DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
19 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 Manoel de Almeida Silva, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Briefing by Spokeswoman for General Assembly President
The President of the General Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab, is travelling today to Dar-es-Salaam, to attend the funeral, on Thursday, of the late President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Julius K. Nyerere. The Assembly President will return to New York over the weekend.
Before departing New York, the President recorded his United Nations Day message, in which he said that as we celebrate the fifty-fourth anniversary of the one and only United Nations, we should remind ourselves that future generations will judge us less for our brilliant achievements in science and technology or the enormous wealth amassed by some individuals and a few nations. Instead, we will be remembered for the extent to which we have achieved global peace, sustainable development, human equality and security, and an end to hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. Copies of the United Nations Day message are available in room 378.
The President was to have participated, at noon today, in the observance of World Food Day. Making the statement on his behalf is a Vice-President of the Assembly, Ambassador Abdallah Baali of Algeria. In his remarks, the President said this year’s theme, “Youth against Hunger”, was most appropriate in view of the important role which young people all over the world play in their daily struggle to fight hunger and contribute to household food needs. By mobilizing the idealism and energy of youth, we are giving them the opportunity to act as subjects of history, champions of their own future and, at the same time, as active participants in the fight against food insecurity. The President commended the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for its foresight in encouraging the youth of today to be a constructive force for social change and contribute towards ensuring food for all. It is today’s youth who will shape the vision and reality of the world of the future, the President said. The earlier they are allowed to join in the fight against hunger, the more food-secure tomorrow’s world will be. They are the real weapon for poverty reduction and empowerment of the people. Copies of the President’s statement are available in room 378.
Also taking part in the observance are: the President of the Economic and Social Council, Mr. Francesco Paolo Fulci; and FAO Director-General, Mr. Jacques Diouf. The keynote speaker is Professor M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation.
Tomorrow, the Assembly takes up the report of the Security Council (A/54/2), covering the period from 16 June 1998 to 15 July 1999. The report is intended as a guide to the activities of the Council. I wish to draw your attention to a revised programme of work for the plenary (A/INF/54/3/Add.2). Added to it are activities for Monday, the 25 October, when the Assembly will take up six items, including the report of the Credentials Committee, the appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences and the election of 29 members of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
In Committee action, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) is winding up its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items. That debate concludes tomorrow. Twelve speakers, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization, are listed for this morning’s meeting.
At two meetings today, the Second Committee will be discussing sustainable development and international economic cooperation. Documents include reports on implementation of the Declaration on International Economic Cooperation and of the International Development Strategy for the Fourth United Nations Development Decade (A/54/389); implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) (A/54/8 and A/54/322); human resources development (A/54/408); international migration and development (A/54/207 and A/C.2/54/2); and renewal of the dialogue on strengthening international economic cooperation for development through partnership (A/54/94-S/1999/518 and A/54/328).
Before the Committee takes up these reports, three draft resolutions will be introduced, all of them sponsored by Guyana on behalf of the “Group of 77” countries and China. The texts concern science and technology for development (A/C.2/54/L.4); external debt crisis and development (A/C.2/54/L.2); and implementation of the First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (A/C.2/54/L.3).
At two meetings today, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) is continuing its general discussion of crime prevention and criminal justice, and international drug control. It has before it five draft resolutions, recommended by the Economic and Social Council on: the Tenth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (Vienna, 10-17 April 2000) (A/C.3/54/L.3); a “Draft United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the draft protocols thereto” (A/C.3/54/L.4); activities of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of a Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (A/C.3/54/L.5); on action against corruption (A/C.3/54/L.6); and a draft resolution containing an “Action Plan for the Implementation of the Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction (A/C.3/54/L.7). The Action Plan sets out 16 objectives to guide Member States in implementing the Declaration.
This afternoon the Committee will hear the introduction of a draft resolution on cooperatives in social development, under which the Assembly would adopt Guidelines aimed at creating a supportive environment for their development (A/C.3/54/L.11). Three drafts on the advancement of women will also be introduced. In one text, the Assembly would designate 25 November every year as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (A/C.3/54/L.14). Another invites Member States to attach greater importance to improving the situation of rural women in their national and development global strategies (A/C.3/54/L.15). At its meeting this afternoon, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) will continue its comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects. It has before it the report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (A/54/87) and one by the Secretary-General on enhancement of African peacekeeping capacity (A/54/63-S/1999/171), as well as a five-Power draft resolution (A/C.4/54/L.2).
This morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) took up the item on the Joint Inspection Unit (A/53/841, A/54/34 and A/54/223). This afternoon, it will continue its discussion of the report of the Committee on Contributions (A/54/11), which examines, in depth, the application of Article 19 of the Charter; as well as of the report of the Committee on Conferences on the pattern of conferences (A/54/32) and various reports of the Secretary- General on the interpretation facilities and services at other United Nations headquarters.
The Sixth Committee (Legal) will, this afternoon, conclude its discussion of the Secretary-General’s report on the 1990-1999 United Nations Decade of International Law (A/54/362). Tomorrow, it takes up the item on the establishment of an international criminal court.
