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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-08-30

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







Friday, August 30, 2002


In the negotiations on the final document of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, some issues, such as outstanding targets and timetables, are being sent to a group of ministers for resolution.

Forty-nine more paragraphs have been finalized, but there are still several tough issues that are yet to be resolved, such as trade subsidies, globalization issues, and a target for providing proper sanitation. Agreement has been reached on about 95 percent of the final document, leaving only the most difficult and contentious issues.

One area that still requires resolution is energy. Negotiations are continuing on setting a target for promoting renewable energy. There is still disagreement on a timetable for phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, and whether the Summit should encourage the launch of action programs for energy on a centralized basis, or whether efforts should be more decentralized.

On Thursday, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) announced that it would launch the Global Village Energy Partnership, and the World Health Organization presented Healthy Environment for Children: A Global Alliance of Childrens Health and Environment, which will focus on issues as the quality of water and air, sanitation, insect and animal carriers, chemical hazards and passive smoking.

Also on Thursday, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched the worlds largest encyclopedia on sustainable development. The Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems has been ten years in the planning.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) challenged world leaders to ensure that every school in every corner of the world is equipped with clean water and separate sanitary facilities for girls and boys.


With some 13 million people in southern Africa estimated to be in need of urgent food assistance in the coming months, Dr. Jacques Diouf, the head of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), said today that the governments of those countries most affected should carefully consider current scientific knowledge before rejecting food aid which contains genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs.

Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg, Diouf said that while there were currently no international agreements relating to food aid containing such organisms, the FAO and the World Health Organization are working to develop appropriate standards.

Both organizations, Diouf said, take the view, based on information from a variety of sources and current scientific knowledge, that the food being offered to southern African countries is not likely to put human health at risk and may be eaten.

The plight of millions in southern Africa must weigh heavily in the governments decisions, Diouf added.

He recognized potential risks about the unintended introduction of genetically modified maize varieties into the region and the potential risk to biological diversity and sustainable agriculture. There are, however, specific techniques, such as milling or heat treatment, to avoid spreading genetically modified maize into the local environment.


Secretary-General Kofi Annan remains in Mozambique today, but he is taking some private time there today before he leaves Sunday for Johannesburg, South Africa, where he will open the high-level segment of the World Summit on Sustainable Development next Monday.

He wrapped up his official visit to Mozambique last night by attending a dinner, given in his honor by President Joachim Chissano.

At that dinner, the Secretary-General said he was moved by his first visit to the country as Secretary-General, which coincides with the tenth anniversary of Mozambiques peace agreement.

He said, Mozambiques hard-won stability provides an example to every nation striving to rebuild after conflict and turmoil, not least in the African continent. You have shown that it can be done.

He added that Mozambique will be remembered as a success story, in UN peacekeeping and peace-making, in humanitarian and electoral assistance, and in the climate of trust generated there since the war. He said its success is the best possible antidote to the sceptics and cynics about Africa.


There are no meetings of the Security Council scheduled today.

As of Sunday, September 1, the Councils presidency will be assumed by Ambassador Stefan Tafrov, the Permanent Representative of Bulgaria.

Ambassador Tafrov will brief the press on the Councils work during September after its consultations next Wednesday.


The UN was informed by the International Committee of the Red Cross that the Red Cross on Thursday accompanied 279 Ethiopian prisoners of war out of Eritrea, where they crossed the Mereb River bridge back into Ethiopia.

With this release operation, the last Ethiopian prisoners of war registered and regularly visited by the Red Cross in Eritrea have been released and repatriated.

The Secretary-General last week welcomed the reports that the leaders of Eritrea and Ethiopia would release the prisoners of war that each country has been holding. Their earliest release will no doubt contribute to the successful implementation of the peace process between the two countries.


Beginning on September 3, James Morris, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa and Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), and Carolyn McAskie, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, will undertake a two-week mission to Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland to review a humanitarian crisis facing some 13 million people. They will be joined on their mission by representatives from the World Health Organization, UN Childrens Fund and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

While visiting the six Southern African countries most affected by a crisis, the mission will meet with Government officials, representatives of the donor community, UN Country Teams, and non-governmental representatives to discuss the response to humanitarian needs in the region. The mission will review the impact of HIV/AIDS on the crisis and assess how comprehensive assistance efforts are, to identify gaps in programming and funding.

