DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
6 October 1999
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Shirley Brownell, Spokeswoman for the President of the General Assembly, and Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Briefing by the Spokeswoman for the General Assembly President
The annual Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization (A/54/1) is before the General Assembly this morning. Forty-one speakers are inscribed on the list. However, debate on the report will continue, not this afternoon, but tomorrow morning. Assembly President Theo-Ben Gurirab is presiding.
This afternoon, the Assembly will take up two items. It will first consider item 109, on the advancement of women, solely to take action on a draft resolution (A/54/L4) entitled “Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, which was recommended for adoption by the Economic and Social Council. By adopting the text, the Assembly would open for signature, ratification and accession the annexed 21-article Optional Protocol. That document sets out the procedures under which individuals or groups claiming to be victims of a violation of any of the rights set forth in the Convention can petition the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
The Assembly will then take up item 37, on implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development. There are a number of documents: the report of the Secretary-General (A/54/220), which contains updated information on implementation of the outcome of the Summit by intergovernmental bodies, and on preparations for the special session to be held from 26 to 30 June 2000 in Geneva; and the report of the Preparatory Committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly on the Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and Further Initiatives, on its first session (A/54/45 and Corr.1 and Add.1).
The Assembly is also asked to adopt four draft decisions contained in the Preparatory Committee’s report -– three, contained in paragraph 71, pertaining to arrangements for the special session; its title, namely, the “World Summit for Social Development and beyond: achieving social development for all in a globalizing world”; and the provisional agenda for the Preparatory Committee’s second session, from 3 to 14 April 2000; and a fourth text, contained in paragraph 6 of Add.1, dealing with arrangements for the participation of non-governmental organizations in the special session.
In Committee action, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its substantive work this morning with a general debate on major economic issues. The debate will continue through Friday, when the Committee will then take up item 97, on macroeconomic policy questions.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) also commenced its substantive work with a general discussion on item 106, entitled “Social development, including questions relating to the world social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family”. For its discussion, the Committee has before it relevant sections of the report of the Economic and Social Council (A/54/3); various reports of the Secretary-General -- A/54/57, on cooperatives; A/54/388, on disabled persons; A/54/59, on youth; and an interim report of the Secretary- General and of the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on progress towards the goal of education for all: the year 2000 assessment (A/54/128- E/1999/70).
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) is meeting this afternoon to hear a number of petitioners: five from East Timor, four from Western Sahara, 1 from New Caledonia and a representative of the Governor of Guam. The Committee will then continue its debate on all decolonization items.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met yesterday afternoon to hear the remaining speakers on improving the financial situation of the United Nations. It also concluded general discussions on reports relating to the financing of peacekeeping operations in Angola and along the Iraq-Kuwait border. The Committee’s next formal meeting will take place on 15 October.
Copies of the Assembly President’s appointments for today are available in room 378 and on the Internet.
Briefing by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
Thank you for not going to lunch.
**Deputy Secretary-General Opens Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Conference
Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette this morning opened the Conference on Facilitating the Entry-into-Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which is being held in Vienna.
She noted that the CTBT will contribute to international peace and security, but added that "words of support and statements of intention are simply not enough" in the absence of the Treaty's entry-into-force and universal adoption. She warned that delaying these goals would increase the risk that nuclear testing could resume.
She said, "This is a moment of choice for every State which has committed itself to a world free from the nuclear arms race, but has yet to turn those words into deeds."
We have copies of the Deputy Secretary-General's speech in my office.
**Mexico Ratifies Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
Meanwhile, Mexico has just ratified the CTBT, which now has 51 States parties and 154 signatories. Mexico is one of the 44 countries with nuclear facilities that must ratify the Treaty for it to enter into force. We now have twenty-six of those 44 ratifying.
**Religious Leader Returns to East Timor
The only political news out of East Timor today is the return of East Timorese religious leader Bishop Carlos Belo to the territory. You will recall that during a wave of violence he was driven out of his home, his compound was burned and, allegedly, a significant number of people were killed in the courtyard of his home when that happened.
**World Food Program Begins Food Distribution in West Timor
On the humanitarian side, the World Food Program (WFP) announced today that it will begin distributing food to 142,000 displaced people in and around Atambua, West Timor, under an agreement reached with the Indonesian government.
UNICEF, which has set up two mobile teams of doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists from among the displaced population in Atambua, reported that malaria, diarrhoea and upper respiratory infections are the most common illnesses among the East Timorese living in squalid settlements.
**United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sends Letter of Protest
Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it has sent a letter to the Indonesian Government, protesting against Indonesia’s plans to register East Timorese in West Timor. As we mentioned to you yesterday, UNHCR is concerned that under the current circumstances there is not even a minimum guarantee that the people can answer freely.
In East Timor, UNHCR reported that in a sign of improving security in INTERFET-controlled areas -- INTERFET is the multinational force, of course -- humanitarian convoys were planning on Thursday to travel the road linking Dili with Manatuto, Baucau and Los Palos without military escort by peacekeeping troops.