Briefing by Deputy Spokesman for Secretary-General
Hello. Good afternoon. Our guest today at the noon briefing will be Cheikh Tidiane Sy. He is the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations office in Burundi. He will talk to you today about the situation in that country.
**Secretary-General to Attend Memorial Service for Nyerere
As we told you yesterday, the Secretary-General was at the Mission of Tanzania yesterday afternoon where he signed a book of condolences for the late President Julius Mwalimu Nyerere.
The Secretary-General will attend a memorial service for President Nyerere here at Headquarters on Monday, 25 October in Conference room 1, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The Mission of Mozambique on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is organizing this service, which was originally scheduled for yesterday.
**Deputy Secretary-General to Attend Nyerere's Funeral
The Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Frechette, left this morning for Dar-es-Salaam to attend the funeral of President Nyerere on Thursday. From there she will travel to Addis Ababa, where she will participate in the African Development Forum organized by the Economic Commission for Africa on the theme "The Challenge to Africa of Globalization in the Information Age". While in Addis Ababa, she will also have meetings with Government officials, representatives of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations staff in the country. She is expected to be back at Headquarters on Thursday.
The Deputy Secretary-General had been scheduled to deliver a speech at the World Food Day commemoration which Shirley just told you about, but her speech was read instead by Nitin Desai, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. We have copies of that speech in our office upstairs.
**Secretary-General in Washington; Meets with International Finance Leaders
The Secretary-General, as you know, is in Washington, DC. This morning he met privately with Michel Camdessus, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Among other issues, they discussed the forthcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Seattle on 30 October and the need for opening industrialized countries' markets to the developing world -- for both goods and capital.
Later today, he will meet with the President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn. He will then speak to the Bank's Board of Executive Directors before attending a luncheon hosted by Mr. Wolfensohn.
We have copies of his remarks to the Board in our office.
At 2:30 this afternoon, the Secretary-General is scheduled to address the World Bank staff on the subject of "Peace and Development –- One Struggle, Two Fronts". According to the text of his speech, which is available under embargo in our office, he will note that human security; good governance, equitable development and respect for human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. The text adds, "If war is the worst enemy of development, healthy and balanced development is the best form of conflict prevention".
Following the address, the Secretary-General and Mr. Wolfensohn will meet again to discuss the World Bank's role in the United Nations operations in Kosovo and East Timor.
**Secretary-General to Receive Statesmanship Award
In Washington this evening, the Secretary-General will receive the 1999 Woodrow Wilson Statesmanship Award at a dinner hosted by Belgian Ambassador to the United States, Alex Reyn. The award is presented by Washington's only presidential museum, the Woodrow Wilson House, in recognition of the Secretary-General's leadership and management of the United Nations.
**Secretary-General to Pay Official Visit to Japan, China and Turkey
I now have a statement attributable to the Spokesman: The Secretary- General intends to pay official visits to Japan, China and Turkey in the month of November. At the invitation of the respective Governments, he will be in Japan from 10 to 14 November, China from 14 to 17 November and Turkey from 17 to 22 November.
During his visit to Turkey, he will also attend the Summit Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from 18 to 19 November. The Secretary-General has been invited by the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE to deliver a statement at the formal opening of the summit.
**Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for the Year 2000
On 23 November in Geneva, the Secretary-General will participate in the global launch of the year 2000 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal. The appeal is for the total foreseen needs of the international humanitarian community for the calendar year 2000.
The Security Council met briefly this morning in informal consultations on a presidential text of a draft resolution on terrorism (S/1999/1071). It is now meeting in formal session where a vote will be taken after all 15 members of the Council have spoken. Non-members are not expected to take the floor.
On Thursday morning, 21 October, the Secretary-General will brief the Council in informal consultations on his recent trip to Europe.
**Secretary-General Applauds Successful Efforts of Weapons Disposal Team in Liberia
The Secretary-General welcomes the completion on 18 October of the weapons destruction programme in Liberia.
The exercise, which began on 25 July, has involved the destruction of over 19,000 small and heavy caliber weapons and more than three million rounds of ammunition collected by the United Nations and Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) during the disarmament exercise of 1996-1997.
The Secretary-General believes that the weapons disposal in Liberia represents an important step towards curbing the dangerous proliferation of weapons in West Africa and towards enhancing confidence and cooperation among the countries and peoples of the region.
The Secretary-General expresses appreciation to all those who worked closely and tirelessly to ensure the successful completion of this exercise; in particular, the Government of Liberia, under the leadership of President Taylor, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), the United Nations offices, programmes and agencies as well as those Member States which provided the much needed financial assistance.
**Bodies Found Near Liquica
Moving on to East Timor, INTERFET, the multi-national force in East Timor, has informed us that about 20 bodies were found near the East Timorese town of Liquica. This is the largest discovery of corpses since the international forces arrived in the territory. The area has been cordoned off, and tomorrow UNAMET Civilian police and INTERFET investigators will start to examine the site.
