopia, and voiced its concern at the poor response by donors so far to the country's non-food humanitarian needs.

The latest update from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees notes that Sudanese refugees are fleeing into Kenya and Uganda in higher numbers, with more than 500 arriving in Lokichokio, in northwest Kenya, in a single day this past week.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a research institute of the World Health Organization, issued a release noting that, in the April 8 issue of The Lancet, researchers reported interference by the tobacco industry in the work of international epidemiologists who are studying lung cancer in non-smokers.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, April 8

James Baker, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, begins his visit to the region by arriving in Algiers. Through April 11, he is to travel to Algiers, Tindouf, Rabat and Nouakchott, where he will meet with officials of the Algerian, Moroccan and Mauritanian Governments and the Polisario Front.

Sunday, April 9

The Secretary-General will be awarded honorary citizenship in Florence, Italy, by the Mayor of Florence, Leonardo Domenici.

The Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will be meeting at the Headquarters of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi from April 9-20. The Conference will consider a variety of proposals to amend the lists of species subject to trade controls or bans, ranging from the African elephant and the mink whale to Malagasy poison frogs and the monkey puzzle tree.

Monday, April 10

The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on the UN Office in Angola is expected.

Also, the report of the Group of Experts to the Security Council on general issues relating to sanctions is due; that report will be discussed by the Council on Monday, April 17.

The Special Committee on the United Nations Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization will meet in New York through April 20.

&nbsp;In Geneva, the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations will meet through Wednesday.

&nbsp;In Vienna, the Tenth UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders will be held through April 17. This year, the theme of the Congress is "Crime and Justice: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century." Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr&eacute;chette will deliver a speech at the opening session.

Tuesday, April 11

The Secretary-General is to conduct meetings with Government officials in Cuba on the first full day of his visit to Havana.

Catherine Bertini, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on the Drought in the Horn of Africa, will begin a mission to that region to determine humanitarian needs there, which is expected to last until April 19. She will visit Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Wednesday, April 12

The Secretary-General will address the South Summit, the gathering of leaders of the Group of 77 nations held on Wednesday and Thursday in Havana, Cuba. During the Summit, he is expected to conduct bilateral meetings with several of the Heads of State and Government in attendance.

The Security Council will hold consultations on the UN Office in Angola.

Thursday, April 13

The Security Council has scheduled closed consultations on the organizational plan for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) dealing with Iraq. Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, is expected to present the plan to the Council.

The Security Council is expected to hold a formal meeting on Angola.

The Advisory Group of the UN Trust Fund for the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People is to meet for three days in Geneva.

Friday, April 14

The Security Council is expected to discuss in an open briefing the report prepared last December by former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson on the UN role during the genocide in Rwanda. The meeting will be chaired by Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy of Canada.

The Secretary-General returns to New York at the conclusion of his trip to Havana, Cuba.

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