DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
17 March 1999
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General:
Good afternoon. The guest at the briefing today is Olara Otunnu, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. He returned yesterday from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and the Sudan. Welcome.
**Report on Khmer Rouge Leaders
The Secretary-General, this morning, transmitted to the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council the report of three experts concerning the bringing to justice of the Khmer Rouge leaders of Cambodia for crimes committed between 1975 and 1979. We released to you last week a summary of the conclusions of this report, so I'll say no more about them.
In his letter of transmission, the Secretary-General says that, in his view, the Khmer Rouge leaders charged with the most serious crimes should be brought to justice and tried before a tribunal which meets the international standards of justice, fairness and the process of law. The tribunal must be international in character, he affirmed. Impunity, he said, is unacceptable in the face of genocide and other crimes against humanity. The document, with the Secretary-General's letters attached -- identical letters to both Presidents -- will be available shortly in all languages.
**Secretary-General's Statement on Democratic People's Republic of Korea/United States Agreement
The following statement attributable to the Spokesman is available in my Office:
The Secretary-General welcomes the agreement between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States on issues related to the underground site at Kumchang-ri, as well as some other aspects of their bilateral relations. The agreement confirms his strong belief that a determined diplomatic effort can resolve even the most serious issues.
The Secretary-General is particularly pleased that the two sides have reaffirmed their commitment to the Agreed Framework of 1994 in its entirety. He hopes that the two countries will continue to address other issues of importance, thus contributing to the reduction of tension in the Korean peninsula and in the region.
**Security Council Consultations
The Security Council is holding consultations today on Afghanistan and the Central African Republic. Council members will be briefed on the second round of intra-Afghan talks that took place in Ashkabad from 11 to 14 March, under the auspices of the United Nations by Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast.
On the Central African Republic and the United Nations mission in the country, Council members will be briefed by Oluyemi Adeniji, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Central African Republic. When he finishes the Council briefing, Mr. Adeniji has agreed to take your questions at the second floor stakeout.
This afternoon, at 3:30, there will be a meeting of the Council's informal working group concerning the Council's documentation and other procedural questions.
**Special Rapporteur on Human Rights To Visit Afghanistan and Pakistan
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Afghanistan, Kamal Hossain, has begun a visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The five-day visit, which began Monday, is being undertaken in the context of the Special Rapporteur's mandate by virtue of a resolution of the Human Rights Commission. In accordance with the resolution, he will submit a report on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty- fifth session in April 1999.
This information and an update on the United Nations humanitarian assistance activities in Afghanistan are contained a weekly summary produced by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Islamabad.
**Talks between Greece and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Continue
Cyrus Vance, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, is continuing his efforts to help resolve the name issue between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The latest talks were held in New York yesterday, and the next round will be held in the beginning of May. There is a brief statement on that available in my Office.
**UNCTAD Secretary-General Addresses WTO Symposium
This morning, Rubens Ricupero, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), gave the keynote address at a World Trade Organization (WTO) symposium in Geneva. Mr. Ricupero said that one of the lessons of the development crisis is that trade can do wonders, but it cannot perform miracles. Trade negotiations must not be used to deny developing countries the policies they need to acquire competitive advantages, he said, especially when the industrialized countries themselves used similar policies to achieve their own development.
Mr. Ricupero also pointed to what he termed the "hypocrisy" of stressing that trade is the central ingredient of development and then allocating only 2 per cent of technical cooperation to trade-related activities. Copies of the speech are available in my Office.
**Memorial for Victims of Guatemala Helicopter Crash
A year ago today, a United Nations helicopter crashed in Guatemala. Memorial ceremonies in honour of the seven colleagues who died in the crash are taking place today. Among the events of the day there is the establishment, by individual staff members, of a trust fund for the construction of a park in a public school in Huehuetenango. Five of the seven who died in the crash worked in the Huehuetenango office of the United Nations mission in Guatemala -- MINUGUA.
We have available in my Office copies, in Spanish, of the programme of activities and a poem prepared by one of our Headquarters' colleagues. As we speak, a small ceremony also is being held in the Meditation Room. We did not announce this in advance due to space limitations in the Meditation Room.
**WFP Expresses Concern over Angola Malnutrition Rates
The World Food Programme (WFP) today expressed grave concern about malnutrition rates among internally displaced people in the southern Angolan city of Huambo, with at least 20 per cent of the children showing the physical symptoms of seriously inadequate food supplies. Some 128,000 people who were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in Huambo are living in squalid conditions in the city's abandoned buildings. With no access to food, they are dependent on international assistance.
Malnutrition rates and diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis and diarrhoea, among this displaced population, have risen to alarming rates in the last three months, according to a recent survey conducted by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and WFP's partner, the non-governmental organization, Save the Children. Details of this are available in a WFP press release.
**Report on Racak Massacre
Today, at the weekly briefing of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, the Deputy Prosecutor said that he expected to receive a copy, today, of the Finnish forensic report on the Racak massacre in Kosovo. He added that the findings would be incorporated into the material gathered in relation to the Kosovo investigation undertaken by the Prosecutor.
**Report by Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance on US Visit
The report of the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, Abdel Fatah Amor, on his visit to the United States during last year has been released today in Geneva. We have a limited number of copies available in French only. It will be posted on the Web in English later this week. The Special Rapporteur was in the United States from 22 January to 6 February. He visited Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Arizona.
**FAO To Promote Rabbit-Breeding in Mediterranean
We have press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), announcing that it is currently helping Mediterranean countries to set up a network to promote rabbit-breeding for food security, income purposes, diversification of livestock, and better use of feed resources. "Backyard rabbitries are the perfect answer to today's demand for sustainable development projects", the release quotes an FAO livestock production specialist as saying.
Uganda this morning became the seventy-eighth country to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
For those of you who "follow the money", you will be interested to know that the latest status of contributions to the regular budget, tribunals and peacekeeping is available in my Office.
**Under-Secretary-General for Management for Noon Briefing
Just a reminder, that Joseph Connor, the Under-Secretary-General for Management, will be my guest here tomorrow at the noon briefing, to answer all your questions on the Organization's financial situation.
[There were no questions.]
* *** *
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|