**Aid Workers Travel to Liquica, Focus Next Major Distribution on Non-Food Items in Dili
Aid workers travelled today to Liquica, where they found thousands of displaced, hiding in surrounding hills, still afraid to return home. The mission continued to nearby villages.
Meanwhile in Dili, the next major distribution to focus on non- food emergency items, such as plastic sheeting, soap, cooking utensils and blankets is scheduled for Friday and will use the same registration and distribution network as yesterday’s rice distribution. Those were the six churches in Dili.
For more information, we have available for you press releases from UNICEF, UNHCR and WFP, as well as the daily humanitarian briefing note from Darwin.
**Briefing Notes from United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo
We have today’s briefing note from the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo. Among the developments reported were: First, the Special Representative, Bernard Kouchner, opened today’s meeting of the Kosovo Transitional Council by deploring clashes that erupted on Tuesday in Mitrovica in which one person was killed, and 18 KFOR troops and three United Nations police officers were injured.
The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Jiri Dienstbier, is visiting Kosovo over the next two days as part of his eight-day mission to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
On 14 October, Slatina Airport in Pristina will open for commercial traffic. Airlines planning regular flights to Pristina include ADA Air from Albania, Adria Airways from Slovenia, CrossAir of Switzerland and Tyrolean Airways of Austria.
Bernard Kouchner signed a new regulation on the importation, distribution and sale of petroleum products for and in Kosovo.
**Security Council Starts Consultations
The Security Council today started consultations this morning on the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission, following the Secretary-General’s report on that mission.
The second item of its agenda is the Secretary-General’s report on the activities of the United Nations peace-building support office in Guinea-Bissau. The report will be introduced by Ibrahima Fall, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
And the last item on the agenda is Sierra Leone. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hedi Annabi will be present for that discussion.
**Senior Management Group Reviews Issues Raised in General Debate
The Secretary-General had his weekly meeting today with his cabinet, or his Senior Management Group. They reviewed themes that emerged in the 181 speeches delivered during the General Assembly's General Debate.
Kieran Prendergast, head of the Political Affairs Department, summarized the principal political issues raised, while Nitin Desai, head of Economic and Social Affairs, focused on the economic topics. Both those Departments do written analyses of each speech given in the Debate.
We are arranging for a senior official from each Department to brief you jointly on background basis on this year's General Debate. We'll let you know as soon as we can fix a time. We were trying to get them for 12:30 p.m. [today].
**Iraq Programme Office Releases Report
For the record. Yesterday afternoon, the Office of the Iraq Programme made available their report covering the week 25 September- 1 October. Iraq exported a total of 15.2 million barrels of crude oil for an estimated revenue of $328 million.
Current estimates of potential revenues for Phase VI is around $7 billion.
As you know, on 4 October the Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing Iraq to export up to an additional $3.04 billion worth of oil, beyond the $5.2 billion ceiling of Phase VI.
**International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Grants Request for Joint Trial
Yesterday in Arusha, Tanzania, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) decided for the first time to grant the Prosecutor’s request to have six people indicted for war crimes stand trial jointly. This six accused, including the first woman ever charged by an International Criminal Tribunal, all had a special link to the Butare prefecture in Rwanda where they allegedly committed most of the crimes they have been charged with. Among other counts, they will have to respond to the charge of “conspiracy to commit genocide”.
This decision is bound to have important implications for the course of other trials at the tribunal. You will recall that the Prosecutor has requested joint trials in several other cases as part of her strategy to show that the Genocide in Rwanda was a conspiracy planned and jointly executed by several senior figures in the country’s leadership at the time.
We have a press release from Arusha. It is available in my office.
**United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Opens Meeting in Paris
Yesterday in Paris, the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) opened its Executive Board meeting, which will designate a successor to the current UNESCO Director-General, Federico Mayor, whose term ends on 14 November.
We have a press release upstairs which outlines the entire selection process and lists the 11 candidates now in the running to head UNESCO. The process, which involves voting by secret ballot, will culminate on 12 November, when the Executive Board submits the name of its candidate to the UNESCO General Conference.
You can read more in the press release available in my office. **Food and Agricultural Organization Hosts Conference
We have a press release available upstairs from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on a Conference on Rural Women and Information it is hosting in Rome.
FAO hopes the meeting will serve as a wake-up call for governments and other partners struggling to ensure universal food security and sustainable development.
You can read more in the press release.
**Weekly Update on Afghanistan
For those of you who are interested we have available the weekly humanitarian update on Afghanistan. You can pick it up in my office.
**Guest at Tomorrow’s Noon Briefing
Our guest at tomorrow’s noon briefing will be Normand Lauzon, Director of External Relations of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), who will talk to you about NETAID; that is the UNDP project to promote development and alleviate extreme poverty, using the unique networking capabilities of the Internet.
Good. Now all of you come back here at 12:30 a.m. for that background briefing. I think you will find it of interest.
* *** *
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|