DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
1 February 1999
Manoel de Almeida e Silva, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, began today's noon briefing by informing correspondents that the Secretary- General was en route to New York and was expected to arrive later in the afternoon. He would be at Headquarters tomorrow, Tuesday. The Secretary-General had concluded his 10-day trip to Europe on Sunday in Davos, Switzerland, after visiting Dublin, Geneva, Brussels and Luxembourg.
While in Davos, as correspondents knew, the Secretary-General had had bilateral meetings with a number of political leaders. Available at the Spokesman's office was a list of those he had seen. He had also met with business leaders, among them, Ted Turner, George Soros and Bill Gates. Last night in Davos, the Secretary-General had been the guest speaker at the Media Leaders dinner. Earlier in the afternoon, he had addressed the World Economic Forum during which he had proposed that business leaders and the United Nations initiate a global compact of shared values and principles, which would give a human face to the global market. Copies of the speech, as delivered, were available on the racks.
Canada had assumed the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of February, the Deputy Spokesman said. Michel Duval, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, was, at the time of the briefing, holding bilateral consultations with other Council members on the programme of work for the month. He was acting on behalf of Robert Fowler, Canada's Permanent Representative, who had had a minor appendicitis operation. He was recovering well, the Deputy Spokesman said. The Council was expected to meet tomorrow for consultations on its work programme and on several other substantive issues.
For the record, the Deputy Spokesman said, the Council late Friday had adopted a resolution on Eritrea/Ethiopia. It had also adopted, in a closed meeting, a Note from its President on the work of the Sanctions Committees. On Saturday, the Council had adopted another Note by the President on Iraq, setting up three assessment panels on disarmament, humanitarian affairs and prisoners of war. Both notes were on the racks.
The Sanctions Committee on Libya was meeting this afternoon at 3:30 in conference room 7, the Deputy Spokesman said. Interested correspondents should wait for the Chairman outside the conference room for a briefing, he said.
The Deputy Spokesman said the World Food Programme (WFP) reported that fighting had erupted over the weekend in Guinea-Bissau. The WFP, which had recently reopened its office in Bissau, reported panic in the capital of more than 300,000 and that people were beginning to flee to the outskirts. Staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bafata, east of the capital, which had received the largest group of those displaced during the previous round of fighting, reported no new influxes. No other information was available, the Deputy Spokesman said, adding that there was an estimated total of 300,000 internally displaced persons in Guinea-Bissau.
The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on Kosovo was out on the racks today, the Deputy Spokesman said. In the report, he urged the parties to engage in negotiations on a peaceful settlement in Kosovo without further delay and without preconditions, as demanded by the international community and, in particular, by the Security Council. In reference to the Racak massacre of 15 January, the Secretary-General said it was imperative that the perpetrators be brought to justice in order to deter further violence. He urged that unconditional respect be given to the authority of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia throughout all of the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
The Secretary-General said he was increasingly concerned that the spread of violence and the nature of the attacks could lead to a situation of all-out civil war in Kosovo, which might have unpredictable repercussions for the entire region, the Deputy Spokesman continued. The report focused on the humanitarian and human rights aspects provided by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as by Member States. Annexes provided by the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were attached to the report. The Secretary-General said he expected his next report to contain information on the political aspects of the situation in Kosovo provided by the OSCE, as had been agreed upon.
Mr. Almeida e Silva said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Leonardo Franco, would undertake his first visit to the country from 2 to 14 February at the invitation of the Government. He would also visit Nairobi, Kenya, to meet with, among others, representatives of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, representatives of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and United Nations officials from Operation Lifeline Sudan.
While in the Sudan, Mr. Franco intended to travel to the cities of Khartoum, Wau and possibly Juba, the Deputy Spokesman continued. He was scheduled to meet with numerous Government officials as well as non-governmental organizations and private individuals. He also planned to visit prisons and other places of detention, as well as camps for internally displaced persons. A press release on the subject was available in room 378.
Today, in Nairobi, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, had delivered a speech on behalf of the Secretary-General to the 20th session of UNEP's Governing Council. The speech underscored the Secretary-General's efforts to reform and strengthen United Nations activities in the areas of the environment and human settlements. He said he was heartened by the positive reception those proposals had received.
In his speech, the Deputy Spokesman continued, the Secretary-General said the United Nations system was continuing a productive yet sometimes painful process of self-analysis and reflection. As the Organization prepared to meet the needs of the international community in a rapidly changing political and economic environment, "it remains abundantly clear that the United Nations of the new millennium will need UNEP to play a strong and well-defined role", the Secretary-General noted. Copies of the speech were available in the Spokesman's Office.
In his own speech to the Governing Council, Mr. Toepfer had said he remained vibrant and optimistic about UNEP. The Programme was "fully capable of raising consciousness and awareness and educating about actions that negatively affect the environment". He called on Governments to give the organization the resources it needed to do the job. The UNEP's proposed budget for 2000-2001, which was before the Council, was under $120 million.
Mr. Almeida e Silva said that available in the Spokesman's Office was a press release from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announcing that its representatives from 45 African countries were gathering in Benin for six days, beginning today, to review how to approach development in the new millennium.
The UNHCR had issued a press release in Geneva welcoming the ratification by Kazakhstan of the main international legal instrument to protect refugees, the Deputy Spokesman said. To date, 137 countries had acceded to the 1951 Convention, or to its 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees.
Also available in at the Spokesman's office was a press release from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on next week's Hague Forum, a week-long conference which would review progress since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. A number of top-level United Nations officials would address the Forum, including Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette. The keynote speaker on the first day, 8 February, would be United States First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Details of the Forum were available in the press release.
On payments to the regular Budget, the Deputy Spokesman said the Russian Federation had today paid its dues of $15,451,275, thus becoming the 32nd Member State to do so in full.
He then announced that the World Chronicle Television programme, with Anthony Fouracre, Chief of the United Nations Postal Administration, would be shown today on the in-house television channel 6 or 38 at 2:30 p.m. On behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA), he said that the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Alain Dejammet, would give a briefing on Iraq at the UNCA Club today at 3:30 p.m.
Did the Secretary-General have any comment on the Security Council note on Iraq and its rejection by the Iraqi authorities? a correspondent asked. The Deputy Spokesman said he did not think so, adding that the Secretary- General would probably meet tomorrow, Tuesday, with Ambassador Celso L. N. Amorim of Brazil, Council President for January and was Chairman of the three separate panels on Iraq. [It was later announced that Ambassador Amorim would meet with the Secretary-General today at 6:00 p.m.
Asked whether the Secretary-General had received any response from the Government of Angola regarding his proposals on the future of the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA), the Deputy Spokesman said the Secretary-General was still pursuing his contacts on the subject and would report on it to the Security Council.
A correspondent asked the Deputy Spokesman to find out whether the Secretary-General was "satisfied" with the limitation of his role of bringing to the Security Council matters which, in his opinion, might threaten the maintenance of international peace and security, as defined in article 99 of the United Nations Charter. The Deputy Spokesman said he would check with the Secretary-General.
He then introduced Kevin Kennedy, Chief of the Emergency Liaison Branch of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who was to brief correspondents on the humanitarian situation in Sierra Leone. (Mr. Kennedy's briefing will be issued separately.)
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