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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-05-09

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

FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, May 9, 2001

ANNAN AND U.S. HEALTH SECRETARY TO DISCUSS HIV/AIDS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is in Washington, D.C. this afternoon to meet with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, to discuss the UN's programs to fight HIV/AIDS. The Secretary-General will return to New York later today.

Asked if the Secretary-General would discuss the recent loss by the United States of its seat on the UN Human Rights Commission during this trip, the Spokesman said that he would not. The Secretary-Generals meetings will be focused on HIV/AIDS, the Spokesman added.

In response to a query, the Spokesman later said that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell would be joining the Secretary-General and Secretary Thompson in their meeting this afternoon.

HUMAN RIGHTS VOTE DISCUSSED AT WEEKLY UN CABINET MEETING

At this morning's Senior Management Group meeting at UN Headquarters, Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ( UNHCHR), reported on the highlights of the recent session of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva. In that context, there was also discussion of last week's elections to the Human Rights Commission, which took place in the Economic and Social Council in New York.

When asked if the recent vote on membership of the commission had been discussed, the Spokesman said that the High Commissioner reported shock and dismay in Geneva at the news that the United States had lost its seat.

The Secretary-General reported that reaction had been the same in New York, the Spokesman said. The Secretary-General also observed that the United States has contributed so much to the work of the Commission since its inception in 1947 and hopes that the United States will remain engaged, even as a non-member, and that it will have the opportunity to return as a member next year.

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The Spokesman also said that during the meeting of the Senior Management Group, the Secretary-General further expressed some worry at reports that some members of the U.S. Congress want to punish the Organization for what was essentially a democratic process, and for that matter one that involved only a fraction of the membership. Punishing all 189 Member States, the Secretary-General said in the meeting, would be counter-productive. And punishing the bureaucracy would be unfair.

UN ENVOY TO KOSOVO BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL

In closed consultations this morning, Hans Haekkerup, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for and Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo ( UNMIK), briefed the Security Council on latest developments in Kosovo. The focus of the briefing is on the legal framework for provisional government and the holding of elections later this year.

The Secretary-General attended the session.

The Special Representative later held a press conference at UN Headquarters.

PALESTINIAN REFUGEE AGENCY MEETS WITH DONORS

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East ( UNRWA) is holding an informal meetings of major donors in Amman, Jordan Wednesday and Thursday.

At this meeting, UNRWAs Commissioner-General Peter Hansen will issue the fifth progress report of the emergency appeals launched in October of last year, following the start of the current uprising the Palestinian territories.

In his remarks, the Commissioner-General noted the quick and generous response of the donor community to the emergency appeals.

Hansen also noted the continued budget deficit of his agency, which is hampering the long-term capabilities of UNRWA to deliver assistance to some 3.8 million Palestinian refugees.

Funds for the emergency appeals cover, among other things, distribution of emergency food aid and cash assistance for families deemed in extreme crisis. By the end of April, UNRWA had given more that $750,000 to some 2,000 families in Gaza.

Families can qualify for this assistance for a number of reasons: loss of the primary breadwinner; forced relocation following shelling or bulldozing by Israeli security forces; lack of funds for utility payments.

In terms of food distribution, from January until the end of March, more that 120,000 families had received emergency food rations.

THOUSANDS IN SARAJEVO PROTEST RECENT ANTI-MUSLIM VIOLENCE

Last night in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, more than 1,000 people, mostly Bosnian Muslims, marched peacefully through the streets to protest the recent violence by Bosnian Serb demonstrators near mosques in the towns of Banja Luka and Trebinje.

The UN Mission ( UNMIBH) reports that the march, which lasted until early in the morning, passed without incident and the local police performed their duties effectively. The UN Mission says that Bosnia has been quieter over the past 24 hours, although there have been some isolated incidents of tensions between Serbs and Muslims.