The mission intends to provide recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of response efforts and identify actions to support longer-term agricultural recovery and food security. The mission will also seek to mobilize the international communitys support for a UN appeal launched in July that asks for $611 million dollars to provide the relief necessary to prevent Southern Africas current crisis from becoming a humanitarian catastrophe.


On Saturday in Johannesburg, on the margins of the World Summit for Sustainable Development, there will be a panel discussion on the benefit of New Rice for Africa and, more importantly, a tasting lunch of two varieties of the rice, also called NERICA for short.

One of the panelists will be Leyba Camara, a NERICA seed producer from Guinea whose experience with NERICA began in 1999. After receiving training in how to handle this new product, Camara planted 18 kilos of seeds that produced 800 kilos of rice, of which he sold some as seeds to fellow villagers. By the next year, he had planted 150 Kilos and harvested 3.2 tons. The following year, 2001, he planted the same amount and increased the harvest to 4 tons.

NERICA, developed by the West Africa Rice Development Association along with the UN Development Programme and the Government of Japan, has been created by using conventional methods and some bio-technologies. Its success is derived by combining the ruggedness against weeds of its African side and the high-productivity of its Asian parent. NERICA is not bio-engineered and is self-reproductive.

One of its most important features is that it matures in only three months-- about 50 days fewer than traditional varieties. This early maturation allows Camara to do something he was not able to do before: plant an extra crop of casava, soybeans or cowpeas, which increases his familys food security.

Camara says that the increased yield has allowed him to sell the rice at a good price when it has been traditionally scarce on the local market. With this increased income, he has been able to buy school supplies for his children and agricultural tools for his farm.

The benefits of NERICA are not only noticeable in increased income and food security. It has a lasting impact on the environment as well. By enabling farmers to plant more than one crop before returning the land to fallow, it aims to reduce slash-and-burn agriculture.

Through the efforts of Camara and other farmers, it is estimated that NERICA will save farmers in West and Central Africa $88 million in rice imports every year by 2005.


The Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on Thursday elected 12 experts to its Monitoring Committee. The twelve will serve four-year terms beginning 1 January 2003. The countries represented by the experts are Algeria, Bangladesh, Benin, Ghana, Hungary, Mauritius, Netherlands and Romania, with Egypt, Philippines and Japan being re-elected.

This morning, Japan became the 31st party to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and also deposited its instrument of acceptance for the 1997 and 1999 Amendments to the Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Also this morning, China deposited its instrument of approval to become the 90th party to the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The UN Postal Administration today launched a new set of six commemorative stamps in the World Heritage series, featuring heritage sites in Italy.


The Secretary-General will meet with the heads of UN agencies present at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, and he will also attend a Business Day event organized by Business Action for Sustainable Development.

Monday, September 2

In Johannesburg, South Africa, the high-level segment of the World Summit on Sustainable Development will begin. The Secretary-General will open the high-level segment and will also chair a Global Compact roundtable discussion and address the Civil Society Forum.

Today is a US holiday, and UN Headquarters in New York will be closed.

Tuesday, September 3

The Secretary-General will attend roundtable discussions at the World Summit in Johannesburg and also hold bilateral meetings with leaders gathered there.

Bulgarias Ambassador Stefan Tafrov, the Security Council President for September, intends to hold bilateral consultations with other Council members on its program of work for the month.

The latest report to the Security Council on the work of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) is expected near the beginning of the week.

In New York, the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court will begin, and it is to last through September 10.

Wednesday, September 4

The Secretary-General is to hold a press conference in Johannesburg before leaving for France.

The Security Council expects to hold consultations on its program of work for September and on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea. After those consultations end, Council President Stefan Tafrov will talk to the press. Thursday, September 5

In Paris, the Secretary-General expects to meet with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and with his Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto.

The Security Council intends to hold an open meeting on Kosovo.

The guest at the noon briefing will be Michael Chandler, head of the Monitoring Group dealing with the implementation of Security Council sanctions relating to Afghanistan.

Friday, September 6

The Secretary-General expects to hold meetings with the Cypriot leaders, both separately and face-to-face, in Paris before he departs later in the day for New York.

The Security Council expects to hold consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and an open meeting on Ethiopia and Eritrea.

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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