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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-08-23

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 OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, August 23, 2002

ANNAN VISITS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN GHANA

Secretary-General Kofi Annans holiday, which took place in his home country of Ghana, will end this weekend, but even during the past week, he has been visiting development projects in Ghana, where, in advance of the World Summit on Sustainable Development that begins in Johannesburg on Monday, he was able to see firsthand how people can take charge of improving their own living conditions.

On Sunday, the Secretary-General and his wife, Nane, visited the Nwodua Community project in the north, supported by Ghanas Government as well as the UN Development Programme, UN Childrens Fund and other donors, where they saw a vocational training center, a day care center, a water system and an agro-forestry project.

The Secretary-General received a smock and cap from the local people, whom he praised for trying to take the lead to improve their own conditions.

He told them, Without that initiative and that determination to improve your economic and social conditions, I dont think youll be where you are today.

Then on Monday, he and his wife visited the Sirigu Womens Organization for Pottery and Art, a group devoted to helping women by encouraging them to weave baskets and make pottery. He said of the women participating in the project, These are people who have not given up, despite the difficulties. They also visited a water project at Salvelugu, in the north.

ANNAN SET TO BEGIN OFFICIAL VISITS TO SIX AFRICAN COUNTRIES

On Saturday, the Secretary-General ends his working holiday to embark on a set of official set of visits in Africa.

First, in response to a long-standing invitation, he is to go to Cote dIvoire, where he is to have lunch and a meeting with President Laurent Gbagbo.

Then, on Sunday, he will arrive in Luanda, Angola, to start a visit to five African countries.

This coming Monday, the Secretary-General is expected to address the Angolan Parliament and to meet with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, among other senior officials. His visit comes after the Security Council earlier this month approved the establishment of a UN Mission in Angola, which is to provide a more coordinated response to the changing atmosphere in the country following the death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi and recent peace efforts between the Government and UNITA rebels.

Later next week, the Secretary-General will also visit Botswana, Lesotho and Mozambique, before he arrives in South Africa on September 1 at the start of the High Level Segment of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

TASK FORCE SEEKS SUPPORT FOR PALESTINIAN REFORM

The International Task Force on Palestinian Reform wrapped up its meeting in Paris today.

In a statement released afterwards, the Task Force reiterated the need for continued Palestinian commitment to the reform process, Israeli facilitation and support from the international community. That support is critical to building the foundations of a viable, independent Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, the statement said.

During their discussions, both among themselves and in separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials, the Task Force members discussed serious concerns about the deteriorating Palestinian humanitarian situation.

The Task Force is composed of the members of the Quartet the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia as well as Norway, Japan, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Its next formal meeting is scheduled for October.

ANNAN WELCOMES COMMITMENT BY ETHIOPIA, ERITREA ON PRISONERS

The Secretary-General, in a statement released through his Spokesman, welcomes the announcements made by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about the commitment expressed by Ethiopia and Eritrea to release in the immediate future the remaining prisoners of war (POWs) in accordance with the Third Geneva Convention and the Algiers peace agreement of 12 December 2000. These commitments were made to the ICRC President, Jakob Kellenberger, during his current visit to the region.

According to the ICRC, some 1,300 Eritrean POWs remain in Ethiopia and some 300 Ethiopian POWS remain in Eritrea. Their earliest release will no doubt contribute to the successful implementation of the peace process between the two countries.

GRO HARLEM BRUNTLAND TO STEP DOWN NEXT YEAR AS WHO CHIEF

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland, today informed the Chairman of the Executive Board that she will not be a candidate in the upcoming election of a new Director-General.

The Board will meet in January to nominate a candidate who will be elected by the World Health Assembly in May. Brundtlands term in office ends in June 2003.

She said her decision reflects the fact that she has had a leading role in political and public office for nearly 30 years, and would be 69 years old at the end of a second term. She said she would continue to do everything she can to support the Organization in the future.

NEXT SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING TO FOCUS ON AFGHANISTAN

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

Next on the Security Councils agenda are closed consultations on Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Also on Afghanistan, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers left today for a five-day mission to that country, where he will meet with President Hamid Karzai and other senior officials and also travel to see the situation facing displaced Afghans in the south. UNHCR says there are more than 400,000 displaced persons in southern Afghanistan.

MARY ROBINSON CALLS FOR EAST TIMOR TO EMBRACE HUMAN RIGHTS

High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, is in East Timor today at the start of a three-day visit.

