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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-05-14

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 MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, May 14, 2001

ANNAN OPENS LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES CONFERENCE IN BRUSSELS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan this morning opened the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Brussels.

One tenth of the worlds population lives in these 49 countries, the Secretary-General said at the inaugural ceremony, noting that "they would like to join in the global market, as both consumers and producers. It is in everyone's interest that they do so, but they cannot do it without support. We are here to consider what kind of support would be most useful to them, and to make sure that they get it."

The Conference was organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and was hosted by the European Union.

Following the opening session, the Secretary-General chaired a special event, involving representatives of private companies and non-governmental organizations as well as leaders of poor and rich countries alike. At the event, he called for more countries to open their markets to products from the least developed countries, including by eliminating non-tariff barriers.

While recognizing that not all the objectives of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations had been achieved, he urged support for a new round of talks, arguing that it was in the best interest of the poor countries. "This time", he said, "it must be a true development round."

In the margins of the Conference, the Secretary-General at mid-day met with French President Jacques Chirac. They spoke of the worrying situation in West Africa, especially the current conflict involving Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. They also touched on the encouraging trends in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and they discussed the latest efforts to fight the AIDS epidemic.

The Secretary-General then dropped in on the NGO Forum, a parallel conference by non-governmental organizations concerned with the agenda of the poorest countries.

He acknowledged recent successes of NGO efforts on behalf of the landmine ban, debt relief and the establishment of an International Criminal Court. He outlined his agenda for helping the poorest countries and asked for their support. His biggest fear, he said, is that, in 10 years' time, the list of poorest countries could be even longer. "I beg you not to let that happen," he said.

ANNAN MEETS BELGIAN KING, SPEAKS AT PRIZE CEREMONY

Following the morning session of the Third UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, the Secretary-General and his wife, Nane Annan, had an audience with King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium. Following the audience, the Secretary-General and Nane Annan attended a luncheon hosted by the King and Queen.

After lunch, the Secretary-General met with Louis Michel, Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

He then attended a ceremony for the award of the King Baudouin International Development Prize, given each year for sustainable achievement in improving the lives of people in the developing world, and delivered remarks at a reception for the laureates after the ceremony.

In the evening, he was to attend a working dinner at the Council of the European Union hosted by the Foreign Minister of Sweden, Anna Lindh.

ANNAN NOTES EXCESSIVE FORCE BY ISRAEL, URGES RESUMED TALKS

In an interview given to Reuters Television over the weekend in Brussels, the Secretary-General said on the ongoing violence in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, "I do not believe that this cycle of violence is going to get them anywhere, and I have made that absolutely clear. I have also indicated that Israel has used excessive force, in my judgment."

The Secretary-General added that he hoped that some of the informal contacts between both sides will lead, in time, to a cease-fire as well as an easing of the economic restrictions on the Palestinian people and eventual talks so the parties can "discuss their issues through dialogue and economic means."|

This morning the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje-Roed Larsen visited the site of the some of the recent Israeli attacks on Palestinian targets, including the Khan Yunis refugee camp. Larsen told journalists there that he was extremely appalled at the level of violence and added that the Israelis were using excessive force that was "deliberate, unnecessary and completely provocative."

Larsen also noted that the nearby Israeli settlement had been expanded on, and he stressed the illegality of the settlements under international law.

While in the camp, Larsen also met with the family of Himan Hiju, the four-month-old Palestinian girl who was killed by Israeli shelling last week.

In response to a question, the Spokesman noted that Larsen had been in New York last week, where he had briefed the Secretary-General on recent developments.

ANNAN WELCOMES UNITY GOVERNMENT IN FYROM

In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomed the formation of a government of national unity by the political parties in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), considering such a Government as essential to reaching a solution to the problems in the country.

The Secretary-General joined the European Union, NATO and others in expressing his strong support of the current efforts of all the political parties to demonstrate their commitment to peace and stability in the country and participate constructively in the new Government.

ELECTIONS IN KOSOVO TO BE HELD ON NOVEMBER 17

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Hans Haekerrup, in an address to the people of Kosovo at 7 p.m. local time, announced that Kosovo-wide elections will be held on November 17, 2001. He also explained the new provisional institutions of self-government spelled out in the Constitutional Framework for Interim Self-Government, which he is expected to sign Tuesday.

[Voting will be by a proportional system, so that the parties with the most votes will fill 100 of the 120-seat Assembly. The Constitutional Framework sets aside 20 other seats for non-majority communities 10 for Kosovo Serbs and 10 for other communities.]

