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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-11-29
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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
Monday, November 29, 2004
ANNAN CALLS FOR PATIENCE AND RESPECT
AMID COURT REVIEW OF UKRAINIAN ELECTION
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been following closely and with concern developments in Ukraine over the weekend as that nation struggles to resolve the crisis that has developed over the run-off Presidential election on November 21.
notes that the Supreme Court is currently reviewing the matter, and calls on all concerned to be patient and to allow the constitutional process to continue. The legitimacy, accountability and transparency of Ukraines institutions are vital to the consolidation of its democracy.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint and to refrain from divisive political statements that could endanger the stability of the country.
Respect by all for the unity of the Ukrainian nation, its sovereignty and territorial integrity are of utmost importance to Ukraine and to regional and international security.
U.N. ENVOY HEADS TO IRAN TO ATTEND REGIONAL MEETING ON IRAQ
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq,
Ashraf Qazi, is on his way to Tehran, Iran where he is to attend a meeting of
Iraq and its neighbours, at the Interior ministers level.
Qazi concluded a visit on Sunday to the Kurdistan area of Iraq where he met separately with Kurdistan Democratic party leader Masoud Barzani and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan leader Jalal Talabani.
With both, he discussed the latest developments in Iraq and the UN role in helping the rebuilding process in Iraq. He also exchanged views on the security situation and the efforts to advance the political process as well as preparations for the country's national elections.
Qazi also met with the prime minister of the Kurdish Region government in Erbil and the prime minister of the Kurdish Region government in Sulaimanaiya for talks that focused on the UN role in providing assistance to the region through projects carried out by UN agencies.
Qazi told the two prime ministers in the separate meetings he held with them that the United Nations will spare no effort in supporting the reconstruction process in Iraq and highlighted the efforts the United Nations has already exerted to implement a number of vital projects in the areas of health, education, and infrastructure, among others.
Asked how the Secretary-General responded to calls for a delay in Iraqs elections, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General is consulting the parties through Qazi. The Secretary-General hopes that the matter can be resolved among the Iraqis, and he does not intend to comment in public while they seek a resolution.
IRAN: U.N. NUCLEAR WATCHDOG SAYS MEASURES IN PLACE
FOR VERIFYING URANIUM ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES
All measures necessary for the verification of Irans suspension of its enrichment and reprocessing activities are now in place, says the head of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Director-General
told the Agencys Board of Governors that he received a letter from Iran yesterday in which it permitted the IAEA to place 20 sets of centrifuge components under Agency surveillance. Iran also said it will not conduct any testing of those components.
Today, ElBaradei said, Agency inspectors put surveillance cameras in place to monitor the centrifuge components.
resolution adopted in Vienna today, the IAEA Board of Governors welcomed the suspension of Irans enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. It requested ElBaradei to continue verifying that the suspension remains in place and to inform Board members should it not be fully sustained.
ANNAN HOPES THAT FOCUS IS PLACED ON REFORM AND DEVELOPMENT ISSUES
A short while ago, the
Secretary-General was asked if the continued allegations regarding the
Oil-for-Food programme and particularly his son, would make it difficult for him to continue with his work as Secretary-General.
told reporters that he and the Organization have very serious work to do in the months ahead, especially on
UN reform and development.
He said he knows it was never going to be easy to focus on those issues and these allegations are not going to make it any easier but he hopes that Member States will see the value in focusing on reform and development issues.
As to his son, Kojo, and the specific allegations that he continued to receive payment from Cotecna until February of this year, the Secretary-General said he had been under the impression that those payments had stopped in 1998. When he recently found out they had in fact continued until this year, the Secretary-General said he was surprised and disappointed.
He added that his son is a grown man and that the Secretary-General doesnt get involved in his sons business and that his son doesnt get involved in the UNs business.
The Secretary-General also asked for reporters to be patient and await the conclusions of the independent
Volcker panel, which is examining these issues.
In response to questions about what the Secretary-General had known about Kojo Annans payments from Cotecna, the Spokesman noted that, until the media raised the issue, the Secretary-General had not been aware of any payments beyond the end of 1998.