**Over One Thousand Civil Servants Identified As 'Essential' Registration Process Continues in Dili
Meanwhile in Dili, UNAMET has registered more than one thousand East Timorese civil servants according to their areas of expertise and Departments they used to work for. The registration process, considered essential in the efforts to identify personnel to resume public services, will continue.
**Special Envoy for East Timor Announced
Also as part of the rehabilitation and reconstruction process, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced yesterday the appointment of J. Victor Angelo as Special Envoy for East Timor. He will focus in three areas: assessment of damage on infrastructure; strengthening governing institutions at local, regional and national levels; and vocational training and education.
**Timor: Humanitarian Update
On the humanitarian front, I would like to update you on the 5 to 6 thousand people on whom we reported yesterday. You will remember these are the people who were walking from West Timor back to East Timor. About 2 thousand of them arrived in Maliana as of 4 p.m. today, local time. Most of them are women and children. They are mostly rural people and claim to have been deported to West Timor between 4 and 10 September.
You can get more details on this in the UNHCR notes we have available in our office.
**UNICEF Completes First Step in Massive Vaccination Program
And UNICEF informed us that they have completed the first step in a major immunization campaign in East Timor, which we announced a few days ago. They have reached more than 4 thousand children in Dili today with measles vaccination and vitamin A.
UNICEF has a press release with more details on that.
**Serb Security Force 'Unnecessary' in Kosovo, UNMIK and KFOR Say
The United Nations mission in Kosovo, together with KFOR, has issued a joint statement on the announcement of a so-called "Serbian Protection Corps", by representatives of the Serb community in the province. "While we understand fully the fears of the Serbs in terms of security, particularly in light of recent incidents, the formation of any Kosovo Serb security force is unnecessary," the statement says.
Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) clearly states that there is only one security presence in Kosovo and that is KFOR, the statement says.
**Most Kosovar Work in 'Vast Grey Economy', ILO Report Says
Also on Kosovo, according to a new report prepared for the International Labour Organization (ILO) at least two-thirds of Kosovo's working age population is officially out of work. And those with jobs are working in what it described as "a vast grey economy" -- under employment conditions that amount to "a legal vacuum".
A report entitled "Employment and Workers Protection in Kosovo", made public today in Geneva, details an economy and society in which the fundamental labour market institutions have declined to a catastrophic extent, during a decade which saw civil strife and warfare combined with a precipitous drop in overall gross domestic product (GDP) of 50 per cent.
The ILO report highlights four strategic priorities necessary for kick- starting the reconstruction programme and laying the basis for an improved labour market and social system in Kosovo.
**Secretary-General Calls on Lusaka Signatories to Observe Ceasefire During Final Round of Polio Vaccinations
I now have another statement attributable to the Spokesman on the final round of polio immunizations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to the Lusaka Peace Accord to observe the ceasefire throughout the country and extend their full support for the third and final round of the polio immunization campaign to proceed from the 20 to 28 October. He reminds all parties of their commitment under the Lusaka Peace Accord, to enable national immunization campaigns to be carried out.
The Secretary-General recalls the support of the parties for the earlier polio immunization rounds that allowed over 90 per cent of the targeted 10 million children under the age of five to be immunized throughout the country. This campaign is being carried out by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), in close collaboration with local health authorities and non- governmental organizations. The Secretary-General stresses the importance of this campaign to eradicate the crippling and preventive disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
**ICT Prosecutor Meets Rwandan Officials
This morning, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Carla Del Ponte, met with a number of Rwandan officials, including the country's Ambassador to the Benelux countries, Jacques Bihozagara and the Attorney General of Rwanda, Gerald Gahirma.
A spokesman for the Prosecutor described their working meeting as "excellent". She also told us that the Prosecutor would make her first trip to Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania on 22 November.
**International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Rules on Jelesic
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia today acquitted Goran Jelesic of genocide, considering that the Prosecutor had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jelesic acted with the required intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic or religious group.
Jelesic was found guilty of all remaining counts in the indictment, namely crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war.
The Trial Chamber will sentence Jelesic at a later stage, following submissions by the Parties.
We have a press release with more details in our office.
**Weekly Afghanistan Humanitarian Report Available
Now we move to Afghanistan, and I will tell you that we have available for you the weekly humanitarian assistance report on that country. It includes a summary of the first meeting of the Joint Consultative Committee since the summer of 1998. The Committee provides a link between the United Nations and local authorities in Taliban areas on United Nations humanitarian assistance activities. The report also mentions that the World Food Program has approved 14 food aid projects over the past week.
**International Peace Academy Press Conference Tomorrow
Finally I would like to inform you that tomorrow, in this room at 3 p.m., the Canadian Mission to the United Nations is sponsoring a press conference by the International Peace Academy (IPA) on the subject "Political Gridlock in Haiti: A Track II Experiment". The guest speakers will be Dr. David Malone, President of the IPA, Dr. Chetan Kumar, Senior Associate of the Academy and Director of the Haiti Facilitation Project, and also Marley Gelin-Adams, Programme Officer in IPA.
Do you have any questions before we move on to Mr. Sy? Ok. Thank you so much.
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