Meanwhile, the Kosovo Force (KFOR) reported today that a suspect being held at the Camp Bondsteel Detention Center on suspicion of murder in relation to the bus bombing in February escaped Sunday night.

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON WEST AFRICA

The Security Council this morning held an open briefing on West Africa, at which a number of Secretariat officials participated in an interactive session with the 15 Council members to discuss developments in the subregion, and particularly in Sierra Leone.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guéhenno began the briefing noting the May 2 meeting in Abuja of delegations from the Sierra Leone Government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), which he called a "first step" toward building confidence between the parties.

As part of the Abuja agreement, he said, the RUF will meet Tuesday the Government and the UN Mission in Sierra Leone ( UNAMSIL) to discuss a firm timetable for disarmament. Guéhenno also noted the Mission's forward deployment to Lunsar, Makeni and Magburaka last month and recent clashes between the RUF and the Civilian Defense Force (CDF) near Tongo fields and at Talia.

Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie informed the Council of her recent visit to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where she traveled to assess the humanitarian needs in those three countries.

Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahima Fall then briefed the Council on the March trip by a UN inter-agency mission, which he led, to West Africa.

Also, the UN Mission in Sierra Leone reported that, starting today, nearly 10,000 weapons placed under the Mission's custody will be destroyed, and then converted into tools.

UN DECERTIFIES SIX SENIOR POLICE OFFICERS IN BOSNIA

In Bosnia and Herzegovina today, the Commissioner of the UN International Police Task Force, Vincent Coeurderoy, permanently removed six senior police officers from participating in any aspect of police work. The officers had signed a statement that renounced the authority of the Bosnian Federation and pledged allegiance to an illegal Bosnian Croat entity that seeks to be separate from the Federation.

Coeurderoy also issued reports of serious non-compliance against 10 other police officers; those officers can continue to work, although any further violations could result in their decertification.

UN CHAIRS DONOR MEETING ON DEMINING SOUTHERN LEBANON

This morning in Beirut, the Secretary-Generals Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon, Staffan de Mistura, chaired a donor meeting on the de-mining of south Lebanon.

During the meeting held at the UN House, de Mistura briefed the donor community on the UN coordination activities undertaken in view of the upcoming international high-level workshop for demining Lebanon that will be held in Beirut on May 21.

The meeting was attended by diplomats representing the major donor countries, representatives of UN agencies, as well as a representative of the Lebanese ministry of defense.

More than 100,000 mines are still left in southern Lebanon.

ANNAN URGES RESOURCES FOR CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGENCY

The states parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention today met in Geneva, and Vladimir Petrovsky, Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva, delivered a message on behalf of the Secretary-General, urging those states to provide the necessary resources for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to function effectively.

The Secretary-General noted that, although the number of states that are party to the Convention has grown to 143, "there is no room for complacency," and he urged all states to join the Convention without delay.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Fifteen East Timorese diplomats today began their first working day at the Department of Foreign Affairs of the East Timor Transitional Administration. The diplomats come from a batch of 50 East Timorese who graduated from the Diplomatic Training Course in August last year and will be working in administration, protocol, policy and media relations.

A survey conducted by the UN Children's Fund ( UNICEF) among children and young people in East Asia and the Pacific has found that many are unprepared to deal with the rapid growth of HIV/AIDS in the region. Sixty percent of 9-to-13 year-olds and 25 percent of 14-to-17 year-olds said they know absolutely nothing about the virus. UNICEFs Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, Mehr Khan, says that the results of the survey should serve as a wake-up call to governments and societies in the region.

The UN Development Programme ( UNDP) announced Saturday that it will set up a Regional Disaster Management Support Facility in India that will work closely with countries in the region to build Government and community capacities in disaster mitigation, preparedness and recovery.

The World Food Programme (WFP) warned in a press release that a 78 percent shortfall in donations has forced the agency to scale back its operation in the northern Caucasus, particularly Chechnya. WFP said without new donations it might be forced to suspend food distribution after the month of June.

A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO) says close to 3 million people in Sudan are in need of international assistance due to successive crop failures and ongoing civil strife in the south of the country. The report estimates a shortfall of 157,000 tons in the cereal requirements for this year In a second press release from FAO, Director-General, Jacques Diouf said that genetically modified organisms and biotechnology can help increase the supply, diversity and quality of food products and reduce the cost of production.

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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