In response to press accounts five years ago that alleged that there was an appearance of conflict of interest because Kojo Annan had been a junior trainee of Cotecna, the Secretary-General had asked his then-Under-Secretary-General for Management, Joseph Connor, to look into the matter.
Connor, the Spokesman said, had spoken to the UNs procurement people and its Contract Committee, and no one on those bodies was aware that Kojo Annan had worked for Cotecna. Cotecna had been the lowest bidder for a UN oil-for-food contract and had received that contract.
Just at the time that Cotecna was awarded the contract, Kojo Annan left the firm, Eckhard added.
The Spokesman said that the job of the press is to keep us honest, and we welcome it. But in this case, he said, the United Nations had looked into the media allegations and could not sustain them from the evidence.
Despite that, Eckhard added, because doubts continued to be received in some media quarters, the matter was turned over to Paul Volckers Independent Inquiry Committee. It is up to Volcker to investigate, and the Secretary-General has said he would waive the immunity of anyone believed to have committed any wrongdoing.
Asked why the United Nations had believed that the payments to Kojo Annan had stopped in 1999, the Spokesman said it was acting on information provided in writing by Cotecna.
In response to questions about the damage to the United Nations following the allegations, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General made clear that his main priority for the rest of his term is UN reform and the implementation of the recommendations of the
High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. Beyond that, a major priority next year is the five-year review of the
Millennium Declaration and
Millennium Development Goals. Because of those priorities, which could affect the UNs work for generations, the Secretary-General did not intend to get bogged down by the allegations, Eckhard said.
Those two priorities, he said, greatly overshadow the allegations, on which there is an investigation that is in competent hands.
Asked whether people in the United Nations are ever fired for misconduct, the Spokesman pointed to the recent firing of a French national following allegations of sexual misconduct which were investigated by the police in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
NEW GOVERNMENT IN KOSOVO MUST REACH OUT TO KOSOVO SERBS
Security Council held an open meeting this morning, at which it was briefed by Special Representative Soren Jessen-Petersen on the
report on Kosovo.
In his address to the Council, Jessen-Petersen said there could be no normalization or stabilization in the Western Balkans, without resolving the Kosovo issue.
He also said the UN Missions priorities include improving the economy and protecting minorities.
He noted that security has improved significantly since the March violence, and he told the Council that once a new government is formed in Kosovo, its first act must be to reach out to the Kosovo Serbs.
He also said the international community might be moving towards talks on final status. But first, Kosovos leaders and people knew they had to work hard towards meeting set standards.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO VOTE ON MANDATE EXTENSION OF U.N. MISSION IN HAITI;
SCHEDULES CONSULTATIONS ON BURUNDI
Security Council has scheduled a vote today on the extension of the mandate of the
UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti.
Also on the Council agenda this afternoon are closed consultations on Burundi. Council members will hear a briefing on the Secretary-Generals
latest report on the UN Operation in Burundi.
Separately, the Council began its work today with closed consultations to discuss the Councils statement on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which was later read by the Council President, U.S. Ambassador John Danforth.
ANNAN: MIDDLE EAST ROAD MAP SHOULD BE GIVEN CHANCE TO SUCCEED
Today the United Nations marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, as mandated by the
message he delivered to a meeting of the committee on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, the
Secretary-General said he hoped that the memory of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, would serve as an inspiration to the Palestinian people in their aspirations for statehood and self-determination through peaceful means.
Despite the past four years, which have been marked by bloodshed and chaos, the Secretary-General underscored the need not to give way to pessimism and despair.
He stressed that a new chance for peace may be around the corner and that the Quartets
Road Map embodies a path to peace that is accepted by all.
It is high time, he said, that the Road Map be given a chance to succeed and that the parties live up to their commitments.
In closing, he pledged that the United Nations would continue to work with all parties for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.