UN TRIBUNAL CHIEF TO DISCUSS BOSNIA TRUTH COMMISSION

The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Judge Claude Jorda, will travel to Sarajevo to address a conference on Saturday concerning proposals to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Judge Jorda is expected to say that the Tribunal could encourage such a body, provided that its work will be complementary to the Tribunal's mandate and not weaken its work.

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor for the Tribunal, Carla del Ponte, has been in Washington, where she met Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and other senior officials. She is expected to come here Thursday, to meet the Secretary-General and other senior officials.

In their weekly briefing notes issued today, the Tribunal marks the fifth anniversary of its first trial, the case against Dusan Tadic, which began on May 7, 1996. Since his trial, 21 other individuals have been tried, and 10 more are currently being tried.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO PARTICIPATE IN HUMAN SECURITY MEETING

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette is traveling to Jordan this afternoon, where, at the invitation of Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelillah il-Khatib, she will participate in the ministerial meeting of the Human Security Network, to be held in Petra on May 11-12.

The Human Security Network is an informal group of states, committed to working together on human security issues. States participating in the meeting are to include Austria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Mali, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland and Thailand (with South Africa as an observer).

The Deputy Secretary-General will be returning to New York on Sunday and will be back in the office next Monday.

UN MISSION IN SIERRA LEONE REPORTS CEASE-FIRE VIOLATIONS

The UN mission in Sierra Leone ( UNAMSIL), which fielded long-range-patrols in the eastern part of the country, reported today a series of attacks by the Civil Defense Force (CDF) on positions held by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) over the weekend.

UNAMSIL regards these attacks are violations of the Abuja Ceasefire Agreement and as a threat to the peace process, the press release said. It appeals for the exercise of restraint in order not to jeopardize the progress achieved by all parties at the 2 May Abuja Ceasefire Review.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Kenzo Oshima, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, was deeply saddened to learn of the death of a pilot working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who was killed when his plane came under fire during a humanitarian mission in Southern Sudan. This tragedy, following the brutal killings of six ICRC workers just two weeks ago near Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, underscores the dangers faced by humanitarian personnel in delivering assistance to those in need. He calls upon all parties to take all measures necessary to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel.

The Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) will be open for signature in Stockholm on the 22nd and 23rd of this month. The convention will ban 12 of the most toxic organic pollutants and the list includes pesticides, industrial chemicals and by products of combustion. The Convention will set out control measures covering production, import, export, disposal and use.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today issued a new report on obsolete pesticides, in collaboration with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The report states that more than 500,000 tons of old and unused banned or expired pesticides are threatening the health of millions of people around the world. These figures are five times the original estimate of around 100,000 tons and include some of the categories to be banned by the Convention of Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Published today as official documents is an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council, providing for a one-year extension of the UN peace-building office in Tajikistan, until June 1, 2002. In his letter, the Secretary-General notes the work of his Representative for Tajikistan, Ivo Petrov, in facilitating the reconciliation process in Tajikistan, and says that the office has focused over the past year in consolidating peace, mobilizing assistance for reconstruction, promoting the rule of law and supporting human rights.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia ( ESCWA) issued a press release announcing the opening Thursday n Beirut of its 21st annual biennial ministerial meeting. This session will be chaired by Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and will focus on Regional Integration and Globalization.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific ( ESCAP) announced an upcoming conference at UN University in Tokyo organized jointly by ESCAP and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) entitled Asia-Pacific Forum on Environmental Governance And Sustainable Development. This is part of the activities being organized in region in preparation of the so-called Rio-plus-10Summit scheduled for South Africa in 2002.

ESCAP also issued a press release on a recent meeting in Bangkok it co-sponsored with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) on the growing problem of arsenic contamination in the water in many Asian countries.

Two more Member States made full payments to the regular budget today: Andorra, with a payment of more than $41,000 and Samoa more than $10,000, bringing the number of fully paid up Member States to 73.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General United Nations, S-378 New York, NY 10017 Tel. 212-963-7162 Fax. 212-963-7055


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