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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-11-24
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Thursday, November 26, is a holiday in the United States. The Spokesman's Noon Briefing will resume on Friday, November 26.
SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER UKRAINES TENSE SITUATION
Secretary-General Kofi Annan is concerned about developments in Ukraine, where a tense situation has emerged following the run-off Presidential election held on November 21.
While the United Nations is not in a position to comment on the conduct of the election, the Secretary-General believes a credible electoral process is critical to overcoming the current impasse. He calls on all sides to exercise maximum restraint and to adhere to democratic principles, vital for the consolidation of democracy in Ukraine and the unity of the nation.
Asked whether the United Nations had sent electoral observers to Ukraine, the Spokesman later said it had not. Asked whether the United Nations had a view about whether there should be a recount or a further round of elections, he said that the United Nations was neutral on that question and was not in a position to judge the fairness of the elections.
UN MISSION CRITICIZES RWANDAS INTENTION TO CARRY OUT STRIKES IN DR CONGO
On Tuesday night, a high ranking senior Rwandan official directly informed Ambassador William Swing, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), of a threat by the Government of Rwanda to carry out a strike against rebels based in the DRC.
UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said that Rwandas announcement seriously threatens the transition process in the DRC and in the region.
The Mission says it is concerned that this kind of action is aimed at undermining the credibility of the international communitys effort to pacify and stabilize the DRC, and is not acceptable. Rwanda must respect international law and the authority of the Security Council, which is still present in the region.
The UN Mission has just begun the deployment of an additional brigade to North Kivu, which will give additional security to the region. MONUCs mandate includes preventing the DRC peace process from being derailed by spoilers from within and outside the DRC.
The Mission says Rwanda should fulfill its commitments by making use of the newly established mechanisms - the Joint Verification Mechanism and Tripartite Commission - to verify any alleged security threats.
COUNCIL MISSION TELLS BURUNDI LEADERS TO IMPLEMENT REFORMS
The Security Council mission to
Central Africa is in Bujumbura today, where they have been meeting this afternoon with the President of Burundi, Domitien Ndayizeye.
The mission, led by French Ambassador Jean Marc de la Sabliere, also met with the countrys Vice President and President of the Transitional Senate, as well as with other leaders and with members of civil society.
The Council missions message to all parties is that the country needs to hold elections as scheduled next year, and to implement key reforms on time. Among the reforms that are needed are a referendum on the Constitution and the electoral code, and the restructuring of the armed forces and the police.
The Council mission is also studying the situation between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and may have a statement on that later today.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN BURKINA FASO, AFTER STOP IN CHAD
The Secretary-General left Sharm El Sheikh this morning and touched down at Ndjamena, Chad, where he met with Prime Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat.
He then traveled to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso where he will meet this evening with President Blaise Compaore, after which he will attend a state banquet hosted by the President.
He is considering cutting short his program by a day or so to return to New York late Thursday to deal with pressing business here in New York.
UN-SUDAN MECHANISM DISCUSSES LATEST VIOLENCE IN NORTH DARFUR
The Joint Implementation Mechanism dealing with
Sudan met today at the request of the Sudanese Government to consider the recent developments in North Darfur, particularly the fighting in the Tawilla area. The Mechanism includes the United Nations, the Government of Sudan, and several regional and donor countries.
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, who co-chairs the mechanism, expressed concern at the recent fighting and noted that the Sudanese Liberation Armys responsibility for the latest violence had been clearly established.
Pronk also urged the Sudanese Government to exercise restraint and to order the militia and the Janjaweed to avoid any action that would lead to further escalation. He also called on the Government to avoid aerial bombing.
Sudans Foreign Minister denied reports of Sudanese Government bombing in the Tawilla area and said the Government was ready to investigate the matter.
On Thursday, Pronk is to head to Cairo for two days to meet Egypts Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, among others. He will discuss the deteriorating situation in Darfur and the Naivasha peace talks.
UN ENVOY SAYS SYRIA WILLING TO NEGOTIATE WITH ISRAEL
The Secretary-Generals Special Coordinator for the
Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed Larsen, met today with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus for about an hour and a half. Larsen described their talks as warm, creative and constructive.
He said that the President has an outstretched hand to Israel and that he is willing to go to the negotiating table with Israel based on the relevant Security Council resolutions and the principle of land for peace, without conditions.
After his meeting with the President, Larsen attended a luncheon in his honor hosted by Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Shara, which was also attended by other senior Syrian officials.
UN ENVOY BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON HAITI
The Security Council this morning is holding consultations this morning on Haiti. Juan Gabriel Valdes, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Haiti, is briefing the Council on the Secretary-Generals latest
report on that country.
