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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

24 July 2002

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good Afternoon.

**Human Development Report

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in its Human Development Report for 2002, says that, although scores of countries took steps towards democracy during the past two decades, progress in many has stalled and some are slipping back to authoritarian rule –- putting human development at risk.

While 140 of the world’s countries hold multiparty elections, only 82 of them are fully democratic, boasting such institutions as a free press and independent judiciary, according to the report. It calls for a new wave of democracy building to give ordinary people a greater say in policy-making.

The report was launched first today in the Philippines by UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown and Philippine President Gloria Arroyo. Today, our guest at the noon briefing will be the Assistant Administrator for UNDP Jan Mattson, on my right, and he is supported by David Stewart, here on my left, who is an economist for the Human Development Report office.

We have press kits and copies of the report. I think they are by the door and we’ll get to them in just a minute.

**Security Council

The Security Council has scheduled an open debate on the Middle East at 7 p.m. tonight. There was a request for the meeting by the Arab Group.

The Security Council began its work this morning by referring the question of Switzerland's admission to the United Nations to its committee on the admission of new members. The Security Council has scheduled another formal meeting later in the morning to take up Swiss membership after the Committee finishes its meeting on the matter.

In consultations this morning, Council members are discussing the UN missions in Western Sahara and Lebanon. Consultations on the UN mission in Georgia have been moved until Monday. Mandates of these missions expire at the end of the month.

And this afternoon starting 3:30 p.m., there are back-to-back meetings of the Security Council with troop-contributing countries to the UN missions in Georgia and Western Sahara.

Out as Security Council documents are the request from the Arab Group for a meeting on the Middle East and a letter from Algeria regarding a draft resolution on Western Sahara introduced earlier this week.

**Human Rights

The first session of the Social Forum, which was established by the Commission on Human Rights to allow for a dialogue with non-governmental organizations and civil society, will take place tomorrow and Friday in Geneva.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson’s office wants the Forum, in its initial work, to hold a dialogue on the theme of globalization and human rights, followed by a focus on the relationship between the right to adequate food and poverty reduction, with special attention paid to the rural poor.

We have more details in a press release upstairs.

**Football

For you football, or should I say soccer fans, you may be interested in a new billboard going up today at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in Manhattan to announce a match on 8 August.

The Secretary-General has welcomed the announcement by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) of a special match between Real Madrid and Roma dedicated to the global fight against HIV/AIDS. The match -- an initiative of Real Madrid as part of its centennial celebration -- will take place at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Thursday, 8 August at 7:45 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from the match will be divided between the United Nations and the independent Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Secretary-General is expected to make brief remarks at the opening of the match, along with New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey.

Featured players will include some who played in the recent World Cup: Zidane of France, who is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP, Roberto Carlos, Raul and Cafu of Brazil, Totti of Italy and Batistuta of Argentina.

**Press Releases

A few minutes ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a new publication on the link between health and human rights. The booklet, which is the first compilation of questions and answers on the subject, is designed to assist governments and those concerned with developing a human rights approach to public health work. It looks at subjects such as the implication of the restriction of certain human rights during a public health emergency and the effect of globalization on the promotion and protection of human rights. The booklet is available on the WHO Web site, and the press release has more details.

Our second press release is from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), announcing a partnership with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Called “Your Change for a Real Change”, the initiative offers the Association’s members a number of activities which can be carried out with UNICEF field offices to help make a change in the lives of children all over the world. The Association has 5,600 members in 100 countries serving a billion visitors each year.

And finally, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, announced that more than 4,000 refugees have returned to East Timor from Indonesia this month. This brings the number repatriated since late 1999 to 217,000. We have more details in the briefing notes from Dili.

**Signing

Signings today: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines this morning became the 142nd country to sign the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.

**Budget

Budget news, Algeria today became the 88th Member State to pay its 2002 regular budget contribution with full payment of more than $770,000.

That’s all I have for you. Any questions before we go to the Human Development Report? Slow news day.

Okay. So, I’ll now turn it over to you, Jan, and welcome to the briefing.

Assistant Administrator for UNDP Jan Mattson: Thank you very much and good morning.

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