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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-08-20

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







Tuesday, August 20, 2002


Today, Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote to Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, on the issue of the trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders. The letter was in response to a letter from the Prime Minister to the Secretary-General.

Following the Secretary-Generals decision on February 8 to end the negotiations on this matter, the Government of Cambodia has made statements indicating that the Government is prepared, in order to meet the concerns of the United Nations, to amend the Law on the Extraordinary Chambers to try the Leaders of Khmer Rouge.

Following the Secretary-Generals decision to end the negotiations, certain Member States have engaged in a dialogue with the Government of Cambodia with a view to finding a solution that would put the United Nations in a position to be able to contribute to bringing the leaders of Khmer Rouge to justice.

In late June 2002, the Secretary-General received a telephone call from Hun Sen, after which he also received and responded to a letter from the Prime Minister. Subsequently, the Secretary-General received a second letter from the Prime Minister, to which he responded today.

In these communications, the Secretary-General made it clear that in order for him to engage in further negotiations, he needs a clear mandate from either the General Assembly or the Security Council. It is the Secretary-Generals view that it is now for Cambodia and interested Member States to pursue this matter in the General Assembly or the Security Council with a view to obtaining the appropriate mandate. If such a mandate were given, the Secretary-General would be prepared to engage in further talks with the Government in order to fulfil the mandate.

As a sovereign State, Cambodia has the responsibility for the trial while the international community, through the United Nations or otherwise, can help, provided that the Government demonstrates its preparedness to ensure the observance of international standards of justice.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals request for a mandate, the Spokesman said that his position has not changed, and he has made clear what he feels would be necessary for international standards of justice to be met. In the past, he said, the United Nations had negotiated for years with the Cambodian Government, which had not met the Secretary-Generals parameters for UN involvement in such trials.

Now, Eckhard said, the Secretary-General is looking for support from Member States, in the form of clear guidelines for what is acceptable for such trials to earn UN support.

Asked whether the Secretary-Generals letter would be made public, he said it would not. The letter was delivered to Cambodias UN Ambassador this morning, and the gist of it was contained in todays statement.


The UN Mission in Afghanistan today issued a statement responding to recent media reports about a suspected mass grave site in northern Afghanistan, in which it noted that the Mission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights jointly undertook a preliminary forensics investigation at that area last May. At the time, the Mission made public that the investigation had confirmed the existence of a large gravesite of recent origin, at Dasht-e-Leily, near Shebergan.

The absence of any blunt or sharp force injuries, or firearms injuries, to the bodies at that site led the forensics team to conclude that the cause of death was consistent with death due to suffocation.

The Mission and the High Commissioner for Human Rights jointly endorsed the teams findings that any further activity on the site be initiated only after an effective witness protection program was put in place.

In the meantime, the UN Mission intends to visit the site periodically to ensure that it is protected from alteration. In mid-July, a team from the UN Mission returned to one of the sites, at Dasht-e-Leili, to confirm that the suspected gravesite had not been altered by human activity. It had not.

The UN Mission also raised concerns regarding the need for a witness protection program before any more through investigation into what happened in those northern Afghan areas can be carried out.

The UN Mission will continue to work with all Afghans, including the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, to enhance respect for human rights and justice and fight impunity. The Human Rights Commission has been considering a strategy for transitional justice, to address the abuses and human rights violations of the past.

Asked about who would create a witness protection scheme, the Spokesman said that the UN Mission would strongly advise the Afghan Government and its Human Rights Commission that a witness protection program be set up before any further investigation.

Sunday saw the highest number of refugee returns from Iran into Afghanistan as some 5,700 persons crossed the border, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The number of Afghans repatriating from Iran continues to rise. Since April 9, when the UNHCR-assisted voluntary repatriation program started, close to 150,000 people have returned to Afghanistan, one-third of them in the last month.


The Security Council will discuss the Secretary-Generals latest report on Iraqs compliance regarding the repatriation of Kuwaiti and Third Country nationals in its consultations on Wednesday. Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, the High-Level Coordinator for Iraq, will brief the Council on the report, and it will also discuss Burundi during Wednesdays consultations.