She addressed Parliament, where she congratulated the East Timorese for their efforts in drafting a constitution and applauded the fact that it contains some of the main international human rights principles.

She said it was vital that East Timorese embrace human rights at an early state in their development to ensure these rights are enshrined in the countrys laws, policies, programs and institutions.

East Timor, as the newest member of the international community, she concluded, is in a unique position to show the world how best to lay the foundations for a vigorous culture of human rights built on a democratic society. This is your challenge. We are partners.

UNDP URGES WORLD LEADERS TO SHOWS COMMITMENT TO POOR

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) said it is supporting the priorities being focused on at the World Summit on Sustainable Development with its Capacity 2015 program, which aims to help developing countries meet the goal of cutting severe poverty in half by that year.

UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown says that, at next weeks summit, world leaders must arrive at an agreement that shows their citizens, particularly the poor, that they are truly committed to helping provide prosperity to all the worlds people while protecting the planet for future generations.

JORDAN OASIS UN PROJECT SHOWS IMPORTANCE OF BIODIVERSITY

By the early 1990s, Jordans Azraq wetlands had been dried out by two decades of intensive water pumping, to the point where wildfires burned across the landscape. But today, those wetlands are staging a remarkable comeback, thanks to a project co-financed and managed by UN Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility.

In partnership with those bodies, Jordans Government and its Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature have pumped water back into the wetlands, and, as the water has replenished, over 160 bird species have returned to Azraq, including blue-necked ostriches and Nubian ibexes.

But its not just the birds that have benefited from the wetlands restoration. Programs have also been set up to benefit local Bedouin and Druze women in the area, including an effort to recruit young single women to take reeds from the oasis and make them into school bags, water bottles and decorative boxes which often are sold as part of the areas eco-tourism industry.

One 27-year-old Druze woman, Samiha Tarabay, told UNDP, My whole life has changed now because of this project. Before the eco-tourism project, she had never before had a paying job.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked if there had been any response from the Secretary-General to the recent letter from the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Naji Sabri, the Spokesman said there had not been and that the letter was still being studied.

Asked if there had been any reactions from the Secretary-General to the recent statements made by Cambodian officials expressing their willingness to resume discussions on the trial of former Khmer Rouge officials, the Spokesman answered that, should the Cambodians wish to resume discussions, they would need to get either the Security Council or the General Assembly to give the Secretary-General a clear mandate for such talks. He was not aware of any developments in either body on that matter.

James Morris, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa, today said the crisis in southern Africa is the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world, second only to HIV/AIDS. He said that government policies complicated the situation caused by drought and poverty. On genetically modified foods, Morris said that WFP's policy was to ask every government to certify that the food it was donating met standards for its own population.

Today, UNHCR expressed its concerns about the worsening humanitarian situation of internally displaced people in Colombia and its call to all sides to respect the rights of civilians. In recent weeks, the agency said, forced displacement within Colombia has increased significantly as the conflict intensifies.

Today two more Member State paid their 2002 regular budget dues in full, as Senegal made a payment of more than $55,000 and Zimbabwe paid more than $88,000, bringing the total number of fully paid-up Member States to 95.

This afternoon Brazil became the 83rd country to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Control.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS Sunday, August 25 The Secretary-General will start a two-week trip to five African countries by arriving in Luanda, Angola.

Monday, August 26 The Secretary-General is expected to speak to the Angolan Parliament and to meet Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who will host a dinner in his honor.

In Johannesburg, South Africa, the World Summit on Sustainable Development will begin.

At 12:45 p.m., the Georgian Mission to the UN is sponsoring a press conference. Tuesday, August 27 The Secretary-General will leave Angola and arrive in Gaberone, Botswana, where he is to meet with President Festus Mogae.

The Security Council intends to hold consultations on Afghanistan.

In Vienna, the Executive Director of the Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Antonio Maria Costa, will present the first opium poppy survey of Myanmar.

Wednesday, August 28 The Secretary-General is to leave Botswana for Lesotho, where he is to address the Parliament and meet with Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Thursday, August 29 The Secretary-General expects to arrive in Maputo, Mozambique, where he is to meet with President Joachim Chissano.

The Security Council intends to hold consultations on Bougainville, Sierra Leone and the work of the expert group dealing with diamond sanctions.

Friday, August 30 Over the weekend, the Presidency of the Security Council will pass from Ambassador John Negroponte of the United States to Ambassador Stefan Tafrov of Bulgaria.

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: inquiries@un.org


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