In that report, he asked for an 18-month extension of the
UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and called on countries contributing troops and personnel to the mission to do so by the deployment schedules that have been agreed to.
Also today, Council members will meet with the countries that contribute troops to the peacekeeping missions in Haiti and in Burundi.
UN HUMANITARIAN WORKERS RETURN TO COTE DIVOIRE
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that a small number of UN humanitarian staff returned to Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, on Tuesday.
Today, more UN humanitarian staff, or those working on emergency-related programs, are scheduled to return. If conditions permit, rapid assessment missions will go to various areas, including Guiglo and BouakÚ.
The UN relocated most of its staff to Accra, Ghana, on November 10, due to the seriousness of the situation in Abidjan and other parts of the country. OCHA says the return of the staff will allow the resumption of humanitarian operations in all parts of the country although there are still serious concerns that the crisis could worsen.
FREED UN WORKERS MEET PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN
The three UN staff members released yesterday in Kabul after being held by kidnappers for 27 days today met with
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whom they thanked for the Afghan authorities efforts to secure their release.
Karzai also presented the three Annetta Flanigan, Shqipe Hebibi and Angelito Nayan with carpets and said he was grateful that they had been returned safe and sound.
The three later read out a statement, saying that, since they were released, they have learned of the many statements of support and expressions of solidarity by Afghan personalities and ordinary men and women, some of whom even offered to take their place as hostages. We are humbled and very, very grateful for this, they said.
They added that the solidarity the Afghan people had shown during their 27-day captivity just strengthens our commitment to support Afghanistan in its transition to peace and democracy.
Asked whether the UN was confident that no money had been exchanged for the release of the hostages, the Spokesman said it was his understanding that no money had been paid by anyone. He reiterated the UN policy not to pay any ransoms.
GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ PEACE PROCESS DISCUSSED BY GROUP OF FRIENDS
On Tuesday, the Secretariat met with representatives of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General for Georgia at the United Nations in New York.
The Secretariat briefed on the recent contacts of the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Heidi Tagliavini, in Tbilisi and Sukhumi. The participants exchanged views and discussed next steps in support of the Georgian-Abkhaz peace process and confirmed their intention to hold a meeting of senior representatives of the Friends, under UN chairmanship, on 13-14 December 2004 in Geneva.
The participants expressed their hope for an early resumption of the dialogue between the two sides in order, inter alia, to prevent instability and to build mutual confidence.
SECRETARY-GENERALS REPORT SAYS KOSOVO BACK ON TRACK
report on the
UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) notes that six months after the violence there, Kosovo is getting back on track towards fulfilling the standards that the international community set out for it.
But although there has been progress in the area of reconstruction and reform, certain key areas -- such as return and reconciliation efforts, security conditions, and freedom of movement for minorities -- remain sources of concern.
The report also states that the critical challenge for Kosovos political leadership remains to ensure that progress in meeting standards translates into benefits for all of Kosovos population.
ANNAN EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Tomorrow is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. To mark the day, the Secretary-General has issued a message, envisioning a world in which women everywhere enjoy as many rights and freedoms as men. The message also expresses concern that sexual violence increases womens vulnerability to HIV.
FAO ADOPTS RIGHT TO FOOD GUIDELINES: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
has adopted a set of voluntary guidelines related to the right to food, after nearly two years of tough negotiations. The guidelines are meant to provide practical guidance to help countries implement their obligations concerning national food security.
REPORT HIGHLIGHTS MALNUTRITION IN THE ANDES: The Andean region needs to work harder towards reducing malnutrition, according to a report just released by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the World Food Programme. The report notes that one in every five children in the region suffers from chronic malnutrition, and that the situation is especially severe among indigenous communities.
UN SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEY TO BE LAUNCHED ON MONDAY: The UNs flagship publication on economic and social issues the
UN World Economic and Social Survey 2004 will be launched next Monday. The report charts trends in migration flows and policies ranging from the use of immigration in countries with ageing populations to the threat of a brain drain on poor countries. It will be presented at 11:00 a.m. by JosÚ Antonio Ocampo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and Joseph Chamie, Director of the UN Population Division.
SEARCH FOR UN SECURITY COORDINATOR CONTINUES: Asked whether the United Nations would soon announce a new security coordinator, the Spokesman conceded that the search has been intense, but prolonged, and could not say when an announcement would be made. He said, in response to further questions about the criteria for such a position, that the United Nations was seeking a high-level, highly-qualified security professional, to reflect its changing needs in what previously had been a part-time job.
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