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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-03-24

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





Friday, March 24, 2000


Today's Security Council open briefing on Iraq began with a presentation by the Secretary-General of his recent report on the humanitarian situation in that country. The Secretary-General told the Council that, although the "oil-for-food" program has undoubtedly brought the people of Iraq some relief, "many of the essential needs of the population remain unsatisfied."

In particular, he said that a mechanism is needed to review "holds" that have been placed by the Iraq Sanctions Committee on contract applications by Iraq, which the Secretary-General noted had a direct negative impact on the humanitarian program.

He warned that Iraq's oil industry remains seriously hampered by a lack of spare parts and equipment, and he recommended a "significant increase" in the allocation of resources under the Office of the Iraq Programme for spare parts purchases.

In closed consultations just prior to the open meeting, the Council considered a draft resolution that would allow an increased allocation to purchase spare parts for Iraq's oil industry, and the Secretary-General commented that he would "very much welcome that."

Most of all, the Secretary-General said, the humanitarian situation poses a serious moral dilemma for the United Nations. "We are in danger of losing the argument, or the propaganda war -- if we haven't already lost it -- about who is responsible for this situation in Iraq, President Saddam Hussein or the United Nations," he said.

The meeting then proceeded with Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme, and Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund, on hand to answer questions from Council members.

Asked about violations of the Iraq sanctions regime, the Spokesman noted that the Sanctions Committee was briefed on Thursday by Vice Admiral Charles Moore, the coordinator of the fleet that patrols the waters off Iraq. The Committee, which is chaired by Ambassador Arnold Peter van Walsum of the Netherlands, has been briefed regularly on efforts to interdict illegal shipments, he said.


Secretary-General Kofi Annan's travel program for visits to Geneva, Rome and Havana next month is currently being planned, with some dates firmed up.

The Secretary-General will leave New York for Geneva on Monday, April 3, and will address the Commission on Human Rights the following day on ways to strengthen implementation of human rights instruments.

He will then go to Rome that same day where he will begin a bilateral visit to Italy, beginning on April 5.

On April 6-7, he will chair the Administrative Committee on Coordination, which brings together all the heads of UN funds, programs and agencies twice each year. The agenda will focus on the impact of globalization, but will also include HIV/AIDS, staff security and safety, the World Conference on Racism and other matters, including the Secretary-General's media guidelines.

While in Rome, the Secretary-General will have an audience with the Pope.

On his bilateral programme, he is to hold meetings with senior Government officials and address the Parliament.

On the weekend of April 8-9, he will travel to Florence, Italy, where he will be made an honorary citizen.

He will then leave for Havana, Cuba, on Monday, April 10, where he will have an official visit on the following day. He will then attend the Group of 77 Summit on April 12-13, returning to New York that Friday.

A more detailed version of the programme will be announced next week.

Asked about the Secretary-General's response to the Pope's comments on Iraq, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had noted the Pope's various comments during his "historic visit to the Middle East."


On Monday, the East Timor Police Training College will open with an initial class of 50 cadets.

Those cadets were the top scorers from some 16,000 people who applied to take the course. Over the next three months, they will be trained in human rights, community policing, criminal law, police techniques, traffic rules, investigation techniques and driving.

The recruitment of the 3,000 police officers needed for East Timor is expected to take three years.

Today, UN Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello opened the Public Service Commission in Dili. The Commission is an independent body, with three Timorese and two international members, which is responsible for overseeing the proper functioning of the East Timorese administration.

De Mello stressed the importance of the Commission's independence, saying, "It cannot favor one group or another."

The Commission's first priority will be to establish a permanent pay scale.


There have been a number of events around the world today to mark World Tuberculosis Day.

A report released today in Amsterdam by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Union Against TB &amp; Lung Disease warns that multi-drug resistant strains of tuberculosis that have hit New York City and Russia could emerge in other parts of the world.

In response, top government officials of 20 countries meeting today in Amsterdam have pledged to work harder to combat multi-drug resistant TB.

"For the first time, we have evidence the drug-resistant TB outbreaks that have shaken New York City and Russia are increasing elsewhere," said WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland. Resistance to at least one TB drug has increased by 50 percent in both Denmark and Germany since 1996, and it has doubled in New Zealand, according to the report.

