DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
3 August 1999
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Well, at 12:01 you can tell it's a slow newsday. Good afternoon.
About 40 per cent of the worldwide flow of small arms comes from illicit trafficking, serving warlords, drug traffickers, terrorists and other criminals, according to the Department for Disarmament Affairs. Five hundred million light weapons are now in circulation around the world.
Fortunately, we have several initiatives in response to this problem to report.
First: representatives from all African countries, as well as non- governmental organizations (NGOs) and research institutions, are in the middle of a three-day United Nations-organized meeting in Lomé, Togo, on "Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms in Africa", which wraps up tomorrow. They are working to broaden understanding of the problem, propose policies in response, and define the role of the United Nations in the process. There is a press release on the racks with more details (Press Release DC/2655).
Second: there is a three-day United Nations-organized regional disarmament meeting on "Security Concepts in a Changing World", that is starting today in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Participants will deal with such issues as nuclear-weapon-free zones, as well as Mongolia's international security and nuclear-weapon-free status. And you can pick up a press release on that on the racks (Press Release DC/2654).
Here in New York, at 4:30 this afternoon, the Secretary-General will meet with the Chairman of the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms, Ambassador Mitsuro Donowaki of Japan. That is a group that was set up by the General Assembly to help the Secretary-General find ways and means of effectively addressing the challenge posed by small arms. Ambassador Donowaki will be presenting the Group's report to the Secretary-General, and then he will come here to brief you in this room (S-226) tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m.
And finally, tomorrow at 3 p.m., there will be another press conference on a report by the Tokyo Forum for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. That report is entitled "Facing Nuclear Dangers: An Action Plan for the 21st Century". That briefing will feature the Forum's two Co-Chairmen: former United Nations Under-Secretary-General Yasushi Akashi, and Ambassador Nobuo Matsuaga of the Japan Institute for International Affairs.
Nearly 90 per cent of the more than 850,000 Kosovo refugees who fled the province have now returned, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The UNHCR says this large number of returnees heightens the need for smooth delivery of humanitarian assistance to Kosovo. The agency is "extremely concerned" about problems arising from the imposition of a customs inspection fee on all goods transiting the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The fee, which was announced in mid-June by the Skopje Government, has brought UNHCR's aid pipeline to a standstill, and is contributing to a back-up of supplies.
There are currently 86 trucks loaded with UNHCR supplies waiting in a parking lot in Skopje, as well as 17 rail wagons carrying timber. These supplies are needed now to ensure that hundreds of thousands of people are able to repair their homes before winter.
You can read more about this in the UNHCR briefing notes that are available in our Office.
Out on the racks today is the report of Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada containing the names of the experts who will serve on the panels monitoring the sanctions against Angola (document S/1999/837).
As discussed in the Security Council last Thursday, panel one will examine sources of revenue, funding and petroleum supplies to the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Panel two will deal with UNITA's sources of military support.
Ambassador Fowler says he will convene a meeting of the panels in New York at the end of the fourth week of August.
This morning, the Security Council held consultations on its programme of work. Then the members discussed a draft resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the appointment of Wolfgang Petritsch, who has been designated to replace Carlos Westendorp as High Representative. This will be followed by a formal meeting.
Mr. Petritsch was designated by the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council, which is the body overseeing the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. And that was done on 12 July.
Under other matters, the Council is expected to discuss Iraq and the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in East Timor, as requested by the Secretary-General.
A spokesman for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha announced today that three former ministers of the 1994 Interim Government in Rwanda, arrested and detained in Cameroon last April, have now been transferred to the ICTR detention facility in Arusha. That happened over the weekend.
The three ex-ministers are: Jerome Bicamumpaka, former Foreign Minister; Justin Mugenzi, former Minister of Commerce and Industry; and Prosper Mugiraneza, former Minister for the Civil Service.
You can see a press release with more details on that. We don't have it immediately, but we expect to get it in the course of the afternoon.
In our Office, we also have summaries of press briefings from two United Nations missions: from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from East Timor. The spokesman for the United Nations in East Timor indicated that, as of 1 August, over 393,000 people have been registered.
And on press conferences, we have asked the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sierra Leone, Francis Okelo, to brief you, if possible, during the noon briefing tomorrow after he briefs the Security Council. And if that doesn't work out, we'll set it up to happen at the stand-up microphone outside the Council Chamber.
That is all I have for you. Any questions on a sleepy Tuesday morning? If not, have a good day. We'll see you tomorrow.
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