There are no meetings of the Security Council scheduled for today.

In the report, the Secretary-General notes that, during his recent working luncheon with members of the Security Council, he reiterated that there had not been much progress on the this issue as Iraq refused to cooperate with the Tripartite Commission.

In his observations, the Secretary-General adds that Vorontsov remains ready, at short notice, to meet once again with Iraqi officials, at any time and at any place.

It is my strong conviction, the Secretary-General writes, that a dialogue between the Government of Iraq and the Coordinator would bring positive results in the search for a solution to the exclusively humanitarian issue.

Despite the statements of good faith expressed by Iraq during the recent Arab League Summit in Beirut, words have yet to be matched by tangible actions, the Secretary-General says.

In conclusion, he encourages Iraq to use this opportunity to restore its credibility on the outstanding humanitarian issues.


Figures released by the Office of the Iraq Programme in its weekly update show that, while still well below recorded average rates, the level of Iraqi oil exports were up from the previous weeks total of 4.4 million barrels, to 7.2 million barrels in the week ending August 16.

The weeks exports netted approximately $181 million in revenue.

A cumulative revenue shortfall since Phase VIII of the program has left 1,116 approved humanitarian supply contracts, worth about $2.26 billion, without available funds.


The latest report of the Secretary-General on the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa notes progress made towards restoring peace and stability, notably the consolidation of the peace process in Ethiopia and Eritrea and welcome signs in the Great Lakes region.

At the same time, the situation in Liberia is worrying, as the crisis is spreading to Guinea, thus causing concern for the fragile peace achieved in neighboring Sierra Leone.

In addition, aid to Africa is declining despite the efforts of African Governments towards better economic growth and poverty reduction programs. Nowhere is the need for enhanced financial resources more evident than in Africa, where the scourges of poverty and HIV/AIDS were two of the critical challenges facing the region.


Globally, there will be enough food for a growing world population by the year 2030, but hundreds of millions of people in developing countries will remain hungry and many of the environmental problems caused by agriculture will remain serious, according to the summary report of World agriculture: towards 2015/2030, a study launched today by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The report, a shorter version of a technical study to be published at a later stage, also notes that while globalization has generally resulted in progress in reducing poverty in some parts of the world, it has led to the rise of multinational food companies with the potential to disempower farmers in many countries. Developing countries need legal and administrative frameworks to ward off the threats while reaping the benefits.


As part of the new series of features on sustainability, the Spokesman highlighted the importance of energy, focusing on the world's largest sugar producer Brazil and how it generates energy, using a mixture of fossil fuel and sugar cane residue.

UNDP Brazil teamed up with the private company Bioenergia Cogerdora to refine the fuel mixture to allow a greater percentage of waste and a smaller percentage of fossil fuel.

The result is less fossil fuel consumed and more sugar cane waste disposed of to make energy. The project could eventually save 250 million tons of oil consumption and reduce greenhouse gasses in the process.


UNHCR today reported that it has formally expressed grave concern to the Cambodian authorities over the reported deportation of two Chinese Falun Gong practitioners earlier this month and a disappearance last month from Cambodia of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk all three persons deemed to be in need of international protection by UNHCR.

The UN Mission in Kosovo today noted the appointment of Francesco Batagli of Italy as the Secretary-Generals Deputy Special Representative in Kosovo, in charge of civil administration. Batagli, who began work in Pristina on Monday, succeeds Tom Koenigs, who has been appointed the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Guatemala.

Iulia Motoc, the Special Rapporteur dealing with human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, today issued an appeal to the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups and to armed groups operating in the province of Ituri, in the north-east, to protect the civilian population in that area. She condemned the massacres of civilians and other human rights violations that have occurred in that area, which includes the town of Bunia, and also called on the Kinshasa Government to take a more active role in the search for a durable and acceptable solution to the ethnic conflict in that area.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378 New York, NY 10017 Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only Fax. 212-963-7055

All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to:

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