WHO also issued a press release praising United States President Bill Clinton for marking World Tuberculosis Day by administering the WHO-recommended direct observed treatment to TB patients in Hyderabad, India. India has the highest number of reported TB cases in the world, with more than 1,000 people dying from the disease each day, according to WHO.

TB is one of the main public health issues in East Timor, where WHO estimates between 10,000 and 15,000 people are infected. The National TB Program of East Timor has been working since February under the Interim Health Authority on immunization and treatment, and the Program expects that all regions will have clinics and hospitals equipped to work on TB by the end of this year.


This morning in The Hague the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia increased to seven years the sentence of Zlatko Aleksovski.

Aleksovski, a Bosnian Croat, had been previously sentenced to two years and six month imprisonment after The Tribunal had found him guilty of violations of laws or customs of war, relating to acts committed in 1993 in a prison in central Bosnia, of which he was the commander. According to the indictment: "Many of the detainees under his control were subjected to inhumane treatment."

The Appeals Chamber found that "the Trial Chamber had erred in not having sufficient regard to the gravity of his conduct" and that "his offences were not trivial". This prison term is to run from today, deducting Aleksovski's time served in prison. A press release is also available.


A donors' meeting on Mozambique took place this morning in Geneva. Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator Ross Mountain presented the appeal launched this week in Maputo, seeking $102 million for ongoing emergency and rehabilitation activities directed at 650,0000 flood victims. (The appeal is available on the ReliefWeb site).

Mountain stressed the importance of funding the World Food Programme's portion of the appeal for $10 million for emergency transportation. The funds would pay for one month of air transportation for rescue activities and aid deliveries after the imminent withdrawal of the military presence on the ground.

The Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is also making arrangements to ensure a continued presence in Mozambique.

The situation in other countries affected by the floods was also reviewed at the meeting, including Madagascar, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.


Today in Arusha, Tanzania, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda pleaded "not guilty" to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity brought against him by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Kamuhanda, a former member of Rwanda's 1994 interim Government, was accused in his indictment of personally leading attacks against Tutsis who had taken refuge in a church in 1994.

Asked about the visit by Security Council members to Washington next Thursday, the Spokesman said his office would monitor that visit, and added that the UN Information Centre in Washington would also be willing to help correspondents cover the events scheduled for that visit.

Morocco has become the 74th Member State to pay in full its dues to the regular budget for this year by making a payment of just over $430,000.



The Secretary-General intends to deliver a speech to Defense Ministers from nations participating in the Shirbrig arrangements, which are intended to establish a High Readiness Brigade on a standby basis for use in UN peacekeeping.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr&eacute;chette will deliver a speech to a Donor Conference for Sierra Leone, to be held in London. The meeting, which will be co-chaired by Fr&eacute;chette, Clare Short, British Secretary of State for International Development, and by a senior representative of the World Bank, will focus on reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Acting Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie will lead the discussion on humanitarian issues.

Under-Secretary-General for Management Joseph Connor will attend the noon briefing.

The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on Guinea-Bissau is due.

The Commission on Population and Development will hold its 33rd session in New York this week.

In Vienna, the Legal Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will meet through April 7.

In Geneva, the working party on the UN Conference on Trade and Development's medium-term plan and program budget meets through Friday.


The Security Council will hold consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet will deliver a briefing on his recent trip to that country.

From today until Thursday, there will be a meeting among representatives of various UN departments and agencies, as well as outside observers, on cartography and geographic information science. Among topics to be discussed will be a proposed UN Geographic Database Project.


The Security Council will hold consultations on Guinea-Bissau, Somalia and Bougainville.


The members of the Security Council will visit Washington. During their one-day visit, the members will meet with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Today and Friday, the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention will host a meeting in the Grand Cayman, called the UN Offshore Forum Plenary. The aim of the Forum is to reach an agreement on common actions to deal with money laundering.


There will be a background briefing on the Secretary-General's upcoming Millennium Report. The Secretary-General will launch his report on the Millennium Assembly and the Millennium Summit at a press conference expected for Monday, April 3.

The Security Council will meet to wrap up its work for the month of March, ending the Presidency of Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury of Bangladesh. Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada will be Council President for the month of April.



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