Also addressing this meeting was the Chairman of the Committee, Ambassador Paul Badji of Senegal, the President of the General Assembly, Jean Ping, and Security Council President, U.S. Ambassador Danforth.
U.N. MISSION REPORTS FIGHTING HAS SUBSIDED IN DARFUR, SUDAN
UN Mission reports that after a week of considerable insecurity, fighting has subsided in most locations in
Sudan since 24 November.
The Mission reported an exception, however, in an area northwest of Tawilla, where armed tribesman attacked villages over the weekend.
Due to the reported presence of Unexploded Ordnance in and around Tawilla city, the
UN Mine Action Service is conducting an assessment in the area today before reopening access for humanitarian operations.
Humanitarian agencies are concerned about the further displacement of populations during last weeks insecurity, and have fielded an assessment mission to the affected areas.
SOME IVORIAN REFUGEES RETURN HOME FROM LIBERIA AS TENSIONS EASE
The situation in Abidjan and the rest of Cote dIvoire was reported to be calm by the
UN Operation in Cote dIvoire, while the
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
says that small numbers of Ivorian refugees in Liberia have been returning home as tensions ease in their country.
While the influx into Liberia has ground to a halt, UNHCR and its partners continue to monitor and to provide assistance in the border areas.
Meanwhile, in the western part of the country, UN peacekeepers recovered and then destroyed a cache of arms and ammunition in a church at Danane.
MORE THAN 200 FORMER COMBATANTS DISARMED IN AFGHANISTAN
Over the past three days, more than 200 members of
Afghanistans military forces have been disarmed, bringing the total number of former combatants disarmed in that country to more than 24,000,
according to the
UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
In addition, the UN Mission mentions that two of the UN staff members released last week after being abducted last month met on Friday with several Afghan women who had offered to take their place as hostages.
The two UN staff members, Annetta Flanigan and Shqipe Hebibi, said the meeting was moving, as they shared their experiences with the women who tried to help them.
ETHIOPIA AGREES ON ANTI-MINE CONVENTION
AS NAIROBI SUMMIT ON A MINE-FREE WORLD STARTS
Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World began in Kenya today with a welcome development Ethiopia has agreed to
accept the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel mines.
Ethiopia is the 144th state to do so and itll now move to destroy its existing stockpiles of anti-personnel mines, clear mined areas, and cease any use, production or transfer of the weapon immediately.
The Nairobi Summit is the first five-year review of the
Ottawa Convention, and the international community is expected to adopt an action plan to address challenges that remain on the path towards a mine-free world.
Heads of state and ministers of foreign affairs from several countries are expected to address the Summits high level session later this week; as will Mark Malloch-Brown and Carol Bellamy, the heads of the
UN Development Programme and
UNICEF, the UN Childrens Fund.
ANNAN CALLS FOR COUNTRIES TO RATIFY CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION: The
Secretary-General today called upon all countries that have not yet done so, to ratify or accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention without delay. He added that expanding membership is vital for strengthening international security and for promoting the peaceful use of chemistry. His remarks were part of a
message to a conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague.
ANNAN HOPES FOR ACCESS TO SAFE DRINKING WATER FOR ALL: The first Global WASH -- or Water, Sanitation and Hygiene -- Forum, is currently being held in Dakar, Senegal. In a
message to the Forum, the
Secretary-General said he hopes that one day the world will no longer have to face the dire consequences of inadequate access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
SURVEY FINDS THAT CONTROLLED MIGRATION PROVIDES BENEFITS: An orderly, controlled migration of people across borders provides benefits both for the countries that send them and the ones that receive them, this years
UN World Economic and Social Survey says. The Survey says that, beyond existing conventions and protocols, the international community lacks a comprehensive international framework to address the full range of migration issues. It says that the protection of the workplace and human rights of migrants is a paramount responsibility.
ANNAN PLANS TO MEET U.N. STAFF COUNCIL, NO DATES SET YET: Asked whether the
Secretary-General would meet with the Staff Council, the Spokesman said that both the Secretary-General and other senior officials intended to meet with the Council, although no dates have been set yet.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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